Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour

Today, I don't exactly have a recipe per se to share with you; however, I do have a product I'd like to share.  Andrew and I have been using Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour a couple of times to replace the flour we had been using.   We've used the flour for shortcake for strawberry shortcake and crust for pizza.  You will want to use it in combination with the Xanthan Gum from Bob's Red Mill (or someplace else) as a replacement for the gluten in other flours.  Typically, you will want to do about 1 cup of flour to every 1 teaspoon of the Xanthan gum.

You can find any Bob's Red Mill products at the following places (there may be more!):
  • Kroger (in the natural foods section)
  • Whole Foods (in the baking section)
  • Bob's Red Mill website
  • Amazon (type in Bob's Red Mill)
Happy eating!!


      Monday, July 25, 2011

      Broccoli-Chicken Casserole

      So...I finally made the last broccoli-chicken casserole that I mixed up at the beginning of last week.  I will forewarn you that this recipe made three dishes full of the casserole: an 8 x 8 squared inch dish, a casserole dish, and an 11x 6 (or so) squared inch dish.  I'll also forewarn you that I did freeze (covering them of course before I did) all three of the dishes because I knew we weren't going to be eating them in sequence (i.e., three days in a row).  Also, there are a few adjustments that I would do to the amount of ingredients (which I'll mention at the end); however, the basic directions are still the same.  With that we go!!!

      • 6 cups uncooked rice
      • 1 small white/red onion (up to you)
      • 9 tbs. of butter/margarine (divided)
      • 1 cup of milk
      • 2 lbs. of Velveeta cheese
      • 2 cans of chicken
      • 1 bag of frozen broccoli
      1. Begin cooking the rice according to it's packaging.
      2. Open the bag of frozen broccoli into a large mixing bowl.
      3. Chop up the onion into small pieces and sautee in 1 tbs. of butter/margarine.  You may leave this out if you'd prefer, but I think it gives it more flavor.  Once sauteed, place in the large mixing bowl with the broccoli.
      4. Open the cans of chicken and drain.  Then, place into the mixing bowl with the broccoli and onions.
      5. Cut the other 8 oz. of butter (if using a stick) into thin slices to make it easier to mix later and place in the mixing bowl with the other 3 ingredients so far.
      6. Cut the Velveeta cheese into smallish chunks and place into the mixing bowl as well.
      7. Once the rice is done (per the packaged directions), add the rice into the mixing bowl along with the ingredients in so far.
      8. Add the 1 cup of milk.
      9. Mix all of the ingredients together.
      10. You'll want to grease each dish to discourage sticking.  You may use Pam spray or shortening.
      11. If you're doing two meals with this, I recommend using 2- 9 by 13 inch dishes.  If you're doing more than two meals, I would divide it up among at least three different dishes.
      12. Divide the casserole mixture into the different dishes being used.
      13. If you decide to cook one of them, I would recommend cooking at 375 degrees for about 30-60 minutes depending on how it looks after the 30 minutes.
      14. Halfway through cooking (15-30 minutes), I do stir the casserole so that the cheese is more evenly spread throughout.
      15. Once done, pull out of the oven and enjoy!!!
      If you choose to freeze them and then use them for your evening meals (dinner/super-whichever is your term of choice), I recommend pulling them out in the morning and placing them in the refrigerator to thaw for most of the day.  This helps so that there's less cooking time and the dish is less likely to break with the heat change.  Also, I would definitely cook the casserole if thawed from the freezer for the 60 minutes at 375 degrees, stirring about the 30 minute mark.

