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!