Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Challenge, Flours and Yeast

A challenge. I like challenges. I am a person who gets bored very easily. On the one hand, that makes my life very chaotic. On the other hand, my kids are used to change and relish the idea. They are very persistent and adapt well. They especially enjoy being guinea pigs to my ever changing cooking whims.

Who among you, dear readers, gets sucked into StumbleUpon? I feel your pain if you are one of those. I am using the distraction to my advantage. From now on, I will make a minimum of one recipe that I found on Stumble every week. I will post the first of those tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want to say a few words about GF flours and a new lesson learned.

I personally like my flour blend for pretty much everything. It can be substituted straight across for regular flour in nearly everything. I tried a LOT of different blends before deciding on this one, and I like it the best for not only texture, but taste as well. Yesterday I tried a new pancake recipe. My flour thickens to much it turns out. At least in this recipe. I am going to play with it and see what I can do but I want to say, don't necessarily trust just me when it comes to this kind of thing. While I have a lot of experience playing with flours, everyone has different taste buds. If everyone in the world hated bean flours they way my family does, they wouldn't still be sold.

Today I went to the store in order to find an ingredient for dinner. I went to three stores in fact. I will have to special order said ingredient or wait until I go out of town next. While checking the ingredients list on a vast array of products and brands I found something.

Pom and I keep getting mild reactions, though I am VIGILANT with ingredient checking. I had my suspicions that it was yeast. Now, from what I have read, and what my allergist and Pom's dietitian said, yeast is one of those thing that some people with Celiac's or Gluten issue have a problem with while others don't. NOT SO. The ingredients list on one product said: Autolyzed yeast extract (from barley). Um....barley equals a BIG no no but this is one thing that I have been avoiding thinking it was just one of those things that was in addition the gluten response. Not a part of it!

So here's my final word. AVOID autolyzed yeast extract.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cheesy No Bake Pasta

I am always so confused with Diva. This graceful dancer is the most uncoordinated little thing when she isn't dancing. I mean walking into signs, walls, fences, people, displays in stores and falling over her feet, or anything else on the ground, like dirt. She constantly has some sort of bruise from falling, tripping or running into something. When she is on that stage though she becomes this totally different creature. Graceful, coordinated, balanced. A little star! Sadly for her, though, she doesn't get to dance for a week or so.

This has been a hard week for the little one. Her not so graceful self fell earlier in the week, fracturing her tailbone. Then she had surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids. We chose to give her full control over the dinner menu the night before her surgery since she was having such a bad week. I was impressed by part of her decision.

I wanted to make a particular recipe out of a Giada DeLaurentis cookbook for years but never got around to it. That night, however, it made it out of the book and into the pot. Not without a few alterations though of course. So here is my altered version of a great recipe. Good enough, apparently, for a seven year old's "last meal".

Shells and Cheese with Arugula

  • 1 pkg gluten free shells (Tinkyada)
  • 2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (I really like Parmesano Reggiano but it's spendy)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1/2 TBSP onion powder
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 handful of arugula leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil noodles in lightly salted water. In the mean time, saute the mushrooms in EVOO. Place the cheeses, mushrooms and seasonings in a large serving bowl.

Drain the noodles and put them in the bowl. Add the arugula and half & half. Stir well to melt the cheeses. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!

I recommend serving this with a nice Mediterranean salad but my child stuck with peas and corn for accompaniments. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Easy Black Beans and Wild Rice, and a new outlook

The holidays are officially over and all the company has gone. This means that my vacation is officially over, but I have to say there are mixed feelings. I go crazy when our normal routine is shattered for too long. After a week or so I either need to go back to it or create a new one. In this case I did a mix of both.

We had family visiting for nearly three weeks. I love them dearly and am thrilled they could come for so long but it threw me off to the point that I am still recovering, weeks later. It did, however, give me a chance to re-evaluate my life and the important things in it. Normally I don't have time to blink, let alone think. The decision I made was that finances are fine without daycare. I will have to make some spending adjustments (the girls really don't NEED 25 pairs of pants, no matter how cute they are) but the added stress isn't worth it right now. I have been working on a book for years and realized recently that part of my unhappiness is the inability to focus on my writing. So as of March, I will only be running two businesses.

This gives me another beautiful chance to work on new cooking projects! I found a recipe a while ago for Black Beans and Rice. It called for dry beans, lots of water and a few spices with plain white rice. I happened to have the spices and canned beans on hand a couple nights ago so I glanced at the recipe but decided I didn't like it and just used the idea as a jump off point. WOW! The final result made the girls request I make it again. Just two days later.

So here ya go! You can try it too!

Easy Black Beans and Wild Rice

  • 2 cups Wild Rice Mix (I used Rice Select Royal Blend)
  • 3 1/2 cups GF chicken broth ( I like Pacific Foods)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 packet GF chicken flavor broth concentrate (I used Savory Choice)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tblsp onion powder, divided
  • 1 Tblsp garlic powder, divided
  • 1 Tblsp oregano
  • 1 Tblsp cumin
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro **

Bring broth, 1 Tblsp onion powder, 1/2 Tblsp garlic powder and some pepper to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat and cover. Simmer about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the rest of the ingredients (except cilantro) in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice is done. Remove from heat and add cilantro. Serve bean mixture over rice :)

**The amount is up to you. Personally, I don't feel it needs it. DH on the other hand thinks EVERYTHING needs it and explained that this is fantastic but cilantro just adds that special something that makes it perfect. I am leaving that up to you.