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.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sad day... lost recipe

Last spring we were invited to Sheri's house for dinner and she told me the dinner theme would be "bar food" so I offered to make Beer Ice Cream.  I had been inspired and waiting for an opportunity to make this, I had researched so many different recipes and finally found one that used whole eggs, which is my preference, partly to cut fat, and partly to limit waste of ingredients.  It was on a blog somewhere on the internet, from who knows where.  It originally used regular beer reduced down to a thick syrup, so it was a no brainer to swap out the beer for a gluten free one.

It came out better than I could have figured, deliciously creamy, but with a hint of the bitterness from the beer in the background.  I had puzzled about possible toppings for a while, wondering what goes with beer, then it dawned on me!  What doesn't go with beer!!  We put everything on it, I'm not kidding, I was inspired by "bar snacks" and went from there.  Crushed pretzels, stale popcorn, honey roasted peanuts, chocolate sauce, and carmel sauce, and finally a side of chocolate chip cookies.  You can see this was a healthy low fat dessert.

I went back to the computer the other day to dig out the bookmarked website where I had originally pulled the Beer Ice Cream recipe, only to find it missing.  The blog/website was shut down and the recipe completely missing.  My wonderful husband tried and tried and even went through the entire computer's internet history trying to find the recipe for me.  So sad!  But I do have the delicious memories, and some yummy pictures.  If anyone finds a recipe using whole eggs please let me know.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gluten Free Halloween Candy List has composed, and published a very extensive Gluten Free Candy List .  It is noted that many of the items listed are not certified gluten free, but they do not have gluten included in the ingredients.  I'm pretty excited and am considering using this list as my dining menu for the next few months.  Have I mentioned I love sugar!  In all it's fabulous forms?  I do, I would live on all things sweet if my body would let me.  Sadly I do have to eat vegetables and things from time to time to keep from weighing a billion pounds.  Hopefully this list is helpful to all you fellow sugar lovers, I hope your favorite candy made the list, and have a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Gluten Free Brownies

Who doesn't love brownies?  I don't think I've ever met someone who can sincerely say they hate brownies.  I suppose everyone likes them a bit differently, some people prefer the crispier edge pieces, while some like the entirely chewy center pieces (that's me!)  And there is no end to the toppings that can only improve upon the flavor, and or sugar content of the brownies.    Today there was a handful of Andes mints bits calling my name from the pantry.  As far as I'm concerned there are few things more yummy than chocolate and mint, and delicious chewy brownies with warm melty mint pieces are a very happy thing, add in a glass of milk and pretty much the only thing to tear me away would be, well, nothing!

Gluten Free Brownies

1/2   Cup Butter, softened
1      Cup Sugar
1      tsp Vanilla
2      Eggs

1/2  Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/2   tsp Xanthum Gum
1/3  Cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
1/4   tsp Salt
1/2   Cup chopped nuts or some other delicious item in your pantry

Blend soft butter, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl.  Add eggs and beat well with the spoon until all wet ingredients are combined well.  Combine four, xanthum gum, cocoa, baking powder, and salt;  gradually add to wet mixture, stirring until well blended.  Stir in nuts (or candy bits) (You can sprinkle the nuts/candy on top of the brownies instead of mixing in if you prefer, that is a whole other matter of preference.)  Spread batter into a greased 9 in square pan and bake at 350 degrees (F) for 20-25 min.  I baked mine for about 18-19 minutes, because again I love mine chewy and under cooked.

The original recipe said it makes 16 brownies, I would love to know who cuts them that small, or who would eat just one, might as well cut the pan in quarters and be honest here, maybe that would hold me for a few hours until I need to eat another quarter of the pan.  MMMmmmmm.....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Gluten Free Corn Bread

I love when the weather starts to get chilly here, it means I can finally start making soups, stews, chilli's, and abusing my poor crock pot.  All the things no one wants to think of eating in the summer with the warmer weather, particularly with the excess humidity we have here in NY.  One of our favorites here is a big pot of Chili, which I make different every time based on what we have in the house, or what I find on sale at the supermarket.  One huge suggestion I can offer for the chili, is to dump in a bottle of gluten free beer, you will be shocked at the depth of flavor this can add to the dish, I hardly go without it now.

Obviously when you have a great pot of Chili the one side dish you need without question is Cornbread!  Sometimes I make chili just so I have an excuse to make cornbread, I'm not sure why I couldn't just make a batch of cornbread and get my fix.  I suppose I should start making it when I make my BBQ pork shoulder in the slow cooker too, see, one more reason I need to make cornbread.

