Thursday, May 21, 2015

The First Flub

The first few days of eating gluten-free resulted in my first flub.  
 I went to the store and found this pizza in our grocery store freezer section. It was a plain cheese pizza, and while it was half again what I would pay for a regular frozen pizza, I was excited to try it out.
I decided that I should "dress it up right" and have my favorite Hawaiian pizza instead.  "See, I can have it all!" Unfortunately, this was before I realized that the world puts gluten in everything, including meat sometimes.  I had a reaction to the ham and felt all sorts of crappy.  Lesson learned: processed anything (including meat) may contain gluten and needs to be checked.
Now to clarify, the problem was not the pizza (I've had it many times since and loved it), but my additions to the pizza. In the months since, I've learned that limited choices are not the worst thing; at least with said choices I can feel confident that I'm safe.

The First Recipe Tweak

This was my very first attempt at tweaking a beloved recipe to make it gluten-free.  I started really basic with substituting cornstarch for wheat flour.  It made the sauce just a slightly different texture (ever so slightly more gelatinous) and much thicker upon reheating the leftovers but aside from that wasn't noticeable (nothing a little extra broth couldn't fix). Now that I've been at this a few months and have a fully stocked gluten-free kitchen, I would instead swap my favorite gluten-free all purpose flour (Pamela's Artisan All-Purpose Flour) for the wheat flour.  Either way though, this ends up being delicious and really unnoticeably gluten-free.

Beef Stew
barely adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

1 (3-lb) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes)
3 Tbsp oil
2 onions, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste (check that it's gluten free)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup red wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (Swanson brand is gluten free)
1 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
4 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
hot mashed potatoes

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Dry beef with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a oven proof casserole over medium-high heat until smoking. Brown beef in batches (as avoid overcrowding) for about 10 minutes a batch and set aside. 
  2. Add remaining oil over medium heat and add onions.  Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in wine, scrapping up an browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add broth, thyme, bay leaves, and beef (with all the juices).  Bring up to a simmer then cover and place in oven to bake for 1 hour.
  3. Stir in potatoes and carrots and return to oven to cook until beef is tender (about 1 more hour).
  4. Remove from oven and bring to a boil on stove. Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water until smooth.  Add mixture to boiling stew and stir.  Allow to return to boil for approximately 5 minutes or until the sauce reaches the desired consistency.  Serve over a layer of hot mashed potatoes. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

The New Year and a Reboot

It is the beginning of 2015 and like most people, I have some goals.  I want to exercise more, read more, and communicate better with others. One of my goals is to revive my food blog.  I haven't used it a lot but as I look back over it, I am able to watch my journey as a cook.  It's kind of cool to be able to see the recipes I was trying in a particular point in our life.  It's also cool to see, after my son was diagnosed with multiple food allergies, that I was able to adapt and learn and still provide our family with nourishing and tasty meals. In restarting my blog I'm hoping to document and allow others to reenter my cooking journey as I embark on my next cooking adventure.

A little over a week ago, I was diagnosed with celiac sprue, otherwise know as celiac disease.  I will be heading to a dietician on Monday and then onto a gastroenterologist on Thursday so I hope to know much more about celiac disease after those appointments.  Until then, here's a summary of what I know about celiac disease.  It means that my body responds to any gluten (a protein in wheat, rye, barley) by attacking the lining of my small intestine.  I'm sure there is more nuance there and I fully intend to correct this information when I understand it more clearly. They treat this disorder, not with medication, but by eliminating gluten from the diet.  With a gluten-free diet, my gut should heal and my symptoms subside.  Unfortunately, this gluten-free diet must be followed for life because there is no known cure for celiac disease.

The entire concept of gluten-free for life is overwhelming.  I rarely eat Oreos but the concept of never eating an Oreo ever again is a little difficult to wrap my mind around. I really enjoy making and eating food.  My identity is wrapped up in being a person who really enjoys trying new recipes and prides herself on providing really good food to her family and guests.  Gluten-free seems to throw a wrench in that.  Over the last couple of years I've learned that I often express love for others by making them food.  Will I be able to continue that?  I'm uncertain but I hope so.

In the next few months and years, I hope to master this disorder.  I hope to find ways to adapt recipes I already love and find new recipes that my family and I can truly enjoy.  I hope to get to the point that gluten-free for life isn't such a big deal.  That's the goal and I hope to use this blog to get there.  So away we go!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Elias' Birthday Cupcakes

I've made these cupcakes for Elias' birthday the last two years in a row.  As I rarely repeat birthday creations, that's saying something.  They are that good.  The pumpkin cupcake is moist and delicious and so appropriate as we enter fall.  The frosting is creamy and sweet (but not too sweet) and wonderfully spiced.  They are an awesome combination.  Try them out. You won't regret it.

