Monday, August 31, 2009

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Muffins

I remember back in the day when I thought I could eat wheat I would go to Mimi's Restaurant and eat all of the moist and yummy carrot cake they brought out with the bread plate for an appetizer. It is such a great combination of flavors; the walnuts, the raisins, the carrots, the spices. Then the tables turned and I thought sweet, moist carrot cake and I would never meet again. One day (years later, I must admit), I thought, I'm smarter than that! I can make my own gluten free version of that bread. It proved to be easier than I thought. First I turned to trusty Google Search and found several versions of the Mimi's recipe. (Mimi's, if you don't want your stuff copied, don't let the recipe get out on the web. I'm just saying. But I'm glad it was there.)

Gluten free baking is so tricky. You have to use several flours to replace wheat flour,because each flour has only one or two of the components of regular flour. Measurements and ratios can be hard on the middle-aged mom's brain, so I like to take the easy way out and use a mix whenever possible. That doesn't mean, however, that you have to just use the mix as is. I always feel free to jazz it up a bit and add whatever flavors or textures I like to my sweet baked goods. This dish was no exception. I used the Namaste Spice Cake Mix and then added some of Mimi's secret ingredients like crushed pineapple and walnuts. I used applesauce instead of oil to cut down on the fat intake. I added shredded zucchini and coconut because I wanted more veggie power. And what I came up with was a muffin that my five-year-old has eaten more of than I have.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake Muffins with Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting
based on Mimi's Restaurant recipe, tweaked and made gluten free by Margo Andersen

3 eggs
1 cup applesauce
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup molasses (optional)
1 Namaste spice cake mix
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup crushed pineapple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a stand mixer, beat eggs, applesauce, water, and molasses, if desired, until combined. Add cake mix, blend. Stop mixer and add carrots, coconut, zucchini, raisins, walnuts, and pineapple. Mix until just blended, not too long or the goodies will sink to the bottom. Batter is runny, so use a 1/4 measuring cup to fill muffin tins. If goodies start to fall to the bottom while you are fillng muffin tins, simply stir the batter for a second to re-incorporate. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 24 muffins with enough left over for one mini loaf pan. Cook loaf for 40-45 minutes at 350. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool. Frost with frosting if using as a dessert. If not, use for a breakfast muffin. Freezes well.

Homemade Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pkg cream cheese
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Beat together softened cream cheese and sugar, adding one cup at a time until desired consistency. Place in a large ziploc bag and cut the end off one of the tips to make a pastry bag. Frost carrot cake muffins this way so the moist crumbs do not get into the frosting.

Happy eating!

Gluten Free Crusty Chicken and Creamy Provencale Sauce, or, How to Really Enjoy Sunday Dinner

There's always that question hanging in the air every night...what could I do with this chicken? Pretty much everyone has their own favorite ways of preparing chicken. Pretty much everyone eats chicken. And pretty much everyone gets tired of eating the same old chicken at some point during their lives. Yesterday I decided to try making chicken a new way with a homemade sauce that I was sure was culinary originality at it's best. But then I skimmed through my favorite cookbook and found out it was really Sauce Provencale with a little buttermilk added in. Oh well, great minds think alike, right? Of course, I was in total kamikaze cooking mode and forgot to take pictures of the ingredients until all the chicken was in the pan, so I only have this one of the aftermath. And the beauty of this chicken is you make it with only one pan. The good news just keeps on comin'.

Crusty Chicken and Creamy Provencale Sauce

For the chicken:

4 chicken breasts or chicken cutlets (cutlets cook in about 6-8 minutes, so be careful not to overcook)
1 beaten egg
1 cup Glutino Original crackers, crushed finely (I use a large ziploc bag and a rolling pin. Just let the anger out on those crackers.)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp italian seasoning
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

Rinse chicken and pat dry. (Don't use frozen chicken, the batter won't stick.) Heat oil to medium heat in a large frypan. Put flour, egg, and cracker crumbs into three separate bowls or dishes, assembly line style. Add parmesan, spices, and salt and pepper to cracker crumbs. Mix gently to incorporate. Dip the chicken into the flour, coating evenly. Then dip into egg, then into crackers, coating evenly. Place chicken into oil. You should hear a bubbling, sizzling sound when it goes in. That way you know the oil is hot enough. Let brown on one side for 3-4 minutes, then flip with tongs. (You should always use tongs instead of forks when working with meat. If you pierce the meat, the juices run out and your meat is dry.) Let cook on the other side 3-4 minutes until brown. If chicken is not cooked all the way through yet, cover pan with lid and let steam for 5 minutes. Remove chicken from oil when cooked through and no pink is present.

For the sauce:

3 green onions, chopped
2-3 tomatoes, diced
1 clove garlic
6 button mushrooms, coarsely chopped or halved
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/8 cup white cooking wine
1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp cornstarch

Add the chopped onions to the oil from the chicken at med-low heat and let cook down for two or three minutes, until soft. Add the garlic, stir for just a minute. Add tomatoes and mushrooms. Let cook down for about three minutes, until soft. Add chicken broth, cooking wine, and buttermilk. Let sauce reduce down for 5-10 minutes until desired consistency. If desired, add 2 tsp of cornstarch to thicken sauce.

