Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thingies Thursday and Cranberry and Brown Sugar Pinwheels

Is it just me, or is this year flying by? I nearly forgot about September's Daring Bakers challenge, and when I remembered, it was too late to bake the crackers. (I'm posting this a bit early because I know I won't have time to work on this entry tomorrow!) I will attempt last month's challenge some time soon, though, especially since we had the option of doing a gluten-free version of the recipe :).

Gluten-free crackers can be expensive. Up to $5 for a small box! I've never appreciated the ability to make my own food more than I do now. Despite the fact that I wasn't able to make the crackers before the DB posting date, I'm grateful to the Daring Bakers for selecting a cracker recipe that could easily be made gluten-free or vegan. Not only was it a nice surprise, but it was a fun way to introduce foodies to unique diets that can literally be life-changing for some.

Speaking of changing, we're slowly starting to see some colorful Fall foliage here in Boston. The mornings are more refreshing and definitely on the cooler side. I've unpacked my sweaters and I'm finding ways to stay warm that don't involve my rickety radiator! Here are some photos of the area :).

About a week ago, around 3 AM, the apartment complex decided to give the radiators their first trial run of the year. It was a cool night but I woke up feeling a little sweaty and a lot freaked out. I couldn't figure out why it felt like I was standing outside on a hot August day in Texas while lying in bed on a very cold night in Boston.

Because I was half-asleep, I thought the apartment was on fire...I even got up to look for the flames, but it was just the radiator! It blasts intense heat for about a half hour every 4 hours when the apartment gets cold. Since it turns on very infrequently, when it does come on, it releases enough heat to keep a room warm for oh...about a day or two! It's not exactly very discreet either. I recently purchased a down comforter, thinking I was going to freeze without it, but my rickety radiator won't let that happen. I might have dark circles under my eyes on the coldest days of the year, but at least I'll be warm!

Now, I can't think of a better way to stay warm than with baking cookies! Still celebrating the flavors of the season and up and coming holiday season, I made spiral cookies with cranberries and a brown sugar filling. Lately, I just can't get enough cranberries. I'm craving them so much that I'm going to make stuffing tomorrow just so the cranberry sauce I purchased this weekend doesn't feel lonely :)! I know a lot of people don't like it, but I'm not sure how most folks feel about dried cranberries, or craisins. I love their tart flavor, it really balances out the sweetness of these cookies.

Cranberry and Brown Sugar Pinwheels

Warm and slightly tart from the cranberries, these cookies are ...

See Cranberry and Brown Sugar Pinwheels on Key Ingredient.

Now moving on to this week's award. You all make it so tough to choose a winner! Not only do most of you already have these awards, but there are also quite a few fun blogs that are just getting started! Before I pass this award along, there are two bloggers I'd like to thank: Michele of My Italian Grandmother and LK of Food for Tots!

VeggieGirl: A dedicated blogger who has a fun writing style and exciting life as a talented dancer!
Taste and Tell: Her photos are always so polished and delicious :)!
A Southern Grace: Engaging readers with her yummy recipes and sense of humor; never a dull post!

Thingies Thursday:
I love old cookbooks for a couple of reasons, they're fun to look at and add spice and color to a bookshelf. I also get a kick out of the illustrations. A little silly at times, they're generally pretty entertaining. I scanned the fudge recipe from this 1950s cookbook, but this same book includes a tuna casserole recipe that comes with a comedic/borderline disturbing illustration. The boy is feeding his party-hat-wearing pet tuna spoonfuls of tuna casserole! Hmm...I leave you with these milder photos. Until next time, let's not feed our pets anything remotely resembling a member of their same species :D!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Baked Apple Cider French Toast with Apple Bread

Take a look at how long this recipe is! Content wise, this is going to be a brief post; I'll let the recipe do all the talking this time :). It took me awhile to type it out! Because it's so long, and because I promised to give out a few awards today (I'll just be handing out one this evening, I need to find a way to get back some of the links I lost!), I'm skipping Thingies Thursday this week. Sheesh, I'm even getting behind with posting recipes, I have 2 more of those to post as well. (Scroll down to see the awards. :)

