Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gluten Free Sloppy Joes

Every now and again, especially in the fall, I just want some sloppy joes. I don't have to have them every night or even every month. Just every now and again. Something about eating one off of a paper plate with several napkins at the ready is homestyle goodness wrapped in a drippy bun. And, it's dinner in about 15 minutes. The problem sloppy joes present to celiac sufferers is that not only can you not eat them on the bun, but traditional bases like Campbell's Tomato soup and flour are not gluten free. You have to make them from scratch, just like every other goldarned thing you want to eat. Which is fine with me, because I am not a green pepper lover anyway, and I want to control what is in my food. I have issues. (As a side note, Manwich is gluten free, in which case if you love Manwich I'm sure you'll stop reading now and go buy some at the store.)
So here's how I make sloppy joes. I brown one pound of extra lean hamburger with minced onion. Drain the fat. Add one can of Amy's Chunky Tomato Bisque soup. I love this soup because it has a really strong tomato flavor and gives everything a kick. Add one tablespoon brown sugar, one teaspoon minced garlic, one teaspoon dry mustard powder, two tablespoons of ketchup. Let that simmer for a minute and add one 8 ounce can of tomato sauce and one teaspoon of chili powder. Simmer for a few more minutes until your husband gets home. Serve with gluten free hamburger buns.
I like to add cheese on the top of my filling. Be aware that your gluten free hamburger bun will soak up the sauce and turn pink. The joys of gluten free eating! Also, as an alternative, if you don't have any buns made, serve it over corn chips with a little cheese on top and let the rest of your family have their Wonder Bread buns. Yours may taste just a little better!
Happy eating!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gluten Free Hamburger Buns

Gluten free hamburger bun recipes are about as plentiful as used cars these days. It seems everyone has their own version that works well and does the job without fanfare. Such is the plight of the gluten free eater. We are just holding on to a thread of hope that we will find an approximation of a baked good that we can use in our traditional meals that reminds us of the good old days. I've decided that being content with something is better than nothing. I was looking for something, anything that resembled a hamburger bun for my sloppy joe recipe. Looking through my pantry I found a package of the Blue Chip Baker Group's French Bread mix. I thought I'd give it a try and see what I came up with.
First of all, this mix is so simple to use. You only add vinegar, yeast, warm water, and a little oil to it and beat it in your mixer for two minutes. Let it rise for 45 minutes and bake for 30. Pretty straightforward and uncomplicated, if you ask me. So I mixed up some dough and, using a large spoon, scooped out some balls of dough and smoothed them out with the back of the spoon. After rising and right before baking, I brushed them with a little melted butter and added sesame seeds to the top for that traditional hamburger bun crunch. They turned out pretty good! I got six buns out of one loaf recipe, however I suggest using them up pretty quickly. Fresh out of the oven is definitely better. These get crumbly and dry after a couple of days, even in a ziploc bag. But they worked for my recipe and the added benefit is I don't feel so left out of the world of sloppy joes and hamburgers. If I really feel like I need a hamburger bun, these aren't too difficult to make and give a fair representation of a good old roll. I'd also like to try buns with the Grandpa's Kitchen Bread Mix, since that one is so yummy, too. I'll let you know how those turn out!
Happy eating!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gluten Free Grains...So Many to Choose From

This weekend I attended a grains class at Kitchen Kneads, a lovely cooking store on about 7500 South and Redwood Road in West Jordan. The store is run by Joe and Kathy, who have been open for around 27 years. And, boy, do they know their grains. First of all, they are one of the only stores I know of that sells the actual whole grains that you can grind yourself to make flour. And they have a great selection of mills, grinders, blenders, pressure cookers, crepe pans, anything you can think of to make your own flours and bake your own foods from whole grains.

I'll be honest. I consider myself a fairly health-conscious individual. I am committed to vegetables and fruits for my family's meals, I try to serve protein quite often and keep the fat levels down. However, I am woefully untrained in some of the rudiments of food. Number one being what alternative grains are available besides wheat. For years I have just substituted brown rice flour in my recipes. Anyone who has baked with brown rice flour knows that when I say some of the results didn't turn out quite right, knows I am telling the truth. In this class I learned more about the gluten free grains I was familiar with, and learned more about some grains I never even knew existed. There are more grains that are gluten free than there are grains that are not gluten free. It made me think there was hope for gluten-sensitive mankind.

