Monday, November 29, 2010

A Christmas Giveaway!

Whew, after all those gluten free Christmas gift posts the last two weeks and the new blog redesign, I feel like it's time for me to think about someone else in the world...namely, you! Our friends at CSN Stores are sponsoring another giveaway at Off the Wheaten Path, and if you click that link they have like a million stores that sell everything from furniture to leather messenger bags to cookware...of course my favorite is the cookware. The timing couldn't be better for most of us. The giveaway this time is...I'm rolling the drums...
A brand new Henckels 8" Chef's knife! That's right, if you have ever chopped vegetables with a steak knife, or if your last set of knives only has three left in the block, this giveaway is for you. I think a lot of home cooks out there underestimate the power of a good knife. It makes so many jobs easier, almost enjoyable. Like cutting cabbage for Kielbasa, Potatoes, and Cabbage (which we are eating, nay, dining on tonight), which used to be difficult when I didn't have my super Henckels knives from my lovely husband, er, Santa, last year.

And my friend Mo wrote this absolutely striking essay on her love of the chop here. Good knife skills are one of the main things that sets a good cook or Home Chef, as I like to call myself, apart from the rest. Here is some great information on how to cut correctly, with links to tutorials on how to hold your knife correctly to cutting different kinds of shapes. Cutting the right way is safer and it makes the food look more appetizing. And all of this can be accomplished with one tool: A great chef's knife.

So here's what you have to do to win: Leave a comment at the bottom letting me know what your favorite part of my new blog design is! (Hey, I can make up the rules because I'm in charge. I'm orchestrating some love here.) A winner will be randomly chosen Wednesday, December 1, so that you'll have plenty of time to receive your knife before Christmas party season kicks in. Good luck and happy chopping!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The New Look of Gluten Free!

The new design is here! I think it looks super cute and sassy and I can't wait to play around with some new patience may be in order while the learning curve plays out here. We all know of my, ahem, technology challenges. A big round of applause to April from April Showers Blog Design for the cute illustration and layout! I'm excited to start some advertising widgets, so if you or anyone you know wants to advertise on Off the Wheaten Path, contact me via email for an introductory quote.

Happy eating!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gluten Free Christmas Gifts #10: Chocolate Covered Oreo Pops

For our last installment of Gluten Free Christmas Gifts for this year, I've chosen one of the cutest little treats you can find: Gluten Free Oreo Pops. I saw these on How Does She's blog a while ago and they have a really great tutorial with better pictures than mine, but here's how I did mine gluten free.

First of all, I used Kinnikinnick's Kinni-Toos vanilla sandwich cookies, because I wanted them to be wintery looking with white chocolate. You could use the chocolate ones as well, even with the white chocolate. I also used the same Kroger brand white bark coating as the Gluten Free Chocolate Covered Pretzels and melted it in the microwave just like I did with the pretzels.

Step 1: Carefully (super carefully) remove the tops of the cookies and set aside.

Step 2: Take a sucker stick (available at crafts stores in the cake decorating aisle) and dip into the melted chocolate.
Step 3: Put stick into the open cookie, then replace top. Let sit for a few minutes to set up.
Step 4: Dip the sucker into the chocolate, using a spoon to help coat the whole cookie.Step 5: Lay onto a parchment lined baking sheet and if you want a topping like sprinkles or peppermint pieces or crushed M&Ms or something sprinkle it on now, while the chocolate is wet. If you want to drizzle with another color of chocolate, just let it sit for a while to set and then add the chocolate.Step 6: Wrap the sucker in a 6"x3 1/2" treat bag and tie with cute ribbon and embellishments. These would be so cute given as a bouquet wrapped with more ribbon!The box of cookies cost me $3.29 and I dipped 12 cookies (about half the package). I used half of a $2.50 tray of bark coating, and the sucker sticks were $4.99 for 50, so your homework is to figure out how much each one of these was and leave a comment for me because all of that turkey yesterday slowed my brain way down.

I hope some of these ideas have helped you think of what you could give your own gluten free loved ones this season.

