Gluten-free Brownies

I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t like a good brownie.  This is a simple gluten-free recipe that utilizes ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.  Honestly, one night I just wanted some brownies, for crying out loud!  And I didn’t have any prunes or nut butters on hand (for 2 of my go-to brownie recipes).  So I threw this little number together, and it was a hit (for me AND my gluten-eating husband).  It uses coconut sugar, which is a low-glycemic sweetener.  It’s got a warm, almost toasted flavor to it, perfect for sweet baked goods.  And you can feel good about eating them!  (Well… at least your blood sugar won’t spike TOO high 🙂 )

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1/4 cup all-purpose GF flour (NOT baking mix)  I like Bob’s Red Mill – it’s a mixture of bean flours, sorghum, and tapioca starch.

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 egg

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish.  (TIP:  I’ve fallen in love with lining my dish with tin foil, and then greasing the tin foil.  This makes removing the brownies a cinch (not to mention clean-up).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium-sized bowl, thoroughly combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, coconut sugar, melted butter, and vanilla.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into your 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish.

Bake for about 20 minutes (or until toothpick inserted comes out clean) in a 350 degree oven.   

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Dill & Bell Pepper Chicken [for one]

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Dinner for one?  Feel like crashing on the couch?  Want to resort to something more than cereal?  No problem!  This literally takes 10 minutes to throw together.  Toss it in the oven.  A quick nap or a television show later, dinner’s ready.  And you barely lifted a finger.

THE KEY for quick meals:  Have your freezer stocked with an array of items.  I frequent the “Oops, we bought too much produce!” shelf at the supermarket.  One item I always snag is a bag of bell peppers (or several bags).  I pay a fraction of what they’re priced on the produce stand.  So I’ve almost always got chopped bell peppers in the freezer that I can use for chili or stew or my weekend dinner for one.  What else is in that freezer?  An assortment of fresh herbs, onions, and meat.  Once you’ve got a little “pantry” in your freezer, throwing quick dinners together is a breeze!

Here’s what you’ll need (and just for the record, I don’t actually “measure” any of these ingredients – I’ve just provided rough measurement for those who like guidelines.  It’s hard to mess this one up.  So throw in a pinch of that, a handful of this, and have fun in the kitchen!)

olive oil

2 chicken tenders (I pulled them out of the freezer about an hour before I was ready to assemble my meal, but you could just as easily throw them in the fridge to thaw while you’re at work.)

a pinch of salt and pepper

1/2 – 1 tsp. dill (if you’re not a HUGE fan of dill like I am, stick with the lesser end)

2 Tbs. onion

1 small garlic clove, smashed but not chopped

1/4 cup chopped bell pepper

1 tsp. tomato paste (I’ve usually got a thin layer of paste frozen in a baggie that I can simply break off as needed)

1 1/2 Tbs. cream cheese

Pulling it together:

Drizzle olive oil in a small oven safe dish (I used a glass loaf pan) and add your chicken tenders, sliding them around to coat with oil.

Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and dill.

Add your onions, garlic, peppers, and tomato paste.

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Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Uncover, add cream cheese, and return to oven for 3-4 minutes (just to soften the cream cheese).

Remove from the oven and carefully stir the “sauce” in the pan.  The juices from the onions will blend with the tomato paste, cream cheese, and dill, and will create a lovely sauce.

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Remove the crushed garlic clove (don’t feel bad… he’s done a great job of perfuming the chicken and sauce by this point).  Plate it up!  The chicken should be fall-apart tender, peppers softened, and creamy dill sauce keeping the whole dish moist.  Enjoy!  (P.S. a delicious side dish is simply some organic canned beans, drained, rinsed, and sauteed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Super quick and super yummy!)

Note:  If you don’t have bell pepper, really any other veggie that can stand some heat would work just as well.  A few that I would suggest are green beans, tomatoes, spinach, or zucchini.

 

 

Cran-Applesauce

Happy fall, everyone!  My apartment smells divinely like the holidays right now, all thanks to this apple cranberry concoction.  I purchased my apples right at the tail-end of the season, so I got locally-grown for about $.69/lb.  This entire batch of applesauce costed about $5.00 (less if you omit cranberries).  Why buy jarred when you can make your own, know exactly what’s in it, and enjoy that flavor that only fresh apples can provide?!

Now, this is one of those fun and easy recipes where you can really just add the ingredients by sight.  Below, I’ve made suggestions of how much of each item to use in case that’s how your brain works, but they’re simply guidelines.  You really can’t ruin this recipe.  Unless you add the entire container of cinnamon.

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Here we go…

Ingredients:

apples – I used about 15 (6 lbs) – a mixture of Jonagold and Ida Red, but use whatever you find in your supermarket.  I like mixing different types for varied flavor and texture. They reduce down to about 1/2, so don’t be bashful.  Plus, applesauce freezes great.)

fresh cranberries (about 1.5 cups)

cinnamon (about 1/2 teaspoon… add more if desired)

That’s it!

Peel, core, and cut the apples into small[ish] chunks.

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Heat a large pot over low heat.

Add the apples.  You don’t want to hear a TON of sizzling.  If you do, turn down the heat and add a tablespoon of water.  Let your apples cook low and slow.  You should start to see some of the natural juices and sugars bubbling gently at the bottom.  That’s what you want.

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Sprinkle in cinnamon.  Roughly chop cranberries, and throw them into the mix.

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Cover and let it simmer away.  Stir the mixture every 10 minutes or so.

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I like cooking mine for about an hour – most of the apples have fallen apart, but some are still chunky.  Adjust the cook time according to your personal texture preference.  (If you like it super smooth, consider using a hand blender.)

Cool (slightly) and dig in!

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Note:  The cranberries do add a little tartness (and color as you can see!)  If you’re not a fan of this, simply omit.  The apple/cinnamon combo is just as good!  If you need a bit more sweetness, sprinkle some brown sugar or drizzle some honey!  (Personally, I love allowing the apples to be their own natural sweetener!)

Cozy up and enjoy!