October 28, 2008

Two Kinds of Easy Breakfast Potatoes

I'm a big fan of breakfast potatoes. Which is partly why breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. One of the first food venues I felt semi-safe eating at were diners. Although I know that cross-contamination can happen (when it's super busy, and foods a'flying), for the most part, egg and meat-based breakfasts are naturally gluten free. Having worked in a diner called Pano's during my time as an undergraduate student at Buffalo State, I know that in general the grill will be divided up into food groups. There's a square for the potatoes, a square for the eggs and meats, and one for the pancakes/waffles.

When you first get diagnosed with having gluten sensitivity issues, you become afraid of going out to eat. You're paranoid that you'll eat the wrong thing, or someone will make a mistake when telling you it's gluten free, or it will get contaminated by another food in the kitchen, and you end up staying home a lot.  Diners were my initial window back into the social phenomenon of communal eating.  Although we all have our own tables and plates, what we really seem to be satisfying is our need of the company and energy of fellow human beings. 

Feeling confident in the relative safety of breakfast foods,  made traveling around the USA a lot more enjoyable as well, since I could always count on a diner being close by.  Sometimes I'd eat at diners for multiple meals in a day, especially on long road trips. Lots of grits, omelets, scrambled eggs, frittatas, roasted tomatoes, bacon, ham, steak, coffee and of course BREAKFAST POTATOES. With a hefty side of ketchup, I typically take care of the potatoes first thing.  

I've cooked a lot of stuff in my life, and it occurred to me about a week ago,  I've never made my own breakfast potatoes! I've probably eaten breakfast potatoes thousands of times in my life, and have never learned to make my own. How pathetic is that!? Well, that had to change. I decided to use the same bag of red potatoes and make two different kinds.  I cooked them at the same time, ended up with a LOT of leftovers, and absolutely loved both styles. Even so, I don't see myself cutting back on my diner visits:) Eating alone sucks!

Easy Roasted Potatoes  

  • 3 medium (1 pound) red or white potatoes, or 12 tiny  (1 pound) new potatoes
  • 2 tblsp. extra virgin olive oil (or butter - melted)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika 

Cooking Directions 
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 
  • Cut up the medium potatoes into fourths, or the new potatoes into halves
  • Toss the potatoes in a cooking-sprayed 9x9x2-inch baking pan
  • Mix up the oil, onion powder, garlic salt, black pepper, and paprika; drizzle over the taters, and using some tongs, toss them up. 
  • Bake for 45 minutes, then take them out and stir them up. Throw them back in for another 20 minutes, or until the edges are browned.
  • Chow down! And be careful not to burn your tongue, or the roof of your mouth. These babies can be dangerous-hot!

Home Fried Potatoes

  • 4 medium (1 1/3 pound) red potatoes
  • 3 tblsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tblsp. dried)

Cooking Directions
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Gently drop in the potatoes and cook until tender but firm (about 15 minutes). Drain, cool and then cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
  • Heat 1 tblsp. olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add the onion and green pepper and cook until soft; stirring often (about 5 minutes).  Transfer to a plate for later.
  • Heat another 2 tblsp. of olive oil in the skillet over med-high heat. Toss in the potato cubes, paprika, salt and black peper. Cook, stirring from time to time, until browned (about 10 minutes). 
  • Add the waiting onions, green peppers and parsley, and cook for another minute or so. Serve hot.
  • It's breakfast potato time! Enjoy!

October 25, 2008

Espresso Swirl Cheesecake

This is only the second time I've been able to enjoy cheesecake in nearly three years! The first time, was while visiting Cairns, Australia at a place called Fusion Organics. It was a huge slice of delicious pumpkin cheesecake. Click HERE for a link to that blog entry. Before Celiac, I was a huge fan of cheesecake. Especially strawberry cheesecake! However, I never really understood what it took to make one. I figured it must be very complicated, and due to its richness, figured it must be loaded with some form of gluten. Although many cheesecake recipes call for a small amount of flour, you can easily replace it with GF flour. In addition, it's actually very easy to make; the only part typically containing gluten is the crust. Now the only challenge will be to limit how many varieties I'm going to make in a given year, so that I can continue to fit into my clothes.

Although I absolutely love fresh strawberry cheesecake, I decided to try something a little different. For the crust, I processed a package of Pamela's Chocolate Chunk Cookies. I suggest using two packages. I only used one, and did not have enough cookie crumbs to fill the sides of the pie pan. You can actually use any kind of gluten free cookie you'd like. The possibilities are endless. Be creative and have fun with it. Because unlike other forms of creative expression, with culinary arts, you get to eat your masterpieces:) And I loved eating this one!

