Friday, December 30, 2011

A perfect way to close out the year: So many firsts!

I didn't intend to spend so much time away from my blog. The holidays are a time of confusion, worry and fear for newly diagnosed gluten intolerant folks, and so I had intended to share my favorite holiday recipes with you. And, then I had a family emergency.

My grandpa was not well, and we rushed to be at his bedside. Unfortunately, we got stuck in the first (and practically only) snow to track through the central United States. We did not make it in time to be with him, but we made it in time to support my family and to lean on them as we all grieved. After that, I've been in a funk. I haven't been able to get myself into the mood for much of anything. Christmas was something we tried to muddle through even though we never really felt like buying gifts or doing anything festive.

But we did it.

We got our annual Christmas letter out on-time, albeit very pared down from previous years. I think pretty much everyone got a gift from us. I'm behind on my thank-you notes, but I've done what I could to this point. The last item on my holiday checklist is my Three Kings Cake. I make one every January 6, hide a baby Jesus in it, and we make a game out of seeing who can find the hidden baby in a slice of cake. I have made a different style of King Cake every year, and I was searching through some of my favorite blogs to see what I could make this year.

One of my favorite bloggers is Gluten Free Girl, but she has started making all of her recipes by weight, which left me only able to enjoy her recipes visually. I felt unable to bake by weight, but her writing and culinary creations still inspired me.  As curious happenstance would have it, my dear best friend bought me a kitchen scale for Christmas. Only a week later I happened upon this gem of a recipe for Cardamom Fruit Bread on Gluten Free Girl's blog. I decided this bread would be a perfect challenge for me. My Grandpa had an uneaten fruitcake in his refrigerator before he went into the hospital. For whatever reason, I could not stop thinking about that fruitcake. I had never had fruitcake before, and had never really thought of trying it. I believed Johnny Carson that only one fruitcake was in existence and was re-gifted throughout history. But, there had been one in Grandpa's refrigerator, and this fruit bread on GFG's website looked like something I wanted to try. Besides, I had a kitchen scale now and had no excuse not to make it.

The only things I didn't have on hand were candied fruit and cardamom. Cardamom was easy to get, but I could not find any candied fruit without high fructose corn syrup. So, I bought golden raisins, dark raisins, chopped dates, green and red maraschino cherries (Yeah, I know, not healthy at all), and an orange. I chopped the cherries and the orange zest and then followed this recipe for candying fruits. Super simple! You should give it a try! I blanched the orange peel twice and then followed the syrup recipe. Once I made the simple syrup, I poured in some rum and then brought all of the dried fruit and orange peel to a simmer for 30 minutes.

I didn't have a bundt cake pan, but I did have an angel food cake pan. The end result was beautiful!

Lots of color throughout. My favorite part was the candied orange zest. Yum!

We worked on the bread for a couple of days, and then I decided to make french toast with the rest of it. I sliced up the leftover bread and used my recipe for Almond French Toast. I topped mine with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

And so, my hope for you is that your new year will be filled with newness. Try a new recipe. Bake by weight, if the fancy strikes you. Go out and accomplish that goal you've always dreamed of but were too afraid to try. Candy some fruit. It really isn't that hard. Whatever it is that you do, do it to the best of your ability. But, above all else - love. Have a very happy, love-filled (and fruit-bread-filled) new year!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Spread

Happy belated Thanksgiving to everyone reading from the United States!

This year we did almost all of our food preparations the day before, and it was the first Thanksgiving in a long time that was nearly stress free! It made it worth all the work and prep on Wednesday to have a laid back Thanksgiving Day with my family.

Here was our spread:

Quite a lot of food for the four of us, but we've got plans for the leftovers. We don't like to waste food at our house.

This year I wanted to make the traditional dishes, but I wanted to find new ways to serve them or prepare them. I'd heard a lot this year about roasting stuffing in a large pumpkin. That sounded awesome to me, but all of the grocery stores I checked had gotten rid of their pumpkins after Halloween. I found a large winter squash with a nice top for a lid and decided to use that instead. I was really pleased with how it turned out!


Perhaps you already knew this, but I didn't! Funyuns are gluten free! That suddenly meant I had the perfect topping for my crockpot green bean casserole! I like my green beans to have some crunch, so I also added slivered almonds and chopped water chestnuts.

I also made "cranberry soda" by mixing some 7up with cran-apple juice. My kids loved that special treat. I made my traditional crustless pumpkin pie recipe, but baked it in 4 custard dishes instead of one pie plate. I took some KinniToos cookies, Jelly Belly candy corns (yum!), fruit by the foot for wattles, and raisins for eyes. For the kids I did more candy corns for feathers. For my husband and I, I used almonds. Just use a dot of frosting to hold the facial details in place on the cookies.

And then, after we ate, I tried to get a picture of our little family. This was take 25 (or more), and still not everyone was looking at the camera. Oh well!

Kids look like they are quickly slipping into a food coma.

I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving with those who are important to you! Any culinary experiments you'd like to share?

Monday, November 21, 2011

What's on the menu? Our gluten-free Thanksgiving menu

Hard to believe Thanksgiving is just three days away.

It is amazing to me the difference between this Thanksgiving and last. Last year, I realized in October that most of my favorite Thanksgiving foods were off-limits. No more Stove Top stuffing. No more green bean casserole. No gravy. No Parkerhouse rolls like Grandma always made. I felt like someone told me I had to sit at the table at Thanksgiving but wouldn't be allowed to eat anything. Perhaps you have felt that way before.

I spent that month before my first GF Thanksgiving looking up recipes on countless gluten-free blogs, experimenting in the kitchen, and having to eat all the successes and toss all the fails. In the end, I had a nice meal with my family. There were a few favorites I couldn't replicate, but we did pretty well.

Yesterday I tried to make GF Parkerhouse rolls. They aren't totally perfect, but they tasted great. I stuck these in the freezer so I won't have to deal with it on Thanksgiving Day.

If you are feeling overwhelmed as you approach the holidays and need to eat gluten-free, I want to tell you that it really does get easier. This year feels so much less stressful than last year. I'm super excited about my menu. Can't wait to try everything! Here's what we're doing:

Turkey (I tried to convince my family to let me try something new and they said no - boo!)
Homemade Stuffing in a Roasted Winter Squash
Crockpot Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
The Husband's Baked Beans
Parkerhouse Rolls - they aren't perfect, but I'm getting there!
Mini Crustless Pumpkin Pie Turkeys
Cranberry Soda

So, what are you having at your house?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Upside Down Taco Pizza - and taco seasoning recipe

Every once in a while I get an idea in my mind for a recipe experiment and once it's in my mind, I can't stop thinking about it until I try to make it. On my most recent menu plan, I wanted to try making an upside down taco pizza with Food Should Taste Good's lime chips on top. I had never tried their lime chips before, but I knew they would be great because I've loved every other FSTG chip I've tried. Just in case you were wondering, I was even more pleased with the lime chips than I thought I would be. The lime flavor is so subtle, but so zesty at the same time. I don't know how they pulled it off, but these chips are perfect!

The upside down part was inspired by Crockpot 365's slow cooker puff pizza recipe (which is fantastic, by the way).

