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This healthy, high fiber, versatile recipe tastes great with any fruit combination – whether you’re in the mood for banana muffins, pumpkin coffee cake, mixed berry cobbler, strawberry rhubarb muffins, peach cobbler, or apple cranberry coffee cake – and can easily be made completely allergen free: gluten free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, nut free, etc.  Depending on your mood, you can make muffins, cobbler, or a streusel-topped coffee cake utilizing whatever fresh or frozen fruit you have on hand.  I make some variation of this recipe at least once a week for our family’s breakfast because it’s such a healthy and delicious way to start the day, and keeps us full all morning when served alongside some eggs, sausage or Greek yogurt.

Not only is this recipe 100% whole grain – a rarity in gluten free baking – it’s full of other good-for-you ingredients like 2 types of fruit, heart-healthy canola oil, and cinnamon, which has made headlines recently for its myriad health benefits.  Because I use cinnamon, vanilla, lots of fruit, and brown sugar instead of white sugar (since the molasses in brown sugar adds a little more flavor without adding more sugar), I’m able to use very little sugar and salt without sacrificing flavor.  (To find out why we limit sugar at breakfast, read this post.)

There are so many different ways to use this basic recipe that I like to make extra mixes and put them in resealable bags or containers for busy mornings or trips.  When our family drove to Chicago last summer, I added Ener-G brand egg replacer to the dry mix, so all I had to add at the hotel (which had an oven) was the oil, individual applesauce cup, and 1 T. water.  So easy!  The cinnamon and ascorbic acid from the commercial applesauce act as natural preservatives, so the breakfast snack cake kept for an entire week in the fridge/cooler without spoiling.  And the high fiber breakfast kept us from experiencing the – ahem – “sluggish digestive system” that typically comes with traveling.

Cranberry Apple Breakfast Cake with Pecans

All you need to do is assemble the basic recipe that follows and take note of a few suggestions for some of the variations.  (The cobbler variation is at the bottom.)  Or feel free to experiment with your own creations and leave a comment to share your great idea!

One Baking Mix To Rule Them All

Dry ingredients to make ahead, if desired (yields 1 dozen muffins or an 8″x8″ cobbler or coffee cake):

  • 1 1/2 c. oats (we get Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free oats through Amazon)
  • 1/2 c. whole grain flour blend, like Hodgson Mill’s GF Multipurpose Baking Mix (I make my own blend by mixing equal parts brown rice flour, sorghum flour, and millet flour, which I store in a container in the fridge.  These flours can also be found on Amazon.)  Or you can use whatever flour you have on hand.
  • 1/4 – 1/2 c. brown sugar, depending on recipe (You may want to add this ingredient with the wet ingredients later because it tends to clump in the bag, and the amount used can vary.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if using wheat flour for non-gluten free baking)
  • For egg-free recipes, also add 1 tsp. Ener-G brand Egg Replacer, then add 1 T. water when you mix in the wet ingredients.  (I’ve only tried this with the cake version, and it does make it resemble more of a breakfast bar than a coffee cake.)

Basic Muffin or Coffee Cake Additional Ingredients:

  • 1 dry mix with 1/2 c. brown sugar OR 1/3 c. brown sugar if making a streusel topping (see notes below on sugar for peach variation and streusel instructions)
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce (or an individual applesauce cup), flavored applesauce, pumpkin, or other fruit puree
  • 1/2 c. canola oil for cake OR 1/3 c. oil + 2 T. milk of choice (we use almond milk) for muffins
  • 1 egg (see note under dry mix ingredients for egg-free baking)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (not extract – but you can use 1/2 tsp. extract if you prefer)
  • 3/4 c. fresh, frozen or dried fruit (see notes below for variation suggestions)

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Add applesauce or fruit puree, egg, vanilla, oil and milk (if using) to dry mix and stir until combined.  Gently fold in fresh, frozen or dried fruit.  Divide into 12 greased muffin cups or pour into a greased 8″x8″ baking pan.  Top with streusel*, if desired, and bake cake for 24-26 minutes or muffins for 18-20 minutes.  Serve warm.

