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The Finished Product

A Quick History of the Vidalia Onion
Growing up in Georgia, Vidalia onions were apart of the spring/summer.  Did you know that they are Georgia’s state vegetable!!??  They are ONLY grown in Vidalia, Georgia, which we southerners call them Vi-day-l-yuhs, NOT Vi-dahl-yahs.   They really came as an accident.  During the depression, farmers in GA were trying to find the cash crop.  When their onions were harvested, they realized they were sweet!  With the birth of the sweet Vidalia onion, the newly built farmers market in Southern GA, and the owner of Piggly Wiggly grocery store helping to market them, they soon became a success around the country.   Though sweet onions are grown in other places, the distinct flavor comes from the sandy soils and milder climate.

Storage Tip:
They don’t tend to last on the shelf very long, but in order to preserve their life, stick them in the leg of a panty hose and put a knot at the end of each onion.  Hang them from the ceiling and when ready to use one, just cut above the knot.

So, this delicious dish came to me by way of my mom.  I can’t say that she really spent a whole lot of time in the kitchen, but this is one of the best dishes she ever made.  I have doctored it a bit and adapted it to the GF life-style, but the truth be told, I can’t really say I notice a huge difference.  When I asked her where it came from, thinking she’d tell me who passed it down to her, she told me she invented it.  My respect for her grew right then and there!!  Thanks mom for one of my favorite dishes!!

This makes a great side dish when invited to a party or hosting your own.  Even if you don’t like onions, you’ll love this dish!!


Vidalia Onion Sweet Surprise

Serving Size: 6 full onions, feeds 6-8 people

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

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Ingredients

  • 6 Vidalia Onions, peeled and half cored; (sweet onions will work, too)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar + 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • (you can substitute the 1/4 cup of sugar for 1/4 cup black strap molasses)
  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup of corn flake crumbs or cracker/cereal substitute
    (I usually buy them from Whole Foods or Amazon in bulk – 6 containers.  I freeze what I’m not using.)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of parmesean cheese
  • 1 tsp of salt (I prefer himalayan salt)
  • 1 tsp of pepper
  • pinch of dry mustard

Supplies:

  • large pyrex dish
  • coring knife
  • sauce pan
  • stirring spoon
  • measuring cups and spoons

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425*F.
  2. Core onions from the top so that the root part is at the bottom.  Create a well, so make sure to leave the bottom in tact.  You’re going to put a filling in it later.
  3. Place onions in a pyrex dish.
  4. Chop the onions pieces you cored out and place them in the dish around the onions.

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    Hollowed Out Onions

  5. Fill the dish about an 1/8″ full of water so that the onions won’t burn in the oven.
  6. Meanwhile, on the stove top over low heat (or microwave), melt the butter and brown sugar together, stirring constantly (about 1-2 minutes).  You can always add more of anything.  If you want the sauce thinner, add more butter.  If you want it sweeter, add more brown sugar.  I happen to have run out of brown sugar tonight, so I poured in some black strap molasses, too, and it worked perfectly.  Then we also got the iron benefits of the molasses.

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    Melting Butter & Brown Sugar

  7. Remove from saucepan from heat and add remaining ingredients.  Stir to evenly combine.

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    Stirring all Ingredients together until Combined

  8. Pour the sauce into the wells of each onion, and then pour the rest of the sauce over the chopped onion bits surrounding the onions.

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    Sauce Application

  9. Bake for about 45 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and the onions are softened.
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The Finished Onion Product

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The Finished Ball

One day, not long after I had gone gluten-free, my grandma, Honey, called me, to tell me of a recipe she made that just so happens to also be gluten-free.  I couldn’t have been more thrilled to think of a dessert with peanut butter and chocolate all in one that had NO GLUTEN!!  And takes about 10 minutes to make and 10 to bake!

After a lot of playing with the basic recipe my Honey had given me, I perfected a relatively low sugar dessert.  The secret is the chocolate chips stashed in the middle of the ball.

