Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Gluten Free Coffee Cake

Perfect Brunch for the start of a snow storm
This weekend I started craving Cinnamon Rolls, but couldn't get up the motivation to make them, that whole proofing/rising process didn't sound fun while I'm suffering from some kind of cold or sinus infection.  So I considered how to get my sugary cinnamon fill without waiting hours on end, COFFEE CAKE!  We were having friends over for brunch and I love providing warm baked goods to indulge in, since Sheri was bringing everything else.  I quickly searched the web for a recipe, since the few I found in books around the house involved yeast, I was trying to avoid the rising process, not just find a new form of it.  I found one on the celiac.com page that was exactly what I wanted, yellow cake with a crumb topping, and super easy to make!  The Coffee Cake called for GF All Purpose flour, which I don't keep on hand.  You may have noticed I have a few flours I prefer, and use repeatedly, so after some quick math I came up with my own rendition.  Leaving the nuts out of the topping of course since we are now working toward a nut free home.

It came out perfect, first the entire house smelled of delicious warm cinnamon, and tricked our friends into thinking there might have been cinnamon rolls in the oven.  They told us they were not disappointed though, the cake was delicate, and fluffy, while the topping was sweet and crunchy, in perfect contrast.  Exactly what I had wanted from a coffee cake.  It was so good the 9x9 inch pan was nearly empty when brunch was over, and the tiny piece that was left, was my late lunch later.

Coffee Cake

Cake Recipe

1/4   Cup Soy Flour
1/4   Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2   Cup Tapioca Starch
1/2   Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
3/4   Cup Sugar
  2    tsp Baking Powder
1/2   tsp Salt

1/4   Cup Canola Oil
  1    Egg (Beaten)
1/2   Cup Milk

Spicy Topping

1/2   Cup Brown Sugar
  2    Tbs Tapioca Starch
  2    tsp Cinnamon
  2    Tbs Butter (melted)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F), and grease a 9x9x2 inch baking pan.

Sift together dry ingredients for cake in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Combine wet cake ingredients in a separate small bowl, and add to dry cake ingredients.  Mix together until smooth, pour into prepared pan.

In a small bowl stir together spicy topping ingredients, and sprinkle over top of cake.

Bake at 375 degrees (F) for 25 min.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Grilled Tillamook Cheese Sandwich

Today Ceci and I had Yummy grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, made from Tillamook Cheddar Cheese, and homemade gluten free bread.  Ceci loved it and ate 1/4 of a sandwich, along with two slices of plain cheese.  It was a nice warm treat on a cold winter day with snow flurries outside the window.  I love Tillamook cheese because I grew up on it, honestly I didn't really know there were other types of cheese in the world, which is either funny or sad.  Now as an adult I've had some yummy cheeses, but I always go back to my favorite, it's one of the few Cheddars I've ever seen in a medium category, and there is a distinct difference between it and a mild or sharp cheddar.  It tends to stay a little more firm while melting, than some other types of cheese such as American Cheese (don't get me started on American cheese!  No flavor, but for some odd reason Tim loves it.)  Ceci is now a huge fan of Tillamook cheese, thanks to my excellent tutelage!  She specifically asks for "Tahmook Chee!"  I love it!

Now you may ask how on earth I get hold of this delicious cheese, I personally bring it back from my visits to my family, or they bring it to me.  If you don't live in the Pacific Northwest you can order it online from their website.

Look at all that delicious melty cheesy goodness!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gluten Free Cookie Swap and Gingerbread Houses

From top to bottom, left to right (GF Sugar Cookies, GF Pinoli Cookies, GF Chocolate Pudding Cookies,
GF Chocolate Peppermint Cookies, GF Coconut Macaroons, GF Vanilla Meringue)

A few years ago I hosted a Gingerbread house decorating party, like the ones my mom and her friend Sue would throw for us when we were kids.  That party was a great time, so last year I decided to throw a cookie swap instead because I didn't think I could make gingerbread houses for everyone with a busy toddler in the house.  The cookie swap was so much fun, we sat around chatting, having wine, and decorating sugar cookies.

This year I wanted to have a gluten free cookie swap, and I eventually got brave enough to produce two gluten free gingerbread houses for decorating.  The houses were intended for Ceci and her best buddy Brodie to decorate, which I knew would last about 10 minutes and then us parents got to play with all the candy.  We were able to also include the cookie swap as well, so I am left with dozens of cookies, a huge bag of candy, and a decorated gingerbread house.

Mountain of supplies to start cookie making process
I have decided I will not share or post the gingerbread recipe I used to make the houses, I was so disappointed with the result, I can't reccomend anyone else use it.  I also commited a few mistakes, so I shouldn't entirely blame the dough, but still there are easier ways.  I think next year we will go back to my strategy from 3 years ago, cardboard houses!  It's simple, sturdy and effective, just be wary of the boxes you use to create them.  You may think it's an odd suggestion, but consider, simply picking out the style of house you like, cut it out of the cardboard and hot glue it together, and you are ready to decorate.  Now to describe the gingerbread version, find a recipe, get ingredients, make dough, chill dough, roll out dough, cut out pieces, bake pieces, cool pieces, let pieces harden, reshape pieces that may have mutated during baking, make molten sugar, try not to burn yourself, race to dip pieces in molten sugar and put together, still trying not to burn yourself, try not to curse when you start breaking pieces or they don't fit together right, pray the whole thing doesn't collapse and then take a breath!  Did you get all that?  See why I'm considering revisiting the cardboard next year.  And lets face it who actually eats the house in the end, seriously, stale rock hard gingerbread?   There are a good many things I would prefer to consume before that.