Happy giving!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gluten Free Christmas Gifts #9: Just buy a pie plate

This post has me a little nervous. Remember back at the beginning of all of these Christmas posts when I said these were all simple, cheap ideas? Well, this is a great idea but not so much on the cheap aisle. So I apologize, but really, if you have a best friend or a mom or sister that you want to give something to that is a little more on the fancy side, this may be for you. I'm using two of my favorite bakeware items to show you the kind of stuff that really gets the job done, and if I were to get one of these presents, as a baker I would be totally excited.

My first choice for you is to get the Emile Henry pie plate and wrap it up with a Gluten Free Pantry Pie Crust mix. (I think their packaging looks different now, but you get the idea.) Why Emile Henry, you may ask? Because it's the best. Made in France, it completely bakes a flaky pie crust and look at those fluted edges. And you must wash it by hand, and everyone knows that anything you wash by hand has to be better. Cost? $40. It comes in tons of great colors and if Emile is reading, I really love your bakeware and wow, don't you want to send me another one? I digress.

Your second choice is the Le Creuset baking dish, which also comes in a host of colors, is also made in France and also makes things bake up perfectly. I like these oval-shaped ones because they are so versatile. You can do scalloped potatoes, a casserole, chicken breasts, or even brownies in them. These little babies are actually available at most TJMaxx stores for quite a discount this time of year, so check and see if you can find one for your special friend. I think I paid around $15-$18 for this one. I added a Chocolate Cake Mix from Namaste and cute green polka dot ribbon.

As always, you can fix anything with ribbon! And I found the cute gnome and heart ornaments at IKEA in a pack of 8 for around $3.

Happy giving!

Happy Gluten Free Thanksgiving!

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow." Melody Beattie

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I have so much gratitude for all of you and wish you all the best today and throughout the year.

Happy eating!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gluten Free Christmas Gifts #8: French Macarons

Sometimes we just simply don't have the time to handcraft a gift for someone. Every once in a while I find myself thinking of someone and when I'm out and about I'll pick up their favorite treat or something they might enjoy and when I give it to them, I find they usually don't care that I didn't make it! Not that they don't appreciate my handmade treats, but sometimes it really is the thought that counts. Now, if I were on blog-preparation mode full time, I would have attended a class or at least read a tutorial on how to make these French Macarons, but as it is, these are some of my favorite gluten free cookies to purchase and eat immediately. I'm serious. It's a sickness. Everyone who knows me knows I am a sucker for lemon-flavored treats, and this case is no exception. If you've never eaten one before, French Macarons are different from the other Coconut Macaroons, which are made from shredded coconut and condensed milk and are chewy and very dense.These cookies are made from almond flour, egg whites, and confectionary and white sugars, which makes them like a meringue, crunchy on the outside and chewy once you bite into them and then of course the filling makes them completely sinful. I could go on and on.
There is a little local bakery near me called The Sweet Tooth Fairy that has but one gluten free offering: The French Macaron. They come in all sorts of flavor combinations and you never know what they will have on the shelf from day to day. But, if you're particular like me and you can be patient for a day or two, you can special order a dozen in whatever flavor you like. If you don't live in Utah, perhaps there's a bakery near you that makes a gluten free cookie you could substitute for this one.This bakery also happens to make a really cute mini version of the macarons, about half the size of a normal one. I think the mini ones look cuter in this gift bag (of course by Martha from Michael's) and they also fit perfectly in this little gift box (ahem, I have a problem with diversification...also a Martha product from Michael's. And please ignore the fact that the cookies are stacked crookedly inside. Photo perfection, I tell ya.). I love that it comes with pre-made sticker tags that you just put right on the box. So easy. These mini cookies are $1.25 apiece, and the larger ones are $2.50 apiece, so the cost is based on how many cookies you cram into your container.
Happy giving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gluten Free Christmas Gifts #7: Little Loaves of Carrot Cake

One of my favorite gluten free treats of all time are the Carrot Cake Muffins that I made to taste almost like Mimi's Carrot Cake Muffins. So last year, I gave all the neighbors in my circle little loaves of the Carrot Cake in those little aluminum pans and I wrapped them in wax paper with some baking twine. Totally cute. This year I came across some of these:
That's right. Cute give-away-able mini loaf pans, that look cute whether or not you wrap them. So I decided to show how to make these little treats with or without a little bit of wrapping.

