Honey Oat Bread (Gluten-free)

SlicedLoaf
Bread and I have an interesting history. I began my life eating white bread, as did most children in the 80s. I was never one for the limp, dry crust, so my mother kindly removed it by cutting my sandwiches into circles and other creative shapes using cookie cutters. I was popular at lunch time! As the anti-white bread movement picked up steam in the 90s, my mother decided to switch us to potato and whole wheat breads. By whole wheat, I don’t mean the beautiful quality grainy breads that are available today. I’m talking about the bread that was little more than caramel colored white bread.

Eventually, I found my way to the beautiful whole grain breads with tangible bits of grain. Twelve-grain and honey oat breads became staples in my home. I had finally fallen in love with bread. I had my first experience with homemade bread when I was sick and a lovely older lady from my church brought over a freshly baked loaf and some chicken soup for me. WOW! If I had been in love with bread before, I was now over the moon. Sadly, the love affair ended when I became intolerant to wheat about two years ago.

Then, something amazing happened. I met a young woman with a ton of food allergies herself, including many of my own (wheat and corn among them) and she suggested a wheat and corn-free oat bread that she buys from a local health food store. While that sounded appealing (and a personal endorsement of a gluten-free product is important to me), I knew there had to be a way to make it myself. I found this recipe for Gluten-free Honey Oat Bread and it has been a minor miracle. It’s hearty, perfectly textured, wheat and corn-free, delicious, and amazingly easy! Even better, most of the ingredients are things I keep around the house anyways. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

Ingredients
2 scant Tbsp yeast
1 1/2 Cups Warm water
1/4 Cup Olive oil
1/4 Cup + 2 Tbsp Honey (Agave may be substituted, see below**)
3 1/3 Cups Oat flour* (10.6 oz)
1/2 Cup Rice flour* (2.8 oz)
1/2 Cup Corn starch (or tapioca flour)
2 tsp Xanthan gum (for a xanthan gum replacement, I like this)
1 tsp Salt
4 Eggs, warmed to room temperature

Preheat the oven to 200° F. Line a 10 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and spray well with cooking spray.

Combine the yeast and water (105-115° F) and allow to sit for several minutes until the surface begins to foam. Add the oil, honey (or agave), flours, starch, and xanthan gum (or alternative) and beat until combined (do not use bread hooks). Add the salt and eggs. Beat for a few minutes minutes more until dough appears fluffy. Pour into the parchment lined loaf pan.

RisenDoughCover the loaf pan with a damp cloth. Turn the oven off, and place both the loaf pan and a shallow pan containing a small amount of water into the warmed oven. Allow the dough to rise for 20 to 30 minutes until doubled, checking after 20 minutes.

SlicedBreadWhen the dough has risen, remove it from the oven and increase the temperature to 350° F. Sprinkle the top of the risen loaf with some more oats and cut a few slits in the top with a serrated knife. Bake for about 45 minutes. Removed the bread from the pan immediately and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool before cutting.
 
 
*You can make your own oat or rice flour by grinding dried oats or rice in a blender or food processor until they become a fine powder. When grinding my own, I found that the oat flour felt like a very fine powder and the rice flour retained a slightly gritty texture.

**If using agave nectar, reduce the temperature by 25° F and increase the baking time. The bread is done when the internal temperature reaches 200° F.

Lemon Ricotta Thumbprint Cookies

Lemon Ricotta Thumbprint Coolies

I’ve been so incredibly busy. I’m still working at the hospital to finish the required clinical time for my Advanced EMT license. I’m also teaching 7 classes per week at the dance studio, building websites, and cooking up a storm. With the shorter days (whose bright idea was it to make it get dark at 4 pm in October???), I seem to be in hibernation mode. However, these bright and fruity cookies were enough to shake me out of the doldrums. They taste like a bite of Spring!

