Monday, December 5, 2011

Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies

"Oh No!  Please don't eat me!"  Ceci helped with this one, makes me laugh.

I love holiday time!  I was so fortunate to grow up with some wonderful family traditions, like decorating gingerbread houses with our family friends.  My brother and I would so look forward to this event every year, because we got to see our friends, the Arndt family, and eat candy till we burst.  Another favorite holiday tradition was the Safeway Bakery Cookie Bake, with my dad's entire family.  My grandma worked for the Safeway Bakery and once a year the company shut down the bread making process for a day and invited all the worker's families in to bake cookies.  They sold dough (glutinous of course) in 10 lb lumps of either sugar or gingerbread, and gave you HUGE cookie sheets to run them through their ovens.  It was fantastic, even if there was gluten, I just loved being around everyone and the smell of delicious cookies and holiday music filling the air of this enormous factory.

Now that I'm grown and have my own family, and live far away from my parents, I work very hard to build traditions for us.  We are so lucky to have wonderful friends who love to be a part of our traditions.  I have been doing a gingerbread decorating party for a few years now, and really enjoy it.  Last year I made the houses out of Gluten Free Gingerbread and was sorely disappointed!  So this year I went back to making the houses out of cardboard, it's so much easier!  I figure that no one actually eats the house in the end because it's so stale and awful, so why not start with a sturdier easier method.  I felt guilty for making the houses cardboard, and then made a two batches of Gluten Free Gingerbread cookies to send home with our guests.  Plus it gives something else to decorate at the party besides the houses.

I couldn't be happier with the way the cookies came out, I prefer soft, thick cookies, and these are perfectly spiced with a touch of sweetness, and are even more delicious when you add powdered sugar icing on top.  I make my icing with orange juice so it adds a citrus flavor to complement the perfect spiciness of the cookies.  I also crumbled the cookies over my bowl of egg nog ice cream last night and was very happy.  I think I would eat them for breakfast too, if I didn't have a 3 year old watching my every move, being responsible doesn't always taste good.  Ceci loves the cookies too, sneaking nibbles of the dough while we are cutting the cookies.  She really enjoys the decorating part too, I love that she just wants to sit and decorate for so long, it's wonderful, I think she has more patience for it than I do some times.

I do have to warn that I wouldn't use this recipe to make a gingerbread house, it's too soft of a dough to hold up to the structural demands of decorating.  Plus it tastes delicious and who wants to waste that on a house that no one eats.

Can you guess which one Ceci decorated?  

Gluten Free Gingerbread Cookies

1/3   Cup Soy Flour
2/3   Cup Brown Rice Flour
1      Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1      Cup Tapioca Starch
1 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
3/4    tsp Baking Soda
1/4    tsp Salt
1       Tbs Ground Ginger
1 3/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4    tsp Ground Cloves

6      Tbs Unsalted Butter (softened)
3/4   Cup Brown Sugar (packed)
1      Egg
1/2   Cup Dark Molasses
2      tsp Vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F), and prepare 2 baking sheets lined with silpat or parchment paper and set aside.  Pick out cookie cutter shapes to use.

Wisk together dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and set aside.  Cream Butter and Brown sugar on medium speed in a stand mixer until combined.  Add egg molasses and vanilla and beat until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed.
Gradually add in dry ingredients until well blended and smooth.  Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic and allow to rest at room temp for 2-8 hours.  Dough will be incredibly soft at first and will firm up when left out.
Working on a lightly floured surface roll out one ball of dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut out cookies, place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets and bake in oven for 5-7 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies, and preferred doneness of cookies.  Gather the dough scraps and re-roll and cut until all the dough is used, or dough is to tough to roll out.  Repeat rolling, cutting and baking for the second ball of dough.
Allow cookies to cool completely and then frost and decorate with Powdered Sugar Icing Recipe.  After the Icing hardens you can pack these cookies up into pretty boxes and give to friends, just remember to separate layers of cookies with wax paper so they don't stick to one another.

Powdered Sugar Icing

2   Cups Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 Tbs liquid (milk or orange juice, I like the flavor of orange juice with the cookies)

Mix in a bowl until smooth.  Adjust consistency as needed by adding more powdered sugar or liquid.  Add food coloring and place into a piping bag, or a zip top bag with a bottom corner cut off.  Decorate cookies as desired, and ENJOY!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gluten Free TV!

