Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm as ready as I'll ever be.
I'll do the turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy tomorrow.
My onions and celery are sauteed and my gluten free bread cubes are dried out and ready to be turned into stuffing.
My sweet potatoes are mashed and ready to be heated and topped with toasted pecans and maple syrup.
I made a small waldorf salad at the request of my celiac son, and my green beans are ready to go.
I need to bake rolls in the morning, and at some point my husband needs to assemble and bake his apple pie.
My gf cookie crumb crust is ready and waiting for my son's sugar free banana pudding.
And I have managed not to sample my store-bought pumpkin pie!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Turkey

It seems like I should have another week before Thanksgiving, dang it.

Anyway, this morning after my husband reminded me that I needed time to thaw the turkey, I decided I had better go buy the turkey.

It was so simple last year. I went to Smith's, I looked at their $5 turkey and it said gluten-free.

This year, I went to Smith's and instead of Norbest turkeys, their cheap turkeys were Private Selection turkeys, their in-house brand. And dang it, they not only did it not say gluten-free, Modified Food Starch was on the ingredients list. I hate that stuff, it can be anything. They didn't even have a 1-800 number on the package to make it easy to check. So I complained to the manager. And then I reloaded my 3 boys into the car and went home and called Jennie-O.

Jennie O said all her turkeys are gluten free, but her gravy packets are not gluten free (surprise!), and she even seemed to know what she was talking about. I said "It would be nice if you labeled them," and she said, "If there was any wheat, barley or rye in them we would put it on the label." So apparently Jennie-O is a truth in labeling company.

Next, I refueled the kids with gluten free muffins, reloaded the kids, drove to where my son thought he saw a Fresh and Easy store (he's usually right about these things, but not today), drove to where I knew there really was a Fresh and Easy Store and bought a Jennie-O fresh, young turkey for $.99 a pound. I decided that if I had to pay real money for a turkey I was not going to thaw said turkey out in a hurry.

I have also completed almost all my shopping (hubby forgot he needed sandwich bags, so I'll have to make a quick stop somewhere, and I probably forgot something, too). Tonight, I roasted my sweet potatoes, and made my cranberry chutney. Oh and I broke down and just bought myself a pumpking pie. Not a huge one, but I figured it would be one less thing to make, and the gluten-free monkey assured me he is definitely not interested in it. Tomorrow's project: gluten-free dinner rolls, and gluten-free dried bread for stuffing. I might still get it all done....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Roast Turkey and Gluten-free Turkey Gravy

This is the turkey recipe I use, it keeps the breast meat from drying out. I got it a few years ago from one of my sisters-in-law. She also gave me her gravy recipe and I adapted it to GF last year by using sweet rice flour as the thickener. I was pleasantly surprised that, unlike cornstarch, the sweet rice flour thickened the gravy, but did not turn it into a gelatinous blob when I put the leftover gravy in the refrigerator. I buy my sweet rice flour from the nearest Japanese grocery store.

Roast Turkey

Remove top rack, and put other rack in lowest position in the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove giblets from thawed or fresh turkey. Rinse the turkey and pat it dry. Tuck the drumsticks and wingtips under skin flaps. Brush the breast with melted butter (a couple of tablespoons is plenty). Salt the cavity. Set turkey on a rack in a broiling pan UPSIDE DOWN. Brush bottom of turkey with more melted butter (again, a couple of tablespoons, or so).

Roast for 1 hour.
Remove pan, reduce heat to 325 degrees, and rotate the turkey to breast up using clean potholders. Roast until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165 degrees and the thigh reaches 175 degrees, about 1-2 hours. Let it rest 30-40 minutes, before carving.

Gluten-free Turkey Gravy

1 Tbsp. canola oil
giblets and neck
1 onion, chopped
4 c. chicken broth (gluten free!)
2 c. water
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
3 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
1 c. chicken broth
salt and pepper

Heat the oil. Brown the giblets for 5 minutes . Cook onion for 3 minutes. Cover and cook over low for 20 minutes.

Add broth and water and scrape pan. Bring to a boil. Add poultry seasoning and simmer 30 minutes, skimming foam. Strain broth and hold in a pitcher (in the fridge if you are making it ahead of time).

After your turkey is roasted and resting, melt butter over med-low heat. Whisk in flour. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly. Bring broth in pitcher to a simmer if it is cool. Gradually add broth to roux, whisking constantly. Simmer until thick 30 minutes. Pour drippings off roasting pan, let the fat rise and separate from drippings in one of those handy fat separating measuring cups, I use a 4-cup one for this job. Deglaze pan with chicken broth and reduce drippings by half, about 5 minutes. Strain into gravy and heat and season.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Turkey Day update

The big dessert decisions have been made, kinda. My dear husband said he didn't want to buy a pie, and that he'd make one. Which is OK, except that I don't want flour flying around the kitchen while my little celiac is around or while I am preparing other Thanksgiving goodies. SO, I made several pie crusts today while my son was at school and stuck them in the freezer. (I rarely bake with regular flour anymore.) Then I spent a good chunk of time decontaminating the kitchen! I'll let my husband do the rest of the work later. He's still pondering what kind of filling he wants.

I, on the other hand, have decided that since I don't like pie crust, and I was totally grossed out by the amount of butter and shortening I put in the pie dough today, that I'm going to try making a pumpkin custard or a crustless pumpkin pie (it'll be gluten-free, so I'll see if I can convert my boys to pumpkin).

My sweet little diabetic celiac said he wants a banana pie with a Mi-Del gingersnap crust, so my plan is to make him a sugar-free banana pudding pie. (Although, I think I'm going to look around for some GF graham crackers or something instead of the gingersnaps.)

