A friend sent me instructions for making Easter Story
Cookies. I tweaked the ingredients, tweaked the instructions, and changed some of the scriptures to ones I thought my younger ones would relate to. (In other words, I don't know whose idea this originally
was, but should no longer be considered plagiarism.:) This is a sweet way to bring some of the real meaning of Easter into your home! For more Easter ideas, click on the "Easter" category on the right.
Mix these cookies the evening before Easter, they sit in the oven overnight, as an Easter morning surprise.
You will need:
- 1 tsp. vinegar
- 3 large egg whites
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup pecan pieces
Waxed paper or parchment
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. (This is important, so don’t wait until you’re half-way done with the recipe).
Smell the vinegar
. Put 1 tsp. into the mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30
or Psalms 69:21
Add egg whites
to the vinegar.
Explain that eggs represent life. Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:9-11
Sprinkle a little salt
into each hand. Taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.
Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and bitterness of our sins. Show the wooden spoon, it represents the cross he carried and was nailed to.Read Luke 23:27
With a mixer, beat on high speed until soft peaks form.
Explain that the color white
represents the purity of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3
So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 3/4 cup sugar
, a tablespoon at a time, as you continue to whip. Keep mixing until they reach stiff peaks.
Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. It wasn’t the nails that kept Him on the cross because nothing earthly could have. It was His love for us! Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16
Fold in the nuts
using the wooden spoon. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60
Put the cookie sheet in the oven and close the door and turn the oven OFF! Each person places a piece of masking tape
and seals the oven door. Read Matthew 27:62-66
Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20, 22
On Easter morning, watch the 4-minute video “He is Risen
”, then open the oven and give everyone a cookie.
Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow!
Explain that on the first Easter, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Suggested scriptures to read: John chapter 20
(5 minutes), 1 Corinthians 15:22
(two lines), Mosiah 16:6-9
Happy Easter, Everyone! Christ Lives & Loves Us!
These have fiber, protein, and much lower in sugar than almost any baked treat! And they really are good. My family snarfed down this batch.
Besides all that, they're also wheat-free and dairy-free.
Healthy Peanut Butter-Chocolate-Banana Bars
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (one can, drained and rinsed)
2 ripe medium bananas
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. brown sugar or honey (1/2 c sugar. if you like things on the sweeter side)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 c. chocolate chips (the darker the better)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Put the beans, eggs, bananas, peanut butter, brown sugar, and vanilla in a food processor or high-powered blender. Run until very smooth. Stir in the baking powder, salt and oats. Spread in a greased 8x8 pan then sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake 30 minutes or til test done with a toothpick. Cool at least 15 minutes before cutting. These are even better the next day.
For a variation on this, substitute pumpkin puree for the banana, increase sugar/honey to 1/2 c., replace almond or cashew butter for the peanut butter, then add 1-2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice.
Why is it almost Taco Salad? Because there's no tostada or chips with it. If you want full-blown Taco Salad, just add some. Pretend they're corn-chip croutons. I didn't use those because of a sudden urge to make roasted potatoes and didn't want a lot more carbohydrates in the meal. Besides, if I opened a bag of chips, the whole thing would disappear, and that's anywhere from $1- 2.50, depending on if we're using cheap tortilla chips or Fritos. The potatoes, as our carb, cost about $ .50 instead. Yum.
½ lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. tomato powder
2 Tbsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
1 head of lettuce (or a half head each Iceburg and red leaf lettuce)
½ green bell pepper
½ red bell pepper
½ c. shredded cheese
1 tomato, cut in wedges
Optional: thin-sliced onion, sliced avocado, jicama cubes, cooked black beans, drained canned corn, canned green chilies....
Cook the beef until browned. Meanwhile, wash and chop lettuce and veggies. Put the lettuce in, then add the vegetables and most of the cheese; mix slightly. When the burger is done, drain off grease, then add tomato powder and chili powder. Stir to coat, taste and add salt if needed. Spread out the meat on a plate to cool more quickly. When it’s cool, top the salad with it and the remaining cheese.
My family thought it was good without salad dressing, but if you want something to drizzle on top, Ranch is a good choice- especially if you mix a little chili powder into it-, OR this:
Creamy Garlic Dressing:
¼ c. plain yogurt or sour cream
1 Tbsp. water or milk
½ tsp. garlic powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. dried parsley, optional, if you want it to look prettier
Whisk until smooth.
Serve with oregano-roasted potato wedges and vegetable sticks.
