Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

"The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,“Glory to God in highest heaven and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
Luke 2:11-14 NLT

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gluten Free Lefse

It's time! It's finally time!

It's time for a Zimmerli family tradition (hmm perhaps it's a Synstelien tradition... Dad a little help on the origins please.) Either way.... it's time for lefse!

Last year I posted my southern twist on lefse. This year, I am gluten free. Because I love the tradition of lefse, I came up with a gluten free version that is just tender and flavorful as my dad's original recipe.

And once again- I caution you if you haven't ever made traditional lefse, learn from someone who knows how to prepare it. It takes years of practice and patience. But once you master it, your family will beg for it year after year.

Reheating gluten free lefse is a little more of a challenge because it naturally lacks gluten that holds it together. Adding xanthan gum helps to alleviate breaking and tearing.

For easy rewarming, I recommend putting one piece at a time in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. I fold my lefse before putting it in the fridge. If you do this as well, put the folded piece in the microwave, don't try to unfold it before you warm it or it will tear.

Before I send you off to make some delicious lefse- Charlie wanted to say hello from under "his" Christmas tree:

All the gifts have to stay on one side of the tree so he can go back into the corner to sleep and escape out the other side.

Rar! I am the keeper of the Christmas lights! (Fun fact: Charlie  has learned how to turn the lights on with the foot pedal switch so now we have to unplug the tree to prevent him from turning it on in the middle of the night.)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Gluten Free Lefse*
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen pieces

*This recipe is intended for those who already know how to cook basic lefse.

3 lbs potatoes (3-4 large)
1/4 cup skim milk
4 TBS butter
3 heavy pinches kosher salt
fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp xanthan gum
approximately 1 cup gluten free flour of your choice
1/4 cup tapioca flour
Additional tapioca flour for rolling out

Peel and cube potatoes. Put in a large pot and fill with cold water. Lightly salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes until fork tender. Immediately drain.

Run potatoes through a ricer or food mill.

Warm milk and butter until butter is fully melted. Pour into riced sweet potatoes. Stir in and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate, uncovered at least 4 hours until fully chilled.

Once chilled, add flours 1/2 cup at a time. Mix in until you've incorporated all the flour. You should have a soft dough that will still be slightly sticky.

Using tapioca flour- flour a large round pastry board. Pull a piece of dough the size of a golf ball. Dip in flour. Using a grooved rolling pin with a floured rolling pin sock, roll the dough out very thin. On my board I know it's thin enough when I can just barely make out the words on my pastry board.

Using a lefse stick, transfer lefse to your dry griddle. Cook 1-2 minutes per side until the bubbles are slightly golden. Do not overcook.

Move to a lefse cozy or between a few clean tea towels.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gluten Free Condensed Soup

I know I share a lot of recipes that contain condensed cream soups. And I try to note on them that you should always check your can to ensure it's gf.

But, I also know that purchasing gf condensed soups can be pricey(or unavailable). Therefore- I am going to share a recipe I stumbled on a few months ago and fell in love with. I originally found the recipe over on Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom. (Her recipes rock!)

It's super easy and it's made with things I always have in my house. I did tweak it a tiny bit to give it a longer shelf life. I used Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour in the last batch I made. Works like a dream.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Gluten-Free Magic Mix 

2 1/3 cups Dry Non-Instant Powdered Milk
1 cup Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour
Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. As with all gluten free flour blends- store in the refrigerator to maximize shelf life. 

Cream of Chicken Condensed soup

3/4 cup Gluten Free Magic Mix
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup gluten free Chicken Broth
1/4 cup diced, fully cooked chicken breast or canned chicken
3 TBS butter

Combine Magic Mix, onion powder, garlic powder, butter, and chicken broth to a saucepan. Mix well. 

Turn heat to medium and stir constantly until the mixture thickens.

Fold in 1/4 cup chopped chicken.
Use one recipe of this for each can of condensed cream of chicken soup called for in your recipe.

Cheesy Broccoli Soup

I have a well known love of soup. I am particularly fond of it when it's cold and rainy out.

The last week or so has been soup weather. We've had taco soup, tomato soup, and a brand new recipe- cheesy broccoli soup.

We served the cheesy broccoli soup with crusty gluten free ciabatta buns. The meal was wonderfully rustic- and simple. It was just what I needed during the busy Christmas season.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Cheesy Broccoli Soup

Serves 6

1 cup chopped onion  
2 garlic cloves, minced 
3 cups chicken or veggie broth (I used turkey broth that I made and froze at Thanksgiving)
1 (16-ounce) package broccoli florets 
 2 1/2 cups 1% reduced-fat milk 
1/3 cup all-purpose gluten free flour 
1/4 tsp black pepper 
8 oz Velveeta, cubed
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded 

Heat a large nonstick saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 3 minutes or until tender. Add broth and broccoli. Bring broccoli mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes.

Combine milk and flour, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture. Cook 5 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Stir in pepper. Remove from heat; add cheeses, stirring until cheese melts.

Place one-third of the soup in a blender or food processor, and process until smooth* Return pureed soup mixture to pan. Ladle into bowls and serve.

* I used my stick blender to puree the soup. I like mine to have some texture so I leave it fairly bumpy.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Easiest Turkey EVER

Ok, I know. I know. I said I'd be back more often and where have I been? Not here. I know.

But it's my crazy season kids! I work retail. It's the nature of the beast.

Take a peek at this little project- Our Advent calender for this year. Jon picked out the cute chubby penguin to mark the 25th. Even with a million and one things going on- there will always be time for arts and crafts!

This year for Thanksgiving at my parents house, we went semi non-traditional. I shared my recipe for corn bread stuffing with you in this post. I have a few more holiday recipes in upcoming blogs, so be on the lookout for those. 

Jon still had a hankering for a big turkey dinner. So, while the birds were still on sale for a great price, he picked one up. We have both been very busy with work and personal projects lately. As a result, big, family meals have been less than a priority than usual. We decided since we were both off- today was the day. Turkey day.

The best part of doing the whole meal today is I get to freeze some for future meals. And Jon gets turkey dinner leftovers for lunches- his favorite part of holiday meals. 

I found a recipe a few weeks ago I have been itching to try. It's a Trisha Yearwood recipe. It's a no-peek, hands-off recipe. I had to try it.

