Monday, December 8, 2014

Baked Ziti With Homemade Ricotta

I was feeling rather domestic this morning.  I always find when I'm short on time, the only thing I really WANT to do is cooking.  I know, that sounds counterintuitive, but cooking and baking relax me.  Help me focus on something other than my worries.  I've always loved it.

Anyway, last week I bought just a little too much milk, combined with the fact that my kids did not like the choices of cereals in the cabinet meant that there was WAY too much milk in my fridge this morning - all of it about to go bad!  I was able to salvage a half gallon to make ricotta cheese.  A task I've never done before, but seemed easy enough.  And the guilt over wasting milk when there are children in our community who would love that milk forced me to give it a go!

I'm glad I did.  Followed the recipe here.  Yummy.  Easy.

I turned it into a Baked Ziti for dinner tonight.  Can't wait.

Baked Ziti with Homemade Ricotta

1 recipe of homemade ricotta (or about 15 oz of pre made ricotta)
1 egg
1 8 oz box of your favorite GF pasta (I used Ancient Grains large Penne)
1 lb ground meat (I used Hatfield ground pork)
1 28 oz Can jarred tomato sauce (use your favorite that is GF) - I used Aldi's Simply Nature
2 Cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

Prepare Ricotta.

Mix ricotta with 1 egg.

Prepare pasta, drain and rinse.

Brown ground meat, add jarred tomato sauce.  Set aside.

Return drained pasta to pot.  Add sauce, ricotta and 1 1/2 Cups of the shredded cheese.  Mix well and pour into a 2 quart baking dish.

Top with remaining Cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pumpkin Cheesecake Custard Cups

Happy National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!  Seriously, folks, I can't even MAKE this stuff up to justify my baking bug.  I used to HATE pumpkin, but as I've aged, I've grown to love it, even crave it.  I'm still pretty picky about the things I eat with pumpkin.  I don't do pumpkin spice lattes (mostly because I don't do coffee...blech!), I don't do pumpkin flavored chocolate (icky!)...but I do do pumpkin cake.  Pumpkin cheesecake seemed like the perfect dessert.

Since following THM, I've been trying to figure out a good pumpkin recipe that I can crave.  As my usual, I can't just find a recipe and follow it to a "T", I have to take several and make a conglomeration that fits MY needs (and, well, let's be honest, what I have in my house!  HA HA HA!).

Here's what I came up with and I hope you like them as much as I do.  Creamy fall perfection. :)

Pumpkin Cheesecake Custard Cups (THM S)

1 Large Egg
1/2 Cup Canned Pure Pumpkin
4 oz 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup Heavy Cream (or half and half or almond milk)
1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/8 Cup + 1 Tbs Truvia (or your favorite sweetener equivalent)

Mix all ingredients in the blender.  Pour evenly into 4 4 oz greased Mason jars (or equivalent ramekins).  Bake in a 325 oven for 25 mins.  I placed mine in a water bath (using a square cake pan, I placed the mason jars in the pan and poured hot water about half way up the jars - this is referred to a bain-marie).

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the bain-marie for about 10 minutes.  Carefully remove jars and dry off the bottoms and allow to cool completely.  Cover and refrigerate for two hours or overnight (if you can wait THAT long, seriously!).  Top with a small squirt of Light Whipped Cream (like Redi-whip).  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

GF Sweet & Saltines

Last weekend we went to a pot-luck at a friend's house.  It was a lovely autumn evening, and we ate chili, salad, and lots of goodies there that I could not eat.  Sigh.  Such is the plague and curse of going to a pot-luck and being the only person who's gluten-free.  I had stopped at my favorite, local, gluten-free bakery and picked up a batch of cupcakes to take with me so I could have dessert.  I'm still allowing myself a weekly indulgence, even though I'm working on being a Trim Healthy Mama. Dinner was great, my friend assured me she made her chili with her own seasoning mix, so it was definitely gluten-free - she actually has a son who is gluten-free, so that was nice!  And, I had my cupcakes.  Which were delicious as always.

However, one of the guests showed up with a pan of Sweet & Saltines by Tricia Yearwood.  It smelled amazing.  And people were walking around and gnawing on it and gushing about how delicious it was.  I was officially, unequivocally, jealous.  Made my cupcakes pale.  Sigh.  I wanted some.

I set out this week to find a gluten-free, saltine like cracker, and found Schar Table Crackers, which I figured to be a good mix.  So, I set off to make this.  First, a review on the crackers themselves, they were packaged in such a way that they would not go stale as you wait to eat them, and so that they didn't break apart.  I appreciate a company that not only has a dedicated gluten-free facility, but takes such care in packaging that they would arrive to your table in such a manner as being edible!  Also, for taste and texture, they are very similar to a saltine and definitely satisfy that crunch need!  There for they were perfect for this recipe!

And as you can see....SUCCESS!!!  I only indulged in one piece as the bulk is a gift for a friend that I'm seeing tomorrow.  BUT, I did get to try it.  And that made me happy.  Very happy.  :)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

White Chicken Chili

Autumn is here.  Leaves are falling (much to my husband's chagrin).  Evenings are getting colder.  People are getting sicknesses.  In fact, hubby's in the throes of an awful cold right now, poor guy!  Was sitting here, thinking, what can I feed him for dinner that is yummy, warm, comforting.  He's at work, had to trudge downtown today for an important meeting.  He'll be coming home later, tired, most likely frustrated at either traffic or train ride, wanting something that will be ready the instant he walks in the door.

He's always talking about an amazing white chili he had somewhere, can't even remember where.  I've tried it a couple times, and have gotten close.  I usually shy away from white chili because it just takes one wrong ingredient to throw off the color!  And now that I'm trying to make our dinners align with Trim Healthy Mama (there's that word again, I'm serious, go check it out!), I had extra thinking to do.  I had all the ingredients except for the green chiles.  A quick trip to our grocery store less than a half mile away and that was solved.

It's brewing in the crockpot awaiting his arrival.  (And you'll only SEE this post if he deems it worthy!).

