Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup with Gluten-Free Dumplings

This weekend, I’m finally getting around to doing belated American Thanksgiving. We’d actually taken a trip up to Winnipeg a couple weeks ago, so didn’t do anything really Thanksgiving-y at the time.

As with any time I roast a turkey, part of the grocery planning involves what do to with the leftovers – and that generally involves me making bone broth off the carcass. One of my favourite things to do with homemade broth is to make this soup, originally published in my first gluten-free cookbook, Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking. This is definitely a favourite at our house – rich, thick, hearty, and one of the ultimate comfort foods.

While the recipe was originally designed to be used with fresh chicken breast – for speed and ease – it’s easy to make this with leftover turkey. Skip the initial browning of the meat, and simply toss in chopped up roasted turkey breast leftovers with the wild rice, broth, and potatoes.

It’s very customizable, even beyond choice of poultry. Sometimes I’ll skip the dumplings, sometimes I’ll add some parsnip with the carrots, and sometimes I’ll toss a couple handfuls of frozen peas in, right near the end.

Whichever way you do it, enjoy!

Gluten-Free Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup with Dumplings

2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Large onion, chopped
3.5-4 lbs Chicken breast, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, pressed
3 Carrots, sliced
5 Celery ribs, sliced
1 1/2 cups Uncooked wild rice
10 cups Chicken broth
2 lbs Red potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup Butter
1/2 cup Brown rice flour
1 cup White wine
3 cups Heavy cream
1 Tbsp Dried savoury
Salt and pepper

In a large, heavy pot, cook onions in olive oil until just starting to go translucent. Add chicken breast, cook until outside browns slightly. Add garlic, carrots, and celery, cook for one minute. Add wild rice, broth, and potatoes, bring to a boil. Set a timer for 35 minutes.

While soup is boiling, make your roux:

Melt butter in a medium sized pot. Stir in flour until smooth. Cook over medium or medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to turn slightly golden. Add wine, whisk until smooth. Add cream, continue whisking until smooth. Turn heat down to lowest setting, keep warm, while making the dumplings:

1 cup Light buckwheat flour
3/4 cup Millet flour
1/4 cup Potato flour
1 Tbsp Parsley or savoury flakes
2 tsp Tapioca starch
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/3 cup Shortening or butter
1 1/4 cup Milk or buttermilk

In a medium sized bowl, mix together flours, parsley or savoury flakes, tapioca starch, baking powder,and salt. Measure shortening/butter into the same bowl, and cut into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork(s). The idea is to work it in until it’s evenly distributed throughout, in very small pieces.

Add milk/buttermilk, stir just until dough comes together. Don’t over stir or beat it. If dough is too crumbly, add a small amount of extra milk. If the dough is sticky, add a small amount of flour.

When the timer goes off, add the roux mixture to the main soup pot, stirring to combine well. Add savoury, season with salt and pepper to taste. Drop rounded tablespoons worth of dough into boiling soup. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes WITHOUT LIFTING THE LID. Serve hot.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Cold Smoked Potato Salad Recipe

Last week, I happened across “smoked potato salad” at a specialty food store. Given that my husband is a sucker for anything smoked, I picked some up. It was ok – good even – but the smoked flavour only came from the mayo.

Of course, we discussed how we would have done it – smoking both the mayo and the potatoes. We discussed the other ingredients we’d use, and before I knew it, we were grocery shopping to make it happen.

Part of our discussion involved the various ways we could tackle the smoking. We could hot smoke the potatoes from raw, or we could pre-cook and cold smoke them. In the end, we decided to cold smoke them after boiling. It gave us more control over the finished texture, for one.

Secondly, I just prefer the texture of boiled potato salad, to roasted potato salad – and hot smoked potatoes would be closer to the texture of roasted.

Now, I’ve already got a great boiled potato salad recipe – my Grandma’s Potato Salad – which I believe to be the *best* potato salad ever… but this comes very, very close to that #1 spot for me, now.

Gramma’s will always have the nostalgia, but this one has a really great flavour, and it’s unique. This turned out fantastic, with a really great smoked flavour throughout! I think we’re going to have to smoke mayo on its own, just for use as a condiment on its own – it would be amazing on burgers and sandwiches.

Enjoy!

Cold Smoked Potato Salad

5 lbs small red potatoes
3/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 ears corn, shucked(optional)
5 ribs celery, thinkly sliced
3 Green onions, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, sliced in half, seeded, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
6 hardboiled eggs – cooled, peeled, and sliced

Wash potatoes, chop into 1″ cubes. Boil for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain, cool to room temp.