I have heard that McCormick's mild taco seasoning mix is gluten free, but I forgot to pick some up. That meant creating a taco seasoning recipe in addition to a taco pizza recipe. So, today you will get two for the price of one. :)

***Taco Seasoning
1 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. dried minced onion
1/4 tsp. sugar (optional)
1/8 tsp. black pepper (pretty much two good-size dashes)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. There you go! To use for regular taco meat, brown 1 pound ground beef. Then add in either 3/4 cup water or 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce. Then mix in the taco seasoning mix. Cook until the majority of the liquid has been absorbed. Yum!

***Upside Down Taco Pizza
1 bag Food Should Taste Good lime chips (or about 15 chips), or any other GF corn chips
1 pkg. GF taco seasoning mix, or prepared homemade taco seasoning mix (see above)
1 pound ground beef
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (plus a little for sprinkling on top, if desired)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1 cup milk (or milk alternative, I used almond milk)
2 eggs
Shredded lettuce, and any other desired taco toppings

Preheat oven to 400. Grease 9x13 baking dish. In skillet, brown ground beef. Drain. Add tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Mix well and cook until some of the liquid absorbs. Add about 1/4 cup water to mixture. Stir to combine. Remove from heat.

In medium-size bowl, combine flours, 1 cup cheddar cheese, eggs, and milk. Pour meat mixture into bottom of 9x13, spreading evenly to coat. Pour flour-cheese batter over the meat, and use a spoon to spread it evenly over the top. Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until cheese has melted and puffy dough on top springs back when touched. Top with desired cheese, lettuce, and any other taco toppings. Last, top with lime chips. If you want your lettuce to wilt a bit, you can stick it back in the oven for about 1 minute.

Yummmm! My husband forced himself to stop after eating seconds (I think he ate 4 of these sections) because he wanted to have leftovers for lunch! I think that's a compliment!

For anyone wanting to make this NOT gluten free, just substitute 1 cup all purpose flour for the brown and white rice flours.

I read an article today that said pizza is the number one food people eat the night before Thanksgiving. If you traditionally eat pizza the night before the big Turkey Day, why not give this taco pizza a whirl. Hope you enjoy this as much as we did.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Donut "Wholes"

Yes I know you can buy gluten-free donuts at the store.

But, there's just something about buying food that is vacuum sealed and contains a packet for freshness that says "DO NOT EAT." Yeah, something about that just isn't appetizing to me.

I made baked donut holes a while back (recipe here), and they turned out so well! But, I kinda wanted something more. I wanted a whole donut...the only problem being that I do not have a donut pan, nor do I intend to buy one any time soon.

And, so I present to you Donut Wholes - a complete donut with no hole in the middle. And yes, I know, that pretty much makes this a muffin. But, whatever. The texture is light and airy just like a delicious bakery-style donut. So, I'm still calling it a donut. You are free to call it whatever you would like. I make these in a muffin pan, filling each cup about 1/2 full. If you fill the cups more than that, the mixture grows and expands and starts looking a little too muffin-ish. At that point, you can't really get away with calling it anything but a muffin!

This was also my first time working with ground flax seed.

Glorious golden goodness right there.

***Donut Wholes
1/2 cup (heaping) brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1 Tbsp. ground flax seed (about 1/2 Tbsp. whole flax seed) mixed into 2 Tbsp. boiling water
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. almond milk
3 Tbsp. oil
2 eggs

Topping (if desired): Melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350.

Using a coffee grinder, grind 1/2 Tbsp. whole flax seed. Add the ground flax seed to 2 Tbsp. boiling water. Set aside.

In medium-size bowl, combine brown rice flour, tapioca starch, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and cinnamon. Stir until thoroughly combined. Slowly add in almond milk, eggs, oil and flax seed mixture. Stir until a smooth batter forms.

Grease 8 cups in a standard size muffin tin. Fill prepared muffin cups about 1/2 full. Bake 16-18 minutes, or until "donuts" spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool slightly, then brush with melted butter and roll in cinnamon sugar mixture.

If you want them more like muffins, just brush butter and put cinnamon-sugar on the tops. Otherwise, go for the gold and coat the whole thing!

Just a word of caution. These muffins are fairly low fat, and so they have a tendency to stick to the muffin cups. Make sure you liberally grease the pan. Once they've cooled slightly, go around each "donut" with a fork until you are able to loosen it from the cup. Be patient. They usually don't break :)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Apple-Teriyaki Pork Chops with Apple Gravy

This recipe is a gem! We've made it a handful of times now, and each time it has been well-received by everyone in our family.

Pardon the veggies. We were short on food in the house, so I heated up some stir fry veggies! I served the pork and gravy with brown rice rotini.

***Apple-Teriyaki Pork Chops with Apple Gravy

3 pounds bone-in, or boneless pork chops (about 5 small pork chops)
3/4 cup apple juice - I do 100% juice, no sugar added
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. gluten free soy sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
dash of pepper

For the gravy:
1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed into 3 Tbsp. cold water

Combine juice, sugar, soy sauce, ginger and pepper in crockpot. Add pork chops. Cover and and cook on low for about 8 hours, or about 4 on high.

Just before serving, remove the pork chops and pour liquid into a small sauce pan. Heat to boiling. Add cornstarch and water mixture, and continue cooking and stirring until a thicker gravy forms.

Serve with noodles or rice.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Product Review: Bakery on Main Peanut Butter Chocolate Granola Bars

A few months ago, I was on a road trip to see some of my extended family. When I arrived in town, I was told that the local grocery store was creating a gluten-free section and that there was actually quite a bit to choose from. When I had a chance, I zipped over to the store, and while there wasn't really a lot of selection, there was a new gluten-free section, and there were a few things I had never seen before.

One of those things was Bakery on Main granola bars. Now, I don't know if you are anything like me, but I can't go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate mixed together. Such a wonderful combination. So, I picked up a box of these and headed back to see my family.

These bars have good flavor, but the texture is a little interesting. They are VERY chewy, but you just never know how gluten-free products have been stored prior to selling. So, I hate to fault the company for something like this. Sometimes things are left on the shelf for much longer than they should be, or they are kept in less than ideal conditions prior to being shelved. The bars were not past their expiration date, but they were a bit chewy and a little stale. It did not bother me enough to keep me from eating the entire box before we came back home.

If you are looking for a PB and chocolate fix, these bars can help you with that. Just chew carefully!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Orange-Coffee Cake with Orange-Coffee Glaze

I love cooking and baking. I think that probably goes without saying! But one thing I had never tried to do (because it terrified me to think about!) was make a cake without a recipe. Cake just seems so finicky. Cupcakes are pretty forgiving, especially if you use muffin papers, but cake just seems like a different  animal altogether...or a different food altogether. Whatever.

Anyway, a couple months ago I got this strange idea in my mind of making a cake using coffee and orange juice. I have no idea where the idea even came from. But, once the idea was in my mind I had to make it even though I was terrified to make a cake without a recipe to guide me.

