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New England Clam Chowder…’tis the season for soup!

Fall leaves are changing colors… red, orange, yellow… crisp cool nights, dry sunny days…aaahhh, ’tis the season for soups! This is my favorite time of year – Fall in New England. Of course, I’ve never lived anywhere else so I don’t really know the seasons that happen all over the world. But, here in New England, this is a beautiful time of year. My drive to work makes me smile – mountain sides and lake shores dotted with colorful trees. Plus, the Fall nights are cool and crisp, so I can snuggle into my comforter for a good night’s sleep.

Because the weather has turned cooler, it’s okay to cook warm foods again. Letting a pot of soup, stew or chowder simmer on the stove is perfect at this time of year. The aroma fills the kitchen and gives me a cozy feeling. This recipe for New England Clam Chowder is somewhat non-traditional because I add carrots, corn and chicken stock. Most traditional recipes add bacon to the chowder to add a subtle smoky flavor and use clam juice as the stock. The nice thing about soups and chowders is they can be so easily adapted to whatever you have in the refrigerator. I have occasionally added sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes which adds a slightly different flavor. Be creative – use ingredients you like and enjoy!

 

New England Clam Chowder (Gluten-free)

5 small new red potatoes, unpeeled
3 celery stalks + celery leaves
2 medium carrots
½ small onion, chopped
¼ cup frozen corn
2½ cups chicken stock
½ teaspoon dried dill
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 (6.5 oz) cans chopped clams or small baby clams, drained
1 pint heavy cream
Sprinkle of dried parsley flakes

Rinse the potatoes, celery and carrots, dice them into bite-sized pieces and put them in a large pot. Add the onion and corn. Pour in the liquid stock, add the spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer until potatoes and vegetables become soft. Add the clams and continue to simmer another 10 minutes. About 5 minutes before serving, add the heavy cream and heat gently. Serve with gluten-free crackers (ex. Glutino) or gluten-free warm bread. Makes about 4 servings.

 

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Soups

 

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Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins….wild Maine blueberries at their best!

Good morning!! It’s a beautiful clear, crisp September morning and fresh blueberry muffins are on their way. I just went for a short paddle on the pond. The mist was rising over the warm water, the birds were chirping, the loon was diving for breakfast and the sun was peaking through the tree tops. This is my favorite time of year, when the air begins to cool and dry out. I love Fall!!!

I’m using up the last of the wild Maine blueberries in my refrigerator for a batch of muffins. We are heading to Belfast, Maine later today to meet up with my sister and her husband. They recently purchased an RV (a.k.a. motor home) and are camping on the coast. We decided to stay in a hotel instead of the cushion on top of their kitchen table…my aching back!

These muffins will be the perfect breakfast tomorrow morning as we sip coffee overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, watching the sun rise. I hope you are having a wonderful, long weekend…take some time to relax or do something fun…life is too short! Bon appetit!

P.S. I like to use my special “muffin-top” pan, but a regular muffin tin will work great, too.

Blueberry Muffins

2¾ cups Pamela’s Gluten-free Wheat-free Baking & Pancake Mix
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter(room temperature)
1 cup vanilla yogurt (room temperature)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups fresh blueberries (or thawed, drained frozen berries)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 2 muffin pans. Combine Pamela’s mix and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in butter until it resembles fine crumbs. Combine yogurt, eggs and vanilla in a small bowl and pour all at once into flour mixture. Stir until just moistened. Gently fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups two-thirds full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans immediately. Makes 12-18 muffins.

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2012 in Breakfast

 

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Easy Buttermilk Biscuits…fluffy, tender and lightly sweet!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been swamped with homework for my online course, plus the humidity doesn’t make me feel like heating up the oven and standing in a hot kitchen. Compared to the rest of the country, Maine’s weather has been very nice this summer, so I really shouldn’t comment on the humidity. Truly, though, I could be a polar bear!!! If I didn’t have the cool waters of a pond or lake nearby, summer would be my least favorite season.

Yesterday was a fairly nice day, so I decided to use up some buttermilk I had in the refrigerator and make some biscuits. They came out very nice – light, fluffy, a little bit sweet and “oh so good” warm… They went great with a big salad and a fresh ear of corn for dinner. Today, I spread a little mango butter on one and had it with my eggs for breakfast.

