Sweet Red Pepper and Lentils

 

A gluten free, slow cooker, vegetarian meal so you are all ready for Meatless Monday!

 

Slow cookers are one of the world's greatest inventions.  It almost makes dinner for you. Put everything in before you leave for the day and when you come home the house smells great and dinner is almost on the table.  There aren't even many dishes to do after you eat.  I use mine often, especially throughout the fall and winter. They are great for stews or chilli, just the thing on a cold winter evening.  

 

  No one in our family is a Vegetarian or Vegan but we do occasionally like to eat meatless meals.  Like all those who have joined the Meatless Monday trend we feel that eating plant based meals at least once a week is good for us, and usually we go meatless more often than that.  I must admit that getting my family, especially the children, to enjoy dinner when it is made up of beans or lentils when they are more used to beef or chicken can be a challenge.  
  This dish that I have adapted from a stew containing beef has gotten pretty good reviews from my toughest critics.  With the occasional  surprised exclamation "Hey, this is actually good!"  We like this partly because goes great with mashed potatoes.  Many meatless dishes call for rice or pasta and his one is nice because it has the feel of comfort food, nice creamy potatoes, but with a bit of a spicy kick.  

 

 For a one-dish dinner add 3 peeled, cubed, potatoes before cooking.

This recipe makes enough to put some in the freezer for a day when there is no time to cook.

 

Sweet Red Pepper And Lentils 

  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 cups diced carrot 
  • 1 red pepper, coarsely chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 - 1 1/2 Tbsp Montreal Steak Spice
  • 1 tsp potato starch mixed with 1 Tbsp water
Place all ingredients except potato starch and 1 Tbsp water in a slow cooker, mix well.  Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours.  Just before serving mix the potato starch and water, add to the lentils and stir till thickened. Serve over Mashed potatoes.

 

Gluten Free Sandwich Buns

 
 
"Give us this day our daily bread"
For thousands of years bread has been a staple food in most cultures around the world.  Depending on the region, bread comes in many different forms, from flat bread to sour dough to cinnamon buns.  Metaphors such as "bread-winner" and "putting bread on the table" prove that bread is more than just food, it is life.  
 
  When I was about seven years old my grandma had a heart attack and came to live with us for a while.  As part of her recovery her doctor suggested she start making bread for exercise.  We all thought this was great because when we came home from school there were fresh homemade bread and buns waiting for us.  Since then my family has made bread; my Mom and Dad, and even I started making bread around age 16.  I have always made bread for my family and now my daughters and daughter-in-law are continuing the tradition.  Imagine my disappointment when I learned that I was gluten intolerant.    
  It has turned out Ok.  I feel better and I have learned to eat a bit differently.  The standard North American diet contains too much bread.  People commonly have toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and then often some gluten at dinner time as well, maybe pasta or buns, or pizza.  When not eating so much bread I hope I am getting more fruits and vegetables and maybe I will be healthier.
But...there are times when bread is just the perfect thing!  Sometimes you need a sandwich!  If you have to take lunch to work, or school, or just when you need to grab something quick on your way out the door. I have been experimenting with different recipes for a while now but hadn't been completely happy with the results.  Even when I followed a recipe my buns were a bit like hockey pucks and my bread was best suited for use as a door stop. Lately I did a bit more research and have come up with a bun recipe that I am ready to share.  I have added a few different things such as baking powder and vinegar that when combined help to get more air in the dough and I have also added fruit pectin crystals which help the buns to stay moist longer.  

These buns are so light!  They have a nice crust and a tender chewy inside!

 
I have baked them in various pans.  They work well in muffin tins for a "dinner roll" and in mini-loaf pans.  This recipe also fits in one regular loaf pan, in there it needs to rise a little longer so it isn't too heavy.  I like to make my buns in a Muffin-top pan or in 5" tinfoil pans.  They are the perfect shape for a sandwich or a hamburger bun.
 

Gluten Free Sandwich Buns

Ingredients 

  • 1 1/2 cup gluten free flour blend
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 3/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fruit pectin crystals (Certo)
  • 1/2 tsp gluten free baking powder 
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice 
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup melted butter   

Method

In a medium mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients, mix well with a spoon.  In a separate bowl combine all liquid ingredients in order given, and mix.  Add liquids to the dry mixture and stir until combined; then beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer.  Fill greased baking pans.  I use about 1/3 of a cup per bun in a muffin top pan or in 5" tinfoil pans. Let rise in a warm place for 35 minutes( 10 minutes longer for bread).  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes for buns (30 to 40 minutes for a full loaf of bread).
Cool on a wire rack.  Freeze extras for later use.

