June 20, 2014

Cookie Cheesecake Bars


This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It's easy to make (we all know how much I like that) and it's just different enough from your average chocolate chip cookie that it's fun to take to potlucks or over to a friend's for a treat. Did I mention it's amazingly delicious and addicting?

I have to deviate from the norm a little here, too. I LOVE the flour mix I've developed and use it in absolutely everything. But I bought a bag of Cup4Cup GF flour blend on sale a while back and have found that it works incredibly well for cookies. So that's what I use. I still use my flour for everything else but darn it, Cup4Cup turns out a fantastic cookie. If you don't have any on hand, you can try this substitute from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring.

COOKIE CHEESECAKE BARS
*gluten free *soy free *oat free
Pantry to Table in: 45 minutes+cooling
Makes: 24 bars
Cheesecake Ingredients:
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4-2 cups Cup4Cup gluten free flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips-any variety

Instructions:

  1. Combine all cheesecake ingredients in a KitchenAid stand mixer (or use hand mixer if you don't have one) and use whisk attachment to blend for 2 minutes until smooth. Remove to another small bowl and set aside. Scrape out the bowl well, but there's no need to wash before mixing your cookies. See, easy!
  2. Mix butter and sugars in KitchenAid bowl until creamy.
  3. Add vanilla and egg and mix well.
  4. Add flour (starting with 1 3/4 cup), soda, and salt and mix for 1 minute. Add more flour if needed to make a slightly sticky cookie dough.
  5. Add chocolate chips and mix just enough to combine.
  6. Preheat oven to 350.
  7. Spray 13x9" pan with cooking spray
  8. Grease your hands and spread a thin layer (about 1/4") of cookie dough on bottom of prepared pan.
  9. Spread cheesecake layer over cookie dough.
  10. Crumble most of remaining dough over the top. I flatten random pieces and lay it over the top since the dough is a little sticky. Just be sure the pieces aren't any thicker than the bottom layer.
  11. There should be enough dough leftover to make about 6 cookies. Shape dough into 1" balls and bake on greased cookie sheet for 6-8 minutes, just until bottoms start to turn a golden brown. 
  12. Bake cookie cheesecake for 30-40 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out fairly clean and cheesecake appears done. Let cool thoroughly before cutting. Store in the fridge. I usually make these the day before and store them in the fridge until serving.
  13. Cut into small squares. I cut 6 rows lengthwise and then 4 the other way. Enjoy!


June 16, 2014

Home Made Bread


 Whenever I talk to someone who is just starting to eat gluten free, the first question is always what to do for bread. Bread is such a staple, and it really is tough to find a good gluten free version. We've tried many a store bought variety, but they are super expensive and most don't even taste very good. The best we've found is New Grains, and I used the ingredient list to improve our bread recipe.

I have waited a loooong time to post a bread recipe because I wanted it to be really good. This is it. It isn't grainy. It isn't crumbly. It is soft and has that yummy freshly-baked smell and taste. It also happens to be quite easy and quick to make.

Like any gluten free product, it's best served fresh. If you aren't going to eat it the same day, store it in a bread bag in the fridge. If it is going to take you more than 4-5 days to eat the loaf, wrap half of it in a paper towel and store in a freezer bag in the freezer until ready to eat.

This bread is amazing fresh out of the oven. It also works great for sandwiches, grilled cheese, and french toast. You can use it any way you would use regular bread.

My favorite pan to use is a Norpro 12" bread pan I got from Amazon. The slices aren't overly big as they turn out in the regular size bread pans, which helps the gluten free bread stay together, and it's simply a more convenient size for toast and sandwiches and such. It's one of the best investments I've ever made.