Ingredients
2 Sticks butter, softened
8 oz Ricotta cheese
1 tsp Lemon extract
2 Cups Flour
1/4 Cup Granulated sugar
Jelly or Jam (I used raspberry and apricot, but I believe blueberry would be terrific)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat butter, ricotta and vanilla together until creamy. Mix in flour to form dough. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Form dough into 1/2 tablespoon balls and roll in granulated sugar. Use 1/2 tsp measure to create an indentation in each cookie. Fill each cookie with about 1/4 tsp of jelly or jam.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until cookies are golden on the bottom. Let cool completely.

Adapted from Ricotta Thumbprint Cookies.

Homemade Bagels

Homemade Bagels
Ingredients
1 1/2 tsp Sugar, divided
1 tsps Active dry yeast
1/2 Cup + 2 to 4 Tbsp Warm water, divided3/4 tsp Salt
2 Cups Bread flour (9.6 oz Gold Medal Better Than Bread Flour)
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 Tbsp Vegetable oil

Combine 1/4 Cup of warm water (105°-110°F), 1/2 tsp sugar, and the yeast in a liquid measuring cup. Allow the mixture to sit for several minutes until the surface begins to foam. (Some would say that this step isn’t necessary if you’re using instant yeast, but I find that it can’t hurt and only takes a few extra seconds. I’d rather do this than get to the end and realize my yeast was bad when the dough doesn’t rise.)

While waiting for the yeast to proof, combine the flour, remaining sugar, salt, and vegetable oil. Add the yeast mixture, plus 1/4 Cup and two tablespoons of the warm water. The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra 2 tablespoons of water if the dough is really stiff or you can’t get all the dry flour incorporated.

Turn the dough down onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about ten minutes or until the dough is uniform and smooth.

Cut the dough into 4 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes. Yeast dough is happiest between 70 and 80 degrees. If your kitchen is too cool, turn on the oven for just 1-2 minutes and then let the dough rise in there. Do not forget to turn the oven back off before proofing your dough.

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Take each dough ball and use two hands to roll it into a snake slightly longer than the width of both hands. When the snake is the proper length, wrap it around your dominant hand so the overlapping ends are together at your palm near the base of your fingers. Use your palm to squish the overlapping ends together. Once the dough is fused, slip it off of your hand and you should have a perfectly circular ring of dough. Try not to get discouraged if they aren’t shaped quite perfectly. It takes a bit of practice.

Let your bagels rest on the counter for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and grease a large baking tray lightly with vegetable oil.

After 20 minutes, your bagels should start to look puffy. Add as many as you can to your boiling water without crowding. Boil you bagels for about a minute on each side. Remove them from the water, allowing them to dry briefly, and place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.

Place the tray in the oven. Bake the bagels for 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through the cooking time.

Let them cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

To create flavored bagels like sesame seed or onion, spread the seed or slice on a small dry plate. Place the boiled, dried bagels face down onto the plate to coat and then place them seed side up on the baking tray. Bake and flip as described above.

Adapted slightly from Homemade Bagel Recipe by John D Lee.

Zucchini Bread (Grain, oil, and dairy free)

Zucchini Muffins
I grew up in the era of processed food, in a time when scientists and nutrition gurus told us that margarine and Snackwells cookies were healthy and that whole foods like beef and eggs were not. Much of my mother’s baking came from a boxed mix, but one thing that she always made from scratch was zucchini bread. I could eat that stuff for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I enjoy other quick breads, but zucchini bread has always been my favorite. I suppose it reminds me of sitting on the counter, wooden spoon in hand, learning how to bake with my mother.

On Sunday, a coworker gave me two beautiful zucchini squash and my first thought was about zucchini bread. I may not be able to have wheat, but I can still have my zucchini bread. This time, I made muffins because I wanted something easy and portable.

Ingredients
Cooking spray
2 Cups Cooked chickpeas
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 Tbsp Unsweetened applesauce or full-fat yogurt
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Grated zucchini

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or line with cupcake papers and set aside.

In a food processor, process chickpeas and eggs until smooth. Add remaining ingredients except for zucchini and continue to process until fully blended. Fold in zucchini and pour into prepared muffin tin.