Apparently these have been popular in the food world for about a year... but I first saw them last week. My oldest son, the pickiest eater in the house, had noticed the printed recipe sitting on the counter for several days, grimacing everytime he walked past it. So when a batch of brownies appeared out of the oven, he cocked an eyebrow at me, asking "Are these what I think they are?", then declared he would NOT eat them.
After everyone else begged for seconds, though, he decided he'd try just one bite. Then a whole brownie. Then he had seconds too.
(YEAH!)Black Bean Brownies
1 1/4 c. cooked black beans, rinsed (about a 15-oz can or 1/2 c. dry beans- cook first)
1/4 c. melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
1/2- 2/3 cup honey OR 3/4-1 cup sugar (brownies with the higher amounts are sweeter and more moist)
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup whole wheat flour, OR 1/2 c.gluten-free flour plus 1 tsp. xanthan gum
½ teaspoon almond extract or orange extract, optional
½ teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter or spray a 9x13 pan. Combine beans, eggs, oil, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and almond/orange extract (if using) in a food processor or blender. Puree until very smooth. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Pour the puree over top, then mix both together. Stir in walnuts if using. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake about 25 minutes or until center tests done with a toothpick.
To make these into Chocolate Truffle Brownies, omit the chocolate chips and frost with my favorite-ever chocolate frosting: creamy, soft, oh-so-smooth Chocolate Blender Frosting
Surely many of you are in the same boat.
Out of the eight of us in the house, we've learned that one child can't have wheat. She's so sensitive that eating one 1/4" piece of bread caused her arms to turn hot pink and start to weep. But the rest of us are fine. We're still in the process of determining if she reacts to gluten, or to just the wheat itself, so for now everything must be wheat-free AND gluten-free. And dairy-free, while we're figuring out if that's an issue too. For some strange
reason, I prefer to cook only one meal, per meal. And special 'gluten-free' foods are pricey. Really pricey. So I'll let you know how I've adapted. Hopefully it'll help you or someone else having to adapt to whatever allergy or special needs diet strikes just one or two in your family. Eight Tips for feeling (more) normal when someone has special dietary needs1- Plan on preparing most of your family's foods
Unless you have nothing against quadrupling your family's food budget. Not kidding. If you didn't cook much before, brush up on the basics
. They'll do for now. And for a while.2- Eat naturally wheat-free foods
Keep a list around so you can focus on what CAN be eaten rather than all the CAN'Ts. It's empowering and encouraging. While you're still getting used to what's okay and not, go through your kitchen and pantry, and write down everything that is GF already, including all plain spices and herbs (blends might not be; check), canned/fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables, rice, plain beans, flax, buckwheat, meat in its natural state, eggs, peanut butter, olives, potato chips, popcorn, jam, ketchup...
See a bigger list here
, halfway down the page. There's a GF year-supply list here
. You know, I've been telling myself for years that we oughta eat more rice and beans. They're cheap, store well, and are filling. Those have suddenly become more popular at my house.3- Make a list of 10-15 meals your family likes
that are gluten/wheat-free and can be made using what you typically have on hand. Include both super-quick meals and more involved ones. Be willing to spend about an hour doing this; it'll save you much more time than that in the long run. Get input from your kids. Tape the list someplace handy like the inside of your cooking supplies cupboard. No more panic or feeling helpless at a change of dinner plans!4-
When you cook some specialty gluten-free food, go ahead and make a big batch. Then freeze
the rest in individual serving sizes. For my 10-year-old, the ziptop "snack size" baggies are the perfect size. There's a gallon-sized ziptop bag labeled for her in the freezer. What's in it changes often. Right now it has GF waffles and breadsticks, spaghetti (made with specialty GF pasta) and sauce, seasoned rice, dairy-free homemade ice cream (made in my blender), and GF chocolate chip cookies. Remember treats. They've saved my daughter from feeling deprived with all these new "don't"s. Whenever my husband pulls out the ice cream, she pulls out her freezer bag and gets something sweet too. I also keep one loaf of GF bread in the freezer, for sandwiches and toast. She pulls out a couple slices whenever needed.5- Keep a small plastic bin full of GF baking supplies
, like the photo above. It's handy for all kinds of things. My 'essentials' include a bag of GF flour mix
or storebought), xantham gum
, some white flour
like rice, tapioca, or potato starch, and a whole-grain GF flour
like brown rice, lentil, oat, or sorghum. Mine also has a bag of dairy-free chocolate chips in it, good for a lot more than just cookies. I've found flours like tapioca, potato starch, and rice flour at the Asian market for a fraction of the price.6- Try a new GF recipe at least once a week.