HOME MADE GLUTEN FREE BREAD
*gluten free *soy free *dairy free
Pantry to Table in: 90 minutes
Makes: 1 loaf
Notes:
  • Using a 12" bread pan works best.
  • Using egg whites is key. Don't be tempted to substitute whole eggs.
  • To get the best bread, use my recipe for flour mix or Cup4Cup brand. These are the best I've found.
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm water (barely warmer than room temp)
1 1/2 T instant yeast
2 T sugar
3 cups gluten free flour mix
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum (1 T if flour mix doesn't have any included)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
3 egg whites
2 T oil (I use canola)

Instructions:
  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water in 2 cup measuring cup or small bowl. Let stand until bubbly (should reach 2 cup mark)
  2. Meanwhile, combine flour mix, xanthan gum, and salt in KitchenAid or other stand mixer bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  3. Add yeast mixture, vinegar, egg whites, and oil to flour mixture. 
  4. Mix on medium speed for 3-5 minutes. It should be the consistency of a thick batter which is too thick to pour but not thick enough to form a ball.
  5. Generously grease bottom and sides of 1 loaf pan. I find cooking spray works best, but you can use butter or oil.
  6. Spread batter in loaf pan, peaking the middle a bit lengthwise instead of spreading flat.
  7. Let rise in warm place until batter is about 1/2" from top edges of bread pan. I heat my oven to 150 degress and then turn off the oven and place loaf pan inside. It then takes 15-20 minutes for batter to rise. There is no need to cover it.
  8. Take bread pan out of oven and preheat to 350. Bread should now peak just above the rim.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until bread looks firm and is fairly brown on top. You want it to be browner than golden brown, but not burnt of course :) If you take it out too early, it will fall as it is cooling.
  10. Let cool for 20-30 minutes in pan before removing to wire rack.
  11. Let cool completely before slicing.
  12. Be sure to enjoy it fresh! It is best this way.


 

June 2, 2014

Maple Bars


Ok. I have a weakness. And it's maple flavor. I loooove maple bars.

 Because of this, I'm sure, my son requested to take maple bars to school for his birthday treat. I was away that day and so my husband, the gluten free eater, took him to the bakery, picked up the maple bars, and stared at/smelled/drooled over the leftovers the rest of the day. The next morning, I had to make him some. He totally deserved it.

Last time I made doughnuts, they turned out quite well. My only problem with them is they were a little more of a cake doughnut than a yeast variety because they didn't rise as much as I would have liked them to. Well this time around, I tried a different recipe, and used the method I learned to make crescent rolls-making the dough thin and coating it in starch so it is workable, but also light enough to give a good rise. It worked like a charm. These maple bars tasted just like the ones you would buy in a bakery and I wish I could say I saved them all for him. So give them a try!

GOOD OLD-FASHIONED MAPLE BARS
*wheat free *soy free *oat free
Pantry to Table in: 1.5-2 hours
Makes: 5 large bars

Notes:
  • You can use home made or instant mashed potatoes. Be sure they don't have anything funky like garlic or peels in them. Just straight up potatoes, milk, and maybe a little butter. And be sure they are nice and smooth.
  • If you like lots of glaze, you may want to double the glaze recipe and put a second layer on after it cools for 5 minutes.

Ingredients:
1 cup warm water (just warmer than room temperature)
3 T sugar
2 T instant yeast
1/2 cup potato starch
1 tsp xanthan gum-add an extra 3/4 tsp xanthan gum if flour  mix doesn't have any.
2 T powdered milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup mashed potatoes
2 T butter, mostly melted
Extra potato starch for rolling out...2-4 T should do the trick
Glaze:
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp maple flavoring
1/4 tsp vanilla
dash salt
1 1/2 T warm water

Instructions:
  1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in water and let stand for 5 minutes until bubbly.
  2. In bowl of stand mixer (KitchenAid works great!), whisk together flour mix, potato starch, xanthan gum, powdered milk, and salt.
  3. Add yeast mixture, mashed potatoes, and butter. Beat with paddle attachment for 3 minutes. Dough should be like a stiff batter, too soft to mold by hand but thicker than banana bread batter.
  4. Sprinkle extra 3 T or so of starch onto parchment paper or countertop. It's a bit of a tricky balance, because too little and your dough will stick to the counter (use a metal spatula to help remove and dust with a little extra starch). Too much and your maple bars will have some starch reside after frying./ If this happens, just try to dust it off as best you can. It really won't affect the flavor much.
  5. Plop dough onto starch and turn to coat. Roll into a 12"x6" rectangle and cut into 5 bars. 
  6. Cover loosely with a very light towel and let rise in a warm place for 30-60 minutes, until double in size. I heat my oven to 150 degrees, turn the oven off, and put a cookie sheet with the bars on it inside. 
  7. While dough is rising, combine all glaze ingredients and whisk well to combine.
  8. Once bars are almost doubled, heat 3-4 inches of canola or other neutral oil in a deep pan. Your burner should be somewhere close to the medium mark. Oil is hot enough when a small piece of dough dropped into the pan immediately rises to the top and browns fairly quickly.
  9. Fry bars 1 or 2 at a time. They should immediately rise to the top and each side should brown in 30-45 seconds. Once one side is browned, flip over and cook the other. Remove to a cooling rack with foil underneath to prevent a mess. Immediately pour glaze over the top. These are best warm. If you wait to eat until later, warm them up briefly in the microwave. ENJOY!


