Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let's Start a Roasting Revolution

I have been hearing a lot of talk of New Year’s resolutions and it’s gotten me thinking about all my past resolutions. Some worked, some didn’t. Some I whole heartedly tried to follow through with and others I figured

if I said it out loud that would make enough of a difference. We all want to drop those pounds, and eat healthier, and take up YOGA and Japanese and whatever outlandish opportunity we feel we need to embark on. It’s not that I am being pessimistic people. I think it GREAT to think BIG. But what we end up missing is the BIG picture. What are you going to do to stay on track? What is going to motivate you? Who is going to make sure you stick to it?

We want to make all these BIG changes. But what we really need to do is look at the little things we can do to make a BIG change. Let’s face it. I am probably not going to be fluent in Greek by next January (sorry yiayia) but it wouldn’t hurt to learn some useful conversation that doesn’t involve cursing. See, baby steps.

So with all that mumbo jumbo from the heart and off the subject of food, which is I hope why you are really here and taking the time to read my blog, I will get to my point. My new year’s resolution is to be as happy and healthy as I can be, and my baby steps will be through my cooking dear readers. As I am writing this I can see the words of my last few blogs about cookies and Christmas time just drenched in sugars and sinful seduction. We all have to indulge every once in a while though. I think I will make that part of my “happy life” resolution. No worries, the cookies will keep coming.

Onto the healthy food part of my resolution, I am going to start cooking more with vegetables, and have them be the main star of the show on my plate. I’m going green in my kitchen! I love meats so therefore they tend to rule the menu, but after much research on healthy eating and a healthy diet, I have decided that little drumstick needs to be downsized. Snacking on healthy foods between meals is a must as well and I am on a hunt for a plethora of choices that are easy to grab and go, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack.

Today the lunch item/snack is roasted edamame. I picked my lunch up from whole foods the last couple days and sampled some of their vegan options to get some ideas.

I ran across these green little health monsters and boy did they WOW me! I had to go find that recipe. Unfortunately the exact one was not on their website, but I found one that is quite close. Add some roasted red peppers and green olives to this recipe and you have a match made in heaven.

Roasted Edamame

•2 teaspoons olive oil or 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
•1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
•1/2 teaspoon chili powder
•1/4 teaspoon onion salt
•1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
•1/8 teaspoon paprika
•1/8 teaspoon black pepper
•1 (10 ounce) package ready-to-eat soybeans, thawed if using the frozen variety (fresh or frozen, edamame)

Preheat oven to 375°F. In small bowl, stir together oil, basil, chili powder, onion salt, cumin, paprika and black pepper. Drizzle mixture over soybeans and toss to coat well. Arrange beans in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Roast, uncovered, for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring once, until soybeans begin to brown.
Serve hot as a vegetable side dish or cooled as a snack.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Very Cherry Christmas

My husband has been craving all things cherry the last few weeks. Cherry shakes, cherry cobbler, cherry this and cherry that. So of course when the

local newspaper featured a huge story on the 12 days of Christmas cookies, my husband zoned in on, you guessed it, the cherry icebox cookies. Shocking I know.

Now those of you who have followed my blog know that gluten free baking and I have had our showdowns in the past and that I have been sticking to cookie dough that steers clear of substitutions that potentially forecast a doughy flood in my oven. I make non gluten free goods for him all the time, but I was feeling rather brave yesterday. Maybe it was because I had my son home with me and he is always willing to fearlessly dive into whatever project I come up with that day. I decided that I needed to woman up and take whatever consequences this adventure threw at us. Plus my son would no doubt get a kick out of the mess that was likely to ensue on my counters and in my oven. What we mothers do to bring a smile to our little one’s faces.

After returning from the store with our ingredients and new found spunk towards the wintery afternoon’s culinary exploration, we tied our apron strings, laid out our tools on the counter, and began a sweet discovery into cherry bliss. Which of course started with breaking into the cherry jar and popping two or three in our mouth at a time. Hey, we needed all the energy we could get!

After the prep work had been finished , our aprons and faces sprinkled with sweet rice flour, and the dough nestled into saran wrapped cocoons in the refrigerator to cool, we kicked up our feet and admired the first round feat.

A couple outdoor games, art projects, and one Polar Express movie later, the cookie dough had cooled and the two us got our hands dowsed in dough once more as we sliced and situated our cookies on the pan. 9 minutes later a taste test.

Perfection.

Sweet Perfection that melted in our mouths. Oh, these cookies will for sure make Santa’s cheeks a little pinker and the twinkle in his eye a little brighter this year. This recipe makes enough cookies to satisfy Santa, the reindeer, and most the elves so expect to be sharing! Tis the season for that anyways though right? They would make darling presents for coworkers or friends. Just jazz them up in fun holiday trimmings and make everyone’s spirits bright!

Cherry Icebox Cookies

•1 cup butter, softened
•1 cup sugar
•1/4 cup organic packed brown sugar
•1 large organic egg
•4-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
•1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
•3-1/4 cups sweet rice flour
•1/2 teaspoon baking soda
•1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
•1/2 cup chopped walnuts
•1/2 cup chopped maraschino cherries
•1/3 cup maraschino cherry juice


In your mixing bowl cream your softened butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Then beat in the egg, cherry and lemon juices. Slowly add your vanilla. Pour all dry ingredients in a separate mixing bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Then gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix on medium until well combined. Remove from your mixed and carefully stir in walnuts and cherries.

Divide the dough into 4 even parts and roll into a cylinder shape. The dough might be pretty thick. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 3-4 hours or until firm.

Remove dough just before baking. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unwrap a roll and cut into quarter inch slices. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

This recipe makes about 6 dozen cookies depending on how much dough actually makes it to the oven!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Easy G~Free Cookie Recipe

With Christmas caroling its way into our daily agendas, I am constantly surrounded by all sorts of treats. Christmas cards, Christmas candy, Christmas cookies…and therefore Christmas LBs.

But hey, it’s an excuse to indulge right? As long as I can hide out in my Christmas sweaters I will be a jolly ol’ Indie.

Christmas parties have been in full swing, and potlucks have popped up all over my calendar. So the question arises, “What goodie will I bring to this fete that I can eat, and I won’t subject my friends to unfamiliar grounds?” I always made sure that I brought something equally as healthy as it was pleasing. Now I have to add in the factor of of being able to devour my own dish as well. Appetizers, main dishes, sides are no sweat.

It’s the dessert my friends. The perfect ending to a meal.

The easy, go-to dessert to be exact. And what USED to be my favorite things to make? Cakes, cookies, and cupcakes. Even if I bought a boxed start to my desserts, I jazzed it up with added ingredients or my own toppings. But my dear friends, the easy grab a box off the shelf days seem to be over. At least I have not really had success with the pre mixed concoctions that I have purchased. In the four I have tried (I will leave names out as I do appreciate the company's consideration)they don’t bake right, taste grainy, or have a mudslide consistency. Maybe I am just not used to the stuff, but I don’t have the time or money this season to try every gluten free box of potential potluck pound cake.

I could make a homemade dessert that I am sure will turn out lovely, but when you are on the clock you don’t have time to spend collecting 20 different little ingredients that you will pay five bucks a piece for, need one tsp, then not need to use the ingredients for another couple weeks. By then, you are worried that the baking agents won’t hold up as well. Or maybe I am just paranoid about it's shelf life and what little I honestly know about it right now. In my own defense I took a big hit on the dessert front when I was diagnosed and havoc ensued. But that is here nor there, and I still need a dessert with less than 20 ingredients.

Much research again brought me to another “Duh, why didn’t I think of that” moment.

I have made sugar cookies and peanut butter cookies PLENTY of times in the past, and some don’t require any flour at all! Duh, Duh, Duh Mrs. Indie. I am a natural blonde, if you couldn’t tell.

Anyhoo, with those two cookie bases, my options are once again endless. An egg, sugar, vanilla extract, and some peanut butter, and I am back in the game my dears! I can top my cookie concoctions with peppermints, chocolate, nuts, fruit,assorted candies, sprinkles, frosting… I digress. My sweet tooth began to buzz.

Below is a go to peanut butter cookie recipe with holiday topper ideas

that will bring you holiday cheer, and have you smiling from ear to ear. Oh dear, Christmas has this blogger rhyming too much now I fear.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies
•1 large free range organic egg
•1 cup sugar
•1 cup organic peanut butter
•1 tsp kosher salt
•1 tsp vanilla extract (optional but I like what it brings to my baking)

Preheat you oven to 350.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Roll into balls and place them on a greased baking sheet. Press a fork dipped in sugar in criss-cross pattern (your cookies will be slightly flatter).