Prepare your smoker for cold smoking, based on your smoker’s instructions. Get smoke going!

Whisk together mayo, sour cream, and mustard. Spread on a small, rimmed cookie pan or baking dish. Fill another, larger (but small enough to fit in your smoker!) pan with ice. Place mayo pan on the ice.

Place stacked pans in smoker, along with cooled potatoes, and corn (if using). Cold smoke for 10 minutes.

Remove mayo mix pans from the smoker, allowing corn and potatoes to continue smoking. Stir the mayo mix, replace ice if melted. Return to smoker, continue to smoke for 10 more minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, celery, green onions, and jalapeno. If using corn, use a sharp knife to remove kernels from ear, stir kernels into potato mix.

Add about half of the mayo mix to the bowl of vegetables, mix well. Add more mayo mix, to taste. Season with salt and pepper, before gently stirring in sliced eggs.

Chill for an hour or two before serving.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gluten-Free Roasted Beet Gnocchi

Today, we announced that preordering is open for Beyond Flour 2, so what better way to mark the occasion, than to share a great gluten-free recipe?

This recipe almost made it into the book. We had this one and an amazing sweet potato gnocchi. Loved them both, but the photos for the sweet potato ones looked more book-worthy!

While potatoes are obviously traditional for gnocchi, don’t overlook using other root veggies – they pack a ton of great flavour. Also, by roasting these beets, we avoid one of the big problem areas of making traditional gnocchi – boiling potatoes. Being roasted, rather than boiled prevents the beets from being waterlogged – so heavy, doughy, waterlogged dumplings aren’t likely to happen!

As with traditional gnocchi though, you’ll want to handle every stage of mixing with a light hand – keep it as fluffy and loose as possible up to the point of rolling. Handling everything gently will ensure that you’ll end up with soft, pillowy gnocchi.The texture on these is great – actual gnocchi. No gumminess or sandyness, they were easy to work with and held together well.

We love the rich, earthy flavour of the beets… and that is complimented perfectly by the tartness of the goat cheese, and bright flavour of the basil and a little lemon juice.

As pictured, we doubled the recipe, making one batch out of red beets, and another batch out of golden beets. Fussy, yes – but pretty!

Gluten-free Roasted Beet Gnocchi with Goat Cheese and BasilMakes about 4 servings

2 1/2-3 lbs beets (Red or golden)
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup Sweet rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 Large eggs, beaten
Potato starch for rolling
Salt
1 cup Butter
1/4 cup Fresh basil leaves, packed
2 tsp Fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Goat cheese

Wash beets, pat dry. Place beets on a large piece of aluminum foil, folding edges up to create a pouch around the them. Roast at 375 for about 1 hour, or until beets are quite tender.

Allow to cool slightly, then rub the skins off the beets with some paper towels (or your bare hands – expect some staining!).

In a food processor, blitz roasted beets until smooth. Measure 2 cups of puree into a large bowl, reserving the rest for a future use (can be frozen.) Allow to cool to room temperature before proceeding.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flours, starch, salt, and xanthan gum to combine well. Add flour mixture to cooled beet puree, gently fold to combine. Add eggs, once again gently folding to combine. Cover tightly with plastic film, Chill for 1 hour.

Generously dust your work surface with potato starch. Dump gnocchi dough out, knead gently to bring together into a soft ball. If the dough is sticky, add a little potato starch until it’s workable.

Divide dough into 8-10 roughly equal pieces. One at a time, roll each out into long “snakes”, each about the thickness of a thumb. Cut each roll into bite-sized pieces, about 3/4″- 1″ long.

If you’re feeling lazy, you can cook these up as-is. Otherwise, you can roll them over a fork to produce the traditional ridged gnocchi shape. There are many possible ways to do this, and you may want to play with it a bit until you find your own groove. For me, I gently (but firmly!) roll each gnocchi over the back of the fork, aiming towards the pointed ends of the tines. As I roll, the gnocchi will curl over itself into a slight “c” shape. Practice, experiment, and if necessary – Youtube has great tutorials for a variety of methods.

Start a pot of boiling water, and salt it well. Bring it to a gentle, not rolling boil, and cook your gnocchi in batches. As they float to the top, allow them to cook another minute or so before using a slotted spoon to remove them, transferring to a clean bowl or plate.

