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.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oodles Of Noodles! (GF)

I've been feeling less than fabulous this week. A little sinus thing turned into a full on cold including laryngitis. Not fun for anyone.

When I don't feel well, I crave comfort foods. Chicken noodle soup, grilled cheese toasty (a grilled cheese sammy cut into 4 fingers OR into 4 triangles then arranged on the plate with the points facing like two cute little butterflies), mac and cheese. You know- gluten filled foods of doom...

So, I made an Asian chicken noodle soup. A beautiful chicken broth infused with garlic, ginger, Chinese 5 spice, and a little hot sauce. Add some diced chicken and rice noodles and your good to go. A big bowl of comfort filled with cold killers.

I toasted one of my cheesy buns so it got that toasty, nutty, cheesy flavor.

But I still wanted mac and cheese.  And then it hit me. I can make noodles! DUH. I've made my own pasta for years.

The challenge was finding a gluten free noodle recipe that had been reviewed by enough home cooks to be worthy of testing.

I found a recipe and made a small test batch. See:

Yummy GF egg noodles!
For my mac and cheese I simply cut smaller pieces about the size of skinny elbow macaroni. I simmered it in simmering salted water, drained it and dressed the pasta with homemade cheese sauce. Delicious.

It hit the spot. The flavors and textures were spot on. (Keep in mind homemade pasta is a little bit chewier than store bought.)  I was thrilled with the results.

I'm looking forward to playing with the flavors now- I'm thinking a sun dried tomato would be yummy. Or even a basil tomato... hmmm.... :)

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

Egg Noodles
Makes 2 servings

1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1 TBS oil*

Combine tapioca flour, corn starch, xanthan gum, and salt together in a small bowl.

Whisk together egg and oil. Pour into the flour mix. Stir to combine.

Dump out onto a clean counter top. Knead and work the dough for 1-2 minutes. (The dough will be stiff, just keep working it until it holds together)

Sprinkle the counter with a light dusting of corn starch. Roll the dough out as thin as you can possibly get it. Mine was almost transparent and still handled really well. Slice into desired shape (spaghetti, macaroni size, lasagna, etc)

Let air dry several hours and store in the freezer


Prepare immediately:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer. Add a little oil to prevent sticking. Add pasta. Keep water at a low simmer. Cook pasta 10-12 minutes until done. Drain pasta well.

* Some of the recipes I saw called for 1 egg yolk in place of 1 TBS of oil. The choice is yours. I chose to use the oil this time.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sandwich Buns

Oh. My. Goodness. Look at what I made! Cheesy sandwich buns. SO good.

See that nook of cheesy goodness on the right hand side? I could live in there and be happy. Just sayin'
Anyone who is gluten free can tell you, good quality bread is hard to come by.  I've been missing sandwiches with meat and veggies nestled between two happy slices of bread.

I scour the web every day looking for yummy recipes to feed my family. One day I found a gluten free bun made with 4 ingredients. Four.

Once again, I questioned every single cooking skill I possess. I mixed the ingredients up. Divided it into 8 chunks. And threw it in the oven. (I don't even pretend to understand how gluten free baking works, but by golly it does!)

Can I just say that these things smell fan-freaking-tastic. And the taste? Out of this world. They are soft, tender, and packed with flavor.

I will definitely always keep some of these on hand for meat sandwiches, hamburger buns, and whatever else my little heart desires!I can't wait to try new flavors with this basic recipe.

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

Brazilian Cheese Buns
From Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

1 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups shredded cheddar or other hard cheese of your choice (I imagine pepper jack would be great)
2 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the tapioca flour and baking powder.

Stir in cheese and eggs.

Mix together and knead the until a dough forms. (This is a wet, sticky dough. It will not be the same as a regular bread dough.)

Divide into 8 pieces.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until done, but not browned. You want these to be soft and tender.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pork Stir Fry

Jon loves stir fry. One of the very first meals he ever made for me was a beef stir fry. It consisted of beef, onions, bell peppers, bottled stir fry sauce, and rice.

Over the years we've tried dozens of variations. I've come to love the recipes that use rice noodles instead of traditional rice. I also prefer to make my own sauces, that way I know what's in them (good stuff) and what's not (MSG and other icky surprises)

This pork stir fry is excellent, and it makes a lot. I always make a full batch of stir fry because Jon really likes the leftover in his lunches.