That said, the houses turned out great, and so much fun to decorate, Ceci made a pretty serious attempt to decorate, I think it was only because she got to eat "Chocolate Chippies" during the process.  Sneaky little monkey!  I can't wait for next year when I can get another 2 minutes worth of decorating out of her.

For the cookie swap, abundance doesn't even begin to describe what happened!  I think the final count was 6 different types of cookies, everyone of them delicious and gluten free!  I made, coconut macaroonssugar cookies, and chocolate peppermint cookies.  Sheri brought pinoli cookies and some chocolate pudding cookies made with gf bisquick, and Marlene brought meranges.  Seriously, I'm going to be in a sugar coma when this is over.  And I'm already planning for next year, because I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What is the gold standard test for celiac disease

I love this! So much information is coming out in the past couple of days pushing to avoid unnecessary blood and biopsy tests, thank you! In order to get a real test, a person has to consume gluten for long enough to make them sick and then the tests can be performed, someone finally sees the fault in that. Why should I make myself or my child ill so you can write down in a chart what I know in my life and in my heart. We feel better without gluten! Thank you Dr. Vikki!

Monday, December 20, 2010

New wrinkle in our lives

The largest welt is the site for peanuts (7x9mm)

Today we became members of a honestly somewhat undesirable club, Ceci was diagnosed with an allergy to peanuts today.  She tested positive to a scratch test, with a sizable welt to peanuts, but also reacted mildly to Cashew, Pistachio, Pecan, and Hazelnuts.  I now understand entirely why she has always turned her cute little button nose up at my delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Honestly I have to laugh at myself a little though, keeping her gluten free was the easiest move, while the thought of becoming a nut free household has me a little anxious.  I seriously love peanut butter, I would and have eaten it everyday when left unchecked, but its the health of my child in question, so out it goes, without a second thought.  My anxiety is based in being able to thoroughly check all her food and keep a vigilant watch for any thing that could hurt her.  The doctor tells me that I don't have to worry about her reacting to it if it's in the house, that she can survive that, and the decision to go nut free is mine to make.

It all became clear last Wednesday after I gave Ceci two Reese's pieces and told her they were M&M's, not thinking anything of it until she had already eaten them.  I was eating a couple of Milk Duds and she asked for one, I knew that was a bad idea, so I reached into the bag of Reese's pieces for her.  She loves M&M's so I just oversimplified the situation and told her what she wanted to hear.  Moments after she ate them it hits me that she has actively avoided peanut butter her whole short life and I got worried.  I tried to assess her as the evening wore on, she started in with "my teeth hurt" almost immediately, which was odd, but she is getting her two year molars so I thought maybe she was right.  For the next hour and a half she made a horrible whimpering noise, was extra clingy, lethargic, and kept complaining her teeth hurt.  It wasn't until Tim got home that she finally told him her mouth hurt, then went to the bathroom where I thought she needed to pee.  I put her on the potty, where she proceeded to projectile vomit across the bathroom floor.  I regret having fed her a smoothie that afternoon.  It was everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  We acted quickly and efficiently and got everything cleaned including Ceci, and as I scrubbed fuchsia pink puke off the floor, the light bulb over my head clicked on with a 120 watt bulb!  Peanuts!  Holy Mackerel!!  It's peanuts!

About a month ago she got sick on the airplane as we were loading to go to Oregon, we had eaten Pad Thai for dinner that night.  The airport restaurant mixed peanuts into the dish, whereas the place we usually go to puts them on the side and she doesn't touch them.  Now we understand better what happened that night, and why she got sick.

It all makes sense now!  Both times she got sick, she was fine after she got the peanuts out of her body, with no problems afterward.  Now with those two experiences, I made an appointment with the allergist and got her checked.  I feel much better now knowing what she is allergic to and what we need to avoid.  So far if she can actually see or smell the peanuts she won't eat them, I have my fingers crossed that this little skill sticks with her for a very long time.  To be sure though we will continue reading labels and ingredient lists now checking for gluten sources and nut sources.  I will also work to keep my recipes nut free for her, and I know it won't be to hard because so many people already live with nut allergies and I can use their knowledge and experience to educate myself and our family.

If anyone has suggestions of helpful or educational websites, let me know, I'm very curious and in need of education on how to avoid nuts.

Coconut Macaroons

One of my favorite cookies growing up, it was one of the few things my mom could find commercially made so it was a rare treat to have a store bought cookie.  That sounds so backwards, a kid getting excited to have a store bought cookie, but it did make me feel a bit normal that I could have something at the store, never mind how happily spoiled I was to always have home made cookies.  I didn't learn to make these until 2 years ago when I found a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, inspiring me to make macaroons for myself.  I was very displeased with the resulting cookies from that recipe and have spent the last two years tweaking the recipe to my preferences.  I'm now very happy with the cookies that  I create from this recipe and often get compliments for them, I get even more complements when I drizzle them with chocolate.  Yummm...

Some words of advice when making these, egg whites are incredibly temperamental, and need lots of attention.  It's not a good idea to make these cookies during the Long Island summers when the humidity is unbearable, the eggs just don't set up correctly.  And now in the winter I had to coax them a little with a warm damp towel wrapped around the base of my kitchenaid stainless steel bowl, and this is after I warmed the bowl it self.  Did I mention we keep our house unreasonably cold in the winter?  If you don't then maybe the eggs won't be so upset with you.

