Tuesday, July 19, 2011

New location for Gluten Free Cause I Have to Be!

Hi everyone! I wanted to let you know that I've been converting this blog from Blogger to WordPress. I've transferred all of my posts from here over to http://www.glutenfreecauseihavetobe.wordpress.com/ as of today. Please check it out! I'm afraid I lost my comments in their traditional form, but I'm going to include them below the post so I don't lose them completely! I'm still working on that. Thanks for reading and I hope you'll follow me on WordPress.


Monday, July 18, 2011

The Cheesecake has landed

Have you ever made something and thought to yourself, "This is so delicious, I cannot believe that I made it." I have that moment every now and then. It's a very satisfying feeling. Most recently, I made lemon cheesecake bars that knocked my socks off. Yes, lemon...again. But hang on--not only was it delicious, I actually came up with the idea for the crust on my own. I don't often stray too far from my favorite chefs' recipes (besides the gluten adjustments), but this time, I came up with something so yummy and easy, I have to share. If you already thought of this, kudos. Just don't tell me; I'm feeling pretty good about myself.

So I've been dying for cheesecake for a long time. It floats in and out of my mind periodically, but this time it stuck as I was perusing the gluten free section at WalMart of all places. I glanced down at the bottom shelf and saw a bag of Mi-Del gluten free ginger snaps. Eureka! I could use these as a crust for a cheesecake! What goes good with ginger? Lemon, of course! I almost wept right there in the aisle. I would have if some freaky lady hadn't been staring at me. I don't know why she was staring except that maybe she sensed that I was on to something.

I got the cookies home and was patient enough to wait for the kids to help me make the cheesecake. That's always a struggle for me. I'm not one of those moms who relishes cooking with her kids. One doesn't want to get his hands dirty. One likes to use the ingredients as play things. I'm sorry, but I don't care how clean your hands are--I'm not a fan of my food being manhandled over and over and over again. But this time I was patient and allowed the shenanigans to ensue. "Yes, I do want my kids to like cooking and baking," I told myself over and over as lemon zest flew willy nilly around the kitchen.

I used a Tyler Florence recipe. It follows below with my gluten free adaptations:


For the base:

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 1 bag Mi-Del gluten free ginger snap cookies
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (I used Philadelphia 1/3 less fat)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • About 1/2 cup sugar, eyeball it
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (I didn't use blueberries cause I was out, but that would be divine.)
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For the base:

Grease the bottom of a 9 by 9-inch baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, process the cookies until you have the texture of bread crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool.

For the filling:

Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. It should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. They will sink slightly but should still be half exposed -- as the cake bakes they will sink a little more and break down.

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours. Once set, remove from pan using the parchment lining and slice into 10 rectangular bars. Dust with powdered sugar. Devour.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dare I say it...Chicken Parmesan?!?!

Since I'm on this breadcrumbs kick, it struck me that I could use the new gluten free Rice Krispies as a crunchy coating on chicken!

I love Chicken Parmesan. Needless to say, I haven't had it since I kissed my gluten goodbye. Actually, I didn't even get a chance to kiss it. Let me rephrase: I haven't had it since gluten was ripped from my life. That's more fitting. In hindsight, I should have had one last gluten gluttony...some donuts, a pizza, maybe a big fat cake. Oh, well.

Anywho...before I tried to do the parm, I decided to do a test run with something a little more simple to see if the crust would work. It's all about the crust, after all. As Anne Burrell likes to say, "Brown food tastes good." She's so right.

I pounded out several chicken breasts, dredged them first in Pamela's Ultimate Pancake and Baking Mix, then in beaten eggs and finally in ground up gf Rice Krispies (just whirred them up in my little food processor). I generously seasoned up the Pamela's and Rice Krispies with salt and pepper.

I put the stove on medium and put a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a skillet. After about 4 minutes on each side, I got a beautiful golden brown crust. My daughter LOVED it and so did my husband and I. Now I'm all set for some Chicken Parmesan! Tyler Florence's recipe has been searing a hole in my brain for quite some time now. I can hardly wait!

I also mixed up some Rice Krispie treats using the gf Krispies and some Fruity Pebbles. Also a big hit with the kiddos!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pass me them cakes, Baby!

Recipes calling for bread crumbs used to keep me from making a host of recipes that sounded good to me. I just didn't think things would taste good with the gluten free alternatives. I soon discovered that there were several options that worked and didn't detract from the flavor of the dish.

I started with Rice Chex. I ground them up into a coarse meal texture and used them in place of breadcrumbs in meatballs, meatloaf and other recipes. Delicious and cheap! One time, though, I found myself with only Corn Chex in the cupboard and the meatballs I made came out tasting (and smelling) vaguely of a pig farm. I don't recommend it.

