Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Tomorrow shall be a BIG adventure for our little one.  We are off to a pumpkin farm with her Aunt Kari.  Pumpkins are a big theme around here. I’m not sure that Zoe will actually let me cut into the pumpkin she picks out to make a Jack-O-Latern with her.  She won’t let me touch the two little ones that she has now.   The other day she wanted to draw a face on the little pumpkins but when she saw that the marker wouldn’t come off, she wigged.  No pumpkin coloring for her yet.  Maybe when she sees ALL of us cutting and carving pumpkins, she will change her mind.  I’m willing to bet that she will be thrilled to see me carve *my* pumpkin but that she is not going to allow a knife anywhere near her pumpkin.

Case in point:  the pumpkin fries.

I bought two small pumpkins (about 2 pounds each, I think) to make pumpkin fries.  Zoe likes squash so I though she might like to try these pumpkin fries.  However, when I went to cut the pumpkins, she wasn’t happy.  In fact, I had to put the pumpkins aside and get her occupied doing something else.  Like play with her lavender-orange scented rice with scoops and funnels.

Playing with textures
Playing with textures by Kate Chan

Looking on

Then, and only then, could I start peeling and chopping.  Once she saw me happily peeling and preparing the pumpkin fries, there was no problem. She wanted to see the inside “guts” of the pumpkin and we talked about roasting the seeds, etc.

Zoe snuggled up next to my legs drinking her juice and munching on GF cheese crackers as I was prepping the pumpkins. And Rory was in a bouncing chair nearby watching it all go down and cooing away. It brought back memories of standing on chairs around our kitchen table as a kid while I scooped out the pumpkin I was going to carve.  I thought about how much fun I will have when both girls are old enough to carve pumpkins around the kitchen table with me.  Oh, the joy of two little ones.  I just hope time doesn’t steal all of the good opportunities away from me with it’s speed.

I’m going back to work a week from today.  It’s killing me.  Every second that I can, I am listening to the girls.  Rory’s little coos are enough to make time stop and fairies rejoice.  Zoe’s stories keep me company everywhere we go.  She and I headed to the cell phone store (again…really obnoxious third visit in five days….grrrrr) and she kept me laughing the entire ride, wait and trip home.  She tells great jokes (okay… repeating the same joke 700 times really does wear you down and make you laugh more somedays) and she loves to learn.  Both of these girls are the absolute joys of our lives.

Leaving the tiny moments to return to the ebb and flow of traffic, “to do” lists, papers to grade, lessons to write, emails to answer, etc has me just at the edge of breaking.  I can’t imagine what I will miss with them.  I don’t want to even think about it.  I can’t.  It hurts too much.  Instead, I am just trying to take comfort in the times that we will be together and the plans and things that we can do together then.  After all, I am incredibly lucky to be a teacher in the sense that I will have more time with my girls than some friends of mine who work a full calendar year.  I’m just worried about the fact that a teacher’s job doesn’t end when the school day does.  I work until 11PM sometimes and usually on Sundays too.  I’m worried about the impact on my family and my girls.. and to me, to a lesser extent.  I am definitely in need of setting some different professional expectations for myself as well.

I want more time with my kids.

More time to play in the buckets of rice.

More time to watch the seasons changing and teach them about the leaves changing colors, etc.

More time to cook and eat healthy food at a normal paced and not rushing through everything.

More time to listening to the stories that bloom from our days and adventures together.

More time to hear the coos turn into words and into stories of their own.

Just more time.

We all want that, don’t we?

So I guess I will just seize the opportunities as they come and as we make them.  Like making pumpkin fries and talking about Halloween when I was little with them.  And for those of you who are curious, Zoe is not interested in dressing up this year for Halloween.  She doesn’t think it sounds like fun (yet) to be wearing a costume or a wig or make up, etc.  Ah well, more time for me to savor my little one at home.  (And honestly?  MUCH less temptation to eat too!  We are giving out mini Play-doh containers.  Those leftovers will surely be loved to bits by the girls and my high school students.  LOL)

Since it is pumpkin season, now is the time to make your own pumpkin fries and relive or create some memories.  I made two batches of oven baked fries.  One was savory and the other cinnamon-sweet.  Both will enjoyed by Zoe and I.  We highly recommend you giving them a try yourself too!

