Saturday, December 29, 2007

Waffles for Christmas

I got a swanky new Krups waffle maker for Christmas, and used it to feed my hungry family on Christmas Eve (including my parents, my brothers and families). They quickly finished off the first triple batch of waffles(!), and left me with only a few from the second triple batch (and there were only 8 adults and 3 kids). These came from Roben Ryberg's upcoming cookbook, which is now on pre-order at Amazon (apparently available March 10th). These waffles are great. But they are even better in this waffle maker. Roben made some for me in her Krups waffle maker back in June, and I knew I had to have this waffle maker. Since mine decided to fall apart in September (and I did not help it), I had a good reason for getting it! It makes the waffles a little crispier on the outside, and more tender on the inside.
So this morning, I decided to make waffles again, but this time make them a little higher in fiber. Finally, I begin my experiments with Montina. I have been wanting to for quite some time, but it's just one of those things that I don't remember to do when I start baking.
I started slow, because I don't want to screw up the recipe or waste my Montina. Out of the 190 grams of flour in the recipe, I used Montina for 15 of them. It's not a lot, but it is a start. The waffles tasted almost the same, but just had a tiny bit of the grain feel to them (but not at all like grainy rice flour). Next time (maybe tomorrow, lol) I'll try 30 grams. (I haven't quite gotten the "feel" for my new waffle maker's temperament. That's why it's really dark on one side.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie Starts with "C"

It's Christmastime, and that means it's Cookie Time. Of course there will be loads of brownies, and there is already Daddy's Peanut Brittle, and a few Orange Dreamsicle Cookies left in the freezer. But we need some special Christmas cookies. This post will have some tips for baking cookies. The actual recipes came from The Gluten-Free Kitchen by Roben Ryberg. I should have some recipes for other cookies in the next week or so.
Rolled Sugar Cookies:
1. Work with cold dough (if you are going to roll them out). Keep the dough in the fridge, and only take out small portions at a time.
2. Keep your rolling pin in the freezer when you are not using it. This helps prevent sticking, by keeping the dough cold.
3. Generously flour all your surfaces (with cornstarch or the flour mixture you are using, or even with powdered sugar - I've heard it works).
4. Roll the dough on parchment paper. This way, you can peel the parchment paper off the cut-outs, instead of peeling the cut-outs off the counter. But don't be a cheapo - use a new sheet each time. Otherwise, it gets a build-up of wet flour on it.
5. Pay attention to your humidity. This time, I forgot this very important tip. It was very humid in my house the other day when I made these cookies (like 75%). Water condensed on my dough - it was not a pretty sight.
6. Use an easy shape for a cookie cutter. The reindeer's legs are going to fall off (unless you are the wonder baker). I, personally, do not have enough patience for the silly reindeer. Braden wanted one, so I made him one (and only one).
7. If you do not have the "skills" to lift paper-thin dough and keep it in it's shape (I certainly don't - never have), then roll it out thicker. Say it with me - thick cookies are okay.
8. If, after making all the cookies, you are too tired to make your own icing, then don't. Pillsbury will clearly label gluten ingredients. I haven't yet seen one of their icings with gluten in it (and I think most are dairy free, too, including the cream cheese one).
9. Don't use cold icing - it causes the cookies to break. Warm icing spreads real easily.
10. This one, I almost forgot, but it is important. After you have rolled out your dough, when you use the cookie cutters, peel away the excess dough as you go. Put the scraps in a bowl to go into the freezer (chills quicker). Remember, it is not one for the bowl, one for me. It is, in fact, one for the bowl, two for me. Sugar cookie dough is a gift - do not take it lightly. :)

Not specific to sugar cookies:
1. Get your favorite assistant to help you.
2. You can roll the dough into a log (in waxed paper) and put it in the freezer (in a freezer ziploc). Then you have cookie dough ready for you whenever you need/want it. Many cookie doughs can be sliced frozen, thus eliminating the job of rolling or balling, or whatever. Sugar cookies are still yummy in circles, too. Plus, if you are like me, this is about the only way to get small cookies.