OR take advantage of cookie cutters! Instead of rolling your dough into balls, flatten out your mix on a sheet and press away with holiday designs!

Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

If you plan on topping with candy:
Let cookies cool on a wire rack until they are just a little warm. You don’t want to melt your topping, but you also want it to press far enough into the cookie to stick.
Press your candy into the cookie and serve!

If you plan on icing or sprinkles:
Let cookie cool completely before adding your iced decorations. I like to buy vanilla icing and add green or red food coloring. To make your own icing piper:I mix my frosting and food coloring in a bowl, then spoon it into a ziploc bag with a spatula. Press the frosting into one tip, and then snip a little off the corner depending how thick you would like your piping. This allows you to have more fun with your icing details and look like a pro!

CHRISTMAS COOKIE TOPPERS (because I am ALWAYS in theme right?)
•Mini candy canes (whole or crushed)
•Hershey kisses
•Peanut butter cups
•Apple slices with cinnamon
•Red and/or green icing
•Red and/or green sprinkles
•Dried cranberries
•Red/Green holiday m&m’s (peanut or plain)
•Almonds
•Walnuts (go crazy and candy them!)
•Shredded coconut (snowy pb cookies)

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm Not Settling, I'm Substituting!

When I found out I couldn’t eat gluten one of the things that really tugged my heart strings was that I had just gotten involved with baking and gourmet cooking. Take a look at your recipes at home, and you see flour added to the majority of dishes. Whether it is a thickening agent, main component, or sidekick, flour dusts itself all over the cooking world.

But that alarming circumstance immediately got me thinking and researching. I was restricted to only 2 flours in my cooking, and there is a flour world out there I have never even thought of touching. Flavorful flours that can bring something new to the table. Why couldn't I just substitute a flour I COULD eat in for the flour that I was allergic to?

Simple enough right? But with substituting comes unexpected outcomes. So with much experimenting and research, I have become much more comfortable over the last 6 months substituing different agents into my meals.

So with that said, I will give you the flour list that I have taken so much advice from in my baking adventures. Gluten free or not, I encourage you to expand your horizons in cooking! Any ol’ john doe can just reach for the white or wheat flour…


Potato Starch Flour
This is a gluten-free thickening agent that is perfect for cream-based soups and sauces. Mix a little with water first, then substitute potato starch flour for flour in your recipe, but cut the amount in half. It can be purchased in a health food store.

Tapioca Flour
This is a light, white, very smooth flour that comes from the cassava root. It makes baked goods impart a nice chewy taste. Use it in recipes where a chewy texture would be desirable. It would work nicely in bread recipes such as white bread or French bread. It is also easily combined with cornstarch and soy flour. It can be purchased in a health food store.

Soy Flour
This nutty tasting flour has a high protein and fat content. It is best when used in combination with other flours and for baking brownies, or any baked goods with nuts or fruit. It can be purchased in a health food store.

Cornstarch
This is a refined starch that comes from corn. It is mostly used as a clear thickening agent for puddings, fruit sauces and Asian cooking. It is also used in combination with other flours for baking. It can be purchased in a health food store.

Corn Flour
This flour is milled from corn and can be blended with cornmeal to make cornbread or muffins. It is excellent for waffles or pancakes. It can be purchased in a health food store.

Cornmeal
This is ground corn that comes from either yellow or white meal. This is often combined with flours for baking. It imparts a strong corn flavor that is delicious in pancakes, waffles, or simple white cakes. It can be purchased in a health food store.

White Rice Flour
This is an excellent basic flour for gluten-free baking. It is milled from polished white rice. Because it has such a bland flavor, it is perfect for baking, as it doesn't impart any flavors. It works well with other flours. White rice flour is available in most health food stores, but also in Asian markets. At the Asian markets it is sold in different textures. The one that works the best is called fine textured white rice flour.

Brown Rice Flour
This flour comes from unpolished brown rice. It has more food value because it contains bran. Use it in breads, muffins, and cookies. It can be purchased in a health food store.

Kamut and Spelt Flours
These are ancient forms of wheat. While they aren't appropriate for gluten-free diets, they are excellent substitutes for plain wheat flour as they add wonderful flavor and consistency.

Substituting Gluten
Wheat flour contains gluten, which keeps cookies, cakes and pies from getting crumbly and falling apart. It is what makes baked goods have a good texture because it traps pockets of air. This creates a lovely airy quality that most baked goods possess when baked with traditional wheat flour. In order to help retain this structure when using non-wheat flours, gluten substitutes must be added to a gluten-free flour mixture. For each cup of gluten-free flour mix, add at least 1 teaspoon of gluten substitute. Here are three very good substitutes for gluten.

Xanthum Gum
This comes from the dried cell coat of a microorganism called Zanthomonas campestris. It is formulated in a laboratory setting. This works well as a gluten substitution in yeast breads along with other baked goods. You can purchase it in health food stores.

Guar Gum
This is a powder that comes from the seed of the plant Cyamopsis tetragonolobus. It is an excellent gluten substitute and it is available in health food stores.

Pre-gel Starch
This is an acceptable gluten substitute. It helps keep baked goods from being too crumbly. This, too can be purchased at most health food stores.

Substitution is the solution
If you are ready to try some recipes, start with recipes that use relatively small amounts of wheat flour like brownies or pancakes. These turn out lovely and the difference in taste is minimal. Here are two gluten-free flour mixtures that are suitable for substituting wheat flour cup for cup.

•Gluten-Free Flour Mixture I
1/4 cup soy flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour

•Gluten-Free Flour Mixture II
6 cups white rice flour
2 cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca flour

**list from allrecipes.com

Also check out your local whole foods store to find pre mixed flours!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I’m Not Going Cold Turkey THIS Turkey Day!

I may be the only gluten free gal not shaking in her boots this year. I find it just as easy to enjoy myself on this holiday as I do every other day of the week. Why all the trepidation? I am probably less scared than the diet obsessed calorie phobic that lurks around every family. You know who I am talking about. The one that cringes with the crackle of freshly baked loaf of bread because of the carb content, or hides in the bathroom while slices of pie are being deliciously devoured. Resolutions are made at the beginning of the next year for a reason my dear readers. We work hard all year, and I think we need to reward ourselves! Being Greek, I have learned some wonderful lessons around the holidays. For instance, there are no calories on holidays. It’s true I tell you! Once you stop counting carbs and just enjoying your favorite delights, you’ll realize how miniscule a couple more ticks on that scale for one day can be. Plus, we all burn off half the cranberry dressing with a rousing game of football right?

Okay off my perch now. I am not saying to overindulge by any means by the way. Dig in with appropriate portions of course. If I can remain at ease on this holiday, I see no reason why you cannot. It’s after all, a holiday based on a feast!

So feast your eyes on

some good advice on keeping gfree guiltily below. I’ll keep you from hyperventilating at either the scale or the site of the potentially gluten gravy, and you just sit back and enjoy.

For my advice about a stress/gluten free Thanksgiving, I give you tips from my blog mentor herself, the glutenfreegoddess. I often get inspiration from her recipes, and she has had much more experience in the gfree world than I. She has written a great guide about where your gluten may be lurking. A bit from her blog below!

•Marinades and soy sauce, broth and bouillon may use wheat or barley in flavors and seasonings. Although I urge you to check your turkey for gluten-free status, most I've seen are safe- if you avoid the seasoning or gravy packet.
•For thickening gravy, whisk in a tablespoon or two of sweet rice flour or an arrowroot starch slurry. Potato flour is another choice- but be careful you don't add too much and end up with gravy you have to slice and serve. I like to add a splash of dry sherry, brandy, or wine to the gravy as well. It gives it that extra kick (and goddess knows, sometimes we need it- especially around the holidays).
•For stuffing, simply follow your favorite recipe and substitute toasted cubes of gluten-free cornbread or a loaf of store-bought gluten-free white bread. Or try my personal favorite stuffing recipe- Cornbread Stuffing with Curried Apples and Cranberries.
•For a crunchy bread crumb topping, try my Crunchy Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs (process toasted GF waffles- they make perfect golden crumbs).
•For a gluten-free mac and cheese try my Kicked Up Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe or my dairy-free Baked Mac and Cheese or my totally from scratch Cheesy Uncheese Mac and Cheese (fab for vegan guests).
•For a classic cookie crumb pie crust use Pamela's cookies (Lemon or Ginger or Chocolate, depending upon the filling) processed into crumbs; I use Joy of Cooking's classic cookie/cracker crumb recipe and simply substitute with gluten free cookies. For a butter replacement, try Spectrum Organic Shortening.
•For a gluten-free pie crust folks rave about, try Rebecca Reilly's Gluten-Free Pie Crust recipe with sorghum flour.