White Chicken Chili (E on THM)

2 lbs Ground Chicken (make sure it's the lean, lean, lean cut; or use two lbs of chicken breast cut in chunks)
2 Cans Great Northern Beans, drained & rinsed well
1 medium onion, diced
1 Cup Low Sodium, Low Fat Chicken Broth (or fat free, or homemade with fat skimmed off!)
2 small cans diced green chiles
1 Tbs dried minced garlic (or 2 cloves)
1 Tbs. Cumin Powder (or to taste if you like more smokey of a taste)
1/2 to 1 tsp White Pepper Powder (usually found in asian markets)
*note, if you like spicier, add more white pepper, more green chiles and maybe a jalepeno! :)

Brown ground chicken with the diced onion until just cooked through.  In a 5 qt crock pot place beans, green chiles, minced garlic and other spices.  Add the brown ground chicken with onion mixture on top.  Pour in the chicken broth.  Cook on low 5-7 hours.

I topped mine with a little bit of 0% Fat Greek Yogurt and about a tbs of 2% Mexican Blend Cheese.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Crock Pot Beef & Mushrooms

Somehow, starting THM (you sick of Trim Healthy Mama, yet?  I'm not!!!!)...anyway....

Coming up with on-plan recipes and dinners have rekindled my love for experimentation.  It's quickly dropped temperatures here in the northeast, and life has gotten a lot busier.  When it's cold, and we're busy, I rely heavily on my crockpot.  Tonight is no different.  My oldest had classes at her co-op, we have bowling and Chik-fil-A with our friends this afternoon, and dinner needed to be ready when we got home so that hubby can go off and enjoy the football game with his cigar shop buddies.

While at the grocery store yesterday, I got a great deal on Eye of Round Steaks.  Of course, when standing in a grocery store looking at the meat displays, I don't always know HOW to cook the item, especially when it comes to red meat.  I can hold my own, but I've had many flops.

This is not one of them.

Crock Pot Beef & Mushrooms (S)
2-3 lbs Eye of Round Steaks (or an Eye of Round Roast)
10 oz pkg Cremini (or baby Bella) mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, cut in half then sliced
2 Tbs A1 (or similar) Steak Sauce*
2-3 tsp Steak/Grill Seasoning
8 oz tomato sauce (make sure it's a sugar free one, some brands sneak sugar in there!)

*okay, so steak sauce contains LOTS of off plan ingredients, including sugar...BUT you're using such a small amount and you'll get so little in the final product, I really, personally, don't mind using it!)  To be THM faithful, omit this ingredient and increase tomato sauce by 2 Tbs and add a plan approved beef broth granules or liquid aminos.

In a large 5 quart or 6 quart crockpot, line with a crockpot liner (this makes clean-up super easy!).

Lay onion slices in the bottom of the crockpot, lay the mushroom slices on top of that.  Open your steaks (or roast) and sprinkle liberally with the steak seasoning.  Lay steaks in the crock pot..if you have to do two layers, cover one layer with the steak sauce, and the other with the tomato sauce.

Cook on low 8-10 hours.

Remove steaks from crockpot, cover with onions and mushrooms (strain as much as possible).  Do this very gently as the steaks will fall apart like a pot roast would, it's very tender. Transfer cooking liquid into a sauce pan.  Using Glucomannan (about a tsp or so sprinkled over and whisked in), or your preferred method of thickening (corn starch, flour/butter, etc).  I use Kuzu Root Starch, which is not THM approved, but works very well to make a smooth gravy.  Thicken juices to a gravy and serve along side the beef.

I serve this with a salad and mashed cauliflower!  YUMMY!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fruit Punch Tea

Since going on THM (Trim Healthy Mama), and losing a little bit of weight, I am greatly encouraged.  One of the staple drinks is GGMS or Good Girl Moonshine.  Unlike it's namesake, it is NOT alcoholic!  I haven't yet acquired the taste for this, but in my efforts to reduce my soda intake (well, eliminate it as much as possible), I've come up with a tea I like to drink.  I make this caffeine free so that I can enjoy any time of day.

Fruit Punch Tea

2 Black Cherry Berry Celestial Seasonings Tea Bags
2 Raspberry Zinger Celestial Seasonings Tea Bags
2 Country Peach Passion Celestial Seasonings Tea Bags
2 Decaffeinated Black Tea Bags
1 True Lemon Raspberry Lemonade Drink Mix Stick
1 True Lemon Black Cherry Limeade Drink Mix Stick

Brew the tea bags in 1.5 quarts of boiling water.  I steep them until it is almost cooled.  Pour into a 2 quart pitcher.  Add the True Lemon Drink Mix sticks and stir well.  Add water to make 2 full quarts and stir again.

Store in the refrigerator.

Prior to serving, to make it more THM friendly, add a Tbs. of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Casserole

Okay, so, where have I been?  Uninspired, culinarily speaking.  Spent our summer resting by the pool, running errands, doing laundry, escaping the heat.  Ended our summer with a vacation at the beach.

Over the summer, I discovered Trim Healthy Mama.  Read the book, studied it, tried recipes in the book.  Trolled Pinterest with fervor.  And I'm back.  And my desire to cook has returned!  To say I was stuck in a rut is a major understatement.  We did way more "fend nights" than ever before.  Even my eldest chided how I made grilled chicken and salad every Monday night for dinner.  You know it's bad when even the KIDS are getting bored with their favorites.

When we returned from vacation, I went more full forced on THM.  I'm still not 100%, but I'm having fun experimenting, and learning new tips and tricks.  One thing I really like about this plan is that is very easily gluten-free (there are some gluten containing products, they are easily avoided).  The other, is lack of deprivation.  Just 10 days on this diet and I'm already down 3.2 lbs.  Not bad.  Long way to go, but every journey begins with the first step.

Tonight's dinner was combination of using up some grilled chicken in the fridge, and some frozen broccoli I bought on vacation.  A little bit of cream cheese and parmesan, and viola, a new dinner dish for us!