*Optional streusel topping:Sprinkle 2-4 T. chopped pecans, if desired, and 2-3 T. brown sugar over top of cake or muffins.  Dot each muffin with a sliver (about 1/8 tsp.) of butter or butter spread, or top cake with 8-10 slivers.

Muffin or Coffee Cake Variations & Suggestions

Zucchini Muffins with Cinnamon Chips

Zucchini

  • Add 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1 c. shredded zucchini to dry mix.  (Have a ton of zucchini from the garden?  Toss the shredded zucchini in a dry mix bag without sugar & freeze for later!)  Don’t worry about squeezing the water out of the zucchini.
  • In addition to the egg and applesauce, add 1/2 c. oil, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract and 1/2 c. brown sugar (if not in the dry mix already).
  • If desired, stir in to batter or sprinkle on top 1/2 c. Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips, found by the chocolate chips.  (Trust me, you desire this.)  I made mine with 1/3 c. brown sugar in the mix, plus cinnamon chips and chopped pecans on top.  Mmmmm.

Apple Cranberry – the easy recipe I use when traveling or to give as a gift:

  •  Use 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce and 3/4 c. dried cranberries (or raisins, if you prefer).

Pumpkin, preferably with streusel topping:

  • Use 1/2 c. canned or pureed pumpkin instead of applesauce.
  • Add 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice to dry mix.
  • If desired, add 3/4 c. dried cranberries.

Strawberry Rhubarb, Blueberry, Blackberry, Raspberry, or Mixed Berries:

  • Unsweetened strawberry applesauce mellows the tartness of the berries, but regular applesauce can also be used.
  • If using rhubarb, use 2/3 c. chopped rhubarb and 1/3 c. diced strawberries or whole raspberries.
  • Instead of a streusel topping, try just sprinkling a little cinnamon and sugar.
  • If using frozen berries, do not thaw, but add a few minutes to bake time.
  • Be sure to let cool for 5-10 minutes since berries retain the heat.

Banana:

  • Instead of applesauce, cut a very ripe med. banana into chunks and place in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add oil and brown sugar, then mix on low with your hands covering the top of the bowl to keep the bananas from flying out (ask me how I know this…).  Increase mixing speed to med. high and continue mixing until banana is completely mashed.  Mix in remaining wet ingredients, then dry mix.
  • Use 1/3 c. oil + 2 T. milk of choice for this variation.
  • I used 1/3 c. brown sugar and the streusel topping.

Peach:

  • Substitute 1/2 c. white sugar for brown sugar.
  • Omit applesauce.
  • Use 2 eggs instead of 1.
  • Finely chop 1 can of drained peaches or enough fresh or frozen peaches to equal about 3/4 c.  (I used homemade frozen peaches that were very finely chopped.)
  • Use 1/2 c. oil and no milk.

Mixed Berry Cobbler with Vanilla Yogurt

Cobbler Variation
  • 1 dry mix with 1/4 c. to 1/2 c. brown sugar, depending on taste (I use 1/4 c. for breakfast for my family, but usually 1/3 – 1/2 c. for guests or a dessert cobbler)
  • 1/4 c. chopped pecans, if desired/tolerated
  • 1 T. ground flax, if desired
  • 1 egg (see note in dry mix for egg-free baking)
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • Enough fresh or frozen fruit (no need to thaw) to cover the bottom of a greased 8″x8″ baking pan, about 1 1/2 – 2 c.

Directions: Add egg, oil, flax and nuts (if using) to dry mix in a mixing bowl.  Spread evenly over fruit until all fruit is covered by the topping.  Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Add 5-10 min. to baking time if using frozen fruit.  Serve warm with vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt for breakfast or with frozen yogurt as a dessert.

Notes: Variations we’ve tried include blackberries, mixed berries, chopped peaches with mixed berries, apple, and apple with dried cranberries.

  • For apple cobbler, toss peeled and sliced apples with a little apple juice (containing citric acid) or lemon juice.  If using tart apples, like Granny Smith, sprinkle apples with some cinnamon and sugar.
  • If using dried cranberries, soak them in hot water or apple juice to plump them up while you assemble the dry mix, then drain and sprinkle over apples.  (Dried fruit on the bottom of a pan can sometimes burn.)

Wake the kids up in the morning with the delicious smell of any of these variations and you’ll  have no problem getting them to get dressed and come down for breakfast.  

