Vegan Gluten Free Zucchini Brownies

Gluten Free Zucchini Brownies Some of you out there are saying, “You took out the gluten and you took out animal products – what’s left?” Trust me; these are really good. They don’t quite have that chewy texture of brownies, but the taste is awesome. I’m writing a health book for homeschoolers. It’s a book for 4th through 9th graders, with age appropriate activities in each chapter. It’s meant to be used as a cross-age lesson book. I’m writing it out of necessity, because I love to teach my kids together as much as possible. Okay, yes it saves time, but really I just enjoy having the kids working together as much as they can. They are competitive, so they work better when they’re all together. Anyway, at the end of each chapter, I have one or two recipes that go with the lesson for the week. They’re not all gluten free recipes, but I do add ways to make them gluten free. This is a recipe I came up with for the Fruits and Vegetables chapter. I really love these brownies. They’re fairly low in fat, very tasty and they have a pretty nice texture as well. It’s more of a cake-like texture, but they’re so flavorful, you can forgive the fact that they aren’t like ‘regular’ brownies. AND, I snuck in some veggies into the recipe. My kids made them today and reluctantly tried them and now half of the pan is gone. I hope your family loves them this much.
Gluten Free Zucchini Brownies

1 Cup Brown Rice Flour
½ Cup Sorghum Flour
½ Cup White Rice Flour
1 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1 Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Cup Cocoa
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
¼ Cup Canola Oil
¼ Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 ¼ Cup Maple Syrup
2 Cups Grated Zucchini

Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare a 8×8 baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add vanilla, oil, and maple syrup and mix well. Stir in the zucchini. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool before cutting. Makes 24 brownies


Polish Night at the Markowskis: Gluten Free Pierogies and Paczki

Gluten Free PierogiesThis is a once in a blue moon type of dinner. First of all, the Polish weren’t exactly known for eating light. Second of all, these are kind of labor intensive. The problem with gluten free dough is that it doesn’t stretch, which is really what you need to be able to do things that are stuffed. Another problem is that it doesn’t puff up in the same way that wheat flour does because it has a delicate structure. It’s like the difference between building a house out of mud versus building a house out of steel (the mud being gluten free flours, and the steel being flour with gluten). You can get a fluffy sort of texture with gluten free flour, but it is a delicate structure. Gone are the days of that crisp crack of the outer layer of bread with the stretchy, airy inside. But, hey, I’m getting over it. Sort of. So, we had a friend of ours over last night for dinner. He’s Italian and whenever he comes over, we make Italian food. Larry wanted to give him something different and make him a traditional Polish American dinner. Our gluten free dinner was gluten free pierogies with a dairy free cheese filling, gluten free ‘rye’ bread (it had caraway seeds in it to mock the rye taste), some gluten free kielbasa and lots of sauerkraut and horseradish. Ugh. It was tasty, but it really is a stomach killer. We’re all moving a little slow today. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the gluten free paczki for dessert (a Polish donut). I did make ‘regular’ food for the boys, but my daughter and I had the gluten free.

If you’re up to a challenge, try the pierogies sometime. They’re a good substitute for regular pierogies, a little chewier than regular ones, but just as tasty. I used a brand of cheese called Daiya, but you can use whatever you want, even regular cheese. Daiya is expensive but worth it. It’s not something I buy very often, but good for a special occasion. The dough for the pierogies is very delicate, so be patient and use lots of dusting with rice flour. A bench scraper works well for moving the dough around. For cutting out the cirlces, I used a cup from Cumberland Farms (which is a convenient store in our area), but you can use anything that is 3″-4″ wide. The soup take out containers from our local Chinese restaurant is about the same width. I hope you give it a try sometime. Enjoy!

1 ½ C. Mashed Potatoes (about 2 potatoes, boiled and mashed)
7 oz. Dairy Free Cheddar
3 ½ oz. Dairy Free Havarti Style Cheese
1 Tbsp. White Rice Flour

2 C. Tapioca Flour
1 C. White Rice Flour
¾ C. Potato Starch
½ C. Arrowroot Starch
2 ½ Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tsp. Xanthan Gum
¼ Tsp. Salt
1 ¼ C. Water
2 Tbsp. Oil
¼ Tsp. Vinegar
2 Large Eggs
Extra rice flour for dusting