Read more: http://glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com/2008/11/thanksgiving-recipes-tips-for-gluten.html#ixzz167Xdn3Mo

Let's Talk Thanksgiving & Local Thanksgivings

I am very much a celebrator of Thanksgiving. You won't find me hanging my stockings with care until I have dined and stuffed myself fuller than the turkey.

I feel it's only decent to give Thanksgiving the time and respect it deserves. The pilgrims didn't peace pipe it with the Indians over a bird for nothing my friends.

I love Christmas time, but December is the month I dedicate to it's festivities. The month of November is a great time to think about all the wonderful blessings we have in our lives. Like for instance, I am thankful that there are so many more gluten free conscious places in Tulsa now! It’s amazing how quickly our city adapted to people’s needs and I am so grateful to be living in a community that aims to please and satisfy it’s consumers.

So before Turkey Day arrives, I want to share a local downtown restaurant that has helped me wind into Thursday’s celebration… Mod’s Coffee and Crepes. Every Tuesday, Mod’s opens it’s doors and arms to the g-free community, making glorious gluten free crepes.

I have not had a crepe since my French Club days back in high school, and they are just as delicious as I remember. Well, probably more delicious as we were making ours on a portable griddle, masking any recipe flaw with gobs of nutella, but as president I was happy to make this a Friday morning tradition nonetheless.

I digress back to modern day and Mod’s. I have been a friend of theirs on facebook for a few months and have seen posts about their gluten free crepe Tuesdays for quite some time, but have never been able to stop by to try, until today that is. I tried the Spicy Turkey and Cranberry Crepe, perfect for preparation for Thursday’s feast.
My oh my friends, I could not get enough! The crepe was lighter than any wrap I have had, the cranberry was fresh and delicious, a little spicy mustard, turkey, and cheese and perfection was accomplished. The portions are quite generous, but I felt as light and fluffy as my lunch when I left. My husband tried the baked ham and green apple and said it was remarkable.
He forgot to order the gluten free so I was unfortunately not able to try but I'll trust his palate preferences. He does live with a cook that makes him taste test the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly after all. We split the nutella and banana gluten free crepe for dessert
which ended our delightful lunch. I got to reminiscence in my nutella days from French club too. Les crêpes étaient remarquablement délicieux!
(Side note:Please excuse any tense or gramatically incorrections those of you who are more brushed up in your french flair.)

So I am giving a large THANKS this Thanksgiving to Mod’s for your AMAZING crepes and consideration for the gluten free community. Make a spot for me by the window as you are now my new Tuesday tradition! If you are g-free, vegan, or just a local food connoisseur, get your bum downtown!

Mod’s is open Mon: 11am-2pm, Tues-Fri: 11am-10pm, and Sat:4pm-10pm
http://www.modscrepes.com/

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Spooky and Savory Halloween

The weather always seems to dip dramatically as the haunting hour of Halloween approaches in Oklahoma. It's as if the spirits trail into town, tipping the temperatures to make us aware of their icy presence. So how do I combat their cold weather trickery? With warm and spicy treats in the kitchen! And what is more comforting than a bowl of hearty chili, warming your heart,and sedating those ghoulish goosebumps.I have pulled my fair share of tricks in the past during the witching hours of all hallows eve, so this year I think I will just focus on the treats.

Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I was more than thrilled to host on Sunday night. It's always rewarding to entertain and satisfy a big crowd for not a big buck. This recipe is heavy on the flavor and light on the wallet. One thing that I NEVER skimp on however, is the decorating. I admit, it looks like halloween threw up in my house, and we could probably rival a Griswald Christmas, but we are festivous nonetheless.

Chili is a fall/winter crock pot staple in our house, and I always enjoy adding seasonal ingredients to any dish I dish out to you lovely readers. So here it is...a spooking spiced chili concoction I threw together in my bubbling cauldron, "Pumpkin Chicken Chili". Feel free to add more spice, if you dare...

Pumpkin Chicken Chili
•2 tablespoons EVOO
•1 small yellow onion, chopped
•1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
•2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•1 ½ lbs boiled, shredded chicken
•1 (14.5-ounce) can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes (with juice)
•1 (15-ounce) can organic pumpkin purée
•2 cups water
•2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
•3 tablespoons chili powder
•1 teaspoon ground cumin
•Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
•1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
•1 package organic shredded mild cheddar cheese (optional topping)
•Corn tortilla strips (optional topping)

Heat the EVOO in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeños and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add your shredded or cooked shredded chicken and cook until browned. Add tomatoes, pumpkin, water, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add kidney beans. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes-1 hour. Ladle chili into bowls and serve. Taste test, and adjust spices to your liking.
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, and corn tortilla strips for toppings. I also accompanied mine with my pumpkin corn muffins below.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Now Infamous, Spinach, Rice & Feta Pie

You’ve asked, I’ve delivered. Our Spinach Rice, and Feta Pie Recipe. Why am I using “our” instead of “my” you ask? Because I must give dual props to my wonderful husband. The original recipe was his, and we made it frequently during our brief journey in vegetarianism. Can you make that an ‘ism’? Seems right.

I digress.

We decided to make a few changes to the recipe, making it gluten free, and healthier. It is so easy to make, and keeps for days! I am not a leftover person myself, but this changes all the rules. I must confess that I am a perpetual packer of leftovers, and never a consumer of the day old remains of my lunches and dinners. I place the food neatly in airtight containers, insuring its freshness…then it sits. And sits. Until it’s thrown out. My attempt at green eating, and food conservation ultimately fails in my fridge. I will work on this my friends. Now that I have put the demon out there, it shall be conquered. Starting with a delicious spinach pie that, wait…tastes even better the day after! AND COLD! I usually have to AT THE VERY LEAST heat my leftovers. I was never the cold pizza for breakfast gal. But this, can stand on its own two feet, in any temperature. More than I can say for myself. I have to be thawed below 65 degrees.

So here you are dear readers and followers, the spinach pie recipe. I am happy to oblige. Now go get cookin’!

Spinach, Rice, and Feta Pie

•2 tsps margarine
•¾ cup onion chopped
•2 tsps brown rice flour
•½ tsp kosher salt
•¼ tsp pepper
•1 ½ cups organic skim milk
•2 cups organic brown rice- cooked
•¾ cup feta cheese, crumbled
•1 large free range organic egg-lightly beaten
•2 large free range organic egg whites
•10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
•Olive Oil cooking spray
•2 tbs parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400°.

Melt the margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion, and saute for about 3 minutes. Stir in the brown rice flour, kosher salt, and pepper. Gradually add your milk, stirring with a whisk until well-blended. Bring mixture to a simmer, and cook 1 minute or until it becomes slightly thick, stirring constantly. Remove saucepan from heat, and stir in the cooked rice, crumbled feta cheese, egg, egg whites, and spinach.
Pour mixture into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over pie.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator (if making ahead of time)

To serve, let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.
Bake pie at 400° for 35 minutes or until set. Broil 2 minutes or until pie is golden brown.

Monday, October 25, 2010

GF Indie VS GF Baking

Welcome readers, young and old, to this never-ending battle between the oven and GF Indie. In one corner, we have the fickle flamed oven- armed with baking time and heat trickery to all gluten free substitutes, with an astounding record of 4 months undefeated wins. In the other corner, GF Indie, a determined gluten free chef, armed with a new recipe, wooden spoon, and an iron will to win.

The chef whisks and whirls her spoon into the batter, aware of the eerie red eyed glow of the oven, waiting to destroy her newest baking opponent. Can this baking battle end with the GF Indie baffling the tumultuous oven winning streak? She pops in her filled muffin cups and prepares for a possible comeback.

The minutes tick away, as the little chef eagerly checks the oven window. There is no apparent sign of burning; the batter seems to be nestled comfortably in its fluted cups. A faint sugary pumpkin smell seeps out of the oven. The battle seems to be leaning in the chef’s favor. 3…2…1…BEEEEEEP. The resounding sound of the battle’s near end echoes throughout the kitchen. Here is the moment of truth. The chef reaches in with her mitts, and pulls the muffins away from past and present potential baking debauchery.