My eldest, who does not like cheese, wrinkled her nose and only served herself a very small portion at first; quickly came back for seconds.

In the THM world, this would be a very solid S due to the level of fats.

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Casserole

2 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts, grilled and cubed
1 8 oz package of Chive & Onion Cream Cheese, softened
1 16 oz package of frozen broccoli, thawed (but not cooked)
Salt & Pepper to taste (I used a little sprinkle of each)
2 Tbs Almond Meal
2 Tbs Golden Flax Meal
2 Tbs Parmesan Cheese

In a large bowl, mix together chicken, cream cheese and broccoli.  Spread in a 2 quart baking dish that has been either buttered or sprayed with (THM plan approved) cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together almond meal, flax meal and parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle over chicken casserole.

Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes until really bubbly.

Let set about 5 or 10 minutes once it's out of the oven.

I served with a salad. :)

I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

S'more Cups, please!

In a former life, the one before I had my third child and still had a little extra time on my hands, I was a Pampered Chef Consultant.  Of all the pyramid-marketing-sell-in-your-home businesses, I knew Pampered Chef was for me because I loved to cook, and bake, and teach other people how to do the same, Pampered Chef was the perfect fit for me.

After my third child was born, several things happened at "home", so we moved from our little house in Phoenix, back to near my parents.  All of my Pampered Chef tools came with me.  ALL of them.  And I love them.  This recipe can obviously be made without Pampered Chef tools, but it is a delicious summer treat.

Since it is NOT my own recipe, or I didn't really alter anything other than using gluten-free ingredients, I do not want to take credit for it, so I'm linking it, here.

Pampered Chef S'more Cups

For the Grahm Crackers, I used Kinnickinnick S'morables, 1 whole box.  I used Walmart's Great Value Regular Sized Marshmallows, used 24*. For the chocolate, I used Aldi's Choceur Chocolate Large bars, 2 of them.  Butter and Powdered Sugar were Giant Brands.

The Pampered Chef recipe recommends using the LARGE Marshmallows, I didn't have them, that's why I used normal sized ones, it worked JUST FINE.

The picture above IS the ones I made, not the Pampered Chef Picture.

This will make summer more fun, and more delicious.  I promise!!!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

MexiBlack Beans

I do not have pictures of this one, the two times I've made it, my family has eaten it so fast I have not had a chance to take a picture.  It would be a flurry of hands and an empty pan.

The first time I made it, it was quite the fluke, but I decided to try again to see if it was really as good as we all thought, or just a mistake.

VERY important to check your ingredients and make sure that they are GLUTEN FREE, I know versions of these are not.  PLEASE make sure you check.  The first time I made the recipe, I used Nature's Promise Black Beans and Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles.  Tonight, I used Aldi's Dakota Brand Black Beans and their Taco Rio brand of Diced Tomatoes & Green chiles.  I will say the Aldi version was spicier.

MexiBlack Beans

2 Cans Black Beans, drained (but DO NOT RINSE)
1 Can Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles, undrained
1 Tbs Dried Minced Onion*
1 Tsp Dried Minced Garlic*
*I like to use Tastefully Simple Onion Onion & Garlic Garlic - It is processed in a facility that processes wheat.  When discussing with my rep she did say that they clean the lines, but they don't guarantee gluten free ness.  Since I'm doing this by choice and not by medical necessity, I take the risk, you do not need to!

Place beans in a sturdy pan, add diced tomatoes and green chiles (do not drain them).  Add minced garlic and minced onion.  Bring to a boil and return to a simmer.  Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes until beans thicken and the garlic/onions absorb the liquid.  Let stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.

Wonderful topped with cheese and sour cream! :)

Friday, May 30, 2014


Pizzelles.  Every year, my step-mother's ex-mother-in-law would make pizzelles for Christmas.  (Did you follow that?).  Long family story, but my step-mother ended up being the one taking care of her in her end days.  I'll call her Grandma S for today.  Grandma S. would come over every Christmas eve, and she would bring two things with her, egg nog and pizzelles.  Her eggnog was NOT for children (and depending on how much she imbibed while making the eggnog was in direct correlation with the level of her voice and the amount of laughter that would ensue for the evening).  She made two types of pizzelles, Anise & Vanilla/Almond.  I'm not much of a licorice person, so I did not always care for the anise ones, for a few years she made them with vanilla extract and just used the anise seeds, I liked them rather than straight on anise ones.  The Vanilla Almond were AMAZING. I would easily down 4 or 5 (cough cough dozen) before arriving at my parents house (in my later years, it was my job to pick up Grandma S. from her apartment on Christmas Eve).

From that time till now (yes, going on over 25 years), I'd always wanted to learn how to make pizzelles.  They sounded difficult, especially since they only happened once a year!  Fast forward to two weeks ago when a kind soul on Freecycle listed a Pizzelle Iron available, picked up from her front porch.  I had to.  And, of course, I did.

And, for the average homeschooler, there is no greater holiday that Evaluations and The Last Day of School.  Today, is that day for us.  I thought the pizzelles would be a fitting bribe for our evaluator (not that she needs them, but I love baking, and she usually loves my treats, so I decided this was as good a reason as any to experiment).

I cannot eat traditional Pizzelles anymore, gluten and all that.  So, I tried it with GF flour.  It was so stinking yummy, I might actually dream about these.  The possibilities are endless, and the flavor combinations?  Not to mention to make ice cream cones or waffle bowls?  Oh please!  Thank goodness it's summer and I have a reason to celebrate!

Oh, and they were NOT difficult AT ALL.  I don't know why people wait for Christmas to make them.  I sure won't.  In fact, I might make more later today.  Yum.


1 1/2 Cups Gluten-Free Flour Blend (use your favorite)
2 tsp Baking Powder
3 large eggs
3/4 Cup granulated sugar
2 tsp Almond Extract
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Cup Butter, melted
Powdered Sugar for dusting

In a medium bowl, whisk together GF Flour and baking soda.

