Gluten-free Honey Oat Bread

We have quite a number of Sisters in the Convent who have celiac-sprue or gluten allergies. Buying gluten free bread can be extremely expensive and well, frankly, you might as well be eating cardboard! We have wanted to find a recipe for quite a while that is healthy, inexpensive to make and tastes like real homemade bread. This recipe fits the bill. It’s high in fiber from the oat content, easy to make and tastes wonderful! It’s especially lovely toasted with butter and jam. Most oats are gluten free — check the label to be sure. The only reason they wouldn’t be is if they are manufactured in a factory where they also make products with gluten. We are so fortunate to have a company that supplies us with oats, so this bread costs literally nothing to make. You can find xanthum gum in the health food aisle of the supermarket — don’t leave it out — it’s an “all natural” emulsifier and you need it as a binding agent when baking without gluten.

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Gluten-free Honey Oat Bread
SERVINGS
2loaves
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
loaves
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
20-30minutes
READY IN
2hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the hot tap water in the bowl of a standing mixer and let sit for a few minutes, until the yeast is active and bubbles start to form on the surface.
  2. If you're using whole oats, blend them in a food processor or blender until they're pretty fine (as fine as you can get them) to make the oat flour.
  3. Once the yeast is active, add the oil, honey, corn starch, white rice flour, xanthan gum, and oat flour to the mixer and beat until combined.
  4. Add the salt and eggs and beat for a few minutes until fluffy.
  5. Pour into two well greased 9 inch loaf pans and allow to rise for about 45 minutes until doubled (only fill the loaf pans about 2/3 - 3/4 full - any excess can fill up a smaller loaf pan). Sprinkle the top of the loaves with some oats.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Once the loaves have risen, cut a few slits in the top with a serrated knife.
  7. Bake for about 45 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

Upside Down Pear ​Ginger ​Cake

I’ve heard it said that the sense of smell is the earliest and strongest to develop in humans. I remember once at a restaurant there was a special on oysters that came from the town where I grew up. I splurged and ordered them just for fun. When they arrived and the fresh, salty smell wafted up to me, tears came to my eyes along with so many wonderful memories of my childhood there on the water.

I think it’s the same for many of us at Christmas. There are certain scents that transport you directly into this season of celebration and joy. Take ginger for instance! I love baking days here at the Community — as you cross the common, in addition to the beautiful lights and wreaths and garland, the smells drifting from the kitchen put smiles on everyone’s faces. It actually seems like another way to spread the good news: Christmas is coming! Jesus is on his way, and we’re getting ready — with Ginger Cake!

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Upside Down Pear ​Ginger ​Cake
SERVINGS
8 - 10people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
60minutes
PREP TIME
25minutes
READY IN
1hour, 25 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Start with your ingredients at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9" springform pan​ or ​a cake pan that's at least 2½ inches deep.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar; mix well and pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Tilt the pan a little from side to side to help the mixture spread all the way to the edge.
  3. Arrange the sliced pears side-by-side over this brown sugar mixture, making sure that they cover the entire bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk until airy and fully combined. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of your stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, beat the the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs and beat again until pale and airy.
  7. Incorporate the apple sauce and molasses, mix until well combined, and then add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just incorporated, no more.
  8. Pour over the pears and spread all the way to the edge.
  9. Place a piece of aluminium foil under or around your pan to catch any eventual leakage and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes or until it's cool enough to be handled safely then flip it onto a rimmed cake plate.
  11. Serve warm, garnished with vanilla ice cream, chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey or caramel sauce, if desired.

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Butternut, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup

As we enjoy these cool crisp days, my taste buds long for a creamy soup to warm my body. This soup is a treasure. The smell of it is a potpourri to scent your entire house! It has become our favorite soup for the season. Recently, we served this as the first course to the luncheon we hosted pre-performance for Elements Theater Company’s performance of “All My Sons”. We received so many recipe requests, we thought we should share it. We are filled with gratitude for each of you. Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed Advent!

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Butternut, Sweet Potato and Apple Soup
SERVINGS
6-8
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
COOK TIME
45minutes
PREP TIME
30minutes
READY IN
1 1/4hours

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the butternut squash, sweet potatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper to pot. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes or more.
  3. Turn off the heat. Add the diced apple and purée the soup with a handheld immersion blender until very smooth and creamy. Pour the blended soup into a clean pot.
  4. Add the honey, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and heavy cream and stir. Bring to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If you like a sweeter soup, add more honey.

Note: This soup thickens as it cools. If necessary, add a bit of cream to thin it back to desired consistency.

With thanks to Once Upon a Chef for inspiration of this recipe!

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Vegan Curried Chickpea, Coconut and Kale Soup

This past weekend, I was a joy-filled member of the cooking team for our remarkable and award-winning marching band, Spirit of America. The band is embarking on a very exciting groundbreaking opportunity to travel to Dubai this January (2017) to assist in starting the first marching field band in the United Arab Emirates!
Over the past few months, they’ve had 4 rehearsals together to pull off this enormous project — creating a field show with 150 people from all over the United States!  One thing we knew for sure, they needed to be fed well! My job was to cook for those with special diets. It was fun to spoil them and experiment with recipes that were gluten free, lactose free and vegan! When the weekend was over, it got me to thinking about creating more healthy recipes that we could add to our diet. This soup is high in fiber and packed with flavor, especially if you like the tastes of curry and coconut.
For more info about our band, click here (link: http://spiritofamericaband.org/).
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Vegan Curried Chickpea, Coconut and Kale Soup
SERVINGS
6people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
10minutes
PREP TIME
15minutes
READY IN
1/2hour

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. First, sauté the onion in 2 Tbsp of olive oil until softened.
  2. Combine all ingredients​, except the lemon zest and juice, ​in a blender and puree until completely smooth.
  3. Pour soup into a medium pot and heat on medium-high. Allow soup to simmer for 10 min, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the lemon zest and juice.
  5. Adjust seasonings to your liking and add fresh cracked pepper.
  6. Serve and garnish with the extra garbanzo beans and fresh kale​.