I am SO glad I followed my craving. This has become a favorite recipe for me, and it even makes wonderful cupcakes. My husband almost always has a pot of coffee on, so I steal just over a 1/4 cup from the pot and he can have the rest. Win-win.
***Orange-Coffee Cake with Orange-Coffee Glaze
1 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sugar
dash salt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk + 1/4 tsp. vinegar
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/4 cup orange juice (no pulp is best)
2 eggs

Orange-Coffee Glaze
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. brewed coffee
2 Tbsp. orange juice (again, no pulp)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8x8 baking dish.

In large bowl, combine flours, sugar, soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. Mix thoroughly. In 1/4 cup measuring cup, put 1/4 tsp. white vinegar and fill the rest of the way with milk. Let stand 5 minutes to create buttermilk. Add buttermilk mixture, butter and applesauce to dry ingredients. Pour hot coffee over butter to soften it. Add in orange juice and eggs. Mix until batter is smooth. Pour cake batter into prepared 8x8 baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Let cake stand for 15-20 minutes. In small bowl, combine softened butter, coffee and orange juice with powdered sugar. Mix until smooth. If making recipe as a cake, pour entire amount of glaze over the top, spreading to coat evenly. Glaze will look like this at first. It will continue soaking into the cake.

Let the cake mostly cool before serving. When the glaze has soaked in, it will look like this. It creates a wonderful layer right at the top of the cake. Oh yum. Drooling just thinking about it!

This recipe will make about 12 cupcakes/muffins if you decide to do it that way. I've served the cupcakes with or without the glaze.

I hope you will enjoy this recipe as much I have. And, don't be afraid to try and make your own cake when the desire strikes. Perhaps you will create a favorite too!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cabbage Pockets (Runzas, Bierocks)!

When I discovered wheat was a large part of my digestive troubles, I had two thoughts: 1) What about rolls at Thanksgiving?! (they were my favorite part of the meal), and 2) What about cabbage pockets?! I knew if I could come up with a gluten-free version of those two foods I would be OK. It took me a while to work up the courage, but I gave cabbage pockets a shot last night for the first time.

I made the dough with xanthan gum, but I'm trying to work that out of my diet too. I plan to make this recipe again using a slurry of boiling water and ground flaxseed in place of the xanthan gum. Once I do that, I'll give you an update on how it went, and will give you steps for doing that when you make these for yourself.

Let me first say, these made me so happy I almost cried. They tasted like home. They reminded me of my time in school (they made these quite often for school lunch), and they reminded me of my Grandma who made the best cabbage pockets in the world. My mom's cabbage pockets come close, but no one makes them like Grandma did! Once I tasted them, I knew my husband would like them. I was not sure what my kids would think. They had never even had a cabbage pocket before, so I didn't know what they would think of my new version. My four-year-old took a bite and said, "Mom, why haven't we had this food before?" My two-year-old ate hers up too...a rare thing for her to eat much of anything in the evenings.

Call them what you will: cabbage pockets, runzas, bierocks. I call them DELICIOUS!

***Cabbage Pockets

Makes 8-9 pockets, and enough filling to freeze for future use. If you want just enough filling for this recipe, cut filling recipe in half.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
3-4 Tbsp. dry powdered milk, or dry dairy-free milk powder 
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
4 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast, or two packages yeast
1 tsp. honey (or 2 tsp. sugar)
1 Tbsp. oil
3 tsp. cider vinegar
1 cup warm water
Extra tapioca flour for rolling out dough

1 Tbsp. melted butter, for brushing tops of pockets

2 pounds ground beef
1 head cabbage, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper as desired

In large pot, brown ground beef. Drain off fat. Add cabbage, onion and desired salt and pepper. Cover with lid and cook until onions and cabbage are tender. Stir occasionally.

While beef-cabbage mixture is cooking, mix dry ingredients for dough in large mixing bowl. Add honey, vinegar, oil and water. Mix until soft dough forms. Divide dough into 8-9 pieces. On clean surface lightly floured with tapioca starch, roll dough into squares about 1/4 inch thick. In center of dough, spoon on some of the beef-cabbage mixture. Do not over-fill as this causes the dough to break. (Darn fragile GF dough!). Fold dough over mixture and fold ends underneath (see picture above to give you an idea of what they should look like). Brush melted butter over the tops of the cabbage pockets to help them brown in the oven.

Bake 15-20 minutes on greased baking sheet or non-stick baking sheet, or until dough begins to brown slightly (it will be very light brown). For a true test of "doneness," check out the bottom of the cabbage pocket. It should be nice and golden brown.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Digging for Bones Snack Cups

Perhaps you have a child that is a dinosaur lover and dreams of being a paleontologist. Or maybe you are hoping to make a gluten-free Halloween treat that everyone will love. Either way, this recipe will be a hit at your house - and with anyone who gets to try one of these snack cups!

The most time consuming part of the process is baking time for the little meringue "bones." They bake for about an hour and half at a low oven temperature, but I figure that gives me quite a bit of time to clean up the kitchen, or do something fun with the kids while waiting.

First, you mix up all the ingredients for the meringue bones, scoop the mixture into a large ziploc bag and snip off one corner. Pipe some bone shapes onto two cookie sheets that are covered with parchment paper. Bake for about 1.5 hours. When they are done, they will no longer be squishy to the touch and they will have begun browning slightly. They will look kinda like these: (Yeah, I know they don't look anything like actual bones!)

Allow the "bones" to cool, and then break each "bone" into 2-3 pieces. Crush up Honey Nut Chex (I used most of the box). In small, clear cups layer crushed cereal, chocolate chips (or desired GF chocolatey candy), and "bones." Repeat layers one more time. This should make about 10 small snack cups.

***Digging for Bones Snack Cups
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Honey Nut Chex cereal
Chocolate chips (or other desired GF chocolate candies)

Supplies: parchment paper, ziploc bag, clean scissors, small plastic cups (I like clear best)

Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Heat oven to 225 degrees. In large bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer on high until foamy. Add in cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating until the egg mixture forms small peaks that are not dry. Add sugar and beat until the mixture appears shiny. Spoon beaten egg mixture into large ziploc bag. Seal ziploc bag and snip one corner with scissors. Pipe bone shapes onto prepared baking sheets. Bake "bones" for 1.5 hours, and rotate baking sheets halfway through bake time. "Bones" are done when they are no longer soft to the touch and have begun to brown. Cool completely. Break each "bone" into 2-3 pieces.

Crush Honey Nut Chex. (I used almost a whole box) In small, clear plastic cups, layer crushed cereal, chocolate chips, and "bones." Repeat layers. Makes about 10 snack cups.

My kids had lots of fun with these cups. My oldest pretended he was digging for dinosaur bones and we had to identify what kind of dinosaur each bone came from. Hope you enjoy!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gluten-Free Calzones!

I apologize for being terrible about blogging as of late. I've gotten sucked into crocheting amigurumi figures for some friends and family, and while I have many recipes to share, I have forgotten to post them here! I've got some catching up to do!

In the next few days I plan to share two Halloween-theme treats that you and your kids (if you don't have kids, you'll still enjoy these!) will enjoy. In fact, I think these two recipes are so fun and delicious that people who aren't restricted to gluten-free eating will enjoy these too. Stay tuned. :)

Shortly after I started eating gluten free, I found a pizza crust I absolutely love! It is in the book 125 Best Gluten-Free Recipes by Donna Washburn and Heather Butt. I totally love that recipe, and my extended family does too. They don't have to eat gluten-free, but they love it when I make my pizza. The *only* thing I don't like about it is that you can't knead it and use it for calzones.

