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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!









March 20, 2014

Product Review: Trader Joe's GF Granola

Well I did it. I finally stopped by Trader Joe's. I've heard a lot about this simple little store by friends, bloggers, and even a Target cashier, so I had to check it out. I have to admit I was a little disappointed. I didn't find a lot there that was incredible, but the store was fun to shop in and there were a few awesome finds. This would be the top one right here.

When my husband was diagnosed with food allergies, the allergist told him, "a lot of people substitute oats for flour and other ingredients in gluten free baking...but you are allergic to those too so..." and then it was pretty much "good luck!". We've managed without, but who doesn't like a good granola?

Well after two years we found this. At Trader Joe's. It has no oats, it's gluten free and dairy free, packed with protein and fiber, and it's great out of the bag or as a breakfast cereal with milk. The price wasn't bad either, about the same as buying a small box of regular granola. Let me know if you've tried this or something else like it that you really liked (or didn't)!

March 16, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies


So I haven't had a ton of luck with in the gluten free chocolate chip cookie department. I've tried lots of recipes, different flours, and none of them turned out quite like a regular old wheat version (which is part of my criteria for posting a recipe on this site, by the way). That all changed yesterday.

For all your chocolate peanut butter lovers, this will knock your socks off.

NOTE: I have only made this recipe with my flour mix. I'm not sure how it would turn out with other flours so I strongly recommend you whip this one up. I know some people like to buy it for convenience sake, but it really only takes about 5 minutes to make a batch that will last you about a month, and it's totally worth it!

I got the original recipe from The Idea Room, if you want to check that out and see how I made it gluten free. Give these a try and let me know how you liked them!


PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
adapted from TheIdeaRoom.net
*wheat free *soy free
Pantry to Table in: 20 minutes
Makes: About 2 dozen cookies
Notes:
  • For variety, use a few different types of chocolate chips, such as semi-sweet, dark chocolate and milk chocolate. You'd be surprised how much tastier the cookies are!
  • Cookies always turn out better when baked on parchment paper. Especially gluten free cookies. If you haven't invested in some already, do so!
  • Always use your KitchenAid for gluten free recipes, if you have one. If not, use whatever you've got!
Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups Life After Wheat Flour Mix (see below)
a few teaspoons of milk, only if needed
1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:
  1. Whip butter and peanut butter together with a mixer on high speed for 30-45 seconds, until light and fluffy.
  2. Add white sugar, brown sugar, baking soda and baking powder and mix until thoroughly combined, scraping sides of bowl as necessary.
  3. Add egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  4. Add flour mix and mix for another 1-2 minutes. There really isn't such a thing as over-mixing gluten free baked goods. Longer mixing helps it not have a grainy texture and hold together better.
  5. Let the dough sit for 5 minutes and then turn the oven on. Again, this helps improve the texture. If you're in a hurry, you can skip this step but your cookies may be just a touch grainy tasting.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 and line a cookie sheet or two with non stick parchment.
  7. When oven is preheated, place Tablespoon size balls or scoops of dough onto the parchment paper, about 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 5-7 minutes. Mine took exactly 6. You want them to appear almost done. They will finish baking as they cool. This is the secret to making excellent cookies!
  9. Let sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes or until they are set, then remove to a cooling rack. These are amazing warm, but are still great afterward! Store in a Ziploc bag on the counter, or in the fridge or freezer if you want them to keep longer. ENJOY!
Life After Wheat's Flour Mix Recipe:
1 1/2 cups white rice flour
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour
2 cups tapioca starch or flour (they're the same thing)
2 cups potato starch
2 T xanthan gum
   Mix or whisk all ingredients together well. Store in airtight container in cool place (doesn't need to be refrigerated, I just put mine in the pantry) for up to a few months.


February 27, 2014

Healthy (and Delicious!) Banana Muffins

 A couple of weeks ago I heard a presentation by Kami from NoDietsAllowed. I loved her common-sense, positive approach to a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet. She had some muffins to sample, along with a few other things I'm sure I'll feature later. The muffins were delicious and I knew I'd have to try a gluten free version.
After several days of super warm weather, today was cold and rainy all day long. So I decided to make the kids (and the husband) some warm muffins for an after school snack. They were a HUGE hit! I am also participating in Kami's Game-On Health Challenge (and loving it!) so I'm trying to eat healthy and limit my calories. I loved that I could fit some of these muffins into my plan today. I made a few changes, which are noted below. I ran out of honey, so used half honey and half sugar in the raw (I'm sure you could use brown or white sugar too, but honey's probably the most healthy and makes them extra moist).
 For the original, whole wheat recipe, click Here. While you're there, check out her site, it has loads of great information and recipes!

