Friday, February 26, 2010

And the Duh Award Goes To Me...Missing out on White Bean Chicken Chili

Oh good heavenly days. Do you ever have those moments about two days after you do something dumb where you go, "Oh, duh. I totally spaced it." I had one of those yesterday. Not that it's anything new, mind you. With five kids and an employed husband, I'm always forgetting stuff. Sometimes it's small stuff like brushing my teeth or putting gas in my car. Other times it's getting kids registered on time for sports or forgetting to take pictures of food with my limping camera. What?!? Did I just type that I forgot to take a picture of my food with my camera? Yes. Yes I did.

It's true. I spent the better part of an afternoon making this delicious recipe for Chicken and White Bean Chili from Giada deLaurentiis, which if you haven't noticed, is my favorite chef ever, and it was sooooo good and yummy. My family and I ate up about half of it and I sent the other half over to my neighbor's house because she just had a baby and seemed like she needed some chicken chili that night. That night while I was doing my dishes and washing out my favorite LeCreuset pan, I realized that I hadn't even taken ONE photo to show you all. Not one! Sigh. I really have issues with not having an original photo of the food that I am touting to y'all out there. So I truly do apologize. But I can't wait any longer for you to be in the know about this dish. It's so good for late winter dinners, and everyone but my two little people ate it, which is a miracle around here. Anyway, I'll send you the link to the recipe and you can all give it a try because it's easy and delicious and the only subsitution I made was to add cornstarch instead of flour. Not bad for a Food Network recipe, eh? Seriously, try this recipe. You will love it and, apparently, your family will, too!

Happy eating!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Gluten Free Granola Fix

Most of you will remember my current obsession with Trader Joe's Loaded Fruit and Nut Granola that I have to beg my out of state friends to send to me, because I'm crazy like that. Well, the granola gods have taken pity upon me and sent me a tasty stand in for my favorite gluten free easy breakfast/snack/dinner/boredom buster. While trolling through Harmon's Natural Foods section the other day, I spied this granola from Bakery on Main. They actually have other gluten free flavors, too, which I can't wait to try. Of course I grabbed the bag hoping that it would be close to the real thing, and thanks to the Gluten Free Granola gods, is almost the exact same cereal. It couldn't have shown up at a better time, since I just ran out of my rationed stash of Trader Joe's. So if you're like me and aren't lucky enough to live by a Trader Joe's, check your local health food store and see if you can find it, or go to the Bakery on Main store locator. It's as good as the real thing!
Happy eating!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Quick and Easy Gluten Free Guacamole

When I was a little girl we used to live in South Texas. And when I say south, I mean south. We lived in Brownsville, which is, like, 5 miles from the Mexican border. My mom and I would go out to eat and I would order a large order of guacamole and chips and eat that for dinner. Truly. It's one of my favorite foods of all time. I'm pretty sure the exposure to authentic Mexican food was the breeding ground for my grown-up tastes leaning towards Mexican all the time. Whenever we go out to dinner or go somewhere with friends, I immediately wonder if I can get a good Mexican meal out of it. And I always sample the guacamole at every Mexican restaurant I eat at. I'm like a guacamole savant. One thing I love about Mexican food, despite the wonderful concoctions of flavors that come in every meal, is that it's so easily made gluten free. Swap the flour tortillas for corn, or tortilla chips, and you're out the door.
The most important ingredient when you're making guacamole is, of course, the avocados. Make sure to choose ones that are soft and give a little bit when you touch them, but not shriveled and gushy or hard as a rock. If you do happen to buy a hard avocado, patience is your only weapon. Sit the avocado on your counter and let it ripen for a day or two. Better to wait than to try to mash avocado the consistency of cold butter. If you cut an avocado and only use half and want to save half for later, save the half with the pit in it. The pit will help keep it from going brown in the refrigerator. Avocados don't have a long half life in the refrigerator, however. Try to use the other half by the next day, if you can.
There are about a million ways to vary guacamole, and this is just one way I have made guacamole and really liked it. This is a great guacamole to eat with chips, because it's a little creamy and it dips well.
Quick and Easy Guacamole
1 avocado, pitted, scooped from skin, and mashed
1/2 roma tomato, diced
1/2 tsp onion salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1 T sour cream
Mash all ingredients together with a fork and mix well. (I prefer NOT to use a food processor. Guacamole should have chunks of avocado in it.) Serve with plain corn tortilla chips.
Happy eating, or feliz comiendo!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Gluten Free Chicken Enchiladas