This made-up recipe uses gluten-free apple bread and some of my favorite spices. I had some bread left over from an earlier kitchen adventure and I'm always craving breakfast foods, so I made french toast. Of course, it gives a brief nod to some fall flavors...(I just can't get over how beautiful it is here in Boston during the fall, and this is just the beginning). Anyhow, I love the smell of apples and cinnamon, so I added a good amount of those ingredients. The cider I used is local and sooo sooo delicious. The baked french toast tastes like apple pie! This recipe is definitely a lengthy one, but the results are worth all the mixing and measuring :)!


For the Apple Bread
1 cup bread mix (this mix is from the book Gluten-free Baking Classics; a 2 cup mix consists of 2/3 cup millet flour, 1/3 cup sorghum flour, 1/6 part corn starch, 1/6 parts potato starch, 1/6 part tapioca flour)

For the rest of the bread:
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp apple pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup lowfat milk
2 eggs
4 TBSP honey
1/4 hot apple juice
1 large fuji apple, cut into cubes
2 1/2 tsp yeast
3 TBSP canola oil

For the french toast:
Bottom layer:
10 slices of bread
1/4 apple cider
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup vanilla rice milk
1/2 cup white rice flour
1 uncooked but scrambled egg

For the apple layer:
1/2 cup apple cider
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp white rice flour

For the top layer:
1 1/2 TBSP melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/2 TBSP apple cider

For the Bread:
Combine all the flours, xanthan gum, gelatin, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix well.

In another large bowl, combine brown sugar, apple pie spice, honey, milk, apple juice, and canola oil.

In a small bowl, scramble eggs.

Mix the eggs in with the wet ingredients. Mix until smooth. Pour these ingredients into the flour bowl slowly, folding in the wet ingredients until dough is formed.

Put bread dough in a greased 9" loaf pan. Cover with a clean cloth and let the dough rise for an hour in a dark room.

Bake bread in a preheated 400 degree oven. Bake for 15 minutes uncovered. Then cover pan with foil and bake for another 35-40 minutes. Allow bread to cool.

You can make the french toast the next morning, it's best to refrigerate the bread.

For the french toast:
Line a 9 inch nonstick cake pan with bread slices.

Get a medium sized bowl. Scramble the egg in the bowl, then add the cider and milk. Slowly mix in the rice flour. Stir until smooth then add the powdered sugar in the same way. Pour the mixture over the apple bread. Set aside.

For the apple layer:
Slice apples into wedges, about 1/2 inch thick. In a sauce pan, add the apple cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Mix on low heat for about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Slowly mix in the rice flour. Once the liquid mixture is smooth, add the apple slices and cook over a medium/low flame until the mix is thickened and concentrated, will have a molasses-like texture.

For the top layer:
Melt butter. Combing butter with apple cider in a medium sized bowl. Mix in rice flour, then add the brown sugar. Should have a thick and somewhat grainy texture.

Assembling the french toast before baking:
Pour the apple layer over the saturated bread, make sure the apples are well distributed over the bread, level with a fork. 'Crumble' or set the top layer over the apples, level this top layer as well.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes. Allow the french toast to cool slightly, but eat warm :). Store in refrigerated covered in foil. Serve in bowls the next day, heat in microwave for about 30 seconds before serving.

Thanks so much, My Life is Yummy for the Yum-Yum Blog Award! I'd now like to pass this award along to:
SnookyDoodle: She has the cutest desserts. All of them are made with so much love and care, and take a look at her cupcakes! Her blog is pure eye candy :).
Feeding Maybelle: Her food is fresh and tasty, not to mention nicely photographed. Her recipes are so inspiring!
Meet Me in the Kitchen: Everything she makes makes my mouth water! Her blog is a yummy buffet for the senses!
Honeyed Hashette: This is a sweet gal who knows how to make a sweet cupcake. She's the cupcake master!
Healthy Indulgences: Healthy gluten-free recipes that are oh so tasty and sugar-free? Wow! Very Impressive :).

