Author Archives: Tonette Joyce

About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.

Easy Gluten-free, Low-sugar,Dairy-free Almond Cake

GF Almond Cake:

1 ½ cups almond flour (Instructions for making your own at the Lemon Cake site: https://tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/lovely-lemon-gluten-free-cake/)

4 eggs, separated (whites in one large bowl, yolks in another)

½ cup sugar or stevia baking mix, divided into two ¼ cup portions

1 tsp cream of tartar, (optional)

1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

4 teaspoons Almond (or other) milk

1/4 cup slivered almonds for top

1 1/2 tsp sugar or powdered substitute, (preferably stevia), for sprinkling on top.

With an electric beater, beat egg whites until very foamy.  Add cream of tartar to add volume and give the egg whites more ‘body’, but it is not essential.  Slowly beat in ¼ cup of sugar or stevia baking mix and beat until the egg whites are firm and glossy; to not let them become dry.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with spoon, whisk, or beat gently with hand mixer; (do the egg whites first; the beaters and bowl must be free of any oils or fats to whip well, but don’t leave them standing for too long).

Add the baking powder, (if using), the almond extract plus the milk and mix well. Add the other ¼ cup of sugar or stevia mix slowly and beat well.  Add the almond flour and mix well. If the mixture seems very stiff, add a very little more of the milk.)

Fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture with a rubber/silicone spatula or a wooden spoon, in a downward, round motion until they are mixed. Mix thoroughly, but try not to deflate the egg whites completely.

This cake is too delicate to be inverted onto a cake rack, so plan on spooning the mixture into a spring-form pan, or into what I used, a tart pan. Either one you use, cover the bottom and insides with baking spray, butter and flour, or painted with cake-release.

Bake at 323F for 35-40 minutes, or until it is slightly browned on the edges and a cake tester comes out clean when put into the middle. Do not open the oven for the first 25 minutes, but check every five minutes afterward. Whether using baking powder or not, the cake may rise, then fall, and this is fine.

While the cake is still warm, sprinkle with the sugar or powdered stevia and serve or serve cold. If using a drizzle, wait until it is almost completely cool, and serve immediately.

Wrapped tightly, this cake freezes well. You can let it thaw on a countertop or microwave it quickly serve.

I hope that your family and friends enjoy this as much as mine have.

[https://tonettejoycefoodfriendsfamily.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/lovely-lemon-gluten-free-cake/]

Easter Spread/Dip; GF and Vegan Options

I generally make a cheeseball for holidays and gatherings and I have posted some recipes on these pages.  For Easter this year, I decided to go with a dip/spread, and I made it several days early so that the flavors would mellow.

You can vary it to suit the tastes and your dietary needs and of those around you. Nuts and seeds can be changed, or left out altogether. I’m making this one a little bland because I will be serving it with flavorful crackers and snacks.

Here is the recipe I made; variations in taste and vegan substitutions will be listed below:

Appetizer Spread:

7 oz of Neufchatel cheese (low-fat cream cheese)

1 Tbs cream

¼ -1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese,(or other moderate-to-mild white cheese)

A few drops  sesame oil (no more than 1/8 tsp; sesame oil is very strong)

1 Tbsp. + 1/2 Tsp sesame seeds, divided

3/4 tsp lemon juice

½ tsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp. basic herb/spice blend: “Mrs. Dash” (homemade recipe in previous post)

¼ cup sliced black olives

Mix  the cream cheese and cream  (or substitutes) together until smooth. Add the shredded cheese and mix. Add the sesame or other oil. Add 1 Tbsp. sesame  or other seeds, (if using); mix well.

Add the lemon juice and minced garlic, the herb blend and blend well. Add the black olives. Mix well.
Place in a small covered bowl or container, sprinkle seeds around the edges and garnish with added olive or ?  Chill thoroughly or for several days before serving.