The muffins have cooled and the results are in. GF Indie’s breath catches in her throat as she inserts the slender wooden toothpick into the center of the muffin. Clean. She braces the butter knife and delicately lets it fall into the fluffy concoction. Lifting the half into her mouth she is taken aback by the bursts of pumpkin, cinnamon and spice!

It melts lovingly with it’s tickle-to-the-tongue texture.

Alas! A win for GF Indie! This chef will no longer be the gluten free baking buffoon.

Okay, Okay, you may think that this post was a little dramatic to open with but my dear friends, this was a win for the world. I have had to deal with multiple trials and tribulations in the kitchen for months on end now. My cookies spread wildly over the pan, dripping it’s failed firming technique all over my oven’s burners. My brownies take on an unpleasant soupy state. My pies have not cooked through, and my cakes taste like I used sand instead of sifted rice flour. I have tried homemade, semi-homemade, and store bought recipes…all ending in near or all failure.

I admit this to you, because I don’t want you to think that all this change has been easy. I have had many hardships in the kitchen. I used to be wonderful at baking. It was one of the things that naturally came easy to me. I have always loved cooking three course meals and being able to end it with a blissful dessert was a specialty I felt blessed to have come into. However, all that changed when I went gluten free. Baking is a whole new ball game, and has become a battle of wits I refuse to back down from.

So this my friends, is a battle won. These pumpkin corn muffins are a real treat, and easy schmeazy to make! I was inspired by one of gluten free goddess’ recipes, but made mine a little sweeter. We could always use more ways to make life a little sweeter right?



Pumpkin Corn Muffins

•3 large organic free-range eggs
•1/2 cup olive oil
•1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
•1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
•1 1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
•3/4 cup organic pumpkin puree
•1 cup organic light brown sugar
•1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Cornmeal
•1 cup Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix
•1 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with muffin cups.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs till frothy, and add the oil; whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk well. Add the brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and Pumpkin Pie Spice and whisk to combine.

In a separate mixing bowl whisk together your cornmeal, Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix, baking powder, and salt.

Using a wooden spoon, add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Stir by hand just enough to make the batter smooth. Drop the batter by spoonfuls into the twelve muffin cups filling almost to the brim.

Bake on a center rack in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes or so, until the muffins are firm to the touch and golden. Check with a wooden pick, if necessary; if it emerges clean, the muffins are done.

Let the muffins cool, then remove the muffins from the tin and place them on the wire rack to continue cooling.

Serve warm. I found they were delicious with yogurt butter, but I would imagine apple butter would be divine! We had ours the next day on the side with our navy bean soup, and would also compliment chili quite well!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Festival Foodie

I love to camp in the fall. The air is crisp, the trees are a melody of colors, and the weather is perfect. I enjoy cozying up to a warm fire and watching the embers sizzle my stress away. Another love of mine is live music in the fall. Combine them both, and well, you have my heaven on earth.
My husband and I traveled to Mulberry Mountain last weekend for Harvest Bluegrass Festival. I was excited to set a naturally gluten free menu that kept our bellies full and our hearts light as we danced away to the sound of musicians seducing the strings of their instruments. Banjoes, brats, bunches of dried fruit, and boisterous buddies made our weekend absolutely blissful.
I like to keep my menu easy when I camp. No fuss so the focus is on enjoying mother nature’s gifts. We could all use a little help from nature to get us back in the right head space. I encourage you to throw your camping gear in the trunk before the winter chill peeps it’s head in, and pack some easy snacking goodies. So here you go… a few good snacking on the go recipes to keep in mind for your next camping excursion…Or just to have around the house!

>Tasty Trail Mix
• ½ cup dried cherries
• ½ cup dried cranberries
• 1 cup unsalted almonds
• 1 cup plain M&M’s
• 4 cups rice chex

Mix together and munch away!

Puppy Chow
• 9 cups crispy rice cereal squares
• 1/2 cup peanut butter
• 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

In a saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate; add peanut butter and mix until smooth. Remove from heat, add cereal and stir until coated. Pour powdered sugar into large plastic bag, add coated cereal and shake until well coated. Store in airtight container.

Cranberry Mixer
• 2 cups sunflower seeds, raw
• 1 cup pine nuts
• 1 cup pumpkin seeds, raw
• 1 cup cranberries, dried and sweetened
• 1 cup raisins

Measure all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Apple Pie Dip with Cinnamon Corn Chips

•1 1/3 cups peeled, cored, and diced apple
•1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
•2 teaspoons brown sugar
•2 teaspoons apricot preserves
•1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
For Corn Chips
•5 (6-inch) corn tortillas
•2 tablespoons butter, melted
•1 teaspoon cinnamon
•1 ½ tbs sugar

Combine all the dip ingredients in a bowl, then cover and refrigerate the mixture until chilled. Brush the tortillas with butter, and then cut them into wedges. Arrange the wedges on a greased baking sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and bake at 350º F until golden brown, (about 10 minutes). Let them cool before serving.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Falling for Fall Fare

Before I begin my newest post I feel as though I must apologize to you dear readers. I have neglected you for quite some time now and I appreciate you letting me know that a new post is wanted! So, with this apology, I begin my post. Enjoy.

Fall is officially here. Beautiful bursts of red and orange are sweeping across the trees, and the air is getting crisper by the day. Football has officially taken over our television sets, and I am consistently craving grilled brats and the smell of my chiminea. I try and spend as much time outside as possible, breathing in the change of the season. And with the change of the colors and weather, a change in my menu is a must. I’m saying goodbye to the bright summer fruits and chilled cucumber soup, and hello to crisp gala apples and warm spinach and feta pie.
While I took a brief hiatus from my blog, I collected a many new delicious recipes. See, my absence alas brings new and fresh ideas to the table. Your dinner table. And hopefully a little absence made your hearts and tummies a little fonder.

I am christening fall foods with a recipe that will warm up your grilling gloves and get you game ready in no time flat. Lemon & Oregano Grilled Chicken with oven roasted, sea salt rosemary potatoes. Two very simple recipes that taste simply delicious. Both are easy to make on a week night as well. And don’t we all need more of THOSE recipes?!

Lemon & Oregano Chicken
•4 free range organic chicken breasts – pounded out
•2 lemons
•Dried Oregano
•Garlic Powder
•Kosher salt

Place chicken in a marinating dish. Zest both lemons over the top, and then squeeze the lemon juice on top. Coat the chicken on both sides with kosher salt, oregano and garlic powder. Don’t be afraid to get liberal with your spices. Grilling can burn off some of the flavor and nobody likes a bland chicken breast!
Grill the chicken until well done. Be careful to grill pretty immediately because the acid in the lemon juice begins to break down the chicken pretty quick. Serve with potatoes below!

Roasted Rosemary & Sea Salt Potatoes
•10 red skin potatoes – quartered
•2 tablespoons dried rosemary or 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
•4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
•1 tablespoon sea salt
•1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
•2 teaspoons garlic powder or 3 cloves fresh garlic (finely minced)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Quarter your potatoes and place them in a mixing bowl. Add all your seasoning ingredients. Transfer seasoned potatoes to a nonstick baking dish.
Place in oven for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and tender. Enjoy with your chicken!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ladle of Love

Blame it on my immature age or immature taste buds, but I never was fond of lentils as a child. That all changed merely four years ago when I decided that they were nutricious and delicious. I give props to Cedar's Deli, a Lebanese restaurant in town, for my change of heart. From their lentil soup, to Wild Fork's lentil salad, I am now a lentil lover.

Yesterday I was struck madly with a lentil craving and decided to take the challenge into my own hands. Could I make a lentil soup that satisfied me as well as the restaurant's recipes I now hold so dear?

Yes. I could. And, I did. This is a great day to slow simmer this stew, as the weather has taken on a dreary disposition. This soup has a kick, so it should wake up those tastebuds in no time!

Lentil Soup

*1 pound lentils
*2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
*3 leeks, chopped
*3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
*1/4 cup EVOO
*1 tbs kosher salt
*1 1/2 tbs freshly ground black pepper
*1 tsp dried thyme
*1 tsp whole cumin
*6 carrots, chopped
*8 stalks celery, chopped
*8 oz can tomato paste
*3 quarts chicken stock (or more pending your soupy preference)
*freshly grated Parmesan cheese (topping)

Directions

In a large stockpot, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 20 minutes. Drain.