Since then, I've graduated to whirring up chunks of my Ener-G Light Tapioca bread in my handy-dandy three-cup food processor. It works perfectly and the bread is mild enough that it acts as a binder without adding any additional unwanted flavors.

There are prepackaged gluten-free breadcrumbs but I find them to be beyond my budget. With so many other good options, I opt for making my own.

Which leads me to the perfect vehicle for said crumbs...salmon cakes. I've seen many chefs make crab cakes, salmon cakes, all kinds of cakes, and they all use breadcrumbs, of course. I was determined to try my hand at it as I'd enjoyed many a little tasty crab cake before my unfortunate condition was discovered.

I know, I know...I tend to favor Ina's recipes. I'm sorry, but I just enjoy the fact that she never mucks things up with strange ingredients--it's just good, clean food. (Okay, and I secretly want to BE her.) So I used her recipe for Salmon Cakes and we had them last night. I may have gained several pounds in one sitting because I couldn't stop. Such is often the result when I finally have something for which I've been pining. (Same deal happened with the pie.)

There are a lot of ingredients. So if you shy away from that, I understand, but I would hate for you to miss this! It also involves a lot of chopping, which for some reason I find therapeutic. So hunker down and you'll reap the benefits of this sweet little cake. Doug put his on a hamburger bun with the sauce on top and he said it made a great sandwich. I ate them as is and...yummy!

Salmon Cakes
(Ina Garten's recipe, gluten free comments mine)
with Lemony Horseradish Sauce (recipe mine!)


  • 1/2 pound fresh salmon (I used frozen, thawed, that I already had.)
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 1/2 cups small-diced celery (4 stalks)
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 1/2 cup small-diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (Frank's Red Hot--I used a bit more cause I like the spicy!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crab boil seasoning (Old Bay)
  • 3 slices stale bread, crusts removed (I used Ener-G Light tapioca in food processor--enough to yield one cup.)
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise (Hellmann's Light is a good option.)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (Grey Poupon)
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the salmon on a sheet pan, skin side down. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and refrigerate until cold.

3. Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, parsley, capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

4. Break the bread slices in pieces and process the bread in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. You should have about 1 cup of bread crumbs. Place the bread crumbs on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 5 minutes until lightly browned, tossing occasionally.

5. Flake the chilled salmon into a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Shape into 10 (2 1/2 to 3-ounce) cakes. I made mine smaller so I could handle the flipping more easily.

6. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. In batches, add the salmon cakes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until browned. (Make sure you wait til they get a really good brown crust on them before you flip--they stay together much better and are more delicious.) Drain on paper towels; (Ina says to keep them warm in a preheated 250 degree F oven and serve hot but I found that my cakes got dark in the oven...maybe try a lower temp.)

Lemony Horseradish Sauce

2 tablespoons Woeber's Horseradish Sandwich Pal (You could use prepared horseradish here--I didn't have any, but I always have some Pal on hand! Add more if you want even more horseradish flavor.)
1/2 cup Hellmann's Light mayonnaise
Juice and zest of one lemon

Mix it all up and dip your little cakes in it or make them larger and serve your cake on a bun. Any which way, you'll love it!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Lemon Affair

Dinner tonight: Lemon pasta. No, I can't get enough lemon things.

It's so easy--just toss your pasta with some olive oil, melted butter, a little bit of the cooking liquid from the pasta, fresh lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper. It's DIVINE. Great as a side or the main dish. Ina Garten serves it with roasted shrimp (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-pasta-with-roasted-shrimp-recipe2/index.html). But I don't live in the Hamptons with Jeffrey who can run to the market for the catch of the day. I live in Indy with Doug who so graciously blesses me by wrangling our two crazy kids for a couple of hours while I go to the movies ("Midnight in Paris"). Shrimp I ain't got, but I'm not missing it tonight!

For one pound of gluten free pasta you'll need:
1/2 cup of reserved cooking liquid
4 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
2 lemons, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper and about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid

Combine and toss with pasta. Add shrimp or grilled chicken if you have it--delish.

I love this recipe because I almost always have the ingredients on hand and it's so perfect in the summer. You could cut down a bit on the amount of butter and oil or use a substitute and it would still be great. I used Land O Lakes whipped butter--still good. Be careful with the salt, though, if your butter is salted. I urge you not to skimp on the lemon zest--it makes it so much more...lemony.

Yes, I'll probably chase my plate of pasta with a lemon square, but it wouldn't be a lemon affair without dessert!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Lemon squares with blueberry sauce...summer's best friends

I love lemon and blueberries together; it's the perfect summer pairing. However, when I had it in mind to make the lemon squares I saw on Food Network, it didn't occur to me to make a blueberry sauce to go with them until the squares came out kind of dry. I love that a simple sauce can rescue a tasty dessert and turn it into a spectacular treat. Okay, I think I may have overcooked my lemon beauties just a tad which would account for their dryness, but still... The contrast of the rich purple hue of the blueberries over the creamy yellow of the lemon square made me happy. I added a little vanilla ice cream too, which made me want blueberry cobbler. But that's for another day.