This can be served with any type of cracker. Since I need to go gluten-free for relatives, I like Trader Joe’s Three Seed Beet Crackers .I am also  going to offer Harvest Snaps Red Lentil Tomato Basil snack crisps, available in many major markets.

ALTERNATIVES:  

Vegan “Cream Cheese” is made with cashews. I am told that it is easy to make one’s own, but it is fairly readily available in healthier-food stores  and even supermarkets. With this, you can use 2 tsp. cashew, almond or other plant-based milk instead of cream. You may add vegan ‘cheese’, or leave it out.

Finely chopped nuts can be substituted for sesame seeds, or left out completely. Walnuts, cashews, pecans  and hazelnuts, (filberts), are good choices; almonds are a bit bland to stand up  in this recipe.

Other oils, such as walnut  or almond, or even avocado, should be substituted for sesame oil if you aren’t using sesame seeds; use 1/8 tsp.

Avocado bits make a nice addition if you leave out nuts; fold in at the end.

Pimentos, green olives, or bits of mild chilies can be used in addition to, or instead of, black olives.

I hope that you try this for your friends and family.

Homemade “Mrs. Dash”, Latin and Italian Blends; Buying Herbs/ Spices in bulk

 A long-overdue overview of herbs and spices. This will be far from all-inclusive. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

With the prices climbing drastically, I have been buying herbs and spices in bulk, and grabbing them on sale.  Several teachings which came into vogue a few years back are false and most people pay them no heed now. One is that dried herbs are wrong to use. That is ridiculous. Fresh herbs have their place in some presentations and recipes, but for the most part, dried herbs are on easily kept hand and give you a great deal of flavor for the amount used. Too many fresh herbs ruin the texture of many dishes.

Another useless idea was that you should change out your dried herbs and spices every six-months-to-a-year. Harvesting for most is done once a year, so six months is foolish. Since the harvesting, drying, processing, packaging, shipping, warehousing, stocking and the like take many months, one year is also unreasonable. Kept in cool, dry places, most herbs and spices last for a number of years. And even if they degrade a bit after a while, you can use a bit more.

Avoid “dollar” any kind of herbs and spices in stores; they are the poorest quality. You can do better online and in bulk, or in smaller amounts from specialty shops.

Many of my everyday herbs and spices. The bulk supplies are in tightly-sealed packaging where they are cool and out of the light.

Keeping herbs and spices cool and dry when buying them in bulk can be a challenge. Save large and small jars for these, use vacuum sealers, and/or share with family and friends to keep your supply usable. Some specialty stores, (ethnic or health food), sell repackaged herbs spices which they buy in bulk. Some have containers where you package your own in plastic or paper bags; discard any flimsy packaging these come in and repackage them yourself.  Some stores sell in larger bags. Once opened, repackage and keep them closed.

I have purchased many herbs and spices online and for the most part, have been very pleased. Read the reviews, don’t just look at the number of stars. Many people have no idea how to rate items; great products can get one star from some people, some poor items get four-to-five stars. Read why the people gave the ratings to the items. You can save a lot, but if you get the poorest quality, you are wasting your money.

Price does not always reflect quality. Online prices for the same brand can differ greatly between companies and differ from store prices.

The only bulk problems I have had is with onion and tomato powders; they want to clump. I have some in vacuum sealed bags and some in jars on my kitchen shelves to use regularly. I have to use fork tines scrape enough to use the tomato powder, but the quality is still good. I have rectified the onion powder problem by never sprinkling it over cooking food to avoid steam entering the bottle and always using a dry spoon to carry it to the food.

A little onion powder does wonders for boiled/steamed vegetables, rice, grains and many foods, especially if you wish to avoid or cut back on salt. Sprinkle a small amount in the water of any that you boil or during cooking. A tiny amount in mashed potatoes is wonderful.

There is also another good reason for buying and mixing your own herb blends: you can adjust them to fit your own tastes, the needs of your family and to change things around a bit.

