Gluten Free Gingerbread House - Daring Bakers Challenge

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

This month has been crazy busy and I wasn't sure if I would get to do this challenge (even though I've been wanting to make a gingerbread house for years!) Luckily it turned out, albeit a bit sloppy as I had some humidity trouble with the icing. Everything was gluten free and I will post my recipes soon...
We had a great time decorating our house!

My husband's a pro...his family has been building and
decorating graham cracker house for years!

Mini Pumpkin Toffe Cheesecakes - Gluten Free and low fat!

My husband's not a big fan of pumpkin so when I was asked to bring a gluten free dessert to a woman's activity at church I knew exactly what I wanted...pumpkin cheesecake. I adapted this recipe to not only be gluten free and cupcake size, but also to be lower in fat than regular cheesecake. They turned out so creamy and delicious that my cheesecake loving husband was able to overlook the pumpkin and enjoy one for himself!

Mini Gluten Free Pumpkin Toffee Cheesecakes

  • 3 8 oz pkgs. reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 2/3 cup nonfat evaporated milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Heath toffee baking chips
  • 30 - 36 gluten free gingersnaps (I used Trader Joe's)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake papers in muffin tin and 1 gluten free ginger snap, face up, in each paper.

Beat cream cheese and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, cornstarch and cinnamon; beat well. Spoon into muffin tins filling each a little more than half full. Gently shake pan to distribute batter evenly.

Bake for 18-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until edges are set but center seems soft. Remove from oven; top with toffee candy pieces.
Let cheesecakes cool completely at room temperature and then place them in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight before serving.

Favorite Gluten Free Brownies

These are my all time favorite brownies. I still remember the first time I tried them (at Danny's mission farewell open house) this, of course, being long before I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. This is my friend Ellen's brownie recipe and I have since adapted it to be gluten free. They are wonderful with or without frosting, but I'm a frosting girl so that's how I usually make them. They also make a great brownie sundae if you top them with ice cream and hot fudge! I love them with chopped walnuts or pecans stirred into the batter before baking, but my husband prefers them without. To compromise, I'll often make half the pan with nuts and the other side without!

Favorite Brownies - Gluten Free

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix
3/4 teaspoon xantham gum

8 Tablespoons Cocoa
1 cup oil
4 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except nuts in a mixing bowl until well combined. Add nuts, if desired. Spread batter into a 9X13 pan and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy with or without your favorite frosting!

Macaroons - Daring Bakers October Challenge

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macaroons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I've been wanting to make these for awhile, so I was really excited to see this as a challenge. Everything went together easily and I didn't feel too "challenged until the finished product turned out without the "feet" on the cookies. I think I need to be more patient - I put the cookies in when my oven read 375 degrees but the internal temperature per my thermometer was at 340 degrees. I was in a hurry...

I filled them with chocolate buttercream. They taste great but don't look quite right. I'll be trying this again until I get it!

Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)


1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Slow Cooker Gluten Free Lasagna

I found this recipe in the Fix it and Forget it Cook Book when we first got married and have adapted it to our taste (including gluten free) over the years. It's super easy once you get the ground beef browned and it tastes great!

Slow Cooker Gluten Free Lasagna

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
28 oz jar of spaghetti sauce
15 ounce container of ricotta cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup water
8 gluten free lasagna noodles, uncooked (I use Tinkyada brown rice lasagna noodles)

Place the ground beef and chopped onion in a large skillet over medium heat. As the meat is browning, add the Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Continue cooking until meat is browned and onions are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Break noodles to fit slow cooker. Place half in the bottom of a greased slow cooker. Spread half of cooked ground beef over the noodles. Layer half of the spaghetti sauce, half of the water, half of the ricotta cheese and half of the mozzarella cheese over the beef. Repeat layers.

Cover and cook on LOW 4-5 hours.

Gluten Free Zucchini Muffins

I'm down to my last zucchini and have been spreading it out all week. Sunday I made chocolate zucchini cake and today I made these yummy muffins. The original recipe was actually for Carrot Muffins, but I subbed in grated zucchini and added raisins. They turned out delicious - moist and soft with just enough spice. They'd be good with a little glaze if you make them for a special occasion!