I didn't realize how much I had missed calzones until I made this recipe. It filled a void in my taste memory. I hope you will feel the same way after trying these out for yourself!

I had forgotten how wonderful it felt to knead dough. Floury hands, dough between my fingers. Perfection.

***Gluten-Free Calzones
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch, plus extra for rolling dough
2-3 Tbsp. dry milk powder, or dairy-free powder (I think unflavored gelatin may work here too)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 tsp. honey
2 tsp. oil, plus 1 tsp. of oil
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/2 cup warm water (water that is too hot will kill the yeast)
Cornmeal, for sprinkling over baking sheet
1 egg, or oil for brushing across tops of calzones
Pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, desired pizza toppings, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve yeast into warm water. Add honey and allow yeast mixture to sit for 5 minutes. In medium-size mixing bowl, combine brown rice flour, tapioca starch, dry milk powder, salt and xanthan gum. Stir to combine. Add oil and vinegar to dry ingredients. Slowly stir in yeast mixture. Knead until dough forms into a ball. Put 1 tsp. oil in bowl and turn dough until it is coated with oil.  Allow dough to rest uncovered for 20 minutes.

Break dough into four equal pieces. On a clean surface dusted with tapioca starch, roll out each piece until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Fill each calzone with pizza sauce, cheese, desired toppings, and a dash of salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Be careful not to overfill. Overfilling will cause the dough to break. Fold top of dough over filling and pinch top and bottom together all the way around. If necessary, use a spatula to loosen dough from work surface. Place on cookie sheet that has been lightly dusted with corn meal. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Beat 1 egg into 1 Tbsp. water. Lightly brush the tops of calzones with egg mixture (or, you can brush tops with oil instead).

Bake calzones for 18-25 minutes, or until tops begin to turn golden brown, and are no longer soggy to the touch.

Enjoy! Be careful - contents of the calzones will be VERY hot when they are first removed from the oven.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Crispy Chicken Tenders

While I waited for my son to get out of preschool, I took my daughter to the library. They have an awesome children's department at this library, complete with puppet theater and educational computer games. My daughter loves the puppet theater and the assortment of board books, so many afternoons we find ourselves there in the children's department. On this particular day, I also noticed they had a display with a take-home recipe for anyone who was interested. I glanced over the recipe and thought it looked great and would be easy to make gluten-free. I tweaked it a bit and came up with Crispy Chicken Tenders.

***Crispy Chicken Tenders
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar, plus another 2 Tbsp. vinegar
1/2 cup milk
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (I used two large halves)
2 Tbsp. prepared mustard
2 Tbsp. grape jelly
black pepper to taste
1 cup crushed Rice Chex cereal (I measured out 2 cups uncrushed, and then crushed them)

In 1/2 cup measuring cup, put 1 1/2 tsp. vinegar in and fill up with milk. Allow 10 minutes for mixture to thicken. This creates homemade buttermilk. Cut chicken breast halves into strips or nugget-size pieces. In a bowl, combine mustard, remaining 2 Tbsp. vinegar, jelly and desired amount of black pepper. Stir in homemade buttermilk. Add cut up chicken pieces, cover, and place in refrigerator 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Crush cereal in bowl. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Remove cut chicken pieces from milk-mustard mixture one at a time and coat with crushed cereal. Place coated chicken pieces on prepared baking sheet. Repeat process until all chicken pieces are coated. Bake chicken 25 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Serve immediately.

You can use whatever dipping sauce you like. I made a zesty BBQ sauce to go with my chicken. My kids used ketchup.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Grandma's Hamburger Soup

It's Fall! I don't know what your weather is like, but it is getting cooler here by the day. Evening comes much more quickly, and it is dark when I wake up in the morning. I am not ready for snow, but Fall is my favorite season. I love the crunch of leaves under my feet, sweater weather, and hot soup. It doesn't get much better than that.

One of my go-to soups is a recipe my Grandma made. When I was in college, I lost my Grandma to Parkinson's disease. I can't believe it has been so many years now. I miss her all the time, and making this soup brings back wonderful memories of time I got to spend at her house. I can still hear her whistling melodies in the kitchen, and I will never forget learning to roll out egg noodles on her pull-out cutting board. And so, here it is. I share it in the hopes that it will warm you the way it does me - both in body and in soul.

***Grandma's Hamburger Soup
2 pounds ground beef
46 ounces tomato juice
3-4 peeled potatoes, cubed
1 large package frozen mixed veggies
1 can green beans, drained (I do a small package of frozen green beans)
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 large onion, diced
2-3 celery stalks, sliced
1 tsp. marjoram
salt and pepper, as desired
parmesan cheese, if desired for topping

Brown ground beef in large pot and drain off fat. Add tomato juice, potatoes, mixed veggies, green beans, carrots, onion, celery and marjoram. Cook over medium to medium high heat without a lid (I will use a lid when I make this to prevent water from escaping) for at least an hour. Water may be added if soup gets too thick. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with parmesan, if desired.

We always had parmesan at the table growing up so that we could each add as much or little as we wanted. This thick soup doesn't really required the addition of fancy GF crackers and is naturally gluten-free. When we make this (for 2 adults and 2 small children) we always have leftovers for lunch the next day. Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gluten-Free Meatballs

I'm baaaaaack! :)  New camera, memory card issues fixed, and new recipes! Unfortunately, 5-6 of the recipes I wanted to share with you were on the old memory card that is no longer with us, but I have the files retrieved. Just need to transfer them to this computer. Those recipes will be coming shortly.

My lovely husband saved a recipe for swedish meatballs from his 6th grade home ec. class because he loved it so much he wanted to make it again. His parents never made it, and he tried one time several years ago to make the recipe and the meatballs totally fell apart. About a week ago, my son started complaining that he had never eaten a real meatball with his spaghetti. I couldn't remember if *I* had ever had a real meatball with spaghetti, and if I had, I had certainly never made them myself. So, I pulled out my husband's recipe for swedish meatballs. I went ahead and followed the recipe for the most part, but if you'd like a more Italian zip for spaghetti, you could substitute some Italian seasoning for the ginger and nutmeg. Truthfully though, the spices in these meatballs are so subtle that I didn't notice them conflicting with my spaghetti sauce at all.

OK, so meatballs are hard to get a nice picture of. Ignore the "pear" napkins. We are trying to go mostly paper-free (no paper towels or disposie napkins), so these napkins were all I could find! One batch made about 36 meatballs. The picture below is how I served the meatballs. My kids like the noodles and sauce all mixed together. I served the meatballs over quinoa noodles with a side of green beans.

***Gluten-Free Meatballs
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs* (I used 3 slices of Rudi's original sandwich bread)
1 cup light cream
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 egg
Dried parsley flakes (a few shakes)
1/2 tsp. salt
dash black pepper
3 Tbsp. butter, divided

For Swedish Meatballs: dash of ginger, dash of nutmeg
For Italian Meatballs: dash of Italian seasoning

*To make soft bread crumbs, cut bread into small pieces and soak in light cream.

