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Two more months again.

​As school has ended and spring has rolled into summer, I've been delighted to meet new people in person and online who are working through food allergies, EoE, or other immune-related nutrition issues. And I wish that I could be even more engaged than ever! 

But. I'm officially deciding to take a break from the blog, at least for the summer. 

I've put off the decision for awhile now, but a few things are quite apparent: 
  • I need to spend more time in the kitchen than writing about being in the kitchen, at least until I have some solid recipes that keep my energy up.
  • I need to be a patient again for now and focus each day on figuring out how to stay healthy, nourished, and happy.
  • I need to make sure that my kids' nutritional needs are met well despite these new restrictions.

I plan to continue on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram as I'm able, though, and to gather ideas from all of the wonderful online groups and families. And I hope to come back strong with ideas for thriving with EoE!

Meanwhile, I'll spend the summer teaching my girls how to cook on their own, especially letting them use ingredients that I can't anymore, and enjoying as many simple recipes as I can. 

I'm still not organized or business-like enough with the blog to have an e-mail sign-up, or a newsletter, or another way to keep in touch. But, if you're interested in hearing from me directly when I return, please do comment below or find me at my work site (nicolevanhoey.weebly.com) to stay in touch.

If you're finding me here anew because of a recent EoE group I joined, please explore what is here already, and do come back in the fall to find more news and posts! I'm on a steep learning curve (again), but I'm certain that I'll make it to another decent-or-better plateau and have recipes to share.
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Oh my. It's been nearly 2 months since I've posted here, and just as long since I've felt capable of engaging else where in food world, too.

When I started this blog, it wasn't for emotional support or outreach; it was because I felt like we had enough of a grasp on vegan+meat allergy eating that we could collect and share our successes. Mostly I wanted a record of what we tried and what worked for my girls, and blogging was (and is) a convenient platform for that. 

Now, though, we're starting over and I don't have successes in my pocket, or even logical places to start recipes yet. I don't want this space to turn into a sad, venting place, but I definitely don't have the spare time to blog on non-recipe topics yet, either (all of that "extra" time after work goes straight into finding, and I hope soon making, safe food again!). 

I suspect this rock-and-a-hard-place situation will ease up eventually. For now, though, this is just another placeholder post while I brainstorm ways to get back to kitchen happy again soon. On that note, here's a collage of my successes just since the holiday: proof that I am not starving and that I am making things in the oven that are mostly edible! One day, when these recipes are tested and stick with me, they'll end up here.

Until then, happy baking with whatever your safe ingredients are. :-) 

Not a single traditional pasta recipe in the mix. But I'm working on plenty of that other staple: chocolate!
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One day, this veggie-packed sauce will end up in a Recipe Round-Up post. So far, I've turned it into soup, used it over noodles, and added beans and rice to it with extra taco seasoning. Find the original over at Le Coin de Mel: https://lecoindemel.com/vegan-pasta-sauce-hidden-veg-allergy-friendly/

​After 15 years of marriage, I'm still not used to people who ask me if I'm Dutch...or people who are astounded (shocked! disbelieving!) when I say that I'm Italian. My heritage is something that shaped me enormously: I grew up in an Italian American community where every Friday was homemade pizza night and every Sunday had red sauce on something. Cheese was everywhere, and the two most important dinners I learned to make before heading off into the world were gnocchi for holidays and lasagna...just because it's hard to get right. Being Italian is just BEING. There is no other way.
But, fast forward into parenthood and a child who ends up hospitalized after simply inhaling cheese. That was quite a change for us, but it did open up our culinary world so very much. With things like baked ziti literally off the table, I turned to my mom's other recipes: mostly Eastern European or plain old American classics. Also, naturally, pasta very often without the cheese on top. It worked. 

Dairy-free Italian ​was surprisingly doable (though a little bit sad), but wheat-free Italian has been tricky. So, back to the drawing board. For me, that means historical research, lots of recipe explorations, and some epic kitchen fails. I don't have free-from Italian completely figured out, but I have made enough strides to see the possibilities ahead. 

