refrigerator pickles

My mom taught me how to make refrigerator pickles several years ago when her garden exploded with cucumbers. We made a huge jar of them and ate them all summer. So when I found these adorable little sweet gherkins at the farmer’s market last weekend, I had to have them. Despite the fact that they are in canning jars, they are not canned. They won’t last more than a few weeks because they just keep getting more and more vinegary.

pickles

Want to make your own? It’s super simple. All you need is:

1 part water
1 part white vinegar
pepper corns
a dash of salt
a teaspoon of sugar for every 2 cups of liquid
cucumbers!

Any kind of cucumber will do, and you can cut them any way you like! Just wash and chop your cucumbers, stick them in the jar with everything else. Shake it up and stick it in the fridge. They will be ready in about 4 days and should keep for about a week after that or longer depending on your preference for vinegar!

Also, I sanitized my jars (by dipping them in a pot of boiling water for about half a minute each), but only because I use them all the time and felt like they needed it if they were going to sit in the fridge for a month.

Roasted Pork Carnitas

tacosAs you all probably know, we celebrate Tuesdays with tacos. Occasionally we like to branch out and make other Mexican favorites to break up the routine. This week we roasted pork all day in the crock-pot to achieve an awesome low maintenance dinner. A small boneless pork shoulder simmered on low for 6-8 hours in orange juice, garlic, poblano and bell peppers, as well as onions and veggie stock creates tender meat ready to top rice or be stuffed into shells. To make soft fried corn tortillas, heat a small amount of vegetable oil (about tsp) in a small frying pan. Then, fry each side of the shell until more yellow in color and can bend without breaking. For a more festive take on dinner, I chop all the topping and put them out as a “taco bar” so everyone gets a taco filled with exactly what they want. Try it for your next taco Tuesday!!

gluten free chocolate chip cookie mix

chocolate chip cookieschocolate chip cookiesI finally found a chocolate chip cookie mix that fits in a mason jar and is not overly complicated.

Adapted from our 13 year old Betty Crocker cookbook.

Dry Mix:
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/4 cup +2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
1  1/4 cups gluten free flour blend
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips

Mix sugars together and place in a BNTO. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips in a bowl and funnel into a pint and a half size mason jar. Set the sugars in and close. Write the instructions as seen above on a card and tie or tape it to the jar and you’re good to go! The sugars can be mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, but creaming the butter with them will yeild a better cookie.

gluten free orange cake

orange sweetbreadOne of my most used pins on pinterest is this orange cake recipe. I’ve probaby made it at least a dozen times. I’ve since adapted it to be gluten free. Here’s my recipe:

½ cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon caster sugar (sugar between the texture of granulated and powdered, can be made from granulated sugar pulsed in a coffee grinder or blender)
2 eggs
1 ½ cups + 2 ½ tablespoons gluten free flour mix
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon milk
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
4 tablespoons orange juice

Orange icing:
1 ¼ cups powdered sugar (it’s important to sift the sugar so you don’t get a clumpy icing)
2 tablespoons orange juice
zest of 1 orange, to decorate

Preheat the oven to 350° and line a 8″x4″ loaf pan with parchment paper and grease.
Beat the butter and sugar for 8-10 minutes or until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add the flour and baking powder and mix well. Add the milk, orange juice and zest and mix until smooth. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 55 minutes or until golden and cooked when tested with a fork. Cool completely on a wire rack, then carefully unmold.
To make the icing: combine the sugar and orange juice in a small bowl and mix to form a smooth paste. Use a palette knife to spread the orange icing over the cake and top with the zest.

gluten free pantry chocolate cake

As I’ve mentioned before my parents have recruited me to make them gluten free cookie mixes like the dry mixes that you can buy. You know, just add an egg and some water and you’re good to go. Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds to make such a simple mix. I’ve been trying all kinds of cookies and haven’t exactly had smashing success (they are never simple enough, and they never fit in the jar). However, that’s not why we’re all here today – enough complaining and on to the good news.

The ever so simple “Pantry Chocolate Cake” from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, aka: my bible, fits in a jar! I’ve adapted the recipe a bit in order for it to be gluten free, but you can use all purpose wheat flour too.

