Strawberry Scones, a Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Recipe

My mom came over this week for a belated Mother’s Day lunch and as I always do when anyone comes over, I wondered (worried about) what I should make. When planning a meal, I almost always think of dessert first because that’s the fun part. I hadn’t baked scones since last summer, and I had a few cups of organic strawberries in the fridge I needed to use up, so the scones definitely had to be strawberry. This is a recipe I’ve baked many times and it’s adapted from this recipe on the blog Sarah Bakes Gluten Free.

Strawberry Scones

1 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend, plus more for dusting the counter

1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top of scones

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

5 Tablespoons of chilled Earth Balance soy free vegan butter, or another dairy free alternative such as palm shortening

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, plus more for tops of scones

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sliced strawberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the vegan butter with a pastry cutter until butter is pea-sized. Pour in the almond milk and vanilla extract and knead with hands until combined. Fold in the strawberries.

Turn out the dough onto a floured countertop. With floured hands, shape and flatten the dough into a 12 inch diameter circle. With a floured knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 8 wedges and place onto lined baking sheet. With fingertips or pastry brush, moisten the top of each scone with almond milk and then sprinkle sugar over the moistened tops.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly and enjoy.

Note: To warm up a day old scone, place in a toaster oven for a few minutes. These freeze well.

Oh, and if you want to know what else I made for lunch when my mom came over: Shallot, Portobello, and Spinach Crustless Quiche (dairy-free) and a tossed salad with homemade vinaigrette. (Plus watermelon and cherries.)

How to Make Cashew Milk

I am going to show you how to make the easiest nut milk available! As someone who lives dairy-free, I have attempted to make my own nut milks before. Almond milk is great, but it requires the dreaded nut milk bag to strain the bits of nuts out of the milk. Which requires cleaning said nut milk bag, which is quite tedious and a definite mental hurdle to me making almond milk on a regular basis. 

Enter cashew milk: it requires no nut milk bag and no straining, which makes it a breeze to make. The only equipment necessary is a high speed blender such as a Vitamix or Ninja so that you won’t have bits of nuts floating around in your milk.

This makes an amazing coffee creamer, as well as a treat with a gluten free graham cracker or biscotti!

So here is the recipe:

Cashew Milk

(yields approximately 6 cups)

2 cups raw cashews, whole or pieces

4 cups filtered water

2 Medjool dates (optional)

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract (optional)

pinch of sea salt

Place cashews in bowl and cover with water. Place a clean dishcloth over bowl. Let sit on counter for at least 4 hours. (It was more like 10 hours for me because that’s when I got around to making the milk.)

In a colander, strain out the water and rinse cashews. 

Place cashews in blender with 4 cups water, dates and vanilla (if using), and sea salt. Blend on high for 2-3 minutes.

Place in clean mason jars or glass pitcher in fridge and drink it up within 4-5 days.

You can always cut the recipe in half if you can’t drink it as fast. And you can always add more water to the recipe to thin it out if it’s too creamy for you.

Let me know what you think! 

 

Sweet Potato-Leek Soup for Spring

Last Friday afternoon, my dear friend Britt came over for lunch and, as I usually do, I served soup and a tossed salad. Soup is a favorite of mine because it’s easy to make and fits in with my lazy cooking preferences. Alan laughed when I called myself a “One Bowl Johnny” last week, but if I could be that minimalist in the kitchen, trust me, I would!

Most of the gluten free, dairy free, from-scratch food I make tends to require many bowls, spoons and pots with plenty of steps. So when I find a recipe that is simple enough to use only one pot, I rejoice. This is why I love soup so much! Well, that and the fact that it’s such comfort food if one is feeling a bit under the weather.

This particular soup was created because, like most other home cooks, I am frugal and wanted to use up the ingredients in my pantry and fridge. And I had a hankering for the combination of sweet potatoes (yams, and yes, I know the difference!) and leeks. Get ready for one of the easiest soup recipes in existence!