In a large nonstick pan, melt butter. Chop basil leaves, add to pan along with lemon juice, stir well. Cook for a few minutes, until butter starts to brown. Add cooked gnocchi to the pan, toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serve hot, sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Rainbow Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing

Last week, I was doing my social media chores on Facebook, when I came across an ad for some takeout place way down south. I have NO idea why it was in my feed – driving 12+ hours for takeout isn’t reasonable! – but it featured a photo of a salad that I needed in my life.

I noted what I could see in it, and planned to make something like it at home. I made a few additions, based on our tastes – edamame, green onions and (optionally) avocado.

For dressing, I decided to throw together a carrot-ginger dressing. Not only were we both in the mood for something like that, it would go really well with the flavours in the salad. Also, I thought that the bright orange of it would be extra pretty against such a vibrant background. I was not wrong!

It actually took me two tries to get the dressing to where I wanted. Hit the flavour perfectly on the first go, but the texture left a bit to be desired. I’d used fresh carrots and pureed them, thinking that would be the easiest for people – not everyone has a juicer, after all.

I really wasn’t happy with the mouthfeel on it, though… so I went back to the original plan, and it was *perfect*. Freshly juiced is best, but if you don’t have a juicer – just buy some carrot juice in the produce section at your grocer.

Finally, this makes a ton of salad – a big, sharable bowl worth. We make it up and keep it in the fridge, picking away at it through a few meals. That is the ONLY reason I’m not including avocado in it – avoidance of brown avocado bits. If you’re making this up as a single serve thing – for a gathering, maybe? – I would recommend including an avocado or two. I love the texture and flavour of it in this!

Enjoy!

Rainbow Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing
Makes 8+ Servings

4 cups Shredded Brussels sprouts
4 cups Shredded red cabbage
2 cups bite sized broccoli florets
1-2 cups shelled cooked Edamame (Thawed, if frozen)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 zucchini, sliced
2 large radishes, thinly sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 red bell pepper, sliced
4 oz Pomegranate seeds (or 1 pomegranate worth)

Combine ingredients in a large bowl, cover and chill until use. Drizzle with carrot-ginger dressing before serving.

Dressing:

1 1/2 cups carrot juice
1/3 cup rice or apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp grated ginger
1 Tbsp sesame oil
½ small yellow onion
1 tsp sugar
2 clove garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients except salt and pepper in a blender, blitz until very smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer to an appropriate container (we use a large mason jar), chill until use.

Separation will occur, so shake well before serving.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Square Root Tart with Horseradish Custard (Gluten-Free)

If you follow my blog, you probably already know about Pi Day.. but did you know about Square Root Day? It’s on April 4th this year – 4/4/16, of course!

Far from a yearly thing, square Root Day only comes around a few times in ones lifetime … so it’s fun to do something to acknowledge it. The next one won’t be til 2025, after all! As numbers nerds, it’s always fun to translate that into food, as an event. Things like this – and Pi Day – are fun. It’s a great way to bring people together without it being a BIG ordeal, like some of the larger holidays.

This square root day is especially fun for us, because it happens to fall on my husband’s birthday. So, I decided to make him a very special recipe to commemorate it. After much thought, I settled on this, a square root tart.

Roasted root veggies are one of my husband’s favourite foods, and I can’t blame him – LOVE them, myself. I decided that it needed to incorporate a “root” themed custard, so I went with horseradish. The slight bite of the creamy custard is a great foil for the texture and earthiness of the root veggies. Where I usually use cornstarch for certain things in crust recipes, I substituted potato starch… while potato is technically a tuber – not a “real” root – it’s closer to being on theme than corn starch is! 🙂

If you aren’t gluten-free (and won’t be serving this to someone who is!) you can substitute any single crust pie crust recipe, or a store bought one. We used a 9″ x 9″ square tart pan.

If you ARE gluten-free (or know someone who is)… you should be sure to check out my Kickstarter Campaign for Beyond Flour 2!

Enjoy!