One of the most interesting things I learned at this class was that most of the nutritional value from flours is gone 72 hours after you grind the grain. So by the time you buy your flour and put it on your shelf, it's already lost most of its vitamin content. This is why it's important to purchase a grinder and grind your own flours right before you bake with them. You will feel fuller, so you'll eat less, and you'll be healthier, because you'll be assimilating more nutrition. Most of the problems with Americans' health starts in the gut. The reason? Not enough fiber. (Now I sound like a Metamucil commercial.) When a grain is milled in a commercial mill, they remove the middlings and the bran, where most of the fiber from the grain is. They also remove the germ and the oil so it doesn't go rancid on the shelf. This is where most of the vitamins are. The leftovers are what make up your basic white flour. No wonder Americans,with our white-flour diet, are having so many health problems. Not enough fiber, not enough vitamins, tons of byproduct. Joe said, "We are literally starving to death on a full stomach." This is one of the reasons I think celiac sufferers are basically more healthy than our wheat flour counterparts: we are forced to find other food sources, like vegetables, fruits, and other grains to fill ourselves up.

Here is a basic primer on the alternatives to wheat and their uses:

Brown rice is a great body builder. It has tons of vitamins like B vitamins, thiamin, niacin, potassium, calcium, and carbohydrates, to name a few. Eating it is good for mental depression, bones, teeth, nervous system, nausea, and diarrhea.

Millet has the most vitamins of any grain. It's a complete food, packed with amino acids, minerals, and calcium. It is alkaline in nature, so it is easy to digest. Adding some millet to your beans when you cook them will reduce the flatulence factor. You can also add some into your scrambled eggs, soup, hamburger, or other hot cereals for extra vitamin power.

Corn has lots of magnesium, which helps with bowel function. It is also full of iron, proteins, carbohydrates, and potassium. All of these nutrients are good for your heart, stomach, teeth and gums, and increases your appetite! (All of you out there who are struggling with a good appetite, eat some corn. I, on the other hand, will be cutting back a bit.) Popcorn is the most nutritious of the corn varieties, so grind some into flour to get the full benefits. You still get some good fiber and some nutrition when you pop it, but the best way to get the vitamins is to grind it as flour. If you've had popcorn for a while and it's not popping well, sprinkle some water on it and let it soak in some of the moisture and it will pop up bigger and fluffier.

Oats are a soluble fiber so they really help lower your cholesterol. They've got B vitamins, protein, fat, iodine, and calcium in them. Oats are good for muscles, brain function, spleen, nerve structure, pancreas, reproductive systems, bones, and connective tissue. (Whew!) If you brew an oat tea, it will help strengthen your immunity and help fight contagious diseases.

Buckwheat is rich in vitamins and minerals like Vitamins E and B, fat, protein, and Rutin, which is a substance which helps deliver nutrition to the cells and take the toxins out. Buckwheat helps strengthen arterial walls and relieves varicose veins. It will clean and strengthen your intestines against dysentery and diarrhea.

Amaranth is an ancient grain from Aztec times. It is great for vegetarians because it is high in protein and calcium. It actually has more calcium than milk and is utilized more efficiently by the body. So if you have a problem with lactose intolerance, amaranth is a great way to get your calcium. This is a great grain for pregnant or nursing women or people who do heavy physical labor.

Quinoa is another ancient grain from the time of the Incas. It is amaranth's cousin and has the same nutritional properties. It has the highest protein content of all the grains. It has great benefits for the kidneys and heart.

Teff is very very nutritious. You don't need much teff to get great nutritional benefits. Joe and Kathy actually teach people to use teff like a supplement. Teff is the world's smallest grain. Because it is so small, it can clog your grinder, so pour it in as the grinder is grinding.

The only grain we didn't talk about was sorghum, so I'll be doing some research to let you know the properties of that grain soon.

Another benefit of using whole grains is that they will last you 8-10 years if stored correctly. I hope this information has helped you be aware of some of the alternative grains that are gluten free. I can't wait to start using these grains in my recipes. Happy eating!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gluten Free Chocolate Covered Pretzels...A Real Mouthful

I haven't posted much this week because I had been preparing for my first-ever gluten free cooking class that was held last night. We had such great food (if I do say so myself) and it was all laid out like a smorgasbord of wheatlessness. Truly, I felt like I was at my own personal Chuck-A-Rama. Everyone liked the food, and the consensus from the participants was that the Sugar Cookies were the star of the evening. Several women took some home to their husbands who gave a "yes" vote to the little bundles of food joy.

