December 28, 2007

Molasses Spice Cookies

I’m so happy the semester is over. Graduate school is pretty challenging at times. Now I have a break and will do some traveling to be with friends and family. I also have time, finally, to catch up on some of the baked good recipes I’ve been experimenting with. This cookie is from my favorite cookie book, Got Milk? The Cookie Book. This is the perfect Holiday cookie, with lots of the season’s best spices: ginger, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon.

I used Bob’s Red Mill Wheat Free Biscuit & Baking Mix for the cookies in the photo. They flattened out a lot. When I make them with my simple homemade GF flour (instructions below) they turn out much thicker, more cakey. Either way they come out delicious! I get a lot of requests for this recipe from friends and family. These are also easy to make.

The Following gluten-free flour recipe was adapted from the book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy by Bette Hagman.

Gluten Free Flour Mix

  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum

Molasses Spice Cookies Ingredient

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup dark unsulphured molasses
  • 1 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 cups gluten free flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt

1) Melt your butter over low heat in a medium size saucepan. Remove butter from the heat and stir in the molasses and vanilla. Put to the side to cool.

2) In a medium bowl whisk together the flour with 1 cup of the sugar, the baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.

3) Once the butter mixture is cooled, add the beaten egg and mix well. Take a rubber spatula and fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until the mixture is firm enough to form balls (around 15 minutes).

4) Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

5) Put the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar in a small bowl. Using a 1-inch ice cream scooper, or using a spoon, scoop out mixture and then roll into 1-inch balls. Throw the balls into the sugar and coat completely. Place the dough balls on ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

6) Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the center no longer appears uncooked. 12- minutes will produce soft and chewy cookies, whereas 15-minutes will produce crispy cookies. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for around 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool. They'll last in an airtight container for a couple of days, or freeze them and they'll last a few weeks.

November 27, 2007

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

I got the idea for this dish out of a cookbook my good friend Cheryl Vermilya gave to me a while back. The book’s title is “Low Fat Mexican Recipes" and is full of great food! Cheryl and her husband David are great friends of mine who founded and operate a youth center in Camillus, NY called the Town Shop. If you have some time, click on the youth center’s website link right here: Town Shop Youth Center and check the place out. I spent the majority of my teenage years involved there, and loved every minute!

Now back to cooking! You can make stuffed peppers a variety of ways, but you should always look for wide based bell peppers, so that they stand up easier in the baking dish. I suggest using meat in this recipe, but as usual you can substitute meat with seasoned tofu, beans and corn, or whatever you like really. This dish can be made ahead of time as a planned meal with friends, and kept in the fridge for a day or two before the final baking.

Mexican stuffed peppers ingredients

  • 4-8 good sized, wide-bottomed bell peppers (make it colorful if you can!)
  • 1 pound ground beef, or turkey, or beens and corn, or tofu, etc.
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1 cup rice
  • 3 tblsp diced hot chiles
  • 16 oz. jar enchilada/Mexican sauce (make sure to check those ingredients for evil gluten!)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (chipotle cheddar is choice!)

First you want to get a pot of water boiling, and one that’s big enough to fit all of your bell peppers in. Cut the top of the peppers off and scoop out all the seeds. I often get the strays out by filling the pepper up with water and shaking and pouring them out. Submerge all the peppers (minus the tops) in the boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Take them out and place open side down on a paper towel to cool.

Keep the water boiling and throw in the cup of uncooked rice. Set the timer for 13 minutes, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

About the same time as you put the peppers in the boiling water, put a skillet on med/high heat and cook up the meat (or meat substitute). Make sure to chop it up real good while it’s cooking. When using meat, you can just use the juices to cook the chopped onions and hot peppers that you’ll be adding once the meat is nearly all browned. If you make this meatless, you’ll need to add a bit of butter or oil. Cook the meat/onion/hot pepper combo till the onions become semi-translucent. Add the Mexican/enchilada sauce, lower the heat to simmer until the rice is done.

Once the 13 minute timer goes off, drain the rice and throw back into the empty pot. Add the them all together in the pot and stir up. Then add your drained, diced tomatoes and any other vegetable or legume you want. Finally add a couple cups of shredded cheese to the mix and stir it all up.

Take the cooled bell peppers and fill them up with the rice/meat mixture and place them open side up in a baking dish. Make sure that they are steady and won’t easily topple over. Top them all off with a little bit more cheese and throw them in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes and you are done. You’ll probably have extra “filling” that can be used in omelets, thrown in corn tortillas for tasty soft tacos, or simply reheated and eaten as is. Enjoy!