Here's how the day went:

I got the bird prepped and in the roaster. Cooked the turkey for 1 hour at 500. Turned it off and walked away. **Serious. Walk away (after you warn everyone in the house if they open the door the consequences will be dire...)**

We went to the beach and saw this amazingness-

Jon and I happened upon this beautiful picnic area with walking trails tucked into the trees along with beach.

I've never smelled the air so crisp, and clean as it was today.

Jon taking it all in

A sunset stroll on the beach. A perfect end to the day.

Ok! I had a day of fabulous relaxation. Walked over to the oven and took out  the "forgotten bird." Lifted the lid (braced myself in case I  just made a HUGE mistake...) And was completely wowed at the most beautiful bird I've ever cooked. I made Jon come into the kitchen and marvel at the moistness of the meat.

Made the rest of the fixin's and enjoyed a big meal with my hubby.

I love this recipe- I don't have to worry about basting or timing. It's perfect!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Easy No-Peek Turkey

1 (12-pound) turkey, completely thawed, all giblets removed
1 stick salted butter, softened
2 TBS garlic salt
2 tsp pepper
2 stalks celery, cut in lengths to fit turkey cavity
1 medium onion, cut in quarters
1 large carrot, chunked
2 cups boiling water or chicken stock

Adjust oven racks so covered roasting pan fits easily inside oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Rub butter on outside and in cavity of turkey. Sprinkle salt and pepper on outside of turkey. Put celery, onion, and carrot in cavity. Place turkey, breast side up, in a large roasting pan. Pour boiling water or chicken stock into pan. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and put pan in preheated oven.

Start a timer when oven temperature returns to 500 degrees F. Bake exactly 1 hour and turn off oven. Do not open oven door. Leave turkey in oven until oven cools completely; this may take 4 to 6 hours. (Mine  took about 5 hours) Carve as usual.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Bake

It's no secret Jon and I both have an affinity for all things "buffalo." When I was cruising around food blogs and I found this recipe on Holy Cannoli Recipes, I knew I had to try it asap.

I made minimal tweaks to the recipe to adapt it for my gluten free life style. It was delicious. Jon gave rave reviews.

We kept it very simple by serving the dish with a side of raw celery and carrot sticks. Easy, filling, and oh so satisfying!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures!

Buffalo Chicken Bake
Serves 6-8

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
1/3 cup Franks buffalo sauce
6 cups shredded potatoes
1 cup light ranch dressing
1/2 cup reduce fat cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (10 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup *
1/3 cup gluten free bread crumbs
1/4 tsp each- garlic powder, onion powder, garlic salt, black pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. 

Spray 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. 

In medium bowl, stir together chicken strips and buffalo sauce. Spoon into baking dish in a single layer. 

In the same bowl, stir together potatoes, dressing, cheese and soup. Spread over chicken. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over the top. Sprinkle with seasonings.

Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake 20 to 25 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender and juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

* As always- make sure you are using a gluten free cream of chicken soup if you don't make your own.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

GF Corn Bread Stuffing

Happy Belated Thanksgiving. My apologies on the tardiness of my greetings, but I was busy in retail land. AND spending time with the amazing family God has blessed me with. :)

I made something new this year for our family get together. This was my first major holiday as a gluten free girl in the kitchen.

We opted to go with corn bread instead of biscuits. So I scoured the web and found some very promising recipes.

I will admit to being a bit intimidated at the thought of feeding my family a recipe I hadn't ever made before. But, I went for it anyway. And I can tell you with certainty, I will be making this again my friends.

There were a few slices left over so I decided to try a scaled down batch of corn bread stuffing (ok, I know it was technically dressing since I didn't do it in a bird. Deal with it. LOL)

Mmmm Corn Bread Dressing

It was the most flavorful stuffing/dressing I have ever made! Completely from scratch. It was a tasty success. I have no problem making this dish for my next big holiday meal.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Gluten-Free Cornbread & Cornbread Stuffing

For the cornbread:
 1/2 cup all purpose gluten free flour (I used Hodgson Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix)
 ½ cup scant brown rice flour
2 TBS corn starch or tapioca starch
2 TBS packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum 
1 tsp salt
4 TBS butter, softened
1 1/2 TBS olive oil
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs or 1/2 cup egg beaters

Preheat the oven to 400F. 

Place a 9x9 baking pan in the oven.

Dry ingredients: Whisk together flour blend, rice flour, corn starch, brown sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Use your fingers to cut 2 TBS of butter into the flour mixture until it resembles the consistency of peas. Whisk in cornmeal. Set aside.

Wet Ingredients:  Whisk the buttermilk, eggs, oil, and 1 TBS melted butter together.

Dump the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until just combined. 

Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven. Place remaining 1 TBS butter in the bottom. Swirl to coat the bottom and sides.

Pour the cornbread batter into the hot dish and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and it tests clean with a toothpick.

Let cool slightly before slicing. Serve warm with room temperature butter. Wrap and freeze leftovers. Or let sit out overnight and make corn bread stuffing the next day.

Corn Bread Stuffing

1 recipe day old gluten-free cornbread, cut into small cubes and dried out (about 5 cups)
3 TBS butter
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2 ribs of celery sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp poultry seasoning (more if you like)
1/4 tsp each- garlic and onion powder
1 cup homemade chicken stock
1/3 cup chopped pecans, slightly toasted
1 small chicken breast, diced small or shredded
freshly ground black pepper & salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Melt butter over medium low heat. Add onion and celery. Cook for 5 minutes, add spices and  minced garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes or until celery is tender. Remove from heat and place into a large bowl.  

Add chicken and pecans to veggie mix.

Dump cornbread into the bowl. Add chicken stock. Gently mix so you don't tear up the bread. This is where you have to use your own judgment – you want the dressing to be wet but not soggy. You want just enough liquid so the bread can absorb it all but not so much that it's swimming in a puddle of broth.

Gently turn dressing into desired dish. Spread gently. A larger pan allows you to spread it for a thinner dressing. A smaller pan will produce a thicker dressing. The choice is yours.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 30 minutes, until top is golden brown and crispy.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Cookie Dough Dip

Who loves cookie dough?

Ok, better question who doesn't love cookie dough?

I stumbled on this recipe the other day while cruising around pintrest.  I knew I had to try it.