While I was doing my grocery shopping in Wal-Mart, I checked out their turkey selection. Most turkey should be gluten-free (but you never know!) and you can always call the company to check, but I like to support companies who do label so I checked for gluten-free labels. Anyway, they had Jennie-O and Butterball frozen turkeys, neither of which were labeled, and a Honeysuckle White, which didn't say gluten-free, but did say "No added MSG or Gluten," so I'll keep it in mind.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving, Version 2.0

Last year was our first gluten-free Thanksgiving. It was just us, at our house, no guests. My husband (he's the best!) and I tag-teamed it and cooked it all. It was crazy! So after the holiday was over, I sat down and wrote myself a plan for this year. It took me awhile to figure out where I saved it, but I pulled it out today and I'm ready to do it again. Hopefully, with a little less craziness!

This year I am going to invite my husband's parents to join us. We'll have two diabetics at the table and one celiac. And everybody needs to feel like they got a Thanksgiving dinner that fit their idea of Thanksgiving dinner.

So here's my working Menu, all tentative and adjustable.

Appetizers to pick at while we cook and wait: Crudite (I love that word!), dip, pickles, olives, nuts, cheese and crackers.

The Main Event:
Turkey with cranberry sauce
Mashed potatoes and turkey gravy
Sweet potatoes with maple syrup and roasted pecans
Green beans
Drinks (we don't drink alcohol, so it will probably be diet soda or punch, or maybe just ice water with lemon slices)

Dessert: Pie and pie-ish sort of things

And here's my timeline

Early November: Buy the Thanksgiving Game Every year we get a new board game to play together after the big meal. Last year I forgot to buy it until the day before and I had a hard time finding the one I wanted.
Decide what to do about dessert! I have several considerations here. First, the non-celiacs are going to want "real" pie; last year I ordered it from the bakery around the corner, and I will probably do the same thing again. Second, what kind of pies? Third, what kind of pie does the celiac want and can I convince him to let me make him a dessert that has fewer carbs than an actual pie? (He's one of the diabetics.) Fourth, am I really the only person who likes pumpkin pie? Dang it! And should I get a whole pumpkin pie for myself or should I make pumpkin custard (I'm really not a fan of pie crust) or should I just settle and eat the cherry?
Make the dough for my husband's favorite non-GF rolls, roll them out and freeze them. I want to get this done while my little celiac is at school, so I have plenty of time to decontaminate the kitchen. It's too stressful to do it the day of, and most bread dough's freeze great. I'll just let them thaw and rise and bake them on the big day. It's too stressful to have flour flying around the kitchen on the big day.

Two weeks out: Make a grocery list. Start shopping for shelf-stable items.
Buy a gluten-free turkey: Last year I bought a Norbest turkey from Smith's. It was labeled gluten free. I was also given a turkey by my sweet neighbors, who won two turkeys gambling at a local casino (I live in Las Vegas, if you haven't already guessed). It was not a brand I recognized, it was not labeled gluten-free, and it was treated with broth, so I got on the Internet and did a search for the name of the farm, and found out that they were owned by a large company that I did recognize (I think it was Foster Farms, but I could be wrong). So I called up the large company, asked if the smaller company's turkey was gluten free and found out it was! Yeah, two turkeys! Now, some people just buy as much turkey as they need, but I figure if you are going to the trouble of doing a turkey, you should do a big turkey and freeze your leftovers.

One week out: Make bread for the stuffing, dry it in the oven and freeze it. Last year I waited until the week of Thanksgiving and it just made life hectic, so I'm going to try and make it earlier and freeze it. I use the stuffing recipe from Annalise Roberts' "Gluten-Free Baking Classics." Last year I made cornbread stuffing, but I think I might make regular stuffing this year.
If possible, make gluten-free dessert, and freeze it!
Roast and mash sweet potatoes. The rest of the year, I use the microwave, but for Thanksgiving, I like my sweet potatoes roasted in the oven. I think it kind of carmelizes the sugars and makes them even yummier. I've never frozen it before, but the Internet says you can freeze sweet potatoes, so I'm going to roast, mash and assemble my casserole and freeze it. I'll thaw it in the fridge overnight and then just heat it and top it on Thanksgiving.

Saturday night or Sunday morning: Start thawing the turkey in the fridge. You need 24 hours for every 4 pounds. I like to give myself a little extra time, because nothing is worse than trying to hack the frozen gizzards out of your bird on Thanksgiving morning! Been there, done that!

Monday: Make cranberry sauce. I really like homemade cranberry sauce, and it is easy to make, and it keeps well in the fridge. But if life gets hectic, I'll just use canned sauce. Last time I checked Ocean Spray was gluten free.

Tuesday: Finish grocery shopping.

Wednesday: Prep the turkey.
Make broth from the giblets.
Toast pecans for sweet potatoes.

Saute celery, onions, mushrooms for stuffing.
Make crudite, dip, assemble snack trays.
Make pumpkin custard? Maybe.
Pick up the pies.
Make sure I have ice cubes.
Straighten up the house before heading to bed.

Thanksgiving Day: Roast the bird.
Assemble and bake stuffing (not a big fan of stuffing the bird....)
Reheat sweet potatoes, top with maple syrup and nuts.
Make gravy.
Make mashed potatoes.
Cook the grean beans. I just really feel like you have to have something green, and carb-free, and my kids really like those frozen haricots verde (? the long, skinny green beans). I'll just throw these in the microwave. If my in-laws come and I get ambitious I might make a green salad, too.
Bake GF rolls. (Takes 40 minutes to rise, 20 minutes to bake)
Bake non-GF rolls. My notes say it takes 3 hours for them to thaw and rise, about 20 minutes to bake.