October 13, 2007

Gluten-Free, Lactose Free, Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

I found this recipe while watching the rotating gluten-free (GF) videos I have featured on my blog. You can watch it too by going directly to Gluten Free Cook. The one challenge the cook had when making her husband’s peanut butter GF cookies, was that they were very brittle and crumbly. I used her recipe and added a small amount of Xanthan Gum as an effective binder. The results turned out great! These are some of the best peanut butter cookies I’ve ever had, as well as the most easiest to make!

Peanut Butter Cookie Ingredients
  • 2 tsp baking soda (make sure it’s GF)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups peanut butter (natural/no sugar added is preferable)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¼ tsp xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 325º F.

Spray your cookie sheets with cooking spray (check the ingredients), or line the baking sheets with foil. Whisk up the two eggs in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, baking soda, and xanthan gum together. Add the peanut butter to the eggs and mix. Then add the sugar/baking soda/xanthan gum and mix until thoroughly combined. Use a spoon or 1 inch ice-cream scooper and drop them on the cookie sheets about 2-3 inches apart. Use a fork and press them down enough to make a textured surface. Bake each batch for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool for five minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack. Enjoy!

*Make sure to check out my other gluten free recipes! Look out for upcoming reviews of gluten free products!

October 11, 2007

Restaurant Review: Maggiano's Little Italy

Maggiano’s has got to be one of the nicest places to go for people suffering from Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivities. Every time I go there I feel very taken care of. For those who don’t know, Maggiano’s stocks gluten-free (GF) corn pasta, flour, and sometimes breadcrumbs. When you tell the waiter or waitress that you need GF options, they bring the chef out to your table to discuss what is available.

My partner and I went to Maggiano’s in downtown Philadelphia last Friday night. As usual the wait staff and chef gave great care in making sure that my condition was taken seriously. The chef asked me what I’d like and I asked him if he could make the best seafood pasta dish he could think of. I was asked what kind of seafood, and I responded with “all of it.” I was given a few choices before deciding on a light and creamy tomato/cheese sauce. The chef explained that usually they had GF breadcrumbs to make mozzarella sticks, breaded fish, etc., but that they were currently out. I appreciated the info, since I was unaware of those options. Next time I go there, I’ll have to order me up some breaded mozzarella sticks with a side of marinara sauce… it has been a long time since I had those. But I’ll have to make sure they don’t fry them in oil that has been contaminated by gluten.

The seafood medley that was delivered was beautifully presented and completely delicious. A few bites in and I was in seventh heaven, although I did have a few drinks as well, which could have contributed to the sense of eurphoria I was experiencing… let’s just say it was a combination of the two. Regardless, it was a great meal! The only GF desert option was Crème Brulee, which was cool since that’s one of my favorite sweets. In conclusion, Maggiano’s is a great place to go, whether you have gluten issues or not. Now they just need to post an online GF menu so I can link it on this site!

Here's a link to their website: Maggiano's Little Italy

*Make sure to check out my other gluten free recipes! Look out for upcoming reviews of gluten free products!

October 8, 2007

Shepherd's Pie

I cook a lot for myself. I cook a lot in general, but when it’s primarily for myself I like to make dishes that create a lot of leftovers. I remember when I couldn’t stand eating leftovers. I thought I was too good for them, and would usually throw them out. My mentality changed however, after my gluten-intolerance made it very difficult for me to just go out and grab a quick bite to eat somewhere. Now, if I’m going to be outside of my home for an extended amount of time, I always bring my own food and snacks. It’s not that I can’t go to a store and find something I can eat, it’s just more convenient to be prepared. There’s nothing more annoying than going over the ingredient lists of foodstuff after foodstuff, only to come to the conclusion that gluten is in absolutely everything! Something especially true for pre-packaged food.

This simple recipe for Shepherd’s Pie comes from the book: Easy Cooking With 5 Ingredients, by Barbara C. Jones. This book is no frills, with no pictures or glossy pages. What it has however, is a ton of easy to cook meals. Shepherd’s Pie can be made a ton of different ways. The way I make it here is not for the vegetarians out there. You can substitute the meat with ingredients like seasoned Tofu or beans. The recipe calls for instant potatoes, but since most instant potato products contain some form of gluten, I would recommend using old fashioned mashed potatoes, or find some guaranteed gluten-free instant ones. No matter how you make this dish, you'll most likely have leftovers! It's very tasty... and very filling.

