Saturday, December 8, 2012

Merry Mac & Cheese

Who says that the gluten-intolerant can't enjoy one of America's favorite comfort foods during the holidays - Macaroni and Cheese?!

I think I may make the best homemade Mac and Cheese on the planet - and it's gluten-free. For the holidays, add some Christmas color by folding in or laying the noodles and cheese sauce with a your favorite red. white and green veggies, lightly sauteed. I call this version Merry Mac and Cheese. This dish is a great way to get your kids to eat more veggies!

This recipes does have some dairy, as I won't give up real cheddar cheese (soy cheeses are no substitute in this case). So, for those that are also lactose-intolerant, who don't want to give up their mac and cheese, consider taking the enzyme supplement lactase. I find that soy cheese is tasteless and doesn't melt the same as regular cheese, but give it a try, if real cheese is absolutely not an option for you. Let me know how it turns out.

Ingredients (I like to double this recipe. If you do, remember not to double the salt):

1/2 pound medium or sharp Cheddar Cheese, cubed
4 tablespoons Butter (or butter substitute)
4 tablespoons all-purpose, gluten-free Flour*
1 teaspoon Vegetable Bouillon
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Dash of Nutmeg (freshly grated is best)
1-1/2 teaspoon Seasoned Salt (I love using Herbamare; watch out for MSG in seasoned salts)
2 cups Milk Substitute (I use Rice Milk or Coconut Milk - original (neutral flavor))
1 8-ounce package of Quinoa Elbow Macaroni (I find that rice noodles tend to get mushy, but not the quinoa noodles - they stay firm)
Paprika for the top garnish
Mix of red, white and green vegetables to stir in or layer is optional*

  1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
  2. If including colorful vegetables, chopped and lightly saute mixture with a little olive oil or butter (substitute).
  3. Cube the cheese into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside in a bowl.
  4. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter, blend in the *gluten-free flour mixture*, the seasonings and bouillon (if cubes, crumble first; if paste, blend first with butter).
  5. Over low-heat blend and stir mixture until smooth and it starts to bubble. Do not let it brown.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk.
  7. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, stirring continually. Add more milk, if too thick. Once the desired consistency is reached, reduce the heat to low and add in half or all the cheese. If you use half the cheese, the other half can be layered along with the *lightly sauteed vegetables or only the cheese.
  8. Stir the cheese sauce until all the cheese is melted.
  9. Cook the macaroni noodles according to package directions (add a little oil to the water, and stir to keep them from sticking together), drain and rinse.
  10. In a "buttered" casserole dish, large enough for a single or double batch (picture here is a double batch), layer half of the macaroni noodles, sprinkle remaining cheese if you didn't add it all to make the cheese sauce, along with the sauteed vegetables. Pour half the cheese sauce evenly over the first layer of noodles (and vegetables).
  11. Layer the remaining noodles, evenly pouring the the remaining cheese sauce over all. 
  12. Garnish with paprika.
  13. Bake the Mac and Cheese in a 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes for a single batch and 40-50 minutes for a double batch.
  14. One batch serves 6-8.

* Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix

Blend together the following ingredients and store in an air-tight container:
2 cups Rice Flour
2/3 cup Potato Starch
1/3 cup Tapioca Flour

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cranberry Almond Christmas Cake

Sometimes things don't turn out the way you expected; they turn out better! I started out making a raw vegan Christmas cookie, but when I tossed all of the following ingredients in my food processor, well... the dates hit the blade. I thought my processor was going to flail, lunge and plunge itself from the countertop to the floor before I could punch the pulse button to off. Rather than scrap the whole idea of a holiday treat, I scrapped the idea of it being raw and vegan and folded them into a chocolate batter and baked a fabulous Christmas Cake instead!

The almond extract give the taste sensation that those chunks of dates have the flavor and texture of hydrated dried cherries.


