Monday, January 31, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

You know what? I didn't get it together last week and get our meals in place and it was chaos all week. So....I'm going to try really heard to stay in the meal plan groove because even when it's Sunday morning after a late night dancing it's absolutely worth it to make myself do this. And so, with that, I give you this week's meals.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Little Something Sweet

In general, I'm not really much for cupcakes. They seem kind of fussy and messy and just not my thing.

But caramel cupcakes? Maybe they're worth the trouble, right?

There is no end to my love of all flavors on the caramel-butterscotch-toffee spectrum. So when I saw caramel cupcakes in my new Blackbird Bakery Gluten Free cookbook, I was intrigued enough to go buy frilly paper cupcake liners.

The cupcakes were delicious--buttery and full of vanilla flavor. Nothing screamed "gluten free!" in taste or texture. Like nearly all gf baked good I've attempted, they needed an additional 10 minutes in the oven beyond what the recipe recommends.

The caramel flavor comes entirely from the frosting which was was sweet enough to make my head ring--a little goes a long, long way and I had plenty leftover. I even added some sea salt to try and pull it back from the edge but it was still too sweet for my taste. So, a bit of a puzzle--the frosting was way too sweet but, because it has all the caramel flavor, it's kind of the focus.

Next time I will try subbing out some brown sugar for the granulated in the cakes themselves so the caramel flavor is better distributed. Maybe I could get away with less frosting...

My kids, it should be said, had no trouble with the overly-sweet frosting and declared them delicious. I found them a little less intense and pretty much perfect by the second day. Especially with a nice, steaming hot latte.

I was going to type all of this up for you but realized that it's all available on the Blackbird Bakery blog. I used half the recipe to get 1 dozen cupcakes and a copious supply of frosting. And while the cactus decorations are charming, you can see I skipped that part. One thing these cupcakes did not need is more sugar!

Meal Plan Monday

Nothing too exciting this week, apart from the fact that my boys are cooking two of the meals--hooray!

you go....

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

This week will be influenced quite a bit my latest library find: The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla. You know I'm gonna have some fun with that!

We had the nihari (slow cooked beef curry) last night and it was fantastic rolled into sorghum roti. There will be a repeat performance for sure!

The rest of our planned meals can be found here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

On a friend's recommendation (Thanks, Erin!) I just got Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day out of the library. I loved the authors' first book and wrote here about the ease of their no-knead method and the tastiness of the results and we went through a great deal of that fantastic bread.

Of course I have to ignore 85% of the book due to my new diet but the great news is that there are a few gluten free breads using their no-knead, slow rise technique and I can't wait to try them out. There's a Crusty Boule, Not-Rye, and a brioche which might bring cinnamon rolls back into my life.

The doughs are made in large quantities and kept refrigerated with the idea that you always have dough on hand and you just bake up a chunk when you need it. Because of this, the recipes make a lot of dough. I was anxious to try that crusty boule but realized I didn't have nearly enough tapioca starch on hand. Rather than buy another expensive packet from the grocery store I decided to go down to Bob's Red Mill and see hwo the prices compared. It seems that for the gluten free ingredients, their packaged prices were pretty comparable to the grocery store but I was astounded to realize the savings to be had in buying from their bulk bins. Quinoa flour, for example, was $10 for a 22-ounce bag but only cost $2.49/pound in bulk. I'm no math whiz but I believe that makes the packaged version about three items as expensive as the bulk per ounce. I found similar savings on other flours as well as corn and tapioca starch. I don't remember the savings being as dramatic for the regular gluteny items I used to buy but perhaps they are.

I haven't gotten to the bread baking yet--hopefully this weekend--but I wanted to take a minute to share my discovery. Those of you who live in or near Portland and follow a gluten free diet have probably already realized the dramatic savings to be had by schlepping out to Milwaukee and loading up from the bulk bins but it was news to me so I thought I'd share.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

Here it is--oh, yeah!

We go from quiet days and visits with friends back to the old routine. Simpler meals, more reliance on our friend the slow cooker. I sure do treasure the time I get to be home in the evening to cook and eat dinner with my family but it's back to work for me, 4 nights a week.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year Hoppin' John

January 1 isn't really my new year (which we Jews celebrate in early fall) but I like to make this southern standard for the other new year's day. I do have a touch of Southern blood and I love a good tradition. While I don't really expect "Peas for pennies, greens for dollars and cornbread for gold" I figure it can't hurt, especially being a dish that packs in a whole heck of a lot of nutrients in one tasty bowl.

I have a little confession to make: I actually found a genuine secret ingredient which made this year's version extra fantastic. Our local natural foods market had a tray of truly ugly,blackened smoked turkey legs tucked in the corner of the meat cooler and, after a discussion with the butcher lady, I realized these hideous things might work magic in my hoppin' john -- plus it was fun to tell the kids I'd bought a smoked orc leg.

While my kashrut leaves much to be desired, we don't eat pork and I think that smoky, salty taste was missing from my ham hock-less beans all these years. I tossed that leg in my slow cooker yesterday with soaked black-eyed peas, some long simmered chicken broth, and a skillet full of sauteed bell peppers, celery, onion, and garlic and let it simmer all day. When I reheated it today, I shredded the turkey meat off the bone and into the stew, added a thinly sliced bunch of collard greens, and served it over brown rice with a side of gluten free corn bread. It was mild enough for the kids but I had a big bottle of my beloved Crystal hot sauce at hand and everyone was happy.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. The recipe is here.

Our hoppin' john may not bring us wealth, but I don't think I spent more than $5 (smoked turkey leg included) on the whole big pot so I figure we are most definitely starting the new year off right. Here's to 2011--may we all be healthy and happy!