Last night we watched ABC's "Man Up!", it was an episode about a whole family starting a gluten free diet.  It's not a show we normally watch, but Tim had seen the write up in TV Guide and DVR'ed it for us.  It was pretty funny!  The banter was great, although they didn't have the greatest grasp on what was gluten free and what wasn't, at one point suggesting that potato chips and gummy bears had gluten.  Still it was fun to see them make gluten intolerance entertaining.  I think one of my favorite exchanges was:

"Gluten, isn't that the stuff in light bulbs?"
"Oh, gluten, you mean Aquaman's nemesis!"

Awesome!!  Because there have been a good many days of my life time where that's how I felt trying to explain gluten and why I can't consume it.

Anyway if you have 24 minutes or so, and are looking for something funny, check it out.  Here is the link

ABC's Man Up! Disciplining the Keens, through

and Man Up! Disciplining the Keens, through Hulu.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gluten Free Beer Battered Fried Fish

Delicious Fish and Chips!

Last night Tim (my husband) made us an AMAZING Beer Battered Fish and Chips for dinner!  I asked him to write a guest post for the blog, I will warn you he has a VERY different cooking style than I do.  We joke that I'm a scientist and he is an artist, because I HAVE to measure everything and have a plan, he on the other hand, adds a dash of this and a pinch of that and it comes out perfect.  I cannot cook the way he does, and he can't comprehend cooking the way I do, and that's how we get fed around here.  So here it goes, I hope you enjoy Tim's cooking too!

Tim's Gluten Free Beer Battered Fish

I always get inspired to make things that are typically quite gluten filled, and then I adapt them for a gluten free meal.  The other night, I was really in the mood to deep fry, and we were having a couple over for dinner, who always give me lots of liberty to experiment. They suggested Fish and Chips.

For the Chips, I used a pretty well known and standard recipe. Cut the potatoes, wash off the starch, and then pat them VERY dry. Fry them at 375. Take them out, drain them on a rack, and then fry them again. Season liberally, before the oil dries. That's easy.

So, I decided to make a beer batter. After Googling regular beer batter recipes, and then gluten free recipes, I adapted, and made my own. I made a test strip, tweaked the batter, and made a second, which was pretty perfect, and highly praised by all who sampled.

Here’s what I did:

8 tilapia filets, sliced in half, lengthwise, separating the thinner ones and thicker ones in two separate piles, so when I fried them, they’d cook evenly. I did not want to mix and match the thicknesses, and end up overcooking the thinner ones.

The beer batter was:
1 cup of sweet rice flour, Paprika, Kosher Salt, Ground White Pepper, Ground Black Pepper, (I have a mill for the black pepper, but I like the store-bought ground white, because it’s a super fine ground.) I don’t really know how much I put in. I put in more than I thought I would. Then, after the first test strip, realized it needed quite a bit more. So I added more.

I mixed all the dry ingredients. Then, I took 1 egg, which I beat in another bowl, first. And then mixed in the egg, and whisked that.

Then I whisked, while slowly adding in the beer. I used a whole bottle of ice cold New Grist, right out of the fridge.

I covered the fish strip in tapioca starch, shook off the loose starch, and then immediately dropped it into the batter, swooshing it around to get full coverage, and put it into the fryer, into vegetable oil at 375 degrees, almost still dripping. The consistency of the batter was so thin, you could almost see the fish in there, under the batter. Andrea was concerned with the thin-ness of the batter (as was I, but I didn’t voice it), but it worked.

We have a Fry Daddy fryer, so it fit 3-4 strips comfortably in the basket, without touching each other. I fried until they were golden brown, took them out, and drained them on paper towels, flipping to drain both sides. That was it!

In between each batch, I re-whisked the batter to keep it from separating.

The four of us finished almost all but two of the thin strips, which means four people ate 3.5 pounds of fish. I’m making a note here: huge success!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gluten Free Red Velvet Cupcakes

Gluten Free Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting

At some point in the last year I attempted to make Red Velvet Cupcakes, well Green Velvet anyway (I'll explain in a second), and did not like them.  Recently I was inspired to try them again, and looked up a new recipe, I am currently obsessed with them, and so is Ceci!  She can't get enough of them, when we had them she asked to eat one constantly, I had to bargain with her so she wouldn't try to eat all of them at once.  I was really pleased with the taste and tenderness of the cake, and who doesn't love cream cheese frosting to top off everything??

