Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On-the-fly Supper Success

It can be a real challenge to come home and make a great gluten-free dinner when you haven't planned things out. I don't claim to be a great planner by any stretch, but when my kids are sick planning takes a definite back seat. Between the fevers and the snotty noses, I ran into the kitchen yesterday evening to figure out something to fix that would make everyone happy, and the following was the result:

I call it Cheeseburger Casserole. Even though this is not the greatest picture that I snapped very quickly, when I realized this new creation was universally loved by the numerous male persons in my household (and, admittedly myself) and might be a nice addition to our summer cookbook, I thought I should include a visual.

So, here are the ingredients:

1 20oz bag hash browns (garlic, salt, and white pepper flavored)
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion chopped fine
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Spread the hash browns around the bottom of a deep, greased casserole dish. Set aside. Brown the ground beef and onion adding salt and pepper. Drain the excess grease. Stir in the sour cream and spread the mixture over the top of the hash browns. Cover with pepper jack cheese, then cheddar cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until hash browns are fully cooked.

Serve with salad or your favorite vegetable.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Weekend Gluten-free Cooking

We are working on perfecting our gluten-free summer recipes, and I thought I share a few pictures of the results.
We worked on pasta salad with gluten-free pasta using our own salad dressing recipe - isn't it frustrating that so many salad dressings contain gluten!

Here's a single serving - and boy was it tasty!

I'm calling this our BLT Pasta Salad (even though the "lettuce" is actually spinach). We used Ken's lite ranch dressing, which is gluten-free, and Tinkyada Rice Pasta, which does particularly well when you give it a couple extra minutes of cooking time.

We also made this red cabbage slaw with an Asian flair - lots of ginger made this a delicious alternative to the traditional mayonnaise-based slaws.

We also made gluten-free cheese cake squares (in which the recipe is *almost* there) and our own from-scratch slow-cooker baked beans. Nowadays you can get gluten-free baked beans, but ten years ago when we started this journey, it was almost impossible to find. The weird thing? Baked beans don't need gluten. Now we are that much closer to having our "No Apologies Gluten-free Summer" cookbook finished! Yay!

Friday, April 25, 2014

It's Friday and I'm Gluten-free Pin Crazy!

I love Pinterest! I could spend hours using it, but there are two things I look up the most. One is crochet patterns. I recently took up crochet and found I love it! So I've been going a little crazy pinning things on my crochet board.

The other thing I pin the most are gluten-free recipes. I have a board called Gluten-free And Happy About It, and I pin any recipe that I think might be remotely nice to try. Many I have never tried, but I look forward to doing so - or at least something similar.

Is it terrible that I, a cookbook author, very rarely completely follow a recipe?

But I love the ideas, and I particularly love them on a Friday because I am thinking of the treats that I can make my family for the weekend. If you find yourself wondering what you are going to make for your family tomorrow night, you may want to check that board out by clicking the linked picture below.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

GFAF Atlanta Expo Author Team Members!

We are very excited to announce that we will be participants in the Gluten-free and Allergen-Free Atlanta Expo Author Team! We will have a table to display our book, and we are also looking forward to see all the new products available!

Tickets are available online here, and if you use the code AUTHATL, you get 35% off!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A new kitchen tool

Recently, I began looking for bun pans. I needed them to make gluten-free buns, because my grandson would almost never eat his gluten-free bun from the grocery store. It was not too surprising since they were usually a bit hard and were not a moist and tender as regular buns. Another motivating factor is that they were almost always three times the price of regular buns.

I finally realized that muffin rings would make great buns so I purchased two sets of four for approximately $12. And, I LOVE them!

After my dough is ready, I pour it into greased rings, then let them rise and bake them.

My grandson really likes them. It's the best kitchen tool I have found in quite a while.

Now if someone would just tell me how to get a reasonably priced hot dog bun pan, I would really appreciate it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Microwave-toasted Pumpkin Seeds - a family favorite snack

I found a similar recipe in a cookbook long ago, and I have been making this family favorite for quite some time. Even my husband who professes to dislike every kind of nut and seed but peanuts (and we can't keep those around because our little man with a severe allergy) loves these.

They are easy, yummy, AND healthy. Try them!

Now, you can put them in the oven and toast them, but would you believe they are not quite as good? They aren't. When you put them in the microwave, they puff up into a crunchy, well... puff. This doesn't happen in the oven.

All you need:
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons water

Mix all ingredients in a microwave-safe covered dish. I like my Pampered Chef Small Micro Cooker. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Stir. Two more minutes. Stir. One more minute. Stir. Do this until the seeds have turned puffy and brown. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Before cooking.

