Monday, November 15, 2010

Turkey Day plan

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I know because my husband keeps reminding me that I need to go buy a turkey. I keep telling him I need to clean out the freezer before I go buy a turkey. But I guess I had better get cracking on that!

So this years Thanksgiving menu is starting to look like this.

Crudite and stuff for snacking: I'm thinking I'll keep it simple and low-carb and do carrot and celery sticks with ranch, and maybe some olives.

Turkey and gravy: I'll use the same recipes I used last year. They turned out great.

Cranberry sauce: I'm thinking I'll just open a can this year.

Sweet potatoes: I think I am going to try doing these ahead of time, freezing them and then just heating and topping them.

Mashed potatoes: I'm an Idaho girl, so I can make these with my eyes closed and one arm tied behind my back. (Well maybe not with one arm tied behind my back, they'd be kind of hard to peel!)

Something green: I've been participating in Bountiful Baskets food co-op, so I'll probably cook up whatever green veggie I get in my basket that week. I'm hoping for green beans.

Gluten free stuffing: I'm just going to make a little pan this year, it gets too soggy for leftovers. I'll probably use Annalise Roberts recipe in "Gluten-Free Baking Classics" again.

Some regular stuffing: Dad likes it plain, Mom likes it with onions, celery and mushrooms, so I guess we'll have 3 pans when all is said and done. Sheesh.

Rolls: My kids are off school all of Thanksgiving week, so if I'm going to make gluteny-rolls for Dad and freeze them I'd better do it this week while the monkey is not in the house. Thanksgiving is the one time of year that my husband really misses his mom's rolls. I can always just buy rolls at the bakery on the corner. And I'll make the monkey a batch of gluten free rolls on Thanksgiving.

Gluten free/sugar free banana pudding pie is what the monkey and his brother want for dessert, so I'm thinking cookie crumb crust, bananas and boxed pudding.

Not gluten free peach pie: I have bought pie the last couple of years, but they haven't been very good. So this year, I'm thinking I'll buy a frozen pie crust and fill it with some homemade peach pie filling that I have in my freezer.

And if I get around to it I'll make myself a pumpkin pie, but by the time I all this done, I might just buy one!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gluten Free Parmesan Chicken

The good thing about not blogging for awhile is that I have a nice, fat backlog of recipes I want to post! Here's one of them. I made it just the other night and it's on the menu again this week. This is an easy recipe for Parmesan Chicken, which can be served the traditional way with pasta and tomato sauce and cheese, or more like breaded chicken. I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans and it was a hit. And the leftovers were delicious the next day on sandwiches.

For heaven's sake don't buy gluten free bread crumbs, just save the crusts of your bread, and any gluten free bread that goes stale, in a ziploc bag in the freezer. Then when you need bread crumbs, just break it into pieces and throw it into a food processor or blender to make crumbs. I was surprised by how much parmesan chicken you can make out of 3 medium-sized breasts.

Gluten Free Parmesan Chicken

1 (heaping) cup gluten free bread crumbs
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 eggs
3 chicken breasts, about 1.5 pounds

Pound the chicken with a meat mallet until it is 1/4" thick. This is important or your breading will burn before your chicken cooks. I think that the cleanest way to do this is to stick one or two thawed chicken breasts in a gallon zipper freezer bag. Squeeze out most of the air, so it doesn't pop, and seal it. Then pound away. There's no flying chicken juice!

Combine the bread crumbs, parmesan and spices in a shallow bowl. Beat the eggs in another shallow bowl.

Cut the chicken into smaller pieces, about the size of a deck over cards, don't worry if they are not uniform. (If you want chicken "nuggets" do even smaller pieces.)

Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet (I used canola) over medium heat.

With one hand dip a piece of chicken in the eggs, then into the bread crumb mixture, coating both sides. (This leaves you with a clean hand to turn on the faucet, or use a spatula).

Cook the chicken about 3-minutes on each side, until the breading is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gluten Free Hamburger Helper (kinda)

Alright, sorry, I know I've been gone all summer. I've been dealing with some health issues of my own. But I'm hopefully I'm back in all my flaky gluten-free glory. ;)

So yesterday at the store I noticed that Betty Crocker now has two new GF mixes in the Hamburger Helper line: Chicken Fried Rice and Beef Fried Rice. I thought that was cool, but I knew my family won't eat dehydrated vegetables. And I knew that this week's menu featured a homemade version of Hamburger Helper courtesy of Suzanne McMinn's blog Chickens In The Road. She is brilliant!

