Apple Crisp

I abandoned apple week. Completely by accident, but I abandoned it nonetheless.  This past week was extremely busy for me- I was out of town for 2 days at a conference, picked up some relief shifts in another pharmacy and spent my weekend dog-sitting for my parents. I simply could not find the time to cook or bake among all the other things on my to-do list-let alone blog about them! I don’t think I have ever been so happy to just get back to my normal, everyday life. And to my normal, everyday cooking. I ate a lot of my meals in the car this past week and the food just does not taste as good or make me feel as good as when I prepare it myself ( so I know for sure it is gluten free). And there really just isn’t anything else that can compare to sitting down next to your loved ones for supper to hear about each others day.

Now that all the business over with and I am getting back to my usual schedule I have decided to make a few other new beginnings starting this week too. I am going to make time every day to exercise again- I was doing this on a regular basis but somehow life got in the way. I simply feel better and can manage my stress level better when I make time to exercise- both running and yoga, although completely different exercised, calm me down in their own ways. Running helps me to let go of any angst I have built up and when I am doing yoga my mind is so focused on the poses that I am able to let all my worries go.  I am actually going to look into taking a class- as all the yoga I have done so far has been on my own in my living room- and honestly, I have been too afraid to “do it wrong” to take a class all by myself. But there is a small studio just up the street from where I live and I am going to honestly look into taking their beginner class. It will give me something else to think about other than being infertile.

Before I left for my conference I knew I had to use up more of the apple JD had brought home and I knew just how to use them. Nothing screams fall dessert like warm apple crisp. Except for warm apple crisp covered in vanilla ice cream. Which is precisely what JD & I shared the night before my little trip. I have been making the same apple crisp ever since I was a teenager. I used to work in the front store of Lawton’s drugstore during high school and one year we sold a cookbook as a fundraiser.  I think apple crisp is the only thing I have ever made from that cookbook- as I was not really into baking at that point in my life, but this recipe makes one great apple crisp. I have made this recipe for pretty much all my family members at some point over the years and everyone loves it.  And by simply substituting gluten free oats and all purpose flour it is easily made Celiac-friendly.

Apple Crisp

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1&1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose gluten free flour
  • 2/3 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 apples, peeled and sliced

Grease your baking dish and preheat the oven to 375. Cream together the butter and brown sugar then stir in the flour, oats and cinnamon. Arrange the apples in the bottom of the greased pan and sprinkle  with the topping.Bake for 40 minutes ( top should be golden brown.) Tastes best served fresh from the oven with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Baked Apple Donuts

I am making this apple week at la Casa Creighton- actually, the massive amount of apples my husband brought home has made this apple week at la Casa Creighton. Who can say no to free apples? Especially when so many of my favorite foods involve them….applesauce, apple butter, apple crisp, apple muffins….the options are endless. So when JD came home with almost 100 free apples I was one happy wife.

Although I have my usual apple recipes I always make I wanted to try something new first. And when I saw the recipe for baked apple donuts on Cooking with my kid I knew I had found what my tummy desired. One of my favorite pre-Celiac treats were apple fritters- little bites of doughy, fried apple deliciousness. And I am still tempted by them on a fairly regular basis as my co-workers and I make a Tim Horton’s run at least twice a day.  So when the description of this recipe likened them to a healthier apple fritter I was sold. And boy, did they deliver. They were every bit as delicious as I remember an apple fritter being and a much healthier option. A perfect pairing for my morning cup of java. I may or may not have been excited to wake up every morning just knowing this was going to be my breakfast.

Baked Apple Donuts (Gluten Free! makes 6 donuts)

  • 1 cup gluten free all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp  lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 apple (peeled & chopped)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 400. In a small dish, mix together the chopped apple, sugar and cinnamon. Spritz a donut pan with some olive oil and arrange the apple mixture in the bottom. In a large bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour this mixture on top of the apple mixture. Try to clean off the center of the donuts so you actually have a hole in the middle of the donuts (I failed here!) Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown and let cool in the pan for a few minutes before transferring upside down onto a wire cooling rack.

