Wicked Witch Cupcakes

I’m melting, I’m melting…yes in her honor at this Halloween time of year we create a cupcake to entertain children and adults alike, let me introduce The Wicked Witch Cupcakes!

We found this idea from Martha Stewart as one of her many Halloween treats to make with children. Lua and I browsed through the list and these were the ones Lua choose. It was another good opportunity to practice my gluten and dairy-free baking skills.

The cakes were yummy and chocolaty, although they didn’t rise up to that beautiful cupcake shape. I used the recipe on line and made flour and fat substitutions. The batter became very runny after adding the boiling water, but I noticed that the cupcakes whose batter I refrigerated for a couple of hours did rise more than the first batch. It is a very moist, great tasting cake, it just didn’t rise to the occasion. I did not use any starch powders, so that could have been the issue, or it may have needed more baking powder.

The best part of the project was watching the children decorate them. Here is one of Ella’s creations. Lua’s never ended up actually being assembled, as she ate all of the bits up as fast as she could, first the M&M’s then the ice cream cone, then the actual cake. That really puts things into perspective – it really is the journey, not the destination. Such is true in my gluten-free baking, deep breath, ahhhh!

And the frosting, well the girls enjoyed it, but was not at all Martha standard and a skill that I would like to fine tune. I will include the recipe that they list on the website, let me know if you have better luck! Although, I must say, the soft frosting made for a very appropriate melting effect! The recipe called for candy corn, but we couldn’t find candy corn here in London, so Mariah found these great carrots made out of white chocolate that worked like a charm and were a hit amongst the girls. So use what ever candy you can find, get creative!

1/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup gram flour
1/4 cup almond flour, plus 2 tablespoons
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rice milk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

3/4 cup coconut oil, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons rice milk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 drop green food coloring

To assemble
12 black licorice sticks, cut finely to make the hair
24 brown M&M’s, for the eyes
12 candy corns for the nose
12 ice cream cones for the hats

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with 12 paper liners; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat together coconut oil and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add vanilla and mix until well combined. Add dry ingredients and rice milk in three batches starting and ending with dry ingredients. Add boiling water and mix to combine. Divide batter among the 12 cupcake liners. And bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center come out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To make frosting: beat coconut oil with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Shut off mixer and add all of the powdered sugar and slowly mix to combine, then add the rest of the ingredients. If the frosting is too stiff add a bit more milk. I think this is where I went wrong, I added too much milk too fast. So literally go 1 teaspoon at a time.

Soaked Oats Two Ways

Do you soak your oats? After my midwife turned me onto Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I began the habit of soaking oats, and walnuts, and pecans too (but that is another post)!

The process of soaking oats and grains (including rice) was very common world wide for nearly all cultures before industrialization. Soaking oats allows enzymes to break down and neutralize phytic acid found in the outer layer of the oat. If the phytic acid remains untreated it blocks the body’s ability to absorb calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. A diet high in unfermented whole grains may lead to mineral deficiencies and bone loss.

All that you need to soak oats are water, oats and time. In a glass bowl put as much oats that you will need and cover with water, just enough to cover them. You can also add a pinch of salt, or if you can eat dairy, you can use whey. Then cover the bowl and let sit on the kitchen counter over night. In the morning cook them as usual, but with less liquid as you will see they become very soft.

My two favorite ways of eating soaked oats are in Bircher Muesli and what I call, Morning Custard. Bircher Muesli was introduced to me by our friend’s mother, Pia, in California. Pia is Swiss and was known in the family for her wonderful muesli. It is not the kind of muesli that comes in a box filled with dried fruits and nuts in the cereal isle. Oh no, Pia’s Bircher Muesli is a wonderfully satisfying and refreshing treat to eat at any meal. She uses a food processor with a shredder attachment to cut up all of her ingredients, even the grapes! I highly suggest you use this method if you have the shredder attachment. But I have sadly lost my shredder attachment, so I just chop up all of the fruit as small as I can.

It is a very flexible recipe, so feel free to add or subtract which ever fruits you and your family enjoy the best, or use what ever is in season. My favorite ingredients are a mixture of pineapple, strawberries and plenty of fresh orange juice. My Bircher Muesli always contains these ingredients. The original Swiss Bircher Muesli used sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice. Pia’s recipe also included lemon juice, so feel free to add that to yours.

