Saturday, February 23, 2013

Starting A Week Dairy-Free and Wholesome Sweeteners Review

One of the blogs I follow, Healthful Pursuit, started a 7-Day Dairy Free Challenge and as you may already know I have been on and off about trying to go dairy free for good for awhile now.  However, I have a cheese weakness; I love it.  It is because of cheese that I have never fully gone dairy free, I don't really drink milk unless I am using it for baking/cooking.  So seeing this challenge I jumped right on it, we will see how it goes.  (I am starting a little late due to the fact I kept putting milk in my coffee out of habit.)

I started this morning, and today has been fairly easy other than I really wanted real butter on my pancakes this morning.  The spread I have just doesn't cut it, but I can easily get a different dairy-free spread.  Today I also hosted a Mom's Meet, we sampled Wholesome Sweeteners Agave Syrups.  And since I can't just sample what they give me, I needed to figure out something to make that (1) was gluten-free, (2) dairy-free and (3) had to use Agave.  I checked out the Wholesome Sweeteners website for some ideas, and a few other sites I tend to linger too long on and decided on the Wholesome Sweeteners Strawberry Sangria and Berry Bliss Bars. {Notice the berry theme}

First, I want to say that the Agave Syrups were REALLY good.  We sampled 6 different flavors, Raw Blue Agave, Blue Agave, Cinnamon, Vanilla, Maple and Strawberry.  Our favorite by far was the Vanilla, if would be really good in teas, oatmeal, smoothies, or by the spoonful. I would recommend checking out their website for a lot more information but Wholesome Sweeteners is Fairtrade Certified and all organic, they agave syrups are also low-glycemic.  The only flavor we didn't really care for was the strawberry, it tasted too artificial.  The other flavor that we probably wouldn't buy, was the maple.  The flavor wasn't bad but we all agreed that we would rather just buy real maple syrup.  I would guess if you needed something low-glycemic then it may be a good substitute but if not then I don't see a reason to switch. We also sampled their Organic Stevia Packets, we didn't really care for them they just tasted like all the other artificial sweeteners out there. (If you use artificial sweeteners, let me know if you can taste a difference.) 

Now, on to the bars...Berry Bliss Oat Bars. I first saw pictures of these bars on the Healthful Pursuits blog, it was a guest post that then gave the link to, Oh How She Glows, which is also one of those blogs I tend to linger too long on too, she writes vegan recipes.  The original recipe uses Maple Syrup, I substituted with the Blue Agave Syrup; I also used gluten-free oats.

To see the original recipe check out; Oh How She Glows, Berry Bliss Oat Bars

Now on to the beverage...Strawberry Sangria. This was from the Wholesome Sweeteners recipe page. I made just a little tweak and used just the Blue Agave Syrup.

This is how I made it...really simple. In a pitcher, add 1 750-ml bottle of Rose` Wine, 1/4 cup of Agave Syrup, 1/3 cup of Raspberry Lemonade, 1-2 cups sliced strawberries and 2 cups ginger ale, stir and refrigerate. 


Sunday, February 17, 2013

{Gluten Free} Slutty Brownie Tarts

First of all I am going to say I feel really guilty that I made and ate these yesterday, even if it was just a half.  Why? Well I was talking to a friend who is also a personal trainer about getting toned up and having a session with him and of course he knows I bake...and here I go making a very not healthy dessert.  Go figure.  He isn't even my trainer (yet, maybe) and is already making me feel guilty, I guess that is a good thing? Anyway...on to the brownies (if you can even really call them that.)

I have made Slutty Brownies before, but used boxed mixes and they were not gluten free. If you don't know what a Slutty Brownie is, it is a layered treat made with chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate sandwich cookies, and brownies.  This is a time consuming dessert, especially if you make them from scratch. You could, and I have usually seen them made in a pan.  I used mini tart pans, just because I just bought them and I wanted to use them, plus they would hold ice cream well.  Since Oreos are not a GF food, and I decided not to make homemade GF oreos for this, I used K-Toos.  They are a GF, dairy free, all kinds of free sandwich cookie.

For the Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Make it & Love it, to see it click here

1 cup butter (softened)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/4 cup GF four, I used Trader Joes
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. salt
12 oz. chocolate chips (Trader Joes has the best ones ever!)

1. Mix together the butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix well.  Add the sugars.  Shift together the flour, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.  Add to the butter sugar mixture.  Mix until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips. 

2. Press about 2-3 tablespoons of the dough into greased tart pans, set aside.  (You could use a13x9 baking dish also to make bar brownies.) 

{With the remaining dough, I just made cookies, scooping 1 tablespoon worth of dough on to a cookie sheet and baking for about 10-13 minutes at 350 degrees.}

3. Layer, the chocolate sandwich cookies on top of the cookie dough. I broke mine up a bit, that is optional.  I would keep them whole if you are making them into bars.

For the Brownies

adapted from Jesicakes, see original recipe here

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
3 tbsp Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1 tbsp vegetable oil 
2 eggs
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp gluten free vanilla
3/4 cup GF flour blend
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp  salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

4. Melt the butter, I used the microwave.  Stir the chocolate chips into the melted butter until completely melted.  Add the oil and cocoa powder. Mix well. Set aside.

5. Beat the eggs, add the sugar and vanilla. Add the chocolate butter mixture.  Mix well.

6. Sift together the dry ingredients, slowly add the the chocolate mixture.  Mix well.

7. Spoon some of the the batter on the top of the tart pan, just until covered. (Don't over fill) If using a 13x9 pan, pour all the batter over the cookies. 

8. Bake tarts for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.


**Featured on Gluten Free Tuesday Linky 8/06/2013 with Easy Green Mama**

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Homemade Crispy Chicken Tenders

My little helper
It feels like I haven't posted anything in a while, I guess I have just been preoccupied with other things. But, I'm back!

Because I have been busy, like a lot of other times I have been looking for quick meals. We usually have a chicken nuggets or tenders a couple times a month and finding ones that are gluten free (and reasonable priced) isn't always the easiest. So, I decided to make our own. These are so easy to make, you can make ahead and freeze, make the night before or like me prepare them in the morning before work. (All the picture were taken via my phone and the ones of the tenders themselves were taken by my if they aren't the best quality, I'm sorry.)

So here it is:

Gluten Free Crispy Chicken Tenders

1 pound chicken tenders
3 cups corn Chex cereal
2 cups regular potato chips (any flavor would work to, and probably be quite good)
1 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp pepper
4 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Combine Chex cereal, potato chips, paprika and pepper in a food processor, pulse until a desired consistency. (My son did about 4 good pulses.) If you don't have a food processor, combine in a large plastic bag and smash. Set aside, can be made well in advance if kept in a sealed container. (Save any left over crumb for later use.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, mayonnaise and mustard. Place all the tenders in the egg mixture, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat, if you have time let sit for about an hour in the refrigerator.

Place about half of the crumb mixture on to a large plate, a pie pan would work great. And take one tender out and cover in the crumb mixture then placing it on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat until all the tenders are coated.
Cooked (not much changed, a little more golden)

Bake at 425 degrees for about 15-20 minutes, turning half way through.  (I drizzled a little honey on mine...Yum!)

To make ahead and freeze; prepare all the way through but line your cookie sheet with foil. Once all the tenders are laid out, place the whole cookie sheet in the freezer for about an hour. Remove from the freezer and place the tenders in a large zip top bag, return to the freezer. When ready to bake place frozen tenders on a greased cookie sheet, bake at 425 degrees for 30 mins or so depending on your oven.

SO Easy! Enjoy!