Archive for the ‘Gluten free advice’ Category

When I worked for my college newspaper, a writer turned in a story with the following opening line…”Here’s a hot tip!” I happened to be in the newspaper office when the article was read by the editor. Let’s just say I’ve never started an article with “Here’s a hot tip!”…until now.

Here’s a hot tip! When I find a recipe on a web site, I e-mail it to myself (often an option on most food sites). I’m not a big fan of creating a “recipe box” for each site as they often encourage. Instead, within my e-mail account I’ve created folders to store e-mails I want to keep. One of the folders is entitled, “recipes to try.” It also works when I find something in a magazine–I find it on-line and e-mail it to myself. Voila! Since I’ve been doing this, I never forget recipes I’ve seen or have to go back searching for “such and such recipe I came across one day.” I have it at my fingertips. I love it!

One such recipe was Rachael Ray’s roasted jalapeno poppers. I wasn’t a regular consumer of jalapeno poppers in my former (wheat-eating) life, but once again, tell me I can’t have something and I’m ravenous for it. My recent trip to the south only piqued my interest in all things fried. Fried catfish, fried shrimp, fried ochre; I even saw fried corn on the cob on one menu. I couldn’t eat any of it, of course, so this recipe takes out the fried and replaces it with flav-a.

Roasted jalapeno poppers
Adapted from Rachael Ray’s recipe


  • 10-12 large jalapeno peppers
  • 2 ounces feta cheese
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces shredded smoked pepper Jack cheese, or other hot pepper cheese, or extra-sharp Cheddar
    (I used pepper jack, which made them very spicy. If you want a milder flavor, substitute cheddar.)
  • 2 tablespoons minced green onion


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Cut each pepper off lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet. If peppers do not sit flat on the baking sheet, slice a thin piece off the bottom of the pepper so it will not roll around.

Mash the feta, cream cheese, shredded cheese and onion together and stuff the peppers with the mixture.

Roast for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the peppers are tender and the cheese is brown at the edges and bubbly.

These little boats of bubbly goodness brought tears to my eyes, and not just because they were super spicy. Their flavor is so perfect–the cheese is tangy, crusty and hot while the pepper takes on a sweetness in comparison, just tender enough but still has a bite. You must give these a try, and that, too, is a hot tip.


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I can’t do rides anymore. About 10 years ago the thrill went out and the pain came in. The jerking back and forth, stomach in your throat, head banging sort of excitement is lost on me. I used to love it…the Tilt-o-whirl, the Ferris Wheel, the big boat that rocks insanely high back and forth, even the Scrambler. Remember the Scrambler? It’s aptly named. All of this free-flying fun first experienced at the Pine County Fair, along with the illicit gambling at BINGO (I didn’t know I was gambling.) were relished each summer.

No longer. Now I go for the food. Mini Tom Thumb donuts, deep-fried cheese curds, corn dogs, elephant ears and all you can drink milk are some of my earliest State Fair memories from the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”–the Minnesota State Fair. Now I dine on Indiana sweet corn dipped in butter and that curly fried potato. I can’t complain. I shouldn’t complain. But I’m going to.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that he’s taking a funnel cake tour of the Midwest. Instead of being envious (I so am.), I determined to make my own gf funnel cake as I anticipate this year’s State Fair. I’m still on vacation, so my rations were limited, but friends, I inspired myself with this little dandy. I’m not sure I’ve ever inspired myself, but when the golden brown, lacey-puffed, haphazard donut cake came out of the hot oil, I sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar (all I had) and bit into the delicate fried dough…BINGO!

I used Alton Brown’s recipe as a guide, substituting where I needed to. I’ll include his recipe here and let you know what I used instead in italics.

