Feb 23, 2015

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup | Gluten Free, Dairy Free

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
Gluten Free, Dairy Free 

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup Recipe 


3 Roasted Butternut Squashes (you can also use pre-cubed squash from the grocery store)
Olive oil, just a few teaspoons
12 oz. unsweetened coconut milk (full fat or low fat)
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 Cipollini onions (lightly chopped)
1 fat Garlic clove, mashed with flat side of your knife
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
Cayenne pepper 
Cracked black pepper
(For a wintery holiday flavor.. add a 1/4 teaspoon of cloves)

Stand or immersion blender. 


Preheat oven to 350 degree’s
Slice butternut squashes lengthwise, drizzle flat side with a teaspoon or so of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Bake on baking sheet, flat side up, for 40-60 minutes till squash is tender and will easily come off it’s skins.  

Mix Cipollini onion and garlic together, drizzle around a teaspoon of olive oil over it. Roast in the oven on a small tin pan for about 12 minutes, just till onions and garlic starts to get golden. Remove, pat with paper towel and set aside. (important not to have extra oil)

Meanwhile, In a large pot, heat up chicken stock. When stock comes to a boil, turn heat to low. Add coconut milk. Do not let boil. Add freshly grated ginger.

When squash is tender and cool to the touch, remove pulp from skins and add to the chicken coconut stock pot. Also add onion garlic mix. Let come to a soft simmer. (never let coconut milk boil) At this point you will puree your soup. I haven’t purchased an immersion blender yet, so I’m still using my stand blender, BUT.. it’s TIME! :) Puree puree puree.. When fully blended, add back to the pot. Add seasonings, cayenne pepper, freshly cracked black pepper and a little bit of salt, to taste. 

*For those of you who love a little texture, remove chunks of squash from the pot before you puree it. After the soup is pureed, add the soup back to the pot, and add the squash chunks back in and stir.

Feb 1, 2015

Gluten Free Almond Shortbread Tart with Strawberry Ice Cream and Fresh Berries

This is the most simple of desserts and my favorite 'go to' recipe for a gluten free pastry shell as well! 
Add regular or dairy free strawberry ice cream and fresh berries with a frosty dash of powdered sugar, and you have an elegant dessert that will wow even your most discriminating gluten based dessert lovers! This crust is an almond shortbread crust recipe that I have used many times and absolutely LOVE!  It makes for a great afternoon tea cookie too. :)

Gluten Free Tart with Strawberry Ice Cream and Fresh Berries

Gluten Free Almond Shortbread Crust
1.5 Quarts Coconut Milk Dairy-Free Frozen Dessert
 or regular Strawberry Ice Cream 
2 Pints 2 varieties of Fresh Berries (cleaned and dried)
Powdered Sugar for dusting top
Tart Pan

Gluten Free Almond Shortbread Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup fine almond flour (meal)
1/3 cup “gluten free” *all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt

For Shortbread Crust

Pre-Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Pulse almond flour with sugar in a food processor, add cornstarch, gluten free flour and salt. Pulse till well combined. Add butter and vanilla, mix just enough for the dough to start gathering together. Lightly butter the bottom of a tart pan or a cheesecake pan and up the sides a quarter of an inch. Press the shortbread mixture on the bottom. Pierce with a fork. Bake the crust in the pre-heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. (till golden)

Have ice cream ready at a soft stage but not melted. When tart shell is cool, fill with ice cream, blending with swirls. Put back in freezer for 20 minutes. When ice cream is firm, take out of freezer and top with fresh fruit and dust with powdered sugar. It's ready and yummy to enjoy at this point! 


Jan 28, 2015

Dairy Free Coconut Panna Cotta with Blackberry Syrup

I am so excited about this Coconut Panna Cotta!
I am pretty new to dairy free cooking, and was pretty doubtful that I would find desserts that would satisfy the way custards, puddings and cheesecakes do. But "Oh-how-I-was-surprised!"
This is delicate, creamy, smooth and firm. It's everything a panna cotta should be! The coconut milk is light, but at the same time it is dense and not lacking in creaminess! I was amazed that I could enjoy panna cotta in a less traditional milk based version. But if this Italian cook can love it.. then you can too!

