Saturday, November 26, 2011

Apple Crisp (Cranberries, too!)

We were invited to supper with friends tonight and I was asked to bring dessert. I decided to make two apple crisps, one with cranberries and one without.
I peeled 15 apples, some Granny Smiths and some Firesides, and mixed with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a teaspoon of pure vanillla extract. I divided the apples between two baking dishes and sprinkled fresh cranberries on one.

Using a pastry blender, I combined 2 cups of rolled oats (be sure they are gluten free), 2 cups of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon of Penzey's Apple Pie Spice (or cinnamon), with 1 cup of Earth Balance "butter". This crumbly mixture was sprinkled over the apples. (*Cut this recipe in half if you are only making one pan of apple crisp!)

Bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Simply delicious.

Make your own pizza sauce

We didn't host Thanksgiving so there's no leftover turkey for several meals following the big day. Yesterday we were busy cleaning the house and putting up Christmas lights so we turned to a favorite standy-by meal. Pizza.

I make several gluten free pizza crusts at a time and freeze them for days like this. I use the recipe in our favorite GFCF cookbook, "Cooking for Isaiah". (My gluten-eating son in law told me he likes this crust better than regular pizza crust!)

Did you know you can make your own pizza sauce from one of those little cans of tomato paste? (To be sure your tomato paste is GF, read the ingredients. It should be made from tomatoes. Period. Just tomatoes.) There is a recipe here to make it into pizza sauce. I use a tablespoon of Penzeys Pizza Seasoning, fresh garlic and salt & pepper for the seasonings. This makes a lot of sauce so freeze the unused portion for your next pizza night!

Pile on the toppings and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'll admit it. I was scared.

I'll admit it. I was scared. Pie crust has always been my thang and the thought of attempting a gluten free version scared the bejeebers out of me. But I did it!
I made two apple pies and two pumpkin pies using the pie crust recipe in the "Cooking For Isaiah" cookbook. It was very different than making pie crusts with wheat flour (much more challenging) and I'm not sure this is a recipe I'll use again. I guess we'll know tomorrow how they taste.

I didn't need to adapt my filling recipe for the apple pie but I did have to make some changes to the regular pumpkin pie recipe because of the evaporated milk. I found a GFCF recipe that eliminated the milk altogether and used some ghee instead. Each pie has 3 full cups of pumpkin in it along with 4 eggs, sugar, ghee and some spices. Again, I'll know tomorrow if this is a recipe I'll use again or recommend.

My Thanksgiving preparations are done. My mom is hosting the big meal this year so there's no house cleaning or turkey thawing going on here tonight. And Mom is making everything GFCF. Thanks, Mom! ♥

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My 48 cent Boo-yah!

The super sized "mart of walls" store is one of my least favorite places to shop but until a few weeks ago I had to include a stop there on my regular grocery shopping rounds. That was the only place I could find FlaxMilk, our favorite milk substitution.

A few weeks ago I discovered that they are no longer carrying it so I can no longer get FlaxMilk in my area. I asked to speak to the dairy department manager but was left to stand and wait so long that I decided to go home and call to talk to him. When I called, I was placed on hold and I finally hung up after about 15 minutes. Aarrrgghhhh.

So I went back today to see if, by some Thanksgiving miracle, they were carrying FlaxMilk again. They aren't. I didn't want to waste a trip so I picked up a few items and then went to the small "gluten free" section of one of the aisles. That's where I found this.

Anyone who does any gluten free baking will recognize this product. Xanthan Gum. I've paid anywhere between $9-$13 for a package this size so the 48 cent sign really caught my attention. There was just one package remaining so I picked it up to see if it had expired.

2013. Not even close to expiring.

I concluded that they must be discontinuing this product just like they discontinued the FlaxMilk we loved. But just in case, I put the one remaining package back on the shelf and took this picture. Then I grabbed the package and headed for the checkout.

The package rang up at approximately $9 so I whipped out my phone and showed the check out lady the picture. She argued that the product must have been placed in the wrong spot and that it was hard to see the text below the 48 cents.

So I zoomed in nice and close on the words "GF Xanthan Gum" on the picture on my phone.

One of my pet peeves is having to argue about the price I clearly saw on the shelves but cell phone cameras might just make those arguments a thing of the past!

A manager came over and called back for someone to check the price on the shelf. I heard her say into her headpiece, "She took a picture" just before she looked at me and said, "You can have it for the 48 cents."

Boo-yah! Score one for the gluten free FlaxMilk missing momma.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chicken soup and dumplings

The last time I tried to make gluten free dumplings, I wasn't thrilled. I tried again tonight with much better results.

I cooked a whole chicken for several hours until the meat was falling off the bones. I deboned the chicken and put it back in the pot with some carrots, celery, onion, and seasonings. I used the recipe on this blog to make the dumplings.

