Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Easy Peasy Lemon Cheesy Muffins

13 Research Based Health Benefits Of Lemons

If you have some cottage cheesy,
and you want a recipe that's easy.
Try these muffins so lemony. 
Your guest will think they're heavenly!

Cottage Cheese Is the New Greek Yogurt - The AtlanticAs usual, I'm pressed for time before the upcoming holiday of Shavuos, therefore my quippy and to the point blog post. It's traditional to eat dairy food on Shavuos for several reasons, which Chabad.org does a better job of explaining then me (click on link). This easy recipe is perfect for a snack or as a side dish to a big green salad on the holiday.

I used the "Cottage Cheese-Dill Bread" recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen as a jumping off point for this recipe.

Easy Peasy Lemon Cheesy Muffins

non-stick cooking spray
1 cup cottage cheese (preferably whipped)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar (for a sweeter muffin use 1 cup)
Juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups all purpose gluten free flour blend (with xanthan gum)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray (you may line with paper cupcake cups if you like). Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together first 5 ingredients. Add sugar, lemon and lemon zest; stir until well combined.

Add dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Spoon into muffin cups filling 3/4 full.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until no longer wet in the middle.

Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 1 dozen. May be frozen.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Pickle Chicken


Is it a trick or a treat? When you find a surprise flavor or hidden ingredient in a dish are you pleased or peeved?  Given all the hype about chicken sandwiches lately, I've been wanting to try a copycat of some of the more popular fast food items, but found the obstacles great and the need for many subs due to my family's food allergies (i.e. soy "buttermilk", GF flour), although I'm generally not daunted by such things. But along the way of my chicken recipe search, I came across a trend of brining the chicken in pickle juice! "Eww" or "Ohh"...you decide.
Image result for pickle jar
After the pickles were all eaten in a medium sized jar (which took about 1 day in my house), I stuck the leftover brine in the fridge until I was ready to cook my chicken later in the week. A great sale on chicken legs dictated the cut of chicken I would use. I decided to keep it simple and just used pickle juice and a about a tablespoon of agave nectar, to take the edge of the acidity of the brine, to marinate the chicken. I marinated it overnight, then crumb coated with GF panko and rice crumbs for a majorly crunchy coating. I prefer to oven fry my chicken (and many other things), it's simpler, less messy and healthier. It yielded  a perfectly browned and crispy coating!

But, the proof is in the eating. After the initial crunch of the coating, I was gifted with one of the most tender pieces of baked chicken I ever sank my teeth into. The brining really did the trick to soften the meat.  The taste was  a surprise. To me it tasted like a chicken or turkey sandwich with pickles on it, which I love!  To others who tasted it, they couldn't quite place the taste at first and then they reconciled that it looked like one thing and tasted like another.

We decided that these would work great with pickle strips and a creamy dip like ranch or creamy jalapeno. The dish isn't hot spicy, but rather has a bright "zingy" flavor. The type of pickle juice you use will affect the dish too. I don't recommend using a too sweet variety like bread and butter, but dill or half sour would work well.  Overall, this chicken dish is a great addition to the plethora of pickle flavored foods from potato chips to ice cream.

As mentioned above, you can use any cut of chicken and any type of gluten free bread crumbs. To pump up your pickly flavor, you might want to try pickle flavored potato chips crumbled up in place of some of the bread crumbs. 
Pickle Chicken

1 chicken cut into 1/8ths (or equivalent amount of other cuts of chicken)
Juice from a 32 ounce jar of pickles (can be less, as it just needs to cover chicken)
1 Tablespoon agave nectar or honey
2 cups gluten free panko or favorite bread crumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon spicy paprika
fresh ground black pepper to taste
Sea salt, to taste
non-stick cooking spray

Place chicken in a non-reactive bowl or baking dish (like pyrex) or a large ziploc. 

Mix together the pickle juice and agave or honey and pour over chicken to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or lid, and refrigerate 8 hours to overnight, turning midway through marinating time.