The peanut butter we use just has roasted peanuts and nothing else added.  I have often found that certain peanut butters make me sick and then I wonder if they’ve been crossed processed.  In Philadelphia you can get Crazy Richards, which was actually made by a local Philadelphian who ground his own peanuts.  Roomer has it from a parent I know that Richard use to run a small in-home daycare in the city, all the while, making his own peanut butter.

If we’re looking for an organic one, we have found Santa Cruz makes an excellent one.

Gluten-Free Inside-Out Peanut Butter Balls

Serving Size: about 20 1″ balls

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

20130522-202617.jpgIngredients:

  • 1 cup of peanut butter – we use peanut butter that just has roasted peanuts and nothing else added
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips – we use Enjoy Life

Supplies:

  • large mixing bowl
  • spatula
  • cookie sheet
  • parchment paper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325*F.
  2. In a bowl, mix egg, sugar, and peanut butter all together until there is a smooth consistency.
  3. Take a pinch in your hand and roll it into a 1″ ball.

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    Rolling Batter into a Ball

  4. Use your thumb to place a small whole in the middle of it.
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    Small Well in Center of Ball

     

  5. Fill well with a handful of chocolate chips.
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    Filling Well with Chocolate Chips

     

  6. Fold over edges of dough around chips.
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    Folding Dough Edges around Chips

     

  7. Roll dough back into a ball.
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    Dough Rolled Back into Ball with Chips inside

     

  8. Bake at 325*F for about 10-12 minutes.  I like mine soft, but if you prefer them crisper, then bake for longer.

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    Ready to Bake

  9. Eat!

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Polenta topped with Ragout

I decided it was time to use a different grain tonight.  I was thinking of rice, but then I realized we should try something else.  Polenta is considered the Italian version of grits.  It’s a super fast cooking grain.  I even took a quicker fix than just using the grain and making a paste with water, I used the tube!!

This dish makes an excellent side dish or hors d’oeuvre for a dinner party.

Gluten-Free Broiled Polenta with Spinach and

Mushroom Ragout

Serving Size: about 20 polenta rounds

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp evol (used for polenta)
  • 1 tube of polenta precooked
  • 2 tbsp evol (used for sautéing)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 package mushrooms, chopped
  • 2-3 cups of fresh spinach
  • generous amount of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of crushed dried rosemary
  • 4 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • *optional – parmesan cheese (do not use if vegan)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil and arrange the top rack about 4″ from the top.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Slice the tube of polenta into 1/4″ thick rounds and lay them out on the baking sheet.
  4. Using the TBSP of olive oil, lightly brush the tops of each round and then broil them until the begin to brown about 10-15 minutes.
  5. While they are cooking, put olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  6. When the oil is warm, put in the diced onions and as they begin to brown, add the garlic, sauteing for another 30 seconds or so.
  7. To the onion mixture, add the mushrooms and cook on a high heat (or medium-high) until they release their juices.
  8. Continue stirring for another few minutes until all the juices have been reabsorbed.  Then all the handfuls of spinach and toss until wilted.
  9. Add salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Cook for another 30 seconds.
  10. Then add in the tomato paste and 1/2 cup of the water.  (I actually used 4 previously frozen ice cubes of tomato paste.)  Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Continue adding water little by little if the mixture is drying out.
  11. Once water is absorbed (about 10 minutes), remove from heat and add the balsamic vinegar.

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    Mushroom Spinach Ragout

  12. Top the broiled polenta with the mushroom mixture and if desired, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
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    The Simplicity of Polenta

     

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Delicious Pesto Sauce

My family LOVES pesto sauce.  My daughter prefers to eat it over marinara.  So, I try to keep some in the fridge, but the truth be told is that I never make enough.  The best thing to do is make tons of sauce, and freeze it in ice cube trays to be used later.

Our favorite uses of pesto:

  1. On pasta
  2. On Pizza
  3. Baked on Chicken

What are your favorite ways to use pesto?

Gluten-Free Pesto Pasta

Disclaimer: I did not invent this recipe, but have no idea where I got it from.