This is one of those posts where I am shocked that I haven't yet shared this recipe with you. Gluten Free Chicken Enchiladas are one of my staple casseroles that I make when I have a lot of people coming for dinner or if I need to take a dinner in to someone who's sick or just had a baby. The reason for that is twofold: I can easily adjust the recipe to make more or less if I need it, and it actually makes great leftovers. The other bonus, which I just found out from my Biggest-Loser website readings (since the show has been off during the Olympics) is that corn tortillas are a whole grain option that also happen to be gluten free, which is great since maybe it will cancel out some of the sinning from the sour cream. Incidentally, you can make this a low-fat dish as well by using low-fat sour cream and low-fat cheese.

The only trick when making these gluten free chicken enchiladas is that you have to make your cream of chicken soup with Lipton Cup-A-Soup Creamy Chicken packets. That takes a grand total of two minutes and thirty seconds extra, so I think you'll survive.Take four packets of soup mix, add 1 1/2 cups water, whisk together, and microwave for two minutes and 15 seconds. Voila! Two cans of cream of chicken soup, at your service. So here's the recipe complete with pictures that are totally dark since I made this at 10:00 at night when my husband came home ravenous one night from a trade show:

Gluten Free Chicken Enchiladas

1 large can Swanson's or Kirkland chicken, white meat only, drained and shredded
1 pint sour cream
1 box (4 pkgs) Lipton Creamy Chicken Cup-A-Soup, made to directions above
1 1/2 cups shredded mexican blend cheese or colby jack
2 T minced onion
20 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray any casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Tear the tortillas into strips and layer along the bottom of a casserole dish. That way you can cut them any way when they are done and you don't risk slicing someone's enchilada in half.Mix all other ingredients except 1/2 cup cheese and stir together well. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the layer of tortillas. Add a layer of tortillas over the sauce, and top with another 1/3 of the mixture. One last layer of tortillas and spread the last of the sauce over the top, top with the extra cheese. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Serve with red rice and guacamole.

My sister in law also will sometimes make this and spread a can of refried beans on the bottom of the casserole dish before adding the first layer of tortillas, just to give it a little more protein and saltiness. Also, if you are doubling the recipe for more eaters, I suggest simply using a bigger casserole dish and keeping it to about three layers. Otherwise, you'll need to up your cooking time to make sure the thicker layers are heated through.
Happy eating!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wendy's Does It Again

If you are a celiac person like me, you try your best to make your own food and cook at home as much as possible. But inevitably, there are days when you have to grab some takeout and call it good. And you have to love Wendy's for all their many gluten free options, which I think they don't even make gluten free on purpose. It's like a happy accident when you find something gluten free at a fast food SOOO feels like cheating.

Anyway, the other day I went through the drive through at Wendy's and noticed that they had changed their salad menu again. I'm guessing they do this seasonally or at least yearly, because so many people are on the salad bandwagon these days and they probably get sick of eating the same salads over and over again. Me, I'm all about the bunless burger, but on occasion, I feel the need for a salad come up and I'll go for it. I usually just order my salads the way a normal person would and then read the ingredients on the dressings when I'm home to see if it's okay, then if it's not okay I'll just use one of my own salad dressings. No biggie. I decided to try the Baja salad, which comes with chili, spicy pico de gallo, guacamole, tortilla strips, and this creamy red jalapeno dressing. (Did I say it was diet food? I did not say that.) I put it all together, and lunch was born. Personally, this salad was a little on the spicy side for me, but that's because I have a tenderfoot mouth. My husband would think it needed hot sauce, but that's a moot point because he won't eat salads anyway. I checked both the salad dressing and the tortilla strips, and both are gluten free. I love their already gluten free chili, which I could pour over everything I eat every day, and it was a nice warm contrast to the lettuce blend. The guacamole was okay. I think it was a little bland, but it was all mixed together with the spicy pico and the dressing, so it didn't really matter that it wasn't spicy. Yet another great gluten free lunch option from Wendy's! Check out their gluten free menu listing here, and I dare you not to be craving a Frosty by the time you're done browsing. Chow down, y'all!
Happy eating!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread

My good friend Teresa stopped by my house the other day bearing gifts. Lovely gifts. See, Teresa recently had her 2 year old son diagnosed with celiac sprue and has been learning the ropes of gluten free eating. The other thing about Teresa is that she's unfailingly generous. She's new enough at this kind of eating not to be hoarding her products, yet. Yet. She happened upon these loaves of Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread at a discount warehouse and graciously shared some of her bounty with me. For those of you who don't know, Udi's is a Denver-based company that makes both gluten free and regular artisan bakery items. I'll admit, I was a bit skeptical to try this bread at first. Traditionally gluten free pre-made breads are terrible. (Sorry, gf bread makers.) I much prefer to take my chances and make it fresh at home. But I have to say, I was completely taken off guard by this bread. It's more than four inches high (a feat for gf breads), is soft but hearty, and takes to a toasting like a champ. Udi's where have I been? There are probably fifty of you out there shaking your heads going, duh, Udi's rocks! So, sorry I haven't been in the loop lately, but now I have a new best friend.No crumbly bread falling apart in the toaster, here. So of course I had to get some of that bread out and smear it with my favorites, which I only do for breakfast occasionally:aah, the lovely and talented Adams Natural No Stir Creamy Peanut Butter and Red Plum Jam. Heavenly. Eating a piece of toast with peanut butter and jam used to be my go-to breakfast for crazy days, and it looks like those days may be on the horizon again. Another bonus to this bread is that I don't have to keep it in the freezer. I can just keep the thawed loaf out on my counter and grab it whenever I see the need for a whole-grain textured gluten free bread. I also made these with three pieces of bread last night: Bread crumbs to top a batch of homemade macaroni and cheese. I love it! Just when you've spent seven years thinking you will never taste anything like what you used to eat ever again, something comes up that shines the light on your appetite. Bread. You've gotta love it. You can pick up a loaf of Udi's Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread at places like Whole Foods, Sunflower Market, and Good Earth, but you can also pop on over to Udi's website where they have a helpful zip code store finder to help you find their products near you.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Valentines Day from the Fix-It Guy

Husbands really come in handy sometimes. When my husband came home from work the other day I showed him my crippled camera, and he waved his magic wand and said, "Presto, change-O" and fixed it. It's not perfectly fixed, because I have to tap the lens a little to get it to close when I turn the camera off, but hey, it's better than spending a few hundred we don't have right now to have a working camera. So to reward myself for surviving a possibly traumatic event, I made a Valentine's day cake with Blue Chip Bakers' Double Fudge Brownie mix, and frosted it with Aimee's German Chocolate Frosting. I totally hogged the triangle piece and had to eat some before I even took a picture. How's that for self-love?As a side note, Utah's Own Blue Chip Group has also changed their look and brand to something called Augason Farms, so don't be surprised when you click the link to see their new logo.
Happy eating!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Personal Tragedy...The loss of a good piece of metal

I am about to write the words that strike fear into the heart of every blogger on the face of the planet: my camera is broken. I wanted to show you what it looks like now, but I can't even take a picture of it so you can even visualize the tragedy. Last night my daughter had one of these: --a birthday slumber party with 9 of her closest friends, which was super fun and explains what I have been doing instead of blogging about food this week. There are lots of jobs that go along with hosting a sixteen hour long party for 10 girls. I of course had to record the moment with my trusty camera. Then, this morning, I think that this person found the camera on the counter and was doing this
which is of course spinning while photographing the air, which we all know is an advanced photography technique, and lost control of my favorite piece of metal and it was introduced to the hardwood floor. I am in mourning for my lost little piece of equipment. And it's really true what they say: you don't know what you've got till it's gone, because now I'm remembering all the good times I had with that camera. It was small enough to put in my purse and catch photos like these,
and handy enough that I kept it in the kitchen to capture images like thesewhich I would randomly spot during my day of cooking and think were pretty and might look good on the blog. My camera was by no means a jewel in the crown, it was more of a diamond in the rough. It was the older version of this camera

which I see is now double the pixels and half the price of the one I got as a Christmas present from my lovely gadget-gifter husband three years ago. I've known I've needed a new camera to improve the images on this site for a while, and I've been putting it off because I really like my little portable, cheap, basic camera. But now I don't know what I'll do besides take pictures with my phone camera, because the money tree, as we call it at our house, is about out of leaves this month. This is a great accidental way to get a new camera, but I think I'll be shopping for refurbished instead of brand new. Anyone have a camera they love that takes great pictures of food? Leave me a comment or a condolence on the passing of my sweet little pet.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Gluten Free Toll House Cookies, a la Fire and Salt