Happy fall baking!

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I felt like a big, dumb, sack o’ duh when I realized how easy it would be to make gluten free almond poppy seed muffins by simply tweaking our favorite orange cranberry muffin recipe.  My husband loves almond poppy seed muffins, so I was excited to finally make a gluten free version that tastes as good as any boxed mix from the grocery store.  These come together quickly with Pamela’s Gluten Free Pancake and Baking Mix.  However, this mix contains powdered milk, so it’s not dairy free (even though I use almond milk for added flavor).  

2012 Update: Scroll down to the bottom to see the instructions for a Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin variation.  These soft muffins with a delicate crumb remind me of the old Krusteaz muffin mixes I used to make.  So yummy!

Almond Poppy Seed Muffin

2 c. Pamela’s GF Pancake and Baking Mix (or other Bisquick-type baking mix)
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. poppy seeds
1 c. almond milk (although regular milk should work fine)
1 egg
2 T. oil
1/2 tsp. almond extract
Powdered sugar glaze, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine baking mix, sugar, and poppy seeds in a medium mixing bowl.  Stir in milk, egg, oil, and almond extract.  Pour batter into 12 greased muffin cups.

Bake 18-20 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from pans and drizzle with glaze, if desired.  I made a little glaze with powdered sugar, almond milk and vanilla, but I thought the muffins tasted fine without it.

Gluten Free Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin Variation:
To make lemon poppy seed muffins, simply substitute lemon extract for the almond extract, increase the sugar to 3/4 c., and use regular milk instead of almond milk.  To make the glaze, use lemon juice or lemon extract instead of vanilla.

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In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d share my secret for Reuben Sandwiches without the rye bread.  Long before we were a gluten free household, I decided to see if I could come up with a substitute for rye bread because it tore up the inside of my mouth.  Since I had a bottle of caraway seeds – the little seeds that give rye bread its distinct flavor –  I tried sprinkling them on the sauerkraut in a Reuben sandwich made with whole wheat bread instead.  It worked!  So here’s how I make my mom’s Reuben Sandwich recipe (which doesn’t use Russian dressing like some people use, but feel free to modify it according to your tastes).

A firm, multigrain bread works best because you don’t want the bread to get soggy from the sauerkraut.  Luckily, most GF breads are pretty dense, so your favorite bread should work.

  1. Butter one side of each slice of bread.
  2. Place one slice buttered-side-down on a warm griddle or frying pan, and top with thin slices of corned beef.
  3. Remove sauerkraut with a fork and press against the side of the jar to drain excess liquid before layering on top of meat.
  4. Sprinkle with a generous amount of caraway seeds (which you can probably find in a bulk spice section for pennies).
  5. Top with a slice of Swiss cheese and remaining piece of bread.
  6. When the bottom slice of bread is lightly browned, flip and cook on the other side until the bread is browned and cheese is melted.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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There’s just something about coming home from church to a house that smells like pot roast.  My favorite Sunday dinner is still roast, potatoes, and carrots cooked overnight in the crock pot.  In our pre-GF days, I would sprinkle a packet of gravy over the veggies and add a little water.  Now I just season the roast with some salt and pepper, then throw in an onion and a little water to keep the veggies moist (I cook my roast on low for 14 hrs., so I usually have to add a bit of liquid).  To make gravy, we add any drippings to some gluten free beef broth and thicken with a little cornstarch mixed with water.  My favorite discovery is jarred Organic Better Than Bouillon (decently priced at Costco), which can be used like bouillon cubes but is better for you and gluten free (many beef broths and bouillons contain wheat).  It’s also way cheaper than buying cans of broth, and allows you to use just a little in recipes that don’t require a whole can or box of broth.  Since it’s low sodium, I like to add a dash of onion salt for a little extra flavor.

I try to take advantage of the fact that we always have leftovers when I cook a roast, by planning to make two favorite quick and easy dishes: French dip sandwiches and shredded beef burritos/chimichangas.  We used to think our French dip days were over since having to give up sub rolls, but we like the GF version I came up with even more!