I am honestly lost for words on this one kids. Its healthy, but it's sooo good. All I can say is try it. You will love it. Your kids will love it.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Cookie Dough Dip

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter
2-3 TBS water or milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 to 3 TBS gluten free oats
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Add all ingredients (except for chocolate chips) to a blender or food processor, and blend until very smooth. Be sure to scape the sides down periodically.

Then mix in the chocolate chips.

Serve with sliced apples or a big spoon :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Quick Sauteed Fish

I love fishing. I have for as long as I can recall.

In fact- see that little girl lovingly wrapped around her grandpa's leg. Yep, that's me. I have spent more hours dangling my toes in the water and fishing off the end of that dock than I can count.

Grandpa Zimmy, me, and my brother-Adam fishing on Little Bass Lake
Over the years, the dock grew to include more sections to accommodate seating. It also allowed us to cast our lines right to the drop-off where the larger fish liked to hang out.(Truth be told- I still love the thrill of catching all the little fishies right off the edge of a dock) I loved sitting and relaxing with my so many important  men in my life- my grandpa, some of my uncles, my dad, my brother, and even my husband.

As I got older, I expanded my fishing trips to several other lakes and rivers in Northern Minnesota.  I have a handful of women that I love to head out onto the water with. As soon as my niece was old enough to hold a fishing pole, I started taking her out too.

I am proud to tell you- I can bait my own hook with a variety of bait and lures.I can tie several fishing knots. I can identify many fish by the markings. I can skillfully extract hooks that have been inhaled by over-eager fish. I can, and do clean all my own fish. And, I learned many these important skills from my Dad and my Grandpa Zimmy.

I can recall vividly, my Grandpa Spranger leaving to have fishing time aka alone time when I was a kid. Sometimes, he'd come back with a stringer full of fish, other times all he had was the pole he left with. But no matter what- he always had a smile on his face when he returned. It was only as I got older that I understood fishing wasn't just about the fish. It was about peace, quiet, and personal time with Jesus. He was after all, the greatest fisherman of all time- a true fisher of men. This, was another deeply meaningful lesson for me.

I am blessed to have great men in my life. Men who have taught me the importance of faith, family, and providing for those you love.

Sometimes, as I have told you before, my dad would grill the fish he caught. Other times, however, my mom would saute the fish. We aren't deep friers in my immediate family. So, I never really appreciated deep fried fish. My mom's fish was lightly coated and sauteed in a little olive oil that produced a crispy, crunchy, and flaky result.

Jon comes from the school of deep fried fish.(haha, get it-school of fish. Sorry, my own bad puns make me giggle.) But, the first time I made this for him he fell in love with it. It has an unexpected light lemony undertone. And when the picky fish eater is happy- you keep the recipe close at hand.

This recipe was another minor setback  when I went gluten free.  Her recipe called for 3 TBS of flour. I didn't want to use my all-purpose flour because I didn't want the soy flour I add to my mix to overpower the delicate fish. I opted for flavorless corn starch and corn meal. The coating was perfect. It gave the same results that mom's original recipe produced.

Jon had one recommendation- get more fish and make more soon. :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Quick Sauteed Fish

1 lb fish fillets- thawed if frozen*
2 TBS corn starch
2 TBS corn meal
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 TBS lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil

Rinse fish; pat dry. Arrange in a single layer on a plate. Sprinkle lemon juice over both sides of the fish. Let stand for 5 minutes. Pat dry.

Mix corn starch, corn meal, paprika, salt, and pepper together in a shallow dish. Dredge fish through the mixture, coating each piece well. Let sit on a wire cooling rack.

Meanwhile- spray a large skillet with cooking spray. Add oil. Heat to medium-high heat.

Once oil is hot, add fish to the pan- do not crowd the pan and do not move the fish once they are in the pan.(Moving the fish around will just cause your coating to come off the fish so leave it alone!) Cook 3-4 minutes per side until the coating is golden and crisp. The fish should flake easily with a fork but not fall apart. Transfer to a cooling rack that has been sprayed with cooking spray, cool slightly before serving.

* Tilapia, grouper, ocean perch, walleye, and pan fish are all great options for this recipe.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baked Apple Chips

I am always trying to get that sweet husband of mine to eat more fruits and veggies. It has been an ongoing battle challenge for years now. He willing eats what I put on his plate, but he hasn't gotten to the point where he goes out of his way to get them on his own.

To his credit, he willingly eats raw carrots, raw or cooked green beans, and baked beans. He even asks for them now :)

But fruit is still another story. He'll eat dehydrated fruit, but I don't always have time to make it/babysit the dehydrator.(No one likes overly dried fruit, and yes there is such a thing.) Store bought dehydrated fruit- particularly banana chips,  is often fried in a palm or coconut oil before it's actually dehydrated. Icky and not healthy!

A few years ago I introduced Jon to the world of baked apple chips. I have a few recipes, but the one I am going to share today is one of his favorites. It's one of the few fruit things he asks for every fall.

These are really simple, don't be scared by the lengthy instructions. There are only about 15-20 minutes of hands on prep work, the rest is either soaking or baking.

Oh hey! Before we bake some apple chips- let's see what Flat Stanley has been up to this week shall we?

Button Angels!
I caught him in my button collection making button angels the other day. His explanation? With no snow in southern Georgia he can't make snow angels, so he improvised.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Baked Apple Chips

3 medium apples
1 cup water
1/2-2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a medium sized pot with a lid- combine the sugar, water, and cinnamon. Bring to simmer. Stir to make sure all the sugar is dissolved.Set aside.

Core apples. (I have an apple coring tool, but you can use a paring knife to cut out just the core. You want the apples to remain whole.)

On a mandolin or with a sharp knife- slice the apples into 1/16 inch thick rings.

Put the apples into the warm syrup. Gently press the apples down so they are all coated well. Place the lid on the pot. Let the apples soak for 10 minutes.

Line two large sheet pans with foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray.

Remove the apples from the syrup one at a time, shaking off the excess. Line them up on the baking sheets. Don't overlap the slices.

Place oven racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 250.

Set one pan of apples on each rack. Bake for 30 minutes. Rotate pans so the top pan becomes the bottom pan and the bottom pan becomes the top. Bake 30 minutes. Flip all the apples over. Return to oven for 15-20 minutes longer.

The apples should be lightly browned. Once they cool, they will be nice and crisp.

Allow to cool completely before storing in a paper bag.