My husband and I agree this is our favorite cornbread recipe, moist, and perfectly airy, just right for soaking up honey, or cleaning the chili bowl to get those last bits of spicy goodness.

Gluten Free Corn Bread

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

1/4 Cup Butter, melted
1    Cup Milk
1    Egg, beaten

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, stir in melted butter.  Mix egg and milk together and add to dry ingredients with only a few strokes (over mixing the batter will result in a tougher, flatter corn bread).  Bake in a greased 9x9x2 inch pan for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees (F).

I usually stage it so the cornbread is coming out of the oven no more than 10 minutes before we sit down to eat so it's piping hot.  Tim eats his with butter and dips it into his chili, I personally like to soak mine with honey, oh and I always cut my piece just a little bit bigger than his, not enough so that he notices, but just a little, I'm pretty greedy about the corn bread around here.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Disappointed Dining

This is not my most timely article, but I feel the need to express my frustrations and in the mean time educate others about the potential pitfalls of dining at this particular establishment.  This summer a dedicated Gluten Free Bakery/Restaurant opened up here on Long Island.  The word went out early about the coming establishment and I can't tell you how I researched and essentially stalked this place.  It doesn't hurt that it is near my friend Sheri's home and the park that we frequently go to, making it much easier to drive by.

It's the Bare Naked Bakery and I believe it's the only dedicated Gluten Free restaurant any where near us.  I was so excited I took Ceci to the grand opening after our Stroller Strides class for lunch.  That day I ordered several items to eat in and take home because I have no self control and I love to be able to order lots of different things (a joy not often found for a life long Celiac.)  That day we found one of our new favorite dishes, the Sicilian Pizza, soft, pillow-ey crust, with a delicious sauce and yummy mozzarella.  On the other hand the bagels had a yeasty taste to them which was impossible to over come, and the cupcakes especially the chocolate ones had a course texture that made them slightly unappealing.  The saddest crime was the extremely crunchy chocolate chip cookie.  I held out hope that these were just artifacts of the opening day jitters, that maybe they pushed really hard to get the store open and would be able to balance out their recipes in a short time.

Ceci and I went back a few more times, and each time we drove up to the bakery, she would shout from the back seat "I want deep-dop! (pizza)"  Obviously the Sicilian slice made a big impression on her.  The last time we visited the Bakery there had been many changes and I have to admit most were not for the better in my opinion.  The first issue I had was that the operating hours had changed to offer breakfast, which would have been fine, but lunch service did not start until noon.  Explaining to a hungry toddler why she can't have the pizza she is expecting for another 45 minutes is not my idea of a fun time.    In the mean time we ordered a bagel, which still had the horrible yeast taste to it, nothing changed there, so Ceci wasn't very interested in eating it.  She got very restless and the Chef had come out to the counter and noticed her being squirmy, he asked if she needed a high chair.  I said "No she's ok, but she really wants some pizza, that would actually help her behave."  He let me know he had actually just pulled a pie out of the oven and could bring us a slice now.  Thank god!  My last big issue was finding out that they no longer offer the Sicilian pie by the slice, we would have to order a whole pizza, and to the tune of $28, I was not prepared for that.  We finished our regular slice, which had the same horrible yeast taste as the bagels, and sadly headed home.

I have not been back since, I have come to a point in my gluten free life where I will not put up with bad food.  When gluten free products were rare and hard to find, I would eat substandard food just because I was happy to have something available to me.  Now with the huge boon of Gluten Free products on the market, I see no point in eating something that tastes bad!  No one should suffer through bad food because they think they have to, you don't!  There is a lot of good Gluten free food out there, and right now it's not at Bare Naked Bakery.  I was really looking forward to the joy of walking into a bakery and being able to safely order anything on the menu, instead I will continue to shop the frozen aisles at the grocery store, or make my own, for better flavor and texture of items.

I should mention that I have visited their website and the menu currently states that they offer Sicilian pizza by the slice.  If this is the case I could be convinced to go back at some point but I do not hold out much hope for the rest of the food served there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gluten Free Fruit Cobbler

This summer we were invited to a friend's block party and of course I offered to bring a dessert, partly to make sure there was a gluten free dessert for me to eat, and obviously because I love to bake.  Bonnie told me it was a southern theme so I was inspired by a peach cobbler recipe I found using bourbon.  I quickly converted the recipe, and set to work.  It uses a ton of butter and tastes fabulously velvety and moist, also I traded the granulated sugar for brown sugar giving it a more caramel taste.

