Pocket bread that’s Gluten-free and Vegan!

This was my first time making these…. it’s comparable to Pita bread, only the bread itself isn’t hollow. I was looking over the recipe at fork and beans, but made a few changes to fit what I had on hand…. and really, really would like to replicate this again and again and again! I am down to just a few days left before the kids go back to school and need ways to pack lunches…. and typical GF sandwich bread is just so terribly crumbly that I always feel guilty feeding it to them. I have made “pancake” bread and cut it into fun shapes, muffins galore…. but haven’t found something that would work well for chick pea salad, or hummus, etc etc. THIS IS IT!! I can assure you, they hold what you stuff inside… and I was even a little “rough” shoving food in just to check it out…. but I made 12 pockets all together, and NONE of them tore!! They held up well while being eaten, they tasted good, and the kids liked them.

DSC_1012Here’s the recipe I used if you want to give it a try… or go check out the “original” recipe (she has so many amazing things on her site…. very inspiring!)

I DID proof my yeast, though…. I don’t usually (laziness?)

Liquid:
2 cups warm/ hot water
2.5 tsp yeast
2 tsp maple syrup
2 TBLS vegetable oil of choice
1/4 cup ground flax

Dry:
1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cups sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp xanthan gum

Okay, so first off, add the water (warm, like 110*), yeast, and syrup. Mix them up well and let them sit for a bit and get all nice and frothy. Then add in the oil and ground flax. Gently mix in… and continue to stir up until the flax seems like it’s starting to create it’s famous “egg white” consistency.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. While the mixer is running, begin adding the liquid to the dry. It will be a fairly sticky dough. Keep running it a little longer just to ensure everything is incorporated really well.

Turn out the dough (use a spatula if needed to scrape off the sides) into a clean bowl and allow it to rise for 45mins (I do use my dehydrator set at 110* for rising…. partly because it has a timer and partly because it’s conveniently out of the way for me.)

When it’s done rising, preheat the oven for 450* (okay, again, I use the convect bake setting so I can bake more than one pan at a time….)

Set up two baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 10 balls and position them on the pan. (Think like the 5 on a dice for positioning.) Then, grab a bowl of water to use for dipping your fingers into. With wet fingers, flatten the dough ball into round pancake shaped sizes…. maybe 1/4″ thick? Try to keep the exterior slightly thicker than the middle.

Place them into the oven for 5 minutes. Pull them out, flip them. Place them into the oven for 3 minutes. Pull them out, transfer to a cooling rack. (I even moved them to the freezer so we could eat them sooner.) Then, using a SHARP serrated knife… like a tomato knife, cut them in half, and then cut into the center of each to cut the pocket. Use common sense here… don’t cut all the way through. And that’s it! 20 amazing pockets…. And in this picture, I squirted some mustard in, then filled with a couple spoonfuls of hummus, added tomato, spinach, and topped with more hummus. They were FULL, and they didn’t crack or tear.  The sorghum gave it that slightly “wheat” flavor, and the flax added some pretty speckles… as well as a lot of fiber and omega 3s, and the yeast gave it the traditional yeast bread smell/ flavor associated with pita bread.

This is our lunch answer!

Tomato…. powder! A quick and easy way to store extra tomatoes when you are all canned out.

DSC_1012This is my tomato powder….  it’s what is left of 20 tomatoes. With this, I can do lots of things, add a TBLS here or there to boost flavor, or make tomato sauce or tomato paste. I will likely use it mostly for tomato paste or adding in to soups to flavor the broth because I don’t buy “cubes”.  And in terms of making into tomato paste, this will make the equivalent of 8 6oz cans of store bought stuff. (Or a cost savings of  about $4.5)

Now, in terms of cost savings…. it’s not much. So, I strongly urge anyone curious about their own veggie garden NOT to think of it as a way to save money, especially not upfront. I do save money…. probably all in all about $200 a year…. but that is no where near enough motivation if that’s all it is to you. Gardens require work, weeding, watering, cultivating, pruning, harvesting, attention, and time… and when bunnies or bugs get to your stuff it will drive you crazy if all you care about is money. If we don’t do it for the money….what do we do it for?

Well, glad you asked! First and foremost…. I enjoy having a vegetable garden. I like to sip on my coffee while inspecting the garden in the morning. I love to get my hands in the dirt…. to plan the layout…. to watch things sprout and grow…. to witness the amazing process of something going from a tiny seed into a giant pumpkin. It gives me utter respect for our planet, for our food, and for our lives. And it may take a while for your palette to be able to discern the difference in “fresh from the garden” and “from the grocery store” but there is a HUGE difference. Not just in flavor, but color, texture, smells….. it’s 100x the quality. Garden produce might not always be as big and tempting as what you see at the store, but I would venture to say it has more nutrients packed in there for you. (and I know what’s not on my plants!)

