Thursday, December 14, 2017

Berry Chia Jam Thumbprint Cookies

This is one feels like tradition to make around Christmas time. It must be because I grew up around an old family version with lots of butter and even cream cheese, but this one is allergy safe with no eggs, dairy or gluten, even can be without nuts or seeds too! I love how it is still soft and crispy and buttery and melts in your mouth. This version also uses my most favorite homemade jam- made with bluberries and chia seeds. It is just the perfect bite-sized piece of wonderfulness! The added sprinkling of powdered sugar matches the powdery stuff falling from the sky today. Warm, cozy and magical is the mood- these are a must to add to the holiday cookie platter- I promise!

Berry Chia Jam Thumbprint Cookie Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nut and seed-free options}

1 1/4 cup of finely ground gluten-free oat flour
3/4 cup of finely ground buckwheat flour
1 cup of white rice flour
1/2 cup of tapioca flour
2 TB of potato starch
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/2 ts. of baking powder
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. of baking soda
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
2 TB of maple syrup
1/2 cup of date paste puree

1 cup of oil: do a mix of either 1/2 cup coconut oil and palm oil shortening OR you could sub in 1/2 cup of your favorite nut or seed butter for the palm oil shortening. It adds a beloved flavor combo of PB and J kinda-touch.

I first blend up my own flours for the GF oats and buckwheat. Then in a large mixing bowl, add in all the dry ingredients first. Mix together well and then add in the wet and room temperature oils. Use a spatula to mix well, or your hands usually do the best trick at mixing equally. You want it to be soft but also all together so you can roll it into balls. It should leave a little oil to the touch on the hands. That is what makes it melt-in-your-mouth- buttery kind of texture too!

Once smoothly mixed, roll into a large ball and put in the fridge for 20 minutes to stiffen up Then pull out and roll large 1 TB-sized balls between your hands to make about 2 dozen cookie balls. Put onto a parchment covered baking sheet and then press your thumb firmly and evenly into each cookie ball. This will leave you a space to pour your jam into. Once 1 large spoonful of jam is entered into the thumb print space on the cookie- bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. Until golden and bottoms are browned- do not touch or move for another 15-20 minutes to help them from crumbling!
I used my favorite homemade berry jam as follows. If you want to make the full batch and have some more for bread and toast then YES make the full batch, but if you are looking to just make some for these cookies, half or cut the recipe by 2/3's so that you make 1/3 amount to top the cookies :) Here is the recipe for your enjoyment ;)

Immunity Boosting Berry Chia Jam Recipe

2 cups of frozen blueberries
2 cups of frozen cranberries or raspberries
2 cups of frozen strawberries
1 cup of very concentrated elderberry tea*
1/2 cup of juice (I used Antioxidant Force by Smart Juice) but you could use pomegranate or other no sugar fruit juice like cherry, berry mix, or grape. Or at the least you could use water as well.
2 TB of grated fresh ginger
1 organic orange grated for zest and squeezed for juice (could easily sub a lemon)
1/3 cup of pure raw honey
drizzle of maple syrup (or add 1/4 cup more of honey)
pinch of sea salt
pinch to 1 ts. of pumpkin pie spice blend
1/2 cup of whole chia seeds

*Soak 1/2 cup of dried elderberries in 1 quart jar of boiling water and let sit for overnight or longer and then drain the berries out and you have elderberry tea. You could also sub in some already made elderberry syrup if you used up your berries already making that and have it on hand- but you would only use 1/2 cup of the elderberry syrup and add 1/2 cup water. And since the honey is in the syrup as well you may decide to not add as much honey in the rest of the recipe. 

In a medium saucepan, pour in the 6 cups of frozen berries with the tea and the juice and let cook to defrost and get soft. Then add in the ginger and orange juice and zest and bring to a soft boil and bubble and cook from any where to 10-15 minutes until the berries are very hot, juicy and mushy. Then use an immersion blender to blend in half of the mixture to be more smooth and have less chunky fruit. After this it looks like a fruit soup. Then add in the honey and syrup and stir well while it softly bubbles and boils. Turn off the heat and then add in the chia seeds. Stir in well so not to be clumpy and then let it sit in the pan and cool and let the chia seeds soak up the moisture and turn into a thick jammy substance. When it cools for 10-15 minutes you can pour into jars to continue to cool and thicken in the fridge. This recipe makes 3 pint jars. You can half it if you are looking to make less or you can also freeze and then thaw out when needed.

Happy Christmas cookie baking (and jam making ;) I hope you are finding some space to enjoy the baking and make new memories and traditions with gluten-free versions of your favorites. 

Much love and light as always, xoxo

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookies

The past few Decembers, (8!) but who's counting ;) I have been blogging recipes about gluten and dairy-free Christmas cookies. And this month is no different- it's like once the Christmas tree is up and the snow starts falling all that I want to do is bake Christmas cookies and read stories by the hue of the magical lights. And these are just about the best of the best for that...
These perfect little cookies were born by chance at finding these lovely already diced and minced dried cranberries at my local market and at first sight it was love. I already dreamt up these cookies in my mind before I checked out of the store! I was thinking they would be the perfect flavors and colors for a Christmas cut-out cookie and goodness gracious- the result proved to be fabulous!

