Monthly Archives: December 2010

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

These stuffed mushrooms are a fantastically easy appetizer for New Year’s Eve or any other celebration you might be having.  They are also great for a quick and easy weeknight appetizer if friends are coming over!  The combination of roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese is sumptuous (in my opinion).

Brian and I were lucky enough to be visiting my parents over the holidays and one of my friends from high school and her husband came over to visit for dinner.  We had a great time and everyone enjoyed these mushrooms as a simple, tasty, gluten free (without trying) and diabetic friendly appetizer.

I have also made these yummy little morsels of goodness as a main meal by stuffing large portabella mushrooms and serving them with the sauce over quinoa or rice.  You can make these mushrooms with herbed goat cheese or by adding in other herbs to the mixture.  If you try something new, let us know!

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

2 packages baby bella mushrooms (you need about 24-choose the larger ones)
8 ounces plain goat cheese
*6-10 cloves roasted garlic, cooled
2 ounces sundried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
1 cup pasta sauce (any variety)

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.   Clean the mushrooms using a mushroom brush or a damp paper towel.  Use a small spoon to scrape out the gills.  Set mushrooms aside.  Spread the bottom of a 9×13 Pyrex  baking dish with tomato sauce and set aside.  In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade place goat cheese, garlic and sundried tomatoes.   Pulse until mixture if fully incorporated.  Stuff each mushroom with about a tablespoon of the cheese mixture and place on sauce in the baking dish.  Bake for 10-20 minutes.  Serve the remaining tomato sauce on the side to dip or drizzle.  Enjoy!

*How to roast garlic:

Pre-heat oven to 400°F.  Pull 6-10 garlic cloves off the head, but keep the individual cloves still wrapped.  Place the cloves in a small square of aluminum foil.  Pour 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil over the cloves on foil.  Close up the foil and roast for 30-35 minutes until cloves are soft.

Even if you are not a garlic lover, please try the roasted garlic.  It has a subtle sweet flavor and is amazingly delicious.  I could eat an entire head of roasted garlic in one sitting!  Especially mixed into the goat cheese and with the sundried tomatoes, the flavor diffuses even more and just adds a subtle sweetness.



Filed under appetizer, egg free, gluten free, low sugar, nut free, side dish, snack, vegetarian

Transylvanian Goulash

My book club just finished reading The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coehlo.  This is a very special book club for three reasons.  One, it is all women.  Two, the women who participate are amazing! Three, we match up the food we are serving to the setting of the book we read.  We each bring a dish and it turns out wonderfully.  We meet about every six weeks and I look forward to our meetings immensely!

The Witch of Portobello has many settings, but the main two are England and Transylvania.  At first I was thinking about my healthy version of Shepherd’s Pie, but then I got to thinking about Transylvania and what interesting dishes I could make from that part of the world.  I decided on a Transylvanian Goulash recipe and low and behold I found one I could make in my Crockpot!  Yay!  (I have yet to disclose how much I LOVE my Crockpot! Well, there you go…I LOVE my crockpot!)  Then I found some cool looking sweet Hungarian paprika at the market.  See how neat the container is?

I looked at quite a few recipes in order to create my own.  In our group we have some different eating styles.  In particular, I try to eat gluten free and one of the lovely ladies cannot eat dairy.  So this is a non-dairy, gluten free version of goulash that,  if I do say so myself, is pretty tasty.

Transylvanian Goulash

32 oz. bag sauerkraut (not the kind from a can, please!)
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
Salt to taste
2 Tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tablespoon Penzeys Beef Soup Base* plus 3 cups water OR 3 cups beef broth
4 pounds beef chuck, stew beef, cut in 2-inch cubes
1-1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup rice milk
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
Sour cream (for the dairy tolerant, to pass on the side)

Wash sauerkraut under cold running water, strain well, pressing out excess water.

Heat oil in a 5-quart casserole; add onions. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until lightly colored, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper, then season with salt and cook a minute or two longer. Stir in paprika, pour in 1/2 cup of broth and bring to boil. Add beef cubes and stir.

Transfer beef mixture to crockpot.  Pour remaining broth, tomato sauce, sauerkraut, and caraway seeds over mixture.  Mix all ingredients together.  Cover  and cook on high for 4 hours. If crockpot turns to warm automatically, keep it on warm while you whisk rice milk and arrowroot powder together.  Pour rice milk and arrowroot powder into the crock-pot and mix together with the other ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper.  Keep on warm until you are ready to serve.

Pass sour cream on the side for the dairy-tolerant.

Serves 8-10 depending on serving size.

Tastes even better the next day!

*Just as an aside, I do not get an special kickbacks from Penzey’s…I just really LOVE their spices and soup bases!

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Filed under dairy free, egg free, gluten free, low sugar, main dish, nut free

Trifle I say!

What to do when baked goods taste good but don’t look as planned?  Make trifle I say!  This is exactly what I decided to do yesterday when the Ginger Macadamia Brownies did not come out as expected.  Brian suggested I use the brownie to make something else.  He said, “Can’t you crumble them up or something?”  I though AHA! Crumbled brownies=delicious trifle.  So I set to work to make an easy trifle with the crumbled up brownies.

You can use this method with just about any baked good that goes awry.  Just change the flavors of pudding or add fruit or liquor…whatever your heart desires!

Ginger Macadamia Brownie Trifle

1 recipe Ginger Macadamia Brownies, crumbled
2 boxes sugar free, fat free chocolate pudding
3 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons agave
Chocolate shavings for garnish

Pour pudding mix and almond milk into a large bowl.  Using a handheld mixer, beat until pudding has achieved desired consistency.  Set aside (or refrigerate).  In a separate large bowl, combine heavy cream and agave.  Using a handheld mixer, beat until cream reaches soft peaks.