It turns out that there were a lot of problems with my first attempt at Velvet Cupcakes and subbing green food dye for the red was the least of the issues.  My husband thought for years that he was allergic to red dye, from some incident back in his college years, and until he saw the allergist this year we just avoided all forms of red dye.  The Dr told him that it was a made up allergy and he had never heard of it in all his years of practice.  So now I can use all the red dye I want in cupcakes.  The other major issue with the first batch of cupcakes was the recipe used oil instead of butter, so they came out greasy and unappealing, even the cream cheese frosting couldn't save them.

You can understand why I was hesitant after that disaster to try Red Velvet again.  Like I said previously I was inspired, I had purchased buttermilk to use for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies and had left over so I thought hard about other recipes that use buttermilk and came up with Red Velvet Cupcakes.  After some research I found what looked like a good recipe and worked to convert it over to Gluten Free.

We took them to a 2nd Birthday/House Warming Party for some family friends, one of the other guests had brought lots of fancy mini cupcakes from the famous bakery in NYC, Crumbs.  He told me he preferred my cupcakes to the fancy store bought ones!!!  That makes my day!  Having people who can eat gluten tell me that my gluten free versions taste better than the regular ones, especially when they are saying it's better than expensive boutique cupcakes!

I hope you enjoy them as much as Ceci does!

Red Velvet Cupcakes:

1 1/4 Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1   Cup Tapioca Starch
1/4 Cup Soy Flour
1  tsp Xanthan Gum
1/2  tsp Salt
2  Tbs Coco Powder (Dutch Processed)
1/2  Cup Unsalted Butter at Room Temperature
1 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
2   Eggs
1  tsp Vanilla Extract
1  Cup Buttermilk
2  Tbs Red Food Coloring
1  tsp White Distilled Vinegar
1  tsp Baking Soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).  Line about 20-24 cupcake tins with paper liners and set aside

Mix flours, xanthan gum, salt, and coco powder in a mixing bowl and set aside.  Cream butter and sugar in stand mixer, add eggs and vanilla, and beat well to combine, scrape down the sides of the mixer after ingredients are well combined.  Measure buttermilk, and wisk red food dye directly into buttermilk.
With the mixer on low speed, alternately pour the flour mix and the buttermilk mix into the mixer, beginning and ending with the flour.
In a small cup, combine the vinegar and baking soda, allow it to foam, and then quickly mix it into the cake batter.
Quickly portion the cake batter into the prepared pans and move to the preheated oven.  Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool for several hours before frosting them.  Use Cream Cheese Frosting to top them with.  You can cut the frosting recipe in 1/2 so you don't end up with a TON of frosting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gluten Free Apple Turnovers

First Attempt:
I've had a box of Orgran gluten free puff pastry mix sitting in the cabinet for months now, waiting to be used.  While the weather was so hot, I didn't even want to think about playing with a temperamental dough that MUST be cold to function.  Just the last few days have been beautiful early fall days here in New York, which inspired me, I bought a small bag of apples at the store the other day and it all came together for me, apple turnovers.  We had a family dinner date tonight, and I almost always bring dessert, so it was perfect, Tim was home all day to take care of Ceci while I devoted my time to handling the puff pastry.  It took me about 4 hours total to make 8 turnovers, but they were worth it, and it was the first time I have ever made turnovers so I think there is a huge learning curve there.
Second Attempt:
The box comes with good instructions on it, I was able to follow them very easily, and come out with a beautiful dough.  I must admit that the first time I used the mix, I was pretty tired and used poor math to calculate the amount of butter needed for the mix.  Only half the butter made it into the dough and resulted in a rather tough end product.  The second time I made it I used the full correct amount of butter and they were much better tasting, crispy, crunchy on the outside and nice on the inside.  Both times I made them it looked like Frankenstein had tried to make the turnovers, but it didn't hurt the taste at all.  I would advise you eat them as soon as possible, as the dough does get tougher over time, but 30 seconds in the microwave and a little ice cream never hurt anything either right??

Again I will warn you they are A LOT of work, for only a few turnovers.  I did make mine pretty big, maybe next time I will chop my apples smaller so I can make smaller turnovers.

Box of mix, with instructions on the back
This is the box I purchased at the store.  The instructions on the back are good, but you should read them a few times to get a good understanding of what they are saying before you dive into the project.  It also offers a Vegan Option for making the dough on the box.