Cook chopped onion in 1 Tbsp. of the butter, until onions are tender but not browned. Set aside. Soak pieces of bread in light cream for 5 minutes. Scoop bread out of cream with a slotted spoon and place in large mixing bowl. Discard any unused cream. In bowl with soft bread crumbs, mix in meats, onion, egg, parsley, salt, pepper, and spices for either Swedish or Italian meatballs. Mix thoroughly. Form meat mixture into about 36 meatballs (each around the size of a walnut, or about 1 1/2 inches). Melt remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter in large skillet. Cook meatballs in butter, flipping to cook evenly. You want your meatballs to be over 165 degrees internal temperature.

I cooked the meatballs in with the butter until they reached around 160 internal temperature. Since I was working the meatballs in batches, I preheated my oven to 350 and when meatballs browned on all sides, I would place them on a cookie sheet and into the oven. By the time all the meatballs were finished and had spent some time in the oven, they were well done and much of the fat baked off. Drain on paper towels. We had quite a few meatballs leftover, so I froze them for our next spaghetti and meatballs night.

Enjoy! ~It's good to be back!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

When things aren't going your way

Sometimes you just have to go bananas.

Yes, I just quoted the Fresh Beat Band. I realize that makes me kinda pathetic. But, I embrace it. Why not?

So, tonight I had every intention of posting a recipe for my chicken stirfry with white sauce. I love this recipe because it is basic. You can turn it into most anything you want. It doesn't require soy sauce, so no expensive gluten free alternatives are necessary. I had planned to write a witty story about my first experience having a gluten-free Chinese meal at a restaurant and being surrounded by tables covered with fresh sugar snap peas, but it was not to be.

I took the digital memory card out of the computer and was going to try and take a picture when the memory card wouldn't stay in the camera. The camera continued to spit the card back out at me, and I was getting really frustrated. I decided the camera was broken. I would have to blog later.

I sat down later to blog and realized that the memory card was also broken. It was permanently locked, and I can no longer access any of my files. I finally got it unlocked, but am still unable to read the files on my computer. Camera, dead. Memory card, dead. Status of the scads of pictures and videos of my kids on the memory card, unknown.

Are you kidding me?!?!?!

My weekend looks to be an expensive one, and I'm hoping in the next few days I have a happy report that at least some of my picture and video files were recovered. Would you join me in hoping for that? I had many lovely food pictures to share with you, but those can be easily recreated. I'm hoping to save the pictures of my kids at my grandmother's 80th birthday party, my daughter's first haircut, and countless other things that simply cannot be recreated.

So, for now, I will be going bananas, and will also be hoping that when I go to sleep I will no longer have that Fresh Beat Band song stuck in my head. Hopefully my blog hiatus will not be a long one, and hopefully my next post will be more cheerful!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Carrot Muffins - my new favorite!

Yum! Carrot muffins are my new favorite muffin, and I'm thrilled to be able to share this recipe with you! For my readers who don't eat GF, just use 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour as a substitution for the white and brown rice flours.

I think muffins are my favorite GF "bread" product to make. Because they form a natural crust as they bake, I've found that I can skip out on the xanthan gum most of the time with no problem. My kids love having muffins for breakfast, and usually they freeze well for breakfasts on the go.

***Carrot Muffins
2 cups grated carrots (right around 4 large carrots)
3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup brown sugar (I mixed 3/4 Tbsp. molasses into 3/4 cup white sugar)
1/2 cup applesauce (I use naturally unsweetened)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 12-count muffin tin. In large mixing bowl, combine flours, cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves, salt, baking soda, and brown sugar. Stir until well combined. Slowly stir in 2 cups grated carrots, eggs, and applesauce until batter forms. Divide mixture evenly between 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes. If necessary, slowly go around the muffins with a knife to loosen them from the muffin tin.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sweet Onion Teriyaki Dip/Sauce

Before going gluten-free, I really enjoyed making stirfry with 1/2 cup of teriyaki baste and glaze as the sauce. I hadn't really found a sauce alternative that I enjoyed much, until tonight! I decided to make a dipping sauce for some soft pretzels I made earlier today (recipe will come in a day or two), and wasn't really feeling like the traditional cheesy sauce or anything with honey mustard. I came up with this dipping sauce, and liked it so much that I ended up making stirfry for dinner and stirring this in.

This works great as a dip or as a sauce. If you leave out the cornstarch and water mixture, I bet it would make an excellent marinade too.

***Sweet Onion Teriyaki Dip/Sauce
olive oil, for cooking onion
2 Tbsp. chopped onion (or more, as you desire)
1/2 to 1 tsp. ginger
1/3 cup soy sauce (make sure you're using gluten-free)
1/4 honey
1/2 cup water

1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 3 Tbsp. cold water

In small sauce pan, saute onion in olive oil until onion becomes tender. Stir in desired amount of ground ginger. Remove pan from heat as you add soy sauce, honey and 1/2 cup water. Return to heat. Stir occasionally until mixture begins bubbling. In small bowl, mix cornstarch and cold water. Add cornstarch and water to soy sauce mixture, stirring continuously. Once mixture has thickened, remove from heat.

For my stirfry, I cut chicken into bite size pieces and cooked in olive oil until it was no longer pink. Then I added stirfry veggies and about 1/4 cup of water. Cover skillet and cook until veggies are desired tenderness. I had about 2 cups cooked rice in the refrigerator from a couple days ago, so I stirred that into the chicken and veggies and then added this teriyaki sauce. Quite good! Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Scalloped Potatoes

With this recipe, I think I discovered two things at once! Not only did I make scalloped potatoes that were dairy-free and still tasted good, I think I might have discovered an alternative to using a can of "cream of ____ " soup in future recipes. Oh, I hope I'm right! Not only was this recipe easy, it also was a money saver because I didn't have to buy an expensive specialty can of soup. And, a lot of those GF soups are not only expensive, but they use heavy cream (not dairy free, and NOT good for anyone's health in any way). So, here it is! (Not the greatest picture, but they tasted great!)

***Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Scalloped Potatoes

4-5 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk alternative should work fine)
2 Tbsp. cornstarch or tapioca starch
1/4 - 1/2 cup diced onion
1 stalk celery, chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
olive oil, for cooking celery and onions

Preheat oven to 375. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a medium-size sauce pan. Over medium heat, saute celery and onion until tender. Slowly add in water and almond milk. Heat to almost boiling. Very gradually, whisk in cornstarch or tapioca starch, until mixed well. If any stray clumps of cornstarch or tapioca starch remain, scoop them out with a spoon. Cook until mixture thickens slightly. In a 1 1/2 - 2 quart casserole dish, layer sliced potatoes. Pour thickened, "cream of celery" soup mixture over potatoes. Bake uncovered for about an hour, or until potatoes are tender and can be pierced with a fork.

Monday, September 5, 2011

September Writers Group Topic - "Dirty Work"

Time for a little writing. :)

For this month's writers group, we were challenged to write something to go along with the theme "dirty work." We didn't have much direction, and I didn't think I would have much to write about. When I sat down to write, something welled up within me, and it just poured out. It brought back memories I had totally forgotten about!

