Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

I much prefer Pumpkin in a cake than in a pie and I wanted to make something Gluten Free, so today I made Pumpkin Muffins. It's based on a recipe from Epicurious and I literally just substitute Bob's Red Mill 1 for 1 Gluten Free Flour for the regular AP Flour. And, I changed the amount of spices as I like Cinnamon more than Nutmeg and Cloves. As with many sweet breads, it is usually better the next day so it will be my dessert after the Thanksgiving meal. I will offer Whipped Cream on the side, but I top these with Candied Walnuts, which is sweet enough for me. They can get very brown in the oven so watch them carefully. They do come out looking a little bumpy and lumpy, but they taste wonderful. If you should choose to make them with regular flour, they will turn out smooth and cupcake like. And, of course, you could also eat them for breakfast. They are full of the traditional Pumpkin Pie Spices and they are delicious!

Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Candied Walnuts

3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 16-ounce can solid pack Pumpkin
3 cups Gluten Free Flour (I used Bob's Red Mill 1 for 1)
1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground Cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (optional) glazed with 2 Tablespoons Butter, 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar and ½ teaspoon Cinnamon - cook in a small frying pan until you can smell the fragrance of the nuts and most of the sugar syrup has been absorbed.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Put cupcake liners in muffin pan.  Beat sugar and oil in large bowl to blend. Mix in eggs and pumpkin. Stir together the Gluten Free flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt into another large bowl.

Spoon batter into muffin pans, top with walnuts and bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the muffins are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Repeat with remaining batter.

Makes 24 muffins

Five Element Analysis

Pumpkin belongs to the Earth Element and this is a sweet bread, so it is definitely primarily Earthy. The Eggs and Safflower Oil add the Water Element and the Spices contribute a hint of the Metal Element and the Rice Flour in the GF Flour brings in even more. The Fire Element is missing so be sure to serve this with some Tea or Coffee and the Wood Element needs to be found in the meal to create a balance.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Raw Cashew Cheese Dip

One of my students, Pam, gave me the recipe for a wonderful Raw Cashew Cheese that she made in a Raw Food cooking class here in Seattle. When I tried it, I couldn't stop eating it. I'm sorry to say that I don't know the name of the school so I can't give credit for the recipe, but I will find out. I decided to test this dip today for a Thanksgiving Day appetizer, as there are going to be several Vegan family members coming. And you know that I had to change it up a little bit. I used Red Jalapeño instead of Green as I think the flavor is sweeter and I used more Onion, more Garlic and more Tahini. I also added more Water so that the Dip would be thinner. I'm going to serve it with Tortilla Chips (my favorite) or Rice Crackers and lots of Veggies to dip, like Carrot Sticks, Cucumber Spears and Celery Sticks. The Nutritional Yeast gives it that cheesy taste, but it can be omitted if desired. This dip is so delicious that I am quite sure that everyone will love it!

Raw Cashew Cheese Dip

1 cup Raw Cashews
1 large Red Pepper
1 small Red Jalapeño, deseeded and membranes cut off
1/3 cup minced Red Onion
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3 Tablespoons Tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1/4 - 1/2 cup Water 
Optional:  1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Soak the Cashew Nuts in warm water for at least one hour up to overnight.  

When ready to make the Dip, drain the Cashews. Place the Cashew Nuts in a food processor or blender and add in all the other ingredients. If you want a thicker dip, use 1/4 cup of the Water and if you want the dip to be thinner, use up to 1/2 cup. Puree until completely smooth.  Refrigerate for at least one hour up to several days before serving. Serve with Carrots, Celery, Cucumber Spears and Crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Cashews belong to the Water and Earth Elements and the Tahini, made of Sesame Seeds brings in even more Water. The Wood Element can be found in the Lemon Juice, while the Red Pepper and the Red Jalapeño contribute the Fire Element. The Garlic and Red Onion make sure that the Metal Element is also accounted for and the Nutritional Yeast, being so savory adds even more. The Earth and Wood Elements needs a bit more support, so be sure to serve this Dip with Carrot Sticks, Cucumber Spears or Tortilla Chips for more of the Earth Element and some Celery Sticks for Wood, and/or with some Rice Crackers for more Metal.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Asian Poached Salmon

