New Horizons, New Opportunities!

Tolay Lake

I have officially moved my food blog to a new website, Noel’s Noms! Three Chicks Talking About Food will stay up, but I will no longer be posting entries here. In addition to migrating my old entries to the new site, I will be posting new exciting recipes and reviews. Thank you to everyone for checking out this little blog and to my subscribers. I hope to see you at the new location!

For those of you who are new to my blogging adventures, welcome! I was previously blogging here as one of the “Three Chicks”. For a while, there were two authors (one of my girl friends and me) but then just me for a long time. A very long time. I wanted to move to my own space but did not know where to begin. I also knew I could no longer keep writing here. I took an extended break when I lost steam and life got busy. I contemplated getting back into writing as well as the new website (where it should be, what it should look like, how it should change). In the meantime, I was still trying new restaurants and new food, but I was not sharing my experiences like I was before, which felt wrong somehow. Something was missing. I wanted to write.

I started blogging again in February but was not motivated to regularly. I needed a place to call my own, something that was just mine. I had spoken with my husband about it for a while, weighing options, and last night he helped me start the process of putting together a new site, so here we go. I’m off on a new adventure!

Cheesy Lemon Thyme Millet Squares

I initially found this recipe on the back of an Arrowhead Mills puffed millet package I bought for my gingerbread marshmillets. Using the millet in a savory dish sounded interesting, and I was wondering how else I could use puffed milled beyond cereal and bird seed. The original recipe called for sharp cheddar cheese and wheat-based pastry flour, so I had to alter the recipe. Since I was making substitutions to the recipe anyway, I opted for a “chia egg” rather than the standard chicken variety and thyme rather than dill.

Cheesy Lemon Thyme Millet Squares-1

Honestly, replacing the sharp cheddar with cheddar-style shreds was a mistake. I have discovered I do not actually like Daiya’s cheddar; they taste is very strong and rather off. I do hope they change their recipe soon. The only recognizably cheddar-like property of these shreds is the color; otherwise, they taste like mildly cheesy peas. It was very hard to mask the pea flavor even after I added more spices. The only way I was able to mellow the flavor was to add sliced avocado on top; hummus or chicken salad might also work. I’m sure including real cheddar cheese would taste lovely. Maybe I will try Daiya’s Pepper Jack-Style Shreds in the future to improve my dairy-free version of the squares.

Cheesy Thyme Millet Squares
These can accompany entrees in lieu of bread or can be used as appetizers topped with various spreads, like hummus, tempenade, or bruschetta.

Yields 9 servings

1 C Daiya Cheese-Style Shreds
1 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Pinch Fine Grain Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Fresh Minced Garlic
Dash Sweet California Paprika
1/4 tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika, more to taste
1/8 tsp Ground Mixed Peppercorns
3 T Earth Balance Spread, melted
1/2 C Fine Ground Buckwheat Flour
1 Chia Egg (1 T Ground Chia Seeds + 4-6 T Filtered Water)
1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 Lemon, juice of
2 C Puffed Millet Cereal
Topping (see description above), optional

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease an 8″ square baking dish.

In large mixing bowl, combine the cheese, thyme, seasonings, spread, flour and baking soda. Stir in the lemon juice. Fold in the millet. Bake for 25 or until the top starts to brown. Cut into squares. Decorate as desired. Serve warm.

Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Spaghetti squash is a great option for people who want pasta without gluten or lots of carbohydrates. It readily absorbs flavors from sauce, herbs, and spices, so it blends very well with other ingredients. It is also easy to prepare; please see my Spaghetti Squash post for roasting directions. Spaghetti squash provides a lovely splash of color to any noodle dish, unlike bland beige wheat noodles.

Italian Sausage Spaghetti Squash Casserole 1A

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare spaghetti squash. It is so colorful and flavorful, and it is easy to create various color and flavor combinations with different veggies. Additionally, you can use any protein you prefer, like veggie sausage, ground meat, cubed chicken, soy or hemp tofu, pine nuts, etc. You can also always dress your spaghetti squash with pasta sauces, too.