Gluten free funnel cakes


  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons) 6 tablespoons Land-o-Lakes whipped butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar McCormick cinnamon and sugar mix
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt I omitted because my butter was salted
  • 1 cup flour One cup Pamela’s Baking and Pancake Mix
  • 1 cup eggs, about 4 large eggs and 2 whites One cup egg beaters
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Powdered sugar, for topping McCormick cinnamon sugar mix


Boil water, butter, sugar, and salt together in a saucepan. Add flour and work it in until it is all incorporated and dough forms a ball. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes. With mixer on lowest speed, add eggs, 1 at a time, making sure the first egg is completely incorporated before continuing. Once all eggs have been added and mixture is smooth, put dough in a piping bag fitted with a number 12 tip. (I used a large ziplock bag and just cut a little hole in the end for piping.) Heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a heavy pan. Pipe dough into oil, making a free-form lattice pattern; cook until browned, flipping once (use a spatula and fork together to avoid splattering oil everywhere). Remove cake from oil, drain on paper towels, and top with powdered sugar. Continue until all of the batter is used.

I noticed that the Minnesota State Fair has a 2011 gluten-free list; this is not a commentary on the Indiana State Fair, but it would be great if all the fairs would do this. I look forward to rooting out other gf things to clog my arteries this year, but until then, my funnel cake will more than suffice. I’m so encouraged that even without all the ingredients I needed, it’s still possible to make something delicious. Never give up on trying to convert recipes to make them gluten-free. You won’t regret it!

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We’re on our big beach vacation and just arrived at our condo this afternoon. Yesterday was a nine-hour tour in the car with our two hunyuks. (That’s what my parents always called us; not sure what it means but it seems fitting. It’s probably Norwegian or something. Even better.) The day was dotted with fighting from the backseat and several belly laughs from the front when little Owen, 4, asked, “Did we bring the Internet with us?” Yes, in fact, we did bring the Internet with us. Mommy has to blog.

It turns out that Interstate 65 is lined not only with kudzu, a viney plant that apparently covers over 7 million acres of the Southeastern US, but various eateries–some impressive, some not so much for the gluten free patron. Our stop yesterday fell into the not so much category. I was so excited to try some authentic Southern cuisine and knew that even though I couldn’t have the fried catfish, the sides would surely be to my liking. This particular establishment doesn’t believe in seasoning food. I won’t mention the name. I’m not a food critic, but I can criticize food. This did not taste good. However, we were all charmed by the big Mason jars that held our giant beverages and the server who called us “y’all.”

Today, however, we found ourselves at a familiar place–The Mellow Mushroom (pizza). Out of the kindness of my heart I told my husband we could stop so he could get something tasty and Amelia and I would find something we could eat. To my astonishment and joy, I found that they not only have a gluten-free pizza crust, it is by far the best gf pizza crust I’ve ever had. After some discussion behind the counter, it was revealed that the crust came from Still Riding Pizza (www.stillridingpizza.com). On their web site you can find out if their crust is used in any restaurants in your area or you can order your own crust to make pizza at home. I fully intend to do that. Thanks, Mellow Mushroom in Enterprise, AL for improving my culinary life and that of my young daughter. I noticed that not one restaurant in Indiana was listed…I have a new mission it seems. No one should have to say, “It’s okay,” after eating pizza, and I won’t have to anymore. Hooray!

On that note, I have to go put these crazy hunyuks to bed.

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Back in the day, I used to order lasagna at Italian restaurants. It was a treat because lasagna wasn’t something I made at home very often. I realized the other day that I’ve only made lasagna once since I’ve been gluten free. The noodles I used were a brown rice variety and the result was sort of gluey. Not ideal for lasagna. It turned me off and I hadn’t tried it again until today.

After a couple hours at the pool…lasagna doesn’t readily come to mind. But…I had most of the ingredients, and in my house, that often dictates what’s for dinner. Most of the time I feel like I’m on an episode of “Chopped,” a show that features chefs who are given a basket of odd ingredients from which they’re supposed to make something delicious. I’m not a chef, so this makes it even more of a game!

I decided to adapt Rachael Ray’s “Sloppy Lasagna” recipe so I could use any kind of noodle I had on hand–in this case, spaghetti (Heartland corn and rice blend). Oh yum; I’m so glad I tried again.


(This recipe makes a ton–you could easily cut it in half.)