It is super simple and cooks up quickly. Perfect for weeknight meal.

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

Pork Stir Fry
Serves 4-6

5 oz maifun rice noodles, soaked in hot water to soften
10 oz ground pork
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cups angel hair coleslaw
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 TBS fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup chicken broth
3 TBS hoisin sauce
salt and pepper

Using a kitchen shears, cut noodles into bite size pieces. Set aside.

In a large wok, heat olive oil. Add onion, garlic, pork, salt and pepper. Stir fry until pork is no longer pink and onions are softened.

Add  1 1/2 cups  of the coleslaw, shredded carrot, and grated ginger to the pan. Stir fry 2 minutes until softened.

Stir in broth and hoisin sauce. Cook until bubbly (1-2 minutes).

Toss remaining 1/2 cup of slaw, rice noodles, and sesame oil with the meat and veggie mixture. Serve hot.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pepperoni Quiche with Hash Brown Crust

My girl, Lynn, over at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures makes a crust-less pepperoni quiche for her family. I knew I just had to try it.

So, I put it on the menu. And then I got distracted for a week or so. I went to Sam's Club with my mom and we got some dehydrated hash browns. She took half the giant container and I took the other half. As we were walking through the store, a thought occurred to her and she mentioned making a hash brown crust for the quiche.  Hmmm, that DOES sound delicious.

Today rolled around. I was tired (I had to be up at 4am for work today.) and it was hot (heat index of 109 at 5pm doesn't make you want to turn on the stove). But, Jon was set on trying this recipe tonight. So I made some modifications and gave it a try.

It turned out so great! It was yummy, filling, and made in the microwave. Perfect for a weeknight meal :)

Jon wants to have it again(always the mark of a good recipe) but with diced ham or thick cut bacon. Hmmm I think that could be arranged...

My thanks go out to Lynn for the inspiration on this one!

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

Pepperoni Quiche with Hash Brown Crust

3 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed (or 2 cups deyhdrated hash browns, rehydrated)
2 oz turkey pepperoni
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
12 oz skim milk
1 1/2 TBS corn starch
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
1/4 tsp each- onion powder, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning

Brown hash browns in a skillet or griddle sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Press gently into the bottom of a large prepared casserole dish (microwave safe).

Beat together milk, eggs, corn starch, and seasonings.

Layer pepperoni over the hash browns. Top with 2/3 of the cheese. Pour egg mixture over all. Top with remaining cheese.

Microwave, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes until the edges are slightly brown and the egg is set.

Let cool 5 minutes before cutting. Serve with salsa if desired.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I was so scared to make supper tonight. I mean, really, genuinely nervous. I was going to make pizza. Gluten free pizza. With my very first homemade blend of gluten free flours.

Soy flour, rice flour, tapioca flour, and corn starch. The combo had me seriously questioning my cooking skills.

I followed the recipe.

Doubted my cooking skills.

Rolled out the dough, and continued to over analyze the situation. (And what were the most invasive thoughts? What if this turns out to be the biggest disaster of a meal I've ever made?! What am I going to do? Order a pizza? Um, no.)

I preheated the oven. Threw the crust in.

A few minutes later I pulled out the dough to putting the toppings on.

I returned it to the hotbox.

I waited, face nearly pressed against the glass door. I watched it bake for 16 minutes, until it looked like pizza.

I took it out. I looked at Jon. He looked back at me, not knowing quite what to say. (I'm thinking- It LOOKS like pizza, but what's it going to taste like!?)

I must have looked unsure because Jon said to me- Honey, I'm sure it will be great. (Note to self- Remember to mark those points down for him in the good husband book)

I cut the pizza. And said to myself, (reassuringly ha!) Well, let's give it a whirl.

I took a bite. Jon waited.

I smiled and relief washed over my face. It was pizza. Real pizza.

It was very filling. The dough was a little denser than I'm used to, but it was still very good. As far as our first ever attempt at gf pizza, we called it a success.