Gluten Free Apple Turnovers

1 Box of Orgran All Purpose Pastry Mix
2+1/4 Sticks of Unsalted Butter
8.2 oz Soda Water

2 Medium Apples diced small
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground
1/8 tsp Cloves, ground
dash of salt

Mix Diced Apples, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt in a bowl and allow to rest while working the dough.

(Directions from back of Orgran Box)

1.  Cut 1 oz of butter into Pastry mix with pastry cutter

2.  Make a well and pour in the 8.2 oz of soda water

3.  Mix until well developed dough is formed.

4.  Cover dough and allow to rest for 10 min

5.  Roll out the dough to a rectangle shape so that it is 3 times as long as it is wide and approximately 1/4 inch thick.

6.  Thaw the 2 sticks of butter so it can be easily smeared over the dough, do not melt it, just soften it slightly.  (The instructions say to roll out the butter between two sheets of wax paper, I found this step really difficult and decided the second time around to soften the butter instead.)

7.  Smear the butter on 2/3 of the dough.

8.  Fold the remaining 1/3 of the dough over the butter and then fold again to completely cover the butter.  This is #1 half turn.

9.  Rotate the dough so the seam is on your right.  Repeat the folding process by rolling out the dough into a rectangle again.  This is now #2 half turn.

10.  Give the dough a total of 6 half turns.  cove and rest the pastry in the freezer for 15 minutes after every 2nd turn.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).

After you have rolled out the dough for the last time, cut it into 8 equal squares (I still can't master this step, that's why mine are not pretty.)  Place a small amount of the apple mix in the middle of the square and fold one corner over to the opposite, on the diagonal.

Pinch the seam closed with fingers or a fork if you like, just make sure it is tightly sealed so the juices won't leak out.  Repeat until all 8 are made, placing them on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet after they are sealed.

Cut a few tiny slits in the top of each turn over to let steam out so they don't explode in the oven.  Place baking sheets into the preheated oven and bake for 20 min.

Allow to sit on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  You can eat them when they are still warm, just be careful not to burn your mouth.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes

I got inspired by fall the other day and decided to make pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, it just seemed like the thing to do.   I found a small ziploc of pumpkin in the freezer (I have some stashed in there for making pumpkin scones) and figured I would mix it into the pancake mix somehow.  It wasn't to hard, just mixed the pumpkin into the liquids, and added some spices.    I couldn't have been happier with the result!  They were perfectly fall, with the cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.  The pumpkin gave them extra moisture, while making a delicious flavor.  With a bit of butter and syrup they made a fabulous treat on a fall morning.

I used Bob's Red Mill Pancake Mix that we had in the cabinet and followed the instructions on the package.  I just added the pumpkin and the spices, and cooked them up just like normal.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pancakes

1 Batch of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix (prepare according to instructions on package)
1/2 Cup Pureed Pumpkin
1     tsp Cinnamon (ground)
1/8  tsp Cloves (ground)
1/8  tsp Ginger (ground)

Mix up the pancakes according to the package and add in the pureed pumpkin and spices, and mix well.  You may need to add another tablespoon or two of milk to the batter to make the consistency nice and liquid-y.  Pour 1/4 cup of batter into a medium-hot non-stick pan and cook for about 3 minutes on one side, flip over and cook for another 2-3 min.  Cooking time may vary depending on your pan, and stove.  Cook until golden brown on the outside and cooked through the center.

Enjoy with butter and maple syrup, or any other delicious toppings you can think of!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Gluten Free Chocolate Honey Cake

Dusted with powdered sugar and coco powder
We were invited to a Rosh Hashana celebration for dinner tonight, and I asked if I could bring a dessert.  This will be our family's first Rosh Hashana dinner so I did a little research about traditional desserts and quickly found that Honey Cake is the most obvious choice.  After looking over so many recipes this morning I finally found one that I liked and had most of the ingredients for.  I made my exchanges for gluten free flours, and adjusted for the one or two items I didn't have in the house and away we went.  It was really easy to make, and baked up nicely too.  I did sneak a crumb off the bottom of the cake before I turned it out on to the drying rack, and it tasted pretty delicious, hopefully our hosts will think so tonight.  Below you will find the recipe I adapted from the original Chocolate Velvet Honey Cake by Marcy Goldman

After dinner we cut into the cake, and it was amazing!  Ceci had been waiting ALL day to have a few bites of that delicious, moist, chocolate, sweet, treat.  Everyone enjoyed it and was raving about it, in fact I was told that this could be my new passover assignment next year.  I was so pleased that it came out so sweet and moist, and everyone truly liked it.  Hope your family and friends enjoy it too!