Zucchini Muffins - gluten free

2 cups gluten free flour mix
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 350 degrees and place muffin papers in muffin tin (makes 18).

Combine dry ingredients (first 8 ingredients listed in recipe) in a large mixing bowl. Add zucchini, coconut and raisins and stir to coat evenly. In a small bowl combine milk and oil. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add liquids to flour mixture and stir until just blended.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full and bake 20-25 minutes (I baked for 22 minutes) or until light golden brown. They are delicious right from the oven, but taste just as good when cooled and reheated for 20 seconds in the microwave.

Breads from Anna

When we got home after adopting our baby we had several friends offer to bring us dinner while we got settled into a routine with our little one. One of these fabulous dinner introduced me to my first taste of Breads from Anna. My friend made us the pumpkin read using the Breads from Anna mix and also an apple pancake and muffin mix to make later. I've seen Breads from Anna mixes before, but they seemed a bit expensive for someone who doesn't mind baking from scratch (that'd be me), so I always passed them over.

The pumpkin bread was delicious and the texture was moist and delicate. I ate about half the loaf by myself! Always on the lookout for ideas and hints I thought I'd check out the ingredients on the package. I almost fainted dead away when I saw BEAN FLOUR listed. Seriously??!!! How could I have eaten so much without noticing that chalking bean aftertaste? Anna is really on to something and I've been inspired to pick up some bean flour and do a little bit of experimenting (I'll let you know what I come up with). The apple muffins were delicious too, and one mix made 18 muffins. Maybe I'll just pick up some more of Anna's mixes instead of that flour...

Garden Fresh Tomato, Corn & Basil Risotto...Enjoy Year Round

I made this risotto in July based off a similar recipe at I was looking for a risotto to highlight all of the fragrant basil we had growing in our garden. I wanted to use our garden grown tomatoes too, but because of the mild summer we had in Chicago, our tomatoes didn't ripen until September and by then the basil was gone...maybe next year we can be a bit more in sync! Even using canned tomatoes and frozen corn, this risotto was delicious and tasted garden fresh (hence the name). I'll be making this again!

Garden Fresh Tomato, Corn & Basil Risotto

4 cups chicken stock
2 Tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup uncooked arborio rice
14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels (I like the "baby corn")
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into this strips
salt and pepper to taste

Heat chicken stock in small saucepan and keep over low heat. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions to skillet and cook 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and the rice to onions and cook for 1 minute or until garlic smells fragrant.

Begin to add the chicken stock to the rice mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until stock is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. Continue adding stock and stirring risotto until all of the chicken stock has been added. This will take about 15- 20 minutes.

Add the frozen corn and can of diced tomatoes. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender but slightly chewy. Once the liquid has been incorporated, stir in the Parmesan cheese and basil. Salt and pepper the risotto to your taste preference and serve immediately.

I could stare at you all day...

You may have noticed that I haven't posted any new recipes for over a month. Why blog when I could spend my time staring into these beautiful brown eyes? I've waited so long for this precious little angel to join our family. My arms have been otherwise occupied holding our little bundle of joy and I haven't cooked anything except for quesadillas for the last 3 weeks. My posts might be a little sporadic over the next few weeks, but please don't give up on me - as soon as we get a routine established I'll be cooking up a storm for our little family of 3!!!

Gluten Free Mallows (Chocolate covered Marshmallow Cookies) - Daring Bakers July 2009 Challenge

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

I was very excited about the Daring Bakers Challenge this month. Mallows were one of my favorite "special occasion" cookies growing up. You see, I grew up in a family with 10 kids and Mallow Cookies come in packages of 9-12. It just wasn't cost efficient to buy these at our house so it was a special treat when we got them. (Grandma DuPaix's Chocolate Chip Cookies, on the other hand, were a constant in our household and are still the cookie of choice among my siblings.)

This recipe turns out a delicious chocolate covered crisp cookie topped with a gooey marshmallow - yum!

Gluten Free Mallows
makes 5-6 dozen

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) Gluten Free Flour Blend plus 1 teaspoon xanthum gum
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping. (I ran out of time so I used store bought marshmallows cut in half, placed on the hot cookies and put back in the oven for 2 minutes.)