Tomatoes are (in my opinion) one of the best tasting things straight from the garden. I like to pick and prepare my tomatoes within hours to maintain that…. but at the moment, I have created enough sauce, eaten enough fresh, and added tomatoes into just about every meal we’ve had for the past month. And I still have a lot of green tomatoes to ripen up yet. Practically every day I go out and pick another large bowl full…. additionally, I am out of cupboard space for storing, out of the right sized jars for sauces, and out of freezer space….. SO…. it is time to utilize the power of the dehydrator!

I actually think this might be one of the more efficient methods to storing tomatoes…. there is VERY minimal waste of the fruit.
Just wash them up in cool water and slice them into 1/4″ slices. Lay them out on the dehydrator sheets, dehydrate at 125* for about 8-12 hours and then, move them to a freezer bag, freeze, and toss into a blender and turn it into a “powder”. As an additional “precaution” I spread the powder onto a parchment layer on a dehydrator sheet and give it another couple of hours in the dehydrator.

Other than that, just jar it and add it to water as needed!
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Ratios of tomato paste to water
Paste: 1:1
Sauce: 1:4

What do you enjoy about gardening?

Gluten-Free Vegan PIZZA!!!! (With a crust you can hold.)

image(1)We started doing Friday pizza like 7 years ago or something insane like that. It began as a night that I didn’t have to cook…. and we could either order pizza or cook up a frozen one…. some times we’d mix it up and do calzones or pizza subs or pizza bagels or any other way you can think of eating pizza.
 
Since getting diagnosed…. I still hold the tradition, although it no longer represents a night off. The first time I had gluten-free pizza I was almost in shock…. I just assumed it was “pizza” (like it’s name alone transforms it into some other food group) that hurt my belly. I can never recall a time where I felt good after eating it…. I just would…. because it was there and it tasted good and everybody is supposed to love pizza, that is engrained in us early on in life. But this stuff, while it definitely leaves you full… doesn’t leave you with a swollen mass of a tummy! (and it’s actually, dare I say, healthy!?)

I started with the store bought gluten-free crust…. I don’t know if it’s just me…. but I didn’t like it all that much, and I didn’t like the price tag. So, I evolved. I found a recipe and I tweaked and made it all my own…. but it was a thin crust. And… it was hit or miss really if the crust was going to crack into a million pieces as you tried to bring the pizza up to your mouth. I missed having a slice I could hold, and I’ve never been a thin crust kinda girl. Forks were nice, and I learned to give pizza crust some amazing punches of flavor, but the thick breadiness I liked about pizza was lacking….

Then I found a recipe that looked promising in the cookbook “Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats” by Allyson Kramer, and was pretty happy with it, but found it difficult to roll and transfer and decided to again, tweak and figure this mystery out.

So…. I played. And wouldn’t you know, it’s not all that hard!
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The dough is a yeast dough, but don’t let that scare you off. I also like my crusts to be nice and flavorful so I add in oregano, basil, onion, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt…. it’s really yummy.

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Now…. the beauty of this crust is that you don’t have to fight with a rolling pin to attempt to roll out a gluten-free dough between parchment paper layers. You simply plop out the ball of dough onto the pan (lightly sprinkle corn flour on the pan beforehand) and then use the heel of your hand to spread the dough out. I like to make a big circle (and this is a big pan.) bringing the dough all the way out to the edges. If some seems to thick on one side and not thick enough on the other, well then, tear off and transfer. Easy as pie.
Speaking of pie…. I then pinch up the edges and form it much like a pie crust. Feel free to start singing at this point…. When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie it’s amore….

Before you put this pizza crust in the oven, you will need to let it rise…. because of the yeast and all. So, let it sit on the stove while the oven is preheating (to 425*) and let it rise for about 15-20mins. I don’t think you visually see a huge difference at this point, but there is a definite difference in the final product, so don’t skip this step. After this, pop it in the oven for 15mins. (and while that’s baking, make sure you’ve made your pizza sauce, and chopped up lots of veggies…. and grate that homemade mozzarella cheeze!)
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After the crust is done baking, you might look at it and wonder if you did this correctly. It does look like this…. but…. if you look closely, those cracks don’t go very deeply. There IS bread beneath it…. you did good if it looks like this.

image(1)So, at this point, you spread on a nice amount of sauce, add your veggie toppings of choice, add your cheeze, sprinkle on some more basil and oregano, add some nutritional yeast if you like, and on these pizzas I grated up the last of my homemade dairy-free Parmesan and added that to the top too. Then take a dish of oil and brush onto the crust…. it gives it a little more sheen and browns up nicely. Back into the oven it goes (with the temp now dropped to 400*) for 12mins. And voila….. pizza…. that you can (wait for it……)

         *********HOLD!!!!!******

image(2)Now what are you waiting for…. it is time for you to go make some super yummy gluten-free/ vegan pizza!!

image(3)P.S. This is kid friendly, and mother approved.