I know you are all itching for your cookies, so get going! Enjoy this last picture of snickerdoodles.

Andy's Easy, Yummy Chili

Yes, I know it's in a Diego Dixie bowl, but sometimes I just don't want to wash the dishes.

Andy made this chili yesterday, and it was really good. What did he put in it? you ask. Not a whole lot, actually.

Andy's Easy, Yummy Chili

1 pound ground beef, cooked
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can Ready for Chili Tomatoes (it has spices and stuff in it - we used Wal-Mart's Great Value brand)
And a little brown sugar

Simmer for about 20 minutes.

If you want to sneak in a little more nutrition, you could add some pureed spinach (no one will even notice) and/or some ground flax seeds. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fried Rice

I don't know how fried rice is made in a restaurant - I don't even eat the stuff. But as I was making dinner last night, I had a little pinch of inspiration. Maybe you'll get one tonight.

I had 2 hamburger patties and 2 small chicken breasts in the freezer, so I defrosted them, and cooked them in a stainless steel skillet (first the hamburgers, then the chicken - in just a little olive oil). When I was done, there was all that lovely flavoring in the bottom of the skillet. I had opened the fridge at some point and noticed the last of that brown rice from a few days ago. Hmmm... So I put that bit of brown rice in the skillet, and added some of the mixed veggies from dinner (carrots, corn, peas, and green beans), and stirred it around until it got nice and hot and released some of those flavor bits off the bottom. I added some of the chicken. It was so good!

I think I will let inspiration pinch me more often.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Daddy's Peanut Brittle

It's just not Christmas without Daddy's peanut brittle. He makes it every year, so that he can take it to people he visits from church. This is one of the ways that Daddy says he likes you. If you get some, you must be special!

Daddy's Microwave Peanut Brittle

In a large microwave-safe bowl, add:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white Karo syrup
1 cup raw peanuts

Microwave on high for 4 minutes.
(If using cooked peanuts, add 1 cup cooked peanuts now.)

Microwave on high for 2.5 to 3 minutes.
1 tsp butter (Daddy uses 1 tbsp!)
1 tsp vanilla

Microwave on high for 1 minute.
1 tsp baking soda

Mix well.
Pour onto cookie sheet sprayed with Pam (or use a silicone mat). Allow to cool, then break into pieces.
Cooking times may need to be adjusted for your microwave. Using different kinds of nuts may require adding the nuts later in the cooking cycle.

I hope you enjoy the peanut brittle. We sure do!

A Homemade Christmas

All the gift buying really upsets me around this time. Not because we're giving, but because people expect us to buy them gifts, and the pressure we feel to spend money on others. Me, I'd rather spend time on others. I want to give a gift that says "I like you. I think about you. Your friendship is meaningful to me." What better way to show love than to spend some of your time on other people. I'm not talking about slaving away all week long, instead, just doing a little here and a little there.

One of the things I have been making is bath salts. They are really quite easy. You mix up some epsom salts with an essential oil (available in craft stores in the soap making section - use about 4 or 5 drops per cup of salts), and some food coloring. You can also use some Kosher salt with the epsom salts. Then you just put in a jar, and add a little label and decoration, like some ribbon and a small ornament.

Another gift for this year is pretty soap dispensers. Get a clear plastic soap dispenser (I got mine in the pharmacy at Target, in the travel-sized stuff). Put some silk flowers inside, and pour in some liquid soap. They will easily spiff up a bathroom or kitchen sink.

Do you make up mixes to keep on hand? Try putting a mix in a mason jar. You can make something like Instant Potato Soup or Flour Tortillas, where all the ingredients are stirred up. Or you can layer ingredients for a pretty effect with a cornbread mix (I like one from The Gluten-Free Kitchen), or the Orange Dreamsicle Cookies (these will be very pretty, with the Tang layer - or two). Put a label on the back with the directions, or for a craftier (and prettier) approach, write it on a homemade gift tag. Get some mason jars and get creative! Dry ingredients for many of your baked goods can be mixed or layered in a glass jar.

