Monday, December 28, 2015

New Favorite Flour Mixes

The are so many more flours available now then when we first started the gf journey and so many different versions of the traditional flour mix (rice flour, tapioca, and potato starch) out there that I felt I should try them out.  When I was at the grocery store I saw this book with a couple of flour mixes and thought I'd try it.

I have fallen in love with it! I have found the flour mixes to be perfect for every recipe I have made and significantly less gritty. As always, when you use either to make one of your own recipes use about 1/2 tsp xantham gum/1C flour mix.

All-Purpose Flour mix
1 C white rice flour
1 C sorghum flour
1 C tapioca flour
1 C cornstarch
1 C almond or coconut (I did a 1/2 C of each)

Bread flour mix
1 C brown rice flour
1 C sorghum flour
1 C tapioca flour
1 C cornstarch
3/4 C millet
1/3 C instant mashed potato flakes

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Basic GF Cooking Tips

(printer friendly version)

Recently, a friend of mine contacted me about eating GF.  At the same time I was asked to give a class on preparing GF meals for church.  The class is aimed at those who aren't GF, but may need to bring someone a meal with GF issues.  We are also addressing food allergies and diabetes and other special diets.  As a result I have been coming up with some basic GF cooking tips and thought I'd pass them along.

-You can not use any cooking ingredients that use Wheat, Rye, Barley or non-GF Oats, or any version of these ingredients.  Find a list of unsafe versions of these ingredients and use it!
     Seems silly to say if you are GF, but for the group I'm presenting to, this is rule #1, so I am adding it here.

-READ LABELS!  They identify Wheat in the allergens section but not Rye and Barley.  Look out especially for malt flavoring, a very common ingredient that is a derivative of barley.

-Buy a new toaster and waffle iron.  Your old ones are contaminated and will make you sick.  We have two toasters and just buy our GF waffles for cupboard space reasons.  For the toasters we have one for everyone else and one labeled with big vinyl letters "GF".

-When thinking about what to eat, stop thinking about what you can't eat.  Write down what you normally cook and you may notice that a lot of what you normally eat is naturally GF or only needs a small adaptation.

-I am incredibly brand loyal.  If you take the time to label products GF or tell me you will always identify gluten ingredients and they will never be hidden (Kraft and McCormick, for example), I will be your friend for life.  I also love grocery stories that identify GF foods (Trader Joe's is my favorite).

-If you don't use mixes normally and you are going to run a GF and non-GF house.  Invest or make some.  It will make cooking meals so much easier.  I usually mix up several bread mixes to keep in the freezer to save time on bread.  I also keep a pancake mix around to make breakfast go faster.  I also buy GF waffles to save cupboard space so I don't have 2 waffle irons around.

-Thicken with cornstarch or potato flour if you need to thicken something.  Once you get in the habit of cooking GF you may find other alternatives.  These are just easy ones to start with.

-Season with herbs and spices and not seasoning packets, you can find mixes all over the internet that are strictly herbs & spices.  I usually just season by taste anymore.

-Gluten can be found in soy sauce, bbq sauce, all condensed soups, some spaghetti sauces, seasoning packets (taco seasoning, spaghetti sauce mix, dressing mixes, etc.), cold cereals, salsas, etc.  You will constantly be surprised where it will pop up.  Read labels.

-Use clean plastic cutting boards (do not use wood cutting boards, they trap gluten and can not be completely cleaned of gluten), plates, knives, etc.  If you are unsure about whether a dish has touched gluten, DON'T USE IT!!!
         -- I never set food that is GF directly on the counter. Even if the counter is clean, I can't guarantee someone didn't stick something with gluten on there when I wasn't looking.

-If you are going to make GF food and food with gluten, make the GF first to avoid contamination.

-If you have any questions about whether something is GF, Google!  If you can't find the answer then call the company.  If all else fails, find something else to use.

-Casseroles are rife with gluten challenges.  Approach them carefully and be prepared to do some major adapting.  Or, like us, figure out the ones you like the best and say goodbye to the rest.  You will eat healthier, hopefully.

-Just because something says “Wheat-Free” does not mean it is GF. Newman's Own has a wheat free Oreo-like cookie that has rye -- Yep, learned that the hard way.  Luckily, my daughter didn't try if before we figured it out.

-I don't worry about "may contain ______" statements.   I feel that is more for their liability than my safety, which means it isn't worth my hassle.  It is my understanding that the FDA cleaning requirements for manufacturing equipment are pretty severe, so the likelihood of contamination is VERY small.  We’ve never had a problem with my daughter and GF contamination and I have a son with a SEVERE peanut allergy (smelling peanuts causes a reaction) and he has also never had a problem.  That said, this is my opinion and our family's decision, and you need to decide what the appropriate level of risk is for you and your family should be by researching it yourself.

-For a hamburger or other sandwich, if you don't want or have GF bread, use lettuce as your bun.  Or just use a fork and knife.  My non-GF sister has started choosing to eat a hamburger with a lettuce bun so she can save her calories for the cookies.

-Keep some mixed up flour handy in your kitchen and store the remaining flours in the freezer.  GF flour can go rancid quicker than regular flour.