Pizza crust: (makes one 14″ pizza crust)
1 1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 cup rice flour (plus another 1/4 in reserve)
1/2 cup tapioca starch
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 garlic powder
1 TBLS raw sugar
2 TBLS ground flax
2 TBLS olive oil
1 1/4 cup water at least 110*

Using a stand mixer, mix up ALL of the dry ingredients together. Add in the oil. Add in the warm water while the mixer is running. Immediately begin to add in the reserved 1/4 cup of rice flour until you have a nice dough…. should hold it’s shape, not be too sticky, not be too runny, but not too dry either.

Turn out onto a pan dusted with cornmeal. (And if you don’t have cornmeal, rice flour can be used too.) Press the dough into it’s circular shape on the pan (and really a traditional pizza pan with holes is best for this crust…. I’ve tried it on a stone as well, and it just doesn’t come out as nicely). Shape the “crust” however you wish along the edges in a pinching manner. (Like a pie crust)

preheat oven to 425*. Allow crust to rise in a fairly warm, undisturbed place for 15-20mins while oven is preheating. Bake for 15mins.

While crust is baking……

Pizza sauce: (makes enough for two 14″ pizzas)
12 oz tomato paste
1 1/4 cup water
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1-2 TBLS raw sugar
2 TBLS ground flax
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

mix it all up…. add more or less of anything to taste.

Chop up all your toppings and grate your cheeze. I recommend some or all of the above: green peppers, onions, black olives, zucchini, yellow summer squash, spinach, cherry tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, pineapple, mushrooms, or anything else you desire.

Pull pizza crust out. Decrease oven temp to 400*. Top with half of the recipe of pizza sauce. Add toppings anyway you like. Add your grated cheeze (I now make my own mozzarella…. but daiya cheeze is already grated and ready to go and works pretty nicely as well.) Sprinkle more basil and more oregano…. and nutritional yeast if you wish…. and pop it back in the oven for another 12 mins.

Pull it out and you should be able to cut right away with a pizza cutter. IF the crust seems a little stuck (sometimes I’ve had this where I must’ve pressed too hard and it baked into the holes) let it cool for a few minutes, then use a spatula to gently coax it…. once one is up, the others are easy. But you SHOULD be able to just lift it off…. in fact the crust may have lifted itself off in it’s first round baking.

Happy Pizza!!
image(1) If you are still with me, you win a fun free tip from a mom of four. I have designed this crust recipe so that you can add all your dry ingredients and put them in a ziplock bag and store in the fridge until you are ready…. and you can put a few together. Then when you are ready for it, just add some oil, and your heated water…..ba bam! You are ready to go. Oooooh yeah. You-re welcome. 😉 (Make a double batch of sauce while your at it…. put some in a glass mason jar, lid it, and put it in the freezer if unsure of your next pizza night, or fridge it if it’ll be in a week or so….

Vegan Cheesemaking

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This is a pepper jack cheese wheel from a recipe in the non-dairy evolution cookbook. I have discovered that my 6″ cake pan works well as a cheese mold, hahaha…. duel purpose! I grew the peppers that I used in there this summer, so I felt extra proud. The Vegan cheeses aren’t like real cheese…. but…. the taste is similar, and I can cut these into cubes and skewer them with cherry tomatoes and other veggies…. or grapes, and it will work well for lunches, or just putting a slice on a cracker! (usually a homemade gluten-free one) The option to have a variety of cheese is liberating. But when it comes to vegan cheese….. less is definitely more.

In my pre-dairy-free days (that seems like a lot of hyphens…), I experimented with all sorts of things…. I made yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, butter from cream that I scooped off of chilled raw milk, mozzarella, and ricotta cheese…. I think that’s it… the raw milk was my last attempt to see if maybe it was just the quality of milk that was causing problems for me.

