Mary's Busy Kitchen

Mary's Busy Kitchen

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Dessert in a cast iron skillet - Cookies & Brownies

Chocolate chip cookie in a cast iron skillet.

Dessert in a cast iron's basically just another method for baking, but it's fun and looks extra special.

You can use a mini sized skillet or a larger one.

Brownie in a cast iron skillet.

Try a mini sized skillet for individual servings or for two people, and a larger cast iron skillet for the whole family or a group of friends.

Everyone needs a spoon so they can dig in together...of course with several scoops of ice cream on top.

Use any favorite cookie recipe and spoon 3/4 to 1 cup dough into the cast iron skillet, or use this recipe to make 4 mini Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies:

6 Tbsp salted butter, softened or shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350. Very lightly butter cast iron skillets.
Combine butter or shortening and sugars. Mix well. Add egg and vanilla, mix well.
Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir to mix. Fold in remaining ingredients.

Transfer dough to prepared cast iron skillets. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or desired doneness.
Let cool 5-8 minutes or longer before serving.

Top with ice cream or a non-dairy product. Shown here is SoDelicious Creamy Vanilla.

Brownies are another delicious option for your mini cast iron skillets.

Serve warm with ice cream or a non-dairy product, or let them cool completely and frost. I also like to sprinkle on some nuts and mini chocolate chips. And of course it's never too late to add that scoop of ice cream!

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter skillet.
To each mini skillet add 3/4 to 1 cup of your favorite brownie batter.
Bake about 18-22 minutes or to desired doneness.
Let sit 5-8 minutes before serving.
Or let cool completely and frost.  

Or try this recipe:
1/2 cup oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
mini chocolate chips - optional
nuts - optional

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly butter skillet.
Mix oil and sugar together. 
Add vanilla and eggs, mix well.
Add cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
Transfer dough into prepared skillets. Bake for 18-22 minutes. Check center with toothpick for desired doneness.
Let cool 5-8 minutes before serving or let cool completely to frost. Top with chocolate chips and nuts.

Enjoy! And have fun exploring more ways to use your cast iron skillets.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Healthier Corn Bread - egg free, low sugar and always a gluten free option.

If you are looking for a traditional corn bread recipe that practically melts in your mouth, click on this link, Corny or Homestyle Cornbread. There is a healthy option on that post too.

I like to try new recipes all the time and offer folks lots of options. This recipe not only eliminates eggs and gives you a dairy free option,...but also reduces the sugar content by half. Of course you can also use gluten free flour too. I got this recipe idea from

This healthier corn bread is not going to be as moist as your traditional corn bread recipe...but sometimes that's part of making a healthier choice.  Try dipping the cornbread in your soup or chili before taking a bite instead of adding butter to your piece.

If you count weight watcher points, each square has 6.6 points.

Healthier Corn Bread                9 squares
2 cups cornmeal.
1 cup unbleached flour, gluten free baking blend if necessary.
2 tsp baking powder.
1/2 tsp salt.
2 cups low-fat milk or a non-dairy substitute. I used soy milk.
2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup or agave syrup.
1/3 cup melted coconut oil.

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare a 8x8 or 9x9-inch square pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a medium size bowl combine the milk or non-dairy substitute and apple cider. Wisk together and set aside.

In another medium size bowl add all dry ingredients (the first 4 listed). Mix well.

Add pure maple syrup and melted coconut oil to milk mixture. Wisk together until foamy.
Add dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Mixture will be thick.
Spoon into prepared baking pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Serve up with some soup or chili and enjoy!                                                                                                                                                                      

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly Coconut-Oat Cookies

No one is going to know these are healthy cookies. You can make these gluten free or use whole wheat pastry flour if gluten free isn't necessary. 

These cookies are soft and flavorful without eggs or butter. I found this recipe in The China Study Cookbook. The original cookies are called, Coconut Oatmeal Cookies. I made a few changes for my own personal needs. And I will be making them again and again!

If you count weight watcher points each of the larger size cookies are 3 points each, and each of the smaller size cookies are 2.4 points each. 

I made my husband a batch using whole wheat pastry flour and added nuts and raisins. He isn't gluten free.
And I made mine using a gluten free flour blend and added dried cherries, nuts and allergy friendly mini chocolate chips.