Back to the Basic Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a cookie addiction lately. I don’t know if it is the cool weather (because nothing warms you up like a cup of tea and fresh from the oven cookies!) or simply my sweet tooth rearing it’s head but I have been craving cookies like they are going out of style. In fact, as I blog about this recipe I am also deciding which cookie recipe to try tonight.  I might even have to dedicate an entire pinterest board to cookies as every recipe I come across sounds delicious. I don’t know if there is anything more comforting than warm, fresh baked cookies- and either a cup of tea or glass of milk to go along with it. And the most comforting of all cookies has to be chocolate chip. One of the most basic, simple recipes in existence and so delicious!

Besides fantasizing about cookies I have been busy enjoying the Fall weather and scenery on PEI. This weekend, the hubby and I took a mini vacation to the island to visit some friends and have dinner at the hands-down best restaurant on the planet. The Dunes. Which is actually a whole lot more than just a restaurant- they sell pottery, jewelry and some of the most amazing hand-made furniture I have ever seen. But the food is the best part. Their chef uses local food, everything is cooked fresh and they are extremely knowledgeable about being gluten free (they ever offer GF desserts!) Here are just some of the awesome things the Dunes has to offer

And this is one of my favorite pieces of furniture there- it is a bench made from recycled fishing boats- how great is that?

We had a perfect little weekend getaway. It was the last weekend the Dunes was open this year (it is a seasonal business) and I am already counting down the days until next Spring when we make our next trip over. In the meantime, I’ll be snacking on these simple, delicious chocolate chip cookies from Real Simple. It is a very basic chocolate chip cookie recipe like your grandma would make…and it is delicious!

Back to the Basics Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten Free!)

  • 2&1/4 cup gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1&1/2 cup coconut sugar OR 1&1/4 cup brown sugar and 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients then cream in the butter, eggs and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon out the batter and roll into small balls then flatten a bit with your palm. Bake for 15 minutes and let cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians out there! My long weekend was filled with food (and lots of it!), playing with the dogs and a nice, long drive around Elgin, NB with the hubby. We started out yesterday bright and early sharing breakfast at a local restaurant with my family and finished it with turkey dinner with JD’s family. I think my belly was full from first thing in the morning until my head hit the pillow last night. In between all the eating, we managed to sneak a Sunday drive out in the countryside around Elgin, NB. Sunday drives have been a sort of tradition with JD and I- we usually start by stopping at a local cafe for a big mug of coffee and spend hours driving around listening to the radio and enjoying each others company. It is nice to take a break from our busy life to just be with each other and is one of my favorite things in the whole wide world. And it always amazes me how many picturesque places there are so close by.

Pollet River, New Brunswick

 

And the best scenery of all is in our own backseat

 

The weekend was so busy I barely squeezed in any time in the kitchen. But I did manage to find time to make these gems- pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. A gluten-free girl has to be prepared for family dinners and show up with her own dessert. I will admit it- the pumpkin pie covered in whipped cream and apple pies covered in ice cream did make me resent my gluten free status for a minute- but these cookies satisfied my sweet tooth and kept my belly happy. And my gluten-loving husband gave them his approval as well- so I encourage everyone to give them a try. The original recipe comes from the one and only Bethenny (yup! THAT Bethenny…and she used banana instead of pumpkin which I think would also be delicious but pumpkin seemed more appropriate for the season.)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

  • 1&1/2 cups oat flour (I use Cream Hill estates- it’s GF!)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in one bowl and all the wet ingredients in another then blend together. Fold in the chocolate chips. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and scoop out small balls of batter onto the cookie sheet. Flatten with your hand (these cookies do not spread out much during baking) and bake for 12 minutes (until crisp and slightly browned around the edges.) These go well with a big mug of coffee or tea.