Pumpkin Soup with Red Lentils and Ginger

The days are getting shorter and when you step outside the smell of Fall is in the air.  We have had a lot of wind lately with the struggle between the warm and cold air, like Mother Nature can't quite make up her mind if summer is over or not.   By the end of October we know what is in store for us, and that's the time I want to be in my warm kitchen with a bowl of soup and some fresh homemade bread.  Add a bit of cheese and fruit and you have a heart warming meal to share with family and friends.
This soup is one of my favourites and it seems we are in the middle of "Pumpkin Spice" season so this will fit right in. I use either cubed, fresh pumpkin or cooked pumpkin purée.  If you have winter squash such, as butternut, that can be substituted and you really can't tell the difference.  This is a creamy soup thickened with potatoes so it is naturally gluten free and I sneak in some lentils for protein.
 
 

 Pumpkin Soup with Red Lentils and Ginger 

     
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed 
  • 4 cups carrots, chopped 
  • 3 cups potatoes, cubed
  • 5 cups raw pumpkin, cubed or 3 cups cooked
  • 7 cups water
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric 
In a large pot, add onions, lentils, carrot, potato, pumpkin and water.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.  Add salt, pepper, ginger and turmeric.  Blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  Adjust seasonings to taste.
 

This is quite a thick soup, add a small amount of milk or water to thin if desired.

 

Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll

Just in time for Thanksgiving!  This Pumpkin Roll is so light and creamy, no one will miss the gluten.  I have seen other recipes for Pumpkin Rolls that call for a cream cheese filling and I am sure that would be very yummy, but after a big Thanksgiving dinner I prefer something not quite as heavy.
  Also...I LOVE whipped cream!  In cream puffs, on waffles, pie, or cake, so many possibilities. Whipped cream is gloriously gluten free!  I make it with honey instead of sugar and then it is almost guilt free!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll 

  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1/2 cup cane sugar or 1 cup white sugar 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup puréed pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup Gluten Free Flour Blend
  • 1/4 cup finely ground flax
  • 1 tsp GF baking powder 
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp ground ginger 
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg 
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream 
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp GF vanilla 
Beat eggs, sugar and lemon juice on high for 5 minutes.  Mix in pumpkin.  Stir together dry ingredients.  Gently fold dry ingredients into the egg mixture in four additions.  Grease, and spread wax paper on a 10" x 15" pan. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  While the cake is baking sprinkle a fine layer of powdered sugar onto a tea towel.  When the cake comes out of the oven tip it out onto the tea towel and remove the wax paper.  Immediately, roll the cake into a roll beginning at the narrow end.  Cool on a rack.  To make filling, whip cream until stiff peaks form, then mix in honey and vanilla. When the cake is completely cool unroll, fill with whipped cream, and  re-roll.  Serve immediately or freeze until needed.
 
 

Wild Rice Stuffing

Fall is my favourite time of the year.  Summer is nice but eventually I get tired of the heat and the long busy days on the farm.  As the days cool off it's nice to put on a sweater and go for a walk, with the fallen leaves crunching under foot, admiring the beautiful colours that will only last a short time.
  When the time for potato salad and corn on the cob are over I love cooking "fall food"; soup and pie, roast chicken and gravy, and the Wild Rice Stuffing I am sharing with you today.  I never actually stuff anything with it but it is made in a similar way to traditional bread stuffing.  We have this occasionally throughout the fall and winter with roast chicken, beef or pork.  Whenever I serve it to company they usually take seconds.
Wild rice is not actually a rice at all but a grass that is native to North America. It is similar to rice in that it grows in water.  Traditionally the First Nations People harvested it in canoes, hitting the heads of the ripe grass with a stick so that the seeds would fall into their canoe.  Wild rice is high in B vitamins and is a complete protein with 6.5 grams per 1 cup of cooked rice.  It is more expensive than regular rice but it increases in volume 4 to 5 times, which is more than regular rice.

                           
To cook wild rice you should first rinse it under cold water.  For 1 cup of rice, bring it to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan with approximately 6 to 7 cups of water.  When it boils, put the lid on, remove from heat and let sit for one hour.  Drain the water then add 6 to 7 cups of fresh water and bring to a boil again.  Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until rice has puffed.  Other recipes recommend cooking it just once, but by discarding the first batch of water the flavour of the cooked rice is more mild.

 

 

Wild Rice Stuffing 

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 2 cups diced celery 
  • 1 large onion, chopped 
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt 
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/4 tsp poultry seasoning 
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice (4-5 cups cooked)
Sauté carrots, celery and onion in melted butter for 30 - 40 minutes. Add spices and cooked wild rice. (Directions for cooking wild rice are above). Mix and serve.