Square Root Tart with Horseradish Custard

Crust:
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/4 cup potato starch, plus extra for rolling
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 (4oz) brick cream cheese
1/4 cup cold butter
1 egg
2 Tbsp cold water

Veggies:
1 large carrot
1 medium parsnip
1 small rutabega
1 medium small turnip
1 small golden beet
1 small red beet
Pan spray
Salt and pepper

Custard:
2 Tbsp Butter
2 clove Garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp horseradish
1/2 cup Dry white wine
1 Tbsp potato starch
4 Large egg yolks
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper

Measure flours, potato starch, and xanthan gum into the bowl of your food processor, blitz to combine. Add cream cheese, butter, and egg, blitz a few times until mixture resembles gravel. Stream in cold water as you run the food processor, just long enough to start to bring it together as a dough – you may need to use a little more or less water. Do NOT over-process it!

Remove dough from processor, knead lightly to bring it together as a ball. Wrap in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Generously dust work surface with potato starch, Roll chilled dough out to a rough square that’s slightly bigger than 11″ x 11″. Carefully transfer rolled dough to tart pan, smoothing the bottom and pressing the dough into the sides of the pan. Trim any excess dough that extends past the top of the pan, prick the flat (bottom) surface of the crust a few times with a fork.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Turn oven down to 350F.

While baking the crust, prepare your roasted roots.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, spray with pan spray.

Peel all vegetables except for the beets. Carefully slice them into 1/4″ thick rounds – we use a mandoline slicer for this. Arrange onto one of the prepared pans, spray with pan spray.

Repeat with golden beets, arranging on one half of the second prepared pan. Repeat with red beets, arranging on the remaining space on the second pan. (Fussy, I know.. but beets “bleed” like crazy!). Sprinkle veggies on both pans with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes.

As veggies are roasting, prepare your custard:

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, horseradish, and white wine, whisk until smooth; gently bring to a simmer.

In a small bowl whisk together potato starch and egg yolks until smooth. Add milk, continue whisking until smooth. Add milk mixture to pot, simmer over medium heat until very thick. Once custard has thickened to your liking, remove from heat.

Spread hot custard in crust, top with roasted root veggies, serve immediately.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

I am Fire! I am FRUITY! – Smaug Watermelon Bowl

Back in 2012, I got it in my head that I’d try carving a watermelon for the first time. I had a neat idea – Caladium leaves – and just kind of winged it. I posted a bit of a tutorial from it here.

Within the following two months, I’d carve two more watermelons – one Canadian themed for Canada Day, and one “Stars and Stripes” themed, for the 4th of July. Then, I put down my paring knife and basically forgot that I’d ever carved a watermelon… until a week and a half ago.

We were looking forward to going to a friend’s house for NYE, and planned to make some fancy cheese balls.

Then, all the talk of making cheese balls prompted us to make a batch of cheeseball as a “I don’t feel like cooking” dinner… and just snarf the whole thing for supper the night before NYE. The resulting gut rot led us to agree that maybe we should bring something healthier.

So, NYE morning we went and bought a bunch of fruit for a fruit salad. As with pretty much everything we do, it “If You Give A Mouse a Cookie”-ed from that, to “we should scoop out a watermelon so it at least looks nice” to “Maybe I’ll just scallop the edges on the watermelon or something”, to “HEY, I carved watermelons before! I should do something fancy!”.

I was googling for ideas just a couple hours before we had to leave for the event, and not feeling inspired. I kind of joked to myself that I should just carve Smaug, as Smaug had been SO on my mind lately with costumey stuff.

well.. the joke quickly turned to reality, and I decided that yes, I would carve Smaug. Nevermind that I’d only carved fairly basic stuff 3 times, and that was 2.5 years earlier. I’m all about ridiculous challenges, right? Some day, my tombstone will say “Because I CAN!”, I swear.

So.. here is the result. Ignore the crappy cell phone photography for the progress shots!

First, I scrawled the basic idea all over the watermelon:

Then, I cut off the top of the melon, scooped it out, and started doing detail work on what would be the wings:

Everything kind of turned out a mess because this was by far the THINNEST watermelon I’d ever seen. Kind of mushy, too. Ugh!

First wing carved. I was kind of making it up as I went along. Probably not the best idea, but whatever:

Carved the back as a tail winding around one side. In hindsight, that should have been a bit higher – it didn’t contain the fruit very well!

Carved the shoulders and front legs:

Drew on some kind of head at the last minute. Yeah, drawing’s not really my thing, sorry! :

… but holy crap, when I washed the marker off, it really kinda looked like Smaug! I was pretty proud!

…and finally – after carving the face – we had to fill him position him on top of a pile of ‘gold’ – mango and pineapple!