The desire was something fast and easy and these were just that. I knew they would be since they came from Sandra Lee (semi-homemade maven) but I wondered if the delicious would still be there given my gluten free adaptations. It was, my friends! Treat it more like a cheesecake and I think you'll have a good result. Here's the rundown.

Lemon Cream Squares (adapted from Sandra Lee's recipe)

For the crust:
1 box Betty Crocker gluten free yellow cake mix
1 stick of unsalted butter (softened)
1 egg

For the filling:
16-oz. cream cheese (I used Philadelphia 1/3 less fat)
1 3-oz. package lemon jello (Jell-O brand)
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Stir together the crust ingredients and press into 9x13 pan. (I sprayed mine with cooking spray first.)
3. Set crust aside.
4. Mix filling ingredients together until smooth. Poor over crust. Give it a little whack on the counter to get any air bubbles out.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 40 minutes or until center is set. I baked it too long so really keep an eye on it.
6. Serve with blueberry sauce (see below).

Blueberry sauce:
2 cups fresh blueberries (use frozen if they're not in season)
1/2 cup sugar (use less if you like more of a tart sauce)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Combine all ingredients in saucepan, bring to a boil
2. Cook for several minutes or until thickened.
3. Take off heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.

Some ideas...
  • I think it would be fun to play around with different kinds of jello in this recipe. My daughter would love it to be pink--strawberry jello would do that, I imagine. 
  • The crust would be great in lots of different bars--pecan pie bars, etc. I'm going to experiment with that.
  • Add some lemon zest to kick up the lemon flavor and elegance. My kids don't like "those chunks" in it, so I opted not to add that this time.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dentist, WalMart...and pie

After a long afternoon at the dentist (a filling for me and some sealant for dear daughter) and a big shop at WalMart with same daughter, I was ready for some good grub. If you know my dd, you can imagine what an afternoon at the dentist and WalMart might entail. I was bushed.

So...I went to my little can of chipotles that keeps on giving. This time I tried the chipotle burger (http://glutenfreecauseihavetobe.blogspot.com/2011/06/double-duty-chipotle.html) using ground turkey instead of ground beef. Not quite as sumptuous, but still very tasty. I made a fresh mango salsa (mango, jalapeno, green onion, lime juice, salt and pepper) to go with it--so refreshing with the spicy burger. Yum!

I didn't completely forget my earlier dental/shopping ordeal until I dug into the last piece of peach pie with a big scoop of vanilla. I felt a little guilty that I didn't let my daughter have it until I remembered how she acted at the store. I'm sad to see my beautiful pies go but anxious to try the lemon square recipe I saw on Food Network the other day. It wasn't gluten free, of course, but I plan to adapt it. If it works, I'll post it tomorrow.

Oh the joy of being in a hurry to finish one dessert so you can make another.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Too good to be true

It seemed wrong. Light, flaky, buttery crust stuffed with bright and juicy peaches. I was eating pie. And it wasn't wrong...it was so, so right.

It worked even better than I had hoped. The rest of my empanada dough made perfect little peach pie pockets. I used a traditional peach pie filling (peaches, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, lemon juice and a tablespoon or so of the Gluten Free Pantry French bread mix). I brushed each pie with beaten egg yolk and sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar.

Baked to golden brown with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream...I'm still thinking about it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Hello, old friend.

So I decided to make gluten-free empanadas...three hours later, I was enjoying a gf version of an old friend from my wheat-eating past.

Yes, it took more time than I had anticipated, but it was well worth it. Inspired by a recipe I saw on the Pamela's Products web site, www.pamelasproducts.com/recipe/CajunSpicedEmpanadas/317.aspx, I decided to take the plunge. Not so surprisingly, I couldn't find Pamela's bread mix at the WalMart 20 miles away from my parents' home here in rural Illinois. Instead, I used the Gluten Free Pantry french bread and pizza mix and it still turned out pretty tasty. I'm anxious to try it with Pamela's and see how the two mixes differ. The filling is delicious on its own--I think I'll wrap that up in some corn tortillas for dinner tonight. Oh, and the chipotle sour cream sauce that goes with this recipe is delectable.

You wheat-eaters would enjoy this with a traditional pie crust. (I say that like I'm calling you a name. I kind of am. To tell the truth, I still hold some animosity toward those who get to eat normally. It's nothing personal.)

The even more exciting news is that I'm planning to stuff the rest of the dough with peach pie filling. It has been over three years since I've had pie--by far my favorite dessert. I try to eat a pretty healthy diet, so I didn't allow myself to have pie very often before my diagnosis. But now that I can't have pie, I want it more than ever! I'll let you know how that experiment turns out.