I did do something special for that class that I hadn't ever done before. And now that I know it's so easy, I can't believe I've never done it before. The hardest thing about making these is finding the time to simply stand there and do it. And the finished product turned out to be divine. Here's what you need to get started:

Glutino gluten free pretzel twists
1 package of your favorite chocolate chips ( I used semisweet and white chocolate by Guittard)
2 T shortening
A fork
A ziploc bag

Put the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and microwave on high for two minutes. Stir the chocolate until all the lumps are gone. Heat for 30 more seconds, if necessary. Add shortening and mix well. Plop in some of your pretzels. Using a fork, pull the pretzels out and tap fork against the bowl to remove some of the excess chocolate. Lay on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Microwave the white chocolate chips and repeat mixing. Put some melted white chocolate into a ziploc bag and snip off the tip. Try to keep the snip small. Drizzle white chocolate over the pretzels. Cool in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes until chocolate hardens.

I also did this with white chocolate and drizzled them with the semisweet chocolate, so there were two different versions. You will have plenty of chocolate to do about fifty of each one. If you like your chocolate dipped items a little more salty, simply hold the pretzel and dip half of it into the chocolate and lay it on the sheet. This is also the less messy way to do it. These look gourmet and taste really good, so you are sure to impress your guests with your chocolatiering.
Happy eating!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Black and Blue Muffins...Gluten Free Heaven

I was saving this recipe for the monthly recipe poll on the sidebar over there, but I love it so much I am making an executive decision to post it now. First of all, let me reiterate that I have had so much failure in the kitchen when making up recipes it's enough to make me want to throw away all the pots and pans and just eat Carl's Jr. for the rest of my life. Someday I'll write a post about all the dishes that never made it into the blog and all the terrible incarnations of my favorite dishes that were too awful to eat more than three bites of. But for today, after much experimentation and trial and error, I bring you Black and Blue Muffins.

The reason this was so difficult for me is that I wanted to do my own mixture of different flours and not use a prepackaged baking mix. By the way, there's a reason they have those pre-made mixes at the store. Flour proportioning is tough to do!I was going for a whole-grain texture with these muffins, and I knew I wanted to use buckwheat so people would know that buckwheat is, in fact, gluten free. However, buckwheat and I are not best friends. I rarely use it and I have found out that it is very absorbent. But if you use it in the right proportion, you can have a great product. Too much buckwheat makes your muffins taste like sticks. I also wanted to use teff flour because teff is such a great grain. It has a lot more protein and bran per ounce than regular flour because the grains are so small they just use the entire grain to mill the flour and you get more of the good stuff. (I'm not so great with the technicalities of alternative grains, I just know it's a little healthier to use.) I must say, the finished product is so good, they should start making it at Starbucks to replace that gluten free one that they took off the market a little bit ago. Wait, I'm getting ahead of myself, here. Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think about it. I hope you like it.

Gluten Free Black and Blue Muffins

1/2 cup blended oats (I use Blue Chip Group GF oats)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup sugar
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 of a 6 ounce package of blueberries
1/2 of a 6 ounce package of blackberries, halved
1/2 cup Grandpa's Kitchen baking flour blend
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 T soft butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, blend flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, mix milk, egg, sour cream, lemon zest and lemon juice until egg is beaten. Make a well in dry ingredients, add wet ingredients all at once. Fold in berries. In another bowl, mix Grandpa's Kitchen flour and brown sugar and butter with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse meal. Fill muffin cups almost to the top and sprinkle sugar mixture over batter. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from muffin tin immediately after coming out of the oven and cool on wire racks to prevent sticking to paper liners. Freezes well.
Happy eating!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gluten Free Peaches and Cream Oatmeal

Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer was freaking out because of those special peaches that were only in season for two weeks? That's how I feel about my dad's peaches from his tree in the yard I grew up in. A few days ago he came over with my mom and brought me a whole bag of goodies that, quite honestly, put the store-bought ones to shame. These peaches and pears are a little smaller than the grocery store variety, but the sweetness and juiciness makes them infinitely more valuable.