Happy eating!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Playing with Polenta

You know how sometimes you hear about something and every time you turn around you are hearing about it again? A while back, my friend, Morry, wrote about polenta here and here. She always makes everything look so beautiful and sound so yummy and easy, I thought, hmm, one day I'll try that. Then Brian Boitano was making polenta for his show "What Would Brian Boitano Make?" on Sunday on the Food Network. He made the instant kind, so I thought, that stuff actually looks pretty easy to make. Then there was a re-run of "Everyday Italian" where Giada used polenta for hors d'ourves. And the kicker was this post by my friend Sarah from New Zealand. So, I figured it was time for me to join the ranks of folks who play around with polenta.

Polenta is simply corn grits. I have always loved hominy grits. I think as a kid my body was saying, "This is gluten-free! Eat it all the time! You will grow and be happy if you eat this stuff!" I love the texture. It's like porridge. You can totally pretend you are Oliver Twist while eating these. The great thing about polenta is that it is a base for you to add whatever flavors you want to it. You can go sweet or savory, Italian or Mexican, cheesy or spicy, whatever you are in the mood for, polenta can pull it off. And, it falls into the category of foods that are NATURALLY GLUTEN FREE, which really is our focus as gluten free eaters. So I thought I would try polenta three ways and see which one I liked best.

I remember eating the Sweet Corn Tomalito at Chevy's Restaurant a while back. It is sooo good. Here is the actual recipe, which calls for masa flour and cornmeal. Well, I didn't have fifty minutes to cook a corn pudding, so I thought I'd try to make it with instant polenta. I used the DeLallo instant polenta and made it with milk instead of water. When it was done, I put about a quarter of a cup of frozen corn kernels into a bowl and added one cup of cooked, warm polenta to it. I added one tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt to it, and mixed well. You can add more sugar or salt to taste. Let it sit for a minute to thaw out the corn. This was pretty good all by itself, but it would be the perfect complement to Mexican beans and rice.

Then I tried a breakfast recipe. Morry wrote this post about re-creating her breakfast in Utah at Em's Restaurant and that was my inspiration. To my cooked polenta I added some salt and pepper and about a quarter cup of shredded monterey jack. I laid some cooked bacon on the bottom of the plate, topped it with the cheesy polenta, and topped that with a runny cooked egg. This was so good, too. Totally different flavors than the sweet corn tomalito, but totally filling. Watch your salt on this one. The bacon is salty and depending on how much you salt your eggs you may end up with Salty Polenta City. Here's an egg cooking tip from my father-in-law who was a chef in the Navy: Coat non-stick pan with cooking spray. Heat the pan to medium heat. Add the egg, being careful not to break the yolk. When egg starts to turn white and bubble, add one tablespoon of water and cover the pan with a lid. I use a clear glass lid so I can see the egg's progress. The steam will make the whites cover over the yolk, so there is no need to flip the egg. Simply shake the pan a little to see how runny the egg yolk is under the white. Genius!

Then I tried a recipe that was actually on the back of the DeLallo Polenta box. Sometimes I find my best recipes on the back of boxes. In a large frypan, I sprayed some cooking spray, heated to medium heat and added some cut up kielbasa sausage. I browned it on both sides and added some frozen sliced red, yellow, and green peppers. I sauteed the mixture for a few minutes to thaw out the peppers. Then I took the polenta and added a pinch of salt, about two tablespoons of parmigiano-reggiano cheese and one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil. I put the polenta on a plate, and simply topped with the cooked sausage and pepper mixture. Soo good! My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Again, totally different flavors carried off by that base of polenta.
I can't say which one of these I liked the best. They were all good for different meals. Polenta is so versatile, and any ingredient which could be used for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a thumbs-up in my book. So, next time you are at the store, look for polenta. It can be your newest gluten-free friend! Happy eating!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Dippy is SOOOO Good

Today in the mail I received these little packets of yummy goodness that can only be described as sinful. Sinful in the way that you mix them with sour cream and real mayonnaisse and then you can't stop eating it with your favorite chips until it's gone. Or until you get the willpower to put it back in the refrigerator. But that doesn't mean you can't still think about it.

I tried the Don't Squat With Your Spurs On (a buttermilk-ranch concoction) with plain potato chips, plain tortilla chips, and Boulder Canyon's Rice and Adzuki Bean chips. My favorite companion to this dip was the tortilla chip, but I'm a traditionalist. If anyone out there has tried these with something different that they absolutely love, leave a comment and let me know. I'm always open to new combinations.