For tonight, though, just a regular Betty Crocker gf chocolate cake will ease the pain of watching everyone eat my niece's birthday cake. A little frosting and some m&m's won't hurt either.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I don't do hungry well.

Traveling with Celiac is always a challenge. We're at my parents this week and though my mom is very mindful of how we need to eat, it's always hard to be away from my own kitchen. I brought a loaf of Ener-G bread, some cereal and Nutella, of course. But in my fervor to pack the Nutella, I forgot a couple things. We're in a small town but thankfully even small-ish stores carry some good replacements these days.

I remember one time I went out of town and was completely unprepared. I didn't bring any gf snacks and found myself hungry a lot of the time. I was staying with a friend and literally ate fruit the entire weekend because I felt like a weirdo asking to go to the store to buy myself some food! I've never let that happen again. I am not someone who handles hungry well.

It turns out that this blog is rewarding in a way I didn't anticipate. My mom reads the blog and when we arrived she said, "I tried to buy Nutella and Berry Kix and they were completely sold out!" I told her it was because everyone here is reading the blog. So next time you're going out of town, drop some hints about your favorite snacks. Thanks, Mom!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Taco Night!

Two fun treats today: I made a pina colada inspired smoothie--coconut milk, pineapple and ice. In the fridge I had some leftover coconut milk from my coconut bread pudding. It had thickened in the cold. I could have eaten it by the spoonful--delicious, thick, creamy, velvety coconut pudding. So I used several tablespoons of the coconut milk (you could also use the light version), a small can of pineapple tidbits and their juice and a handful of ice cubes. Blend it up for smooth, delicious, tropical, gluten free joy. The kids loved it. It would also be wonderful with bananas and oranges.

The other thing I've always thought of as a treat is taco night! We had tacos for dinner--a great gluten-free go-to.

I like to make my own taco seasoning just to make sure I'm not getting any of those starches they put in seasoning packets. First, I heat about a tablespoon of canola oil in a pan over medium high heat. I add one pound of ground turkey breast and get it browning, breaking it up with a spatula. Then I add about a tablespoon of chili powder, a tablespoon of Montreal Steak seasoning (comes in low sodium version now), 1/2 tablespoon of ground cumin, and a sprinkle of ground coriander. When all of the seasonings are incorporated and the turkey is cooked, I add about 1/3 cup of water and turn it down to medium low. Once the water has mostly cooked off, I stir in a couple shakes of hot sauce (Frank's Red Hot Original) to give it a kick.

It's easy to find gf corn tortillas, both soft and hard. I like Mission soft corn tortillas and Ortega and Old El Paso both have hard taco shells which do not contain gluten ingredients. Be sure to read the labels. Toppers: cheese, tomatoes, avocado, lettuce, taco sauce (Ortega), sour cream (Daisy Lite).

I like to make enough of the meat mixture that I can use it in taco salads during the week. I add chips (My new fave is On the Border), canned beans, and other taco toppers and dress it with a mix of sour cream and salsa (On the Border Hot). I also sprinkle a few corn chips (Clancy's brand from ALDI) on the top for some crunch. It's so filling and pretty low in calories.

Wash it all down with the aforementioned pina colada smoothie! Perfection!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Rebellion

I'm feeling rebellious. For dinner so far tonight I've had two plain pancakes, 5 Ener-G flax chips with red pepper hummus (ALDI) and a glass of orange juice--none of which were consumed while sitting down. And I'm not finished. I will eat as many carbs as I please (gluten-free, of course) this evening and I'm not going to look back.

The container of Nutella (my new favorite food which is basically hazelnuts, oil, cocoa and milk mixed together) says, "An example of a tasty yet balanced breakfast is a glass of skim milk, orange juice and Nutella on whole wheat bread." I call it dessert. But if they want to call it breakfast, I'm all for it. I'll just swap out the whole wheat bread and call it good. I can't wait to get up in the morning!

I suppose my rebellion should end when I wake up in the morning, but the lure of Nutella spread on...something gluten free may prove too powerful.

And I'm not working out tonight. So there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Salty Meat

Is there anything better than salty meat? I don't think so. Enjoying my leftover chipotle burger as I type this...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Double Duty Chipotle

We don't usually have burgers twice in one week, not that I'm against it. However, when I saw that ground chuck was $2.99 a pound at The Fresh Market, how could I resist the lure of having my beef wrapped up in brown paper? I've been doing P90X for four weeks now--I deserve a little red meat.

So then it came to what to make with said beef. I had some leftover chipotle in adobo from the cashew chicken I made last week http://www.glutenfreecauseihavetobe.blogspot.com/2011/06/rachael-rays-park-city-cashew-chicken.html so I googled "chipotle burgers" and out came Rachael Ray once again (Queen of Burgers). She did not disappoint. I just finished mine and could have had another--I held back so I can have one tomorrow!