They were very easy to make, too – which is always a good thing in my kitchen. If a recipe has too many ingredients or steps, I usually skip it. I open my regular cookbooks and see which recipe will convert to gluten-free the easiest. This one did just that!

P.S. Even though Pamela’s mix has baking powder in it, I added extra to give the biscuits some lift – I do think it helped.

I hope you enjoy these biscuits as much as we did!

Gluten-free Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups + 2 tablespoons Pamela’s Gluten-free Baking and Pancake Mix
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
5 tablespoons butter, room temperature
¾ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet with butter. In a large bowl, combine Pamela’s mix, sugar and baking powder. Cut in butter and blend until mixture is crumbly. Add buttermilk and stir. The dough will be sticky. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough and drop onto the baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes until golden brown. Makes about 9 biscuits.

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2012 in Quick Breads

 

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Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Whipped-cream Frosting… “Happy Birthday” cake!!!

We just celebrated two birthdays in the last 3 weeks in my family – my husband and my son. I made the same gluten-free cake for both of them. It’s a tradition in my family – chocolate cake with chocolate, whipped-cream frosting! We have it at every birthday celebration…sooo good! I would have included a picture of the cake, but it was eaten too fast – that’s how good it is.

I must admit, though, it’s the frosting that really makes this cake so delicious and I have to give credit to my mother for that one. She made chocolate, whipped-cream frosting since before I was born (and I’m not telling how long ago that is!!). In my family growing up, we could request whatever kind of cake we wanted for our birthday. Only my father and oldest sister (#1) would request something different for their birthday – my father loved Boston Creme Pie and my sister liked Apricot Pie. The rest of us (#2 sister, #3 brother, #4 brother, mom and myself, #5) would have cake covered in Chocolate, Whipped-Cream Frosting – any cake. It could be sponge cake, Angel food cake or chocolate cake. In the end, chocolate cake was the best choice – every year!

This recipe makes a LOT of cake. What I’ve done is make 2 – 9 inch round cakes and use the extra batter for cupcakes. If the cupcakes survive long enough, they are frozen for a quick treat some other day! They taste great warmed in the microwave, then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top – no frosting required.

I’d love to hear some of your family birthday traditions – please share!! Enjoy!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

(**This recipe makes 3 – 9 inch round cakes or 30 cupcakes or 2 – 9 inch cakes and 12 cupcakes.)

1-1/3 cup strong, brewed hot coffee

1¼ cup cocoa powder

2 sticks butter

2¼ cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3¼ cups Pamela’s Gluten-free Baking and Pancake Mix + 1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cake pans and dust with gluten-free flour or use paper liners for cupcakes. In a medium bowl, whisk together hot coffee and cocoa powder until very smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla extract and mix until well blended. Add half of Pamela’s mix to the butter mixture and blend well. Add half of the coffee/cocoa mixture and beat until well combined. Add the remaining Pamela’s mix and coffee/cocoa mixture and blend completely until smooth. Spoon batter into prepared pans and fill to half full. Bake cake pans for 40 minutes or cupcakes for 20 minutes. It is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool cake pans for 20 minutes then turn cake onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Whipped-Cream Frosting

1 pint heavy or whipping cream, chilled

Hershey’s syrup

Chill a large mixing bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove bowl from the freezer and add the cream. Beat cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add ¼ cup Hershey’s syrup and continue to mix until well blended. Add more Hershey’s syrup until desired chocolate flavor has been reached. Frosting will not get darker, just have more chocolate flavor. This recipe makes enough for a two layer cake with frosting in the middle and covering the outer surfaces completely. Refrigerate cake after frosting.

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Posted by on July 22, 2012 in Desserts

 

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Lemon Cheesecake…simple, light and creamy!

My family has always liked cheesecake, but it usually only gets made for special occasions. Years ago, my husband would make it and he would experiment with different flavors for Thanksgiving and Christmas – pumpkin, chocolate, almond, citrus, marble,… It was a time-consuming process making the crust, cooking it, letting it cool, blending all the cheeses together, greasing the spring-form pan,… Even though it was so delicious, it was very dense, rich and full of calories.