***Save the apple infused syrup for another batch of apples in the fridge OR use it to sweeten hot or cold tea.***

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Lasagna Soup, take 2

Lasagna soup is my all time favorite soup, no other soup even comes remotely close. I posted the recipe last winter when I discovered it. I have made it several times since then.

Then, I went gluten free. I was REALLY disappointed because the soup had cheese tortellini. Today I decided to give it a new twist.

I omitted the tortellini and added about a cup of diced butternut squash. It was. phenomenal. I like it better than the original recipe.

Jon agreed the new, more veggied up version is delicious. The fact that he loves when I put more veggies in a dish still confuses me to no end. This is the man who claims he can live by meat alone...

This soup gets better as it sits. The pasta will continue to suck up the broth even after cooking- when reheating leftovers simply add a little water or chicken stock to return it to a soup consistency.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Lasagna Soup- Gluten Free Version
Serves 4-6

8oz lean breakfast turkey sausage
1/4 cup minced onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
8oz tomato sauce
3 cups fresh spinach
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
2 tsp. basil + 2 tsp. oregano OR 4 tsp dry Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup diced butternut squash
3/4 cup gluten free pasta shapes- spirals or shells work best
diced or shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown the turkey, onion, and garlic together in a soup pot.

Add in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth. Add in the spices. Bring the soup to a light boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Cover and simmer soup for 30 minutes or longer.

Stir in the diced butternut squash. Simmer, covered for 10 minutes.

Add in the spinach and pasta. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat.

In the bottom of each serving bowl- sprinkle about 2 TBS of shredded cheese or a few small cubes of diced cheese. Ladle in soup. Top each bowl with additional cheese.

November Nachos

It's already November! Where does the time go?

In the last few weeks Jon and I have passed a few anniversaries- A year ago mid-October, we sold the majority of our "stuff," packed up what remained in a U-Haul pull behind trailer, said good-bye to our friends and family, and started a road trip across country. We landed in a town we didn't know, to a cute little condo we'd never actually seen before our arrival. (Thank goodness for the Internet! And  two wonderful parents who were willing to be our eyes and ears while we searched for the house God had set aside for us.)

Part of our move involved Jon transferring down to a new store and a new position, again where we knew no one. I am so proud of him! Side note on this one- Jon was apprehensive about the move until his transfer went through. When it did, it wasn't quite what we had expected. But he hung in there until God told us it was time for a new chapter. I am continually amazed at how God uses time and circumstances to bring us closer to himself as long as we are willing to trust Him.

With-in hours of our arrival to GA I applied for a job and received a call for an interview. I recently celebrated my 1 year anniversary with Michael's Arts & Crafts. :) And for this crafty girl, it's a wonderful job.

With a year of seasons under our belts, I am very happy with the move. I love the sun and there is plenty of it to go around down here. I must admit- in the summer I did long for some rain to break up all those blue skied days. When the rains did come, they were always welcome. I, unlike my husband, have become acclimated to the warmer temperatures. Most days now I have to bring a jacket to work- early days or later nights mean temperatures in the low 50's. Daytime temps of high 60's and low 70's are a far cry from the 105 degree days of summer. Another happy benefit of the cooler days? The windows stay open most of the time. YAY! (Great for us, apparently not for our kitty. Charlie was greeted by a neighbor dog licking the screen the other night. Needless to say he was less than thrilled for the company on the other side of the window.)

Another mini-anniversary for me? I have been gluten free for just over 4 months. It's been a challenge, but it's been fun. I have learned how to cook with new flours and baking mixes. I can adapt most supper recipes to gluten free versions. I've been able to keep family classics alive by tweaking just an ingredient or two. I feel blessed to have a good set of cooking skills and an openness to new techniques.

One thing I had to get used to while changing over to gf was non-traditional supper ideas. Sometimes you just need to change things up. I read a recipe for tater-tot nachos over on Lynn's Kitchen Adventures. I got to thinking, why don't we have traditional nachos for supper? It's a fun finger food, and they can be healthy for you.

I like to make a weekly menu list. I say list because I don't like my menu to be so rigid there is no room for real life. With a special diet and a grocery budget I need to have some organization, but I want some freedom to choose what fits best for that day. Here's a peek at this weeks list (Yes, there are more than 7 days on here, it allows for less grocery shopping trips. And I always make enough for leftovers for lunches):

-Homemade Phillys (Gf hoagies, thin sliced beef roast, onions, bell peppers, provolone), baked chips
-Lasagna Soup
-Loaded Nachos- build your own
- Pork Chops, mashed potatoes, corn
-Shrimp Pad Thai with rice noodles
-Grilled fish, grilled veggies or potatoes
- Chicken Quarters, salad
-Ham, gf pasta/veggie toss
-Build your own omelets, toast, fruit
-Jacksonville Fair Food

This gives me a broad range of supper plans while still having some clue what I can make when I get off work. It also allows Jon to be involved in what I prepare, and not eat my supper ingredients LOL.I leave a few of the meats open- pork chops, chicken quarters so we can decide that day if we want it breaded, grilled, broiled etc.

You'll notice fair food on the menu- we are heading to the Jacksonville, FL fair tomorrow with my parents for the evening. You can't go to the fair and not eat fair food. Jon is particularly excited about that one.

We chose to have nachos on Sunday night while watching football. Jon said it was a great "man day food."(Sunday has been deemed "Man Day" at our house in during football season.)

So, there you have it. A quick review of  some of our accomplishment anniversaries and a peek into my menu for the week.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Loaded Nachos

1 lb lean ground beef, pork, or chicken
1/2 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
1 envelope taco seasoning or fajita seasoning*
shredded lettuce
diced tomatoes
chopped banana peppers or jalapeno peppers- drained well
cheese sauce or shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream + milk
thicker tortilla chips- we like Mission tortilla strips (they are certified 100% corn chips with no wheat flour)

Brown meat, onion, and garlic together. Add seasoning and water according to package directions.

In a small bowl, mix sour cream with skim milk to thin. Add a tablespoon at a time until it is thin enough to drizzle off a spoon.

To build your nachos-

Make a layer of chips. Top with desired amount of meat.

If you are using shredded cheddar cheese- pop the nachos under the broiler to melt the cheese.  If you are using cheese sauce, drizzle over the meat mixture.

Load up the veggies! Top everything off with a drizzle of thinned sour cream. Enjoy immediately.

*If you don't make your own seasoning mix- be sure to check for gluten. Some brands do have thickening agents in them.