I've already posted on my other blog about how to make the most awesome oatmeal ever. Check out that recipe if you are interested. The key is this: add salt to the finished product. It really brings out the flavor in all the ingredients, and makes it just a little bit easier on the palate than sugar only. Adding one of my dad's prize peaches to the mix was heavenly, to say the least. With a little whole milk, you've got peaches and cream oatmeal. (Come on, I've got little kids. I always have whole milk in my fridge. Take that, South Beach diet.) And I have just recently switched to "pure" oats, or oats that are certified gluten free. I've always just eaten regular oats and taken my chances. But the more research I do, the better I feel about these "pure" oats from the Blue Chip Group. Yeah, they cost $16.99 a bag, but the peace of mind is well worth it. I'm interested: do you eat pure oats?

Happy eating! The peaches are only in season for one more week!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Almighty Egg

How many times have you come home from a busy day and just made eggs for dinner because they were quick and easy? I am here to bow down and pay homage to one of food's naturally gluten free gifts: The incredible, edible egg.
There are about as many ways to eat eggs as there are to hold a pencil. Everyone has their own style and favorite way to cook them. I love eggs in many different packages, including scrambled with cheese and veggies (above), over easy with runny yolks over hash browns, and in quiches and egg casseroles. To be honest, I only eat hard boiled eggs if I'm dieting and I have to. I think one of my next projects will be to find a way to make hard boiled eggs appetizing. There has to be a way to do that.
I love to make egg casseroles when I'm having company stay at my house and I want a filling, beautiful breakfast but I don't have the time or energy to cook one. This is one of my favorite recipes because you can make it the night before and just pop it in the oven in the morning. And it's so versatile. You can use whatever meats or veggies you like or you happen to have on hand in the fridge. I'm getting hungry just talking about it. And, just so you know, I made this the other day and forgot to take a picture of it because we ate it all. Sorry! Next time I make it I'll add a photo. Or, you can just make it yourself and eat it all, too.
Egg Casserole
½ cup butter
1 cup milk
9 eggs
½ cup sour cream
cheese to taste (I usually use about 1-1 1/2 cups of shredded colby jack)
green onions, sliced (you can use dried minced onions or shallots, also. But the green ones are so pretty)
1 cup cubed ham (or you can also slice up some little smokies or add cooked crumbled bacon)
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper

Heat oven to 350. Melt butter, then mix all ingredients together and pour into greased 9x13 pan. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes.
That's it! It's simple and tasty. I've also made this where I add a clove of minced garlic, tomatoes, and spinach for extra veggie power. Try it for your next breakfast with company and serve with hash browns and orange juice and your guests will think you're the best.
Happy eating!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower

If you've ever been confronted with a leftover half head of cauliflower from the crudites you made four days ago, here's a great recipe to use it up and get a great side dish out of it. I secretly fed this to my thirteen year old and she grudgingly admitted it "wasn't that bad."

Roasted Cauliflower

1 to 1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 tsp lemon juice

Arrange the florets on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle lemon juice over cauliflower. Grate parmesan right over the cauliflower. Place in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender and browned.

Love this one. It has such a great, unexpected flavor, and it's got to be better for you than loaded baked potatoes, right?

Happy eating!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kids and Celiac's Disease

One of my good friends forwarded a link to a touching blog post by the cute lady that wrote the Year of Slow Cooking blog. Her name is Stephanie O'Dea, and she wrote this post on her other blog called Totally Together Journal. It was about her struggle with going through the diagnosis of her then two year old daughter with celiac's disease. Her daughter is the only one in her family that has celiac's disease and she has decided to go completely gluten free at home to make it easier on her daughter to stay healthy. It got me thinking: there are so many parents out there who have struggled with the same feelings. It is so heart wrenching to watch our children suffer in any capacity, but when it is something as life-changing as celiac's disease, it's twice as difficult because we as parents have to do the worrying about the food for them. It's hard enough to worry about yourself, but when there's a toddler who'll put anything into their mouths, you may as well check yourself into a looney bin. So today we are going to talk about gluten free kid food.

After having five children, I've learned a few things about what makes a meal something they want to eat. They want fun. They want shapes. They want stuff they can dip into other stuff. Most of them love fruit. And they all love a sweet treat as a reward for eating the healthy stuff.

