Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Banana Bread Heaven

I made THE MOST amazing Banana Bread I have ever made. Period.

And I've made banana bread following many, many recipes: some good, some awful, some ok, some healthy, some full of fat. But this time, I hit the jackpot. And its gluten free and could easily be dairy free but I have this love affair with butter that I just can't shake.

I stumbled on this delicious recipe while browsing past posts of the Gluten Free Ratio Rally.  A few months ago the item of choice was "quick breads".  This particular recipe originated with Tara  of A Baking Life, who blogs and cooks gluten free. 

I followed her basic recipe (go to her blog to get the full monty) with a few minor changes:
  • I used the GF flour I had on hand, not her recipe for pastry flour.  
  • I used canola oil instead of coconut oil. One, its what I had on hand, and two, coconut oil is not cheap.
  • I didn't have almond flour, but I did have almond meal, so that's what I used. Maybe they are the same thing??? 
  • I used Rice Milk, not whole milk.
 I certainly have to give her credit for posting the recipe, and hope you click on the link to go check out her other great recipes.

My version turned out fabulous, as everyone who tasted it will quickly testify. This recipe is going to be my new go-to banana bread...and I've already got requests to bring it to my upcoming event.

Happy Baking! ~ Laurie

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A few great recipes

I've fallen in love with a new cookbook, Cooking for Isaiah.  The author, Silvana Nardone, is in tight competition with Nigella Lawson as being my favorite kitchen diva ever.  (Sorry, Nigella, I need to learn to cook GF and then I'll come back to my beloved cookbooks of yours.) And because Silvana has put together such an amazing cookbook that is full of diary free and gluten free recipes, I'm fairly certain I can't put the full recipe on my blog: I'm not sure how many people actually read my blog, but I would rather not infringe on someones copyright. 

What I will do is give you critique and quick peak and link you to her blog for the details. If you are dairy free and gluten free as I am you will most certainly want to buy this cookbook!

My first assignment was heading to stores in town to find the best deals and stock up on gluten free (GF) ingredients. Whew! Talk about information's a GF jungle out there! I found a good selection at Fred Meyers, but expensive! Whole Foods had the best selection & price combination. Trader Joes has the least expensive products, but not the best selection. And surprisingly found a good source at Food For Less. 

But the! There are hundreds of blogs abounding with delicious recipes and helpful information on cooking GF.  There are dedicated blogs from moms who cook only GF; blogs from bakers trying new GF recipes to test the market; cooking clubs sharing recipes that are GF and focus on a new item each month (I can't wait to make this Glazed Meyer Lemon Muffin!!!) . I hit the jackpot on the GF quickbread list...will be baking some banana struesel bread as soon as I finish posting.

My first recipe was Silvana's pancake's...banana pancakes with cinnamon goo. My kids loved that I added chocolate chips to her recipe. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo...or more honestly, the kids ate the pancakes before I could grab the camera.  The "goo" was a big hit with my kids and my hubby and I loved the moist pancakes.

Next I made these delicious Berry Corn Muffins:

I had fresh marion berries and raspberries from the farmers market. Silvana uses a mixture of flour and cornmeal, but this is no cornbread! My kids liked them. Ate 12 of them in two days.

For dessert I made her Rocky Road Rice Crispy Treats:

Let me just say that there were NONE of these left after I put them out for my family. There was no indication from appearance or taste that these were GF.  They were sooooo good!  Can you tell...

My only complaint with this cookbook is she cooks like the Pioneer Woman...lots of sugar. A lot of sugar.  I'll be working on a way to decrease and adapt these recipes in the future.

My kids said "this was the best dinner ever mom!"  It's definitly different working with GF flours. I'm still working on getting the knack of it. 

Silvana says (ok, its a little weird that I keep calling Silvana by her first name as if we were BFF's, but how else do I refer to her???) these make great on-the-go breakfast wraps, but as I made them last night, I would never let my kids eat these on the go: there would be food droppings all over my car.  They do not hold up well. And the recipe as is barely made enough to satisfy the hunger of me and two children, even though the cookbook says it serves 4-6.  I will make it again and double everything.

Okay, I'm signing off to get that banana bread in the oven.  Happy GF baking!


Friday, August 5, 2011

On Going Gluten Free

It's obviously been a while since I've posted to this blog.  There are lots of reasons. Lots of excuses.  But now,  I'm back. And hopefully frequent.

Going forward there's a whole new twist on my posts....we've gone Gluten Free.  I'm already Dairy Free and have 1 child who can't take much lactose, now I'm adding Gluten Intolerance to my list and early stage Celiac to the kid list. 

This is my pantry within the past month. Stocked full of healthy, non-transfat, non-processed foods. Full of gluten.