If you do not know a “Mrs. Dash”-type seasoning blend, they started out for low-salt/salt-free diets, however, I love it for many uses.

I use it on simple canned, frozen or freshly cooked vegetables. It does wonders for a side of green beans, peas, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, (together or separately), and good over any roasted vegetables, including potatoes. It is good in or on any type of potato dish and over grains,(rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, any and all).

 It can be used on simple pieces of fried meat, (especially chicken or pork), fish, (baked or fried), and is great on quorn, fried tofu, tempeh, seitan or many plain, plant-based entrees.

It adds a nice element in tuna, chicken or potato salads.

I love it sprinkled on lite cream cheese or vegan substitute on a bagel, toast or an English muffin. Mix it with cream cheese, sour cream or vegan equivalents  for easy dips and spreads. Try sprinkling it on garlic or cheese bread warmed in the oven. It makes cheese sauce a little more special.

Here is a good, basic recipe for a nice herb blend. If and when you are more comfortable with flavors, you  subtract some herbs and add others:

BASIC NO-SALT HERB BLEND

2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder

1 Tbsp. each:

Marjoram
Sage

Thyme

Parsley
Basil

Onion Powder

¼ – ½ tsp Cayenne Pepper

1-2 tsp. Black Pepper

OPTIONAL:

2 tsp dried Lemon Zest

2 tsp Savory

1 tsp Celery flakes or Celery Salt

Dehydrated Vegetables, [SEE BELOW]

Bend all well. If you have a small processor or grinder, (even a cleaned coffee grinder), use these, or  you can place the mix in a plastic bag and pulverize it with a rolling pin, a heavy round bottle or a meat tenderizing mallet. Place is a sealed bottle.

Lemon zest is a nice addition to this. It is a good help when  you don’t use salt and it is  also very good sprinkled on fish before cooking, in or on muffins and cupcakes and in vegetable dishes. Consider having it on hand.

Savory can be hard to find. In fact, I could not find it anywhere locally or even in our next big city. I had not thought to check at the Penzey’s  Spices store,(although it would have cost the amount of gas money to get back home. Again, I mail-ordered it.)

You can make your own Latin blends, too.

Basic  Chili Powder Mix

2 Tbsp. ‘sweet’ paprika

½ tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp. oregano

2 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 ½ Tbsp. onion powder

1 tsp salt-(Optional)

1 ½ tsp tomato powder (Optional)

½ tsp Cilantro (Optional)

Mix well. Keep closed tightly.

Options:  Add flakes or powder of Ancho, Chipotle, or Mesquite. (It’s better not to mix these since they have good, distinct flavors.)  Any one of these is particularly good as a rub for meat or vegetable-based protein with olive oil and then slow-cook them to be made into dishes, such as Cantina Bowls .(Recipes in upcoming posts.) These are also good on roasted corn, mixed with cheeses or sour cream, silken tofu, or any type of yogurt for dressings and sauces for rice, meat and vegetables.

Basic Italian Herb Blend

1 Tbsp. Parsley

1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder

1 Tbsp. Marjoram

1 Tbsp. Basil

Options:

½-1 tsp Ground Rosemary

1 tsp. Oregano
½ tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

(Grind or pulverize and store as above.)

Oregano is a Greek spice. It is used more in Southern Italian cooking than in Northern Italian dishes. It does have its place in Italian cuisine, but can be overused, as can Rosemary, which is also quite strong.  Play around with the flavors for different applications.  Add more Rosemary to chicken or beef.  Add more Oregano to fish or vegetables.

Try different combinations with basic meatless tomato-based sauces, (what is commonly, though erroneously, called “marinara” sauce.)

I hope that you look into bulk herbs and spices. Dehydrated vegetables are also available and can be ground to add to your own blends. I keep green pepper, celery and carrot on hand to add to some of the herb mixes. There are mixes of flaked vegetables on the market, as well.  Use these as toppers for potatoes and other vegetables, or to stews for extra flavor without added salt.