Carve turkey, set table!
Whew! And it will all be gone in 30 minutes or less!

So that's my plan, more or less, I'll fill you in on how it goes, as it goes. And I'm planning on posting my recipes, or links to my recipes, during the next few weeks.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Simple Sweet and Sour Pork

Simple Sweet and Sour Pork

1-1.5 lbs. boneless pork loin, sliced thin
1 T. canola oil
1 small onion, chopped into narrow wedges
1/2 bag frozen red, green, and yellow bell peppers
20 oz. can of pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved

1 T. brown sugar
3 T. Splenda
2/3 c. pineapple juice
2 T. cornstarch
2 T. soy sauce
1/4 c. rice vinegar

Combine sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Heat oil in pan and stir fry pork in batches. Keep warm. Meanwhile use pan spray on a microwave safe bowl and microwave the onion on high for 1 minute, then add the frozen peppers and cook for two more minutes or until heated through. In the same pan you cooked the pork in, heat your sauce over medium heat, until it bubbles and starts to thicken. Add about a 1/4 c. of sauce to peppers and onions in the bowl, toss to coat. Add pork and pineapple to the pan, and cook just until heated through. Serve over hot sticky rice. Makes 4 servings, although if everyone likes vegetables at your house, you might need the whole bag of peppers and a larger onion.

Make sure you use GF ingredients, especially your soy sauce. ( I have been using La Choy lately, because the Great Value Soy Sauce was reformulated recently and now has wheat in it. Stinkers.) I was going to call this a stir fry, but it's really not. You could use fresh peppers, and stir fry your vegetables and meat, but then it wouldn't be quite so simple, would it! You could also just add your vegetables to the pan with the pineapple and peppers, but certain people at my house do not like onions and peppers, and I find that this makes it easy to humor them. And leaves more vegetables for me. To make sticky rice: Buy a good bag of short-grained Asian-style rice, follow the directions on the bag. It's not that hard. Generally it is 3 parts rice to 4 parts water. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat down to simmer and put a lid on it. Cook for 20 minutes.

Gluten-Free "Fast and Friendly" Meatballs

"Fast and Friendly" Gluten-Free Meatballs

2 T. olive oil
20 oz. lean ground turkey, not turkey breast
1 egg
1/3 c. gluten-free bread crumbs
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. salt
2 T. Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 glass pan with olive oil and put in the oven while it is preheating. Mix rest of ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. (Use your hands.) Roll tablespoons of the meat mixture into balls. Transfer to pan and bake for 15 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and then bake for another 10 minutes.

I adapted this recipe from a recipe called Fast and Friendly Meatballs that I found on I save the crusts from my GF bread, or any gluten-free bread that has gone stale in a bag in a the freezer. Then when I need bread crumbs, I just break the bread slices into the blender and blend them up. If you want a more authentic meatball, you could use ground beef or meatloaf mix. This recipe makes between 25-30 walnut-sized meatballs. I quadruple the recipe and cook the meatballs on two large baking sheets (I got 117 meatballs this time). Then after the meatballs cool, I freeze them. This makes enough meatballs for about 5 meals. They are great with spaghetti sauce, just thaw and reheat them in the sauce. They are also delicious as an appetizer; cook them on low in a crockpot for about 3 hours with your favorite barbecue sauce.

A pan of meatballs ready to be baked.

Meatballs ready for the freezer.

Gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs is a definite crowd-pleaser at my house.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Making Your Own GF Mixes

Some of the mixes we took on vacation to Grandma's house: Two bread mixes, a pizza crust mix, a pancake mix, and a Chocolate Chip Cookie mix.

I make a lot of GF mixes to save time and make my baking simpler. I usually mix up a big batch of the Bread Flour Mix A from Annalise Roberts "Gluten Free Baking Classics" and then make a half dozen or so bread mixes that I can keep on hand. I just line up a half dozen containers with lids, and then measure each dry ingredient (except for the yeast) into my containers assembly-line style. (I use powdered milk in my baking so I actually measure in the dry equivalent of the milk, and then just add warm water instead of milk when I mix it up. In my case 3 T. of milk powder equals 3/4 c. of milk.) When you have all your ingredients in put the lids on tight and shake it up. If you don't shake it well and mix all your dry ingredients up, you get dry powdery lumps (probably from the sugar or gelatin). One of the nice things about her bread recipe is that she uses the same dry ingredients for sandwich bread, hamburgerand hot dog buns and dinner rolls, so I can use my bread mixes to make several different baked goods.

My strategy for other baked goods is this: Whenever I bake something that I don't already have a mix on hand for I have made a habit of making a couple of mixes along side my recipe. That way the next couple of times I bake that recipe, I won't have to bother mixing up the dry ingredients. You can make any mix, by combining your dry ingredients (except for yeast) in a container that can be sealed airtight, or a zipper-style plastic bag. Make sure you shake it up well, and label it.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Mama's Enchiladas (naturally gluten free)

My mom always made these enchiladas growing up and I love them! My recipe probably doesn't match hers exactly, but it is pretty close. I was pretty happy when I realized that they were easy to make gluten free, and even happier when I made them and my boys gobbled them up! My mom made them with ground beef when I was a kid, but I use ground turkey.

