Monday, January 31, 2011

Why I haven't been blogging--Birthday Time!

I apologize for not blogging much this last week.  I've been stressing over my older son's birthday (which was yesterday) and his first ever friend birthday party.   It went very smoothly and we had a blast, and once again I managed to pull off an amazing birthday cake.  I have made it a tradition that they can ask for anything for a birthday cake and I will do everything in my power to make it happen, I haven't failed yet, and I hope I never fail, because they really look forward to it and they need something extra special for their birthdays.  Another awesome thing, the friends had no idea that the cake was gluten free, dairy free, and soy free. :)  I just used the Kind Arthur Chocolate Cake Mix for the cake, made some buttercream frosting and marshmallow fondant to cover it.  Here's the link to my past cakes, I've never taken a cake decorating class--I'm not saying this to brag, I'm just telling you that anyone can shape and frost a cake, and make something amazing for their kids. :)





Also, in shaping cakes, you tend to have scraps of cake leftover.  So, I decided to join the world of cake pops, everyone is doing it, so I thought I'd give it a try, since I needed to come up with a treat to take to daycare to celebrate my son's birthday today.  I eyeballed everything, so I don't really have a recipe for this.  I broke up the cake into crumbs/small pieces, then mixed in frosting (not too much or it just is really sticky), until I could form it into balls.  I then stuck the balls onto a stick and placed them in the fridge to firm up a bit.  Right before serving rolled them in powdered sugar (or dip in icing, or chocolate, or whatever you like) and voila cake on a stick--cake pops!



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

My very favorite soup at Olive Garden was there Zuppa Toscana, so today I made it.  I used Savoy Cabbage, instead of Kale, because I got some with my bountiful basket today. It definitely hit the spot.

Zuppa Toscana

6-8 slices bacon
3/4 cup onion, finely diced (it was 1/2 onion for me)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (it was 3 cloves for me)
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
1 large Russet Baking Potatos sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices (or 2 medium ones)
4 cups Chicken Broth or stock
2 C. Kale (like I said, I used Savoy Cabbage, you could also use swiss chard, as well)
2/3 C. So Delicious Coconut Milk (I used the unsweetened this time, because that's what I had)

In a large sauce pan cook bacon over medium high heat until crispy, remove, crumble, and set aside.  Add onion to bacon drippings and cook until transparent.  Add in garlic and cook for another minute.  While the bacon, onions, and garlic are cooking, in a skillet cook the sausage until done, breaking up just like you would for ground beef. :)  Set aside. Once onions and garlic are cooked, and the chicken broth and potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender, but aren't falling apart.  Add the Kale, bacon, and sausage and cook for 3-4 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk and heat through.


This is Savoy Cabbage, in case you were wondering. :)


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Homemade Coconut Milk Icecream (without an icecream maker)

Okay, for those of you that don't know, I am a scientist by trade.  Today I gave a presentation on colligative properties, which actually consist of things we see in our every day lives, but may not think about.  The four properties are: freezing point depression, boiling point elevation, vapor pressure, and osmosis/osmotic pressure.  By adding solvents (like salt, sugar, etc.) to a solute (water, for example) these properties will change for that solution.  This is why putting salt on the icy roads melts it--it changes the freezing point of the water (well, it would actually be salt water now).  And this is also why you need to add salt to your ice when you are making ice cream.  The freezing point of cream (and I'm guessing coconut milk is similar enough) is around 27F, where the freezing point of water is 32F.  It is impossible for ice cubes to freeze the cream to make ice cream., but by adding the salt to the ice, it drops the freezing point down a few degrees creating the optimal freezing conditions. I love science! :)

So, today when I was giving my presentation to my coworkers I had them make their own ice cream--because we do need to fun at work every once in a while. :) This would be really fun to do with your kids or at a birthday party, etc.  You can also make bigger batches, I just have the single serving listed below, so every one can make their own. :) Just be sure you wear your snow gloves or oven mitts, because the ice gets really, really, really cold. :)



Homemade Coconut Milk Icecream

1/2 cup coconut milk (like Thai Kitchen, so the actual real creamy, canned coconut milk), you could use dairy-free milk, but then it would be ice milk, not ice cream--so, not nearly as creamy. :)
1 1/2 T sugar
1/4 t vanilla
optional add-ins: 1 T cocoa or ~3 T pureed fruit (like strawberries...mmmm) If you want to add chunks of stuff (cookie bits, strawberry pieces, etc.), wait until after the ice cream is frozen, then stir in those pieces

For ice cream making:
~1 2/3 cup ice
~1/3 cup salt (if you have rock salt great, if not use whatever salt you have, it doesn't really matter)
1 Ziploc Sandwich Bag
1 Ziploc Gallon size storage bag

Directions
Mix all ice cream ingredients together and pour into the sandwich bag (you could also mix the ingredients in the bag, too).  Remove all excess air from the bag and seal it (make sure it's sealed really well, or you'll have salty ice cream).