This is less of an original recipe and more of a link to one of my favorite gluten free sites, but I need some time to bounce back from those horrible GoDaddy Super Bowl commercials, so here we go.

My friend Brian is a fireman and gluten free blogger of the most interesting kind: he himself does not have celiac's disease, but his wife does, and he loves to cook for her, so he creates these fabulous gluten free concoctions that really are divine. I always dive into his site, Fire and Salt, looking for inspiration, and I usually find it. This happens to be one of the most inspired kinds of chocolate chip cookie recipes ever invented, The Toll House Cookie. When I saw that Brian had a recipe for these, I jumped right into the kitchen to make some because his photos make them look so good. Perfectly crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. Right out of the oven these are heavenly. (Although, I recommend you let gluten free cookies sit on the cookie sheet for five or ten minutes so they don't fall apart on you.) I haven't eaten this kind of cookie for years (mostly because I weaned myself from flour filled foods and found other substitutes) and when I took my first bite I was five years old again in the kitchen of our apartment having a foodie moment. Yum-o.

It's amazing to me what kind of power recipes have over food. There are cookies, and there are cookies, and there are cookies. The same exact ingredients are present in many recipes, but the amounts and combinations of each one can create such a different experience. I always make a Mrs. Field's type recipe for chocolate chip cookies, which has more of a cakey texture. But my mom would always make the Toll House recipe because it was easy and printed right on the bag of chocolate chips, so those are the ones I always ate as a kid. Like I said, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. It's magic. But both recipes have two eggs, two-ish cups of flour, butter, salt, vanilla, and chocolate chips. That's the miracle of the recipe! Good ones create their own distinct flavor and memory. Good gluten free ones come as close as possible to the "real" thing. And this one is pretty darned close. One day I hope to master the art of recipe creation, as it is the gateway to food nirvana.

My cookies were also gargantuan, which didn't mean I wasn't secretly pleased with them, but it did mean I had to cook them about four minutes longer. I know, a simple correlation, but I needed reminding from my 13 year old when I was complaining about the cookies not being done. "The scoops were SOOOO big, Mom. They're going to take FOREVER to cook." (Eye roll) Aah, the joys of beginning Home Ec. I used a medium-sized scoop but should have used the tiny one I used for whoopie pies. Then the cookies wouldn't have been 1,000 calories each. And, of course I used Grandpa's Kitchen flour, but you'll have to check out Brian's site to see what his favorite flour blend is, and get the delicious recipe.

Happy eating!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Surviving the Super Bowl...Part 3: A Big Fat Pot of Gluten Free Chili

What is it with football and chili? Almost all of the Super Bowl Sunday menus I've seen involve some incarnation of chili. Maybe it's the meat. Maybe it's the beans, or the spices. Or maybe it's that chili is comfort food to soothe you when your team isn't doing so well. When I spotted the mix for Darn Good Chili by Bear Creek Mixes, I knew this was going to be my star entree for Sunday. The best thing about those Bear Creek people is that they've actually created a few good mixes that are gluten free, so way to go Bear Creek! If you haven't discovered this about me by now, I am the kind of girl that likes to take a mix for something and jazz it up a bit to make it more homemade. Kind of like Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade on Food Network. By the way, who doesn't covet her dish collection that changes in the background for every show? Am I right? It's amazing. Anyway, there are some dishes that when you find a mix that is easy and you like the taste and, good heavens, is gluten free, you tend to want to stick with the formula. This is one of those dishes.