Chipotle Burger
(derived from Rachael Ray's "Texas Hold-Ums Mini Chipotle Beef Burgers")

1 pound ground chuck or ground sirloin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins)
1 tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
1/2 small onion, grated
1 chipotle in adobo + 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce
Drizzle of olive oil
Slices of cheddar cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce (whatever you like on a burger!)

1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Drizzle meat mixture with olive oil and form into four patties.
2. Grill on outdoor grill or grill pan.

I had mine on two toasted slices of Ener-G Light Tapioca bread. I didn't miss the bun! After my husband tasted it, he said, "Wow, beef!" He loved it, too.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Elusive Thin and Crispy Pizza Crust

I hate it when I go to pizza places and get the "gluten free crust" only to find it's prepackaged and cardboard-like. I feel like the least they could do is use a mix or come up with their own concoction--then they charge us more for our "freak food." Whatever.

I just had a friend ask me for a thin and crispy pizza crust recipe. Sadly, this has been the hardest thing for me to replicate and as you may have read, I'm not a lover of using five different flours in one recipe just so I can eat.

This is the closest I've come to a crispy crust...and I think it's yum.

Follow the recipe for pizza crust on the GF Bisquick box:
1-1/3 GF Bisquick baking mix
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning (optional)
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs, beaten

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Mix all ingredients together and roll or spread out to about 1/4 inch thickness as uniformly as you can. You may need to use two pizza pans as this recipe makes quite a bit of dough and rolling it so thin covers more surface area. FYI: I always cover the pan with parchment paper cause this dough sticks like crazy otherwise.
3. Bake until deep golden brown--you'll have to watch these since they're so thin--they can burn easily.
4. Remove from oven and cover with your choice of toppings.
5. Bake again until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Toasty Cauliflower Goodness

I love to watch Anne Burrell cook--she's on the Food Network. She's a great teacher and makes things look easy. One of my new favorite things is roasted cauliflower, which Ms. Burrell shared on her show. Not only is it delicious, but a cup of raw cauliflower has only 25 calories. So...adding a little bit of olive oil doesn't sabotage your healthy eating plan.

Roasted Cauliflower
One had roasted cauliflower
Olive oil to coat
Salt and pepper

1. Cut cauliflower into florets so they cover a foil lined baking sheet in one layer.
2. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
3. Roast at 375 degrees F for about 45 minutes (stirring periodically), or until tender, brown and delicious.
4. Add a bit more salt to taste if necessary. I add a little bit of crushed red pepper flakes before I roast to give them a little kick.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

We had some impromptu dinner guests this evening. Luckily I had jalapeno cheese turkey burgers planned--a great, fast go-to meal for us. I think it was enjoyed by all.

Jalapeno Cheese Turkey Burgers
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, diced
4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, diced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is gf)
1 tablespoon McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning (I like my burgers salty, so use as much as you see fit.)
1/2 medium sized onion minced or grated

1. Mix all ingredients together thoroughly
2. Form four large patties.
3. Grill on outdoor grill or on a grill pan (well-oiled).

I like it all by itself or wrapped in lettuce with a slice of tomato. No condiments necessary, but slather whatever you want on it if you so choose! Salsa would be great!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Heavenly Coconut Bread Pudding

The kids are in summer school in the mornings this week, so today I pretended I'm one of those moms who goes out to the fancy grocery store (Fresh Market for me) for some supplies and whips up something fabulous for her family while they're out in the world. I say 'pretended' because yesterday I stayed home and watched "Gilmore Girls" season 5 on DVD while eating Baked Lay's right out of the bag. (Hooray, they're gluten free!)

But for today in my fancy world...I'm craving coconut...and bread pudding. Why not put them together? Genius. I'm not the first person to think of this combo, I am sure, but what a delicious pairing. Top it with some real whipped cream and crunchy toasted coconut and you can't do much better whether you're eating gluten free or a wheat-eater. If you're the latter, I give you permission to use some brioche instead of the gf bread and you're at the doorstep of heaven. I'll be intensely jealous of you for a minute, but I'll be eating that in heaven, believe you me. For now, this will more than suffice. Beware--this is gluten free...not fat free, sugar free or cholesterol free!

Coconut Bread Pudding

1 loaf of your favorite gf bread (crust removed), cut into 1-inch dice (about 8 oz.)
     (I used Ener-G light tapioca loaf from my stash.) 
1.5 cups heavy cream
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen brand.)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
2 whole large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup sweetened coconut (I use Baker's.)
    (Toast at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Watch it--it burns easily. Set aside.)

