Vegetarian

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It’s Gluten Free Ratio Rally time again! This month’s challenge is brought to you by Mary Fran of FrannyCakes and the food is Brownies! Sure, who doesn’t love brownies and you really can’t have too many brownie recipes, but when my family is polishing off this batch of Peppermint Brownie Bars in a few days, I’ll be looking at you, Mary Fran. I decided to make a recipe from my childhood. My mom used to make these Peppermint Brownie Bars as one of her “cookie” contributions in our annual Christmas Cookie exchange. It’s a simple recipe and the results are delish!

My ratio ended up being: 1 chocolate: 2 egg: 2 butter: 2 (to 2.5) flour: 4 sugar

Peppermint Brownie Bars

First Layer:

2 squares (2 oz) bitter chocolate

1 cup (8 oz) sugar

4 to 5 oz GF Flour Blend* (If you’re making these non-GF, use 1/2 cup all purpose flour)

1 Stick (4 oz) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (2.25 oz) chopped nuts

2 large eggs (~3.75 oz)

1 tsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

*If you like your brownies to be dense use 4 oz GF flour, if you prefer them to be more cakey, use up to 5 oz GF flour.

Second Layer:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. half and half

3 Tbs. soft butter

1 tsp. peppermint extract

Third Layer:

1 1/2 squares bitter chocolate

1 1/2 Tbs. melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt chocolate and butter either on very low heat or with a double boiler. Combine eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, salt and nuts. Add melted chocolate/butter mix and stir. Pour into an 8-inch square pan lined with parchment paper and greased. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool. Combine ingredients for second layer and spread over first layer. Chill. Melt butter and chocolate and spread over second layer. Chill and cut into 1-inch squares.

Be Sure to Check Out These Talented Baker-Bloggers too!

Adina from Gluten Free Travelette made Chocolate Brownie Pie with Orange Zest
Angela from Angela’s Kitchen made Gluten & Dairy Free Cream Egg Brownies
Brooke from B & the boy! made Triple Chocolate Brownies
Caleigh from Gluten Free[k] made White chocolate and marshmallow brownies
Caneel from Mama Me Gluten Free made Triple chocolate brownies
Charissa Luke from Zest Bakery made Slutty gluten-free brownies
Claire from My Gluten Free Home PB&J Brownie Whoopee Pies
Claire from This Gluten-Free Life made St. Patty’s Day Marshmallow Swirl Brownies
Erin from The Sensitive Epicure made Mexican Cocoa Brownies with an Almond & Pepitas Crust
gretchen from kumquat made salted caramel brownies
Heather from Discovering the Extraordinary made Nutmeg Blondies
Irvin from Eat the Love made Blueberry Citrus Marble Brownies
Jean from Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes made Blue Ribbon Brownies
Jenn Cuisine made Grain free brownies with no-bake ricotta cheesecake cream
Jonathan from The Canary Files made Vegan Marbled Banana Walnut Brownies
Karen from Cooking Gluten Free! made GF Chewy Crackled Top Brownies with Raspberry Puree
Mary Fran from FrannyCakes made Gluten-Free Hazelnut (Nutella) Brownies
Morri from Meals with Morri made Oaxacan Brownies & Mesquite Cacao Blondies
~Mrs. R from Honey From Flinty Rocks made Black Bean S’More Brownies
Pete and Kelli from No Gluten, No Problem made Caramel Mexican Chocolate Mesquite Brownies
Rachel from The Crispy Cook made Co-Co Nut-Nut Blondies
Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl made Gluten-Free Brownies
Tara from A Baking Life made Mint Chocolate Flourless Brownies
TR | No One Likes Crumbley Cookies Gluten Free Berry Fudge Brownies 

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Well, it happened. Spring is here – and seemingly rather early for Saint Louis – and I have a backlog of winter food photos still left to blog. Let’s see if I can get them all in over these next few weeks… Part of the problem is that many of these dishes are things I make without referencing a recipe and my husband can attest to the fact that I’m terrible about writing down what I did. Come on, measuring and writing down what it is I’m measuring isn’t really my top priority when I’m trying to get dinner on the table for our family after the work day. I will get the amounts written down some day and I promise to come back and edit. If you’re feeling squidgy about cooking with relative amounts or just using this as a guide, I do apologize. My mom does the same thing to me whenever I ask her for one of her recipes and it really does drive me crazy. Anyhow, getting down to it, this next recipe is for Eggplant Parmesan. You totally could go all out and make your tomato sauce, but I usually use jarred sauce for the sake of time. Even if you think perhaps you or your spouse/children don’t like eggplant, this is worth a try because there’s no better way to eat it.

