Saturday, January 12, 2013

Gluten Free Chocolate Spice-Nut Donuts with Vanilla Apple Glaze

I have seen recipes for gluten-free, flour-free cake donuts and I REALLY wanted to make them. You see, I have what one might call a weakness for donuts. It's bad. I also have one heck of a sweet tooth and I gotta say I love me some junk food. That's probably why I had so many health problems in the past. Over time I have learned that certain foods were just going to lead to inflammation or all manner of other symptoms.Here recently I have figured out that gluten might be a culprit of a lot of these goings on. So, I am going to try to cook and eat as gluten free as possible. Do you know how many amazingly awesome baked goods are not gluten free? And I don't just mean sweets like cakes and muffins. I'm taking about all kinds of pastas and baked goods, like hot dog buns. This is just awful for me because I love a hotdog. I think that if I am to be honest with you, the hotdog is my favorite food. But I digress. And drool.

Back to the donut. Ok, so I've seen these little guys made on countless blogs. In fact, has a great pumpkin donut recipe I want to try next. The problem was, I didn't have one of that fancy donut machines or a donut pan. Ok, sure I could have whipped them up and plopped them in a mini muffin tin but then they wouldn't have been donuts would they. There is just something magical about a ring of sweet dough with a hole in the middle. So alas I could read and wish, but not bake.

One of my hobbies is thrifting. I love it. I am fortunate that I get to travel a lot with work, so I get to explore thrift shops around the country...the bad news is, I can't always buy stuff and carry it with me when I'm traveling, which I guess could be a good thing too ;) Anyway. The other day I was thrifting and I found a mini donut maker!! It just materialized right then and there for me to find and bring home. And so I did. I decided to do a test run on my new toy and so I went with what I had and made these deliciously satisfying donuts.

Also, this is so super simple you won't even believe it! Low-fat, white flour-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-sugar; this donut is pretty awesome if you ask me. Here's the recipe:

Donut Ingredients:
1/4 cup soy flour
1/4 cup really good organic cocoa
1/4 cup granulated sucralose powder blend
1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla

Apple Glaze Recipe
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, more or less depending on desired consistency
1/4 cup granulated sucralose powder
1/4-1/2 cup chopped nuts, your choice nuts and amount
3 tbsp cornstarch, tapioca, or potato starch
1/2 tsp vanilla

For the donuts, combine all the things and mix well. Then place tablespoonfuls of batter into each mold of a preheated donut machine, or into lined mini muffin tin (but they won't be donut's, they will be muffins, the lesser cousin of the donut and the kid sister of the cupcake, I'm just saying.) After about 2 or 3 minutes your mini masterpieces will be piping hot and ready to cool a bit before glazing. Repeat with remaining batter.

In the meantime, as you hold your composure and not sample one of these little morsels, mix together all of the glaze ingredients, except for the nuts, in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Your glaze should thicken. Remember, you can add more or less starch depending on how thick or runny you want your glaze to be. Put the nuts into a small bowl and set aside. Pour the glaze into a small bowl and then dip each donut into the glaze, making sure it is covered well. You can be as generous as you want. While your glaze is still tacky, dip the donut into the chopped nuts to top them. These are moist, not too sweet, and awesome!

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DIY: Vintage Inspired Tiered Tray and Candy Dish

I have seen the projects posted about making tiered trays out of glass plates and candle holders. I loved that idea and I wanted to try it out. I had been traveling around for a long time, and typically when I stay at a place for a while I will use a site like and sublet an apartment or condo for my stay. In this instance I was staying up in this adorably trendy part of Brooklyn in a condo that belongs to this really great lady. Throughout my stay there I became friends with this lady through correspondence and I wanted to leave something nice for her to find once she came back to her home after I left the city. From the looks of her cute little place it seemed like she was into the whole shabby chic look and I immediately thought of this project.

So I went shopping for supplies. At first I couldn't find a single glass candle holder, not even one. Then I couldn't find any good large glass plates. Now, my options were to take a train to the nearest Target or Walmart or try to be creative with what I could find in the mom-and-pop shops on the block. I decided to forgo the train and to use a bit of creativity. One store had martini glasses in various sizes, so I picked up a standard size and then one with a teeny stub as a base instead of a stem. Then I found a large glass shallow bowl and a medium sized dessert plate. Finally I picked up some loctite epoxy.

This is what I came up with. I think it turned out alright. Once I made it I realized that I could have gone one step further and added some pearls into the cavity made by the martini glass in the middle, that would have been really pretty. I also would have liked for the base plate to be flat, but alas I could find no such thing.

Now, after this piece was created and dried and set out I had a few days left in Brooklyn so I figured I'd wander around a bit more in between meetings I had there. That's when I found a glass candle holder. Just one! It was sitting on a shelf in a health food market along side votive candle holders and scented candles, it was the last one they had in stock. I grabbed it and bought it impulsively, it was only when I returned to the condo that I remembered, "oh yeah, I already made the project without this dang piece." So, not to be deflated, I decided that I was going to create something, anything with this one single glass candle holder if it was the last thing I do.