Dirty Work - A short-lived summer job when I was 19 years old

I always try to clean up after myself when I stay overnight in a hotel room. I try not to leave the garbage can overflowing or the linens in piles across the floor. I have had people tell me, "Leave the clean up for housekeeping; that's what they get paid for." But I can't do it. So, if my kids make a mess of animal crackers, we clean it up.

You see, I spent two weeks cleaning hotel rooms one summer and it was the worst job I've ever had. My bosses demanded that I come to work 15 minutes earlier than I was scheduled, but I was never allowed to clock in for myself. I was paid minimum wage, which at that time was $5.25 an hour. At 8 AM sharp, we (all of us in housekeeping) were sent out to begin cleaning. We were told we would all be clocked in at 8, but no one ever saw it happen. Our mission was not cleaning, but to make things appear clean, and we were instructed to use as little cleaning fluid as possible. Water would have to suffice.

I will never forget the first hotel room I cleaned. I walked through the door and was horrified. Kentucky Fried Chicken buckets were strewn around the room, and mashed potatoes were ground into the carpet. I tried to make the bed, but instead saw images in magazines I wish I could forget. On the nightstand there was a picture of a woman and two children, and I assumed they were the guest's family. I had barely begun cleaning when I was whisked to the next room and told I would have to pick up the pace if I was going to keep my job. I spent hours trying to clean the filthiest rooms I had ever seen and only to be pushed along with with hardly scratching the surface.

Clocking out was the same as clocking in. We worked longer than scheduled without compensation. After two weeks, I quit. I gave no notice and went home. They altered my pay rate and found a loophole that allowed them to give me less than minimum wage.

And so, I go out of my way to help out housekeeping when I stay in hotels. The people holding down these jobs work hard at dirty and thankless jobs. I hope I make their days even just a little easier.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chocolate Cherry Oat Bars

There isn't much I can say about these bars except YUM! I bought a carton of cherries at the grocery store, but by the time I went to use them, most of them were soggy and not very good anymore. So, I wanted to find a use for the few cherries I had left. These bars were perfect! The cherries are only on the bottom layer, and they are like a little treat in each bite.

***Chocolate Cherry Oat Bars
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup pitted, diced cherries
1/4 (or less) sugar for sprinkling over cherries
1/2 cup sugar, for chocolate-oat batter
1/2 cup GF oats
1/3 cup oil, plus 1 1/2 Tbsp.
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 egg
1 1/2 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8x8 baking dish. Cover bottom of baking dish with diced cherries. Sprinkle cherries with desire amount of sugar. In bowl, mix brown rice flour, 1/2 cup sugar, oats, cocoa powder, and baking powder, until combined. Slowly mix in oil, water and egg. Batter will be thick. Spoon chocolate-oat batter over cherries, using spoon to spread mixture evenly over cherries. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Bars are best after they have cooled down most or all of they way. They are a little crumbly, but I like it that way and didn't really want to add xanthan gum. If you'd like to make it stick together more, I'm sure you could add 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Roasted Red Potatoes and Veggies

Fall is just around the corner. I can feel it in the air. Even though the last few days have been unseasonably warm, there is a crispness in the breeze, and there are crunchy leaves on the ground. This weather makes me think of two things...well, three, really. 1) soups and stews, 2) hot chocolate, and 3) oven roasted vegetables.

OK, I know red potatoes aren't vegetables. But, I had almost an entire bag of small red potatoes to use up. This recipe works for anything you have on hand, or in your garden. Tonight I did red potatoes, onions, carrots, and banana peppers (though bell peppers would have been great, too). I've done it in the past with zucchini. Squash and sweet potato are great additions too. I've even thrown in some green beans or wax beans. Sometimes they get a little crisp on the ends, but they are great! You really can't go wrong with oven roasted veggies.

***Roasted Red Potatoes and Veggies
10 or more small red potatoes (or about 4 regular white potatoes), enough to cover the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish, cut into eighths (my bag was a strange mixture of size B potatoes with a few larger ones thrown in)
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into "coins"
2-3 small banana peppers, seeds removed and peppers chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 Tbsp. oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425. Place desired chopped veggies and potatoes in 9x13 baking dish. Drizzle oil over top of veggies and potatoes, stirring to coat. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper over the potato and veggie mixture. Stir well. Bake 25 minutes, stir. Bake another 20 minutes, or until potatoes (or whatever your largest veggie is) are soft and can be pierced with a fork.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Baked Cucumber Rounds

A dear friend brought over some fresh-picked cucumbers last week, and I was eager to use them! First I baked some cucumber bread, which is nothing like zucchini bread, surprisingly! Perhaps I will share that recipe later. After the sweet bread, I wanted to try something savory. So, I made these...

And no, they aren't fried! These Baked Cucumber Rounds are a great side dish, or served as an appetizer. I couldn't stop eating them they were so good!

***Baked Cucumber Rounds 
1 large cucumber, cut into 1/4" - 1/2" thick slices (about 24 slices)
3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup cornmeal (Bob's Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills both make certified GF cornmeal)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Very lightly grease a cookie sheet. In one bowl, mix cornmeal, salt and pepper. Put mayo in another bowl. Dip both sides of cucumber slices into mayo and then into cornmeal mixture. If cucumbers have too much moisture, pat them dry with a paper towel before coating in mayo and cornmeal. Place coated cucumber slices on baking sheet.  Bake for about 15 minutes, turn over. Bake for another 12-15 minutes, or until breading has browned on both sides. Handle carefully as the breading comes off easily.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baked Donut Holes

Who ever said gluten-free breakfast had to be boring? Probably the same people who think good donuts have to be fried.

Last week, I woke up craving donut holes. I had no idea what to do, but I was determined to make them. The secret is to use a mini muffin tin. My mini muffin tin can make 24 mini muffins at once, and luckily, the batter I whipped up was the perfect amount to make 24 donut holes. I rolled the baked donut holes in melted butter and then powdered sugar, but you could do a cinnamon-sugar mixture instead. My whole family ate these up, and I look forward to making them again. I hope you love them too!

***Baked Donut Holes
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup corn starch
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup almond milk (regular milk will work, too)
Melted butter and desired donut hole topping (cinnamon-sugar, or powdered sugar work well)

Preheat oven to 350. In mixing bowl, mix sugar, brown and white rice flours, cornstarch, tapioca starch, and xanthan gum. Stir in egg, oil and vanilla. Slowly stir in almond milk (or regular milk) until soft dough forms. I did not grease my mini muffin tin, but you are welcome to do that if you think your pan will need to be greased. Roll dough into walnut-size balls (or slightly smaller) and place one ball in each mini muffin spot. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the donut holes turn a very light brown, or until each donut hole is firm to the touch (not hard, but firm). Melt butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Roll donut holes in melted butter and then into desired topping.  A ratio of 1/2 cup sugar to 2 tsp. cinnamon works well. Or you can use plain powdered sugar. Serve while still warm. Makes 24 large donut holes, or 36 smaller donut holes.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gluten-Free Pancakes - with variations

Everybody says that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it is also the meal that is the easiest to skip. If I don't eat breakfast, it sets me up to make poor eating choices all day. I've also noticed, though, that almost all the popular breakfast items for Americans are breads, starches, and things that are totally filled with wheat/gluten. Part of it is that we are all so busy in our lives and with our schedules that we don't think we have time to make something more substantial for breakfast on work/school days. I relate to that. As a working mom, I hardly have time to get myself dressed some mornings, let alone make something healthy to eat before heading out the door. For me, the key to a healthy start in the morning is advance preparation.