After the first couple rounds of cooking.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Gluten-free Chocolate Cake Recipe - Decorated for Easter

Do you like chocolate? I like chocolate. This gluten-free cake is FULL of chocolate. I made if for a family Easter celebration, and decorated it in the only way one can for such a celebration. With Peeps!

So you have a sunflower.

It was almost too pretty too eat - almost.

Whether you need it for a birthday, a graduation, or some other celebration, this gluten-free cake is an "any-kind-of-eater" pleaser.

Chocolate Cake
1-1/2 cups sweet (glutinous) rice flour 1 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup corn starch

2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup butter, melted 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sweet (glutinous) rice flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, corn starch, sugar, and salt. Stir with a wire whisk until well combined. Add oil, eggs, and water and combine until well mixed. Pour into two 9-inch round baking pans that are well-greased and lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until fork in middle comes out clean. Don’t overcook.

Chocolate Cocoa Frosting
2 boxes confectioners’ sugar
1 cup cocoa
3 sticks of butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
Approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk

In a small bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, and salt until well mixed using a wire whisk. Add butter and combine. Add enough milk to make the dough creamy and spreadable. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup - Four ways to enjoy!

Can you tell that I like to use my slow-cooker? Well, I did it again, and this time I made something that will please you no matter how you like to eat your Mexi-meal.

And, it is easy, low in fat, and will make your whole family happy.

First, throw the following into your slow cooker:

1 small package dry (about 2 cups) pinto beans (or black beans if you'd rather).
2 cans mild Rotel tomatoes
1 can corn niblets (or whatever canned corn you have), drained
1/2 to 1 package taco seasonings (depending on how spicy you like it)
3 chicken breasts

Cook on low for about 8 hours.

 Then grab a fork and break up the chicken breasts (they will pretty much fall apart at this point). Here comes the fun part - serve it up anyway you want.

Serve it as soup with a little shredded cheese and tortilla strips, or get out your slotted spoon and make nachos, tacos, or taco salad:

Look at that happy smile!

My husband likes it this way.

And I think my way is the prettiest. See that nice little dollop of salsa? Yeah, after the picture I dumped a bunch more on it. The great thing about using salsa as salad dressing is that it is fat free and full of lycopene!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Best Gluten-Free Brownies

If you are missing your traditional brownies that you used to love, then give these gluten-free brownies a try. These are loved by my pickiest gluten-loving friends (and gluten-free friends alike!). And the best part? They are easy to make!

Oh, and they have that little layer of crisp on the top with all of the ooey-gooey goodness below. Nom-nom!

Delightfully-rich Gluten-free Brownies
1-1/2 cups sweet (glutinous*) rice flour 2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup corn starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum 1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl, mix sweet (glutinous*) rice flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, corn starch, xanthan gum, and salt with a wire whisk. Stir in oil, eggs, water, and vanilla. Add chocolate chips and stir. Don’t over mix. Mixture will be very thick. Pour into greased 9 x 13-inch pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Makes 18 to 24 brownies.

*Glutinous rice flour is often found at your local Asian Market and refers to a type of rice also known as "sweet rice" or "sticky rice." Glutinous means sticky, not "containing gluten."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Recipes for our Gluten-free Summer Cookbook

I've been working on a few recipes for our upcoming cookbook, working title, "The No Apologies Gluten-free Summer." Here are a few things that are "almost there."

First I made Gluten-free Ham-n-cheese Biscuit Pockets. They weren't beautiful (as my mother was quick to inform me), but my boys loved them.

I was told by my middle child that these Gluten-free Pizza Bites were, "the best thing you've ever made!" I think they need a little more pepperoni.

Gluten-free Granola bars make a sweet snack that is healthier than traditional sweets, contain protein, and are travel-ready making them great for summer. This recipe is there in taste - needs a little help in the "holding together" department.

I think these recipes are all close to finished and will make great additions to our summer cookbook!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Better Gluten-free Slow Cooker Stroganoff

I have posted a stroganoff recipe before, but this one is better! Not to mention it was VERY easy.
Place the following ingredients in your slow-cooker in this order:

1 onion, chopped
1 package beef tips
1 package baby bella mushrooms, sliced (or do the pre-sliced if you prefer)
1/2 cups water
1/4 cup gluten-free tamari

Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

You will also need the following:
1 16 oz package Tinkyada brown rice pasta spirals
2 tablespoons corn starch or tapioca starch
1/3 cup water
8oz sour cream

When you get home from work (or when others get home from work), prepare your favorite gluten-free noodles. I prefer Tinkyada brown rice noodles because they hold up well (meaning you can keep on cooking them and they don't turn to mush) and have a nice flavor and texture - no gritty, grainy-ness.