I hope that you try  to keep herbs and spices on hand, and make combinations. They pack a great deal of flavor and if you have them ready, you can make great food in a short amount of time.

Flourless, Gluten-free Mocha Spice Cake

A quick post as I decided to make this Thanksgiving’s Mocha-Spice cake in a flourless version.

If you haven’t tried the flourless chocolate cake I shared some time back, (or anyone else’s recipe), you may not know that it makes a lovely cake that is like a dense brownie.
By cutting back a bit on the cocoa, adding instant coffee or espresso powder and some spices, you will have a nice chocolatey cake that is more in step with Autumnal celebrations.

Flourless Mocha Spice Cake

2 oz. bittersweet or high cocoa dark chocolate +
2 oz milk chocolate

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

3 large eggs

¾ cups sugar of choice, or 2/3 cups stevia  ‘sugar replacement’  for baking, ( made with sugar, erythritol or monkfruit)

1/3 cup cocoa powder

2 Tbsp instant coffee (or espresso powder)

1 tsp EACH nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, or 3 tsp. allspice. (If you know your spices, you can experiment, but you want a hint of spice, nothing overwhelming.)

Melt the chocolates and butter over a double boiler or gently in a microwave; cool slightly.
Beat the eggs slightly; add the sugar or substitute and beat until very light, thick and lemon-colored.
While still beating, stream the chocolate-butter mixture into the eggs slowly, so that the eggs do not cook from the hot mixture.

Add the cocoa, instant coffee and spices, beat well.

Pour into a 8-9 inch baking pan, prepared with baking spray or buttered/greased and dusted with cocoa powder. In either case, parchment on the bottom will help, unless you are using a spring-form pan.

Back at 350F for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean.
It will rise and seem to ‘fall’ but that is normal.

Cool. Dust with a combination of cocoa powder and sugar or stevia; grated dark or milk chocolate and white chocolate also makes a nice presentation, as do fresh berries or nuts. (And as in the picture, mocha-cocoa sea salt, which makes the edges look over-browned.)




I hope that you will try this.

Broths: Meat or Vegetable; (Vegan,Vegetarian, GF, Keto)

 

I find it hard to believe that after all this time I have never done a post of broths.

Broths are the basis of most good soups, sauces and gravies.  You can make tastier rice and other grains, (like quinoa, barley, etc.), by cooking them in broth instead of water.  Broths are extremely healthy and versatile, plus they are a wonderful way to stretch your food dollar.  Frankly,  I feel better making the most of the sacrifice of the meat that I eat.

I always trim meats and vegetables, put them away little by little, into freezer bags and when I have enough, I make broth. I may mix chicken and turkey, but I keep all others separated.

I am eating less and less pork and beef, but the way to make any meat-based broth is simple and the same:

Meat Broths

Use scraps, no matter how fatty, and (hopefully) bones with meat, (at least 2 lbs-worth); bones add extra body, flavor and  a good amount of calcium; the fat will come off later.

1 large onion (whole or cut into quarters)

2 large ribs of celery, cut into halves or quarters (preferably with leaves)

1 Tbs salt (to taste)

½ tsp pepper or 4 peppercorns

2 Tbsp. dried parsley (it makes a real difference in taste, and is a ‘superfood’ a powerhouse of nutrients)

 

(if using a slow-cooker, cook on high with less water; cook for 6-8hours). Add all to a large pot, (3 quart). Fill within 2 inches of the top with cold water. Put on a burner on high until it starts to boil, then turn down to a mild simmer; DO NOT BOIL. Allow 4-6 hours to simmer, (after 3  hours of cooking, you can taste for strength). Thoroughly cool and you can skim off all of the fat that will have risen to the surface.  Strain and discard all meat and vegetables, which will be depleted of taste and most nutrients. (The one exception to this is when I make turkey/chicken broth and use giblets; I use extra meat to make the broth strong quickly and then chop the giblets for dressing.)