Serving Size: 4-6 people, about 1 pint

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Bag of Hydroponic Basil

Ingredients for Pesto:

  • 2 cups basil leaves (I used 2 bags of hydroponic basil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (I like Trader Joe’s because there’s no cross-contamination)
  • 2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (any olive oil will do)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I also use Trader Joe’s grated parm and stash it in the freezer)
  • Salt/pepper

Ingredients for Pasta:

  • 1 bag of gluten-free pasta – favorite brand is Tinkyada
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 TBSP of olive oil
  • *optional – extra parmesan as topping
  • *optional – handful of pine nuts as topping

Directions:

  1. Get pot of boiling water going for pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, put all ingredients, except the oil in the food processor, and process until blended.
  3. Slowly pour in the oil.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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    Makes about 1 Pint of Pesto Sauce

  5. When pasta water is boiling, put the pasta in the water and follow directions of pasta bag.
  6. 2 minutes before the pasta is done cooking, throw in some chopped broccoli.

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    Broccoli Added to Pasta

  7. When pasta is done cooking and broccoli is done to liking, pour into colander and rinse with cold water.
  8. Coat pasta with the 1 TBSP of olive oil to keep it from sticking together if not serving right away, otherwise, follow step #9.
  9. Toss pasta with pesto sauce.

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    Pasta Coated with Pesto

  10. Bon Appetite!

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I was fortunately to be invited to my dear friends’ house for Passover dinner while I was in Atlanta.  Rebecca is a fantastic cook, and they always serve the most wonderful food.   The best part about it was that it was all gluten-free (and soy-free), because neither of which you can have on Passover!!  And on top of that, two of their kids have Celiac Disease, which just means I can eat with them and always feel good!

This recipe has been adapted from both my mom’s version (which usually uses Ramen Noodles) and Rebecca’s version with candied nuts.  I had leftover chicken to through in, which just made it even better!  This is a great, fast dish to take to potlucks and parties.

On a side note, my husband who had refused to eat it upon hearing its name, decided it was delicious and really enjoyed the candied nut addition.

Oriental Cabbage Salad with Candied Nuts Recipe

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Oriental Cabbage Salad

Serving Size: If used as a side dish about 12 people

Storage Note:  I store the chicken, nuts, and dressing separate from the other salad ingredients to keep them from getting soggy and gross.

Ingredients for Cabbage Salad:

(feel free to leave off or add any ingredients as you see fit)

  • 1 cabbage, shredded or cut super thin
  • 4-5 carrots, grated
  • a bunch of scallions, chopped (but since I didn’t have any, I used about 1/2 an onion)
  • *Optional: pre-cooked chicken, chopped into small pieces (I used grilled chicken from the previous night)
  • candied nuts (click here for recipe) – (*If vegan, just toast nuts instead*)

Ingredients for Oriental Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup of  safflower oil (or some other non-tasting oil)
  • 1/4 cup of sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of honey (you can substitute this for sugar as well)
  • 1/4 cup of sugar

Directions for Cabbage Salad:

  1. Mix together cabbage, onions, carrots in a large bowl.
  2. When ready to serve, add chicken and candied nuts.
  3. Pour dressing on last, so the salad doesn’t get soggy.

Directions for Salad Dressing:

  1. In a large measuring cup, pour in the vinegar and sugar/honey and whisk it till well combined.
  2. Add in the cider vinegar a little at a time while continuing to whisk.
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Oriental Salad Ready to Eat!

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Candied Nuts

Candied Nuts

So I had eaten at my dear friends’ house over Passover and had the most amazing Oriental Cabbage Salad.  Rebecca’s secret ingredient was candied nuts.  I decided I was going to replicate her dish, but first I had to candy my nuts.  (I’ll post the oriental cabbage later).

There are two ways to candy nuts.  I did mine in the oven, but you can also just put sugar and nuts in a saute pan and saute them.  Once the sugar has melted and is well coated, you then spread the nut mixture on a baking sheet with parchment paper to cool and then break it into pieces.