She had recipes for several versions, and I made Cheesy Chili Mac. All I did to make it gluten free was to sub out the regular macaroni for gluten free macaroni. (I also used extra lean ground beef.) I should have taken a picture before I served dinner but I didn't realize that my husband and boys would snarf the whole pan. My 7- and 2-year-old both ate two helpings. My husband made fun of it, but ate two big helpings, and my 5-year-old, who doesn't like meat, ate his noodles. Anything the kids eat happily is a keeper. I thought it was tasty, maybe a little meaty, but tasty. And all there was left was a little bit the monkey called dibs on for lunch. I'll definitely be making this again and I'm planning on trying her variations.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy Momma Award

I haven't done a Happy Momma Award lately, but last week I found a product that I knew had to win! Thai Kitchen Stir Fry Noodles are gluten free and they are so good! I made Funky Chicken Sesame Noodles and used the Thai Kitchen stir fry noodles instead of the gluteny noodles and WOW! it was so delicious! Me, my husband and the monkey snarfed them down. They were a little exotic for my youngest two boys, so tonight when I made Funky Chicken again, I just tossed some stir fry noodles with parmesan and butter and reheated some meatballs and they were pretty happy with that, too.

I was also excited to see that there are lots of recipes on their web site at, including a section of gluten-free recipes. Plus they are really pretty reasonably priced; I paid $2.19 for a box, and it made a large serving bowl full of noodles, enough for at least 4 very generous portions. Thai Kitchen also has a nice chart showing which products are gluten free or contain common allergens; look on the web site under Allergy Information. They have many other gluten free products that we will probably be trying in the near future! Happy snarfing!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Gluten Free Cocoa Brownies

OK, so this is SO not health food. But everyody needs brownie once in a while.

I bake pretty much everything I bake out of Annalise Robert's book "Gluten-Free Baking Classics." She has a great brownie recipe made with baking chocolate. Sigh. I have issues with baking chocolate. I grew up eating brownies made from Hershey's Cocoa. I hate trying to melt baking chocolate. I forget to buy it. It gets old in my cupboard. I tried to convert to baking chocolate, I really did. But I found myself buying Betty Crocker's new gluten free brownie mix. I like the convenience of a mix; my family likes the way it tastes. The only thing not to like is that it costs $4 a pop. For an 8x8 pan. Yikes. So, I decided to see if I could convert Annalise's recipe to a cocoa recipe.

You can find charts to convert baking chocolate to cocoa; I used one I found in my old Hershey's recipe book. Tried that. Instead of the baking chocolate, I substituted cocoa, butter, and some sugar. That was WAY too much cocoa and butter. So I cut the butter in half, and cut the cocoa back by about third, added a little flour. This was good but a little on the cakey side. And my husband requested chocolate chips in the brownies, please. So I added chocolate chips, cut the flour to make it fudgier, and calculated the carbs for my dear diabetic son. YIKES! So I cut the sugar back, too. Success. (I will not be eating browies for a week or two, I have had way too many lately!)

Anyway, when I compared my final recipe to the original I was surprised that, in spite of all my fiddling and calculating, they are fairly similar. Anyway, here it is....

Gluten-free Cocoa Brownies
3/4 c. brown rice flour mix
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthum gum
1/2 c. Hershey's baking cocoa
1/2 c. melted butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 c. semi-sweet mini morsels

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine dry ingredients (including chocolate chips) in a bowl and whisk together to mix. Add wet ingredients and stir until combined. Spray an 8x8 Pyrex pan and spread batter in pan. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few crumbs on it. Cool before cutting (if you can wait!). Cut into 16 pieces.

Cut brownies freeze well. If you want to make your own mixes, just measure and combine the dry ingredients and the chocolate morsels in plastic containers. Add the eggs, vanilla, and melted butter when you are ready to bake them.

Note for diabetics 1/16 has 28 g. of carbs! Portion control, people!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My conversation with the guy at Kraft....