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Pecorino Pere e Miele

One of the beautiful things that I am learning about Italian cooking is that each ingredient is to be savored. So many times, we take wonderful ingredients and throw them all together and miss appreciating them as they were meant to be.

As I walk along the streets of Barga with the dogs in the morning or on my way to the Pannificio to get our bread for the day, I often take photographs of the menus hanging on the restaurant windows. When I return to the Villa and have a moment, I try to find a recipe and recreate them.

A featured item on the menu in the Garfagnana district, and much of Tuscany, is Pecorino pere e miele – Pecorino with pears and honey. Pecorino is a cheese made from sheep’s milk and each district or town here is very proud of their own version of the cheese. The taste of the cheese changes depending on what type of grass the sheep are fed and how the cheese is aged. Most popular and well known are those produced in Sardinia. A good Pecorino Stagionato is often the finish of a meal, served with pears and walnuts and drizzled with a strong chestnut honey or one of the lighter acacia honeys farmed locally. Their food is simple, but in this simplicity can be found tremendous beauty and taste. Savor the moment.

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Pecorino Pere e Miele
SERVINGS
4people
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
people
COOK TIME
0minutes
PREP TIME
10 minutes (or less..)
READY IN
10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pears
  • 4-5 oz. pecorino fresco, semi-stagionato or stagionato (fresco is a mild and soft form, semi-stationato is also soft but sharper and stagionato is the hardest and sharpest form)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • walnuts either in the shell or toasted halves - as many as you prefer

Instructions

  1. Slice the pear in quarters from top to bottom and remove the core carefully with a pairing knife. Then slice each quarter into three or four thin slices, depending on the thickness you prefer.
  2. Slice the cheese into small thin wedges.
  3. Fan the pears on the cutting board or serving plate with the cheese slices in between the pear.
  4. Set a dish of honey in the center of the board and place your walnuts around.
  5. Enjoy sharing this with your friends and family. Andiamo mangiare!

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Salad Bar!

Who doesn’t want to sit down to a fresh, colorful and crispy salad topped with your favorite dressing?  The simplicity, the beauty, the different textures all combine to make this lunch time treat such a pleasing and healthy option.

Recently we served this for a retreat, and it received such rave reviews that we thought we’d share our salad bar ideas with you.  We haven’t included amounts, because you can make as little or as much as you want.  As a guide, people would probably want to plan on 1 Tbsp. of toppings per person.   It’s also the perfect “to go” meal – just prep all the toppings, throw them in zip-lock bags or containers and then dish up before serving.

We hope you enjoy some of these ideas as much as we do.

Salad Bar Suggestions:

Lettuce – a blend of iceberg, romaine, bibb and red leaf is nice

diced ham
diced turkey or chicken
hard boiled eggs
cheese – Havarti, swiss, cheddar – all recommended
crumbled gorgonzola
tomatoes, wedged or grape or cherry tomatoes
roasted beets, julienned
avocado
cucumber
celery
olives
grated carrot
broccoli and/or cauliflower flowerets
peas
chopped scallions
sliced red onion
colored peppers
garbanzo beans
cooked lentils
diced cooked bacon
cooked quinoa
sunflower seeds, roasted and salted
chia seeds
toasted nuts – such as walnuts or pecans
croutons

An Assortment of Homemade Dressings – click on the link for the recipes

Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing
Green Goddess Salad Dressing
English Garden Salad Dressing
Balsamic Vinaigrette

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Salad Bar!
SERVINGS
However much you want
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
However much you want
COOK TIME
0
PREP TIME
1 hour (or less)
READY IN
1hour

Ingredients

Instructions

Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing
  1. Makes 1 cup (250ml), about four servings If you can’t get buttermilk, mix one part milk (whole or lowfat) with one part plain yogurt (regular or lowfat) to approximate the taste. Any kind of blue cheese, domestic or imported, should work well.
  2. In a medium bowl, mash the blue cheese with the salt and pepper with the back of a fork until the pieces of cheese are finely broken up.
  3. Stir in the chives, sour cream, buttermilk, and lemon juice or wine vinegar until well mixed.
  4. Add a few drops of red wine vinegar. Taste, and adjust any of the seasonings to your liking and if the dressing too thick, add a bit more buttermilk. *Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz
Green Goddess Salad Dressing
  1. Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, anchovy paste, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add the sour cream and process just until blended. Refrigerate the dressing until ready to serve.
English Garden Salad Dressing
  1. Combine all but the oils in a bowl and whisk. Slowly whisk in the oils to combine.
Balsamic Vinaigrette
  1. Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, Dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, salt, and black pepper together in a glass jar with a lid.
  2. Replace lid on the jar and shake vigorously until thoroughly combined.