I recently found this recipe online at Easy Eats Blog, so I’m re-blogging it here. It was fabulous! My son endorsed this as his ALL-TIME favorite cheesecake – light, creamy, not too sweet, smooth texture, and gluten-free! My husband loved it too and didn’t miss the crust at all. I know I’ll be making it again and more often than just at the holidays. I really like that it has agave nectar instead of sugar and not too much ricotta cheese. Sometimes a cheesecake can have a grainy texture with too much ricotta in the recipe.

I used a large, round, deep stoneware dish to bake it in and after chilling, it cut very easily and was set perfectly. Next time, I may try adding lemon or orange zest for a deeper citrus flavor. I also want to try adding cocoa powder or almond liquor. Mmmm, the possibilities…!!! Enjoy!

Gluten-free Lemon Cheesecake

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
¾ cup light agave nectar
2 large eggs
5 teaspoons brown rice flour
5 teaspoons corn starch
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (whole fat)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a round, deep baking dish or pie plate. Combine cream cheese and ricotta in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Add agave syrup and blend well until creamy and smooth. Add eggs one at a time and blend well after each. Add rice flour, corn starch and extracts and mix very well. Add melted, cooled butter and yogurt and beat until completely blended together. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven for 1 ½ hours to cool gradually. Remove from the oven and chill for 4 or more hours. Top with fresh fruit or whipped cream. Makes 6 to 8 servings.


 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Desserts

 

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Fiddleheads…end of the season!

I think it’s officially over. Fiddlehead season, that is! I went to the Farmer’s market last Friday and bought my last batch of fiddleheads until next year. My family has only recently been enamored with this early Spring delicacy. We tried them many, many years ago and although our friends assured us they were delicious, we didn’t agree. We had just moved to Maine and figured it was an acquired taste. My husband thought they tasted like grass! Then, last year, I tried them again – only I added a bit more flavor this time by using garlic and balsamic vinegar. We now love these little green ferns.

According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Bulletin #4198, Facts on Fiddleheads, they are the young coiled fronds of the ostrich fern that grow on the banks of rivers, streams and brooks in late April, May and early June. It is advised not to eat them raw. They are best when fresh, but can also be frozen or pickled to preserve them for later enjoyment. Maybe next year, I’ll try a different way to prepare them and fall in love all over again…

I know they grow in New England, but I’d love to hear where else you can find them. Please leave me a comment and we can track them everywhere! Enjoy!

Saute’ed Fiddleheads

3 cups fresh fern fiddleheads
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt/pepper to taste

Clean fiddleheads thoroughly. Rinse well and remove brown, papery fronds. Trim ends. In a large saute’ pan over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. Add garlic and saute’ briefly. Add cleaned fiddleheads and cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve warm. Makes 3-4 servings.


 
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Posted by on June 20, 2012 in Side Dishes

 

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Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars…an old-fashioned favorite!

Time for a little sweetness in this blog! My college son is in the kitchen making some kind of cookie, so I’m inspired to add this recipe to my blog tonight. I remember eating these blondies when I was young – only then, my mother made them from a boxed mix. The boxed mix disappeared from grocery stores at some point, but I still love the flavor of these. They are a combination of butterscotch brownie and chocolate chip cookie – how can you go wrong with that?! Even though there is no butterscotch in the bar, I use dark amber agave syrup – it gives a similar taste. Otherwise, brown sugar is the preferred sweetener.

Easy recipe, simple ingredients and of course, my favorite gluten-free mix – Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix. Bake a little sweetness tonight! Enjoy!!

P.S. My son just brought me two warm cookies and a glass of cold milk! If I can get him to remember how he made the cookies (they are gluten-free!), I’ll write about them at some point! Yummy!!!

 

Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars

1 stick butter, softened
½ cup amber agave syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 cups Pamela’s Gluten Free Pancake and Baking Mix
½ cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 X 8 inch baking pan. Combine butter and agave syrup in a medium bowl, mix until blended. Add vanilla extract and egg, mix until well blended. Add Pamela’s Mix and mix until smooth and creamy texture. Pour the batter into prepared pan and spread with a spatula. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. (** Optional: add chocolate chips to the batter and mix in.) Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Let cool and cut into bars. Makes 12 bars.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2012 in Desserts

 

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