Super Bowl Sunday's forecast is for snow here in Utah, so I'm looking forward to staying home, making a big pot of chili, and snuggling up in front of the TV with a bowlful and about nine hundred more calories from other treats, but that's beside the point. This is an easy chili recipe that just about anyone can do, so if someone's coming to your house to watch the game or if you are in charge of feeding people at your house, this could be the recipe for you.

Super Bowl Chili

1 pound ground beef
1/2 diced onion
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can (6 oz. tomato paste)
1 package Bear Creek Darn Good Chili (gluten free, my gift to you)
salt and pepper to taste
7 cups water

In a large dutch oven, brown the meat and onion over medium heat until onion is soft and no pink remains. Add beans, tomato paste, and water and bring to a boil. Add soup mix and simmer with the lid off for 25-30 minutes or on low with the lid on for 2 hours, depending on serving time, stirring often. When liquid has boiled down and chili is thick, add salt and pepper to taste. serve over baked potatoes or in a bowl with cheese and avocado garnishes.
My family tells me this tastes a lot like Wendy's Chili, and since I love Wendy's Chili, it makes me happy that something similar can come out of my kitchen. Give this one a try and leave me a you think it tastes like Wendy's Chili, too?
Happy eating!

Surviving the Super Bowl...Part 2: Brown Sugar Strawberries

Since we are all in the same gluten free boat when we're snacking on game days, I thought I'd share some easy appetizers to bring or share on Super Bowl Sunday. This is one of my very favorite ways to eat strawberries because it is so simple, easy, and different. It's a perfect dish for the non-cook to bring, because the only preparation needed is washing and de-cap-itating the strawberries. A lovely lady made this for an event I went to years ago, and whenever I think of eating strawberries I want to eat them like this, partly because they are so yummy but partly because I have such fond memories of her. Funny how food works on the emotions like that, eh? The memories of the person you ate something great with will come back every time you eat them, like those worn placemats in your mother's kitchen. They'll never fail to remind you of the good times.

Here's what you need: Strawberries. Sour Cream. Brown Sugar. In that order. Wash and remove the caps on the strawberries. Dry them with a paper towel. (This makes the sour cream stick a little better.) Dip the strawberry into some sour cream. Roll it in some brown sugar. Eat the whole thing in one bite.
If you have issues with eating finger foods, you could use fondue sticks or toothpicks if you have them so you don't have people licking their fingers and sticking them in the food. Me, I just close my eyes and go for it. I know strawberries aren't exactly in season right now, but it's worth getting some just to try this naturally gluten free snack. I have a sneaky feeling you're going to like it.
Happy eating!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Surviving the Super Bowl...Part 1: Gluten Free Spinach Artichoke Dip

There should be a day on the calendar when people can have an excuse to plop themselves down in front of the TV for some mindless entertainment and eat non-diet food until they want to pop. Maybe one day a year, yeah, that's the ticket. People, I give you Super Bowl Sunday. I personally love Super Bowl Sunday, and since I used to work in marketing, I love it for the commercials, not the football. I love that companies give it their all for that huge audience and really crank out the good stuff for us. Kind of like the NBA's when you get the good stuff after the so-so all season.
ANYWAY, some of us are lucky and have friends with theater rooms and caterers and leather LaZBoys who invite us over to watch the game with no cares at all. I have no such friends, but there's gotta be someone out there who does. Some of us just hang with our families and want to eat something extra sinful because you never know what "wardrobe malfunction" will come up and you may need to burn some extra calories by gabbing about it afterwards. Some of us just need an excuse to use the new baking dish we got for our birthdays from a cute friend. I love finding expensive French cookware at TJ Maxx. It seems like cheating!
In any case, there's going to be some eating going on this Sunday, and navigating the waters of gluten free snacking can be tricky if you're not careful. Some no-no's: Nacho Cheese Doritos. Velveeta. Twizzlers. Pringles. Dipping sauces for fruits and veggies, unless you can see the packaging to read the ingredients. Chili con Queso from Chili's. The list could go on and on. However, we practice looking on the bright side on this blog, so whether you are staying at home or going to a party at someone else's house, it's a good idea to have a few gluten free Game Day recipes up your sleeve so you can be sure there's something you can eat during the game. And I'm not talking about carrot sticks and a fruit tray. I'm talking something you need a sturdy chip for, something you need your sleeve to wipe your whole face with afterwards, something that Jenny Craig strenuously objects to. Here is one of my favorite sinful dishes that, despite the addition of several vegetables, still could use a policeman to guide you in your portion control. You can whip this up in half an hour and take over to your neighbor's house on game day without batting an eye. People will drool over it and think you're such a good cook that they'll invite you back next year. Caution: skipping meals to be able to eat these calories may be necessary.
Gluten Free Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 pkg thawed and drained chopped spinach
1 cup gluten free mayonnaise, like Best Foods
2/3 cup sour cream, like Meadow Gold or Harmon's house brand
1 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small tomato, diced
1 can of artichoke hearts, (6-8) drained and coarsely chopped, like DeLallo brand