For the filling: Do the filling first, so if you are boiling the potatoes, the filling will be cool when you fill the pierogies. In a bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, scoop balls of the filling onto a cookie sheet and shape into football shapes. You want to make at least 24 scoops.
For the dough: In a large mixing bowl, add the tapioca flour, white rice flour, potato starch, arrowroot starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Mix thoroughly. In a 2 cup measuring cup, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and eggs. Mix well. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture. Beat on medium for about 1-2 minutes, until thoroughly combined.
Have a cup of water handy and a cup of rice flour for dusting. Split the dough into fourths. Wrap 3 of the balls of dough in plastic wrap. Dust a board well with rice flour and place one ball of dough on the board. Make sure your hands, rolling pin, and board are coated with rice flour. The dough will be very sticky at first. Roll out dough thin, to about 1/16” thickness. Cut into 4” circles.
With wet fingers, wet the outside edge of the dough circle. Place a football shaped potato filling onto the dough circle and fold over. Pinch the edges closed. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, dusted with rice flour. Repeat with remaining dough. You should be able to get about 6 pierogies out of each quarter of dough. Cover prepared pierogies until ready to cook.
When ready to cook, fill a large Dutch oven about half way full with water. Generously salt the water. Bring water to boil. Drop in the pierogies, one by one, cooking only a few at a time. Boil on medium high heat for a few minutes, until the pierogies float. Remove from water and drain well.
At this point, the pierogies can be eaten, or you can pan sauté them in a little butter mixed with olive oil. Serve with sautéed onions. Makes about 2 dozen pierogies.

More Bacon, Please: Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts – It’s What’s For Dinner

Bacon Wrapped Chicken BreastsReally, I’m not a total bacon nut. Yes, it probably does make most things taste better, but, really, I don’t sprinkle bacon on everything we eat. My family, on the other hand, probably would if I would let them. I guess there’s a show called United States of Bacon (or something like that) that my husband and kids were watching and they saw bacon wrapped chicken thighs and were kind of gaga over them, so here’s my stab at the recipe. Okay, so I only had boneless breasts, so I used those instead of chicken thighs, and I made up a stuffing that I use as my regular go-to stuffing for stuffed mushrooms. I found a gluten free brand of barbeque sauce, so I didn’t need to make my own: Dinosaur BBQ Sauce is gluten free (there are some others, but Dinosaur was the most affordable and the only name brand one there), and I used the honey garlic sauce because I thought it would compliment the sausage stuffing well. This turned out really good. It’s more like a Saturday night recipe, though, because it is a little time consuming. Wrapping the breasts in bacon isn’t the easiest thing to do and it takes a little patience. In terms of cooking, it really is an overall easy recipe. It just takes a little bit of time. I served them with smashed yukon gold potatoes and it was a nice mid-week meal. Hope you give it a try. Enjoy!

6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, pounded thin
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. Italian Sausage, casings removed
½ lb. Mushrooms, chopped
1 Shallot, chopped finely
½ Cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Chicken Broth (gluten free)
6 Tbsp. Shredded Dairy Free Cheddar Cheese
18 Slices Thinly Sliced Bacon
¾ Cup Barbeque Sauce (gluten free)

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the sausage. Break up sausage while cooking. When almost done, add the shallot and cook until translucent. Add in mushrooms and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat. Add in the bread crumbs and chicken broth and stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to 375º.
To stuff the breasts: lay out each breast. Place about 1/3 cup of the stuffing over the breast. Top with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Roll up the breast and wrap with 3 pieces of bacon. Brush with barbeque sauce. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes. Baste again with barbeque sauce about half way through the cooking time. Turn the oven to broil and broil for about 3-5 minutes, until top is slightly caramelized. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings (very generous servings: we each only ate about ½ of a breast).

Gluten Free Cherry Pie

GF Cherry PieLast weekend my daughter and I went to my sister’s house for a girls’ night sleep-over. Love girls’ night sleep-overs! The best thing about them (besides no boys allowed) is that we have dessert all to ourselves. Enjoy!

(make this twice to make a top and a bottom crust)
1 ¼ C. Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (can probably use regular AP flour, but I haven’t tried it)
½ t. Xanthan Gum (omit if using regular AP flour)
½ t. Salt
3 T. Cold Butter
3 T. Butter Flavored Shortening
2 Large Egg Whites
1 t. Vinegar
3 (16 oz.) Cans Red Pitted Cherries, reserve 1 cup of the juice and drain the rest
1 C. Turbinado Sugar
¼ C. Potato Starch
½ Tsp. Almond Extract
1 Tbsp. Butter, cut into small pieces

For the Crust: Add all dry ingredients to food processor and mix thoroughly. Add butter or shortening and blend until mixture looks like crumbs. Add the egg whites and vinegar and mix thoroughly. Add mixture to a large zip top bag that has been sprayed with cooking spray on the inside. Flatten out and put in the refrigerator for one hour. Repeat Recipe to make the top crust of the pie. Remove from refrigerator and roll out to fit a 9” pie pan. Cut open the bag and invert the crust over the pie pan. Press into pan and form edges.

