Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from The Gut Gazette! I can’t believe how quickly Christmas creeped up on us and now it’s all over with.
What are your Christmas traditions? Our family has a quiet Christmas Eve, and for dinner we usually have tourtiere, which is a meat pie that originated from Quebec, and cheese fondue. This year we just did the cheese fondue, with gluten free bread of course! We then sat around and enjoyed each others company, watched The Polar Express and then got our annual Christmas pjs and hung our stockings. In the morning we slept until 9:00am, got our tea and coffee and opened stockings and presents. We took a little break to have breakfast and then finished up the presents! For the rest of the day we relaxed and enjoyed the quiet after weeks of Christmas preparation. For dinner we mixed it up a bit and had a roast chicken instead of turkey, but we still had the traditional side dishes. I had done a lot of Christmas baking this year, and I thought I would share with you two holiday gluten free cookie recipes that you could keep in mind for the 2013 holidays.
Gluten Free Christmas Shortbread
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 cup gluten free flour
3/4 cups butter
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Stir cornstarch, icing sugar and GF flour together. Blend in butter. Shape into 1 inch balls, place 1.5 inches apart from each other on an ungreased pan. Flatten with the palm of your hand or a fork. Place a single piece of chocolate in the middle of each cookie (either a Hershey kiss or chocolate chip). Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden around the edges.
I actually combined 3/4 cups of rice flour with 1/4 cup of coconut flour and they turned out amazing. I enjoyed the consistency of the cookie and it wasn’t as crumbly as just using the rice flour.
Gluten Free Sugar Snowflake Cookies
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
In a large bowl combine butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl mix together the gluten free flour, baking powder and salt. Transfer the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the dough into two, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm – for about an hour and a half. *(You can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Once the dough is firm enough to roll, dust a wooden cutting board or counter top with gluten free flour and roll dough until 1/4 inch thick. Using a snowflake cookie cutter (or any holiday shape), cut out cookies. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes until cookies are golden around the edges. Let cookies completely cool before decorating.
Use royal icing as the “glue” for the decorations. You can decorate them however you wish…no two snowflakes are the same! I used silver dragees and coarse sugar crystals for my decorations.
Let the cookies set before you stack them…or just eat them right off the platter!
We enjoyed the shortbread for Christmas day dessert, and then we continued our lounging and watched a bit of TV.  It was a lovely Christmas despite the snow, however yesterday we got dumped with snow!
I hope you enjoy your holidays and I look forward to more posts in 2013!
I would love to hear your Christmas traditions!

Thanksgiving Sugar Cookies

Happy Thanksgiving fellow Canadians! I hope everyone has had a wonderful weekend with family and friends and have enjoyed the beautiful smells of fall and autumn colours. I had a lovely weekend up north enjoying wonderful company, scenic walks, and delicious food. 
To start off the Thanksgiving weekend, I made some delicious gluten free sugar cookies. I found a sugar cookie recipe off the Canadian Living website, and just tweaked it to make it gluten free. The addition of candy corn and a few chocolate chips give the cookie a cute Thanksgiving turkey feel!
Thanksgiving “Turkey” Sugar Cookies 
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt 
Candy corn 
Royal icing 
Mini chocolate chips
In a large bowl combine butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla. In another bowl mix together the gluten free flour, baking powder and salt. Transfer the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Divide the dough into two, flatten into discs and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm – for about an hour and a half. *(You can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Once the dough is firm enough to roll, dust a wooden cutting board or counter top with gluten free flour and roll dough until 1/4 inch thick. Using round cookie cutters, cut out cookies. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes until cookies are golden around the edges. Let cookies completely cool before decorating. 
To create a turkey decorated cookie, use the royal icing (I used Betty Crocker Cake Mate Cookie Icing – you could also make your own royal icing and pipe it yourself) as your “glue” to stick 5-7 candy corn pieces on the top of the cookie, to create a “feathered” look. Place the candy corn pieces tips down (pointed ends facing down). Next, make 2 dots using the royal icing for eyes – stick the chocolate chips on the dots. Finally, create a beak and feet on the bottom of the cookie with the icing. 
Let the icing on the cookies set before stacking.  
Enjoy! 

Chobani Gluten Free Black Cherry Coconut Loaf

Black cherry Chobani is my favourite…but strawberry is a pretty delicious runner up!