Meanwhile, turn your slow cooker to high. In a cup or small bowl, stir two tablespoons corn starch or tapioca starch into a small amount of water (1/3 cup) until well-mixed, then add into your beef mixture. Stir this in quickly so that it doesn't "gunk" up.

Once you have drained your noodles, add them to your beef mixture and turn off your slow cooker. Stir in  8 oz sour cream, and serve with a salad.

I thought when I made this Saturday that there would be plenty left over to have for lunch on Sunday. Not so much. There was barely enough for one person! Next time I will double the recipe so can have them again. My family LOVES this stuff!

Leave me a comment if you are interested in a dairy-free version. I use a method similar to the cream sauce mentioned here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Breakfast for Dinner - Gluten-free

Sometimes a quick gluten-free breakfast is the best thing you can have for supper.

I try to plan ahead, but last night I had no idea when I opened the fridge what I was going to make when the inevitable question was asked, "What are we having for supper?!"

Fortunately, I hadn't used the sausage yet, there were plenty of eggs, my kids love muffins, and I always have grits in the pantry (hey, I'm from Georgia).

Have you seen this brand of sausage? Notice the top, left corner. It is labeled Gluten-free! When I saw this new brand being carried by my local grocer, I snapped it up. It was really delicious and worked well in my recipe.

Everyone had a healthy helping of sausage, egg, and spinach scramble topped with cheese, grits, and oat muffins. And the best part? We had leftovers for breakfast!

and for the grits, make them according to package instructions - although I use a cup more water and cook them longer. We like them thick, but less "gritty."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dairy-free Cream Sauce over Gluten-Free Noodles with Broccoli and Chicken

Admittedly not my best picture, but this is a family favorite. It is particularly good for those who are dairy-free as well as gluten-free.

To start, I put chicken tenders and broccoli in the oven to bake. It only takes about 30 minutes, and by then you can have the rest of the meal ready to put together and serve! I also put water on to boil for the gluten-free noodles, then I prepare the gluten-free cream sauce.

This is easy if you have a high powered blender, and fairly easy if you have an okay blender.

Put the following into your blender:

2 cups water
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon corn starch (if you can't do corn, try millet flour)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Blend on high until completely smooth. This will take 1 to 5 minutes depending on your blender.  Pour into a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil over medium heat stirring regularly. Remove once it thickens.

By now your gluten-free noodles and chicken and broccoli should be finished. Add it all together in a large bowl and stir together. Serve with a salad. Your family is happy!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Gluten-free Fajitas - Oven Style

Does your family love tacos/fajitas/burritos as much as mine? We love to eat them, but I didn't used to love making them. Cutting up the ingredients; taking the time standing over the stove while stir-frying - it's hard to do when your kids are running around getting into things. So I started throwing the ingredients in the slow cooker, and that was better.

Now, you are probably one of those wonderful morning people who jumps out of bed an hour before the rest of your family, and by the time your kids and spouse lumber sleepily from of their beds, their lunches are ready, breakfast is hot and waiting on the table, and supper is in the slow cooker. That's you, right?

It's not so much me, as much as I would like it to be. After I hit "snooze" for the third time, we find ourselves shoveling down breakfasts, throwing together lunches, and putting our shoes on the wrong feet before having to switch and run out of the door screaming, "gonna be late!"

So not every day is like that. But on the ones that are, supper does not end up in the slow cooker. On the off chance you have a day like that, pull out your handy-dandy casserole dish and fix your fajitas this way:

extra virgin olive oil
1 onion chopped into slivers
1 bell pepper deveined and cut into slivers
1 package chicken tenders
1/2 package taco seasoning (but sure to check your brand for gluten - it is very common in seasoning packs)
Shredded cheese
Shredded lettuce
Taco sauce (again checking for gluten) or Salsa

Pour a little olive oil around the bottom of your dish. Layer in the onion, pepper, and chicken. Pour the spices over the top. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is finished. Serve with your favorite gluten-free tortillas or with hard taco shells (or both as we do). You can easily double the recipe and simply increase the cooking time. Add other toppings of choice. I usually include and can of refried beans, mix it with a little salsa, and heat it in the microwave.

I try to keep this as simple as possible by buying cheese and lettuce already shredded. Then this really is a quick and easy meal.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Fruit Roll Fail - Fruit Chip Success

I was very excited when my husband gave me an Amazon gift card for Valentine's Day (hopeless romantic that he is), and I used to get one of these:

Yes! My very own food dehydrator! Okay, so maybe you're not as excited as I am, but I have been wanting one for a while to make snacks for my boys and to dry herbs from my herb garden.

