Monday, December 15, 2014

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free)

Christmas Cookie Time!!!

This is my third year participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I finally had the guts to participate in the gluten free category. I love receiving and buying gluten free cookies, but had not yet mastered the art of gluten free baking (except for my one go to recipe for Oatmeal Nut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies). Since I had already posted that recipe on my blog, I couldn't use it for the 2014 Cookie Swap. 

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free) |

I started by testing a new version of the Oatmeal cookies. Instead of peanut butter, I used almond cocoa butter, which pretty much just resulted in a very flat, spread out crisp, so I kept testing. 

It took me about 5 tries, but I finally perfected the thin, crispy, chocolate-y cookies I like to call Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies! I was determined to make something good enough for my fellow gluten free food bloggers and stand up to the US Postal Service and their "delicate" shipping methods.

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free) |

Regardless of the hurdles, I prevailed with a successful recipe and many cookies to spread around to friends, family and coworkers. 

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is so much fun, something I look forward to every year. I love the camaraderie of the food blogger network and the encouragement and praise (and social media frenzy) of all the recipes and cookies! This year, I was extra excited to receive my cookies in the mail because I knew they were all going to be gluten free! This year I received:
All I need now is a tall glass of cold milk!

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free) |

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies 

Yields: 3-4 dozen 
Prep Time: 15 minutes 
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

1 cup almond cocoa butter (used Trader Joe's)
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup gluten free oat flour (used Bob’s Red Mill)
3 cups rolled oats (gluten free)
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted and chopped
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a SilPat.

In the bowl of a standing mixer combine sugar, brown sugar and cocoa almond butter and beat until creamy. 

Add in the eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and baking soda and mix well before added in the oat flour. Turn the mixer off and stir in the oats, chocolate chips and almonds by hand. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Using a teaspoon, form small balls of dough and spread out at least 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Keep a bowl of water near by to dip fingers in when forming the dough balls since the dough will be sticky.

Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes until they puff up. Remove from the oven and let sit on the cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes before removing and cooling on a rack.

If you like really crispy cookies, bake for a total of 10 minutes.

Chocolate Almond Oat Cookies (Gluten Free) |

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Instead of filling your inboxes and social media feeds with another Thanksgiving recipe, I thought I would focus on one of the holiday traditions in my family....Oysters!

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

There are many reasons why Fall is my favorite season in North Carolina, but oysters are definitely at the top of that list! I LOVE fresh oysters! There is nothing better than using brute force to crack open the shell and slurp up the briny, delicious prize from inside.

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

I realize that last statement might not sound that appetizing to most people, but I just can't help myself. It is one of the few ocean gems that I don't mind working for to eat. As long as I can remember, I have enjoyed them, but I am sure there was a moment when I was younger where I stared an oyster in the face and truly questioned whether I should bet my life on a raw thing that looked like a booger. 

Luckily for me, that was sooooo long ago that I don't remember it, so for now, my unwavering love for oysters continues! They are coming in hot right now in NC too. The Hubby and I are always following Locals Seafood to know what is coming in fresh from the NC coast. The other night, we got several dozen Wild Harvest oysters for less than $20. The catch is that you have to clean and open them yourselves, but with the training I have from my Father, I was in good shape!

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

The Hubby and I prefer to eat them raw, but most people grill, bake or steam them. I found a few good recipes for folks to peruse:

If you are brave enough to eat them raw, be prepared for a bit of a workout to get them open. Raw oysters are much harder to open, so the proper tool and technique is very important! A lot of helpful information can be found here on how to shuck oysters.

Then all you need to pull off your Oyster on the Half Shell plater is a few accouterments: lemon wedges, hot sauce, melted butter, chow chow or other pickled shallots.

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

We prefer to eat the oysters by themselves because we will eat so many, but they can be served with anything, or as an appetizer.

Check out Locals Seafood for their latest Market Selection straight from the NC coast! Happy shucking!

Happy Thanksgiving & Oyster Season in NC |

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Vegetarian Gumbo

Watch out everyone, the Polar Vortex is coming!! At least, according to every news and weather station. In my opinion it doesn't really seem to be heading towards NC. The weather forecast just looks like the normal late fall and early winter I missing something? 

Vegetarian Gumbo |

Regardless of the Weather Man being right or wrong, cold weather is creeping in, which means I plan to make a large pot of soup, or in this case, gumbo. I threw this one together on a whim a few weeks back when we had vegetarian friends over for dinner. It then took me two more attempts to actually write the recipe down and perfect the amounts! Hate it when I do that sometimes. 

Vegetarian Gumbo | www.kettlercuisine.comVegetarian Gumbo | www.kettlercuisine.comVegetarian Gumbo |

Anyways, this is a great soup, or, gumbo for a large crowd with various dietary needs. You basically start with a vegetarian soup, then have the option to add grains and meat for those that want it. The Hubby and I personally love adding in spicy pork sausage (that we from Fickle Creek Farm - love those guys)! 

So, grab a blanket, light the fire and whip up a pot of my Vegetarian Gumbo! 

Vegetarian Gumbo |

Great with rice, grits or cornbread.

Vegetarian Gumbo

Yields: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

2 Tablespoons all purpose flour (use gluten free if needed)

3 Tablespoons butter (only for vegetarian version)
1 large onion, finely diced
2 carrots, cut into rounds
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced

3 cups vegetable stock, separated
1 cup tomato sauce
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 cups button mushrooms or crimini mushrooms, quartered
2 cups fresh Romano beans or green beans, chopped
1 Tablespoon dry sage
Tablespoon dry thyme
Tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1 Tablespoon chili powder
Tablespoons soy sauce (use Tamari if gluten free)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Parmesan rind (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 pound Sage Hot pork sausage (optional for non-vegetarian version)
Rice or grits for serving (optional)

First step, chop all the vegetables! This is definitely a recipe where you want to have your mise en place (stuff in place).

In a large soup pot, prepare the roux:

  • Vegetarian version - Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Stir in the flour and continue to stir constantly for around 5 minutes until the roux is a few shades darker.
  • Non-vegetarian version - Heat a large soup pot over medium heat and cook the sausage through. Remove the sausage and set aside, reserving the rendered fat in the pot. Stir in the flour and continue to stir constantly for around 5 minutes until the roux is a few shades darker.
Add the onions, carrots and garlic along with a quarter cup of vegetable stock so the roux doesnt burn (the mixture will be thick and pasty). Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions soften and the broth has evaporated.

Stir in the tomato sauce, bell peppers, mushrooms and beans and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. 
Add the herbs, spices and soy sauce and mix well.

Stir in the canned beans and rest of vegetable stock and Parmesan rind and allow the gumbo to come to a boil over medium-high heat. If the gumbo is too thick, add more broth. Lower the heat to a simmer and let everything cook for another 10 minutes.

Vegetarian Gumbo |