  • 1 package (9 to 12 oz) gluten free cookies
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus a tblsp
  • 6 tblsp butter
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 3 tblsp instant espresso coffee powder (divided)
  • 4 (8 oz) cream cheese packages, softened
  • 1/3 cup gluten free flour (I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour)
  • 7 eggs, whisked up
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy or whipping cream
  • 2 tblsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate or 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

  • On bottom rack in oven, place a pan half filled with water (this keeps the cheesecake from getting too dry), and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Throw the cookies and a tablespoon of sugar into a food processor and grind up. Set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, melt 6 tblsp of butter, then add 1 tblsp instant espresso. Stir until dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cookie mixture. Into a 9-inch pie pan, press the crumb mixture onto bottom and up the sides.
  • In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese, remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, flour and melted butter until it's all mixed and creamy. Gradually beat in the eggs, cream and vanilla until smooth. Set aside 1 cup batter. Pour the rest of the batter into the prepared pan.
  • In a microwave-safe bowl, microwave chocolate on HIGH for 1 minute or until chocolate is melted. Stir chocolate until smooth, and then stir in the remaining 2 tblsp instant coffee until dissolved. Stir chocolate mixture into the cup of remaining batter until blended. Drop mixture by tablespoon onto the batter and swirl with a knife.
  • Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until edges are golden. Without opening the oven door, turn the heat off and let cheesecake stand in oven for 30 more minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate over night. Best if made 24 hours ahead.
  • Cut yourself a huge slice and Enjoy!

October 21, 2008

An Evening at Fork Restaurant with Foodbuzz

I have to tell ya, the people at Foodbuzz really know how to treat their featured publishers! Since signing up with them, they've sent me a tote bag, an apron, a spatula, and sweet business cards. Last Thursday, a group of us featured Philadelphia food bloggers, got together at Fork Restaurant, ate some food, drank some wine, and shared some laughs. All on Foodbuzz's dime! How awesome is that! It was one of those times where I just had to give a big thanks to the universe, and of course Ryan from Foodbuzz:) It was funny. I've received a lot of email correspondence from Ryan over the months, and I've always pictured a twenty something, brunette businessman, in a sharp suit with shiny shoes. Much to my surprise, the real Ryan ended up being a twenty something, vivacious, short haired, petite blond woman. Why my mind imagines what it does, I'm sure I'll never fully figure out. She's also a fellow food blogger. Check out her blog: The Pink Spoon.

Getting back to the food. When we arrived we were taken to a private dining hall. We sat at a huge square, slate table. The candles were everywhere, the place settings were sparkling, and the waitstaff couldn't wait to fill our hands with alcoholic beverages. After getting to know each other a bit, we all sat down and began our meal.

After quizzing the waitstaff on their gluten free options, I started off with the Crispy Duck Confit for the appetizer. It came with frisee, roasted quince, bacon, gorgonzola, and lime vinaigrette. It was amazing! The presentation was choice, and the combinations of flavors caused little explosions on my taste-buds.

For the main course I ordered the Poached Salmon in Banana Leaf. It was made with sesame-miso sauce, tofu, baby bok choy, shiitake and enoki mushrooms. I absolutely loved the presentation. It was like a little tropical care package! When I opened up the banana leaf, a woodsy, earthy aroma, combined with the smells of poached salmon, miso and mushrooms, engulfed me. It tasted so good, I had to share with my neighbors. They also shared their dishes. In fact, our group was very much into sharing everything put in front of us. Ahhh! It reminds me of my year in China:)

For desert I went for the only gluten free option at the time, the Ginger-lemon Panna Cotta. I had no idea what to expect, but was very pleased with what I received. Although it was small, it packed a powerful punch of flavor, and it was presented beautifully. Along with the food, we drank a lot of wine, including some sweet desert wine at the end. All in all, it was a wonderful meal. Thanks Foodbuzz!

If you haven't already, check Foodbuzz.com out. It's loaded with great f
ood-bloggers, and tons of amazing recipes! Plus they totally hook me up, so I've got to give them some props!

October 18, 2008

Chicken Rustigo

I had a great visit from my mom last weekend. The last time we seen each other was at Christmas, which was far too long ago. She drove all the way from Dallas, Georgia, and her visit gave me an excuse to cook and drink a LOT! This dinner dish came from the book "Favorite Brand Name Italian Cooking." After making a visit to where my fiance and I will be having our reception, the three of us stopped at a little wine shop in Delaware and picked up a bottle of Cabernet-Shiraz by Marquis Phillips from Southeastern Australia. I love Marquis Phillips wine! I can actually taste Australia in every glass... as weird as that sounds.

This dish calls for a bit of red wine, so I used the Cabernet-Shiraz, and saved the rest to drink with dinner. The combination of flavors in this recipe are amazing! We all sat at the table slightly dazed after our first bites, so I knew this would be a keeper. Drinking the same wine that was used in the dish rounded the meal off perfectly. Try not to love this one!

