Making: Gluten-Free Granola

gluten-free-granolaI’m going to blame this all on the Caramelized Peaches + Cream with Toasted Crumble that I shared a couple of weeks ago. Because after gobbling up the extra crumble topping with a dash of milk, I became obsessed with the idea of making homemade granola. Yes, the recipe I’ve been making is a bit like a dessert topping, but slightly less sweet…which is what I use to comfort myself as I scarf down bowl after bowl of it. No, I’m not eating dessert for breakfast…it has milk!

In any case, the basic recipe below is quick and easy to make, hearty, and delicious…and I love how simple it is to customize with different ingredients. Feel free to adapt it to your heart’s content. Some potential add-ins you might try could include:

  • Dried fruit | raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruit
  • Nuts | I recommend toasting them before adding them to your granola
  • Seeds | sunflower, pumpkin, etc.
  • Flavored extracts | vanilla, coconut, almond, hazelnut, etc. (be sure to check that they are gluten-free)
  • Spices | cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
  • Zest | orange, lemon, or lime
  • Alternative sweeteners | Maple syrup, honey, agave, etc.

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Gluten-Free Granola Recipe

Loosely adapted from How Sweet Eats
Makes approximately 4 Cups of granola

Ingredients:
2 Cups rolled oats (gluten-free)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup honey roasted almonds (we buy ours from Trader Joe’s)
1/4 Cup toasted sweetened coconut
5 dried apricots, chopped
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

Prep:
▪ Place sweetened coconut in a pan over medium heat and stir regularly until toasted. Remove from heat.
▪ Chop dried apricots and set aside
▪ Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside

Instructions:
1. Melt butter in the bottom of a large saucepan, over medium heat
2. Add in oats and stir until thoroughly mixed
3. Allow oats to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly
4. Add in brown sugar, and stir thoroughly
5. Allow oats and sugar to cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring regularly
6. Stir in coconut extract and turn heat off
7. Mix in almonds, toasted coconut, and apricots
8. Pour granola onto your prepared baking sheet to cool
9. Once fully cooled, serve and enjoy!

Store granola in an air-tight container

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I’d love to hear what creative adaptations you come up with it you make a batch! xo

Tried + True: Homemade Salt Water Taffy

tried-and-true-salt-water-taffy-2If playing with a wad of hot sticky bubblegum for 15 minutes sounds like fun, then have I got the project for you today! I’m kidding…kind of.

This past Saturday my daughter and I decided to try to make salt water taffy for the first time. I read through a bunch of recipes online, and one thing became immediately clear; making taffy is hard work and sticky…very very sticky! But I wasn’t going to be so easily scared off. I finally settled on a recipe (which we then adapted) from Cupcake Project. I chose her recipe, because she did a great job photographing the steps, I like the fact that her recipe calls for a lower final temperature (since I read on several blogs that their taffy turned out far too hard after using a higher final temperature), and lastly, because she said that the whole project could be done in an hour. That’s my kind of recipe!

For our adaptation, we used 1/2 teaspoon raspberry flavoring (we found it at Michael’s craft store) and 4 drops of blue food coloring; instead of the vanilla bean paste and candy sprinkles in her version. Once cooked to the correct temperature, we patiently waited for the candy to cool just enough so that we wouldn’t scald ourselves (we couldn’t stand to wait any longer than that), we then buttered our hands up, split the candy in two, and each started to taffy pull.

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Right away I had problems with the taffy staying together. I think I might have had too much butter on my hands. But then when the butter wore off of my fingers the taffy stuck to my skin…and I mean really truly stuck to them. It was nearly impossible to remove. For some reason my daughter didn’t have the same issue. While I was getting frustrated with my portion, and in a near panic trying to remove the glob of candy from my fingers without losing a layer of skin, she was quickly turning her piece into a beautiful bit of candy magic.

In the end we determined that my hands were much warmer than hers, and this might have been the cause of the overly sticky situation. At one point I started working with my hands over the air conditioning vent, and that seemed to help quite a bit. Unfortunately my arthritic joints eventually gave out, so my daughter stepped in and finished pulling the rest of mine for me, while I wrapped the cut pieces of taffy in parchment paper.

tried-and-true-salt-water-taffy-3They say that all is well that ends well, and in this case that is most definitely true! Even though my particular batch was stubborn, my daughter managed to salvage it, and we had a great memory making experience. Oh…and the finished candy turned out deliciously too! A winner in my book! Find the original recipe we used right here. Just prepare yourself ahead of time for a thorough arm workout!

Photos taken with iPhone 5c

Tried + True: Caramelized Peaches + Cream with Toasted Crumble

caramelized-peaches-cream-crumbleI spotted this Caramelized Peaches + Cream with Toasted Crumble recipe over on Pinterest last week and immediately knew that it was going to become my next test project/recipe for the newly-minted Tried + True series.

caramelized-peaches-cream-crumble3Happily, the recipe was a huge success (I’ve actually made it twice now), so I get to share the results with you here today! Woot woot! The caramelized sauce paired with the fresh sweetness of the fruit, topped off with the crunch of topping is pure nirvana. I have a feeling this gem of a recipe is going to continue to be a Summertime regular in my home from here on out. And I know it’s dessert and all, but I’ve also enjoyed eating the leftover chilled fruit for breakfast…with yogurt (that makes it healthy right?).

caramelized-peaches-cream-crumble2Needless to say, I’m urging you to skedaddle on over to check out How Sweet Eats for the original Caramelized Peaches + Cream with Toasted Crumble Recipe pronto. You will not be sorry!