Cutting pumpkin fries

Cutting pumpkin fries, Photo by Kate Chan

Gluten Free Pumpkin Fries

Ingredients (per batch)
1 two pound + pie pumpkin

for Savory fries:
olive oil
salt
pepper
optional: ground garlic, ground ginger

for Sweet fries:
3 Tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Optional:  1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Peel and scoop our pumpkin.
  3. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Cut pumpkin into fries.  (I cut mine into 3-4 inch long sticks that are about 1/2 inch thick.)
  5. Toss one pound of the cut fries in a tiny bit (maybe 1 tablespoon, or two?) of olive oil with salt and pepper (to taste).  Consider tossing in some of your other favorite spices combinations like:  ground garlic +ground ginger, cumin + fennel, etc.
  6. Mix together the cinnamon and sugar.  Toss the remaining pumpkin fries in the cinnamon sugar mix.
  7. Spread savory fries out in a single layer on one prepared cookie sheet and the sweet fries on another.
  8. Bake the fries in the oven for 20 minutes.  Then remove the pans.  Flip the fries over.  When you return the fries to the oven, be sure to rotate the pans as well.  Whichever was on the top shelf, move to the bottom and vice versa.  Continue baking another 15 – 25 minutes or until the fries are crispy and a deep golden brown color on the edges and the top.

Enjoy with your favorite meal – or eat them for dinner like Z & I did!

Happy Gluten Free Eating!
~Kate

GF Easy Treats/Yummy Source: NutsOnline

Goodies from Nuts Online

One of the interesting aspects about blogging that I never really thought about was the opportunity to try new products.  Sometimes manufacturers or publishers contact us to inquire if we would like to try their products – in an genius effort to get some PR from our possible blog posts about their products.  I have a couple recipe books that I will give away next month for Celiac Awareness thanks to these promotions – so we are all going to win from their generosity. 😀  (Gotta love that!)

Before I went into the hospital for Rory, I was contacted by Nuts Online to see if I was interested in reviewing their GF products.  I told them that the post might take a while for me to put together.  After all, there’s another priority in the house as if the Chicklet wasn’t enough!  They still wanted to have me try their goodies.  And boy, am I glad I did!  They sent a box of numerous tasties in PERFECT sizes for me to make lunch for the Chicklet and I and STILL have a little taste for my Love when he came home.

Two of the items they included were millet and quinoa.  There are perfectly easy for me with a newborn in the house as I could just pop it into a rice cooker with some seasonings and broth and walk away.  The rice cooker isn’t a fire worry for me if I flake out like the gas stove is AND it will keep it warm until I get a chance to eat something.  The protein from the quinoa and the vitamin rich millet are definitely the right kind of nutritional boosts that I need too.  (Unlike the chocolate bar hiding out in my purse or my left arm… both of which look like they might be tasty when I’m starving!)

In addition to millet and quinoa, Nuts Online also sent out some Chile-Lime Pistachios (yum!), Chocolate/Candy coated sunflower seeds (the Chicklet approves!  LOL), walnuts, fried veggie chips,  walnuts, etc.  They offer a wide range of gluten free shopping options.  You can find their gluten free goodies here.    I am seriously tempted to order some goji berries from them and see what they are like too.  The reviews of their goji berries seems to indicate that they are not going to be the shriveled little nuggets I can find locally.  (The local ones do VERY little to encourage me – or my Love to incorporate them into our diets.)

And… I want to try their Hearty Whole Grain Gluten Free Bread mix.  They list directions for the bread maker as well as for the oven – so I’m good to go no matter which I am able to use.  (Although I think our stand-mixer is showing signs of giving out (BOO!), so the bread maker might be getting a new round of testing soon!)

The *only* thing i wish I could find on their site is the ingredient list of the mixes (like the bread mix I list above or the other GF mixes they have available). (Ignore that…I’m a dork and found the ingredients listed at the very bottom of the product page.  DUR!)   I’m not a fan of some gluten free flours (as I’m sure many of us are), so I try to avoid buying products with flours that have flavors that I don’t care for.   I also know that some of us can’t have every flour.  Just because it is gluten free, doesn’t mean that it is a green light for everyone.