1. Preheat over to 325 degrees F.
2. In a saucepan over high heat, combine heavy cream, coconut milk and sugar. Bring to a simmer. Whisk constantly until sugar dissolves completely.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg yolk.
4. Whisk the milk mixture into the eggs slowly so the eggs don't scramble. 
5. Place bread cubes in greased 8x8 baking dish. Pour custard mixture over bread, pushing down on the bread to make sure it is all submerged in the custard. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. You may need to continue to press down the bread--you want it to really soak up the custard.
6. Place baking dish with bread mixture in it into a larger pan and pour warm water into larger pan, half way up the sides of the smaller baking dish to make a water bath. (This will ensure your pudding doesn't dry out.)
7. Place in 325 F preheated oven and bake 30-35 minutes or until it puffs a bit and the center is just set. I think it's best at room temperature--if you can wait that long!

Top the bread pudding with a dollop of real whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut. (Add some lime zest to your whipped cream for a pop of color and fresh island flavor.) Serve!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Rachael Ray's Park City Cashew Chicken--gluten free!

I love to adapt recipes I see on TV or on-line to make them gluten free. This one didn't need much--give it a try! My husband loves it.

Park City Cashew Chicken
by Rachael Ray in 365: No Repeats
(*with gluten-free notes by yours truly)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, 1/4 finely chopped, 3/4 thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups brown rice
3 cups chicken stock or broth  (*I use Swanson's)
1-1/2 pounds chicken tenders; boneless, skinless chicken breasts; or boneless, skinless thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons grill seasoning, such as McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning (*this works for me!)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chipotle in adobo (international foods aisle) or 1-1/2 tablespoons ground chipotle powder (*be careful--these are HOT)
1 tablespoon ground cumin (*I use McCormick's)
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup real maple syrup (Make sure it's real or it tastes funny)
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
1 cup raw cashews (Check the label to make sure it doesn't contain trace amounts of wheat, etc. I use the Planter's lightly salted halves and pieces--adds a little extra salt, so keep that in mind.)

In a medium pot over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and the butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the chopped onions and cook for 2 minutes, then add the rice and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the stock and cover the pot. Raise the heat to bring the stock to a rapid boil. Once the stock boils, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rise is tender (17-18 mins). (* or you can use your own recipe for rice...whatever you like--this is just to put underneath the cashew chicken)

While the rice cooks, make the chicken. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, then the chicken. Season the chicken with the grill seasoning. Lightly brown the chicken on both sides, then move off to one side of the pan. Add the remaining onions, the garlic, and the bell peppers. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then mix the vegetables and meat together and add the chipotles and cumin. Toss to coat. Glaze the mixture with the honey and maple syrup and turn off the heat. Add the chopped cilantro or parsley and the nuts.

Top the rice with the cashew chicken and serve. Makes 4 servings.

The Gluten-free 15

Most people know about "the freshman 15," referring to the 15 pounds freshmen in college often gain. I participated in that tradition, but I didn't expect that going on a gluten-free diet would yield a similar result.

It makes sense, really. Going to college is a culture shock of sorts. You're on your own with no one monitoring what you're eating or not eating--or when you're eating. Hence, the midnight pizzas. The same goes for starting a gluten-free diet. When I was told I had to avoid gluten, I started immediately--or should I say I stopped eating it--cold turkey. Now that's culture shock.

When I'm told to do something to improve my health, I do it. However, I wasn't prepared for the intense cravings for the food I had left behind. Each time I found a suitable substitute for that which I'd been deprived, I proceeded to scarf down as much of it as I could.

"You must be losing weight!" my friends and family would say. Surely having to give up many of my favorites would lead to a slimmer physique. Quite the contrary--ice cream, chocolate, most of the candy I loved, and other gf treats were still fair game...and I took advantage. No one was going to tell me I couldn't eat the yum I wanted to eat!

I write this not because I have loads of solutions to this conundrum, but to remind you that you're not alone in this struggle. I think everyone who begins a gluten free diet has to figure out how to navigate the huge change in eating habits. I chose to focus on eating more fruits and veggies without cutting out my favorite treats. Moderation was key. Doing a little P90X hasn't hurt. I'm a big fan of burning lots of calories so I can eat the way I want to eat.

There is no end to the lengths I'll go to find gluten free foods that taste like non-gluten free foods. It's just the nature of the beast. But, I'm learning to control how much of those foods I eat. And isn't that what eating gluten free is about--controlling what you put in your body for its own good?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

I'm no chemist--I just want a cupcake!

When my dad was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in the early 90s, my mom proceeded to purchase a myriad of gluten free (gf) flours, meals and xanthum gum in an attempt to make bread and other baked goods for him. They were less than exciting by no fault of her own and broke the bank to add insult to injury.