First, mix up a batch of Carrot Cake batter. Wrap each loaf pan with some foil and place on a cookie sheet. There are small holes in the bottom of the pans for ventilation, so you don't want the runny batter to drip out. Bake about 40 minutes for three little loaves. Test with a knife inserted into the center to make sure they are baked through. Let cool.
Then, I took one of those cellophane treat bags and just put the little loaf inside it and taped up the open end like a present. So much easier than wrapping the whole thing in plastic wrap.
Next, you have two choices. Actually, three or four, but two for now. One, simply wrap the loaf with cute ribbon (this was about 47 inches of ribbon) with a bow and add a tag saying to and from. Or, take a piece of tissue paper in a festive color, and wrap it butcher-style, like this:

And there you have it. A perfectly respectable neighbor gift. The price on these will be a little hard for me to estimate, because the ingredients are a little pricey. The loaf pans were $4.49 for 3, the cake mix was $6.99, and the nuts, coconut, zucchini, carrot, raisins and pineapple added about $6 to the whole batch. So I'm guessing each loaf cost about $7 with ribbon and tissue paper. Give or take a dollar.

Happy giving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gluten Free Christmas Gifts #6: Chocolate Covered Gluten Free Pretzels

Most of the time when I think of making a Christmas treat, I think about how I have to get out the recipe book, mix 100 ingredients, bake it up, all while figuring out how to tint the treat red or green. However, this year, along with practicing my frugal lifestyle (which I shall report on soon...good news: it works!) I'm also practicing the mantra of, "It doesn't always have to be exactly like that." As a traditional thinker, sometimes it's hard for me to let go of certain notions of what is right and wrong concerning, well, pretty much everything. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely a right and a wrong way to cook pretty much everything. But recently I've gotten a new perspective on such things like, crepes count for dinner fare, there's nothing wrong with ALL vegetables for a meal here and there, and a piece of toast with Nutella on it counts as breakfast. I've also learned that you can pretty much cover Christmas presents for an 11 year old and a 14 year old at the thrift store, a 99 cent calendar is the perfect present for my "little professor," and there's absolutely no reason you can't wear a skinny belt over a sweater around your natural waist... every day of the week. Phew. After that huge wind-up, my next idea for a gluten free Christmas gift is Chocolate Covered Gluten Free Pretzels.

The fun thing about these is that there is no recipe, and you can top them with whatever you feel like using that particular day. You can even use nothing and just give them plain and your peeps will love it. Here's how to do it:

Purchase some gluten free pretzels from Glutino. This small bag was $1.79 at my local grocery store. I also picked up some "bark coating" or melting chocolate, this Kroger brand was gluten free and it was only $2.50 on sale. I used half of the chocolate for one bag of small pretzels. Someone who's good at math would tell me how much that is for one cup of pretzels, but it's not going to be me. It's not much, is what I'm trying to say. I used white chocolate because I wanted them to look wintery, but you could use milk chocolate as well. And I've tried these with chocolate chips and the chocolate just really seizes up a lot more with the chips. A bark coating or the melting discs are really your best bet.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a large bowl for 1 minute, and stir, then for 30 more seconds and stir, then 30 more and stir. It should be about melted after that, but if not, add 30 more seconds. Drop the pretzels in and use a large spoon to spoon some chocolate over and cover it. Then use a fork to fish it out and drip a little of the chocolate off so you don't have a huge puddle around it. Scrape against the side of the bowl and put onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.

Take a break after a row of pretzels and add a topping while it's still wet if you want to. If you want to drizzle with chocolate, wait until they dry a little, then melt some more chocolate, place into a ziploc bag, snip off the corner, and drizzle away.

Then, when they're dry, simply package them up in cute little ways and people will think you are the most thoughtful gluten free friend ever. Really, this whole series has been about taking something delicious and just prettying it up with some lipstick and rouge to make it festive. There's lots of great places to look for wrapping ideas out there, like Martha, Better Homes and Gardens, and Country Living. But here's what I did:

I found these cute little cones at IKEA for some ridiculously cheap price and added some red tissue paper and put the little pretzels inside.

I also found these cute tree boxes at Michael's in the Martha section and they are a fast and easy way to package these little yummys up.

