Gluten Free Pancakes

– johanna | December 30th, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Breads, RECIPES - Breakfast

In our home pancakes are more than just a breakfast food drenched in syrup. They are a quick snack with cream cheese or peanut butter. Or a sweet dessert with chocolate or butter and cinnamon sugar. And, they had better hold up under the sharp scrutiny of the little guy, our carbohydrate connoisseur. So you can imagine my delight when the switch from wheat to gluten-free pancakes went unnoticed.

These gluten-free pancakes are light and fluffy just like a buttermilk pancake should be. I love them best with sauteed sliced banana in real maple syrup. They also taste scrumptious with a smear of butter and a drizzle of honey.

Source: Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking by Kelly Bronski and Peter Bronski
1 cup Artisan GF Flour Mix (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon GF vanilla extract
2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Add the egg, milk, and vanilla and mix. Add the melted butter and mix just until the ingredients are combined.

Heat a griddle or skillet to medium-high heat. Grease with butter. Pour batter into rounds on the hot griddle using a two-ounce ladle. Cook until bubbles have formed on the surface of the pancake. Flip and cook other side until golden brown. Serve with real maple syrup, honey, peanut butter, or berries.

Makes 12 pancakes

Artisan Gluten-free Flour Mix: Makes 3 cups
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup potato starch
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon potato flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
To use: stir flour then pour into measure cups using a spoon. Level off with a knife. Do not densely pack the measuring cup.

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Herb Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

– johanna | December 30th, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Soup / Salad

Salads can be an impressive addition to a dinner party menu. I brought this salad to a Christmas party recently to rave reviews. I love the contrasting red, green and orange colors in this wintery orange salad. I tried a simple oil and vinegar dressing the first time I bought the salad mix. The garlic The salad mix has a bitter bite so the dressing did not win me over. I like the sweetness of the orange vinaigrette much better. The dressing is subtle but adds just enough flavor to compliment the herbs.

1 package mixed baby greens and herb salad mix
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
1 large orange
Orange Vinaigrette

Spread walnuts out on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.

Pour salad mix into a large bowl. Sprinkle with cooled walnuts, blue cheese, and seeds. Arrange onion rings and orange wedges on top. Toss with vinaigrette before serving.

Orange Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup juice from 1 to 2 oranges
1 shallot, sliced
1-1/2 cups olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a small bowl, add orange juice and shallot. Slowly drizzle the olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper. Mix again before adding to salad.

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Turkey A La Pasta and Peas

– johanna | December 23rd, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Main Dish

A creamy white sauce mixed with green peas and chopped chicken, or in this case turkey, is my version of a cheap, super fast, totally yummy kids friendly meal. Pasta with ‘white sauce’ is a family staple in our house. I am bound by law to make pasta with white sauce at least once a week. Even our pickiest eater has graduated from only eating plain pasta, to adding just a little white sauce to his noodles.

2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 pound cooked pasta
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
2 cups cooked turkey
1 tablespoon chopped parsley

sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
salt and pepper, to taste

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions, garlic and celery. Saute until celery is soft and onions translucent. Remove vegetables from heat.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the same pan. Cook garlic in butter until fragrant about 1 minute. Whisk in the flour, stirring until smooth. Carefully pour in the milk constantly whisking until sauce is smooth. Cook sauce until thickened about 3 to 5 minutes. Add grated parmesan. Stir until melted and well blended.

Toss in cooked pasta, turkey and peas. Heat through.

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Santa Wish List Ornament

– johanna | December 13th, 2011

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES

The idea for the Santa Wish List came from a ‘Breakfast With Santa’ event we recently attended. Santa so graciously cleared his schedule to come mingle with the children as they dined on breakfast casseroles, fruit and sausage. A young couple loitered by the piano casually leading the congregation in merry song. It was the very picture of a classic Cary Grant film.

The children were lead to a craft table to make a wish list before lining up to sit on Santa’s lap. The kids were so happy with their Christmas wish list ornament they wore them as bracelets for the rest of the morning. They are so adorable. I thought they would make a fun family tradition. I could see us years from now laughing over how silly our wish list wants were year after year. Then sharing treasured memories about the gifts we actually received.