  • 2 pounds gluten free noodles of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground meat of your choice (I used Italian turkey sausage)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup chicken stock or white wine
  • 1 (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
  • A handful basil leaves, torn
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups milk, eyeball the amount
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 cups fresh ricotta cheese


Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Salt the water, then add the pasta and cook to a little shy of al dente. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot or large skillet over medium heat. Add the meat, press it into an even layer and brown it for 3 to 4 minutes before moving. Turn the meat and add the onions. Stir and cook a few minutes to soften, then add the garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook for a couple of minutes, then stir in the tomato paste, wait for 1 minute then add the chicken stock or wine. Reduce for a minute more, then add the tomatoes, breaking them up as you stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the basil.

While the sauce simmers, in a medium sauce pot, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the corn starch. Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in the milk and nutmeg, and season with salt, pepper, to taste. Let cook for a couple of minutes to thicken, then stir in 1/2 cup of the grated cheese and turn off the heat.

Heat a broiler.

Add the meat sauce to the bowl with the pasta and toss. Layer half of the pasta into a lasagna pan and scatter with dollops of fresh ricotta cheese. Top with remaining pasta. Pour the white sauce over the pasta and scatter the remaining 1 cup of the grated cheese over the top. Put under the broiler to brown and bubble. Remove from the broiler and serve.

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Since I’m on this breadcrumbs kick, it struck me that I could use the new gluten free Rice Krispies as a crunchy coating on chicken!

I love Chicken Parmesan. Needless to say, I haven’t had it since I kissed my gluten goodbye. Actually, I didn’t even get a chance to kiss it. Let me rephrase: I haven’t had it since gluten was ripped from my life. That’s more fitting. In hindsight, I should have had one last gluten gluttony…some donuts, a pizza, maybe a big fat cake. Oh, well.

Anywho…before I tried to do the parm, I decided to do a test run with something a little more simple to see if the crust would work. It’s all about the crust, after all. As Anne Burrell likes to say, “Brown food tastes good.” She’s so right.

I pounded out several chicken breasts, dredged them first in Pamela’s Ultimate Pancake and Baking Mix, then in beaten eggs and finally in ground up gf Rice Krispies (just whirred them up in my little food processor). I generously seasoned up the Pamela’s and Rice Krispies with salt and pepper.

I put the stove on medium and put a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil in a skillet. After about 4 minutes on each side, I got a beautiful golden brown crust. My daughter LOVED it and so did my husband and I. Now I’m all set for some Chicken Parmesan! Tyler Florence’s recipe has been searing a hole in my brain for quite some time now. I can hardly wait!

I also mixed up some Rice Krispie treats using the gf Krispies and some Fruity Pebbles. Also a big hit with the kiddos!

Comment from old Blogger post:

Anonymous said…
My mom is a huge fan of chicken fingers – I have a breading you might like:1 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 teas thyme
1 teas basil
salt/pepper to tasteI do the normal flour, egg bath, bread crumbs and then I bake them on a pan with a rack 25-30 minutes at 375. (leftover breading freezes VERY well) We pair that with an apricot sauce 1 cup apricot preserves, 2 teas dijon mustard, 1 teas dill weed heated in microwave a minute or so. Yumm!

I’ve tried the rice krispies with this and it works well and adds crunch!! My mom would eat these and oven roasted red potatoes every night if I fixed it!!! LOL! Karen R.

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Recipes calling for bread crumbs used to keep me from making a host of recipes that sounded good to me. I just didn’t think things would taste good with the gluten free alternatives. I soon discovered that there were several options that worked and didn’t detract from the flavor of the dish.

I started with Rice Chex. I ground them up into a coarse meal texture and used them in place of breadcrumbs in meatballs, meatloaf and other recipes. Delicious and cheap! One time, though, I found myself with only Corn Chex in the cupboard and the meatballs I made came out tasting (and smelling) vaguely of a pig farm. I don’t recommend it.

Since then, I’ve graduated to whirring up chunks of my Ener-G Light Tapioca bread in my handy-dandy three-cup food processor. It works perfectly and the bread is mild enough that it acts as a binder without adding any additional unwanted flavors.