1/4 cup Soy flour
1/2 cup Brown Rice flour
1 cup Tapioca Starch
1 cup Sweet Rice flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Xanthan Gum
1/2 cup cocoa

1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla
1 cup Strong Coffee
1/2 cup coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
Garnish: confectioner's sugar, cocoa, drizzled melted semi-sweet chocolate, 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously spray a nine- or 10-inch tube pan or angel food cake pan with cooking spray. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves.
In a stand mixer, add in the oil, honey, white sugar, brown sugar. Blend well about 1 minute. Add in the eggs, vanilla, and Coffee. Blend well for another minute.
Fold in the dry ingredients and blend for about two minutes, until smooth, stopping the machine once or twice to ensure that ingredients are all blended and not stuck at the bottom.
Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon or pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake on baking sheet and bake until done, about 60-75 minutes, until cake springs back when gently pressed with fingertips. Cool 10 minutes before unmolding from pan.
Dust cake with confectioner's sugar, or cocoa. Or, drizzle on melted, semi-sweet chocolate. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

3rd Birthday deliciousness

Happy Third Birthday Ceci!
A few weeks ago we celebrated Ceci's 3rd birthday, it was so much fun.  I can't believe how much she has grown and changed in the last year, and how well she has survived all we have been through.  She is speaking so well, running, jumping, dancing, joking, laughing, and enjoying life.  We have also in the last year found that she is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, and been battling Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in her left ankle.  Through it all she is cheerful and sweet and loving.  

Now about the party, we decided on a super hero theme for her birthday after we started looking at the invite list and realized there was only one other girl.  All of our friends have sons!  It was obvious that we would have to put princess or fairy parties on hold for at least another year until there are a few more girls participating.  The good news is that Ceci LOVES Super Hero Squad!  She knows all the characters names, and their super powers and whether they are good or naughty.  The show is a kids version of Marvel super heroes and villains and their battles against one another.  

One of the games, to fill a bucket with cups of water

My poor girl, and her silly father
We bought all sorts of Marvel Hero decor, plates, napkins, a pinata and other fun stuff.  I also allowed Tim to write up a fun adventure for the kids to work on during the party, it was great.  He picked a few games and wrote up messages from Iron Man for the kids to read and discover.  The kids LOVED it, the were screaming and yelling about how Iron Man had sent them all a special message just for them, Ceci still likes to look at the message and have Tim read it over and over again to her.  The only problem came when Tim came out in an Iron Man costume, the kids freaked out a little, even Ceci would tell me it was her Dad, but was very afraid.  The worst was when we had a friend come out in the Dr. Doom costume we created, the kids ran screaming, even though he was holding a pinata full of candy.  They eventually got over the fear enough to pull the strings and break the pinata open.  

I was up until 2 am the night before the party decorating super hero cookies, made from my gluten free sugar cookie recipe for everyone to enjoy at dessert.  One of my coworkers had previously purchased these cookie cutters herself and was sweet enough to loan them to me for the party.  My dear friend Sheri made the cupcakes for the party, and they came out great!  She made all the chocolate toppers freehand with with chocolate since she was away from all her equipment and supplies due to the hurricane.  They were so delicious, there was cinnamon in the vanilla cupcakes and a little mint candy in the bottom of the chocolate cupcakes.  I would never have dreamed of such elaborate gluten free cupcakes for a party, let alone for my gluten free, nut free child.  I really love all the possibilities that exist now, we are so fortunate.

Aren't these AMAZING??  Ceci was so pleased with them!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some parenting scatological humor

I know many people already know that you MUST have a sense of humor to be a parent or you are doomed, but somethings just bring out the 8 year old in me.  It may not be terribly nice and Ceci is going to dislike this post in about 10-12 years, but I just find these things funny.

It seems that Ceci suffers from some amount of motion sickness, we have been on two long car rides and the poor girl has tossed her cookies.  I am currently looking up tips and tricks to keep her from getting sick in the first place, but I would be a fool if I wasn't also hunting down something for her to "throw-out" (her translation of throw-up) into.  I've had more than my fair share of rides on the porcelain bus, so I figure I'm allowed to laugh at all this, long and hard if I must.  And now that I have my own little girl getting sick from time to time, if I don't laugh, I will be in tears.