Place panko and spices in a paper or plastic bag, big enough to hold a piece of chicken. Shake to combine.  Spray a non-stick baking pan with cooking spray. 

Drain pickle juice from chicken and discard. Put chicken pieces in bag of crumbs one at a time, and shake well to coat. Place chicken on baking pan. Generously spray top of chicken with cooking spray.

Bake at 375F (for whole pieces) for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (or until a meat thermometer reaches the correct temperature for doneness). 350F for half an hour for chicken cutlets, until they are no longer pink inside. Serve hot.

Yield: 6 servings

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Holy Zeppole!


When I was a child we lived near a very Italian neighborhood. I recall their annual fairs where we could enjoy a ferris wheel ride, carnival games and the smell of frying zeppole dusted in powdered sugar that seemed to be everywhere.

For Chanukah, when Jews traditionally eat fried food, my neighbor's daughter will usually show up at our door with a plate of fresh sfenj, the Moroccan equivalent of a zeppole. They are always fresh and tempting, but neither Lillie nor Rosie could partake b/c of the wheat and eggs (or so I thought). Then this past year, I came across a sfenj recipe with no eggs! I thought I discovered something new. After some research and discussion with me neighbor, I found that traditionally sfenj doesn't have eggs. So I reverse engineered the recipe to make a gluten and dairy free version and lo and behold they were lovely.  I felt the addition of seltzer water, citrus flavor gave the lift much needed in an egg free dough, but also the citrusy hint so common in Italian desserts.

What I discovered, in a very Proustian moment, was that my kitchen smelled like those long ago Italian fairs, and the sfenj was reminiscnet of zeppole in taste and appearance. Further digging found that would be the case.  The recipes were near identical, and the end product certainly so.

With Mardi Gras coming up this week, and fried goodies abounding, I'd like to share this recipe. For whatever religious holiday you observe, or non at all, these zeppole/sfenj/fried dough beauties are delightful for dessert or brunch. Check out the "How To" video on You Tube below.

You can substitute granulated sugar mixed with cinnamon for the powdered sugar, or drizzle with melted chocolate. A favorite restaurant dessert in the past few years is zeppole with several dipping sauces like raspberry, chocolate and caramel.

Gluten Free Vegan Zeppole (Sfenj)

¼ cup warm water
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) powdered yeast
2 tablespoons granulated Sugar (up to a ¼ cup may be added for a sweeter dough)
3 cups All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend with xanthan Gum (such as Bob’s Red Mill 1-       to-1 GF Flour or King Arthur Brand)
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups seltzer (plain or lemon or orange flavored)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Canola or favorite vegetable oil for frying (about a half-gallon)
Powdered Sugar (optional)

In a large mixing bowl whisk together with a fork warm water, yeast and sugar. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until bubbles appear.

Add flour, salt, seltzer, vanilla and cinnamon. Beat on medium heat or mix with a large wooden spoon, or your hands, until very well combined.

Cover and set aside for 3 hours. They dough should about double in size.

Heat oil in a large pot or wok to 375 F degrees. Put a piece of carrot (optional) in heated oil to keep from over browning.   Scoop up batter with a soup spoon or 1/8 cup measure. Using another spoon, shape into a mound and transfer to oil. Fry about 4 sfenj at a time. Fry for about 3-4 minutes per side, until deep, golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack set on top of a cookie sheet to cool for a few minutes.  Toss in powdered sugar or drizzle with honey and serve.

Yield: About 12

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Turkey Time

Image result for cornucopia"


So this year both grandmas quit Thanksgiving. They declared "it's too much" and handed off responsibility to the next generation.  Of course, while offering to prepare their most beloved dishes!  However, I see the next generation isn't much into "patchkeing". That is "fussing around" for the non-Yiddish speakers. And in all fairness, today's generation of women normally have a full load balancing work and family life. If they have a day off they are not getting up at 6 am to baste a big bird, they are sleeping in for a change.  So prepared items are increasing in popularity. Some opt for a full meal from the supermarket deli, while some will buy the bird and prepare the sides or vice versa. Pot lucks are a viable option too.