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

Sweet Salsa Chicken

I'm a big fan of salsa chicken (frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs thrown in the crock pot with 1-2 cups of salsa and cooked on high for 4 hours). I use it to make nachos, tacos, burritos, and chicken taco salad. This weekend my sister-in-law introduced us to a sweet twist on this amazing chicken and we loved it so much that we made it again last night! I forgot to get the recipe, but knew it was the same as salsa chicken with the addition of brown sugar so here's how I did it:

Sweet Salsa Chicken

4 frozen chicken breast or thighs (use boneless, skinless)
1 1/2 cups medium or hot salsa
3/4 cup brown sugar

Place all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours. Shred meat and serve. We used ours for taco meat. Additional taco toppings include black beans, corn, cheese, sour cream, and cilantro served on warm corn tortillas. The leftovers are delicious, but they go fast!

Gluten Free Bakewell - Daring Bakers June Challenge

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.
My Bakewell isn't even out of the oven yet and I can tell it's going to be fabulous! The first layer of a Bakewell Tart is the tart shell. I used the Tart Shell Crust recipe from Annalise Roberts Gluten-Free Baking Classics Cookbook. It's a first trying this particular recipe, but I've loved all of her recipes that I've tried, so I'm not worried about how it will turn out.

After making the tart shell and putting it (unbaked) in the freezer to chill, I started on the next layer - the jam. This can be any flavor that you want. I chose peach because I had some peaches in the freezer that I've been meaning to make into jam and now was as good a time as any to make it. I followed the recipe on the box of sure-jell pectin for peach freezer jam.

With the tart shell chilling and the jam setting up, it was time to move on to the delicious third and final layer - the frangipane. The recipe we were given to use was measured by weight and although a kitchen scale is on my list of things to own day own, it has not made it to the top of my wish list yet. Instead I did some research and came up with the following proportions:

Frangipane (for a 9 inch tart)

1/2 cup butter softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup almonds ground finely in the food processor

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter sugar. Add eggs one at a time mixing until well blended. Add the almond extract, gluten free flour mix and ground almonds and combine.

Now it's time to assemble and bake the tart:

Spread the chilled tart shell with 1/2 - 2/3 cup jam. Spread the frangipane on top of the jam layer and place into the oven and bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. The tart should be browned and firm to the touch but slightly soft in the middle. Let the Bakewell Tart cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Gluten Free Pancake Mix

Homemade pancakes are always a favorite, but when time does not allow it's nice to have a good mix on hand.  I've tried a few gluten free pancake mixes and most are decent, but one stands above the rest in my view:  Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Pancake Mix.  This mix produces light and fluffy pancakes and nobody will ever guess that they're gluten free.  We like them with blueberries or sprinkled with chocolate chips.

Gluten Free Multi-Flour Tortillas

Recently I was asked what I eat to get enough fiber in my diet.  As you may have guessed, gluten free products are usually lacking in fiber.  Here are a couple of things that I do to get the recommended 25-35 grams a day.  When it's time for a snack I usually stick to fruits, veggies, almonds, and popcorn.  I try to use brown rice instead of white and I eat beans at least once a day - usually with a quesadilla and salsa at lunchtime.  I usually use corn tortillas to make my quesadillas, but after adapting a recipe for gluten free rice flour tortillas by Bette Hagman, I might just switch over to using these - they've each got 5 grams of fiber and 160 calories.  Plus they're easy to make and taste great!  

GF Multi-Flour Tortillas

1 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/2 cup Buckwheat Flour
1/2 cup Soy Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthum gum
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons milk powder
1 cup warm water

Put all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat on medium for 1 minute.  Divide dough into 6 equal parts.  Dust work surface with corn starch and roll out each piece very thin to form a 12" circle (unless you're a superstar roller, expect your circle to be a bit jagged around the edges like the picture above).  If you are going to roll them all out before cooking them, use plastic wrap to separate each tortilla so they don't stick together .  Otherwise, cook the first one while rolling out the next, continuing until you've done all 6.