Keep in mind you are going to need a very large bowl to mix all of the components. It has been a while since, I used this recipe, so I quickly ran out of room as I added ingredients. I spit the recipe into two stages, mixing the squash, sausage, dried herbs, and cheese in one large Corning Ware dish and the fresh herbs and remaining vegetables in another. I used a third smaller bowl to help transfer half of the contents one bowl into the other, so I could incorporate all the ingredients together into each bowl and keep the right proportions. As a side note, even though I added the Daiya cheese to the sausage and squash while they were hot, it did not melt properly. Daiya’s shreds require higher temperatures to melt than dairy cheese, so I suggest reheating the casserole before it is served.

Italian Sausage Spaghetti Squash Casserole 2A

Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Yields 14 to 16 servings

1 Med Spaghetti Squash, roasted, skin removed
1 T Dried Ground Sage
1 T Dried Oregano
2-3 T Fresh Thyme
1 Bunch or 3 C Spinach or Kale, torn into bite-size pieces
1 Bunch or 1/2 C Fresh Sweet Basil, chopped
Olive or Grape Seed Oil for cooking
3/4 – 1 lbs Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
3/4 – 1 lbs Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage
1 10-oz pkg Daiya Mozzarella-Style Shreds
1 Medium Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
3 T Fresh or Bottled Minced Garlic
1 lb String Beans, cut into 1″ lengths
3 Med Yellow or Orange Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped
4 oz Pea Spouts with long shoots, separated
Ground Peppercorns, to taste
Sea Salt, to taste

Be careful not to burn your fingers while handling the squash. In a large bowl, break up the squash into noodles with a fork. Mix the herbs and greens into the squash. Set aside to allow the dried herbs to absorb moisture from the noodles and the greens to wilt a bit.

Oil a large pan. If the sausage came in casings, remove them. Brown the sausage over medium heat. Mix the sausage and cheese-style shreds into the squash.

Saute the onion, garlic, and beans together in a large oiled pan. Add to the squash with the salt, pepper,  tomatoes, and sprouts. Serve and enjoy!

Anytime Oatmeal Cookies

I absolutely love oatmeal cookies! These have nuts, dried fruit, and oats with lots of fiber, protein, and other nutrients, and since the dough is low in fat and sugar, these cookies are also great any time of the day. You can also warm up a small bowl full to eat like regular oatmeal. As these cookies are completely vegan (and therefore eggless), you can safely eat the dough raw. If you like, you can even makes these cookies raw vegan (with raw oats, apples, and almonds) by dehydrating them instead of baking in the oven.

This recipe is so neat! As the dough does not spread out during baking, you can shape the cookies however you like, even into bars, which makes it easier to take them on trips or to work or school. You can completely customize the ingredients too with eggs, milk, and whatever fruit and seed/nut combination you want. If you have problems with fiber, you can choose to leave out the bran entirely or add more, just make sure you adjust the amount of liquids you add. This recipe is 4 5/8 cups of liquid, 4 7/8 cups of oatmeal cookie dough, and 6 3/4 cups of mix-ins, so you will need a very, very large mixing bowl. You can, of course, reduce the amounts to create a smaller batch. There are so many options.

Cosmic Cookies6

Gluten-Free Cosmic Cookies
Adapted from Cosmic Cookies on Wellsphere.
I like these cookies so much that I doubled the recipe to add a greater variety of ingredients.

Yields about 60 cookies

1 1/4 C Warm Filtered Water
1/4 C Chia or Flax Seeds, course ground
1 C + 2 T Hulled Oats
1 C + 2 T Oat Bran
1 C Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1 C Almond Flour
1/2 C Sucanat
1/2 C Evaporated Cane Juice
1 T Ground Cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/2 C Sunflower Seeds
1/2 C Pumpkin Seeds
1/4 C Hemp Seeds
1/2 C Chopped Walnuts or Pecans, shelled, chopped
1 C Dark Chocolate Chips
1 C Dairy-Free Malted or Regular Carob Chips
1/2 C Sulfur-Free Unsweetened Finely Shredded Coconut
1/2 C Dried Cranberries
1/2 C Golden Raisins
1/2 C Chopped Dried Figs
1/2 C Chopped Apricots
5 T + 1/8 tsp Blue Agave Nectar
1/4 C Sulfur-Free Blackstrap Molasses
1/4 C Filtered Water
1 C Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1 C Almond or Other Dairy-Free Milk

In a small bowl with a fork, beat ground chia or flax seeds together with 1 1/4 cup water. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to allow seeds to gel and soak up the liquid, stirring about every five minutes to avoid clumps.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2-3 baking trays with parchment paper.

