Pecan (faux) Meatballs

This is a recipe I get asked for all the time, that’s why I’m sharing it “tried and true”. In fact, omnivores don’t believe me when I tell them these faux meatballs are  vegetarian all the way, because they taste like real meat.  Hmmmmm, might have something to do with the fact that these are made almost exactly like real meatballs, but with pecan meal instead of hamburger meat.  Knowing that, think of the many ways meat dishes can be made veggie without using that nasty texturized vegetable protein (TVP), yet another substance I don’t believe in.

As I request in all the recipes I post- if you make these, let me know what you think- and also relay if you tweaked the recipe in any way to accommodate your pallet.

Until next time.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup pecan meal (whole pecans run through food processor)
1 ¼ cups dry bread crumbs (preferably whole grain- I used gluten free in this batch)
1 ½ cups grated longhorn cheddar cheese (or colby jack…)
½ cup finely chopped onion
4 eggs (sometimes only 3 eggs)
½ tsp. each: salt, basil, garlic powder (I use fresh garlic most of the time)
¼ tsp. thyme

pecan balls uncooked

Directions:

Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees.
-Mix all ingredients together.
–Form into approximately 1 Tablespoon size balls (or slightly larger).
—Fry/ sauté slowly in a shallow layer of high heat (vegetable) oil until brown.

added to fry fryin' up in the pan
—-Put meatballs in casserole dish, cover with your own desired amount of BBQ sauce,

ready to bake BBQ'ed up
—–and heat in oven approximately 30 minutes.

 

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Gluten Free Mixes: Tried…and the Truth

I prefer to make all my baking foods from scratch, but lately I’ve been tempted to try some of those gluten free mixes that I’ve seen in the stores. So, today I am going to share with you my outcome and opinions of two particular gluten-free mixes I tried recently. The first being Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix.

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Bread Mix

Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Bread Mix

I don’t have a bread machine (and I don’t believe in them), so I followed the basic bread making directions on the package.  It was fairly   simple to make and I actually had a better outcome with this bread mix than when I have made it from scratch. My problem in the past has been getting the dough to rise. Really, it’s probably because my kitchen is too cold in the winter when I’ve tried to make it, or my water added to the yeast is too hot or not warm enough…. Oye vey, the trials and tribulations of baking yeast breads.

Overall, I give this bread mix two thumbs up, as it was easy to make and it cooked up soft, rather than dry like alot of gluten-free breads I’ve tried. Udi’s has been rated the best gluten-free bread on the market….and this one tops it by far.

gluten-free bread

The only thing I do not like about any of the gluten-free breads I’ve tried so far is the crust. I ended up with the same crust outcome as what I get from an Udi’s loaf.  I am not a regular crust hater, I do not usually cut my crust off bread-  but this one I do because it is too thick and dominant. Yeah, I think dominant is the right word. an internal view of gluten-free bread loaf

Anyway, this mix can be purchased on vitacost.com (along with other gluten-free products and flours) for a reasonable price. Shipping is a flat rate of $4.99. So be sure to shop around for beauty products, lotions, etc. and make the shopping worth your while.

The other gluten-free mix I tried was Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Brownie Mix for $3.99.  I thought this would be a wonderful Valentine’s Day goodie for my family, and boy I was wrong.

TJ's Gluten Free Brownie Mix

TJ’s Gluten Free Brownie Mix

It may have something to do with the fact that while it was baking I couldn’t tell if it  was done, so I may have over-baked it. But I promise- I did bake it for the recommended 30 minutes, and while it was baking the oil slightly rose to the surface giving it this consistently shiny appearance.

As you will notice in my final result pic, I added chocolate chips to the mix, per recipe recommendation.  Overall, I give this mix one thumb up, and one thumb down. They actually tasted really good, so I cannot give it two thumbs down…..and if you like crispy brownies then you will like these. My son loves them, but although I like a crispy outer edge on my brownie, I also like a gooey chewy center- and these are NOT that.

gluten-free brownies

final result of gluten-free brownies

So after these experiences, I will most likely continue to tweak basic recipes to partially gluten-free (half and half with the flours), and fully gluten-free rather than buy mixes…until the next time I am tempted of course. But no matter what, I will give you my truthful opinion, and always share with you my successes and failures; and if there’s a recipe for it, it will be here.

