Archive for August, 2010

Why I Love T.J.’s Giveaway

First, I think it’s important to tell you that this post is in no way sponsored by Trader Joe’s.  I just love shopping there and – especially for those of you who may not have yet had the experience – I want to share with you what I love about the store and the products that are always in my cart on the days I visit – like today when I picked up a little something extra specifically for this giveaway!

We’ve been shopping at Trader Joe’s for a few years, from around the time our diet became more “specialized”.  It’s one of a few places we make a nearly weekly visit to for groceries.  We don’t buy many prepared foods, but of the few that we do, most come from TJ’s.  I love that they are great about listing ingredients specifically.  I rarely see those vague words like “natural flavors” or “enzymes”.  When I do have a question about a product, the staff is incredibly helpful about finding the answers I need.  But usually, their labeling makes it very easy to figure out what isn’t in the food, without even having to read the ingredient list. 

They’ve got this cool symbol system:

  • No GlutenNo Gluten
  • VeganVegan
  • VegetarianVegetarian
  • Fat FreeFat Free
  • Quick MealQuick Meal
  • KosherKosher
  • Low SodiumSodium
  • There are some foods that might fall into the No Gluten, Vegan or Vegetarian category that aren’t labeled, sometimes just because of the contamination concerns there may be.  Those are the products on which you’ll typically see the statement “Processed in a facility that also processes…”.  But they also have specific product lists to help you shop if you have dietary concerns.

    Are You Avoiding Gluten?

    Are You Not Eating Animals and/or Animal Products?

    They even have a Vegetarian (Non-Animal Rennet) Cheese List:

    There are also product lists for Fat Free, Low Sodium and Kosher foods.  Joe makes it easy for everyone. 

    Okay, now that you have been through orientation, let’s check out some of what’s in my bag from Joe’s.

    First, we have Gluten Free Rice Mac and Cheese.  No artifical colors or flavors and easy enough for my kids to make for themselves, which is a great thing!

    In my humble opinion, TJ’s is the best place to buy all your Gluten-Free Pasta.  There’s Spaghetti, Fusilli, Penne and Asian-Style Rice Noodles available.  All in one-pound bags for under $2/bag!  Gluten-Free Pasta doesn’t get any cheaper than that!

    My favorite healthy and great-tasting rice comes from Trader Joes as well.  This is what usually sits beneath my Spicy Lentil Dal

    Got a sweet tooth?  Their Cocoa Powder, at $1.99, is a great deal.  Midnight Moo Chocolate Syrup is one of my kiddos’ favorite ice-cream toppings, and check out these instant puddings!  Not only are they great-tasting, easy and gluten-free, the boxes are super cool and retro-looking!  Try this pudding spread atop chunks of Gluten Free Brownies, and topped fresh whipped cream for a great fancy trifle dessert for your next party!

    These Rice Noodle Soup Bowls are great for lunches at work, or take-alongs just in case there are no gluten-free foods available at your destination.  My son frequently carries these along when we are dining at others’ homes.  He can add water and microwave a meal all by himself in minutes.  And they are only 99 cents each!

    I like Joe’s cheeses and we recently started buying the Applegate Farms Lunchmeats at Trader Joes.  It had been a very long time since we’d eaten any kind of lunchmeat, but these are all nitrate-free, gluten-free turkey meats, all from vegetarian-fed birds.  These make great sandwiches, especially on the Multi-Seed Flatbread Wraps that I make.

    I love Trader Joe’s Caesar Dressing drizzled over Romaine Lettuce with a little Parmesan Cheese, freshly-ground Black Pepper and Gluten-Free Croutons (made from my Gluten Free Sandwich Bread) on top.  Joe’s has a nice selection of Olive’s too.  These Kalamata Olives are great atop my Mediterranean Restaurant Style Greek Salad, and the Coconut Milk is an important ingredient in my Spicy Lentil Dal.

    Trader Joe’s isn’t a large store, but a large portion of the store is devoted to Beer and Wine.  The selection is HUGE.  My choice is always the Two-Buck Chuck (really it’s $2.99 a bottle where I live, but I think it still runs $1.99 in California where TJ’s originated and the wine is bottled).

    Even though they’re inexpensive, Charles Shaw wines have actually won taste-test awards when pitted against much more costly wines.

    They have a great selection of cheeses and crackers that would be  perfect served alongside that bottle of wine, too.