To make the trifle: in a trifle dish or large glass bowl, layer the crumbled brownies, pudding, and whipped cream.  Then repeat.  Top the trifle with chocolate shavings for garnish.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.


If you don’t own a trifle bowl, here is a great one! Anchor Hocking Presence Trifle Bowl


Filed under dessert, vegetarian

Ginger Macadamia Brownies

My amazing friend Isa and her husband are having a holiday party, and of course, I asked what I could bring.  Her response: could you make a dessert that uses only natural sugar AND is gluten free AND tastes delicious?  A tall order you might think! But not for this lady!  I knew just who to turn to, gluten free goddess Elana Amsterdam of fame.  I recently purchased Elana’s cookbook, The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook
and knew she would have something perfect for this party.

I narrowed it down to three choices: chocolate cream pie, a classic carrot cake, and ginger macadamia brownies.  I was rooting for the brownies because I LOVE macadamia nuts.  When I was living in Australia, they were available everywhere and super fresh and I used to eat them all the time!  Luckily, Isa wanted me to make the brownies.  Although, I obviously would have been happy with any of the choices!

I made the recipe with a few tiny changes.  I did not have any 73% cacao dark chocolate, so I used a Hershey’s Special Dark bar and chopped it up into little bits. I typically buy my dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s, but have not been in a while, so my stock has run out.  I also did not grease the pan with grapeseed oil and dust with almond flour, I sprayed my pan with Pam instead.  I also used Kosher salt instead of sea salt.  The directions below are what I did, not what is written in the cookbook.  And without further ado…

Ginger Macadamia Brownies

adapted slightly from the Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville Blanched Almond Meal Flour, 5 lb.)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 large eggs
1 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla (my favorite is Charles H. Baldwin and Sons)
1/4 cup peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Spray an 11×7 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, eggs, agave nectar, vanilla, and ginger.  Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined.  Stir in the macadamia nuts and chocolate.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center of the dish comes out clean.  Let cool in the baking dish for 1 hour.  Cut into 20 bars and serve.

The result:

Brian and I both agree that these brownies are a little too gingery for our taste.  If I make them again I might cut back on the ginger a little and add a bit more chocolate, or use a little candied ginger.  They are also more cake-like than the rich brownie I was expecting.  I am undecided if I will bring them to the party-I may just make some gluten free white chocolate chip cookies with added macadamia nuts instead…


Filed under dessert, gluten free, vegetarian

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

I LOVE BROCCOLI! It is one of my favorite vegetables and there are many, many ways to prepare it.  (My favorite part of the the broccoli is the woody stem-so if you plan to throw yours away, send them my way instead!)  One of my favorite and easiest and TASTIEST ways to prepare broccoli is to roast it.  Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness and roasting broccoli is no exception.  I made this dish for our family’s Chanukkah party alongside a few other roasted veggies and I love it so much, I made it again tonight!  Just as a side note-our almost 3 year old niece LOVED this broccoli, so it is very kid-friendly as well.

This recipe is inherently vegan and gluten free so those with restrictive diets, rejoice!  For those who do not have restrictive diets, roasted broccoli still makes an incredible vegetable side dish, so do not despair.  We ate this broccoli alongside mango chicken sausage and smashed potatoes.

What is so wonderful about this recipe (more of a method, really) is that you can toss the broccoli with whatever your heart desires…cumin, basil, oregano, curry powder, anything!  You can also adapt this recipe for cauliflower.  When I roasted cauliflower for Chanukkah, I tossed it with Penzey‘s Turkish seasoning, a blend of salt, garlic, cumin, Tellicherry black pepper, Turkish oregano, paprika, sumac, cayenne red pepper and cilantro. It was delicious!

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

1 large head broccoli
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped-if you like less garlic, use less!
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 425°F

Cut broccoli into florets and cut down the stem into bite size pieces.  You can discard the stem if you wish-but I advice against it.  Toss broccoli with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread broccoli on baking sheet or in a large pyrex dish.  Roast for 25-30 minutes until browned. EAT! Yum!


Filed under dairy free, egg free, gluten free, grain free, low sugar, nut free, side dish, toddler approved, vegan, vegetarian

My first post and a (very late) Chanukkah Party!

Hi! I’m Andrea and this is my cooking blog.  There are a bazillion cooking blogs out there and I was nervous to start my own because there are so many.  However, many friends urged me to start documenting the food I cook and bake, so here goes!  I create original recipes and also adapt recipes from other food blogs and cookbooks.  You can read a little more about me by clicking on the about tab.  I hope you enjoy!

While Chanukkah is technically over, we have yet to celebrate with either of our families.  We will finally have a party tomorrow evening and I was in charge of vegetables and dessert.  I made an Orange-Cardamom cake, garlic roasted broccoli, Turkish seasoning roasted cauliflower, and maple roasted carrots.  The cake recipe is below:

Orange Cardamom Cake

Adapted (very slightly)  from Cooking Light, December 2007



3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup canola oil
1 Tbsp orange zest
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs


1 cup powdered sugar
4 1/2 tsp. fresh orange juice
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Pre-heat oven to 350°F.  Coat a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the mixture.  Add orange juice, canola oil, orange and lemon zest, vanilla and eggs to flour mixture.  Beat with a mixer on low speed until well combined or just mix well with a wooden spoon.

Spoon batter in prepared pan, spreading evenly.  Bake for 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan.

To make glaze: combine powered sugar, orange and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Drizzle the glaze over warm cake and let cool completely.

Serves 16.



Filed under dessert, vegetarian