Me: Hi, I was just looking at the ingredients on the cheese sauce mix in your original Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and I just wanted to confirm that it is gluten free.
Customer Service Guy: Yes, ma'am, it is.
Me: Well, hey, have I got an idea for you! If your cheese sauce is gluten free, get some rice macaroni and throw it in a blue box, and you've got Gluten-Free Kraft Macaroni and Cheese!
Customer Service Guy: Well, thank you for that idea, I'll pass it along to our product development people. Just so you know, ma'am, Kraft has an unsolicited ideas policy. We do not pay for unsolicited ideas, even if they lead to new products.
Me: Yeah, yeah. Don't worry, I'd be happy to buy GF Mac and Cheese from you.

(Seriously! They have got to make so much of that cheese sauce powder that I bet it is on equipment that makes nothing but cheese sauce. How hard could it be? Well, a girl can dream about gluten-free yellow death that doesn't cost $4 a box.)

How gluten free are we?

I decided to write this post sooner than I meant to after Jenna's first comment on my last post. She's right, making two meals is crazy! But while we are pretty gluten free, we are not completely gluten free.

The only celiac in our house is the monkey, the rest of us (mom, dad, and two younger brothers) are not. My big main pantry is gluten free, but I have a small cupboard where I keep: Quaker oatmeal instant packets, generic cheerios and graham crackers for my 18-month-old, a box of goldfish if they are lucky, some pancake mix, and regular spaghetti. I have a shelf where I keep the wheat bread, and I keep the gf bread in the fridge. (We also have two toasters, one exclusively for GF bread. They are on separate counters and the GF one is covered with a cozy in an effort to keep it GF.) My fridge and freezer are mostly gluten free, but if I put anything in there that is not gluten free, I make sure it is well labeled with a permanent marker and wrapped so that it will not crumb all over the place. I also have separate butter, peanut butter, jam, honey, and mayonaisse containers, all well-labeled with a permanent marker.

I always make a gluten-free dinner; the only thing close to an exception is spaghetti, where I make gluten free sauce and meatballs, but both kinds of spaghetti noodles. I'm just careful to dish the monkey up first, and then scoop and plop, so that my serving spoon doesn't contaminate the sauce.

My husband makes his own Quaker oatmeal or wheat toast for breakfast, and packs his lunch before any of the rest of us are even out of bed. (I love him even more for being able to feed himself!) Breakfast for me and the kids is usually simple, fast, and made to order (haha) for each person: bowls of gf or Quaker oatmeal, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, or frozen and reheated oatmeal bars, muffins, or pancakes. I like to make a big batch of GF pancakes, pack them up, make a big batch of regular pancakes, and freeze everything, well-labeled, of course.

I pack the monkey a GF lunch the night before school days. So that leaves the rest of us to eat sandwiches or whatever. If everyone is home, I might make something gluten free for lunch or serve leftovers. Or just make separate sandwiches for everyone.

I have pretty much given up baking anything that is not gluten free (just those dang rolls at Thanksgiving!) and I make our treats gluten free. If for some reason I have a non-gluten free treat for the little boys, I make sure I have a GF treat for the monkey that is as good or better.

As for contamination, I try to keep a clean kitchen and to make sure I prepare his food on clean surfaces. It's been a long time since he's acted like I "glutened" him. And I don't worry about him cheating; he did it once and it made him sick and he's never tried again. So far his doctor has said his blood tests have come back showing that he isn't being exposed to gluten.

When he was diagnosed and we were trying to decide whether or not to go completely gluten free I read Danna Korn's book about raising celiac kids. In her discussion of the issue, she says the world is not gluten free; but the safest and most controlled environment to learn how to deal with a non-gluten free world is at home. I tend to agree with her. The monkey has had diabetes for years, celiac for about a year and a half, and I feel strongly that not only do I have a responsibility to keep him healthy, but a responsibility to teach him how to keep himself healthy. I have no idea what he will do in life, I doubt he wants to take me to college with him, and I don't know if or who he will marry and if she can deal with his dietary issues, so my best option for dealing with those unknowns is to teach and train him to be capable of taking care of himself. (Shopping, cooking, baking GF, counting carbs, reading labels, figuring insulin doses, getting exercise, running his insulin pump, etc. etc. etc.)

How gluten free is your house? Is it for convenience, economics, or to prevent contamination?