Thursday, March 20, 2014

Peanut Butter Oat Bars (Gluten-Free)

It's that time of year I feel resentful about being a Celiac - Girl Scout cookie season.  The Do-Si-Dos were one of my favorites: the oatmeal peanut butter sandwich cookies.  Lately, I've been into making bars from scratch.  Why not come up with a more wholesome version of the Do-Si-Dos in a super simple bar form, with less sugar.  This is it.  You can cut the bars into smaller pieces and call them Do-si-do bites.  Just mix a couple of ingredients in one bowl, put in a baking pan, bake, cool, and cut.  The beauty with these is that you can bake them a shorter amount of time for a softer texture, a little longer for a crispier bar.  I developed this recipe to be pretty simple in the flavor profile with only vanilla and salt.  Putting in spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, cardamom, etc can add complexity if you want that.  This recipe is scaled for a toaster oven, using a half size brownie pan (7"x10").  If using a full sized brownie pan, just double this recipe.  I love toaster oven sized recipes: great for the single person, watching portion sizes, being more energy conserving, and a lot easier scale to work with.

Peanut Butter Oat Bars (or Do-Si-Do Bites)
  • Rolled Oats (Old-Fashioned), GF, 1 cup (125 grams)
  • Oat flour GF, 1/2 cup, (56 grams)
  • Peanut butter, 1/2 cup (132 grams)
  • Agave (or honey or maple syrup), 1/4 cup (72 grams)
  • Milk (of your choice), 1/4 cup (58 grams)
  • Sugar (or brown sugar), 1/4 cup (53 grams)
  • Vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon (5 grams)
  • Salt, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to325F.
  2. In a medium bowl, scale/measure all the above ingredients.  Mix very well using a heavy-duty spoon.  Turn into a lightly greased pan.  Evenly distribute into pan and smooth the surface.  Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on desired texture.  (25 min for soft, 30 min for crispy)  If making a double batch, cook for 30-35 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool.  While still warm, cut/score into desired sizes.  Store in an air-tight container to keep fresh.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on peanut butter.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing peanut butter recipes to try out from our other friends:


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Healthier Twice Baked Potato Skins

I'm a sucker for bar food.  Admit it, who is not?    My favorite menu item is the loaded potato skins.  Problem is, I cannot eat them safely as a celiac.  Turns out they deep fry them before stuffing them with cheese and bacon before broiling and topping with sour cream and scallions.  Wow, it's probably a good think I can't eat them - far from the healthiest menu choice.  At the same token, I never considered making a homemade version of potato skins, since scooping out the baked potato seemed like a waste.  Another favorite unhealthy potato recipe of mine is twice baked potatoes.  The portion alone is twice too big.  Ah, I know, split them in half, stuff with tasty healthier options and bake until crispy.  The ultimate potato mash-up: a twice baked potato skin.

This version I stuffed with some of my tasty favorites: Gorgonzola cheese crumbles (a blue cheese), Greek yogurt, scallions, parsley, chives, olive oil, garlic salt, and black pepper.  Get creative and try with your favorite flavor saturated ingredients like Parmesan,  nutritional yeast, anchovies, sundried tomatoes.... you get it.  Flavors usually too strong on their own make great fillers without feeling the need for super fatty unhealthy ingredient choices.  This recipe is for 2 generous servings using 1 russet potato.  Scale up according.  Note on type of potatoes: russet/Idaho is the only wise choice.  No other type will work as well.

Healthier Twice Baked Potato Skins with Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, Greek yogurt, scallions, parsley, chives, olive oil, garlic salt, and black pepper:
  • russet/Idaho potato, 1 large, washed well
  • salt
  • Gorgonzola (blue cheese) crumbles, 1/2 cup
  • Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup
  • scallions (green onion), 1 stalk, chopped fine
  • herbs such as parsley and chives, 2 tablespoons, chopped fine
  • olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons
  • salt, black pepper, garlic salt to taste
  • Preheat oven (toaster oven is perfect for this) to 375F.  Wash the potato well.  While it is still wet, generously sprinkle the whole surface of the potato with salt.  This will make the skin extra crispy.  Bake for about 45 minutes until crispy on the outside and fork tender, or it gives easily when squeezed.  Allow to cool just until you can handle it safely using a clean hot pad.
  • Cut the potato in half lengthwise.  Using a fork, carefully scrap out the insides into a mixing bowl.  Try to keep away from the skin.  Leave about a quarter of an inch lining for the skin.  Place the hollowed out skins on a foil lined mini cooking sheet.
  • In the bowl with the potato "meat", mix in the cheese, yogurt, scallions, herbs, seasonings.  Mix well.  Taste.  Adjust seasonings accordingly.  Split the filling in half, and fill the potato skins.  Put back in oven and bake until it starts browning, about 15 minutes.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on potatoes.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing potato recipes to try out from our other friends:   

