Raised from Scratch

growing up outside the box: alternatives to processed food and television

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free) November 26, 2012

Do you have “secret” ingredients in your pantry? Flavors that test taste buds’ expertise and signal the brain to taste again, and again, and again to decipher the flavor? For you adventurous cookie lovers out there, I’m sharing one with you today.

Mesquite powder, explained by Essential Living Foods, where I purchase mine:

“Mesquite is a nourishing, gluten-free flour with a mild, molasses-and-caramel flavor that blends well into everything from smoothies to baking recipes. Mesquite is a hearty tree that survives in the driest climates and is traditionally thought to bring strength to those who consume it. Its powerful, nutrient dense seeds supply protein, fiber and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc plus the amino acid lysine. With a low-glycemic index of 25, this ancient superfood is perfect for adding sweetness without spiking blood sugar.”

The molasses-caramel flavor description is pretty darn accurate, though I also explain it as a light malted cocoa sometimes. It’s unique for sure. These are sturdy cookies, great for holiday tins or any other occasion where you need a cookie that can survive long trips with the postal service. When it comes to mesquite powder a little goes a long way and the flavor is enhanced after baking, so if you taste the cookie dough and wonder if one tablespoon will be enough, believe me, it’s perfect, and the flavor will come through once they bake, inevitably provoking a “What IS that flavor?” response from tasters.

Mesquite Poppy Seed Cookies (Gluten-free)

Makes 36 cookies

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

2/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 t. vanilla extract

2 egg yolks

¾ t. xanthan gum

1 T. mesquite powder

1 t. baking powder

2 T. + 1 t. poppy seeds

2 cups oat flour

½ cup sorghum flour

For chocolate centers:

2-3 oz dark chocolate (such as Scharffen Berger or Baker’s)

In a large bowl, use a hand mixer at medium speed to cream the butter, then add the maple syrup and mix 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and egg yolks, mix on low speed until combined, scraping sides and bottom of bowl.

In a small bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition.

Chill dough for 30 minutes, then preheat oven to 350°F. Using a small cookie scoop or spoon, form cookies and place on ungreased cookie sheet 1 ½” apart. Cookies should be about 2 teaspoons in size.  Lightly coat your hands with a small amount of oat flour and gently roll each mound of dough in your hands to form a smooth ball.

Use the handle of a wooden spoon, coated with oat flour to avoid sticking, to make an indentation in the cookie dough before baking to later fill with chocolate. The indentation should be as deep as you can make it without pushing through the bottom of the cookie.

Bake at 350°F for 9 minutes, remove from oven and poke the center of the dough again (dough rises a bit during baking and you want to have enough space for chocolate). Return to oven and bake additional 2-4 minutes. Move cookies to cooling rack and allow them to cool completely before filling with chocolate.

To fill cookies: in a small heavy-bottomed pot, melt chopped chocolate over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, just until melted. Immediately remove from heat, pour or spoon chocolate into the center of each cookie. If you have extra chocolate it is great drizzled across the top as well.

Cool before storing in an air-tight container. Will keep at least one week at room temperature.

Originally inspired by “Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies” at 101 Cookbooks

 

Fall Vegetable Linguine November 20, 2012

 Fall Vegetable Linguine

1 pkg (16 oz) gluten-free brown rice pasta (or whole wheat if you prefer)

*reserve 1/4 cup pasta water after cooking

2 cups butternut squash, peeled, cubed

1 T. olive oil

1/2 t. salt

4 T. butter, divided

3 cups brussel sprouts, washed, trimmed and halved

1/2 t. dried thyme

1/4 t. dried rosemary

¼ t. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

1 cup shredded asiago or parmesan cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375°. Peel and cube butternut squash and toss with 1 T. olive oil and ½ t. coarse salt. Roast cubed butternut squash at 375°F for 25 minutes or until tender, stirring once after 15 minutes.

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water when draining.

