Monday, November 29, 2010

Gluten Free Holidays....starting with Green Bean Casserole

Well, it is DEFINITELY the holiday season. Christmas lights are up, travel plans have been made, extra dance practices are in and preparation for the busiest time of the year is in full swing. I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving! We had just the four of us here since Pom had croup and Diva ended up with strep throat. Poor little things.

It was still a good day though! We made some total experiments this year! Most of them worked but some need tweaking. Oddly enough, the best experiment came out of frustration at the small bits of leftovers that needed to be eaten immediately. That recipe will be coming up!

Every year I try something new but there are a few standby's. This year I finally made a gluten free Green Bean Casserole that turned out right and I tried something new with a Wild Rice Casserole. Both will be made again for Christmas dinner on request of the hubby and both girls.

Green Bean Casserole

  • 2 cans salt free cut green beans
  • 1 can gluten free mushroom soup (I use Progresso)
  • 1 Tblsp gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 onion, sliced and "fried" (recipe below)

Mix beans, soup, soy sauce and half the onions in a casserole. Sprinkle the other half of the onions over the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 - 45 minutes.

"Fried" Onions

  • 1/3 cup gluten free flour blend
  • a few dashes of gf season salt (McCormick is good)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour and seasonings. Toss onion slices in flour mix. Spray a baking sheet with Canola oil. Toast in oven for about 15 minutes.

This was the closest we've come to the green bean casserole we knew and loved. It's wonderful! I know this post is late for Thanksgiving but it's perfect for all those upcoming holiday dinners!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Oatmeal Fruit Cookies...Like Grandma used to bake, only better!!

Lately I have been craving Oatmeal cookies the way my grandma used to make them. One of the few things we cooked together when I was growing up was cookies. They were warm, chewy and comforting. The last time I tried to make them after going gluten free, they were NOTHING like that. I hadn't tried them since but tonight, the desire overcame the fear and a-baking I went.

Having learned a few tricks and lessons over time, I altered the recipe of my grandmothers and these were the result. Perfect. Chewy. Comforting. EXACTLY like grandma's. Only gluten free. Making them better. And here they are.

You may notice that these aren't Oatmeal RAISIN cookies. It began years ago simply because we were out of raisins but they were so good that we continued making them like this. They are fantabulous!!

Oatmeal Fruit Cookies

  • 2 cups gluten free quick cooking Oats **(see note)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a mix of cranberries, cherries and chopped apples)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat all ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium high speed until well mixed.
Drop onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (or a well seasoned stoneware pan) about one inch apart. Bake about 10 minutes, cool on a wire rack.

WARNING: I ate five of these very quickly. They are seriously yummy.

**People ask me all the time about the label "gluten free" for oats. YES it is very important that you get GLUTEN FREE oats. Bob's Red Mill sells some. Since oats are grown alternately on the same land as wheat then processed in the same facility, they are contaminated from the very beginning. Gluten free oats are grown and processed in wheat free facilities.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kalamata Meat Sauce with Noodles

The holidays, they are upon us. It is not only "the most wonderful time of the year" but seriously the busiest!!! We have multiple birthdays coming up as well so between hand made gifts (pictures coming, I am ultra excited) and hand made invites to parties on top of the holiday preparations, I haven't been doing a WHOLE lot of cooking, just quick, easy stuff. The weekend is coming up as are multiple, more complicated recipes but in an effort to get some stuff done for our "Vision of Trees" girl scout tree and dance performances tonight's dinner is an old stand by.

My Kalamata Meat Sauce and noodles is an easier, and tastier, version of my Mama's sauce recipe. The olives lend it a TON of yummy flavor, while the ground beef makes it hearty. It's also pretty cheap, making it a very good choice for this time of year.

Kalamata Meat Sauce
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 Tblsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tblsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 Tblsp Italian Seasoning
  • 7 - 8 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 large can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 pkg gluten free noodles (your choice. I used macaroni for this one because it's what I had on hand)

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, brown meat in seasonings. Add olives and tomato sauce. Simmer until noodles are cooked.

That's it, enjoy! I added Parmesan cheese after the picture was taken and as you can see, we had peas along side. The kids take after their Mama. I never met a pea I didn't like. ;)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Four Cheese Hashbrown Casserole

I tend to get on a breakfast food kick on weekends, much to the delight of my family. This weekend was a huge score on that front! Years ago, when we were with some friends at the coast, I had a yummy hashbrown casserole that someone else had made. When I asked for the recipe he said he didn't use one and just listed off some ingredients. I have been trying to re-create that deliciousness ever since, to no avail.

I finally did it. After about four years of tweaking here and changing there I have perfected the casserole. It was so well received in fact that I made it two days in a row! I warn you, it is ridiculously good and hard to stop eating it.