I recently made an apple version of the same cobbler recipe, since my husband was unable to eat the peach cobbler (he is allergic to peaches, I'd rather have celiac).  The cinnamon, brown sugar, and bourbon made the apples amazing!  We also happened to have some caramel ice cream in the freezer that day, ohhhh my goodness!  If I had been home alone I would have dumped out the container of ice cream over the entire pan of cobbler and eaten all of it by myself.  I should also note that I ate a huge portion of it for breakfast one morning and it was delicious!!

Bourbon Fruit Cobbler

Fruit Compote

1/4   Cup of Butter
6-8   Cups of Fruit or Berries
1/4   Cup Bourbon (there is a special place in my heart for Jack Daniels)
1/4   Cup Brown Sugar
2      Tbs Cornstarch
1      tsp ground Cinnamon

Melt Butter in large sauce pan, add Fruit, Bourbon and Brown Sugar,  allow to warm through and sugar to dissolve, add in Cornstarch and Cinnamon.  Simmer on low heat until juice thickens, then transfer to a large casserole pan, set aside and begin work on the delicious biscuit topping.

Cobbler Breading

1/4   Cup Soy Flour
1/4   Sweet Rice Flour
1/2   Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2   Cup Tapioca Starch
1/2   tsp Xanthum Gum
2      tsp Baking Powder
1/2   Cup Brown Sugar
1/2   tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2  Sticks cold Butter
3/4   Cup Whole Milk

Blend flours, xanthum gum, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Cut  in Butter into small pieces and add to flour mix, using a pastry cutter or fork, blend together until butter and flours resembles pea gravel.  Pour in milk and mix until dough comes together, should be very wet and sticky.  Drop dough over pan of fruit by the tablespoon full.  This doesn't have to look pretty, gaps are fine, the dough will rise and puff together.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake in a 375 degree (F) oven for 40-45 min.  Serve warm with vanilla or caramel ice cream.

A big Thank you to Bonnie this summer for inspiring me to find this recipe because now we have another delicious dessert to bring to dinner parties with us.  I can't wait to try all sorts of other yummy fruits in this, maybe next summer we will try some sort of mixed berry application.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gluten Free Grilled Pizza

You may have noticed I love to eat pizza, I think I must be making up for all the pizza I missed growing up, which was a lot.  Needless to say I have a good amount of catching up to do.  This weekend at our friends the Lockhart's house, Walt mentioned they had seen gluten free frozen pizza dough at the store and if he had time he would have made grilled pizza for us.  I realized I had that exact dough in the freezer and had been waiting to use it, for what I don't know, but now I knew.  Walt explained the basic details of how-to for grilling a pizza while my husband and I both started thinking, me about the ingredients I had in the house and what I would need to add to the grocery list to make this work.  And Tim was thinking about how to make all this happen, tools, grill temperature and such.  

Upon arriving home, I opened the freezer to find it was a package of Gillian's Foods Frozen Pizza crust, the instructions were pretty simple, defrost in the fridge over night and roll out on a floured surface.  Seemed pretty simple to me, and with Walt's instructions and the back up of a few online recipes we were ready to go.  I had picked up some mozzarella at the store to go with the tomato paste and pepperoni slices I had waiting in the fridge, we figured keep the toppings simple on the first time through the process to decrease the chance of failure.  

I used a mixture of cornmeal and tapioca starch to kneed and roll out the dough on my tupperware pastry mat (I love that thing!)  We transferred the dough to a cookie sheet for transport to the grill, and prepped cheese and pepperoni.  I put a few tablespoons worth of tomato paste into a bowl for Tim to season as he saw fit, I can tell you salt, pepper, dried oregano and dried basil went into it.  Tim grabbed his heavy duty griddle to use on the grill so that we wouldn't end up with a fire scorched slab of dough.  He used olive oil to grease the griddle before we put the dough on, and let it heat through until it started to bubble up.  At that point he oiled the uncooked side and we flipped the dough, which came out gorgeous!  Beautiful grill marks and it just looked crispy.  We then got to work spreading a thin coating of the tomato paste over the entire dough and I quickly placed the cheese and pepperoni on top.  After that Tim closed the lid on the grill to allow the toppings to heat up and melt a bit.  It was probably all of 10 minutes from the time it went on the grill to the time it came off, including oiling, and flipping.  