My second way of eating soaked oats is in what I call, Morning Custard. I found this idea a couple of years ago, just after Lua was born and am still making it. You cook oatmeal then add eggs right at the end to create a wonderfully creamy and satisfying bowl of oatmeal, which to me resembles a warm winter custard. Perfect for this time of year. Try it, you’ll love it!

Bircher Muesli

1 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup rice milk
1 pineapple, peeled and chopped
3 apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
3 oranges
1 package of strawberries, rinsed with stems removed
1 bunch of green grapes, halved
1 bunch of red grapes, halved

Place oats at the bottom of a large bowl, add rice milk, cover and place in the refrigerator over night. In the morning add the chopped pineapple and apples. With 2 of the oranges, halve and squeeze juice over fruit. With the last orange slice off both ends and using a small sharp knife to remove the rind and white pith. Then chop orange and add to fruit. Add the remaining ingredients, stir well, cover and refrigerate. Be sure to make a large batch, it goes quickly!

Morning Custard
1 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup water
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
raw honey or maple syrup

Place oats and water in a bowl, cover and let sit on the counter over night. Place two eggs in a bowl (still in shell) and let sit over night, also to come to room temperature. If you forgot to do this (which I have MANY times) in the morning just place eggs in a bowl of warm tap water for 5 minutes and they will be good to go. In the morning add a bit more water to a small pot and add soaked oats. Cook over medium heat until cooked, it really only takes a couple of minutes because they are so soft from all the soaking. Once they are cooked, turn off heat. Crack eggs in a separate bowl and whisk, then add egg mixture to cooked oats. Stir quickly and place back on low heat for just a couple of minutes. Add the coconut oil, cinnamon and vanilla and serve warm. I love raw honey and walnuts on mine, but add whatever you like best. Enjoy!

Miso Chicken Soup

I mentioned last week that my family and I caught the common cold a couple of weeks ago, prompting me to make that glorious chicken stock. I had planned to make Nobu’s famous miso marinated black cod and had a bunch of miso paste left over. (You must wait until next week for the Nobu recipe, it is amazing – go out and buy your white miso paste today!) I decided to put together a miso chicken soup.

First, let me tell you about miso. Miso is a deliciously salty condiment manufactured in Japan. It has many variations of color and flavor depending on its length of fermentation. To produce miso, soybeans and rice or wheat are combined with salt and a live culture and fermented in large vats  from a couple of months up to three years. The darker the miso, the longer it fermented. Be sure to check that the miso you purchase does not include wheat or barley if you are gluten-free. The fermentation process of miso allows the body to extract the nutritional characteristics of the soybean which contain a rich source of proteins, fibre, minerals, vitamins, and isoflavones.

I used a variety of recipes for miso soup to come up with this one which includes many things that my family enjoys like mushrooms, chicken, ginger, garlic and rice noodles. The recipe is very flexible, so add or subtract to your liking. This soup has become my family’s favorite chicken soup to date!

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large carrots, rinsed, peeled and sliced
1/2 package of fresh mushrooms, rinsed and sliced
4 green onions, rinsed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
3 chicken breasts
8 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 package of enoki mushrooms, rinsed and pulled apart into 6 chunks
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
4 tablespoons white miso paste
1 package of rice soba noodles

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium high heat, add next three ingredients and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add minced garlic and ginger and cook for one minute. Then add chicken breasts and stock, let come to a boil, then turn to simmer and cover for 30 minutes. Remove chicken, keeping heat very low, no more than a light simmer, add the next three ingredients. Meanwhile chop cooked chicken breasts into 1/2 inch cubes and return to soup. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water for noodles, cook noodles according to package instructions. Turn off heat from the soup and add miso paste to the soup; stir to combine. Place cooked noodles in a bowl then ladle soup over noodles, serve warm and enjoy.

Gluten-Free Do’s and Don’ts

Lua and I found a great pamphlet in Whole Foods last week listing common foods to avoid if you are gluten-free and which ones to use freely. I have found it very helpful and have included the list under Gluten and Dairy Free Tips. Please let me know if you have more to add to either of these lists, for example, which “mixed spices” contain gluten? Send me your answers, the more information the better!