This pancake recipe is a cinch to make. It also creates a fluffy pancake that freezes well. Pop it in the microwave and heat to thaw for 45 seconds, and you've got breakfast.

Pancakes before stepping out the door? Yes, please!

***Gluten-Free Pancakes
1 cup rice flour
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp. tapioca starch/flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. oil
1 1/2 cups water
dash of salt

In a mixing bowl, combine rice flour, tapioca starch, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, and dash of salt. Mix in eggs and oil. Slowly stir in water and beat well until batter is mostly smooth and few lumps remain. Heat large, greased skillet over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter into skillet for each pancake (you can make them larger or smaller if you want). Cook until bubbles form throughout pancake. Flip and cook until the pancakes are golden brown on each side. Serve warm.

Freezing leftovers: Allow pancakes to cool. Store in freezer bag with wax paper in between pancakes. I will make a layer of 4 pancakes in the bag, add wax paper, do another 4 pancakes, etc.

***Fruit-filled variations
For banana pancakes, mash one ripe banana and add to batter when you add in the eggs and oil.

For peach pancakes, drain one small diced peaches fruit cup and add peaches to batter when you add in the eggs and oil.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Indian-Style Chicken with Crushed Tomatoes

My garden is overflowing with cherry tomatoes right now, and many of them needed to be used within the next day or so. So, I decided to try something experimental tonight for dinner, and my oldest child ate three servings of chicken! I was expecting to have some leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Not so!

I'm not an expert in Indian food, but what I've tried, I have enjoyed. I also happened to have 5 chicken drumsticks in my deep freeze. I set out to cook with very little plan and here's what happened!

I took all the ripe cherry tomatoes I had and diced them into eighths. It ended up being about 2 cups. You could easily use a can of diced tomatoes (around 14.5 ounces or so) instead. I used the meat of 5 chicken drumsticks, but it would work well with white meat as well.

Here's what it turned into!

***Indian-Style Chicken with Crushed Tomatoes
2 cups diced cherry tomatoes, or 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
5-6 chicken drumsticks, with meat cut into bite-size pieces (or 1-2 chicken breasts)
1/2 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
4 cups cooked rice (2 cups uncooked, cooked per package directions)
oil for cooking chicken

Cut cherry tomatoes into fourths or eighths. Cut chicken into bite size pieces. In small amount of oil, cook chicken until no longer pink. Add 1/2 cup water, chopped onion, and diced cherry tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes start to break apart. With spoon, crush tomatoes until a red sauce forms. Add in cumin, ginger, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and ground cinnamon. Cook until sauce thickens slightly. Serve over rice.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake

Oh. My. Goodness. This cake is perfection! I confess that even before I stopped eating gluten I had never made an angel food cake. I'm not sure why I didn't. Several people in my family have angel food cake as their favorite cakes, and I enjoy eating it too. For some reason, it never occurred to me to try and make it myself.

Shortly after starting my blog, I had a request for a gluten-free angel food cake recipe that tasted like the real deal. I *love* being asked to help others create recipes, and so, I decided to give it a shot! I fully expected my first attempt to be a flop, especially after reading stories others had written about cakes that flopped. So, I was nervous, but very excited to try.

One of the keys to a fluffy angel food cake that doesn't fall in is inverting the cake after it bakes. Many angel food cake pans are being made with "feet" on the bottom to help with this. For those that don't have the little feet, you can turn the pan over the top of a bottle. Or...if you get a highly dysfunctional pan like mine that is too small for any bottle tops and doesn't have any feet, you can turn it over on a cooling rack or over three coffee cups spread around the edges of the pan.

Many recipes use a stand mixer, but I don't have one. So, I beat the eggs with an electric hand mixer and it worked out perfectly fine. Also, I'm too lazy for sifting. So, I "sifted" my flours and sugar with a fork.

And so, here it is!

***Gluten-Free Angel Food Cake
1 1/2 cup egg whites (using between 10-12 eggs), brought to room temperature
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup corn starch
2 Tbsp. tapioca starch/flour
1 1/4 cup sugar for mixing with flour, 1/4 cup sugar for mixing with eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cream of tartar
Pinch of salt

Move oven rack to lowest position. Preheat oven to 350. Separate 10-12 eggs, until you have about 1 1/2 cups of egg whites. (If you hate the thought of wasting 12 egg yolks, check out this link for methods on freezing egg yolks. I froze three packages of 4 yolks - two stabilized with sugar, and one stabilized with salt. Hope to use them in future recipes!) Allow the egg whites to come to room temperature, slightly colder than room temp. will work fine. While waiting for the egg whites to warm up, combine white rice flour, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch, and 1 1/4 cups sugar in a bowl. "Sift" by stirring with a fork until the dry ingredients are well-mixed. With electric hand mixer, beat eggs until frothy. Add in salt and cream of tartar. Continue beating the eggs until they have risen significantly and begin to form stiff peaks. Add in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the sugar has mixed in.You do not need to beat the eggs until they are dry. But they should look something like this.

Gently fold in vanilla extract. Add in dry ingredient mixture 1/2 cup at a time, folding into egg mixture gently. Pour mixture into ungreased angel food cake pan. Bake for around 45 minutes, or until cake has turned a deep golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan on cooling rack, three coffee cups spread around outside of pan, or over a narrow-necked bottle (or using the little feet on the bottom of the pan, if yours has them). Cool for at least an hour. Using a butter knife, go around the outside edge, inside edge and bottom of the cake pan until it comes cleanly off the pan.

Serve as is, with berries, whipped topping, or drizzled icing.

Doesn't that look awesome?! A slice for you...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Product Review: S'moreables and S'more Mix Recipe

Time for another product review!

I will admit that my kids had an "off" day at the grocery store this week, and so I didn't pay super close attention to what I was selecting when I picked out a couple new GF products to try. The picture on the box of Kinnikinnick Foods S'moreables sold this product to me. I saw s'mores and had to try them. If I had read the bold print on the box, I would have realized that the product was graham crackers and I would need to supply the chocolate and marshmallows. Ha! Oh well!

The crackers are fantastic. They taste almost exactly like their gluten counterparts, but I actually like these better. They aren't flimsy. They aren't overly hard either. They are sturdy enough for making a s'more, but crumbly enough to be a cracker. The texture is perfection. My kids loved them too, but I didn't share very many. After eating a S'moreable, I started thinking about s'mores. I wanted one. And then, it hit me! Why not have a "s'more" in a bowl? After a bite or two, I wanted more S'more Mix!