Place ice and salt in the one-gallon bag, and add the sealed ice cream bag.  Remove as much excess air from the gallon size bag and seal it.

Knead the bag for 7-10 minutes.  You will want to have gloves on during this because it gets cold.  Make sure, also, that when you are knead that the small bag is in constant contact with the ice, and that it is the small bag you are kneading.  This will keep the ice crystals small and create a very smooth and creamy ice cream.

Remove the ice cream bag and wipe off the salt water from the outside of the bag.  Your ice cream will probably be a little soft, but it will be delicious. You can also freeze it and enjoy it later, the ice cream in the above picture was in the freezer for about an hour and a half before I dug in and indulged. :)  It's my own Neapolitan ice cream. I actually did three 1/2 servings in 3 different sandwich bags, but put them all in one gallon size ice bag, and it worked just fine.

Enjoy your ice cream!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pakora Pancakes

I love Indian food, a lot.  So, we had it again last night, even though I know that my family really doesn't love it, my husband was good and ate the chicken curry and rice, the boys ate rice and clementines and I gorged myself on the curry, Saag Aloo, and these little pancakes.  I really wanted pakoras, but if you look at my recipe or know how to make pakoras you know they are deeped fried--which of course makes everything taste better, but I've been trying to be a little bit better with my eating habits, so I decided no pakoras.  But then I had the thought of using the batter for pakoras to make savory pancakes/flatbreads to go with the meal, because I definitely didn't have the time to make naan.  So, that's exactly what I did, and I couldn't stop eating them.  So, if you love the flavors of pakoras, you'll love these. :)



Pakora Pancakes

1 1/2 cups garbanzo bean flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1- 1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Mix together all of the dry ingredients (except cilantro leaves).  Pour in water, add less or more depending on how thick/thin you like pancake batter, I used 1 1/4 cups. Add the cilantro and mix well.  Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.  Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot, best, of course, with a good curry to dip it in. :)

Cocktail Meatballs

I'm way behind on posting, so I apologize.  We had these meatballs on Sunday, my boys usually do not like meatballs and always attempt ways to get out of eating them...but my older son really loved these, and they are super easy to make.  I'm sure many of you have seen this recipe, or ones similar to it, but it's awesome, because it's easy! We ate our meatballs with rice, just so you know. :)



Cocktail Meatballs

1 16oz bottle grape jelly
1 12oz bottle cocktail sauce
~2lb of gf meatballs, you can use this recipe or the recipe below

Directions

Mix grape jelly and cocktail sauce together in a large sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, add meatballs and reduce and simmer for ~30 minutes.


Sausage Meatballs
12 oz  hamburger
8 oz pork sausage
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and form into 1" balls and place on cookie sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pizza Crust

Okay, I think I am finally finished changing, converting, and manipulating pizza crust recipes...at least for now.  I made pizza tonight and it turned out pretty good.  It was had some crispness from the pizza stone, but wasn't too heavy, like some crusts I've made.  It has a good flavor, we all ate till we were stuffed, so that's a good sign. :)  I make my own pizza sauce using my friend's recipe, it's simple and really good. And I'm sure you can tell by the pictures everyone has their own preference for toppings.  I don't put daiya cheese on my half, but my little one loves it on his half, and my older son and hubby, who can eat dairy, smother theirs with cheese.  By the way, my hubby is not gluten intolerant, but he does eat my pizza, along with about everything else I make.  He is really the one I gauge if the recipe is good or not, and he ate half a pizza...so it's a hit! :)


Homemade Pizza Crust

1 3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon fast-rising dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups gf flour blend (if not using my blend, make sure your blend has xanthan gum or add 2 tsp. of it)
1 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup millet flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (one packet of Knox Gelatine)


Directions

In a small bowl  mix together water, yeast, oil, honey, and vinegar.  Let sit for ~3-5 minutes. In a medium bowl (I used my stand mixer for this), stir together dry ingredients.  Add the yeast mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  Then mix on high speed for 3 minutes.

Layout 2 pieces of parchment paper that are at least 14" long. Divide dough in half.  Spread half of dough onto each piece of parchment paper, using a rubber spatula. Dip spatula in water occasionally to keep the dough from sticking.  Each crust should be about 12" in diameter and about 1/4" or so thick.  Cover with a light cloth and let rise in a warm place (I always use the top of my range, while my oven is preheating) for about 30-40 minutes.

Place pizza stone on the bottom rack of oven and heat oven to 425F.  Uncover dough and cook one at a time (unless you have a bigger stone than mine :) then you can do both) on the pizza stone for 8-10 minutes.  At this point you can cool and freeze the pizza crusts, so you have a bunch on hand when you want something quick for dinner, or you can top them with sauce and toppings and place them directly back onto the stone for another 10-15 minutes.