Most of the menu items I've put together are for lunches. I simply hate lunch. My kids hate to stop what they're doing and eat lunch. So I try to make it fun so that all of us are excited about it. Breakfast isn't too hard with celiac kids. Lots of mainstream cereals like Trix, Chex, Honeycomb, Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles, and Crunch Berries are gluten free, although pretty sugary, you can get away with them a few days a week. There's Yoplait yogurts. Then there's your basic scrambled eggs and bacon or sausage. Hash browns come to mind, and Van's has a great wheat free toaster waffle. But lunch? Lunch is hard. Kids want macaroni and cheese, and unless you have two hours to make it yourself, you may not be able to deliver that one. They want chicken nuggets and sandwiches and noodles. Some of those we can deliver on.

Meal Idea #1:
Lunchmeat Rolls with Cheese cubes
Fruity Pebble treat

These are so fun. You just pick up your toothpick and pop it in your mouth. These are great for boys who like to be pirates or Jedi Masters. All you do is slice three pieces of turkey or ham into strips and roll up. I cut up a Sticksters Cheese stick into cubes. And when you're done with your turkey rolls, you can stab your grapes. This also works with whole black olives. The recipe for the cereal treats is here. You can use any gluten free cereal with this recipe. Some work better than others, but you can always experiment. I always mix Fruity Pebbles with Erewhon Rice Krispies because then they aren't as sugary.

Meal Idea #2:
Peanut Butter and Jelly heart
Kinnitoo Oreos

I really love the Grandpa's Kitchen Bread Mix. I finally figured it out here. Take two slices about 1/2" thick, spread with peanut butter and their favorite jam. I always use a cookie cutter to cut my kids' sandwiches. They love the shapes and you can get really creative. I also always use jam because it seems healthier. It's not, but it sure seems like it. We've had jam toes, jam bones, jam letters and numbers, and jam dinosaurs. And those cookies? Hi, I've died and gone to gluten free oreo heaven.

Meal Idea #3:

Ian's Chicken Nuggets with Hunt's Barbeque sauce
Curly Cheetos (Technically, they're Cheetos Twists, but who's keeping track?)
Sliced Pears

I really like the Ian's brand Chicken Nuggets and Fish Sticks myself, so sometimes it's hard for me to share them! They don't have exactly the same texture as McDonald's chicken nuggets, but I'm okay with that. I like the different taste. And three of my five children will eat them, so that has to mean something. Don't forget the saintly people at Hunt's who make gluten free barbeque sauce. Kids love the shapes of these Cheetos, and if you have a child who has a problem with constipation, give them some pears whenever you can. Pears keep it moving.

Meal Idea #4:

Cheesy Corn Tortilla triangles with salsa
Baby Carrots
Mi-Del Ginger Snaps

You've gotta love the versatile corn tortilla. I just put shredded cheese between two tortillas, melt it in the microwave for about a minute, and cut them into triangles with a pizza cutter. The kids love that. Another great dip for this would be a gluten free ranch dressing. They might like the taste of that with both the carrots and the triangles. And I've gotta say, those ginger snaps got me through two pregnancies, so they hold a special place in my stomach.
Meal Idea #5:

Open Face Tuna circle
Mi-Del Arrowroot Animal cookies

I don't know how many kids out there actually like tuna, and I really don't know how many like pickle relish, but I couldn't resist this cute little face. I have one child who has loved tuna sandwiches since she was two, so it could happen. I simply take a piece of the Grandpa's Kitchen Bread, toast it twice so it's nice and crispy, cut it with a circle cookie cutter, and put my tuna/mayonnaisse mixture on top of it. This is a great meal for when you only have one piece of gluten free bread left! And these cute little fruit bowls are so great for kids. They love having their own little container to eat from. I usually drain a little juice out of them first so I don't have a juice spill all over the table. And don't forget the animal crackers!

If you have the time, you can always cook up some Tinkyada noodles for them and add a little butter and parmesan cheese, or leftover marinara sauce, if that's their style. Add some raw broccoli on the side and ranch to dip it in, and you have a full on meal. I hope this has given the parents of celiac children some ideas and options to help broaden your lunch and dinner choices for these little ones. Who knows? They may become some of your favorites, too! Happy eating!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Check This Out!

I am guest posting over at my favorite foodie blog today, Fare to Remember. My long lost friend Morry writes it and I am always drooling over her eats and the gorgeous photography she showcases on her blog. She is a master veggie eater and can grill anything up, including pizza! So head on over to Fare to Remember and read my post on Gluten Free Baking. It's got great tips and a recipe for Sour Cream Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone Frosting. Happy reading!