I just had to share some of the emesis bags I have found over the course of the day because some of these are far to funny to keep to myself.  Apparently the people who make these things have a fantastic sense of humor too!

The first and my most favorite had me laughing so hard I cried.  You have to watch the little 5 minute video, and please while you are watching it imagine a little kid with this thing strapped onto them.  You will laugh too, I just can't imagine how the host talks about it with a straight face for the entire 5 minutes, he is very dedicated to his product.

The next one, is all sorts of cute and funny.  Who knew barf bags could be this interesting.  There are over 115 different designs to choose from and they can be used for so much more than puke.

Another one with a different target audience in mind, but still entertaining to me was,

Last and certainly not least were the ones we ended up buying, since they are carried at a local pharmacy.  The image on the box alone cracks me up.  It's horrible!

I hope this at least reached the 8 year old in you and made you chuckle.  I didn't realize there was such humor surrounding this touchy subject, I still thought it was a bit taboo, but it seems it certainly is not.  I'm happy to see that we can laugh and poke fun at all this because laughing is about the only way to survive the clean up.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Check your Gluten Free Medication

Today I Ceci and I went to one of her Drs and she mentioned I should check out a website to be sure that our medications are gluten free.  It was something I had NEVER considered before!  I felt better after reading the website, it turns out gluten in medication is not a common occurance.  All of mine and Ceci's medications were thankfully on the list.  Please double check your medications too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

How I survived school lunch time

Brings back so many memories!

I had the good fortune of finding out I had Celiac disease at a very young age (under two years old), and was more than fortunate to have parents who took immaculate care of my digestive system.  Being able to eat a school lunch was a very rare occurrence for me growing up, my mom packed my lunch everyday of my elementary and some of my middle school years.  At least until my preteen hormones kicked in and talked back to her about what she was packing, from that day on I was on my own (big mistake).

I remember vividly one of my favorite "sandwiches" to find, a plain Quaker rice cake smeared with Adams crunchy peanut butter, topped with banana or apple slices to keep the Pb from sticking to the sandwich bag, and to add extra fruit.  I can't tell you the thousands upon thousands of strange looks I got over the years, but to this day I sometimes make it for myself for lunch.  Now I just have to substitute sun butter for the peanut butter when Ceci is around.

If you are looking for different lunch ideas for yourself or your kids try this one, and if you need more inspiration take a look at the list Kim of Cook it Allergy free made of, PRINTABLE LIST OF 50+ ALLERGY-FRIENDLY LUNCHBOX IDEAS.  It's really inspiring!  Makes me rethink my own lunches for those days I feel in a rut.

In progress, pretty simple to make.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gluten Free Chinese Spring Rolls

Gluten Free Chinese Spring Rolls with Rice Paper wrappers
We made these the other night for dinner and I asked my husband, Tim to write a guest post for me since he cooked the filling and fried them up.  You may have noticed I love to bake but I actually struggle with cooking, the whole seasoning thing drives me wild, I just get frustrated with that kind of creativity.  Tim is great with seasoning things and tweaking so that the meals taste amazing.  We worked together to make these, I cut the stuff because Tim is down right dangerous with a knife, and when he rolled the spring rolls they came out looking like, well, poos.  I stepped in and helped roll, and they came out a lot better, of course.  Here is what Tim has to say about our experience.

I'm of Chinese descent. (Not sure if you knew that.) Being raised on authentic Chinese food, it's a requirement to know how to make authentic Chinese food at home. Quite simply, it's not always that practical to dine at an authentic Chinese restaurant for every meal. But there's also a lot of dishes that are extremely difficult to make at home. When I married Andrea, I saw that she couldn't enjoy a lot of my favorites, because they were glutinous. And not just glutinous rice, which is a misnomer, but actually contain gluten. One particular dish is the authentic Chinese spring roll. So, for the years I have known Andrea, she's never really been able to enjoy a crisp spring roll shell, with crunchy vegetable, and tender, juicy pork inside. This guest blog post will discuss something that falls into all the categories: authentic Chinese, hard to make at home, and usually glutinous.