Yields: Two 9-10" pizza crusts or one 12-13" crust

This post is featured on The Gluten Free Homemaker's Gluten Free Wednesdays

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New and Improved Fish Sticks

So, tonight was my cooking night.  I was replenishing my freezer items that had run low, and one of them was fish sticks.  This recipe is so much easier than my last one, and really quite yummy, too.  I based it off an almond chicken strips recipe, and it worked out really well. I really like the egg white mixture for this recipe, it works really well...I may start using when I do all of my coatings.



Almond Fish Sticks

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons chicken broth
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1-2 cups almond meal
1 pound fish fillets (such as cod or tilapia), cut into 1/2" strips
canola oil

Directions
In a shallow bowl, combine the cornstarch, sugar, salt and sbroth until smooth. Gradually stir in egg whites. Place almonds in another shallow bowl. Dip fish in egg white mixture, then coat with almonds.
Heat 2-4 T oil in a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat, and cook fish sticks a few minutes on each side, until golden brown and done.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Chicken Salad

I made an incredibly easy roasted chicken for Sunday dinner, it's one of my favorite recipes, but there is always leftovers.  And I'm usually the only one that eats leftovers...unless it's cleverly disguised.  So, I used my recipes to make this...and this is my favorite chicken salad recipe, the dill and red wine vinegar, mixed with sweet pickles and mustard give this an entirely new taste to your typical chicken salad. You can eat it with a gf roll, as a wrap using corn torillas or crepes, over lettuce, or straight up. :) And it also works great as a potato salad, too!  Just sub in 4 cups cooked, diced potatoes for the chicken...it is soooo good!




Chicken Salad


4 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded.
2 cups celery, diced
1 1/2 cups carrots, shredded
1/4 cup sweet pickles, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Sauce:
1 3/4 cup canola oil mayonnaise
3/4 tablespoon dried onion
1 1/2 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon dill weed

Directions
Mix top ingredients together.  Mix sauce in a separate bowl and pour over chicken mixture.  Mix well, and chill before serving.  I make mine the night before and let the flavors meld together, it's one of those things that is definitely better the next day!  And, like I said, it makes a fantastic potato salad, too, just sub in potatoes for the chicken.

This recipe is featured on The Gluten-Free Homemaker's Gluten-Free Wednesdays.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ham and Chicken Pasta

I had leftover ham from Sunday dinner last week that really needed to be used up, and also some chicken. I found this recipe in one of my Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks and decided it would be easy enough to modify.  This can be modified anyway you like.  Add in spinach or broccoli, use chicken or ham or sausage...it's a great sauce and not hard to make.

Ham and Chicken Pasta
8 ounces dried gluten-free pasta shells
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups So Delicious coconut milk
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup cooked ham, cubed
1 cup cooked chicken, cubed
1 teaspoon salt or as needed


Directions:
Cook pasta according to package. Drain and rinse.  In large saucepan heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cover and cook about 3-5 mins or till onions are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour, thyme, and pepper. Add milk and the chicken stock. Cook and stir til thick and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Stir in pasta, ham, and chicken (and cooked veggies if you have them) and heat through.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Apple Fritters

I know I was feeling better today when I woke up and thought, "I want apple fritters!"...and then proceeded to make them!  I adapted this recipe, and also put down directions for baking, if you want to do that instead.  Also, you can leave the apples out and it turns out just fine, the only reason I know this is because of my older son.  He took a bite of a fritter and said "Wow, Mom these are good except for these little yellow-green things...can you make these without those?"  I should have said no, eat your apples!  But, I was wanting to experiment with baking the batter....so, I made another batch.  And yes, these are so good you will make yourself sick on eating them, so hopefully you have more self control than I do. :)


Apple Fritters

Fritter:
1 cup gluten free flour blend
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup So Delicious Coconut milk
1 egg
1 cup chopped apple
canola oil

Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 T So Delicious Coconut milk


Directions:  

Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon.  Stir in milk and egg until just combined.  Fold in apple.  Heat oil on medium high.  Oil is ready when dough floats to top.  Carefully add dough to oil in heaping teaspoons.  Cook until brown, about 1-2 minutes, then flip.  Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are browned.  Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack.  Make glaze by stirring milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl.  Dip warm donuts into glaze, and let set on a cooling rack (make sure paper towels are under the rack to catch the excess glaze).  Once set, dip the other side into the glaze and let set again.  Best served warm, but they were still good tonight when I ate some for dessert. :)
Baking directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease donut pans and set aside.  Make batter same as above (of course you can omit apples if you want more of a regular cake donut). Fill each donut half full.  Cook for ~15 minutes.  Cool on cooling rack until able to handle, then dip tops in glaze and let set.