Where, you may ask, did I get these fabulous packets of true love? From a little place called the Dippy Chick. Chris is a food allergy/gluten-free girl who has children and a husband with food issues as well. She fully understands the frustration of wanting to eat something simple and tasty without having to worry about wheat contaminating it. Check out her site, she has a ton of flavors like Atomic Wedgie Veggie, Parmesan Pesto Manifesto, Crabby Ol' Beach Seafood Mix, and my personal favorite, May the Horse Be With You. These dips are perfect to take to a party when you don't know what is being served and you don't know the hostess well enough to ask. Voila! Bring chips and dip! Also, football season is coming up, and you know you're going to be camping out on the couch for a while this winter. They also have great suggestions on how to use the mixes, like as bagel spreads, mixed into soft butter, pasta salad, french fry dip, and as coatings for meat or roasted vegetables. Try it, I know you'll like it. Happy Eating!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Betty Crocker Goes Gluten Free

So, one of the benefits of being on Twitter is that you get to read all of the updated celiac info from people who look for articles and news on gluten free food. There are about a million posts I miss, but this one caught my eye today, from a press release from Betty Crocker:

"One in nine U.S. households watches, reduces, or avoids gluten intake," said Michelle Tucker, M.S., registered dietician and senior scientist at the Bell Institute of Health and Nutrition. "When you combine the number of households with those affected by celiac's disease and others that choose to follow a low gluten or gluten free diet, it equals the percentage of households that limits dairy intake and is three times the percentage of households that avoid nuts."

Because of this, Betty Crocker has decided to introduce gluten free mixes at a price point of $4.49 for their yellow cake, devil's food cake, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies. And you thought eating gluten free would help you cut out carbs! I say, way to go Betty Crocker. They are producing these mixes in a dedicated facility to ensure there is no contamination. They have made them affordable and available at your grocery store, so you won't have to make two trips to the health food store just because it's your birthday. For those of us with children, how often have you wished you could just whip up a batch of brownies from a mix for dessert after a crazy day or just make cupcakes to celebrate a special achievement? These mixes may be worth their weight in gold if we don't have to combine twenty ingredients to get flat brownies that taste like garbanzo beans. (No offense, garbanzo beans. We owe you one for being edible.) I haven't taste tested these yet, so I'll have to let you know about flavor after they hit my store's shelves. But even if they are a bit lacking, you can't argue with the convenience factor.

We can only hope that other brands will heed Betty's example (Campbell's, are you listening?) and provide even more accessible gluten free food for the rest of us, who are always on the hunt for mainstream products that are safely produced and have great taste. Happy eating, and thanks again, Betty!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gary's Famous Spaghetti Sauce

My brother-in-law, Gary, used to be a chef at an Italian restaurant in Holladay called Three Guys from Italy. This has made him one of my all time favorite people because he has the best recipes that require absolutely no brain power when making them. I am now a believer in the inexact science of cooking a la Gary. I am by no means a regular homemade spaghetti sauce cooker. That's why they invented Prego, right? But this sauce is so simple and naturally gluten free that I may take it up as a hobby. There are a few tricks to making this sauce, like the order of the ingredients being added to each other and the long cooking time, but they aren't difficult or confusing, so anyone can make it.

Gary's Famous Spaghetti Sauce

1 1/2 lb ground beef (or your favorite ground meat)

1/2 chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 T italian seasoning

1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes

4 8 ounce cans of tomato sauce (I prefer Hunt's--no fillers)

5-6 mushrooms (optional)

Brown meat, onion, and garlic in bottom of dutch oven or heavy pot. Drain fat. Return meat to pot and add italian seasoning, about one palm full. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Let simmer for 4-6 hours on low. This is the key. The longer the flavors cook together, the better the sauce is. Add sliced mushrooms right at the end, before you serve the sauce. Serve with Tinkyada brown rice spaghetti noodles. Thanks to Gary for sharing his fabulous recipe!
Happy eating!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Scott's Loaded Granola Bars

For all of you out there who are not afraid of oats, have I got a doozy for you. I bought some of my friend's granola bars hoping for something palatable with a little bit of flavor. What I got was something totally delicious with great texture and a ton of flavor. The Triple Berry flavor of Scott's Loaded Granola Bars are soft and chewy and loaded with yummy things like pistachios, flax seeds, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, quinoa, organic oats and steel cut oats, brown sugar, and about fifty other ingredients that it would take me too long to write about. They are also wheat-free and dairy-free.

Scott and Tawna wanted to offer something to their friends at the farmer's market who were allergic to wheat. These oats are not technically gluten-free oats, because the pure oats are very expensive. But if you are okay with eating regular oats and don't have any problems with them, these bars are for you. They are sweetened with honey and maple syrup, not barley malt. (Hooray! We all know how I feel about barley malt...) They also use coconut oil instead of butter to make them dairy-free. And the kicker is using buckwheat and quinoa instead of wheat germ. Now that's creativity in the kitchen!

With 242 calories, these are the perfect midday snack. For maybe, 3:00 when the kids come home and dump their entire backpacks on the kitchen table? Oh, did I just say that out loud? Scott's website has a bunch of different flavor offerings that sound super yummy for anyone, but the only flavor that is safe for gluten-free eating is the Triple Berry flavor. And for orders over $20 you get free shipping anywhere in the United States. The bars cost $1.75 for one, a three pack is $5, and a twelve pack is $20.

Happy eating!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Life After Gluten: A Guest Post!
My friend Tiffany from Life After Gluten is in a remarkable postition as a gluten-free person: Her former occupation? Baker. No one knows more about the properties of flour and how to bake than Tiffany. So I cajoled her into writing a guest post about baking gluten-free for me. Dear readers, get ready to learn about baking from a pro. And I am guest posting today over at Tiffany's blog, Life After Gluten, so be sure to head over there and check out what I have to say about lunch. Now on to the Wisdom of Tiffany:

Gluten is a beautiful thing. Who doesn't love a good, tough bagel, or a firm, chewy, foldable pizza crust? Gluten provides elasticity to a baked product. It holds the structure of a muffin together, it helps a croissant to flake. How can someone bake without it? That's what I set out to discover.