Happy giving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Casserole

I am interrupting this Christmas blog series to post about one of my new favorite recipes you can all make for the almost forgotten Thanksgiving holiday this year: Sweet Potato Casserole. I first tasted this last year at a Christmas party and I phone stalked cute Sally until she gave the recipe to me a couple of weeks ago. When she gave it to me, there was a little note on the bottom of the recipe card: "Given to me by my friend in Alabama...who went on dates in a horse drawn buggy and lived to be 102 years." Now, if that doesn't mean this is a recipe that stands the test of time, I don't know what does. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of flour in the topping mixture, but I substituted tapioca starch/flour to see how it worked. It is delicious and yummy just the same, but you could also use whatever gluten free flour mixture you love. My one disclaimer is that there is a TON of butter and sugar and a little bit of vegetable in this recipe, so don't come crying to me when you realize how many calories are in it. It's for sure one of those once a year kind of recipes.

Gluten Free Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups cooked yams, mashed (I used three large yams for this and it was just about enough.)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 T melted butter
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 eggs

Mix all ingredients together and spread evenly into a greased 9x13 baking dish.

1 cup brown sugar
6 T melted butter
1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Mix all ingredients together and spread on top of potatoes. Bake 20-25 minutes in a 375 degree oven until golden brown and crusty on top.

Happy eating!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

25 Days of Gluten Free Giveaways!

Chandice from Gluten Free Frenzy just emailed me with an alert about her amazing 25 Days of Giveaways, Gluten Free Of Course! event, which begins on December 1, and runs every day until Christmas. Entries will be one or two easy steps each day. The winners will be chosen on January 1st, so mark your calendars now and check back with Gluten Free Frenzy to see what kind of Gluten Free swag she'll be giving!

Happy eating!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gluten Free Christmas Gifts #5: Homemade Granola in a Paper Cone

I have another favorite blog that I like to run through for ideas sometimes. It's called Real Mom Kitchen and I tried some of their Pumpkin Granola the other day. Mmm, mmm good. It's a mixture of oats (I used gluten-free oats just to be safe), cranberries, pumpkin puree, pumpkin seeds, and maple syrup. It was a good time. This recipe makes quite a bit of granola, so I had a brainstorm. A Christmas-gifting kind of brainstorm. This recipe makes about four cups of granole, so I took some over to my friend JoLayna, who introduced me to the site, to say thanks, and I made one of these super easy little scrapbook paper cones to put it in.
First, you take a piece of 12"x12" scrapbook paper and twirl it into a cone. Tape it together down at the bottom of the cone and in the middle, to keep it together. Snip the top so that it's an even circle all the way around. Then snip about six slits down around the top of the cone.
Put about a cup of the granola into a ziploc bag and form it into a cone shape before you zip it up. I have it open inside the cone here so you can tell that it's granola in there. Then fold down all the tabs you made with your snips and make an "X" of tape across the top to hold it together. Attach a cute nametag from Hobby Lobby and you're ready to make someone's day! Granola is a little expensive to make, and this particular granola was a little more expensive because the pumpkin seeds are not cheap. Even with that though, a gift like this still comes in at under $4. Now this recipe might not seem Christmasy enough for some of you. A little too much harvest on the palate? Here's another great recipe for granola from the site Amateur Gourmet that he found in the pages of a cookbook called, "Baked." I might have to try it next...It's a very basic recipe that sounds good for every season. And, I'm here to tell you, all you have to do is give something a clever name and it will seem like whatever you want it to be. Like, Christmas Cranberry Granola or Christmas Tree-Hugger Chow would do.
What I love about this idea is that you could fill these little cones with just about anything you have on hand that's gluten free, like candy, gluten free pretzels (I have a great idea coming for those next week), Kinnikinnick oreos (a great idea for those, as well), chocolate covered nuts, pistachios, mini chocolate bars, whatever your loved one's favorite treat is. And you can get such a varied look with the different papers nowadays: grown-up looking ones, kid's favorites, vintage, whatever you love you can create here. I should have figured out a way to get some ribbon in there! Darn. There's always next week. Tune in on Monday for more great ideas!
Happy giving!
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