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!