What Life Dishes Out A Gluten Free and (almost) Vegetarian Cooking Blog

August 8, 2010

Hot Spinach, Artichoke & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:45 pm

I make this frequently whenever my friends and I get together for scrapbooking at my house.  The last time, between just three of us, and alongside a plate of warm blue corn tortilla chips, we finished the WHOLE dish!  I don’t even want to think about how many calories we each consumed!  We all now fondly refer to this as “The Evil Dip”!   But sometimes, it’s just SO darn good to be SO bad!

If you are daring enough to make this, you’ll need:

4 oz Cream Cheese

1/2 Cup Sour Cream

1/4 Cup Mayonnaise

1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese

2 Cloves Garlic, peeled and minced

1/2 tsp Dried Basil

1/4 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

1/8 tsp Pepper

1 – 14 oz Can Artichoke Hearts, drained

1 Roasted Red Pepper (I use Jarred)

1 Cup Cooked Spinach, drained and chopped (Frozen is okay, but be sure to thaw and drain well)

What to do:

Place Cream Cheese, Sour Cream, Mayonnaise, Parmesan Cheese, Minced Garlic, Basil, Garlic Powder, Salt and Pepper into a large bowl.

Mix well, either by hand or with a mixer. 

I opt for the latter because I don’t want my arms to become too well-defined. 

Okay, you got me…I’m just lazy.

Once mixed, scrape down sides of bowl.

Drain and chop Artichokes.

Add to the bowl.

Chop Roasted Red Pepper.

Add to the bowl, along with drained chopped spinach.

Using a spatula, fold all ingredients together until well combined.

Find your favorite oven-proof dish.

Bury the chicken.

Spread the dip evenly in the dish.

You can make this up to a day ahead, cover and store in the refrigerator.

About a half hour before you want to serve it, preheat  the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake uncovered about 20-30 minutes, until the top is bubbly and beginning to brown on the edges.

Serve the dip hot with sliced bread or tortilla chips.  

I like to throw my tortilla chips in the oven for the last 5 minutes of baking time so I can serve them warm as well.  It makes them taste like those freshly made chips you get at some of the mexican restaurants!  So yummy!!

August 2, 2010

There’s No Place Like Home

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 8:58 am

It’s after 10 p.m and we just arrived back from a long weekend away from home.  It’s a real rarity for us to ever leave The Compound, and although I certainly enjoyed the trip for my husband’s family reunion in beautiful Pennsylvania, I really missed being home.  I think I missed my kitchen and my own home-cooked meals the most.  We were certainly very comfortable staying with wonderful and hospitable relatives and we ate plenty of good food.  We even found a nearby bakery with Gluten-Free goodies for my son!   But I have to admit that I am just not too fond of change.   Dorothy summed it up best:  There is no place like home!  

On the long drive home to Michigan today, I dreamed of working in my kitchen and contemplated what I’d make for dinner tomorrow.  I know our garden will be overflowing from the days I missed harvesting.  Tomorrow morning, I’m likely to find beans nearly a foot long and gargantuan zucchini and yellow squash waiting for me.  My pepper plants will surely be tilting over from the weight of their sweet and spicy fruits.  I know there will also be basketfuls of cucumbers just begging to be transformed into pickles

We also bought an ice-cream maker last week and put off using it until after the reunion trip.  Maybe the super-sweet and nearly too-ripe garden strawberries and raspberries I pick tomorrow morning will go into our first icy cold batch of the sweet creamy stuff for our dessert tomorrow.

Whatever tomorrow’s harvest may bring, I will be so happy to be back sharing my kitchen endeavors here with you!  

