Monday, August 30, 2010

Gluten Free Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Back a few weeks ago, when the weather was hot and smoky, I was sitting on my new couch doing nothing except flipping through channels on my new tv. (I'm a spoiled brat, I know.) It was mid-morning and it was the first chance I've had to watch the Food Network all summer. ALL SUMMER! What is wrong with me?! Any self respecting food blogger would at least try to watch something once a day, right? I've been too busy watching my children play, pretending I look good in my swimming suit at the pool, and going on "field trips" with them to watch much tv. Anyway, Down Home with The Neelys was on, and for some reason, I've never watched it before. My 11-year-old was in a sleepy summer stupor next to me, but when they mixed up this Cookies and Cream Cake she sat bolt upright and said, "Mom, we have got to try that!" What can I say? I've raised Oreo lovers at my house. I must admit, until I found the Kinnikinnick brand of gluten free "chocolate sandwich cookies" I figured the taste of Oreos was lost to me forever. But now, all doors are open to cookies and cream desserts. Bless them, over at Kinnikinnick.
The Neelys made up a yummy looking chocolate cake from scratch complete with buttermilk and cocoa, but I took the easy summer road and used a gluten free chocolate cake mix from Namaste and the Kinnikinnick brand sandwich cookies.

I also used a jar of vanilla frosting from Betty Crocker, which is also gluten free. Here's how I made these delicious oreo-flavored treats:

1. Mix up cake batter according to directions on package

2. Crush an entire package of Kinni-Toos cookies in a large ziploc bag with a rolling pin.

3. Add 1 1/2 cups crushed cookies to the cake batter, mix well, and spoon into muffin tins lined with paper liners.

4. Bake according to package directions.

5. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of crushed cookies to frosting and mix well. Frost cupcakes with frosting when cooled.

So easy, so easy to eat. They are so rich and chocolatey when they first come out of the oven. My kids loved these and I must say I was glad I froze them individually so that I couldn't eat the whole batch at once. But they didn't last the week...that 11-year-old found my stash and they were gone double time. Now that she's back in school I'll have to make some more. I may not even share this time.

Happy eating!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Bakearella and Gluten Free Cowgirl Cookies

First of all, my apologies for not posting at all this week. I promise it was a problem with Blogger and the photo uploading and not me...because you all know I can't blog without photos because I want you to experience my professional photography. When you're through giggling about that last little comment, read on.
Last week my daughter had her fourth birthday party and in preparation I scoured the internet for cowgirl themed birthday products and inspiration. I found the cutest party idea on TomKat Studio's website, which if you've never been to TomKat Studio and you have ever given a party for a child, you must exit this website and click over on hers this instant. Then come back here and finish reading my recipe. It is so divine and so darling. I had to copy the pom poms hanging from the ceiling and the banner that says, "Pony Corral." I also would have bought the printable downloads for the cupcake toppers and bag labels from her shop, but she didn't have them in there, so I enlisted the fabulous JoLayna and we came up with some pretty cute imitations on our own. I think it turned out to be such a cute little party.
(Cupcakes from Grandma and not gluten-free.) Anyway, TomKat's site had a link to a cookie mix from Bakerella, who is famous for her cake pops and brownie pops (so cute and so clever). Her recipe comes with little labels you can print out on your own for the jars, too, which made me completely happy that I didn't have to reinvent that wheel. I decided to make one of the mixes for the nice lady that was letting me bring the kids over to her stable and feed her horses as part of our party. (By the way, I am sooo making these for neighbor gifts for Christmas with red and green m&ms...sorry to blow the surprise, neighbors.) I made the mix up with wheat flour for her, but I wanted to try Bakearella's recipe with Grandpa's Kitchen flour so I could see what she was getting. I nearly ate the whole batch.Apparently "cowboy cookies" are sort of an "everything but the kitchen sink" type of recipe that have the perfect blend of flavors and textures to make it one you could eat while wrangling up some strays, y'all. They have m&ms, oatmeal, chocolate chips, and pecans. We made ours into "cowgirl" cookies by using, you guessed it, pink m&ms. They were so good by themselves I wrapped some up and gave them to the kids (and a few of the moms) and not one of them said, "These taste gluten free!" They all just ate them and raved about the yumminess.
So when you find something cute on the internet, definitely try it at home with your gluten free products. Don't discount it because you supposedly "can't eat cookies anymore." Get in that kitchen, fire up the stand mixer, and try it out! And make sure the gym membership is current so you can work off the effects...

Happy eating!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Have You Tried a Red Mango?