There are prepackaged gluten-free breadcrumbs but I find them to be beyond my budget. With so many other good options, I opt for making my own.

Which leads me to the perfect vehicle for said crumbs…salmon cakes. I’ve seen many chefs make crab cakes, salmon cakes, all kinds of cakes, and they all use breadcrumbs, of course. I was determined to try my hand at it as I’d enjoyed many a little tasty crab cake before my unfortunate condition was discovered.

I know, I know…I tend to favor Ina’s recipes. I’m sorry, but I just enjoy the fact that she never mucks things up with strange ingredients–it’s just good, clean food. (Okay, and I secretly want to BE her.) So I used her recipe for Salmon Cakes and we had them last night. I may have gained several pounds in one sitting because I couldn’t stop. Such is often the result when I finally have something for which I’ve been pining. (Same deal happened with the pie.)

There are a lot of ingredients. So if you shy away from that, I understand, but I would hate for you to miss this! It also involves a lot of chopping, which for some reason I find therapeutic. So hunker down and you’ll reap the benefits of this sweet little cake. Doug put his on a hamburger bun with the sauce on top and he said it made a great sandwich. I ate them as is and…yummy!

Salmon Cakes
(Ina Garten’s recipe, gluten free comments mine)
with Lemony Horseradish Sauce (recipe mine!)


  • 1/2 pound fresh salmon (I used frozen, thawed, that I already had.)
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 1/2 cups small-diced celery (4 stalks)
  • 1/2 cup small-diced red bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 1/2 cup small-diced yellow bell pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (Frank’s Red Hot–I used a bit more cause I like the spicy!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons crab boil seasoning (Old Bay)
  • 3 slices stale bread, crusts removed (I used Ener-G Light tapioca in food processor–enough to yield one cup.)
  • 1/2 cup good mayonnaise (Hellmann’s Light is a good option.)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (Grey Poupon)
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the salmon on a sheet pan, skin side down. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked. Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and refrigerate until cold.

3. Meanwhile, place 2 tablespoons of the butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, parsley, capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat and cook until the vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

4. Break the bread slices in pieces and process the bread in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. You should have about 1 cup of bread crumbs. Place the bread crumbs on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for 5 minutes until lightly browned, tossing occasionally.

5. Flake the chilled salmon into a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Shape into 10 (2 1/2 to 3-ounce) cakes. I made mine smaller so I could handle the flipping more easily.

6. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. In batches, add the salmon cakes and fry for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until browned. (Make sure you wait til they get a really good brown crust on them before you flip–they stay together much better and are more delicious.) Drain on paper towels; (Ina says to keep them warm in a preheated 250 degree F oven and serve hot but I found that my cakes got dark in the oven…maybe try a lower temp.)

Lemony Horseradish Sauce

2 tablespoons Woeber’s Horseradish Sandwich Pal (You could use prepared horseradish here–I didn’t have any, but I always have some Pal on hand! Add more if you want even more horseradish flavor.)
1/2 cup Hellmann’s Light mayonnaise
Juice and zest of one lemon

Mix it all up and dip your little cakes in it or make them larger and serve your cake on a bun. Any which way, you’ll love it!

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Traveling with Celiac is always a challenge. We’re at my parents this week and though my mom is very mindful of how we need to eat, it’s always hard to be away from my own kitchen. I brought a loaf of Ener-G bread, some cereal and Nutella, of course. But in my fervor to pack the Nutella, I forgot a couple things. We’re in a small town but thankfully even small-ish stores carry some good replacements these days.

I remember one time I went out of town and was completely unprepared. I didn’t bring any gf snacks and found myself hungry a lot of the time. I was staying with a friend and literally ate fruit the entire weekend because I felt like a weirdo asking to go to the store to buy myself some food! I’ve never let that happen again. I am not someone who handles hungry well.

It turns out that this blog is rewarding in a way I didn’t anticipate. My mom reads the blog and when we arrived she said, “I tried to buy Nutella and Berry Kix and they were completely sold out!” I told her it was because everyone here is reading the blog. So next time you’re going out of town, drop some hints about your favorite snacks. Thanks, Mom!

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