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.