Have you ordered anything from Nuts Online?
Do you buy your gluten free products online?
What do you buy online for your gluten free eating and baking?

Hmmm… I might have to check out some online options for things I want to try or can’t find locally.
Shopping with a newborn and a toddler is proving to be a time-consuming and muscle-building endeavor that may not always be feasible. 😉
Got any tips?  I could use them!
~Kate

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip & Tahini Cookies

MMM!

So life is exciting around here.  Sorry for the lack of posts, but my body just hasn’t had the energy I’ve needed to keep up with working full-time, grading papers at night, playing with my Chicklet/toddler and managing a household of illnesses in the last several weeks.  I’m thrilled to tell you that we are all healthy again, but now in recovery mode.  Time to get the laundry, grading, etc back up to speed!  I hate it when we fall behind like this… it’s completely normal, but when I’m so stinkin’ tired, I don’t have the energy to catch back up.

Ah, but I did have the energy to make cookies!  Actually, in the last several weeks, my niece has been over to stay a couple nights on the weekends.  (She and her mom just recently moved to our little town.)  She has helped me make gluten-free cupcakes (experimental recipes… not quite ready for posting yet) and I swear she now believes that every Saturday is GF Cupcake baking at my house.  In fact, that is what she told my sister (her other aunt who lives in town here too) when she was staying with them.  She told her that she had a “gluten free cupcake baking date” with me.  Ay!  There are only *so many* cupcakes a girl can eat/bake.  (And I’m a cupcake lover… don’t get me wrong.. but the rest of my family does NOT eat sweets! They’re weird, I know, but I love them.  LOL).

To take a break from cupcake baking, I made a batch of these delicious cookies to share with colleagues on Monday.  None of my colleagues thought the cookies were GF until they saw me munching away on a cookie too.  They looked SURPRISED to say the least.  I actually like the way this recipe turned out so much that I am posting it after only the second batch and I can’t wait to make variations for future batches as well.  I think you will find that this recipe satisfies the need for a chocolate chip cookie with a subtle delicate and creamy finish.

Tahini is made by grinding sesame seeds into a creamy paste.  While it is similar to the idea of peanut butter, it is more creamy and less thick.  You can find tahini made from roasted sesame seeds or plain.  Typically, tahini is used when making things like hummus or other Middle Eastern foods.  It makes a fabulous addition to salad dressings, sandwich dressings, etc.   Normally, you find tahini combined with flavors like:  garlic, lemon, olive oil, chickpeas or mashed eggplant – or even honey!  It is not a sweet flavor, but rather nutty.  If you can’t find tahini, you can substitute with peanut butter, sesame butter, ground hazelnuts, etc.  (See!  An easily adaptable recipe from a flavor profile point of view!  Now you know why I’m excited to try more!)

I think the next batch of cookies that I make will used roasted sesame tahini as it is the batch that I am enjoying the most.  After that, I shall venture forth with this recipe with other flavors – like adding almond butter and a splash of almond extract maybe.  Hmm.. the possibilities are endless.. much like my waistline if I keep baking these!

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip & Tahini Cookies

You can print a copy of this recipe by clicking here.
Recipe makes two dozen (or 2 baker’s dozen)

Ingredients:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) room temperature butter
1/4 cup tahini
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups GF Flour blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Combine the brown sugar, tahini and butter in the bowl of your mixer.  Beat until fluffly (3 – 4 minutes).’
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract.  Beat again until fluffly and even. (2 minutes)
  4. Dump in your dry ingredients (all but the chocolate chips) and mix again until even.
  5. Add chocolate chips.  Mix until well distributed.
  6. Form into balls (about 2″ for semi-large cookies) and place on parchment paper (or a silpat baking mat) about 2 inches apart.  The cookies will spread when baking.
  7. Bake at 325F for 9 minutes or until the top becomes slightly golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3-4 minutes on the cookie pan before lifting gently with a spatula to your cooling rack.  Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Happy Cookie Baking, All!
~Kate

A slightly more decadent Calas: Cocoa Calas

So the Chicklet has been home with a bit of a toddler-style, No-Day-Care allowed cold for the first couple days this week. I didn’t realize how tired *I* was until I decided to follow HER sleep schedule these few days at home. BOY! We slept until 10:00AM and took naps in the afternoon, even! I swear I felt refreshed…. that is until last night when she went to bed at 8:30PM and my husband sacked out next to her. There was NO WAY I could stay in bed any longer. It gave me a whole two hours of down time…. no baby latched to my leg as I attempt to walk, to dishes to do, lunches all packed, checkbook balanced (yes, we do that!), etc. TWO HOURS! Lord, have mercy!

