Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I’ve said it before – I live a gluten-FULL or omnivorous lifestyle. However, the last couple of weeks as I deplete what is in my fridge and freezer, as well as not restock the pantry, I’m getting creative with my baking.

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The main stars of these cookies – not pictures, the Lindt Chocolate

I had a bag of King Arthur Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour. I like this, it’s a cup-for-cup or measure-for-measure product, meaning any regular recipe, you swap whatever quantity of flour that is advised with the gluten-free product. I was eager to make another batch of cookies, and I found a great recipe for Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies from this other blog, Delicious Little Bites.

I followed the recipe for the most part, but made some small substitutes as again, I was cleaning out my pantry. Instead of chocolate chips, I chopped up 1 and a half bars of Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate. I like the pools of chocolate you get from chopping chocolate by hand versus using chips. Also, I used more salt than the recipe called for, particularly on top. I didn’t take the time to get the same lovely aesthetic as the recipe author, but I was pleased with the results nonetheless.

What was great about this cookie is it had a nice crinkly outside and a great chew inside, particularly enhanced by the Kraft caramels. The other thing that was nice, is it gave new life to caramels that had hardened too much to snack on or melt. Every time I play around with gluten-free flours, I am impressed. Again, check out the cookie recipe here.

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Gluten-Free Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

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One thing I like to do as I am utilizing what is in my pantry is use up items I do not particularly care for, or I can’t quite remember why I bought it. I found a box of live Gfree gluten-free baking mix. Live Gfree is Aldi’s line of gluten-free grocery products. While I joke that enjoy a gluten-FULL diet, I particularly enjoy gluten-free pretzels – they have a nicer, lighter crunch than regular pretzels.

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Main Ingredients – all things on hand – previously frozen, thawed bananas, gluten-free baking mix, and a mix of chocolate and butterscotch chips

For the baking mix, I wasn’t sure what to do. Reading the recipes on the back, it was like Bisquick. With the pandemic looming I’m either by myself or with my boyfriend, so I didn’t want to make something like pancakes or waffles, it felt wasteful.

Rummaging through my supplies, I opted for a banana bread. Banana bread is one of those foods that is really the kitchen sink of breakfast or coffee pastries. You can throw in just about anything and it will still be good.

In my cabinet I had some loose chocolate chips and butterscotch chips mixed in zipper baggie together – a combination I often use in blondies. In my freezer I had about 3 frozen bananas – something I usually save for smoothies, but they looked like they were on their way out. Using up these ingredients, even if this didn’t work, I would not have felt bad trashing the banana bread.

GLUTEN-FREE BUTTERSCOTCH CHOCOLATE CHIP BANANA BREAD

  • 1 package live Gfree gluten-free baking mix (1 pound)
  • 3-4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x5x3 loaf pan, set aside. Mix mashed bananas with the baking mix, add remaining wet ingredients one-by one, forming a thick, but smooth batter. Stir in chips and salt. Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Be careful not to overbake. Remove from oven, allow to cool about 2 hours before serving.

Tips:

  • “Mix-ins” – can be flavored chips, nuts, dried fruit, etc., instead of the chocolate and butterscotch
  • I used a glass pan only because of what I had on hand. Any loaf pan will do, just double check baking times
  • For storage, the first night I wrapped in tea towels to keep loaf from drying out, but also to retain some crispiness on the edges. After the first night I wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge
  • When serving, warm a slice of the bread in oven or toaster oven – heat at 200 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. This tastes best when the chocolate is melty and gooey

The verdict? This banana bread was amazing! Gluten-free baking flours and mixes have come such a long way the last few years. I was also impressed with the ingredients in the package – all things I could pronounce and all natural – rice flour, sugar, baking powder, potato starch, salt, and xanthan gum. Also, if I followed a true gluten-free lifestyle, I could probably replicate this baking mix and make it in bulk. However, for its price point (less than $6), I think it’s fine getting the box mix.

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Gobs of melty chocolate had me drooling!

Other than a subtle grittiness from the rice flour, I could not detect a big difference in taste or texture from traditional banana bread. My boyfriend also said he only knew it was gluten free because I told him.

So, my apologies for referring to the mix as “this garbage” on my Instagram story before I actually used it. I was VERY wrong.

Cauliflower and Cornmeal Crust Pizza

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My Pinterest feed is always flooded with cauliflower crust recipes, as they are supposed to be a chewy, delicious gluten-free alternative to pizza crust. Since my recent success with the polenta fries I have wanted to up the ante and do a cauliflower-cornmeal crust.

I researched some recipes and tweaked it to suit my tastes. I could not imagine cauliflower on its own coming out crispy, and I love the crunch cornmeal adds.

