Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Bundt Swirl

October often brings surprises in weather in our area. One week it could be 80 degrees, the next it plummets down to the 30's. This past weekend we got the word that hurricane Sandy was going to be hitting the coast. So the hunkering down began which for us simply meant that we just made sure that we had toilet paper. Other than that, we are usually well stocked. So a favorite pastime for us is to take a trip to the local store to watch the frantic shoppers scour for bottled water and generators. Its mad and a little funny. You'd think there was an impending apocalypse. Its a behavior that can be observed whenever the weatherman predicts a wind gust over 60 miles per hour or a accumulation of snow over 5 inches in our area. So far, only one or two such occasions have actually proved to cause anything remotely close to a panic-like scenario in the last ten years and we pulled through just fine with our stock pile of toilet paper.

 In my area we are also guilty of huge overreactions to the predicted weather. So with the hurricane coming everyone, government, school systems, EVERYTHING was closed prematurely. Better safe than sorry, and I don't wish harm on anyone nor do I tempt fate. I pray that things continue to remain calm (because as we sit it is smooth sailing) and pray that those who are closer to harms way stay safe. So while the kiddos and I are at home it gives us the opportunity to do something that I love to do in the fall- bake!
I have been thinking long and hard about what I want to do with the lovely little pie pumpkins that have been sitting patiently on my bookshelf for the last week. I bought them at the farmers market and sat them there waiting to see what inspiration would come to me. I made apple pies and thought, hmm, maybe pumpkin pie? I kind of wait until November for pumpkin pie, a strange but normal fall behavior for me. So I started poking around on Facebook and saw a picture of a Bundt pan! Yes, that is it!!! I will make a pumpkin Bundt cake! So while I was still on Facebook I posted a status to some friends about baking in prep for this now coined "Frankenstorm" and a friend suggested doing something with chocolate chips or a chocolate swirl. Oh my, yes... did that ever get my mind and my taste buds working. Then it occurred to me that I had a half bowl of unused non-dairy chocolate ganache in the fridge! (you can't let that go to waste!) Oh.. that was it, it was on!
This cake is super moist and delish, kiddo who hates anything pumpkin gobbled it up (I haven't told him it has pumpkin in it yet). Its great for dessert or with some coffee and also perfect for wrapping up for the bake sale or to thank people for giving MacLeod a ride to work last week. Ha! (Yes.. his co-workers love it too)
So, today we will move on to.... homemade Twinkies!  (kiddo has been harassing me for months!!!) So... maybe tomorrow folks... we will see how they come out!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Ganche Bundt Swirl


1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 ground cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 Large Eggs
1 1/2 C Coconut Palm Sugar
1/2 Coconut Oil
2 C cooked pumpkin (preferably fresh)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Swirl

1 C 60% Dark Ghirardelli Baking Chips
3/4 C soy milk (or other non dairy milk)

1. Place chocolate chips in a small glass or other heat proof bowl. In a small sauce pan heat the milk until it is hot but before it reaches a boil. Pour milk over the chocolate chips and stir to blend until the chips completely melt. The mixture will continue to thicken as the chocolate cools and sets. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

3. Spray a Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray. 

4. Sift dry ingredients (gluten-free flour blend, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves) and set aside. 

5. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the eggs, with the whisk attachment beat on medium-high until foamy. Using the paddle attachment add the sugar, oil, pumpkin and vanilla and mix on medium for about a minute to a minute and a half until well blended. 

6. Add the dry ingredients about a 1/2 cup at a time until it is completely incorporated. Scraped the sides of the bowl and mix on medium for another 30 seconds to be sure everything is well mixed. 

7. Using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup, scoop the batter into the Bundt pan leaving half the batter remaining. Tap the pan to settle it in the pan leveling it.

8. Grab the bowl of chocolate ganache and stir it, using a spoon, drizzle a heavy layer of chocolate over the pumpkin batter you just put down. Again, tap the Bundt pan to settle it. 