Bake until the muffins are a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Cool in the tin on a cooling rack for 30 minutes, then remove from the pan and continue cooling on rack.

Ginger Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (Wheat/grain and oil free)

Ginger Carrot Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
You might need to stage an intervention…or sign me up for chickpeas anonymous. I’m pretty sure Boyfriend has heard enough about chickpeas over the last month to last him forever. I suspect that the only reason he hasn’t taped my mouth shut yet is that he benefits from my delicious experiments. But even I must admit it…my chickpea addiction is becoming a problem. I’m baking so much now that I’m having to bribe friends and co-workers to take the resulting morsels off my hands. Chickpeas cakes and cookies may be relatively healthy, but even they will expand the waist-line if eaten too often. Oh well, I suppose I could be obsessed with worse things. At least I’m an EMT with lots of firefighter friends; firefighters will eat (almost) anything.

This week was a perfect storm of available ingredients and cooking inspiration. I cooked up an entire bag of dried chickpeas for the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies earlier this week, so I had quite a few left over. Our CSA bag has also been brimming with carrots for the last two weeks. I’ve been very interested in baking with chickpeas and I wanted to branch out beyond cookies. What better way to use up sweet carrots and delicious chickpeas than in a carrot cake?

I knew that it had to be possible, but I had no idea where to start. After a few days of searching through recipes, I figured out the magic ingredients from which a variety of delicious cakes could take shape: two cups of cooked chickpeas, 4 eggs, and one teaspoon of baking powder. With those three ingredients, magic happens. All of the reviews for chickpea cakes were positive, and quite a few said that the chickpeas were an all-but-invisible secret ingredient, so I was quite hopeful about this one. Then again, I had never done anything quite like this, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Luckily, those three ingredients really are magical and the flavors of carrot and ginger shined in this moist and delicious cake! The frosting is mildly sweet with just a hint of lemony tang and compliments the cake without overwhelming it.

I’m always looking for new ways to cook things. What’s your favorite way to use fresh carrots?

Ingredients
2 Cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 eggs
3/4 Cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cardamon
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1-2 Cups grated carrot

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Add the eggs and chickpeas to a blender or food processor and process until smooth; this can be done in two batches if necessary. Spoon the puree into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients stirring until fully combined. The batter should be thin.

Grease an 8×8-inch cake pan*. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before frosting. While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.

*If using a 9×9-inch square pan, reduce baking time to 40 minutes.

8 oz Cream cheese
1/4 Cup Butter (if using salted butter, omit salt)
1/2 tsp Lemon extract
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Powdered sugar, sifted

Whip together the cream cheese, butter, extract, and salt until light and airy. Add the powdered sugar and whip until smooth. Keep this frosting (and anything you cover in it) refrigerated.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (grain, oil, and refined sugar free; vegan)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite season is Autumn. Even though it’s only August first, I’m already looking ahead to cooler weather, colorful leaves, and the tastes of spiced apple and pumpkin. The orchards are just starting to sell their summer apples, and I’m looking forward to the fall varieties that are barely a month away. I’ll be spending my fall days picking apples, making and canning applesauce and apple butter, and canning pumpkin for cookies and pies.

Autumn

While I wait longingly for apple and pumpkin season, I decided to pick up some canned pumpkin and create something fall-inspired. Boyfriend is kind of picky when it comes to my healthy cookies. He’ll never turn down a cookie, but he can usually tell that they contain something…non-traditional. These were not only well-received, he gave them 4 forks out of 5 (which he reserves for only the most spectacular of foods)!

Gratuitous gooey melted chocolate picture. You're welcome.

Gratuitous gooey melted chocolate picture. You’re welcome.

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cup Cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp Pumpkin
1/4 Cup Honey or maple syrup
1 tsp Baking powder
a pinch of Cinnamon
a dash of Nutmeg
a pinch of Salt
1/2 Cup Semi-sweet chocolate chips**

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scrape the top and sides and process again until fully combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes until firm.

