Monday, January 13, 2014

Pizza Pasta - A Quick And Easy Gluten Free Recipe

You've gotten in late; the kids are hungry. You are out of gluten free bread so sandwiches are out. What do you do? Keep these few things on hand for a rainy day: pepperoni, spaghetti or pizza sauce, cheese (regular or casein free), and some gluten free noodles.

We were in that situation the other day when we got home much later from a doctor's appointment later that I thought we would. I had some leftover noodles in the fridge, so I took a couple bowls and put a layer of noodles, pasta sauce, pepperoni, and cheese, heated them through in the microwave, and called it "Pizza Pasta."

My kids love it and beg for it on occasion. It's a great way to get in the pizza flavor without pulling out the flours and yeast and taking the time to throw together a crust. If you have a little more time (though it still doesn't take much), you can do it this way:

Pizza Pasta

GF pasta
pizza or spaghetti sauce
cheese, shredded

Boil the pasta according to instructions. In a sauce pan, simmer the sauce and the pepperoni. Drain your pasta, add the sauce, and put the cheese over each serving. It's really easy!

Serve with a salad or some veggie sticks with dip!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday's Flours - Potato Starch

Not to be confused with potato flour, potato starch is, like other starches, a fine, white powder. Potato starch is a bit of a staple when it comes to gluten free baking due to its ability to hold together without being sticky or gooey. It is particularly good in those recipes that are high in fat (like pie crust) because it doesn't harden like rice flour, and it lends a smooth texture.

The use of potato starch in your flour mix varies according to what you are baking. For some recipes we will use just a little, for some it might be half of your mix, and for others it might be most of our mix. That was a really unhelpful statement, huh? Well, it is really a flour you have to play with in each of your recipes. In pie crust it makes up the majority of our mix, whereas in pancakes it makes up about a quarter of the mix.

I would love to say, "Here! Here is the perfect gluten free baking mix that makes everything well!" But I just can't because, so far, I just haven't found a mix (be it homemade or store bought) that works for it all. But if you are working on a recipe that isn't smooth or fluffy enough, take out a little of the flour you are using and try a little potato starch instead.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Are You Gluten Intolerant?

I came across this article and thought I'd share. It gives a few possible symptoms of gluten intolerance (I have heard of quite a few more than 10; as a matter of fact, I've heard celiacs disease can have as many as 300 possible symptoms. What?!). Many people with this very set of problems will never figure out the cause. Click the link below to see if you suffer from any of them.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Southern Fried Cooking - Gluten Free Style

Southerners fry everything, right? I think it used to be much more true than it is today seeing as we live in a much more health conscious society. In fact, even as I was growing up fried foods were a special treat. My favorite fried treat was, and is to this day, fried okra. Throw a little flour on it, fry it up, salt it, and I'll take it over chocolate cake - no lie!

Well, my mom has been working on this and other southern specialties minus the gluten. She has found that 1 cup of potato starch and 1/4 cup sorghum flour makes the best combination for fried goodies. According to my daddy, the gluten free fried chicken she made last night "would make a rabbit slap a hound dog." And, yes, that is a direct quote.

Here are a few pictures she quick-snapped with her phone:

Pan fried chicken. Not the best picture, but I figured anything that could "make a rabbit slap a hound dog" was worth a shot.

Onion rings. Yum!!

Pan fried okra? Yes, please! And don't you love the quilted table cloth?!

Fried Summer Veggies - Though I'm sure my mother's family wasn't the only ones who did this mix, we always called it "Smith Special" Now that I'm looking at this, I see neither okra nor green tomatoes, which were always in Smith Special. So maybe this is just fried summer veggies.

Oh, and I have a confession to make. I may be one of the few southerners alive that doesn't like fried green tomatoes. But I loved the movie... Does that redeem me a bit?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Not Sensitive to Wheat? Maybe more than you think.