9. Add remaining batter to the pan evenly and again, tap to settle the pan. Lastly, add one last smaller drizzle of chocolate to the top of the pumpkin batter. 

10. To create the swirl through the pumpkin Bundt, take a knife and run it through only twice around the pan in the batter. It will swirl the chocolate and pumpkin but not muddle it. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Free and Simple Apple Pie (Dairy-free and Gluten-free)

New Adventures in Baking... the Fall!

This season marks almost one full year since we have gone completely gluten-free in our household and while we will do a little celebrating and such in later postings and talking about our journey so far, we do want to write about seasonal baking. Baking is a huge part of my life, having been a professional baker in my previous life, so going gluten-free this year felt somewhat like starting over in the baking world. I have learned a great deal about new ingredients and how they work or in many cases, do not work together. Fall however brings forth a number of many new recipes that I have yet to attempt and am excited to try.

I have mentioned before, I know, that Fall is my hands down, bar none, favorite time of the year. I am a North Eastern chick, Virginia to be exact- born and raised. I love everything that Virginia has to offer (I am overstating there, I despise the 100% humidity of the summer, yuck... aside of that, everything) but the fall, is the best. On the best years the fall foliage is something that people from across the country travel to this area to see. The Shenandoah Mountains and ranges, all part of the Appalachian, transform into such an amazing palette of majestic colors. Just sitting outside on my deck, I can close my eyes and listen to the breeze blow through the drying leaves and smell the crisp air for hours in absolute peace... of course if there was time for that, ha! I do make some time to enjoy this time of year, because it truly is where I think I store my Zen for the rest of the year and it is also my absolutely favorite time for activities and baking!

Years ago when my kiddos were just wee little ankle-biters, one of my best friends invited me with her parents to go apple picking, something I had never done before. The kids and I had the times of our lives and the pictures were gorgeous. I also never knew how amazing an apple was freshly pick from an apple tree! The following years, we continued the tradition, through good times and bad no matter what, I took the kiddos apple picking. Each year we came home with a bushel of apples to make special treats that filled not only our stomachs but also our hearts and eased our minds. The smells of the wonderful fall spices that filled the house just set my mind at ease even at the most challenging times. It couldn't make me happier to see the kiddos faces when they came home from school to spy a fresh apple pie sitting on the kitchen counter for them for dessert.

This year we discovered that MacLeod had never been apple picking. We aren't sure what happened last year, but we were certain that this year he would definitely be climbing trees, grabbing fruit and buying freshly caramel dipped apples and possibly be getting stung by a bee or two. And so we embarked on our apple picking and had a wonderful time, this time as a whole family, finally.

I have read a TON regarding variations on crusts and there are SO many ways you can go. There are very few options on dairy free crusts though and dairy unfortunately has become an increasing problem in my unruly gut. So I have spent the last (post-less!) few weeks experimenting with some oils without having to try to rely on the pastry standby of lard or fat. I love coconut oil and really wanted to try to see how I could use it so tried it on the first attempt and it worked well. I tried a few other variations, but came back to the coconut oil, it just gave a super nice crisp and flaky crust. I ended up springing off of a Joy of Baking basic recipe for tart crust that used confectioners for the sweetness in the crust and it really balanced well with the coconut. It comes together very easy, if it crumbles you just squish it back together again and re-roll it or even just press it into your pan to the edges. No gluten so you cannot possibly over work it. It comes together fast and it truly is easy. My family LOVES it, I hope you do too.

Free and Simple Apple Pie (Gluten-free and Dairy-free)

8 C Granny Smith Apples (or other variety tart apple) cut into wedges
1 C Coconut palm sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbs corn starch (potato starch works as well)
1 1/4 c flour
1/3 c conf sugar
1/2 c coconut oil
plus 1/2 C tapioca starch for dusting
1. Over medium heat add apples and spices to a sauce pan. Cook apple wedges for about 5 minutes over medium heat until the apples are just tender enough to pierce then reduce to a simmer.
2. Remove about 1/4 cup of liquid from the pan and whisk in the corn starch. Add the corn starch mixture to the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the filling has thickened.
3. Remove from heat, cover and set aside.