Shepherd’s Pie Ingredients
  • 2 cups Mashed Potatoes (instant gluten-free if available)
  • ½ cup Salsa, or gluten-free enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup Shredded cheese (whatever you like)
  • 1 can Whole kernel corn (drained)
  • 1 pound Lean ground beef (or turkey, tofu, tofurkey, turducken, etc.)
  • Salt & Pepper

If using raw potatoes, you’re going to want to get them cooked and out of the way before starting the rest of this meal. You can make great mashed potatoes by boiling them without skins until soft. Drain them and mash them up in a large bowl, to which you add some butter, a little salt, and milk. Whip it up until it’s light and fluffy. This is to taste, so just add the butter and milk, little by little, until you got what you want. You don’t want potato milk soup!

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet on med-high. Make sure to chop it up good while it’s cooking. Once the meat (or substitute) if fully cooked, drain the excess grease, and then add the salsa (or gluten-free enchilada sauce) and put back over the flame. Find an 8-inch baking pan, or a nice casserole dish. Put the cooked beef/salsa mixture in the bottom of the pan, then add the corn, then the cheese, and then the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle some salt & pepper on top, along with some more cheese and put into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is slightly browned.

*Make sure to check out my other gluten free recipes! Look out for upcoming reviews of gluten free products!

September 29, 2007

Gluten-Free Chocolate Fudge Cake

Every year on my partner’s birthday I bake a cake from scratch, and even make my own frosting. It’s actually a lot of fun. When I first learned of the many challenges living gluten-free, I wondered how I’d be able to continue the tradition of making her a great cake. Fortunately I love a good challenge, and more importantly I love to bake! For the last two years I’ve made some delicious cakes! This is a recipe that was based off a recipe I found in the book Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book.

This recipe calls for making two cake layers and stacking them on top of each other. If your cakes don’t even-out completely, just take a sharp knife and trim the cakes while stacked so that the edges are flush. This will make spreading the frosting much easier. Also, the more frosting you put in the middle, if any, the harder it will be to get the two layers to stick. Don’t be afraid to get messy… in my opinion, that’s one of the fun parts of cooking. The cleaning up part… not so fun.

The Following gluten-free flour recipe was adapted from the book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy by Bette Hagman.

Gluten Free Flour Mix
  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum

Gluten-Free Fudge Cake Ingredients
  • 3 oz Baking chocolate (melted squares)
  • ½ cup Butter or margarine
  • 2 ¼ cup Brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp Pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Large eggs
  • 2 tsp Baking soda
  • ½ tsp Sea salt
  • 2 ¼ cup Gluten-free all purpose flour
  • 1 cup Sour cream
  • ¼ cup Dark baking cocoa
  • 1 cup Boiling water

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Grease and flour two 9-10 inch cake pans.
Boil water.

In a large mixer bowl, cream the butter till smooth. Add the brown sugar and eggs. Beat the mixture on “med-high” until it’s light and fluffy (about 5 min). Turn the mixer to “low” and beat in the vanilla and melted chocolate squares, then the baking soda, and then the sea salt. Mix the baking cocoa with the gluten-free flour. Add the gluten-free flour/cocoa mix alternately with the sour cream, beating on “low” speed, until smooth. Pour in the boiling water and stir with a spoon until blended. Pour the mixture into the two prepared pans. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Now you can either find some cake frosting that does not contain any glutenous ingredients, or you can use the following recipe to make your own creamy, delicious frosting.

Gluten-Creamy Chocolate Frosting Ingredients
  • 2 ¾ cups Confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tblsp Cocoa Powder
  • 6 tblsp butter
  • 1 tsp Pure vanilla extract
  • 6 tblsp evaporated milk

In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa and set aside. Using your mixer that is already out, cream butter in a large bowl until smooth, then gradually beat in the sugar mixture alternately with the evaporated milk. Add the vanilla and beat on “medium-high” until light and fluffy. If needed, either add more milk or more sugar based on your preference.

Wait until the cakes are completely cool before adding frosting. Place one cake on the serving plate and spread a layer of frosting on top. Place the other cake on top of it and make a solid seal. Using a rubber spatula, spread the frosting on the double-layer cake from the top down to the bottom. If you don’t get it perfectly even, who cares! It’s a home-made chocolate cake. Nobody’s going to complain as they’re scarfing down this cake, trust me!