Cosmic Cookies1

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Cosmic Cookies2

In a medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients, including remaining 1/4 cup water. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry.

Cosmic Cookies3

Use a 1/3 measuring cup to portion out the dough about two inches apart onto baking sheets. Gently flatten cookies with your fingers or a spoon, as this dough will not spread out as it cooks. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cosmic Cookies4

Carrot Pineapple Cake Bars

Thankfully, I have my own walnut tree, which I have luckily been able to reshape into an actual tree rather than letting the local “arborists” continue to butcher it into a sad, ugly twig-like thing. For a while, it alternatively looked like an overgrown shrub with leafy English walnut branches on the top and black walnut on the bottom until I learned out to properly trim it. Two years ago, we got only six walnuts and thirteen the following year. Last autumn, I picked over five gallons worth (about two minus husks). Unfortunately due to holiday preparations and other obligations, I could not take care of all of them before they started getting buggy, so I left the unprocessed ones out for neighborhood crows. (I do not recommend this. Leaving the nuts out was a big mistake, since the crows have chased away many other birds. I sincerely hope they have not crammed walnuts between my roof shingles and buried more in the backyard. Note to self: Make time in autumn to process all of the nuts. I might have to minimize the work with a walnut shucking party.)

Double Walnut Tree

As black walnuts are readily available during the autumn harvest season and I had not worked with them before, I was feeling daring and thought I would give them a try. If you are up for a challenge, go for it, but be forewarned: black walnuts are much harder to open than their English cousins, and I recommend using a vice to avoid powdering the meat when trying to remove it from the shells. The labor and time are well-worth the tasty flavor provided by this native variety. Alternatively, you can also buy shelled chopped black walnuts at the store when they are in season. If you are lucky enough to end up with lots of nuts, you can always freeze them for later.

I made a delicious carrot pineapple poke cake as an alternative to chocolate for a friend’s recent holiday party. The original recipe was very glutenous and scrumptious, but I have included a gluten-free vegan version below. If you want frost the cake bars, please see the frosting recipe link below.

Carrot Pineapple Cake Bars

Carrot Pineapple Poke Cake Bars
Adapted from Carrot & Spice Bars in The Great American Cookie Cookbook by Publications International.

Yields 40 – 50 Bars

1 C Unsweetened Plain Non-Dairy Milk
1/4 C Earth Balance
1 C Oat Bran
2 T Flax or Chia Seeds, course ground
6 – 8 T Filtered Water or Pineapple Juice, room temperature
2 1/2 C Pureed Carrot
3/4 C Grated or Pureed Carrot
1/3 C Chopped Raisins
1/3 C Crushed Pineapple, optional
1 tsp Orange Zest
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 C Gluten-Free All Purpose or Oat Flour
2 tsp Xanthan Gum
3/4 C Evaporated Cane Juice or Sucanat
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 C Pineapple Juice
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, optional
1/4 C Prepared Chopped Black or English Walnuts

In a small bowl, thoroughly beat the ground seeds into six tablespoons of the juice. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every five minutes to prevent clumping. If the “eggs” are too thick, stir in more juice or water, one tablespoon at a time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and dust 9-inch by 13-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, simmer the non-dairy milk and spread until the spread completely melts, stirring often. Remove from heat. Stir in the oat bran and set aside for 5 minutes to absorb some of the liquid. Whisk in the “chia eggs.” Add the carrots, raisins, zest, crushed pineapple (if desired), and vanilla.

Combine the flour, gum, sugar, soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add in the carrot mixture, using an electric mixer to thoroughly incorporate the ingredients. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula.

Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and the cake edges come away from the sides of the dish. Remove from heat. Poke the cake across the top with a fork in one-inch intervals. Pour on the juice evenly over the top. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Frost if desired. Sprinkle on the nuts, and lightly press them into the cake. Slice the cake into bars about one by two inches big. Serve and enjoy!

This cake is very moist. Store it in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator.

Carrot Cake with Almond Flour

I love the almond flour recipe book by Elana Amsterdam! It contains so many great recipes (including almond flour pancakes) and inspiring pictures. She also wrote Paleo Cooking and Gluten-Free Cupcakes, which look equally amazing. Elana was diagnosed with celiac disease at least 10 years ago, which caused her to completely change her diet and become gluten-free.