Traditional Italian-American meatballs use bread crumbs, sometimes eggs and milk, and often cheese. These Sicilian mackerel meatballs avoid all of those allergens, plus they are much more heart-healthy than red meat.

This post won't give you any allergy-safe Italian recipes, but I hope that it gets you started thinking about ways to "eat Italian" without cheese or wheat...or to get you started exploring your own favorite type of food. Maybe there's something in that culinary history that can bring new favorites for you to love.

Eating Italian, not Italian American
First consider Italian American meals against the traditional Italian versions. You might be surprised to see that Italians rely much less on cheese and gravy dishes than we do in the states.

Italian American favorites
Pasta under mounds of cheese

Pizza with mounds of cheese

Baked ziti with (well, you get the idea)

meatball subs

sausage and cheese stromboli

wedding cookies made with mounds of butter and iced with sugar and milk

wedding soup or pasta fagioli covered with mounds of cheese

​Peppers stuffed with meat and cheese and covered in mounds of cheese

Artichokes are more popular in southern Italy than people realize. The surprise ingredient for creaminess in this artichoke dip is also an Italian standard: cannellini beans. If you're wondering why this photo links to an old post about chickpeas, it's because those too are an Italian favorite, and my favorite before allergies. Now, I replace them in many recipes with cannellini or bortolli beans instead.
Italian favorites
Pasta with light sauce as a primi lunch course

Pizza with light cheese on occasion or, more often, foccaccia (cheese-free!) as a midday snack

meatballs, cured meats, or fish as a main lunch or dinner course along with salad or veggies

biscotti, cornmeal cookies, or rusk toast to dip in morning coffee or as a midafternoon snack

simple soups or stews made from leftovers on hand or from fresh tomatoes, beans, and veggies

Peppers (sliced and raw or roasted), olives, and more as antipasto

Eating by Region, Historically or Today
Also consider that we what think of as Italian really reflects only a tiny portion of actual Italian regions and foods. Italy was not well-collected as a country until the mid-1800s, and each region can seem like a country unto itself: northeastern areas mirroring Eastern European influences; northwestern, French and Swiss. And of course the regions of  the "south" (really, most of the bottom two thirds of the country!) with a bigger emphasis on farming, fishing, and shepherding. 

So, here's just a tiny sampling of Italian standards that don't rely on milk/cheese, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, or seeds:
  • Linguini with chard (a great example of modern twist for health and global sourcing), from Pure and Peanut Free 
  • Chicken cacciatore​, or any meat stewed with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and other "hunter" vegetables
  • Ravioli stuffed with meat instead of cheese
  • Gnocchi, a pasta made from mashed or riced baking potatoes
  • Classic pasta con aglio e olio: Southern simplicity with olive oil and garlic, no butter or cheese
  • Cold cuts/cured meats as antipasti with focaccia or another flatbread
  • ​Puttanesca pasta, a dish with capers and anchovies for flavor and protein
  • Stewed-meat goulash: Northern comfort in a tomato base, possibly with potatoes
  • Pasta e fagioli, a seasoned soup of tomatoes, pasta, and beans

​And another sampling that also excludes wheat for breads and pastas:
  • Bistecca pizzaiola, steak or any beef (without dredging) braised with tomato sauce 
  • Sausage risotto in red wine
  • Minestrone (veggie soup) or white bean soup (pureed with broth or left whole with escarole and fresh herbs)
  • Sweet potato gnocchi, another modern twist on traditional Italian food
  • Soft polenta topped with tomatoes or eggplant
  • Baked or fried polenta as a flatbread
  • Mackerel, cod (baccala), or other fish baked with capers, added to sauce, or turned into a stew​
  • Artichokes and leafy greens, like the artichoke dip pictured above

These dairy-free, wheat-free Italian options don't necessarily take me back to fond childhood memories, but they certainly satisfy as an adult with a passion to reclaim a heritage despite allergy challenges!