The first thing I decided to make was fruit rolls. I blended up my strawberries and apples, poured them onto my fruit roll trays, and plugged in the dehydrator.

Now, when you're new dehydrator says, "dries food in hours, not days," it means it! Even though I started the process later in the evening, this is what I found in the morning:

But while I could not roll them into strips, and they weren't exactly pretty, I found that my family loved the "fruit chips." I call them chips because they were quite crispy and I had to break them into irregular shapes. However, instead of the fail that I thought I had, it was a great success! The only problem I have now is to decided whether I want to make fruit rolls or fruit chips the next time.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Gluten Free March Madness Treat

Looking for something gluten free to take to a Final Four party this weekend? Try out our delicious snack mix. I've posted this before, but I couldn't resist mentioning it again for the big games this weekend. Deberah got this idea from Recipe Girl, who made it with gluten, but it just took a few tweaks to get the gluten out!

Gluten-free Frito Snack Mix

3 cups Frito's
3 cups Rice Chex
3 cups Glutino Pretzels
2 cups mixed nuts (in the version picture we just used cashews due to a severe peanut allergy)
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup lite corn syrup (or brown rice syrup)
2 cups M&Ms

Mix the Frito's, nuts, Rice Chex, and Pretzels and spread on a pan ("we" spread on two pans). In a small sauce pan, combine the sugar, butter, and corn syrup and cook over medium heat, stirring for four minutes.

Pour evenly over the Frito's mixture and bake 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and turn mixture over before returning to the oven to bake another 8-10 minutes (I actually did help with this step!). If using two pans, be sure to switch the one on top to the bottom.

Spread the mix out on tin foil to cool. Once completely cool, break apart and transfer to a large bowl. Mix in M&Ms. Enjoy!

UPDATE: If you would rather use brown rice syrup (mentioned above), be careful not to overcook! As a matter of fact, shorten the baking time by several minutes, and check it regularly to make sure it is not getting too brown!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Gluten Free Cookbook

Looking for a great new gluten free cookbook that will allow you to have your favorite comfort foods? Our cookbook is available now in print as well as on Kindle. Check it out on! Click on the picture below.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Gluten-free Birthday Cake

My baby turned two. My little Isaiah. I can't really comprehend it. He was just a tiny infant a few days ago, right? Sigh. Time passes quickly.

Having two older brothers means that he's into a few things that his older brothers were not at his age. Yes, his favorite thing to do is play "Boom, Boom" aka Angry Birds.

We started calling it "boom, boom" because that what we'd say to Noah (our oldest child who has special needs) every time a bird would hit the pigs' structures. Noah would laugh hysterically, and Isaiah used it to refer to the game he wanted to play (which, of course, means our family will forever call it by that moniker).

Which brings us to Isaiah's "Boom, Boom" birthday party. I don't much fancy spending a ton of money on a party that he won't really remember, but fortunately my mom can whip up just about any kind of cake - even when she is particularly busy doing about ten other things as on this occasion. So this is what she brought to the party (what would I do without her?!).

Now, Isaiah doesn't need to eat gluten-free (which puts him in the minority in our family), but that doesn't stop his from enjoying a gluten-free cake as you can see here.

And here is the recipe for both the cake and the decorator frosting. The actual artistry is up to you. You can do a "Boom, Boom" theme or even a castle like my mom did a few years ago for my niece .
 Or you can just slap on a little frosting and write "Happy Birthday" like I would have to do. With this recipe, it is up to you.

Yellow Cake
1-1/2 cups sweet (glutinous) rice flour 
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup corn starch
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2/3 cup oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, add the sweet (glutinous) rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, corn starch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil, eggs, and vanilla until well mixed. Add flour mixture and combine. Pour into two 9-inch round baking pans that are well-greased and lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top of the cake is firm to the touch. Don’t overcook. If this cake is browned, it can be overdone. Cool for at least 30 minutes before frosting.
Buttercream Decorator Frosting can be used on many types of cakes, in- cluding yellow cakes, chocolate cakes, cupcakes or cake sculptures. Our families use this frosting on cakes for celebrations.
Buttercream Decorator Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (add whipping cream until icing is of perfect spreading consistency)
Gel food colors (optional)

Cream butter and add the flavoring. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar and then the whipping cream in small amounts until it is well mixed. If it gets too stiff, add more whipping cream and mix until smooth and creamy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Salad with Quinoa

Another great use for left-over quinoa? Put a 1/2 cup on a bed of spinach, carrots, green onion, and radish. I use an olive oil/apple cider vinaigrette. Great for dinner on those nights when the hubby is working late!

I get this brand of quinoa at Kroger - it's several dollars cheaper than the brand I have been buying.