    Not a wine drinker?  There’s a big selection of nuts that would work really well beside one of their Craft Beers.  Barring any allergies, you MUST try the Blister Peanuts!  The Honey Roasted ones though, I recommend you not try, because they are highly addictive!

    It’s  not just about the food and the drink either.  TJ’s carries fresh cut flowers and potted plants at really good prices.  They have green cleaning products and even pet food.  

    They also have vitamins and natural health and beauty products for the cost-conscious consumer.

    So, there you have it.  Of course, this is by no means an all-encompassing list of the great finds at Joes.   There are also quite a few non-gluten-free items I love from there (Everything Bagels!!!  Frozen Garlic Naan!!!  Seeded Flatbread Crackers!!!) but I don’t want to torture the gluten-intolerant among you.  I’m considerate like that.

    I could go on and on about TJ’s.  I know…I already have. :-)  But go see for yourself if you aren’t already a Joe’s shopper.  I think you’ll thank me.

    For your chance to try a few of these and other great T.J.’s products on my dime, you must:

    1) Leave a comment to this post letting me know which items I’ve shared about sound good to you.  If you have been to Trader Joes before and have your own favorites already, you can tell me about that instead. 


    2) Subscribe to this Blog by entering your e-mail address at the top right of my home page.  This way you’ll know when the winner is annouced.  Don’t worry, I won’t share or sell your e-mail address with anyone.  Please be sure to complete the activation of your subscription when you receive the confirmation e-mail!  (If you are already an activated subscriber, you don’t need to complete this step.)

    The winner will receive a $10 gift card to Trader Joe’s, and I’ll even throw in a copy of the latest Fearless Flyer (Described by Trader Joe himself as a “Cross between Consumer Reports and Mad Magazine”) for your reading pleasure.  One entry per e-mail address, please.  All entries must be completed by Midnight ET on Friday, September 3rd.  I’ll randomly pick the winner, lottery style, and will announce the results on Saturday September 4th. 

    Good Luck and Happy Shopping!!

    You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten Free “Mock Wheat” Bread

    The sun came out, the birds started singing and I just about fell flat over when I tasted this amazing bread!

    Admittedly, it’s been a while since my son actually ate wheat bread, but he insisted this tastes just like he remembers.  I took a bite myself and sure enough, it has that almost nutty flavor that you get with a wheat-based loaf.  I had tried a mock wheat bread recipe a long while ago, but although it tasted pretty good, the bread was a flop, quite literally. 

    This time, I used my regular Gluten Free Sandwich Bread recipe and then tweaked the flour mixtures to include a little bit of Teff, which was one of the flours in that wheaty-tasting but badly formed loaf I’d tried previously.

    I just love it when my experiments work out!

    Look!  No sinking!

    Cuting into it and suprisingly, it actually looks like REAL bread!  Just look at those air bubbles!

    To make this – and trust me, you really want to make this – you’ll need:

    2 1/2 Cups Brown Rice Flour Mix*

    1/3 Cup Cornstarch

    1/3 Cup Teff Flour

    2/3 Cup Dry Milk Powder

    1 Tbsp Xanthan Gum

    1 tsp Salt

    1 Pkg Active Dry Yeast

    1 3/4 Cups Warm Water (110 degrees)

    2 Tbsp Canola Oil

    2 Large Eggs

    *(Brown Rice Flour Mix – 2 parts Brown Rice Flour, 1/3 part Tapioca Starch, 2/3 part Potato Starch)

    What to do:

    Lightly grease (I used Canola Oil) a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and line with Parchment Paper.

    Place all dry ingredients into large mixing bowl.

    Whisk together until combined.

    Pour dry ingredients into bowl of stand mixer, and add Water, Canola Oil and Eggs. 

    Mix until combined, scrape down sides of bowl with spatula, then mix on high speed for 5 minutes.

    Spread into prepared pan.

    Cover with plastic wrap which has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

    Let rise for about an hour, or just until dough reaches top of pan.

    Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Remove plastic wrap and bake for 55 – 60 minutes, or until instant read thermometer measures 208 degrees.

    Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for 5 minutes.

    Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack before slicing.

    Spread with butter and jam or eat as is.  This bread toasts really well, too. 

    I am absolutely certain that this loaf will become our new “everyday” bread around here!  I hope you like it, too!