Having these options doesn't mean I've given up on pasta entirely, though. After giving lentil, rice, and bean pastas a few tries, I've settled on Le Veneziane corn pasta made in Italy. It cooks as close to durum wheat pasta as I can find, and it takes up sauces and broth well, too. It's available on Amazon, ItalianHarvest, and Vitacost websites, and the easy access is a nice bonus. For now, though, the cost of these small packages will keep pasta in the once-in-awhile dinner category.... Which leaves me plenty of room to explore new ideas. 
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This year is shaping up to be a high-alert year for our family. Every time we think a return to "normal" is around the corner, another crisis or emotional shocker hits us. Everyone has times like that, for sure...those days or weeks that keep you from your usual (even if hectic) life. When life just becomes getting through the moments instead of enjoying most of them. 
So. Another post not directly about food today, with my apologies. In fact, this is a post (with that paragraph above saved in the archives) from my draft folder that dates back to almost this time of year in 2016! At that point, both sides of our family had gone through some traumatic events, and I was just scheduled for open heart surgery. Not necessarily an upbeat spring. 

Unfortunately, it looks like I'm facing another open heart surgery much sooner than anyone hoped. That means I've had a fair share of "garden of Gethsemane" moments this Lent. And I'm still walking around the house eating things (like almonds and cherries and broccoli)---not meals---for lunch or even dinner some days. So, apparently I still have some physical challenges, and (I hope) mental growth, ahead. 

Lenten Lessons
In 2016, I treated surgery and other people's trauma as problems that I could help solve. Problems are like puzzles, and I love solving those; finding answers and solutions when people are in need is one way I help. And sometimes, it works beautifully. For example, treating my daughters' allergies as puzzles in the kitchen led to an entirely new approach in the kitchen and a new hobby for me, not to mention fun family time with my kids. 

In 2018, I've already learned this Lent that some problems are not for me to solve. Or are not solve-able. Instead I'm finding that standing by someone through a problem or trauma, and letting people stand with me in mine, is also a gift. A challenging one for me, for sure---to not fix things, and to let others in when I'm not 100%. But I have started finding joy in connections, and sometimes in the simplicity of accepting imperfect solutions. At the beginning of the year, I had grand plans: to work nearly full time, to put pen to paper with my recipes so the kids would have a safe cookbook, to be that great role model, to be normal (in my world that means "not a patient"). Now, I'm facing another health upheaval that reminds me: I'm not perfect or "fixed"; the trick isn't to find joy by having no problems but to find and share the joy in the problems. If I'm going all religious here, I'd say it's to be transfigured by our problems into a source of joy despite them. 

​Also in 2018, and related to that no-problems goal, I felt like I had a happy balance in my life: work, fun, family...peace, creativity, activity. I like calm, and home. But I've had a few weeks of crazy unscheduled stuff. And it's been terrifically fun, experiences I would never have wanted to miss. I'm not a risk taker; I seem to be passing that trait or habit on to at least one of my kids, too. Risks in my world are simple things, like travel and lifting, and it's hard to see the point of taking them when the prep work is so great. But shaking up my calm balance can be so rewarding. Lent lesson #2, I suppose---those connections with others are what it's all about, even when they're scary or outside my comfort zone.
Not much calm prayer-blanket knitting accomplished, but the change of pace was certainly worth it!
And I lost to a 6 year old. With the most basic move ever. That I really didn't see coming. I must be out of practice.
Plane travel, preschooler wrestling, baby carrying. Simple things that stress my brain more than they should.


Building Meals Back Up From Basics

​I had the chance to metro into the city (instead of drive in) and visit an old friend this week. He happens to have been dealing with food-related problems (including but not only celiac) for more than a decade...much longer than trendy foods have been available. We met at a cafe, both got drinks, and both pulled out our own meals. He's the first person who didn't start off asking me whether X food is okay for 20 minutes. And it was refreshing to just sit and catch up with a friend who didn't mind my beef jerky while we swapped stories and pictures of kids. Riding a metro train back home gave me plenty of time to pore over not just his advice but also his experiences, going through this seemingly alone years ago. We're not alone, though it's hard to remember to put ourselves out there to share and connect. 