Melt butter, add in extracts and mix well.

Start preheating your pizzelle iron (yes, necessary evil! You must use a pizzelle iron!).

In a mixer, beat together eggs and sugar for about 2 to 3 minutes until it's light yellow and it appears that all the sugar is dissolved into the eggs.

On a low speed, slowly drizzle in butter/extract mixture.  Add dry mixture and mix until just combined.  The batter will be thick and sticky.

Follow amount directions for your pizzelle iron - mine did well with my 1 1/2 TBS Cookie Scoop.  Follow your makers directions for cooking the pizzelles.  (Mine is a cheapy cheapy Toastmaster one, each cookie took about 1 to 2 minutes).  Remove from iron with a rubber spatula and allow to cool.

Dust with powdered sugar.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Aldi adds a Gluten-free Line - Live Gfree

My other blog is all about Aldi Markets.  I love Aldi.  It's so inexpensive, so easy to shop.  Since going back to gluten-free, it's been fairly easy to continue to shop there because they clearly label their foods that are gluten-free.  I like that a lot.  If it doesn't have the label, I don't buy it.

Last week, I made a simple pulled pork using Aldi's Bar-b-que sauce and half of a pork loin roast.  My family RAVED over it.  It was soooo easy, and sooooo cheap!  And it was soooooo gluten-free!

Well, when I hit the store this week, what do my wondering eyes do I see?  A full gluten-free line.  Granted, it is a "special buy" which means that they are test-marketing it.  The most popular products will likely be added to their full time line up in the next year.  I've purchased one of everything to give them a try, and already sent a letter to Aldi corporate to thank them for trying it out.

Anyway, I was THRILLED and wanted to share the news with all of you!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Banana Fritters

I've been growing weary of my Banana Walnut Muffins (which I often alter and add mini chocolate chips instead of walnuts!).  I've been making them frequently when I have overripe bananas.  I just could not face making another batch today on my normal Tuesday cooking day.  I had two very large, very overripe bananas (you'll see the recipe calls for 3 medium, these two would have been 3 medium).  I went in search of something different to do with them.

Below is an adapted recipe from an Everyday with Rachael Ray for Banana Fritters.  If you are not gluten-free, follow her recipe, no need for modifications.

Another recommendation I have is to heat up the oil while you are preparing the batter.  If left to sit too long, the batter really GROWS! :)  The recipe calls for a lot of baking powder.  I thought it was too much at first, but, it makes sense with how light and airy these turn out!

The other alteration I made was using powdered sugar to finish vs. granulated.  I prefer this to add some sweetness.  I do believe that these would also make delicious pancakes!


1 Cup GF Flour Blend
2 Tbs Baking Powder (confirm it's a GF one, not all are!)
1/4 tsp Salt
2 Tbs Brown Sugar (I used only two, if you like sweeter, you could add more)
1/2 Cup Half & Half
1 egg, beaten
3 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
Vegetable oil for frying
Powdered Sugar

In a pot, start 1" of Vegetable Oil warming to 365 degrees (I used unrefined coconut oil, not extra virgin).

In a bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.  Whisk in half & half and egg.  Stir in mashed banana.

Drop tablespoons full of batter into oil, frying in batches.  I put about 3 in at a time as I was using a small pot.  Flip them over with you can see the browning on the edges.  Allow to finish frying.  Remove from oil and drain.

While the fritters are still hot, dust liberally with powdered sugar, this will allow the sugar to melt and become like a glaze on the fritters.

Enjoy.  Rachael Ray's recipe says this serves 6.  Not the way I eat them, it doesn't!!!! :)  LOL!!!  ENJOY!!!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Baked Cinnamon Cake Donuts

Let's face it, I love a good donut.  I cannot lie.  I might be Homer Simpson.  I don't necessarily drool over donuts, but I could very easily.  The local GF Bakery has lovely donuts, they're fried.  I have no patience for frying anything.  I'm more of a baker.

Recently while reading a magazine, I noticed a recipe for a baked cinnamon donut.  Sigh.  Called for real flour.  Started my brain churning.  My wonderful friend, Amy, gave me a donut pan and a long-john pan for Christmas.  So, I had the hardware.  It's making the software work that's the key.

Now, if you're looking for dense cake donuts, this is not that recipe.  If you're looking for light and fluffy yeast donuts, this is not that recipe.  If you're looking for something in the shape of a donut with a light and fluffy texture, this is the donut for YOU!  (and for me, I loved them!!!!)  When you let them cool, the exterior gets a sticky/crunchy outside with a soft fluffy inside.  I enjoyed that very much.  Even better, drip frosting over them.  Or douse them in butter and then cinnamon sugar.  The donut part itself is not overly sweet.

As with anything, confirm your sources for your ingredients are gluten-free.  I choose to use a lot of items from Aldi because they are clearly labeled when they are truly gluten-free.

Baked Cinnamon Cake Donuts

2 Cups GF Flour Blend (use your personal favorite here)
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Tbs Baking Powder
1 Tsp Xanthan Gum
1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Tsp Kosher Salt
1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 Cup Whole Milk
2 Tbs Unsalted Butter, melted
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Tub of Betty Crocker Vanilla Frosting (yep!  Gluten-free!!!)
4 Tbs melted Butter
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tbs Cinnamon

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk, butter and vanilla extract.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients (also known as the "muffin method", thank you AB).  Mix until combined, do not over mix.

Gently spoon into a donut pan or long-john pan.  Bake for 17-19 minutes (long-johns will take 25 minutes or more) until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pan for about 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting, I melted about 1/4 cup or so of the Betty Crocker in a bowl for 8 seconds and gently spooned over the cooled donuts.  This will allow it to cool as a thick glaze on top.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Gluten-free Waffles - KAF Recipe Review

Hey there folks, how are you doing out there in GF world?

