Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is undoubtedly my favorite season. The cool, crisp air.... the leaves crunching under your feet... Halloween... and of course, the apples and pumpkins.

It's only natural that I would try to foster the same love of everything autumn in the Mini.

So we have been reading books about Halloween and Fall- mostly in an attempt to persuade her to put on her Halloween costume- but we inadvertently created a pumpkin-loving monster.

She points them out everywhere.  On walks, at the store, driving in the car.  "Mommy look! Punkins!"

So we thought bringing her to the pumpkin "patch" last weekend would be the greatest thing ever.  Better yet, they offer pumpkins at the orchard where we pick apples every year, so we figured we'd kill two birds with one stone.

At first it was great...

...but after about ten minutes of apple-picking, she was turning into Grumplestilksin.  It was no fun that Mommy kept trying to take pictures and wouldn't let her pick up the rotten apples on the ground, or run around with giant sticks.  So she refused to smile for any photos, and said she didn't want to pick out a pumpkin.

Although she did eventually come around a little, and tried to carry her pumpkin to the wagon.

But alas, it was too heavy.

Who knew the pumpkin patch would be a field of disappointments.

But the good news is, Mini has never met a pumpkin muffin she didn't like.  Even these gluten-free ones, which no one will even guess are missing wheat flour!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

  • 2 C. Gluten-Free Flour Blend* (see below)
  • 2/3 C. firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 C. sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger
  • 1/8 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 t. ground cloves
  • 6 T. butter, melted
  • 3/4 C. canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 C. buttermilk**
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place paper baking cups into 12-cup muffin pan cup, or grease cups. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  Whisk to combine.

In smaller bowl, whisk butter, pumpkin, buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla.  Stir into flour mixture just until moistened.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pan & cool completely on wire rack.  Makes 12 + muffins.  Store muffins in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

*Gluten-Free Flour Blend: Combine 2 cups rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum. Use appropriate amount for recipe; store remainder in air-tight container. Stir before using.

**If you don't have buttermilk, substitute 1 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice plus enough milk to equal 1/3 cup.  Let stand 5 minutes

Recipe Adapted Slightly from Land O Lakes

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Roasted Tomato & Jalapeno Salsa

Mr. Vittles and I have grown our own veggies almost every year since we met.

Some years have definitely been more successful than others.  Before we owned a home, we would plant everything in containers on our deck, but last summer was our first time having a "real" garden space.

Interestingly enough, it was our worst crop to date.

Thankfully, this year we redeemed ourselves, and I think next year will be even better now that we've had two growing seasons in our home to learn from our mistakes.

One thing I learned this summer was to let Mr. Vittles do all the harvesting.  He got rather prickly when I picked a bell pepper before it was apparently 'ready.'  Jeez... do NOT mess with a man and his peppers.  Just sayin'.

Anyway, our jalapeno and tomato plants were going crazy toward the end of summer, and I could not keep up.  I love a good caprese salad, but we were getting tired of that, and there is only so much one can do with fresh tomatoes!  And I was really at a loss with the jalapenos, because even if I would use a sprinkling here & there in various dishes, there was always a bunch still left.

So I made this slightly time-consuming salsa, and it killed two birds with one stone... used up our veggies, and tasted amazing.  Totally worth the extra time and effort of roasting.

In fact, I'm not gonna lie - I basically had a dinner of chips and salsa a couple nights after I made it.

And even the Mini enjoyed it!  My dad & stepmom were over a little while after it was finished, and we were all hanging out on our deck.  I put the salsa out with some chips, and my dad (her Poppa) was breaking off chips for her - naturally, she wanted to dunk them in the salsa, too.  He was a little skeptical that it would be too hot, but I knew she likes other spicy things, so I figured we should let her try it.  Lo and behold, she loved it.

The next day, just Mini and I were sitting on the deck in the very same place.  She got a far-off look in her eye and said "Poppa.  Chips.  Hot."

Dreaming of food - that's mommy's girl.

And that's how memorable the salsa was!

Roasted Tomato & Jalapeno Salsa

  • 1 1/2 lb. ripe whole tomatoes (about 10 medium), preferably plum
  • 2-3 fresh jalapeƱo peppers, stemmed (amount depends on your preference for spicy & also size of the peppers)
  • Half of a small white onion, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 C. chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 t. cider vinegar

Preheat the broiler on high. Lay the whole tomatoes and jalapeƱos out on a broiler pan or baking sheet. Set the pan 4 inches below the flame and broil for about 6 minutes, until darkly roasted on one side.  The tomatoes may split and lose some juices. Using a pair of tongs, flip over the tomatoes and chiles and roast the other side for approximately 6 more minutes. The tomatoes may get charred on the outside, but the idea is to cook them through. Set aside to cool.

Turn off broiler, and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place onion rings & garlic on another baking sheet, and roast in the oven, stirring every couple minutes, until the onions are browned and wilted and the garlic is soft and browned in spots (approximately 15 minutes). Cool to room temperature.

Peel the cooled tomatoes with your fingers and cut out the cores, working over your baking sheet to keep all the juices. Place whole jalapenos with the onion and garlic in food processor and process until finely chopped, scraping everything down with a spatula as needed. Place jalapeno mixture into a large bowl.  Without washing the processor, coarsely puree the tomatoes & excess juice from baking sheet.  Then add them to the bowl with cilantro, and stir to combine.  If needed, stir in some water to achieve a spoonable consistency.  Add salt & vinegar to taste, using ingredient amounts as guidelines.  Can be eaten immediately, or covered & refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Recipe Slightly Adapted from Rick Bayless with JeanMarie Brownson and Deann Groen Bayless, as found on Epicurious


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