Being a professional baker did not prepare me for the struggle of baking without gluten. Everything I knew about food science flew out the window when I was diagnosed with celiac. How could I possible bake anything? First thing I tried was a chocolate chip cookie mix. I lovingly mixed the ingredients together, and popped a big ball of cookie dough in my mouth. Big mistake! This dough had bean flour in it, which is bitter! I admit that I began to cry. What a horrible first experience! The devestation tempered a bit when I tried the cookies after they were baked. They still weren't great, but at least the bitterness cooked out. That was my first lesson in baking gluten free. Bean flour is bitter when raw, but the bitterness bakes out in the oven.
I am here to explain what I know about baking flours, ratios, flour combinations, etc. I don't claim to be an expert, but I have learned a couple things in the past 2 years.

1. If at first you don't succeed, cry, and then try again! You will never find that perfect recipe unless you keep at it. There are endless combinations to a good pizza crust, and it's going to take some time before you find the one you like.

2.Take ideas from recipes you already have. Don't try to reinvent the wheel. If you have a pie crust you really like, try it with a gluten free flour mix. See how it turns out. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't...find out!

3. Take recipes from the internet. Try something that someone else made up! Change it a bit, take out what you don't like, add what you do like. It's all up to you! I based my favorite pizza dough recipe off of Emeril's recipe!
You are welcome to try out gluten free flour mixes from the store. I have had success with Sylvan Border Farms flour mix, as well as Pamela's mixes. They are quite expensive, however, and I enjoy trying my own. I also try to make my mixes a litle healthier than mostly just starch mixes. I usually will try to add in some ground flax seed into a bread to get some fiber in there. Just add a little so as to not change the texture of your finished product too much. One thing to remember is that celiacs generally don't get enough fiber, so it is super important to replace it in other ways.

Each flour you come across has different properties to it. One will strengthen, another will act as a tenderizer, another will add moisture. This is where things get hairy. Wheat has all of these properties, so it is difficult to wrap your head around needing multiple flours to substitute for just one. I have spent a while trying to develop the perfect flour, and for me, I have found one I really like. To get a good idea of what flours do what, I would suggest taking a look at a book called You Won't Believe It's Gluten Free by Roben Ryberg. The information inside is invaluable to creating your own mix. Starting on page 14, you can find an analysis of gluten free flours, and their properties. I don't necessarily agree with her opinion on whether to use a certain flour or not. For example, she says not to use quinoa flour, because it's flavor doesn't merit use. I happen to like quinoa flour, so I take those opinions lightly. Her book also uses one or two starches or flours to create multiple recipes, so it is nice for a beginner, or someone who would rather just have a few flours, instead of multiple. In the past couple of years, I have decided that I prefer to have a selection of flours available, because I tend to get better results that way. Again, it is all about what you do, and do not like.

You can check out my flour mix recipe here, just remember that it has buckwhaet flour, which makes your final product a little darker in color. It is also meant for more hearty recipes, such as cookies with nuts, or whole grain style bread. I love it in cornbread, also! Please note that the garbanzo flour can add a hint of bitterness if not cooked thouroughly. It is a bean flour :)

My pizza dough recipe, like I previously said, is based off of Emeril's. Give it a try, and see what you think!! So far, it is the best we have tried, and my gluten eating husband says it is just like regular pizza! Score!

Yield: 2 16 to 18-inch pizza crusts
Ingredients:1 cup water (105 – 115 degrees F) 1 tablespoon sugar 2 tablespoons active dry yeast 1 1/2cups white rice flour 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour 1/2 cup flour mix 2 cups tapioca starch 2/3 cup instant non-fat dry milk powder 3 teaspoons xanthan gum 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup hot water 3 tablespoons olive oil 4 egg whites at room temperature Vegetable oil spray Corn meal
Method:Preheat the oven to 400ยบ F. Combine 1 cup of water (105 – 115 degrees F), 2 tablespoons active dry yeast and sugar. Let the yeast "bloom" in the water. Combine the white rice flour, garbanzo flour, flour mix, milk powder, tapioca flour, xanthan gum and salt in a bowl of a standing mixer with a paddle and set on low. Mix the flour well and then add the olive oil with the remaining 1/2 cup of water, slowly pouring into the bowl. Add the egg whites slowly until the mixture is well incorporated. Add the yeast mixture and increase the speed to high and continue to mix for 4 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and evenly divide into two balls. Dust 2 half sheet pans (jelly roll pans) with corn meal to prevent sticking, and to add crunch to the bottom. You can spray it with cooking spray if you would rather do without the crunch. Place one of the dough balls onto each pan. Place a plastic glove or a plastic sandwich bag onto one of your hands and spray some vegetable oil onto the gloved hand. Using that hand, gently press each dough ball into a 13-inch circle about 1/4 inch thick, leaving the edges a bit thicker to prevent sauce from dripping onto the pan. You can also just use a wet hand to 'smear' the dough out into shape. Set aside for 10 minutes to rise.
Place the dough into the oven and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with your favorite sauce and ingredients. Place back into the oven and continue to cook until the crust is golden brown and crispy, 10 to 12 minutes longer. (Note: if the baking pan is not liberally greased or corn meal-ed, the dough will stick. If this happens, use a flat metal spatula to separate the dough from the baking pan.)
Hopefully this gives you some ideas to create your perfect pastry, loaf, bun, whatever! Please, ask questions, get dirty, make mistakes and try again! That's what makes this an adventure, and it makes the success more of a reason to celebrate!

