Monday, November 25, 2013

Tailgating for gluten-free diet

In addition to loving football, this fan also is on a gluten-free diet. That makes tailgating a little boring so we decided to try and take it up a notch with our tailgating menu.

Today's spread included, GF mac and cheese, GF corn dog muffins, GF make-your-own sandwich wraps (GF wraps, turkey, cheese, lettuce and mayo), a vegetable tray with ranch dip, a grab-you-own fruit tray, GF brownies, GF chips and a cooler filled with  bottled water and soft drinks.

The GF mac and cheese was everyone's favorite. We made cheese sauce from 2 cups whole milk, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, salt, pepper and added three cups of grated sharp cheddar after the milk mixture had thickened, poured it over the noodles, mixed well and dumped it into a crock pot. We covered the top with a cup of cheddar and heated it for about an hour on low in the crock pot.

On the way to the game, we could hear, "Wow, that mac and cheese sure smells good." and "I am getting hungry."

The corn dog muffins were good and easy to make. A GF muffin mix and quarters of hot dogs baked until done. We brought Ketchup with us but we did have a few calls for mustard.

The GF brownies--Yummy!

The fruit tray, which was just all kinds of washed fruit: grapes, bananas, strawberries, apples and plums and blueberries were all gone by the end of the day.

The team won. We had plenty of good-for-you snacks and a few not so good for you snacks. Plenty of fun and excitement. We enjoyed the day and the meal. The best thing was that even if someone stopped by and wanted something we didn't have to warn them that we were serving a gluten free meal.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Betty Crocker gluten free cookies

In the grocery store the other day, I was looking for gluten free cookies for my grandson's upcoming visit and I will admit to being rather depressed when I saw the price of ready made GF cookies. I picked up two packages of cookies and the total cost--$12!

Then I put those cookies down and decided to try an easy GF chocolate chip cookie mix. It was a bit pricey compared to the regular cookie mixes. This one was $4.69 at Kroger. However it was much cheaper than the ready made variety. Even when I figured the cost of butter, an egg and a teaspoon of vanilla, I thought the price was SO much better.

So what was the verdict? I really like this mix. The cookies taste "homemade from scratch." I thought the cookies didn't really taste very gluten free--in fact they were quite yummy. The mix was easy. I just used a wooden spoon to mix and my kitchen still smells wonderful after the cookies were baked. I think the mix was a great idea. It doesn't make quite as many cookies as a regular mix but I baked about three dozen cookies.

All in all, a good experience. I would make them again--the last test is my grandson and I believe he will approve.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pimento cheese: A healthier version

I am always looking for a party spread or dip to take to parties that is gluten free. One of my favorites is a variation of an old standby-pimento cheese. There is absolutely nothing like it. It is pimento cheese but with a fresh new flavor. I used to buy the pimento cheese I found in the dairy case at the grocery store but now I am hooked on this pimento cheese recipe. It is healthier than the regular version.

Serve with corn chips, gluten free crackers or as a dip with fresh vegetables, including celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers and more.

Herbed pimiento cheese dip or spread
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt, softened

1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise 
4 ounces nonfat cream cheese 
1/3 cup nonfat ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (or other herbs of your choice)
1 seven-ounce jar of pimentos, drained
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated 
Salt and pepper to taste

In a bowl mix the yogurt, mayonnaise and cream cheese and ricotta together until smooth and creamy. Add the onions, herbs and pimentos. Add the grated cheddar until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving so the flavor will be enhanced.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Go Gluten Free Magazine

I'm not much of a magazine junky, but I was excited when my mom came across this one while we were out shopping the other day.

 It is really exciting to see how much more gluten free information there is out there, and this one has some really good information, like this article about common gluten myths. Actually I wish this article was on a billboard in every major city. A friend of mine one time posted the following on Facebook, "I'm not sure what a 'gluten' is, but I'm pretty sure I love it." I groaned and with great restraint kept from commenting, "Well, it's a good think you don't have celiac disease." She was among those that think gluten free is a fad that will fade with time. If only that were true, right? Anyway, great article.