I have driven by the little small storefront that says "Red Mango" maybe a dozen times and never really clued in to what it has inside of it. I mean, since the world was introduced to Pearl Izumi and Anthropologie, both of which don't have anything to do with jewelry or man's customs and religion, you really can't tell what a store sells by the name anymore. But the other day I treated myself to a taste test and several (ahem) trips back to the store to make sure I got the right flavors. Red Mango, in case you don't know, is a frozen yogurt shop that sells the most unique and delicious and extra healthiest frozen yogurt in the U.S.A. complete with yummy toppings to go on top of it. One thing I really like about Red Mango is that if you click the nutrition button on the website you can see that it is certified gluten free, and you know how I am about those two little words showing up in print...I'm fanatical about it. When they print it, you KNOW it's safe to eat. It also has an exclusive brand of probiotics which helps those of us who have lactose issues, and each serving (minus toppings) weighs in at about 100 calories. Of course I ate the evidence of my visit so I have no picture to show you how delicious it was, but here's a few of the combinations I have tried on my many trips:

Pomegranate yogurt with Fruity Pebbles
Key Lime Pie yogurt with coconut
Madagascar Vanilla with blueberries

Tomorrow I think I'll try the Original (which may actually be Mango flavored!) with some mochi, which are like marshmallows made from sticky rice. Did I say tomorrow? I mean in a few weeks, of course, because, you know, I'm not like obsessed or anything.

Happy eating!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gluten Free Granola Parfait in the Morning

I know its hard to believe that a stay at home mom could ever need a quick and hasty breakfast what with my relaxed summer schedule and all, however there have actually been several days when I've needed to grab something and go. Once I was watching Giada at Home and she made this yogurt parfait that was really close to this recipe, but she mixed something in with the yogurt so it wasn't just yogurt. Probably ricotta cheese. But anyway, I found this granola at Harmon's the other day from Bakery on Main, which is more like the traditional granola recipe as opposed to the Loaded Fruit and Nut recipe I wrote about here. Of course I used my favorite greek yogurt with this one. Here's the recipe:

Granola Breakfast Parfait

1 container of vanilla yogurt, your favorite style

1/4 cup Bakery on Main granola with Fiber Power

2 T raspberry jam

Layer in a glass (or paper cup, if you're headed in the car) and enjoy!

Happy eating!


Saturday, August 14, 2010

How to Zoo Gluten Free: Packing a Lunch on the Go

Ask any one of my friends: I am a field trip mom. Every summer it's the same thing. I make a list of the things my kids (read: I) want to do while they're out of school, and then I try to be aware of when the half-price days or special offers are so we can all afford to go. It's my one little effort to feel like I'm saving any kind of money in the summer. That and the fact that I almost always will pack a lunch for us to eat while we are on our outings. It serves three purposes for me that make it worth the time and effort it takes before we go to prepare lunches for six people.

1. (Perhaps most important to me) I am guaranteed a gluten free lunch. Have you ever tried to peel the bun crumbs off of a pre-made hot dog at an amusement park or ball game? Not fun and definitely a contamination issue.

2. It is much more economical and healthy to pack food I know my children like and will eat than to buy a meal at a resort that they may not like or I don't want them to eat anyway. Case in point: chicken strips (attention, cafe owners: kids like nuggets!) and fries at anywhere's cafe. Talk about grease. I feel better about packing apples and carrots instead of fruit snacks and pop tarts, because my kids are definitely hungry whenever we go on an outing and I know that's when they'll eat the good stuff. So I try to bring healthy fruits and vegetables for them and make the kind of sandwiches they won't waste.

3. I like sitting and having a picnic with my kids. Selfish and mom-ish, I know, but that's the bottom line. I enjoy their company and like to talk with them. We have a chance to slow down for a few minutes and talk about wherever we are and what we want to while we're there. Priceless.

So here's what I did with my little travel cooler at our latest adventure at the zoo.

First of all, I packed water bottles for each person. It remedies the "I really want a soda because I'm thirsty but will you carry it?" conundrum. Also, it's very important on those really hot days to hydrate. Secondly, I packed everyone's sandwiches in a Ziploc bag with their name written on it in Sharpie marker. No guessing about whose crustless pb and whatkindofjamisthis, and everyone can get their own sandwich if I'm busy or in the bathroom with a 3 year old (again). I also packed myself a delicious gluten free chicken salad sandwich (minus the rice) with Udi's Whole Grain Gluten Free bread, because it doesn't fall apart and is big enough to hold onto a moist sandwich filling. Third, I packed an apple for everyone and Crunchy Cheeto's for three of us, because then I can share with the 3 year old who won't eat all of hers anyway and then I don't eat as many. Lastly, I packed myself three of Glutino's chocolate covered wafers, to boost myself into seeing all the animals and riding the carousel in less than two hours before everyone wilts. I put everything into my backpack-sized travel cooler, iced it down with three frozen gel packs, and put extra napkins and my cell phone, camera, wallet and keys into the front pouch so I wouldn't have to carry around two bags all day. I consider that to be quite a success. By the end of the day, the water was all gone, the bag was pretty light, and we had eaten pretty much all of that food. No one was hungry and I didn't get out my wallet once for refreshments. Summer bliss, I tell you, summer bliss.