    Super Savory Summer Salsa

    No joke – this fresh and tasty salsa will have you slurping what’s left in the bowl after you’ve scooped up all the chunky stuff with your chips!   I’ve made this over several summers now, and we never tire of it.  In fact, it’s the first recipe I think of when my garden tomatoes start turning red!  We can’t keep this stuff in the house.  I made a big bowl a few evenings ago and it was finished by the next night.  I made another big bowl last night, and it’s nearly gone again!


    You’ll need:

    3 – 5 Tomatoes, to make 2-3 Cups Chopped (I used a mix of Roma and Slicing Tomatoes)

    2 Slices Red Onion, quartered

    2 Cloves Garlic, peeled

    1/4 Green or Red Pepper

    1-3 Jalapeno or Serrano Peppers, seeded (If you like it really spicy, leave in the seeds)

    2 tsp Sugar

    1 tsp Salt

    1/2 tsp Cumin

    Juice of 1 Lime

    1/4 cup Chopped Fresh Cilantro

    What to do:

    Place Onion, Garlic, and Peppers into bowl of your Food Processor.

    Pulse until minced fine, then set aside.

    Chop tomatoes and place in a large bowl.

    Add Pepper mixture to bowl.

    Add Sugar, Salt and Cumin.

    Add Lime Juice,

    and finally, Cilantro.

    Mix together until well combined, and – if you can help yourself – wait at least a half an hour before serving.

    Okay…maybe just one taste now!

    For a special treat, warm up your tortilla chips for a few minutes in the oven (350 degrees) before serving.


    Mediterranean Restaurant Style Greek Salad & Dressing

    We used to visit a local chain of Lebanese Restaurants on the very rare occasions we dined out.  With a wide-range of vegetarian options on the menu, and really fresh ingredients, we were never dissapointed.  Besides, there was to-die-for-fresh-stone-oven-baked pita breads which they would bring to the table basket after basket so we could dip to our heart’s content in garlic spread, olive salsa, Hummus and Baba Ghanoush.   A visit there now would be absolute torture for the Gluten-Free member of our family, who would formerly eat his weight in pita breads on our visits!  So, the  only solution, short of trading him in for a gluten-tolerant child, was to learn to recreate all our favorites from the restaurant at home.  

    Let’s start with the Greek Salad. 

    We would always order two gargantuan-sized salads at the restaurant and split them with the kids.  Doused in a lemony-dressing, the taste is drastically unlike your typical coney-island-style greek salad, which usually consists of a couple of beets and sprinkling of feta atop some tasteless iceberg lettuce.

    Can we build it?  Yes, we can! 

    First, start with lettuce.  Shun the Iceberg.  This job calls for fresh, cold, crunchy Romaine.

    Top with Tomatoes and slivered Red Onion.

    Now, add good quality Feta Cheese, Beets, and Kalamata Olives.

    Now, for the special ingredient. 

    If you don’t want to share this secret with your friends when they ask for your recipe, that’s okay. 

    Your salad will always have that certain “Je Ne Sais Quoi”. 

    You’ll make friends and influence people around the world.

    Okay, not really. 

    But your Greek Salad will be better than all your friend’s Greek Salads.

    Chop up some fresh Parsley.  Just the leaves, not the stems.  Sprinkle it all over.

    You have no idea as to the magnitude of what you’d just done.

    For the final touch on the Salad, add a few Greek Pepperoncinis and chopped Cucumber.

    Make the Dressing. 

    You really should do this step ahead of making the salad so the flavors have at least a few minutes to blend together.  I’m a rebel though, who relishes in testing boundaries.

    Place 1/3 Cup fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice in a jar.

    Add 2 Tbsp Water, 2 cloves fresh minced garlic, 1 tsp Dried Oregano, 1/4 tsp Salt and 1/4 tsp Sugar.

    Cover and shake well.  Now, add 6 Tbsp Olive Oil.

    Cover, shake until well blended and creamy.

    If you do make this ahead, be sure to give your jar a good shake before pouring the Dressing over your Salad

    This is really an easy, satisfying Salad to make at home for dinner, especially served beside Greek Lemon Rice Soup.

    Made in big bowl, this would also work well to feed a crowd at a potluck,  and I guarantee you’ll be asked for the recipe. 

    Now, whether you decide to share the secret, that’s between you and your conscience. 

    As for me, I’ll never tell!