July 19, 2010

That’s Amore! Gluten Free Pizza

Filed under: Breads,Uncategorized,Vegetarian — Tags: , , — admin @ 9:42 am

Update 11/18/2011 – Here is a message I received from my good friend Julie about making this crust right on a sandstone:

“I made the delicious pizza crust the other day, and I wanted to post that I had no problems making it directly on my sandstone. This is a well-seasoned sandstone, and I drizzled olive oil on it, rubbed it, then sprinkled a generous amount of corn meal on it, and I didn’t even need a spatula to lift off the pieces! it was a beautiful thing! And I have a really big sandstone, so I got to make one XL pizza…yum! Thanks so much for this amazing crust recipe!!! ♥ ♥ ♥”

Glad the recipe worked for you, Julie! :-)

This pizza dough recipe is adapted from Annalise Robert’s Focaccia Bread recipe from  her cookbook “Gluten Free Baking Classics”.  This is the only Gluten Free Cookbook I have ever purchased so far and it is well worth the $13.  Although it doesn’t have pictures, which is a big  deterrent for me with cookbooks, it does contain awesome no-fail recipes for things like Blueberry Muffins and Chocolate Fudge Cake.  She actually does have a pizza crust recipe in the book, but I’ve never tried it since I’m a firm believer in the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy and I already love this crust just the way I’ve been making it!

You’ll need:

Cooking Spray

Cornmeal (for dusting pans)

1Cup Millet Flour

1/2 Cup Sorghum Flour

1/2 Cup Cornstarch

1/2 Cup Tapioca Starch

1/2 Cup Potato Starch

(Note: The last time I made this, I omitted the Potato starch and used 1 cup Tapioca starch and the result was just as good as the original recipe)

2 tsp Xanthan Gum

1 tsp Salt

2 Tbsp Sugar

2 pkgs Instant Dry Yeast

1 1/2 Cups plus 2 Tbsp Warm Water (110 degrees is perfect to make the Yeast happy!)

2 tsp Olive Oil

What to do:

Lightly spray 2 -12″ pizza pans with cooking spray and dust with Cornmeal.

Combine all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl.

Add Water and Olive Oil and mix for one minute.  Then, scrape down sides of bowl.

Beat on high speed for two minutes.  When finished, dough will resemble thick cake batter.

Fill a large glass with hot water, and dip a metal spatula in.  This is going to be a BIG help to you in spreading the batter on the pans.

Divide dough between the two pans.

And, using the wettened spatula, spread the dough out to the edges of the pan.  Just pretend you are frosting a cake with really thick frosting!  You may need to clean and re-wet the spatula from time to time.

When you are done, it should look like this.  You can leave a little “ridge” on the edges which will help hold your toppings on.

Now, let rise for one hour.  I use an upside-down rubbermaid container as a “proofer” for my GF baking.  It works great!

The cover keeps the dough from drying out while rising, but doesn’t disturb the surface of the dough like plastic wrap would.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

(I also place baking stones in the oven to place the pans directly on.  This helps to crisp up the crust bottom.  Because of the consistency of the Gluten-free dough, you can’t bake directly on the stone.  However, if you want to go to the trouble, you can “finish” the pizza directly on the stone for the last few minutes of baking time by removing the whole pizza from the pan and sliding onto the stone.  I usually don’t bother with this step.)

Pre-bake the crust for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and spread a light coating of olive oil over the crust, avoiding the edges.  Then, top with sauce, cheese and desired vegetables or other toppings.

This is our pizza, topped with mushrooms (I like canned better on pizza), green pepper, red onion and fresh torn basil!

This is my sometimes veggie-phobic children’s plain pizza.

Bake an additional 15 minutes until cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Let cool for just a couple minutes before slicing.

Buon Appetito!

July 9, 2010

Fresh From the Garden…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — admin @ 4:44 pm

 

…and I have plans for these guys tonight!  Stay tuned!

July 4, 2010

Cooking became easier, and more fun, when I learned…

Filed under: Tips & Tricks,Uncategorized — Tags: , — admin @ 6:56 pm

(Note: This is my answer to Gluten Free Girl’s challenge to finish the above sentence.  I hope you enjoy it!)

…not to be afraid of failure.  