Form the dough into 1½” balls. Place balls of dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Press down with fingertips or the back of a wooden spoon to flatten (about 1/2 inch thick). Bake for about 15-18 minutes.

These cookies will not rise and will generally hold their round shape. They have a soft, slightly cake-like texture.

**These can be made vegan by using vegan chocolate chips.

Adapted from Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites.

Spiced Applesauce Muffins (grain, oil, dairy, and sugar free)

Spiced Applesauce Muffins

I’ve been doing a lot of non-traditional baking lately. I’m feeling pretty confident with my non-traditional cookies, but I was missing things like banana bread, applesauce cake, and crepes. I started researching paleo cooking and discovered that they have some ingenious recipes for muffins, including this one for Grain-free Banana Muffins. With a few tweaks and a bit of experimentation, I managed to recreate my favorite Spiced Applesauce Cake in a grain-free muffin form. Hopefully you’ll enjoy these as much as I did!

These can be made vegan with chia or flax eggs. They can also be made with other types of natural nut butter (no added sugar or oil), although I prefer cashew because it is mild and doesn’t compete with the apple flavor.

Ingredients
1 Cup Natural cashew or sun butter
3/4 Cup Apple butter or applesauce (strained in cheesecloth)
2 Eggs
1 tsp Vanilla
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 Cup Apple, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until thoroughly combined. Pour batter into a greased mini-muffin tin.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. The muffins will rise during baking and will fall somewhat after they are removed from the oven; don’t worry, this is normal.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Vegan; wheat, oil, and dairy free)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
I absolutely love to bake. I also love to eat the results. What I don’t love is the way most baked goods make me feel. Wheat brings on a major allergy attack reminiscent of the peak of pollen season and often starts an argument between my tummy and I. It is simply not worth it. When I first realized that I needed to cut out wheat, I thought that I would have to spend a ton of money and time learning to bake with exotic flours. I was beyond wrong.

My first clue that I was thinking about wheat-free baking in completely the wrong way was this recipe by Erin over at Texan Erin Baking. It didn’t contain flour of any kind and relied wholly on cooked chickpeas, a staple in my kitchen. Erin mentioned that she had tried an oatmeal variety, but they didn’t work at all. I kept researching and eventually came across this recipe on Carrots ‘n’ Cake. The recipe looked great, but I wasn’t thrilled with the ratio of oil and sugar to other ingredients.

Eventually, using the knowledge I gained from Erin’s cookie recipe and a few experimental variations, I came up with the recipe below. Thanks to both Tina and Erin for the inspiration!

Ingredients
1/2 Cup Cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 Cup Oat flour
1/2 Cup Rolled or quick oats
1/2 Cup Brown sugar (or 3 Tbsp maple syrup; if using maple syrup, reduce applesauce to 3 Tbsp)
1/2 Cup Unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Chocolate chips (or raisins)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Place all ingredients, except chocolate chips into a food processor and blend until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips. Scoop the dough by tablespoons onto a silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. (I admit it…I can never wait. These are awesome straight from the oven!)

Spiced Apple Granola Bars

Granola Bars
I love granola in all of its forms. I could probably live on the stuff if given the opportunity. I’m sure you could understand my disappointment when I realized corn (in all of ITS forms) was one of the foods making me sick. Just about every granola product in the grocery store contains some form of corn syrup. Every time I picked up a box of granola bars for Boyfriend, I struggled with my desire to sneak just one. The occasional failure quickly reminded me that my body was not impressed with my lack of willpower. There was only one solution: figure out how to make my own.

My first attempt at granola bars was a complete failure, although what began as a granola bar failure turned out to be a candy bar success. (Peanut Butter Crunch Bars will be posted tomorrow!) The second attempt was far more fruitful. I mixed these up in just a few minutes, popped them into the oven while I got ready to go to the gym, and pulled them out right before I left. They were cooled and ready to cut when I got home…and I immediately ate 3! At least I worked out today. That balances out my granola bar indulgence, right?