Ok, folks, 2 more awards to give away! Stay tuned :).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A quick note

Do you hear it? DO YOU HEAR IT?!!!! That extra crunch beneath your feet, the sound of pumpkins being carved (I don't think that makes a sound, but just pretend for now), the bags of candy corn being tossed on grocery store shelves?!!! It's Fall! YAY!

I know, I'm late. It started Monday, but I just came across this cute little festive blog template today. Normally, I'd stick to just decorating my home, purchasing those scarecrow vinyl clings that only stick for the first couple of days, and possibly baking an extra loaf of pumpkin bread, but I decided to give my blog a fun Fall make-over this year. Just wait for Christmas!

I had to tweak the main body background of the template a bit, so my pics with white borders wouldn't look funky against a brown background, but I'm liking the look of this new layout. But...I forgot to save all my links and badges and blogrolls! Good thing I have my feeds! Oh, and don't worry, the pink girlie blog is safe :).

I'll be back with a real foodie post tomorrow...think breakfast and APPLES! For now, Happy Fall!

After these messages, we'll be right back :)!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thingies Thursday and Gluten Free Cocoa & Cinnamon Coffee Cupcakes with Brown Sugar 'Cream Cheese' Frosting

I'm not a fan of giving up, but when it's to pursue something better, then it can be viewed as something positive. That's exactly how I feel about the basil cupcake experience. I tried, really did, then decided to move on to the September Cupcake Hero Challenge.

We could choose 2 of the cupcake hero themes they've had so far. I chose coffee and coca. This recipe isn't complicated at all. But after submitting fancier cupcake recipes in the past, I decided to go with something simple. This flavor combo is always a winner, but I wanted to spice up the cupcakes with cinnamon. The brown sugar 'tofutti' cream cheese frosting actually adds a toffee flavor to the mini cupcakes, at least that's what Jose thinks.

As for Thingies Thursday, I just found out about it. You can click here to read more about the fun weekly event. I'm participating so that I can share my fascination with antiques and old objects with you all! One thing I love about where I live is that I'm a very short bus ride away from a huge, 4 story antique market! I dropped by a few weeks ago and purchased an old Pillsbury Cookbook that I happily added to my vintage cookbook collection. Here are a few photos from that cookbook and a recipe. I've yet to try it out :).

I need to hand out a few awards! There are 3 I have on hand, some for months! I'll be giving those away soon, be sure to drop by some time within the next week to see who I've passed them along to :).

Mini Cocoa and Cinnamon Coffee Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting

Tastes like toffee…and coffee :)!

See Mini Cocoa and Cinnamon Coffee Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Frosting on Key Ingredient.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pomegranate Vegetable Pork Stew

Ok. I get it. I'm now fully convinced that basil and xanthan gum are conspiring against me :)! Just a few days ago, I talked about giving the September Iron Cupcake Challenge another try (using Basil, this month's special ingredient). Tonight, I did. Except...I forgot the xanthan gum again!!! You'd think my muffin-turned-pudding recipe from last week would've taught me a lesson, but I still managed to forget about the xanthan gum. As a result, I've decided to enlarge this photo; it's going on my refrigerator in the morning:

If you're wondering what that icky stuff in the middle of the cupcakes is, it's lemon curd. I was going to refrigerate the lemon basil cupcakes with the lemon curd filling and give them a 'cream cheese' (tofutti) frosting...but when I tried taking them out of the pan, they crumbled...sigh. The good news is, I added enough lemon to counteract the basil taste. Bad news is, I don't taste the basil at all. This month, I'm going with the Cupcake Hero challenge instead. I've decided to give basil a break and move on to more exciting flavors...like coffee, cinnamon, and vanilla :). Stay tuned for Flour Arrangements' (xanthan-loaded) September cupcake hero entry!