Browned Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes
barely adapted from Baked Perfection

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup packed brown sugar (dark if you have it)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. In a saucepan, melt your butter over medium heat. Continue cooking, swirling the pan, until the butter turns golden brown and has a delicious, nutty aroma.  Pour the browned butter into a bowl immediately (to prevent it from over browning) and let cool a bit.  Revel for a minute in the delicious smell. 
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, sugars, eggs and browned butter.  Add flour mixture to the wet and whisk until just combined.
Fill muffin tins until 3/4-full.  Bake until cake tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer tin to wire racks and cool completely.
Makes 15 cupcakes.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
not at all adapted from Baked Perfection

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low.  Add sugar, 1 cup at a time and then add cinnamon and vanilla.  Mix until smooth.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Honey Barbeque Meatloaf

I made meatloaf. That may not sound too exciting or revolutionary but with a kid who's allergic to eggs, that's not normally an option. I found this egg-less meatloaf recipe and decided to give it a try.  I was thinking it would taste much like our family favorite of barbeque meatballs.  It definitely has a different flavor.  It reminds me a lot of the honey barbeque chicken that they use to have at KFC when I was a kid.  Do they still have that?

Anyway, the kids (and Tyler) thought it was a little too spicy so I might cut down the spice next time I try it.  I will definitely try it again though.

Honey Barbeque Meatloaf
from Six Sisters Stuff

1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
3/4 cup barbeque sauce, divided
2 Tbsp honey, divided
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
  1. Mix together beef, bread crumbs, 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, mustard, 1/2 cup barbeque sauce, 1 Tbsp honey, salt and pepper. (Use your hands; it's good for you!)
  2. Form into a loaf and place in a greased loaf pan.
  3. Mix together remaining barbeque sauce, honey and Worcestershire sauce. Spread half of this over the meat mixture.  
  4. Bake in a 350F oven for 45 minutes.  Slice and drizzle with remaining sauce mixture.  Enjoy!
Serves 4-5 people.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Apple Cinnamon Donuts

We made donuts a couple of weeks ago.
This guy had never gotten to taste a donut before.  He was pretty excited to help out.
I made some very minor adaptations to Food Allergy Mama's recipe to account for the fact that Asher can now have baked dairy.  Here's the recipe as I made it:
Apple Cinnamon Donuts
adapted from The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book

oil for frying
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce (3/8 cup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar (3/8 cup)
1 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 1/4 all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

  1. In a large pot, heat 2 to 3 inches of oil until a candy thermometer inserted reaches 375F.
  2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the applesauce, vanilla, and the 3/8 cup sugar.  Add butter and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt with a wire whisk.  Add the flour mixture and the milk alternately to the applesauce-butter mixture. If needed, add more flour until the dough is smooth and not overly sticky.
  3. Transfer the dough to lightly floured surface. Knead for about a minute and roll out to a thickness of 1/2 inch. Dip a doughnut cutter into flour and cut dough. Remove trimmings, reroll and repeat the process as needed.
  4. Drop a couple donuts into the hot oil.  Fry donuts until they rise to the surface, about 2 minutes, and turn over to fry other side. Once donuts are golden on both sides, lift out with metal tongs and drain on paper towels.
  5. Mix the rest of the sugar and cinnamon and put in a bag. Place warm donuts, one at a time, in bag and shake to coat. Enjoy!
Makes 6 donuts and 6 donut holes.
These are seriously delicious and they make your house smell awesome!  I think this will be a fall tradition in our house. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Korean Beef

Originally this recipe was supposed to be a slow cooker recipe.  It would certainly work well as that but when I made it, it was 5:00 and I needed to get dinner on the table fast.  I know it sounds a little weird to use ground beef in an Asian recipe but I promise that it works.

Korean Beef
minorly adapted from 365 Days of Slow Cooking

1 lb lean ground beef 
1/4 cup brown sugar  
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp garlic powder  (or 4 garlic cloves, minced)
1/4 tsp ground red pepper  
1 tsp minced ginger  
1 Tbsp tomato paste
Sliced green onion, for garnish
  1. Brown beef.  
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic powder, red pepper, ginger and tomato paste. Pour over cooked beef and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer meat and sauce, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until sauce has cooked down.
  4. Serve over hot rice.  Garnish with green onions if you feel like being fancy.
Serves 4.

If you are interested in trying the slow cooker version, check it out here