Thursday, December 8, 2011

Whole lotta LATKES!

I have a little dreidel
I made it out of clay
And when it's dry and ready
Then dreidel I shall play!

OK, we're gearing up for the holidays! Both Christmas and Hanukkah are right around the corner. What could be better than to try out our favorite yummy stuff?

Well, to tell you the truth, I have to admit that trying this recipe, although I have been thinking about it for a while, was a born out of necessity. As you may already have read in other portions of this blog, I have a great love of frozen fruit and vegetables. Why? Well, because they are the next best thing to fresh, they're right there when you need them, they're usually pre-chopped, and you can portion them out as your heart tells you. Little one wants peaches in the middle of winter? Grab the resealable bag from the freezer, defrost a handful, and instant happy (and fed) child. No need to whip out the can opener or open one of the travel containers of fruit you should be saving for the road. Same with a handful of peas or green beans to add color and vitamins to the overall meal.
But, silly me, I forgot to put away the bag of frozen chopped onions last night.  Not only did they melt and make a sticky mess on the counter, but I feared they'd been rendered useless.  Luckily, they were still usable... but needed to be, stat!  Mind clicking into gear: onions.  breakfast. ... must involve potatoes.  what about hash browns?  nah... what about ~ potato pancakes?  e voila:  LATKES!
I've had so many lovely, light as air, non-soggy latkes in my day, but I've always had horrible luck.  Mine turn out soggy: potato juice everywhere while cooking, and thick as mud while eating.  Luckily, I've been reading up on them in prep for the holiday season. 
What's the key? The secret? 

Squeeze all the extra juice out of the potatoes and onions after you shred them.  Seriously, it's that simple!  It makes for some mighty crispy, tasty latkes.

Potato Latkes

2 medium sized potatoes
1 medium onion
1 egg
2 T gluten free flour
1 t baking powder
Oil for frying

1. Shred the potatoes and onions, then lay them flat on either a clean tea towel or a paper towel.  Roll them up jelly-roll style, and over a bowl, squeeze them to your heart's content.
2. Scramble the egg, add the flour and baking powder, and stir. 
3. Add the potatoes and onions into the egg/flour mixture and stir. 
4. Fry them up!   Drain on paper towels

Rousing choruses of Dreidel dreidel are recommended but not necessary. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

POP: Plain old Popcorn!

From left: popped popcorn, unpopped popcorn,
 nesting doll measuring cups.
Got a brown lunch bag?
Got a microwave?
Got some popcorn?

Yes? Then you're all set!

My son loves popcorn. When we went to the local farm market's Fall Pumpkin Extravaganza, they had maple kettle corn that was made with corn oil, maple syrup, and a touch of salt. It was one of only prepared things I have EVER bought for him, because I could see the guy making it. It was a massive vat of popcorn into which he poired the syrup, and then stirred up with a paddle the size of an oar. There was little opportunity for him to sneak in something nefarious. So... I gritted my teeth, bought it, and thank goodness! It was not only delicious, but there was no reaction. Most of all, I scored MASSIVE "yay Mommy" points.

Yeah, I had to do a little quality control (i.e. ongoing tasting and testing... and oh that was rough) to bite off the occasional seed or husk from the popcorn, but that was me just being mommy crazy. But since then, he has asked for popcorn often enough for me to wonder how I could make my own.

While I haven't gotten to the Maple Syrup Kettle Corn phase yet, I am aware that there is no way in heck we could use regular Microwave Popcorn. No question there's Soy in them, plus likely butter or casein, or some bizarre chemicals. Plus... you can't recycle the bags and it's a big nasty mess if you over-nuke them.

So, when I saw the post from Squawkfox on how to make our own microwave popcorn from only a bag and some corn, I was intrigued. It seemed too easy. But having tried it, it's not only easy but delicious!

Lil One ate a bowl of it all by himself and asked for more. I was amazed at how he could manage 3-4 pieces at a time in his little mouth. But I loved it anyway, and kept the sippy handy. Just in case. :)

Here's the recipe: (clipped from post linked to from above)

Step One: Get a brown paper bag
This is ridiculously easy, internet people. Just head on over to your local grocery store and pickup a package of no name flat-bottomed brown paper lunch bags.
Step Two: Bag your popcorn
Add a 1/2 cup scoop of bulk popcorn kernels to your brown paper bag.
Fold the bag over twice. Don’t use staples to secure the bag — this might spark in your microwave.
Step Three: Pop in microwave
Stick the popcorn bag into your microwave. I set mine for 3 minutes on high.
(Sue's note: I had a smaller bag and only used a 1/4 cup of popcorn, so I did it with 2 minutes...
and was juuuuust starting to get some burned kernels which were easy to dispose of)
Step Four: Toppings. Salt, Sugar, Pepper, Garlic Powder, etc. Whatever you like and you can have!

Seriously, that's all there is to it.
Plain ol' popcorn... saves money, calories, and no allergens except corn ~ (but then you knew that!)
What's not to love?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Pumpkin and Spice (r)Ice Cream!

Pumpkin Ice Cream with Gingersnaps

OK rice milk is in it too, but in fact the star of this pumpkin "ice cream" is really coconut milk. Rich, delicious coconut milk.
And this is SO simple to make!

All it takes is coconut milk, pumpkin you probably have left over from Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie spices, sweetener, rice milk. Stir it up, pour into the ice cream maker, and in a half hour you have some sweeeeet eats!

I'm finding that vegan cooking sites are a treasure trove of ideas.  Take this one from the lovely blog So Good and Tasty, written by Jaqui (who also has a great Etsy shop, check it out!)

It's a deviously simple pumpkin pie flavored ice cream made with just a few ingredients that you can whip up in five minutes and freeze up in thirty.   Once you're done, you will have not only the admiration of your children but also anyone else who has the good fortune to be eating with you that day!

Now, don't get nervous about it tasting coconut-y.  It doesn't.  The coconut adds just the right amount of richness to the ice cream ~ and unless someone told you that it had coconut in it, you'd never know it was there.  It's smooth, creamy, sweet, spicy.  Delicious!

So below, I am quoting Jacqui's recipe directly, but when I made it, there were a few changes.  Instead of almond, I used rice milk in the same amount, and since I didn't have any cloves on hand I used some ginger and allspice in overall the same measures. 

The first time I made it, I used Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of the cane sugar.  I did this mainly because I didn't want to wait an hour for the mix to cool in the fridge. (I guessed that was to allow the granulated sugar to dissolve.)  So, I used the only pre-dissoved sugar I had on hand, and Lyle's was it!  It ended up not sweet enough.  The second time, I used Karo (corn) syrup and it still wasn't sweet enough ~ until I added a 1/4 c more of maple syrup!  Perfect.  So if you go that route, it's 3/4 c Karo or Lyle's, plus 1/4 cup maple syrup. 

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
3/4 cup almond milk, or other dairy free milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cup cane sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree

In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk together well. Let chill for about an hour in your fridge. Once really cold, follow instructions for your ice cream maker. 

Ready to come out!
My ice cream maker suggests around 30 minutes of stirring in the machine.  It goes in looking like thin pudding, and comes out like... well, Ice Cream!   You can eat it then, but it'll be pretty soft.  Most ice cream makers will suggest you "cure" the result in the freezer for at least a half hour afterward.   But seriously, who has time for that?!

We finished about half of the container that night.  It was perfect with (allergen free Pamela's) ginger snaps.  Can you imagine this over apple pie?  All I can say is, WOW!
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