    Multi Seed Flatbread Wraps – Gluten Free

    This is a variation of my Flexible, Foldable, Gluten Free Flatbread post.  But that wasn’t a step-by-step recipe AND that was only the basic version.  It’s time to go all Gourmet with it now!   This variation was inspired by my favorite Bagels from Trader Joes.  They are NOT Gluten-Free and are called “Everything” bagels and are topped with poppy seeds and garlic, among other things.  I absolutely LOVE sandwiches made on those bagels, but my poor GF son was missing out.  Thus, this recipe was born. 

     What you’ll need:

    1 cup fine brown rice flour (I grind my own, but you can use Arrowhead Mills brand since it’s extra finely ground)

    ½ cup tapioca starch

    2 Tbsp Sugar

    2 tsp Xanthan Gum

    1 Tbsp Instant Yeast Granules (or 1 pkg active dry yeast)

    1/2 tsp Salt

    ¾ cup Water

    1 tsp Cider Vinegar

    2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    2 Eggs

    What to do:

    Line a 9 x 13 Jelly Roll pan with parchment and lightly dust with rice flour, set aside.

    Place all dry ingredients into a medium bowl.

    Whisk together until well combined, then set aside.

    Heat water in a microwave-safe bowl or cup on high for about 30-45 seconds.

    It can’t be too hot. 

    It can’t be too cold. 

    It must be just right for Goldilocks…er, I mean for Yeast-ilocks.

    110 degrees is PERFECT.

    To the water add 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar,

    and 2 Tbsp Olive Oil.

    Pour water mixture into your mixing bowl and add 2 eggs.

    Mix to combine.

    Once wet ingredients are combined, slowly add dry ingredients a spoonful at a time.

    Scrape down sides of bowl,

    and beat on medium/high for 4 minutes. 

    Now, here’s a trick we also used for the Gluten Free Pizza

    Fill a tall glass with hot water and place a metal spatula inside.

    Scrape dough onto parchment lined pan.

    Using the wet spatula, spread dough over the parchment.

    You may need to keep wetting the spatula, to keep the dough from sticking. 

    Keep going.

    Go up until the edges of the parchment, but NOT touching the pan.  Like this:

    Once you have the full pan covered, use a fork to poke indentations all over the dough.

    Make like a chicken and PECK.

    Now, select your toppings.  I use Poppy Seeds, Sesame Seeded, Dried Onion, Dried Garlic and Caraway Seeds.

    You might use Rosemary and Sea Salt, Garlic and Parmesan, whatever.  The world is your oyster.

    Sprinkle the surface with your desired toppings.

    Cover (I use a Rubbermaid storage container turned upside down over pan as a “proofer”) and let rise for 35-40 minutes. 

    While waiting for dough to rise, preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    Your dough will puff up and it may appear to be an uneven thickness.  Don’t fret, that’s okay!

    Bake for 11-15 minutes (mine is usually ready at 12 minutes) or until the top is lightly browned. 

    Remove from pan, with parchment to acooling rack. 

    Remove parchment as soon as you can by rolling it up underneath the dough. 

    Keep rolling.

    And that’s how I roll. :-)  Or, unroll in this case.

    Once cooled, you can cut dough into desired-sized pieces.

    Both my boys love this bread and usually, while it’s still cooling, they’ll sneak off a corner or two of the rectangle, making it difficult for me to cut into nice neat pieces!

    I usually quarter the pan, by cutting with scissors in half and then in half again.

    Now, make a sandwich!  You know you want to!

    If you have any bread left (and I usually do, only because I double the recipe), you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer.  If you freeze it, be sure to separate the slices with waxed paper or parchment for easy removal.

    Please try this – I think this bread will be a favorite for you!

    Easy Ranch Dip and Dressing – Gluten Free

    I’ve always loved the taste of the Ranch Dressings I used to eat at restaurants.  No bottled dressings could ever come close.  I now realize it’s because the really good dressings were freshly made on site, and didn’t come from a bottle.  Now that I know the secret, I can make a great ranch dip and dressing at home, with no expensive envelope mixes, which I know will taste great and is Gluten Free, too!

    You’ll need: 

    1 Cup Sour Cream

    ½ tsp Dried Parsley

    ½ tsp Dried Dill

    ¼ tsp Garlic Powder

    ¼ tsp Onion Powder

    1/8 tsp Salt

    1/8 tsp Pepper

    Buttermilk (If you are making a Ranch Dressing, rather than a Ranch Dip) 

    Place all ingredients into a bowl.