And the magazine is chock full of recipes! I'm not sure if any of them are good, but I sure plan to try some out, and I'll let you know. Many of these recipes wouldn't contain gluten regardless, but they are still good recipes. And there were a lot of cookie and cake recipes as well. I will say that while several of the recipes were free of casein as well, many of the recipes contain milk and cheese, so if you are GFCF, then you will have to adjust the recipes.

Among a number of good articles was this one about gluten free apps. How cool is that?! Definitely a good magazine to check out!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday's Flours - Gluten Free Oat Flour - Or is it?

I've heard many arguments about whether or not Oat Flour can really be gluten free. Does it contain small amounts of gluten itself? Or is it contaminated in a factory that also processes wheat?

Some of that may be based on just how sensitive you are to wheat. You see, the USDA calls any product containing less than 0.05 ppm of gluten free of the stuff. But I've heard of a small population (the severest of celiacs) that is sensitive even to this tiny amount. Most people, however, including both of my allergic sons, do not have a problem with Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oat flour.

Oat flour is wonderful to use in gluten free baking, so I'm hoping this issue is eventually resolved to everyones' satisfaction. Oat flour has a sweet flavor and makes some of the best quick bread and sweet breads I've ever had, including muffins. It is also higher in protein and has more fiber than some gluten free flours out there.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

GF Bento boxes for your trendy kids

It is hard to believe but almost half of the school year is over. If your child has come home complaining that their lunch is just not good or "hip" enough and you are sending them out with anything but an Oscar Mayer Lunchables meal, you are probably right. If you visit the supermarket, you will be faced with a virtual wall of Lunchables meals that really do look pretty cool. Some of them even have prizes and special offers on the back.

The days of making a good old peanut butter and jelly or a bologna sandwich on white in a plastic sandwich bag is just not stylish enough for kids today and for a child with allergies and sensitivities, it could even make them sick. 

I've seen them at school. They don't seem very appetizing to me, but for kids (and Oscar Mayer) they are gold. Kids think they are cool and Lunchables are very popular since a mom doesn't have to worry with preparing anything. Just throw them in a sack or cool bag and the kids are ready for the bus.

The problem for some of us is that our children who must have special diets are just out of luck, unless you take advantage of a new trend started by Japanese mothers. Your kids can easily be considered cool and trendy, too, even if you are sending them to school without a Lunchables meal.

Japanese cuisine has long focused on pleasing the eye as well as the palate and the practice of making Bento boxes filled with beautiful and sometimes exotic treats for Japanese husbands and children to take to work or school has now reached our shores. Here is a link to a website that takes bento boxes to a whole new level with a contest of lunch box ideas. 

Using this idea as a model, we are finding new ways to make gluten-free meals look and taste even better than the high-cost, less healthy versions found in the grocery department.

 Some websites and blogs like the one below by and might help you with some great lunch ideas.

She has taken the plastic lunch container and filled it full of good ideas and nutritious meals. It is hard to believe the variety of colors and shapes she has packed into these little containers.

Just recently we found these great economical lunch boxes on that can be used to make gluten-free bento boxes for your children. I think it could get them excited about lunch time again. Here is the link.

I'm not suggesting that you spend hours making miniature animals from food, but I do think using these or similar lunch boxes can make school lunches a treat for your kids. They can even be made ahead and just popped in a bag before school.

 So instead of wishing things could be different, check out these ideas. You might just find you can even get your kid excited about eating his or her vegetables--an intriguing idea isn't it?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday's Flours: Glutinous Rice Flour

This flour is a fairly recent discovery for me, but it has been a fabulous one! Do not despair fellow gluten sufferer. Glutinous does not mean "containing gluten" but "sticky." The type of rice from which this flour is taken is often called sticky rice, and it is also known as sweet rice. Of course, this is the flour that you are used to hearing - sweet rice flour.