Eggplant Parmesan

1 Large Eggplant

2 Cups Flour (I usually use a GF blend and add about 1/4 cup extra corn starch)

3/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 tsp. Dried Basil

2 tsp. Dried Oregano

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Pepper

2 Eggs

1/2 Cup Milk

Olive Oil

1 Jar Tomato Sauce

1 Pack of Mozzerella Cheese

1 Box Pasta

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Starting with your eggplant, cut off the top and the bottom. I like to then peel the skin off because I think it can sometimes taste bitter (I think this is why a lot of people avoid eating it). Slice into 1/4 inch discs. In a small bowl, mix your eggs and milk. In a larger bowl, mix the flour or GF flour mixture, parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Start a saute pan over medium heat with enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Start to dredge your eggplant by running it through the egg/milk and then through the flour/parm mix. You’ll know your oil is set to go when flick some of the flour mix off your fingers and it sizzles. When this happens, place your dredged eggplant slices in the hot oil carefully. Cook until browned to your liking and then flip to cook the other side.

Meanwhile, prepare your baking dish by pouring a little bit of sauce in to coat the bottom. When the eggplant slices are browned on both sides, start to line the sauced baking dish with them while you dredge and cook the remaining slices. Once you have a full layer, pour a little more sauce over the eggplant slices and then place a layer of sliced mozzerella cheese over them. Continue to build layers until you run out of eggplant. Finish with sauce and then cheese. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. (Note, the dish in my photos cooked a little past where I had planned. Our dinner guest that night was running late and I thought the oven had cooled down enough just to warm the eggplant, but instead it clearly kept on cooking, whoops!)

Cook your pasta. Serve the eggplant over the pasta.

 

Now that I have a fresh supply of flours and starches and have a bag of my current favorite all purpose flour mix handy in the freezer, I’m on a baking kick. We had company over for dinner the other night and I wanted to try converting one of my recipes from my non-GF days. My sister thought it was a risky move – to try out something for the first time with company coming over, but I figured to hell with it. I don’t often want to spend an afternoon in the kitchen just so that we can eat all those extra calories all by ourselves! Luckily, everything worked out in my favor, dessert was delicious and now I have another bakery item to add to my GF recipe arsenal. This was also a win because this recipe was my grandma’s.

Plum Kutchen

1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened

1 c. sugar

1 large egg

1/2 c. sour cream

1/4 tsp. vanilla

140 grams GF Flour Mix (See my recommendations here) ~or~ if you’re not GF: 1 c. flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

6 fresh plums

Cinnamon sugar: 2 Tbs. sugar to 1 tsp. cinnamon

Cream butter and sugar, add egg, beat until fluffy.
Stir in sour cream and vanilla.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Fold into batter just until thoroughly moistened.
Spread batter into a greased 9 inch cake pan.
Pit plums and cut into sixths. Arrange in batter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake at 350 for 50 – 60 minutes. Remember: Oven temperatures vary and will affect baking time – always check your cakes by making sure you can insert a toothpick and pull it out clean before taking your cake out of the oven.

Cool slightly, serve with whipped cream or ice cream. It’s good at room temperature too.

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Wyoming Whoppers may be the only cookie recipe from my pre-GF days that I can still eat with only one very minor change (GF oats instead of regular oats). The recipe naturally doesn’t have any flour in it and in our household we figure there is enough protein in these cookies to make them a breakfast food in addition to a delicious dessert. The recipe came to me from my mother-in-law and I’m not sure how she came by it – and I don’t know what’s behind the name except that you end up with very large cookies. There are two methods to get to the finished product – the one that came with the recipe and the one that I use, because I just can’t seem to get behind making a cookie batter in a saucepan!