Another good glass jar gift is some nuts (like pecans) in honey (especially local, if you can get it for a good price). My brother recently bought some honey from a farm in his town, and the taste is so amazing! My mom's not going to have many pecans left in her jar if I don't get my own jar soon. :)

Please leave a comment and share with me some of your ideas for a Homemade Christmas.
Ginger's Making Christmas, too, over at Gluten Free in Georgia (and Florida).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Instant Potato Soup

Mix up a jar and keep it handy for when you need a quick dinner or some feel-good soup.

I found this recipe all over the internet, and I'm not going to bother telling you the 3 million websites it comes from.

Instant Potato Soup

2 cups instant mashed potatoes
1 & 1/2 cups instant milk powder
3-4 cubes HerbOx Chicken Bouillon, crushed*
2 tsp dried minced onion
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 & 1/2 tsp seasoning salt (I used McCormick's)

Mix all ingredients and store in a 1 quart jar.

To serve:
Place 1/2 cup instant soup mix in a soup bowl, cup or mug. Add one cup of boiling water and stir until smooth.
Top with shredded cheddar and bits of bacon, if desired.

* The original recipe (or all the versions I saw, LOL) called for 2 tablespoons of powdered bouillon. Since I just have the HerbOx cubes (because they're gf), I crushed them with my mortar and pestle and figured it took about 5 cubes to make 2 tbs. I think 5 cubes is too chickeny for my soup, which is why I'm writing 3 or 4 cubes. Also, the recipe called for 1/8 teaspoon turmeric. I don't have any, so I can't very well tell you to use it, can I?

Braden really enjoyed his soup. Carter was not in the mood for food, so his lack of empty bowl does not count.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Nana's Cookies Review

I received some samples of Nana's No Gluten Cookies today. Sinful and decadent, these are not. But they are pretty good. The only sugar is from fruit juice, and they are also free of dairy and eggs.

The main ingredient is brown rice flour. It is a bit grainy (but not as bad as some), and it is a little on the dry side, but that actually results in the cookie sorta melting in your mouth. I had the Chocolate Cookie and the Berry Vanilla Cookie Bar.

Both cookies are sweet enough with just the fruit juice, without being overly sweet. The chocolate cookie has a very nice chocolate flavor. It reminds me of a chocolate cake, but not as fluffy.
I like the combination of berry and vanilla flavors, and the rice crunchies in them.

Carter absolutely had a fit after I gave him a bite of each and then put the rest of the cookies away. So I know they're a hit with him. I definitely don't feel guilty about giving these cookies to him (like I do with my brownies). Nor would I feel guilty about eating them for breakfast.

If you're looking for a new product, especially if you want a healthier treat or need to avoid dairy or eggs, pick up a Nana's No Gluten Cookie next time you go to Whole Foods. Give it a try - you may like it, and like not feeling guilty about it.

Quick and Easy Hot Rice Cereal

Carter's not feeling too well this morning, so I wanted to make him something yummy and fairly easy on his tummy.
I took some leftover brown rice, poured in a little milk, added a splash of vanilla and a clump of dark brown sugar, then microwaved it for a minute. Because he was in no mood to wait for the rice to soften, I put in some baby rice cereal to thicken it up (think rice pudding), and a little cold milk (to cool it back down for him). It was really good.
Carter didn't want to try it, but once I got some on his lips, he started eating it with gusto.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Green Chili Bake

Mom pulled this recipe out of some magazine once, and I have absolutely no idea what, when, or where, lol.
This is a great dish to make for a breakfast or brunch. Warning - it is not low-cal, but it is really good.