I've used several brands so far, but the only one that really works well for cakes and breads (for me, at least) is this kind that I pick up at our local Asian food market. I know, I know. It is hard to know for sure the gluten content of food produced outside this country. So far, my little guy has had no problems with this flour. Also, I am trying other types of sweet rice flour to see if they work as well.

The comparison with Bob's Red Mill sweet rice flour is obvious straight out of the bag. I know they love their stone ground method, but their flour is much more course than the kind I like, and it just doesn't bake up as well. I'm thinking about trying to grind it up a little finer in my high powered blender, and I'll let you know how that turns out.

I've also ordered the Ener-G brand of sweet rice flour, and I'll let you know how that turns out as well.

But for now, I find that nothing works better than the glutinous rice flour in cakes, cookies, and brownies. So now that I've explained that to you, you can expect that brownie recipe I've been promising you early next week!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween -- Gluten Free Style!

We've made a number of Halloween treats this season, but there are a couple of ideas that I got from pinterest and tweaked them to make my own Gluten Free versions.

This one didn't involve much tweaking, but it was by far the easiest. All I had to do was to make sure the yummies I purchased had no gluten, which they did not. I think the one I saw on pinterest used cookie crumbs, but these sprinkles worked great. And for something so easy, my munchkin sure has enjoyed having this as an after school treat this week!

I saw this idea on pinterest as well. I simply made my own gluten free chocolate cake recipe (which I'll give you before long) in a bundt pan - twice. I made a small amount of chocolate frosting from the recipe on the back of the Hershey's cocoa container to put between the cakes to hold them together, and made a typical glaze coloring it with red and yellow gel food coloring. The "stem" was brown fondant icing that we molded and placed in the middle of the cake.

They were both big hits with the fam!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Goodbye Gluten Wraps

I haven't forgotten about your brownie recipe -- and it is coming. Boy was it good! Actually, a family member that typically poo-poos my recipes on principle of them being gluten free loved the brownies. She totally thought I'd used a mix! She said they were the best brownies she had ever had. Wanted to know what mix I had used. Really!

Okay. Enough bragging. I want to tell you about something that has changed our lives -- at least in the area of sending lunch to school. I am very happy to say that Publix has been carrying Goodbye Gluten wraps, and now I can send "sandwiches" to school with my son. Unfortunately, his school does not provide a microwave for students, which makes school lunches a challenge. But with these wraps, not only are there no complaints -- he'd rather have a lunch from home than a lunch from school. I am so excited about this!!

Today I sent his favorite - a pizza wrap. Cheese, pepperoni, and some pizza sauce rolled up and stuffed in a baggie. But he loves a sandwich with cheese, meat, lettuce, tomato, and chopped green onion as well. This has made school lunches much easier. I send some chips, juice, fruit, and a homemade, gluten free dessert as well. Today some sugar cookies cut with pumpkin cutters.

If you are finding gluten free school lunches a challenge, tell your local grocer to get these wraps!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gluten Free Brownies - recipe to come!

Here's a photo of my gluten free brownies that are so very delicious. I'll be posting the recipe before too long, but I need to talk a little bit about flours before I do that. So here's the teaser. I guarantee, these brownies need no apologies!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Almost There GF Coffee Cake

I love coffee cake, but it is another one of those recipes that I would not have thought 'doable' gluten free. But I love it so much that I decided to give it a good try. Being the brave (or perhaps crazy) woman that I am, I threw it together and fed it to my dinner guests.

Here it is before adding the glaze.

Honestly, I thought the recipe needed a little work. The cake part turned out a little dense and gooey, but you wouldn't know it by the group of college football players who gobbled it up (including one very picky eater).

This is what was left.

I'm not going to give the recipe yet because I want to try a couple more things, but this recipe is "almost there" and one that I am excited to add to our gluten free "arsenal." Never thought of dessert as a weapon? Then you've never fed a group of college-age boys!