So… what did I do? I sat on the couch and watched Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (re-runs, at that!) with a complete lack of brainwaves. Pitiful, right? Yes, but completely delightful too. Sometimes I think a little mellowed out time is good for all of us. I’m not so sure the TV is a necessary component of that, but it was nice to watch someone else’s chaos for a bit rather than muddling through my own. (Ah… if only there were little elves and fairies who graded papers and tests at night…….)

To make the Chicklet feel a little better, I have been back in the kitchen backing and cooking. Tuesday, I had just put some rice in the rice cooker (my mommy-doesn’t-have-to-watch-it-boil gadget) when my husband walked in the door and announced that he was taking us out for dinner. Hey! Who am I to argue? I was up and prepping the diaper bag before he could change his mind. The only “problem” was the cooking rice. I knew we could leave the rice cooker on as it would just switch to “keep warm” mode once the rice was done…. but what to do with that “leftover” rice?

What do you do with leftover rice?

At our house, the leftover rice is most frequently used up by:

  • packing it in lunches with leftover stir-fry
  • served up for snacks (or packed in lunches) as onigiri (even the Chicklet likes her onigiri!)
  • compressed in to a gluten free version Spam (or sometimes ham) Musubi mold the next day
  • made in to fried rice
  • converted into a quick rice porridge (although to be honest, it’s not as good as when made with fresh rice grains)
  • Calas – we use a variation on this recipe, but we add more vanilla, some cream cheese and cinnamon and then we fry it up a little longer so the outside bits are a bit crunchy too.

It’s that last one that might be new to some of you.  Calas are great and really rather easy (if you don’t mind frying things in oil).  While the recipes you find online will vary with the amount of eggs (sometimes 2, sometimes 3, etc) or the amount of flour required (sometimes as little as 6 Tablespoons or as much as 1 cup) even though they have the same amount of rice (typically 2 cups of leftover rice), it’s easy to convert the recipes to gluten free.  Select the one that has less flour in it as that will make it easier (we really like the one linked about), and have a go.  Once you see how easy and delicious, start changing that recipe to match your tastes!  For example, for the recipe linked above, we do the following now:

Cinnamon Calas
Makes 12 Tablespoon sized Calas
Ingredients:
1 cup leftover cooked rice
3 Tablespoons GF Flour Mix
3 teaspoons of sugar or 2 teaspoons of agave nectar
2 Tablespoons whipped cream cheese
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil for frying
powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for coating after frying or honey for drizzling after frying

Directions:

  1. Mix together all ingredients (minus vegetable oil and topping of choice) in your mixer well.  (OR … if the presence of rice kernels in a doughnut are enough to make you cringe, then mix it together in your food processor as the blade will chop those bad-boy rice kernels in to smitherings.  You may want to watch this as when I’ve done it in the past, I have added a 1/4 cup more of leftover rice to the mix just to make sure it’s not to mushy to form blobs for frying.)
  2. Heat your frying oil to 350F.  Drop (carefully!) the calas by the tablespoon into the hot oil and fry until deep golden brown on the outside.  (A tad longer if you like to have a little crunch… oh-so-good!).  Drain on paper towels after removing with a slotted spoon.  Dust with powdered sugar or shake in a bag with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar or drizzle with honey.
  3. Enjoy while warm!

See?  EASY!

To make COCOA Calas: add 1/4 cup of unsweetened dark cococa powder to your mix.  And keep that cream cheese there – it adds to the yummy goodness and smooth taste of the calas.

Yes, I know.  Cream cheese is NOT a standard calas ingredient.  But, go with me, will ya?  It’s DELICIOSO!

Hey Steve (who happens to have a different doughnut recipe posted as I peeked today too) – this is SO worth cracking out that Fry Daddy to try! 🙂

Happy GF eating!
~Kate

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