One day, Andrea saw these rice roll wrappers in the store, and so I just had to use them to make spring rolls.
Gluten Free Rice Wrappers

So here's what I did. I marinated pork tenderloin in mushroom infused dark soy sauce and rice wine. I cut them into thin shreds (by "I", I actually mean "Andrea", who has much better knife skills than I). I then heated up two tablespoons of canola oil in a non-stick pan, and put in a teaspoon of garlic powder. (I didn't want to use fresh or minced, because the chunks would be too big.) I stir-fried the pork, tossed in some chopped scallions, and after cooking them through, transferred it to a separate plate.

Then, I sliced mushrooms, and sauteed them in canola oil, kosher salt, and white pepper, and removed them to another plate.

Then, I sauteed bean sprouts in canola oil, until slightly warm, threw in the cabbage, and then tossed it slightly, so it was still crunchy. I then added the pork and the mushrooms, and stir-fried them all together.

I then dipped the rice wrappers into water, just enough to make it pliable, put in about a teaspoon of the mixture, and rolled it up. (Again, "I" as in "Andrea".)

I contemporaneously heated up oil in another pan, until it was very hot, and then shallow fried the rolls. Unlike the wheat wrappers, the rice wrappers don't brown up as much, but the crispiness was there!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies with golden raisins

Soft and Chewy Gluten Free Oatmeal Golden Raisin Cookies (extra large size cookies)

A few months ago I had a serious craving for oatmeal raisin cookies, just had to have them kind of craving!  Unfortunately the only recipe I had was one from my mom's childhood that she loves.  Only problem with that is that Mom and I have serious fundamental disagreements on the type of cookies that qualify as perfect.  Mom loves thin, crispy, and crunchy, I prefer soft, chewy, and thick cookies, in fact borderline undercooked is my real preference.  I had to dig through a few cook books to find something I could work with, but I found one and started manipulating away.

I was heading over to Sheri's house for dinner, which usually means I bring dessert, so it was a perfect fit.  I was craving the oatmeal cookies and needed to bring something sweet to eat.  I knew I hit a home run with them when I had just arrived around 3pm and Sheri was already digging into the zip lock bag I had brought.  I was certain I had done really well when she didn't send the left overs home with me.

inside of extra large oatmeal raisin cookies
I couldn't have been happier with the result of the cookies, chewy, soft, sweet, fluffy, down right perfect!!  I would make these everyday if I could I love them!  Ceci loves them now too, the last time I made them she was right there next to me digging into the raw dough.  Maybe she is my daughter after all, sometimes I question, like when she eats ketchup on carrots and quesadillas, then she redeems herself by eating pinches of brown sugar out of the jar, or licking the rubber spatula clean of the brownie batter.

My new secret was to use my Cuisinart stick blender with the food processor attachment to pulverize the golden raisins.  I really enjoyed having the raisins chopped into tiny bits, it gave a beautiful texture to the cookie, and spread that sweetness more evenly throughout the cookie than the traditional whole raisins.  Ceci loved to push the button on the stick blender too, I love hearing that squeal and laugh as she sort of freaks out every time she pulses the button.

I hope you enjoy making and eating these deliciously spicy and sweet cookies as I do.  Unless you think cookies should be thin and crispy in that case I will have to work on converting the recipe from my mom's childhood.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies with Golden Raisins

1    Cup Unsalted Butter
1    Cup Brown Sugar, packed
2    Eggs
2 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Soy Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Sweet Rice Flour
1/2 Cup Tapioca Starch
1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
3/4 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
1    tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1    Cup Golden Raisins (finely chopped)
3 1/2 Cups Rolled Oats

In a stand mixer cream butter and brown sugar, add eggs and vanilla, mix until well blended.

In a separate mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients together.  Add dry ingredients into mixer with wet ingredients and slowly mix together, batter will be really wet looking at this point.

Using a food processor or finely chop golden raisins until nearly pulverized.  Fold chopped Raisins and Oats to cookie batter in the mixer and blend together until well combined.

Line a cookie sheet with silpat sheet or parchment paper, scoop cookies onto sheet by the tablespoon full for "normal" size cookies.  Or use a large cookie/cupcake scooper to make extra large cookies.
"normal" size gluten free oatmeal raisin cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet

Bake in a 350 degree (F) oven, 10-12 minutes for "normal" size cookies, or 18 minutes for extra large size cookies.

Place on a wire rack to cool.

"normal" size cookies fresh out of the oven