Happy adventuring!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back to School with Gluten Free Snickerdoodles: Just Like School Lunch Ladies Used to Make

When I was in elementary school, I ate school lunch almost every day from 2nd grade until high school, at which time I discovered the drive thru with my friends. But even though my tastebuds have been sullied by those years of Taco Time burritos, I can distinctly remember the smells that would waft through the halls of Tolman Elementary that were the harbingers of the day's menu. I could tell you exactly what school lunch menu was being served simply by using my nose. Spaghetti? That's an easy one. Garlic and tomato sauce and soggy noodles. Sloppy Joes? Boo. Peanut butter and chocolate meant peanut butter bars for dessert. Of course, the aroma of fresh-baked rolls were a dead giveaway that it was some kind of gravied meat with mashed potatoes. But the killer one was the sweet cinnamon smell that accompanied the giant snickerdoodle cookies that the cooks somehow thought went with a healthy lunch. Not that I was complaining. For the last few years I've forgotten about snickerdoodles. It's just one of those cookies that fell by the wayside for me. Well, all of this back-to-school shopping with five children jogged my memories of the days at good old Tolman Elementary, so I set out to make some snickerdoodles in honor of my alma mater the other day. My first mistake? Assuming that snickerdoodles are simply sugar cookie dough rolled in sugar and cinnamon. Not so! They have a distinct flavor that comes from cream of tartar, which you must add, or they end up tasting wierd. Trust me, I tried it. Then, while flipping through my latest issue of Living Without, I came upon a recipe from a 12-year-old girl who won a state fair with this recipe, so I gave it a try. The verdict: Just like the cooks used to make.

Gluten Free Snickerdoodles
from the pages of Living Without Magazine

1 cup shortening or margarine (I used margarine)
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups gluten free flour blend (I use Grandpa's Kitchen)
1 1/2 tsp xantham gum (Grandpa's Kitchen already adds this; omit if you use it)
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 T sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

In a large bowl, beat together margarine, sugar, and eggs until creamy. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cream of tartar, soda, salt, and xantham gum, if using. Add to the creamy mixture a little at a time until mixed thoroughly. Chill dough briefly, for 10-15 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix together 2 T sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Using a small-sized scoop, scoop out walnut sized dough rounds and roll in the cinnamon/sugar mixture until coated on all sides. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in oven until lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Watch carefully as cookies brown quickly.

My daughter said these cookies made the house smell like Christmas. I thought they made the house smell like multiplication tables, Elmer's glue, floor disinfectant and grass stains. Bring on the school year. I'm ready.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pier 49 Gluten Free Pizza: A Summer Saver

There are so many things to enjoy in the summer when you have short people in your life. Namely, days like this: when you go see Toy Story 3 and you have to re-create Mr. Tortilla Head when you get home. However, I'm lucky because my summer has been full of so many other fun experiences as well, namely, watching my dad do this with his car to my mailbox one day, hosting a baptism and letting my son do his first scout camp *yikes*going to movies in the middle of the week with this guy, and redecorating my kitchen and family room in one day. (Seriously, one day I just had it and I sewed eight curtains and four pillows, cleaned out every cupboard, and ransacked Target for large canisters because I'm tired of looking in three different places for my most-used ingredients. Sometimes a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.)
But one of the fun things I like to do especially in the summer (which I think most Americans enjoy doing) is not cooking dinner and ordering a veggie pizza and watching a movie with the family. (Hint: if you want a little bit of gross, get Diary of a Wimpy Kid. If you're into dry humor, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Romance? We're still stuck on Enchanted.) Good thing my friend JoLayna tipped me off to the gluten free pizza crusts at Pier 49 pizza. I must say, something about not making your own pizza just makes me feel like I'm the richest girl on the block. I always and forever will add artichoke hearts to my pizza. It gives it just the right....pizzaz! Such a great word to describe pizza, don't you think? Not that I'm too good for your basic ham and pineapple...I'm usually good for that one, too. But veggie is definitely my favorite. Beware, if you think you are going to order a gluten free pizza, pay $5 and get something like you see in a Domino's ad, just stop thinking that right now. You won't, okay? You will get something that is much smaller than a small pizza that costs almost $20 that only has 8 slices and the crust will still taste a bit off, but you will STILL, I repeat, STILL BE EATING A TAKEOUT PIZZA. Just take your lumps and appreciate the good in this. No cooking, leftovers for breakfast, feeling pretty dang normal, and chances are you'll get the whole thing to yourself. I'll take that at least once a summer. Sometimes more. Sadly, Pier 49 is a franchise that is only open in Utah and Idaho right now. Leave a comment and let us all know where YOU get your gluten free pizza, wherever you are in the world.