Image result for take out containers"

However, when you are dealing with food allergies and Celiac disease purchased meals and potlucks are a minefield. The host generally will not be able to answer questions regarding ingredients and cross contamination. The dozen or more people contributing dishes to the potluck will not necessarily adhere to your level of caution when cooking the meals. And, one of the biggest hazards this time of year is the buffet table. It is a veritable nightmare for the food allergic. Spoons designated for items that are "safe" for you are plunged into something "unsafe" by unaware guests.  So the safest way to go in my experience is bring your own "safe" food items. If you are bringing enough to share, explain to your host you need to take your portion first due to cross-contamination issues. I find the best way to do this is serve yourself in the kitchen before the dishes even come to the table.

Image result for buffet table full of fodd"

Another caveat is that big bird. Although everyone thinks it's so plain, there are certainly hidden allergens in it's preparation--especially store bought.  I like using the Reynold's Kitchen bags for preparing the perfect turkey, but it calls for a couple of tablespoons of flour put into the bag (I use gluten free). Unfortunately, many hosts don't realize this is problematic. Nor do they think the ingredients they rub on the skin are a big deal. Cries of "I just used a little flour." or "Just peel off the skin." abound.  Obviously, it is very problematic and enough to ruin a food sensitive person's holiday, even cause them to need medical attention.  So given it's unlikely you are going to make your own turkey, parts are a viable option.  As soon as November hits my supermarket has legs, wings, half breasts and more on sale.  It's also a good option if you want to make the more manageable turkey breast, yet still have some dark meat.  My family loves the crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside turkey leg recipe below. This year I made them when I first saw the legs in the store, and vacuum sealed and froze them for the big day.

You can use a variety of spice profiles for this recipe. If you prefer substituting a coffee rub or Italian seasoning blend for the spices, the end product will be just as great!

Easy Roasted Turkey Legs

Non-stick cooking spray
4 turkey legs
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
sea salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400F degrees. Spray a large baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Place turkey legs end to end in baking pan. In a small bowl, mix together remaining ingredients.

Rub turkey legs with olive oil and spice mixture (this may be done up to 8 hours in advance).

Stick a meat thermometer in fattest part of one turkey leg---not touching the bone (unless using an infrared thermometer).

Bake at 400F degrees for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F degrees and bake for an additional 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until temperature of meat is 180 degrees.

Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 turkey legs

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Round and Round We Go...Oat Challa I Love You So!

Image result for oats flour
So it's that time of year, or new year, I should say. We welcome the Jewish Year  5780 I"H in just a few days. There are certain traditional items used in the Rosh Hashana meals, such as apples dipped in honey and round challas--which symbolize the cycle of the year.  Although there are usually a few round gluten free round challas in my local supermarket freezer, they tend to be expensive even for the small ones. Lillie has expressed she wants one bigger than her usual standard muffin sized gluten free challa she uses every Shabbat, but understands she doesn't need a full sized one for her personal use.  Enter the wonder that are Texas-sized muffin tins. They also go by the name extra large muffin tins. They have come in handy in a number of applications, I decided to use them to make larger, round personal sized challas for the holiday.
Image result for golden raisins
Since I'm busy making a wide variety of foods for the four meals we'll eat over Rosh Hashana, I wanted something that wasn't too time consuming to make. I don't find that yeast in oat challa has an especially profound affect. There are no strands of gluten being built up, and no puffing of the challa due to the yeast in the manner you find in wheat challa.  So, I felt that a more quick bread approach, using baking powder or soda would be fine. I was inspired by an Oat-Pecan muffin in Mollie Katzen's The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook, and used some of her ratios as a starting point.  I traded the pecans for golden raisins, another Rosh Hashana tradition, and made a mixture of both oat and all-purpose gluten free flour with xanthan gum.