I had just finished off a jar of whole fruit preserves that came in a pretty jar. I love reusing pretty glass jars, even if it's just a jelly jar, as long as it has a nice shape or design to it. So, since there was no point in me keeping or reusing the jar myself, since I had been traveling for nearly 4 months at that point and I was going to continue for at least another 2 months, I figured I would reuse it with a secondary project. The lid of the jar was a red checkered pattern, so I took some white enamel paint (read: nail polish) and a paper towel and I distressed the jar lid. Then I attached the candle stick to the bottom of the jar.
I left Brooklyn to head to my next destination which was Chicago. Before I arrived I received a text from my Brooklyn Condo Lady Friend, she loved the gifts and asked me where I got them. I told her I made them and then she called me to express her thanks and to inform me that she uses them as jewelry organizer; bracelets on the bottom tier, earrings on the top tier, and rings in the jelly jar. Now why hadn't I thought of that!
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Noodle Free Zucchini Lasagna

 I have read about noodle free zucchini lasagnas from a lot of blogs, like the one from The Frugal Chef and I thought it was a wonderful idea! I don't like the taste or texture of gluten free noodles so zucchini lasagna seemed like a no-brainer and it really is a fun new way of preparing zucchini. I decided to go for it! I didn't want an Italian style lasagna with cheese and tomato sauce so I went with a fresh approach. Instead of cheese I used some plain greek yogurt and instead of cooked-down tomato sauce I used fresh tomato slices with fresh basil and oregano; it turned out beautifully and delicious!
The first thing I did was slice up some zucchini. I made a small batch, using the loaf pan I typically use for banana nut bread, so I only sliced up 3 zucchinis. Make sure you use a sharp knife for this for this. Don't make the zucchini slices too thin, a nice medium slice is perfect. By the way, now's a good time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Next I sauteed kale, mushrooms, crushed garlic, and onions in a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It made the whole house smell Earthy and Heavenly at the same time! I'm sure my neighbors were jealous, I know I would have been. As the mushroom medley sauteed I sliced up one nice large tomato.
Mmmm look at all that wholesomeness right there. This looks like the making of a salad, right? Nope! It's really the mis en place for a deliciously deceptive noodle free zucchini lasagna that is sure to fool even picky eaters into eating their veggies. So far we have the zucchini and tomato slices, sauteed greens and shrooms, and some fresh basil and oregano; the only thing I left out of the photo was the half cup of greek yogurt.
Now it's time to layer! I lined a loaf pan with parchment for easy clean up, then I sprayed on a little non-stick cooking spray just to help out the cause. Since I'm not using a traditional sauce I started with a layer of zucchini slices then I added slices of tomato. To the tomato I sprinkled chopped fresh basil and oregano as well as salt and pepper. I topped this with a layer of the sauteed kale, mushrooms, and onions. Then I added 1/4 cup of greek yogurt in dollops, you can use more yogurt if you'd like and you can even slather on a whole layer of it if you want (I'm sure it will be delicious!). I chose to use a small amount of yogurt because I'm trying to cut back on my dairy. Salt and pepper this layer. Once this is done, top the yogurt with another layer of zucchini and keep building your masterpiece.

One your zucchini has been layered with love, sprinkle on a little chopped tomato, and more seasonings. Feel free to sprinkle grated parmesan or panko to the top which gives it a nice texture and browns beautifully in the oven. I choose panko. Stick this masterpiece in a nice hot 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or so. You will be able to smell the seasonings working their magic in the oven.
After about half an hour you are ready to dig into this super delicious and incredibly healthy dish. Sure it looks like you are getting into something bad, but it is really good and good for you too. This small loaf pan made enough zucchini lasagna for 4 servings. I made this for two, so he and I had a lovely meal and we froze the rest the other half into two portions for a quick dinner option during the mid-week hustle. Not bad!

So, here's the recipe:

3 medium sized zucchini - sliced
1 small bunch of kale
1 large tomato - sliced, reserve 2 tbsp chopped
1 cup mushrooms - diced
1/4 cup onions - diced
2 tbsp crushed garlic
fresh basil and oregano - chopped, to taste
salt and pepper - to taste
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt, to taste - divided

Preheat oven to 350degrees. Slice zucchini and tomato and set aside. Saute kale, mushrooms, onion, and garlic. In the bottom of a lined and sprayed loaf pan layer zucchini slices and top with tomato, add basil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Add a layer of the kale-mushroom mixture over this and top with 1/4 cup greek yogurt dollops, then add salt and pepper. Top this with another layer of zucchini slices and continue building each layer. Sprinkle the top of the zucchini lasagna with chopped tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and parmasan or panko to taste. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the dish is cooked through and the parm/panko has browned. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving. Makes 4 servings.

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