Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last Day to Save 20%!!

~Don't Miss Out On The Savings!~

I know this isn't food, but bear with me!
Well, I can't believe we are on the last day of September, but there it is- and along with it is the last day of the sale for Etsy for Animals Birthday Bash! This is the LAST DAY to get 20% off everything in my Etsy store. All you have to do is use the coupon code "LITT" in the 'Notes to Seller' when you check out.
It's that simple so don't miss out!
I've got lots of goodies for you at all price ranges - how about getting your holiday shopping done early??
Go to my store here: www.littlestudiojewels.etsy.com
PLUS - Check back soon for a contest to win free goodies!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The "Now I Can Die Happy" Banana Walnut Bread

~The Best Banana Bread I've Ever Had. Period!~

I had a bunch of bananas that were about halfway ripe - you know, yellow, with a few brown spots, but nothing scary. Brennan won't eat them if they have even a tiny spot, and I had a good 6 of them on my counter so I knew I needed to do something quickly before I had an army of fruit flies in my kitchen. Enter Banana Bread 101. I LOVE banana bread, muffins, cupcakes, you name it, but I hadn't made banana bread in a long time so I thought I'd give that a try. No dice - I couldn't find my recipe. So I went through my stack of cookbooks and found a recipe I thought I could easily modify to my particular tastes and allergies. I found a recipe from Bette Hagman in her "The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread" and changed it to my liking. This is gluten free, egg free, dairy free, corn free, soy free and vegan. I'm going to work on getting a lower fat version soon, but this is truly an amazing bread - the addition of walnuts and a secret ingredient (vanilla - shhhh don't tell!) make it to die for!

Banana Walnut Bread

2 cups Regular GF Flour Mix
1/4 cup Garfava Flour
1 slightly rounded tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
3 Large, Ripe Bananas
3/4 cups Brown Sugar
Dash Salt
1/2 - 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Chopped Walnuts
2 tbsp Ground Flax Seed Whisked with 6 tbsp Hot Water and left to stand until thick, about 3 minutes
1/4 cup (scant) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tbsp Hot Water

Preheat your oven to 350 and grease and flour an 8-1/2"x 4-1/2" loaf pan. Set aside.
Mash the bananas in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, vanilla, salt and flax seed/water mix and mix well. Add the oil and mix. Mix the baking soda in the 2 tbsp of water and let dissolve. Evenly distribute the dry ingredients over top and mix, adding the baking soda/water mix towards the end. Add the Walnuts and mix until just combined. Pour into pan and bake for about 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before slicing. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Shepherd's Pie So Good, You Can't Tell It's Vegan!

~Ok, So We Ate Most of It Before I Got to Taking Pictures, So It's a Bit of a Mess!~

Shepherd's pie is one of those meals that I always loooove. As a kid, my parents would make it and even if they made enough for double the people, there was never enough. Thick, wonderful mashed potatoes with melted cheese on top, put under the broiler for just long enough to make it crispy, then the corn, and finally, ground beef, seasoned with taco mix, maybe with a few mushrooms mixed in for fun. That was our version, but there are almost as many versions of Shepherd's Pie as there are of apple pie, pumpkin pie - you get the idea. When I found out I was allergic to corn, and also didn't want to have meat, it seemed this all-time favorite was out of my life for good. Then came a wonderful book called "125 Best Slow Cooker Recipes" by Judith Finlayson. I have to say that everyone should get this book, as it is filled with great ideas for lots of wonderful recipes - even desserts and breads! Although I can't have a lot of them due to being allergic to many of the ingredients, this one stood out - a Lentil Shepherd's pie. I changed it a bit to my tastes and allergies and what I got was nothing short of amazing! Cooked in a slow cooker, it is a two pot dish - one frying pan for preparation work, then the slow cooker ceramic. Easy as, well, pie! It's so good, you'll forget it's vegan! It's also gluten free, corn free, dairy free (use a cheese substitute), egg free, soy free, meatless, high in fiber, vitamins, and nutrients.
Note: try to chop the veggies into approximately the same size. It helps with texture, and flavor.

Shepherd's Pie with Lentils (Modified from a Recipe by Judith Finlayson)

2-3 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes
1/2 cup Grated Cheese/Substitute
1/4 cup Vegetable Bouillon Water (Optional, if potatoes are dry when mashed)

1/2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, chopped
2-3 Cloves of Garlic, minced
2 Medium Carrots, chopped
2 Stalks Celery, chopped
4-6 Stuffer Mushrooms, coarsely chopped
Pinch of Sea Salt (up to 1/2 tsp)
Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp dried Thyme (double if fresh)
1/2 tsp dried Oregano (double if fresh)
1 tsp Chili Powder
1/2 cup Vegetable Bouillon Water
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1/2 cup Green Lentils, Rinsed
1/4 Cup Red Lentils, Rinsed
1/2 cup Ketchup - this is the secret ingredient!!

