Gluten Free Almond Sugar Cookies

 These cookies are so bright and cheerful, like sunshine on a plate!
 
It is a proven fact that a lack of sunlight can cause some people to feel sad, tired or even depressed.  People who live in northern regions can have problems with this in the winter.  It can also be a problem when there are periods of prolonged cloudy weather.  I asked a friend of mine who grew up on the west coast of Canada how people cope with so many cloudy days.  She said that it is important to keep busy, to go out and socialize and do things you enjoy. I though this was very insightful and excellent advice.  I know dreary weather affects me, it is so much harder to get things done (especially house cleaning) if it is cloudy, I just want to sit with a blanket and read! After a few days of clouds and the sun breaks through, even if it is just for a short time, it feels glorious and fills me with energy!
 So if it is cloudy and you are feeling down, bake cookies!  These Almond Sugar Cookies are easy to make and they roll out very nicely.  If you are more creative than me colour the glaze with bright colours and using icing bags make fun designs.  
       

Gluten Free Almond Sugar Cookies 

  • 1 cup Gluten Free Flour Blend 
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 cup almond flour 
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthin gum
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar (or 2/3 cup white sugar)
  • 1/2 cup butter 
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla 
Mix dry ingredients and set aside.  Cream sugar and butter, add egg and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients and mix until combined and mixture sticks together and will form a ball.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly browned.

 Glaze

  • 1 Tbsp. milk
  • Icing sugar
  • Drop almond flavouring(optional) 
In a small bowl mix milk and icing sugar and almond flavouring with a spoon.  Start with 2 Tablespoons of icing sugar and add a little at a time until the glaze is thick enough. It should be like creamed honey.  Spread on cooled cookies and decorate as desired.  The glaze will harden so if you are adding sprinkles do so right away.


Gluten Free Almond Sugar Cookies were shared on: Gluten Free Fridays and Savoring Saturdays

Gluten Free Morning Glory Muffins

   
One little muffin, so many healthy ingredients! 
 There are: carrots - high in beta-carotene helpful in preventing cancer, flax seeds - a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, pecans - high in fibre, coconut oil - which can reduce hunger and help burn more calories,  and raisins - a great source of B vitamins and iron, as well as cinnamon, ginger, and honey.
 
I make muffins quite often because they are great for a quick snack or for packing in a lunch.  It's also great that there are so many different kinds!  Just look through your fridge, freezer, and cupboards to see what you have and go from there.  I decided on these Morning Glory Muffins based on the applesauce and carrots in my fridge needing to be used.
 
When I make muffins I often think of the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine, who realizes that everyone prefers the muffin tops to the bottoms, comes up with a plan where people can just eat the tops and all the bottoms will be collected and given to the poor.  It doesn't turn out as well as she'd hoped thought, the poor didn't want them either and she was forced to eat her own bottoms!
 
I always eat my bottom first and save the tops for last.  How about you? 
 

 

Gluten Free Morning Glory Muffins 

  • 3 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend 
  • 1/2 cup ground flax
  • 4 tsp. GF baking powder 
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger 
  • 2/3 cup cane sugar or 3/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce 
  • 4 eggs, beaten 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil 
  • 2 cups grated carrots 
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans 
  • 1/2 cup raisins 
  • 1/2 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  In a large mixing bowl combine all wet ingredients plus carrots, pecans, raisins and coconut.  Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined.  Fill greased muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until light brown.  Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.  Yield: 24 muffins.  

Gluten Free Morning Glories Muffins were featured on:  Gluten Free Fridays and Savoring Saturdays.

Chicken in a Gluten Free Cream Cheese Sauce

 
 
Sometimes it's all about the sauce!  
Creamy or spicy, hot or cold, savoury or sweet; the right sauce can turn an ordinary meal into something extraordinary!  
The Italians understand the importance of a great sauce; alfredo, marinara and pesto, to name a few.  Some countries like their sauces spicy with the addition of chili or curry powder. The French take their sauces very seriously,  breaking them down into classifications called the Five Mother Sauces from which all French sauces are made.  Béchamel, one of the Mother Sauces is made by thickening milk or cream with a roux of flour and butter, which can then be flavoured or used as the base for cheese sauce. Julia Child once said "If you are afraid of cream, use butter!"  For these are the secret to a wonderful creamy sauce.
 
When I was expecting my children I didn't have cravings for strange food combinations, what I wanted was sauces.  Mashed potatoes, gravy and cheese sauce made regular appearances at my dinner table.  They are so comforting and satisfying and if a pregnant women wants sauce, give her sauce!
It turns out it is very easy to make a Béchamel sauce gluten free.  Because it uses such a small amount of flour you can simply replace the wheat flour called for in the recipe with the same amount of a gluten free flour blend.  It thickens very nicely and no one eating the sauce will even know the difference.  The key ingredient in this sauce is cream cheese, it doesn't take a lot but it is wonderful!
Another ingredient that makes this sauce so good is Greek Seasoning.  It doesn't overpower the cream cheese, but gives it some life.  Pampered Chef and Epicure both sell a Greek spice blend or you can mix your own, I found a recipe on To Simply Inspire. You can replace the chicken with white fish or pork chops and I have been tempted to try it with chick peas or beans because in this dish it really is all about the sauce!
 

Chicken In A Gluten Free Cream Cheese Sauce  

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Gluten Free Flour Blend 
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • Dash pepper 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 125 g. (1/2 package) cream cheese
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Greek Seasoning 
In a heavy skillet brown chicken breasts in vegetable oil.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt butter over medium heat, blend in GF flour, salt and pepper.  Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, stirring constantly until thickened.  Reduce heat to low ,cut cream cheese into cubes and add to sauce, stirring until melted.  Stir in Greek Seasoning.  Pour sauce over chicken.  Cover and cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes until chicken is cooked through.    

Roasted Asparagus

 
 

 We are in the midst of asparagus season, when we can take advantage of sales and enjoy a springtime treat that just happens to be good for us.

 

I wasn't a picky eater as a child.  My mom was a great cook and I was willing to try most things.  I ate a bit of turnip at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I ate fish even if I had to pick out the bones, and I ate my fried liver...with Lots of ketchup.  Where I drew the line, however, was with asparagus!  I couldn't understand how the rest of the family liked it.  I thought it smelled odd.     As a wife and mother I have set a good example for my family and cooked a wide variety of foods, including lots of vegetables and I was always relieved that none of my children were picky eaters either.  But I never made asparagus.  Unfortunately, it turns our my husband loves it.  He would enjoy it at my parent's house and lately as we have been traveling more he would order it in restaurants whenever he got the chance.   Well after almost 25 years of marriage, I finally broke down and bought some.  The first few times I steamed it, just like my Mom used to and I would maybe eat one.  Then a friend told me that she does asparagus in the oven so I thought I would try it,  couldn't make it worse.  
 

Well, I can hardly believe it is the same vegetable!  I mixed it with a little olive oil, salt paper and garlic powder and roasted it just until it was tender-crisp.  I have to admit I can now eat quite a bit.  I now look forward to it!

 

So what I am sharing today is less of a recipe and more of a cooking method but I highly recommend you give it a try!

Roasted Asparagus 

  • 1 or 2 bunches of asparagus 
  • Olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • Sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
Wash asparagus and trim off ends if they are too hard.  Lay asparagus on baking sheet (I use a stoneware sheet).  Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Mix all around with your hands until asparagus is coated with oil.  Distribute asparagus evenly over pan in a single layer.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes until tender-crisp and bright green.