Gluten Free French Dip Sandwiches

Leftover roast beef
Provolone cheese slices (or Swiss)
Ener-G brand Light Tapioca bread (be sure to get the “light” variety)
Butter
Beef flavored Better Than Bouillon
Onion salt

Assemble French dip sandwiches like you would a grilled cheese sandwich, by buttering the bread slices and grilling them with a piece of provolone and a generous amount of roast beef inside.  (To make this dairy free, just omit the cheese and use a dairy free margarine, like Earth Balance.)

In a small saucepan, heat 1-1/2 c. water to boiling.  Add 1-1/2 T. beef bouillon (or more to taste) and a dash of onion salt.  Pour into small dishes and serve with grilled sandwiches.

Gluten Free Roast Beef Burritos or Chimichangas

1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 T. vegetable oil
1-1/2 c. shredded cooked roast beef
1/2 c. salsa
1/4 tsp. cumin
8-10 corn tortillas
Shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place tortillas on an extra-large cookie sheet (or 2 baking sheets that fit side by side in the oven), overlapping slightly, if necessary.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium skillet.  Saute onion for 2 minutes or until tender.  Add garlic and heat for a minute.  Add the roast beef, salsa, and cumin.   Stir and cook over medium heat for 4-6 minutes until heated through.  Meanwhile, put tortillas in the oven and bake for 5-6 minutes or until softened and just starting to crisp around the edges.

Remove tortillas from oven and immediately place a large spoonful of filling down the center of each tortilla, distributing the filling equally among the tortillas.  Working quickly, roll up the burritos by folding in the short ends, then rolling up the long side.  (The cheese helps it hold together.)  Serve with additional salsa, or fry both sides in a frying pan filled with little oil over medium heat to make chimichangas.

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Some days I love to cook, and happily spend an hour or so preparing dinner.  Today is not one of those days.  Since I often pick up a package of boneless, skinless, chicken breasts at Wal-Mart (always $1.78/lb.), I can typically throw together something with chicken fairly quickly – especially if I’ve taken the time to trim all the breasts and remove the tenders the first time the package is opened (kitchen scissors make short work of this task).  Last week, when I was in one of these moods (meaning “lazy”), I created a fabulous chicken dinner using some Stonehill Spinach and Artichoke Parmesan Dip from Costco.  It was so good, we had it four days in a row!  I made it on the stove with tenders, and also baked it in the oven using the breast portion.  The oven baked version was moist and juicy, but the stove top version was super fast.  Since both methods have their merits, I’m sharing the directions to both.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Chicken
Oven Method: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Drizzle chicken breasts with a little olive oil to keep it from drying out.  Sprinkle with salt (I used coarse salt, but regular salt would work).  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and spread generously with Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  Bake, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through and top is bubbly.
Stove Method: Pour a thin layer of olive oil in a frying pan and heat pan over medium heat.  Put chicken tenders (or breasts pounded flat) in pan and sprinkle with a little salt.  Cook for 5 minutes or until lightly browned underneath.  Turn chicken over and cook for another 5 minutes.  Coat generously with Spinach and Artichoke Dip.  Reduce heat a little and cover.  Cook 5 minutes more or until chicken is done and topping is heated through.

Another great use for chicken tenders is in chicken pizzas.  This month, Kinnickinnick gluten free pizza crusts are on sale at Fred Meyer, so we’ll grab a few boxes since this crust is particularly good for chicken pizzas.  My son loves buffalo chicken pizza, so I like to make this when I have a few pieces of chicken to use up, but not enough for a meal.  In the summertime, I like to grill extra chicken breasts (with a little Lowry’s Seasoned Salt) to use in barbecue chicken pizzas.  We like Sweet Baby Rays Original sauce for barbecue pizzas, although Bulls-Eye barbecue sauce is also good and contains no high fructose corn syrup (both sauces are GF).

Barbecue Chicken Pizza:
Cut up some leftover grilled chicken into bite-size pieces.  Cover pizza crust with barbecue sauce and sprinkle with chicken (we put the cheese on top of the chicken, but you can certainly put the cheese down first if you prefer).  Sprinkle pizza blend cheese or a combination of mozzarella and cheddar on top.  We also like to add some bacon bits and chopped red onion, if we have it on hand.  Bake according to crust directions.