Poke holes in the potatoes and microwave until cooked. Mash in a bowl, adding bouillon water if necessary, and set aside - be careful, they are hot!!
In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, mushrooms and celery and saute for 5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the herbs, spices, salt and pepper and saute for another 5 minutes, until vegetables are softened. Add the lentils, tomatoes, stock and ketchup and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and CAREFULLY pour into slow cooker ceramic, being careful not to splash it - it's very hot! Top with potatoes, sprinkle cheese/substitute over the potatoes. Cover with lid and cook on low for3-4 hours, or high for 1-1/2 -3 hours, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the cheese (if using) is melted and bubbly. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 3-4 as a large main dish, or 6-8 as an accompaniment to a larger meal. Add a salad for a great dinner.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Oh, The Apple Pie of My Eye

~Apple Pie Never Tasted So Good!~

Fall is officially here: it got cold, and I immediately craved my two favorite things - apple pie and pumpkin pie. I am SO kicking myself for not growing pumpkins this year, which is why my first pie of fall was an apple pie. Well, that and I had a bunch of apples that were about to go bad if I didn't use them up pronto ;-) I made this in the blink of an eye - the crust is super easy, the filling is so basic, yet they combine to make such a wonderful pie, people can't believe you didn't spend all day making it! One note: this pie crust works best if you use a metal pie plate - glass just doesn't heat it as well and may cause a mushy pie crust center (trust me, I know!).
This is gluten free, egg free, corn free, soy free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan!

Meghann's Apple Pie of My Eye

Crust (Altered from a Recipe by Bette Hagman)
1-1/2 cups Bean Flour Mix (see flour posts)
1 tsp (rounded) Baking Powder
2 tbsp Sugar (I used granulated white, but experiment to find your favorite)
Dash of Salt (up to 1/4 tsp)
Scant 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tbsp Rice Drink

Mix the dry ingredients, add the oil and rice drink and mix until combined. Press into a pie plate (no rolling pin required!).


6-8 Apples, Peeled (Royal Gala are my favorite ,or a mix of Gala and Macintosh)
1-3 tbsp Ground Cinnamon (to your taste)
Dash of Nutmeg (up to 1/4 tsp, maybe more - add to your taste)
1/4-1/2 cup Sugar (This will depend on the sweetness of the apples - the sweeter the apple, the less sugar required)

Slice apples into 1/2 inch slices. Toss in a large bowl with the cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to mingle. Pour into pie crust, making sure not to get the juice in the crust or it will be soggy. There will be a lot of apples, so make sure to pile them high! When baked, they will settle a bit. Bake on a cookie sheet (to catch any wayward drips) in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Let cool and devour!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Zucchini, Tomato and Mushroom Saute

~The Incomparable Saute in All its Glory!~

The other night my fiance called and said he was going over to a friend's house for a 'night with the boys' which meant that I'd be alone for dinner. I really don't mind actually, because it means I can experiment without wrinkled noses or funny (actually hilarious) comments about how healthy food will be my undoing. You see, when I looked into my fridge, I saw that I had some wonderful cherry tomatoes just picked from my gardens, and two lovely small zucchini (which he is not a fan of, lol) that just begged to be eaten right then! I would have just sauteed the zucchini lightly in some olive oil, but I was hungry. Really hungry. So I grabbed a bunch of other healthy ingredients and had a blast! I t was delicious, and you can bet I'll make it again - with or without the comments from my peanut gallery :)
This is gluten free, dairy free (use a cheese substitute), corn free, soy free, egg free, vegan and vegetarian.

Meghann's Zucchini, Tomato and Mushroom Saute

1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed and finely diced
2 small Zucchini, sliced in 1/4 inch slices
6 Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
2 Medium Stuffer Mushrooms, sliced thinly
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
Grated Cheese (or Substitute) for Garnish

Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat, and add the garlic. Saute for 2 minutes and add the mushrooms and zucchini. Saute for another 5 minutes, or until the zucchini is starting to get soft. Add the cherry tomatoes and add some freshly ground black pepper, and sea salt, if desired, to taste. When zucchini is at desired tenderness, remove to a plate, top with grated cheese (or substitute) and enjoy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Best Birthday Cupcakes Ever!!