*Make sure to check out my other gluten free recipes! Look out for upcoming reviews of gluten free products!

September 23, 2007

Gluten-Free Banana Nut Bread

Who doesn’t love banana bread!? Banana bread, in my opinion, is one of the easiest gluten-free breads to make. This recipe comes from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. My partner is a big fan of Martha’s cooking, and I’ve got to admit, this book is full of amazing recipes! Martha Stewart can seriously cook!

I often use my own gluten-free flour mix with various banana bread recipes, but I decided to try out Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Mix. It came out great, and was devoured quickly by my friends and co-workers. Feel free to experiment and use my own flour mixture below. I’m sure you’ll be happy either way.

The Following gluten-free flour recipe was adapted from the book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy by Bette Hagman.

Gluten Free Flour Mix
  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum

Banana Nut Bread Ingredients

  • 3 cups Arrowhead Mills Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Mix
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp sea salt (or regular table salt)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tblsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups ripe mashed banana (3-4 medium sized)
  • 1 cup diced walnuts
  • ¼ cup soy, rice, or buttermilk
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Coat two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans with cooking spray (check ingredients for gluten!) and set aside. In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer or hand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and oil until combined. Use a spatula to scrape the side of the bowl as you mix. Beat in the flour mixture until just combined; add the vanilla, banana, nuts, and milk until mixed thoroughly.

Pour the mixture evenly into the two prepared bread pans. The mixture will be soupy. Bake them until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 60-65 minutes. Transfer the loaves, inside the pans, to a wire rack to cool for 20-30 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans and let cool completely. The banana bread can be left at room temperature, if wrapped in plastic, for a little past a week. However, you can also freeze them and they’ll keep for up to 3 months.

* Makes two loaves *

Try adding a cup or two of chocolate chips to the batter, and some coconut shaving on top!

Find this great recipe and more in Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

*Make sure to check out my other gluten free recipes! Look out for upcoming reviews of gluten free products!

September 20, 2007

Gluten-Free Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes from my good friend, Peggy Cullen’s book Got Milk? The Cookie Book. I use this book all the time to make amazing gluten-free cookies. Whenever I make these and give them to people, they often tell me they are some of the best chocolate-chip cookies they’ve ever had.

When I say that they're gluten-free people often act surprised, as if removing gluten removes flavor. I guess it’s the same thing as thinking no-fat equals no-taste… but then again, that one might be true. Yeah, that was a bad example! The point is, these cookies are the bomb! Make them up, and try them yourself. I’m sure you’ll agree.

You can use any gluten-free baking mix you want, but I suggest using the recipe I list below. It is the closest thing to all-purpose flour that I’ve come across so far. I use this mixture in most of my baking projects. I’ve also experimented with bean flours, but many have a strong aftertaste. Ahh, experimentation… the key to a happy gluten-free life!

The Following gluten-free flour recipe was adapted from the book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Fast And Healthy by Bette Hagman.

Gluten Free Flour Mix
  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients
  • 2 sticks softened, unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/5 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups chocolate chunks or chips
  • 2 cups large pecan or walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 375º F.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter, sugars, salt and vanilla until well combined. Beat in the egg. Scrape down the bowl using a rubber spatula as it mixes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix on low speed until just absorbed. Remove the mixture from the electric mixer and add the chocolate and nuts. Mix the batter with a large and strong spoon or spatula.

Use a 1 inch ice cream scooper to make the cookie-dough balls, and drop them about 3 inches apart onto un-greased baking sheets. Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

* Makes about 4 dozen *

Save some for yourself. These will disappear fast!

Find this great recipe and more in Peggy Cullen’s Got Milk? The Cookie Book.

*Make sure to check out my other gluten free recipes! Look out for upcoming reviews of gluten free products!!


Just So You Know...

The information presented in this blog is intended to educate and entertainment. However, I'm not a medical expert.  I also do not know absolutely everything about Celiac Disease.  What I do know has been learned through trial and error, research, and what has been taught to me by friends who also share my food-related affliction.  Please take the time to do your own research about Celiac Disease and gluten-related issues.  I have a list of links to useful resources along the left-side of this blog. Also, feel free to cross-check my statements. If you find contrary information, please let me know. Thanks so much for visiting Trav's Gone Gluten Free!