No-Tomato Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe (Gluten-Free)

I love quinoa. The taste is decent, and it’s a fun texture to eat. When I first started eating it like a decade ago, it was mostly in soups, as a healthier (and more fun!) alternative to noodles or rice. Sometimes I’d serve it on its own, almost like a rice… but it was only a few years ago that I started using it in what’s now my favourite application for quinoa: tabbouleh!

Even before discovering that I need to be gluten-free, I found that I actually preferred the taste and texture of quinoa to the traditional bulghur wheat used in tabbouleh.

Beyond being inherently gluten-free, this recipe was created with another need in mind – my husband’s utter hatred of tomatoes. I wanted a tabbouleh I could share with him, rather than hoard for myself. So: red peppers.

Usually, I’d consider this more of a summer thing, but I’ve been craving it lately, so did up a batch yesterday. Sitting here on Christmas eve munching on some… it has green, red, and mint involvement. I’m officially declaring it holiday canon.

So say we all?

No-Tomato Quinoa Tabbouleh

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped
Zest and juice of 1-2 lemons (1/3-1/2 cup fresh juice)
1/3 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

In a pot, bring quinoa and 2 cups hot water to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Stir well, remove from heat, and transfer to a mixing bowl to cool a bit.

After 10-15 minutes, toss to fluff. Add peppers, cucumbers, green onions, parsley, mint, and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingedients, whisking to combine well. Pour over salad, toss to combine. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Roasted Salsa Verde for Canning

The fact that October is the busiest time of year for me in no way prevents me from taking on last minute, totally unnecessary personal projects… because sometimes I’m just dumb like that.

Recently – in the middle of stressing out about our to-do list – a neighbour was selling fresh tomatillos, straight from his garden. As is usually the case, we ended up “If-you-give-a-mouse-a-cookie”-ing all the way from “well, we could buy a lb or so and put on a small batch of salsa” to “let’s buy 10 lbs and just make a batch for canning”, adding a trip to the farmer’s market, etc.

We had missed peak corn season, so my roasted corn and tomatillo salsa wasn’t looking like the best option.. so I developed a whole new recipe for it. This recipe was especially for my husband, who loves deep, dark, roasted / charred flavours. This is far more smokey than your average salsa verde, and it was perfect for him. Says he:

“I love the smokey pepper taste, the flavor is incredible. If I’m not careful I could end up having this as a meal. The thick, chunky texture helps it stay on a chip, and makes it easier to mix in with something like sour cream.”

So, if smokiness is your thing.. you should absolutely give this a try. Enjoy!

Roasted Salsa Verde for Canning
Makes about 14 pints

4 large red onions
5 lbs poblano peppers
12 green bell peppers
12-15 jalapeno peppers
10 lbs tomatillos
10 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cups vinegar
3/4 lime juice (freshly squeezed, ideally!)
Zest of 3 limes
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp salt
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (optional)

Heat your grill – I like to use charcoal for this, but propane is fine also.

While grill is heating, prepare your vegetables to roast:

– Slice onions into 1/2″ thick slices

– Slice poblano and bell peppers into large flat pieces, Cut jalapenos in half.*

Brush peppers with olive oil, then grill everything until as “done” as you would like – personally, I like some dark grill marks for this, but not an overall char. If you have wood chips to smoke/grill with, use them – we used applewood chips. Remove items as they are ready – the peppers will cook the fastest. Allow everything to cool.

Turn your (oven) broiler up to high.

Prepare a couple cookie sheets with foil or parchment paper. Remove husks from tomatillos, wash well and remove any that don’t look fresh/good. Slice each in half, arrange in a single layer on baking sheets, toss garlic cloves in amongst the tomatillos. Roast under the broiler until as charred as you would like. Pour off excess juices, allow to cool, then puree in a blender or food processor.

Once everything is cool, chop up the peppers and onion (I use a food processor for this). Add all roasted vegetables to a large pot, along with tomatilloes, vinegar, lime juice & zest, sugar, and salt, stir well.

Heat to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until liquid reduces a bit, and mixture reaches a consistency you like. Stir in the cilantro, if using, and cook for one more minute.

Ladle into hot, sterilized pint sized canning jars. Affix sterilized lids and rims, and process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. (Add 5 minutes for altitudes above 1,000 feet; add 10 minutes for altitudes over 6,000 feet.) Allow to cool overnight.

Check all lids for a proper seal: they should have sucked down into a vacuum seal as the jars cooled. Store properly sealed jars for later use; refrigerate any that did not seal for use in the coming weeks.