This is the materials list from the party. The ladies were avid scrapbookers so they were well equipped with all the fancy paper, specialty punches and brads. I have spotted spools and punches at the dollar store. You can even forego the the extra embellishments and they will look just as amazing.

Materials:

  • Wooden spools
  • Red Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Thin ribbon 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness
  • White cardstock
  • Decorative hole punch- star or Christmas tree
  • Rubber bands
  • Double sided tape or hot glue
  • Fine tipped black ink pen
  • Tiny star brads
  • Scrapbook paper

Instructions:

1. Paint the spools red. (or use desired color)

2. Cut out strips of cardstock the same width as the inside of the spool and long enough to wrap around the spool twice.

3. Hot glue or tape one end of the cardstock to the spool. Wrap the paper around the spool once; secure with hot glue, leaving a good size tail.

4. Wrap the rubber band around the spool to hold the paper in place until dry.

5. Write wish list on the paper using fine tip pen. Write name at bottom of paper. Embellish paper with a decorative punch or stamp (optional).

6. Cut a small tag of cardstock, about 1/2-inch long and 1/4-inch wide. Write the year or person’s name.

7. Thread a strip of ribbon, about 5-inches, through the middle of the spool and tie it together. Attach tag using a decorative brad.

8. Remove the rubber band and hang it on the tree.

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Gluten Free Breakfast Cookies

– johanna | December 9th, 2011

Filed under: RECIPES - Snacks, RECIPES - Treats

When I saw this recipe for gluten-free breakfast cookies, I was excited because it only calls for one type of flour and the results were amazing. Switching to a gluten-free diet is very difficult, it is not just replacing a cup of wheat flour with coconut flour, there is an entire new baking formula to go by. Even then, the results can be less than satisfactory.  Those who suffer from celiacs disease and gluten sensitivity deserve to have that perfect crunch of bread or moist light muffin, it is one of those simple pleasures many of us take for granted.

With Celiacs disease, the gluten attacks the lining of the intestines; once gluten is removed from the diet, the symtoms of the disease go away. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley (there is some debate as to oats being included in the mix). Those with a sensitivity to gluten may feel run down, bloated, and risk developing other types of autoimmune diseases. However, you need not have Crohns disease or Celiacs disease to experience a sensitivity to gluten.

Today, the gluten content in wheat is 90% more than 70,  or even 100, years ago. Many doctors are advising patients with unknown chronic illnesses to lay off the gluten until their system recovers. Some individuals discover that they feel healthier and have more energy once the gluten is removed from their diet. All in all, I would not rush out and start buying gluten-free products, as it seems to be the craze now-a-days. Moderation is the key in all things.

Often times gluten-free recipes can be somewhat overwhelming with all the unfamiliar products. With recipes like this one, we can easily incorporate more grains into our diet. And, your gluten-free friends will be so shocked. Just remember to use uncontaminated baking equipment.

Source: Comfy Belly
2 1/2 cups of almond meal or almond flour (any nut flour will work really)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (or 1/2 cup of coconut oil or vegetable shortening, melted)
1/2 cup of honey (or other sweetener)
1 egg
1 tablespoon of vanilla
2 cups of nuts, dried fruit, seeds, chocolate (in any variation)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk the flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl. Stir in the 2 cups of desired nuts and fruits.

Stir in the melted butter, honey, egg, vanilla. Blending well.

Drop by tablespoonfuls on greased cookie sheets. Space them about 1 inch apart.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 25. Store in a sealed container.

Variations:
– For a crunchier cookie, leave them in the oven at 200 degrees F for another 15 minutes or so, or in a dehydrator on a fairly low temperature for about 2 hours.
– Fall spice blend: 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg and ground cloves. Add with dry ingredients.

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Saint Nicholas Day Stocking Tradition

– johanna | December 6th, 2011

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES

Photo: Klompen – A Family of Wooden Shoes

property of be_khe’s – Flickr.com

Today commemorates the death of St. Nicholas of Myra. St. Nicholas was born into a wealthy family from the small village of Patara, located on the southern coast of modern day Turkey. Though Patara was under Greek rule at the time, St. Nicholas’ parents raised him to be a devout Christian.