My Mama's Enchiladas

1 medium onion, diced fine

1 pound of lean ground turkey (not turkey breast!) or ground beef
1 15 oz. can of GF enchilada sauce (I usually use Rosarita, a ConAgra brand)
1 15 oz. can of refried beans (Rosarita again, usually green chile and lime, but any flavor will do)
1 small can of sliced black olives

about 12 GF corn tortillas (I usually use Great Value or Mission)

shredded cheddar cheese
pan spray
sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8 Pyrex casserole dish or similar pan. Brown the ground meat with the onion until the meat is no longer pink and the onion is soft. Drain the meat if necessary. In a mixing bowl combine the meat, refried beans, olives, 1/3 c. of enchilada sauce. Stir to combine. Lightly (!) spray each tortilla and pile them up on a plate, cover with a damp microwave safe paper towel, and cook on high in the microwave for 30-60 seconds until pile is warmed through. (This helps keep the tortillas from cracking.) Pour about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of your pan and spread it around. Let tortillas cool until you can handle them and then fill with about a 1/3 -1/2 cup of filling. Roll up the tortillas and fill the pan. (I usually do a row of 8 or so across, 2 along the side and a funny little square one in the corner.) Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Cover with tinfoil and heat in the oven until warm and bubbly. Remove tinfoil and top with cheese. Return to oven long enough to melt the cheese. Serve with sour cream.

You can also cook these in the microwave. If I'm in a hurry or if I don't want to heat up the house by turning on the oven I often do. The only difference that I can tell is that the edges get a little crunchy in the oven, but not in the microwave. Skip the tinfoil, cover with a microwave-proof paper towel, heat through until bubbly, top with cheese and heat through just long enough to melt the cheese.

It should be fairly easy to find gluten free ingredients for this recipe. I've listed a few of the brands that I use above, check the labels before you use them. I called ConAgra and they told me they label for gluten and the beans and enchilada sauce are gluten free.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

I thought this was a pretty loaf of gluten-free sandwich bread. I used the recipe from Annalise Roberts' Gluten-Free Baking Classics. This loaf is actually a couple of days old, but it is still nice and soft.

I get so many requests for the recipe, I thought I would come back and post a link to the recipe at Annalise Robert's web site, where you can find a recipe for a slightly larger loaf of sandwich bread than the one in her book, and many other recipes.

Here's a link to the bread pans I use, I find these Chicago Metallic pans don't overbrown the bread like my old non-stick or glass pans did.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gluten-free Au Gratin Potatoes

Today we had a gluten-free Easter feast. I made au gratin potatoes to go with the Ridge Creek spiral sliced ham from Sam's Club (clearly labeled gluten free), green beans amd fruit salad. I combined a couple of recipes and replaced the thickening flour with sweet rice flour. I thought they turned out really well. Here's the recipe.

Gluten-free Au Gratin Potatoes

5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and diced in 1/2" pieces, or thinly sliced
1 cup of water
3 T. butter
2 T. sweet rice flour
1 tsp. salt
pepper to taste
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Combine potatoes and water in 2-quart glass dish, cover and microwave on high for about 10 minutes, stirring every five minutes, and then uncovered for 5 minutes until potatoes are done and water is gone. (If potatoes are done and water remains, drain it off.) In a sauce pan, melt the butter, and whisk in the flour, salt and pepper and cook briefly. Heat your milk in the microwave and whisk the milk into the flour. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Stir in all but 1/3 cup of cheese. Stir until melted. Pour over potatoes in casserole dish and stir to combine. Top with remaining cheese. Cook uncovered in a 375-degree oven until cheese melts and begins to brown, about 15-20 minutes.

Sweet rice flour is a very handy gluten-free product. I use it to make white sauce, and for thickening soups, sauces and gravies. I find it that it doesn't get gelatinous when it gets cold like a sauce thickened with corn starch. I buy boxes of Koda Farms brand at a nearby Japanese market.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pears or Apples with Gluten-Free Gingerbread Cobbler

This recipe uses Annalise Roberts' Brown Rice Flour Mix. The recipe can be found at

Pears or Apples with Gluten Free Gingerbread Cobbler
4 medium pears or apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 cup water
2 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup Splenda or brown sugar

1 T. cornstarch

1 T. cold water

3/4 cup Brown Rice Flour Mix

3 T. granulated sugar
2 tsp. buttermilk powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. xanthum gum
3 T. canola oil

3 T. molasses
3 T. hot water
1 egg yolk

whipping cream

Spray and 8x8" Pyrex pan with cooking spray. Combine the pears, water, lemon juice and cinnamon in pan and stir. Cook in the microwave for 3 minutes. Stir, being sure to scoop the pears in the corners toward the center of the dish. Cook for another 3 minutes and stir again. Add the Splenda or brown sugar and stir it in. Mix the cornstarch into the cold water and stir it into the apple mixture. Cook for 2 minutes stirring halfway or until the mixture is slightly thickened.

While your fruit is cooking mix up your gingerbread cobbler. In a mixing bowl combine the Brown Rice Flour Mix, buttermilk powder, sugar, baking soda, spices, salt and xanthum gum. Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly with a whisk before adding the wet ingredients. Add the canola oil, molasses, hot water, and the egg yolk. Stir just until well blended. Drop by spoonfuls on top of the fruit. Return to the microwave and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the top is no longer wet and a toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool for a few minutes before removing it from the microwave (the fruit will be boiling hot). Whip the cream and sweeten with Splenda. Serve warm or cold.

I love this recipe. It is so easy to make in the microwave and has the texture of a steamed cake or pudding, but the gingerbread isn't gummy. It's the perfect dessert for a cold evening.