April 29, 2014

Grillin' Time


Nothing says summer like BBQ chicken. At least in our part of the world. And while the weather hasn't quite been cooperating, we're grilling anyway! I have always been the store-bought BBQ sauce kind of girl, until today.
I did a little searching and found this recipe from Tyler Florence, put my spin on it...and deliver it to you in all its glory. It's super simple and very delicious. I may never buy BBQ sauce again.
For the original recipe, Click Here.

BARBECUE CHICKEN
*gluten free *dairy free *soy free
Pantry to Table in: 2+ hours
Serves: 6
Notes:
  • As with all meat, the longer you marinate, the better it will taste. Marinate for 12-24 hours for best results.
  • This makes some amazing chicken thighs, but any other cut would be great too.
  • If you want to get adventurous, omit the butter and oil and fry a slice of bacon in your pan. Use the grease and add additional oil if needed to make 2 T fat. Finely crumble the bacon in the sauce.
Ingredients:
1 T butter
1 T oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 T red or white wine vinegar
1/2 T dry mustard
1 tsp paprika
pepper to taste (I used about 1/8 tsp)
6 boneless chicken thighs, or other cut of meat

Instructions:
  1. Heat butter and oil in medium saucepan.
  2. Add garlic and onion, and saute about 5 minutes until they just begin to brown around the edges.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, covered, over low heat for 20-30 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  4. Place chicken or other meat in a large gallon zipper bag or container and pour 1/2 of the BBQ sauce over the meat. Be sure all meat is coated and seal bag or container.
  5. Allow meat to marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour, or up to 24 for best results. 
  6. Save remaining BBQ sauce in fridge for basting and serving.
  7. When ready to grill, use half of the remaining sauce (about 1/2 cup) to baste the meat several times while cooking. Just as an FYI, boneless chicken thighs are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  8. Serve with remaining sauce (best if warm). Enjoy!

April 24, 2014

Flaky, Buttery, Crescent Rolls


I have been attempting gluten free dinner rolls for over 2 years now (has anyone else had trouble making shaped yeast rolls that are gluten free and rise like they should?). The closest I have come is Maddox Ranch rolls, which are a delicious batter roll, but I have been searching for a way to make gluten free crescent roll dough to use in recipes or just as a delicious bread to serve alongside dinner.

I managed to find an excellent recipe from Sugar Baby Boutique to convert into a gluten free version, and the result is incredible.

Seriously, this is my biggest gluten free cooking success. I promise these are just like the melt-in-your-mouth ones you remember. And they are super quick and easy to make-much easier, I might add, than the wheat variety. So they'll be done in no time.

I have only tested this recipe with my gluten free flour mix. I have tried many commercial mixes (Pamela's, Grandpa's Kitchen, Jules, etc.) and haven't liked the texture/flavor of any of them as much so I strongly recommend using mine! Click Here for the easy recipe


CRESCENT ROLLS
*gluten free *soy free
Adapted from Sugar Baby Boutique
Pantry to Table in: Just over an hour. 
Makes: 8 crescent rolls
Notes:
  • When making yeast breads, the water should be just warmer than your skin. Too hot, and it will kill the yeast. It really needs to be just slightly warm.
  • As always, I have only tested this with my gluten free flour mix recipe. If you haven't tried it, now's the time! It only takes about 5 minutes to whip up a batch that lasts around a month. Totally worth it for the taste and texture you'll achieve.