Though the sweet mixed with the savory didn't seem to work with the cupcakes, I'll tell ya what it did work with: a Pomegranate Vegetable Pork Stew. Inspired by the delicious, very drool-worthy Braised Pork Shoulder with Quince recipe in October's Bon Appetit magazine, I decided to use the free Pomegranate Honest Tea I received on Saturday (when the hubby and I were checking out Boston's South End). I am a huge, huge fan of Honest Tea. My favorite flavor is Black Forest Berry, but the pomegranate tea is also very delicious. Bon Ap's recipe sounded soooo tasty, but I'd never heard of Quince (I'm ignorant, I know) and I didn't have some of the ingredients, so I just used some of their spice recommendations and the pomegranate juice idea (but I used tea) then experimented with the rest.

Have you seen the cover of next month's edition? (I get it in the mail, that's why I'm talking about the October issue. :) I want to dive right in to that pot of chili with autumn squash. The Autumn squash part really got me, of course. I'm pretty much counting every orangey-red colored leaf that falls off the tree a few feet away from my apartment building. Check out these Fall/foodie photos I took when we were exploring the city this weekend:

So when I got home after a mildly cold and rainy day of grocery shopping with Jose (and it was a day of grocery shopping, we went to 3 stores!), all I wanted to do was curl up under a blanket, watch Masterpiece Theatre's version of Jane Eyre, and eat a bowl of stew. But if I want stew, I have to make it! No complaints here. Though cold, rainy weather does put me in a slow and sleepy mood, it also makes me want to cook warm, savory comfort foods (especially stews)!

The stew was delicious. It's also healthy; loaded with protein and veggies, it'll hit the spot. It did take some time to put together (all that chopping), but the whole cooking process was really relaxing. I even managed to make the stew 'gravy' gluten-free by using rice flour. Oh, that reminds me. A few of you have asked how I've been feeling after starting the diet. Well, I am better. I notice I can eat more desserts than before, and that's always a good thing :). Though I'm not 100% where I want to be, I'm having a food allergy/sensitivity test done next month and also undergoing a few other tests. I'm optimistic, though. Thank you for your concern, I really appreciate it :).

I'll be back in a few days with the mystery cupcakes! And, yes, they'll contain xanthan gum ;).

Pomegranate Vegetable Pork Stew

Tastes like Fall :)...the gravy in the stew is gluten-free!

See Pomegranate Vegetable Pork Stew on Key Ingredient.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Berry Pillow Cookies and Carrot Crumble Cake

Before I go into detail about these two recipes, I'd first like to thank Leslie from The Cake Life for pointing out to me that xanthum gum is really supposed to be xanthan gum :)! If I'm gonna continue with this gluten-free baking, I need to get the names of the ingredients right! Sheesh!

Alright, on with the recipes. I really had a tough time coming up with a name for this next dessert. Earlier in the week, Jose mentioned that he wanted cookies, but I was in the mood for cake! What to do?! Well, I made cakey cookies. It was an experiment that actually came out the way I hoped it would! I used powdered sugar, which gave it a dissolve-in-your-mouth texture. The cookie itself is citrusy and the filling is made with berries. As a kid, I was a huge fan of these Knott's Berry Farm Shortbread cookies. They were part of my inspiration for these cookies, but the pillow cookies also have the cakey element I was looking for. Here's the recipe:

Gluten-Free Berry Pillow Cookies

Soft berry cookies that melt in your mouth!

See Gluten-Free Berry Pillow Cookies on Key Ingredient.

So I'm planning on making the basil cupcakes again! Thanks to a few recipe ideas I received from a former classmate, I'll be baking a cupcake that includes lemon, and sugar, and gluten-free flour, and...you'll have to come back in a few days to find out what the rest of the ingredients are :). I thought I was going to be able to make them tonight, but I didn't make it to the grocery store in time. Of course, I still needed to make something to satisfy my sweet tooth tonight...

I purchased a box of Whole Foods gluten-free cake mix a few weeks ago, when I first started the GF diet. I bought it just in case I wasn't able to make my own mix. Thankfully, my flour mix worked, but I didn't want the Whole Foods cake mix to go to waste. Carrot cake sounded good to me, so with a few additions, I was able to make a carrot almond crumble cake. Cream cheese and I aren't friends, so, instead of making a cream cheese frosting, I made a crumble topping. I did add dairy to the actual cake, but I noticed (from personal experience) and a friend of mine also recently told me, that dairy is a lot easier to digest when its incorporated into batter and baked. The cooking/baking process breaks it down a bit. Though I didn't have the cake with a nice tall glass of milk, I was able to add it to the cake batter. I'm slowly starting to add more dairy into my baked goods because I need all the Calcium I can get, and don't we all!