    Stir until well mixed and refrigerate for at least one hour to allow flavors to blend.

    Serve with assorted raw vegetables.

    This dip can also easily be made into a great Buttermilk Ranch Dressing by thinning the mixture with Buttermilk until it reaches the desired consistency.

    Ree’s Blackberry Cheesecake – The Gluten Free Edition

    When I saw the photo of this cheesecake over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I just knew I’d be converting this recipe to Gluten Free, even though I’d never made a cheesecake before.   Although I wouldn’t say that my results were a total success – only because there are still a few changes I’d make to improve it next time – this was definitely a winner.  Tonight’s dinner guests at our house happily gobbled up their slices, and there were even a couple second helpings being passed around for the fast growing teenage boys in the group!

    Rather than list the recipe or take you through the full step-by-step  – because you can just follow Ree’s recipe and step-by-step photos here – I’ll just tell you the changes I made to convert this recipe to be friendly for the Gluten intolerant, and I’ll point out the changes I’d make to the recipe next time to improve the results.

    First, for the crust we obviously didn’t use Nilla Wafers as Ree did.  Instead, I used my Gluten Free Graham Crackers

    I used enough Grahams to make about 2 cups of crumbs, plus the 1/2 cup of pecans.  However, I think next time I’ll cut back on the melted butter just a bit, and maybe use just 3/4 of a stick.  My crumbs were a bit too moist and I even experienced butter dripping from the bottom of my springform pan into the oven, which I ended up catching with a cookie sheet on the rack below. 

    Ree tells you to mix the eggs into the filling and to “beat them senseless”.   But what I found is that my cheesecake rose too high – like a souffle – and then fell.  The eggs should be blended well into the cream cheese/sugar mixture, but it should be done on lower speed so as not to beat too much air into the batter.

    Additionally, Ree’s recipe calls for a baking time of 1 hour, 10 minutes.  I think I should have pulled this out of the oven at about an hour instead.  My cheesecake top was way to brown when I pulled it from the oven.   After consulting the cheesecake experts online, I found that you really want to turn off the oven just before the cake looks set in the center.  The edges should be browning, but the center should still appear soft since the cake will continue to cook after you turn off the oven.  Just watch the baking time and turn off the oven when it looks like Ree’s photo of the baked cheesecake. 

    (I won’t show you a photo of my baked cheesecake before I topped it, as it may be too traumatic an experience for both of us.) 

    When I cooked the Blackberry topping, I found that I needed to add 1 Tbsp of Gluten Free Flour (I used Brown Rice Flour) to the berry mixture so that the liquid would thicken up and become syrupy. 

    Really, the saving grace for my cheesecake ended up being that berry topping.  I actually had planned to serve the topping separately in case somebody didn’t like berries, but instead I poured the topping onto the cooled cheesecake and it camoflauged my overcooked cake top very well.  

    Once it was topped, I chilled the finished cheesecake a few hours before running a knife around the edge and releasing it from the springform pan just before serving.

    Everybody thought the cake looked delicious and I thoroughly tortured our dinner guests by making them wait through a complete photo session before serving up their slices!   They all claimed it was worth the wait, though! 

    Hot Spinach, Artichoke & Roasted Red Pepper Dip

    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!!

    A Camping Necessity – Gluten Free Graham Crackers

    Tonight, we’ll be camping out for the first time this summer.  We’re not really going anywhere, since we rarely like to leave The Compound, so we’ll instead be setting up our tent right here in the yard. 

    No camping experience would be complete without a bonfire, and no bonfire would be complete without S’mores!

    So, today I’m making Gluten Free Grahams for our S’mores.  Would you like to join me?

    You’ll need:

    2 Cups Gluten Free All Purpose Flour*

    1/4 Cup Brown Rice Flour

    1/2 Cup packed Brown Sugar

    2 tsp Cinnamon

    1 tsp Baking Powder

    1/2 tsp Baking Soda

    1/2 tsp Salt

    1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum

    7 Tbsp Butter

    3 Tbsp Cold Water

    3 Tbsp Honey

    1 tsp Vanilla


    *Note: I normally use a blend of 2/3 Cup Garbanzo Flour, 2/3 Cup Tapioca Starch and 2/3 Cup Corn Starch, but I was out of the Garbanzo Flour so I substituted 2 Cups of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour, which is a Garbanzo based blend.  I didn’t notice any difference in the result!