BANANA MUFFINS
adapted from NoDietsAllowed
*gluten free*soy free*dairy free
Pantry to Table in: 20-30 minutes
Makes: 48 mini muffins
Notes:
  • Use 1/2 cup applesauce, or 1/4 cup applesauce + 1 large egg, beaten. I used the egg to make it a little lower in sugar and help the gluten free muffin stay together. Applesauce would work great too though.
  • You can use 2 cups flour mix, or 1 1/2 cups flour mix and 1/2 cup cooked and cooled quinoa. You (and the kids!) won't even notice the quinoa taste or texture, but it gives your muffins a health boost! (I make a large batch and freeze extras in 1/2 cup portions)
  • Check out my flour mix recipe, I use it cup for cup in all my recipes and it works like wheat flour every time!
  • I also added 1/4 cup PB2 (powdered peanut butter) with the dry ingredients. Added a little extra protein but not much fat or calories and I honestly couldn't taste it (though I kind of wish the flavor would have come through more).
Ingredients:
2 cups gf flour mix OR 1 1/2 cups flour mix and 1/2 cup cooked and cooled quinoa
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1 T ground flax
2 bananas, pelled and mashed
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup honey or agave
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk of your choice (Kami used almond milk, I used 1%)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
  1. Whisk together flour mix (add 1 tsp xanthan gum if your flour mix doesn't already have some), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and flax in small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whisk remaining ingredients in large bowl.
  3. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined. Batter should be farely thick, but if it appears too thick you can add a little more milk. Let batter sit while preheating oven.
  4. Preheat oven to 375.
  5. Generously spray 2 mini muffin tins with cooking spray, or line with paper liners. Or you could use regular muffin tins, if that's your thing.
  6. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full. It may appear too full but it's not, the muffins will just rise straight up and come out beautiful! This recipe makes exactly 48.
  7. Bake for 7-9 minutes, (15-18 minutes if using regular muffin tin) until toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pan for a few minutes before removing to wire rack. These are great warm or room temp, and can be refrigerated or frozen for longer storage. Enjoy!


February 22, 2014

Quinoa Chili

I love a good soup when it's cold outside. I would even eat soup through the summer if the rest of the pot wouldn't go bad in the fridge because everyone else wants hamburgers and salads. I'm always on the hunt for a new soup recipe, especially if it's healthy and easy. This one happens to be all of the above. It's quick, easy, very nutritious, and really, really good. You could even whip it up in the morning and keep it in the crock pot until dinner time if your days are busy. Find the original recipe HERE on Cooking Classy's website. I only made a few modifications.

QUINOA CHILI
*gluten free *soy free *dairy free
Pantry to Table in: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6
Notes: 
  • You can make this with or without the ground beef. We like a little meat in ours so usually add it. If that's not your thing, just omit those steps.
  • Make this dairy free by omitting the sour cream/cheese or using dairy free substitutes.
  • If you have leftover quinoa that is already cooked, add 1 cup of cooked quinoa in with the tomatoes and reduce water to 1 1/3 cups.
  • This recipe comes out fairly thick. If you like your chili more soupy, add an additional can of diced tomatoes and an extra dash of the seasonings.

Ingredients:
1/2 lb ground beef
3/4 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 (14.5 oz) can petite or regular diced tomatoes. Add an additional can if you like your chili more soupy.
1 small can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 (7 oz) can diced green chilies
3/4 tsp chili powder, or to taste
1 to 1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cocoa powder (this sounds weird, but just do it. Trust me.)
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn
1-2 tsp lime juice
Sour cream, shredded cheese, and chopped lettuce (optional)

Instructions:
  1. Brown ground beef in large pot.
  2. When beef is almost done, add onion and cook until meat is cooked, about 1 minute. If not using ground beef, Heat 1/2 T olive oil and saute onion.
  3. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add quinoa, water, tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, green chilies, seasonings, and sugar. Cover and simmer over low heat about 20 minutes, until quinoa is done.
  5. Add beans, corn, and lime juice and heat thoroughly.
  6. Serve with lettuce, sour cream and cheese.
  7. This goes great with Corn Bread

November 19, 2013

Just in Time for the Holidays!

Living Social is having a great deal on Jules Gluten Free Flour!
$30 gets you:

  • 5 pounds of Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • Graham Mix
  • Cookie Mix
  • Cornbread Mix
  • Over 200 recipes via e-books. 
Of all the gluten free products out there, I have heard the most amazing things about Jules. I got this for our upcoming holiday baking so we can try it out and hopefully have some superb holiday treats! There is also a $12 flat shipping fee, which brings the total to $42. Still a great deal for all that you get. Snag yours at:
Jules GF Baking Deal. Ready for the kicker? If you purchase and 3 friends buy from your link (only 3!), you get it for F-R-E-E.