I know.  Homemade GF Waffles.  Why make something GF when they really aren't that expensive out there in the "real" world.  Well, convenience aside, I do like being in control of the ingredients that go into my food, and with all the "styrofoam in our food" scares lately, I thought I'd give waffles a try.  That and my amazing husband, who gave me a Cuisinart 5-in-1 Griddler for Christmas,  also got me the waffle plates, and quite frankly, I was DYING to try them out!!!

Since re-entering the GF world, I've gotten a little braver again.  Decided to make my own flour blend. Grateful for a local store that does bulk foods, I was able to spend about $20 and make a HUGE batch of gluten free flour.  Here's my breakdown, and so far, it's worked very nicely in all my recipes:

White Rice Flour (I got one that was extra milled, so less gritty)
Brown Rice Flour
Sweet White Sorghum Flour
Tapioca Starch

I did 6 cups of each and mixed well.

Some of the recipes out there added Xanthan Gum, I prefer to add mine per recipe, when mixed in a flour like this, you can never really be sure that you getting the correct amount.  I follow the rule of thumb of 1/2 tsp per cup in a "breadier" or "cakier" type recipe.

Armed with my new flour, my Griddler fitted with waffle plates, and my whisk, I set out to make the perfect waffle.  Ooooops, I need a recipe!!!!  In comes King Arthur Flour - you know, the flour people who now sell a GF flour??? - they had one!  The  KAF GF Pancake & Waffle Recipe was easy to follow and worked like a charm! Thanks KAF!!!

I doubled their recipe for them so that I would have some to freeze.  In my Griddler "waffle iron" it made 5 4-waffle flats.  So, basically, 20 individual waffles.  I did freeze them flat after cutting apart and I warm them up in my toaster.  They are SO, SO, SO good, and so much better than store bought!

The were light and fluffy in all the right places, crispy and crunch in all the right places, and doused with a good syrup OR slathered in crunchy peanut butter, they just satisfy that waffle urge.

Give them a try, I believe you won't be disappointed!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Triple Decker Brownies - AKA Devil Bombs

Okay, so it's floating around Pinterest, FB and the general internet world.  This picture of an individual brownie pan, layers of chocolate chip cookie dough, a Reese's Peanut Butter cup and covered in brownie batter.  All set to bake for 18 minutes at 350.  It looks delicious.

But, when you're gluten-free, a recipe that is made of all pre-made foods is hard to just make.  I've heard that there is a Pillsbury version of a pre-made gluten-free cookie dough, I have only seen this one place, and I didn't feel like running out to get just one ingredient.  And you COULD use a pre made brownie mix, though, I suspect you would have some leftover (gee, leftover brownie batter is a BAD thing????)  So, this is what I did to make mine.

FIRST, I used a muffin pan instead of a special unitasker (thank you, AB for such an amazing word). SECOND, I made a half batch of my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe (which happens to be the one on the back of the Baker's Corner Semi-sweet Mini Chocolate Chips (Aldi brand, gluten-free, it's awesome and inexpensive).  Then I made a half batch of the King Arthur's Gluten-Free Brownies.  I made the pan easy to clean up by using the Reynold's Wrap Aluminum Foil Baking Liners.  (I removed the white paper liner and used ONLY the aluminum foil liner).  I also sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  I unwrapped my 6 packages of Reese's and began my layers:

1 Scoop Cookie Dough, pressed flat
1 Reese's PB cup, lightly pressed into the cookie dough
Cover with brownie batter

I did end up with some leftover cookie batter.  And brownie batter, too.  Oh, for shame.  LOL :)  Of course, I baked it.  LOL :)

I made the pan easy to clean up by using the Reynold's Wrap Aluminum Foil Baking Liners.  (I removed the white paper liner and used ONLY the aluminum foil liner).  I also sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

I try to be honest in advertising, the brownie did "sink" in the middle, which I kind of expected.  Truly, this effects appearance and not taste. :)

I also needed to bake a bit longer, not sure if it was the pan or the fact that it was gluten-free.  So, go for about 23-25 minutes vs. the 18 minutes.

Allow to cool completely.  This, I believe, is the hardest step in the entire process.  Waiting for these to cool is torture.  This is why I have renamed them Devil Bombs.  Only the Devil would make you wait for these.  Only the Devil.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Mama F's Mega Slaw

I found some in the fridge and was able to take a picture! I thought it was all gone,  in my house, I actually take that as high flattery.  My kids, especially, love my coleslaw.  In fact, they measure all coleslaws on a scale from 1 to Mom's.  I decided to shake it up a bit this time and make it a little differently.  The sauce was the same, but what I put in was different.  It was a big hit, as shown by the near empty container.

Mama F's Mega Slaw

1 16 oz Bag Coleslaw Mix
1 12 oz Bag Broccoli Slaw Mix
1/8-1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Sugar
Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1/2-1 Tsp Celery Seed, to taste

In a very large bowl, add 1/8 Cup red wine vinegar.  Dissolve salt and sugar into the vinegar.  Add the Mayonnaise.  This is where you adjust the vinegar, if it's not tart enough, add 1 Tbs at a time to desired tartness.  Mix in slaw mixes.  Add pepper & celery seed to taste.  Allow to marinate in fridge at least 1 hour before serving.

Oh, and don't expect leftovers. :)

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Crock-Pot Chicken Burgers Divine

I think one of the most frustrating things when you first convert to a GF lifestyle is crock pot meals.  The crockpot is a source for true, down-home, comfort food.  Most recipes call for Cream of Something soup, or have pasta, or some other prefab ingredient that cannot be found gluten free.

Enter GF Convenience foods that I never knew existed, and aren't even touted as GF.  But should be!

I made this dinner a few weeks ago, my husband and son went wild over it.  I made it again tonight, just to make sure it was not a fluke.  It wasn't.  Normally, I serve over mashed cauliflower, but tonight I splurged and baked potatoes before I left for gymnastics with my youngest.   Let me tell you, the gravy made from this meal over baked potatoes is just over-the-moon deluxious! :)

I hope you enjoy!

