Monday, November 22, 2010

Applesauce Day

I scored a LARGE bushel of already peeled/sliced apples from a friend who was doing a pie fundraising event.  I was even more thrilled when I found out they were using Ida Reds (the only way to make applesauce, right Grandma Burnett??!?!).  My Grandma is the reason I love to do this and the reason it makes me smile.  I had been meaning to do this post sooner (since this event actually happened in October), I was looking for a picture my sisters and I had taken with my Grandma a couple years ago making applesauce with her (learning from the best!).  Sadly, I haven't  been able to find it.  She is the prettiest lady and would have made this a much better post.  Perhaps she will have a copy I can get when we see them on Thanksgiving!
Back to applesauce...I rarely use all four burners on my stove, and for whatever reason it delights me to do so!  It really makes me feel like I am being productive.

I made most batches "chunky" style, but I did use the Vita-mix and made some smooth, this works for when I substitute applesauce for oil in baking recipes.  I had also stocked up on a bunch of Ziploc containers the week before, they were super cheap (ranging from .50-.75 cents)! 
My sweet grandmother!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gluten Free Adventures

A few weeks ago we had a great group visit our church for some special meetings.  One of the girls traveling had some food allergies (gluten/dairy/soy).  I was in charge of getting meals together and this was a challenge that I really did enjoy!  Ok, I will admit I was nervous at first, I mean who wants to be responsible for putting one of God's servants in the ER?!?! lol  The girl was from my alma-mater (PCC) and was the sweetest person you could ever meet! Anyways, in the process we actually discovered some new recipes that we love as a family and are very healthy.  I learned a lot...for instance, I was calling Quinoa (qui-noah) and according to the package at Costco it's pronounced (Keen-Wah).  It is a rice/couscous like texture, packed with protein, and has a great nutty flavor.  The first day was a Quinoa Salad with Pears, Baby Spinach and Chick Peas in a Maple Vinaigrette Dressing.  Using blue agave vs. maple syrup as the natural sweetener.  You can find the recipe here.
Our favorite though is found below, and I've made it since for our family - yummo!
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Pine Nuts & Raisins

1 large Portobello mushroom per person
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste

For the stuffing:

Chopped fresh garlic, to taste
About 1/3 to 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa per mushroom cap
A handful of yellow and red grape or cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending upon size
1 scallion (spring onion) per person, sliced
A sprinkle of raisins
A sprinkle of toasted pine nuts
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
Fresh chopped parsley, basil or mint

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil the bottom of a baking or gratin dish.

Gently clean off the mushroom caps; slice off the stems and using a sharp teaspoon carefully scrape out the gills. Place the caps in the baking dish. Drizzle with a scant amount of olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Season with a little sea salt and pepper. Pre-bake the mushrooms for about 15 minutes to soften a bit.

In a skillet, heat a little olive oil and toss in the garlic. Stir for a minute. Add in the cooked quinoa, tomatoes, scallions, raisins, pine nuts. Season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper. Stir to combine. Moisten with more olive oil, as needed. Gently heat through, briefly. Remove from heat. Add in the fresh chopped herbs.

Stuff each mushroom cap. Bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, till the mushroom cap is tender. Tent with foil to keep it moist.
I also found this salad dressing recipe and have made it several times since - it has a fresh Mexican flavor and I LOVE me some Mexican food!
2 TBS lime juice 
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp maple syrup (I've been using 3/4 tsp of blue agave since we have it right now.  It is very sweet so you don't need as much)
dash or two of chipotle hot sauce
I've used it on salads, wraps and just drizzled over black beans and corn as a simple side this stuff.  It doesn't make a lot so you may consider doubling the recipe.  If you do double, like with all other recipes, you don't necessarily need to double the spice amounts (maybe 1 1/2 times)...those can be added to taste at the end if needed.  Spices carrying over quite well!