Four Cheese Hashbrown Casserole

  • 4 cups frozen shredded hashbrowns
  • 1/4 large onion, minced
  • 3/4 cup half and half ( I use fat free )
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded white or mild cheddar
  • 1 Tblsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together in a square casserole and bake uncovered 35 - 40 minutes.

I cannot express how exciting it is to finally get it right after so long. I have a feeling we'll be making it a lot for awhile!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

White Chocolate and Pumpkin Pancakes

If necessity is the mother of invention, the best recipes follow a similar rule. My best recipes come from experimenting with what is in the house and severely altering an idea I found elsewhere. This recipe, for example, came from a recipe for (not gf) pumpkin spice pancakes that my friends mom used to make with Bisquick. I know they now make a GF Bisquick but to be honest, I have never liked pancakes made with it. It's a biscuit thing to me, savory not sweet. We aren't big pancake fans in this house, but I was in the mood for experimentation. I wish I had my camera so I could show you these now.....

Gluten Free flours, as I've said, work differently so they frequently need a little more liquid than a non gf recipe. When my batter was a little too thick I added what I had. White Chocolate creamer. It was one of the best things I have ever done. I think I will make pancakes more often now!

White Chocolate and Pumpkin Pancakes

Dry ingredients
  • 2 1/3 cups All purpose GF flour
  • 3 Tblsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

Wet ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup White chocolate creamer
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • butter for greasing the griddle

Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl
Whisk together wet ingredients in a small bowl ( I use a 4 cup measuring bowl for liquids..I can measure and stir in one bowl. Less dishes is always a plus. I hate dishes ).
Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened. DO NOT overmix. Lumps are a good thing.
Cook on an electric griddle, greased and set to 325ish, flipping when bubbles appear on top.

Serve and enjoy! delectable. mmmmm.....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Apple-Cranberry Upside Down Cake .... HEAVEN.

I have been experimenting with gluten free baking for nearly two years now. The results were originally disastrous! I don't mean a little bad. I mean horribly disastrous. The dog probably wouldn't have eaten it bad. I learned a few lessons though.

Number one: I really, really, REALLY dislike bean flours (aka Fava and Garbanzo).

Number two: While all-purpose wheat flours have a built in starchy ratio, gluten free flours work very differently! The best texture comes from a ration of different flours and starches.

Number three: Potato starch and potato flour are VERY different. Trust me on this one. It was a hard lesson to learn.

Baking has become a much better experience, but I am very hesitant about making cakes from scratch still. That may change soon since I am planning to attempt it again. For now, this uses a boxed mix. That does make it easier of course!

Lately, it being fall and all, I have been obsessed with apples. This Apple-Cranberry Upside Down Cake is heavenly! We (and by we I mean I) can't stop eating it~ which might make it a detriment to my attempt at losing more weight...but it is sooo worth it! Seriously.

Apple-Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • 5 cups (about) peeled, chopped apples
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • 2 TBLSP melted butter
  • 1 box gluten free yellow cake mix (plus ingredients to make cake)
  • a couple tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all filling ingredients in a 2 quart glass dish. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.
Cool, uncovered for 5 minutes.

Make the cake mix, following instructions. Sprinkle sugar on top. Pour over the fruit. Bake, uncovered 20-25 minutes until cake is browning on top and filling is bubbly.
Cool 10-15 minutes.

To serve, scoop out a piece and flip upside down, letting the juices soak into the cake.
Seriously yummy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Snack Time made Easy

When Pom went on the gluten free diet originally I was stumped. About everything really but mostly about snacks. We already made mostly gluten free dinners without thinking about it but snacks...that was tough.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to be the kind of parent that makes intricate snacks every day at the same time, but I'm not. Call it busy, call it lazy, call it whatever but my favorite snack foods are the prepackaged crap in little bags that can be thrown in a "snack drawer" so that the kids can get it themselves when that magic 3 o'clock hits. Try finding those kind that are gluten free and decently priced though. I also prefer that they aren't TOO full of crap. This was a problem....but with a little extra time, I found a solution. The snack drawer is back!

The diagnosis of Celiac's, as most people will tell you, was kind of a blessing in disguise. I realized just how much processed crap we ate! Not that we don't still eat some, but it's a much healthier diet now. We have two snack drawers now because one is in the fridge. Here's how we do it.