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Chill the coconut oil in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes, just until its firm but not too solid.
3. In a mixing bowl, sift the flour and powdered sugar and whisk together.
4. Remove the coconut oil from the refrigerator and cut it into pieces. Add the pieces to the flour and sugar mixture. With a fork or pastry blender, cut the oil into the flour mixture and continue to blend until the mixture comes together. When there is no more flour left, you can start to press the mixture together with your hands.
5. With a piece of parchment paper on your rolling surface, generously sprinkle enough tapioca flour to begin to roll the dough. Coat the rolling pin with flour before you roll. Roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thickness.
6. Gently flip over the parchment paper onto the pie plate and then peel back the parchment paper. If it cracks or tears at all, simply press it back together and smooth it back out again.
7. With a fork, poke at least 6 holes in the bottom of the pie plate and around the edges.
8. Bake the pie shell for 10 minutes, unfilled and remove from the oven.


While the pie shell is still HOT, fill the shell and return it back to the oven and continue to bake the pie for an additional 40 minutes. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 30 minutes before cutting to let the filling set.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder

"I think I'll have soup today....."

We are absolute sci-fi nerds in our home from the top- MacLeod to the very bottom, Lil Sis. We all share the same obsessions for the geek fanciful worlds that we live and relive via the television. We take trips through space and time unblinking if at all possible in a spacious blue box, or sometimes hitchhiking with the aid of our trusty towels. Occasionally we board the rusty but reliable vessel that takes us on countless space cowboyish like adventures, dangerous but always save to port. We travel along with our friends made of  various metals like steel and iron and even a giant who looks kinda green who could use some anger management. In our travels through space we have seen some amazing things that would boggle the mind like a giant Bob's Big Boy, a space ship shaped like a maid and a random waste allocation lift loader earth class robot with a fire extinguisher puttering through.

Life can challenging sometimes especially when you have a rather difficult  past and some slightly complicated or complex medical or behavioral issues to work though. Being able to escape into a world of fantasy can make things a little easier to bear the brunt of every day life. But we always remember that even in our everyday lives there is more than meets the eye.

                 In our home... whenever someone mentions soup, it is inevitably said in a Vogon voice.

                                                              5:20 "I think I"ll have soup today..."

Creamy Chicken Corn Chowder (Gluten and Dairy-Free)

2 Boneless Chicken Breasts
2 Tbs olive oil
4 turkey bacon slices
1/2 C green pepper, minced
3/4 C white onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 C Rice Milk
2 C Chicken Broth
2 C Frozen corn kernals
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper, divided
1/2 tsp cumin
2 TBS fresh minced parsley
2 tsp corn starch
1/2 C dairy-free cheddar cheese
1 plum tomato, diced
1/2 avocado, diced

1. In a dutch over on a stove top at medium - high heat add olive oil. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper on each side and add to pan and cook on each side for about 8 minutes until liquid runs clear or temperature reaches 160 degrees. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. When the chicken in cooled, shred into bite sized pieces. Set aside. 

2. Add bacon slice to the pan and cook on each side until the bacon is browned, remove from heat and allow to cool. When it is cooled, mince and set aside. 

3. With your dutch oven still on medium-high heat add green pepper, onion and garlic and saute' until lightly browned (which adds great flavor!). Once your veggies are browned add your liquids- milk and broth- which will de-glaze your pan, adding more flavor. Add the corn, paprika  remaining salt, pepper and cumin. and allow to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. 

4. Remove about 1/4 cup of the spiced broth in a measuring cup and add the corn starch. Whisk together and add to the dutch oven and blend together. Add parsley reserved chicken and bacon and simmer for another 15 minutes. 

5. Serve chowder with 2 tablespoons of diced tomatoes (unless your kiddo also HATES tomatoes, lol), a tablespoon of cheese sub and a tablespoon of diced avocado (again unless your kiddo will threaten your life if he seems them). Enjoy!