Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mango Salsa

I don't have any photos to do this salsa justice. I made it several weeks ago and took quick photos, then lost my best one (and forgot to take more photos the next two times I made it). But I can tell you it is SO. Incredibly. Good.

It tastes great with chips, but it tastes amazing with cheese quesadillas (we at them too fast to get photos). Add some spinach in those simple quesadillas and you have a quick meal that will make your mouth sing. Next time, I'm adding some shrimp to the cheese and spinach.

I slightly adapted this recipe from a card that came with my Harry & David fruit-of-the-month club one year with our honey mangoes. I've made this with honey mangoes, and with regular mangoes from the store. It's ridiculously easy.

Projected prep time: 15 minutes; Chill in refrigerator overnight
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and cubed
1 vine-ripe tomato, diced
5 or 6 yellow pear tomatoes, diced (if you have them - one thing I love about my summer garden!)
1 medium to large red onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeds removed and diced
1 jalapeƱo, seeds removed and diced (add more if your family likes spicy - mine doesn't)
Several generous shakes of dried cilantro (I'm one of those people who doesn't like it fresh)
Juice from 1/2 lime
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt to taste

Combine all ingredients, drizzle with lime and lemon juice. Combine, then salt to taste. Refrigerate overnight or  several hours at the very minimum.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Miss C's Raisin Oatmeal Muffins

It's pretty exciting for a child of any age to get the opportunity to help out in the kitchen, and it's exciting for everyone when that child comes up with a recipe all on her own and it comes out with huge success and everyone is more than delighted to eat every last crumb.

That's what happened for my 8-year-old this morning. She wanted to make muffins, but not just any muffins. "Raisin Oatmeal" muffins - all from her own recipe creation. She pretty much knew exactly what ingredients she wanted in these muffins and for the most part she knew the exact measurements of each ingredient. With very little help on a couple of ingredients and their proportions, Miss C's raisin oatmeal muffins came out perfect and delicious.

I hadn't even used oatmeal in gluten-free muffins yet, so it was a trial all the way around - and one I'm glad my daughter insisted on. As my mother, who is visiting at the moment, stated while she ate a muffin with her tea, "These are perfect dunking muffins!"

Projected prep time: 5-10 minutes; Projected bake time: 18 minutes
Makes 12 muffins
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla
2 1/4 cup Pamela's baking and pancake mix
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup certified gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with baking cups.

Mix dry ingredients together and then add liquid. Fold in raisins.

Hold bowl for little sister while she stirs the ingredients together.

Bake for about 16-18 minutes. Muffins are done when they spring back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Eat them warm or at room temperature, but they are really good warm!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Product Highlight: Glutenfreeda Frozen Burritos

Sometimes you just need something that you can zap in a microwave really quick that still tastes good and you can feel pretty good about eating. This can be hard sometimes in the gluten-free world. You're at the office and can't really take a lunch break but you aren't able (thankfully!) to pick up anything at the nearby fast-food restaurant, but you have one of these at home a few blocks away - or better yet, you put one in the office freezer that morning, knowing you'd have a busy day. Or you've got a million and one things to do at home and have to leave in 10 minutes.

I've found the Glutenfreeda's frozen burritos to be a bit of a lifesaver at times. The vegetarian bean and cheese is my favorite - filled with beans, cheese and vegetables. I really think it's quite delicious when you're hungry and can't cook. (My husband really likes the chicken one.) I use them in our little oven when we take long road trips, too. Nothing like a hot meal in the middle of nowhere when you've been driving for hours!

They usually don't hold up too well and I recommend eating them with a fork, but if you like them as much as I do, you won't mind.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Multi-Grain Fettuccine

Fresh, homemade pasta is always a treat. It seems to taste even better not only because it is, but because you know that someone worked harder to make it for you.

I've always been impressed with homemade pasta, and was excited - and at the same time a little intimidated - by this month's Gluten-Free Ratio Rally challenge of homemade pasta. Jenn over at Jenn Cuisine is the host for our rally posts this month, so be sure to check out her rally post where she also lists the links to the recipes all the other food bloggers participating this month have posted. There are some really amazing dishes that you don't want to miss out on, including Jenn's tagliatelle with smoked salmon. Oh yum!