Wash the brussel sprouts, trim the stem and halve sprouts lengthwise. Heat 2 T. butter in saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sprouts and herbs and a generous sprinkle of coarse salt; sauté for 5 minutes. Add reserved pasta water, cover pan and cook additional 2-3 minutes until sprouts are tender. Remove from heat.

Combine cooked pasta, squash and brussel sprouts. Drizzle with lemon juice, season with salt and pepper to taste; plate and top with toasted walnuts and shredded asiago.

 

Granola Bar Pie…or Oatmeal Pecan Breakfast Bars November 6, 2012

Sometimes what you name your food determines your child’s excitement level, and this was certainly true this morning when I poured the breakfast bar batter into a pie pan and dubbed this the Granola Bar Pie. Try getting creative with food terminology and see how your toddler responds.

The bars (or pie wedges) are very portable once cool, maintaining enough moisture to not crumble in the car on the way to preschool. My kid has always been a night owl, and getting her up and ready to leave the house by 8:30 twice a week is damn difficult sometimes. THE most time consuming part of our morning is always breakfast because Ella loves to eat, and she likes to take her time doing it. No kidding, a small bowl of yogurt takes 30 minutes to consume sometimes. I’m completely thrilled that she’s a good eater and want to avoid rushing her meals or making them a source of stress at all costs. Keeping a portable breakfast food around, and remembering it’s okay to brush her teeth in the car (it’s not like the toothpaste I give her is harmful if swallowed, so why not?) is really helpful. She thinks brushing her teeth in the car is hilariously silly and likes that her car seat can occasionally be the dentist chair as well.

 Granola Bar Pie/Oatmeal Pecan Breakfast Bars

vegan and gluten free, contains no refined sugar

1  1/4 cup oats

1/2 cup ground pecans

1/4 cup coconut flour

3/4 t. ground ginger

1  1/2 t. ground cinnamon

pinch of ground cloves

1/4  t. sea salt

1 T. flax meal (ground flax seeds)

1/2 T. salba or chia seeds

1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice)

1/2 T. vanilla extract

1 T. maple syrup

2 frozen bananas, thawed, mashed

1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 F. Allow frozen bananas to thaw in a bowl on the stove (especially if your oven exhaust fan pushes all the hot air onto your stove-top like mine does), or place in the oven for a few minutes as it starts to preheat, or thaw in the microwave for 30-45 seconds.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add almond milk, vanilla, maple syrup and thawed bananas, mix well. Stir in raisins. Butter a pie pan (or use coconut oil) and pour batter into pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Bake 25-30 minutes until firm. Allow to cool 5 minutes before slicing into 8 wedges.

Inspired by: Banana Raisin Oatmeal Bars from Quinoa, Kale & Exhale

 

Slow Down and Savor It: Oatmeal for Autumn October 18, 2012

If oatmeal conjures memories of mushy slop loaded with sugar and tiny dried apple pieces, it’s time you created new associations with this healthy grain. Oatmeal is fabulous, and a recipe like this one should leave the whole family satiated and smiling. Steel cut (Irish) oats are simply chopped oat groats – they are the least processed of all oat products, and they are typically stocked right alongside the old-fashioned and quick oats these days. If not, check the organic section of your grocery store. Seriously, once you try them, you’ll never want to go back to quick/instant oats.

I like to cook half of the apple pieces with the raisins 5 minutes before the oatmeal has finished cooking and add the rest with the sunflower seeds in my bowl for a little crunch. Just 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup is plenty to sweeten the whole batch (in fact, I like it even without) because apples, raisins and cinnamon lend their natural sweetness to the oats. Enjoy the chilly mornings!

Autumn Oatmeal

4 cups water

1 cup steel cut (Irish) oats

Generous pinch of salt

½ cup raisins

1 cup apple, diced into ¼ – ½” pieces (about ½ of a large apple)

½ t. ground cinnamon

2 T. golden flax seeds

½ t. vanilla extract

2 T. pure maple syrup

¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds, roasted or raw

Milk or milk substitute (optional) for serving

Place water, oats and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add raisins, ½ of your chopped apples and cinnamon; cook additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat, stir in flax seeds, vanilla extract and maple syrup. Place in bowls and top with remaining apples, a generous sprinkle of sunflower seeds, and a dash of cinnamon. Serve with milk or milk substitute if desired.