Now you can use this for the basis of sauce, gravies or any other types of soups, (many recipes are found in previous posts, with more to come.) Some ideas include: adding precooked meats, (meatballs), or sausages and vegetables. The meats can be barbequed, or spiced, (Asian, Mexican, Italian). You can add vegetables alone in any combination; let your imagination and personal tastes inspire you. You can add noodles, pastas, or barley, or go gluten-free with quinoa, rice, oats, buckwheat, corn, cooked beans and legumes and/or beaten eggs.

Today I have made Egg-Drop Soup with Fresh Spinach and Parmesan. I made it with chicken broth, but often make it with vegetable broth:

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1/8 cup minced onion

2  1/2 cups chopped , fresh spinach or 1 cup cooked/canned spinach

1/4 cup chopped Parmesan cheese -or-
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan

4 beaten eggs

salt and white pepper to taste

Heat the broth. Add spinach, cook.  Add  eggs; stir until just cooked. Add cheese; let it melt and serve hot.

 

Vegetable Broth

Vegetable broth varies much more than my meat-broth recipes depending on the season. I cut the ends from tomatoes, spinach, carrots, green beans, the tops of celery and bok choy,  over-ripe onions, garlic, weak leaves and cores of cabbage, and lettuces, the peelings of quashes, the inner core and pith of bell peppers, you name it. (I avoid outer peelings of onions, and don’t use red ones, shallots or red cabbage as it makes the broth dark purple and unappetizing.) I put them in zip-bags in the freezer and when I have enough, I add salt, white pepper and some dried parsley and, as above, bring it to a boil in large pot of cold water and simmer for 5-6 hours. If using a slow-cooker, I add less water and cook on high for 4-5 hours If you need ideas, here are pictures of some of my gatherings, ready to be simmered into nice vegetable stock:veg stock

 

Any of the additions listed in the recipe for meat broth can be used. To go low calcium, low cholesterol, vegan, you can use plant-based meat substitutes to give your soups more protein, make the substitutes tastier and get more for the money out of them, since they are still generally quite expensive.

 

I hope that you give these recipes a try.  You will find that canned broth or those in aseptic containers pale by far in comparison.

Rich Flourless Chocolate Cake, (Lower-carb, GF,Dairy-free, Keto, Passover)

Looking for a low-carb, gluten-free, Keto or Passover dessert? Look no farther than a flourless cake.

(I cannot find my pictures; sorry)

This is an excellent easy, considerate dessert, or addition to a party table, when you want to accommodate diabetic or gluten-intolerant guests.

Consider adding other flavors for an impressive difference; some ideas are included below.

Depending on just how sweet or low-carb/low calorie you want to go, I give you several alternatives:

Basic cake ingredients:

I ½ oz of (good) bittersweet chocolate. (I use high-cocoa plain candy bars)*

½ cup pure cocoa powder *

1/2 cup butter cut into small pieces

¾ cups sugar of choice, or 2/3 cups stevia  ‘sugar replacement’  for baking, ( made with sugar, erythritol or monkfruit)*

4 eggs

½ cup hot (not boiling) water

Dash of salt

½ tsp vanilla extract, (or  tsp almond extract, mint flavoring, raspberry;  1 tsp hazelnut brandy or coffee liqueur)

*NOTE: More of these ingredients may be needed for toppings, along with any of the suggestions below.

Melt the chocolate gently and carefully in a microwave or double boiler. Add the butter chunks and stir until melted.

Put into a mixing bowl and add the sugar/substitute; add the hot water and beat until smooth.

Add the salt and one egg at a time, as soon as the mixture is slightly cooled, (so the eggs don’t cook). If using, add the flavoring at the end.

Prepare a baking pan (8-9” round, 8-9” square)  with liberal buttering and dusting of cocoa, or use a pan-release, such as Wilton’s, or Pam for Baking. A piece of parchment in the bottom will facilitate the removal of the cake from the pan.