Happy eating!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gluten Free Lemon Bars: Ina Rules

To be honest, I've never ever made Lemon Bars before. I don't think I've ever even eaten one. But somehow one day I got it in my head that a Lemon Bar would be just the thing to eat for dessert in the summer. They're probably good in the winter, too, but this summer I was dying to try these. I had no idea that they were so dang easy and I also had no idea they were so dang delicious. Naturally I turned to the internet and my bible for some recipes to try. I tried a couple before I settled on one that's my new favorite: a simple recipe from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten. I have no idea what the copyright issues are for reproducing a recipe on the internet, so I'll give you the link and you can look it up on your own and then all the lawyers will be happy. The only substitution I made in this easy recipe was to use Grandpa's Kitchen flour, my quintessential favorite gluten free flour. The texture and flavor turned out to be pretty close to normal for me. Also, my only other tip for making these is to make sure you cool them completely (difficult to do when you are dying to eat one) or else you run the risk of serving lemon mush instead of a lemon bar. My friend Mo over at Fare to Remember also has a great no-bake lemon-lime bar recipe that uses graham crackers and coconut that I've been wanting to try with Kinnikinnick's Smoreables Gluten Free Graham Crackers. I just bought about 13 lemons, so it's probably time! Seriously, trust Ina. She rules. I think I'm going to make myself a little fridge magnet that says just that: Trust Ina. I'm so clever.

Happy eating!

Gluten Free Chicken and Red Rice: A One-Pot Wonder

My mom and I used to live in Brownsville, Texas, which many of you may know is almost the end of the world. Just kidding, it's the southernmost tip of Texas, but the line between Mexico and the U.S. is pretty blurry right there. Which is good, because can you ever get the best guacamole in Brownsville, Texas. Luckily, my mom acquired some pretty good Mexican cooking recipes while we were there, and it was a great chance for me to get to know my favorite cuisine VERY well. My mom used to always make this dinner for me. I think it's one of my top 5 requested dinners of all time. Now that I think about it, I probably liked it so much because it's naturally gluten free. I'm sure my body was crying out for the non-gluten food when I was a kid, and this one definitely fit the bill. I hope you like it, too.

Gluten Free Chicken and Red Rice

4 chicken breasts or 6 chicken tenders
1/2 cup oil
1 cup uncooked white rice
1/2 diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 1/2 cups boiling water
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil over medium heat in a large frypan or electric skillet. Brown chicken in oil until it's lightly golden on both sides. (Chicken does not have to be cooked all the way through at this point.) Remove chicken from oil and add rice to pan. Toast until rice is golden, 1-2 minutes. Add onion , salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute until onion softens. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds. Add tomato sauce and water and stir well. Bring to a boil. Add chicken and cover pan with a lid. Turn heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes or until rice is done and chicken is cooked through. Makes great leftovers.
Happy eating!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Surviving the Summer Buffet: A Few Gluten Free Tips

Lucky for me I got to go to Idaho this summer. And I'm not even being sarcastic! We had such a lovely time up on the farms, and I got to slow down, relax, and soak in the views, like this:

And this:

And this:

And see some of these:
My husband's extended family lives there and every few years we get together for a family reunion. It's about a four hour drive there, and we usually eat lunch and play together and then have a barbecue somewhere that night. It is so relaxing and rejuvenating to visit with the good people who live there. Aren't family reunions the best? I can't say I've ever had a bad time at one. Needless to say, eating when you are with a big group like that can seem overwhelming. There are so many homemade dishes there that you can't be sure what's in any of them unless you ask the sweet auntie who brought it, and you risk offending her if you tell her you can't eat it. So here's what to do when you find yourself here:
1.The first rule is always, always, always bring something yourself that you absolutely know is gluten free. For me, I brought a spinach salad that I love that was easy to put together and looked beautiful on the disposable foil pan I used to serve it in. *Aluminum foil=classy*
2. Stick to the foods you can recognize. I'm talking sauceless fruits, fresh raw vegetables, hamburger patties, hot dogs, and safe gluten free chips.

