Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Success... and Failure

Every year at Thanksgiving I look at the Brussels Sprouts in the produce department and think, "One day I will make those because they are traditional Thanksgiving fare." And almost every year I have thought, "Not knowing how to make them and have them taste great is a big roadblock for you." This year I just ponied up the two or three dollars and bought some because I was feeling extra confident in my cooking skills this year. I didn't know what I was going to do to them, but I knew I could pull it off. And I must say, these were my favorite veggie side dish that I made this year. I ate all the leftovers and forced everyone in my family to eat a bite of them. And a whopping three out of seven people liked them! So, if you love Brussels Sprouts or cabbage, and you've never tried them, this is so easy you will wonder why you never ate them before. And they have to be better for you than a Snickers bar, right? These are a great side dish for any holiday meal, and they look so cool on a platter that you have to try them at least once this season. And they are also one of those dishes that are naturally gluten free, so you don't have to feel freakish about any of the ingredients.
Halved Brussels Sprouts with Pine Nuts

1 pkg fresh Brussels Sprouts, washed and halved
1/4 cup chopped pine nuts
3 T butter
1 lemon

Melt the butter in a large nonstick frypan. Add the Brussels Sprouts and stir to coat in the butter. Saute for about 7-8 minutes in butter, letting them brown. Add the pine nuts and stir to coat. Cut lemon in half and squeeze the juice from both halves over the sprouts and nuts. Transfer to a serving dish and serve up warm. Delish!

On a depressing side note, my green bean casserole was a complete disaster. Complete and total. Here is a sad picture of the really yucky dish:

I topped it with sliced onions fried in olive oil that were a little too done. (Can you say black?) I baked it and thought for sure it would be the best thing ever. Not so much. Oh, well, at least no one can say I didn't try. I am going to try to perfect this dish eventually, though. It always sounds so good to me at the holidays and I'm determined to make a gluten free version that tastes fantastic. Did you make a fabulous version of a gluten-filled dish this Thanksgiving? Leave a comment, we'd all love to hear about it.

Happy eating!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What's on your plate this Thanksgiving?

Freedom from Want, by Norman Rockwell, courtesy Curtis Publishing

Rarely do I take a chance to post about the mental and emotional aspects of celiac's disease. I would always rather talk about the food. I think recipes and product suggestions are practical steps to helping us cope with a difficult life path and hope that some of the things I have posted on this blog have been helpful to someone. And now that I am starting to slow down a little this week and focus on my own food for my own holiday, I wanted to share some thoughts with you. And I promise I will be back with recipes on the next round of posting, so bear with me.

This Thanksgiving will be the first year in my entire adult life that I will be home with all my children, my husband, and no one else. Don't get me wrong, as a reformed only child, I love big holiday gatherings and big meals with lots of chatting and eating. I love each and every person that has shared our Thanksgiving table with us over the years and I really love each person that has invited my family to a Thanksgiving table over the years, saving me from lots of food chores. However, every few years I am finding that I just want time with my own family sometimes. I don't feel like I spend enough time with my children as it is, and I am resisting more and more the urge to go and do on those days off, however few and far between they may be. So as I have been sitting around thinking about our little family meal this week, I am becoming giddy with the anticipation of running my own show for me and no one else. And since I am the best chef in this house, we are going totally gluten free this year.

Here's a peek at my menu for Thanksgiving 2009:

*Roasted Herbed Turkey Breast (no one here likes dark meat, so why bother with the whole thing? Plus, shorter cooking time!)
*Homemade Turkey Gravy with Cornstarch
*Mashed Potatoes
*Green Bean Casserole with Progresso Creamy Mushroom Soup and Onions fried in Olive Oil
*Gluten Free Stuffing with Grandpa's Kitchen Bread
*Halved Brussels Sprouts sauteed in Browned Butter with Pine Nuts (a new recipe I saw in a magazine somewhere)
*Frozen Peas and Carrots
*Canned Cranberry Jelly
*Rhodes Rolls for the kids and hubby
*Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie

I am so traditional. There isn't anything there that no one has ever made before. There's no new groundbreaking recipes that are going to take over the internet or make me a blog star. Just good homemade food that I can safely, comfortably eat myself into a stupor with. And I love that I just put down on the list all of the pre-made foods like frozen vegetables and canned cranberries on there. There's no shame in that. If they make it better than I can, why not? Food needs to be something that we feel safe with, not something to be afraid of or be constantly inspecting, looking for contaminants. We definitely need to be vigilant in our food choices, but I feel like sometimes I spend so much time researching and scrutinizing my food that the pleasure and satisfaction from eating it is lost. The best way to do that is to prepare and cook as much of your own food as possible. I know it's hard nowadays with our busy schedules and uber-frantic lifestyles, but the joy of following a recipe and getting something delicious from it that you know you can eat every last bite of is worth every last second you spend doing it. The more cooking I do, the more I realize that the relationship I have with food is better the more I get to know it while I am making it. Using a good sharp knife to slice an onion, sauteeing mushrooms in a pan, simmering something yummy until it is good and ready to eat while I talk with those children I don't have enough time with, these are the things that make me feel whole, like I'm not different from all the other people who can chow down some Chips Ahoy. I feel complete when I cook my food. My kitchen is my safe zone.