And then... I added some melted chocolate to some of them... whoa whoa whoa! Now the cookies are good and I feel like I could eat them with tea at just about any time of the day, but when you add that orange flavor infused chocolate- now that just feels fancy! A dessert really. Can a cookie be a dessert? Definitely at Christmas time ;) 
But mostly, I just love making the cookies, the varieties, the traditions, the flavors, the colors. It is all just magical and joyous! We have been talking alot about hope and joy at our house the past few weeks, and the kids and I agreed- that making Christmas cookies is one of the best ways to have and share the Christmas joy with others. I love teaching my littles that the beauty of Christmas is actually in the hope, joy, peace and love that we share. That is actually where the magic is, and these cookies are just a picture of that love that we share, and enjoy and give away. So... I hope you are enjoying some Christmas cookie making this December- get ready- I am about to share a few more in the next week ;) Happy baking and happy sharing joy!
Cranberry Orange Shortbread Cookie Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nut, seed and refined-sugar free}

3/4 cup of certified gluten-free oat flour
(I grind my own out of rolled oats)
3/4 cup of fresh ground buckwheat four
3/4 cup of rice flour
3/4 cup of tapioca flour
1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar
2 TB of potato starch
1 1/2 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt
1 ts. baking powder
1 organic orange for 3-TB of fresh zest and 1/2 cup of fresh juice
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup of maple syrup or honey
1 cup of oil: I use a mix of coconut oil and palm oil shortening
1/2 cup of date paste puree

In a large bowl, mix together the flours and dry ingredients first, then add in the wet and oils, use a spatula to make sure the oils are evenly pressed through and the batter is soft. Then add in.. 

(PLUS ONE MORE CUP of GF oat flour added at the end for firming up and rolling out)
and 1 cup of finely chopped dried cranberries (you can use or more or less for preference!)

Roll all together and let sit in the fridge to firm up just a bit, like 15 minutes. Then roll out and cut out the cookies with your favorite cutters. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Let cool for at least 20 minutes from the oven before moving to help with less breakage.

They are also fun to use the cut-out cutters, but you could easily spread this batter out with a rolling pin in a 12x15 pan and pre-slice 3x3 or 3x2 cookie squares before baking for about 20-30 minutes at 350.  They are a play on Scottish or Irish shortbread squares. They would look a bit more simple, but the flavors and red popping out would make them just as wonderful. I might have tried that first if it wasn't December- and when I have little ones that want to use the Christmas shapes all day every day, you appease them.
You could also top with some melted chocolate that is infused with some orange flavoring, or some sweet orange essential oil that is made to eat. I melted 1 cup of bittersweet chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and then dropped a few drops of orange flavoring in it. It only amplifies the orange flavors! One of the most classic flavor combos- chocolate and orange- I can't resist!
You can use a special frosting pouch and decorator if you want to get even and fancy lines on the cookies, or you can do a rustic job as I did this go around and trace the shapes and fill in the middles. Once the chocolate dries- it will be stiff and hard like a chocolate bar. 

End result is fabulous! I love a little bitter sweet chocolate with a chewy cranberry crunch all smothered in a citrusy orange infusion! These cookies are also easy to make ahead of Christmas and freeze and pull out here and there for parties and gatherings. That is if you really want to make and wait to eat them ;) They are so yummy you will find yourself going back for more and then thinking about them in January when you decided to tighten up the sweets and goodies in your life ;)

But for NOW... ENJOY and happy baking friends, sending love, hope, joy and peace xoxo

Friday, December 1, 2017

Cardamon Pear Muffins with Cranberry Sauce

December! The Christmas tree is up. The twinkle lights are shining magic from room to room. The sun goes down at like 4:30pm...but right now, we don't care because the Christmas lights and magic is in full force. And it hasn't snowed here yet, so we are still anticipating that magic, but to help us get in the Christmas spirit the kids and I were making our baking treats list. Which for sure included cut-out sugar cookies and fudge and sprinkles and candy canes... ok I think the kids were more excited about all the other Christmas treats and I was thinking about the baking :) No surprise here!
These muffins are the perfect combo of moist, spice and texture. They are good for the soul. Yes, maybe I talk too much about how food can nourish you, or even how food can do more than just feed the stomach. But these little muffins remind me of just that. They bring joy and cheer. They bring hope and peace. They are just little muffins, yes, but they touch all of the senses when you mindfully surround yourself into the baking process. Each ingredient is added in love and opens your senses to the warmth, spice and delicious flavors of the season.
And... these little beauties can use up some of that leftover Thanksgiving cranberry sauce (if you still got it), and start the magical month out with a little special muffin baked with amazing cardamon and pear. The scents will fill the kitchen and will have you all warm and fuzzy from joy!
Homemade Cranberry Sauce
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, seed, nut and refined-sugar-free}