Logo designed by Anile Prakash
If you are interested in why I'm involved in this rally each month and what it's all about, check out my first rally post of peach poppy seed bread, where I explain my excitement and reasons for getting involved. I'm learning a lot and encourage you to give ratio baking a try - it gives you the freedom to make a reality nearly any food idea you have in your head. I have a list of the rally posts in their own category in the index.

I was in for some serious work with the homemade pasta challenge. Prior to a few weeks ago, I'd never attempted homemade pasta even with gluten. I'd always wanted to, but never did. And now I was going to make it gluten-free having no firsthand experience with the way it was "supposed" to be done.

I still have a long way to go before any kind of perfection, but I can safely say that I eventually turned out a great-tasting pasta with a good texture that didn't fall apart during or after cooking and didn't get mushy. The entire family agreed it was good stuff.

I learned three major things in this pasta-making challenge:
1. If you don't have a pasta roller, you can forget about your workout that day because you'll get a good one rolling your pasta.
2. It's most definitely worth the extra work
3. I need a pasta roller

You see, without a pasta roller I just couldn't get the pasta rolled quite thin enough to suit me. So you'll notice it's a little thick - though not nearly as thick as the first trial! I ultimately got the best luck rolling it between parchment paper, but it still didn't get as thin as I wanted it. It worked, though, and was definitely edible.

You may also notice that some of the pieces aren't very long. I got careless a few times during my rolling and let the paper bunch up a little and crease. When I tried to peel the pasta off the paper, sometimes it broke along the creased areas. Also, the dough wasn't rolled out in an even length, so I had some short sides.

I called this "fettuccine" but in reality some of the noodles are much wider and some much more narrow than that. (I need a pasta cutter, too!) I cut the noodles using a smaller pizza wheel, but I never have been good at straight lines. I honestly don't think I could draw one if I had a million bucks at stake. Bottom line is, it's pasta. You can cut it/shape it any way you choose. I thought about attempting a ravioli, but I decided I just wanted this to be simple. I needed this to be simple. 

And I wanted to get the true taste of the pasta, so I served it in a simple way without sauce. There will be plenty of time in the future for me to play around with more homemade pasta creations - starting with some of the recipes from my fellow rally bloggers. After I get a roller.

I used Michael Ruhlman's pasta dough ratio of 3 parts flour: 2 parts egg for this recipe (9 ounces flour: 6 ounces egg).

I'm not even going to attempt giving you a projected prep time for this because it's going to entirely depend on whether you have a pasta roller or are using a rolling pin, how familiar you are with making pasta and whether you have kids running through your kitchen, among other things. The cook time will also vary according to how thin you are able to roll your pasta, so I'll only give an estimate.

Multi-Grain Fettuccine
1 oz. tapioca starch (29 grams)
1 1/2 oz. teff flour (43 grams)
2 oz. sweet rice flour (57 grams)
4 1/2 oz. brown rice flour (128 grams)
6 oz. eggs (3 large eggs)
1/4 oz. extra virgin olive oil (6 grams, or 1/2 tbsp.)
1/2 oz. water (14 grams, or 1 tbsp.)

(The topping I used is simply some zucchini sliced into sticks and sauteed in some extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt, and seasoned with black pepper. I placed it on top of the pasta and topped the zucchini with grated parmesan. It was fantastic.)

Sift flours together in large bowl and make a well in the center. 

Add oil, water and eggs into the well and begin to incorporate the liquids into the flour. I used my stand mixer with the dough hook for most of this, but Ruhlman suggests using your fingers to do all the mixing. I did end up using my fingers and hands after most of the liquid was absorbed.

When the dough is at a good consistency, make a disk out of it, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

Cut into 4 equal pieces and roll dough out between two sheets of parchment paper or in a pasta roller as thin as you'd like it. Cut using a pastry cutter or small pizza wheel, or pasta machine.

Have ready a large pot of well-salted boiling water with some olive oil in it, and place pasta into boiling water. Cook until al dente or as tender as you'd like it. My cooking time varied between about 4 minutes to 9 minutes, and all of the pasta held up well.