~The Prettiest Low Allergy Cupcakes in the World!~

It was my birthday yesterday, but as my mom, sister and I all have birthdays within 12 days of each other, we celebrate them on the same day, this year being the 7Th (a mutually agreeable Sunday). I, of course, offered to bring dessert, thinking I would like to recreate the strawberry shortcake of my youth that I had loved so much. I thought I would do it in a cupcake style to make it easier for everyone involved to have a little piece of heaven. You can imagine my horror when I realized that strawberry shortcake has very little strawberry in it, and no chocolate at all! (Purists know it as a yellow cake topped with a smidgen of whipped cream and a strawberry perched atop the whole thing). This simply could not do. So I came up with this version, modified from a traditional vegan white cupcake recipe from Krystina Castella's "Crazy About Cupcakes". I did, of course, have to modify it for my numerous allergies and taste preferences, so it looks almost nothing like her version.
This version is delectable with chocolate chips and chopped strawberries inside the moist white cake, topped with my own version of strawberry icing and (of course) a strawberry. Try it and you will agree, it certainly does not taste at all what it most certainly is: gluten free, egg free, corn free, soy free, dairy free, and vegan. It is simply superb!

Meghann's Best Birthday Cupcakes Ever!

1/2 cup (scant) Light Olive Oil
1-1/3 cups Granulated Sugar (or use unbleached cane sugar)
2-2/3 cups G.F. Flour Mix
1/3 cup Bean Flour Mix
3/4 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
2 cups Rice Milk
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Almond Extract
1/2 cup Mini Chocolate Chips (Enjoy Life are great)
1/2 cup Strawberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350degrees Fahrenheit. Line 22-24 cupcake/muffin pans with cupcake/muffin liners. In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer for this but you can do it by hand with a hand mixer with no difficulties), beat the olive oil, and sugar until crumbly. Evenly sprinkle the dry ingredients over the top (not the chocolate chips or strawberries) and begin beating, adding the milk in a steady stream. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and beat for about 2 minutes on medium. Fold in the chocolate chips and strawberries gently. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full, making sure that there are strawberry bits in each one, and poking them down in the mix so they don't burn. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool them in the pan and then remove to a plate to ice once completely cool. Top with my icing (below) and a fresh strawberry. Enjoy!

For the Icing:
I wasn't super conscious of the exact measurements, but the gist is this: use 1 cup granulated sugar to 1/3 cup tapioca starch and grind in batches in a coffee grinder until finely ground. Add this to a few tablespoons of organic vegan strawberry jam, add a few tablespoons of water and heat over low-medium heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool (I refrigerated it) before icing.

I hope you love these as much as my family did!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Meghann's Gluten Free Apple Crisp

~Apple Crisp - It Doesn't Look Like Much, But the Taste Can't Be Beaten!~

As a kid, nothing said Sunday evening like a warm bowl of apple crisp. Sometimes with whipped cream or ice cream if we were really lucky, other times plain, it always made us less sad that the weekend was over and school was just a sleep away. Even in summer this dish is the perfect end to almost any meal as it isn't too heavy, and though it has a caloric value, it counts as a serving (or two) or fruit, and a serving of grain. I modified my mom's 'sacred' crisp recipe to make it friendly to my innards, and came up with this delicious version. Made with quinoa flakes instead of oatmeal, and gluten free flours, this is perfect for those with gluten sensitivities. Since we use olive oil instead of animal fat, this can even be vegan! Try it and you won't be disappointed!

Meghann's Gluten Free Apple Crisp

2/3 Cup GF Flour Mix
2/3 Cup Quinoa Flakes
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
4 Medium Apples (I like a combination of Royal Gala or Crispin and Jersey Mac)
1/3-1/2 cup Organic Sultana Raisins
1/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips (Optional)
1/4 cup Chopped Nuts (Optional)
Whipped topping or Ice Cream for Garnish (Optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel, core and slice the apples. Mix all the dry ingredients (not the raisins) with the olive oil until crumbly. Put a thin layer of the flour mix on the bottom of an ovenproof casserole dish (6-8 inches square is nice). Top evenly with sliced apples. Sprinkle the raisins over the apples. Top with the remainder of the dry mix. Pat slightly to make a firm top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is browned and firm. Let cool for ten minutes and serve topped with ice cream or whipped topping. Enjoy!
Makes about 4-6 servings.
Hope you like this as much as I do!

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