To Cook:  Heat a large griddle to medium-hot and cook each tortilla 1-2 minutes per side. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.  These tortillas reheat nicely in the microwave.

Buen Provecho!

Gluten Free S'MORES

Camping season is in full swing and we couldn't let this summer pass without a trip to the great outdoors.  In my mind camping is synonymous with s'mores, something I've bypassed the last few years.  I planned to make my own graham style crackers for our Friday night camping trip, but somewhere between Monday and Friday I ran out of time.  Friday morning I found myself dashing to the health food store to find gluten free graham crackers.  I found two brands, Kinnikinnick smorable graham style crackers and Josef.  I went with the Kinnikinnick.  Not only were they almost a dollar less for the same amount ($4.29 for an 8 oz box), but I've tried several of their products and I've been happy with them.

The crackers are a little smaller and a bit thicker than regular graham crackers.  I didn't try one by itself, but with roasted marshmallows and a couple of squares of chocolate they were probably the best s'mores I've ever had!  I still plan to make my own graham style crackers one of these days, but until I do it's nice to have a tasty alternative.  Happy camping!

Yummy S'mores!  Try one today!

Gluten Free Orange Cranberry Muffins

I've been in the mood for orange cranberry muffins and when I remembered that I had cranberries in the freezer I decided it was time to feed my craving. I adapted a recipe from Annalise Roberts Gluten-Free Baking Classics cookbook and they are probably the best muffins I've ever made (although my gluten free Loaded Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins are pretty close!) These are a new family favorite!

Gluten Free Orange Cranberry Muffins - makes 12 muffins

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups Gluten Free Flour Blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons xanthum gum
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
3/4 - 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
Grated rind from 1 large orange
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (juice the orange after you grate the rind)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with 12 muffin papers. Cream butter, yogurt, and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Mix in the rest of the ingredients except for the cranberries until just blended. Fold in the cranberries. Pour batter into prepared muffin tin filling about 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Cool completely before wrapping and storing in the refrigerator. They also freeze well if you don't plan on eating them within a few days.

TIP: When fresh cranberries come on sale during the holidays pick up an extra bag to freeze for later use. They freeze really well and you can freeze them right in the bag they come in.

Gluten Free Peach Strudel - Daring Bakers May Challenge

Making a gluten free strudel seemed like a pretty daunting challenge and I almost gave up before I started. I'm so glad I stuck with it as this ended up being the easiest challenge I've faced as a daring baker. With a little guidance from the Culinary Institute of America I was able to adapt a recipe and ended up with something easy to mix up using ingredients I always have on hand. What more could I ask for!

The May Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Gluten Free Strudel Dough

3 Tablespoons gluten free flour blend
1 egg white (about 2 Tablespoons)
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all ingredients with a rubber spatula to form a thick dough. spread dough as thin as possible onto parchment paper making a 6"x12" rectangle. Bake for 3-4 minutes or until the sheet of strudel lifts easily off of parchment paper. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Place your preferred strudel filling (I made a peaches and cinnamon) about an inch from the edge of the dough and roll up. Brush with egg wash or melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool before serving.

You can brush melted butter around the edges to help seal your dough, but I forgot and it turned out fine.
I sprinkled it with sugar before placing it in the oven. Next time I might do a cinnamon sugar mixture to sprinkle on top.

What did you have for breakfast?

Last week at both Target and Meijer Grocery Stores I found boxes of the reformulated gluten free Chex replacing the Honey Nut, Chocolate, Corn, and Cinnamon Chex boxes (no sign of Strawberry yet).  It's so nice to walk into a regular grocery store and be able to find a box of gluten free cereal for around $3.  I've been enjoying gluten free Honey Nut Chex for the last 5 mornings (and an occasional lunch), and they are delicious.  Did I mention they are gluten free?

Beef and Broccoli - Gluten Free

One thing I've learned since going gluten free is that if I want Chinese food I need to make it myself (P.F. Changs does have a fabulous gluten free menu and their Chang's spicy chicken is my absolute favorite, but I can't afford to eat there every time I want Chinese food!).  I found the following recipe in the cookbook "Essential Mormon Celebrations" by Julie Badger Jensen and have adapted it to be gluten free.  It's very easy (under 30 minutes) and very delicious!