Press the spinach in paper towels to remove the very last bit of water. Add to a large mixing bowl along with all other ingredients. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, until golden and bubbly and heated through. Serve with corn tortilla chips.

Happy eating and watching!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Gluten Free Whoopie Pies...Just in Time for Valentine's Day

I'm going to let all of you in on a little secret about me. I do this little food segment every month on our local morning news show where I cook up fabulous gluten free food and talk about how great of a cook I am. :) That's not really a secret, but what is a secret is how much time and mental energy I spend on what recipe I will cook on that particular day.In other words: I am a slave to my TV show. There are several criteria that a recipe must pass in order to appear on camera: 1. It must be able to be broken into two parts, so that I have one half to do in the first three minute segment and one half to do in the second three minute segment. 2. It must be simple enough that anyone can make it but complicated enough that the foodies watching won't turn off the TV. 3. It has to fit the season or holiday that is in that month (like no corn on the cob in December, or no Autumn stew in March). 4. It has to be tasty, so that when Ron and Debbie take a bite they don't vomit all over the beautiful granite countertops. (One time Debbie did eat a bite of one of my pies that I had made and frozen a few days earlier and it was ice cold. Luckily it was off camera, so no one saw the grimace.) 5. It has to have at least two steps of preparation that I can do for a 10 second "teaser" in between segments, to keep people from changing the channel on me. That is quite a list, isn't it? It's a lot of food thoughts in a month.

The other part of the secret is that sometimes I think up something I want to make because it will fill all the criteria above, but I have never made it before, so I must create a recipe somehow within a month's time so that I can get it to the station for their web page and all their promo graphics before one day before the segment airs. Whew. This month was one of those months. I really wanted to do whoopie pies because they are chocolate and Valentine's day is coming up, and I wanted to use my own flour blend, and I wanted them to be cute and fun but a little different. Here is a look behind the scenes of creating a gluten free dessert:

First of all, I researched whoopie pies on the internet and found out that they are a chocolate sponge cake with marshmallow filling. When I read the words sponge cake and tried to add gluten free in front of them, I knew that just wasn't possible in the mortal world of cooking without wheat. So I researched some basic cookie recipes and some whoopie pie recipes and discovered that they all have very similar ratios of the same ingredients, so I figured I couldn't mess up that bad if I conglomerated them and sort of mix-and-matched ingredients. The other thing I noticed is that the basic cookie recipe is a lot like Giada deLaurentis' Lemon Ricotta Cookie recipe, which I always make gluten free and get great comments on all the time. And I thought the ricotta cheese would really help this batter be lighter and fluffier, and I was right.

I also wanted to show people how to make their own flour blends, so I had to think about what grains I wanted to use. I knew I didn't want brown or white rice flour because of their mealy texture, and I really love millet because of it's mild flavor, but I ended up with amaranth, tapioca, and teff because they are all such small grains and can be milled very finely. That and Bob's Red Mill makes packages of all three, so it's easy for people who don't have one of these to find them at the health food store.
Then I got a muffin top pan because I thought it would be so great to have extra large whoopie pies and people could see a new kind of pan. I even cut out cute circles of parchment paper which I buttered on the top and bottom before I added the batter. Extra mile. When I scooped out the batter it ended up taking 1/4 cup of batter. 1/4 cup! Needless to say they were huge and tasted fine, but they had to bake for way too long and I don't have 30 minutes for a cookie to bake on the air between segments. And because they were so big they fell apart really easily and you needed a fork to eat them, which defeats the purpose of a cute and fun Valentine's day cookie. So I went the other route: tiny. I used my smallest scoop and the cookies actually turned out to be about average size. And this recipe makes a TON of tiny cookies.