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizzas (Gluten-Free)

When I was personal cheffing, my client was allergic to yeast, eggs, and lactose-intolerant in addition to having Celiac.   He lived in Chicago and grew fond of Chicago deep dish pizza before I started cooking for him and learning of his dietary restrictions.  My solution: using a crisped up polenta shell as the pizza pie crust, don't hold back on the fillings, and top with goat milk mozzarella (goat and sheep milk are naturally lactose-free).  Instant new pizza love.  It's just so different, yet very appealing while still obviously a deep dish pizza.  A pizza pie reinvented.

While it takes longer to make this polenta pizza pie crust since it's made from dry polenta, it is easier than a traditional pizza crust.  The beauty lies in its natural rustic character, i.e., the more imperfect it is, the more appealing it is.  Another beauty of this recipe is you can tailor it to your likes and needs.  This pizza has two layers of filling: a spinach/sausage/shallot and a tomato sauce.  Don't forget to taste each component along the way for the best tasting pizza pies.  Swap out the sausage for spicy sausage, chicken sausage, bacon, or even mushrooms to make vegetarian.  Swap out the cheese for your cheese of choice.  The possibilities are endless, but it will be guaranteed to be delicious.

Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizza Pies (Gluten-Free)
  • polenta or GF corn grits (dry), 1 cup
  • water or stock of your choice, 3 cups
  • olive oil, 2 tablespoons, divided
  • small yellow onion or large shallot, chopped fine
  • sweet Italian sausage, about 1/2 pound, without casing
  • baby spinach, about 4 hands full, chopped fine
  • can of crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • garlic, 2-3 cloves, crushed
  • chili flakes, pinch (optional)
  • oregano, 1 teaspoon, divided
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • goat milk mozzarella, 1 cup shredded
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.  In a medium sauce pan, heat the polenta and water/stock over medium heat with some salt if necessary.  With frequent stirring, cook down until it becomes the consistency of a thick porridge (about 20-30 minutes).  Make sure to taste and add more salt if needed.   Immediately divide evenly into a 12-muffin tin.  Use something like a shot glass coated with oil to form into a shell with relatively uniform thickness walls.  Bake in a 325F oven until lightly golden brown and crispy (about 20-30 minutes).
  2. While the polenta shells are baking, start preparing to 2 layers: tomato sauce; and the sauteed sausage and spinach.
  3. Tomato sauce:  In a large skillet over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, and chili flakes.  Reduce heat to low and frequently stir until it cooks down to a nice thickness.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spinach and sausage filling: In a large skillet over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil with the chopped shallot or onion, and the sausage.  Break up and sauteed frequently with a spatula.  Once the sausage has browned, add in the chopped spinach and saute.  Season with oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.
  5. Assemble the mini pizza pies: using a spoon, first spoon the sausage and spinach filling half way in all the shells, followed by filling the rest almost to the top with the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle a little bit of the cheese on top.  Place in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes until the cheese turns a little bubbly and/or browned.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.  Makes 12 mini polenta pizza pies.
-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Comfort Food Feast. Check out The FN Dish.  This week we're focusing on pizza.  On twitter, we're tagging #ComfortFoodFeast.  Here are other amazing pizzas to try out from our other friends:  

The Heritage Cook: Gluten-Free Pizza Crust and Homemade Pizza Sauce
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Easy Turkey Taco Pizza
Devour: Top 5 Pizzas Without Sauce
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
Weelicious: Pizza Balls
Dishin & Dishes: Iron Skillet Chicken Pesto Pizza
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pizza with Sun-Dried Tomato, Red Pepper and Corn
Red or Green: Pizza with Green Chile, Chicken and Cheese (Gluten-Free)
Virtually Homemade: Individual Cheese Quesadilla Pizzas
Domesticate Me: Grilled Pita Pizza with Prosciutto, Chanterelles, Arugula and a Fried Egg
Food for 7 Stages of Life: No Yeast Pizza Dough
In Jennie's Kitchen: Easy, Homemade Pizza Dough
The Blue Apron Blog: Our Favorite Pizza Toppings
The Sensitive Epicure: Mini Deep Dish Polenta Pizzas (Gluten-Free)
FN Dish: Homemade Pizza Comfort by the Slice