Coconut and Herb “Cheese” Balls

Coconut and Herb Cheese Balls

Non dairy cheese? Why not?

My son’s allergies seem to be improving somewhat, at least from our perspective. The last time he had any reaction was 6 months ago, when we ordered a gluten free bun for his burger from a restaurant, not knowing it had egg whites in it.  The rash was small, but I’m certain the hidden egg whites were the cause. We hope to get him re-tested for everything sometime soon this year.

Meanwhile, we are sticking to our regiment, and I decided to try to make something of a cheese, so that he has something to put on crackers or just as a snack. Although this cheese was good for him on crackers, he did not like it alone. I think I used too many spices, especially mustard, which I may leave out completely for the next go. I brought the “cheese” to a playdate, and it was a hit with my mom friend. I gave her some to enjoy with her husband that night with wine, and I enjoyed it with wine, too. I served it with crackers, and with cut up vegetables, for an adult snack. Success for the adult crowd!

Lastly, I used Great Lakes unflavored beef gelatin. To make this recipe vegan, use agar flakes instead. I’ve read lots of great things about agar flakes on many blogs and in vegan recipe books. I don’t have any personal experience using them, however.

For the outer layer:
Coconut and Herb Cheese Balls

Sliced up:IMG_5425

Served with gluten free crackers:IMG_5426

Tasted great with red wine!IMG_5428

1/2 Ounce real gelatin
1 1/2 Cups hot water
1 Cup coconut flour
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon onion powder
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 Teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon sunflower oil
1/2 Teaspoon mustard
Fresh basil, small handful
Fresh rosemary, small handful
1/3 Cup sunflower seeds (I used roasted unsalted, use what you have)

Heat water on stove top in medium pot. Stir in gelatin, and continue to stir until fully dissolved and bubbling.
In a mixing bowl, combine coconut flour, nutritional yeast, salt, onion powder and garlic powder. Set aside.
Add apple cider vinegar, sunflower oil, and mustard to the hot gelatin mixture. Next add dry ingredients to the wet, until it forms a soft dough. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, until you can handle with your hands. Divide into fourths, and form each in a ball or log.
In a food processor, chop fresh herbs and sunflower seeds together. I don’t recommend dry herbs for this. Process until roughly chopped, not too fine.
Roll cheese balls in herb and seed mixture until evenly coated. Refrigerate, preferably overnight, to harden the “cheese”.
Makes 4 cheese balls or logs.

Cornbread Muffins, GF and Vegan

cornbread muffins gf and vegan

I love to make everything into a muffin. This recipe is basically just cornbread, in a muffin pan. It’s not overly sweet at all. The only sweetener found is what comes in the commercial coconut yogurt I used. If you are one of those brave souls who makes homemade vegan cultured “yogurt”, you may need to add a touch of sweetener, depending on how you sweet you like your cornbread. I prefer mine on the more savory side!

The other reason why I like to make muffins is the time difference. 20 minutes for these muffins, as opposed to 50-60 minutes for a whole loaf of corn bread. I also run into the problem of the middles of my larger breads still being dough-y. This might have something to do with the breads being gluten free, but I’m not exactly sure why. Simple way to solve that problem is, yet again, make muffins instead!

Lastly, I like muffins for their serving size. You can be relatively sure that each muffin is the same size, and that the cornbread is fairly divided among family members! My children, husband and I all love these and come back for seconds. This recipe makes 12 muffins, so the 4 of us can have 3 each. This is the kind of math my Kindergartener is learning already! I’m amazed at how much they learn at such an early age now.

batter  ingredients

1 1/4 Cup Coconut Yogurt (I used the So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk)
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cups Cornmeal
1/2 Cup Gluten Free Baking Flour (Bob’s Red Mill makes a nice one)
1/4 Cup Garbanzo Bean Flour
1 1/2 Teaspoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon chia seeds*, soaked

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffins pans. Soak 1 tablespoon of chia seeds in 6 tablespoons of water. Allow to gel for about 10 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine coconut yogurt, olive oil, and gelled chia seeds. In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal, flours, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet in the mixer, and mix to combine. Bake muffins for 20-22 minutes, until a wooden stick inserted into muffins is dry. Cool and serve with Earth Balance butter or real butter if you can have it!