Start with 2 cups of a flour blend consisting of equal parts of tapioca flour, potato starch, arrowroot and rice flour. Add 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp guar gum. Mix in 1/4 cup almond or coconut milk and 3 beaten eggs. Drop by tablespoon into hot soup and put dutch oven in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes to cook and brown the dumplings.

Winter is just starting so I'll have more opportunities to keep tweaking the dumplings. We liked these but I'm not sure this recipe is "it". It's close though.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

GFCF Cornbread muffins

Bean helped me make a large pot of chili for tonight's supper and I made cornbread muffins to go with it. I did some other baking today too, but I'll share those recipes in another post at another time. Here's the recipe I used for the GFCF cornbread muffins (adapted from two other recipes I found online.)

1 cup corn flour (you can use a GF cornmeal but I like the texture of the corn flour better)

1 cup sugar (this is a pretty sweet cornbread muffin so you don't need a dessert!)

3/4 cup rice flour

3 T. tapioca flour

2 T. cornstarch

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1 heaping T. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 cup coconut or almond milk

1/2 cup melted Earth Balance non-dairy butter

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 eggs

Heat oven to 375 degrees and prepare muffin tins with baking spray or cupcake liners. Combine dry ingredients and add milk, melted Earth Balance, vanilla and beaten eggs. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes. Makes approx. 18 cornbread muffins.

Bean and my nephew split one for a pre-supper taste test and both declared 5 stars!

GFCF potato leek soup

It has been a while since I posted a recipe. It's not that I haven't been making any food for my family, it's just that I haven't had time to write about it! Most of our meals last week were ones that I've made and written about before, but this one was new and I wanted to share it here.

Gluten and casein free potato leek soup. Mmmmm. As we enter the winter season, there is nothing quite like a creamy bowl of soup...and this one is easy, delicious and inexpensive!
I didn't really follow a recipe exactly but what I did was close to this recipe. I made a larger recipe, used all vegetable broth (no water) and used different seasonings (garlic and Penzey's Bouquet Garni instead of marjoram and hot sauce) but cooking is all about individual tastes and creativity. Go wild.
Chop, chop, chop...

Sautee the leeks for a few minutes in olive oil or ghee (the recipe I linked to says margarine but we don't use margarine). Then throw everything together in a crock pot. Your house will smell wonderful all day long.

Blend until smooth, serve with GFCF garlic bread and enjoy!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

GFCF Chicken and Biscuits

Last night I made Chicken and Biscuits using this recipe and I think we've found a new favorite cold weather comfort food! I just used our milk and butter alternatives to make the gluten free recipe casein free, too.
I made the biscuits first.

Then I chopped veggies while I browned the chicken.

The chicken came out of the pot while I sauteed onions in olive oil in it. When they were soft, I made a roux out of a GF flour blend. I added chicken stock and then added the veggies, chicken and seasonings.

It smelled wonderful.

The chicken and veggies went into my favorite green baking dish (have you noticed I use it a lot?! I actually have two sets!) and the biscuits topped it off.

It baked for about 25 minutes and then....


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cube steak- Love Me(at) Tender ♫

Early in our marriage I was excited about finding an inexpensive package of steaks at the grocery store so I planned a special meal. It was round steak and I had no idea how to prepare it. We could have made shoes out of the stuff! It was so tough I couldn't eat it, but my sweet husband just smiled and chewed and chewed and chewed...

So when we bought our half beef from a local farmer and the butcher asked me if I'd like the round steak mechanically tenderized, I remembered that meal and said, "Yes, please." We now have several packages of "cube steak" in our freezer and I made some for supper last night.

I started with a savory beefy mushroomy sauce. To make: sautee green onions and fresh mushrooms in a few tablespoons of ghee or olive oil until soft. Add fresh garlic and seasonings (I used salt, pepper and Penzey's Bouquet Garni) and cook another minute or so. Add several tablespoons of your GF flour mix (or just use rice flour) and make a roux. Then slowly add about 2 cups of beef broth and stir several times while it thickens. Let it simmer while you prepare the beef.
In another skillet, brown flour coated cube steaks for a few minutes on both sides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover the steaks with the beefy mushroomy gravy and bake for about 20 minutes. I made creamy GFCF mashed potatoes (using Earth Balance butter and almond milk) and carrots to complete the meal.