** I listed our favorite nacho veggies- but you can use whatever you like- olives, avocado, bell peppers, refried beans are all great additions.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cheesy Chicken two ways

Lately, I've been into comfort foods from my childhood. When I think of comfort foods, I think of the great times I spent in the kitchen with my parents. Cooking together. Talking and listening to one another. In short- the foods that inspire feelings of family love.

In the winter, my mom would make cheesy chicken roll ups. I love them! They are creamy and flavorful, but super easy to put together.

Over the years, I've played with the recipe to find different flavor combinations. I'm going to share my mom's original recipe as well as the one I use more frequently. They are both excellent!

Before I get to the food though- I'd like to introduce you to Flat Stanley.   He's the fun little fella checking out a few of my cookbooks.

Flat Stanley's Kitchen Adventure

I have a teacher friend, Mr. Hart, who is doing a unit on Flat Stanley. When he told me about this project, I knew I had to be a part of it. So, I was excited ecstatic when he asked me to participate. The crafty 12 year old in me just loves this sort of thing!

For more information on Flat Stanley, check out the official website.

The great thing about this project is that every teacher, parent, or group leader can tailor it to their own needs and wants. There are  a variety of templates, including digital characters available on the website.

After I finish with my project photos for Mr. Hart, I will likely continue to photograph additional Stanley adventures. It is a fun new way to look at the places you travel every day- through the eyes of a child.

Ok, on to the food! :)

Here's to you and your culinary adventures friends. Cheers!

Mom's Cheesy (Mushroom) Chicken Roll Ups
Serves 4

16 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 oz canned mushrooms, drained and roughly chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1 TBS fresh chives or 1 tsp dried chives
1 TBS fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried parsley
1 TBS pimento
1 TBS dry bread crumbs
1/8 tsp paprika
1 tsp sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut chicken into 4 even pieces. Place each piece between plastic wrap or in a plastic baggie. Pound to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Mix mushrooms, cheese, 1/4 cup sour cream, chives, parsley, and pimentos together in a small bowl.

Spread filling evenly over the 4 pieces of chicken. Roll up chicken and place seam side down on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray.

Brush each chicken roll up with remaining sour cream. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and paprika.

Bake 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

* Gluten free options:
1. Omit the bread crumbs all together.

2. Make your own gf bread crumbs by pulsing a slice of gf bread in a food processor.
3. If you are lucky enough to have store bought gf bread crumbs, use them :)

Becca's Cheesy(Bacon) Chicken Roll Ups
Serves 4

16 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
4 strips of turkey bacon, pan fried and roughly chopped
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
1/8 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 TBS pimento
1 TBS dry bread crumbs*
1/8 tsp paprika
1 tsp sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut chicken into 4 even pieces. Place each piece between plastic wrap or in a plastic baggie. Pound to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Mix bacon, cheese, 1/4 cup sour cream, garlic salt, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, cracked pepper, and pimentos together in a small bowl.

Spread filling evenly over the 4 pieces of chicken. Roll up chicken and place seam side down on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray.

Brush each chicken roll up with remaining sour cream. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and paprika.

Bake 25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

* Gluten free options:
1. Omit the bread crumbs all together. 2. Make your own gf bread crumbs by pulsing a slice of gf bread in a food processor.
3. If you are lucky enough to have store bought gf bread crumbs, use them :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Linguine Carbonara with Veggies

When I am flying solo for suppers, I like one pot pasta meals.

Tonight, I got home from work and I was hungry. I wanted something filling and good for me. But I needed it done in a hurry (those baked sour cream & cheddar ruffles were calling my name...)

I decided on a classic. My mom used to make linguine carbonara when I was growing up. It's creamy, salty, and simple. Pasta, ham, cheese. Yea, there is nothing bad about this dish.

Veggies, pasta, and creamy Parmesan sauce.
In the last few years I have opted to load it up with veggies for a filling, healthy meal. I listed the combination of veggies I love the most. But whatever you have on hand will work. The low heat and hot pasta gently cook the egg without scrambling it. Perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Linguine Carbonara with Veggies
Serves 2

3 oz linguine (I use gf spaghetti)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 TBS fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried
2 oz fully cooked, thin sliced ham. Sliced into strips

Add ins to taste-
cooked, chopped spinach
raw fresh mushrooms, sliced
diced fresh tomato
caramelized garlic and diced onion

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well. Immediately return to hot pan. Add the egg, parsley and cheese. Toss to evenly coat. Keep over low heat, add desired veggies and ham. Warm everything through.

Serve hot.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

Early in my high school days, my mom made scalloped potatoes.

From scratch.

I had no idea such a thing existed up until that point. All I knew were boxed scalloped potatoes, which tasted exactly the same as the boxed au gratin potatoes to me. And, honestly, I wasn't a huge fan.

So, when she came to the table with something similar to this:

Thick cut potatoes and diced ham soaking up  luscious creamy sauce
I was a bit surprised. There weren't any paper thin, slightly under-cooked potatoes (the re-hydrating process never really brings those dehydrated potatoes back to their former glory) swimming in an unnaturally colored orange sauce.

Instead, there were thick slices of tender russet potatoes from our garden. Little bits of onion, garlic, and mushroom. Large chunks of diced, meaty ham. And a topping it all off, just the right amount of freshly shredded cheddar cheese.

It was so flavorful. And the leftovers were even better. It was a recipe I had to add to my favorites cookbook when I moved away from home.

It remains of my favorite winter comfort foods to this day. Thank you, Mom!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Mom's Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
Serves 6

8-10 oz smoked ham, diced large
4 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thick
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, diced fine
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup*
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4-1/2 tsp dried Italian herbs
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Boil potatoes, onion, and garlic for 12-15 minutes. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sized bowl combine soup, sour cream, garlic salt, garlic powder, Italian herbs, cayenne, and pepper. Stir in half the cheese.

In a prepared casserole dish, layer potatoes, ham, and sour cream/soup mix. **Top with remaining cheese.

Microwave 5 minutes. Cover and bake 20 minutes until bubbly. Let stand 5-10 minutes to thicken before serving.

*If you are gf, be sure your cream of mushroom soup is gluten free. 

** My mom layers 1/2 the potatoes, 1/2 the ham, 1/2 the sauce, then repeat. I choose to do a single layer for quicker prep. In the dish in the photo I simply folded everything together and poured it in. Whichever way you choose is fine, just do what works for you. :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Happy Birthday to Jon

Today is a special day. It's my sweetheart's 33rd birthday! 