Coconut Macaroons

2  Egg Whites
1  tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Sugar
1  14 oz package of flaked Coconut

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F).  Line 1 large cookie sheet with parchment or use a silpat.  In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar on high speed until soft peaks form (tips curl when beater is pulled out).  Add salt, and then sugar 1 Tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight when beater is pulled out).  Fold in coconut

Using a small cookie scoop, drop coconut mixture in mounds on prepared cookie sheets.  Place in the oven and bake 20-25 min, leave in oven and turn oven off.  Let cookies dry in oven for  10-12 min, then remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To drizzle with chocolate, melt 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave, or a double boiler.  Place macaroons on wax paper and dip a spoon into the chocolate and wave over the top of the cookies until chocolate is used up.  You can also dip the macaroons into the chocolate if you prefer, you'll just need to melt more chocolate.

Store in airtight container at room temperature for 3 days, or freeze up to 3 months.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gluten Free Gift Baskets

Delivered to the 48 Contiguous U.S. States – Call Us for Custom Gluten-free Gift Baskets (559) 676-1163

Looking for Gluten free gift ideas?  I just saw this today, could be useful if you need a gift for someone with celiac who is hard to shop for. Gluten Free Gift Baskets is a website to order beautiful looking gifts of yummy gluten free food.  The website is giving me a bit of trouble loading right now, and it suggest that you call their phone number anyway, because the website is still under construction.  The baskets have great themes like movie lover's, chocolate lover's, and Italian, all with great items.  They all come bundled in a nice basket or bowl with pretty ribbons and bows.

The company was started by Carla Spacher of Gluten free recipe box, who has done an amazing job.  She has even taken note to use only gf packing peanuts.  I learned that today, biodegradable packing peanuts could be derived from substances including gluten, or cornstarch.  Carla's company promises to use only gluten free biodegradable packing peanuts to take one more step to keep recipients of their baskets safe and healthy.

If anyone receives one of the beautiful baskets, let me know how you like it and what you got in it.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gluten Free Pie Crust

Pumpkin pie with Gluten Free Pie Crust

This is not my most timely post, which sadly seems to be an emerging theme around here.  I'll have to work on that.  Meanwhile, I'm still in time for Christmas pies.  For now I will post the version I used for Thanksgiving which involves Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour, hopefully for Christmas I'll be able to reinvent the recipe with my own mix of flours.  I'll post that one when I get it worked out.  I do have to say this one was pretty easy, it doesn't hurt that we were at my parent's house who live about 30 miles from Bob's Red Mill and have a huge tub of the GF AP Flour in the house at all times.  I went a little nuts while we were there trying to bake all sorts of things and take advantage of the flour on hand.

The pie crust was one of my trials during our Thanksgiving visit, the big step forward for me came from blind baking the crust.  Something I've heard a lot about but had not yet tried.  It seemed like something to try since every other time I had baked a pumpkin pie in a raw crust the crust was all gummy and under baked.  Blind baking means pre-cooking the pie shell by it self in the oven, but in order to prevent it from puffing into a giant cloud you have to weigh it down with something.  We used some dried beans that mom had found in the pantry from goodness knows how long ago, and would not be using for anything in the future.  You can buy fancy beads and stuff for blind baking, but I figured we would use what was on hand, I've even heard of people using pennies.  I suppose any item would work.

One thing about this recipe that makes me very happy is that the original comes from a cookbook that has been in the family for 3 generations.  It's just an old Betty Crocker Cookbook, but it's a recipe I used to make for my family when I was in High School  and College, but haven't really used since.  I really loved being able to go back and convert this recipe over, it felt like I had come full circle with the process.  Another important point was that it came out delicious!  Flaky, dry, and not at all sweet, the way a perfect pie crust should be.

Gluten Free Pie Crust

1   Cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1/3 Cup Butter
2   Tbs Water

Mix Flour, Salt, and Xanthan Gum in a medium mixing bowl.  Cut Butter into small pieces, and using a pastry cutter or fork, blend into dry ingredients until mixture resembles pea gravel.  Add in Water, and begin to blend by hand until a ball of dough forms.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge for 1 hour.
Prep rolling mat, rolling pin, extra flour, pie pan, piece of foil for blind baking, and beans (or other item to weight down crust during blind bake).
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees (F).  Remove dough from wrap onto a lightly floured surface, and begin to roll out.  Work quickly to prevent butter from warming causing the dough to tear.  After a few rolls, flip the dough and re-flour the surface, and repeat until the dough is large enough to fill a 9 inch pie pan.  Now comes the tricky part, transferring the crust to the pan (I still struggle with this), I usually manage to turn the whole rolling mat over the pie pan sometimes I use a spatula to loosen the crust and let it drop onto the pan.  From there gently move it into the pan and trim the crust.  Place a sheet of foil or parchment paper (trimmed to fit) over the crust in the pan, and gently place a single layer of beans, pie weights, or pennies.  Bake for 12 minutes and remove from oven and set aside.
Make desired filling.  Carefully remove the foil and weighted item from pie crust and place on an insulated surface (so as not to melt your counter).   Pour filling into the crust, and bake according to the filling's instructions.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gluten Free Gingerbread House Disaster

Does anyone know if there  is a Gingerbread version of "Habitat for Humanity"?  I think the Big Bad wolf has come and attacked my little house!  If this wasn't so funny to me it would be shameful!  I don't think I will be posting the recipe for this one until I work out some more kinks, fragile doesn't even begin to describe this one.

I was so excited to make Gingerbread houses for Christmas this year, Ceci is at a perfect age to enjoy helping decorate if only for a few minutes.  Then this happened!  I made the dough, cut out and baked all the pieces, cooled them and let them get "stale" so they wouldn't collapse.  I put the pieces away overnight and got them out this morning, making molten sugar for the glue.  I couldn't work fast enough, as the sugar got more difficult the pieces began to crumble more and this roof piece was the last to go on and obviously the most damaged.