Sweet Potato-Leek Soup (serves 6)

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 really large yams (or 4-5 smaller ones), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks

2 leeks, trim off the bottom and the tough green stalks. Use the 3 inches of white part, cut in half lengthwise, slice across, and rinse thoroughly before using.

6-8 cups water with vegan bouillon (I use Not Chick’n brand)

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 can coconut cream (open a can of coconut milk and use the solid fatty part and save the water for a smoothie)

In a large soup pot, sauté the leeks on low-medium heat for a minute or two. Stir often and watch them–leeks burn quickly!

Add the water with bouillon and the yams. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until yams are tender.

Turn off heat, add coconut cream, and using an immersion blender, purée the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

See, I told you it was easy!


Marinara Sauce for Mondays (or Any Night of the Week)

Here is a reprise of my weeknight mealtime go-to. I’m Italian-American and no matter what diet fads come and go, I’m never giving up pasta. Mine is gluten-free, of course, and drowned in Marinara. (This is my favorite brand.) It is such a fast, easy recipe, there is no need to purchase that sorry excuse for pasta sauce from the market ever again!!!

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This sauce can be made in about 15 minutes, start to finish, which is probably quicker than it’ll take your pasta water to boil. When I’m feeling tired, lazy, or like I need some comfort, I make this recipe. Pasta, salad, vegan meatballs from Minimalist Baker (or your favorite store bought version), and dinner is on the table.

It’s also great to dip pieces of gluten-free bread sticks, or vegan meatballs into at a party. I served gluten-free focaccia from Sarah Bakes Gluten Free and vegan meatballs from Minimalist Baker with a bowl of Marinara at this year’s Super Bowl Party, and all of our meat/dairy/gluten-eating friends couldn’t get enough!!!

Easy Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup of water, approximately
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2-4 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk, such as almond (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons fresh parsley or basil, chopped (optional)

In a thick-bottomed pot on medium heat, heat the olive oil, add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds until it turns golden, stirring and watching it carefully to prevent burning.

Add water and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any garlic that might be sticking.

Add tomatoes and the salt through milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring gently to combine. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and remove from heat.

Adjust seasonings. Add fresh herbs if desired.

Notes and Options:

This lasts for about a week to ten days in the fridge.

It can also be frozen and thawed for a later time.

Feel free to add dried fennel, basil, thyme, or other dried herbs you prefer.

The One Italian Cookie You Need to Bake (Recipe)

I wish I could remember exactly when I began baking biscotti, but it was definitely when my kids were very small. Even though I grew up in an Italian-American family, I knew no one who actually baked their own. My Grandma Corriero bought hers at the supermarket and those were the only ones I’d ever tried. (They definitely tasted store-bought.) But one of my Moosewood Cookbooks had a recipe for them, so I made them on a whim once and have loved biscotti ever since.

My two favorite aspects of biscotti are: you pretty much can’t ruin them and they are so easy!!! I am an impatient, lazy cook and baker, so I go with easy recipes whenever I get the chance.

Here is my biscotti recipe, adapted from Moosewood.

Biscotti

1/4 cup vegan butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

2 teaspoon freshly grated orange (or lemon) peel

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, almonds, or pecans

2 1/4 cups gluten free flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the vegan butter and the sugar, add the eggs, vanilla, almond extract, and grated orange peel. Fold in the nuts.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to wet and and mix until blended and dough holds together when pressed with floured hands. This dough is meant to be on the stiff side.

Scoop the dough onto a lined baking sheet and shape into a log, about 12 x 3 inches. Press down and flatten until it’s about 14 x 4 inches.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until dough is firm and just starting to brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then transfer log to cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slice crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces. Lay each piece cut side up on the baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for another 10 minutes. Cool on a rack.

The biscotti will last in an airtight container for a couple of weeks or in the freezer for a few months.

You can add fruit or chocolate chips instead of nuts. You can also add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Flourless Chocolate Cake, Gluten Free, Dairy Free (Recipe)

Last year, right before our birthday (Alan and I share the same day), I began looking for a cake recipe that I would actually like. I’m not much of a cake person–I like not-too-sweet chocolatey, creamy or fruity desserts and pies–as long as they are free of gluten and dairy. I started thinking about flourless chocolate cake and came across several that looked tempting. I decided on one from The Spruce Eats and gave it a try.