For the filling:
In a medium sized saucepan, cook 1 cup of the reserved cherry liquid with sugar, potato starch and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium low heat until thick. In a medium sized mixing bowl, add cherry liquid to the cherries and almond extract. Combine thoroughly and add mixture to prepared pie crust.

To Bake:
Preheat oven to 375º. Top pie with second crust and crimp edges. Bake for 40-50 minutes on bottom shelf of oven until top is browned. Take the pie out of the oven and let rest at least 15-30 minutes before serving.

mmmm…comfort food: Gluten Free Dumplings

GF DumplingsWe tend to have a different view of comfort food, for the most part. My family’s view of comfort food is something like chicken cordon bleu. When my son turned 9, our pastor asked him what his favorite food is (thinking that he would say ‘pizza’ or something like that) and my son said ‘chicken alfredo.’ But, we do like the occasional typical comfort food. My family loves chicken and dumplings. They actually prefer the gluten free dumplings over the wheat dumplings. These are fluffy and flavorful. The texture is lovely with the stew. You can use these for any stew. I had some leftover roasted chicken and potatoes and I chopped it all up, added some chicken broth and thickened it and then I added thickener to it (you can use arrowroot flour or cornstarch mixed with a bit of water to make a slurry). This is an easy, mid weeknight meal. I hope your family enjoys this as much as mine. Enjoy!

⅔ Cup Brown Rice Flour
⅓ Cup White Rice Flour
⅓ Cup Millet Flour
½ Tsp. Xanthan Gum
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
¼ Tsp. Dried Basil
¼ Tsp. Salt
Pinch Dried Thyme
1 Large Egg
½ Cup Milk (soy milk is okay)
¼ Cup Canola Oil


These dumplings can be used on top of any stew. I made a stew of leftover roasted chicken and vegetables.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flours, xanthan gum, baking powder, basil, salt, and thyme. Mix well. In a separate small mixing bowl, combine the egg, soy milk, and the oil. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Bring your stew to a boil. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, drop the dumpling mixture into the boiling stew. Cover immediately and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes, until dumplings are cooked through. Makes 5 generous servings (3 dumplings each).

Buckwheat FettucineI only make pasta once in a blue moon. I don’t know why I do it so little, but really when pasta is so cheap, and you can generally get pretty good pasta, it just doesn’t seem worth it. Well, that was until now. Gluten free pasta is a lot more expensive and the taste isn’t always wonderful. Corn pasta – yuck. Brown rice pasta is pretty tasty, but it is expensive. I’ve always wanted to try making my own noodles, so, of course, Valentine’s day would be the perfect time to do it. I made wheat fettucine for the men of the family and made these soba noodles for my daughter and me. These probably aren’t completely soba noodles, but I’m not into soba etiquette, so I’ll call them soba because they were made with buckwheat. I like these hearty noodles. I served them with some sauteed chicken and mushrooms, and a dairy free alfredo sauce. It was a nice valentine’s treat and good for my heart too. I threw together the alfredo sauce, so I’m not adding the recipe here, but I’ll figure out what I did and I’ll post that recipe soon. Until then, enjoy!

1 Cup Potato Starch
½ Cup Buckwheat Flour
½ Cup Brown Rice Flour
1 Tsp. Xanthan Gum
3 Large Eggs
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil

In the bowl of a food processor, add in the potato starch, buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, and xanthan gum. Mix thoroughly. In a small mixing bowl, combine the eggs and olive oil. With food processor running, slowly drizzle in the egg mixture. Process until the mixture pulls together and eggs are fully incorporated into the dry mixture. Remove from food processor and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. Cover with an inverted bowl and let rest for about 30 minutes. When rested, cut the dough ball into 3 pieces and roll out until flat enough to pass through a pasta machine. Start at the widest setting and pass through a couple of times. After each time of passing through, I fold it in thirds and pass it through again. Diminish the setting and pass through a few times. Keep diminishing until desired thickness. Cut into desired shape. You can either cook immediately. If cooking fresh, cook in salted water for a few minutes until soft to the bite, but not mushy.
If you are not cooking it fresh, you will need to let the noodles dry. First, hang the noodles and let them dry until slightly dry and hard to the touch, but still pliable. (I used a clothes hanger and hung them from my kitchen light fixture.) Soba Noodles Hanging
Remove to a baking sheet and let dry overnight. You can toss them with a little white rice flour to prevent sticking. To cook, cook in salted boiling water for about 8-12 minutes, until desired doneness. Cooking time will vary according to how thin you make your pasta.
Makes 8 servings.