Nicholas grew to develop a generous love for mankind. He lived his life ministering to the less fortunate and children. His reputation for secret gift giving is reflected in a Dutch tradition on the eve of December 5th. That night before bed children line up their clogs out on the porch or in the entryway in hopes that St. Nicholas will stop by to leave a treat. On the morning of December 6th children wake to find candy, coins and/or a small present in their clogs.

Here in the Western world we have a similar tradition. Stockings are hung the night of Christmas Eve to collect little treats from Santa Clause. Some families choose to reserve the stocking tradition as part of the St. Nicholas day celebration rather than on Christmas. We do both.

December is a wonderful time to create this amazing magical world filled with surprise and wonderment. Recognizing traditions from other countries or faiths can add to the Christmas season building roots of tradition that remain with our children forever. Adopting the St. Nicholas feast day into our winter wonderland traditions is something our children look forward to all year.

On the eve of St. Nicholas day we unpack the stockings to hang up. You could also use shoes instead of stockings. The next morning the kids might discover an orange or a small bag with hot chocolate mix to have with breakfast. There could be a treasure map to have a scavenger hunt or a special stationary set to write letters to Santa with. This year there will be tickets to a local Nutcracker ballet show.

St. Nicholas stockings, or clogs, could also serve as a fun daily advent calendar. Use pencils, a small piece of candy or puzzle pieces to put together on Christmas Eve.

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Swedish Meatballs

– johanna | December 2nd, 2011

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES, RECIPES - Main Dish

One of the biggest celebrations in Sweden around Christmas time is St. Lucia Day on December 13th. The day was named after a young woman who was martyred for her faith in a Christian religion. The story tells of a young woman who helped to nurture the needy hiding in the catacombs in Rome by bringing them food despite the growing sentiment against those who believed in a Christian God.

In Sweden on St. Lucia Day girls and boys dress in white. One older girl is chosen to bear the candle wreath upon her head and leads the company of children in a parade. The St. Lucia tradition has grown in popularity throughout the world.

Each family chooses to celebrate this day in a different way. In my sister-n-law’s, Natalie, home the oldest girl dresses in white, dones a wreath, and serves everyone baked goods in their beds. We like to choose a service project to help someone in need. We also make sweet rolls for breakfast and Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes for dinner.

Source: Simple Recipes
Serves 10-12 (about 40-50 meatballs)
Meatballs:
4 tbsp butter, divided
1 large yellow onion, finely diced (or grated on a cheese grater)
1 cup milk
2 1/2 to 3 cups bread crumbs (or 4-5 slices of bread processed in a food processor)
1 1/4 pound ground pork
2 pounds ground beef (buy the package that says market fresh or fresh)
2 eggs
1 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt

Sauce:
6 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup flour
1 quart beef stock

In a large skillet, sauté onion in 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat until soften and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool.

Pour milk into the mixing bowl of an electric mixer. Add bread crumbs and let sit; about 2 to 5 minutes or until the milk is completely soaked up.

Add the ground pork, ground beef, cooled onions (reserving the pan to cook in), eggs, nutmeg, cardamom, salt and pepper. until the ingredients are well combined.

Use a cookie scoop to measure out tablespoon sized balls. Using your hands roll into meatballs. Set meatballs on a baking sheet.

In the same pan used to cook the onions, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium to medium high heat. When the butter has melted add the meatballs in batches, careful not to overcrowd the pan. Brown meatballs on all sides about 40 seconds to 1 minute each side until nice and browned. Scoop out and place on a baking rack placed in a baking sheet. (This helps to drain the excess fat)

Sauce:
In the same pan over medium heat, add 6 tablespoons of butter for the sauce. When the butter has melted slowly add the flour, mixing continuously with a wire whisk until smooth. Cook about 1 minute longer to brown. Continue to whisk while adding the broth in a steady stream. Whisk sauce until it is completely smooth and void of any lumps. Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low; simmer about 5 minutes more to thicken.

Add the meatballs to the sauce and turn the heat down to low. Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

To serve, remove the meatballs from the sauce and place in a serving bowl. If desired add the sour cream mixing well. Serve with Lingonberry Jelly, boiled potatoes and steamed green beans.

Variations:
— Mix a couple tablespoons lingonberry, cranberry, red currant or raspberry jelly, into the sauce before serving.
–Mix 1/2 to 3/4 cup sour cream with the meatballs in the serving bowl.

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