Small Towns and Easy Beef Goulash

Today was the Fall Fair here in Amherst. One of the best things about living in a small town ( besides the fact that you never, EVER have to wait in traffic and can get anywhere you want underin 10 minutes) is the whole “community” feel of the town. I love it so much I actually participate in the town activities for both Amherst and the town of Sackville, just a 10 minute drive away. Between the two we have a Fall Fair, Christmas Fair with midnight madness shopping and free apple cider and horse & carriage rides, Canada Day Festival and fireworks, and a music festival at the end of Summer. We have the Amherst farmer’s market on Fridays and the Sackville Farmer’s market on Saturdays and being in the middle of all this farmland means there is always an abundance of local produce in the Summer and Fall. I love leaving my house to get groceries or run an errand and always know I’ll run into someone familiar. Yes, we don’t have a huge selection for shopping or restaurants but the city is only 40 minutes away. And if I actually lived in the city I’d have to wait in traffic for about 20 minutes to get anywhere anyways. I’ll take my country living over the city life any day.

With the cooler weather here to stay I have been craving comfort food, soups and stews over the salads and barbecues of summer. Last week I found this awesome recipe for beef goulash while perusing the blog “Salad in a Jar”. If you like food blogs you should totally check this one out- almost every recipe had me drooling. But this beef goulash just completely hit the spot for my comfort food craving and with a little modification I made it gluten-free and delicious!

Gluten Free Beef Goulash

  • 1 box Gogo Quinoa macaroni pasta (it’s gluten free, better for you than wheat pasta and delicious!)
  • 2lb extra  lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 cloves garlic (I LOVE garlic, so a little less if you don’t)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup water
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Bring the pasta to a boil and cook until al dente in a separate pot. In a large skillet brown the ground beef, remove from pan and set aside. Next brown the onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil. Add the green pepper, carrot and tomato and simmer until soft. Next add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, water and ground beef and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in macaroni  and shredded cheese & mix all together. Yum! And the best part? this makes tons, so you’ll have lots of leftovers!

Vegan Coconut Carrot Soup

The countdown is on to Thanksgiving. A long weekend, turkey dinner and time with loved ones- does life get any better than that? Yes, in fact, it does. I don’t even have to cook Turkey dinner! The only thing I love more than being in the kitchen and whipping up a great dish is my mother’s cooking and turkey dinner is one of her specialties. So this Thanksgiving I don’t have any responsibility other than showing up to eat dinner. I can’t wait!

In preparation for the calorie overload that is inevitable with Thanksgiving dinner I have been trying to make some lighter meals these past few days.I also bought an enormous bag of carrots this week because they were on sale and local produce so I knew I had to find some new carrot recipes to try. Then my husband sent me a text message with a link to this recipe for creamy coconut carrot soup. The man knows the way to my heart- a recipe that is both gluten free and dairy free? I’m hooked.

Vegan Coconut Curry Carrot Soup

  • 4-5 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1&1/2 tsp ginger
  • salt & pepper to taste

Brown the onion and carrots in some olive oil. Add the chicken broth, ginger and curry powder and let simmer until carrots are cooked through. Puree the carrot/broth mixture in a blender until smooth. Return to saucepan and add coconut milk and simmer until heated through. It’s that easy!

Gingerbread Muffins

Today is one of those days where I am reminded of everything I have to be thankful for. Somewhere during the last 4 year struggle to get pregnant I seem to have fave forgotten to appreciate what I have instead of long for what I don’t. I used to be a very happy, very positive person and somehow with every negative pregnancy test and every failed fertility treatment I lost that. But over the past 2 days two beautiful beings (one human, one canine) passed away and their passing reminded me how short life really is and how important it is to let the people you care about know how important they are.

A 90 year old friend of the family passed away yesterday and even though she had lived a good, long life and had been sick for awhile her death still got me thinking as to how short life really is. Then this morning my sister had to make the terrible decision to put her beloved dog to sleep. She also was old, had cancer and we all knew the time was coming but I was shocked and devastated to hear the news. They were both absolutely beautiful beings who brought nothing but love and kindness with them wherever they went. So I have decided to learn from this experience and find my old, positive self again. I will not let infertility define me anymore.

So here is a start at some of the things I am thankful for (and the whole list is a big one- I am a very lucky girl!)