Ingredients:

  • 1 T yeast
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 2 T warm water (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1 T Saco buttermilk powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (2 tsp if using a flour mix that doesn't have any xanthan gum)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 T butter, almost melted
  • Approximately 1/4 cup potato starch for dusting
  • 2-3 T butter, melted
Instructions:
  1. Stir yeast and 1 T sugar into warm water. Let stand until doubled in size (about 5 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, whisk together flour mix, potato starch, buttermilk powder, xanthan gum, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of KitchenAid (or stand mixer). 
  3. Add egg, 4 T butter, and yeast mixture and blend well for about 2 minutes. You can do this by hand but it will be hard work and the texture is better if mixed well. Dough will be extremely sticky, like a thick batter.
  4. Generously dust a counter top with potato flour. Really, be generous!
  5. Scoop the batter/dough onto the potato starch and turn to coat. Do not knead it in, just coat it. (see first picture above)
  6. Gently roll it out to about a 1/8" thick circle.
  7. Brush with about 1 T melted butter, enough to barely coat the dough.
  8. Using a pizza cutter or knife dusted with potato flour, cut the circle into 8 equal wedges.
  9. Carefully roll each wedge inward to form a crescent. If dough sticks to counter, you have not put enough starch down. No worries, this happened to me too! Use a metal spatula to scrape extra potato starch onto the bottom of the dough as you roll it up.
  10. Gently pinch the end to secure it so the roll doesn't lose shape as it bakes.
  11. Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or a greased baking sheet, and curve them slightly.
  12. Gently brush additional butter on top of each roll. This helps them brown (and doesn't hurt the taste either)
  13. Let rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes, until doubled in size.
  14. Preheat oven to 350 and bake rolls for 12-15 minutes. Gluten free breads tend to not brown as much, so don't wait for these to be well browned before pulling them out or they may dry out. Flake with a fork in the center of a roll to see if it's done. Mine were done in about 12 minutes.
  15. Brush with additional melted butter and serve warm for best results. Store leftovers in the fridge or freezer. These can easily be re-warmed by wrapping in foil and placing in a 325 degree oven for about 5 minutes from fridge or 10 minutes from freezer. ENJOY!








April 17, 2014

Homestyle Macaroni and Cheese




 Over the past couple of gluten free years it has come to our attention that there just isn't a good gluten free Macaroni and Cheese option out there. By all means, let me know if you have found otherwise. We tried Sam Mills and that was pretty good, but really thick and rich. We've tried the quinoa variety and that was ok, but not great. We tried Annie's and the noodles were a mushy texture (not overcooked, mind you) and the cheese sauce was a little bland. 

So once again I've resorted to making my own. 

And I have a secret for you. A very good gluten free secret that I have discovered...

If you're out to make a white sauce, you need Jules flour mix. I bought some on special during the last holiday season, and have tried it in quite a few things. It makes an excellent Maddox Roll, but I find that it is too starchy for most other baked goods, we prefer our own flour mix. The main thing I use it in is sauces. I've made a mean green bean casserole this way, and it turns out a great cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese. It's the secret ingredient to a smooth and creamy sauce. If you don't have any, no worries. You can substitute an equal amount of corn starch. But you'll get the best results if you happen to have some Jules on hand. It has an 15 month shelf life, so I keep a bag on hand and use it all before it goes bad. 

HOMESTYLE MACARONI AND CHEESE
*wheat free *soy free
Pantry to Table in: 15 minutes
Serves: 1-2
Notes:
  • For best results, use Jules Gluten Free Flour Mix. If you don't have any, you can substitute corn starch.
  • Barilla and Ronzoni are our favorite gluten free pasta brands for both flavor and texture.
  • Freshly grated cheese melts better for sauces than the pre-packaged grated cheese.
Ingredients:
2 cups cooked Barilla Gluten Free Elbow Macaroni (or your favorite brand)
1 T butter
1/2 T Jules Gluten Free Flour Mix, OR corn starch
2/3 cup milk (we used 2%)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese, plus additional for garnish

Instructions:
  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions.
  2. While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat.
  3. Add Jules or corn starch and whisk to combine, cooking until bubbly.
  4. Whisk in milk, salt and pepper. 
  5. Continue to cook and stir until mixture is thickened, about 5 minutes. It should very lightly boil, or almost boil, but you don't want it to come to a full boil or the milk will curdle. It will still be fairly liquid but the cheese will thicken it.
  6. Add cheese a few tablespoons at a time, stirring thoroughly until melted after each addition, to prevent clumping.
  7. Drain pasta well. Be sure all the water has drained off before adding it to the cheese sauce. Serve the macaroni and cheese with a generous helping of extra cheese on top. ENJOY!