3.I have never ever seen a gluten free dessert at a family gathering. It's just too difficult to bring chocolate covered strawberries for 150 people, so no one does it. Keep a stash of something sweet and gluten free, like Glutino Wafer Cookies, or some homemade gluten free cookies or treats in your car, so that while everyone's noshing on the brownies you can sneak off and grab a quick sugar rush and not feel left out.

4. If there's something you really want to try (hint: it's pink and fluffy up in that photo), kindly ask who brought that lovely fluffy salad and when the culprit confesses, ask them how they made it. What makes it pink, how do you make it set up, wow is it ever beautiful, stuff like that. Almost always you can get a pretty clear picture of what's in it and judge whether or not you can eat it. (You can eat jello-fluff salad with cottage cheese and blue marshmallows in it. I'm here to tell you.) Just approach the chef with appreciation and compliments and usually they'll be happy to share the ingredient list with you.

5. Lastly, take a chill pill and relax already. I guarantee you will find enough calories to survive until your next meal at a family buffet. It's just food. And if it's your own family, chances are they know about your condition and try to make at least a few concessions for you. Think of it this way: the less time you spend stuffing yourself with food, the more time you'll have to visit with your lovely family. If you can't have that asian cabbage-ramen salad or the beautiful bundt cake, no worries. It'll just be one more thing you can try to recreate at home, in your gluten free kitchen. And then you can bring it to the reunion yourself next time!
Happy eating!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Gluten Free Lemon Zucchini Bread

I remember the first time I ate zucchini bread. I was 6 years old playing at my friend Michelle's house and her mom offered me some. I expected it would taste savory and salty, since zucchini is a vegetable. But heavens to Murgatroid, it was sweet and cinnamony and I couldn't even taste the zucchini! Ever since that summer I have looked forward to harvesting zucchini just for making some zucchini bread. Most summers I'll make zucchini bread at least once because I have so much shredded zucchini in my house. Usually I'll take the big zucchini that aren't great for frying and grate them and put 1-cup amounts into a Ziploc bag and just freeze them so that in winter when I want Gluten Free Carrot Cake Muffins I can thaw them out and not have to run to the store for zucchini.

This last time I made zucchini bread I decided to try something a little different with the flavors. Most zucchini bread recipes call for some lemon zest, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I decided as I was zesting my lemon that I loved the lemon so much I was going to make Lemon Zucchini Bread. So here's what I did:

Gluten Free Lemon Zucchini Bread

1 cup sugar

1 cup shredded zucchini

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup crushed pineapple

1/4 cup oil

1 egg

1 1/2 cups Grandpa's Kitchen Gluten Free Flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, soda, powder, and salt and set aside. In a stand mixer, combine sugar, zucchini, lemon zest and juice, pineapple, oil, and egg. Mix well and then add flour mixture a little at a time. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Happy eating!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gluten Free Homemade Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

This month I have been picking a lot of these from my backyard: Which I use to make a lot of this:
But the other day I realized that they could possibly be put to another, just as tasty use. See, lately I have realized that my tolerance for lactose is down to about zero. Since my diagnosis seven years ago I have always known that my days of drinking straight milk were over, but I've always cheated with ice cream. And I've always paid the consequences the next day. It's not pretty. Cheese and yogurt seem to be okay for me, probably because they have cultures in them and are processed. So I had a brainstorm the other day: I could use my newly purchased ice cream/frozen yogurt maker from Costco to make my own raspberry frozen yogurt with my favorite yogurt of all:
Greek yogurt. Twice the protein and nice and thick. So I made homemade raspberry frozen yogurt and I was in heaven. The stomach problems were down to super low levels *liveable levels* and I felt healthier because I used fancy yogurt. But not to worry, if you don't like greek yogurt or don't want to try it, just use plain vanilla Yoplait yogurt instead.
Homemade Raspberry Frozen Yogurt
2 cups greek vanilla flavored yogurt
1 cup sugar
12 ounces raspberries, fresh or frozen (I use mine whole but you can mash them if you don't want whole berries. I figure the ice cream machine will mash them up a little while it's mixing.)
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Add to frozen insert of ice cream maker. Add mixing arm and lid and turn on. Mix until frozen, about 25 minutes.
It may seem like a lot of sugar, but trust me, raspberries are so tart that they need it. Happy eating!
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