      Before being cooked

      After being cooked

      Changes that I recommend to the recipe that you may try are:
      1. Adding an extra bag of broccoli: This will add more broccoli to each of the dishes you put the casserole into. 
      2. Adding an extra 1/2 cup of milk: This may add more moisture to the dish if that's what you feel like doing.
      3. Adding an extra cup of Velveeta cheese: I noticed that one of our pans didn't get much of the cheese.  If you did one more cup, it may even out the amount a bit.  Honestly though, I think it turned out fine (for the most part), especially since I mixed halfway through cooking.
      4. Take out the chicken altogether: If you're just looking for something as a side-dish, feel free to take the chicken out altogether.  I added the chicken, frankly, because I was lazy and didn't feel like doing more than one thing for a meal.  It made it easier to add and mix it all as one main dish.
      5. Subsitution: If you want, you could substitute the milk with cream of mushroom soup; however, the dish would NOT be gluten free then.  Most cream of mushroom soups have a wheat/gluten biproduct in it.  If you do the cream of mushroom soup, I would do at least one can, and then, keep the full cup of milk.
      Hope you all enjoy this dish!


      Sunday, July 24, 2011

      Chicken Alfredo

      A few weeks ago, Andrew was mentioning to me how much he missed eating pasta, specifically at Olive Garden, and was craving the pasta.  So, I decided to take it upon myself and search of pasta that might work.  I hadn't done a whole lot of shopping regarding gluten-free foods, so shopping for gluten-free foods is still pretty new to me.  I ironically had a gift card to Trader Joe's that I was given and hadn't used yet.  I remembered that I REALLY like their strawberry flavored licorice bites and decided to go in and get a container of those.  While I was at it, I figured I'd look for gluten-free pasta.  Guess what?!  I found some!!  It was their organic brown rice penne pasta.  I went home and told Andrew about my find and when I went grocery shopping later in the week I picked up some alfredo sauce to use with it.

      So, about this time last Sunday, I was working on making different meals for us for the entire week that was gluten-free.  One of those was Chicken Alfredo with gluten-free pasta I picked up at Trader Joe's for $1.99.  Instead of cooking it as a complete meal right then, I separated it out into some smaller containers for Andrew to take to work with him and reheat.

      1. Cook the past as per the directions on the bag.  The pasta will most likely come in a green bag.
      2. I mixed the 2 small jars of alfredo sauce in a bowl with the chicken to help break up the larger chicken chunks.  If you're looking to prepare the meal for eating right then, then you will want to heating the sauce and the chicken up on low heat until the pasta is done cooking; however, since I was dividing them up for smaller meals for Andrew later I didn't.
      3. Once the pasta is done cooking to your liking, strain it in the strainer.
      4. I tend to dump the pasta back into the pot that I cooked it in.  I mix in the chicken and the alfredo sauce (heated or unheated depending on the purpose of the meal) with the pasta.
      It's really, honestly super easy to prepare and doesn't take much thinking to do.  If you do decide to use all of the pasta that you've prepared for a meal later (rather than divide it up into smaller portions), I would recommend putting it in a greased cooking/baking dish so you can pop it in the oven until it's heated all the way through.  Also, the reasoning behind using two jars instead of just one jar of alfredo sauce is because when using alfredo sauce of any kind the pasta tends to absorb the sauce while sitting in the refrigerator if there are leftovers.  When we reheat it for later meals, I never feel like there's enough sauce left in the container.

      Trader Joe's does have a list of products that are gluten free if you are interested in checking them out.  If you have any questions regarding any of the products, the people who work at Trader Joe's are more than happy to help answer your questions and make recommendations.

      Sorry there aren't any pictures this time around.  Maybe when I fix it again!

      Enjoy!  And, happy eating!!


      Saturday, July 23, 2011

      Strawberry Shortcake

      This evening I happened to fix one of the casseroles (I'll post that recipe later) I prepared earlier in the week as dinner.  As the casserole was baking, I was thinking, "I really need to try a dessert with the gluten-free flour that we have to see how it turns out."  Well...I decided to do just that.  I had peered into the refrigerator and remembered that we had strawberries and I didn't want them to go bad before I was able to use them.  So...strawberry shortcake it was!!!

      I typically use a recipe from a cookbook that I was given at Christmas within the last 5 years or so.  It's actually really yummy (gluten-free or not)!  It comes from the cookbook, Taste of Home Mom's Best Meals and was entered by Karen Wingate of Kansas.  The recipe is called (not by me, but by the original creator) "Mom's Strawberry Shortcake."