Everyone needs birthday cake, even when their spouse is gluten intolerant. So, thank you to Betty Crocker for making this delicious gluten free vanilla cake possible!

I was delighted to find the cake moist and smooth. It was a little more dense- reminiscent of a homemade pound cake, but that made me love it even more. I sliced the cake horizontally to make a layer cake with a chocolate fudge frosting in the middle.

The Betty Crocker Gluten Free dessert mixes are a little expensive. I paid $4.98 for a cake mix that makes a 9x9 cake. BUT, it was so worth it. We had real birthday cake that even I could enjoy. Everyone loved it, including our gluten loving guests. 

So, if you are looking for a genuine "birthday cake experience," spend the money, buy a gluten free cake mix. It's the little things that make a spectacular day even more special.

Happy Birthday, Jon!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homemade Graham Crackers

When I was growing up my dad would grill on a charcoal grill. It was always an event. Getting the coals just right takes time and patience. We would cook meat and fish for several meals over those glorious embers. The taste of a good grilled steak in the middle of winter is divine!

As much as I loved the meals from the grill, my favorite part was always dessert. After supper while Mom was cleaning up the kitchen and packing meals for the freezer, Dad, Adam, and I would go outside along the edge of our woods and find sticks.

These weren't just any sticks. These were smores sticks.They had to be thin, and green. Flexible, yet sturdy enough to keep the marshmallow out of the fire.

We'd sit on the bench on the patio and toast marshmallows over the glowing embers. Once my 'mallow was perfectly toasted, I'd peel off the golden layer, and repeat. And every once in while, we'd grab some chocolate and graham crackers to make the actual smores.

Once I gave up gluten, I feared I wouldn't ever get a good smore again. I have attempted a few graham cracker recipes, but they just weren't right. They were too grainy, not sweet enough, too thick, and the list goes on.

I got brave a few weeks ago, threw caution to the wind, and made my own recipe. And you know what kids? (Ya, I'm grinning ear to ear right now) They turned out great. I made them again today to make sure it wasn't a fluke. 

Brown Rice "Graham" Crackers

Jon said it was no fluke :) They make phenomenal smores. I love that I can cut them into squares and not worry about them breaking into rectangles as I eat them.

I added some xanthan gum to these on a whim when I first came up with the recipe. It seemed to help the texture out quite a bit. And I also used store bought brown rice flour as it is less grainy than home-milled. 

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Brown Rice "Graham" Crackers
Makes 20-24 crackers

3/4 cup brown rice flour 
1/4 cup cornstarch 
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum 
3 TBS dark brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 TBS butter, diced, cold 
3-4 TBS milk 
2 TBS honey

Cinnamon Sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Sift together the flour, corn starch, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. Stir in brown sugar. 
Using a pastry blender or two knives- cut the butter into the flour mixture. You want an even distribution of the butter. Make sure there are no large pieces of butter, but DO NOT CREAM.(Think pastry dough with much smaller butter pieces)

Add the honey and 3 TBS of milk. Using a fork, blend until a coarse dough forms. Add the remaining 1 TBS of milk if needed to get the dough to just pull together. 

Lay a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper on the counter. Lightly dust with rice flour. Pat dough into a rectangle. Lightly dust dough with additional flour. Place another sheet of foil or paper over the top. 

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out between the two sheets. You want this to be very thin. About 1/8 inch thick.
Remove the top sheet of foil or paper. Transfer the dough, with the bottom foil or paper, to a baking sheet. Score the dough into desired size and shapes. "Dock" the dough by picking each cracker with a fork. (Docking allows steam to escape so you don't end up with soggy crackers). If desired, sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the crackers for 15-17 minutes until golden brown. 

Remove from oven and slide the entire sheet of crackers with the foil onto a cooling rack. Once completely cool, break crackers apart.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crock Pot Beef Roast

I was skimming through my recipes today and I realized I haven't ever posted a recipe for beef roast!

It's a super easy meal. (I mean super easy!)

I love it because it's this simple- dump it and forget it. A few basic ingredients and a crock pot are all it takes. (These are ingredients I keep in my pantry and freezer on a regular basis) Total cost for this meal for 4-6 people? Under $7.You can't beat that my friends. I get my roasts on sale for buy one get one free at Winn Dixie. This helps to keep the cost down as well.

If you don't have a crock pot, I am begging. Go. Get spend the $15-$20 and get a crock pot. You will save time, effort, and money. And, your spouse will think you are a magician when you turn a plain chunk of beef into a filling, flavorful meal.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Crock Pot Beef Roast
Serves 4-6

3 lb beef roast
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef stock *
1 envelope onion soup mix
4 large carrots, chunked
2 large potatoes, peeled and chunked

In a large crock pot, whisk together the soup, beef stock, and onion soup mix. Place the roast in the center of the pot. Add the veggies. Cover and cook 8-9 hours on LOW or 5-6 hours on HIGH.

*I just use one soup can of water and 1/2-1 TBS beef bouillon base.

** Note to anyone who is gf- cream soups and beef stock often have wheat in them. Be sure to check your products.**

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Creamy Chicken & Spinach Bake

Today we got some much needed rain at our house. It was one of the most beautiful sounds I've heard in a long time.

When I got home from work it was pouring rain and the house needed to be warmed up a bit with some good home cooking. Jon didn't have any ideas so I was left to my creative mind.

When we lived in MN one of my favorite go to meals was chicken and rice bake. It's one of those meals I can pull together quickly at the end of a long day. It's inexpensive and very adaptable.

Tonight I decided the recipe needed some veggies. On a whim I put some frozen, chopped spinach in the mix. We agreed that the addition was just the right thing for the recipe.

It was a cozy way to end a cool, rainy day.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Creamy Chicken & Spinach Bake
Serves 4

10 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast- diced
1/2 large onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup raw minute rice
1 cup water
1/3 cup sour cream
1 can cream of mushroom soup
5 oz chopped, frozen spinach
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3-1/2 cup crushed corn tortilla chips
Jane's Crazy Mixed up Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large skillet, brown the chicken,garlic, and onion in the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Once browned, remove from skillet. Add the sour cream, water, and mushroom soup. Stir to combine. Return chicken mixture to the soup. Stir in spinach, rice, Italian seasoning, Jane's Crazy Salt and pepper. (Taste for seasoning)

Pour into a prepared casserole dish or 8x8 baking dish.