Early on (and way long before going Gluten-free), I used to become so discouraged when a recipe didn’t turn out like the photo in the cookbook.  I’d practically have a meltdown if I got past a step in the recipe and realized that I’d forgotten an ingredient.  I remember one particular time that I left the eggs out of the cookie dough and they were actually in the oven when I realized it!  You can imagine the results, and my embarassing attempts to add the eggs in AFTER baking.  Not pretty at all.  Now, when I have a bad result – and believe me, I still do – I at least can blame it on a newly-found poorly-written recipe, rather than on myself!

…practice makes perfect.

Through the years, as I’ve gained experience in the kitchen, I’ve also gained confidence.  This was no easy task.  When my husband and I were first married and returning home from our honeymoon, we found his mother had left a few meals in our fridge for us to just heat up in those first days of married life at home.  I guess she (bless her heart) realized that as newlyweds, we had better things (ahem) to do with our time than cook!   Anyway, it seemed easy enough to throw the pot on the stove and heat up the stew, but I even managed to burn our first meal at home!  Fortunately, my husband could cook, so we didn’t starve those early years. 

Several years later, when we moved out to the country, I could make a few dishes on my own, but for the most part, my husband was still the primary cook in the family.  This actually served quite well since when we had our first child he became the stay-at-home parent while I went off to the office each day.  I would come home to find a meal on the table, laundry done and a clean house.  I know – every woman’s dream, right?  Unfortunately, this made it too easy for me NOT to cook!

…to treat cooking like a hobby, not a job.   

As the kids grew, and once I began working from home, I had more time on my hands.  I used these hours to do those things I enjoyed: scrapbooking, gardening and even cooking!  Even though I wasn’t experienced at it, I still did enjoy cooking and relished those occasions when things turned out just right.  When I did have failures (like the aforementioned eggless cookie incident), I would just tell myself it was okay and try, try again.  Eventually, as I had more and more successes, I became more daring – trying things like Cream Puffs and Lemon Rice Soup.  At that time, I considered it a near superhuman feat to add raw eggs to anything hot and have it come out smooth and creamy, rather than curdly and lumpy!  

…recipes aren’t all that important!

Once my confidence was firmly in place, I was ready to venture into unknown territory.   Certainly, I would always use a recipe as a guide, but if I didn’t have a particular ingredient or spice, I’d freely substitute.  Some of my family’s favorites now were the result of a missing ingredient, substitution or improvisation of some sort.  My husband’s Love Soup was created entirely without a recipe!  He always just “eyeballed” the ingredient proportions, but when folks began asking for the recipe repeatedly, he finally had to pin down some measurements.   My (Nearly Famous) Spicy Szechwan Peanut Sauce was the co-mingling of several internet recipes combined with a lack of ingredients.  Yet, the result is perfection and an often requested recipe!   My Gluten Free Brownies are the adaptation of a recipe off the back of store-brand chocolate chips and Gluten Free Cream Puffs are an easy adaptation of my tried and true Cream Puff recipe that first built my cooking-confidence level many years ago.

…to accept (and believe) compliments about my cooking!

 

I’m the first to point out my own flaws.  That applies to every aspect of my life, not just my kitchen endeavors.  And it’s hard at first to quiet the comments that want to flow from my lips “Isn’t it too soft?  Too hard?  Too spicy?  What about the sauce – don’t you think it’s too thin?  No? Well then what about too thick?”  You get my drift, right?   But if somebody – particularly unsolicited – says something nice about something I’ve dished up – I have learned that a simple “Why, thank you!” is not only the most polite response but also much better on the ego! 

———

I’m really greatful to Gluten Free Girl for initiating this challenge.  It’s really been good to look back at the lessons I’ve learned which have proven themselves invaluable in my newer foray into Gluten Free cooking and baking.  I wouldn’t trade these experiences, both good and bad, because they are all part of the the wonderful journey that led me here, to this blog.  Now that I’m ready to share my story and my recipes with you, I just hope you can take away something that can be helpful to you in your own journey!