At some point in my life I may learn to be less stubborn, but I don't know that it will be any time soon.  Gingerbread house making was a family tradition for my family growing up, we always went to the Arndt house and had so much fun.  I know it took Sue years of trial and error to perfect her recipes and techniques.  Why on earth I thought my learning curve would be any different is beyond me.  In the meantime I have Sheri bringing a box of regular Graham crackers tomorrow to make fake Gingerbread houses, they won't be GF, but it will be fun.  And even if this house does survive until the party it's current hideousness won't matter after it's covered in icing and candy.

I'll let you know if it makes it and post the pictures after we get them decorated.

At least half of one house looks presentable.

Recovery!  This is the side with the hole in the roof, no one would have ever known.

This is Ceci's side of the house, I did make the gingerbread girl for her.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gluten Free Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings with mixed veggies

I'm so proud to say that starting this blog has created a fantastic dialogue between my parents and I!  A few weeks ago my mom emailed me a recipe from their dinner, but no picture with it.  Of course this means one thing, I need to make the dinner myself and take pictures!  Yumm!  This was a fabulous way to use up leftover rotisserie chicken, but I think it might be a nice candidate for leftover turkey too.  I'll let you know how that goes.  I also added a huge amount of frozen mixed veggies to make it a one pot meal, it was a little more like a chicken pot pie, but it was amazingly delicious!  The gravy is velvety smooth, and the biscuits on top just make a perfect topping to the dish.  I also used about 3/4 of a roasted chicken instead of the 2 cups Mom used.  This is definitely one of those dinners that you can play with and add all sorts of things and make changes just to see what happens.  And DO NOT open the lid on the pot once the biscuits are in!  Like Ceci says "NO peeking!"

Here is Mom's email to me, I thought it made a nice sort of guest post so I left it unedited.  

Hi Sweetie,
Thought I would share my quick cook Chicken and Dumplings with you.  It took about an hour to put together but could be shorter depending on your stove.  There is no substitute for Little Grandmas or Sue Arndt's versions but it is pretty close considering how fast it went together and I didn't have to man the stove all day while the chicken cooked in the pot.  Your dad loved it!   XOXO Mom


1 C GF Bisquick mix
3 T shortening
1/3 C milk
1  Egg
Cut shortening into mix, using a fork or dough blender till particles are the size of small peas. Stir in remaining ingredients until soft dough forms.  Set aside and start gravy.

Biscuits ready and waiting


4 C water
4 T cornstarch
1 T chicken base "Better Than Bouillon"  (a product I love and get from Costco)
2 C cut up cooked chicken (I used leftover Costco chicken)
3 C frozen mixed veggies
Salt and pepper to taste

Chicken and veggies ready for biscuit topping

Dissolve cornstarch in the water and pour in large deep frying pan as the water is heating stir in the chicken base.  Continue to stir and as the broth thickens add the chicken, and veggies and heat through.
As broth is hot and bubbly take biscuit dough and form into balls and then gently flatten before you lay them on top of your broth/gravy.  Once you have used all the dough cover the pan and let the heat and steam cook the dumplings, about 20 min.  You can tell if they are done by taking a fork and scraping the top of a dumpling and it is no longer doughy inside. 

Finished product in the pot, with a few portions out already

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scones

Gluten Free Pumpkin Scone with golden raisins and topped with maple sugar

Today I decided I couldn't wait any longer to try this recipe, I love the fall, and I love pumpkin themed food.  I dislike that I can't just walk into a donut or coffee shop and grab a pumpkin muffin, or donut, or some other yummy baked good and enjoy it.  But after making these scones today I won't have to be sad about that ever again, I will only have to be sad when I run out of them and have to wait the 15 minutes for the oven to finish baking.

The scones have a great dry crumbly texture which goes beautifully with a cup of coffee, and the pumpkin is a perfect compliment to the gluten free flours, its as if they were made for one another.  I also love the level of spice, it fills your nose with all those happy fall smells and aromas, the house smelled so good when these came out of the oven, I can't even explain how happy it made me.  The golden raisins are nice too, they add a nice texture to the perfect scones.

I found this link, Andreasrecipes.com, on the list created by Shauna, the Gluten free Girl, Gluten Free Thanksgiving.  Andrea Meyers wrote a lovely story and recipe for these scones and it made me want to make them even more.  She used Bob's Red Mill GF All Purpose Baking Flour, which is great if you have it on hand, or don't have a variety of flours to utilize.  Sadly I can't find it in a large enough quantity, or for a decent price here on Long Island, and I enjoy mixing and matching my own flour combinations.  If that all sounds a little intimidating, then by all means use the Bob's All Purpose Flour, I love it when people bake gluten free, but if you are at all intimidated don't stress, keep it simple and use one of the many premixed flour options out there.

I can hardly wait to make these again for my parents to enjoy, Tim has suggested we should add a little drizzle of powdered sugar icing when we make it next.  That makes me happy, the more sugar the better!    I'll let you know how that works out.  Tell me if you can think of any other add-ins or changes that I can use to tweak this recipe, I know I will be making it again in the next couple of months.

Adapted with permission from Andrea Meyers.


Makes 8 scones.

food processor with blade attachment
small bowl
large mixing bowl
baking sheet, greased or lined with parchment paper


1/4 Cup Soy Flour
3/4 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Tapioca Starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/3 cup (58 g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick (8 tablespoons/113 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup (120 mil) pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (50 g) raisins or golden raisins

cinnamon & sugar mix


1. Preheat oven to 400° F/200° C.

2. In food processor bowl, mix the flour, xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Add the pieces of butter and pulse about 10 to 12 times. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.

4. Pour the flour mixture into the large mixing bowl and add the raisins. Stir in the pumpkin mixture until large dough clumps form. Press it all together with a spatula, making sure you don’t have any loose bits of flour.