And maybe only once a week, depending on how overwhelming it is to you. Have that other family member cook with you, so she'll learn to cook for herself later. If you love bread, stick with the quickbreads for a while. They're much simpler. I think the easiest way to learn, other than just trying a new GF mix each week, is to buy a copy of of Living Without magazine
. Or sign up for their free weekly newsletter, which includes a recipe. I love the magazine format because you can learn in 5-minute increments.7- Remember to watch out for cross-contamination
I think this is actually the hardest one. You might want to have TWO jars of mayonnaise and jam open, one of each labeled as GF. Otherwise it's really easy for bread crumbs from one person to end up in the jar, where they'll cause the allergic person grief. Remember that toasters carry crumbs. Wipe the counters really well. Consider having a second set of measuring cups, possibly mixing bowls and cooling racks too, depending on severity of reaction. If you have a regular wheat grinder you can grind your own GF flours, using things like rice, beans, oats, lentils, quinoa, etc, BUT only use a mill that has not been used for wheat. Unless you want to invite problems. Some things can be ground in a blender, like oats, if those are OK for your family member.
And,8- Read labels. Always. Always.
Learn which ingredients have hidden gluten. You'll be surprised at what you find. Sometimes good surprises. Sometimes lame ones. Realize too that sometimes companies change their ingredients, and something that didn't have gluten/wheat in it before, might
the next time you buy it. Knowing exactly what you're eating is a good idea anyway.
You can do this! :D
NOTE: If wheat is not a problem for you (and it's not for me, that I know of...) this recipe can be made using regular all-purpose flour.
I've been playing around with gluten-free foods for a while now, and sometimes the food is a little disappointing. Not so with these. They were soft and chewy in the center, crispy on the edges, with good texture and flavor. The recipe was adapted from two nearly-identical recipes from "Life Tastes Good Again
" and from the box
of SunFlour Mills gluten-free Pastry Flour. The only thing was, the recipe called for butter and a box of vanilla pudding mix, both of which contain dairy. Here's the gluten-free AND dairy-free version:Soft and Chewy GF CF Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup dairy-free 'butter', like this recipe
(or use real butter if you're OK with it)
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. Ultra Gel (a no-cook food starch)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c. gluten-free flour blend, like Sunflour Mills GF Pastry Flour
or whatever you prefer
1 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using regular all-purpose flour)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. chocolate chips (dairy free, gluten free) OR 1 c. each nuts and chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter, both sugars, and Ultra Gel (or pudding mix). Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add 1 cup of the GF flour, the xantham gums, salt, and baking soda. Beat until smooth, then mix in the remaining 2 1/4 c. GF flour. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts if using them.
Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 7-9 minutes, or until just browned on the edges and centers still look wet. Let cookies sit on cookie sheet for 4-5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. (They'll fall apart if you move them too soon.) Makes about 30 cookies. Store any extras in an airtight container at room temperature or in the freezer.
If you like cookies crispy, cook them until the centers look done. If you want them chewy, it's critical to essentially underbake them a bit, hence the wet centers. Baked goods continue to cook even after they come out of the oven.
*If dairy is not a problem for you either, then you can use a box of instant vanilla pudding in place of 3/4 cup of the sugar, 1/8 tsp of the salt, 1 tsp. of the vanilla, and 1/4 c. Ultra Gel.
This weekend I participated in a moms' retreat- our own little 'Education Week'end, you might say. (See here
for one of the addresses we heard.)
We each brought food for either the dinner or brunch the next day. Most of the ladies there try to eat very healthfully, and some of them have dietary issues like gluten intolerance, so I made a gluten-free, dairy-free (CF= 'casein free'- the protein in milk) cake.
I actually used a cake mix- Pamela's Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Mix
- which uses evaporated cane juice for the sugar, and organic grains. That way everyone could eat happy. Everybody- regular wheat-eaters included thought the cake was absolutely delicious.