I'm sure I will add to this as I think of other things.  This is just the beginning.  If you think of other tips let me know and I will add them to the list.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Crockpot Roast with Potatoes

Last year for Mother's Day my sister was asked to speak in church on what she had learned from our mother.  My sister is a wonderful writer and has a real talent for putting her thoughts into words.  I have always admired this about her.  Anyway, the way she wrote the talk was to talk about how my mother did not necessarily preach to us, but through everyday things she taught us about life and about the importance of faith.  One of those everyday things she used as an example is making a roast.  The first step to a good roast is to heat a skillet as hot as possible and brown the roast on all sides until it is ALMOST burned.  You don't have to do it, but the roast will taste so much better if you do.  She compared this to life.  How often we have to be "burned" to learn the lessons we need to learn and to have the greatest "flavor" and wisdom.  Ever since my mother told me about the talk I can not cook a roast without being reminded of this great lesson in life.  So I am passing it on to you.

Crockpot Roast with Potatoes (printer friendly)
3-4 lb roast
1 onion sliced
 salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 C beef broth
4 med-large potatoes, cut into large pieces

1. Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Using tongs brown the roast on all sides until dark golden brown (almost burnt)
Looks good already doesn't it.

Even better

2. Slice the onion.  Place 1/2 the slices on the bottom of your crockpot.

3.  Add the seared roast and sprinkle with seasonings.

4. Add potatoes and remaining onions and pour over the broth.

5. Cover the crockpot and cook on low 6-8 hours or high 3-4.
6. Next remove the roast from the crockpot (leave the potatoes in to stay warm until you are ready to serve them)  to a plate and pour some of the remaining sauce over the roast and allow to sit for at least 10-15 minutes.  I always worried about this because I HATE cold food, but it really makes a difference.  The roast has a chance to cool enough to hold the moisture in, instead of it all escaping as steam when you cut it.  When you serve it, pour some more of the remaining broth over it and enjoy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tuna Patties

I made these several months ago and our whole family loved them.  They are really simple, and a great pantry food.  For GF bread crumbs I strongly recommend processing Rice Chex.  They are relatively cheap and don't have much flavor so just the flavor of the food comes through.

Tuna Patties (printer friendly)
3 (6 oz) cans of tuna, drained & flaked
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp mustard

3 T onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp dill
3/4 C bread crumbs
3 T veg oil

1. In a medium bowl combine the tuna, eggs, mustardm onion, garlic, pepper, and dill.

Mix until combined.  Then add the bread crumbs.

Mix with your hands until the mixture is the consistency of cookie dough.

2. Shape into 6 patties.
3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the oil and swirl around.  Add the patties.  Cook on both sides until lightly brown.
4. Serve as a a sandwich with pickles, mayo, lettuce, etc.  Or just eat plain.  We had ours with sweet potato fries.  YUM!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow Cone Syrup


Last month I taught preschool as a part of a preschool with a group of mom's.  Our topic was snow and for our treat we had snowcones.  I got a snowcone maker a few years ago and have had a lot of fun with it.  But this was my first attempt at making my own syrup.  I made the syrup the way I make my maple syrup and it turned out too thick.  That said it was delicious.  Here is the recipe with a thinner syrup.

Snow Cones (printer friendly)
2 C water
2 C sugar
Candy flavoring

1. In a saucepan combine the water and sugar.  Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 1 minute.  Remove from stove.

You can flavor the whole batch or separate into different bowls for flavoring.  Add about 1/8 tsp flavoring to each bowl.  Taste and add more flavoring as needed.  Color with food coloring if desired
I made, pina colada, lemon, and raspberry.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mexican Rice

 I'm sure I have mentioned this before, but I love Mexican food. I love the cheese, I love the spice (just not too spicy, I still want to taste my food), I love the sauces, I love salsa, I love the corn tortillas, I love the beans, I love the corn, . . . Need I go on.  Anyway, the other day I made fajitas and thought how if we were at a restaurant they would serve these with rice and beans.  So I went looking for a good Mexican rice recipe and found one in my trusty The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook.  With a little adapting for spiciness and lack of a few ingredients it got made and was delicious!

Mexican Rice (printer friendly)
1 can of tomatoes
1 small onion, pealed, trimmed & quartered
1/3 C vegetable oil
2 C long grain rice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced jalepenos
2 C chicken broth
1 T tomato paste
1 1/2 t salt
2 1/2 T dried cilantro or 1/2 C fresh
Lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle.  Puree the tomatoes and onion in the food processor. There should be 2 Cups of puree. Remove any excess so there is only 2 C.
I made A LOT of this since I wanted to freeze it for later.  So you would have a lot less than this for this recipe.

2.Heat the oil on med. heat in an oven proof dutch oven or pot.  Add the rice and saute until light golden brown.  This should take approx 10 minutes (lots more if you are quadrupling it like I did).  Make sure to stir often so the rice doesn't burn.

3.  Stir in the garlic and the can of jalepenos.  Cook until it smells like garlic & jalepenos (about 15 seconds).  Add the pureed tomatoes/onion mixture, broth, tomato paste, salt and cilantro (if using dried). 

Bring to a boil and then cover and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until all the liquid is dissolved and the rice is fully cooked. Be sure to stir after 15 minutes.
4.  Fluff with a fork and add cilantro (if fresh) and add some fresh jalepenos, if desired.


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