A couple of tips for diabetics. I don't like to bake with Splenda, it rarely turns out well. But Splenda works wonderfully in fruit and in whipping cream, so cut your carbs there and use portion control. If you aren't worried about carbs or calories, use sugar in the fruit and whipping cream. You could also use the Gingerbread Cake recipe from Gluten Free Baking Classics, or another GF gingerbread cake mix, but you only need 1 to 1 1/2 cups of batter. It doesn't look like much while it is raw, but the batter expands significantly and you don't want to boil it over in your microwave. (You could always make cupcakes out of the leftover batter.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

GF Microwave Caramel Popcorn

This recipe was the result of three things. First, my son made a snow globe for a kindergarten 3-D weather project, and after filling it up with corn syrup and water, I had LOTS of corn syrup left over. Second, I have been trying to think of or find recipes that are naturally gluten free. And third, I live in Las Vegas, and I spend the 6 months of the year that are blazing hot trying to avoid my oven, so I'm always looking for ways to use my microwave. I was so excited when this recipe worked.

Decadent 8-cup version.

Microwave Caramel Corn
8-16 cups popped popcorn (see note)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 unsalted butter, sliced into 4 pieces

1/8 c. light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking soda

(If you don't have an air popper, you can pop popcorn in the microwave. Take a brown paper lunch bag, put 1/3 cup of unpopped popcorn kernels in it, roll down the top a couple of times. Place it standing up, not on its side, in the microwave. Use your popcorn setting, or pop it for 2-3 minutes, and listen for the pops to slow down. When there is about 2 seconds between pops, or when you can see that your bag is about to overflow, your popcorn is done. My microwave has kind of a wimpy popcorn setting, so I hit it and then add 20 seconds. That gives me a full bag of popcorn, which is about 8 cups.
) Added 5/12/09: Apparently you can start a fire with a paper bag in some microwaves. I haven't had a problem, but I saw an online discussion where someone had. Anyway, you might want to check your microwave's manual or buy a microwave popcorn popper. At any rate be careful!

Once your popcorn is popped, dump it in a big bowl, shake it a little so the "old maids" fall down into the bottom. Then transfer the popcorn by hand to another large microwave safe bowl, leaving the old maids in the first bowl. Discard the old maids. Spray a large spoon lightly with pan spray and leave it with your bowl of popcorn. Tear off a couple of large sheets of waxed paper or tinfoil and spread them out on the counter.

In a 2-quart glass bowl, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, salt and vanilla. Heat it for 1 minute 30 seconds on high, then take the bowl out and stir it (I use a wire whisk) until it is well combined. Return the bowl to the microwave, and cook it for another minute. Pay attention, you do not want to burn it or let it overflow, you do want it to really boil. Remove it from the microwave and stir in the baking soda.
Working quickly, dribble the syrup over the popcorn. Use the spoon you sprayed and stir/toss the popcorn to coat it with caramel. Stick the bowl back in the microwave for 30 seconds, and then stir the popcorn again. Repeat this two times for a total of 1 minute 30 seconds, and 3 stirs. Spread the popcorn out on the waxed paper and let it cool until the coating is set. Store it in an airtight container.

My microwave is an 1100 watt microwave. Microwaves vary. Check the wattage on your microwave. You will have to vary the cooking times accordingly. If your microwave has less wattage you probably will have to cook the caramel and the popcorn longer. If your microwave has a higher wattage, you might need less time, or you could reduce the power and try using the same times. In any event, pay attention to it while it is cooking, use your eyes and your nose. You do not want to burn the caramel or popcorn, if you can help it, because it will make a stinky mess. Be very careful when you are handling the hot caramel; you can really burn yourself with it. You could vary this recipe by adding nuts, or other fun ingredients, to the popcorn.

Yummy 16-cup version.

Note: If you use 16 cups of popcorn you are going to have lightly coated, but still delicious, caramel popcorn. If you use 8 cups you will have decadent, sugary caramel corn. For every day snacking I usually make the 16 cup version, it doesn't mess the local diabetic up much. For a special occasion or holiday treats, make the sugary stuff. It's all really good. You could also double the caramel recipe and pour it over 16-cups of popcorn, however, you have to increase your cooking times by roughly half to get the same result.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gluten-Free Pizza

I have made a lot of homemade pizza. Most of it was not gluten free. Every Friday night was pizza night at my house, and every Friday night every one was happy (who doesn't like pizza?), and everyone ate their dinner, it was fun to have my kids help me (read: eat cheese, pepperoni and olives), and it was more economical than going out. It was fun, but it was also a strategy. Pizzeria pizza used to really mess up my son's blood sugar. But if I made it at home and used white whole wheat flour, part-skim mozzarella, turkey pepperoni, and served it with a salad, it didn't affect him more than any other meal. (Well, except for the post-pizza gluten bellyache, but we didn't know that back then.) So when my son was diagnosed with celiac, that was one of the things I mourned: pizza night with the hubby and kids.

During the first few weeks after diagnosis, we tried a few GF pizza crust mixes. They were all nasty. And then I found Annelise Roberts' book "Gluten Free Baking Classics." My husband took one bite of her pizza crust, and said, "Hey, this is really good." And now thanks to her wonderful crust recipe we are back to having pizza night.

Gluten-free pizza toppings.

For toppings, I use generally use Walmart's Great Value pizza sauce, sliced olives, and part-skim mozzarella, with Hormel's turkey pepperoni, and Canadian style bacon. They are all marked gluten free. Of course, your toppings are only limited by your imagination. (Her recipe is half whole grain, thanks to the millet and sorghum. Hormel's turkey pepperoni has been one of my favorite products for years: no one ever guesses it isn't regular pepperoni and it has 70 percent less fat in it.)