Oh, and by the way, I didn't apologize for the gluten free cake. I didn't happen to mention that it was gluten free at all!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gluten-free football cake

It is always the perfect time chocolate cake, but now is the time for cheering on your favorite team with a festive chocolate football cake.

I am always concerned when making a cake sculpture from a gluten-free cake because it could be harder to cut out and "cement" together with icing than a normal cake because gluten-free cakes can be a little crumbly. However, this time, the cake turned out fine and it held up to being sliced and shaped.

For this cake I made a 9 x 13 rectangular layer and a 9-inch round layer. I purchased a cake board and lined it with parchment paper. I put the baked rectangular layer in the center then cut off two sides of the round layer and added them to the end. After this I trimmed the cake to look like a football. After the excess cake and crumbs were removed, I removed the parchment paper.

I then made a large batch of chocolate frosting and frosted the entire cake.

After this I used white fondant for the white bands that I purchased at a craft store (in this case, Hobby Lobby). I rolled the fondant into thin strips and cut it out with a knife and made a small amount of white frosting for the laces and the optional message.

The grass was so easy. It is made from sweetened coconut and green food coloring, all mixed up in a bowl to the right color. I added the green coconut mixture all around the edge to simulate grass.

Here is the gluten-free recipe:

Gluten-free yellow layer cake
2-1/4 cups sweet (sticky or glutinous) rice flour
3/4 cup potato starch
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup corn starch
3 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup oil
6 eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
Butter to grease pans

Grease 9 x 13 metal pan and 9-inch round pan with butter. Line with parchment paper. Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Mix all flours, baking powder and salt in a bowl (first six ingredients). Mix dry ingredients well with a wire whisk, then set aside.

Mix oil and sugar together in a mixer. Add eggs and vanilla flavoring and mix on high until slightly fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Mixture will be a little stiffer than a batter with wheat. Pour into the two prepared pans and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 35 minutes or until cake is done. Follow the directions above to finish the cake.

Chocolate cocoa frosting
3 sticks of butter, softened
2 boxes Confectioner's sugar
1 cup cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
Approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk

In a smaller bowl combine Confectioner's sugar and cocoa until well mixed. (I use a wire whisk.) Mix butter and Confectioner's sugar. Add enough milk to make the dough creamy and spreadable. Frost cake using this mixture.

White decorator's frosting
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 box Confectioner's sugar
Enough milk to make soft enough to put into piping bag.

Mix together until creamy. Add to decorator's bag and add laces to football and add message.

Follow directions above to frost and decorate the cake. Then kick back cheer on your favorite team!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No Apologies

So, you, your kids, or your family have gluten allergies/sensitivities. And you've had to give up on all those wonderful foods you love, right? I mean, you've bought the gluten free stuff in the store, and it is okay. You've found a couple of mixes you like, but they cost an arm and a leg -- and those suckers don't grow back! You've gotten the cookbook(s) that gives you the gluten free "how to," but there are only a couple recipes out of a hundred that you like.

Or maybe this isn't you, but it was me a few years ago. I have a son with special needs, and he introduced us to the need to prepare foods a little differently, but then he was allergic to so many things that we had to prepare his food completely by itself. Then we found out that my second son was also sensitive to wheat, so a couple of years ago my mother and I started in earnest working on recipes that could give him, not just a version of what other kids were having, but a version that the other kids were going to want--food so good that there would be no need to say, "Sorry, it's gluten free."

We've had successes and we've had failures--although we prefer "failures" to be just another step on the way to finding great recipes. 

So far, my third child doesn't show any sensitivity to wheat, though the little rascal does appear to be sensitive or allergic to eggs. It couldn't be easy, could it?

While we are working on this problem, too, and will share recipes and products that serve the needs of those with multiple sensitivities, wheat (gluten) will be our main focus. 

Come along with us as we continue our journey into the world of gluten-free cooking. The blog where the food is so good, there is no need to apologize for it!