-- Tiffany

Life After Gluten

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gluten Free Apple Pancakes

This weekend I decided to just take some time off from frantically trying to check things off my ever-growing to-do list and just be at home with my kids before we go back to school. That can mean only one thing at our house: Apple Pancakes.
My mother in law has this great recipe for Apple Pancakes that uses the Krusteaz Wheat and Honey pancake mix. Before I was diagnosed this was one of our favorites. Now we only eat it if we go to Grandma's, and I just have scrambled eggs. I am happy to say, I have finally figured out a substitute batter to reintroduce Apple Pancakes into my lazy-day breakfast repertoire. These pancakes are supposed to have a whole-grain texture to them, so I settled on buckwheat and brown rice flour. I also added an extra teaspoon of baking powder to help them rise. And I used buttermilk because I had some in my refrigerator, but you could use regular milk if you don't have any. I also used potato starch in the batter. This is a good ingredient to keep on hand. Potato Starch makes baked goods moist. I always try to add a little especially when I work with brown rice flour, which is a little crumbly and dry sometimes.

Grandma's Apple Pancakes
makes 7-8 large pancakes
2 apples
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 T cinnamon
1 T potato starch
1 T honey
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 T applesauce

Apple Syrup
makes 3 cups syrup

1 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups Apple Cider or Apple Juice
2 T lemon juice
1/4 cup butter

Pancakes: Peel and grate 2 apples of your choice. (I used Gala because they're my favorite, but you could use any kind. Golden Delicious is also yummy in this recipe.) In a large mixing bowl, mix flours, baking powder,salt, cinnamon, and potato starch. Make a well in the center. Add honey, egg, buttermilk, and pplesauce. Mix well. Fold in grated apples. Pour onto hot griddle using a 1/4 cup measuring cup. Cook on each side 2-3 minutes or until browned. Serve with apple syrup.

Syrup: Mix all ingredients except butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add butter. Stir to melt. Leftover syrup can be stored in the refrigerator. Butter will separate when cold but reconstitutes when warmed.

Happy eating!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Recall: Van's Wheat Free Homestyle Pancakes

Apparently there has been a contamination of Van's Wheat Free Homestyle Pancakes. You can read more details here. "The 118 cases of recalled Van’s Wheat Free Homestyle Pancakes may have been distributed in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Idaho and Hawaii, through retail outlets that include but may not be limited to Whole Foods, Wegmans, Giant Carlisle, Sprouts and Martins. The distributors and the retail customers involved have been notified." Just thought you all might want to know. Happy eating!

The Easiest Cookies in the World

Sometimes you just really want cookies. Judging by my blog posts, apparently I always want cookies. Let me rephrase: Sometimes you just really want cookies but you don't want to deal with the fifteen ingredients, the measuring cups, and all the cleanup that comes along with it. People, I give you Easy Peanut Butter Cookies. Not only are they delicious and quick, but they are great for lunchboxes or after school snacks.

I really want to make these cookies on my upcoming TV segment, but I'm thinking I would get laughed out of the building. It's too easy! It's too simple! It's not seared tuna steaks with corn slaw and blue dijon vinaigrette! It's only three ingredients! I happen to think viewers want easy recipes that they can make without special ingredients and without reinventing the wheel every time they have to cook gluten free food. It's about embracing the foods that are already gluten free, and using them however they are easiest and most accessible to busy families. I'm just saying...So leave me a comment and let me know what you think about this recipe. Kindergarten baby or genius concoction?

I try to be really good about giving credit for where I have gotten my recipes. All I know is that I got this recipe out of a parenting magazine. I checked at Family Fun and Parenting but couldn't find the recipe. So, kudos to whichever magazine ran this truly is kid-friendly and delicious. If you are that magazine, email me and I will give you credit for it.

Easy Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball and roll in sugar. Place on cookie sheet. Make an "x"with a fork. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool for 5-6 minutes on cookie sheet. Transfer to wire rack. Makes 16-18 cookies.
Happy eating!

Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignonne Reinvented

I know, this is so kitschy of me to be posting about the recipe made famous by the movie "Julie and Julia." But I dare anyone to say that they weren't hungry for Boeuf Bourguingnonne after they saw that movie. And if you weren't, there's something wrong with you. The beautiful thing about this dish is that it can be made gluten free so easily (simply omit the 2 T flour that coats the meat).