A pre-baked pizza crust.

The pizza dough is kind of like a really thick cake mix dough. The hardest part about making the pizza is spreading it out evenly in a circle. I have found that the easiest way to do that is to use a regular cookie sheet, spray it lightly and sprinkle it with corn meal. Then use an offset spatula sprayed with pan spray to spread the dough out. You let the dough rise for 30-40 minutes and pre-bake it. Then you cover it with your toppings and bake it again. The only change I've made to her recipe is to pre-bake it for 10 minutes instead of 15, and then to bake it with the toppings on it for 15 minutes instead of 10. We like our toppings a little more cooked than they were getting.

Piping hot turkey pepperoni and olive pizza.

My kids requested a "Hawaiian" pizza.

Each dough recipe makes one pizza. I usually make two pizzas for dinner. (I'd say they are about mediums.) That feeds two adults, two pizza-loving little boys and leaves ample for left-overs for the little boys' lunch the next day. I've found that you can bake two pizzas at once, but it works better if you make sure that the one that pre-bakes on the top shelf, is on the bottom shelf when you are baking your toppings, and vice versa.

For more information on "Gluten-Free Baking Classics" check out the link to the right to Annelise Roberts' Food Philosopher web site. Or check out my earlier posts about her book.

Note to diabetics: 1/8 of a pizza is 24g of carbs, before toppings. I usually give a combo bolus over an hour and a half and split it half and half.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gluten-Free Vegetable Lentil Soup

I feel so healthy when I eat this! And when the diabetic/celiac kid tasted mine and then asked for his own bowl, I really felt like a good mom. This soup is tasty and good for you.

Gluten-Free Vegetable Lentil Soup

1 T. canola oil, more or less, depending on your pan
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, chopped in small pieces
1 potato, peeled and chopped in small pieces
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
1 15-oz can of diced Italian-style tomatoes
4 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of lentils, picked through and rinsed if needed
2 big handfuls of fresh spinach, ripped into bite-size pieces
1 T. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste (I don't add any)
Parmesan cheese, grated

First make sure your ingredients are all GF. Heat oil in pan over medium. Add onion, carrots and potato and saute until the onion is soft. Add spices and saute for a minute. Add tomatoes, and chicken broth and lentils, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour. The lentils will be cooked after 30 minutes, but I like them cooked for 45-1 hour, to a softer consistency. Remove from the heat and add spinach and vinegar, give it a stir. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Makes about 10 cups.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Going gluten free at Walmart

After you go gluten free you start figuring out which companies are your friends. Having to read every label, every time you go shopping can be a real headache, not to mention time consuming. And gluten often ends up in products where you don't expect it. So I try to look for brands that I know label their products for gluten, or at least don't try to hide the gluten. I have to admit that I was surprised to find that Walmart does an excellent job of labeling their Great Value store brand products for gluten and allergens.

Pre-diagnosis, I used a lot of Great Value products simply because they were cheaper and I found them to be of very similar quality to name brands. Now I use even more Great Value items because they save me time and stress and money in the grocery store.

Here is a bottle of Great Value pizza sauce, and a can of Great Value sliced olives. Both are clearly marked GLUTEN-FREE in big letters. I used to buy Ragu pizza sauce, but the first time I read the label for gluten I decided it was probably gluten-free, but that I wasn't sure it was gluten free, and that I still had a lot of shopping and label reading to do. So I switched to the Great Value sauce. It's cheaper, it tastes good, it's labeled GF, and the only person in the family who can even tell the difference between the two sauces is my super-taster husband. Maybe some day I'll get around to calling Ragu, but for now I'm happy to use the Great Value sauce.

Gluten-free Shepherd's Pie

There are probably as many versions of shepherd's pie as there are shepherds. But this is my gluten-free version of the un-gluten free version that I used to make with a can of tomato soup. This is a quick and easy casserole; my kids like it and I always feel good about it, because even the non-vegetable lovers in the family get a healthy serving of veggies!

Gluten-free Shepherd's Pie
1 pound of lean ground turkey, not turkey breast
1 Tbsp. Mrs. Dash, grill seasoning for chicken
1-15 oz can of tomato sauce
1/2 tsp. of baking soda
2-15 oz cans of green beans, drained
4-5 cups of mashed potatoes
4 to 6 oz of shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

First, make sure all of your ingredients are GF. Crumble and brown the turkey in a large frying pan. I run the Mrs. Dash through my pepper mill to make it a little finer, but it'd be ok the way it is. Sprinkle the turkey with Mrs. Dash and cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add the tomato sauce and baking soda and stir. (The baking soda cuts the acidity of the tomato sauce.) Add the green beans, stir and bring it all to a simmer over medium heat. I usually let it simmer for 5 minutes or so, so that it's not too juicy under the potatoes. Taste for seasonings, you might want to add some salt or pepper, I don't usually add salt, but I do like pepper. Pour hot mixture into a 13x9" casserole dish, spread the hot mashed potatoes over the top, and top with the shredded cheese. If your ingredients are all hot, you can get away with tenting the top with tinfoil to melt your cheese. No oven involved. Of course you can heat or reheat it in a 350 degree oven until it is bubbly. If you are going to bake it, put the cheese on during the last 5 minutes.