I would love to hear from my readers about your safe zone. Is it your own kitchen? Is it a favorite restaurant or health food store? What makes you feel mentally and emotionally balanced with your gluten free food? Leave me a comment. I'd love to know. Happy Thanksgiving everybody! And happy eating!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Potatoes Au Gratin--A Thanksgiving Twist

Everyone loves those mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving Dinner. However, some years you just have to mix it up and go with the unexpected dish. This year, I'm having Thanksgiving just with my immediate family and we'll be cooking up a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. (No one here likes dark meat and it would take mountains of gluten free bread to make enough turkey sandwiches to use up the leftovers.) The other day on Food Network I saw the new "Tyler's Ultimate" and he did this turkey breast with cornbread stuffing rolled into it and it only took 25 minutes to cook. 25 minutes! Anyway, when you do a little bit less traditional cut of meat I think it's fine to take a less traditional side dish along for the ride. So, with that in mind, here's a great gluten free recipe for Potatoes Au Gratin that I know you'll enjoy any day of the year.
Potatoes Au Gratin
5 potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
4 T butter
2 T cornstarch
1 cup whole milk or heavy cream
dash salt and pepper
dried minced onions or sliced scallion onions
1 clove of minced garlic
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Layer the potatoes in a baking dish sprayed with non stick cooking spray. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the cornstarch all at once. Whisk until thick. Add the milk, salt and pepper, garlic and onion and bring to a boil, until thick. Add cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat and pour over the sliced potatoes. Bake uncovered in a 400 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes.
The gruyere cheese is really the star of this dish. It's a little tangy and it melts really well, so you have ooey gooey delicious potatoes that the cheese doesn't fall off of. Enjoy these with any holiday meal!
Happy eating!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Stuffing...Finally!

Last week I did a little TV spot on a show called, "Good Things Utah" and I made gluten free stuffing. I think the recipe they have on their site is actually not the right one, so I wanted to make sure I got the right recipe up somewhere on the web. This recipe is the better recipe. The one on GTU is my prototype, but I feel like this version is way better.

The highlight of the day was meeting Bob and Randy Harmon of Harmon's Grocery Stores, who were there the very same day! You may call it coincidence, I call it karma. Food geeks of the world, unite.

Gluten Free Traditional Stuffing
8 slices Grandpa's Kitchen bread, dried and cubed
1 1/2 cups chicken stock made with 3 T Better Than Boullion chicken flavor
2 T sherry cooking wine
1/2 minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 stalk diced celery
5 T butter
1 tsp sage
1 1/2 tsp parsley
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper

Bake a loaf of Grandpa's Kitchen Bread mix. Cut eight slices and cube. Lay out on a baking sheet and let dry for a day. Or, if you are short on time, you can dry the bread the day of baking. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Toast bread for 15 minutes, stirring twice. Remove from oven and let cool. Heat oven to 375. Heat water, better than boullion, and wine to a boil, remove from heat. In a large frypan, melt butter and saute vegetables until soft, about four minutes. Add spices, remove from heat. Place bread cubes into large bowl and add vegetable mixture, mix well. Pour stock mixture 1 ladlefull at a time, just until moistened (you might only use 1 cup of broth, you don't want a pool of liquid at the bottom of the bowl--it will make the bread soggy.) Place in a greased casserole dish and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Take foil off and bake for another 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.
I have made this recipe with Blue Chip Baker's Brand of French Bread as well, and it's not too shabby. I just love the texture and flavor of the Grandpa's Kitchen bread, so I prefer it in this recipe.Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Eating!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Week of Pie Crusts #6: Fruit and Cream Tart with Shortbread Crust