Crock-Pot Chicken Burgers Divine

2 Packages Purdue Short-cuts Spinach & Garlic Chicken Burgers (the Oven Roasted would be good, too)
2 Cans Progresso Creamy Mushroom Soup
1 10 oz package baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, peeled, halved and sliced thin

In a 5 or 6 quart crockpot, lay half the onions slices on the bottom, top with half of the sliced mushrooms, top with 4 burgers.  Pour over one can of the soup.  Repeat layering and top with last can of soup.   Cook on low for 4 hours.

Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, mashed cauliflower, or your favorite side dish.

This creates a lot of gravy, which becomes this rich and deliciously decadent mushroom soup if you reheat and add a little bit of cream or stock.  Don't let all that wondrous flavor go to waste! :)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gluten-free Fried Rice

I don't know about you, but when going gluten free, I realized that Chinese Takeout would really no longer be a choice.  Many years ago, before going gluten free the first time, we used to order Chinese every Sunday night.  It was our family tradition.  My kids liked it, my husband liked it, I liked the night off cooking.  The first time I went gluten free, I was sad, no more Chinese Takeout on Sunday nights.  I might even have cried.  Maybe.  I mean, my husband's and my first day almost 20 years ago was for Chinese Food.  It held/holds a special place in my heart.  Of course I made do.  And when I went back to eating gluten, I happily consumed Chinese again.

Last week, after a tiring day on Sunday, we decided to order Chinese food.  I had to order mine steamed without sauce.  It was "okay", and I doused it with Saj-J Gluten-free Tamari sauce.  But it wasn't the same.  I watched my kids down Fried Rice, dumplings and Chicken & Broccoli.   It was good.  But missing that "Chinese Takeout" element for me!

Armed with two pints of steamed white rice, and my bottle of San-J, tonight, I decided to make my own fried rice.  The Results were well worth it!  Everyone enjoyed it.  I put it in the leftover containers just to make it "feel" authentic!

Gluten-free Fried Rice

2 Pints Leftover Chinese Steamed Rice
San-J Gluten-free Tamari (see directions for amount, it will vary on the rice)
1 tsp Nakano Rice Wine Vinegar
16 oz bag Frozen Mixed Veggies (I used Cascadian Farms), defrosted
1/2 lb Leftover Cooked meat, diced -  your favorite (I used cooked Turkey breast tenderloins, but you could do chicken, pork, beef, or none)
3 Tbs Vegetable Oil
1 Tbs Sesame Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled but left whole
1/3 - 1/2 Cup green onion, thin sliced, greens only
2 eggs, beaten
Sesame Seeds,  for garnish

Break up rice in a large bowl, and toss with rice wine vinegar.

In a large wok or skillet, heat the vegetable oil and sesame oils on med-high heat.  Once the oil is hot, add garlic cloves (whole) and allow to cook in the oil.  The the garlic is lightly bubbled, brown and soft, remove from oil, set aside and save.

Add rice to wok and press into the wok.  Allow to cook for about 3-5 minutes, and stir around.  Pour San-J Tamari sauce over the rice to make brown - circle the pan two times and do a shake or two in the center.  Continue to stir the rice around.

Add defrosted vegetables on top of rice.  Circle the pan again with San-J Tamari sauce. Cover and allow to "steam" for about 3-5 minutes.  While this is happening, dice the cooked garlic very finely.  Remove cover and stir vegetables into the rice.  Add diced meat of choice and stir again.  Cover for another 3 minutes.

After this, create a "well" in the center of the wok.  Add beaten egg and cover.  Allow egg to cook in the well for about 2 to 3 minutes until starting to set.  Stir eggs as best you can in the well and allow to finish cooking.  Only stir into the rice/vegetable/meat mixture after completely cooked.

Add green onions, minus about 2 Tbs, and mix well.  Remove rice from heat.

Sprinkle with remaining green onions and sesame seeds prior to serving.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Snow Day Fun - Paw Print Pops

Due to the outrageous storm outside, and the 6" plus inches of snow that have fallen since 7 this morning (no lie!), I've had to waylay my plans to go food shopping for the gymnastics meet that is happening this weekend at my daughter's gym.  Instead, I prepping the Paw Print pops that will be for sale at the Concessions Stand.

Was happy to find that the Make & Mold Chocolates sold by A.C. Moore stores is gluten-free.  :)  I'm also finding that doing this is easier than I thought it was going to be!  I was always sort of afraid of doing candy molds, but it's working really well, and I'm having fun, to boot.  In spite of the white stuff coming down outside my windows!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Gluten Free Brownies - Recipe Review

Superbowl Sunday hit the house with a flurry of fun food recipes!

Lots of Gluten-free fun goodies!

First, we had Crock-pot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce WrapsRachel Ray's Celery SuccotashPaula Deen's Sweet & Spicy Bacon-wrapped Chicken Bites, Guacamole Deviled Eggs, Tortilla Chips, and dip.

Then was time for dessert!  I had bought some amazing ice cream while at the grocery store, and craved good brownies to go with it.  So, I want on an internet search and found this recipe at King Arthur Flour's Website.  Picture above is from their website, used to entice you! I had purchased a box of their GF flour the last time I was shopping, so thought it would be a good fit.

Dense, moist, fudgy, and delicious. PERFECT for the a la modé  style - All Natural Cherry Vanilla.  It was so, so so good.  I could eat these and not ever miss flour.  Ever.

Check out the recipe!  Guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Kristy's Amazing Whipped Icing

Yesterday was my step-father's birthday.  To celebrate, he's coming over for dinner tonight (or he better or I'll clock him!).  Stew is in the crock-pot cooking away, smells delicious (I'll share that recipe tomorrow after I've tasted it and had a chance to properly photograph it!)

Anyway, I made my favorite gluten-free cupcakes, and when trying to decide if I was going to use frosting from a can, or make my good friend's amazing chocolate whipped icing, I decided on the latter (it might have been the kids screaming that they wouldn't eat the cupcakes without HER icing on it).  And lets face it, homemade icing is always better than the store-bought, chemically processed frosting.