  1. My hubby. He is loving, understanding and can make me laugh even when it’s the last thing in the world I feel like doing.
  2. My doggies. Their lives are so short and they give me such unconditional love. Seeing them is the highlight of my day every day.
  3. My job. I love being a pharmacist and feel excited to go to work every morning. And I get paid well to do it- with the economy the way that it is today this is something to be extra thankful for.
  4. My old home. It might need A LOT of work, it might seem like a money pit at times, but it is OUR money pit and we love our old home. It has such character and really feels like “home”. And the hubby and I actually like working on it together- another bonus.
  5. Gingerbread muffins. I know this post has been quite serious so far so I have to end it up something extra special. And these muffins are IT. The recipe is another Pinterest find from “Back to the Cutting Board” and I tweaked it just a little to make if gluten and dairy free. It is the perfect Fall treat. Proof? I baked a dozen on the weekend and they are already gone.

Gluten & Dairy Free Gingerbread Muffins

  • 2&1/2 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1&1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup molasses (I used 1/4 cup molasses & 1/4 cup coconut nectar)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 and spritz a muffin pan with olive oil (or I highly recommend using cupcake liners if making this GF as the batter is very sticky.) Mix all the dry ingredients together with a whisk then add all the wet ingredients and mix well. Pour into muffin tins about 3/4 full and bake for 20-22 minutes. If not using liners, let the muffins cool before trying to take them out of the muffin tin or else they will crumble. Also- Emily from Back to the Cutting Board advised that the muffins taste best the next day- after the flavors have sat & mingled for awhile. At first I did not believe her-how could muffins not be best piping hot straight from the oven? But it’s true. They taste great straight from the oven but they taste AMAZING the next day. Enjoy!

 

Gluten Free Baked Raspberry Pancake

Another cozy Fall morning curled up with my favorite four-legged furballs.  The comfort and love a dog  brings into your life is just indescribable.  Our oldest dog, Rally, is 11 and has been quite sick for the past couple years. He has a tumor in his esophagus that is inoperable so we know our time with him is limited. He can only stomach very small meals at a time and has to be on high doses of steroids for the rest of his life but he is still so, so happy. He has always been an extremely loveable dog but knowing his years are numbered makes us value our “cuddle time” with him even more. Don’t you just love this face?

And yes- my dog does use an armrest. Is that not the cutest thing ever? Not to say I don’t love my puppy, Ozzy- because I do! I love them both equally with all of my heart. I’m just feeling a little sentimental about the old man this morning.

Today I want to share the new recipe I tried for breakfast yesterday- Baked Raspberry Finnish Pancakes by blogresipi. I altered it a little to make it gluten and dairy free ( I do not eat dairy free all the time but try to limit my dairy). The result was delicious! It is more moist than a regular pancake…almost reminded me of an oversized, gooey muffin. I think it would taste good with any fruit- not just raspberries and does not need any syrup or topping- tastes perfect just as is.

Gluten Free Raspberry Baked Pancakes ( serves 3-4)

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 cups GF all purpose flour ( or regular flour if it doesn’t need to be gf)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil ( I actually omitted this-accidentally-and it turned out fine)
  • 2 tbsp coconut nectar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • Raspberries (or any fruit topping of your choice)

Preheat the oven to 375 and mist some single serving baking dishes with olive oil.Mix all ingredients except the raspberries together in a large bowl and pour into the individual baking dishes- being careful not to pour too thick or else it will take longer to cook. The batter will seem very liquid- this is normal. Sprinkle some raspberries onto the top of the dish and sprinkle with some more coconut nectar. Bake for 20-30 minutes (mine took a little longer than 30 minutes) and Enjoy! I can’t wait to try it with a different fruit topping next time!