Coconut Panna Cotta
Adapted from the Deliciously Organic website

4 cups full fat coconut milk, divided 
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1⁄3 cup raw or regular honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup seasonal berries

Pour 1 cup coconut milk into a medium saucepan and sprinkle evenly with the gelatin. Let the milk
sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the gelatin to soften.

Heat the milk and gelatin over medium heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved and milk
begins to steam. Stir the remaining coconut milk and honey into the warm milk and whisk until all the
ingredients are dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let the mixture cool
for 10 minutes.

Divide the coconut milk mixture evenly among 6 glasses or small bowls. Cover panna cottas tightly
with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap does not touch the cream's surface. Refrigerate for

about 5 hours, until cold and set. When you are ready to serve, top with seasonal berries.

Blackberry Simple Syrup
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 cups frozen or fresh blackberries
*Optional; A handful of fresh rose scented geranium leaves and flowers washed and dried

Combine sugar, water, and blackberries in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

When mixture boils, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes, gently crushing blackberries against side of pan.

Remove the pan from heat and let mixture steep for 15 minutes.
Strain blackberry syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Refrigerate until cold, and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

*For an added aroma, add fresh herbal flowers or mints to your syrup for a refreshing flavor. 
My rose scented geraniums surprised me this winter with an early appearance, so I simmered them in the sugar, water and blackberry liquid while cooking. Add them after the sugar dissolves. Immediately strain the flowers and leaves from the syrup when you have reached your desired syrup thickness. 

Nov 5, 2014

Gluten Free Banana Applesauce Cake

I still consider myself a "newby" to gluten free baking, but I have come to know my baking style seems to be nutty. Ha!! Meaning.. I love utilizing nut flours more so than rice blends when possible. Have you ever made a pistachio gateau.. I rest my case! :)

I was so pleased with this recipe! I altered it a bit with the almond flour,  addition of 1/4 tsp. of xantham gum and olive oil.. but other than that, it really was a wonderfully moist cake just as is. 

We recently went to ur favorite Italian restaurant, Gourmet Italia. The owner, Alessandro Prestifilippo, has a home vineyard where he grows much of the vegetables, fruits, herbs and chickens for his restaurant recipes.. and olives for his own Olive Oil label! The olive oil was a MUST purchase.. It's a mild aromatic oil using the Arbequina olive from Spain, it's smooth flavored aroma makes for a wonderful addition in salads, soups and this cake! :)

Gluten Free Banana Applesauce Cake
adapted from Taste of Home's GF Banana Bread

1- ½ cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
½ cup Almond Flour
¼ tsp. Xanthum Gum (**add this even if your flour already has it)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (4-5 medium)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup olive oil (preferably NOT extra virgin)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In a large bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, xantham gum, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, mashed bananas, sugar, applesauce, olive oil and vanilla.
Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
Transfer to two 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans coated with cooking spray.
Sprinkle with walnuts. Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until a
toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10
minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. 

Yield: 2 loaves (12 slices each).


Oct 24, 2014

Chunky Applesauce

It's been such a long time since I've posted a recipe.. "But it's apple season and we had such a wonderful crop from our tree this year!" Cinnamon and spice and everything nice has permeated throughout the house, I'm in heaven with thoughts of holiday foods and family gatherings around the corner!

I wanted to share at least one recipe with photos.  My apple butter photos will be coming up soon..hopefully in a post with our yummy gluten free version of the Italian Stuffed Cookie.  

This is a simple crock pot applesauce recipe that makes such a yummy, low sugar, chunky monkey type of sauce! Every slow cooker heats differently, so you decide how long you cook your apple sauce for. The original recipe I read said 4 hours for a saucy sauce, but I found that 3 hours gave me some chunky pieces which I prefer.

My apple tree produces a Fuji Apple, but I also added Red Delicious apples to cut down on the sugar addition. Plus, my previous batch of apple butter took a lot more apples than I expected.
For a completely sugar free apple sauce, find out from your produce man what the sweetest apples are for the season!! 