*Note on Chia Seeds: There are black and white varieties of chia seeds. They both work exactly the same for baking! If your children don’t like the look of the black seeds, then use the white ones because they’ll never know they are in there. I like the visual texture that the black seeds give to the muffins.
Cornbread IMG_5290

Fettuccine Bolognese

Fettuccine Bolognese

Despite not getting enough good photos of last night’s dinner, I really need to include it on my blog – it was a true experiment! I had gotten a beautiful traditional pasta maker for Mother’s Day/my birthday (they are almost always in the same week!), not last year, but the year before. So we were overdue with making homemade pasta for sure! The downside was, when I had finally decided to get around to making pasta, was about the same time that my son was taken off gluten, eggs, and milk! That put a damper on traditional pasta making. For some time, I have been reading about other people’s homemade gluten free pastas. I thought that homemade quinoa pasta would be the way to go. On researching it, using quinoa alone makes a very brittle pasta. Most commercial quinoa pasta is a mix of flours, with either brown rice or corn mixed in. Plus, the cost of quinoa flour at my local health food store ($12.99/lb!) seemed to be cost prohibitive!

Luckily, on the shelf right next to the quinoa flour, was the very inexpensive garbanzo bean flour. Garbanzo beans, aka chick peas, are high in fiber and taste great! Plus I knew that it could be used to make pasta.

I’m also lucky enough that my husband and I split the labor of this meal, so I got to work mostly on the bolognese sauce! I love putting a sauce together.

Ingredients for Bolognese Sauce:
1 Onion
2 Carrots
2 Celery ribs
3 Cloves garlic
1 small or half large zucchini
2 Tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Pound ground beef
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 box (26oz) chopped tomatoes, Pomi brand for example
2 cups red wine
bay leaf

Directions for Bolognese Sauce:
Finely dice all vegetables to about the same size. Using medium high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a dutch oven or deep sided pan with a lid. Cook onion, salt and pepper, stirring, about 5 minutes. Add carrots and celery, cook another 5 minutes. Add garlic, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, another 2 minutes. Add diced zucchini and cook for 3 more minutes. Remove veggies from dutch oven. Cook ground beef until cooked through, then add veggies back into pan, plus any drippings that may have collected under veggies. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the red wine. Allow red wine to reduce by half, then add the box of chopped tomatoes and the bay leaf. Cover and allow to simmer, the longer the better, as the flavors will combine. Mine simmered for 2 hours. If it looks watery, uncover until it thickens. If it looks too thick, add a few tablespoons of water, not too much.

While the sauce is simmering, now is a good time to make your fresh pasta! Set up your pasta maker according to the directions. I have the Imperia Pasta Machine and I used the fettuccine attachment.

Ingredients for Pasta:
Enough for 2 people, recipe can be doubled
1 3/4 Cup garbanzo bean flour, also known as chickpea flour
2 Tablespoons tapioca flour
2 Tablespoons sweet white rice flour
1 Teaspoon xanthan gum
1Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons flax meal soaked with 6 tablespoons water
Dash turmeric, optional, for color
extra garbanzo bean flour for rolling

Directions for Pasta:
Combine flours and xanthan gum. Combine olive oil with soaked flax meal. Optionally, add a small dash of turmeric to flax meal to make a nice yellow color for your pasta. Make a well in the flour, and pour wet mixture in middle. Using hands, knead until dough forms. Add 1 teaspoon of water at a time so that the dough comes together to form a thick dough, it should not get sticky. If it does get sticky, use the extra garbanzo bean flour. Roll dough into a ball and allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Divide your dough into 4 pieces. Flatten with the palm of your hand, then run the past through the widest setting of your pasta maker. Do this a few times until pasta is smooth, then step down the width of your pasta until your desired thickness (we like it thin!). Once the pasta is thin enough, use fettuccine attachment to cut your pasta into strips. Repeat with the rest of the pasta dough.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil 4 minutes and serve immediately with bolognese sauce on top!


Roasted Chickpeas

roasted chickpeasHappy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve written last, so many ups and downs. Overall I am so thankful for two healthy happy children and my husband. Over the holidays, I was so busy preparing and making tried and true recipes, that I did not have a chance to experiment with much. Today, I am home with my 3 year old boy, the one with food allergies, and decided to try making roasted chick peas! “YUM!” and “I want more!” I am so happy that this simple, easy and nutritious snack satisfied him so well! I fed the chickpeas to him on a toothpick, which is one of his favorite ways to eat something, especially something new.


1 Can chickpeas, (15 oz), organic preferable, rinsed and patted dry
1 Tablespoon organic olive oil
1 Teaspoon sea salt
1/4 Teaspoon cumin, or to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss to combine all ingredients. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until just starting to brown. Be careful not to overcook, as a few of my chickpeas burst! Remove from oven, best eaten still warm.

IMG_4967  IMG_4962  IMG_4964

Farm Share Ratatouille – Simple

Farm Share Ratatouille SimpleThis simple version of ratatouille is easy enough to make on a weeknight.