So, I've wanted to make that dish since I saw that movie two weeks ago and without reading the recipe I bought some stew meat at the grocery store, thinking that was the meat I needed for this recipe. Wrong! The better the cut of meat, the better this dish is. It's true. I'm not knocking stew meat, I just didn't have three hours to slow cook it to make it super tender. I would suggest filet mignon, a rib-eye or tri-tip steak, or your favorite cut of tender beef.
I decided to look up the recipe online, and when I saw that there were 30 steps to making it, my jaw fell and my creative brain started turning. I knew I had to have dinner on the table within an hour and a half and I didn't have time to do all the steps required. So I changed the recipe to suit my needs. Which, I have to say, I'm getting pretty good at now that I've been living gluten-free for six years. Julia Child may be turning over in her grave right now, but I have made a quicker version of her famous dish that has fewer steps. And, while I will be the first to admit that the original version will probably yield better, tastier results, this version is faster, also very flavorful and tasty, and easy to get on the table. This is not Julia Child's recipe. Just so we're clear.

Margo's Boeuf Bourguingnonne

4 slices of bacon or 2 slices of ham, diced
1 T olive oil
3/4 lb- 1 lb of your favorite beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 carrot, peeled and cut up
1/2 to 1/4 diced onion, or 2 T dried minced onion
1 tsp minced garlic
1 T tomato paste
1 cup Swanson's beef broth
1 cup Burgundy cooking wine
2-3 sliced mushrooms
2 bay leaves
2 T butter
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 T cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large dutch oven, brown the bacon or diced ham in the olive oil. Remove and set aside. Dry off meat cubes in paper towel before placing in drippings. Brown on both sides over medium heat in the drippings. Add carrot, onion, and garlic. Add tomato paste, beef broth, and cooking wine. Bring to a boil and let reduce down for a few minutes while you saute the mushrooms. In a medium sized frypan, melt butter. Add sliced mushrooms and garlic salt. Brown mushrooms, trying not to crowd them in the pan so they will brown easily, about 5 minutes. When mushrooms are browned on both sides, add to meat mixture with bay leaves. Stir. Place covered pan in 450 degree oven for 8 minutes. Then turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. (I baked mine uncovered because I wanted a really thick, flavorful sauce, but I think if you cover it the meat will be more tender. It's up to you.) Take meat and vegetables out of pan with a slotted spoon, leaving sauce in the pan. Bring sauce to a boil. Add cornstarch dissolved in water and mix constantly with a whisk until desired gravy consistency. Serve with mashed potatoes or Tinkyada noodles.

Happy eating!

Best Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits

Growing up, I used to make baking powder biscuits with my mom for Sunday dinners. I used to love rolling them out with a floury rolling pin and sneakily eating the dough scraps. When I found out I couldn't eat them anymore, I was a really big brat about it. We're talking full-on pouting. One day I found the Biscuit Mix from 123 Gluten Free at the Shirlyn's Natural Foods Store in Sandy. When I tasted them it was like being a kid in my mom's kitchen again. It has the exact same taste as those homemade biscuits you remember from the good old days of eating wheat. The dough is a tad sticky, but I use a little extra Grandpa's Kitchen flour to flour the ball of dough and the rolling pin to keep it workable. You could also use cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca flour or white rice flour if you wanted to. Sometimes I would reserve a few tablespoons of the mix to flour the board and rolling pin. Use whatever you have that you feel comfortable with. There are pretty clear instructions on the box, but here is what I have learned when baking these biscuits: a)Cut them a little thicker. Nobody likes skimpy biscuits. Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch and cut with a glass for a nice round biscuit. b) You can use milk instead of half and half and heavy cream. I used 2/3 cup of buttermilk and 1 cup 2% milk. c) Never skip brushing the biscuits with milk on top and sprinkling with sugar. It just makes the biscuit so yummy and gives it a little oomph on the top. d) I put mine in the freezer and use them for quick dinner fillers. They go great with soups, roasts, gravy, homemade raspberry jam, and Boeuf Bourguignonne.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Turkey on White

Today I got to meet Joyce Shrock, who is by far one of the most delightful people in the world. And she also happens to be one of the brains behind the genius Grandpa's Kitchen Bread Mix. After finding out that she and four of her nine children had celiac's disease, Joyce and her husband set out to create the most palatable, delicious, bread-like gluten free bread on the market. And I would say they've succeeded. The Shrock family creates, packages, and sells their yummy mixes and flour to local Utah stores. Grandpa's Kitchen products are already available at stores like Harmon's, Good Earth, Great Harvest, Macey's and are coming soon to Smith's and Whole Foods. You can find a complete list of locations here. Joyce brought me a lovely loaf of bread and gave me some yummy recipes and tips for baking with her mixes. Some of you may remember, I've had a hiccup or two when making this mix. It is enough to make me think I forgot everything I learned in 8th grade cooking class. But I digress. All the problems I had can be fixed with these simple solutions:
1) Make sure you cook it long enough. When the timer goes off, stick a knife or skewer into the bread to make sure it's cooked all the way through.
2) The bread bakes well in a bread machine. But it is also beautiful when cooked in the oven.
3) As with all baking, sometimes outside factors like humidity, air pressure, or oven performance can affect your bread.
4) Joyce always uses Yoplait Vanilla Custard Yogurt in her bread. Her daughter always uses buttermilk. Either one will make delicious, moist bread.
5) Make sure you knead the dough in the stand mixer for the full 15 minutes. If you don't, the dough won't be as good.
6) Be sure to let the dough rise until it reaches the top of the pan. This may take some time. Don't be impatient.
7)If you like your bread at room temperature like the rest of the wheat-filled world, this bread will keep for about three days before needing to be refrigerated.
8) Keep the bread double-bagged in two large Ziploc bags to keep it moist.
9) Make sure you eat a lot of it. Because it is gluten-free heaven.
So, after Joyce left (and we had a wonderful visit, sharing our celiac stories, favorite restaurants, and recipes for barbeque pizza) I treated myself to something I haven't had for a very long time: a turkey sandwich with cheddar and dijon mustard on white bread. It was the best lunch ever.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Great Oat Debate