It was so much better than that steak supper I made 27 years ago. All this nostalgia has me channeling a little Elvis this morning.... ♫ Love meat tender, love meat true, all my dreams fulfull....♪ ♪

Monday, November 7, 2011

My new favorite squash

I'm kinda boring when it comes to squash. I always choose the acorn variety and I make it the same way every time. First I struggle to cut the thing in half. Then I bake the two halves upside down in a cake pan with about an inch of water. I serve it with ghee (clarified butter) and salt and pepper. It's delicious and I've never had the desire to try anything else. Until recently. I must need a little excitement in my life.
Last week I made spaghetti squash. I stabbed the squash about a dozen times and threw it in the oven whole. The squash was much easier to cut after baking. I scooped out the seeds and shredded the squash with a fork. It is very good with butter and seasonings or tomato sauce. I'll definitely make it again but I've got a new favorite....

Delicata squash! Who knew there was a squash that you didn't need a hatchet to cut?! You simply peel it with a vegetable peeler...and you don't even have to do that because the outer skin is edible!

Cut it in half lengthwise...

...and scoop out the seeds.

Cut into pieces and answer several eager, "Is that CHEESE?!" questions from passing children.

Sautee in some Earth Balance, ghee, or real butter if you do that kind of thing...and add some of your favorite herbs for seasoning.

Add some fresh apple cider and cook until soft. Delicious delicata! It's my new favorite squash.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

At toast to toast!

I haven't had toast in months. I didn't like the way our former GFCF bread toasted and I rarely ate it untoasted. I just learned to live without bread, which is a good thing because I used to be quite addicted.
But the bread I'm making now is good. Not just "good considering it's GFCF", but good. I wanted to try it toasted.

Notice that the bread is nicely shaped this time. (My last post featured a few slices from a loaf that had deflated somewhat after baking but I tweaked the recipe and wa-la!)

I probably shouldn't have eaten part of it before taking a picture but I just couldn't help myself. Is it just me or does this half eaten piece of toast look like the state of Minnesota? Uff da. I should have saved it to sell on e-bay!

(*Remember to have a toaster specifically for gluten free bread if you have gluten eaters in the home. GF bread can be contaminated by a regular bread toaster.)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

GFCF bread machine recipe- and a great quote!

I've been playing around with recipes for GFCF bread for the bread machine and I came up with one that is a definite hit with the family! I'm still tweaking it because it tends to fall in the middle after rising all nice and pretty, but that problem lessened significantly when I decreased some of the liquid (I started out using 1.5 cups of coconut milk.) The following pictures are from the first loaf I made and the loaves I've made recently are not nearly as indented in the middle.

Liquid ingredients:

1 1/4 cup room temperature coconut milk (or other milk alternative) with 2 T apple cider vinegar added

3 eggs room temperature (I didn't leave the coconut milk or eggs out to warm up so I put them in some warm water as shown below)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup honey
To the liquid ingredients add:

1 T. yeast

3 1/3 cup GF flour mix (I use Silvana's All Purpose Flour Blend - I use this for a lot of recipes and make up a batch at least once a week.)

2 tsp. xanthan gum (there is some in the flour blend but not enough for this recipe)

1 tsp. salt

Bake in a regular bread machine (you don't need the fancy one with a GF bread cycle) and about 3 hours later you have a delicious loaf of gluten / casein free bread! (*Always scrape the sides of the bread machine pan with a spatula a few minutes after starting the mix cycle. Gluten free bread doesn't pull itself together in a ball like regular bread dough so some of it tends to stick to the sides and it needs a little help to mix in.)

Now all you need is some PB & J. Mmmmm.

Quote of the week:

"Mom, there is a girl who has to eat hot lunch at school every day and she always asks me if she can have some of my food." ~Java

Vanilla Extract

There is some controversy as to whether distilled liquors are completely gluten free. We're dealing with gluten intolerance, not full blown celiac disease or an actual allergy to gluten so I'm going to give this a try. It's something I've thought about for a while but it required a trip to the liquor store, a place not on my typical errand route.
I'm not taking up drinking hard liquor, I'm making my own vanilla extract!

It couldn't be simplier. You need only two ingredients: a high proof alcohol like bourbon or vodka and some fresh vanilla beans. You can find beans online or at your local health food store. I bought 5 Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans for $2.99 each at the health food store but next time I'll plan ahead and search for a better deal online.

Using a sharp knife, slit the beans each down the middle leaving about an inch on the top uncut. You'll need 3 beans for each cup of alcohol. (This bottle has about 1.5 cups so I used 5 beans.)

At this point some people put the liquor and beans in a fancy sterilized jar. I just put the beans in the bottle of bourbon to hang out for the next 3 months. That's how long it takes to "brew" the vanilla extract.

Store the bottle in a cool, dark place and give it a shake several times a month. By the time it's ready, I hope to have found some adorable jars to put it in for gift giving or my own baking.

Vanilla Beans... $14.95

Bourbon.... $9.99

Homemade, high quality vanilla extract for many, many months of baking....priceless.


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