I also started keeping a notebook in my kitchen this year. At first, the goal was to write out the recipes I make so that I can get them posted here, printed into books, sold online, and on and on. I think I'm again being reminded of how small I am and how large and unneeded those goals are right now, though. At this point, I need to simply put what works each day in that book. From there, eventually, I'll get to build up new creations. Right now I just need to stay nourished without losing the joy. This week, that book has things like "snacks: dried cherries, slivered almonds, roasted edamame mix" but also more elaborate entries like "dinner success: halved poblanos stuffed with meatball mix of 93/7, sprinkles of potato starch, garlic, parsley, seasoned salt, sage; drizzled in olive oil and vegetable broth. combined with parboiled brown rice." Because we have to start somewhere, right? 

​So, here's to another week of making it work, of hoping that each day I can do something to help someone, and myself, find joy. Even through troubles, not after they're gone.

​And maybe I'll actually have recipes and research, from that little kitchen notebook, by April. ;-) 
Ripping up photo playing cards: cheapest therapy ever. Travel to my almost-least-favorite city wasn't stress free but it was worth it.
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It's been a whole week since I started this post (basically, since I wrote the title and then closed the laptop lid). ​But what full week! Somehow,  Ash Wednesday (aka this year, the crazy day that ended in much peace), first Friday in Lent (and the first first Friday I remembered to stay meatless for that night's dinner in years), and a long President's Day weekend at home (with a tradition of indoor ice skating planned) seemed busy enough.

​But why stop there? Life threw in a new car (!), travel planning (aka food prep logistics) for me, viruses almost all around that gave us movie days instead of skating and swimming days, and reconnecting time with old friends. Plus a cardio check up (results pending), new job offers, and more. 
Absolutely still too young for this. Thank goodness!
But Lenten fasting is still on my mind. After removing so much food this year already for EoE, I opted for the first time ever to not give up a food for 40 days. Frankly, there's no particular food that's a crutch/vice right now that doesn't also fill a nutritional need these days. It's weird not to have an answer to the wholy (ha!) Catholic question: "What food did you give up this year?" But it's a bit freeing, too. It allows me to widen my gaze, expand my efforts this Lent. Because Lent's not just about giving up a food. 

Our priest for the first Sunday in Lent (so, two days ago) is one of my favorite homilists. He happens to be the priest who counseled me and annointed me before my surgery, too, so I have a soft spot for him all around. He is wise beyond his years, humble and caring, and thoughtful and kind and funny. His homily this week was no different: he emphasized the triad of Lenten efforts that aims to bring us all closer to God (however we define God): fasting, alms, and prayer. This year, I'm trying to hold all three, not just fasting, closer to me each day. 

Fasting
Fasting is not just about giving up a single food...or meat on Fridays...etc. That's good, but not the only way. Instead, says Father Rampino, fasting is about choosing not to have something that is ours "by right"---much as Jesus in the desert chose not to have things he could have by right---all of the kingdoms, stones into bread, etc. Fasting, then, is also about giving up something we consider natural but can go without to fill our life in other ways: can we limit our news, our tech time, our favorite comfort? Can we fill those hours with prayer, peacefulness, giving to others, sharing outside our comfort zones instead? This year, I'm fasting from foods more by necessity---choosing to go without instead of using multiple medications to maintain a normal diet. Thinking more broadly about fasting, I'd like to stick to a once-daily media check and have replaced some "by right" choice apps with new ones. My favorite: 

The Jesuit's Loyola Press Three Minute Retreat, an old favorite, is back on my new phone now. It's a much calmer and thought-provoking default app than Pinterest, Twitter, FaceBook. If priest's messages aren't for you, they have more choices! Speaking From the Heart is a sister (pardon the pun) podcast and blog, for example. 
Alms
Giving for me has often revolved around food, so I am again challenged to rethink my charitable acts. I'm seeing a theme. :)

I'm still giving foods to show love and sometimes for support of others, but on a much smaller scale. I mourned that change for some time, but I do see that it's given me time to try new ways of reaching others. Again well outside my homebody comfort zone, but already fulfilling in surprising ways: new friendships, progress toward tangible gifts for friends and strangers alike (in particular efforts to really commit to sending handmade knits to children and groups in need), and more.