Gluten Free Beef and Broccoli

1 pound beef steak (we buy steak in bulk from Costco and freeze them.)
1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce (Walmart's Great Value brand is gluten free and very inexpensive)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/4 cup cold water
16 ounces frozen broccoli florets
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons sesame oil (this is the secret to make it taste like it came from a fabulous restaurant)

Combine soy sauce, sugar, corn starch, and water in a small bowl and set aside.   Cut steak against the grain into thin strips about 1/4 inch thick.  I find it's easiest to cut the steak when it's frozen (thaw it for 30 minutes so that it's not rock solid).  Heat a large skillet to medium high.  Put the olive oil and steak in the skillet and cook both sides until brown, about 4-5 minutes.  Steam broccoli in the microwave or in a steamer while steak is cooking.  When the steak is brown, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Pour the soy sauce mixture over the meat and cook until it begins to thicken.  Stir in the sesame oil.  Remove from heat, stir in the steamed broccoli and serve over rice. 

 I hope you enjoy this as much as our family does!

Gluten Free Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Smoothie

After a good bike ride, I usually need something to get some energy back in my body. Meredith came up with this great tasting and very energy packed smoothy, I just had to share.

1 frozen banana
1 cup milk
1 scoop chocolate protein mix
1 tablespoon (or generous dollop) peanut butter.

Blend, enjoy.

It is simple, but helps me get my energy back after a good 25 mile bike ride and ready for the rest of the day.

Gluten Free Chex - Coming to a store near you!

I'm so excited for this! Chex has reformulated 5 of their Chex cereals to be gluten free along with the currently available Rice Chex.  Corn Chex, Honey Nut Chex, Chocolate Chex, Cinnamon Chex, and Strawberry Chex will start appearing on your store shelves in the next month.  Be sure to pick up the box marked "gluten free" as the gluten containing boxes may be mixed in with them until they sell out.

Daring Bakers April Challenge - Gluten Free Cheesecake

The April Challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes.  She has chosen Abby's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.  I  love, love, LOVE cheesecake!  I think it is probably the best thing ever invented ...ever!  I was excited to make cheesecake for the DB Challenge this month and even more excited to eat it!  I had a hard time deciding what flavor to make.  I prefer fruit and my husband prefers chocolate but I only have one springform pan so I decided to experiment and do half of the cheesecake raspberry swirl and the other half chocolate chip.  It actually worked out really well and I will do it that way again so that we can have more than one kind of cheesecake.  Plus it was super sinple to do.  I poured the batter over my gluten free sponge cake crust and then I swirled raspberry puree through one half and mini chocolate chips through the other half. 

The cheesecake was creamy and absolutely delicious.  I was worried about baking it too long but at 45 minutes it hadn't set.  At 55 minutes it still had a lot of jiggle but because I was so worried about over-baking it I turned the oven off.  It ended up being under-baked and had the appearance of room temperature Brie when I cut into it, but that didn't take away any of the pleasure this creation delivered to our senses.  Next time I will bake it and additional 5 minutes.

I followed the cheesecake recipe except for the crust because it wasn't gluten free.  For my crust I made a gluten free sponge cake - an idea I got from Junior's Cheesecake's in New York (theirs isn't gluten free).
Here are the recipes:

Gluten Free Sponge Cake Crust

1/3 cup gluten free flour blend
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon xanthum gum
Pinch of salt
3 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 drops pure lemon extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (preferably a nonstick one). Wrap the outside with aluminum foil, covering the bottom and extending all the way up the sides.
2. In a small bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together.
3. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high for 3 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and beat until thick light yellow ribbons form, about 5 minutes more. Beat in the extracts.
4. Sift the flour mixture over the batter and stir it in by hand, just until no more white flecks appear. Now, blend in the melted butter.
5. Using a clean bowl and clean beaters. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl and beat with the mixer on high until frothy. Gradually add the remaining sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form (the whites will stand up and look glossy, not dry). Fold about one-third of the whites into the batter, then the remaining whites. Don’t worry if you still see a few white specks, as they’ll disappear during baking.
6. Gently spread out the batter over the bottom of the pan, and bake just until set but not sticky, 13-15 minutes. Touch the cake gently in the center. If it springs back, it’s done. Watch carefully and don’t let the top brown. Leave the crust in the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
Abby's Infamous Cheesecake:

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.

2. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.

3. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

4. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, (I'm doing mine 60 minutes next time) until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away. (I used a 9" springform pan wrapped in foil and it worked well for me.)

Gluten Free Crock Pot Pulled Pork

I've been craving BBQ, but the weather isn't quite ready to cooperate so I turned to my trusty crock pot for this easy and delicious BBQ pulled pork. Make sure your BBQ sauce is gluten free. My favorite is Trader Joe's All Natural Barbeque Sauce.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

2 pounds pork tenderloin
12 ounces gluten free root-beer (I've also used cola and it's just as good)
1-2 cups gluten free BBQ sauce

Place pork tenderloin and root-beer in crock pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove pork from crock pot, use a couple of forks to shred the meat then add the BBQ sauce to your desired sauciness. Serve over gluten free hamburger buns if desired.

We enjoyed our pulled pork with baked potatoes and this yummy 7 layer salad. The recipe for the salad can be found by following this link.

La Tortilla Factory Gluten Free Wraps

I am loving the gluten free wraps from La Tortilla Factory!  I saw these gluten free wraps at Meijer and being a lover of burritos, I decided to try them out.  The $4.99 price tag for six, 9 inch wraps nearly scared me off, but even with the price I would still be able to make a burrito for a few dollar less than my favorite burrito bol from Chipotle.  The wraps are made with millet and teff flour.  I tried the ones made with ivory teff, but they also make them with dark teff.  I'll have to try and find them so that I can do a comparison.  These wraps are very similar to flour tortillas.  I warmed them on the stove for about a minute on each side.  I used the wraps to make burritos filled with refried beans, cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa, and some chipotle roast that was leftover from Easter (Thanks Camille!).  YUM!  These were so yummy that my husband (who doesn't have to eat gluten free) requested them 2 nights in a row.  Thanks for a producing a great product, La Tortilla Factory!

French Toast

Happy Easter!  French Toast used to be one of my favorite breakfast, but I got out of the habit of making it when I had to go on a gluten free diet.  (I like corn tortillas more than most gluten free bread, so I don't have bread very often.)  When I woke up this morning I remembered that I had bread in the freezer made from the Whole Foods brand 365 gluten free bread mix (it's practically identical to the Gluten Free Pantry favorite sandwich bread mix, tastes the same but cost a little less.  Both of these are favorites when I'm making bread from a mix.)  The Easter Bunny left a carton of eggs in the refrigerator that we hadn't colored yet so we decided French Toast would be the perfect beginning to a beautiful Easter Sunday.  French Toast is so easy to make.  Here's how:

Easy Gluten Free French Toast
(makes 6 pieces)
1 egg
1/3 - 1/2 cup milk (depending on how egg-y you like it.)
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
dash of nutmeg (optional)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Heat skillet to medium.  Combine ingredients in shallow dish that fits a slice of bread - I usually use a dinner plate that has steep edges.  Spray skillet with cooking spray, dip both sides of each bread slice in egg mixture and place on hot skillet.  Continue this process until skillet is covered.  Turn bread over when its light brown (about 2 minutes) and cook the other side until it is brown.  Continue process until all of the egg mixture is gone (about 6 slices). Serve immediately with syrup or your favorite toppings.

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Bananas

I've found my new favorite snack!  Not only does it combine 3 of my favorite ingredients, but it is so easy to make!  The peanut butter is optional and of course you can dress these bananas up by dipping them into all sorts of toppings (nuts, chocolate chips, coconut, sprinkles, etc...) after covering them in chocolate. Enjoy!