Having watched that process only makes me more thankful that my daughter and I were diagnosed at a time when you don't have to be a chemist, a chef or wealthy to eat tasty gf bread, muffins, cakes, brownies, spaghetti and even pizza. Let's face it, those are the very delicacies that flash through our minds the moment we hear, "You have to cut out gluten." (After we find out what gluten is, of course.)

Discouragement and a short mourning period followed my own diagnosis, but my love for food prevailed. I knew I couldn't have gluten; there was no way around that. I liked my small intestine too much. But I refused to accept gluey noodles and brownies that taste like beans as my lot in life.

If you're newly diagnosed, the gauntlet that is gf eating can seem daunting, but if you don't cook or bake much, it's even more of an enigma. Take heart! There are so many delicious and easy to prepare products out there...and often available in the regular grocery store (even WalMart if you're into that).

I've compiled a list of some of my favorite gf products and all the reasons why, along with their web sites so you can check them out more thoroughly if you so desire. Organized by meal, they are:

Pancakes. Ah, the fluffy, steaming cakes soaked in syrup. I thought I would go mad searching for a gf pancake that didn't double as a hockey puck. Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix (www.pamelasproducts.com) rescued me. So light and fluffy without that weird taste you get from so many other gf mixes. And gf syrup is pretty easy to find. Pamela's has become my best friend in the kitchen. Gluten-free Bisquick is okay for pancakes, but I prefer to use it for pizza crust (see below under dinner options).

Donuts. My daughter said the other day, "When I get to heaven, I'm going to run barefoot, (She has spina bifida and can't walk without braces.), never sleep and eat donuts." I concur with the donut part. They probably are my favorite carbohydrate. I use Pamela's for donut holes as well. Just mix it up with some water, fry it in hot oil til golden and voila. Toss them in some powdered sugar or cinnamon and sugar and you'll almost forget you're being deprived.

Cereal. I've written a whole blog post on cereal (www.glutenfreecauseihavetobe.blogspot.com). This is an area that has come leaps and bounds just in the last couple of years. I'm thrilled because we are big cereal lovers. My husband courted me with cereal. Yes, I said courting. (Really, I'm only 37.)

Sandwiches. I was never a big sandwich eater until someone told me I couldn't eat sandwiches anymore. Since then I have found several great options for making gf sammies.
1. Udi's (www.udisglutenfree.com) makes the most delicious bread I've found, though I think it's a little pricey for us to keep in regular supply. Several local restaurants use it as their gf option and it tastes like my old wheat-laden life, which makes me happy.
2. EnerG Light Tapioca loaf (www.ener-g.com) is a great lower calorie option (45 calories per slice) and isn't quite as expensive. I get it on-line and save a little more that way. I prefer it toasted but my absolute favorite use for it is grilled cheese sandwiches. After I had my first grilled cheese upon discovering this bread, I think I gained five pounds of purely bread, butter and cheese. It was worth it.
3. Corn tortillas. I used to watch my dad eat hot dogs wrapped in corn tortillas and thought it was so sad. It's not so bad--it kind of tastes like a corn dog. I wouldn't put it at the top of my list, but it will do in a pinch. I definitely used tortillas for all kinds of Mexican fare. The other great thing about them is that they're only about 80 calories for 2! My favorite brand is Mission. (www.missionfoods.com)

Soup. A little soup and sandwich never hurt anyone...or so we thought! We've got the sandwich part down, and if you don't want to make your own soup, a good substitute is Amy's line of gf options. My favorite is Chunky Tomato Bisque (to go with my grilled cheese) but they are all mighty tasty. Check her out at www.amys.com

Mac and cheese. For the kid you have or the kid in you...Annie's Homegrown Gluten-free Rice Pasta & Cheddar Mac and Cheese (www.annies.com) is the best m&c I've found short of making my own from scratch. It's not quite the same as the blue box, but the closest my daughter deems acceptable--just be careful not to overcook the noodles or they become pure mush. She actually prefers the one I make but it's more time consuming and this is great when you only have a few minutes to whip it up.

Pizza. I admit, this has been the hardest to replicate. For a long time I used a frozen crust that passed in my book (only because I was desperate for pizza), but the rest of the family thought it tasted like cardboard. I since have started using the recipe on the Gluten-free Bisquick box (www.bettycrocker.com). It's still not exactly like what you remember pizza crust to be, but it's very good. I think the key is following the directions, but making sure to pre-bake the crust almost to golden brown. If you don't, you end up with too wet of a dough and the finished product is sort of limp and unappetizing. If you bake it long enough before putting on the toppings, the result is a pleasantly crisp but tender crust. I think it's best warm rather than hot--gives the flavors a chance to meld and lets the crust rest a bit.

