24 Days ’til Christmas: Gluten Free Stuffing

Last year I was sorely disappointed with the boxed gluten free stuffing mix that I bought for Thanksgiving (sadly, it’s now a necessity for our household to be gluten free…I really miss croissants!) so I did my own thing this year. It was so much better and, in case you’re doing a turkey for Christmas, I thought I’d share.

006Gluten Free Stuffing

Makes enough stuffing for a 17 pound bird plus a casserole dish to bake on the side.

1 bag Bobs Red Mill (no affiliation, just what I used) gluten free cornbread mix, prepared according to directions except baked in a well greased 13″x18″ (1/2-sheet) pan until very golden brown

2 Schar (no affiliation, just what I used) parbaked gluten free baguettes

1 stick butter

8 oz mushrooms, sliced

5 stalks of celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups low sodium chicken stock plus 2 additional cups for the baked dressing

Cut the baked cornbread into little squares–you’re basically making croutons here. Tear the bread into pieces. Let both breads get stale or bake in a low oven until dried out.

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté celery, onion, mushrooms, and garlic together until very tender. Add broth, herbs, and spices. Pour over breads. Toss to combine.

Use part of it to stuff your turkey. To the remainder of the stuffing (which will now morph into dressing), add the two additional cups of stock. Place in a greased casserole dish, cover, and bake at 325º F for at least 45 minutes.

Let me know if you have a good gluten free croissant recipe!




You can make popsicles with Dixie cups and Kool-Aid like we did when we were kids but I’d rather not ingest that stuff anymore.  It’s more fun to play around with ingredients, stick your concoctions in the freezer, and see how they turn out.  In case the other day’s post on popsicle sticks made you crave the frozen treats, here is a “recipe” to make your own.

For 6 – 2.5 ounce Spicy Mango Pops you’ll need:
1 cup plain yogurt (not nonfat)
9 ounces mango chutney (I used the jarred stuff)
3 tablespoons agave nectar

Whiz the three ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds.  Freeze for 4-5 hours.  Unmold and enjoy.spicy mango popsicleWouldn’t you know it, my own popsicle molds came with their own sticks and they aren’t made of wood.  Oh well.  If you’re still feeling uninspired but want popsicles you could just go to the store and buy some but there are many ice pop, frozen treat, popsicle, and paletas cookbooks out there to give you ideas.


Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry ice cream using half and halfHoly Cow, People!  I threw some ingredients in the ice cream maker the other day and came out with an honest-to-goodness winner.  Please note that this recipe calls for strawberry freezer jam, a recipe for which can be found in the Summer 2012 issue of Quarterly Speed Bump Magazine (page 27), so you probably won’t be able to make it right away.

Strawberry Ice Cream

1 pint strawberry freezer jam, thawed but still cold
2 cups half & half
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

– honey to taste (optional)

Thoroughly combine the first three ingredients and then taste to make sure the mixture is sweet enough for you.  If you need more sweetness (and only if it’s not already sweet enough), drizzle in honey a teaspoon at a time while you’re whisking until you’re satisfied with the flavor.  Then pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and process according to your machine’s directions.  Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and put it in your freezer to harden–at least over night.  Because this ice cream is lower in fat than some it will freeze solid.  So, to serve, allow it to sit on the counter for at least ten minutes before scooping.  Best in a plain cone.


summer squashThe zucchini in our garden have no fruit as of yet so it was nice to find summer squash at today’s farmer’s market.  These green and yellow varieties are particularly pleasing to the eye.

Today’s “recipe” (this is too easy to really be called a recipe but it’s my favorite way to cook summer squash in a hurry):

Slice squash into bite-size pieces.  Place in microwave safe bowl.  Thinly slice a few rounds of onion and place over the squash.  Cover and microwave for 4 minutes or until tender but not mushy.  Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over the squash while still hot, add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, then drizzle on a bit of olive oil.  Toss to combine all the flavors but be careful not to break up the squash.  Eat.

Do you grow summer squash?  Have you ever found yourself dumping your excess on the neighbors?  Any good recipes for using up what you’ve grown?