It was DELICIOUS!  The crust was perfectly crunchy and tender at the same time.  As I said earlier, the toppings were simple and reliable, nothing terribly notable there.  But the crust was fantastic, the grill was a perfect was to heat this up nicely, no more oven for us.  I may even forgo a few of my take out pizzas to have more grilled pizzas.  Now we just have to dream up some more exotic toppings for our next attempt.  Which if my pizza appetite continues it won't be long now.  I just have to remember where I got that crust from.....hmmmm.....  I'll let you know when I find it again.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

Fall has been trying to arrive here in NY, for the last couple of weeks, today was not it's best attempt.  But there has been a gladware of pumpkin in my freezer for a while now calling to me, and there is only one great way to start off my pumpkin baking season, PUMPKIN BARS!!!

I started baking them in college, for my roommates, and then for my coworkers in the Athletic Training room.  They were an instant hit, and never lasted more than 15 minutes when set down and uncovered.  I still receive requests for them, or the recipe.  For some reason I can't bring myself to make them during the spring or summer, so I wait for the fall to arrive, the temperatures to drop and the true craving for pumpkin products to surface.

I really love this recipe because it is moist and delicious and lends itself well to the use of gluten free flours.  It uses cinnamon and cloves to give it a little kick of spice, with the cream cheese frosting  I think these are darn near divine!  But that is just my little humble opinion.

Tonight we went to our wonderful friends the Lockhart's for dinner so I offered to make dessert, knowing I had frozen pumpkin and a brick of cream cheese in the house.  Being very inspired I dug out the two recipes and got to work.  I did have a little trouble with the cream cheese frosting, which I assume was because I used low fat cream cheese.  I'll have to experiment with that again later, I promise.
Ceci, my queen of savory food, who rarely eats any sweets even had three bites, I was impressed, and took it as a high compliment.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Bars

1/4   Cup Soy Flour
1/4   Cup Brown Rice Flour
3/4   Cup Sweet Rice Flour
3/4   Cup Tapioca Starch
2      tsp Baking Powder
2      tsp Cinnamon
1      tsp Baking Soda
1/4   tsp salt
1/4   tsp ground Cloves

4   beaten Eggs
1 1/2  Cup Sugar
1   16 oz can of pureed pumpkin
1   Cup Canola Oil

In a large mixing bowl, blend dry ingredients until well mixed.  Place Eggs in a stand mixer and mix until beaten, add sugar, pumpkin puree and oil and blend on medium speed for 1 min.  Pour in dry ingredient mix into wet 1 cup at a time, mixing gently between additions.  Blend until fully mixed.  Spread batter in an ungreased 15"x10"x1" pan (jelly roll pan).  Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 25-30 min, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for 2 hours and spread with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Mom E's Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz  Cream Cheese, softened
1/4    Cup Butter, softened
3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
2    tsp Vanilla Extract

Blend Cream Cheese and Butter in mixer, add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, and run mixer slowly after each addition.  Add Vanilla Extract at end and mix in.   Spread over cooled cake or bars, and try not to take to many samples, like I do.

My sweet girl helping to model the dessert

Mommy, making pumpkin bars is tiring!

Glutino Chocolate Covered Pretzels!

I've waited a very long time for gluten free chocolate covered pretzels, and now Glutino has delivered!  I can't decide if I should hug or hate the evil genius who finally filled this void on the supermarket shelf.  They are unreasonably delicious, and are probably my new weakness, who doesn't love salty pretzels and sweet milk chocolate!  Now they exist together in all their gluten free deliciousness.  Quite simply they are the same Glutino gluten free pretzel twists that I buy bag after bag of for Ceci and myself to devour on a daily basis, coated in a sweet milk chocolate.  I should also mention that they make a yogurt covered gluten free pretzel too, which Ceci enjoys.  She has been sucking the yogurt coating off of them, and last night handed me the sloppy soggy pieces of left over pretzel from her mouth.  So gross!

My recommendation is to find and buy as many bags as possible, and send them all to me!  Insanely good, probably because it's one of those things I've wanted for about 10 years and now can find in the grocery store.  I think the most reliable place to find so far is, otherwise I've had difficulty finding them at all.  Today I found the yogurt covered pretzels, but not the chocolate covered, had I found the chocolate I probably would have bought 10 bags.  I hope they can get their machines working overtime and keep up with my demand because they have a hit on their hands.