6a00d83427794753ef019affc6bed6970d-800wicakeAll you’ll need is:
1  1/2 cups gluten free flour mix
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa powder

1) Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a medium bowl.

2) Carefully funnel into a quart size mason jar. Measure the cocoa powder into a BNTO (a zip lock bag tucked in the top of the jar will work too).

cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Add a cute label and some instructions and give it away or stash in your own cupboard!

cake

make your own frozen pizzas

Now that I use a dry mix to make my pizza dough, I have less control over how much dough I make at once. Since often times I’m only cooking for one or two I only need a small pizza. The mix I use is supposed to make two 12″ pizzas, but I usually split it into three slightly smaller pizzas. I bake one for dinner, and freeze the other two for future easy lunches or dinners. It’s SO easy. Below the two freezer ready pizzas are some basics on how to make your own just like I do.

pizzaMix your pizza dough as usual and parbake the crust. If you’re making a gluten free pizza, this is something you’re probably already used to doing. If you don’t normally parbake, it’s easy. Just spread the dough out into whatever shape and size you want your pizza to be and bake it until it’s cooked through and just barely golden brown (about 20 minutes).

Take the parbaked crust out and top it however you want. If you’re going to eat it right away, go ahead and bake again until the cheese is melted. If you’re going to freeze, let it cool so that the crusts stay flat, you can stick the whole pan in the freezer if you want to speed up the process, it won’t hurt the pizza. Then, wrap the whole thing up in saran wrap and tin foil, stick it in the freezer and bake it when you need a quick dinner! No need to preheat the oven when you do.

home made gluten free dry mixes

cookies

My parents have requested that I make them a variety of gluten free cookie mixes. I started with a layered oatmeal raisin mix that fit well into a large jar, but only when the recipe was halved. My next attempt was chocolate chip, and the above is what happened.. I had to use two jars.

So, I seem to be having trouble getting any of my mixes to fit into my mason jars. My frustration is that I want to use my own recipes, not those designed to fit into a jar.

I think perhaps I should just invest in some bigger jars.muffins

Until then… Here is my oat bran muffin mix not fitting in a jar.

Do you make these jar mixes? How do you get them to fit? Help!

gluten-free chocolate sandwich cookies

As you probably know, we’re hosting a pie bake-along on twitter this Sunday. You can bake this month’s pie, chocolate cream, right along with us using the hashtag #piealong. The crust of a chocolate cream pie is made with oreos, so it’s not gluten free. I’m on a mission to figure out how to make a gluten free chocolate pie crust so, today I’m going to talk a little bit about the pie crust for a chocolate cream pie and homemade oreos.

The last time I made a successful chocolate cream pie was probably pretty close to exactly a year ago. I stopped eating gluten in February of last year and the chocolate pie I had made was the last exception I made to eating gluten. (It’s oreo crust makes it glutenous.) I attempted (some time between that pie and now) to make a gluten-free one using Glutino gluten-free oreos. But the crust became a kind of hardened candy or toffee like thing. We think it was because the recipe requires single stuff oreos and the Glutino oreos seem to fall somewhere between the single and double stuffed icing level.

So my thought for attempt #2 at a gluten free chocolate cookie crust is, why can’t it be like a graham cracker crust that uses crackers (or cookies) and butter. Forget the icing, which I think is what causing so many problems with our last crust. Strangely, my America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book has a recipe for “Chocolate Sandwich Cookies,” meant to replicate Oreos. The cookies are a chocolate icebox cookie; the kind you shape into a roll, refrigerate, and cut off to bake. We made a batch and I want to share it with you in case you want to give this method a try too.

oreo

We won’t be making these cookies as a part of the #piealong, so if you want to use them for your crust you’ll want to make them ahead of time. They take a few hours because the dough has to chill, so you’ll want to make them Sunday morning at the latest. Keep in mind, we haven’t tested them as a crust yet, so you’ll be experimenting right along with us on that portion.

I’m also going to share the icing filling part of these in case you’re making them for just plain eating. We made a half-batch of the filling and put half of the chocolate cookies aside for our crust. We’ve since eaten most of the other half that have icing in them.