March 27, 2014

Reese's Cake

 We recently had a birthday party and this was the cake we served. I lucked out and have a child who adores peanut butter and chocolate just as much as I do. Probably more. So I was seeking the ultimate Reese's lover's birthday cake.

I have an old stand-by chocolate cupcake recipe, which I use to make Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, but I wanted to try something new, something a little more dense and fudgy without making it brownie-like or dark chocolatey.

I found a site called The Cupcake Project, and the author appears to be as picky as I am about how her cupcakes turn out. So I decided to try it gluten free.

The result was a delicious semi-sweet chocolate cake. Just sturdy enough to hold up all the peanut butter without being too dense. It was incredible, taste and texture.

I found a recipe for chocolate peanut butter frosting, which I used for the filling and frosting. It is a rich cake, but not overly so. You can eat an entire slice and be perfectly satisfied. It is perfect paired with a scoop of home made vanilla ice cream. You can make these into cupcakes or do a double layer cake as I did. Either way, this cake is perfect if you like chocolate and peanut butter.

For the original cupcake recipe, click Here
For the original frosting recipe, click Here
For the recipe of my favorite gluten free flour mix, click HERE


REESE'S CAKE
*wheat free *soy free
Adapted from TheCupcakeProject.com & MyStoryInRecipes.blogspot.com.uk

Pantry to Table in: 45 minutes+cooling time
Makes: 1 double layer cake
Note:

  • If you don't have unsalted butter, you can use regular salted and just put a dash of salt instead of the 1/2 tsp.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 oz chocolate (Hersheys, Semisweet baking bar, any of your favorite chocolate that doesn't have any add-ins like nuts or Rice Krispies)-if using unsweetened, increase sugar to 1 1/2 cups
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup full fat sour cream
1 cup GF flour mix
1/2 tsp salt (or just a dash if using salted butter)
1 heaping tsp baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup water, room temperature

Instructions:

  1. Generously grease 2 8" or 9" round cake pans, 1 9x13" pan, or muffin tins with cooking spray. Or line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Melt chocolate in double boiler or in microwave at 30 second intervals (50% power) until almost melted. Remove from heat and stir until completely melted. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, until you can safely touch it.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together flour mix, salt, baking soda, and coco powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Whip butter and sugar together until fluffy, 1-2 minutes, in medium mixing bowl or stand mixer. As always, KitchenAid works wonders for gluten free recipes!
  5. Add chocolate and mix until combined.
  6. Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until combined.
  7. Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until combined.
  8. Add dry ingredients in 2-3 batches, mixing just until combined after each addition. Add water and mix on high for 30 seconds.
  9. Let batter sit while oven is preheating to 350. This elminates the gritty texture you sometimes get with gluten free baked goods.
  10. If making cupcakes, fill to 2/3 full. For round cake pans, divide batter evenly between the two.
  11. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check at the minimal time, if not done, check again in 2 minutes. I find that it is usually done just a couple of minutes after you can smell it strongly. Not exactly scientific, but it works. So if the kitchen starts to smell really good, check them in a few minutes even if you haven't quite reached the minimum time. Cupcakes 12-18 minutes, Round cake pans 17-22 minutes, 13x9" 25-30 minutes.
  12. Let cake cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove to cooling racks.

Peanut Butter Frosting/Filling
3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 cups powdered sugar
3-6 T milk

   I've found the secret to good frosting (at least what I consider good frosting) is to whip it for a long time. I use the whisk attachment to my KitchenAid.
   Whip the butter 1-2 minutes, until fluffy. Add peanut butter and whip another minute or so. Add powdered sugar and 3 T milk. Whip another 2 minutes or so, adding additional milk if necessary to get the consistency you want. This frosting will be a little more dense and a little bit different of a texture than your average buttercream because of the peanut butter. Spread in between cake layers and over cake. Top with Reese's Peanut Butter Cups if desired.
ENJOY!