Gluten Free Poundcake

Pound Cake 2I love my family. I pray every day that the Lord will show me how to be a blessing to them. That can mean anything from playing a game with one of the kids when he’s down or going for a walk or just laughing at their corney jokes. On days like Valentine’s day, it usually means making them a nice dinner and trying to make something that each of them likes. Usually chocolate is the dessert of choice for Valentine’s day, but today I went for gluten free poundcake. Well, first of all, I was making a big dinner and we had to eat early so we could go to our nursing home ministry, so making two separate desserts (gluten free and non gluten free) was not in the plans, not even possible. My son Luke doesn’t like chocolate, so I came up with poundcake and strawberries. Strawberries are a winning choice in our family on any given day. This cake turned out to be a winner too. It has that nice, cakey-dense-but-not-too-dry texture. Just a little sweetness, but not too sweet. I hope you like it. As a side note, you can make this in a loaf pan instead of in individual Bundt pans and it will be just as good. I put the directions at the bottom of the recipe. Enjoy!

1 Cup Butter, room temperature (I used a vegan butter substitute)
1 Cup Sugar
4 Large Eggs
1 Tsp. Vanilla
½ Cup Soymilk
1 Cup Sweet Sorghum Flour
⅓ Cup Coconut Flour
⅓ Cup White Rice Flour
¼ Cup Brown Rice Flour
2 Tbsp. Arrowroot Starch
1 ½ Tsp. Xanthan Gum

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease 6 mini Bundt pans.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add the sugar into the butter while mixing, scraping the bowl while mixing. Add in the eggs, one at a time while beating. Add vanilla and soymilk and beat until thoroughly combined. In a small mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Mix until well combined. Scoop a generous ½ cup of mixture into each Bundt pan. With wet fingers, smooth batter. Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
(*Option: you can bake this in a loaf pan. Grease a loaf pan and pour mixture into the loaf pan. Bake for about 55-65 minutes at 325º, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean)
Cool on baking rack. Serves 6.

Friday Night Pizza Night

Gluten Free Pizza Again 3C’e la luna mezz’o mare….Ah, Friday night pizza night again. While searching for Nemo (the big storm that’s hitting the Northeast, for those of you who haven’t heard about it) and hunkering down, I was searching for yet another gluten free pizza crust. Hunkering down for a storm gives me a chance to experiment with new recipes. Hey, you have your hobbies and I have mine….I tried a new recipe for dairy free cheese, gluten free pizza crust, and dairy free parmesan cheese. It’s going to be a busy night of posting. This crust turned out pretty good. Still not a chewy crust like a traditional pizza, but I really don’t think that’s possible with gluten free pizza. But, I did like this crust. It wasn’t at all crumbly, which gluten free crusts tend to be. It was very tasty, just a little crusty on the edge and fluffy in the center. And, yes, I did use the dairy free cheese and dairy free parmesan cheese on top. Hope you give it a try. Enjoy!

¾ Cup Warm Water
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Agave Syrup
3 Tsp. Yeast
1 Tsp. Cider Vinegar
1 Large Egg
1 ¼ Cups Brown Rice Flour
¼ cup Tapioca Starch
¼ Cup Potato Starch
¼ Cup Millet Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Salt
½ Tsp. Granulated Garlic
½ Tsp. Dried Basil

In a small bowl, combine water, olive oil, agave syrup, yeast, vinegar, and egg and mix well. Let stand for about 5 minutes until yeast is fluffy. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. When yeast mixture is proofed, add to dry ingredients and mix well, for about 1-2 minutes. Grease a 14” pizza pan with olive oil. Spread the pizza dough onto oiled pan and let sit for about 30-40 minutes. Bake in a preheated 400º oven for 10 minutes. Top as desired. Bake for another 12 minutes until crust is golden brown. Makes 4 servings (2 slices each).