I think this dough would make an excellent deep dish pizza. Next time we try it, we are going to make 2 smaller pizzas with thinner crusts, on our pizza stone, so it's a little more crunchy. I'll let you know how that works out :)

Do you have a favorite gf pizza dough recipe you use? Feel free to share it in the comments.

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

Pizza Crust
Makes enough for: 1 deep dish or 1 extra large pizza or 2 large thin crust pizzas

1(1/4 oz) packet yeast 
1 1/3 cup milk 
1 tsp brown sugar 
2 1/3 cup gluten free all purpose flour mix 
2 tsp xanthan gum 
1 tsp salt 
2 tsp. olive oil 
2 tsp. cider vinegar

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the milk using your microwave to about 110 degrees (warm but not Hot).  Mix in the yeast, sugar and milk in a medium bowl and set it aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and xanthan gum. 

The yeast mixture should be foaming(bloomed) by now. Add the apple cider vinegar and olive oil to the yeast mixture and then stir it into the flour blend. Mix it well.

Drop your dough out onto a well floured surface. Sprinkle with flour liberally and work into a soft, but no longer sticky dough.  Sprinkle the dough with a small amount of flour. 

Divide and roll out the dough to your desired thickness.  Transfer the dough onto your baking sheet and cook it until the dough is just starting to brown.(For a regular xl pizza it took about 10 minutes) 

Remove from oven. Top with toppings. Return to oven until the cheese is thick and bubbly. (This took about 16 minutes in my oven)

Remove from oven. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting. Serve.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

GF Cookie Bites

I posted my very first gf cookie recipe a few days ago. It was a flourless peanut butter cookie. They were delicious. They also were eaten very quickly :)

I decided to give a flour cookie a try after much reading/researching gf cookies. Most stories include flat cookies, grainy cookies, dry cookies- not so appealing.

But, there were those glimmers of hope- fat, happy, moist cookies that were "safe" to eat.  (Yea, it may be safe ingredient wise, but cookies are dangerous to my waistline! LOL)

So, I concocted a plan. I used to make cookie bars when I was in high school. They always went over well at picnics, bake sales, and youth group events. Tonight's plan of attack was to take the same concept and make cookie bites.

And look at my little beauties:

Mini Cookie Bites

They turned out moist, fluffy, and they didn't crumble! YAY!

Here's the best part: Jon-boy didn't know they were gluten free. Yea, they are that good.

I'm very pleased with the results of my first baking project. One step closer to tackling that whole bread thing. :)

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

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites
Makes 24

3/4 cup multi-purpose baking mix (I used Hodgson Mill, it already has xanthan gum in the mix)
1/4 cup + 2 TBS rice flour
1/4 cup oats *
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
6 TBS margarine
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped dark or semi sweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 375.

Blend making mix, rice flour, baking soda, baking powder, oats, and salt together. Set aside.

In a large bowl mix the butter, sugars, egg white, and vanilla.

Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well. Stir in chocolate bits.

Drop batter into a prepared mini muffin.

Bake 10-12 minutes until slightly golden. Let sit for 1-2 minutes. Run a knife around each cookie bite/mini muffin. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

* Oats are optional

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gluten Free Cheesy Potatoes!

So just a quick little note today-

Our "little" furry boy has been helping me pick out new recipes for the next menu plan. Soon, we'll have some new gluten free meals to share with you!

Charlie "helping" me pick out the menu for the week.
I'm just starting to learn about the various types of flours. I can't even begin to name all the alternatives to wheat flours. Today, I learned how to take whole rice and turn it into rice flour.  My mom was able to find some other flours (tapioca, soy, and potato) for me to try out as well. When I find I good all-purpose blend I will be sure to post it. I've got a few that I'm excited to play with.

In other fun food news- I was very excited to see that Idahoan flavored potato pouches are gluten free! It's been very difficult to find cheese flavored sides (one of Jon's favorite things) that don't have wheat in them. Or when I do find them, they are horrendously expensive.  But these little pouches with 4 servings in them cost a cool 89 cents. My budget can handle that :)

YAY! Cheesy potatoes that are gf and taste great.

And our final note of the night- Jon and I had a great time at the Sun's game for my mom's birthday this weekend. They even played an extra inning for her! AND they won. How cool is that?

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