Daring Bakers Challenge: Gluten Free Crackers and Dip

I would have never thought of making homemade crackers if it hadn't been the DB challenge, but I am so glad I did.  These crackers almost taste like wheat thins (one of my favorite crackers that I can no longer eat) and it only took 5 minutes to mix them, roll them and stick them in the oven.  I will be making these again and I'll probably play with the recipe a little to see if I can get them a little closer to the wheat thin flavor I remember -without the wheat. Either way I am happy to have crackers!
Salsa verde is the dip I chose not only because it's gluten free and vegetarian, but it's also one of our favorites.  I don't use a specific recipe - I go by taste.  My friend Concha, who is from Puebla Mexico, taught me how to make this.  I'll try to write down the recipe the next time I make it.

Gluten Free Crackers

1/4 cup gf flour blend
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup minus 1 teaspoon water
1 Tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/8 teaspoon salt
salt for sprinkling

Mix until combined.  roll out paper thin between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Lift off top parchment sheet use pizza cutter to cut into desired size crackers. Mist dough with olive oil and sprinkle with salt or other seasoning.  (you don't need to separate them, they will bake into crackers and any still connected are easily broken apart.)  Slide parchment paper with dough onto cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees.

Favorite Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

In my mind, fall weather and oatmeal cookies are the perfect pair (along with football, sweaters and jackets!)  Growing up I always used the recipe on the back of the Quaker Oats container, so that's where I turned when I woke up in the mood for oatmeal raisin cookies.  Although I can no longer eat Quaker brand oats, (due to cross contamination with gluten) the recipe so easily transforms into a gluten free version you'll cry tears of happy joy.  Seriously, all I did was swap out the flour for a gluten free blend, add a bit of xanthum gum and use gluten free oats. Voila!  C'est Magnifique! (I don't speak French, but if I did that's what I'd say.)

GF Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. xanthum gum
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups gluten free quick cooking oats
1 cup raisins

Heat oven to 350°F. Beat shortening and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; add to butter mixture, mixing well. Stir in oats and raisins; mix well. Dough will be nice and thick.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes. 

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies - Gluten Free

 I love sugar cookies and have been sorely disappointed in the gf sugar cookie recipes I have tried.  Don't get me wrong, the cookies, for the most part, turned out okay and most had a descent flavor.  That being said, they were nothing like the sugar cookies I made before going gluten free and the dough was usually so sticky that I ended up making drop cookies out of it.   This can be pretty frustrating - especially when you've got your Christmas cookie cutters all dusted off and ready to go!   Not everyone has the same taste in sugar cookies, but mine leans toward a soft cookie that's a little puffy but not flour-y.  I don't like an overly sweet cookie because I usually eat them with frosting, but I do like the cookie to have a great flavor and be sweet enough that I can eat it without frosting if I choose.  And most important, I don't want anyone to say that it tastes gluten free!

I made a goal for 2008 to find the perfect gluten free rolled sugar cookie recipe.  I've been unsuccessful at finding one, so I've created my own.  I think I've found a winner.  If you have the same sugar cookie preference as me, you've got to try this recipe.  Let me know what you think!

Meredith's GF Rolled Sugar Cookies

1/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup sour cream (not low-fat or fat-free)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 2/3 cup GF flour blend

sweet rice flour for dusting work surface and rolling pin

Cream shortening, sugar and egg until smooth.  Add sour cream and vanilla and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Scrape down sides of bowl and mix on high for 1 minute.  Place dough in an airtight container and chill in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  When dough is chilled, liberally dust work surface (I use parchment paper) and rolling pin with sweet rice flour.  Place 1/2 of your dough on the floured surface and dust dough with sweet rice flour. Return unused dough to refrigerator.  Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut out to desired shapes.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes.  Repeat with remaining dough.  When cookies have cooled, frost with your favorite frosting. Makes about  20 medium cookies.

Sister in Denial...

My sister Angi was diagnosed with Celiac Disease this week.  I talked to her yesterday to see how she's doing.  Our conversation went something like this:

"How's the new diet going?"
"ummm..." uneasy laughter, "my work brought in lunch today so I haven't started my gluten free diet yet."
"Angi, when that happens you have to tell people that you can't eat gluten so that they'll pick up something you can eat."
"But I wanted pizza!"
"You're impossible!"

Complete denial!  She hasn't even posted her diagnoses on her blog - for any of you that know her, that's really saying something!  So Angi, this post is for you.

Gluten Free 101:

First of all, gluten is poison to your body. POISON!  The real deal -  skull and crossbones included! Remember that health movie when they show someone sneeze and they magnify it and show all the droplets in fluorescent colors so you can see where it lands?  Gross, I know, but that is how you have to think of gluten.  It's so easy to get gluten through cross contamination, so wash your hands constantly.  It can get a little crazy when you're trying to feed your baby and feed yourself, but even if you have to wash your hands 50 times a day it will be worth it if it keeps you healthy.  (Keep lotion on hand - all that washing can be brutal, especially in the winter!)

READ YOUR LABELS!  Even if it's a product you've bought before, double check that the manufacturer hasn't changed any of the ingredients.

After saying all of that, being on a gluten free diet really isn't that bad or that hard.  Sure you'll have bad days, but if you live in a state of preparedness those days will be few and far between. To help you get started here are some of my favorite things to eat that are naturally gluten free and can easily be found at your regular grocery store.  I'm only doing this because I love you and don't want to keep seeing you get sick!

Remember the chili you ate for dinner last night with french bread?  Next time try eating it with some crunchy fritos.  I love those with chili!  and they're gluten free!

Quesadillas - I started eating these on my mission and still eat them almost every day for lunch.  Most corn tortillas are gluten free (always check labels on everything) and you can use different cheeses for variation.  My favorites are mozzarella, colby jack and pepperjack.

Refried and black beans - eat with quesadillas

Corn Chips and salsa.  I love the mango salsa from Costco.

Salsa mixed with cottage cheese.  Eat with corn chips.  This is easy to pack for lunch and filling too.

Apples and peanut butter

Fruity Pebbles (check Label)

Dora Cereal Cinnamon Stars (check Label)

Trix (check Label)

Rice Chex

Popcorn, Cracker Jacks

Most Ice Cream

snickers, reeses peanut butter cups, m&m's

String Cheese

Yogurt (check Label)

Rice Crackers and hummus (check Label)

Cozy Shack Rice Pudding (I love this stuff!)

Trail Mix -store bought or make your own (check Label)

Trio Bars, Lara Bars (granola bar type snack)

And of course all of your fresh fruits and veggies! Eggs, chicken, pork, beef etc... Watch out for meats that are marinated.

This is a pretty good list to get you started.  Please don't put it off any longer - your body will thank you!  When you're ready for Gluten free 201: a crash course in gluten free baking, let me know.  I've got all sorts of recipes that you're going to love!!!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake...Plate Optional

Caught red handed with my fork in the cake pan my husband had to take this picture.  My friend Camille posted a recipe for her chocolate zucchini cake and with the surplus of zucchini growing in our garden I knew I had to try making it gluten free.  As you can tell from the picture, it was a success!  This cake is moist and delicious and since it has vegetables in it you can almost not feel guilty going in for another piece.  I swapped out the flour cup for cup with my gluten free flour blend and added a 1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum.  Other than that I followed the recipe exactly.  Here it is:

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup oil
2 cups zucchini, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon  salt
1 1/2 cups
gf flour blend
1/2 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a 9x13 in cake pan ( I sprayed it with pan) for 25-35 minutes at 350 or until toothpick comes out clean. Frost with favorite chocolate frosting.