There have been many times when I have quoted a cookbook recipe on this here blog. Usually it's from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, which I think is a pretty common cookbook and most people probably have it and I'm just re-typing it for those of you who are too lazy to dig out the actual book to find it. Or, I've changed it so dramatically that it doesn't matter what cookbook I took it from, it's now a completely different entity unto itself. However, the recipe today is from a brand new cookbook that just came out called, "Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking," which is a whole book of doable, mostly simple recipes that anyone can cook. And, let's be honest here, how many of you reading this are celiacs who didn't cook until they found out they had to? Most of us are novice chefs and we need cookbooks that are straightforward and not full of recipes we would never eat.
The other day I was looking on someone else's gluten free blog (I can't remember who! So sorry...)and saw their post about how their friends had written a new gluten free cookbook called Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking. It was written by Kelli and Peter Bronski, who have a blog of their own called No Gluten No Problem. The book is available through and only costs a mere $12.89. So of course I clicked twice and bought the book, because I always need gluten free inspiration. I looked through the book and noticed they have all kinds of familiar foods in there that I always want to make but am wanting for a good recipe. They also have their own gluten free flour mixture recipe (which, by the way, is almost the exact same ingredients as the Grandpa's Kitchen Flour, minus the xantham gum) that they mix up themselves and have the instructions right there for you to mix some up on your own.
I decided to try the Fruit Tart with the Sweet Pastry Dough using the Grandpa's Kitchen flour. I was way too lazy to mix up my own flour mix. Here's what I have to say: 1) the recipe is so easy to follow, 2) it's completely delicious. So, for today, you will have to go to the book yourselves to find out how to make it. That's right, just click up there where it says, put the book in your cart and buy it. It will come right to your door and you can make all kinds of goodies with this quite extraordainary cookbook. And, don't forget that Christmas is around the corner. Need a gift for a celiac friend? This book would be great for anyone, but especially for a newly diagnosed celiac who may be struggling with menu ideas and how to make them on their own.
Trust me, you won't be disappointed in this cookbook. It's worth having on your shelf just for the pastry dough recipe.
Happy ordering and eating!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Week of Pie Crusts #5: Mini Cheesecakes with Cinnamon Chex Crust

I have been dying to try a crust with Chex cereal for months now. I went onto the Chex website and they have a button that says "Gluten Free" and when you click on it, scroll down and see all the fabulous gluten free recipes they have. They have a great little recipe for Triple Berry Cheesecakes that you might love to try. I did these with my favorite cheesecake filling, because I figure, once you find something you really love, why change it? Okay, that may be some other famous person's saying, but still. It applies. These are just about the easiest little desserts to make. Simply take one and a half cups of crushed Cinnamon Chex, 2 T of sugar, and 4 T of melted butter and mix them all together. Then put about one tablespoon of mixture in the bottom of a muffin tin lined with a paper liner and tap down until it's even. Mix up your cheesecake filling, and ladle out 1/4 cup of filling into each muffin tin. Top with two or three sliced strawberries and cover with plastic wrap or foil. Chill for about four hours, but really, overnight is best.

These are a really great dessert to take with you for Thanksgiving to someone's house. They are a classic, but a great break from traditional pumpkin and apple desserts. Bring along a little cake stand or cookie stand and set them out all gourmet like. You will love these little bites. The crust has great texture, tastes good, and is so easy to make. Check back here tomorrow for our last crust and a great gift idea!
Happy eating!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Week of Pie Crusts #4: Chocolate Layer Pie with Oreo Crust

Making this pie crust almost seems like a tragedy, because you have to scrape out the insides of these awesome gluten free oreo cookies to make it. But I just buy two bags and sacrifice one to the pie crust and save some whole ones for later. And, thank you, Kinnikinnick, for making edible oreo substitutes for us celiac-ish people. But I digress.Better Homes and Gardens has a 2009 Holiday Baking issue out that includes an interview with a lady named Betty Lessard, affectionately known as"The Pie Lady" since she ran her own pie shop for 30 years. There was a recipe of hers in that magazine for Chocolate Layer Pie that I wanted to recreate. Here's a picture of my cookies next to the article. Lovely, I know.

So, she uses a pastry crust, and hers looks about fifty times more yummy than mine, but if you are a chocolate lover, then this pie is for you. My recipe isn't exactly like Betty's, but her recipe was a great starting point for me. So here goes:

Gluten Free Chocolate Layer Pie with Oreo Crust

1 package Kinni-toos Oreo cookies, split apart and frosting scraped out

5 T melted butter

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1/4 cup cold water

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 cups cool whip

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 chocolate bar to peel garnish on top of

Crush crackers in ziploc bag, toss with melted butter and press into bottom and sides of a pie dish. Toast in the oven for about 8 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool completely. (Very important!) Place eggs, water, and chocolate chips in a saucepan over very low heat and stir until chocolate is melted. Place about 3 T of melted chocolate and spread into the bottom of the cooled pie crust. (I'm serious, put your crust in the fridge if you have to.) Take cool whip and mix cinnamon into it. Spread 1 cup cool whip over the chocolate. Mix the rest of the chocolate mixture into the rest of the cool whip and layer that over the cool whip. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. When serving, take a vegetable peeler and shave off some pieces to go over the top so it looks, you know, gourmet-ish.