This is the majority of products in my pantry containing gluten

This is my newly cleaned, organized pantry minus gluten

Kinda sparse isn't it?  I'll be searching new GF blogs, new GF cookbooks and trying all sorts of new products and mixes.  I'm somewhat overwhelmed and partly relieved that many of our digestive and health issues are going to  hopefully be successfully changed.

Hang on! Here I go...   
baking & learning,  joyfullytiredmom

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pecan Tarts

Snow outside my window always creates a desire for a cup of tea and something sweet.  And baking. Something to fill the oven with tempting aromas. Like pie. Like when you crave pecan pie during the holidays, but pecan pie is almost always so sickening sweet that you can hardly finish a piece of pie....well, these little morsels are just the perfect bite size treat. They melt in your mouth and satisfy the cravings without the guilt of eating an entire pie... or piece of pie.  

This recipe came from my Aunt Jeri in California and has remained a favorite recipe since she passed on the ingredient list. 

Here's what you'll need for making about 36 Tart Shells :
½ lb butter (yes, thats 2 (two) sticks of real butter!!)
6 ounces cream cheese substitue (I prefer Rice Cream, but its difficult to find)
2 cup flour
½ tsp salt
And for the *** FILLING ***
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 cups pecans, chopped

Blend butter and cream cheese substitute until creamy and well blended.

Add flour and salt and mix until flour is just blended. Dough will be very sticky.

Set aside to rest. While you mix the filling.

I've always been  Kitchen Aid kinda gal....until this beautiful item arrived at Christmas:  Cuisinart Food Processor.  The BIG one! Oh yes! My loyalties are quickly changing as I find all sorts of wonderful short cuts in the kitchen with this baby.

Place pecans in a food processor and pulse 3-6 times until chopped almost fine. Or chop them by hand. 
How can you not love 4 pulses and taaaaadaaaaa...

Now melt your butter in the microwave. 

What? That brown thing?

Why yes, that is a coffee filter!  Its unbleached and it fits just perfect on top of almost everything that needs to be reheated in the microwave. I keep a box of them in the drawer next to the microwave.

Add egg, brown sugar and melted butter.

Pulse again until all ingredients are well mixed.

You do not need muffin liners, but you will need to make sure to grease your muffin pan if you are not using a DeMarle pan.

I have these nifty kitchen gadets from Pampered Chef and DeMarle that make scooping dough and pressing tarts almost effortless:

I like the lean-manufacturing process of making rolling all the balls, then pressing all the tarts, then filling each shell.  So on to the dough..... Using a Pampered Chef small scoop, make a ball of dough and drop it into mini muffin tins.
Using dough press, or your thumb, press down ball of dough to form a hollow center.

You do not want to see thru the tart shell. If your shell looks like this, then re-roll it and press it again:

This is what you want:

Fill each center pastry shell with 1 teaspon of filling. When finished, go back and add another 1/2 tsp if your shells have room.

Bake at 350 convection for 12-16 minutes.  I bake everything on Convection bake.  I also bake at a high altitude so you will need to watch your baking times for your oven.
Bake for 375 standard for 15-20 minutes
Allow tarts to rest in pan for 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.

Now share the love with your family, or make your kids teachers really happy to see you on Monday morning!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Touchdown Casserole

3 cups egg noodles
1 pkg mushrooms, sliced
1 large orange bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1# ground beef
1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 pkg pepperoni
1/4# olives, pitted and sliced
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese

1)  Preheat oven 350 degrees.
Spray 2-qt baking dish with nonstick spray.   Cook noodles as directed.  Rinse and drain.
2) Cook onion, bell pepper and mushroom over medium-high heat 5 minutes.   Add beef.   Cook until browned.  Drain fat.   Add spaghetti sauce, soup, 3/4 cup cheddar cheese and noodles.   Spoon into baking dish.

3)  Bake, until hot, about 30-35 minutes.   Top with remaining cheese (1/4 cup), pepperoni, olives, and parmesan cheese.   Bake 5 minutes longer.

TOUCHDOWN!!!   This one wins!   A great company pleaser, even the kids love this one (though I did find a few stray mushrooms left on the plate).   My kids call this recipe "Pizza Pie".   Hey, whatever works for getting them to eat their dinner!  Great to fix for watching all the great college ball tomorrow on New Year's Day or a great one to make next month for the big Super Bowl Game! 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Stuffing in the Crockpot

Call it Dressing or call it Stuffing...but whatever you do, be sure you haven't overlooked a post I made last December.  With company and holiday meals in the limelight, now is the time to revisit this one:  Slow Cooker Stuffing.  It's always a favorite at our house. 

Hope your Thanksgiving has been as blessed as mine!  Laurie

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

From Scratch Pot Pies

I'm so happy to finally be sitting down and posting a recipe to this blog! With our move (twice) and all the unpacking and the adjusting (and not adjusting) to new recipes, cooking full meals, photography and blogging have been out of my reach.  I'm oh so full of relief to see the light of hope and get myself back into the kitchen on a routine. I love to cook!