Pasta. When I started my hunt for pasta, it was clear after trial #1 with rice pastas that I wasn't a fan. It always was super starchy and gluey unless you rinsed it off--which to me defeats the purpose of pasta. Plus, it was relatively flavorless. My favorite is corn pasta or a corn/rice blend. The corn really beefs it up and adds some flavor. It doesn't get as sticky and holds up well to sauce. (The times I've dined at Maggiano's they've used corn pasta and I feel like I'm normal again.) As with any pasta, you really have to be careful not to overcook it. It's great just with sauce or in any recipe you love that includes pasta. Heartland makes a good corn/rice blend (www.heartlandpasta.com) and DeBoles makes great corn pasta products (www.deboles.com).

Keeping it real. Sticking to fresh veggies and fruits, rice, potatoes and a wide variety of proteins can keep a lot of people pretty happy, but sometimes you need the stuff from your old repetoire in gf form to make you feel less less like you're giving things up.

I gotta have it. I know I became most determined to find tasty gf sweets than any other food item and I have succeeded! Thanks to Pamela's, Betty Crocker and gf bread, I am never without a cookie, brownie, cake or even bread pudding!

Cake and brownies. I so enjoy Betty Crocker's chocolate cake and brownie mixes. I highly recommend waiting until they are cool to enjoy them, however. They have a bit of an odd taste when they are hot or warm that disappears when they cool down. To me, they taste like traditional cake and brownies and I am a fan of anything that can fool my wheat-eating friends. I use the cake mix to make cupcakes when my daughter has events at school. The yellow cake is good, too, but plan on eating the whole thing the day you make it because it kind of settles on itself over time and gets mushy.

Chocolate chip cookies. Pamela's has an excellent cc cookie recipe. I even substitute canola oil for some of the butter and they are  marvelous. This is another one that can fool the wheat-eaters. FYI--the looser the dough, the more the cookies spread out.

Bread pudding. Oh my word. The day I made bread pudding out of my gf bread for the first time, I thanked Jesus for giving me the courage to try. It was beyond delectable. I used a regular bread pudding recipe I found on-line and just substituted my own bread (light tapioca). I could go on and on. This is another one that I think is best at room temperature. Just be careful--I ate half the pan that day.

Do not be discouraged, disheartened or depressed. You can do this! Stick with it and believe it or not you'll find gluten free products you never thought you could love (or make all by yourself!).

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Cereal Situation

I'm not a doctor or a chef, but I play both in my real life. As an individual with Celiac Disease and a mom to a child with special needs (who also has Celiac Disease), food plays a big role in my everyday life.

You might have guessed from the title of this blog that I'm not some sort of gluten free zealot--I'm doing it solely because it's medically necessary for my daughter and me. I realize not all who eat gf are doing it because they have to. This is all well and good, though I heart wheat and would gladly go running back to my old ways if I could. Just telling the truth. So...do what you want, but listen to your doctor--I do feel tremendously better since I started the diet.

That said, I want this to be a place to not only share recipes, but restaurant suggestions and critiques, favorite products and general gluten free advice. Have at it! I can't wait to discover new things thanks to all of you!


One of the most difficult things to accept after my diagnosis was that I couldn't eat most cereals anymore. My husband and I both love cereal and we produced two cereal-lovers, so the hunt began. I tried some of the more specialized products from gluten-free companies, but they often left me feeling as though I'd eaten twigs and branches. My favorite is probably Envirokidz Peanut Butter Panda Puffs™ (organic). Ironically, my four-year-old who doesn't have Celiac counts this as his favorite as well. We order it from amazon.com in huge bags. It's cheaper and we go through it so fast that it's nice to have a new bag on hand when needed.

Just today I realized that Rice Krispies® are now gluten free--made with brown rice! Kudos to Kellogg's® for adding this to their line-up. The idea that I can now make Rice Krispie Treats® for my kids (and myself) is a thrill only other gluten free eaters would understand. Thus, I share. This is the recipe from the Kellogg's® web site:


  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine (gluten-free variety)
  • 1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows (gluten-free variety)
  • 6 cups Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® Gluten Free cereal


1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.

2. Add Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® Gluten Free cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

You can add 1/2 cup of peanut butter before you mix in the cereal if you so desire. Delicious!

If I was physically able, I would have done cart wheels when General Mills made most of their Chex cereals gluten free. The cinnamon ones almost take the place of a dessert for me...almost. Also, Kix cereal is a big fave around here (three flavors!)--also from General Mills. And yes, Post's Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles are gluten free too, though I would have to say these are also more of a dessert than a breakfast choice for us. I also have e-mailed Kellogg's®, Post and General Mills to ask if they could de-gluten some of their other corn and rice-based cereals. We shall see...

I have to say that I miss eating oatmeal. I used to eat it every day (for it's many benefits) but I'm not willing to pay $6 for a tiny little bag of gluten free oats.

What's your favorite gluten free cereal and which regular cereal do you miss the most?