16 ounces of fresh raw cranberries (I use organic if I can find them in Michigan)
1/2 cup of water
1 organic navel orange for 2 TB of fresh zest
plus 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed juice

Put all of the above in a small/medium saucepan, let the water and juices come up to a boil and POP the cranberries from their skins. This will take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Then let them cook down just a bit and swirl in some honey and a pinch of salt

pinch of sea salt
1/3- 1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup

After cooking for 15-20 minutes, the liquids will cook down and the sauce will be ready to dish into a glass jar or bowl. Cover well and let it cool down and "set" in the fridge. After a few hours you will see that it naturally almost gels a bit and is the perfect sauce to top on just about everything ;) 

Cardamom Pear Muffin Recipe with Cranberry Sauce
{gluten, dairy, egg, seed, nut and refined-sugar-free}

1 1/4 cup of ground GF oat flour
1/3 cup of white rice flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup of potato starch
1/4 cup of coconut flour
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
1 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt
2 ts. of baking powder (I use Hain brand for corn-free)
1 TB of ground cardamom
pinch of ground cinnamon

3/4 cup of date puree- This involves pouring 3/4 cup boiling water over 3/4 cup of pitted dates and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes and then blending in a high powered blender to whip up a creamy date-pudding like substance

1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup of coconut milk beverage (or other non-dairy milk)
with 1 TB of apple cider vinegar
1 TB fresh lemon or orange juice
1/4 cup of maple syrup

2 small fresh pears finely diced and stewed in a saucepan until soft and reduced with a drizzle of water and maple syrup (about 1/4 cup of each) Makes about 1 cup of  stewed pears for muffins

Add in 1/2 cup or so of leftover cranberry sauce and use a tablespoon to spread some on top before baking.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Then add in the wet and whisk together well. Pour into 12 muffin tins, fill about 3/4 the way for a full muffin. Then spread some of the cranberry sauce (about 1 TB) on top and swirl around before baking. 
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-28 minutes until stiff. Wiggle and check the middles to make sure there is no jiggle. Then let cool 5-10 minutes before serving. Store in a cool dry place to last longer.

Happy baking and happy December, friends xoxo

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Creamy Curry 'Leftover' Turkey Soup

You probably made your way through the Thanksgiving leftovers already, so this recipe may be coming a bit too late for you, but maybe you stuck some of that leftover turkey in the freezer or you are still planning on roasting that turkey this coming month. This recipe I have been putting together the week after Thanksgiving the past few years. Turkey soup with a touch of some new flavors, is just the excitement you need after a week of prepping for the big feast. Soup is the easy recovery meal that lasts and nourishes without all the kitchen clean-up. Which then nourishes you in more ways than one when you are needing a little space and time away from the kitchen to rest :)
I think my most favorite meals to make are the one-pot-meals. Ones that have all the veggies, proteins, grains and whatever nourishing roots and vitamins your body craves in one simple pot. It all comes together and to me represents love, family, togetherness. It fills me up in so many ways!
Creamy Curry 'Leftover' Turkey Soup Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, nut, seed, soy and refined-sugar-free}

2-3 TB of avocado or olive oil
1 large onion finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves finely minced
1 TB of fresh grated turmeric
2 cups of finely chopped celery
hearty sprinkle of sea salt
sprinkle of fresh ground black pepper
2-3 cups of chopped carrots
1-2 cups of chopped parsnips
1 TB of Italian spice blend (rosemary, oregano, basil, marjoram, thyme)
Or use fresh herbs if you got them!
1 TB of curry powder

8 cups of turkey stock (or a chicken or vegetable works too!)
1 can of full fat coconut milk

2-3 cups of your leftover turkey (white and dark meat together make the best combo!)
make sure you cut into bite-sized pieces before adding in

1 cup of finely chopped fresh parsley

add in 1 cup of dry small rice pasta or already cooked rice for another added texture
add more sea salt or pepper to your taste
add in a little more water or broth if you want more of a brothy soup

In a large 10 quart pot, saute your onion, garlic, turmeric, celery in the oil for a few minutes. I usually salt and pepper here so to sweat out and cook down the flavors perfectly. Then after 5 ninutes or so when everything softens up I add in the carrots and parsnips and continue to cook for a few more minyes. Then when everything is looking a little softer and smells fabulous- I add in the spices, herbs and liquids. I first cook in the spices the curry and the dried herbs and you can instantly smell them as they are add in and start cooking. Then I add in the stock, coconut milk cream and leftover turkey. This will slow everything down with cooking, but keep the heat the same and let it come up to a boil. After cooking for 20-30 minutes and the veggies are extra soft, add in the fresh parsley and dry pasta. Or if you prefer to add in already cooked rice, that works too! Cook for another 10 minutes and the noodles will be aldente and ready to eat. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and with a side of bread or biscuits!
Creamy, full of flavor, comforting and nourishing. That is this soup. A bowl of goodness. A bowl of love and gratitude. So much to be thankful for this season, and one way I show my gratitude is cooking nourishing food for my family and sharing it with others. It is a gift that keeps on giving. Happy cooking and resting, friends xoxo