Then came the final preparation: I dropped of a gift of cookies to three gluten free friends to get feedback on the final result. Flavor? Check. Texture? Check check. Deliciousness? Triple check. In fact, the funny thing was I got the exact same feedback from two people: they got sick after they ate three cookies because they are so rich and yummy. So the rule of two applies to these cookies. Eat two in one sitting and you won't get sick, any more than that and you're asking for a sugar coma. I know someone out there with a blog rulebook is tsking that this post is now officially way too long, and I agree. But now you know the life span of a gluten free TV recipe. Here it is, in all it's chocolate glory:

Gluten Free Whoopie Pies

3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup amaranth flour
1 cup teff flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick soft butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 15 oz. container whole milk ricotta
1 tsp vanilla

Mix together cocoa powder, flours, baking powder, soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside. In a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Add ricotta and vanilla, beat well. Add in cocoa/flour mixture a little at a time, beat well, making sure mixture in the bottom of the mixing bowl is incorporated. Using a small scoop or melon baller, place 15-18 small scoops of batter onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat. Bake at 375 for 13 minutes or until firm in the center. Cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to continue cooling. To make whoopie pies, flip half of the cookies over onto their tops and pipe a dollop of marshmallow filling onto the center. Top with another cookie right side up.

Marshmallow filling

1 stick of soft butter
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 jar (7.5 oz) of marshmallow fluff
1 tsp vanilla

Beat the butter and confectioner's sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until incorporated. Stop mixer and add marshmallow fluff. Add vanilla and mix well. Pipe onto cookies using a pastry bag with no tip. Can be refrigerated, let come to room temperature and stir well to reconstitute.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gluten Free Steak Stew

Since it's Groundhog's Day, I figured we could do a recipe that's been done over and over again. There are about as many stew recipes out there as there are cable channels, so I'm sure me coming up with a stew recipe isn't going to win me any medals. However, as a kid who grew up on stew and loved the way my mom made it but couldn't ever get the recipe quite right myself, the fact that I made stew that I wanted to eat is, in and of itself, a triumph. The fact that it's gluten free just makes it that much better. I've made Ina Garten's Beef Stew a few times and it was okay, but not like I used to have as a kid. I think it has too much wine flavor or something. Not bad, just not my favorite. So one night I was playing mad scientist in the kitchen and this is what I came up with. There was a lesson learned with this recipe: Brussels Sprouts are best left out of stews. I know, you are all laughing your guts out after reading that. I really love sauteed brussels sprouts, I saw some at the store, they made it into the stew, and they were thrown away. There. Nothing like an internet confession to get the blood pumping early in the morning. Also, I used a delmonico steak to make this stew, and I've gotta say, it was not too shabby. I love steak in all forms, so it made sense to me to use a cut of meat I really liked in my stew. If you love stew meat, go for it. It will work just as well in this recipe.
Gluten Free Steak Stew

1 large steak or 1 pound of stew meat, cubed
1/4 cup Grandpa's Kitchen Gluten Free Flour
4 T canola oil
1/2 chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 clove minced garlic
2 sliced mushrooms
4 peeled and diced potatoes
salt and pepper
1/4 cup Marsala wine
2 T Better Than Boullion Beef flavor
1 1/2 cups water
2 t Worcestershire sauce
4 T tomato paste
1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large dutch oven heat oil to medium heat. Dredge meat in flour and brown on all sides in batches in oil. Set flour aside, as we will add it back in at the end of cooking. (If your meat is very lean, you will need to add more oil.) Remove meat from pan. Add onion, and sweat for two minutes in oil. add carrots, garlic, mushrooms, and potatoes. *NOT brussels sprouts* Cook for 3 minutes to soften, adding more oil if needed. Add the meat and a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the wine, Better than Boullion, water, Worcestershire, tomato paste and bay leaf and mix well. Sprinkle the rest of the Grandpa's Kitchen flour over the mixture and stir well. (This helps create the gravy.) Place lid on the dutch oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees. Serve piping hot with 1 2 3 Gluten Free biscuits.
Happy eating!
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