Easy Dairy Free / Gluten Free Strawberry Cheesecake

Gluten Free Dairy Free CheesecakeI used to be a milk queen, and not like a Dairy Princess type of queen, but like the type that swigs milk out of the jug. When I was in college and hardly had any money to live on, I would live on cornflakes and milk. Hey – for two bucks I could buy a huge box of cornflakes and a gallon of milk and be a happy camper for a week. I’ve always had a love-love relationship with milk. Therefore, I’ve also loved cheese too. Someone once said that ‘cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.’ Man, there’s nothing like a really nicely aged piece of cheese. Thankfully, my food budget has increased since college, but alas, now when I could afford a good piece of cheese every so often, my body won’t stand for it any longer. I tend to have joint issues and immune system issues when I drink milk or eat cheese. Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and make some homemade butter to have on my gluten free bread, or I’ll have some real cheese on my gluten free pizza. But generally, I try to stay away from it. So, this brings me to dairy free cheesecake. Last weekend was my son’s birthday and his favorite thing is strawberry cheesecake. Of course, I had to make him a good old-fashioned New York cheesecake, but I felt a little envious of not being able to have some. This recipe is something I put together. I used a 10″ pie pan instead of a springform pan because I only have one springform pan, but it worked out pretty well. I have to admit, this was a really good ‘cheese’cake. It was very creamy. It only had a slight hint of soy taste to it. The texture, though, was really the winner for me. I call it easy because I didn’t do the whole soak raw cashews and make it that way. I was already making one cheesecake, so I was looking for something easy to do and I used tofutti cream cheese. That, and I used already made gluten free graham crackers. It worked out well. And the nice thing about using tofu cream cheese is that you don’t have to worry about baking the cheesecake in a hot water bath (known as a ‘bain-marie’) because it won’t crack. Next time I’ll try the cashew way and see how that works. For now – Enjoy!

8 oz. Pkg. of Gluten Free Graham Crackers
2 oz. Melted Butter Substitute
2 Tbsp. Turbinado Sugar
¼ Tsp. Salt

3, 8 oz. Pkgs. Dairy Free Cream Cheese
1 Cup Turbinado Sugar
2 Tbsp. White Rice Flour
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
¼ Cup Coconut Milk
3 Large Eggs
Lemon Zest from 1 lemon

(2) 12 oz. Pkgs. Frozen Sliced Strawberries, unsweetened
2 Tbsp. Arrowroot
¼ Cup Turbinado Sugar

Preheat oven to 300º.
In a food processor, grind the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Add in the melted butter, sugar, and salt. Combine thoroughly. Press into a 9” spring-form pan, or into a 10” pie plate.
For the filling, combine the cream cheese and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the white rice flour, vanilla extract and coconut milk and beat on low until creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time and lemon zest. Mix until smooth and creamy. Pour filling into crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until the top is mostly set and will have a slight golden brown color to it. Cool completely before serving.
While cheesecake is cooling, prepare the filling. In a medium sized saucepan, mix all of the topping ingredients. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and bubbly. Cool slightly and serve over cheesecake.

Gluten Free Almond Pancakes

Almond PancakesWe’re all morning people in our house, so breakfast is a big deal. Of course, there’s always the standard eggs, and of course bacon. Once in a while I like a good pancake or waffle too. So, I’ve been experimenting with pancake recipes. This one turned out to be post worthy. It turns out to be a very delicate pancake, but very fluffy. They’re sweet enough to eat without any syrup, but not too sweet – just cut back on the agave syrup if you like a more savory pancake, or if you want to have them with fried chicken or something like that. They tasted good left over, cold, as a snack. Even the non-gluten free fam liked them. Enjoy!

¾ Cup Almond Meal
½ Cup Brown Rice Flour
½ Cup Coconut Flour
3 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
¼ Tsp. Xanthan Gum
¼ Tsp. Salt
3 Large Eggs
1 ¾ Cup Vanilla Almond Milk
3 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
3 Tbsp. Agave Syrup


In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the eggs, almond milk, coconut oil, and agave syrup. Mix well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Preheat a skillet on medium high and spray with cooking spray. Using 1/3 Cup measuring cup, drop batter onto hot skillet. Cook until golden brown on each side. Flip carefully and cook until golden brown on the other side. Note: these are delicate pancakes, so make sure you slide the spatula under them carefully, or they will break. Makes about 12 pancakes.