By the way, this brand of cake mix makes two 8" or 9" layers. Not all of the GF cakes mixes do. Some, like Betty Crocker, only make one 8" layer. So take that into consideration if you're pricing them.GF CF German Chocolate Cake
Bake and cool one chocolate cake, using a two-layer sized gluten-free mix, or from scratch. One good recipe is at Living Without
.(This recipe calls for 1 c. coffee, to intensify the flavor- if you don't prefer to use coffee, use hot water instead and 1 Tbsp. molasses. Reduce sugar by 1 Tbsp.)Lower-fat, Dairy-free Coconut-Pecan Frosting (also egg-free)
3 Tbsp. potato starch or tapioca starch, OR 5 Tbsp. rice flour
3/4 evaporated cane juice or brown sugar
1 c. coconut or rice milk
¼ c. coconut oil
¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
½ c. pecans, toasted and chopped fine
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut, toasted
Stir together starch and sugar, then gradually mix in milk. Add coconut oil and salt, then heat and stir over medium-high. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, pecans, and coconut, reserving 1 Tbsp each nuts and coconut for garnish. Chill first if spreading on a tall cake, frost immediately if spreading on a sheet cake.
Who couldn't use another recipe for zucchini right about now?
This year I really HAVE seen cardboard boxes with a "FREE ZUCCHINI" sign written in permanent marker, along the side of the road.
As you can see, this we're not talking about zucchini CAKE... these are tender, flavorful pan-fried morsels, related to crab cakes. Without the crab. There's an endless variety of ways to make these, this particular batch has a Southwestern flair, served with a creamy cilantro-scented Lime Chipotle sauce. We had them for dinner last night and had leftovers. They would make a nice accompaniment to grilled chicken or beef, but I served them as a meatless main dish.
This afternoon about 4:00 I suddenly remembered them again- and promptly finished off the last couple of them for a snack. YUM! (Actually, I took a couple over to a neighbor, who immediately asked for the recipe.)
This is a pretty big batch, I think it made about eighteen 3-inch cakes. Feel free to cut the recipe in half. You can always make the full batch, though, and freeze extras. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes to reheat and recrisp, or toast in a toaster oven. See below for the recipe.
I got a plainer version originally from JustPutzing.com
, though her version was tweaked from one on TheLife'sAmbrosia.com
Neither one of those used corn. I like it for the sweet flavor it adds, along with some non-squishy texture, but you can certainly leave it out. If you do, you'll only need 2 eggs.
Feel free to add in different spices, use different kinds of cheese (the original used Parmesan, in half the amount), or serve with different sauces. Ranch dip would be delicious. So would honey mustard. I intend the next batch to resemble crab cakes even more- I'll add Old Bay to them, a little finely-grated onion, add maybe a teaspoon of honey for a hint of sweetness, and serve with tartar sauce.
Southwestern Zucchini Cakes
1 lb. zucchini (3 small)
1 cup corn kernels (I used canned, then drained them well)
1 c. shredded mild white cheese (I used Havarti 'cause I found it for $2/lb)
2 Tbsp. salsa if you have it around (OK without but good for color)
1 cup panko bread crumbs (or other crumbs- bread, cracker, gluten-free, etc)
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 tsp. chili powder (to taste)
3 medium to large eggs, beaten
3-4 Tbsp. cooking oil
Shred the zucchini on fine or medium holes. Grab a handful, hold it over a plate or bowl, and squeeze hard to remove excess liquid. Put the squeezed zucchini in a mixing bowl, and repeat with all the zucchini.
Stir in the corn, cheese, salsa, bread crumbs, salt, and chili powder. Taste and add more of whatever you think it needs. Stir in the eggs, cover, and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. (You can skip this step, but this gives the mixture time to bind together, as the egg soaks into the crumbs. This makes them much easier to form and flip. While it chills, make the sauce below.)
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil to it. When oil is nearly smoking, scoop 3-4 Tbsp of the zucchini mixture into the pan, then flatten to about three inches across. Repeat with as many as will fit in the pan with about 1" between them. Cook for 4-5 minutes, then flip over. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, until golden.
Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan before starting the next panful.
Makes about 18. Serve warm or room temperature.
Creamy Chipotle Sauce (adapted from America's Test Kitchen)
Note: Chipotle is smoked jalapeno pepper. I don't have any on hand, so I came up with a similar flavor with what I DID have, though it wasn't nearly as hot. If you like more heat, add a little cayenne or red pepper flakes. If you happen to have canned chipotle around, use 1-2 tsp., minced, in place of chili powder and Liquid Smoke)
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. sour cream (I didn't have this, either- use plain yogurt, or like I did, thick kefir)
1-2 tsp. chili powder (to taste- my kids were happy with just 1 tsp.)
1/4 tsp. garlic powder, or one minced clove fresh garlic
2 drops Liquid Smoke
2 tsp. minced fresh cilantro
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
2 drops lime essential oil if you have it
Stir together. Cover and refrigerate about 30 minutes to blend the flavors.