Catching up

I feel like I've been MIA lately.  I have had a cold and have just been exhausted...so, I'm behind on my posting. First up, I got a humburger bun pan (I think they are actually called muffin top pans) for Christmas and I put it to the test and I love it! The buns turned out the perfect size and height!  We definitely enjoyed our hamburgers that night.
 I have tried a few new recipes from Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts.  She also has has a website with recipes, too.  The hamburger buns above were from her dinner rolls recipe, the bun recipe from her website is quite similar, just different ratios of the sorghum and millet.  I, of course, used So Delicious Coconut Milk instead of regular milk. They were pretty tasty, my one complaint was that the crumbled horribly the next day.  Fansastic and light fresh from the oven, so make just enough for what you need.

Yesterday, we made her pizza crust, and that was decent, too.  It was not as heavy as the pizza crust I make using Silvana Nardone's recipe from Cooking for Isaiah, but I like both of them for different reasons...so I guess I'll just have to experiment and combine the two. :)

So, for far this has been another decent cookbook.  There still is conversion to make the recipes dairy-free and soy-free, but that's not hard to do.

Next up, Katz Gluten Free Bakery sent me some of there products as samples to try.  Everything they make is gluten-free and dairy-free! We received their Chocolate Chip Cookies, Sliced Challah Bread, Dinner Rolls (Small Challah), and Cinnamon Rugelech.  By far, the boys favorite was the chocolate chip cookies, they couldn't stop eating them. And I do have to say they were quite delicious.  The Cinnamon Rugelech was also quite delicious.  It was like a delicate cinnamon roll...more like pastry, because rolls are heavier. :)  The challah bread definitely had that egg taste to it, my little one couldn't eat it because it has soy flour, but I've been eating it, and it makes great sandwiches.  The rolls we have not had yet (they also have soy flour), but I'm sure they are pretty similar to the bread.  Overall, the food was pretty good, the prices are decent, especially when they have free shipping sales (so, watch for that).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

King Arthur Gluten Free Brownie Mix

I love brownies, rich, fudgy, chewy brownies. And guess what, I ate nearly an entire pan (I did share, so I guess about half a pan) of rich, fudgy, chewy brownies.  They were so good, and my mother-in-law was in shock that they were gluten-free.  The best part (at least for me, because it's less work) is that it came from a mix.  I love King Arthur Chocolate Cake, so it makes sense that they have excellent brownies, too!  I actually got this mix as part of a Christmas gift (thanks, little bro!) and tried it out that same day. :)  My one complaint, is that the recipe said to cook it 30-35 minutes...it took 45 minutes before mine was set in the middle, so just a warning, watch your brownies. :)   I was so worried that the corners would be inedible since it had cooked so long, but they were the best corners I have ever had, they were the perfect chewiness...hence my eating half the pan. :)


Overall rating 10 out of 10 These were really some of the best brownies I've had.  They definitely had the best corners...mmm, I think I need to make another batch....and I need to really start working out if I keep doing this. ;)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Enjoy Life boom Choco boom Bars Part 2

Okay, a while back I reviewed the Enjoy Life boom Choco boom rice milk chocolate bars...and I wasn't a big fan of them. Well, 'Santa' put some of them in my little ones stocking, and he was in heaven.  I've never seen someone so happy about getting a candybar, or enjoy a candybar so much!  I didn't realize how much he missed his milk chocolate until then.  So, I take back that 6 out of 10 rating...they get a 10 out of 10 for making my little one's Christmas! 

And while we are talking chocolate bars...'Santa'...umm, I put the dark chocolate boom choco boom bars into my stocking for Christmas.  And yes, I love me a good dark chocolate bar, and yes, this fulfilled that craving.  They were good and much like any other dark chocolate bar.  So they get a 9 out of 10 from me.  We still won't buy these much, because they are expensive, but we will definitely have them for indulgences.

Dairy-Free Pudding Tips

Okay, so I've been lazy lately, and now I have a lot of catching up to do.  So, I'll start with the easy stuff first. :)  My little one has been so sad that he can't have pudding cups anymore...and like I've said, I've been lazy.  Someday I will make homemade pudding, but not today--and it definitely was not happening over the holidays, there was just too much going on.  So, I thought I'd pass on this tip:  Jell-o Instanst Pudding does not work with non-dairy milk, however their Cook and Serve pudding does.  I made my little one Vanilla Cook and Serve pudding (the small box, because I was experimenting), and used 1 1/2 cups So Delicious Coconut milk in place of the 2 cups of milk that it calls for...it worked!  It gets perfectly thick, especially once it cools in the fridge.  Yes, it takes a couple more minutes to make, but still, it's easy and not really any work to do!  So, there you have it, easy 'instant' pudding for your little dairy-free ones, or yourself. :)