Every once in a while you come across an article that blows your mind. I mean, we know genetic engineering is happening with the foods we eat (possibly contributing to the epic proportion of stomach problems?), but have we considered what this really means to our health?

People are certainly living longer, but I've seen statistics that say the average amount of years at the end of persons lives in which the person is no longer able to care for themselves is increasing. It was 12 years just a few years ago, and I don't really want to know what it is now.

Now, I don't think that today's wheat is about to start the Zombie Apocalypse (no the article does NOT imply it will), but I think we need to be more aware of the crud we put into ourselves and our kids. And if this article is even exaggerated a bit, it is still terrifying (and I don't know - it might be completely accurate, but I can't help it, I'm a skeptic).

Check it out here: Modern Wheat Is 'The Perfect Chronic Poison' Expert Says

Monday, January 6, 2014

My Gluten Free Slow Cooker Stroganoff

Can you call anything made in a crock pot "spur of the moment," because this really was. I got up one morning and thought, "What shall I do with these beef tips?" And I stuck them in the crockpot with a chopped onion, a half cup of water, and some salt cooking them on low.

About an hour before supper, I added a cup of milk with a little salt and pepper whisked with two tablespoons of corn starch. Twenty or thirty minutes later, I put some gluten free noodles (I like Tinkyada brown rice noodle spirals) on to cook, drained them, and stirred them into the mix. I removed it from the heat source and added a cup of low fat sour cream. I served it with peas and a salad, and everybody (even the baby, well, he's almost two) was happy.

The only thing I will do differently next time is add a little soy sauce to the beef in the morning.

Here are the ingredients in nice, concise recipe form, but I won't repeat the instructions if that's okay with you.

Gluten Free Slow Cooker Stroganoff

1 lb beef tips (or any beef you have cut into chunks)
1 onion chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons corn starch
1tsp salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste
1 16oz bag gluten free noodles
1 cup sour cream (low fat or fat free should be fine)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Friday's Flours: Garbanzo Fava Flour

Or as I like to call it, Garfava flour.

I'm highlighting Garbanzo fava flour - a garbanzo and fava bean mix - because this flour has been easier for me to find than plain garbanzo flour. I'm not sure why this is, but it is fine because I can't really tell much of a difference between the two. In fact, the garfava flour might have a little less of that "beany" flavor.

The great thing about this flour is the texture. It cooks up wonderfully into muffins and other goodies because it is light and fluffy. You can use it free of other flours, and you'll be amazed that it bakes so well.

On the down side, it has a rather strong flavor. For this reason, I don't use it in very many recipes - at least not those that I serve to guests, especially not deserts. But if your goal is to go completely grain free, well, this is the flour for you. There are tons of grain-free recipes that use this flower awaiting your googling fingers.

The main recipe I use this flour in, however, is Farinata or Garbanzo Bean Flatbread. If you haven't had this Italian Flat Bread with soup, well, you just need to try it. And it is very simple. The basic recipe is as follows, but I suggest adding some salt and rosemary:

Farinata or Garbanzo bean flatbread

Eat while hot. Add black pepper and spices, if desired. This is a great gluten-free recipe.

1 cup chick pea/garbanzo bean flour 
1 3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon water

Mix together and allow this to sit overnight or for at least three hours. I don't know what this does, but this evidently what they do in Italy. It can get bubbly.

Add 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Heat oven to 500 degrees. (If your oven is hot, you might try 400 degrees first.)
Heat a skillet or pan in the hot oven. Take the pan out of the oven and oil with 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil. Put the pan back in the oven for about a minute.
Pour half of the batter into the pan. It will sizzle. Immediately put it back into the oven.
Let it cook about 10 minutes until it is done. Watch carefully so it doesn't get too brown.
Repeat with the second half of the batter.

Oh, and by the way. I don't do the mixing and sitting overnight, but then I'm not Italian. I hope my best friend (who is Italian) doesn't see this!