As you may recall, I still have a freezer full of fish and although I am making headway, in using it up, there's still a lot left to cook and eat. So, I"m always thinking up of a new and different ways to cook it and tonight I poached some Salmon in an Asian flavored broth. I've always loved Poached Salmon as the fish stays soft and succulent instead of dried out. And usually when I poach fish, I do it in a classic Court Bouillon of Fish Stock and Lemon Juice, Carrots, Celery, sometimes Fennel, Parsley and Bay Leaf. And, I usually serve it with some kind of sauce as well. But for an Asian broth, I used Chicken Broth, Green Onion, Ginger, Tamari and Rice Wine. I debated about putting in a piece of Star Anise and may do that next time, but I wanted to keep the flavors subtle. I made the poaching liquid ahead of time so that it had time to meld the flavors and did a cold poach, which keeps the Salmon more tender. When the Salmon was done, and it cooks fast, I dressed it with a drizzle of Tamari and sprinkled some Green Onions on top and served it with Rice and Sugar Snap Peas dressed in Sesame Oil (previous post). It was delicious!

Asian Poached Salmon

1 piece of King Salmon, cut into 4 equal size pieces
2 cups Chicken Broth
1/4 cup Tamari + 2 Tablespoons more for serving
1/4 Chinese Rice Wine
2 slices of fresh Ginger
2 Green Onions, cut into 3 inch lengths (small part of the green tops reserved and cut into small pieces)

Put the Chicken Broth, Tamari, Rice Wine, Ginger and Green Onions in a small pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool before using.

Place Salmon in the cool Broth and put on the stove. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn of the heat and let the Salmon sit for another 5 minutes.  Remove to a plate, Drizzle each piece with 1 teaspoon Tamaria and sprinkle with Green Onion pieces.

Five Element Analysis

Salmon belong to the Water Element and the Tamari adds even more. The Chicken Broth brings in the Wood Element, the Rice Wine contributes the Fire Element. The Ginger adds a hint of the Earth and Metal Elements and the Green Onions bring in more Metal. Served with Sugar Snap Peas and Rice adds more of the Earth and Metal Elements and hot Tea rounds out the Fire Element for a balanced meal.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Blueberry Flaxseed Muffins

There is a brand of Flaxseed Muffins that I used to pick up at PCC and the other night, I decided to replicate them. The muffins remind me a lot of the dense bran muffins I used to eat when I was eating gluten. I love a hearty muffin for breakfast and I also don't like them to be too sweet. The very first try yielded the perfect replica!  I combined Flaxseed Meal with Gluten Free Flour, added Applesauce along with Eggs and a bit of Almond Milk and Vanilla Extract. I was going to add Butter, but I forgot and they turned out so good that it was a lucky mistake. Flaxseed Meal has a lot of oil in it I guess so you don't need any extra oil. I ground my own in a little spice grinder although you can buy it already ground up. I used fresh frozen blueberries - I freeze them after a few days in the fridge if no one is using them. I like to use frozen Blueberries because they don't break down when you stir them in. I baked them until they were springy on the top when pushed down lightly. Of course I ate one right away and it was good, but the next morning, they were delicious!  I may be making these once a week as I have them three mornings in a row now. I love these muffins!

Blueberry Flaxseed Muffins

1 cup Apple Puree (I used Organic Applesauce or you can puree Apples in a food processor or blender)
1 ½ cups Gluten Free Flour Mix 
1 1//2 cups Flax Meal
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Salt
2 large Eggs, lightly beaten
¾ cup Almond Milk (or Soy Milk or Regular Milk)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup Frozen Blueberries

Heat oven to 350 degrees and put liners in a muffin pan.

In a large mixing bowl, ix Together the GF Flour, Flax Meal, Sugar, Baking Soda and Salt.  In a smaller bowl, mix together the Milk, Eggs and Vanilla Extract.  Pour the Milk and Egg Mixture into the Flour Mixture and stir to combine (mixture will be very thick. Stir in the Blueberries and fill Muffins ¾ full.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the top lightly springs back when touched and a toothpick comes out clean.  Repeat with remaining batter. Cool for at least 10 minutes. Muffins are even better the next day.