Cherry-Almond Granola Bars

  • From Bon Appetit 2012

    I made these bars around the Winter Solstice holiday of 2012 and they were fabulous!!!!! The first time I made them I didn’t have sunflower seeds, yet I don’t think it affected my final product negatively. Also because the flavor of the flaxseeds was more prominent than I wanted, this second time around I only used 1 tablespoon of flax seeds rather than 2.  I also toasted the coconut a little, used dried cranberries instead of dried cherries, and because I love the crunch of nuts, I added 1/4 cup of pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds).  For some added flavors I added 1/4 teaspoon vanilla to the liquid ingredients, along with 1 teaspoon of crystalized ginger.  These can also be made vegan by replacing honey with agave nectar. To eliminate any confusion regarding my recipe tweaks, I will repeat these changes, highlighting them in bold, as I go into the recipe below……

    homemade granola bars

    Cherry-Almond Granola Bars: 

    INGREDIENTS:
    2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats

    3/4 cup whole raw almonds

    1/4 cup coconut oil plus more

    3/4 cup (4 ounces) coarsely chopped dried tart cherries (second time around I used dried cranberries instead)

    3/4 cup (3 ounces) unsweetened finely shredded coconut

    1/2 cup (3 ounces) roasted unsalted shelled sunflower seeds

    2 tablespoons flaxseeds, toasted (second time around I used 1 tablespoon)

    1/4 cup pepitas  (my addition)

    1/2 cup honey (vegan alterations, use agave nectar- maybe even experiment with date or rice syrup)

    1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar

    1/4 teaspoon vanilla (my addition)

    1 teaspoon crystalized ginger (my addition)

    1 teaspoon kosher salt

    (INGREDIENT INFO)
    Coconut oil, unsweetened finely shredded coconut, crystalized ginger, pepitas and flaxseeds can be found at natural foods stores and some supermarkets.

    crystalized ginger coconut oilpepitas

    PREPARATION
    Preheat oven to 400°. Mix oats and almonds on a large heavy rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring once, until just golden, about 10 minutes. If you want to toast the coconut as I did the second time around, bake almonds and oats for 8 minutes, then add coconut and toast for the remainder 2 minutes or so.) Transfer to a wire rack; let cool on sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

    almonds & oats
    Meanwhile, brush a 13 x 9 x 2-inch metal or glass baking dish with coconut oil. Line with parchment paper, allowing it to extend over long sides. Brush paper with coconut oil.

    lined pan brushed with oil
    Brush a large bowl generously with oil. Place oat mixture, cherries, coconut, sunflower seeds, and flaxseeds in bowl.

    dry ingredients mixed
    Bring 1/4 cup oil, honey, sugar, and salt to a boil in a medium heavy deep saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 1 minute.

    IMG_1726

    If adding the crystalized ginger, pulverize in a food processor- I use my mini food processor.

    ginger pulverized ginger

    Then add the ginger and vanilla to the honey/ brown sugar concoction.  Immediately pour over oat mixture in bowl. Using a heatproof spatula, stir until evenly coated. Transfer granola to prepared pan. Lightly press evenly into pan; smooth top. I coated my palms with coconut oil before pressing the mixture into the pan- prevents sticking. 

    pressed into pan

    Bake for 10 minutes. Turn pan; continue baking until golden brown with slightly darker edges, about 15 minutes longer.Transfer pan to a wire rack and let granola cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift granola from pan. Cut into 24 bars. DO AHEAD Bars can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

    lifted out of pan with parchment paper homemade granola bars, pre cut cut in squares

    Per my usual request, if you make these: let me know what you think, whether or not you added your own tweaks, what they were if you did, and your outcome…….Enjoy!