Top with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes until bubbly. Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips. Return to oven for 3-5 minutes.

Remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Cheesy Veggie Pasta (GF)

I don't really know where to begin, so I'm going to start in the middle. (Just because I can!)

Fall is my season. It always has been. I love the smells, the sounds, the crisp air. And the jack-o-lanterns. I carve anywhere between 4-6 pumpkins each fall. This year I decided to carve(in addition to my real pumpkins) foam pumpkins using a hot knife. I did a small and large.  The great thing about these is I can use them again next year :)

Little Monsters!

Wise old owl

As fall sets in, Jon and I spend a large chunk of our free time together at the beach. The cooler temperatures remind me of Minnesota summers. I can't think of a better way to pass the time- with my sweetheart, beach combing while the cool breezes wrap their arms around us.

Ocean fishing

Some Black Eyed Susans in the middle of a sand dune.

Crashing waves

Beautiful clouds
Sea Oats

Peace & Serenity. This is my happy place.

The later part of summer (yes, September is summer here) was spent testing various gluten free recipes. The majority of them were no cook or grill recipes.

And, I spent some time getting comfortable going to eat at places where I didn't know what was going to be served. This isn't a big deal when you have no dietary restrictions. But let me tell you from personal experience- when you are gluten free(or any other allergy/restriction for that matter), it can be a very scary task to go out and eat. Or attend a luncheon. You don't know what's lurking in things like sauces, dressings, and coatings. It's been a challenge, but I am learning how to handle myself and ask for what I need. And at this point in my gf journey, I couldn't ask for anything more. :)

So, lets get to a recipe shall we? I'm sharing a recipe for cheesy veggie pasta. Yes, pasta. Yes, gluten free. And Jon can't tell the difference in the pasta. We both love this dish. I most often pair it with a simple grilled chicken breast.

That's about it for now. I am beyond thrilled to be back in the kitchen, doing my thing and sharing the good times with all of you.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Cheesy Veggie Pasta
Serves 2-3

3 oz gluten free pasta shapes
1/2 cup sliced zucchini
1/2 cup sliced yellow squash
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 small tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 oz Gouda or Swiss cheese
1/2-3/4 TBS corn starch
2/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile saute mushrooms, garlic, squash, and zucchini together in a skillet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pain when veggies are tender.

Mix milk and corn starch together. Pour into the skillet, gently scrapping any browned bits from the bottom. Bring to a low simmer to thicken.Remove from heat. Add cheese, stir to melt.

Add drained pasta. Toss to coat. Add sauteed veggies. Add tomatoes and spinach. Toss to coat and slightly wilt the spinach.

Serve immediately.

Who turned off the the light?!

So, very briefly-

I have been out of the kitchen for some time now. It's fall in southern Georgia and that means I have to play outside. I've had festivals to attend, beaches to comb, and work to enjoy.

My apologies for turning off the light in our kitchen with little warning! But, now that the weather is getting slightly cooler (and yes, 50's at night is cooler!) I am slowly making my way back into the kitchen.

I look forward to catching up with you and cooking together again soon.

Pull up a chair and light the burners, because I'm back in the kitchen!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Breaded pork chops- GF

We've been so busy around here!

When we aren't dodging hurricanes (Irene, Lee, Maria) we are busy working. We are just getting into the busy season for retail, that means Jon and I both are gearing up for a few months of fun :)

When we do find some free time, we can be found outside in the back yard or playing at the beach. Fall has finally begun to show up in the south, and the temperatures are dropping to much more tolerable levels. I enjoy sitting in the sun a few minutes every day while listening to my ipod. Jon loves the early mornings- mid to low 60's.

When I do manage to drag myself inside to make supper, I want something quick and easy. Since I don't really eat much pasta anymore (even gf pasta) that leaves veggies, meat, and sometimes rice. But mostly, we just grill up a lean cut of meat and serve it with a salad.

I was feeling ambitious the other night and decided to try and make a gluten free, breaded pork chop. Jon was over the moon about these!

They are good enough for company. And no one would ever guess it's gf.

I hope you are enjoying this amazing fall season!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends!

Breaded Pork Chops
Makes 4 chops

1/2- 3/4 cup all purpose gluten free flour
1/2 tsp adobo seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
4 bone in pork chops
prepared yellow mustard

Preheat a large skillet with a few tsp of olive oil in the bottom (medium heat).

Mix the flour with the adobo, garlic salt, pepper, and onion powder together. Set aside.

Lightly coat each pork chop with a small amount of mustard.

Dredge the chops in flour, coating completely.

Cook the chops in the oil for 7-10 minutes per side until a thermometer reads 145 degrees (for chops, ground pork requires 160 degrees)

The crust will be golden and crispy. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Product Review-O-Rama

Here we are, September already!

Jon recently started a new job as an assistant grocery manager for a grocery store. He loves it. While at work one day he noticed a rather large selection of gluten free products. He came home and told me I should check it out.

So, we went to the store. We got some produce then hit the aisles. We were moving right along, then (cue the heavenly choir and the spot light) Gluten Free! Like 7 1/2 feet of joy. I hugged Jon and just soaked it all in. Rice flours, granola bars, cereals, pretzels, cake mixes, breads, buns, pastas, pizza crusts/mixes, and baking mixes. And- at fairly affordable prices.

I was beyond excited. So, we picked a few products to try. I tried to keep my expectations low. I've dabbled in some of these gluten free alternatives and some of the results were less than spectacular.Let me just say- I was very pleasantly surprised.

What did I get???

I got some white rolls made a Schar. They are a dedicated gluten free company.

Oh my word. These rolls made the best hamburger bun in the world! All I had to do was "refresh" them in the oven for 5 minutes. They tasted like "real" bakery rolls. Soft on the inside, crusty on the outside. It was so good. (Jon probably got tired of hearing how amazing my burger was...)

I got some Bob's Red Mill brown rice flour.
I usually make my own rice flour, but it's very hard to get brown rice into a super fine grind. White rice has had the hull removed so it grinds down into a fine flour. Brown rice still has the hull encasing the grain so when you grind it, the flour is sort of grainy in texture. I look forward to trying out Bob's rice flour. I'll keep you posted on the results.

I was super excited to find pretzels.