Using the same pot, turn heat to medium and add the EVOO until it warms. Add the garlic, and saute until you can just smell it's aroma. Add the onions, leeks,salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin. Saute for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are translucent and very tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and lentils. Cover the pot and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, until the lentils are cooked through. Check the seasonings (I did not need to add anything). Sprinkle with grated Parmesan and serve!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BON APPETIT!

Do you ever notice how much television shows can inspire our food cravings? If I watch Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives I will crave burgers, and pizza, and well...greasy delights. I want to cook simple Italian in a bubbly, boistering manner when I watch Giada. I completely avoid Paula Dean all together now because nothing good comes from 8 sticks of butter that I want to dose my dishes with for dinner. Well, maybe good, rich flavor, but I am thinking long-term heart attacks here people. Guess it goes to show that we truly are products of our environment, inspired by all that surrounds us.

It's not just food network that seems to seep into my daily menu agendas however. Movies have just as much influence, and who can resist watching "Julie and Julia" over and over until our heartburn kicks in? Meryl Streep it utterly brilliant in this film, and I melt everytime she speaks of food.

So what dish will I share with you today? Why, Coq au Vin of course! Journey with me to Paris, as I take an adapted Julia recipe alongside her advice, and create a wonderful, Parisian, and decadent dish to satisfy even the hungriest American.

Coq au Vin

Ingredients

~1/2 lb bacon slices
~20 pearl onions, peeled
~3 lbs chicken thighs and legs, excess fat trimmed, skin ON
~6 garlic cloves, peeled
~Salt and pepper to taste
~2 cups chicken stock (swanson is gluten free,check labels!)
~2 cups red wine (pinot noir or burgundy)
~2 bay leaves
~Several fresh thyme sprigs
~Several fresh parsley sprigs
~1/2 lb button mushrooms,roughly chopped
~2 Tbsp butter
~Chopped fresh parsley for garnish


Blanch the bacon to remove a bit of saltiness. This is an important step because if looked over, you will have a very salty dish. A wonderful tipbit tip from Julia Child. Just drop the bacon into a saucepan of cold water, covered by a couple of inches. Bring to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes, and drain. Rinse in cold water, pat dry with paper towels. Cut the bacon into 1 inch by 1/4 inch pieces.

Brown the bacon on medium high heat in a dutch oven or a deep pan big enough to hold the chicken for about 10 minutes.

Remove the cooked bacon, set aside. Keep the bacon fat in the pan. Working in batches if necessary, add onions (to easily remove peels, boil onions for 5 minutes and they shed their outer layer in no time flat) and chicken, skin side down. Brown the chicken well, on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. Halfway through the browning, add the garlic and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. (Note: it is best to add salt while cooking, not just at the very end. It brings out the flavor of the chicken.)

Spoon off any excess fat. Add the chicken stock, wine, and herbs. I used Pinot Noir, although most recipes emphasize Burgundy. Why you may ask? I have recently developed an affinity for Pinots and I think you should cook with wine you enjoy drinking alongside your pots, pans, and preparations.

Add your bacon back into the pot. Lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Remove chicken and onions to a separate platter. Remove the bay leaves, herb sprigs, garlic, and discard.

Add your mushrooms to the remaining liquid and turn the heat to high. Boil quickly and reduce the liquid by three fourths until it becomes thick and saucy. Then, lower the heat, and stir in the butter. Return the chicken and onions to the pan to reheat and coat with sauce. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Garnish with parsley, because it just makes it look so darn pretty, and serve.

This could easily feed six people. Or, you can enjoy it leftover the next day which I think almost tasted better! I served mine over gluten free noodles, but potatoes would be quite delightful as well.

In a nod to Mrs. Julia Child,
BON APPETIT!!


**Adapted from Julia Child, and Simply Recipes

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Pressing Matter

Lunch time can roll around with resounding doldrums at times, especially if you bring it with you or eat at home. I personally prefer to indluge at home, in the comfort of my own kitchen, where I know EXACTLY what I am eating. Going out to lunch weighes heavily on both my wallet and waist, so I try to keep it at a minimum.
That said, what do we usually reach for at home when making lunch? Turkey and cheese, pb&j, maybe the leftovers? Not here. I like to eat just like I would if I were ordering at a deli, but without the added calories and cash. Most of us make dinner the only meal we put effort and attention into to, and leave lunch to the hair netted business cafeteria ladies or the butter smothered special of the day somewhere close to work. So, why then would you trek home for lunch when you have a delicious meal at the cafe on the corner? Because you can make it at home, and better!

Impress with your Panini Press.

If you do not have one of these little wonders, I highly suggest you put that cash you would have spent at lunch away and purchase one soon. The possibilites are endless and enjoyable. I have been experimenting with different combinations over the last couple months and have some favorites for any thirsting palette.

My experimentation also included testing which gluten free bread held up best in the press. Frozen white or brown rice breads, tapioca breads, Udi's few options, and a couple other brands I have recently come across at Whole Foods. Although I love the taste of the frozen brown rice, fruit juice sweetened bread for toast, Udi's whole grain or sandwich bread held up best under the press pressure.

Here are some of my favorite panini possibilities that I came up with recently! Just pile high on the bread and press away. You can brush EVOO or butter on the outsides of the bread to get that panini grill tattoo that is sure to impress your significant other.

Sicily Panini
Mozzarella
Tomatoes
Fresh Basil
Proscuitto
Roasted Red Peppers
Salt and pepper
**I put fresh rosemary sprigs on outside of bread and pressed them in!

Loaded Grilled Cheese
Cheddar
Gouda
Havarti
Dill Weed (pressed into outside of bread)
Ham
Sliced Tomatoes
Dijon Mustard

Pesto Chicken Panini
Pesto (spread evenly on both slices)
Chopped Chicken
Mozzarella
Carmelized Onion

Twisted Turkey Panini
Smoked Turkey
Brie
Thinly Sliced Green Apple
Arugula

Tuna Teaser
Canned tuna, drained
Chopped Artichokes
Black Olive Pesto
EVOO
Squeeze of a Lemon

Savory Salmon Panini
Smoked Salmon, flaked
Dijon Mustard
Cream Cheese
Thinly Sliced Red Onion
Chopped Capers
Baby Spinach

Tom the Turkey Panini
(my basic deli delicasy)
Honey Roasted Turkey
Sliced Tomato
Provolone
Spinach
Yellow Mustard
Salt and pepper

I have many more, so please ask if you want some more lunch time panini ideas, and PLEASE SHARE YOURS!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Grilled for a Grilling Recipe

RIP to my husband’s grill… ashes to ashes, charcoal dust to charcoal dust. Let’s take a moment of silence.

OKAY, now raise a glass to the new grill taking up residence on our side patio! Out with old, in with the new. I think grilling out is one of my favorite activities. It's bonding, fun do with both friends and family, and is such a simple way to get a healthy meal on the table that everyone will eat.Even my picky son was delighted with this dish. Okay, okay so I don’t really do the grilling. My hubby thinks letting me around propane and an open flame would be a disaster but I design the menu and prep so I deserve some credit right? I am master at griddle grilling so I will keep that under my belt and let him deal with the more flammable fun.

My friends and family asked if we do much grilling at home, and what simple recipes do I have to share. The fourth must have given us a dose of grill fever. I made it a challenge to put together an easy 6 ingredient grilling recipe that was simple, but tasted complex in its flavors. Well, I think I have one that is as easy as it gets. I didn’t do extensive seasoning, it doesn’t involve a lot of ingredients or puttering around the grocery store franticly looking for a store bought gluten free marinade, and was on the table in 30 minutes. Excuse me for sounding like Rachel Ray there.

Marinated Grilled Chicken & Grilled Corn with Basil Butter

Ingredients

•2 large skin on chicken breasts (bone in or out is your preference)
•Daddy Hinkle’s Liquid Marinade (yes, it is gluten free!!)
•2 husks of white corn
•¼ cup yogurt butter
•¼ cup or so fresh basil
•Kosher salt

Directions

Marinated and Grilled Chicken

Poke holes on both sides of the chicken with a fork. This allows the marinade to soak into the chicken. Sprinkle kosher salt on both sides. Place chicken breasts in a freezer bag or dish, and liberally pour Daddy Hinkle’s onto the chicken. Let marinade for at least 4 hours. The longer you marinade, the better the flavor. This part can be done in the morning, and just sit and soak while you're at work.