Carrot Cake with Almond Flour Unfrosted

The other day, I happened to stumble upon her website while looking for a gluten-free carrot cake recipe for a girl friend’s birthday. I wanted to ensure there was something I could actually eat and not merely drool over from afar. The carrot cake on her website looked amazing and very similar to the spice cake in her almond flour cookbook but contains raisins rather than chopped prunes. I also really enjoy spice cake, too, by the way, so I shall have to try out this recipe later but with either her Creme Patissiere (also in her almond flour book) or the vegan cream cheese frosting I used on my red velvet cake, not the creme fraiche or the whipped cream that she recommends (I’m allergic).

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Frosted

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
Adapted from Elana Amsterdam’s carrot cake recipe from her website, Elana’s Pantry.
Elana topped her carrot cake with coconut cream frosting, but I topped my cake with the same cream cheese frosting that I spread on my red velvet brownies.

Yields 12 Servings

5 T Chia Seeds, course ground
1 C Pineapple Juice
1/2 C Warm Filtered Water
3 C Almond Meal or Blanched Almond Flour
1 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 T Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/4 C Unsweetened Apple Sauce
2 T Grapeseed Oil
3 C Raw Carrot Puree
1 C Thompson Seedless Raisins, chopped or pureed
1 C Prepared Chopped Walnuts or Pecans, optional
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, optional

Mix the chia meal, juice and water together thoroughly with fork in medium bowl. Set aside for 15 so 20 minutes to allow seeds to gel, stirring every five minutes to prevent clumping.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour-dust a glass 9″ X 13″ baking dish.

With a fork, mix the flour, salt, and spices in a large bowl, breaking up any lumps.

Mix two tablespoons agave, the apple sauce, and oil into the chia “eggs.” Add in the puree, raisins, and nuts (if you are using them). Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Add up to the last remaining two tablespoons of agave to achieve your desired level of sweetness.

Pour the batter into the baking dish. Bake the cake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 35 minutes of baking will provide moist, bread pudding-like consistency, whereas cooking off more liquid will lend to a more cake-like confection. Cool completely on a rack away from heat. Frost the top of the cake as desired for a sweet dessert, or exclude the frosting for a delectable anytime treat. Serve and enjoy!

Super Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Super Chocolate Reeses Cookies 2

Who doesn’t love chocolate and peanut butter? These cookies are perfect for satisfying your chocolate and peanut butter cravings. Thankfully the adaptation that I have included below is much healthier than the original.

At first when I tried this recipe, I made the cookies healthier by including less butter and more apple sauce, but did not take the candy coating of the peanut butter buttons into to consideration. With all of the water-based wet ingredients, it did not take long for the candy shells to dissolve and the colors to run. When I tried making the cookies again with peanut butter chunks, they turned out much better. If you do decide to peanut butter buttons, increase the amount of butter and decrease the apple sauce. If you want to boost the peanut butter flavor of the dough, replace some of the butter with peanut butter.

Super Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies 3

Super Chunky Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Adapted from Super Chocolate Cookies published in The Great American Cookie Cookbook.

Yields 18 to 20 Cookies

2 T Chia or Flax Seeds, course ground
6 – 8 T Warm Filtered Water
2 C Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/3 C Unsweetened Cacao
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 C Earth Balance, softened
1/2 C Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1 1/3 C Sucanat, ground
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 C Candy-Coated Peanut Butter Buttons
OR 1 1/2 C Peanut Butter Chunks or Chips
1 1/2 C Chocolate Chunks or Chips

In a small bowl with a fork, beat ground chia or flax seeds together with water. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes to allow seeds to gel and soak up the liquid, stirring about every five minutes to avoid clumping.

Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

Into a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients, from flour to salt.

In a large bowl, cream together the spread, apple sauce, and sucanat with an electric mixer. Beat in the seed “eggs” and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated. Gradually mix the sifted ingredients into the creamed. Fold in the candy pieces.

Super Chocolate Reeses Cookies 1

Spoon cookie dough in 1/4-cup portions onto baking sheets about 3 inches apart. Slightly flatten cookies to roughly 4 inches in diameter. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for 5 minutes or until they do not buckle when lifting them with a spatula. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely or until just cool enough to eat. Enjoy!

Super Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies 1