Yield: 3 ~ 16 oz Jars

Prep Time: 45 minutes to an hour (unless you have a rotary apple peeler)

Cook Time: 3-4 hours


A mix of 6 pounds Fuji and Red Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into chunks. 

1/4 cup light brown sugar (if needed)
1 teaspoon cinnamon


1. Combine all ingredients in the Crock Pot and cook on high for 3-4 hours. 
2. For chunky applesauce as pictured, stir and mash the apples with a large spoon close to the end of the cook time.  Store applesauce in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, or freeze in freezer jars for up to 6 months.

Jun 9, 2014


Kinda excited about this new shoot. It's for a company called Mrs G's | Hot Pepper Jellies. I can't post photos yet.. but these are ingredients from a dish I styled and shot today.

Apr 4, 2014

Coconut Milk Chocolate Pudding

I can remember it like it was yesterday.. 
Sitting on the floor, huddled up with girlfriends in front of the fireplace on a cold Winter's night. 
Home made chocolate pudding.. the one that you made with the recipe from the the Hershey's Cocoa can. I don't think pudding ever tasted so good! For some reason, it's that particular event that is re-played in my mind time and time again when I make pudding for my kids. 

It's been a breezy few days here on the West Coast.. a moderate in temperature Spring day. Comfort and warmth was on the menu! (we like our pudding still a little warm) :)

I have been wanting to try making the pudding dairy free, but i'll be honest with you.. I can't imagine pudding without the luxury of the richness of egg yolks, so as of now.. it's only milk free. I did see some dairy free and vegan recipes out there, and I'm sure I'll try them someday.. but today it's with yokes!

Chocolate Pudding | Made with Coconut Milk
Recipe adapted from Tyler Florence

2 cups whole fat coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup natural cocoa powder
4 teaspoons cornstarch
3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine salt

Put 1 1/2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and the cocoa in a nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a simmer, over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk, cornstarch, salt, egg yolks, and vanilla in a bowl. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Return to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat whisking constantly, until the pudding comes to a full boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and continue whisking until thick, about 2 or 3 minutes more.

While I was taking photos, I asked my Bella if she would go into the garden and choose some flowers to style with the pudding shoot. This was her choice.. perfect!! :) 

Have a favored day!!

Apr 2, 2014

Onion Skin Dyed Eggs

I don't know what's more exciting..
Learning a new art thats healthy as well as pretty, or styling a shoot with these gorgeous colors!

When I first read an article about naturally dying eggs with herbs and produce, I never thought I could achieve the depth of color that I did with yellow onions!

The onion skin in itself looks so pale and absent of colorants. But when they are boiled, the richness of color becomes bolder. I was so surprised at how quickly the white of the egg shell took on this amazing hue.

*I used the skin of one onion per egg. But, the color seemed a bit too dark for me, so if you would like a paler egg, add one less of the onion peels.

Onion Skin Dyed Eggs

The skins of Six Yellow Onions (or red onions) 
6 eggs
Pot of water

Place onion peels and eggs in pot of cold water. The water should just cover the eggs and peels. Let water come to a rolling boil, stirring a few times. Turn off heat and let the eggs and skins sit in pot for 20 minutes. Drain. Put in a separate bowl and wrap the skins around the eggs. Wrapping skins around the eggs will lend to different effects on the eggs. Some more spotted and mottled, some will even take on the stripes in the skins.

Place in the refrigerator until cool. Remove the skins and wipe the eggs dry. 
Store eggs in the fridge. Easy.. and beautiful!!

Mar 17, 2014

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

Yield: about 36 cookies
Bake 375°F  7-9 mins per batch

½ cup butter, softened
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar or 1/4 cup honey
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1-¼ cups Gluten Free Baking mix with added Xanthan Gum (I prefer the Arrowhead Mills brand)

Granulated sugar for rolling dough balls

In a large mixing bowl beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. If necessary, cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in additional granulated sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet. Using the tines of a fork, flatten balls by making crisscross marks on top. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. 

Makes about 36 cookies.