Serves 4

What are some of your favorite oatmeal add-ins?

 

Crispy Olive Oil Potato Wedges and The Great Caper October 17, 2012

Crispy Olive Oil Potato Wedges

Inspired by Oh She Glows crispy baked fries, the small amount of cornstarch gives these little potatoes such an awesome crispy texture. Definitely a method worth trying next time you’re in the mood for fries.

6-8 new potatoes

½ t. coarse salt

¼ t. Penzey’s Bavarian spice blend

¼ t. dried thyme

2 t. cornstarch

1 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and dry potatoes (peeling is optional). Halve or quarter potatoes. In a sealable container mix salt, spices and cornstarch together. Add potatoes, seal and shake to evenly distribute spices and coat potatoes. Add 1 T. olive oil to container and shake again. Place on a baking sheet spaced 1” apart and bake 15 minutes, then use a spatula to turn, bake additional 10 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork.

Serves 3-4

Caper Vinaigrette

The Caper, which is simply a pickled flower bud, is great in any Mediterranean dish, and easy to find in practically every grocery store. Jazz up your next salad with this tasty dressing. I think it’s perfect on a simple salad of greens with tomatoes and feta.

4 T. olive oil

1 green onion, chopped (optional)

1 ½ T. stone ground mustard

1 ½ T. red or white wine vinegar

2-3 T. capers

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If you want to use green onion, heat it along with the olive oil in a small saucepan for 2 minutes, until the onions become soft, then remove from heat, add mustard and vinegar and whisk well to combine. Stir in capers and season to taste.

If you’ve opted not to use the green onions, just grab a small bowl and vigorously whisk olive oil, mustard and vinegar together to combine. Stir in capers and season to taste.

Makes enough for 8 salads

 

Gluten-Free Cocoa Molasses Zucchini Bread October 9, 2012

I guess I was on a roll with chocolate vegetables this past week because after creating the Chocolate Kale Smoothie I was in the mood for chocolate zucchini bread. As usual, I was striving to make a snack bread that I could give to my 3 year old whenever she asked for it, which wouldn’t be the case with most of the recipes out there loaded with sugar and chocolate chips. Don’t get me wrong – I like those decadent recipes, but there’s no reason to train our kids’ taste buds (or our own) to expect a sugar high every time they reach for a slice of bread. Molasses, along with some unsweetened applesauce, provides the sweetness for this tasty, moist alternative to the sugar high. Try it for another way to get more vegetables into your family’s diet while giving them a healthy treat. If you want to serve it for dessert, I recommend adding ½ cup dark chocolate chips on top before baking.

I make my baked goods gluten-free because that’s what I eat these days, but I include versions using wheat flours because I know most people don’t have gluten-free flours on hand, and that shouldn’t stop you from trying a delicious recipe.

Gluten-Free Cocoa Zucchini Bread  (wheat version in parentheses)

1 c. oat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

½ cup sorghum flour (or all-purpose flour)

3 T. unsweetened cocoa, sifted

2 t. baking powder

¼ t. xanthan gum (omit if using wheat flour)

½ t. sea salt

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans (+ 2 T. to top batter)

½ cup unsweetened organic applesauce

1/3 cup oil –  olive, coconut, or canola

1 t. vanilla extract

4 T. molasses

1 large egg

2 cups shredded zucchini (1 medium)

Butter 8 x 8” pan and preheat oven to 350°.

In large bowl combine all dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add applesauce, oil, vanilla, molasses and egg, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Fold in zucchini with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and smooth with spatula. Sprinkle reserved pecans if you like (I sprinkled some on half since Ella isn’t crazy about too many nuts in her food).

Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick test is clean. Let cool before slicing.

Makes 16 pieces