    What to do:

    Line 2 Cookie Sheets with Parchment Paper and spray the paper lightly with Cooking Spray.

    Combine Flours, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Xantham Gum in a large bowl with a wire whisk.

    Cut Butter into small pieces.

    Using a Pastry Cutter, cut butter into flour mixture. 

    I usually give up and start using my hands to combined the butter and flour mixture.  Then, I finish up by using a wire whisk again. 

    When ready, it should look like this:

    Now, pour in water, honey and vanilla and using a wooden spoon stir ingredients until the mixture is well combined and forms a ball. 

    You may need to add a bit more Water, or more a bit more Brown Rice Flour if your dough is too dry or too sticky.

    This is what you are going for:

    Divide dough into two parts, wrap and refrigerate 1 hour.  I actually skipped cooling the dough today, but it does make it a bit easier to work with.

    You can form your Graham Crackers (my kids say they should really be called Graham Cookies!) a couple different ways. 

    Using another lightly sprayed piece of Parchment, roll the dough into a large rectangle on the cookie sheet between the paper.

    Carefully peel off the top layer of parchment, and using a knife, score the dough into squares. 

    Remove the rough edges of the dough  (you can save the scraps to form more crackers).

    Using a serving fork, prick a few rows of holes in each cracker.  Then sprinkle lightly all over with Sugar.

    Alternatively, for round crackers, you can roll 1 inch balls of dough and place on lightly sprayed parchment. 

    Using another sprayed piece of Parchment and a flat bottomed bowl, press each ball into a circle.

    Prick with a fork and sprinkle with Sugar.

    This is also a great way to use up those rough edges you removed from making the square crackers.

    Bake in a 325 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  The individual round cookies will take less time that the large sheet.

    Remove from oven and re-score along your previously cut lines by pressing straight down with a knife.

    Remove to a wire rack to cool.

    The edges are going to be crisp, but the centers remain a little soft, which I actually really like, especially for the S’mores because they don’t crumble apart when you bite into them like traditional gluten-filled boxed cookies.   If you prefer a crispier cracker, you can roll them thinner and/or bake them a bit longer. 

    My Gluten-Intolerant friend took some of these Grahams to her workplace to share and even the Gluten-eaters were asking for the recipe! 

    If you  – by some miracle – have any of these Grahams leftover, you can throw them in the freezer to save for making Graham Cracker Pie Crusts.  I actually have a bag in my freezer from a previous batch which I am expecting to soon turn into a Gluten-Free version of  The Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Cheesecake .  Doesn’t that just look dreamy???

    Love At First Bite: Walnut & Basil Pesto

    I thought I wouldn’t like it. 

    I had a somewhat vague recollection of trying Pesto years ago and from what I recalled, it was not a good experience.  But since I absolutely love Basil and Garlic, I figured it must have been the Pine Nuts that were the problem.  

    As I’m sure you know, Pine Nuts are expensive!  I wasn’t willing to shell out the dough to give it another whirl when I thought there was a pretty darn good chance I would just be repeating the bad experience I’d remembered!  So, when I saw this recipe suggesting that Walnuts be used as a substitute for Pine Nuts, I figured I’d finally give it another go. 

    This recipe comes from my friend Twinks over at Tasty Kitchen.  She was my first friend over at TK, and this is the first recipe I ever tried from that site. 

    I am so glad I did.

    You’ll need:

    2 Cups Basil Leaves, washed and stems removed

    3 Garlic Cloves, peeled

    1/4 tsp Salt

    1/2 Cup shredded or grated Parmesan Cheese

    1/4 Cup Walnuts

    1/3 Cup Olive Oil

    What to do:

    Place walnuts, garlic cloves and salt in bowl of food processor.

    Pulse until finely chopped.  Then, add olive oil.

    Add cheese and pulse slightly.

    Now add basil and pulse a few times again.  Scrape down sides of bowl.

    Replace cover and finish pulsing until well combined and finely chopped. 

    Remove to serving bowl and enjoy!

    You can spread this on bread like we did tonight, or toss with hot pasta.  Either way, I doubt you’ll have any leftovers.  We sure didn’t!