A huge debate has been going on in the gluten free community about oats for years. Although oats do not technically contain gluten, the way that they are processed in a mill usually contaminates them. If you choose to eat oats, it is always safest to buy oats that are processed in a mill solely devoted to processing oats, like the Blue Chip Group Gluten Free Oats or Gluten Free Oats or Cream Hill Estates. I just found these at my neighborhood Harmon's store. However, some folks still can't even tolerate gluten free oats. I feel for them. I happen to love oats. Oats help me feel full, they connect me to the gluten filled world with their normalcy, and they make awesome cookies and breakfasts. I haven't seen any problems since re-introducing oats to my diet five years ago, but I don't have a microscope to look at the tissue in my small intestine to see if I'm suffering damage without showing any symptoms. Here is an informative article from last year that explains some of the technical aspects of oat testing. However, it's one of those things that you have to decide for yourself. I for one think that oats are one of the best foods you can eat, celiac or not. I'd love to hear your comments on this debate: Do you eat oats? While you are thinking about that, here's my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe from the bottom of the Quaker Oats lid(which, by the way, celiac's should never eat Quaker Oats):

Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies

2 sticks soft butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups Grandpa's Kitchen Baking Flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups gluten free oats (not-quick cooking, old-fashioned have better texture)
1 cup raisins (optional)
Heat oven to 350. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mix well. Stir in oats and raisins, mix wel. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. (Gluten free tip: Cool completely on baking sheet so cookies don't break apart.) Finish cooling on a wire rack. For bar cookies, bake 30-35 minutes in ungreased 9x13 baking dish.
Sometimes these break easily. Definitely use a small scoop or melon baller to make your cookies, as they will hold together better. They spread a bit on the pan when they cook. And if they break apart, they make a great topping for vanilla ice cream. Happy Eating!

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

My mother in law has a really great sugar cookie recipe that has been handed down in her family since the days people could buy flour, I think. It is so simple and the proportions are just right for making a tender sugar cookie. I have been sad that I couldn't eat these for years, especially since we always make them at Christmastime and birthdays. But since I found my new best friend, Grandpa's Kitchen Baking Flour, I figured I'd give them a try and see how they turned out. The results are bliss. These cookies taste like a little piece of childhood smothered in frosting. The dough is not too sweet so it doesn't compete with the frosting. And if you roll it thick enough you can make it just like those huge pink cookies you get in the vending machine. (Just bake for an extra minute or two.)

Sugar Cookies

2 1/4 cup Grandpa's Kitchen Baking Flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup shortening or oil or butter (I recommend butter, shortening makes the cookies crispy)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp milk

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside. In a stand mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add dry ingredients. Add milk. Chill for two hours. (I almost exclusively always skip this step, and it turns out fine.) Roll and cut. Bake at 375 for 8-9 minutes. (I always bake at 8 minutes because I want the cookies to be soft, not hard.) Let cool on baking sheet until almost completely cooled. Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with your favorite frosting.

Homemade Frosting

4 cups powdered sugar
1 T milk
4 T soft butter
1 tsp vanilla
Blend all ingredients together, starting with just two cups of sugar to get the base mixed, and then adding the rest of the sugar until desired thickness. May add more powdered sugar based on personal preference. Color with your favorite food coloring.
Happy Eating!

Nachos Libre

This afternoon was spent in the rush of purchasing, paying for, loading, unloading and putting away enough groceries for seven people for one week. And by the time I was finished, it was 2:30. No wonder I was so grumpy. Hunger does that to me. But what to eat? (The question of my life nowadays.) Something about looking at all that food makes me indecisive. I see all the ingredients for my 21 meals and get overwhelmed. Too much! Too soon! I was in a panic to get something to eat NOW.
I recently found out that I can't eat the Nachos at Chili's Restaurant. I almost cried real tears. I have been eating those for eight years thinking they were safely gluten free. Not so much. It was a sad day. So I decided to make myself some homemade nachos for lunch. It took a grand total of two minutes, and while not an exact replica of Chili's recipe by any stretch of the imagination, they still hit the spot. Everyone out there probably has their own coveted nacho recipe. I'd love to hear them. Leave a comment with your favorite nacho toppings.
Nachos Libre
8-12 Santitas corn chips
1/4 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1 diced homegrown tomato (personal choice!)
2 T canned green chiles
1 cup fiesta blend shredded cheese
Place chips on a microwave safe plate. Top with beans, tomato and chiles. Spread with shredded cheese. Melt in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.
Happy eating!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

If the New York Times Writes About It, Will People Listen?