Frozen Chocolate Bananas 

4 bananas at your preferred peak of ripeness (I'm picky about my bananas!)
4 teaspoons peanut butter (optional)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
assorted toppings if desired
4 popsicle or craft sticks 

Cover a plate or cookie sheet with waxed paper.  Peel bananas and cut about an inch off of one end.  Stick about an inch of a popsicle stick into the cut end.  If using peanut butter spread it onto the bananas now.  Place bananas onto the waxed paper and put into the freezer for about one hour.  After an hour, melt the chocolate chips in the microwave for 1-2 minutes or until just melted.  Stir to get out the lumps.  If your chocolate seems to thick you can mix in 1 Tablespoon of melted butter.  You do not want to overheat the chocolate or it will burn.  Spread the chocolate onto the frozen bananas and dip into toppings.  You'll need to work fast because the frozen bananas make the chocolate harden quickly.  Store Chocolate Bananas in an airtight container in your freezer.

Lasagne! Daring Bakers March Challenge

Home made gluten free pasta, oh my!  When I found out I'd be making pasta I was a little nervous.  Pasta is something I'd always wanted to try making, but since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease and going gluten free I kind of put the whole pasta making thing out of my mind.  Without this challenge I probably never would have tried gluten free pasta, and although it was a bit time consuming, it was kind of fun too.  It didn't hurt that I had a especially cute sous chef by my side!

Here's the recipe that I used.  I cut it in half and used a 9x9 inch pan.

Gluten Free Egg Pasta
1 cup corn flour
3/4 cup corn starch
1 cup tapioca flour
1 cup potato starch
3/4 cup sweet rice flour
1/2 Tablespoons Xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
6 extra large eggs
3/8 cup of water
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sift all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
Whisk together 3 eggs, the water, and the oil. Pour into the middle of the dry ingredients. Mix with a sturdy wooden spoon, gradually drawing more of the flour mix into the wet ingredients. Add each egg as needed. The dough will be crumbly at the beginning but will gradually come together as you add the eggs. You will need to use your hands to squeeze and mix the dough.  The dough will be firm and stick together when ready. It will not have the elasticity of gluten dough therefore it will crack when kneaded and pushed. Form it into a smooth ball, oil it lightly, and cover securely with plastic wrap. Let it rest for an hour.

Put a sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface. This is very important as the dough will not hold together very well when lifted. Have flour ready for dusting (corn flour etc) and dust the surface lightly. Cut a piece of dough about the size of really large egg – it doesn’t matter the size but start small for the first one to gauge how much space you need. Keep the remaining dough covered so it does not dry.

Roll the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc with your hands. Put it on your work surface and flatten with your hands. Use a rolling pin and gently push the dough down and out ward from the centre. You may have to place one hand on the plastic wrap as you push the dough down and away. Gluten free dough does not stretch like wheat dough therefore it needs gentle flattening and pushing. If it breaks, pat it back together. If it is too dry, dab a little water with your finger.

The gluten free dough will be thicker than wheat dough and you will barely be able to see your hand through the dough. Once it is flattened, cut into strips or squares that will fit your pan.  Set the dough aside on the plastic sheet. There is no need to dry the dough. But if you do dry the dough, it will not be able to hang because it will break. Stack the rolled out dough with plastic sheets in between.

Stack the sheets when dry and wrap securely. Store in the fridge until ready to use. Freezing will make the dough crumbly and difficult to work with – so freeze only as a last resort!  This dough
does not need to be precooked before being assembled into the lasagne.

Gluten Free Béchamel - White Sauce
2 & 2/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or Extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons corn starch
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
Mix the corn starch with ½ cup of cold milk. Heat the rest of the milk in a small sauce pan until steaming but do not boil. Add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the steaming milk. Stirring constantly, raise the heat and heat the mixture until thick. Once it is thick, remove it from the heat and add the butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Have the béchamel warm or at room temperature ready to assemble the lasagne. Whisk the sauce occasionally if it becomes stiff or thick.

Gluten Free Ragu Sauce
I used my spaghetti sauce recipe and added 1 pound ground sirloin

Before assembly, pour plain water into the pan, enough to form a thin film of water over the bottom. A 9 x 13 inch pan required almost ½ cup (125 mL) of water. Once the lasagna is assembled, pour a tablespoon of water into each corner of the dish. Cover the lasagna tightly with aluminum foil. Be careful not to touch the top of the lasagna with the foil. Bake as directed.

