Yum, yum: Banana Muffins

Restaurants these days are offering gluten-free pastas, bakeries are making gluten-free baked goods, and gluten-free recipes are popping up everywhere. For those of us who try to avoid gluten, we say the more options the better. While some restaurants and bakeries have mastered this modified way of cooking and baking, in a lot of cases, the alternatives just do not compare. So we decided to take things into our own hands. 

After trying a few different recipes, our most successful gluten-free baking triumph happens to be one of our all-time greatest comfort foods: banana muffins.

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Gluten-Free Banana Oat Muffins
1 ¼ cups gluten-free oats (available at most health food stores)
1 cup almond flour (other gluten-free flours like brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, or quinoa flour, etc. can be substituted)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
2 cups mashed banana (4-6 bananas, over ripe are best)
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1.     Beat egg, banana and melted butter together in a small bowl until smooth.
2.     Add banana mixture to dry ingredients, stir until mixed.
3.     Fill greased muffin cups (almost full).
4.     Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, or until top springs back when lightly touched.

If your food allergies are not just limited to gluten, we’ve also used this recipe courtesy of the website My New Roots, that has no eggs, dairy, or sugar and it works with a variety of flours as well.
1/4 cup milk of your choice (almond, hemp, goat, soy…)
6 Tbsp. olive oil, butter, ghee or coconut oil
6 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups mashed ripe bananas (approximately 5 medium bananas)
2 cups flour of your choice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup chopped nuts + seeds (walnuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds)
3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (1 standard 100 g bar) – optional
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Line an 8” x 8” cake pan or loaf pan with baking paper, or lightly oil and dust with flour, shaking out excess.
3. Put the milk, oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and bananas in a blender and blend until smooth.
4. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Add banana mixture and combine using as few stroked as possible. Fold in nuts and chocolate.
5. Pour into a cake pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time varies greatly according to oven – mine takes about an hour, but this recipe suggests only 30 minutes. Check periodically after the half hour mark.)
Gluten-free baking (well any baking really) is all about trial and error. Some flours will be too dry, others too moist. But if you’re willing to put in the time, it’s satisfying to find a healthy recipe that tastes great, and may even fool those who think they can taste the difference.

Yum, Yum: Making the best of leftover turkey

It’s happened again. We’ve been eating delicious turkey, stuffing and all that comes with it this past holiday weekend. Reality, however has settled in… what to do with the leftovers? You can only consume so much turkey with the fixings. Time to get a little more creative. We polled the fourth floor, and came up with our top ways to use the pounds of turkey mom has given to us (thanks, ma!).

Grilled Turkey, Brie and Apple Sandwich

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Serves one.
1 cup of turkey meat (white or brown) cut up into 2” slices.
1/2 an apple, cut in thin slices
3 1” strips of Brie 
2 slices of your favourite bread. We dig a twelve-grain slice.
Butter (to taste)
Dijon mustard (to taste)

Gently fry turkey on a non-stick pan until golden-brown.
Butter bread and spread Dijon mustard on one half.
Layer apple slices on bottom slice of bread.
Alternately place cheese slices and warmed turkey slices on bread.
Place on baking sheet, bake in oven at 250 C for 9 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Let cool for a couple of minutes, and enjoy.

Turkey Soup
This is probably the most popular fourth floor recipe for leftover turkey, and a few of us have different opinions about the best turkey soup. This one won.

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Serves about four people

Leftover turkey bones and drippings. Every great soup starts with homemade stock – it’s easy.
Half a yellow onion, cut in to quarters
2 large chopped carrots
2 sprigs of parsley
25g of  fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 celery stalks
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste
Shredded turkey meat (enough for four servings)
100g pasta/noodles (per person), cooked and drained

In a medium sized pot, pour 1 inch of water and warm on medium heat.
Add leftover bones and drippings, and bring to a boil.
*Mom’s tip: Boiling the bones and drippings in just an inch of water concentrates the flavours and helps make for a richer broth.
Once bones have boiled for 15 minutes, remove from pot.
Add 3 cups of water.
Add onion, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. 
Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until carrots are tender.
Toss in shredded turkey and stir to warm. 
Place cooked noodles in bowls and ladle hot soup over top. Serve with toasted garlic bread immediately.

What are you favourite leftover turkey recipes? Comment below or tweet us @rockitpromo.

Yum, Yum: Grandma’s Apple Pie and Apple Crisp recipes

There is nothing that says fall has arrived more than the taste of pie filled with juicy local apples. To celebrate the arrival of fashion’s favourite season, we scoured our recipe boxes to find the very best apple pie recipe. This one’s an old family recipe from Grandma, so you know it’s a goodie. Get those pretty aprons out, folks, and start kneading and chopping.

For those of you who are less ambitious or have less time (it happens to all of us!) we’ve included a simpler, easier apple crumble recipe. Just as tasty, half the work. 

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Grandma Armstrong’s Apple Pie
Makes one pie

2 cups sifted flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cups shortening, margarine, or butter
4-6 tbsp cold water

6 apples (approx., depending on size)
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp flour
1 sprinkle nutmeg
1 sprinkle cinnamon
1 tbsp butter

*We’ll admit that we don’t always have time to make our own pastry so if you’re in a pinch, a store-bought frozen crust will work for this recipe.

1. You’ll need a very hot oven. Preheat to 450 F.

2. Sift flour and salt together and cut in the shortening with a pastry blender (or two knives).  Add water, using only a small portion at a time until the mixture will hold together.

3. Divide dough into two portions and roll each out on a floured board to desired size, depending on the size of your pie plate. 

4. Line the pie plate with one of the pieces of dough, being careful not to stretch the dough too much. 

5. Slash the remaining rolled out dough portion in several places to allow steam to escape while baking. We like the same design Grandma taught us, a wheat sheaf, but you can get creative with yours and try a lattice top, apple shape or anything else you can think of.

6. Peel and slice apples. We like a tart apple like McIntosh, but Granny Smith, Cortland and Empire are good choices too.

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7. Sift dry ingredients over and mix in with apple slices. 

8. Fill the pastry-lined pie plate with the apple filling and top with dots of butter.

9. After filling is placed in pastry, dampen the edges of lower crust with cold water and cover with the dough portion that was rolled, slashed, and set aside. Press edges together with prongs of a fork (or both thumbs).

10. The secret trick to a golden pie crust? Brushing the whole top crust and edges with milk.

11. Place in the oven at 450 F for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to moderate (350 F) and bake for 45 minutes longer.

And there you have it, one easy recipe for one delicious apple pie, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner. Bake it, take it to the ‘rents, share with your neighbour, or just enjoy with friends. Bon appétit!

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Apple Crisp
If the idea of making a whole pie is too daunting or you just don’t have the time, we’ve got your fall dessert dreams covered, with this easy apple crisp recipe courtesy of Homemakers Magazine (thank you!).

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Any variety of apple will work in this recipe, but we prefer a combination of Granny Smith and McIntosh apples. For the nuts, we like walnuts or pecans. Serve this with billowy whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 

6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and softened
3/4 cups finely chopped walnut or pecans

3 lbs apple (6 to 8), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

1. For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Add the butter and toss to coat. Pinch the butter chunks and dry mixture between your fingertips until the mixture looks like crumbly wet sand. Add the nuts and toss to incorporate. Refrigerate the topping for at least 15 minutes before baking.

2. For the filling: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the apples, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest, together and place in an 8-inch-square (2-quart) glass or ceramic baking dish or 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Distribute the chilled topping evenly over the fruit.

3. Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is deep golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.