I hope this Lent to renew an old favorite of mine that I had to give up because of metal allergies: making and donating rosaries and other prayer beads. It's up to me to come to peace with my limitations and make something for others with materials I can use---not to make the most beautiful item, but to make something meaningful and useful that can help others in journeys that are undoubtedly harder than mine.
Prayer
It's easy to get into prayer ruts, for just about any person, any religion. I tend to slide out of my daily rosary every winter when the days get shorter and the outdoor walks end. Every Lent, I bring back my rosary walk, though (ideally sooner than in years past!).

This week's homily reminded us that other things are simply things---niceties; prayer is what we all need. And prayer should strengthen us and others, not just be words to say. This year, I'd like to take my devotions a step further and talk about them more with others. Regardless of established religion, many people have strong faith and devotional practices. This year, because I've reached outside my comfort zone already, I have already found new prayer experiences in surprising places. To enhance my prayer life and hopefully use it toward positive efforts and relationships, I'm introducing two new daily reading experiences to my 40 days, one of which came directly from those surprising places: 

1) 40 Ways for 40 Days: A daily text message, with a link to meditations, is a brand new effort from our diocese, which is under the direction of a new Bishop. Bishop Burbidge seems caring, funny, and willing to meet people where they are (so, on tech). He's started a new podcast (!) and initiated this outreach based on messages of Pope Francis, too. It's a great feeling when the text ping isn't a new work deadline but instead is a message of how to encourage love or how to bring more Christ-like mindfulness and awareness to yourself and your actions.

2) 40 Graces for Forgiveness is a thought-provoking, meditative book that's also already calling me to actions that I hope will become past-Lent habits. In addition to daily Scripture and prose, the passages naturally promote journaling, or other reflective comforts, to slow down our days and widen our gaze on the world---our needs, those of others, and more. I had been lucky enough to randomly meet the author, Maria Keffler, at a meeting for our kids' school music program. We both showed up with knitting. :) It turns out that we have a shared love of music, and that we are both writers. Plus, she has an awesome sense of humor! Stop back by the blog after Easter, and you can find my full review of 40 Graces. So far, I'm having a hard time sticking to one passage a day! 

Maria's book, which is in print and electronic versions on Amazon.

​So, I may have added enough Lenten goals to fill a 40-hour day, 40 times over. But if I keep to even some of them, I'll have learned a lot and hopefully helped a lot. It's not the successful checking off of each item every day that counts; it's the meaning behind it, and the love in the effort, and the getting back up and doing it every day despite "failures" the day before.
It's still a food blog, people. Recipes and ingredient info will be back! For now: the start of fresh toppings for our zillionth round of nachos for dinner at our house. :)
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This is a low-photo post this week, but for a happy reason: Every time I've tried to make something for dinner with masa harina, it's been gobbled up in a snap, without leftovers. 

Rather than recipes, I'd like to go into some differences about corn products that can replace wheat in (mostly) savory free-from products. That sounds simple, but it's deceptive---there are enough types of ground corn available to make my head spin. At the start, let me offer an obvious disclaimer: this post isn't for you if you have a corn allergy!
These gnocchi are mostly made from potatoes in a traditional Italian-American way. Instead of all-purpose flour, though, I used a surprising type of semolina.