If my family loved onions like I do, I'd saute half of a chopped onion and add it to the turkey burger. If you don't like canned beans, frozen or fresh green beans work, too. You can make your own mashed potatoes, but fake potatoes make this a really fast and easy dinner (make sure they are GF). I called the Mrs. Dash 1-800 number: All Mrs. Dash products are made with gluten free ingredients and on segregated lines, they are not however made in a segregated facility (they process wheat there on separate lines). This spice blend is great with poultry, but if you don't want to use it, I'd go with a spice combination that includes garlic, pepper, sweet red chili pepper, and Italian seasonings.
Note for diabetics: I usually count a serving as a section of casserole with about a 1/2 cup of potatoes on top. I bolus for 20g of carbs in each serving.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Calculating carbohydrates, and carb counts for Gluten-Free Baking Classics

Some of you may wonder about my "Notes for diabetics." My son has had type 1 diabetes and has used an insulin pump since he was 16 months old. I calculate his insulin doses based on the number of carbohydrates he eats. Commercial products come labeled. I calculate the carbohydrates per serving on homemade foods. I do this by adding the total number of carbohydrates in all the ingredients, figuring the number of servings, and then dividing the total carbs by servings. That gives you the number of carbohydrates per serving.

I have not yet baked my way all the way through Gluten-Free Baking Classics, so this list is incomplete, but here are my carb counts for some of Annalise Roberts' recipes. I haven't had any trouble with my insulin doses based on these counts, but if they give you trouble you might want to check my math.

Brown Rice Blend, 1/4 cup, 32 g
Bread Flour Mix A, 1/4 cup, 28 g
Cornbread, 1/9 of recipe 32 g
Cornbread, 1/12 of recipe 24 g
Blueberry muffins, 1/12 of recipe 33 g
Banana nut muffins, 1/12 of recipe 36 g
Banana nut loaves, 1/24 of recipe 18g
Chocolate ricotta muffins, 1/12 of recipe 36 g
Pumpkin Bread, made with 1/2 c. sugar and 1/2 c. Splenda, 1/24 of recipe 15 g
Pumpkin Bread, made with sugar, 1/24 of recipe 19 g
Pumpkin Muffins, 1/12 of recipe 38 g
Yellow Layer Cake, without frosting, 1/24 of recipe 29 g
Flourless Chocolate Cake, 1/12 of recipe 31 g
Vanilla Cupckes, without frosting, 1/12 of recipe 26 g
Vanilla Layer Cake, without frosting, 1/24 of recipe 23 g
Chocolate Fudge Cake, without frosting, 1/24 of recipe 25 g
Tart Shell Crust, 1/12 of recipe 15 g
Boston Cream Pie, 1/12 of recipe 42 g
Chocolate Chip Cookies, 51 cookies made with 1 T. cookie scoop, 15 g each
Pumpkin Cookies (from Food Philosopher web site), 4 dozen, 12 g each
Sugar Cookies, 4o cookies with sugar sprinkles, 12 g each
1 pound loaf of Basic or Buttermilk Sandwich Bread, 16 slices, 23 g each
Traditional Dinner Rolls, 12 rolls, 20 g each
Hamburger Buns, 6 buns, 40 g each
Pizza Crust, 1/8 of recipe 24 g
Buttermilk Pancakes, 8 pancakes per batch, about 22 g each

Gluten-free Taco Seasoning

I started making my own taco seasoning mix before my son was diagnosed with celiac disease, back in the good old days when we were only dealing with Type 1 diabetes. I was concerned about the amount of salt and the additives I couldn't identify in the mixes that you purchase. The first recipe makes enough mix for about 1 to 1.5 pounds of ground meat. The second recipe makes enough for 8 or 9 mixes; I make it in bulk and keep it in my pantry so that I don't have to mix it up every time I make tacos. You can make this without the salt and it tastes fine, I think it tastes better with just a little bit of salt. Make sure your ingredients are gluten free; spices generally are GF.

Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning (Mild)
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. corn starch
For medium heat add 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper.
For hot add 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper.

Combine in a bowl and stir to mix.
To use, brown about a pound of ground meat (I like to use lean ground turkey. Turkey, not turkey breast, it is too dry.) Sprinkle the mix over the top and add 2/3 cup of water. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is coated and sauce thickens and clings to the meat. Serve with corn tortillas, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, and chopped tomatoes and onions or any other taco topping that you enjoy.

Big Batch Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning (Mild)
1/2 c. chli powder
3 T. garlic powder, scant
3 T. onion powder, scant
2 tsp. oregano
4 tsp. paprika
3 T. cumin, scant
2 tsp. table salt
4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 c. corn starch
For medium add 1 tsp. ground red pepper.
For hot add 2 tsp. ground red pepper.
Combine in a pint jar with a lid and shake well. To use, sprinkle 2 1/2-3 T. of mix over 1-1.5 pounds of browned ground meat. Add 2/3 c. of water. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is coated with sauce and the water has cooked down.

This recipe is dedicated to my friend and sister Katie -- who grows a garden to be jealous of and doesn't eat food that has ingredients that she can't pronounce or identify. She is wise indeed.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gluten-free sugar cookies

I made the Gluten-Free Baking Classics sugar cookie recipe for the first time the other day. I made a batch of hearts for Valentine's Day for my kids. I thought they turned out great. Don't do it in a rush because you definitely need time to chill the dough. If you like them a little chewy, cut them a little thicker and cook them just till they start to turn colors. Great recipe, it'd be good frosted with pink frosting, but frosting and diabetes just don't mix. Oh well, you can't have it all.

Note for diabetics: I made 40 hearts that were about 2.5 inches across. I used all the dough. I figured a very modest 12 g of carbohydrates for each cookie, including the red sugar sprinkles.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A pan for GF dinner rolls

Annalise Roberts recommends a square cupcake pan for making her Traditional Dinner Rolls, but I couldn't find one. But I found this "mini-loaf pan" at Christmas-time in Wal-Mart for about $5. It works really well. It might be a seasonal item, though, I did see them on clearance recently. I do turn the oven temperature down 15 degrees because it is a dark pan.