However, this was the recipe I found years ago and adapted it slightly.  I have no idea where it came from, so I can’t take credit for it.  I love to mix different kinds of nuts together.  I think this recipe can double as the makings of a granola bar.  Let me know what you come up with!  I also like to just eat it as snack.  I have tried it substituting honey for sugar.  It’s just as tasty, but doesn’t quite have the crispness or the crunch I was looking for.  If you try different things, let me know what you enjoyed!

Candied Nuts Recipe

Serving Size: 1 pound

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound nuts, crushed or halved
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300*F (150*C).
  2. Lay parchment paper over a baking sheet.
  3. *If using whole nuts, crush prior to using.  Place in ziplock bag and smash with mallet.*  I of course didn’t have anything else when I was having a craving, so it’s what I did.

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    Crushing Nuts

  4. In a bowl, mix together sugar, salt and cinnamon;set aside.
  5. Beat egg white and water together just until frothy, not stiff.
  6. Add nuts to egg whites and stir until well coated.

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    Nuts Added to Egg White Mixture

  7. Add sugar mixture, mixing nuts until well coated.
  8. Spread evenly onto a foil-lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and separate pecans as they cool.
  10. Store in tightly closed container.
Candied Nuts

Candied Nuts

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Loaf Cooked to Perfection!

After being gone for 10 days, I had these very sorry black bananas staring at me. Out of guilt for not wanting to waste them, I decided it was time to make banana bread. Then, I remember all my squash I roasted and froze in the freezer. I took it out to thaw, and decided to add it. These always come out amazing every time!! No one even knows they’re GF or DF for that matter.

There are TWO secrets to gluten-free cooking:

  1. Weigh your flour!! I like to use the conversion chart to convert regular recipes to those gluten-free.
  2. Always add extra moist ingredients to breads, whether it be more bananas or (cooked) winter squash or applesauce. It gives it the moisture that’s often lacking in gluten-free baking.

Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Banana Squash Bread

(this recipe can also make muffins as well)

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 1996’s Banana Bread Recipe

Serving Size: 3 small loaf pans or 1 8x4x2-inch loaf pan

Preheat Oven to 350*F

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Finished Loaf

Ingredients:

  • about 1 1/4 gluten-free flour blend = 187.5 grams
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 egg (at room temperature)
  • 4 brown to black bananas (or about 1 cup. You can’t go wrong if you throw in more.)
  • 1 cup of roasted squash or pumpkin
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar (with super ripe bananas, I find that 1/2 cup is perfect)
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla *optional* – use Frontier Vanilla Flavor which has no alcohol
  • 1/4 cup of chocolate chips (Enjoy Life are free of top 8 allergens) or nuts *optional*

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F
  2. Put parchment paper in the inside of the loaf or grease the loaf. If using muffin tins, grease the muffin tins or use muffin cups.

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    Combined Dry Ingredients

  3. In a medium mixing bowl combine and mix together
    all the dry ingredients:

    • GF flour blend
    • baking powder (GF)
    • baking soda
    • cinnamon
    • salt
  4. In another bowl, combine and whisk until blended:
    • egg
    • bananas
    • squash, pumpkin
    • sugar
    • cooking oil (I use safflower, because I prefer non-genetically modified oils).
    • vanilla
  5. Add moist mixture to the dry one and stir until just moistened and blended. Batter should be lumpy.
  6. Fold in optional ingredients.
  7. Divide batter equally among loaves and bake at 350*F for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center. If using different sized pans, then see note at bottom of recipe.*

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    Bread Divided Between 3 Loaves

  8. Cool and eat. Store in refrigerator in airtight container.

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    3 Loaves Ready to Eat!

* Pan Size Baking Time

One 9x5x3-inch loaf pan 1-1 1/4 hours
One 8x4x2-inch loaf pan 50-60 minutes
Two 7 1/2 x 3 1/2 x 2-inch loaf pan 40-45 minutes
Six 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 1 1/2-inch loaf pan 30-35 minutes
Twelve 2 1/2-inch muffin cups 15-20 minutes

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