My absolute favourite Chobani yogurt is Black Cherry. I love the real cherry flavour that accompanies the thick tangy Greek yogurt; I also love the bits of black cherries that are swirled throughout. I wanted to create a recipe that incorporated the delicious sweet and tangy Black Cherry Chobani, so I came up with a gluten free Black Cherry Coconut Loaf. To me, coconut pairs well with pretty much any fruit, and it certainly did in this loaf. The recipe below is gluten free, however the gluten free all purpose flour can be substituted for all purpose wheat flour. This is an easy, straightforward recipe, and the result is dense and delicious. The loaf can be served as a dessert with the Chobani Vanilla Drizzle, as a breakfast loaf with a bit of butter or simply as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea. All in all, it is nothing but good! 
You can read my guest post on the Chobani blog here.
  
GF Black Cherry Coconut Loaf
Dry Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut flour
1.5 cup gluten free all purpose flour  
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp corn starch
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded coconut
Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup Chobani Black Cherry Greek Yogurt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Chobani Vanilla Drizzle
1 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt
½ cup icing sugar
½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
3. In large bowl, combine all purpose flour, coconut flour, salt, baking powder, corn starch and sugar, stirring until combined.
4.  Stir in shredded coconut.
5. In a medium sized bowl, combine milk, vegetable oil, eggs, Chobani yogurt and vanilla extract.
6. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir until all is combined; lumpy is okay.
7.  Pour mixture into the greased and floured loaf pan.
8. Bake in the preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, until golden brown and springy to the touch.
9.  Let cool before slicing.
10. *Optional: Drizzle Chobani Vanilla Drizzle on top of sliced loaf. 

Gluten Free Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip-Coconut-Date Cookies

Gluten free – oatmeal – chocolate chip – coconut – date cookies…that is a mouthful to say, eh? It is also a mouthful of deliciousness. I was originally going to do raisins instead of dates, but then I found some plump dried dates in my pantry and thought they would pair better with both chocolate and coconut. 
These cookies can be made gluten free or not. You can replace the gluten free oats and flour with “regular” flour and oats. They pair perfectly with a cup of tea or a glass of milk!
I like the different texture and tastes within this cookie. The dates and coconut bring a chewy texture to the cookie and the chocolate chips are perfect for any chocolate craving.
GF Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip-Coconut-Date Cookies

1.5 cups gluten free all purpose flour
3 cups gluten free certified oats 
1 cup brown sugar 
1 tsp cornstarch 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
6 large medjool dates chopped 
4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup) melted 
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or grease with oil). 
Combine GF flour, GF oats, sugar, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together in 1 large bowl. Mix in chocolate chips, shredded coconut and chopped dates. 
In separate bowl melt butter and whisk in 2 eggs and vanilla. 
Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until all is combined and mixture is moist. 
Roll mixture into 2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet 1 inch apart. 12 cookies per baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. 
Let cool before serving.

GF Brownies with Salted Caramel

King Arthur’s Gluten Free Brownie mix did not disappoint! Chewy, moist, dense, rich, chocolaty, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious…I could go on and on about how amazing King Arthur’s GF Brownie mix is, but the only way you will really believe me is if you try it yourself. I have tried other gluten free brownie mixes before, but never have I had tasted anything like this. Even those who are gluten-eaters will enjoy this fabulous mix, they will never suspect that the brownies are gluten free. The only disappointing down side to all of this is that King Arthur’s mixes are not available in Canada. You can order them online, however shipping costs are an arm and a leg. The great thing about the mix is that it says right on the box that the brownies stay fresher longer…however, when I made them they didn’t last for more than 2 days (in a family of four)!
The brownies were very easy to make, I just had to mix in a couple of eggs, some water and vegetable oil into the mix, pour into the pan and bake for 40 minutes. They came out wonderfully – a little crispy around the edges and chewy in the centre; the perfect brownie. I then decided to mix up a salted caramel sauce to pour on top of the warm brownies, because really, what is better then chocolate + caramel + salt? All I can say is that the final product was delectably satisfying. My taste buds were in paradise. 