5. Flour your hands well. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and pat into an 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Brush milk on the top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mix.

6. Cut into 8 triangles and place them on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pasta Sauce, with hidden vegetables

Ceci enjoying one of her favorite meals, at The Old Spaghetti Factory, this kid LOVES pasta and sauce!
I've mentioned this before, but my darling sweet daughter Ceci, refuses to eat vegetables.  I'm lucky if I can get her to willingly eat 1/8 of a baby carrot per day, so I have to get creative and hide veggies in foods that she is willing to eat without noticing.  One of her most favorite meals is noodles with sauce, she will eat it until she explodes, and then have another bowl.  She also refuses to eat beef, I don't force it on her at all, most days we give her some sort of chicken if we are eating beef, but apparently pasta sauce is an acceptable way to consume beef in her opinion.

Last week I made a huge pot of Pasta sauce for dinners, we don't mind left overs here and try to get a few dinners out of each meal to ease our schedule.  I managed to hide a zucchini and a half and several baby carrots shredded and ground up in the sauce, and Ceci was none the wiser, and happy to have her favorite meal for several days in a row.  I was happy to have something that she would gladly eat, and to not have to cook multiple nights in a row.  The fact that she got some veggies in her just made it that much better.

I can't say that it was a very remarkable Pasta sauce, but it tasted good, was filling, and had extra healthy stuff in it.  Can't go wrong with that combination.  Here's how I did it, and you should read this more as a guide than a true recipe, feel free to add in different veggies or spices.

Pasta Sauce with Hidden Vegetables

2   lbs of Ground Beef
1   large Onion, chopped
1-2 small-medium Zucchini, shredded
15  Baby carrots, shredded
2   22 oz cans Crushed Tomatoes
2  tsp Kosher Salt
2  tsp Pepper
1   tsp Dried Oregano
1   tsp Dried Basil
1  Beef Bullion Cube


Delicious veggie mush!
In a large stock pot, brown ground beef, if using low fat beef, add a tablespoon or two of oil to prevent burning.  When the beef is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside.  Place Onion, Zucchini and Carrots into pot and saute until softened.

Place cooked veggies into food processor and grind up to a thick slurry, this will allow it to blend into the sauce better and be less perceptible to picky eaters.  If you don't mind the shreds and chunks of veggies, you can skip the food processor.

Return the veggie mix to the pot along with the ground beef, and pour in the cans of crushed tomatoes, and stir to combine.  Add in the herbs and spices, stir and let simmer.  Use a clean teaspoon and taste, add more seasoning to taste.  I tend to be very light handed with the seasoning while my husband Tim is very heavy handed, some how we find a balance.  You will have to taste because some canned tomatoes are pre-seasoned while others are plain.

Boil Gluten Free noodles according to package, and drain off water.  If Pasta sauce seems to thick you can add some pasta water to thin it down.  Then pour a heaping ladle full of sauce over a bowl of pasta, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  You can also serve with garlic toast if you like, I'm lazy and toast a slice of bread, butter it, and sprinkle with garlic salt.  Definitely a favorite meal for all in this family, I hope your family enjoys it too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Link For Gluten Free Thanksgiving

If you are someone with Celiac Disease, or eat gluten free, or are at all curious about gluten free food, you have to check out The Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.  She has some amazing ideas, including this week's post for a Gluten Free Thanksgiving, so many incredible recipes compiled in one place.  I can't wait to try some, I think the pumpkin scones are calling my name.  Hope you are all inspired to have a delicious Gluten Free Thanksgiving dinner!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gluten-Free Chocolate Decadence Pecan Cookies

Amazingly good!

I saw this post Cookies Everyone will Love, the other day on my facebook news feed, when I opened it up and saw the first cookie picture I was so excited.  I used to get a similar cookie from Whole Foods bakery that was so delicious, but I don't go to Whole Foods very often these days.  The biggest problem with the whole foods cookies is that it is not a dedicated GF bakery so even with my lack of sensitivity to gluten right now I still worry that some uneducated person knocked some wheat flour into the mixer.  Plus why spend money when you can make it even more delicious at home.

One great thing about making these cookies was, I had all the ingredients in the cabinet, a few months ago I had made a Flourless Chocolate Cake from Food Network that called for bittersweet chocolate (I'll discuss that in another post, suffice to say it was incredibly delicious).  I did have to buy the pecans, but with the holidays coming they will be in good use around this house.

I'm pretty spastic when it comes to reading recipes off the computer but I really wanted these cookies, so I started making them.  Thank Goodness my husband and in-laws were home because I had to send Ceci away while I was making them.  The steps got a bit convoluted and I was really stressed out while making them, and having a toddler eating raw flour sitting on the counter does not lower my stress level. One thing I will change in the future is to toast the nuts prior to making the cookies, instead of trying to manage them while working the cookie batter.

 I have simply tidied up the formatting of the previous post so it is a bit more fluid to read, I also looked at the original recipe from LemonPi and gained a little inspiration.  I tried to simplify the mixing process to exclude the double boiler, but was unsuccessful, the double boiler stays, sorry.  I was really hopeful to be able to a few less dishes.

To give you an idea of what you are headed for when you finish making these cookies, they can only be described as the brownie of the cookie world, and the perfect brownie at that!  There is a light crispy outside crust, protecting an amazing chewy tender inside, and filled with toasted pecans,  they are perfectly delicious!

