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Posts tagged ‘cookies’

If there is one thing that makes me happy, it is finding ways to simplify my life. One of those ways is using parchment paper.

Maybe you’ve seen it in the store next to the aluminum foil. Maybe you’ve even used it to bake cookies. But I’ve found several uses for parchment paper beyond the obvious use of lining my cookie sheets to cut back on oil and save scrubbing later.

In fact, the thing that motivated me to first purchase it was not for baking cookies. It was for making lasagna.

Lasagna?

Yes, lasagna.

Let me explain.

When making a lasagna, you are supposed to bake it covered. But unless you have a glass or metal lid for your casserole dish, you probably just use aluminum foil. But there is a problem. The acid in the tomato sauce eats at the foil. So unless you use a really deep dish or make a shallow lasagna, you need something to protect the foil.

I worked for a couple of months in a cafeteria, and I learned that they would cover the pans with plastic wrap before adding the foil. This effectively protected the foil, and it wasn’t hard to remove later.

So I did that. Until my husband pointed out that the hot plastic was probably just as bad as the aluminum.

This left me with few options. Until one day I had the brilliant idea of using parchment paper! I cut it to fit the top of the pan and covered it with foil, and presto, problem solved!

Of course, I started using the parchment paper to line my cookie sheets, and was pleased that I didn’t need to use the oil spray that my husband didn’t really like me using in the first place. I wasn’t so worried about cutting back on the little bit of fat, but those sprays are actually not good for you, being processed and refined and mixed with aerosol.

I also discovered that recipes for kale chips say to line the baking sheet with parchment paper. After making them, I can see why. Oh, and if you haven’t ever had kale chips, get some kale and make some! They are delicious. Even my son likes them! Too bad he is allergic to kale.

Here’s another use for parchment paper. I like making my soy souffle once or twice a month, but it is always a bear to clean the pan afterwards. Greasing the pan does nothing. It sticks something fierce, and no amount of soaking will make any difference in the amount of elbow grease required to remove it. And I hate scrubbing and scrubbing.

So I got creative. I decided to try lining my baking dish with parchment paper.

And you know what? It worked! Yup, by cutting the paper to fit and creasing it a little, I was able to make it sit in the pan while I poured in the batter. Then I baked it as usual. The result? I still have to wash the pan, but it takes about as much time as it does to wash a plate or bowl. See?

Now, I probably won’t line all my casserole dishes with parchment paper for every use. But of course, most casseroles don’t stick half as badly as my soy souffle.

Have you ever tried parchment paper? Have you found any creative uses for it? Please share!

 

This post is participating in the link-ups at The Modest Mom and Works for me Wednesday.

Lately, my son has gotten tired of the same-ol’ beans and cereal day in and day out. I don’t blame him. That’s nearly all he has eaten for 2 solid years. Add to that the fact that he seems moderately allergic to beans, as well as the facts that we are a vegetarian family, and that he is allergic to eggs and dairy and nuts, and, well, you have a problem.

That is, a protein problem. Granted, grains like quinoa and amaranth are complete proteins, as is hemp, which he drinks every day (but not a lot, because it’s expensive). But he doesn’t get quinoa and amaranth every day. And I don’t want to give him the same foods every day, because that will just make him more susceptible to sensitivities to them.

So I’ve been working on new ways to fix his food. Of course, cooking a batch of cream of rice or amaranth or millet cereal in the morning and adding several cubes of pre-cooked and frozen beans is very simple and easy, but I always knew I would eventually have to start actually cooking and baking for him. Well, the time has come.

The first grain to get changed into something other than cereal was Teff. I invented a recipe for teff pancakes. I’m sharing that recipe on my eczema blog.

We also decided, after much deliberation, to add a little meat to his diet. Right now, that looks like chicken once a week added to shredded yuca (cassava). I am also sharing that recipe on my eczema blog.

However, there are several recipes that I have found that he likes. I love the simplicity of some of  them!

This Baked Amaranth Cracker/Flatbread is made from the grain, not amaranth flour, and is very simple to make. I mean, very simple. I added a little basil to the mix, since he can’t have the topping (I’ve never tried pumpkin seeds, but I’m really afraid to). I still need to come up with some kind of topping for them. That is hard, since nuts and avocado are all out, and those make the best creamy vegan sauces. But he will eat these, and he likes them. I served it with some slices of cucumber, and he enjoyed the meal very much.