You can make these delicious Salted Caramel Brownies with any type of brownie mix, gluten free or not, but I would highly recommend trying out the King Arthur Gluten Free Brownie Mix! You can view the packing and nutritional information here.
Salted Caramel Brownies (GF)
– [Gluten Free] Brownie Mix (King Arthur’s GF Brownie Mix)
– 1 cup sugar
– 6 tbsp butter 
– 1/2 cup cream or milk (I actually used milk and they came out fine)
– 1/4 cup water
– 1 tsp sea salt
First off, mix up the brownie mix, pop in the oven and start your timer! While the brownies are baking in the oven, heat 1 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a pot over the stove, making sure not to stir. Heat mixture until it becomes a golden, amber colour, you can then mix in the cold butter. Once the butter has melted, take off the heat and whisk in the cream/milk. If using milk, keep the heat on low so that the mixture is able to reduce into a thick caramel sauce. Once the mixture is thick and creamy, stir in the salt. Let cool, and once brownies have cooled, slice a brownie, pour sauce over it and sprinkle a little bit of extra salt. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Truffles

I can’t believe that a) I haven’t made a post since July 10, and that b) I have not shared with you the most delicious gluten free, vegan, chocolate recipe! My lovely friend shared this recipe with me after she brought them to a dinner party that I hosted. You would never believe that this delicious treat was full of healthy ingredients, or that it was free of dairy. I made them for my cousin’s wedding shower a few months later, not telling anyone that the secret ingredient was dates. I thought that the cupcakes would be a hit, but the truffles flew off the dessert tray quickly and left everyone wanting more. 
I love this recipe for many reasons. First off, it is super easy, with no baking required. Secondly, it is perfect for any special diet, including vegan diets, gluten free diets and diabetics, as the dates not only form the balls, but also are used instead of sugar, making them low in the glycemic index and naturally fat free. I also love this recipe because of the health factor. Dates, coconut oil, cocoa powder, maple syrup and shredded coconut are a great combination of ingredients that are all naturally gluten free (and vegan), and offer fibre, healthy fats, amino acids and trace minerals. Did I mention how delicious and “melt-in-your-mouth” these treats are? You won’t believe me until you try them for yourselves. 
Dark Chocolate Truffles (GF, V)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
6 medjool dates 
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt 
Shredded coconut (to dip truffles in)
Combine melted coconut oil and dates – soak for 30 minutes.
Transfer oil and dates to blender and add maple syrup, cocoa powder and salt.
Chill mixture for an hour.
Roll mixture into balls (truffles). *Rubbing a bit of coconut oil into your hands before rolling the mixture into balls creates a smooth roll and less of a mess on your hands.
Once rolled into a ball, roll in shredded coconut. 
Chill in fridge before serving. 

Fig, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Crostini

I love when the summer months roll around and fresh figs are beautifully displayed in the produce section of the grocery store. I love dried figs, but fresh figs are 10x more better. They are sweet and succulent with a soft, fleshy texture and are high in antioxidants and fibre! 

Figs are a versatile fruit. They work well in salads, such as my Fig, Pear and Almond Salad, they are great on top of greek yogurt with granola, I like them with cheese, made in a glaze for meat and they are the perfect dessert.  

Ali from Running with Spatulas had asked me to write a guest post for her blog, specifically about a gluten free recipe. I wanted to create a summer appetizer with an in-season fruit or vegetable, so, I thought figs would be perfect to incorporate. I like figs best with cheese, and I also love the taste of salty prosciutto with figs, so I decided to marry these three ingredients on top of gluten free crostini to create a delicious summer bite. 

The Gut Gazette’s Fig, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Crostini

1 gluten free baguette (I used Aidan’s GF Baguette)
6 tbsp olive oil
6 fresh figs
½ cup goat cheese
8 slices of prosciutto
10 basil leaves (shredded)
Position oven rack to the top. Preheat oven to broil (500°F).
Slice the baguette into thin pieces (about 1/3 of an inch). Lay slices out on baking sheet. Spread each slice with olive oil. Broil for about 5-7 minutes, checking regularly, or until bread is golden and crisp. Flip slices over and repeat the above so that both sides of the bread are crispy and golden. While bread is cooling, slice the figs into thin slices (about 4 slices per fig), cut prosciutto slices into thirds and roll them up, and shred basil. Once bread has cooled, spread each slice with a dollop of goat cheese, layer prosciutto, a fig slice and then a drizzle of balsamic glaze topped with shredded basil. Enjoy!
The result is extremely tasty. The salty prosciutto pairs very well with the sweet fig, savory goat cheese and sour balsamic. You would never know these were gluten free!