Gluten Free, Allergy Friendly Coconut-Oat Cookies            Makes 17 large or 23 small cookies
1 banana.
1 cup dairy free milk substitute, I used soy milk.
1/2 sugar or a sugar cane alternative. I used beet sugar.
1 tsp vanilla.
1 tsp white vinegar.
1 cup gluten free rolled oats.
1 cup gluten free flour, any will do.  You can also purchase a ready-made baking blend or try one of these at this link,  Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blends.
1/2 tsp baking soda.
1/2 tsp baking powder.
1/2 unsweetened shredded coconut.
1/3 cup chopped walnuts, or any nut of choice.
1/2 - 1 cup dried fruit.
1/2 cup mini semi-sweet allergy friendly chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 350. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper, silicone liners, or a non-stick spray.
In a small bowl mash banana. Add dairy free milk substitute, sugar, vanilla, and white vinegar. Mix well.
In a larger mixing bowl add oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and coconut. Mix well.
Add banana mixture to flour mixture, stir to combine. Mix in nuts, fruit, and chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoons or larger of dough onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 15 minutes.
Let cookies sit for a minute or two before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
Freeze or store in a sealed container.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gluten Free Refrigerator Crispy Squares

Before going on, I must tell you...these are not even close to rice crispy treats. No chewy, stretchy marshmallows. But they are really good, so please keep reading!

This is a bit healthier with the same crunchy sweetness. Add some nuts and dried fruit and you have yourself a satisfying treat or snack. Kids can help make this fun treat too.  Maybe let them choose the dried fruits or nuts.

I got this recipe idea from the cookbook, Forks Over KnivesThe Plant-Based Way To Health. The original recipe is called, Crispy Rice Bars.

If you count weight watcher points each square has 2 points each. I cut mine into larger sized squares. The entire recipe has 32 points, so divide it up as you please.

Gluten Free Refrigerator Crispy Squares              Makes about 16 squares (I made mine bigger)

2/3 cup brown rice syrup, honey or agave.
1/4 cup natural peanut nut butter, or any nut butter of your choice.
1/2 tsp vanilla.
2 cups gluten free crispy brown rice cereal.
1/2 cup chopped nuts of your choice.
1/2 cup raisins or dried fruit, cut into small pieces. I used dried cherries and goji berries.
1/2 mini semi-sweet allergy friendly chocolate chips.

Prepare an 8 or 9-inch square pan with a non-stick spray.
In a small saucepan add syrup and peanut butter. Mix well and heat until mixture is smooth and uniform. Remove  from heat and add vanilla. Stir well.
In a large mixing bowl add cereal, nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. Stir well.
Pour syrup mixture over cereal mixture and stir until it is well coated. Press mixture into prepared pan as evenly as possible. Pack it down by gently pressing with your fingers or a spatula.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator or freezer.
Store in refrigerator or freezer.

This sweet treat will fall apart if left out at room temperature.


Monday, June 29, 2015

GF Pumpkin, Quinoa Pancakes

Here is a quick and simple way to add a little variety to a pancake mix or any homemade recipe.

Simply add 1/4 - 1/3 cup canned pumpkin to your favorite pancake batter. Then add about 1/4 - 1/3 cup quinoa flakes. Mix well. Add more water if needed until desired consistency is reached. Cook pancakes as you normally would, on a hot griddle allowing bubbles to form on top before flipping.  This is an easy way to add some extra nutrients to your pancakes too.

Sometimes I just like the convenience of a readymade mix...but it has to be good!
My favorite pancake mix is The Cravings Place, Gluten Free, All-Purpose Pancake & Waffle Mix. There is no added sugar or fat and requires no eggs and dairy. Allergy friendly and delicious.

You can make them thinner as shown here...using more water.

                     or maybe you prefer a thicker pancake as shown here...using less water.

These pancakes freeze well and can be quickly reheated in the microwave or toaster. I've even packed them in my lunch as a substitute for bread with peanut butter and jam.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Some Like It Tart - Gluten Free Rhuberry Fruit Crisp

This is probably my favorite fruit crisp. It's like eating a fresh pie without all the work. The rhubarb and marion berries are such a perfect blend of tartness and the sweet, crunchy topping is almost irresistible. No kidding!