This GF Biscuit recipe was a real hit. Since he can’t have eggs or egg replacer, I used quarter mashed banana, because I only made a half a recipe. You can use 1/2 a banana plus 1/8 tsp of extra baking powder for egg in baking, but I didn’t think 1/16 of baking powder was really necessary! I wanted to use a little less starch, so I replaced 1/4 of the starch with sorghum flour (doubling the sorghum called for). They turned out better than the last batch did (where I put in too much banana and otherwise followed the recipe, and now have more whole grains in them. I also threw in a scant tablespoon each of chia seeds and hemp protein for extra protein, and he didn’t even notice. Chia seeds are a complete protein and really a powerhouse. Research them sometime. I am very excited to discover that my local WinCo carries them! Manny will eat chia seeds by the spoonful (2 or 3 baby spoonfuls), and they have very little flavor. I think they actually improved the texture as well (since they tend to gel, kind of like flax seeds).

When you can’t have wheat or corn, tortillas become almost impossible. Rice tortillas leave much to be desired, as do most GF tortillas you can buy. But these millet tortillas are so easy, especially if you have a tortilla press. I do, but it’s in storage, so I improvised with a flat-bottomed skillet. It worked almost as well. Unfortunately, Manny only liked the first two, and then he didn’t want more. If there was something I could dip them in or roll inside of them… maybe beans? I’ll have to experiment. But he’s not very good at eating stuff with toppings… he just licks off the topping! We might make them once in a while for ourselves, though, and they are perfect for those who can’t have gluten or corn!

And for dessert, well, this Blueberry Crumb Cake was the bomb! My husband said he couldn’t tell it was gluten free! I used the banana/baking powder trick in place of eggs, and it rose beautifully. I made two batches: one as a cake, and one as muffins (which of course cooked in about half the time as the cake). It’s good with and without the topping. This site also has many GF cooking and baking tips (it’s where I learned about the banana-instead-of-egg idea). I highly recommend browsing it if you are on a GF diet. Many of the recipes are vegan (because the author cannot tolerate casein), though some do include meat (usually with vegetarian variations). She makes GF look so easy! Indeed, this cake was my first attempt at GF baking without a boxed recipe (Betty Crocker has about 3 GF mixes that you can buy at most grocery stores, and I made a couple at a friend’s house once), and I really expected it to flop. Instead, it turned out lovely, and my son had a delicious cake for his birthday, and muffins for dessert once a week since!

Lastly, there are these delicious GF Molasses Cookies. Manny wasn’t terribly fond of them, and I think it was mostly because of the ginger (which he can’t seem to tolerate in the quantity that is in the cookies). They turned out perfectly, though, and I took a dozen to a friend whose son has a lot of allergies. The whole family tried them, and she informed me they are better than store-bought cookies. I totally agree. Granted, they aren’t super healthy. I mean, 3/4 cup of shortening (palm oil, not hydrogenated oils) is quite a bit of fat. Maybe I could cut it down by increasing the applesauce. But I usually like to do a recipe the way it says the first time–especially baked goods. Then experiment later. I think Manny would like them better without the ginger. He loves molasses, after all.

I tried split pea soup on him, but he seemed to react to the peas. I had suspected that he would, being legume and all. But he enjoyed it a lot. I think I could make a veggie soup with quinoa using the same seasonings I used in the pea soup (garlic, sweet basil, marjoram, bay leaf, salt). I’ve been avoiding onions, because touching them and then rubbing his face made him break out. Whether that was an allergic reaction, or simply sensitive skin, I don’t know. But for now, I don’t feed them to him directly. Though he did eat some carrots I had cooked in a stock made of scraps of veggies used to make dinner (I put 3 baby carrots in the stock for variety), and he loved them, as well as the bits of zucchini my husband didn’t eat from his salad. They were cooked with onion, and he seems fine with it. So maybe he is okay. I’m going to play it by ear at this point!

What simple GF recipes do you use? I’d love for you to share them!