If you're a sometimes baker, you probably are already familiar with cornstarch (cornflour when in Australia and the United Kingdom). It's a white, tasteless, powdery ingredient that, when heated, thickens everything from gravy to pie fillings. In the Americas, corn flour is yellow---the powdery ingredient of the entire corn kernel (not just the hard-shell endosperm of the kernel that gives us cornstarch).

If you pride yourself on homemade pizza on special stones, you might even have some cornmeal, that coarser grind of the entire kernel. Or maybe you're a fan of polenta or grits, which is just a medium-ground version cooked into porridge.
Semolina
I thought that this was plenty of corn for my new wheat-free life, but it's really just the beginning. I came across semolina corn flour at our local international food market and picked it up without knowing what I'd do with it. Semolina wheat is the type used for Italian pastas, but I'd never heard of a corn version. The word semolina actually refers to an extremely fine grind of the endosperm of a grain only. Thus, corn semolina or rice semolina are absolutely real. 

Finding semolina corn flour led me to an Italian corn pasta company called Le Veneziane. I do have black bean, lentil, and other wheat-free pastas in my cupboard, but this corn pasta was the first success: It didn't get gummy, could be cooked like wheat pasta (for me, that means no timer, cooking until al dente), and did not stick together upon draining). It's amazing! 

Now I'm excited to try making my own pasta with corn semolina flour. But first, I'm going to try the grain in a semolina corn cake recipe (like this one). I've tried corn cakes before, by mixing corn kernels with corn and chickpea flours, but the results were a bit too bland and a bit too gritty for my liking. 

Masa
But all of these options and ideas aren't enough; Mexican corn flours take the grain a step or two further. The most common option available in typical US grocery stores is masa harina---a corn flour that is soaked in lime (calcium) to break down the hulls before grinding and drying. 

​When I stopped eating wheat and yeast in our already--dairy-free household, I found myself making a lot of Asian and Mexican dishes. Naturally (right?), that led me to wonder about making my own tortillas instead of buying them. I used a Craftsy class subscription to learn more, quickly, about authentic tortilla methods and varieties. It was a fantastic experience! I learned that I only needed water, masa harina, and salt to get started.

You don't need to, but I went ahead and bought a small tortilla press and a small comal, or cast-iron griddle. I picked up some masa harina (Maseca is the brand I used) and got started: mix, roll, press, brown each side on a dry griddle, wipe the griddle clean at the end. The biggest tip I learned from my classes and online recipes was that the dough is best rolled and pressed by hand to the consistency of Play-Doh. So making dinner was also a lot of fun! 

I found a small press and comal online and store them with a glass jar of my excess masa harina under the counter.

Since my first attempt at tortilla making, we have
  • baked the browned tortillas to crisp them in the oven
  • hand-pressed the dough to make thicker patties
  • wrapped the dough around leftover meat and browned the stuffed hand pie (tlacoyos) on the comal

​We have even shaped the uncooked dough into muffin tins and parbaked them, then filled them with taco meat and returned them to the oven to crisp and heat up some more. 

My next plan is to try yet another corn flour product: arepa flour, or masarepa. This flour is an instant yellow flour, pre-cooked masa harina that is prepared similarly to tortillas but cooks quickly when stuffed or topped. This could be my sandwich bread replacement down the road...what do you think? 
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Free time. So fleeting, so hard to squeeze in. I'm more jack-of-all-trades than expert in any one hobby or topic. There's always much talk about work-life balance, but I have been thinking about life-life balance.

With older kids, routine work loads, and a year without enormous health or other challenges, my family and I have been having so much fun together, from swimming to skating to travel. It's been a real joy! I've found, though, that I struggled to make an effort to enjoy my own interests regularly when I found myself with time alone. 

Example: Blogging weekly! I did it for a year, so this shouldn't be a challenge. But I find myself either baking, or writing, or reading, or knitting, or playing piano. What a first-world problem to have, I know. :-) 

Last week, I had the chance to work on my family's 100+-year-old Italian mandolin. It's not a valuable antique, but it is a personal family treasure. While I'm devoting all of my energy to non-food joy (finishing the gluing and staining this week, I hope), here are some photos of the start and the work in progress.