Here are few notes from my experience:

  • Instead of the coconut cream, I whipped up some heavy whipping cream with a bit of granulated white sugar, and a splash of bourbon vanilla, for a delicious addition.
  • I also added a dash of bourbon vanilla to the peaches during the carmelization phase. Yum!
  • Because the caramelized peaches are very sweet (both from their natural sweetness and the brown sugar), I recommend not over-sweetening the cream.
  • Bonus…if you make sure to use gluten-free oats and gluten-free vanilla, this recipe is deliciously gluten-free

caramelized-peaches-cream-crumble1All photos taken with iPhone 5c

In Good Taste: Homemade Caramel Corn

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While growing up my little sister and I weren’t allowed to consume any sugar. Because of this, I have a lot of strong food related memories. One in particular, is a brilliantly clear memory of a sleepover at a friend’s house where her dad cooked up a batch of peanut butter popcorn. I think that their family was a reduced-sugar clan too…but they used “real” peanut butter (read: the kind with sugar in it) vs. the dry ground paste that we had at home. Thinking back on it, I’m doubtful that this popcorn was really all that amazing, but at that time, to my sweets-deprived taste buds it was pure nirvana. I might have licked the bowl, and I’m pretty sure that I ate more than my fair share (I was greedy like that). Afterward, I revered her father like some sort of god…and you can guarantee that I was keen to sleep over at that friend’s house as often as possible from that point on.

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This in part, is why I determined that when I became a parent one day, that I would be one of those moms who would wow their kids’ friends by busting out delicious snacks…such as an epic rendition of caramel corn. And this lovelies, now brings to me the sweet, salty, crunchy goodness that is attainable through the Homemade Cracker Jack Recipe by Brown Eyed Baker. OMG!

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I’ve made this caramel corn more times than I can count and it’s a winner every-single-time (minus the first time when I burnt it—a note on that below). It’s the perfect recipe to add to your kid/friend-wowing recipe arsenal. Head over to Brown Eyed Girl for the Caramel Corn Recipe.

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned during all my popcorn making:

  • Making caramel with a candy thermometer can be intimidating, but you can’t really mess up this recipe as long as you watch the temperature closely. You’ve got this!
  • I found that the oven cooking time needs to be drastically shortened. I only bake mine for 25-35 minutes (vs. the hour noted on the original recipe).
  • You cannot stir the baking popcorn too much. I recommend carefully doing so every 5-10 minutes. This will ensure a nicely distributed caramel coating on your corn.
  • The caramel coating on the popcorn will fully crisp up once it has cooled. Don’t worry if it’s a little bit sticky at the end of the baking time. If you feel that it needs more baking time you can always pop it back in the oven for a few more minutes…but once it’s burnt there is no going back. Don’t make that sad mistake.
  • If you can use Fleur de Sel in place of the sea salt in the recipe your caramel corn will taste even more mind-blowing.
  • Store the leftovers (Ha! As if there will be any!) in an airtight glass or plastic container. I found that using a plastic storage bag doesn’t work as well and gives the popcorn a yucky plastic-like taste.

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Photo props: Stamps from Besotted Brand | Wooden baskets from Michael’s Craft Store

Chocolate-Orange Macadamia Nut Cookies (gluten-free)

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Hello sweets! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! We’ve been battling a nasty long-lasting bug over here, but I’m finally feeling well enough to reenter the land of the living (thank goodness). So I thought I’d start a new year of blogging off right by sharing a favorite recipe with you, that I can’t seem to stop making (all 5 batches I’ve made in the past month have been in the name of “quality control” for this post…so I have an excuse, right).

I first stumbled across this tantalizing recipe over on Pinterest, and after my first initial adapted batch (I replaced the white chocolate with milk chocolate), I decided to try to further enhance the recipe by adding a note of citrus. That little bit of zest truly takes these cookies to a whole new level of yumminess. Rich gooey milk chocolate, crunchy macadamia nuts, and a zing of citrus packed inside a chewy cookie with crisp buttery edges…you’ve just got to try them!

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I think my adaptation is pretty stellar, but if you’re interested in the original recipe (with gluten), you can find it over on Kitchen Treaty. Her recipe makes double what my adaptation does, contains white chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate, and does not contain orange zest…so just keep that in mind for any adaptations you might want to make. Karen also shares a really nifty cookie shaping trick that I had never seen before, but that makes all the difference in the baking of a chewy cookie. Don’t miss that!

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Get baking and enjoy! xo Ez

Psst…you can find my favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour mix here.

Recipe Chocolate-Orange Macadamia Nut Cookies (gluten-free)

Recipe adapted from Kitchen Treaty
Yield: 14 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (gluten-free)
  • 1 1/2 cups Carol’s Amazing All-purpose Gluten-Free Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate Chips)
  • 3/4 cup roasted salted macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh orange zest, plus more for garnish

Prep:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside
  • Coarsely chop macadamia nuts
  • Grate fresh nutmeg using a Microplane grater
  • Zest orange peel using a Microplane grater

Instructions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter on medium speed with a hand-held electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and continue beating on medium speed for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well-incorporated.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the gluten-free flour, baking soda, salt, and freshly ground nutmeg.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low speed, just until the ingredients are incorporated. Do not over-mix.
  6. Stir in the milk chocolate chips, chopped macadamia nuts, and orange zest with a spatula until combined.
  7. Scoop a generous tablespoonful of the dough (or use a cookie scoop like I did) and roll into a ball. With the tips of your fingers, grab the ball on either side and pull it into halves. Turn both sides so that the rough torn portions are both facing up and press the smooth edge of dough back together. Place on cookie sheet with the rough side facing up, about three inches apart. See this process illustrated on Brown Eyed Baker.
  8. Top each cookie with a scattered pinch of orange zest (optional).
  9. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until edges of cookies begin to turn golden brown.
  10. Remove from oven and allow cookies to set for 5 – 10 minutes before carefully transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Cookies can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature for 3 – 4 days.