I just came across an article from The New York Times about how living with celiac's disease is expensive. Duh. Spending $7 on a loaf of bread or even a mix to make bread is not necessarily the bargain of the week. Whenever I meet newly diagnosed people, I always tell them to plan on adding AT LEAST $100 to their grocery budget for the month. Sometimes if things are on sale and I am trying to stock up, I'll spend more. I also tell them to add AT LEAST one hour to their shopping trip times. Reading every label just to make sure is safe, but hard to do when you have three of your five children launching themselves from the grocery cart to get to the M&Ms. So I wonder if celiac's disease will ever become mainstream enough that our favorite food producers can lower their prices down to the working man's level. I sure hope so.

So living with celiac's disease is hard. Shopping for celiac food may be just as hard. Has anyone else out there found an extremely valuable ingredient, only to find it sold out the week of Thanksgiving when you are in charge of the green bean casserole? Have you made separate trips to other stores just to track down that ingredient? Have you resorted to buying cases of Jo-sef Gluten Free Graham Crackers just so you wouldn't have to pay shipping three times a year? Have you hoarded all of the cans of Progresso Creamy Mushroom soup and weighed each recipe on whether or not it was soup-worthy? Sadly, I have participated in all of these activities. I love being healthy, but sometimes eating healthy is not time-efficient.

One of the things this article touched on was the idea of finding things to eat that naturally don't have gluten in them, and tailoring your menus around them. I know there are some experts out there, and I want to know: what are your favorite naturally gluten-free food combinations? It's the ultimate menu challenge. Thinking outside the box of traditional favorites and coming up with new menu stars is what we celiacs folks are known for. It's a talent I want to work on. Here are some of the meals that I like to eat when I'm out of gluten free packages:

Hamburgers in lettuce wraps with all the fixings
Chicken and Red Rice (recipe coming this week)
Eggs cooked with canadian bacon, spinach, tomato, avocado, onion, whatever I have that I can throw in (frittata, but not)
Lunchmeat spread with mayo, mustard, and wrapped with a green onion with potato chips and tapioca pudding
Steak and Mashed Potatoes!
Tuna on mixed greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Tacos with my own seasoned meat (not a packet) on corn tortillas

These are just ones I thought of off the top of my head. (And don't think I'm not cringing that I don't have photos to go with them.) I would love to hear from you. What ways have you circumvented your gluten intolerance? What do you love to eat that isn't made by anyone else but Mother Nature?

Happy eating!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Late Night Love

That Mary. Love that she went crackers. Last night as I was getting ready to go upstairs and go to bed, I had the late-night hunger pangs set in. (That's what happens when you stay up six hours after dinner ends.) When I walked into the kitchen intent on satisfaction, I saw this staring me in the face:

One of my fabulous, flavorful, homegrown tomatoes. I knew not only that one of these babies would hit the spot, but that I'd better use it up because there would be four more out there ready to be picked tomorrow. So I went to the fridge and the pantry and came up with this:

Yum. I used Mary's Gone Crackers Original Recipe crackers, one of my favorites.They are so crunchy and the texture is heavenly when paired with cheese. I added a little square of Meunster cheese, a piece of my yummy tomato, and sprinkled it with some garlic salt and black pepper. Heavenly. When I finished the seven crackers I had made up and photographed, I looked at the box of crackers. Only 140 calories for 13 crackers? I still had half a tomato and seventy calories left over. I went back to the fridge and pantry and came up with these:

More Mary's Gone Crackers Original Recipe with a square of colby jack cheese, some black beans I just strained with a spoon right out of the can, sprinkled with a little cumin and a tomato on top. They are also great without tomato. (And no, I'm not one bit embarrassed about my photo quality here. Not.) I went to bed full, happy, and so glad I had a late night science experiment with my gluten-free crackers. Thanks again Mary! Happy eating!

Let's Talk About Chex

When I was first diagnosed with Celiac's disease six years ago, I made a mental inventory of what I had in my pantry at the time. I thought I'd be safe if I got hungry, I'd just have a bowl of Rice Chex or Corn Chex. Imagine my surprise when I got home and (luckily) checked the ingredient list on the boxes. Sadly, they contained barley malt. Barley malt! There are so many cereals that you think as you read down the side of the box, "Safe, safe, safe, maybe I can eat this one...barley malt. Dangit." It is the ruiner of so many easy meals.

So I was so pleased to see a few months ago that Chex had gone gluten free with a few of their cereals and even added some new flavors. It only took them six years! Well, other people have probably been waiting longer than me, but still. Six years of passing the boxes in the cereal aisle, thinking, "If they wanted to get a lot more business, they would find a tasty substitute for that barley malt." Well, obviously someone in marketing at Chex got wind of us gluten free people and got with it. Be sure to check for gluten free packaging. I have still seen a few boxes out there that are the old formula, so be safe and look for the huge gluten free words on the front of the box.
Here are the new flavors and new packaging. And by the way,it's about time someone got the bright idea to make Chocolate Chex. Half the world is women, people! Anything you have covered in chocolate will sell. They have a great list of recipes that I can't wait to try. Check them out here. The gluten free Crunchy Fudge Coookies and the Triple Berry Mini Cheesecakes look promising. Until then, I'm just going to enjoy my bowl of gluten free Corn Chex for breakfast. Happy eating!
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