Wyoming Whoppers

Yield: ~27 Large Cookies

2/3 cup unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking soda

2 cups of milk chocolate chips (one regular size package)

3 large eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups of chunky peanut butter (about one regular size container)

6 cups of GF oats (not the quick cooking kind! If you’re making this in a gluten loving household just use the old fashioned oats)

1 1/2 cups of dried cherries, chopped (you can substitute raisins, but the cherries are oh, so good!)

Original recipe directions…

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take a large saucepan and melt the butter over low heat.

Take the saucepan off the heat and add the sugars, eggs, baking soda, & peanut butter – mix until smooth with wooden spoon.

Wait for the mixture to cool enough so that the chocolate chips will not melt when added. Then add and mix the remaining ingredients.

Using a large spoon or #2 ice cream scoop, form large domes of dough and place on cookie sheet. Dough will be loose and seem like it’s going to fall apart, but pack it in and mold it together and your cookies will turn out as planned.

Using the back of a spoon, press down on the top of each dome so that your dough looks more like a hockey puck than a dome.

Bake on 350 degrees for ~12-14 minutes (may be gooey, should be browned). Most of the time, they take extra time – often they even need another 4-5 minutes.* Let them cool mostly on the pan before moving them to a cooling rack. If you try to move them too soon they might break in the middle, if they’re cool enough this won’t happen.

* I find that with baking especially cooking times seem to be phooey. My mother explained that the acceptable temperature variation in an oven is 25 degrees. That’s right – your oven could register 325 when the dial is turned to 350 and the oven man will say it’s performing fine. While mine could register 375 with the dial turned to 350. Clearly my cookies will cook faster than yours. So take times with a grain of salt and look for signs of “doneness” when ever possible, as above. Not relevant with cookies, but never take a cake, cupcakes or quick bread from the oven without it first passing the knife or toothpick test!

{In case you’re interested, my method is the typical bakers method for making cookie dough. Take the butter, room temperature, cream it, add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs, baking soda and peanut butter and mix well. Stir in the oats, mix well. Stir in the chips and cherries. The rest is the same – while this requires that you start with room temperature ingredients, this really is always a rule of thumb for baking and my method doesn’t require a cool down before adding the chips.}

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I’ve tried a number of frozen pizzas – and crusts for making my own. So far I like Against The Grain’s Nut Free Pesto pizza the best. We like it just the way it is, but have also added our own toppings. The crust is thin and dense, but I really like the flavor and I’m able to get the bottom crisp. Check it out!

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This is the simplest and most delicious appetizer you could possibly make. Well… maybe not, but I still kinda think so. I love this dish so much I have to stop myself from making a meal out of it. At first I couldn’t figure out how to make it gluten free because I didn’t have a go-to French bread, but now I know about Against the Grain. I’m sure there are other acceptable GF French breads and I know I’ve come across tons of recipes for making your own, but life right now doesn’t really lend itself to baking bread. I’m hoping for some expanded Against the Grain distribution here soon so I don’t have to drive quite so far to get it. Anyhow, on to the goods. I haven’t really included quantities, because it really just depends on the size of the crowd and loaves of bread can vary in size etc. Use your judgement. You could go for a big long baguette of bread and cut it into 8-12 pieces and one regular jar of roasted red peppers and one regular size feta will be enough.

French Bread – GF if you need it, regular otherwise

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1-2 Toes of Fresh Garlic

Feta

Roasted Red Peppers – you can make your own or use jarred

Slice the bread on the diagonal along the loaf, then take each section and cut it in half sandwich style (top from bottom). Heat up your grill, grill pan, nonstick fry pan, or panini maker. Put some (like a tablespoon) of olive oil in your pan or on to a plate and dip your bread pieces (if you’re grilling or using the panini maker). Grill//fry the oiled side of the bread. Peel your toe of garlic and cut off a bit at the end. Then rub the cut portion of the garlic gently over the grilled part of the bread. Put your bread on a beautiful plate and put your roasted red peppers and feta in equally lovely dishes and serve.