* For a more mild salsa, remove ribs and seeds.

Maple Bourbon Glazed Carrots Recipe

This weekend, we celebrated Thanksgiving. I may live in the USA, but I’m Canadian, and Thanksgiving happens in early October!

We’d decided early on that we’d be having a ham for this Thanksgiving, and turkey for my husband’s (American) Thanksgiving. Mashed potatoes were a given… but I had NO idea what kind of a vegetable I wanted to serve. I decided that I’d cruise the Minneapolis Farmers Market a couple days before, and see what inspired me.

As it turns out, inspiration hit in the form of a @mplsfarmmarket tweet – a picture of gorgeous purple and white carrots! I decided to do a up a glazed carrot recipe, featuring a variety of carrots. I decided that it would be a maple glaze, because, you know, Canadian. At the very last minute, I decided it would be a maple-bourbon glaze – and by last minute, I mean that my husband ran to the store to pick up some bourbon JUST after I got the carrots cut, and the potatoes were boiling away!

These were amazing – be sure to make more than you think you’ll need, as they disappear QUICKLY.

Maple Bourbon Glazed Carrots

3 lbs mixed carrots
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup bourbon*
1/4 cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Wash and/or peel your carrots. For ours, I peeled the white and orange carrots, and scrubbed the purple ones – peeling will remove that pretty purple colour from the outside!

Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the carrots into round (straight across) or oblong (on a bit of a diagonal) disks, 1/8-1/4″ thick. (Aim for uniformity – they’ll cook more evenly!). Add to a heavy, medium pan, along with remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil, turn heat down to medium, and simmer – stirring occasionally – until glaze cooks down and carrots reach desired tenderness – between 10-20 minutes, depending on thickness and personal taste.

Serve hot!

* Bourbon is a spirit that is tends to be distilled from – in part – fermented wheat. While it doesn’t cause a reaction in MOST people with gluten sensitivities – and the leading Celiac associations have deemed it gluten-free – a few experts disagree. If you have noticed a reaction, or just want to play it extra safe, it could be a good idea forgo the bourbon in favour of juice, rum or brandy.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Wild Rice & Sausage Stuffed Peppers

After the past few months of takeout, convenience foods, and generally processed crap, it feels really good to have my schedule freed up enough to get back to cooking for fun. Add in the fact that we’re now trying to eat a bit healthier – more veggies, less processed stuff, etc – AND the fact that the cooler temps make me want to spend a bunch of time in the kitchen.. and we’ve been eating WELL lately.

Last night, I put together this recipe to satisfy a few things. We hadn’t had wild rice in AGES and it sounded good. We had some spinach that had seen better days, and I wanted to use up the last little bit of our sage plant outside, before the temperature killed it. Hubby had mentioned stuffed peppers while at the farmer’s market this weekend, and this seemed like a good way to make use of everything.

… the filling ALMOST didn’t make it into the peppers. I think we would have been perfectly happy standing over the stove and just snarfing the lot of it straight from the pan! SO good.

Enjoy!

Wild Rice and Sausage Stuffed Peppers
Serves 4

4 green bell peppers*
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz sliced mushrooms of choice (We use Baby Bella)
3 garlic cloves, pressed
12 oz sausage chub**
3 cups fresh baby spinach, ripped up
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 Tbsp finely chopped sage
salt and pepper
1 cup chicken stock or broth

Preheat oven to 350 F

Carefully slice the tops off each of the bell pepper, scoops seeds out and discard. Arrange seeded peppers in a small baking pan – I use an 8 x 8″ square brownie pan.

Saute onion, mushrooms, and garlic until vegetables are soft. Add sausage meat, continue continue cooking – breaking up sausage into small bits – until sausage meat is browned. Add spinach, cooking until spinach is well wilted. Stir in wild rice and sage, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff filling into peppers, arrange any extra filing in between peppers. Pour chicken broth over peppers.

Bake for about 40 minutes, serve hot!

* We like our stuffed peppers warm but crispy. For softer stuffed peppers, cook seeded peppers in boiling water for about 5 minutes, and drain well before stuffing.

** I love using the Papa George’s brand of sausage. It’s about a million times better than anything else on the market, is perfectly seasoned and flavoured, and has almost no fat in it. We’ll use either the regular, hot, or sage flavoured sausage chubs in this recipe

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.