Drain pasta when finished cooking and then toss with a little olive oil. Top with whatever you desire.


And don't forget to check out all the other delicious homemade, gluten-free pasta recipes posted in Jenn's post! (And thank you, Jenn!)

Brooke from B & the Boy! made Ravioli w/strawberry filling and chocolate berry sauce
Caneel from Mama Me Gluten Free made Multi-grain fettuccine
Charissa from Zest Bakery made Linguini with smoked salmon and creamy vodka sauce 
Erin from The Sensitive Epicure made Ravioli w/ shrimp, spinach, mushrooms, & cheese filling in browned butter
Gretchen from Kumquat made Vegetable lasagna
Jenn from Jenn Cuisine made Tagliatelle with smoked salmon, peas and parmesan
Lisa from Gluten Free Canteen made Lokshen kugel
Karen from Cooking Gluten Free made Homemade gluten free pasta
Mary Fran from Frannycakes made Pasta with pink vodka sauce
Meaghan from The Wicked Good Vegan made Vegan gluten-free homemade pasta, in creamy artichoke tagliatelle
Meg from Gluten-Free Boulangerie made Fettuccine with sun-dried tomatoes
Pete and Kelli from No Gluten, No Problem made Tortellini
Shauna of Gluten Free Girl made Gluten free fresh pasta
Silvana from Silvana’s Kitchen made Lemon-poppy pasta with tomato, corn and basil
Tara from A Baking Life made Fazzoletti with wild mushrooms and spring onions
TR from No One Likes Crumbley Cookies made Tomato basil pork raviolis

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Apricot-Cherry Slab Pie

Summer is a great time for pie - fresh fruit pies and cool cream pies. Since we've been gluten-free, I haven't really made too many of these great summer pies. I've made plenty of "cold weather" pies like pecan, pumpkin and apple, but had kind of forgotten about making pie for my family for no other reason than "just because" on a lazy warm afternoon. Until now.

People from all over are sharing photos and recipes of pie for a virtual pie party today. Shauna James Ahern from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef is hosting the event over on facebook and wrote this inspirational post last week about making, and eating, pie.

After I read Shauna's post, I decided I needed to participate and make a pie, too. I didn't want to miss out on the party!

I first thought I'd make a Nestle Tollhouse pie. I haven't had one in a long time and have been thinking about making one. I can't even remember the last time I ate one - it was either at a restaurant or made by my mom or an aunt. I changed my mind, though, and remembered the slab pie. (I promise I'll make a Tollhouse pie at some point and post it, though.)

I love making slab pies because they are huge and serve many people, so they are great for parties and gatherings - great for the Fourth of July. You can cut it up any way you want, and you can even *kind of* eat it with your fingers if you so desire.

I made my first slab pie many years ago when I saw the recipe for an apricot-cherry slab pie in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. They have since published the recipe in their Our Best Recipes cookbook.

It's one of those pies that is great warm, especially with some vanilla ice cream on top, but (in my opinion) tastes even better the next day. It's an informal pie, and tastes perfectly delicious.

I've changed this recipe almost completely. Aside from making the crust gluten-free, the original recipe calls for canned fruit but there were such lovely fresh cherries and apricots in the store the other day, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to use fresh fruit.

Making a pie should not be frustrating. I repeat: It should not be frustrating. You need to enjoy it. Keep it simple. Put love into it. Don't let it intimidate you - the crust doesn't have to be hard. As Shauna says in her pie party post, use a mix or buy a frozen crust, whatever you choose, just make the pie.

But did I follow that advice when I started to work on my slab pie for the pie party? Noooo ...

I started out with the flour, choosing the blend I thought would taste best, and went on to cutting in the butter ... When we ate gluten, I made the best pie crusts. They were buttery, flaky, delicious. Some flour, some butter, some water, cut it, mix it, roll it. Good crust. This crust, however, is a little different. This crust uses some egg and some milk. And in my distractions while making the crust, I got careless and didn't use my head. I forgot that I was working with gluten-free grains and followed the liquid proportion exactly as written rather than adding just enough.

Complete disaster.