***S'more Mix
Kinnikinnick S'moreable crackers
Chocolate chunks of your choice (I read that dark chocolate M&Ms are GF, though you may want to check for yourself)
GF mini marshmallows

Break crackers into bite size pieces. Combine with chocolate chunks and marshmallows. Enjoy, and pretend you are sitting near a campfire somewhere.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Breakfast Pie

Yesterday morning I woke up craving breakfast pizza. I wanted something breakfast-y with no cheese or milk, and I was coming up empty. I decided to make a breakfast pizza and skip the cheese, but then I realized I had no yeast. Ugh. So, breakfast pizza was not going to happen. Then I started thinking about quiche, but I didn't really want to spend the time making and rolling out a crust. That's when I got a weird idea.

Why not make a crust out of crushed Rice Chex? Ya know, kinda like a graham cracker crust, only not sweet? So, that's what I did!

***Rice Chex Crust
1 1/2 cups crushed Rice Chex
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 tsp. salt
dash black pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Combine crushed Chex, melted butter, salt, and pepper in medium-size bowl. Pour mixture into pie plate and lightly press it into a crust shape. The mixture won't press totally flat, just try to even it out so that the whole bottom of the plate is covered as well as most of the sides. Bake for 10 minutes. Chex will lightly brown in the oven.

So, I had an awesome looking crust, but no idea what to put in it. I was still thinking about quiche, but I had no breakfast meat, and was trying to avoid milk and cheese. I used veggies from my garden, but you could use anything. I think asparagus would be fantastic. A meat addition would be great too. So, here's what I did.

***Breakfast Pie Filling
5-6 eggs
3-4 cherry tomatoes, diced
handful of pole beans, finely chopped

Heat oven to 400. Mix eggs and diced veggies together in a bowl, until eggs are thoroughly scrambled. Pour into prepared Rice Chex crust. Bake for 25 minutes, or until eggs are firm and beginning to brown. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Poppers/GF Chicken Nuggets

I don't know why, but it seems like most kids obsess over chicken nuggets at some point in their lives. We eat pretty healthily at our house, but my son still begs for chicken nuggets and tells me they are his favorite food. I don't know if it is because of the fun shapes they often come in, that they can be picked up, or if it truly has to do with their flavor. Whatever it is, my kids beg for chicken nuggets and I pretty much only make them for my kids when I have a GF leftover I can heat up while I cook their wheat-filled nuggets.

I confess, sometimes I miss chicken nuggets too. Not because I miss their pre-packaged, preservative-filled-ness, but because I love what you can do with them. They are pretty versatile, really. My husband was out of town today and my son (whose comfort food is chicken nuggets) has been sick since yesterday. While he was napping, I decided to make chicken nuggets for him, but I wanted to please him and me. So, I made some "homemade chicken nuggets" and heated up some leftover pizza sauce. Voila - I was having chicken parmesan bites and he thought they were chicken nuggets. Win-win! And, for people with celiac/gluten-intolerance who cannot have cheese, these do not have any cheese. Pardon the picture...I wanted to take a picture right after I made these, but my husband had the camera and he was out of town. So, here's a picture of the leftovers!

***Chicken Parmesan Poppers
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-size pieces (I did two small chicken breasts from frozen)
1 1/2 cups gluten-free oats, pulsed in blender until almost like "flour"
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayo
salt and pepper as desired
Pizza sauce

Preheat oven to 425. In blender or food processor, pulse oats until they are somewhat "flour-like." You may need to move the oats around with a spoon or shake the blender gently as you pulse. The oats don't need to be ground totally fine, but you want them to be chopped smaller than they were when you put them in the blender! :)  Put the chopped oats into a medium-size bowl and add salt and pepper as desired. I used about 1/2 tsp. salt and a dash of black pepper. Put mayo into small bowl. Chop chicken into small, bite-size pieces. Working in batches, coat chicken with mayo and then cover with oat crumbs. Place prepared chicken onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake 12 minutes, then flip. Bake 12 more minutes, or until chicken is done and breading has begun to brown. Heat up pizza sauce for dipping, if desired.

These chicken bites held together surprisingly well and could be paired with any number of dipping sauces. My son ate several pieces and then said, "Mom, you can make this again sometime!"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Banana-Oat Breakfast Cookies

Who says you can't give your kids cookies for breakfast?

This morning when I woke up, I noticed I had 6 bananas that were over-ripe and would go bad if I did not use or freeze them that day. My husband offered to make banana bread, but I wanted to try something different. That's when the idea hit me for breakfast cookies, and let me tell you they were a huge hit! My kids felt like they were getting a huge treat by getting cookies for breakfast, and I was happy because what they were eating was really no worse that oatmeal doctored up with a little fruit and sugar. Win-win situation. It doesn't get any better!

So, here it is...

***Banana-Oat Breakfast Cookies - yields around 18 cookies
3 over-ripe bananas, mashed
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 farm-fresh egg (or 1 egg + 1 yolk)
2 cups oats (check to make sure they are GF)
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mash bananas on a plate or in a small bowl. In medium-size mixing bowl, combine sugar, brown rice flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix well. Add egg and vanilla. Stir until sticky dough forms. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until bottoms are brown and tops are firm. Tops will not brown a lot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Beef and Cherry Tomato Pasta Topping

My cherry tomato plants are extremely productive right now. The plants were only supposed to be 3-4 feet tall, but they are closer to 6 feet tall with tomatoes all the way to the tops of the branches. As I expected, as soon as one ripened, they all started ripening! I'm not the canning type - at least not right now - so I wanted to find a way to use all of the ripe tomatoes I had at once. It barely put a dent in the crop I've got now, but it was a great way to use about a dozen cherry tomatoes.

I call this a "topping" because it isn't really saucy. It is just saucy enough that it is kinda like spaghetti, but it lacks the oregano-y zip that reminds me of Italian food. So, I have no idea what to call this. Name it what you'd like. :)  Both my kids and my husband liked this dish a lot and said they'd be totally fine with me making it again. In my mind, that makes it a recipe worth writing down!

Not the greatest picture in the world, but you get the idea. :)  Who knew how hard it would be to take a picture of something that had yellow noodles? I served this up with a side of wax beans and pole beans (also right out of the garden).

***Beef and Cherry Tomato Pasta Topping
1 pound ground beef
12 large cherry tomatoes (I have "giant" cherry tomatoes in my garden, but plump regular cherry tomatoes are fine), cut into eighths
1 pepper, diced (I used a banana pepper from my garden, but you could use a bell pepper, or other pepper you like the flavor of)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 to 1 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
oil for sauteeing
1 box (8 oz.) GF pasta of your choice (I used Quinoa-Corn spaghetti noodles, but anything would work. If you want to feed more than four people, make more pasta. The topping had leftovers when I made this. The noodles did not.)

Cut cherry tomatoes into eighths, dice pepper and onions. In one skillet, brown the ground beef and drain off fat. In another skillet, sautee chopped tomatoes, pepper and onions in oil. Heat water for noodles. Once the tomatoes start breaking apart, add chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and desired amount of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Simmer to allow flavors to combine. Cook pasta per package directions. Drain, and rinse pasta with cold water if desired.  Combine meat and tomato mixtures and heat through. Serve topping over noodles.