Ok, enough of the longest preface ever, totally one of my recipe blog post pet peeves, but I just had a lot to say today! Sorry! On to the recipe:

oreo

Ingredients:Cookies:
2  1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup black cocoa powder (if you can’t find this you can use regular cocoa powder, as we did)
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso or instant coffee (we just ground some regular coffee up really fine)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2  1/4 cups flour (we used our gluten free flour blend, any all-purpose flour will do whether gluten free or not)
Filling:
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
pinch salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2  1/2 tablespoons water

For the Cookies:    Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter, then combine with the cocoa and espresso powders in a small bowl to form a smooth paste. Set aside to cool, about 15 minutes. Look, I took pictures of this step:

oreo

oreoIn a large bowl, beat the cooled cocoa mixture, remaining 16 tablespoons butter, granulated sugar, and salt together using an electric mixer on medium-high speed until well combined and fluffy, about 1 minute (or much longer with a fork if you don’t have an electric mixer like us). Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla until coombined, about 30 seconds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour in 3 batches, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until the dough forms a cohesive ball, about 10 seconds.

Transfer the dough to a clean counter and divide into 2 equal pieces. Following the photos, roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch log, about 2 inches thick. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice the dough into 1/8-inch-thick cookies. Lay the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 3/4 inch apart. Bake the cookies until the edges begin to brown and firm, 10 to 12 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway trhough baking.Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough using freshly lined baking sheets.

oreo

For the Filling:    Again, we halved the filling just to try it out on half of the cookies. But this is the full recipe, so you’ll have to do some math if you want to do the same, but I promise it’s easy.
In a large bowl, beat the confectioners’ sugar and salt together with an electric mixer on low speed, slowly adding the vanilla and 2 tablespoons of the water until the filling is uniform and malleable, about 1 minute. If the filling is dry and crumbly, like ours was, beat in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of water. Transfer the filling to a clean counter and roll into a log slightly smaller than the cookie dough (about 1  2/3 inches wide). Wrap the filling in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.
Slice the filling about 1/8 inch thick. Pinch each slice of filling between your fingertips to soften it, then sandwich it firmly between 2 cookies and serve.

If you’d like to join us in our pie baking adventure this Sunday, just take a glance at the recipe so you can be sure to have all of the ingredients you’ll need.

January Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe #piealong

Welcome to Paige Lorrabeth’s Pie of the Month Club Bake-Along! We’ll be baking our first pie on Sunday January 26th at 2:00pm, so mark your calendars with #piealong and be ready to bake right along with us, via twitter and instagram of course! Here’s the recipe, as promised so you’ll have time to get your ingredients and supplies together.

Chocolate Cream Pie:

Crust:
16 Oreo cookies, broken into rough pieces (must be single stuffed, glutino brand do not fit the bill – I’ve tried)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Gluten-free folks, I’m going to be experimenting on this one. I’m going to make my own chocolate cookie, and go from there. If you want to play along – or have some other grand plan, let me know in the comments and we’ll figure this out together. I’m bound and determined to make it work!

Filling:
2  1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping:
1  1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Crust:
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Process the cookies in a food processor until coarsely ground, about 15 pulses, then continue to process to fine, even crumbs about 15 seconds longer. Sprinkle the butter over the crumbs and pulse to incorporate.
Sprinkle the mixture into a 9-inch pie plate. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until the crust is fragrant and looks set, 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

For the Filling:
Bring the half and half, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.
As the half and half mixture begins to simmer, whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining sugar together in a medium bowl until smooth. Slowly whisk about 1 cup of the simmering half and half mixture into the yolk mixture to temper, then slowly whisk the tempered yolks back into the simmering saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, whisking vigorously until the mixture is thickened and a few bubbles burst on the surface, about 30 seconds.
Off the heat, whisk in the butter and chocolates until completely smooth and melted. Stir in the vanilla. our the warm filling into the baked and cooled pie crust. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate the pie until the filling is chilled and set, about 4 hours.

For the Topping:
Before serving, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla together with an electric mixer on medim low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whip until the cream forms soft peaks, 1 to 3 minutes. Spread the whipped cream attractively over the top of the pie.

The framework for this recipe comes from: The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book