The pie crust dough couldn't be rolled. (And at this point I'm kicking myself for not taking a photo of it so you can see what I'm talking about, but I didn't think I was going to use it.) A gushy mess. I tried adding more starch and flour, to no avail. I wanted to cry. All that flour and butter, gone to waste. If I used it, I could probably make a good cobbler out of it. I was quite irritated with myself for being so careless ... and I was forgetting to have fun in the process.

Many deep breaths and an hour or so later, I decided those ingredients would not go to waste. I had put the mess in the refrigerator and pulled it back out. I took a little in my hands and pressed it thin. It was a dough, that might even work for a pie. I just wouldn't be able to roll it.

So, I pressed the dough into the pan, filled it and then had to flatten small pieces at a time and lay them on top of the fruit. (See the photos? It's pretty obvious!) Because I couldn't roll the dough, I also ran out for a large section in the middle of the pie (I had decided to lay pieces from both ends and work inward). See the large section that is smoother than the rest? That's it - I quickly grabbed some Pamela's bread mix and flour blend, poured some in a bowl, literally pinched off a bit of butter from a stick in the fridge, cut it in and then added a tad of water and made a dough - that I could roll - for the remaining gap.

So no, it's not the prettiest pie in the party. But it's good. It's really good. And the crust still worked out well in the taste and texture departments.

You see, keep it simple. Keep it fun. If it tastes good, that's all anyone cares about.

I'm not giving a projected prep time for this recipe, due to my mess described above. And I'm going to give you the crust recipe, with less liquid, because it's a really good crust for this pie. But use whatever crust you are comfortable with for this pie, or any pie. Keep the joy in it!

Bake time: 50 minutes to an hour
(If you are making your own crust, use whatever flours you wish, in the same proportions - these are the flours I chose to use and they made a great-tasting crust)
105 grams (3 3/4 oz.) almond flour
56 grams (2 oz.) sweet rice flour
29 grams (1 oz.) teff flour
96 grams (3 3/8 oz.) brown rice flour
28 grams (1 oz.) white rice flour
67 grams (2 3/8 oz.) tapioca starch
30 grams (1 oz.) potato starch
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and kept very cold
1 egg yolk

(I weighed the fruit after removing the pits)
1 lb. pitted and halved fresh cherries (I used dark cherries that were a sweeter variety but not too sweet)
1 1/2 pound fresh apricots, halved and quartered, then cut the quarters in half
1 1/4 cup organic cane sugar
3 tbsp. tapioca starch

(Optional: You can make a simple vanilla glaze with powdered sugar, milk and pure vanilla to drizzle over this pie. I think it tastes just as good without.)

Sift flours and salt together.

Cut butter into flour using a pastry cutter, or a food processor with large capacity.

Place egg yolk into a measuring cup and fill with milk to 1/4 cup total. Mix into flour/butter mixture and slowly add a little more milk at a time until you get dough the consistency you want. (NOTE: This is an estimate on my part based on the mess I describe above. This is how I'm doing it next time.)

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Mix cut fruit together with sugar and tapioca starch in a large bowl.

Take about 2/3 of the dough and roll it out to fit over edges of a 15x10x1-inch baking pan (jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with higher sides) and pat it into place. (Remember my dough wasn't the way it was supposed to be, so it's probably going to look different than yours.) Because my dough wasn't the consistency I wanted, I baked it for five minutes at this point before putting the fruit on top of it.

Spoon fruit over crust.

Roll out remaining dough and place it over fruit. Bring bottom crust over top crust and pinch edges together. Prick surface all over with a fork. Again, because my dough was different, I was piecing it together and had plenty of holes already, so didn't need to prick it with a fork.

Not the prettiest, as explained above. But it's the taste that matters!
Bake at 375 degrees for about 50 minutes to an hour. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

It's equally good served warm, room temperature or cold. 

It's the just-right amount of sweetness and tartness. If you want it sweeter, serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy every bite!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Big Red Ice Cream and Independence Day

Making homemade ice cream is almost a necessary summer project. Hot days, cool treats. Mixing the ingredients and being forced to wait while the ice cream churns seems to make it taste even better when you finally get to eat it.