Spread a thin layer of béchamel over the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange a layer of about four overlapping sheets of pasta over the béchamel. Spread a thin layer of béchamel (about 3 or 4 spoonfuls) over the pasta, and then an equally thin layer of the ragu. Sprinkle with about 1&1/2 tablespoons of the béchamel and about 1/3 cup of Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Repeat the layers until all ingredients are used, finishing with béchamel sauce and topping with a generous dusting of cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese is melted but not brown.

Mini Blueberry Cheesecakes

I've been craving cheesecake lately and yesterday I couldn't stand it any longer.  After rummaging through my cupboards and doing some recipe research I came up with the following mini crustless cheesecake recipe that is so easy, delicious, and only has 4 ingredients! (not including the topping which has 3!)

Mini Crustless Cheesecakes
(makes 8)

8 oz (1 pkg) cream cheese (Neufchatel is what I had on hand)
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Allow cream cheese to come to room temperature. Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth.  Line muffin pan with 8 cupcake wrappers and fill each about 3/4 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cheesecakes look slightly undercooked. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator until serving.  Top with blueberry topping (recipe follows) or your favorite pie filling and whip cream if desired.

Blueberry Topping:

2 cups frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 Tablespoons cornstarch

Combine ingredients in saucepan and cook on medium stirring frequently until thickened about 7-10 minutes.  Allow to cool before using and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Five Guys Burgers - Fries Please

After checking that everything on the menu is gluten free except the bun, I was so excited when a Five Guys Burger opened near our house.  My excitement was a bit short lived - while the above statement is true and the cashier said they would wrap my burger in lettuce, when our food arrived my burger was just that and less. One hamburger patty,  a tomato, and 2 pickles.  Thy didn't even add the condiments I'd ordered.  No lettuce.  Not even a fork.  How do you eat that?  And why would I pay $3 for a lonely hamburger patty?  After further inquiry we learned that ALL of their lettuce is shredded.  They didn't even have a couple of lettuce leaves leftover that I could wrap my burger in.  How disappointing!  (especially knowing that the SLC, UT location will wrap your burger in lettuce.)  The fries were delicious so our visit wasn't a complete waste.  And the next time we go and I order a burger and fries, I'll remember to HOLD THE BURGER and just get the fries!

Gluten Free Gingersnaps

I love homemade gingersnaps! The store bought variety are a little to crunchy and have a tad more ginger than I like so I never buy them.  Plus, they're so easy to make you might as well make them to your specifications so that you can enjoy them!  This recipe is adapted from my sisters friends recipe.  She adds a 1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger to her cookies, but since I enjoy a little more mild ginger flavor I omitted it.  These cookies are so yummy.  They are thin and a little crisp around the edges but nice and soft in the center.  They have the perfect amount of spice without being over powering.  In other words, they are just the way I like them.  In fact,  I skipped lunch two days in a row and ate cookies instead.  OOPS!  For that reason I don't trust myself to make them very often .  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Gluten Free Gingersnaps 
3/4 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 eggs
1/4 cup molasses
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthum gum
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Additional sugar

In a large bowl, beat sugar, butter, molasses and egg until light and fluffy.  Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup; level off.  Stir in flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; mix well.  Cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour.

Heat oven to 350. Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 8 – 10 minutes or until set. (When there are cracks on the top I take them out).  Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. 5 dozen cookies.

Flourless Chocolate Cake - Daring Bakers February Challenge

With only 3 ingredients this cake was pretty easy to put together and made our house smell heavenly.  I'm serving it to company tomorrow so I haven't tried it yet.  I will update my post after we eat with the verdict (but after having licked the bowl I have a pretty good feeling about the outcome!). My camera is having issues, so please forgive the photos!

Although the cake looked and smelled delicious, I was disappointed in the flavor and texture.  I have another flourless chocolate cake recipe that is more complicated but well worth it so I'll continue using that unless I happen upon something better.

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.
We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time:  20 minutes

16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated

1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and
 put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter. {link of folding demonstration}
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C.
Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet.
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold.

For the ice cream I did a Chocolate Chip cookie Dough ice cream using cookie dough from my sour cream M&M cookies because it does not call for eggs. Because of my schedule this month I was not able to make these at the same time.