A tart pan or springform pan would make this even easier; the sides pull away in a springform; some tart pans have removable bottoms. The cake can be left in a nice ceramic tart or baking pan, as well, if you can cool it quickly.

Bake at 325F for about 30 minutes.  It will look like it is rising and then fallen; this is normal. Test for doneness by inserting a thin knife, cake tester into the middle of the cake. When it comes out clean, it’s done.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes and remove, (if not using a ceramic baking pan). The cake will be flat and dense and as delicious as it is, it needs a little something on top.

When completely cool, you can dust the cake with cocoa and powdered sugar, (or the substitute baking blend whizzed in a grinder, blender or food processor to make an equivalent ‘powdered sugar’). You can then add grated bittersweet chocolate, nuts, berries or any combination for an even nicer presentation.  Instead of the powdered sugar, you can simply drizzle with melted chocolate, or ganache and serve as soon as the topping is reasonably dry.
I think you will enjoy this as much as my family and guests do.

Lovely Lemon Gluten-Free Cake

 

New Year 2020! I made a Gluten-free Lemon cake which was a hit.

This cake is simple and can be made as low on carbs as you’d like by changing sugar with a Stevia baking mixture, (stevia and sugar, or stevia and erythritol for even fewer carbs).

The delicate lemon flavor would be good for Easter.
Omit the baking powder and feel free to make this for Passover.

 

Lemon Gluten-free Cake

1 ½ cups almond flour (Instructions below on making your own)

4 eggs, separated (whites in one large bowl, yolks in another)

½ cup sugar or stevia baking mix, divided into two ¼ cup portions

1 tsp cream of tartar, (optional)

1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)

1 Tbsp. grated lemon rind

1 ½ – 2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Powdered sugar or substitute sweet baking mix for serving.

Additional garnish of choice, such as almond slices or fruit. (I used fresh raspberries; blackberries would also be a good match. If using fresh fruit slices, such as banana, apple or pear, first dip in lemon juice or citrus soda so that they don’t turn brown; pat dry.)

 

With an electric beater, beat egg whites until very foamy.  Add cream of tartar to add volume and give the egg whites more ‘body’, but it is not essential.  Slowly beat in ¼ cup of sugar or stevia baking mix and beat until the egg whites are firm and glossy; to not let them become dry.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with spoon, whisk, or beat gently with hand mixer; (do the egg whites first; the beaters and bowl must be free of any oils or fats to whip well, but don’t leave them standing for too long).

 

Add the baking powder, (if using), the lemon rind and juice, and mix well. Add the other ¼ cup of sugar or stevia mix slowly and beat well.  Add the almond flour and mix well.

Fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture with a rubber/silicone spatula or a wooden spoon, in a downward, round motion until they are mixed. Mix thoroughly, but try not to deflate the egg whites completely.

This cake is too delicate to be inverted onto a cake rack, so plan on spooning the mixture into a spring-form pan, or into what I used, a tart pan. Either one you use, cover the bottom and insides with baking spray, butter and flour, or painted with cake-release.

Bake at 323F for 35-40 minutes, or until it is slightly browned on the edges and a cake tester comes out clean when put into the middle. Do not open the oven for the first 25 minutes. Whether using baking powder or not, the cake will rise then fall, and this is fine.

Cool, then garnish just before serving.

NOTES:

You can grind fresh, untoasted and even unblanched almonds into flour using a small food processor, a small electric grinder or even a well-cleaned coffee grinder.

As shown on my version of the cake, you can also make ‘powdered sugar’ this way out of sugar baking substitutes; what you see is a stevia-erythritol mix sprinkled over the cake.

You can adjust the strength of the lemon flavor by adding more zest, but I found the subtleness of the amount of lemon that I used refreshing, which would make it lovely for a tea, brunch or after a large meal.