Now, I need to share that when my friend gave me the recipe she just kinda said "Well, I throw some butter and shortening in a mixer, add this, add that….I don't really measure, I just mix until it tastes right and it has the consistency and taste I like"  CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!  And I should add that the precise nature of MY personality forced me come up with a recipe that would workout right every time.  

If you met us, you'd know that she is the more loosey-goosey of us, and I'm the more "rule follower" type.  :)  She's the unschooler, I'm the schedule schooler. I think it's why we love each other!  We balance each other out. 

This is what I do to replicate her amazing icing:

Kristy's Amazing Whipped Icing

1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Shortening (confirm the brand you choose is gluten-free)
1 tsp Vanilla
2-3 Tbs milk (or more, you might like more for desired consistency, I like it very whippy, so I've been known to add more)
2 1/2 Cups - 3 Cups Powdered Sugar (again, use a trusted GF brand…most are, but some are sneaky!)
3 Tbs Cocoa Powder (or more to taste, I find this gives just enough chocolate taste without overdoing it and making it bitter)

In the mixer bowl of a stand mixer, whip together the butter and shortening on a medium-high speed until very fluffy.  Add tsp vanilla and continue whipping (same speed).  Slowly add the powdered sugar, start mixer on the lowest setting and gradually increase speed (unless you LIKE being covered in powdered sugar), continue whipping on a medium-high speed.  Add milk, and continue whipping.  Add cocoa powder (on low again), and continue whipping.  LOL :) (I know, I know, there's a lot of whipping going on!  It's a light and fluffy icing.) So continue to whip on med-high speed until very fluffy and the "crunch" of the sugar is gone.  Spread on YOUR favorite cupcakes or eat straight from the bowl.  Whatever makes you happy. ;)

Store unused portion in the fridge (and do what I do and eat a spoonful every now and then!!!)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

This post will be part recipe, part review of one of the ingredients.

First, this recipe is a gluten-free adaptation of a recipe published in the Family Circle Magazine in December, 2013.  I had intended to try the recipe as written before I returned to the gluten-free lifestyle and did not.

Second, this recipe used a new product that has come on the market in recent months: Snyder's Gluten-free Pretzel Twists.  I love pretzels.  Big, soft, fluffy Philly pretzels (sadly, there is no real gluten-free version of THEM!), small crunchy twists, big long pretzel rods, you name it, I was an equal opportunity pretzel lover.  The first time I was gluten-free, the only options out there (and available near me) were from Glutino, and from Wylde.  Both were okay, and passable, but still lacked that "pretzel" quality that would satisfy a craving.  When I returned to gluten-free, I perused the aisle at my local grocery store and found these.
I was surprised to see that a famous Pennsylvania snack company got into the gluten-free market.  They even built a separate facility and assembly line to accommodate.  Well, if you're going to make pretzels, you really should be a famous pretzel maker.  These pretzels are DELICIOUS, seriously crunchy, salty, and have that soaked-in-baking-soda-water prior to baking taste that you used to not be able to get from a gluten-free pretzel.  Not sure how far reaching the Snyders brand is.  If you cannot find it in your local grocery/gluten-free hot spot, Glutino or Wylde will work as a substitute.

Chocolate Pretzel Cookies

1 Cup King Arthur Gluten-Free Flour Blend (or equivalent, use your favorite blend)
1/4 Cup Gluten-free Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Xantham Gum
1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/3 Cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Cup Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips (watch your brands on this ingredient!)
1 Cup roughly chopped Gluten-free Pretzels AND approx 30 whole pretzels for garnish.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a mixer bowl, cream together butter and sugars for about 2 minutes, until fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla extract.  Pour in flour mixture and mix on low until just combined.

Carefully fold in chocolate chips and gluten-free pretzels (again, pretzel pieces are optional!)

Drop tablespoons full of batter onto baking sheet, 2" apart.  Press down lightly to flatten and press a whole pretzel piece into the top of each dough ball. (I used my 1.5 Tbs cookie scoop, which I love to use, so I got less than the recipe originally called for.  I got about 2 1/2 dozen cookies).

Bake for 11 mins.

Allow to cool on cookie sheet about 2 or 3 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.


NOTE:  Non-gluten free taste testers of this recipe had some reviews, which may alter how YOu want to make it.  My oldest loved them (well, actually, she said they were poisonous and that she would eat them all so that no one would have to die); my husband said that the texture of the pretzels inside the cookie were off-putting, but the taste was phenomenal.  Both tried while the cookie was HOT.  I prefer cooled cookies.  I liked them.  I might either break up the pretzel pieces smaller for the inside of the cookie, which I think would give them more of a "nut" texture, or leave them out of the inside altogether, but I'm concerned it would take some of the pretzel flavor away. :), the pretzel on the top stayed nice and crunchy.  I liked them.

Product Review - Udi's Gluten-free Hamburger Buns

I will say, after returning to the gluten-free lifestyle, I'm so impressed with the advances in products available!!!

Last night, I went out to dinner with a friend to a local restaurant known for clearly labeling their foods and accommodating the gluten-free patron.  I was so surprised to see that they would offer their burgers on a gluten-free bun!  I declined because I was concerned that the bun would be like that of buns in the past.  Dry.  Sticky.  Gummy.  Fall apart with the juices from the burgers.  So, I opted for a salad, but ordered a gluten-free roll to try on the side (instead of their signature ciabatta loaf they normally bring to the table).  They cut it in half and baked it in the brick oven, and presented with sweet cream butter.  It was delicious.

I nearly tackled our waiter to have him find out if they were a branded bun or a restaurant-made one.  He came back and said it was "Udi's"  OH YEAH!  Found some in my grocery store today.  I think I might try a burger tonight.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Happy Mixer - Gluten-free Bakery

Oh my goodness.

It is totally my luck that going back to gluten-free has come with the most amazing Gluten-free Bakery that opened up in the shopping center less than a mile from my house.