I can just finished a second batch today and it was much easier to make the second time around, I also used coffee instead of vanilla.  I can't say that I taste coffee, but I think the chocolate flavor is enhanced, I think it might be a keeper of a tweak on the old recipe.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Decadence Pecan Cookies
Adapted from Alice Currah's  Adapted from LemonPi and based on Alice Medrich’s recipe from Bittersweet


1/4  Cup sweet rice flour
1/4  tsp baking powder
1/4  tsp salt

8    ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 Cups)
2    Tbs unsalted butter

2    large eggs
1/2 Cup sugar
2     tsp pure vanilla extract (or coffee, or OJ (no pulp), or flavored liquor)

1 1/2 Cups toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
6     ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 Cup)

2 sheets parchment paper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together, set aside.

Place bittersweet chocolate chips and butter in a medium to large microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute. Stir the chocolate butter mixture and microwave again for 30 seconds. Repeat this until all the chocolate chips have melted and the mixture is smooth, set aside.

Using a double boiler or make your own double boiler whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla thoroughly in the top bowl/pan over simmering water in the bottom pan.  Whisk egg mixture until it is lukewarm and then add it to the chocolate mixture, stirring until everything is well combined.  If eggs are not warm when you add them to the warm chocolate, the chocolate will cook the eggs and be a horrible mess of chocolate scrambled eggs.

Add the flour mixture, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and pecans to the chocolate mixture. Your batter will look like thick cake batter. Do not fear, after they bake they will look like and taste like cookies!

Scoop dough (it will look very wet and sloppy) into rounded tablespoons (I used a small cookie scooper) on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for 12 minutes until the surface of the cookies look dry and set.

Remove the cookies from the oven, with the cookies still on the parchment paper, slide the paper onto racks to cool. If you leave the cookies and the paper on the cookie sheets the cookies will continue to bake, and be dried out.  Gently peel the parchment paper back after cookies have cooled for at least 30 minutes. If you can wait that long to start eating them, I certainly can't.

Some serving suggestions for you to consider Peppermint ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Or, as we discovered tonight they make FABULOUS ice cream sandwich cookies!  with Pumpkin Ice cream, Yummmm...... 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts!

I know what you might think, Brussels Sprouts Ewww!  And to that I say, then who ever cooked the Brussels Sprouts you ate was mean.  Tim and I found the deliciousness of Brussels Sprouts last year, I had seen more and more TV chefs using them and we were very curious why so many trained chefs would be using a veggie with such a bad reputation.  I got a small pack from the grocery store and Tim sauteed them and they were sooooo good!  I kid you not they taste like veggie candy to me!  Toasty and almost sweet, but with the salt and oil on them, I guess they might be the kettle corn of the vegetable world if I had to describe it.  When sauteed or roasted their natural sweetness comes out and they are just amazingly good.  We prefer ours a little underdone so they still resemble Brussels sprouts, you can cook them longer, but then they start to have an acrid burned taste to them which I can't stomach.

This weekend I found a huge bag of sprouts at Costco, 2 lbs to be exact, and brought them home.  Usually when we find them in the regular supermarket they are a 10-12 ounce package, which is fine if you only want to eat 4 sprouts each.  So finding this huge bag was great!  Usually Tim does the sauteing and since he does such a great job, I'm afraid to do it now.  I'm such a chicken when it comes to cooking.  I love baking but cooking drives me wild.  Then out of no where Food Network posts a roasted Brussels sprouts recipe on facebook yesterday, as if they knew I needed it.  I did tweak it a little to suit our tastes better.

I couldn't have been happier with how they came out, if I hadn't had such a delicious Shepard's pie to eat, I could have eaten a whole bowl of these Brussels sprouts.  One exceptionally important bit of information about Brussels sprouts, no matter how you choose to cook them, NEVER EVER Reheat them!!!  We tried heating leftovers one time and I gagged.  This may be why some of you think you don't like sprouts, they are AWFUL when reheated I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that they are in the cabbage family, and all the gasses they release, I couldn't say definitely.  Just a word of advice for you, don't boil them or reheat them, those are the horrible flavors that everyone thinks of when they hear the words Brussels sprouts.  

With all that said, if you cook them right they are delicious, and down right addictive.  So here goes, I adapted Ina Garten's recipe yesterday and came up with this.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts (Enough for one meal, with no left overs, about a handful per person)
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
White Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).  Prep Brussels Sprouts by trimming off the base ends just enough to get the dried or browned portion off, and remove any yellow or damaged leaves, and cut in half.  Place halved Brussels sprouts on a rimmed sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and white pepper.  Use your hand to stir the sprouts around on the pan to mix and coat them.  Place pan in oven for 22 min, shake pan half way through roasting if desired.  Remove from oven and serve immediately, giving a few minutes so they don't burn your mouth, but certainly don't eat them cold.
Brussels Sprouts on the cookie sheet just after being removed from oven

Try them tonight and rethink your opinions of Brussels Sprouts!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Family Affair

What I neglected to mention in my Celiac Stories post is that my Dad, at the age of 54 discovered he has Celiac Disease too.  As much as I don't like someone else having to deal with Celiac Disease, at least we know where mine came from.  But now all those burger buns, and fish breading that he ate for me when I was a kid, aren't looking like it was the best idea.

I started this blog to help people work their way through the gluten free world, and I should mention my parents worked so hard to take care of me when I was little, that it is my inspiration and education to take care of myself and my daughter.  Today I'm happy to feature something Dad made, Beef Goulash from Ginger Lemon Girl.  I wish I could have come over for dinner because this looks AMAZING!  And I can guarantee that Ceci would have had a double portion!