I would love to hear what you like to pair with figs! Is there a go-to recipe you always do with figs?

Greek (Quinoa) Salad

I would have to say that my favourite kind of salad is a greek salad. I love the tangy, salty flavours and the crunch of the cucumbers and tomatos that accompany that soft feta and kalamata olives. I also love the savory, bitter taste of oregano. Oregano is key in making the perfect greek salad!
Another one of my other favourite things is quinoa! It is so versatile and has a very mild taste, which is why it is able to pair up with so many other flavours. 
Greek + quinoa? I thought the perfect side dish to a greek yogurt inspired chicken would be a Greek quinoa salad! Mmmm, was it tasty!
Greek (Quinoa) Salad
1.5 cups quinoa (uncooked)
1.5 cups cherry tomatoes (chopped)
1.5 cups cucumbers (chopped)
1 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
1/2 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
1/4 cup sweet onion (finely diced)
Combine quinoa in 3 cups of water, bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to medium and allow quinoa to simmer for about 15 minutes until fluffy and quinoa is cooked. Let cool.
Chop up tomatoes, cucumbers and olives. Dice onion and crumble feta into one large bowl. 
While the quinoa is cooling, mix up the dressing.
Greek Dressing 
1/4 cup olive oil 
3 tbsp lemon juice 
1/4 tsp dried oregano 
1/4 tsp salt
pinch of peper 
Whisk the above ingredients.
Once quinoa has cooled, mix it into the bowl with the other ingredients. Pour dressing over top and stir to combine. 

Carrot Coconut Muffins w/ Cream Cheese Icing

Remember my post about the greatest pancake mix? King Arthur’s pancake mix? Well my friends, let me introduce you to the most delicious muffin mix. King Arthur sent me a box of their gluten free muffin mix, quoted by my mother: “these are the most delicious muffins, I can’t believe these are gluten free…you would never know they were gluten free if you didn’t know!”.  The muffins were light, fluffy, full of flavour and they actually rose, they weren’t dense little muffins (like gluten free muffins are usually like). My sister and I baked together, it was tons of fun. The mix calls for an optional 1.5 cups of add-ins, so we decided on shredded carrots and coconut. Good call on our part! To view the packaging and nutritional information, please click here!
The mix was easy to follow, all we had to do was beat in melted butter, eggs and milk. The mix made 12 muffins. Not only are they gluten free but also soy and nut free. I love the fact that this basic mix can allow you to create any muffin you want…I’m thinking blueberry, lemon cranberry, lemon poppyseed, cinnamon raisin, and chocolate chip banana…the ideas are endless. 
What is a carrot muffin without a little bit of icing, eh? My sister and I were really feeling a bit of cream cheese icing. We decided to embark on a homemade icing, one that we had never attempted before. It was crazy easy and crazy delicious. We were dipping strawberries in it this afternoon, so evidently it can serve as a fruit dip too! 
Cream cheese icing/fruit dip!
1/2 package of cream cheese
2 tbsp butter (soft)
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract 
Blend cream cheese and butter until smooth, add in icing sugar and vanilla, beat until combined. Voila! 
After the muffins cooled, we spread the icing on top and wow, was it ever amazing. I loved the sweet base of the muffin with the undertone of the coconut and the crunchy sweetness of the carrots. The cream cheese icing was the perfect combination of tangy and sweet, and it was the perfect topping for the fluffy muffins. 
These will definitely be repeated. I can’t believe how good they were. 

King Arthur’s can only be purchased in the USA but it can be shipped to Canada, yay! What kind of muffin would you make with this mix? I would love to hear!

Watermelon Feta and Basil Salad

Ingredients
1/2 a watermelon cut into 1inch cubes
1 cup fets crumbled 
3 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of basil ~1/3 cup chopped coarsely 
1 tsp salt (I used fleur de sel)
1/2 tsp black ground pepper
Cut watermelon into 1 inch cubes, put into a large bowl. Crumble feta and mix in with the watermelon. Mix in basil, oil, salt and pepper.
It seems a bit strange to mix watermelon with not only cheese but olive oil and salt…however, I know you will love this recipe. It is fresh, a great balance of sweet and salty and the perfect summer side dish. Pairs well with grilled chicken, mixed greens and potato salad. Enjoy!