The result were light and fluffy individual round challas in nearly no time at all. No waiting for the dough to rise, and a recipe that could be mixed by hand if needed.  They froze well and we look forward to trying them out. Have a sweet and happy new year!

Image result for oats flour

I made my oat flour by grinding 2 cups of old-fashioned oats in my food processor until finely ground. You may use this method or buy gluten free oat flour. 

Gluten Free Individual Round Oat and Raisin Challas

Non-stick cooking spray
1 1/2 cup gluten free oat flour (or 2 cups old fashioned oats)
1 1/2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour with xanthan gum (I used Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 GF Baking Flour)
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup non-dairy milk, e.g., soy, almond or flax (with 1 Tablespoon vinegar mixed in)
1 egg
¼ cup vegetable or olive oil
1/3 cup honey
½ cup golden raisins

Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees. Spray 12 regular muffin cups or 6 Extra-large (Texas) muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oat and all-purpose flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add milk, eggs, vegetable oil and honey until well combined. You may use an electric mixer on medium or large spoon for mixing.

Stir in raisins. 

Spoon batter into muffin pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out dry.

Cool on a wire rack. Best served warm.

May be frozen well wrapped.

Yield: 6 large or 12 regular muffin sized rolls

Thursday, September 19, 2019

It's that time of year!

Image result for pumpkin pie spice

So if you have even glanced at the Internet recently, you will see people are losing it over everything pumpkin pie spice. I enjoy it too, but in well placed proportions. Drinking, eating and inhaling it all the time until the first snow appears is a bit much for me (and then it's all things peppermint).  But I do love it in a muffin or cookie. 

Lillie has been dashing out the door in the morning as a busy high schooler, now needing to catch a bus.  Her school instituted a short period at the start of the day for breakfast. I thought that was such a good idea. Not only do they recognize that a lot of teens miss out on this important meal due to the early start time of high school, but that it boosts their cognitive ability and overall alertness. As well, it's a nice time to regroup and chill with other students before you sit down to a long day in classes.

Since Lillie can't buy most of the offerings the school sells for breakfast, and time is of the essence in the a.m., she started making oatmeal cups. As she got busier with the school year, I have taken on the task, and of course tweaked the recipe to make it my own.  There are many variations, anything from adding dried cherries and chocolate chips, to nuts and dried apples, and even throwing in an extra protein punch with a scoop of protein powder.

However you start the day, aim for wholesome and convenient. These two things will allow you to get the most out of your morning meal, and most importantly, actually get it!

Image result for nourished festival
To check out a load of great products and ideas to make your gluten/allergen free life run smoother and more deliciously, check out the Nourished Festivel for Gluten Free, Allergy and Special Diets coming to the NYC area next month. This year Paleo and Keto diets have been added to the exciting lineup of presenters and products. Here are the details and get 30% off now with this link and code EARLYBIRD: 

Date: October 5-6, 2019
Location: Meadowlands Exposition Center
Times: Saturday 10am-3pm, Sunday 10am-3pm
@nourished fest  #nourishedfestival

Harvest Goodness Muffin Cups

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup agave nectar (or 1/2 cup honey)
2 large eggs
1 cup soy, almond, oat or flax milk
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Optional mix-ins  : 1/4 to 1/2 cups of chopped nuts, dried, diced apple, dried, diced apricot, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips

Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners, or spray with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.  Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the first 4 ingredients.  Add the next 4 ingredients and stir until will combined. Stir in cranberries and any additional mix-ins.

Cover bowl and allow mixture to sit for 15 minutes (this will soften oats and absorb the liquids).

Spoon batter to nearly the top of each muffin cup. 

Bake in pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until muffins are dry in middle when a toothpick is inserted.

Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

These freeze very well in a zip top bag or plastic container.

Yield: 16 muffins