Here's a perfect recipe just in time for the holidays. Wondering what to do with your leftover turkey? Make these pot pies from scratch and your family will be Thankful for you!

My recipe is a hybrid from two of my favorite cookbooks:  The Joy of Cooking, 75th Edition, by Irma Rombauer and French Farmhouse Cookbook by Susan Loomis.   If you only own one cookbook, The Joy of Cooking should be it! You'll find a reference for everything inside. 

The star ingredient in this homemade delicacy: chicken or turkey. I start with organic chicken; Costco has a bag of two for a sweet price. Organic free range birds make for the most savory, flavorful broth.  After you've roasted your bird, you'll end up with some delicious left overs just waiting for good use. Pull the meat off the bone and save in a dish. Don't forget to make a wish! Throw the whole carcass, juices and skin into a big pot. Add enough water to cover bird, and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  It's that easy!

Here is the pastry I like to use for pot pies, based on the French Farmhouse Cookbook.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
7 Tbsp unsalted butter (chilled & cut into 7 pieces)
  • In kitchen aide mixer, place 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, 1/4 tsp sea salt and 7 Tbls unsalted butter.  Blend until mixture looks like course peas.
  • Add 5 Tbls ice water and blend until pastry begins to hold together and is sticky.  Add 1 Tbls more of ice water as needed to just hold pastry together.
  • Place pastry on floured pastry mat and shape into round. If at all possible, let it rest for 30 minutes lightly dusted with flour and covered with a tea towel.
  • Roll out dough. For a pie dish, roll and cut into 2 9-inch rounds.  
  • For individual ramekins, cut into 12 5-inch rounds.

For filling:
3 Tbls butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup rice milk, divided
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups frozen vegetables
1-2 cups cooked chicken or turkey
  •  Melt 3 Tbls of butter in large saucepan.
  • In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of cold rice milk.  Whisk until smooth and completely mixed.  Add another 1/2 cup of cold rice milk, and mix.
  • Add milk mixture to melted butter and whisk in saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add 2 cups of broth and whisk thoroughly. 

  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add 2 cups of frozen petite vegetables.
  • Add chopped, cooked chicken/turkey to saucepan.
  • Stir until heated.
  • Place pastry in bottom of each ramekin.

  • Using a soup ladle, place 2 scoops of filling into each ramekin.
  • Place a pastry round on top of each. Cut a small hole/slit in the top of each pastry.

  • For nice glossy finish, brush top of each pastry with a little beaten egg.
  • Bake at 350 convection or 375 standard
  • For single pie, bake about 30-40 minutes. 
  • For individual ramekins, bake about 20-30 minutes, until tops are brown and filling is bubbling.

Snow Ice-Cream

It SNOWED & school is canceled!!  I'm dedicating this recipe to our new pastor and family who just moved here from San Diego and are loving all of the snow.   I grew up in snow country and we would make this every year though I don't think we ever had an official "recipe" for it.   I still live in the Pacific NW, but we don't get as much snow on this side of the mountain and its not a winter guarantee.   A friend did reminded me that this recipe is best not done with the "first" snow of the season, but since the first snow might also be the last, I just highly suggest that you make sure you get CLEAN snow for this recipe and maybe add extra sugar!

Snow Ice-Cream

1 medium size serving bowl full of CLEAN snow
1-2 teaspoon of vanilla
1/4 - 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 - 1 cup milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla syrup (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and eat immediately.

I don't think I've ever actually measured out the ingredients.   I just eye ball it for the most part.   I have a medium size tupperware bowl that I collect the snow in.   I sprinkle the sugar on top so there is a light coating covering the top, gently pour out some vanilla and syrup, then keep pouring the milk in and stirring until it gets slightly soupy.   My kids decided they wanted chocolate chip ice-cream so we threw a few chocolate chips to the top.  Eat and enjoy right away.   You can save it and freeze, but it becomes pretty hard and not as good.   Fresh is the best!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Harvest Soup

Harvest Soup

1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1# ground meat (I used turkey)
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
3 red potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 acorn squash, peeled and chopped
1 (15oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 (10oz) can diced tomatoes
4-6 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
Salt & Pepper


Saute onion and garlic in a little bit of oil for about 3-5 minutes.   Add meat.  Cook until brown, drain fat.   Place meat/onion in large stock pot.   Add potatoes, squash, kidney beans, and tomatoes.   Pour 4-6 cups of chicken broth on top (should barely cover ingredients).   Add cloves & allspice.  Mix well.   Bring to boil, then simmer on stove for 45 minutes to 1 hour.   Potatoes and squash should be soft. 