Love you Dad!  Keep up the great work!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Gluten Free Croutons

Very thick Butternut Squash Soup with Gluten Free Croutons

Now that fall is here it's time for all the wonderful comfort foods, and soups.  One classic fall soup is Butternut Squash, rich, thick, hearty and delicious.  I also love, that it works with so many spices and herbs and can take on so many permutations of flavor.  For this go around I kept it simple, just some salt, pepper, and a little nutmeg.  I was able to get a ton of flavor out of roasting the squash before mashing it into soup, I also used chicken stock and milk to add flavor and liquid to the soup.  The croutons were a yummy crunchy addition to the velvety warm soup.  I used such a big squash that we had to put some soup away in the freezer for another dreary rainy day.

I should let you know that I find these "cooking" posts the hardest to write, as we say in our house "cooking is art, baking is science."  I'm really good at the math and science stuff, it makes sense to me, but the whole pinch of this and dash of that, just confounds me.  So it is even harder for me to sit down and not only remember what I did but try to quantify what I did so you can be inspired in your own kitchen.  I guess my best information for you is just to keep tasting things and see if you like it, if not, throw in some more seasoning.  Sadly I'm horrible at seasoning things and usually have to rely on my husband to do so, he is excellent at seasoning and cooking, but doesn't even attempt baking.  Somehow I managed to season this soup all by myself, I was pretty proud of myself.

Please take this recipe as more of an inspiration than a list of instructions and season the soup to your own personal tastes.  Now get out there, buy a nice big Butternut Squash and get to work!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

1 Large Butternut Squash
Olive Oil

Roasting Directions:
Halve Squash, remove seeds, coat with a thin layer of olive oil and place flesh side down on baking sheet.  Place in 400 degree (F) oven until squash is fork tender, probably 40 minutes for a medium size Butternut Squash.  Let the squash cool a little bit, so that you can handle it without burning yourself and then scoop out the roasted flesh into a pot.

Soup Directions:
1 medium apple, peeled, and cut
1 small to medium onion
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
White Pepper

Before you put the squash in the pot saute some diced onions and apples, once the onion and apple are done add the squash. Use a potato masher to break down the squash in the pot, add a liquid of choice to the squash in the waiting pan (I use chicken stock, water, milk, or apple juice depending on my mood that day, or combinations of the liquids), add 4-5 cups of liquid.  Cook on medium to low heat and season to taste with salt and pepper, and anything else you think smells nice with it, nutmeg, curry, cinnamon, anything, see what you have in the pantry, and taste as you go to see if it needs more of anything.  Add more liquid if you think it needs it, soup is a very subjective thing, and can be as thin or thick as you like.  Serve in a nice big bowl with a garnish of choice, I used toasted gf bread cut into croutons, next time I might try some toasted pecans.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Annie's Gluten Free Bunny Cookies

Ceci has a new love in the food world!  I found these at Stop and Shop one day and she was very excited "Mommy, Bunny Crackers!!"  I of course bought them and gave her a few in the car, she seemed to enjoy them.  I've given them to her occasionally, and she likes them.  Then the other day out of nowhere she pulled them out of the pantry herself and told me she needed Bunny Crackers, I should mention it was 10am.  Not my ideal time to give, an already busy toddler, cookies.  She eventually got her cookies, she just had to wait till after lunch.  Now if Annie's would just make a box of only chocolate bunny cookies, Ceci would be in hog-heaven.  She eats around the vanilla ones like they are poison, I think they are delicious, they have the texture of a graham cracker.  I like the combination of the two cookies together, but life isn't really about what I like sometimes.  I checked their website, and no such luck, they only make the combo pack of cookies.  I'll keep an eye out, until then I suppose I'll have to eat all the leftover vanilla cookies, poor me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why Xanthan Gum is Important: Zucchini Bread Failure and Recovery

Zucchini "Bread" drizzled with Cream Cheese frosting.
This week we made a huge pot of spaghetti sauce for dinners, Ceci LOVES pasta and sauce, it's one of the few things she will eat without convincing.  Lately we have taken to adding zucchini and carrots to the sauce to increase her veggie intake.  I know any Italian Americans reading this are horrified, but it's one of the only ways she won't reject vegetables, and I'll take anything I can get.  In the process of making the sauce I realized there was a lot of zucchini, so I set some aside and planned to make Zucchini Bread, one of my favorite quick breads.

I was in such a hurry the day I made the Zucchini Bread that I neglected to add Xanthan Gum to the batter.  It could have been that I was trying to entertain, feed, potty train, and educate a busy 2 year old while making bread.  Ceci was in fact helping me mix flours, but I was struggling to make sure she didn't spill the containers of flour.  I should also mention that her creativity continues to this moment, she is literally sitting on top of me over one arm while I try to type on the laptop, but the intermittent snuggles are worth it.

"Ta-da!"  "I helping Mommy!"
We got the batter all mixed and into the pans, put it into the oven and set the timer, without a problem.  After about 15 minutes I checked the oven and noticed that the bread was not rising at all, and didn't look like it was dry and fluffy.  I looked like a pan of brown bubbly goo, and there was nothing I could do at that point.  This has happened one other time and I caught it before I put the item in the pan and was able to add Xanthan Gum before I baked it.  Sadly that did not happen here so I let it bake through and sadly pulled it out of the oven when it was done.  I did taste it when it was cool enough and it was very moist and delicious!  I decided to save it and figure out what to do with it later, besides eat it.

We were invited to dinner and I decided to recover the second loaf of Zucchini bread, for dessert.  I flipped it out of the pan and prepped some cream cheese frosting, which I thinned out with some orange juice so that it could be drizzled over the "cake".  Tim and I have discussed at length what we should call the resulting concoction with no good result, options include a cake, bar, mess, but mostly delicious.  Above all it is really yummy, lots of spice from the cinnamon and moist from the zucchini and oil, with a crispy crust from the sugar.  Everyone enjoyed the dessert and said it was no problem I had forgotten an ingredient.  I was really relieved that it was accepted, and I got a chance to use up the bread and didn't have to throw it out (I don't like to throw out food.)