You're not seeing double. A luthier in WV had a smaller near-copy of my mando, so we splurged on it for my daughter---soon, we can play duets!
I haven't abandoned the kitchen entirely...just the documentation. Some of my recent successes: 
In a clockwise circle: Mel's veggie sauce (before puree), sweet potato brownies, cherry brown bread, free-from snack mix, unsliced brown bread, my favorite scones (now GF), dairy-free artichoke dip, Sicilian-style mackerel meatballs...and a centerpiece of homemade veggie nachos (with real cheese snuck in while kids were on playdates!)

​I'm bound to return to writing down my kitchen efforts as soon as I am done with my obsessive focus on this gorgeous instrument! Until then, have a great week everyone.
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Fudgy brownies with a surprise ingredient!
​It seems that I'm on an 8-day rotation for blog posting in 2018. I need to step up! This week, I intended to post a recipe round-up of five new favorite recipes adapted from some expert gluten-free bloggers. Unfortunately, that turned into more book than post, so I'll be doing a recipe per post, instead. And, of course, I'm starting with dessert!
A soft skillet brownie by Kelly at The Pretty Bee caught my eye this month. Grain free, and overall free of our family allergen list (not to mention DOUBLE chocolate), I had to try it. To get that lava cake--like softness, she used sweet potatoes! I miss lava cakes so much...and I happened to have a leftover baked sweet potato. Kismet.

You know I can't just leave a recipe well enough alone, though. And I wanted to use some of my King Arthur Flour gluten-free all-purpose mix in something. And I was out of maple syrup. And I don't own a small cast-iron skillet. So I can't say that I actually made Kelly's recipe, except maybe in spirit. And her recipe was inspiring---both the size and the moistness of ingredients, and the easy baking and serving instructions. 
Mmmmm. Gooey enough to spoon and eat right out of the oven. Chocolate joy.
I have a habit of pulling ideas from all over the place when I get started in the kitchen. Sometimes, that ends with boiling brownies. Other times, it all comes together, at least eventually. Unbelievably, this inspired-by-but-not-quite-the-same recipe worked on the very first try! And the second try...and third.... It was good enough on the first try that we've now made it three times in one week. I'll blame that on the small size, but really it's just because it's so easy and yummy and fun to share. 

So, in addition to The Pretty Bee recipe, I used a 4-ingredient recipe for ideas about baking without the leavener and how to increase the longevity by refrigerating overnight to set the brownies a bit more without losing the awesome fudginess. 
Try 1 after an overnight refrigeration. Still spoonable if you want to, but sliceable if you are feeling extra proper.
And I'm linking it up to this week's FreeFromFridays, because...brownies, as soon as possible, and often.

Here's my short version of our successful sweet potato gluten-free vegan fudgy brownie:  

INGREDIENTS
3 ounces sweet potato (no skin), baked and cooled
3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp psyllium
1/2 cup chocolate chips (reserve a small handful of these until the end)
3/4 cup gluten-free flour mix (I used King Arthur All Purpose)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix the sweet potatoes, applesauce, sugar, and cocoa until smooth. Add the salt, psyllium, scant half-cup of chips, and GF flour. Stir until just combined.
Spoon the thick batter into a small baking dish (I used a 4" square ceramic cake dish, ungreased; lightly greased is fine, too).
Top the batter with the remaining chips. 
​Bake for 20 minutes. 
And here's a prettier downloadable version: 
On try two, I doubled the quantities, baked half as on try 1, and baked the other half in a 24-count mini-muffin pan with liners (ungreased). I baked that pan for only 14 minutes. Those turned out bite-size and delicious, too! 

Bite-size fudgy brownies set up well and lasted a few days in a sealed container at room temp or in the fridge.
My biggest take-away: Always keep a baked sweet potato in your freezer in case you have a fudgy brownie craving. :-)
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