Monday, September 14, 2009


I finally figured it out! I made the perfect loaf of Grandpa's Kitchen Bread. The secret? Make sure your wet ingredients are room temperature before you mix them. Very important! Don't worry, it says it right there on the package, I just never noticed it before. Duh. Lesson to all: Read the instructions. Carefully. Double check your work. And I made some super yummy garlic bread with it. Here's the instructions:

Cut 1/2 to 3/4" thick slices of Grandpa's Kitchen bread. Place on a baking sheet. Mix 1/2 stick of softened butter with 1 clove minced garlic and 1 T chopped parsley. Spread onto one side of bread with a knife. Place pan in oven heated to 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Then place on top rack on broil for 2-3 minutes, checking often, until edges are crusty and middle is soft.

Happy eating!

Gluten Free Cheesecake with Almond Crust

The overwhelming winner of last month's recipe poll was Cheesecake with Almond Crust. I won't bore you with the details, but this was actually a recipe I hadn't made up yet. I always make my mom's cheesecake filling and just eat it without a crust, and I thought doing a crust with almonds would be so easy that it wouldn't take any time at all to whip up a crust and write about it. Just so you know and I keep myself honest here, there were several incarnations of this particular crust before I settled on one that I liked. There was the crust where the almonds weren't crushed finely enough and fell apart. There was the crust I used almond meal flour for that was too fine and didn't have enough texture. And there was the perfect crust that I baked in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes (What was I thinking?) and it came out black and smoking. But I am happy to report, I have come up with a great recipe that is remarkably similar to a graham-cracker crust without the help of the internet, all on my own! I always try to reinvent the wheel, it seems. But this is one time where it really paid off.

Almond Crust for Cheesecake

2 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) of melted butter

Place almonds and sugar in a blender or food processor. Chop until consistency resembles a coarse meal. Pour into a bowl and toss with melted butter. (Or pour butter into food processor as you pulse.) Place nut mixture into 9 inch pie pan. Press into sides and bottom of tin with a wooden spoon. Pat mixture down well on bottom of tin with spoon, just to make sure it's together. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes, until nice and golden. Let cool completely.

No Bake Cheesecake Filling, also known as Cherry Cheese Pie
from the Philadelphia Cream Cheese package

1 package of room temperature cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

Beat cream cheese in stand mixer by itself until it is creamy and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add milk and lemon juice slowly to prevent spilling. Let beat for about 4-5 minutes until combined well, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add vanilla, beat till incorporated. Spread into cooled almond crust. Refrigerate for at least one hour. (Hard to do, you'll just want to eat it right then!)
I've noticed that this crust holds up a little better the longer it is refrigerated. It is a little fragile right after baking. So if you're taking it to a party, make one the night before and let it set in the refrigerator for a day. This pie is so smooth and creamy and the crunch from the crust is the perfect complement. Happy eating!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Easy Snacking, Thanks to Trix

Ever have one of those days where you just need the most sugary snack you can think of and you need it RIGHT NOW? (I'm not speaking from experience or anything...) My favorite way to ingest sugar has to be making Trix snacks. That's just what my family has named them. You could call them Trix Rice Krispie squares or Rice Krispie squares made with Trix, but Trix snacks is just easier to say.
This is one of those posts where I say to myself, "Are you sure this is sophisticated enough for a food blog? You really want to put yourself out there with something you learn to make in 7th grade cooking class?" And I answer that, wholeheartedly, yes! When you are looking around that pantry and you want a fast and easy snack, you don't want to think about creaming sugar and butter together and preheating the oven. And when you eat a gluten-free diet, just having a suggestion of a mainstream sugar cereal that is safe to eat makes your day. So, yes, they may be simple, but we beggars can't be choosers.
Kudos to Trix for not taking the easy way out and using barley malt. Blech. I've also made them with Fruity Pebbles. Fruity Pebbles are REALLY sugary so I usually add half Fruity Pebbles and half gluten-free rice krisp cereal, like Erewhon. But these are perfect for when you don't have any gluten free rice krisp cereal on hand. So have at these after-school, late-night, football game Sunday snacks that you can make and eat in under 10 minutes.
Trix snacks
1/2 stick of butter
1/2 large bag of marshmallows
1/2 bag (or so) of Trix cereal
Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick spray. Melt the butter in a large nonstick pan. After butter has melted, add marshmallows and stir constantly until completely melted and all lumps are gone. Add enough Trix to make the mixture hold together. (I like to make these a little more marshmallowey than regular Rice Krispie squares because the cereal is bigger and needs more softness.) Spread into pan. Let cool. Share with husband, maybe.
Happy eating!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Gluten Free Pizza Crust Taste Test