Gluten-free Peanut Butter Cookies: Christmas/Holidays

The cookies shown are made with cookie stamps, but cookie stamps are not necessary in order to make these cookies. By simply pressing them in with a thumbprint, crisscrossed with fork tines, pressed flat with the bottom of a glass or any other creative way you can come up with to flatten them from balls  to disks will work. Look around for any textured glassware as a potential  pressed pattern, such as some of mine:

The recipe below is a variation of some which were in a leaflet that came with a cookie stamp. If you are not familiar with cookie stamps, they are generally made of ceramic with terra cotta with imprints on the bottom. The idea is to impress an image into individual cookies.

 

They are so darling, I could have collected a number of them, but I have limited myself to these, since good recipes are not easy to come by:

The biggest problem with cookie stamps is that most cookie recipes call for leavening, (generally baking powder and/or baking soda), and that causes the stamped images to become distorted.

As it is, even with the recipe below, the images are still not terribly clear, which is why I happened on the idea of ‘painting’ them.  Add powdered or paste colors to heavy cream as liquid colors make the ‘paint’ too thin.(Make the white more easily seen by adding white coloring or icing whitener.)
Use good, fine-point synthetic paintbrushes which can be sterilized, one for each color. Brush scantily along the risen images, just enough to bring the patterns out, and allow plenty of time for the cookies to dry thoroughly before putting them in any covered container or having them touch.

If you prefer to not use stamps, you may decorate with sprinkles, jimmies, peanuts or nuts.

(The most effective way to use the stamps, (or any utensil you wish to use), without  them sticking to the dough, is to lightly brush them with a bland vegetable oil or to use a vegetable oil cooking spray after pressing every 2-3 cookies.)

Flavorful Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

1  1/4  cups smooth peanut butter
(homogenized or well-stirred natural peanut butter; do not use “chunky” style)

1 cup white sugar or equivalent sugar,
-or-
3/4 cups brown or palm sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

Beat the peanut butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the egg and beat until quite light. Add the extract and mix well.
The texture may not appear to be smooth, but roll dough by hand into glossy, uniform balls,  3/4 -to-1  inches in diameter. Place on ungreased baking sheets and stamp, press with a fork or glassware to a 1/8 inch depths. (At this point, if you are using decorations or nuts, add now.) Bake at 325F for approximately 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm to the touch. Do not overbake. Allow to cool completely before  ‘painting’. Dry thoroughly  and place in airtight container.

 

GOOD, and Easy Gluten-Free Christmas/Holiday Cookies

Looking for really nice and gluten-free cookies for the holidays?  Here are two recipes that will impress even those who don’t need to go GF.

Of course, other than cookies, there are other gluten-free offerings which I will be serving, among them, quinoa-based dressing, rice pudding, cranberry relish and chiffon, (recipes in previous posts).

In a hurry, I decided that I could cheat by rising the temperature; unfortunately, that was a mistake, as they browned a little more than they should have. Leaving them in the oven for longer at lower temperatures will give you an even nicer presentation, however, depending on the sugars used, the colors could be darker, but none of these affect the flavors.

Both recipes are easy and need no prior refrigeration, rolling, cutting or icing/decorating afterward. A few sprinkles, jimmies, dates or nuts on top before baking is all that is needed to  make them a little fancier.

Also, both recipes feature dates. You may wish to experiment with well-drained maraschino cherries, Crasins in your favorite flavor or other dried fruits, feel free to do so. (I will be!)

Also, going with margarine in the second recipe makes both  dairy-free.

 

Walnut-Date Meringues

Whites of two large eggs

1/2 cup sugar, (white, coconut, date, combination or equal in stevia baking mix)

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped dates

Assorted sprinkles, (if using)
or extra dates or walnuts for decoration

Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the sugar(s) and vanilla slowly and mix until the egg whites are solid white but not dry.
Fold in (or gently mix by hand) the nuts and dates.