Grilled Against the Grain GF Bread

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Ina Garten of The Barefoot Contessa pretty much drives my kitchen with her recipes. If I didn’t get the recipe from my mom or mother-in-law, I most likely got the recipe from Ina. Today is the season opener for college football (at least in our house where allegiances lie with Mizzou and Notre Dame). For the occasion, I’ve made Ina’s Pan-Fried Onion Dip. Not only is this dip incredibly tasty, but it’s gluten free which isn’t the case for the popular onion dip available in the grocery store. I’ve made this dip for potlucks and parties and have always received rave reviews. Ina says to serve it at room temperature which I always do for the first serving, but it does keep in the refrigerator nicely. I highly recommend all of the Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks for any level of cooking expertise – even none at all. They make great bridal shower gifts. For this recipe you can head on over to the Food Network site. Check out my pictures which illustrate the process. Also, be sure to pair this dip with some wonderful chips. In Saint Louis, potato chips from the Billy Goat Chip Company reign supreme and complement this dip nicely.

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A few months back my friend Jen told me about a blog called Smitten Kitchen. While browsing SK’s recipes I found one for “Ratatouille’s Ratatouille”. She talks about how after watching the animated movie, she wanted to make the dish. I had the same sentiment after seeing the movie and was thrilled to see that her recipe was simple. (I had previously looked up a recipe in a Julia Child cookbook which wasn’t so approachable.) Here’s a link to Smitten Kitchen’s Ratatouille’s Ratatouille. I started with a variation on hers (we don’t like goat cheese in our house so I’ve tried a variety of others, we like a little more sauce in the bottom of the pan, being GF I put ours on brown rice for the grain and sometimes I leave out the red peppers because my daughter doesn’t like them and I’d rather not hear the complaints – other times we just have her pull hers out), but this is a dish that I make a little differently each time depending on what we’re in the mood for – it can be vegetarian (or not), gluten free (or not).

Ratatouille

1/2 Yellow or White Onion, diced

1 – 2 Cloves of garlic, minced

~18 oz crushed tomatoes (I buy the 24 oz can and don’t use quite all of it – this makes it saucier than SK’s version)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Medium Zucchini

1-2 Medium Yellow Squash

1 Small Eggplant or 1-2 Mini/Japanese/Italian/Holland Eggplant

1 Skinny Red Bell Pepper (Orange or Yellow would work too, so if you have a color scheme preference do what you wish)

Salt

Pepper

Dried Thyme

Parchment Paper

Extras:

Feta Cheese or Boursin Cheese

Salsiccia (cooked/grilled, sliced)

~1/4 lb Pancetta (diced and cooked in the sauce)

I start with one of my favorite baking dishes (Apilco Deep Oval Roaster), pour the crushed tomatoes in, add the diced onion, minced garlic, season with some salt and pepper and add about 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Stir it a bit and spread it evenly in the bottom of your dish. (If I’m making my variation with the pancetta in the sauce, then I start the pancetta and oil in a nonstick fry pan, then add the onion. Once the pancetta and onion are mostly cooked I add the garlic just for a bit – if you burn the garlic it will taste bitter) and last the tomatoes. Then pour it in the baking dish.)

Next you’ll slice your zucchini, squash, eggplant and pepper either by hand or with a mandoline (watch your fingers!) so that they’re each 1/8th of an inch thick. The mandoline makes things go a lot faster and ensures that your vegetables are all consistent which makes the dish all the more beautiful at the end. Arrange your vegetables in the dish standing on end and in some sort of pattern (zucchini, squash, eggplant, pepper, for example) repeating all the way around the pan and across the middle. (Note about my image – we left out the peppers this time and I couldn’t find vegetables that were all the same size, you’ll see that I quartered my eggplant slices and in some places I have two zucchini slices laying diagonally across the bigger slice of squash.)

Once your pan is completely filled, you should season quite a bit with salt, pepper and some dried thyme. Then drizzle some olive oil across the top and cover with a piece of parchment cut to fit just inside the dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 50 – 65 minutes. It’s important that you let it cook all the way. The sauce will bubble up in the pan and the vegetables will be cooked through.

Once the ratatouille comes out of the oven, I serve it over brown rice. We usually add a sprinkle of cheese – this time it was Feta, though boursin is also delicious. We also at times add some sliced Salsiccia.