Farmer’s Market Week continues with strawberries.strawberriesToday’s “recipe”: Strawberries and Baby Cakes

Slice or chop a basket of strawberries into a bowl.  Cover with sugar to taste.  Let berries macerate at room temperature for at least an hour.  Taste for sweetness then add pomegranate balsamic vinegar as desired.  Serve over halved Baby Cakes.  Top with yogurt if you’d like.  If you want whipped cream, use that on top instead of yogurt (but I’d seriously consider leaving out the balsamic vinegar if you do go with whipped cream).

Baby Cakes

3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup plain yogurt (not non-fat)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Put all the ingredients in one bowl.  Using a hand mixer, blend at low speed until all ingredients are combined then beat on high speed for three minutes.  Divide batter evenly amongst 9 well-greased (but not papered) muffin tin wells. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes or until golden on top and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool for ten minutes in muffin tin then remove and continue cooling cakes on a rack.

How do you like to eat your strawberries?

Another Bonus Joke (last one, I promise) from The Electric Radish and Other Jokes selected by Susan Thorndike & illustrated by Ray Cruz:

Why did the elephant paint his toenails red?

Strawberry elephant joke illustrated by Ray CruzAnswer: So he could hide in the strawberry patch.


Our garden, except for the strawberries, still has a while to go before anything is harvestable.   I’ve been haunting the farmer’s market instead.  To celebrate all that gorgeous fresh produce, I’m declaring this Farmer’s Market Week.  Sometimes the week just has to start on a Thursday.


Today's bounty: The radish!

The “recipe”: You’ve heard of this traditional french snack before, I’m sure.  It’s the only way I like radishes.  Take your very fresh, cleaned radishes and slice thinly.  Spread a baguette slice (not too think a slice–about a 1/4″) with high quality butter.  Top the butter with your radish slices then sprinkle with sea salt.  Eat.  If you’re carb-phobic, you can skip the bread and just dip your halved radishes in butter and sprinkle on the salt.

radishes with butter and sea saltHow do you like to eat radishes?

Bonus Joke from The Electric Radish and Other Jokes selected by Susan Thorndike & illustrated by Ray Cruz:

What is red, has a tail, and hums?Electric Radish illustrated by Ray CruzAnswer: an electric radish


11 Days ’til Christmas: Exchange

I stayed up far, far too late making cookies for a cookie exchange at work (and I’m obviously still up). Have you done one of those? For each person participating (other than yourself), you bring a 1/2 dozen cookies–or your specified amount–and the recipe. Then you do a big swap with everyone getting a package of cookies from each of the other participants. In theory that means you can offer a variety of cookies at your own holiday shindig without having to bake more than one type yourself. Some folks package up their cookies in beautiful containers which I have to admit is part of the fun. I’m more of a bung-’em-in-the-pre-printed-holiday-Ziploc-and-be-on-your-way sort, though. So it goes. I did expend slightly more effort on the cookie decorating part this year but nothing compared to what I expect I’ll see at work on exchange day.

Because I seem to have renounced sleep for the duration of the holidays season, this is what I went for:

Reindeer Christmas Cookies

On Dasher, On Dancer, On Prancer and Vixen. On Comet, On Cupid, On Donder and Blitzen (led by Rudolph).

They’re reindeer (so everyone’s getting 9 cookies instead of 6…I couldn’t help myself) made from a family recipe called Rolled/Filled Cookies. And you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that the recipe is once again from my maternal grandmother, Edith Davis. The dough’s great for cut-out cookies since it’s not terribly sweet and can stand up to the oodles of frosting that may prove necessary at the decoration stage. Way back in the last century before I went off to college, my mom and I would make tons of cookies and these (highly decorated) were features of the Christmas cookie trays we’d take to friends and neighbors. There’s also a filling portion of the recipe (not used this time) that takes the dough to a whole other level. I might share the filling part of the recipe at some later date. Or not.

Rolled/Filled Cookies
Makes approximately 100 cookies

Cream together wet ingredients:
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (add a tablespoon of white vinegar to your cup of milk and let it sit for a bit before adding–it will almost certainly curdle)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix together dry ingredients:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix well. Refrigerate dough until workable. Roll to a 1/8″-1/4″ thickness on a lightly floured board and cut out with your favorite cookie cutters. Bake on a greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet for 8 minutes (or until lightly golden just at the edges) at 400* F. When the cookies are cool, decorate with your favorite icing, candies, etc.