Drop by small spoonfuls onto liberally greased baking sheets,(or use baking spray).

Decorate with sprinkles or extra nuts/dates.

Bake slowly in a 290F oven for about  2 ½ hours; (check after 2). You want them to be quite dry. Remove to rack gently and allow to cool completely. Place in airtight container.

 

Pineapple, Pecan and Date  Drop Cookies

1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup light brown sugar,(or date or coconut sugar)

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla or natural butter flavor
or  2 tsp brandy

½ tsp cinnamon (optional)

1 ½   cup chopped pecans

1  ¼ cup chopped dates (or other semi-dry fruit)

1  – 15 oz can crushed pineapple in juice, well-drained

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

2 cups or equivalent of gluten-free flour, (I used 1 full cup quinoa flour and 1 scant cup banana flour)

Beat the butter or margarine, sugar(s) and eggs until light. Add the flavoring, baking powder and baking soda; beat well.
Add the pineapple, dates and pecans, beat on low or mix well by hand.
Beat in the flour(s).

Note: Quinoa, chickpea and some other flours have strong flavors of their own, which is why I mixed them in this recipe. Flavoring is essential, and a little cinnamon is very helpful in disguising the flavor of the flours.)

Let sit for 5 minutes.

Drop by small spoonfuls onto  baking sheets  which are greased or lined with baking parchment. Flatten slightly.

Sprinkle with jimmies, colored decorator sugars, extra nuts, dates or pieces of fruit used.

Bake in a 300F oven for 1 hour (or longer). The dough is wet and you want these cookies to dry out in the low heat of the oven, browned on the bottom and not soft. They may appear tough, or overly dry when cooled,  but will soften when placed in an air-tight container. As with tea breads and other baked goods with fruit, these taste even better after the flavors develop in a day or two.

I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season, whatever you choose to celebrate and a wonderful 2020!

Stovetop or Baked Stuffing: Standard, Gluten-Free and/or Vegan

 

 

Thanksgiving is here in America and with all of the holidays coming up, I find it hard to believe that I have never posted recipes for stuffing/dressing. Call it what you will, even if you need to go gluten-free or are vegan, you can enjoy this traditional side dish.

 

My family traditional dressing is made with bread cubes and turkey broth, often with giblets.  I make a vegan version without the giblets, and with vegetable broth. Although you can use bread cubes, I go gluten-free and use quinoa.

 

Stuffing/Dressing, Baked or Stovetop

3 cups of bread cubes – OR- 1 1/2  cups of cooked quinoa, (prepared with ½ of the recommended amount of water);
set aside

¾ stick of butter or margarine

1 ½ cups minced celery

1 cup minced yellow onion

3 Tbs marjoram

3 Tbs. sage (rubbed)

½ tsp celery salt

(Or the equivalent in poultry seasoning of the last 3 ingredients)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp. ground pepper (any color)

2 Tbs milk, (cow or plain nut)

1  ½  + cups broth

 

In a heavy, large pan melt the butter or margarine

Add the celery and onion
Add the seasonings

sauté until the onions and celery are soft;
add milk.

Simmer for 15 minutes until the milk is absorbed.

Add the broth, (and giblets if using), and simmer for ½ hour

Place the bread cubes or quinoa in a large bowl. Pour the cooked dressing mix over while it is still hot, and stir until it is mostly absorbed into the bread. (If the bread seems too dry, add more broth; the quinoa will not absorb the mix until it is baked or cooked)

At this point, you can:

  1. place in a well-buttered casserole dish and bake uncovered at 325F for an hour or until it is browned at the edges and fairly dry in the middle
  2. cook on the stovetop, in a large, heavy-gauge pan, (preferably with ceramic or other non-stick coating),  stirring often, until fairly dry
  3. stuff dressing made with bread into a chicken; double the recipe  to stuff a turkey

I hope that you find this helpful, especially for those of you who find yourselves with family or friends who cannot enjoy traditional dressing.