Cold Snacks

First of all, we do have some easiness here. The cold snack drawer does house things like string cheese and organic yogurt tubes (occasionally it even houses Go-gurt when we can't get out of town). The options they choose regularly though are individual bags of grapes, bags of sliced apples, bags of carrots or already peeled oranges. I bought an apple slicer from Pampered Chef years ago so it gets a lot of use these days. Turns out they actually do sell individual bags of sliced apples...but oh my they are expensive! It is SO much cheaper to buy whole apples. I slice them, put them in little ziptop snack baggies with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent browning and throw the baggies in a drawer. One of the girls favorite things in when I slice some cheddar cheese into little squares, 4 per baggie. They combine that with crackers from the other snack drawer for crackers and cheese. :)

Regular Snacks

Again with a little bit of easiness, we occasionally buy Welch's fruit snacks. Mostly we buy things like gluten free pretzels, gluten free crackers and gluten free graham crackers. I then separate them into individual baggies based on the serving size and put them all in the drawer.

It takes a little extra time to do this but I do it as I am unloading groceries. Groceries used to take me about 20 minutes to unload. Now it takes about 30. Ten minutes once a week is soooo worth allowing the kids to make their own choices at snack time. They are able to visually see a serving size out of that big bag, which I think will help them make better nutritional choices for their entire life. One can hope.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sesame Noodles...for the days when cooking isn't ideal.

With tragedy still heavy on my heart, I haven't much felt like cooking big meals. It dawned on me today that I am certainly not the only person in the world who occasionally really doesn't feel like cooking yet still needs to feed the chitlins.

Enter a meal so easy that it is literally not much more than boiling noodles. If you can do that, you can make this. It's super yummy too! I originally got the inspiration from Aiming Low but I changed it a LOT to fit our needs and tastes. So here it is....

Easy Sesame Noodles

  • 1 package gluten free spaghetti noodles (Tinkyada brand is my fave)
  • 3-4 tblsp sesame oil
  • 3-4 tblsp soy sauce
  • 2 tblsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp granulated ginger

Boil the noodles. Drain and return to pot. Add all other ingredients. Stir. Done.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Tragedy.....

This post does not contain recipes. I may not be posting for a while. Heaven received a new little angel, out of the blue, this morning. She was only 17 months old and a sweet, loving, happy and (as far as we knew) healthy baby girl. She will be greatly missed and my heart breaks for her family.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Base for MANY Recipes....Super Simple, Super Cheap Vegetable Broth

As you've probably noticed, I put vegetable broth as an ingredient in a lot of dishes. This is because I make my own. It started because I couldn't bear to throw away things like the leaves and end of a celery stalk or the ends of onions. There's still so much FLAVOR there. I quickly (as in the first time I did it) realized that I was not only saving flavor and turning 'garbage' into something usable and delicious but have you looked at the price of broth these days???

So I now make it all the time. It's super simple and basically free. Just save the ends of carrots, celery, onions, green beans, asparagus, zucchini or any other vegetable (besides cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce) in a gallon sized plastic bag. I call this the "veggie bag". When the bag is full-ish, follow this method. I usually make it about once a week.

Vegetable Broth

In a large stock pot, combine the contents of your "veggie bag" with about 6-8 cups water, 2-6 peeled garlic cloves and a couple tablespoons of herbes de provence. I usually add a couple pinches of salt here too but if you want it low sodium, omit the salt. It's still yummy.

Set the pot on simmer for about 4 hours then add more water. Let it simmer for another 2-3 hours. Remove from heat and strain through a mesh drainer, or colander covered with cheesecloth, into containers. I use quart jars usually but if you aren't going to use it within a week, freezer containers are a better option. It freezes really well.

That's it. Super simple, practically free and priceless for so many uses. Enjoy!

Super easy, comforting Root Beef cooks itself!

With the munchkins being incredibly busy this year, I am finding it difficult to get much done. I am trying to get things posted I promise.

Tuesdays are our hardest day. With four classes (one that I lead), picking up and dropping off kids and much more, we try to do either leftovers or slow cookers for dinner. Tonight was beef stew with a kick. The kids love it, its comforting and warm, incredibly easy and cooks itself!

Over the next few months there will be a lot of experimenting with GF baking. It's taken me nearly two years of trial and error but I have recently made a number of things that are surprisingly decadent and perfectly textured! Look for some recipes coming soon!

Root Beef Stew

  • 1 pound lean stewing beef
  • 4 large baking potatoes OR 8 baby red potatoes
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/1 inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 radishes, quartered
  • 4 - 6 cups vegetable broth or beef broth (see note)
  • 4 tablespoons herbes de provence
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large slow cooker pot, combine all ingredients except peas. stir well and set to high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.

Add peas in the last half hour.

Serve and enjoy!

See? Easy! I usually serve it with just a salad. It is very filling.

NOTE: Pacific Foods broths are gluten free. They are the only brand I will use.

Side note about pictures. With all of the recent vacation chaos and a moving plan, I seem to have misplaced my camera's battery charger. Some recipes will have pics taken with my cell phone, many will not. I am looking for it I promise!