Homemade Chicken Stock

The first round of the cold season made its way through our house last week. We started taking fermented cod liver oil and I went to the store to start a pot of homemade chicken stock for soup.

When we were children, if someone from our family became ill, my Grandma Butler would be at our house by noon with a pot of her Miracle Soup. It was homemade chicken soup with carrots, celery, chunks of chicken, and her famous, handmade noodles. For years, my sister, brother and I were healed with her magical creation.

Why is chicken soup so good for us? Researchers have found that homemade chicken soup may be a better choice than over-the-counter cough and cold medicines. Seems obvious, right? A wholesome stock made with out strange ingredients that are hard to pronounce always seems like the most nourishing choice. Research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center found that the soup restrained the movement of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell that defends against infection, helping to reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms. Nourishing Traditions states that chicken soup helps heal nerves, improves digestion, reduces allergies, relaxes and gives strength. And the first place to start when making this nourishing food, is the stock. Here is a wonderful recipe to create wholesome and nourishing soups.

2 small onions
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1 whole organic chicken
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 bunch of parsley

Peel then halve onions, peel and quarter carrots, rinse and quarter celery, rinse whole chicken and place all of these ingredients into a large stock pot. Fill pot with water to fully cover the chicken then add the vinegar. Set over high heat and cook until water starts to boil, then cover and turn heat down to simmer just so there are a few bubbles that percolate every so often. I start my stock on the highest burner, then let it simmer on the lowest setting on my smallest burner. If the stock is let to boil it will turn into a cloudy murky substance. So ensure that the simmer is very gentle.  Let cook for 6-24 hours. The longer you are able to let it simmer the richer the stock will become. Add the bunch of parsley for only the last 10 minutes of cooking. At the end of your chosen cooking time, strain stock into containers, let cook, then cover and refrigerate or freeze. The stock will last in the refrigerate for 7 days and in the freezer for 3 months.

Upside-Down Apple Cake

I love apple season and it is here! The leaves are changing colors to red, orange and yellow and there is a crisp coldness in the air. Autumn is my favorite season of them all. I have so many fond memories of the first days of school, my mother’s apple crisp, preparing for halloween, and anticipating the winter holidays.

As a child growing up in Minnesota, we experienced a proper turn of all four of the seasons, and besides the turning of the colors and cooler air, what my mother made for dinner helped determine the season. In the Autumn months we saw squashes from the garden, sweet potatoes, meatloaf, and apples, apples, apples in the form of cider, crisps, pies, cakes, and just baked by themselves. When we bake with apples, the house fills with sweet, warming and wonderfully welcoming aromas. Enjoy this Welcome to Autumn treat and may it warm your heart and tummy.

10 tablespoons coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 apples, peeled, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup rice flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 baking pan with light olive oil. In a pan heat 3 tablespoons coconut oil and brown sugar until sugar is dissolved. Pour into greased pan; set aside.

Peel, core, then halve apples so that you have 6 chunks of thinly sliced apples. Using your fingers, gently press apples to slide into an even row. Use a long spatual to help transfer rows of apples to the baking pan. Sprinkle lemon juice over apples; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the next eight ingredients and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat remaining 7 tablespoons coconut oil with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time; then add vanilla and almond extracts. Beat until well incorporated. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture in three parts and coconut milk in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour batter over apples in pan and smooth top. Bake for about 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake completely on a wire rack. Run knife around the edges; place serving plate on top of pan and flip over to invert cake so that the apples are on top. Cut into slices and enjoy.

*Modified recipe from Martha Stewart at http://www.marthastewart.com/312862/apple-cinnamon-upside-down-cake

Roasted Portobello Mushroom with Whole Corn Polenta

I am always looking for good vegetarian dishes that will satisfy the whole family. After being in a rut with a variety of vegetarian pasta dishes and roasted vegetables with rice, I was ready for something new. Portobello mushrooms are a wonderful substitute for meat in texture and depth of flavor. In this dish, they are roasted and served over creamy polenta cooked with coconut milk and whole kernels of corn. I am new to polenta, I had only made it one other time before this recipe. Gabe and I both agreed that the whole kernels of corn in this recipe add a satisfying crunch.  It is delicious and filling and would please any herbivore or carnivore alike!