Buffalo Chicken Pizza:
In a small baking dish (I have one that’s a little smaller than a 7″x11″ baking dish), cut up chicken breasts or tenders into bite-size pieces.  Pour a generous amount of buffalo wing sauce over top (we’ve tried Frank’s and Texas Pete’s buffalo sauces, and they’re both good).  Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Cover pizza crust with your favorite Ranch dressing (we like Newman’s Own because it doesn’t have any naughty ingredients).   Separate cooked chicken pieces with a fork (they’ll stick together while baking, but are easy to separate).  Using a fork, lift a few pieces out at a time and place on crust, letting a little sauce run onto the crust.  Sprinkle with pizza cheese blend or some mozzarella and cheddar.  If desired, top with bacon bits and chopped green onion (you should desire this).

Of course, the ultimate lazy chicken recipe is to simply drizzle barbecue sauce over some chicken in a crock pot and cook on low for 5 hours.  I like to sprinkle the chicken with a little Lowry’s Seasoned Salt first.  It’s the easiest recipe I know since you can even start out with frozen chicken breasts.  In the summertime, I like to finish the cooked breasts on the grill for just a minute to give it a little grilled flavor.  You can also do this exact same recipe using boneless ribs or a combination of ribs and chicken (but “Lazy Ribs” didn’t sound like a good blog title).  This is a great recipe for a party since you can give guests a choice of chicken or ribs.   Round it out with a baked potato and salad, and this menu can be put together early in the day, leaving you time to clean or put your feet up and relax!  If you need a dessert (and what party doesn’t?), check out last week’s post on yummy gluten free desserts.

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These 5-ingredient cookies are naturally gluten free, and taste wonderful as cookies or bars.  I love making the bars with chocolate chips and serving them with ice cream for a quick, easy dessert.  Using seasonal colored M&Ms for the cookies or bars adds a festive touch during the holidays.

1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
24 Hershey Kisses or whatever chocolate chips you have on hand

Directions for Hershey Kiss Method:
Cream peanut butter and sugar in mixing bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla; beat until blended.  Roll into 2 dozen balls and place 2-in. apart on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked.  Immediately press one chocolate kiss into the center of each cookie.  Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks.

Chocolate Chip Variation:
Follow directions above, except stir in chocolate chips before rolling into balls.  Flatten balls with your hand, as these cookies won’t spread.  Bake according to directions above.

Bar Variation:
Instead of rolling into balls, press dough into an ungreased 9”x13” pan.  Press chocolate chips, M&Ms, Reece’s Pieces or Peanut Butter Cups – or a combination – into dough.  (For a dairy free dessert, use Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.)  Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges.

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Best Brownies Ever!

I modified this recipe to be gluten free by replacing self-rising flour with Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix.  Using dark chocolate chips makes these brownies decadent and delicious, but the cost of the chips is no more than the cost of a boxed GF brownie mix.  Plus, you can throw together the batter in the time it takes for the oven to preheat, so what are you waiting for?!!

1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
1½ c. dark chocolate chips (we use Hershey’s Special Dark)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 c. self-rising flour* or Pamela’s GF Pancake & Baking Mix
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips plus 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
OR 1 c. mint chocolate chips

*To make self-rising flour, add 1 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt to 3/4 c. all-purpose flour or GF flour blend.  For gluten free flour, you’ll also need to add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum.  Whisk ingredients together, then measure out 2/3 c. and save leftover amount for another use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir in sugar until dissolved.  Remove from heat; stir in dark chocolate chips until melted.  Add eggs and flour or baking mix, stirring until just blended.  Stir in vanilla and 1 c. chocolate chips (either mint or 1/2 c. each semi-sweet and milk chocolate).  These chips won’t completely melt.

Pour into a greased 9” pie plate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes or until set (won’t test done with a tooth pick).  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge sauce.  (These taste best the first day or two.  Reheat in the microwave for about 20 sec. per slice and drizzle with generous amounts of hot fudge if baking these the day before serving.)

Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Variation:

Substitute 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips plus ½ c. milk chocolate chips for the dark chocolate.  Substitute 1/2 c. Reece’s Peanut Butter Chips and 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips for the remaining 1 c. chocolate.

Garnish ice cream with chopped peanut butter cups.


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