These are a few of my favorite things- The Gluten-free Edition

Since my crafting, baking and DYIing have been pretty limited the past few days I thought I would take this chance to share with you some of my favorite gluten-free items. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease about 4 years ago and  have spent these past 4 years trying to educate myself as much as possible about the disease and gluten-free cooking. Being someone who has  loved to cook & bake & most importantly EAT,  I was very overwhelmed when I was first diagnosed. However,  over the past 4 years I have come to realize that living gluten-free is not much a sacrifice at all. Ok- I will admit it- there are times when I still get frustrated or feel like I am missing out on something delicious (Chinese food!) but for the most part there are excellent gluten-free options out there. And it is an area that just keeps improving- even in the few years since my diagnosis the variety of gluten-free food has increased tremendously. Although I am by no means an expert in the area, I have learned a few things about the gluten-free lifestyle and will share with you a few pointers for any newbies out there

  1. Gluten Free doesn’t have to be expensive! When I was first diagnosed I wasted so much money buying only items with “gluten free” written right on the package. Then I realized that I was seriously overpaying for items that were gluten-free by nature. Most meat (except for deli meats, sausages, hot dogs) are GF, rice is GF (yes-even the cheap no name or Minute Rice!), everything in the produce section of your grocery store is GF (ALL fruits & veggies!), most dairy products are GF (just be careful to read the label on yogurts, sour cream, cream cheese). Regular ketchup, mayo, mustard, salad dressings- most of these are GF! As long as you read the label each and every time you purchase something- there is no need to spend the extra money to buy the brand with “gluten free” written right on the label.
  2. That leads me to my next tip- ALWAYS read your labels! Even if it is something you buy every single week with groceries and woulf not think gluten would be in it!! Manufacturers can change their recipes at any time without any warning and more than once I have been disappointed to see that an item that had always been G-Free now contains gluten. And gluten is in the weirdest things (licorice, yogurt, chicken broth!).
  3. You do not have to stick to gluten free recipes. There are lots of options for gluten-free flour mixes, cooking broths, and pretty much every ingredient you can think of. Do not limit yourself to only looking at or buying gluten free cookbooks (Although these can be helpful!)- simply have an open mind and a willingness to try something new and you can adapt almost any recipe to be gluten free.

Now here are some of my favorite gluten-free foods. If anyone out there has their favorites they would like to share please share!

  • All purpose gluten free flour mixes. One thing about gluten-free baking that I dislike is that to get the consistency of regular wheat flour you have to mix together several different flours (rice, tapioca, quinoa, potato, etc..) along with xanthum or guar gum. I do not mind doing this every now and then but it can be A LOT of work to do on a daily basis. Buy yourself a GF alternative for flour and just substitute cup for cup…you will thank me-I promise! My personal favorite is a mix made by my local natural food store The Cackling Goose. But I also love this mix by Better Batter
  • I have always been a huge pasta lover ( I secretly think I must be Italian!) and when first diagnosed saying no to pasta dishes was my biggest fear. Happily- GF pasta has been one of my favorite substitutions. I honestly cannot tell the difference between GF and regular wheat pasta and feel good knowing that this pasta by Gogo Quinoa is not only gluten-free but also healthier .
  • My second biggest fear when I learned I would have to go GFree was missing out on oatmeal. I ate either cream of wheat or oatmeal for breakfast nearly every day (especially in the cool months) and could not imagine going without. Luckily, I have also found excellent GF oatmeal. (Although just a caution- I have no problem at all with oats but some Celiacs cannot tolerate oats.) My favorites are Glutenfreeda and Cream Hill.
  • I have to admit- I have yet to find a GF bread that I love. And I sometimes find myself fondling freshly made, glutenous bread in the bakery aisle (true story…I wish it wasn’t!) but I have found Udi’s bagels do the trick when I am craving something carbohydrate and toasted in the morning and Food for Life’s brown rice tortillas make an excellent wrap and great pizza crust!
  • And last but certainly not least- when a sweet craving hits I have found some gluten free alternatives that float my boat. Although I will admit- I prefer to bake most GF treats myself (or for anyone living around Sackville, NB- the Cackling Goose makes AMAZING GF carrot cakes & cinnamon buns.) Kinnikinick makes a great sugar doughnut and surf sweet jelly beans satisfy my sweet tooth every time.