Because I had done all those things I felt especially “cramped” when I initially began my new life dairy-free. Until I discovered that I could make any of the milks by myself easy enough! (Although, silk soymilk remains our family favorite.) But, that got the ball rolling for me…. and now…. I have made dairy-free yogurt (which I haven’t been super successful with, but have cultures from cultures for health and a new recipe I intend to try out this week.), sour cream, cream cheese, butter, buttermilk, mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, a cashew soft cheddar, and pepperjack…. plus whipped cream from coconut milk, various ice creams (coconut milk bases are our favorites, and all sorts of milks….. and in order to make some of these I had to make quinoa rejuvelac, which was surprisingly simple.

Now, when I think about it, leading a dairy-free life as a DIY kitcheneer…. there are actually WAY more options of things to try!

One cookbook in particular that I have used a bit is The Non-dairy Evolution Cookbook. While the cookbook and the chef are most definitely not gluten-free, it IS vegan and so becomes very handy for things like dairy and egg replacement ideas. Mayo, dressing, cheese, butter, eggless egg dishes, etc… and discovering all sorts of cheese has been so fun!! Mostly the only recipes he has in there that involve gluten based items are not the ones required to make staples. It’s really, really easy to make most of these cheeses…. you do need to order a few items before you get started, unless you happen to have a store near by that sells lactic acid and kappa carrageenan…. but once you have them, you can get started and play with it for a LONG time to come. (Initially I wanted to make every kind of cheese all at once, but pulled my own reins back when I realized I had plenty of time to play and could pace myself.) And if you are a little leary of carrageenan, fear not, the majority of the recipes do not use it. Pretty much just the block and wheel cheeses because they can be grated and melted… and the carrageenan is mostly for meltability. (and they do melt…. better than daiya.)

From that particular cookbook, I have learned that I much prefer the cultured cheddar to the “block and cheese” cheddar…. and I haven’t tried the tofu based cheese yet, I needed to pick up agar agar and it took me a few weeks to get to it. And the mayo recipe he has is about as close as it gets. I mean, really…. it is good. And his ranch dressing recipe is practically spot on. We tried out quite a few bottles of dressing (store bought) and most of them were not there…. and I was getting a little depressed.

Anyway…. food for thought……. The kitchen is a playground!

Raw Sugar can become brown sugar and powdered sugar in less than 5 minutes.

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Did you know….. while standing in the aisle of sugars scratching your head figuring out which kind to buy…. that regardless of what you end up bringing home, you can use it to create your own “powdered” sugar and “brown” sugar in a matter of minutes?

It really helps to know these things if you are in the midst of a baking escapade and suddenly run out.

I feel slightly overwhelmed in the world of sugar options…. so I buy washed raw sugar and call it a day. One day I’m sure information will begin filtering options down a bit…. but for now…. raw sugar just feels like a safe bet. I don’t use cane sugar in EVERYTHING…. a lot of things get sorghum syrup, maple syrup, fruit juice, etc etc….. but I bake and make EVERYTHING for our family of 6, and well, sugar happens.

But, being able to grab a few of the same bag and come home and turn it into three products feels…… simple. I like simple.

So, here’s what I do. Brace yourself….. I open the first bag and pour it into it’s canister. I then open the next bag and pour it into my high powdered blender…. turn it on high for 3 mins or so and voila…. powdered sugar. (Now, granted, it’s not as perfect and smooth as the bag stuff, but it WILL make some yummy frosting and it will make chocolate for me…. and that’s about all I need it for.) Pour that into the “powdered sugar” canister. Now, I simply take two cups out of the first canister and toss that into the blender…. add 2-3 TBLS of some yummy sorghum syrup and pulse until mixed in. Aaaand I have brown sugar. (molasses works too, but I kind of have a love affair with sorghum since it gives me my favorite flour.)

All done. Three pretty sugars. (The brown sugar is practically like a candy by itself.)

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Birthday Cake! (Gluten-free, Vegan)

I have made this cake…. oh…. 4 times this summer? Yes. I have. And I can tell you…. it works. YOU can bake a gluten-free AND vegan layered birthday cake. AND you can frost it! How cool is that? I have had friends, family, neighbors….. all try this cake and join us in various celebrations and have yet to have anyone say, “Yes, I can totally tell this is gluten free.” In fact…. all these people who are not on a crazy diet like me…. think it tastes just like cake, and they like it. I can tell….. but I’ve also baked a lot of cakes, lol. But it works, serves it’s purpose, and doesn’t make me sick…. so I will keep on baking this cake!
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So, the recipe is HERE from this wonderful lady….  I make a few changes…. mostly because I like to have quite a few flour varieties…. so I do 1/2 cup Sorghum, 1/2 brown rice, 1/2 cup sweet rice. (In place of the 1 1/2 cups brown rice.) and in place of applesauce…. I use 1 large banana. And then I also toss in about 1-2 TBLS of ground flax for good measure.