I also made the rice differently than I usually do. Since I had more chicken stock on hand, I used it to cook the rice in. I boiled the rice with the chicken stock on med-high for 11 minutes (covered), and then turned the heat off and set the timer for 13 minutes (keeping the cover on). The rice went perfectly with the dish. Try it, you'll like it:)

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 package (10 oz.) fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup organic GF chicken broth ( I used Pacific Natural Foods brand)
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 3 tblsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • sea salt and pepper

Cooking Directions
  • Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tblsp oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes, or until browned on both sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  • Heat another tblsp of oil in the same skillet over med-high heat until hot. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 or so minutes until tender (stirring occasionally).
  • Stir in the broth, wine and mustard and mix well. Return chicken to the skillet, then add the tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Heat till boiling, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered, 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.
  • Mix the cornstarch and 1 tblsp of cold water in a small bowl. Stir into skillet and heat to boiling again. Cook, while stirring, over high heat for about 1 minute or until the sauce thickens.
  • Serve with cooked rice (optional)

October 12, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Cookies (Gluten Free!)

Here's another recipe in celebration of the mighty pumpkin. I just love the fall! There's nothing better than autumn hikes, crisp air scented with fallen leaves, followed by hot, spiced apple cider shared among friends and family:) These cookies are soft and moist like little cakes, and are alive with the tastes and smells of Thanksgiving. They are also very easy to make. I've used an electric mixer, and then made them again by hand just to get an arm workout.

You'll love the smells that fill your home while these bake. It creates an amazing feeling of comfort, and fills your head with memories of past holiday feasts. Besides being absolutely yummy, these are actually quite healthy. You can cut the sugar in half and still have a great cookie. These are made to be shared. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour (I used "Bob's Wheat Free")
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Baking Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Coat cookie sheets with cooking spray (make sure it's GF)
  3. In a medium size bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar until smooth.
  4. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and pumpkin puree.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and clove.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat well to combine. Add the raisins and nuts in two batches, mixing between additions.
  7. Drop by tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minutes until set, not browned.
  8. Transfer to cooling racks.
  9. Harvest and enjoy!

Pumpkin Peanut Sweet Potato Soup

In celebration of the upcoming harvest season, I chose to create a dish with one of October's signature fruits, the mighty pumpkin. This soup has a unique taste, is very hearty, and incorporates another favorite ingredient of mine, the yam! I've never made this before, but I found it to be hearty, its taste... unique, and its feel... the definition of comfort food. It's also very easy to make, and inexpensive to boot! For some reason, I feel like bits of cooked bacon would fit perfectly with this soup. So next time I make this, it'll be time for some swine! Make this as a delicious entree, or as an addition to a festive holiday meal. Either way, if you like peanuts, yams and pumpkin, you'll dig this:)

  • 4 tblsp. (1/2 stick) butter
  • 4 cups canned pumpkin (or leftover cooked and pureed pumpin)
  • 2 cups canned pureed sweet potato
  • 1 cup all natural smooth peanut butter
  • 6 cups organic (gluten free) chicken stock
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Fresh snipped chives (garnish)
  • Sour Cream (garnish)

Cooking Directions
  1. Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the pumpkin, sweet potato and peanut butter.
  3. Add the chicken stock, pepper & salt, & stir until smooth and fully incorporated.
  4. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  5. Before serving, garnish the soup with snipped chives and sour cream
  6. Make annoying slurping sounds while eating with a ridiculous grin on your face.

October 5, 2008

Almond Fudge Shortbread Squares

Yes, these are gluten free. And yes, these are freaking delicious!!! This was the first time I've made fudge, and I found it easy and fun. I also liked the hands-on aspect of pressing the shortbread dough into the pans. The process was a bit messy, but messy is fun! I can totally see using this short bread dough as a cheesecake crust in the near future. Possibly Pumpkin Cheesecake?!

For flour, I used "Bob's Red Mill Wheat Free Biscuit & Baking Mix" Bob's Red Mill "Wheat Free Biscuit & Baking Mix I used an artificial Almond extract which had vanillin in it. From everything I've read, vanillin is gluten free. But for a link to a dialogue on the topic, click here. I really wanted all natural almond extract, but hey, you've got to work with what you can get. I ended up doubling this recipe so that I would have enough to share with my coworkers during our Friday training workshop. I had WAY more than enough! I ended up sharing with my partner's coworkers, as well as my neighbors, and still had enough to contribute to my gut-building process. Beware! These are habit forming!

Makes 24 to 36 Bars

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose gluten free flour or baking mix
  • 1 (12 oz.) package Semi-Sweet chocolate chips (check the ingredients for gluten)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • Sliced almonds (toasted optional)

Baking Directions
  1. Heat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Beat the butter, sugar and salt in a large bowl until fluffy. Add flour and mix well. With GF floured hands, press the dough evenly into a greased (vegetable oil sprayed) 13 x 9 inch baking pan. You many need to flour your hands repeatedly.
  3. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven.
  4. Melt chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat once all the chips have melted and stir in the almond extract.
  5. Quickly and evenly spread the chocolate mixture over the baked shortbread. Garnish with the sliced almonds and press them down into the chocolate with your hands.
  6. Throw it in the fridge and let cool for a few hours (or until firm).
  7. Cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature.
  8. Eat up and enjoy with a tall glass of milk (or soy milk)


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!