I have to be honest. I never liked pizza. It was always too bready. I was the weird kid at parties who never ate pizza and people were all, "You're weird. Everybody likes pizza!" Now I know that the real reason I didn't like pizza was because my body was trying to tell me, "This is TOXIC! Do not eat it!" So it has taken me years to develop an affinity for pizza. And I'm also not a very good pizza chef because of that fact. It wasn't hard for me to give it up when I was diagnosed with celiac's disease. I considered myself lucky. But lately I have had an overabundance of fresh garden produce like tomatoes and basil, and the other day I thought a summer pizza sounded like just the thing. Well, you know me, I couldn't just make it easy on myself and buy a premade one. I thought I would do a taste test of two products and see which one was the better pizza crust.

The first one I tried was the Grandpa's Kitchen Pizza Crust Mix. I love me some Grandpa's Kitchen products. They have really discovered a great flavor and texture with their gluten free products. So I mixed up some dough, omitting the cumin powder the package calls for and added 1/2 cup shredded asaiago cheese to the dough for some extra flavor. It made a fragrant, yummy crust. Turns out it looks like this when you pull it out:
And then you make it look like this:

And then you press it out on your pan. Press, not roll. This dough is more like play-doh consistency, you can't just flip it around in the air over your head like a regular crust. You have to massage it. Which is fine. I didn't mind that at all. You could also put it between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll it with your rolling pin. That would work well. The one mistake I made was that I should have pressed my dough out just a little thinner. So remember that when you make it yourself. A thin crust is good. I let it rise for about 20 minutes.

Then I topped it with all my favorite goodies: fresh tomatoes instead of sauce, fresh basil leaves, sliced portobello mushrooms, canned artichoke hearts, and a ton of mozzarella cheese. I'm pretty sure I used too much cheese. But can you ever really have too much cheese?

This is how it turned out. I really should have let the cheese brown for another five minutes or so. It didn't affect the taste at all, however. I ate three slices the first day, gave one away to a gluten free neighbor, and ate the other three slices for lunch the next day. Except for the crust being a little bit too thick because I made it that way, it was divine.

The next product I tried was the Food for Life Brown Rice Tortilla. I had used these the day before for a post I was going to write about using these tortillas for wraps, but they are pretty tough and crack easily, and I didn't like them for that kind of meal. I thought they would be a good candidate for a faux "thin crust style" pizza.

For starters, this was a very easy crust to prepare. Open the package, take out a frozen tortilla, place on a greased pizza pan.

I wanted to give these as close to the same flavor as the other one, so I sprinkled it with shredded asaiago cheese.

Then I loaded on the same toppings: fresh tomato, fresh basil, sliced portobello and canned artichoke hearts. I went a little easier on the cheese for this one. Lesson learned.

I did add a little sprinkling of parmesan cheese on the top of this one for extra browning.

I baked this one for 15-17 minutes (Okay, I can't really remember which one it was, 15 or 17) and I thought it looked so yummy when it came out.

When I cut this one with the pizza cutter, I heard that nice crunch you want to hear when you cut a pizza crust. This was definitely a very, very thin crust but it worked as a fast, easy pizza base. These tortillas are really chewy, so they held together well with all the veggies and melty cheese. The good thing about brown rice is that you can pretty much pair any flavoring with it. It's mild and unobtrusive in your recipes. I ate this one with a fork and I ate about three pieces (Seriously, it's a wonder I'm not 400 pounds yet with all this blog eating) and was perfectly happy with my 20 minute pizza experiment.
So which one did I like better? It depends on what kind of crust you like. If you like a thicker crust, the Grandpa's Kitchen mix is the one for you. It has great flavor, it holds up well, and you can adjust the thickness with your rolling or pressing of the dough. If you like a quick and easy super thin crust, then use your Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas. They don't require any prep work and they make great personal pizzas. I personally think the key to any pizza's success is the combination of toppings you use. So make it the way you like it and you'll enjoy your pizza no matter what crust you choose!
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