See the notes below the recipe for alternative flavors.

Ingredients
1 Cup Apple butter*
1 1/2 Cup Rolled or quick oats
1/2 Cup Pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 Cup Golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Line a 9×9 baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease the bottom. Dump the mixture into the center of the pan; use a rubber spatula to firmly press the mixture into the pan. Bake for 35 minutes.

Allow to cool completely. Use the parchment paper to remove the granola from the pan. Cut into 12 bars. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

*If you do not have apple butter on hand, substitute 1 Cup applesauce**, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Any other fruit butter (including pumpkin butter) may also be substituted.
**Canned pumpkin may be used in place of the applesauce if substituting.

This recipe was loosely adapted from Pumpkin Granola Bars on Girl Makes Food!

Healthy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites (PB and Nutella flavors)

Photo from www.texanerin.com

This photo by Erin of texanerin.com was all but irresistible!

I found an amazing recipe on Pinterest about two months ago for Grain-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites (flour, oil, and refined sugar free). These awesome cookies use chickpeas, and since I think chickpeas are pretty cool little beans, this recipe was definitely pin-worthy…but since I don’t bake often they fell off of my radar. Then, about a month later, friend after friend shared these on facebook and I figured it was time to take the plunge.

The original recipe calls for natural peanut butter, but Boyfriend is allergic so I made my own cashew butter to use instead because I had a ton of cashews in the pantry. I hear it’s cheaper to make your own too (BONUS!). For instructions for making your own peanut or cashew butter, Erin over at Texan Erin Baking has a great tutorial here.

Cookies

When I made them the first time, I was instantly in love…warm, gooey, chocolatey…heaven. They’re not perfectly healthy, but they sure beat my old Tollhouse recipe and I think they might be even more delicious! After one successful attempt, I started wondering about all of the ways that this recipe could be modified and remembered Nutella. I’m still working on an oatmeal chocolate chip variety, a cranberry white chocolate variety, and a cocoa peanut butter chip (Reese’s) variety. Both the original and Nutella versions are below. Scroll to the bottom for the Nutella version.

Cookie Close-up

The original recipe had lots of hints and tips, including the following (plus a few of my own):

  • Chickpea flour won’t work
  • This will burn out less powerful blenders (I’ve done it successfully, but it requires lots of scraping and it’s definitely at the upper limit of my blender’s capabilities)
  • Do not add eggs, dairy, or flour to this recipe; it will not work
  • These are best eaten warm; to reheat them, put them into the microwave on high for 10 seconds.
  • These can be made dairy free by using vegan chocolate chips and homemade Nutella (store bought contains milk)
  • They can be made grain free by substituting the baking powder with 1 part cream of tartar + 1 part baking soda + 2 parts arrowroot
  • These can be made ahead, rolled into balls, and frozen for a quick treat later. Just place the desired number onto a cookie sheet and bake as described

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cups(230 grams) cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp natural peanut butter, cashew butter, or almond butter
1/4 Cup honey or agave syrup (or 30 drops Stevia)
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt if your peanut butter doesn’t have salt in it
1/2 Cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scrape the top and sides and process again until fully combined. Add the chocolate chips and pulse the food processor a few times. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes until firm.

With wet hands, form the dough into 1½” balls. Place balls of dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

These cookies will not rise and will generally hold their round shape.

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
1 1/4 Cups(230 grams) cooked chickpeas, well-rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp natural peanut butter
3/4 Cup Nutella (to make your own, go here)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 Cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Combine all ingredients, except chocolate chips, in a food processor and process until very smooth. Scrape the top and sides and process again until fully combined. Add the chocolate chips and pulse the food processor a few times. The mixture will be very thick and sticky. Refrigerate the dough for 10-20 minutes until firm.

With wet hands, form the dough into 1½” balls. Place balls of dough onto a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes.

These cookies will not rise and will generally hold their round shape.