It was so easy to make and IT WAS DELICIOUS!!! I made it again at the end of September when some friends came for dinner and again at Thanksgiving. Then I forgot about it until last week when I suddenly wanted dessert and couldn’t think of anything to make, until, suddenly, the vision of flourless chocolate cake danced in my head! It was just as delightful as I remembered, so I am sharing it with you. (Recipe slightly adapted from The Spruce Eats)

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 cup or 6 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate bars broken into chunks or chips

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup sunflower or other mild-flavored oil

1 Tablespoon brewed coffee or just use water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 large eggs

1/2 cup of cacao or cocoa powder

About an hour before, set eggs on counter so they’ll come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350 F and oil either an 8-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper or a 8 or 9 regular cake or tart pan (if you’re feeling lazy).

Carefully melt chocolate in the microwave or stove top on super low heat, stirring often to prevent burning/scorching. (Yep, I’ve done it!)

Transfer melted chocolate to mixing bowl, add sugar and blend with mixing paddle. Add in the oil, coffee or water, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.

Add eggs one at a time, stirring after each addition.

Add in the cocoa powder and mix well.

Pour batter into pan, even out with a spatula, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top has a thin, shiny crust and toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Place pan on wire rack to cool. When cool, if using a springform pan, unlatch the side and invert the cake onto a plate. If using a regular cake pan, just serve and enjoy!

It’s really good with Coconut Whipped Cream and/or raspberry sauce!

I forgot to take a picture before I dug into it–it’s that good!

Turmeric, Two Ways (Recipes)

Some of my readers may remember my post from last year, when I wrote about living with Recurrent Corneal Erosion Syndrome (RCES) and how juicing is one of the main ways I keep that beast under control.

The importance of juicing is primarily about lowering inflammation in my body, but I don’t rely on juicing alone to do this job. Enough sleep, exercise, proper overall nutrition, and managing stress levels are also factors. In the past six months, I’ve been regularly drinking green tea and taking Turmeric to assist with inflammation reduction. I actually buy Turmeric by the pound both to use in cooking and to fill veggie capsules myself–it’s much more economical this way.

I love simple ways to incorporate Turmeric into my diet, so today I am sharing two quick and easy recipes: one is a Thai Yam-Carrot Soup recipe and one is Turmeric Hot Cocoa recipe. I’m guessing by now, you’ve heard about Turmeric’s amazing benefits, but in case you haven’t, here’s a link to get you started.

Thai Yam-Carrot Soup

Serves 8, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Vegan

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions or combination of onions, shallots, leeks (basically whatever you have on hand)

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated, about 2 teaspoons

1 Tablespoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

4 cups broth or water ( I used Not Chick’n bouillon cubes)

1 large or 2 medium-sized yams, peeled and cut into half inch pieces

2 lbs carrots, peeled and sliced

1 can coconut milk

Juice of 1/2-1 lime, depending on taste

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional

Heat oil in pan, add onions and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to prevent sticking/burning.

Add ginger, salt, and curry powder and stir to coat onions. Add water or broth, yams and carrots, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until yams and carrots are soft. Turn off heat. Add can of coconut milk.

Blend with an immersion blender or regular blender. (Make sure you take the center out of the blender lid and cover with a towel if you blend while the soup is hot!!! Otherwise the top will burst off and hot soup will fly everywhere. I learned this the hard way).

Recipe adapted from www.comfybelly.com

Turmeric Hot Cocoa

Serves 1, dairy free, gluten free, vegan 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • A pinch of black pepper

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender. Blend well. 
  2. In a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, whisking often, remove from heat, taste, and adjust sweetness if desired.adapted from https://www.natalieshealth.com/cacao-turmeric-maca-hot-chocolate/

If you make either of these recipes, I’d love to know how it turned out! Or if you have favorite anti-inflammatory foods you recommend, feel free to share in comments.