June 27, 2010

Back To The Grind

Filed under: Tips & Tricks,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 11:28 am

I’m out of my favorite Gluten Free Flour Mix again.

Time to get out the heavy artillery.

We ordered this grinder last year, just a couple months after going Gluten Free.  We figured that  although it was expensive, it would pay for itself over time since GF Flours are not cheap. 

We purchased it online at:

http://www.fernsnutrition.com/

We buy our brown rice in bulk at Costco.  This bag runs about $13.  It’s organic, too!

We grind about 8 cups of rice at a time, which translates into about 12 cups of flour.  This amount of flour will last us at least a few weeks depending upon how much baking is done.  I’m convinced that grinding our own rice makes a big difference in the outcome of my baked goods. 

I just store the flour in ziploc freezer bags in my cupboard or refrigerator, depending on how quickly I think it will be used.

The process itself is easy.

Pour the rice into the hopper.

Place the lid on and turn on the machine by moving the lower knob clockwise. 

The lower knob adjusts the rate at which the grain falls.  Smaller seeds (amaranth, quinoa) would require the knob to be closer to the “fine” side, but with larger grains, like the short grain brown rice, it’s necessary to turn closer to the “coarse” end or else the opening in the bottom of the hopper will not be large enough for the grain to fall into the grinding mechanism.

This is how we keep it adjusted for our brown rice flour:

This gives us a nice, fine grind.  If you do grind the flour too coarse, your baked goods will be gritty.  This is a problem with many of the commercial rice flours on the market. 

It’s going to take some time for the rice to be ground.  The machine is VERY loud and there will be some dust created.  If this is a concern to you, the grinder can be moved into the garage our outside to run.  Just keep an eye on it, so you know when all the rice has moved through.  The machine will start to whine a bit when the hopper is empty.  The 8 cups of this type rice takes about 10-15 minutes to grind.

When the milling is complete, you should have nice fluffy, powdery flour:

Package it up, or mix it with starches to make an all-purpose flour mix. 

This is my favorite mix:

Annalise Roberts Brown Rice Flour Mix

from www.foodphilosopher.com

2 parts Brown Rice Flour

2/3 part Potato Starch

1/3 part Tapioca Starch (aka Tapioca Flour)

Whisk the flours together and store in an airtight container.

June 26, 2010

Gluten Free Brownies

Filed under: Chocolate,Desserts,Recipes,Uncategorized,Vegetarian — Tags: , , — admin @ 11:18 am

This recipe is adapted to be Gluten Free from the Brownie recipe on the back of a Meijer Chocolate Chips bag.   These were my favorite brownies before going GF, and they remain just as good as the original after removing the wheat flour.  These are great with a tall glass of cold milk, or as a base for an awesome Brownie Hot Fudge Sundae.  Just top with Vanilla Ice Cream, Hot Fudge (We love Sanders!) and whipped cream.   What a treat!

You’ll need:

2 Cups Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

2/3 Cup Gluten Free Flour  Mix

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Salt

3/4 tsp Xanthan Gum

1/3 Cup Butter, Softened

1/4 Cup packed Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup White Sugar

2 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8 x 8 baking dish.

2) Melt 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips  in microwave on high power for one minute.  Stir until completely melted.

2) In small bowl, combine 2/3 cup Gluten Free Flour Mix (I use Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose GF Flour), 1/2 tsp Baking Powder, 1/4 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp Xanthan Gum.

3) In mixing bowl, combine 1/3 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar and 1/2 white sugar.  Beat until fluffy. 

4) Add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla to butter mixture.  Beat well.

5) Slowly stir in melted chocolate. Blend.

6) Slowly add flour mixture to chocolate mixture.  Stir until smooth.

7) Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips and 1/2 cup nuts, if desired.

8 ) Spread batter in prepared pan.

9) Bake for 30-35 minutes.  Cool and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

10) Cool and cut into squares.

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