Many of my Fourth of July memories include homemade ice cream: My mom cooking up the custard to pour into the maker, me waiting -- not so patiently, for it to be ready and eating it until my mouth was frozen and my tummy felt sick. Watermelon, corn on the cob, something off the grill, or a table piled high with some kind of seafood ...

My children are missing out, a little, on making ice cream the "old-fashioned" way - with a hand-cranked maker filled to the brim with ice and salt. That's what I remember, then later an electric one that still had to be filled with ice and salt. I love my Cuisinart ice cream maker, though. So much less mess! Regardless of the type you choose to make your ice cream, just make ice cream! (Or sorbet, like this royal grapefruit and clementine sorbet.)

One of the things I love about making homemade ice cream is I can make any flavor I want, with any ingredients I want. I can make it as creamy as I want, or I can make it lactose-free, dairy-free, egg-free, whatever to my heart's desire. And always gluten-free.

I first tasted Big Red soda as a child while vacationing in Kentucky. My mom had worked in Kentucky one summer on a horse farm as a teenager and apparently drank Big Red a lot during her time there. She talked about the sweet beverage in a way that would make my little mouth water. When I got to taste the stuff, I wasn't disappointed. What was the flavor? A hint of strawberry in a touch of cream soda? Hard to tell.

Fast forward many, many years later and finding myself living in an area where Big Red was available everywhere I looked. I drank it often and grew tired of it. (I don't drink sodas very much anymore, anyway.)

Fast forward a few more years, to my first taste of Big Red ice cream when my mom made it several years ago. A friend had made it for her and then told her there were only three simple ingredients in the incredible concoction. Pure heaven.

What did it taste like? Almost exactly like a nectar sno ball from Zeke's stand in Plaquemine, Louisiana - a place we stopped by often when I was a young child. It's a little off the beaten path, but if you happen to be in the area during the summer, you need to stop by the little rainbow-striped stand (at least it was rainbow-striped the last time I was there - don't know if it is still) and get one of the best sno balls (snow cones) in the world. Nectar sno balls. Incredible.

I think if I had to pick a favorite flavor of ice cream - and I have a lot of well-loved flavors, it would probably be Big Red ice cream. A little bit is all you need - your mouth will quickly get too cold and numb to truly taste the flavors. This particular recipe is not dairy-free, but as someone who doesn't handle lactose very well anymore, I can say that I can eat small amounts of this ice cream without problems. And I love the fact that it contains three simple ingredients and it's so incredibly easy that a child could make it alone. (By the way, this is the same ice cream pictured at the top of each page with the cake.)

So, make ice cream this holiday. And don't forget why we celebrate Independence Day. Don't be one of those people who sits at the parade waiting for the candy and not acknowledging the reasons behind this holiday, ignoring those veterans as they pass by on a float with our flag, looking down the road for the next treat to be thrown. Celebrate your freedoms with family and friends, give your children a little history lesson, be thankful for your blessings and remember our country's leaders and military in your prayers.

And enjoy your food.

Big Red ice cream
Projected prep time: Under 5 minutes; Projected freeze time: Depends on your maker (the Cuisinart takes 35-50 minutes, depending on if the mixture is cold first or not)
For 1 1/2 quart maker
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk
24 oz. Big Red soda
(Note that you can replace Big Red with any other kind of soda in this recipe. Orange Crush is pretty good, too)

Mix all liquids together and, if desired, refrigerate until cold. (This isn't necessary, but does cut down on the time in the maker.)

Pour into maker according to instruction manual (Some makers like the Cuisinart call for you to turn the machine on before pouring the ingredients.) You may have some liquid left over that won't fit in your maker depending on the size.

Mix according to instructions for your maker, 35 to 50 minutes for Cuisinart.

When frozen, transfer to an airtight container and place in freezer until firm.

Or you could pour into a glass at this point and serve with a straw like a milkshake.

It's not the creamiest ice cream when it's firm, but it's sooo good.

Enjoy every bite!

Looking for other ice cream flavors? Try some of these -- they look wonderful!

Cinnamon ice cream from Simply Recipes
Nectarine ice cream with coconut milk from Karina at Gluten-Free Goddess
Vanilla ice cream from Michelle at What's Cooking with Kids
Chocolate ice cream from Alton Brown


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