The carrot crumble cake has the texture of a coffee cake and it's pretty difficult to tell that it's gluten-free. I think Whole Foods did a great job with its white cake mix (that's what I used)! I might actually buy the mix again, for lazy days :)! To be honest, though, this cake still required a bit of mixing and measuring, but it's definitely worth it!

Gluten-Free Carrot Crumble Cake

Texture of a coffee cake but gluten-free :).

See Gluten-Free Carrot Crumble Cake on Key Ingredient.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It's Almond Butter Pudding Time!

One of the not-so-fun things about baking is that sometimes the mistakes made during the recipe-inventing stage are irreparable. As a result, not-so-tasty and nearly toxic treats, like my vanilla fig basil cupcakes, get thrown in the trash and (while giving off a putrid aroma) get shunned even by Oscar the Grouch himself. You may think I am exaggerating, but this is exactly what happened with my vanilla fig basil cupcakes!

This month, basil is the Iron Cupcake Challenge secret ingredient. I don't know how other folks are putting their cupcakes together using such a potent herb, but I can't seem to formulate a recipe that includes basil and doesn't leave me gagging. One bite of those vanilla fig basil cupcakes and I was convinced they were far from salvageable. There was no way I could convince them, not even in the least bit, to taste like something worth calling a cupcake. Jose was nice enough to just say they tasted like sweet focaccia bread; I begged to differ and felt they tasted more like a green, furry, and long ago forgotten about something or another that can inhabit a back-of-the-fridge Tupperware...you know what I'm talking about!

Now, moving on to a less grotesque topic, let's hear about the Almond Butter Banana and Honey Pudding! Well, I'll be honest with you, I meant to make muffins. BUT Because I forgot to add XANTHUM GUM (a very cool word and incredibly significant gluten-free baking ingredient), the muffins fell into themselves. Yes, it was as if they were excited to come out of the oven after baking, but then (as if engaging in an act of rebellion) deflated upon realizing they were xanthum gumless!!! Oh, but they were tasty! I grabbed a big ol' spoon and dove right in...then it hit me!!! They taste like banana pudding!

Ah! What a relief. Thankfully, these xanthum gumless muffins were salvagable! Who knew muffins could be transformed into a bread pudding?! It worked out great because I just so happened to add the right amount of wet ingredients, so they didn't come out dry at all. I actually plan on replicating this recipe again some time in the future :). Oh, but don't get me wrong, I certainly won't forget about the xanthum gum the next time around ;)!

Almond Butter Banana and Honey Pudding

Almond butter, chopped bananas, and honey sweeten this simple gluten-free ...

See Almond Butter Banana and Honey Pudding on Key Ingredient.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies (edited recipe)

Note: this is the picture from my first batch :).

One thing's for sure about this gluten-free baking business, it's forcing me to become more precise with my baking. I'm still trying to figure out all the tricks of the trade; it can be a bit tricky. It requires patience and precision. Silly as it may sound, I'm somewhat tempted to bake the same recipe using a different flour each time to really get a 'feel' (or taste) for each one. I think it might allow me to experiment more successfully, or confidently :). Right now, I'm pretty much doing what I used to do before, and that would be 'studying recipes'.

(old photo, the new recipe I just posted below yields much heartier cookies, not thin :)

I just deleted the entry where I talked about the first recipe. I decided to keep these photos of the first recipe. After baking gluten-free for a few months, I came up with a much tastier recipe. So far, this one is my favorite gluten-free chocolate chip recipe :).

Before I say ttfn, I want to thank you all for reading Flour Arrangements, even though it's taken a gluten-free turn. Your comments are always appreciated :)!

Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

After experimenting with my original recipe, I finally came up ...

See Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies on Key Ingredient.