Green Chili Bake

10 eggs
4 cups shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
2 cups cottage cheese
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup gf flour mix
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies, drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Serves 8 to 10 for brunch, or 12 to 16 as an appetizer.

GF (of course) Flour Tortillas

We'll credit this recipe to Bobbie Coughlin, over at the Delphi Celiac group. She thinks it came from a support group in Texas, but I was unable to find this recipe on any of the Texas groups' websites. I have made this a few times and we really like them.

GF Flour Tortillas

1/4 cup each cornstarch, tapioca flour, potato starch, white rice flour and brown rice flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 generous tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup water, more if needed

Mix dry ingredients and add water and oil. Let rest 10 minutes.

Divide into balls, roll into tortillas, and cook on a hot skillet.

Beef Jerky

It truly is a wonderful thing to have on hand. I had nearly forgotten about this lovely snack, until digging through my freezer yesterday (I have to defrost it - now that it's cold outside, lol). My parents have a big dehydrator. Dad and I usually make this together.

Cassandra's Homemade GF Beef Jerky

All measurements are approximate – I put in what feels right

A few pounds of beef – round steak, top round roast… cut into small strips

GF soy sauce (I use La Choy) – enough to cover meat, 1-3 large bottles

Brown Sugar, 2 or 3 tbsp per bottle of soy sauce

McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning – a few shakes per bottle of soy sauce

Mix marinade ingredients. Add meat. Allow to soak, covered overnight (give or take a bit depending on how strongly flavored you want the jerky). If you have a food saver, you can seal the meat and marinade in one of the containers and soak for about 20 minutes.

Lay meat on drying racks. Use the jerky setting of a dehydrator and dry for 6 hours or so (it all depends on how thick the meat was sliced and how dry you want it). You’ll need to check it to see. Best if stored in the freezer, especially if there was a lot of fat in the meat.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

New (to me) GF chips

While shopping at our local grocery store one day, Andy announces he's tired of Mission Tortilla Chips, and asks what else I can have. Now, I don't eat any of the Lay's stuff except the Stax (dedicated lines), because I have been glutened on at least 2 separate occasions from their tortilla chips. Two times, and I leave that product alone.
So we started looking at the chips, and reading the labels. I pick up a bag of Xochitl chips, and read the ingredients list, then see it says "no gluten" on the side. I am always excited to see those words (except when they don't belong - i.e., liar, liar pants on fire). After putting the bag in my cart, I realized it says "no gluten" twice on the front! These are thin chips.
We also found that Calidad chips (in a big yellow bag) say "gluten-free" right under the ingredient list. (They are actually part of Mission Foods.) These are a thicker chip, and are saltier than the Xochitl (at least the ones I had). They are both good chips, but a whole lot different.

In other chip news, I bought a new kind of RiceWorks brown rice chip at Costco the other day. It is Salsa Fresca. Us Texans like our salsa. They're a bit spicy, and covered in dehydrated vegetables (how much better can they get?). Carter says "mmm." They have other flavors, including Sea Salt, but I have only found (and tried) the Sweet Chili (also good).

At the local GIG meeting, we always have a raffle (products - often donated by the manufacturer, memberships, sometimes books). This month, some of our products were from Arico Foods. I won some Cassava Chips, the flavor Ginger on Fire (Hey, Ging, you should try these). These are a little sweet, and a little spicy. Carter spit them out - he would probably prefer the Sea Salt Mist.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

C is for Cookie

That's Good Enough For Me!
I have a riddle for you. What do you get when you tell your sugar-crazed husband to put small drops of dough on the cookie sheet? Answer:That's right. One really huge cookie. Actually, three; three really huge cookies. I should have gotten 72 cookies out of that doubled batch, but instead, I got 3. I had to take a pizza cutter to them.

Yesterday was our annual cookie exchange at the North Texas GIG meeting. There were some excellent cookies. (But, as usual, there were some that were less than desirable.) But we had a good time, and ate a few too many cookies. Just look at that spread!