We have such an abundance of wonderful summer vegetables, thanks to our farm share through Fordham University’s St. Rose’s Garden and Norwich Meadows Farm. Many of our neighbors and friends have also been the recipient of their delicious vegetables. We keep giving vegetables away because we receive so much bounty! The farm share quality is excellent, and the price is great, making this the best option we have found so far for fresh, healthy, organic veggies. If you live in the New York Metro area, check out their CSA, which you pay for at the beginning of a season, to receive vegetables each week! If you live elsewhere, research the CSA’s in your area, or talk to your local farmers about starting your own.

Everything in this rustic ratatouille, or stewed vegetable dish, came from the CSA or my own garden, except for the olive oil, salt and black pepper.

vegetablesCSA vegetables: tomatoes, summer squashes, eggplants, peppers.

onionWe get lots of these large spring onions, even in late summer, from the CSA. I wish I knew what type they are! These onions are very mild and are a lovely addition to almost every meal I make!

4 Large spring onions
6 Garlic cloves
2-3 Medium eggplants
2 Large or 4 small sweet peppers
3 Medium summer squashes, any type
5 Ripe tomatoes
Olive Oil
Sea salt and pepper
Handful each, fresh basil, thyme, taragon

Peel and dice eggplants to 1 inch thick cubes. Sprinkle sea salt over eggplants, and drain in a colander about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, dice the peppers, squashes, and tomatoes in large cubes. Chop the onion and garlic as well.
Once the eggplants are drained, add about two tablespoons olive oil to a dutch oven style pot, over medium heat.  Cook eggplants until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. About 8 minutes. Remove from pot.

If needed, add another 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and add onions. Cook for about 5 minutes. Then add garlic, herbs, sea salt and black pepper to the pot.
IMG_4049I left my herbs whole and picked out any little sticks after it was done. I was going super rustic, or perhaps lazy?

Next add in the squash and peppers, and stir. Once the squashes start to soften, add in the tomato cubes and cook another 10 minutes. Lastly, add back in cooked eggplants and serve.


Slow Cooker Peach Jam

Slow Cooker Peach Jam

My last post about peaches this year. I’m not sure how it happened, but we used all the peaches! In two days, my daughter starts Kindergarten, and it seems fitting that preserving the last of the peaches co-insides with the beginning of the school year. She wants a peach jam sandwich for lunch everyday!

I bought new fancy Ball jars for this jam recipe. I also used a few mason jars I had laying around, that are a bit bigger.

This recipe can simply be made and stored in the fridge for up to one week. Only make the amount your family will eat in one week’s time if you use this approach.

I’m no expert on canning, I used the information found here. I enjoyed the canning process, although I think there is a learning curve to this, and I need some of the more fancy tools, too!

4 Pounds fresh peaches
3 Cups sugar
6 Tablespoons Ball no sugar needed fruit pectin
Juice of one lemon

Blanch, peel and remove pits from fresh peaches as described in my Peach Crumble post.

All the prepared peaches, sugar, fruit pectin and lemon juice into a slow cooker.

Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Use a potato masher to coarsely mash the peaches, so that some small chunks remain.

If canning, follow instructions on how to can, here.  If serving right away, allow to cool, and serve. Refrigerate leftovers for up to one week.

A note on the color of the peach jam: I made two batches. Batch 1 came out much darker than batch two.  The only difference is that I cooked batch 1 for 8 hours, batch 2 for 6 hours. If I make peach jam again (probably next year!), I hope I remember to watch and see if the 2 hour difference really is what made the first jam darker.

Peach Bread

peach bread

A spin on banana bread or applesauce bread. This recipe came out too wet, and I’m posting it because it’s Experiments in Cooking… plus I don’t have any more peaches to try again. The flavor was right, and the kids came back asking for more! If I ever get around to trying this again, I will try one of two things. Either I will drain the peaches more, perhaps in a colander for a while, or I will add more flour ingredients.

The batter in the loaf pan before cooking, looked promising.


And after. I think it didn’t get much rise because of too much wet ingredients. You can see my peach jam in the background. More on that in my next post!


Dry Ingredients:
2/3 Cup brown rice flour
2/3 Cup potato starch
1/3 Cup tapioca starch
1 Tablespoon sorghum flour
1/2 Teaspoon xanthan gum
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
1 Cup peach sauce – from my slow cooker directions here
Juice of 1 small lemon
1 Tablespoon flaxmeal soaked in 3 tablespoons rice milk or water
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon rice milk (may omit in the future)
2 Tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for greasing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil. Set aside. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the wet ingredients. Slowly add dry to wet. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.