As you can see, Xanthan gum is a binder, and often used as a replacement for Gluten.  It has no taste, but it's coagulation/solidifying properties are far more important than taste.  To better understand you can visit the Wikipedia article on Xanthan Gum, where it is explained far more scientifically, and clearly than I could ever try to.  I have also learned that some people cannot tolerate xanthan gum due to it's source of origin, and xanthan gum can be derived from wheat.  Please check your sources, if you can digest xanthan gum, be sure to buy it from a reliable Gluten Free distributor. Such as Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum.

Here I've given you the proper recipe for the proper Zucchini bread, but if you are feeling a little crazy, by all means go ahead and leave out the Xanthan gum and see how you like it.

Zucchini Bread

3   Eggs, beaten
1   Cup Vegetable or Canola Oil
2   Cups Sugar
2   Cups Grated Zucchini

1/4  Cup Soy Flour
1/4  Cup Brown Rice Flour
3/4  Cup Sweet Rice Flour
3/4  Cup Tapioca Starch
1     tsp Xanthan Gum
1     tsp Salt
1     Tbs Cinnamon
1     tsp Baking Soda
1     tsp Baking Powder
2     Cups chopped Walnuts

Combine eggs, oil and sugar in bowl, and mix well.  Add Zucchini and blend well.  Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and combine together.  Add dry ingredients to wet mix and blend slowly, just until combined.  Gently fold in walnuts.  Pour into 2 greased loaf pans and Bake at 325 degrees F for 60 minutes.  Remove from pans and cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting, is delicious on top of this to elevate it to a true dessert.  I added a couple Tablespoons of Orange Juice to 1 cup of the frosting to thin it down some.  It added a little hint of citrus kick and allowed the frosting to drizzle instead of having to spread it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

"Apple Picting"

Oct 2010
Seven Ponds Orchard Sept 2009, Me, MomE, and Ceci

This weekend we finally made it out East for Apple Picking, something I really enjoy and we started as a family tradition last year.  A few years ago I went on my first apple picking trip upstate with some friends and loved it!  It took me three years in between to get back out in the orchards.  Last year Ceci was 13 months old and my mom was visiting us and we decided it would be a great experience to share, going apple picking.  Tim and I did a lot of research to find an orchard that wasn't to far from our home and didn't require us to pay another $100 in gas in tolls to get to.  We found Seven Ponds Orchard, in Water Mill NY.  They offered a long list of different apple varieties, and seemed very family friendly.
It's more fun to pull the wagons, when you are little.
We drove out last year and were hooked, it was an easy drive, and simple to find, with the help of GPS (we would get lost in our driveway without it).  They offer radio fliers to haul kids and apples through the orchard, which didn't seem important at first, but I truly appreciated the wagon by the end of the trip.  The trees are all dwarf trees, making it easy for the kids to participate in the apple picking, I mean how many places can say that a 13 month old was able to reach and pick apples off the tree by herself?  We had such a great time and the wagon made the picking so easy that I ended up with nearly 60 pounds of apples last year!  That's right 60 pounds!  And I used all of it!  We picked Mutsu (one of my favorites), Honey crisp (my new favorite), and a few Red Delicious (not for me, don't prefer them at all.)
Enjoying an apple she picked herself (Sept 2009)
This year, my mom came to visit around the same time of year and we made a plan to go out to Seven Ponds again, sadly it poured down rain the day we planned to go.  It took us almost three more weeks to get out to the orchard for a lot of different reasons, but it was worth the wait because we were able to go with our family friends and had a fantastic day!  I came down with Laryngitis, but refused to give up our trip, I was also terribly afraid that there wouldn't be any apples left in 2 weeks.
At it again!  (Oct 2010)
We arrived at the orchard mid morning and after a pit stop for the two potty training kiddos got right to work.  The kids were super cute trying to haul the wagons through the orchard themselves.  It was a great time, even though I couldn't talk above a whisper.  I was happy to find all my favorite apples again and of course we have to taste test in the orchard, which is not allowed, oops!  Maybe next year we will have them weigh Ceci on the way in and on the way out and pay for the mass amount of apples she seems inspired to eat while we are there.  I also found a new delicious apple, Cameo, crispy, sweet, with a hint of tart, very nice for eating.  Tim tells me that at one point he turned around and the kids were holding hands walking down the aisle of the orchard together, does life get any sweeter?

I think we came out with about 25 pounds of apples this year, I managed some self control some how.  Now you ask what do I do with 25, or 60 pounds of apples?  Last year Tim bought me a peeler, corer slicer thing that suctions down to my stone counter and I ripped through the whole batch.  I put about 6-8  apples each in a gallon zip top freezer bag, labeled them and toss them in the freezer.  This year went really well, and I even got help from my favorite sous chef.  I do like to put one slice through the stack of apple so that the rings will separate from one another when I try to cook them.
My sweet little helper!
Sadly when you defrost them they release a lot of their juice making them inappropriate for some cooking applications.  I have used them with all the juice for pies, you just need to add in some cornstarch to thicken the juice into a nice syrup while baking, same goes for my Apple Brown Betty.  We made a lot of apple sauce last year as well, one of Ceci's favorite first foods, as well as a key ingredient in my favorite, Gluten Free Applesauce cake.

Be sure to keep an eye out as these recipes will be working their way into this blog over the next few months, as I make them and can snap some pictures of my offerings.  And if anyone has a Gluten Free recipe for Apple Strudel, please send it to me.  I'm inspired, but nervous to try it.