Here’s what I came up with:

CAULIFLOWER-CORNMEAL PIZZA CRUST
1 bag frozen cauliflower
2/3 cup cornmeal
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper

  1. Steam the cauliflower until tender. Drain, allow to cool, and run through a food processor. Do not over process, leave some texture in the vegetable. Place cauliflower in a kitchen towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients – mix with a spoon then knead dough into a ball. If it is too dry and crumbly, add a touch more oil.
  3. Roll out into a disc shape and flatten as thin as you wold like. Mine was about 1/4 inch thick.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes until golden brown and edges are slightly more brown.
  5. Remove from oven and add your pizza toppings. Bake for another 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

   
  

   

Polenta Fries

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There’s a chain restaurant in Clifton called Spuntinos. It’s a yummy tapas restaurant and every time I go I make it a point to order their polenta fries. They have a crisp texture on the outside, some nice chew on the inside, and usually seasoned well with herbs and grated cheese.

I decided to try and replicate them at home. I played around Pinterest and most potenta fries “cheated” with tubed polenta. I prefer to make something from scratch.

In pantry project fashion, I assumed I had polenta on hand, but in fact I didn’t. I did, however, have cornmeal. It’s honestly the same thing! My only advice is if you want a smoother texture, pulse the cornmeal in a food processor a few times.

The production was pretty easy, but for best results this should be a two day event so the polenta can set and stiffen.

POLENTA FRIES
1 cup cornmeal
2 cups broth (I used chicken ut veggie works)
1/8 cup chopped parlsey
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried chives
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

  1. Bring broth to a boil, add cornmeal and stir constantly until full incorporated. Reduce heat, cover, and allow to cook about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from heat and add seasonings, cheese, and butter – mix until well incorporated.
  3. Lightly grease a cookie sheet (one with sides) or jelly roll pan, spread polenta mixture evenly in pan. Smooth top.
  4. Allow to cool about 30 minutes, transfer to refrigerator and allow to stiffen overnight.
  5. When ready to fry, heat a generous amount of vegetable oil, about 1-2 inches deep in a heavy bottom pot or skillet (I use cast iron) to 350-375 degrees.
  6. Cut the polenta to desired sized strips. If the mixture falls apart or feels too loose you can coat with a bit more cornmeal.
  7. Fry several pieces at a time (do not overcrowd), turning once, until golden brown. Place on paper towels to drain and sprinkle with some hard cheese, like Parmesan, while still warm.
  8. Serve immediately with a favorite sauce, I chose marinara but you can do a Belgian style mayo as well.

   
    
   

Kale Crackers

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Last night I played around with making this Kale Cracker recipe I read on Pinterest. I do not own a food dehydrator, but now I want one! These came out so crunchy, and I love the seasonings I used.

I followed the recipe as they said, but made a few substitutions.

  • I used ground chia instead of ground flax – purely because of what I had on hand at home
  • For seasonings, I did not have smoked paprika or chipotle – I used Sriracha and regular paprika
  • Rather than processing my own almonds, I used almond meal
  • I doubled the amount of kale in the recipe, and used baby kale
  • Since I do not have a food dehydrator, I dehydrated these overnight in my oven’s lowest temp – 170 degrees

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Paleo Cod Cakes

 

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This is a very similar recipe to the Salmon Cakes I posted about last year. This was a quick recipe, including cooking time. Since I had a lot of almond meal, I decided to up the ante with my fish cakes and make them paleo and gluten free.

Minus the lemon, and egg which falls into the perishable rules of my project, everything was in my pantry and freezer, even the scallions (I had chopped scallions frozen and ready to go).

The cod I poached straight from the freezer in vegetable broth (vegetable bouillon and water) until slightly firm. You can do the same with fresh. I just don’t recommend creating raw cakes.

COD CAKES
Makes 4-5 cakes/2 servings
10 ounces Cod, fresh or frozen
1 Vegetable Bouillon cube
2 tablespoons chopped Scallions
1/2 cup Almond Meal (Flour)
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Vegetable Oil, for frying

  1. Using a skillet, dissolve the bouillon cube in 2-3 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  2. Add cod to the broth, poach until fish flesh is firm and starts to flake, but is still slightly translucent. In other words, do not overcook, and you will finish off the cooking process later on.
  3. Using a fish spatula or tongs, gently remove fish from broth and place on cutting board to cool to room temperature. Should only take a few minutes.
  4. Transfer fish to a bowl, it should be delicate and crumbly. Add scallions, almond meal, egg – mix until well incorporated. Add the remainder of the seasonings.
  5. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a nonstick skillet. Use a pastry brush to coat the bottom.
  6. Using a 1/3 cup measuring scoop, scoop out fish cake mixture and form into a ball, then press down into a patty and add to frying pan. Work quickly and repeat the process with all cakes. Heat 3-4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned.
  7. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Can be served with salad and an extra squeeze of lemon.