2 cup Almonds, in chunks
1 cup Cranberries
1 cup Coconut, shredded
2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Almond Extract
3 cups Dates, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 box of gluten-free chocolate Devil's Food Cake Mix (I used Simply Organic brand)


  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees or according to directions on cake mix
  2. Grease 9"x 13" glass baking dish
  3. Coarsely chop the pitted dates
  4. Put the remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped
  5. Combine the chopped mixture and chopped dates in a large bowl
  6. Mix the chocolate cake batter according to the directions on box (or make it from scratch)
  7. Fold the cake batter into the cranberry mixture until blended
  8. Pour the thick chocolate cake batter into the glass baking dish
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.
  10. Cool and cut into serving size squares.
  11. Serve without topping, or serve with whipped cream... or vanilla ice cream and/or... drizzle a berry chocolate sauce over all... or a dollop of cranberry sauce.... or....
Happy Holidays!

Scallops Provencal with Winter Squash Timbales

"Cooking is an art and patience a virtue... Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing - love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist - not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch master, but rather more like Gauguin, the naïve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love."  - Keith Floyd, ‘A Feast of Floyd’

What a delicious, sumptuous meal - light, but very satisfying with lovely flavors, texture and color.

Scallops Provencal

My favorite way of cooking scallops. Thank you to Ina Garten for Barefoot in Paris - Easy French Food You Can Make at Home. I adapted her recipe to accommodate my black pepper-free, gluten-free diet.


1 pound large sea scallops, rinsed, pat dry and sliced in half horizontally
Sea Salt
Cayenne Pepper
All-purpose Gluten-Free Flour, for dredging
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted Butter, divided into pats
1/2 cup Shallots (2 large)
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/4 flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
1/3 cup dry white Wine
1 Lemon, halved

  1. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and cayenne pepper, then toss with the flour. Shake off the excess flour and set aside on a plate.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and place the scallops in a single layer in pan and lightly brown on one side, then lightly brown on the other side. This takes no more than a few minutes in all.
  3. Melt the remaining butter in the pan along with the scallops, adding the shallots, garlic, parsley and sauté for another couple of minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops.
  4. Add the wine, continue cooking for only another minute. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Serve hot with a fresh squeeze of lemon on each serving.
  6. Serves 2

Winter Squash Timbales (a dish formed in a mold or ramekin)

Thank you to my daughter for sharing this recipe, which she gleaned from The Vegan Table (page 236). A wonderful fall and wintertime side dish that is colorful, textured and nutritious!


2 cups winter Squash, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2-1/2 cups Vegetable Stock (I use vegetarian bouillon and water)
1 cup Arborio Rice (do not rinse, and stir often)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt (depends how salty vegetable stock is)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil for sautéing 
1 large yellow Onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced Garlic
2 tablespoons fresh Parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh Thyme, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons of sun-dried Tomatoes, finely chopped
Cayenne Pepper to taste (or Black Pepper)
1/4 cup Pine Nuts, toasted for garnish (optional)

Kale, washed, dried, chopped and steamed or sauteed

[Note: I used my food processor for the onion, then again to chop the garlic, parsley thyme, sun-dried tomato together. Worked nicely and saved time.]

  1. Lightly oil 4 ramekins, or oven-proof bowls or pans that can hold 1-1/4 cups.
  2. Steam cubed squash until tender (10-12 minutes). Place in a medium to large mixing bowl.
  3. In a large sauce pan, bring to a boil the rice in the vegetable stock. Add salt. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking until the rice is tender, for about 20 minutes. Some liquid should remain. Stir often. Arborio rice becomes very thick.
  4. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion, sautéing until it starts to turn golden brown and translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the thyme, parsley and garlic and sun-dried tomato mixture, cooking another couple of minutes, then stir in the cooked squash. Remove mixture from heat.
  5. To make the timbales, place 1/4 of the vegetable mixture in the bottom on each ramekin - pressing down gently to compact. Top with rice, once again pressing down to compact.
  6. When ready to serve, run a knife along the inside edge of the ramekins and invert each one atop a bed of freshly steamed or sautéed kale on each dinner plate.
  7. Garnish with the pine nuts and black pepper optional. I use Cayenne.
  8. Serve as a side dish with Scallops Provencal. 

Bon Appetit!