Pre-heat the grill on med-high to high and lay the chicken breast on the grill. A hotter temperature will cook faster and sear in the juice if grilled correctly.
Grill for approx. 4-5 minutes on one side, checking frequently to make sure the chicken is not burning. The chicken is ready to turn when the bottom side has clear sear marks and the top still is pink. Flip and grill the chicken for another 4-5 minutes on the other side, depending how large the chicken cut. Firmly touch the chicken at the thickest point to see if done. If overcooked, the chicken will feel hard without any give. If undercooked it will feel a little squishy. If cooked right it should have a little spring back.
If you are unsure if the chicken is cooked enough you can make a small cut into the thickest part of the chicken. If the center is still translucent then it needs more cook time. You could also use a meat thermometer and make sure the chicken reads 165 F.

**The chicken will continue cooking after it is taken off the grill. This is when most people overcook, because they remove the chicken too late from the grill. Once it has cooked completely through it will start drying very fast.

Grilled Corn with Basil Butter

Peel back the corn husks, but do not completely remove, and clean the threads off the kernels. Tuck the corn back up into its husk.

Grill the corn in its husk for about 4 minutes on each side. Remove from grill and take out of the husks. Shave the kernels off into a bowl. Add Basil Butter (recipe follows).

Basil Butter

Chop your basil leaves. In a food processor, or with a hand blender, combine the basil and butter. Pulse until smooth, adding a little EVOO if needed. I used a hand mixer so it helped for the mixture not to stick to the blades. I know this technically adds one more ingredient but I am sure you can let it slide.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Let G-Freedom Ring!

Fourth of July is this weekend. I can already smell the hot dogs grilling, and feel the sticky sunscreen on my sun slapped face. I imagine the cold blades of grass, dewy from the sprinklers, soaking my toes as everyone clasps onto the few feet of shade in the backyard, trying to relinquish some time out of the blistering rays.
This year, I have am sweatin’ more than the scalding Oklahoma heat. It is another holiday that celebrates the easy grillers cuisine…hot dogs, and hamburgers. Both treats enjoyable, sans bun, but this year I am not settling for meat and cheese only. No, this girl wants the whole enchilada. Or cheeseburger…

You always hear that you want what you can’t have. Society yo-yo’s on diets that cut out carbs, sugar, and alcohol, (to name a few) and inevitably has a raging binge because we have deprived ourselves of something therefore causing us to crave. Same situation here, but this choice is a lifelong one that cannot be binged without serious pain (not just on the scale). I can’t just dive into the bread basket at the local Italian restaurant anymore, or easily make a turkey and cheese sandwich without defrosting my bread. Not complaining, just craving.

It’s not a problem unless you have a solution. Which I do.

I HAVE to stop watching Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives on Food Network because my craving for a full on cheeseburger, or any type of burger heightens. Guy Fieri, I can satisfy that craving now, and you will taunt me with your juicy jumbo burgers with all the fixings no more. Behold my weapon and co-pilot this holiday weekend, Carlee’s sandwich buns.(cue heavenly music)

Let's talk bread in general first before I revel in my new weapon. I have been shopping for my gluten free bread at Whole Foods now for a while and have run into a few favorites.Food for Life’s fruit juice sweetened brown rice bread is delicious and makes a wonderful toast and sandwich bread. I keep it in my freezer for a go to carb craving. Its dense texture has no problem holding up in my Panini maker too. Udi’s makes the most amazing sandwich bread, no defrosting necessary as it is served in the bakery section,and tastes no different than the whole wheat, whole lotta gluten brands. On the more local side of things, I have seen Carlee’s granola bars, and cookies, but now there are sandwich buns! Carlee's was founded by two sisters, Lee and Carly Squyres, and is based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.I am all about supporting local whenever possible and supporting our community. You can order online at www.carleesglutenfree.com , find them at whole foods, or pick up orders at the coffee house on cherry street.

So, without further ado, on the menu tonight (drum roll please) Turkey and Basil Burgers on a g-free bun! This meal was so simple, and so delicious. Since my husband’s grill is throwing a hissy fit and malfunctioning at the moment, I cooked these patties on my griddle. No grill marks, but just as delicious.

Turkey and Basil Burgers

Ingredients
•1 lb ground turkey thigh (has just slightly more fat, but still very lean. And cheaper!)
•2 tsp kosher salt
•2 tbs ground black pepper
•1 tbs nutmeg
•About 10 or so basil leaves, minced
•1 box Carlee’s gluten free sandwich buns
•1 tomato (locally grown right now at whole foods)
•Arugula and spinach
•Yogurt butter

Directions
Combine Turkey, 1 tbs salt, 1 tbs pepper, and nutmeg in a bowl. Toss in basil and mix well. Divide into three portions and make patties. I made 3 large burgers, but it could easily make four.

Heat griddle to 400 degrees and grease slightly with a little yogurt butter. Season one side with remaining salt and pepper. Place burger seasoned side down on griddle for 5-7 minutes. Add seasoning to top side and flip for another 5 – 7 minutes. Remove from griddle.

Slice 3 of the burger buns down the middle. Lightly butter or brush olive oil on the halves. Place butter side down on griddle and toast.

Assemble burger with arugula and spinach mix, one slice tomato, and burger. Ours turned out very juicy and of course, complete! These buns will be taking along my leftover g-free buns to my cookouts this weekend and enjoy my holiday cuisine with ease.
As our country gained its independence this weekend, so did I from the meat and cheese only, to burger paradise.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cajun Please, Hold the Butter

A BIG EASY meal that takes it easy on the waistline? It’s not impossible my friends. I decided to make a meal from New Orleans to kick off the new season of True Blood (I know I themed again) without going too overboard with the calories. Hey, its bikini season people, shallow remarks on keeping fit are in plethora around these parts. So I started doing my research of Cajun fare online and weeding out all those gluten glutinous recipes. It reminded me of this year’s Super Bowl when I had fare from both teams stomping grounds. I will be honest, after the Super Bowl Cajun feast overload, I did not think I would crave Cajun for a while. We ate our way through cheesy shrimp and grits and olive tapenade drenched muffalettas until we were blue in the face. Or rather, purple.

I set the table with an eerie candlelit glow and deep red roses. I filled a large decanter full of cabernet sauvignon and accented with large wine goblets.Unfortunately, my play at eerie came out more romantic than intended but it made for a pleasant ambience nonetheless. Leave it to me to not be able to pull off romantic unless by accident.

Now for the New Orleans reVamped banquet. I ran across a garlic cheesy grits recipe on eatingwell.com that would ward off any vampire in this area. With a few tweaks of my own, I accomplished near perfection. I promise you, the butter was not missed. I made up my own spicy shrimp recipe, and let me tell you, this has some BITE! I tried to estimate about how much of each spice I scattered in, as I am a perpetual tosser and taster instead of a meticulous measure minder. True Blood Fans, this meal is for you.

Cajun Spicy Shrimp

Ingredients
•1 pinch kosher salt
•3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
•1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/4 teaspoon white pepper
•1 teaspoon dried dillweed
•1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
•1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
•1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
•1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (add as much or as little for your own spice meter)
•2 tablespoons olive oil
•1 pound large shrimp - peeled and deveined

Directions
1.In one bowl, combine the seasonings. In another bowl, combine oil and shrimp; toss in the seasonings until well coated.
2.Sautee in a shallow pan for about 5 to 7 minutes.

Garlic Cheese Grits

Ingredients
•4 1/2 cups water
•1 cup grits, quick or old-fashioned (not instant)
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
•2 medium cloves garlic, minced
•1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
•1/4 Pecorino Romano
•1/4 Parmesan
•1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (again, add at your own will)

Directions

1.Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan with cooking spray.
2.Bring water, grits and salt to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer until the grits are thick, about 20-30 minutes, depending on the type of grits.
3.Meanwhile, combine oil and garlic in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
4.Stir the oil and garlic into the grits along with the cheeses and cayenne and transfer to the prepared pan.
5.Bake, uncovered, until bubbling and crusty on top, about 45 minutes.

**Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 4, cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

Nutrition
Per serving: 168 calories; 6 g fat (3 g sat, 2 g mono); 16 mg cholesterol; 21 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 1 g fiber; 264 mg sodium; 35 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (15% daily value).
*derived from EatingWell.com

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cracking the Cracker Code

I have been buying many gluten free snacks over the past few months and while I have been pleasantly pleased, I take much more satisfaction when I am doing more with my hands besides dunking them into a box and raising them to my mouth. I have been a dedicated fan to Nut Thins, trying every flavor and combination (don’t judge my avid snacking)and found sea salt and barbecue to be my favorites. Although, I have never met a nut thin that I haven't liked. I have probably never consumed so many carbs in my life, but I think I have been justifying to myself that, “hey, I can eat that still!” I have reverted back to snacking on fruits and veggies since noticing my waist line expanding, and cut back on buying so many crackers. But sometimes, we just crave a good bit of salt or crunch in the afternoon to sate our taste buds until dinner time though right?
I was perusing different homemade snacks on other gluten free blogs, and came across a stunning almond flour recipe from elanaspantry. I have really enjoyed using almond flour for its texture, flavor and health benefits.Elana delved in a little more to its health benefits and I must say I am more intrigued than ever:

“Almond flour is highly nutritious, easy to use and readily available. For those of us watching our glycemic index, almond flour is high in protein, low in carbohydrates and low in sugars.
Unlike other alternatives to wheat flour, almond flour is moist and delicious. After having tested just about every gluten free flour out there, I can save you a lot of time and hassle when I say that almond flour is far superior to other flours in terms of taste, nutrition and ease-of-use.”

Health Benefits

1.Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, the same type of health-promoting fats as are found in olive oil, which have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease.
2.Researchers who studied data from the Nurses Health Study estimated that substituting nuts for an equivalent amount of carbohydrate in an average diet resulted in a 30% reduction in heart disease risk. Researchers calculated even more impressive risk reduction--45%--when fat from nuts was substituted for saturated fats (found primarily found in meat and dairy products).
3.In addition to their cholesterol-lowering effects, almonds' ability to reduce heart disease risk may also be partly due to the antioxidant action of the vitamin E found in the almonds, as well as to the LDL-lowering effect of almonds' monounsaturated fats. (LDL is the form of cholesterol that has been linked to atherosclerosis and heart disease).
4.In addition to healthy fats and vitamin E, a quarter-cup of almonds contains almost 99 mg of magnesium (that's 24.7% of the daily value for this important mineral), plus 257 mg of potassium.
5.Almonds appear to not only decrease after-meal rises in blood sugar, but also provide antioxidants to mop up the smaller amounts of free radicals that still result.
*Taken from elanaspantry.com

Okay, enough of the health lesson and onto the real joys of cooking with almond flour, eating it! I decided to make my own crackers to test out my new knowledge. To make sure I knew what I was getting into, I started with one of Elana’s recipes and would then play with it once I knew that it would be successful.
There are two cooking staples I think everyone should grow in the garden, BASIL and ROSEMARY. Well, and mint, but it escaped my mind to plant it this year. I have been diving into my basil plants so I thought it was time to give my rosemary its 15 minutes of fame. I found a recipe on Elanaspantry that married my two current loves: ROSEMARY CRACKERS.

Rosemary Crackers

1 ¾ cups blanched almond flour
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg

1.In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and rosemary
2.In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil and egg
3.Stir wet ingredients into almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined
4.Roll the dough into a ball and press between 2 sheets of parchment paper to ⅛ inch thickness
5.Remove top piece of parchment paper
6.Transfer the bottom piece with rolled out dough onto baking sheet
7.Cut dough into 2-inch squares with a knife or pizza cutter
8.Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes, until lightly golden
9.Let crackers cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes, then serve

Yield 24 crackers

I know I said 15 minutes of fame, but I let me rosemary crackers bake closer to 20 minutes to make sure they became cracker-esque. Hey, it’s a blog, I can make up my own adjectives to suit my cooking.
These crackers were absolutely delicious! I tried olive tapenade on top, cheeses, prosciutto, and also enjoyed them plain. I think it may be a while before I buy another box of crackers.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Potato, PotAHto…let’s call the whole thing off.

For some reason Louis Armstrong’s lyrics swam around in my head all morning. I loved singing this song as a kid and it brings back so many memories. It’s amazing how songs can keep you reminiscing from one memory to another. As lyrics and tunes bring back the past occasions, the taste and smells of food throw me into momentary mirages. You know what I mean…that special bowl of chicken and rice your grandmother made when you were sick that cured all ails from the chicken pox to a runny nose or the smell of freshly baked bread wafting in the church hall carrying with it the day’s gossip. I can hear the bustle of the old Greek women, puttering around pointing fingers at the newbie bread braiders and guffawing over the latest piece of social speculation.

It decided to downpour this morning, creating a dark ambience down my halls and into the rooms of my home. Peaceful, yet in needing of some comfort, I decided that preparing a meal in my always happy kitchen would be just the ticket. I got out my notebook and like I always do for dinner, began brainstorming at what would fit the mood. Sunny days usually bring fresh guacamole recipes, tacos, and Caribbean, while rainy days pour comforting elements into my pen strokes. Today I thank Mr. Armstrong for my inspiration:

Potato (or PotAHto) & Leek Soup with Homemade Croutons and Turkey Bacon Bits

Ingredients
•3 leeks, sliced
•2 celery ribs, sliced
•2 shallots, minced
•1-2 cups carrot (I bought mine chopped)
•3-4 tbs dry thyme
•3-4 tbs dry dillweed
•Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
•10 baby butter potatoes (or potatoes of your choice), cubed
•Salt & Pepper to taste
•Dash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
•Small block of gruyere cheese, cubed
•Block of sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
•1 ½ cups organic half and half
•6 strips Turkey Bacon
•4 slices gluten free bread of your choice

*I prepared my soup in the crock pot so I could smell the delicious meal all day.

Heat crock pot on high.

Drizzle olive oil in the crock pot and add your leeks, carrots, shallots, and celery. Add salt and pepper and mix so that all the vegetables are coated in the olive oil. Add your potatoes and spices and mix again. Fill the crock pot with your chicken broth until almost covering the potatoes. I use organic free range because it has the least amount of sodium and tastes the best.

Cook on High for 3 hours.

Add half and half. Let cook for another 30 minutes then add your cheese. You want to wait to add the cheese until the last 30 minutes so that you don’t cook off the flavors.

Place bacon on a nonstick baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Let cool, then slice into little bits for topping.

On the same pan, place your 4 slices of gluten free bread. Bake and turn until crispy. Take out of the oven and lightly smooth yogurt butter on tops. After they cool, tear into small pieces for your crouton topping. I made 4 slices because I knew I would inevitably be snacking on them every time I passed to check on the soup.

At four hours my potatoes were ready to be mashed. You want them nice and tender. Turn your crock pot to low, and with a hand mixer, smooth your soup to desired consistency. I did not want huge chunks of potato and it helped to thicken the soup with them smoothed into the liquid.

Serve Potato, PotAHto Leek soup with your bacon bits and homemade croutons. (And try not to argue over the correct pronunciation too much…)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Defeating Wheat When Going Out To Eat

Apparently people think that I am completely handicap when going out to restaurants. I get asked frequently if I am able to eat out at all, and what could I possibly order?! I have harped before about eating naturally gluten free and it is easy to do. Yes, even in restaurants. The biggest risk when dining out would be cross contamination, however to be honest I have not had this problem in the restaurants here in Tulsa. Hats off to you T-town chefs and staff!

That said, I wanted to share a few of my favorite places to eat here in Tulsa, and what I have enjoyed without ordering a side of anxiety too. To make this blog reasonable in length, I drew my favorite from each food fare category and only ones that I have recently visited since being diagnosed. Thai, Mexican, even Italian can be tackled in T-town. Just make sure you inform your waiter/waitress that you are gluten free and to make sure that nothing containing gluten comes near your plate. Sounds harsh, but I have yet to get an evil stare back from the other party.

PIZZA
Joe Momma’s Downtown Location – 10” gluten free pizza crust with your choice of any toppings or specialty pizzas

ITALIAN
Piatto- Their Insalata della casa is absolutely amazing! Fresh Artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, and freshly pulled mozzarella marry a beautiful bed of romaine. For an entrée I have had the chicken rolletini, and chicken saltimbocca and melted into both with every bite. Steer clear of the antipasta section and head for the chicken and pork dishes.

MEXICAN
Café Ole- their peppery salsa is the best in town, and their chips are all corn (I inquired about the exact ingredients). The best part about Mexican food is they use a lot of corn products so it makes for an easy g-free establishment. We split a chicken dish the other night, and substituted rice and beans but have enjoyed many delicious dishes here.

THAI
Thai Village- I have eaten all the Thai here in town but this one tops them all! We eat here at least once a week because I can order pretty much the majority of the menu. We always start out with their fresh rolls which are filled with delicious shrimp, lettuce, and sliced carrots and come with a peanut dipping sauce to die for. All entrees are served with white rice. My favorite is in the curry section, Pad Pak Curry. I order it with chicken but you have a few choices of protein naturally. Coconut milk, eggplant, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots…Ah, you had me at coconut milk.