Try your hardest not to notice that my pie was not cooled for four hours. I was soooo dying to try it and I have deadlines, you know. It still tasted divine, but I really suggest cooling both the crust and the pie as long as you can. It will turn out looking way more fabulous than mine did. This is a very rich pie! Give slivers of servings to people unless they are total chocoholics, in which case give them whatever they can handle.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Week of Pie Crusts #3: Blueberry Cream Cheese Pie with Pretzel Crust

Okay, technically, this isn't a pie. It's like an icebox cake or something. But it still has an original gluten free crust that you could use for whatever recipe might call for a pretzel crust. There's a really good strawberry one out there somewhere, I just haven't tracked down the recipe yet. And, by now you are probably thinking, "Does every crust recipe she makes have butter in it?" And the answer is yes! There's no other way around it. You need something that will moisten the crust enough so that it can stick together and something that will brown when you toast it. Butter it is. And please, please, please for the love of all that is gluten-free, use real butter. I do not ever want to receive an email from someone who bakes with margarine. That is just wrong. Now, on to our little recipe for the day.

I wanted to do something salty and sweet. And with this crust you have the option to be saltier or sweeter, which is nice. I used one small bag of the EnerG Gluten Free pretzels and crushed them in a ziploc bag with a rolling pin. Then I tossed the crumbs with 5 T of melted butter and 2 T of sugar. If you want a really salty crust, omit the sugar. I took out a handful of pretzel crumbs for a garnish and set them aside. I pressed the rest of the crust into the bottom only of an 8x8 pan. You could easily double this to fit a 9x13 pan. Then I toasted them in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes. When it cooled, I took 15 ounces (about half the jar) of the Baker brand pie filling and spread it over the top of the crust. (Use the whole jar if you are doing a 9x13 pan.) I love this pie filling because they divulge exactly what is in their filling on the label. They say where their modified food starch is derived from, that they use tapioca flour, and I can pronounce every word on there. Plus it tastes pretty good.
Then I created a cream cheese frosting layer to go over the top of the blueberries in my stand mixer. I put one package of softened cream cheese, the rest of my softened stick of butter (3 T), and 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar in the mixer and let it beat until it's nice and creamy. I'm somewhat of a purist, though, and next time I make this I think I'll leave out the butter. I like the tanginess of the straight cream cheese. But you may like it this way better. It's not bad. It actually makes it spread a little easier. I spread that over the top and then added my little pretzel crumbles to the top. Let this refrigerate for at least an hour (two to three is better) and use a squared spatula to serve it. It works a little easier in the square pan.
It may not come out looking like much, but it tastes great! You could substitute cherries or strawberries or raspberries, if those are your favorite flavors, provided you find a gluten free canned filling. Or, of course, you could make your own!
Happy eating!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Week of Pie Crusts #2: Gluten Free Seven Layer Bars with Chocolate Wafer Crust

These little bites of sin are truly one of my biggest dessert weaknesses. I love the combination of flavors, and being able to eat them comes so close to being normal I almost don't know what to do with myself. I also love these bar cookies because they are so rich that if you have to take a dessert to a holiday party you can make an 8x8 pan of them and cut them into little bite sized pieces and everyone will feel like they ate a sumptuous dessert in just a few bites. Really, three bites of one of these and you may die of sugar overload. But they are so worth it. So, here's the super easy instructions for making Gluten Free Seven Layer Bars:

Gluten Free Seven Layer Bars
1 package of Glutino Chocolate Wafer Cookies (you can either use the vanilla wafer or chocolate wafer version.)
1/2 stick of melted butter
1/2 package butterscotch chips
1/2 package semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 can sweetened condensed milk
(you can easily crush two boxes of cookies and double this recipe to make a 9x13 pan full of treats. Then you can use a whole can of milk, a whole bag of chocolate chips, etc.)

Crush the wafer cookies in a large ziploc bag with a rolling pin. You can also use a glass or small bowl filled with change to smash them a little finer if you want to. (Tip courtesy of Alton Brown.)