If you live in Southeastern PA - or southwestern NJ - or Northeastern Maryland, or anywhere within 100 miles of this place, it is certainly worth the trek.

The Happy Mixer at the New Britain Shopping Center in Chalfont, PA, is REALLY worth it.

Cookies and brownies and muffins, OH MY!!!!

My husband and son went first.  My husband says the Blueberry Muffin is delicious, my son loves the Peanut Butter Brownie (a fudge confection covered in a peanut butter frosting!). Another family favorite is the Fudge Brownie.  My non-gluten-free family members say that it is not possible they are gluten-free!  BUT THEY ARE!!!  Moist, fudgey, covered in an extra layer of chocolate to add to the decadence.  Then there's the Cream Cheese Brownie - the same brownie covered in the tangy sweet cream cheese frosting you just don't expect! The Peanut Butter Delights are also another favorite - think Peanut Butter Tandy Kake on crack!  Totally off the charts.  I also bought some of the Kiffles today, oh my!!!  Little pastry bites with the best gluten-free pie crust, touch of sweetness from the fruit and powdered sugar!  SO GOOD!!!!  ALSO, I bought a half dozen donuts the other day, too. My favorite was the cinnamon sugar, but I also got the traditional powdered, vanilla glazed, chocolate glazed and cream filled.  They truly did not last long.  Lastly, The Vanilla Almond Biscotti are a new addiction.  I have one every night with my pre-bedtime tea.  They also make a Chocolate Chip Biscotti that are also scrumptious.

What else?  This bakery does GLUTEN FREE BIRTHDAY AND WEDDING CAKES!!!! I am NOT kidding you!!!!   Are you gluten-free but haven't had an amazing bakery cake since giving it up?  You will be happy blowing out your candles on these beauties!

Anyway, I'm not kidding.  You need to drop everything you're doing and go to The Happy Mixer.  After you visit, I'd really love for you to comment here!  Oh, and don't forget to find them on FaceBook, they list all their specials and everything, too!

They have become my favorite twice weekly stop.  And I'm actually STILL down over 6 lbs since going gluten-free!


***I want everyone to know that I have received nothing for free in order for this opinion, this is completely voluntary and unsolicited….the logo above is the Happy Mixer's Logo - all rights reserved and copyrighted***

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chinese Chicken & Green Beans

The first time I went gluten-free, one of the biggest things I lamented was Chinese Food.  I could still DO it, but I had to get it steamed, with no soy sauce, no sauce at all. :(  It was not satisfying.  I could make some at home that was very good.

While I was NOT eating gluten free most recently, my biggest obsession was Chinese Chicken with Green Beans.  Sooooo good.  In a nice rich brown sauce, over rice.  I adored it.

I was planning dinner tonight and was cutting up some chicken, and I got a craving so big for Chinese Food - like a pregnancy type "I MUST HAVE IT" craving.  Therefore, I made this.  It was so good and so satisfied that craving.

AS ALWAYS - make sure that ALL the ingredients you use are gluten-free.  If you are unsure, leave it out!

Chinese Chicken & Green Beans
2 Lbs Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast, cut in thin strips
1 Lb Frozen Green Beans, thawed
1/2 Cup Teriyaki Sauce (I Used Fusia by Aldi, it was gluten-free)
1 Tbs Rice Wine
2 Tsp Dark Sesame Oil
2 Large Garlic Cloves
3 Tbs Vegetable Oil
2 Tbs San-J Tamari Wheat-free Soy Sauce
4 or 5 Scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tbs Sesame Seeds
2 Tbs Corn Starch
1/4 Cup COLD water

Prepare the chicken to marinade ahead of time, minimum 2 hours, maximum overnight.  To prepare the marinade mix teriyaki sauce, rice wine and dark sesame oil together in a container or ziplock bag.  Add the Chicken strips and mix well.

When ready to cook it all:

Prepare Wok by preheating on high heat.  Heat 3 Tbs Vegetable oil until hot.  Add garlic cloves, whole, into the oil and allow to cook for a few minutes until soft, then remove.  Add chicken and allow to cook until no longer pink.  Add sesame seeds and soy sauce.  Once incorporated top with the defrosted green beans and cover for 2 or 3 minutes.   Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch and water together.  Add to green bean and chicken in the pan and stir around.  Allow to thicken the sauce.

Serve immediately over your favorite rice.

Don't feel guilty, feel happy!  Don't need a cookie to realize your good fortune!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Rudi's Bakery

Okay, so a couple years ago, this bakery found me via my blog and sent me free samples.  At the time, I was on my "out" of gluten-free life, but I attempted the items and liked them.  They sent me great coupons, and freebies that I was able to forward onto my friends who were also gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free.  Which was a blessing to them.  And they enjoyed the breads as well!

Well, I felt it only natural to make my first gluten-free product review of this product.  I've bought two, by far my favorite is the Multi-grain.  I like the texture a lot and can eat it without toasting it!  I do love it toasted, though, and I love it on my new panini press as well!  Ooooo, can you say "awesome grilled ham and cheese sandwich?"

I have found that I only defrost a day or two's worth and use that up before defrosting more.  I feel that it will last better as there are not a lot of preservatives in it.  Sliced nicely and evenly.

I can do gluten-free if I have a bread I can eat.  THIS is a bread I can eat!

I hope you take the time to check it out and enjoy it as much as I did!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Well, Gee, it's been a while since you've seen me….guess what!

Hey there.

It has been a LONG time since I've done any updating on this blog.  Boy has the gluten free world changed a bunch since I was last here!  I cannot believe the size of the GF sections in some grocery stores, now.  How amazing is that.

Well, as of January 1st, I am gluten-free again, so I hope to be posting more.  I have begun to feel pretty poorly again, and even my doctor said gluten-free, even if I'm not Celiac, is a good idea.  So here I am.

I'm probably going to start out with some GF product reviews of things that I've been doing.  I'm just getting back into the lifestyle, so I'm not sure recipes are good thing to start out with yet.

Be on the lookout for reviews on a few of the things I've discovered since being back.