I’m wondering what kind of cookies other people made. They’re sure to be tasty, fancy, and packaged beautifully. Do you have a specialty or favorite cookie that you make this time of year?

16 Days ’til Christmas: Oh, Fudge

I’m back with all the ingredients. Let’s make fudge.

Chocolate Fudge
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup evaporated canned milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter

Mix sugar, milk, cocoa, and corn syrup in a pot at least 3 times bigger than the contents and boil slowly over medium heat, stirring until the ingredients are well blended. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (235-240 degrees F on the candy thermometer or when a bit dropped into cold water forms a ball that’s soft and flexible and, when taken out of the water, starts to flatten out).

Remove from stove, add butter and stir in. When the mixture is lukewarm add vanilla and beat until the mixture is shiny and holds its shape. Then add the nuts and fruit, if using (I used 1/4 cup each of chopped dried cranberries and chopped roasted, salted pistachios). Spread into a buttered 8″x8″ (9″x9″ will work but the fudge will thin) pan. When the fudge has hardened, mark into squares and cut. Don’t eat it all at once.
We’re making fudge later today. Another recipe from my maternal grandmother (ya know, I’m really quite sad that I have no recipes from my paternal grandmother…I wonder if anyone in the family does?). If you want to play along, you’ll need:

Evaporated milk
Cocoa powder
vanilla extract
light corn syrup

A candy thermometer (makes it much easier but not mandatory)

I’ll be adding salted pistachios and dried cranberries. Not in the original recipe but I’m a rebel like that.

Post will update after I, too, have gone to the grocery store. See you later today.

Persimmon Drop Cookies

This is another recipe from my maternal grandmother, Edith Davis. I have no recollection of her ever making them–she usually had chocolate chip cookies on hand. These are approved by The Taste Taster who called them “perfect for autumn” even if neither he nor I could really discern any persimmon flavor. Do try them for yourself to see if you can.Persimmon Drop CookiesPersimmon Drop Cookies
Makes 3-4 dozen

Note: You should use Hachiya-type persimmons for this recipe. Make sure they’re nice and soft before you start or the astringency and texture will both be gross. Use a wooden spoon to push the persimmon flesh through a mesh strainer. It took approximately 1 pound of persimmons (2 large fruit) to make 1 cup of pulp.

1 cup strained persimmon pulp
1 teaspoon baking soda, sprinkled over pulp
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 egg
2 cups flour (I used 1 cup all purpose flour + 1 cup white whole wheat flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)

Blend sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add persimmon pulp to which baking soda has already been added. Add egg and beat thoroughly. Then add dry ingredients (flour, spices, & salt) and mix well. Add oats, nuts, and raisins and mix to combine.

Drop 1-2 tablespoons of dough onto greased or parchment lined baking sheets. Bake at 350*F for 12-15 minutes. Cookies should be lightly golden on top. Cool on a rack then store in an airtight container once completely cool. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread for Breakfast

Did anyone see any of the Orionid meteors this weekend?  I saw nothing.  As a consolation prize for being unable to stay up late/get up super early, a spiced quick bread seemed ideal.Pumpkin Bread
Pumpkin Bread

Before you start mixing, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Also grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan and have it standing by.

Wet Ingredients:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 egg
1 – 15 ounce can pumpkin puree (or make your own as in here)

Dry Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Mix wet ingredients until smooth. Mix dry ingredients together in another bowl until all combined (a wire whisk works well). Stir dry ingredients into wet until just combined–don’t over mix. Scoop the batter into the loaf pan and smooth to the edges, leveling the top as you go. Batter will be somewhat fluffy (and orange).

Bake for 1 hour then remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. The bread may be frosted if you so desire but that’s not my choice. Slice to serve. I like it for breakfast so I’ll take my slice lightly toasted with a bit of soft goat cheese or butter and NO FROSTING. It’s moist and sweet (but not too sweet) and The Taste Tester approves.

Pumpkin Bread with Chevre

Make mine with chevre!