      The recipe calls for:
      • 2 eggs
      • 1 1/2 cups sugar (divided)
      • 1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour (my slight amendment)
      • 1 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (my amendment)
      • 1/2 cup milk
      • 1 tablespoon butter
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • 1 to 1 1/2 quarts fresh strawberries, sliced
      • Whipped cream
      • Mint leaves, optional
      Since I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free All-Purpose Flour, I added a teaspoon of Xanthan Gum (also from Bob's Red Mill) to help replace the gluten from the regular all purpose flour.  Both of those can be found in Kroger.  If you have someone in your family who happens to be diabetic, you can also replace the sugar with Splenda or any other sugar alternative you're willing to try cooking with.

      The rest of the directions include (with some of my side-notes):
      1. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until thick and lemon-colored.
      2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; beat into the egg mixture.
      3. Heat milk and butter just until butter begins to melt.  
      4. Beat into batter with vanilla (batter will be thin).
        • Trust'll be thin!  It was thin pre-gluten-free and now gluten-free.
      5. Pour into a greased 8-in. square baking pan.
        • This is actually the best type of pan to use in order for it to cook evenly and completely.
      6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
      7. Cool for at least 10 minutes; then, cut into squares (about 9 servings).
      8. Dish up the shortcake, strawberries, and whipped cream with the garnish of mint leaves (if you choose).
      The recipe continues on with other steps between 7 and 8, but I don't normally do the last portions (so I won't give them to you).  Usually while the shortcake is baking, I cut up the strawberries into small pieces and use the remaining sugar to mix in with the strawberries.  I put them back into the refrigerator until we're ready to eat them.


      Yes, I realize that I didn't do a couple of things from the recipe that I just gave. First of all, I didn't use an 8-in. squared pan because the only one I have was being used for the casserole (recipe later to be posted).  Secondly, you're probably wondering why the center caved in a little.  Well, I actually had ended up letting the shortcake in the oven for 27 minutes rather than the 25 to compensate for the difference in dishes.  Honestly...I probably should've let it go for about 3 minutes longer (making the total 30 minutes for this dish size).  I will say that although the middle flopped a little, the rest of it was completely cooked and it was quite yummy. When I use the 8-in. squared pan, the shortcake does turn out fully cooked within the 25 minutes called for in the recipe.

      I will try to have more pictures for the next time I fix it!!  You should try it out!  Enjoy!!


      Beginnings of the Confusion... attempting cook this week in an 85 degree house, I was contemplating of creating a blog of my experiences in cooking gluten-free meals for my husband.  Now you're probably thinking to yourself, "Why would any sane person cook if their house is 85 degrees?"  Well...first of all, I knew we needed to eat cheaply, and secondly, I needed to keep my mind off of the heat by...somehow adding to the heat.  Yes, I realize that makes absolutely no sense, but that's all right.

      Now, you're probably wondering why I'm trying to do gluten-free meals for my husband.  Well, ironically enough, a few months ago, he started complaining of his stomach hurting.  It went from a dull, constant ache (from what I remember) to almost stabbing pains.  He went to the doctor who suggested he take medications the relieve some of the pain; however, those were just a temporary fix.  Meanwhile, close friends of ours had a son who was having some health issues and some of their family recommended that they try going dairy-free and gluten-free for a while to see if their son would feel better.  They tried it out and he did. made me think...maybe we should try to get rid of some (actually all of it as much as possible) of the gluten in our diet (or at least my husband's diet).  We tried it for a few days and it worked.

      Now...I will say that he's not 100% gluten-free all of the time, but I try to help out as much as possible.  At the beginning, I was so confused as to where to look or what to consider making or even how to go about making gluten-free meals.  Over time, I've adapted some of my recipes that I've used in the past, as well as tried new recipes.

      I will try to include some of my findings in case anyone else is stuck without knowing where to go or what to do.  Honestly, I still have a lot to learn, but if I can help someone else out...I'm more than happy too!!

      Happy cooking!!