Holidays can be a bit of a bummer if you have food allergies or dietary restrictions.  This comes as no surprise, but gluten and sugar are the building blocks of most (and best) of the traditional holiday foods. Crazy right? flour and sugar? Obviously not shocking anyone here.

Thanksgiving is certainly no exception: pies, cranberry sauce, stuffing.. I mean.. that sucks.  Since a few members of my family have to deal with gluten and sugar-intolerance, I thought it would be cool to make a pie that everyone can eat that would be supremely delicious as well.

This was way easier than I expected.  Finding the ingredients and then baking the pie was a breeze.  I think the awareness of gluten intolerance is far more ubiquitous than it once was, hence making alternative options available nearly everywhere without having to drop major cash money/driving around looking for it. And gluten-free, sugar-free baking is all over the web.

Sugar-free is a bit of a misnomer, at least for me. While I know that means no refined cane sugar, some little kid part of me thinks that means it’ll be tasteless and gross- but it’s not!  The amount of sugar substitutes currently out there are both plentiful and diverse. Spending time in the grocery aisle I routinely avoided was an eye-opener.  I had no idea that sugar-free baking could really actually work. I always thought people were kidding themselves and quietly weeping into their fake cookies “no this is really delicious guys, I swear” (siiighh).

I was so so wrong.  Using agave nectar for the pie filling actually tasted better and was a better consistency than white sugar. Also coconut sugar tastes exactly like brown sugar-so it was perfect for the crisp topping.   These conversion charts were very helpful.

Ingredients:

Crust:

gluten-free pie crust mix (this kind)
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp light cream
1/2 cup butter
rice flour (for kneading ze dough)

Filling: 

16 oz frozen blueberries
12 oz fresh cranberries
2/3 cup agave nectar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground cinnamon

*based on this recipe

Topping:

1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Mix egg yolk and cream, set aside.  Put pie crust mix and butter in a medium bowl. With an electric mixer, beat at low speed until blended. Add egg mix and continue to beat at low speed until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.  Form into a ball and place on a sheet.  Using a rolling pin and a few pinches of rice flour, smooth dough using even strokes, until pie crust  forms a circle approximately 12 inches wide. Place dough in a 9 inch pie pan. Set aside.

2.  Combine all filling ingredients in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and begins to boil, stirring occasionally, 12 to 14 minutes. Continue to boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Take off heat. Set aside.

3. Mix topping ingredients together, stirring in the melted butter last.  Now it’s time to put the pie together!

4. Pour filling onto crust, then sprinkle topping over filling- ensure that berries are completely covered.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Cool on rack. Best if eaten within 3 days.

 

 

 

 

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Sweet Potato Torte

November 14th, 2012

This is probably one of my favorite things I’ve made thus far.  It’s a combination of the sweet potato casserole and a potato torte.  This would be a great side for Thanksgiving and is sure to impress because it’s delicious and so pretty.

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes
3 baking potatoes
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup romano cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven 400 degrees.

2. Cranberry sauce: In a medium sized pot over medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the orange juice. Stir in the cranberries and cook until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and place sauce in a bowl. It will thicken as it cools

3.  While cranberry sauce is cooking, peel potatoes and slice into coins roughly 1/4 inch or thinner if you can. Set aside.

4.  In a medium pan over medium heat, melt 1 tbsp of butter then add diced onions. cook until brown and take off heat

5. Now the fun really begins: grease a 9-inch saucepan with butter then begin layering like so:
sweet potatoes–cranberry sauce– potatoes– butter, cheese, onions– sweet potatoes– cranberry sauce–potatoes– butter, cheese, onions–sweet potato

6. Cover with tin foil and bake for 50 minutes.   Remove from oven and let it cool for 10 minutes.

7. Remove tin foil and place a small plate upside down over the pan. With one hand firmly at the bottom of the plate and the other gripping the pan handle, flip it over! Lift the pan and voila-you’ve got yourself a torte, my friend.  Spoon some of the remaining cranberry sauce on top and serve.

Pumpkin Pie Chex Mix

November 8th, 2012

Chex mixes seem to be an unwaivering fixture of holiday snacks.   Everything is a hit: from muddy buddies and white trash to the standard Chex Mix- where we eat only the Chex and the brown chips, leaving the filler pretzels for everyone else…suckers.

This recipe is the perfect snack for Thanksgiving or really anytime leading up to it!

Ingredients:

2 cups Cinnamon Chex
2 cups Wheat Chex
2 cups Cheerios
1/2 cup assorted nuts
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1. Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2. In a large cooking sheet or pan, mix cereals and nuts. In small bowl, mix brown sugar, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.
3. In 2-cup microwaveable measure, microwave butter on high about 30 seconds or until melted.  Add pumpkin mixture and microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute, until boiling. Take out of microwave and stir in vanilla.
4.  Pour pumpkin-butter mixture over cereal and nuts, stirring until evenly coated.   Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes

 

Did you know about pumpkin pie spice?  It’s a magic fairy dust that smells wonderful and makes everything taste like pumpkin pie. I’ve been huffing the tiny McCormick shaker and debating putting it on everything from vanilla ice cream to steak or pork rubs.

 

If this recipe isn’t your thing, I made an awesome Chex Brittle last year that’s gluten-free and super easy. If you’re a festive nerd, add red orange and yellow sprinkles or M&Ms :)

Source: D&C Halloween Treats for Adults

mac and cheese revolution.

November 3rd, 2012

This is so simple and delicious I’m shocked this isn’t universally known.  You boil the pasta in milk, add cheese, and you’re done. No collander, no cheese sauce, nothing.  It’s less work than the blue box kind!  And more importantly, it’s amazing.

But wait, there’s more.

Let’s talk dishes: I’ve made the standard homemade mac and cheese many times.  It generally involves 3 pots and a collander.  4 dishes total.  Now this revolutionary recipe has ONE dish to clean and it’s the best tasting shells and cheese of my life.  4:1? Don’t even get me started.

Serves: 2-4

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups dry pasta
2 cups skim milk or 1% milk
1 cup grated cheese
1/4 tsp dry mustard
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)
cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

In a small pot or medium saucepan, add pasta and milk.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce to medium-low heat and cook for 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure that milk does not boil. Take off heat. Add cheese, mustard, etc and stir until blended.  Let it stand for a few minutes, or until it looks like the cheese has set. Serve!

One of the better recipes I’ve used prior to this involves 1/2 cheddar and 1/2 greyere.  I was going to buy the two separately, but apparently Trader Joe’s is  all over it:


Blam.

I first made this last Sunday for my brother Conor and me while we hid in his apartment in Brooklyn for 36 hours during the hurricane.  It was a relief to make something warm and “home-y” that only required 3 ingredients and one pot. We never lost power thank god. So we ate mac and cheese, pb&j, and soup and watched Raiders of the Lost Ark… which is probably something we did exactly 20 years ago when we were little.

 

Here is the spicier mac that I made for Patrick:

Enjoy!

Source: here via Pinterest pinned by my cousin’s lovely girlfriend. Thanks Nikki :)