These bad boys were so good. They are made by Glutino. Another huge winner in my world. They will be perfect in my lunches. My only complaint is they need a little more salt. The flavor and texture are spot on. And dipped in mustard, yum.

And finally, I bought some Gluten Free Bisquick. 

 I am beyond excited about bisquick. BEYOND. All the reviews I have read for this product have been stellar. I'm just excited for things like chicken and dumpling soup, pancakes, cheddar bay biscuits, and so many more delicious things!

So, that's the reviews for now. I will leave you with a fun photo of some rain bands rolling in. They were the result of Tropical Storm Lee. I am still amazed at how fast these storms move. And, how far reaching the winds and rains can be. This storm originated in the Gulf. There was rain up and down the Eastern coast as a result. Simply incredible.

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene

I live right on the coast in southern Georgia. For the past week we've been watching Irene change from a tropical depression into a tropical storm, and ultimately into a hurricane.We, like everyone else on the coast, braced and prepared for her to come and bring what she may.

I was incredibly grateful that God moved her away from Georgia. Then, the worry turned to my brother. He lives in Virgina, relatively close to the coast- in an area filled with rivers that flow out the sea.

A rare hurricane after a freak earthquake. My brother is one of the few who would look at these weather phenomenons as an adventure. And where was he? Chicago, IL and Milwaukee, WI. He was presenting a paper at a conference and visiting friends with his wife for her birthday. (She was at work for the quake and said her building shook for a minute and that was about it. Well, that doesn't sound very eventful does it!)

They are returning home today to uncertainty. Will they have power? Water? Will their home have suffered damage from the 58+ mph winds? We'll have to wait and see. But, no matter what they find- they are safe. A blessing indeed.

So! Our family is safe. The rain and winds have passed. What did I do after my first near miss hurricane? I went to the beach with my parents as Hurricane Irene threw a fit out at sea. As the eye passed a few hundred miles out, she made her presence  known by churning up massive waves and sending intermittent down pours.

See that small blue section next to GA that was unaffected by the hurricane- we are blessed to live there.

Me and my Dad
Watching the waves roll in- some were 16-18 feet high!

The surf came up, over the sands and dunes into the grasses- and it wasn't even quite high tide yet.

Amazing strength

I love this picture- my dad captioned it "Every knee shall bow" (take a look at the guy's shirt, click to enlarge)

The pier getting battered with the powerful waves.

I wouldn't be out in that water.

This guy is a veteran surfer who's surfed many hurricanes. He said the undertow was too strong, even for him.

Mom and I ventured out into a stretch of beach that was momentarily visible and out of nowhere- the ocean came up to surprise us. I almost lost my shorts! See my mom's arm on my wrist? She's trying to pull me out of the water, I'm trying to keep my drawers up! ;)

A couple of chairs just beyond the ocean's reach- but when we left them the water was creeping up on them quickly.

The tide has been here.

Where'd the beach go?!

Sea Oats

Always time to hug- even as the sun sets over a churning ocean. With my mom.

As the sun set, we were thankful to be together- to be safe in the Father's hands. Our prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones. As well as those who suffered damages to their homes. Be safe, be well.

Thank you to my Dad for taking pictures!

Here's to you and all your adventures, culinary or otherwise. Cheers!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spectacular Pizza

I had company over this weekend.

They need to eat just like everyone else in the world.

But, there were dietary restrictions- I needed gluten free and they needed nearly dairy free. Whatever we ate needed to be healthy, fit our dietary guidelines, and be delicious. So I thought about it for a few days prior to the visit.

What did I come up with for supper? Pizza. Yep, pizza.

We ended up making two separate pizzas. The first was a pineapple and ham pizza on a new gluten free crust (which I was told by my husband is the best pizza crust ever) and the second were mini veggie pizzas. (Equally spectacular)

The gluten free crust was great. I was little nervous when I made up the dough (this seems to be a recurring theme lately LOL) because it looked like lumpy mashed potatoes. No joke. My company looks over my shoulder and giggles- "It looks like seasoned mashed potatoes." GF cooking really is an adventure.

This dough was different from others I've tried because it contained a teaspoon of unflavored gelatin. I have read a lot of recipes that call for this particular ingredient but I didn't know why. Well, now I know why. The gelatin gives the finished crust a great "chewy" texture just like a thick wheat-based crust from a pizzeria. Jon was beyond impressed. I've got to admit, I was too.

For the other pizzas we did a simple veggie pizza, on a fat free corn tortilla. I came up with this quick thin crust option when I was ravenous after work one day. All you do is toast up a corn tortilla on both sides under a broiler. Remove the browned "crust" from the oven, top with desired toppings (in this case mounded fresh spinach, fresh mushrooms, a drizzle of olive oil, a small amount of feta and Parmesan cheeses, finished with a sprinkle of kosher salt & black pepper) Return the pizza to the oven, broil until the cheeses brown and the veggies wilt down a little bit. And there you have it, lunch or supper in just a few minutes. Fantastic!

As much as I want to give credit to someone for this crust recipe, I can't. I read this same recipe on so many websites I don't recall which one I actually wrote it down from. So- to everyone in the blogosphere who has posted this recipe: I thank you for the wonderful addition to my family favorites!

Here's to you and your culinary adventures, friends. Cheers!

Pizza Crust (Jon's Favorite)
Makes one large crust

1 packet dry yeast (rapid rise)
2/3 cup rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 TBS powdered milk
2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1 tsp brown sugar, NOT packed
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 425.

In a small glass bowl, combine water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit to proof.

Meanwhile, in a mixer fitted with regular beaters (not dough hooks) combine all the dry ingredients.

Once the yeast has bloomed (about 3-5 minutes) Pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients. Add the oil and vinegar. Blend on low speed until combined. Add additional warm water 2 TBS at a time until the dough resembles a soft bread dough (or in my case soft, lumpy mashed potatoes)

Dump onto a floured counter top. Liberally sprinkle the dough with additional flour. (I just used my gf all purpose flour) Knead the dough for 1-2 minutes until it holds together.

Spray a pizza pan lightly with cooking spray. Spritz your hands with cooking spray and press the dough into a thin, even layer.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. (If you are using a pizza pan with a zillion little perforations like I do, take a long handled spatula and gently loosen the par baked dough from the pan.) Top dough with desired toppings.  Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes longer, until the toppings are done and cheese is golden brown.

Let rest 3-5 minutes before slicing.