Layer the wafer crumbs into an 8x8 pan and drizzle the melted butter over the top.
Top with a layer of butterscotch chips.
Add a layer of chocolate chips.
Chop your walnuts with either a knife or one of these nifty gadgets. Mine is from Norpro. I really love it.
Add the walnuts on top of the chips.
Add a layer of coconut. I always feel you can add the coconut to taste. I really love coconut so I add a lot.
Drizzle 1/2 can of sweetened condensed milk over the coconut.Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees until golden on top and nice and bubbly. If you can't handle it and need to eat one right out of the oven, you'll have to use a fork to eat it. But if you let them cool completely you can cut them into neat little squares and they taste just like mini candy bars. Mmmm. Sinful.

Happy eating!

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Week of Pie Crusts #1: Best Ever Flaky Pastry Dough

Welcome to Off the Wheaten Path's first-ever Week of Pie Crusts! And not a moment too soon, I'm guessing for most of you. We've talked about Thanksgiving and pie crust before, during our In Praise of Pumpkin series. For most people who don't eat wheat or it's cousins, Thanksgiving can be one of the most dreadful holidays of the year. "Don't eat that gravy! I made it with flour!" or, "I'm sorry I don't have any pie you can eat. How about ice cream instead?" are some of the more popular phrases we hear this time of year. Some of us hear them from our own families! But ice cream? On Thanksgiving? (Someone out there has a family tradition where they eat ice cream instead of pie on Thanksgiving, I just know it.) Give me a break. This year, don't be the victim and skip dessert in the corner like a sad little deprived person, get into the kitchen and make your own! Bring a dessert you will be sure to eat instead of crossing your fingers and hoping for a spoon and some cool whip. I guarantee you if you make any of the crusty desserts I have for you this week, your peeps will love them. And you won't feel so left out. So get out your rolling pins, because we're pie crusting up a storm this week!
My first crust is a basic pastry dough you can use for any pie. For those of you who watched me make this crust on KJZZ this week, please note that I totally messed up my water measurement on the show and I completely spaced the vinegar. No wonder the crust wouldn't roll out during the segment! I was about 5 tablespoons of water off. So anyways, I'm gonna chalk that up to a rookie mistake and tell you how to really make a good crust. And, let me introduce you to your new best friend when it comes to making a pie crust in no time flat:
I've always pooh-poohed the idea of using a food processor. I would use my little pastry cutter and work that butter in by hand because that's how the pioneers did it. Then I actually used a food processor and I was like, "Where have I been for the last 20 years?" Treat yourself or have your husband buy you one for Christmas. You will never regret having one.

Gluten Free Pie Crust
(for a 9 inch pie tin)
1 1/4 cups Grandpa's Kitchen Flour (I highly recommend this brand for the best possible tasting crust. Do not use any flour with garbanzo or fava bean flour. The taste is not superb.)
5 T very cold butter
1/4 +1 T very cold water
1 tsp white vinegar

Place flour and butter into the food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles coarse meal, like little peas. Add about half of the water and pulse again. Add the teaspoon of vinegar and pulse. Add the rest of the water gradually until your mixture mostly comes together into a ball. You may not need all the water, or you may need a little more. It depends on humidity and stuff like that. Dump out dough onto a piece of waxed paper that has been lightly floured and knead into a complete disk. Place another piece of lightly floured waxed paper on top and roll out to desired thickness and width. Take your pie pan and invert it over the dough to see if it's big enough. When it is the size you need, remove the wax paper from the top layer and place your pie tin upside down over the dough disk and flip over in one fluid motion. This will not be perfect! You will still have to manhandle your crust a little bit and you may have to press together some cracks. This is okay. And if you have a little piece of crust that is not quite covering your pan, take a piece of the excess off and press it onto the missing part. It's okay to pretend you are using Playdoh. Gluten Free crusts are not as pliable as regular flour crusts, they need more water, and they bake up pretty much just like you set them in. So if you have to play around with them a little bit, don't worry about it. As the Nester says, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." Amen.
A note about crimping the edges: my suggestion is to simply press the edge with a fork over the edge of your pie dish. This is the simplest way to get a decorative gluten free crust. If you really rolled well and you have quite a bit of crust hanging over the edge, you can trim your crust and do a fluted edge like this, but don't worry if you are barely making it to the rim. Do the forked crust edge, you'll be fine.I think it works easier to crimp the edge and then trim the excess, just because the dough is a little finicky.

Another suggestion: this crust tastes the best when rolled thin. If you want a flaky crust, use butter. If you want a softer crust, use shortening. But it will be stickier and need less water. I think the shortening crusts are a little difficult to work with, but that may be just my inexperience talking.

With a little practice and a lot of patience, you can get a crust like this with a fabulous lemon meringue filling that tastes just about as close to regular pie as you can get. Tune in tomorrow for another great crust recipe!

Happy eating!

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