6 large portobello mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups water
2 cups coconut milk
2 ears of corn, cooked, kernels removed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup polenta
2 tablespoons fresh chives

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Using a damp paper towel, wipe mushrooms and remove stem. brush both sides with olive oil and place mushrooms facing down on a rack in a baking pan. Bake for 12 minutes; flip; then continue baking for another 10 minutes.

After you flip the mushrooms, bring to boil in a medium pot the water, coconut milk, corn kernels, garlic, salt and pepper on medium-high heat. At the boil, turn heat down to medium-low and slowly add the polenta using a whisk to incorporate. Keep whisking until all polenta chunks are broken up and it reaches a thick consistency (about 3-5 minutes).

Serve polenta in the center of plate; top with roasted mushroom and sprinkle with fresh chives. Enjoy!

*Modified recipe from Martha Stewart at http://www.marthastewart.com/312551/polenta-with-fresh-corn

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

2/3 cup rice flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
7 tablespoons coconut oil, solid but not refrigerated
3 tablespoons ice water
1 1/2 teaspoons apple-cider vinegar

2 1/2 cups (about 3 large stalks) rhubarb, slices 1/4-inch-thick
2 1/2 cups hulled and halved strawberries
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon groung cinnamon

2/3 cup rice flour
5 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt

Blend first six ingredients in processor. Add coconut oil. Using on/off turns, cut in until very coarse meal forms. Mix ice water and vinegar and slowly add to dough. Blend until moist clumps form (about 15 pulses), adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Place processor container with dough in freezer for 3 minutes. Gather dough into a ball; flatten into disk on a piece of floured plastic wrap and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out dough using a piece of plastic wrap on both the top and bottom of the disk to a 12-inch round. Transfer dough to a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Cut off overhang. Freeze crust until firm, about 10 minutes.

Place all filling ingredients in medium bowl; gently toss to combine and set aside.

Place all topping ingredients in a medium bowl. Using fingers, quickly blend mixture until small pea-size pieces form. Mixture will be dry.

Pour filling into crust and sprinkle with topping. Place pie plate on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until crust is dark golden and filling is bubbling, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool completely before serving. Can be refrigerated for 3 days.

*Modified recipe from Martha Stewart at http://www.marthastewart.com/900667/strawberry-rhubarb-pie-ginger-crumb-topping

Carrot Ginger Muffins

These muffins use the same batter as the apple strudel muffins. One morning Lua and I were in a bit of a baking craze and decided to make both apple and carrot muffins. When we got to the carrot muffins, we were inspired to add a bunch of our favorite muffin additions like raisins and nuts and ginger, and our favorite touches are the citrus juices and zests. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!


2 cups rice flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup of arrowroot powder
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthum gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 eggs
3/4 cup mild olive oil or coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup coconut cream
3/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup grated carrots
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoons orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare all mix-ins (carrots, walnuts, coconut, zest, ginger, etc) and set aside. Mix together all dry ingredients, whisk and set aside. Mix all wet ingredients, then add to dry ingredients and mix well. Then add carrots and the rest of the mix-ins and mix well. Oil a muffin pan, drop batter into pan and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Chicken Marsala

Months ago I attempted to make zabaglione, an egg yolk custard flavored with sweet Marsala wine. Sadly, it did not go well. If anyone has a great recipe or tips on making that fabulous dessert, please send them to me and I will give it a try! So there I had a basically full bottle of Marsala wine, hence the inspiration for Chicken Marsala. I found a recipe from Martha Stewart and swapped out the gluten and dairy and it still turned out lovely.

3/4 cup rice flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts halves, butterflied
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
2 cups sweet Marsala wine
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Combine flour, salt and pepper on a plate; set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour, tapping off excess; set aside. Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet, when oil shimmers, add chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes each side. Remove chicken to a warmed plate; set aside and keep warm.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in skillet. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are golden brown and all the released liquid has been evaporated, about 5-7 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and add wine. Return skillet to heat, scraping up any brown bits. Add garlic, lemon juice and parsley. Cook for 2 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.

*Modified recipe from Martha Stewart at http://www.marthastewart.com/353041/chicken-marsala