Don't forget the nuts...
I did once and it's just not the same in my opinion. The nuts add a wonderful crunch.

If you aren't familiar with rhubarb, this is a great recipe to get aquatinted.  It's easy and the taste of the rhubarb is very subtle. I was really never a fan of rhubarb until I started mixing it with other fruits in dessert recipes, especially crisps. Now I can hardly wait for it to grow!!

If you have never seen rhubarb it is in our garden. Simply cut the stalks at the base and the plant will keep producing more.  **Please note...the leaves are poisonous, do not eat them.

Rhubarb is ready to harvest.

For most of the recipes I use and for freezing, I prepare the rhubarb as shown...about 1/2 inch or smaller pieces.  To freeze I just toss them in a good quality freezer bag.

Peel the outside if needed and cut into small pieces.

This recipe is written for a gluten free crisp, but simply substitute regular flour and oats if gluten free is not needed.

Gluten Free Rhuberry  Fruit Crisp                 Serves 8 -10 depending on size of pan used.
1/2 cup brown rice flour, sorghum, or any other gluten free baking blend.
1/2 cup old fashioned oats, gluten free.
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped.  (Any nut of choice)
1/2 cup brown sugar.
1 rounded tsp cinnamon.
1/4 cup butter, or non-dairy substitute.
4 cups marion berries. (Other varieties of berries are fine too)
1 1/2- 2 cups rhubarb, cut into pieces just under 1/2 inch.
3 Tbsp corn starch.
1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract.
1 Tbsp lemon juice.
1 cup agave or honey. (I used 1/2 of each) For vegans use agave or pure maple syrup...or both.

Preheat oven to 375.
Set aside a 7 1/2 x11-inch or 9 x13-inch rectangular baking pan.  I used the smaller size - we like a thicker crisp.
In a small bowl add flour, oats, walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir together. Cut in butter or non-dairy substitute. I use a pastry cutter and then finish with my fingers to incorporate the butter as much as possible.
Set this mixture aside.

In a large mixing bowl add berries and rhubarb, gently mix. Sprinkle corn starch over fruit and add the rest of the ingredients over the corn starch. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Microwave fruit mixture for 3 minutes. Stir. Microwave 2-3 minutes more. Stir.
Pour fruit mixture into baking pan. Sprinkle flour mixture evenly over fruit.
Bake for 40 minutes. Fruit should be bubbling all around the golden colored topping.
I always peek a little early just to make sure my topping isn't getting too brown.
Let sit briefly or let cool to room temperature.

And don't hesitate to add some ice-cream or a non-dairy frozen variety on top of your crisp.
We like to whip up some Allergy Friendly Vanilla Soft Serve, it's just enough sweetness without any extra added fat or sugar.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

GF Low-fat, Less Sugar Banana - Berry Muffins

Here is another tasty way to enjoy your blueberries this season!

Thanks to my daughter for this fantastic idea. Cut up a ripe banana and stir the pieces into the batter.

 This muffin is a joy to bite into!!

Each muffin has about 4 points if you are counting weight watcher points.
You may also be glad to know it is a lower fat and lower sugar muffin. The banana adds no additional fat, but does add a little extra flavor to the muffin without taking away from the delicious blueberries.

I froze my extra muffins and defrost for less than a minute for a quick snack or as part of my breakfast.

GF Low-fat,  Less Sugar Banana - Berry Muffins            Makes 12
1 3/4 cup gluten free baking blend.
4 tsp sugar, I used beet sugar.
2 tsp baking powder.
1/2 tsp salt.
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum.
1 cup fat-free milk or non- dairy substitute.
1 egg, or 2 whites for an even lower-fat version. Or an egg substitute.
4 tsp melted butter, or a non-dairy substitute.
1 1/4 cup blueberries.
1 banana, cut into small chunks.

Preheat oven to 375.  Spray or line muffin tin.
In a large mixing bowl add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and xanthin gum. Mix well.
In a small mixing bowl add milk or milk substitute, egg or egg substitute, and melted butter or dairy free substitute. Mix well.
Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and gently stir. Fold in 1 cup blueberries. Spoon into muffin tins. As you get near the end of the batter add the last 1/4 cup of berries, this way all the muffins have plenty of berries. Bake for 22 minutes or until top springs back when gently touched.
Let sit a couple minutes then remove from pan.