When I first read this recipe, I was kind of dreading it because it had so many ingredients, especially the kind that involves a lot of peeling and chopping.   I had all of the ingredients for 2 weeks (meat was in freezer) before I ended up making it, but after the first bite, it was all worth it!   This soup is full of nutritional yummy!   Everyone had seconds and thirds, except for the 2 year old who kept complaining it was "hot".   The 6 year old kept asking what would happen if you ate too much good for you food.    They also topped theirs with cheddar cheese.   I think it could have used a little more salt (which we added at the table), but I had also only used 2 cups of  broth and then for the rest just used water.   I guess I should have added a little more salt or my magic broth.    I would definitely make this again.

For some reason I was also craving Irish Soda Bread, so we had that as our bread for the meal to go along with the soup, but I also think we counted it as our dessert.   I think it is the first time I've made that bread on any other day other St. Patrick's Day.  

Slow Cooker Apple Pork

I searched for "apple" recipes on our blog the other day and nothing showed up!!!    Apples just say "autumn" to me, so not only do we have them as our main fruit staple right now, but I've been making tons of different apple recipes.   I guess I'm on a big apple kick right now.  This one turned out well and was easy, not to mention budget friendly, so had to add it to the list of recipes to share with you.

Apple Pork


1# pork tenderloin or roast
1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 onion, chopped
3 apples, peeled and sliced
1 t ground cinnamon
2 T brown sugar
2 T lemon juice


Put 1/2 cup water into the bottom of a slow cooker.   Place pork into it and sprinkle with salt and pepper.   Place chopped onions around the pork.

In a bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon, and brown sugar.   Toss well.  Pour over the roast in the slow cooker.   Set the slow cooker to low, cooking for 8 hours.


I don't know what it is about pork and apples that go together so well.  Yum!  Talk about comfort food!   Most of the time I make pork chops with applesauce.   This is a version of that, but with homemade applesauce chunks.   The pork almost fell apart in the slow cooker and was deliciously juicy with a sweet apple taste.   We served ours with brown rice and salad.   I used a 1-1/2# pork tenderloin and there should have been left overs for our family of 5, but it was sooo yummy that everyone had seconds and some thirds, even the picky 1 1/2 yr old!   This is what is for dinner this week.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mini Apple Pies

Mini Apple Pies


1 pkg of refrigerated biscuits
1 apple, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 T brown sugar
1 T lemon juice
1 t apple pie spice (or 1/4 t of allspice, cinnamon, ginger, & nutmeg)
1-2 T butter

Preheat oven to 350.   Put the apple pieces into a small bowl.   Add brown sugar, lemon juice, & spice.   Let set while preparing biscuits.   Have spouse or kids open biscuits (the popping sound freaks me out!)    Take each biscuit and divide in half (should have 12 total pieces).   Take each section and stretch out with your hands until slightly wider than a muffin tin hole.   Push stretched out biscuit piece into a hole of a muffin tin.   Add a small scoop of the apple mix onto each pie crust.   Add a dab of butter to the top of each pie.   Cook for 15 minutes.   Can be served with a dollop of whipped cream.


Deliciously easy!   The kids were able to help prepare and the mini pies were the perfect amount for an after dinner treat!  It would also make an excellent after school snack.   I don't think it will ever replace Mom's homemade apple pie, but if you are craving a bite of apple pie, this is super fast and easy and will hit the spot! 


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

White Chocolate & Craisin Scones

1 cup butter
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup craisins
1 cup white chocolate chips

Combine flour, soda, baking powder, and sugar in a mixing bowl; blend together.

Cube cold butter and blend into the mixture until it becomes small crumbs.

Mix together the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla; add to the butter/flour mixture.   Mix just until blended.

Add the craisins and white chocolate chips.  Mix just until well blended.  Don't overmix!!

Divide dough in half.  Form into two 9" circles.  Cut each circle into 8 pie shape wedges. (I actually do this last step after I bake it, though you'll need to increase the cooking time a bit if you leave it in a large lump for cooking---see picture below)

Bake 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until light golden brown.

I've had several requests from family and friends asking for this recipe, so here it finally is.  If you don't think you like scones, you'll have to try this recipe.   I haven't found anyone who doesn't like it.   I made it for company the other day and it had been so long since I've made these I almost forgot how good they are.   I think its a great excuse for eating cake for breakfast!   Of course, can't beat tea and scones for any meal or snack of the day as far as this Tea Queen is concerned!  

Don't worry about doing substitutes either.   I didn't have buttermilk in the house so I made my own by adding 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice to regular milk (any percentage is fine) and letting it set for about 10 minutes (while I was mixing the other stuff).   I also couldn't find any white chocolate chips so just used regular.   I ultimately prefer the white chocolate in this recipe, but regular milk chocolate worked just fine!