I prepare my pans with crisco (not the best stuff in the world…. but it serves it’s purpose for lining cake pans.) and then flour the pans with rice flour. (make sure to tap all the way around so every bit of that crisco is covered and every interior surface is covered. Then…. after I bake, let it cool for about 10mins…. then flip out the cake onto a cooling rack. I have yet to have one NOT come out cleanly or break on me, they’ve all cooperated. Then, after about 30mins, I move my cooling rack to the freezer to speed the process…. I am usually on a time restriction and need to get frosting.

For frosting….. let’s just make this easy on everyone. I can look up a frosting recipe in any book or anywhere and adapt it. And so can you. Use Earthbalance in place of butter. Crisco if you absolutely feel it’s necessary for shortening…. like it’s 90* in your house or something….. and if it’s maybe not 90* but 80*…. I add in a little coconut oil to make sure my frosting doesn’t melt off. Any milk it calls for, I use soy or almond…. maybe even coconut. That’s it. Just get the consistency right. I usually add a pinch of salt to my frostings to cut the sweetness a bit…. but I mean…. it’s one of the easier things to do. 😉

Now…. go bake a birthday cake!!!

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Gluten-Free Oat-Free Vegan Cereal Bars

I came up with this recipe after looking over TONS of other people’s yummy recipes…

I sometimes get so annoyed about not being able to eat certain things, I’m almost willing to just pretend like it doesn’t hurt me, lol…. but oats…. really do pose a problem for me. I guess it’s normal in a small percentage of people with celiac. My Dr. just answers with “Huh… I don’t know…. did you try gluten-free oats?” YES, of course I did!! But oats cause an almost instant reaction that is similar, but not as intense as gluten. So…. all those wonderful gluten-free recipes that use oats for it’s “wonderful chewiness” or oat flour or oat anything….. make me almost want to cry. (especially when I am trying to figure out a way to make gluten-free seitan and the nearest recipe I could find includes oats and the author sites, “Oats really make this, so I don’t think it can be done without.” Grrrrrrr

BUT, this is one thing that I HAVE been able to do without oats…. the kids love them, the husband loves them…. I love them…. they are super easy…. and on mornings when I have these available, I wake up with a smile…. because I don’t have to bake anything!! 😉 I’ve made these lots lots lots…..

DSC_0917 (2)Gluten-free Oat-free Vegan Cereal Bars:
2 cups dates (all blended up in a food processor to make a nice big “mash”)
3-5 cups of gluten-free rice crispies or gluten-free corn or rice chex (I kind of think I like rice crispies better because I don’t have to crunch them up…. but both work wonderfully!)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 cups cashews (not soaked)

Start by mashing up those dates. Move those to a bowl. Melt the peanut butter and mix well with the syrup (either on a stove or in a microwave, take your pick.) Mix in the rice crispies or corn or rice chex to the date mash…. really squish and squash to mixed it up well (clean hands are pretty important at the start of this.) Start with less and add more in if the mixture seems to gooey. If you feel like the mixture is too dry…. add in more pb or more mashed dates. A lot seems dependant on the dates, some packages are just more dry than others and I don’t know why. Toss in those cashews to your date dirtied food processor and chop them up to bits. Add in the melted peanut butter/ syrup goop and the cashews and just do more squishing and squashing until it’s all nicely mixed up.

Using a 9″X13″ baking dish, line it with wax or parchment paper up over the sides so you can pull it out later. Then squish all of the mixture into the pan…. press FIRMLY and even everything out. It’s kind of like making rice crispie treats…. only much, much less sticky.

When everything is packed in all nice and tight, put it in the freezer for about 30 mins.- 1 hour. (If you go to pull it out and it seems a little flimsy, put it back in the freezer til it pulls out like a firm brick.) Just pull up on the parchment paper to pull it out and lay on a surface. I like to cut the lengthwise center first, then cut the “bars” about 1-1.5″ wide….. usually I get 18 or so.

IF you get a few that fall apart on you, squish them together into a shape of sorts…. they’ll still taste good. Then, I just place these in a freezer bag, and keep in the freezer! You can eat them straight out of the freezer…. no thaw time needed. They are perfect… and on busy mornings, or running late…. you can’t go wrong. I believe I typed in all the ingredients to a “nutrition” calculator and got about 4-6g protein per bar. Not so bad!!

Enjoy!!