Five Element Analysis

Flaxseeds are part of the Water Element being seeds and also dark in color. and the Eggs and Blueberries add even more. The Applesauce contributes the Fire Element. The Brown Sugar adds in the Earth Element along with the Almond Milk. The Metal Element is represented by the Rice Flour in the Gluten Free Flour Mix along with the Baking Soda and Vanilla Extract. Only the Wood Element is missing, so I served them with Chicken Breakfast Sausages for a balanced breakfast!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mushroom Pate with Almonds

I read an article the other day about how good mushrooms are for your health - particularly for anti-aging, which is good, because I love them! And, I had a big bunch of mushrooms in my refrigerator needing to be cooked. So, I made Mushroom Pate. I've made a version before with Sunflower Seeds (previous post) but I was out of them, so I went with Almonds instead. I toasted the Almonds and Sauteed the Mushrooms in Butter with Onion and Garlic and Thyme. I pureed it all together and refrigerated it to let the flavors meld. It was so delicious! I love snacks and spreads and this one is definitely elegant enough for a party. I might even make it again and bring it to our Friendsgiving next week!

Mushroom Pate with Almonds

1 cup Slivered Almonds 
1 clove Garlic
1 large Shallot, cut into chunks
1 pound of Button and/or Cremini Mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
3 Tablespoons Butter (or Oil if you want to make it Vegan)
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Place Garlic and Shallots in a food processor and chop. Add Mushrooms and pulse into chopped into small pieces.  Melt the butter in a large frying pan and then add the Mushroom mixture, Salt and Thyme. Cook until soft and almost all of the liquid has been cooked off.  Remove from heat.  

In the same frying pan, toast the Almonds until lightly browned. Put into the food processor and pulse until ground. Scrape downy the sides and add in the cooked Mushroom mixture. Puree until smooth. Scrape into a serving bowl, smooth down the sides and top with a few extra almonds. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve with crackers.

Five Element Analysis

Mushrooms are very Earthy so this is a primarily Earth Appetizer. The Onions and Shallots and Thyme bring in the Metal Element and the Crackers you serve it with will add either Wood, if using Wheat Crackers, or Metal, if using Rice Crackers. So serve this Mushroom Pate with some other appetizers that include the Water and Fire Elements.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Quinoa Salad with Italian Flavors

Awhile back, a family member visited who is Vegan so I made a delicious Quinoa Salad with Italian flavors. I've been meaning to post it ever since, but life has been more eventful lately than I wanted it to be. That's gotten me really behind in posting and I plan on catching up this week. 

For this salad, you cook the Quinoa in Vegetable Broth and then toss it with a combination of chopped Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Basil. I used Black Quinoa.  Then you dress it with a small amount of Vinaigrette made with Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil and Garlic. I put it in the refrigerator for several hours to let the flavors blend and then I topped it with Pine Nuts as a garnish. it was a big hit and I loved it! This is a great Quinoa salad that will be added to my list of salads to keep making.

Quinoa Salad with Italian Flavors

1 cup Quinoa
1 1/2 cups Vegetable Broth
1/3 cup Chopped Cherry Tomatoes
1/3 cup Chopped Persian Cucumbers
5 Basil Leaves, cut up into small pieces
3 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon of Sugar
1/4 cup toasted Pine Nuts for garnish 

Bring the Vegetable Broth to a boil. Add in Quinoa, stir and cover reducing heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove cover and cool.

In a small bowl, mix together the Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil, Salt and Sugar. Stir to combine. 

Place cooled Quinoa in a serving bowl and add in the Cherry Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Basil. Pour over the Vinaigrette and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, sprinkle with Pine Nuts.

Five Element Analysis

Quinoa is a seed and the black color and the Pine Nuts makes it even more of a Water Food.The Olive Oil and Vinegar contribute the Wood Element and the Tomatoes bring in the Fire Element. The Cucumbers bring in the Earth Element and the Vegetable Broth contains Carrots, Cabbage and Potatoes that adds even more and supplements the Fire Element too with more Tomatoes. The Basil leaves add just a hint of the Metal Element, which could use some support in the meal. I served Tofu, which made it a more balanced meal.