Makes about 1/4 cup.
If you double the recipe, you can have leftovers to change into a fabulous salad dressing: Thin down with a little water or lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste.
I buy rolled oats by the 25- or 50-pound bag when they're on sale; they're MUCH cheaper that way, and yes, I do actually use that many. Eventually.
Last week I bought 50 pounds of oats for $24, which made them $ .48/lb.
They got divided into food-storage buckets- a 5-gallon bucket will only fit about 15 pounds of oats, labeled, put in a cool & dark place in my house (under beds and in closets can be good). Then I will refill a container in the kitchen whenever needed.
They're great for cooking at breakfast, of course, and homemade granola (see recipe in the free "Starter Cookbook
" or in The Chameleon Cook
), in apple crisp topping
(also in both books)... but what else?
Start with rolled oats or quick-cooking oats. Put about 2 cups of these in a blender. Cover and run on high for about a minute.
Ta-da! Oat flour. This is great for either the gluten-free cook who can tolerate oats*, or for the rest of us who just like moist and tender baked goods.
Now, what can you do with it?
Use it in yeast bread
- about 1/4 cup of this to replace the same amount of wheat flour per each loaf in the recipe. Oats help make bread moist. One really delicious version is to not only use the oats, but substitute orange juice for half of the water.
Quick breads- including pancakes, waffles, biscuits, muffins
, and more. Oats don't have any gluten, so your finished food will be more tender, less tough. Just don't substitute more than half of the total amount of flour. For example, in a muffin recipe calling for 2 cups flour, you could use 1 cup of oat flour and one cup of regular flour, or 1/2 cup oat flour and 1 1/2 cups regular flour. Adding the oat flour will make your regular flour act more like pastry flour.
Mix into cakes and cookies
for the same reason as for quick breads, keep the same kind of ratios in mind for best results. If you want to get the very best results, WEIGH out your flour; the oat flour is a little fluffier or less dense than wheat flour. You would use just over 5 ounces oat flour for each cup of regular flour you're substituting for.
Use it for 'instant oatmeal'
(scroll down to bottom of page) for breakfasts: the pieces are so small, they absorb the water super-fast! in Add it to soups or stews to thicken them. You can do the same with quick oats, but the oat flour soaks in and disappears much faster!
*Most gluten-intolerant people can handle oats just fine, and others can't. It seems to actually depend on the variety of oat- there's an excellent article on this at http://ultimateglutenfree.com/2011/06/getting-closer-to-gluten-free-oats/ Buying "Gluten-Free" oats gives you an extra layer of protection; I've seen, myself, batches of oats that had a few wheat kernals mixed in. The processing machines can't tell the difference, and sometimes a little wheat grows- as a weed- in oat fields!
My sister, who has to cook gluten-free all the time, has a favorite easy, hearty-wholegrain flour blend: equal parts oat flour and lentil flour. Lentils grind fairly easily in a blender, too. See here for her post on the flours she uses most often.
With a name like “Tres Leches” (“Three Milks”), you’re not going to get a truly authentic recipe without using dairy, but this one has the creamy moistness of the real deal. If you can have dairy products, use the ‘tres leches’ mixture from my other, traditional, Tres Leches Cake
Make the ‘tres leches’ mixture:
1 14-oz can coconut cream (NOT cream of coconut), divided
3/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil, or dairy-free margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1 14-oz can coconut milk
Combine 2/3 c. of the coconut cream, sugar, and oil/margarine. Boil until thickened and darker; it took about 8 minutes in my microwave. Add the vanilla and remainder of the coconut cream. Set aside to cool.
Make the Vanilla Cake
from Living Without magazine. I made it without eggs, as well (more allergies); instructions for doing that are included below the recipe. (However, I didn’t have egg replacer, so I replaced the 4 eggs with 1/2 c. applesauce, 2 tsp. baking powder, and 3 Tbsp. water.)
When the cake is done baking, let it cool for ten minutes, then poke holes with a skewer, every inch all over the top. Pour the coconut cream mixture over the top. Refrigerate at least 3 hours; overnight is better.Whipped (coconut) cream topping
1 14-oz can coconut cream, well chilled
3 Tbsp. sugar, honey, or corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
Whip all together until fluffy, then spread on top of cake. Using the honey or corn syrup will help stabilize the cream so it doesn’t go flat as quickly.
To get REALLY stable whipped cream, soften 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin in 1 Tbsp. water, then dissolve (12 seconds in microwave works). Let cool slightly before pouring slowly into partially-whipped cream.