ASIAN
Pei Wei/ PF Changs- I am a local food junkie but for asian, this is the only spot I have tried. If you know of somewhere in town that you have tried, let me know! These two have a whole menu dedicated to gluten free gurus. You can never go wrong with a protein and rice. Pei Wei is a more limited menu, so I ordered the Pei Wei Spicy Shrimp.

Organic and Vegan
Café Samana- all organic, all fresh, all of the menu is absolutely amazing. Vegans and Vegetarians, this is your haven. I can order a sandwich for lunch now because Tracy has gluten free bread! Trust me, when you eat sandwiches for lunch 80% of your life, it was a blessing to have somewhere to return to the habit. My favorite is the roasted vegetable sandwich on gluten free bread, and I always try a cup of one of her daily soups which have never failed to wow me. The hummus of the day, hold the pita, is delicious and a filling meal in itself! This is a must try restaurant regardless of you dietary needs.

American
The Melting Pot- My boys took me here for mother's day and it was such a wonderful time. I remember the last time I visited the establishment I had dipped and dunked my way into a food coma. This time, was completely different. I told the server that we would be dining free and they did a wonderful job accomadating. We ordered the big night out, a three course fondue frenzy. For the first course we ordered the cheddar fondue which was made with a gluten free beer base, the second course was served with a Bourguignonne base – European style fondue in cholesterol free canola oil. The other lighter broth options had gluten ingredients. We finished off the meal with a yin yang of white and milk chocolate. All the dipping ingredients were gluten free for me, and my boys kept their bread separate. My six year old found the experience exciting, and my only reason to be terrified was that I would end up speared with his dipping fork by the end of the night. I left the restaurant delightfully full, and not wounded.



Other restaurants in the market that I have not tried but know they have specific gluten-free menus:

Sproutz
Carrabba's Italian
Kilkinny's Irish Pub
Michael Fusco's
BoneFish Grill
Chipotle
First Watch
Lone Star Steak House


Those are just a few of my faves but I wanted to get this out there so I can hear back from you dear readers. Where have you tried in Tulsa that has tickled your taste buds? Share in the comments box below.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A G-Free Birthday

The sky is now periwinkle and the clouds dissipate by noon like wisps of fluffy cotton balls. It’s been so rainy and cold this winter that I do not even mind the dewy blanket of humidity that seems to constantly coat my skin. It’s all the blessings from Mother Nature as she turns our season into summer. I crave salads, hummus, grilled meats and vegetables, and of course every fruit imaginable. Luckily for me, all the above are naturally gluten free (minus store bought salad dressings and croutons of course but I never cared much for those things anyway).

My pops had his birthday this weekend. The Chicago Blackhawks played Saturday night. You do the addition and it’s a no brainer that we would host a birthday party for him Saturday night and watch the game. I could think of no better birthday present for him than a first game win for the Stanley Cup. Well, maybe the Cup itself but we have to count our blessings one day at a time right?

I have been asking my husband to make his ribs now for quite some time. My pops’ birthday rolls around and he was more than acquiescenced…Ah well, I knew I would get them one way or another! I cannot reveal to you his rib recipe, however, I will tell you the element that I had to do some research on to make sure that I would be enjoying these without stomach pain. The only stomach pain that is allowed is when I eat way too many and I am stuffed to the brim with joy and satisfaction.
I had read on a few blogs on vinegar and a few reported that it was out of the question. Well my friends, if I thought everything contained gluten, go check and see how many condiments have some sort of vinegar in them! After a couple books and online research I discovered that malt vinegar and flavored vinegars seemed to be the only ones I had to avoid. Since I clearly could not have my favorite fish and chips from the White Lion English Pub here in town anyway, malt vinegar was really not a hard blow to this celiac’s ego. Furthermore, I could have apple cider vinegars for example, just not apple cider flavored vinegars. It’s all in the wording my dears, but we are getting used to obsessively reading every label by now anyway right?

Hosting a party on the first big pool Saturday can be done easy without having to sacrifice too much pool time. We had to get the ribs on by two, so that gave us a good amount of time to soak in the sunshine. That said, once we got home I did not want to be slaving in the kitchen when I could be playing outside. I will forever be a kid at heart which means consequently that I will itch to be outside when the sky is blue and the sun is warm. Those days were always so hard to attend class or focus on work. I will be sure to exclude that opinion in my resume.
The menu:

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

•4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
•2 (15 ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained
•2/3 cup tahini
•2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
•1 cup muir glen fire roasted red peppers
•1/2 teaspoon dried basil

In an electric food processor or blender, combine garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, and lemon juice. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add roasted peppers and basil; process until the peppers are finely chopped. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer hummus to small bowl, cover and chill until you are ready to serve.
I served carrots for dipping, but any crudités or dipping food of your choice works!

B’s Famous Ribs
Husband will not let me disclose. But they are finger lickin’!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

•4 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into sticks
•Ground Cinnamon
•Ground Nutmeg
•Sea Salt
•Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Halve your sweet potatoes and slice into thin strips. Blanch for about 2 hours. Drain.
Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Add enough olive oil to coat. Add Cinnamon and Nutmeg to taste and toss. Lay strips out on a foil covered baking sheet and sprinkle sea salt over the strips.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes turning the fries half way through so they do not burn. Broil for 3 minutes at the very end to crisp. They will not be as crispy as normal fries as the natural sugar content of sweet potatoes is higher. If you like a crispier fry, you may have to take the fry in oil route. I like mine freshly baked and oil free!

Namaste Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Maple Icing

I chose to make a vanilla cake from Namaste’s Vanilla Cake Mix and make icing from scratch. Instructions for the cake are on the bag, and I added a tablespoon of vanilla to give it a rich color. It came out pretty well but I think I will add cream cheese or sour cream to the batter next time to ensure that it bakes with a richer, more moist texture. I did not have time to make it down to whole foods for the icing so I made this one up and it turned out delicious!!

Gluten Free Icing
½ cup Spectrum Natural Organic shortening
½ cup butter, softened
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
2 tbs pure maple syrup
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2-3 tbs milk

Happy Birthday Pops and best of luck to the Chicago Blackhawks!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore"

I love a good slice of pizza like the next. So, when I was diagnosed and was combing through the lists of all the things that I could not eat, my heart inevitably fell when I saw pastas and pizza. That is, the pasta and pizza that I was eating before. Just like all the other gluten gorged groceries out there, there is always a substitute. Glass of red wine half full on this celiac’s Sunday night.


We all like to kick up our heels and just enjoy a good pie once in a while. I have made my own pizza crusts in my flour flecked past and enjoyed many make your own pizza nights with friends. I was determined to make this night no different than the next. Easy, simple meal, that would be in our tummies in no time.

I picked up a box of gluten free pizza dough mix, Annie's organic tomato and basil red sauce, and some toppings and headed over to the produce section to see what my husband would choose for his Italian masterpiece. I must admit I already knew that a margarita pizza was in store but I pretended to be surprised when I saw him holding the roma tomatoes and fresh pulled mozzarella. Of course, he too likes to raid the backyard basil at every chance. He looked down at my basket full of parmesan and organic genoa salami and I am sure was just as surprised at my choices. But then his eyes focused in on the pizza dough mix. He perused the directions and as soon as his gaze fell on the “let rise for 30 minutes, bake for 30 minutes…” I knew this would not cut it for our ‘no hassle’ cooking night.

I convinced him that I would do all the work and we headed down to the freezer section so I could pick up some bread for the week. Behold, tucked into the frozen section of whole foods was a readymade gluten free pizza crust. Winner winner chicken dinner. Or pizza dinner in our case.

The crust was thick, delicious, and baked perfectly in the oven. I layered slice upon slice of fresh salami, parmesan, and oregano on my pie, and my husband made a delicious margarita pizza with our fresh basil. We enjoyed good red wine, and a lazy Sunday. That my friends, is amore.



Since we are on the subject of pizza, I must bring up another easy way to get your fix. Joe Momma’s pizzeria in downtown Tulsa also makes gluten free pizza crust. For those of you who enjoy a thinner crust pizza, this is your pie. You can ask for any of the specialty pizzas to be made on the 10 inch crust, and it is absolutely delicious. We enjoyed a “California love” pizza with chicken the other night. Go check it out!