Note for diabetics: I figure that in a batch of 12 rolls, each roll has 20 g of carbohydrates.

Gluten-free Hamburger Buns

A cheeseburger served on a hamburger bun from "Gluten-Free Baking Classics."

I have a house full of boys and hamburgers are a popular meal. When I started making hamburger buns out of "Gluten-Free Baking Classics" I thought I'd make a half-dozen, and freeze them individually. My celiac son would get a GF bun, and the rest of us would have hamburgers on purchased buns. But the GF hamburger buns smelled and tasted so good none of the non-celiacs wanted a purchased bun, and we haven't bought them since. They really are delicious, and they make your house smell wonderful when they are baking. An added bonus to everyone eating a GF bun, is that there is no way for a non-GF bun to contaminate the GF food. That makes serving dinner less stressful.

A batch of hamburger buns.

A couple of notes on making GF buns, the dough is really a batter, so you need a mold. I've tried making tinfoil molds, but they don't work very well. So I bought this Chicago Metallic muffin top pan on for less than $20. (The price has come down since I first posted.) It is worth every penny. The pan's manufacturers recommend turning down the oven temperature by 25 degrees, but I've found that that is too much and turning the heat down by 15 degrees works better. I spray the pan lightly and instead of dusting them with rice flour, I dust them with finely ground corn meal. After you mix up the dough it takes about 40 minutes for them to rise, and 20 minutes to bake. If you wrap them up well, they do freeze. (We rarely have leftovers!)

I get so many requests for this recipe, I thought I'd come back and add a link to Annalise Roberts web site where you can find her hamburger bun recipe, and many others.

Note for diabetics: I figure that in a batch of 6 rolls, each roll has 40 g of carbohydrates.

A clean muffin-top pan.

Gluten-free Oatmeal

One of the few things my son was really sad about not being able to eat was a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. So we were thrilled to find Gluten Free Oats. Their motto is "Our celiac family serving yours." This company started out as an Ag project by a boy with celiac who wanted to taste no-bake cookies and has turned into a company. They had great service and a quick turnaround when we ordered and the oatmeal is delicious. I ordered three large ($10) bags and paid $10 in shipping, which seemed like a lot, until I figured out the price per serving of Gluten Free Oats and the price per serving of Quaker Instant Oatmeal packages and realized that they are about the same. This is a wonderful product. There is a link to their web site in the list at the right.

Gluten-free Beef Stew

Gluten-free beef stew with Traditional Dinner Rolls from "Gluten-Free Baking Classics."

Buttercup's mother hesitated, then put her stew spoon down. (This was after stew, but so is everything. When the first man first clambered from the slime and made his first home on land, what he had for supper that first night was stew.)
-from William Goldman's "The Princess Bride"

I love beef stew. When I was a kid, my mom would make make homemade bread, and then serve it for dinner with beef stew. Stew is comfort food for me. I used to get kind of sad when summer would come and the weather would be too hot to eat it. I got really sad when I read the label on the stew seasoning mix and realized that it had wheat flour in it. But now that I have a from scratch beef stew recipe, I can't figure out why I was using a mix for something I love so much (that has happened to me a lot since my son's diagnosis).

This recipe is a combination of three recipes; the method from my stew mix recipe, and a combination of ingredients from a crock pot beef stew recipe, and a stew recipe off a beef broth web site. I make a simple meat, carrots and potatoes version, but you could always add a chopped onion, a couple of stalks of chopped celery, or a handful of green beans if that is what your family likes. You can use stew meat, but I find that the quality and quantity of fat in it varies widely depending on your source, and so I prefer to buy London Broil (on sale, if I can), trim it, and cut it into bite size pieces. Use 2 pounds if you like it beefy, but if you are feeling frugal, you can get away with a pound and lots of veggies.

Gluten-free Beef Stew
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1-2 lbs. stew meat, or London Broil, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup sweet rice flour, or white rice flour if you can't find sweet rice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 cups beef broth (a 32-oz box)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
4-5 medium carrots
4-5 medium potatoes

Put the stew meat, rice flour, salt and pepper in plastic container with a lid (I use a 7-cup Rubbermaid). Shake it up. Heat the canola oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat (I use a 4-quart pan) and brown the stew meat in 2 batches. There will be flour left in the bottom of the Rubbermaid, don't dump it all in the pan, or throw it out. Add garlic powder, bay leaves, and paprika to the leftover flour. When all your beef is browned, add it all back into your pot. Add your broth, and the leftover flour and spices, and the Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer (make sure it is just bubbling), cover with a lid, and let cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally. At that point, peel your carrots and potatoes, chop into bite-size pieces, and add to the pot. Bring back to a boil, turn down to a simmer (make sure it is just bubbling), cover and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for another 45 minutes or until your vegetables are cooked.

To cook in a crock pot: Reduce beef broth to 1 1/2-2 cups, reduce Worcestershire to 1/2 Tbsp., and cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Note for diabetics: I figure 15 g of carbohydrates for each 1/2 cup of potatoes and carrots.

If you haven't read "The Princess Bride," you should. The book will make you laugh even more than the movie. And who doesn't need a good laugh these days!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Gluten-Free Creamy Tomato Soup

One of the first things that they tell you to do after diagnosis is to clean out your pantry. Because I feed a diabetic and cook a lot of our food from scratch, I didn't have too many gluten-filled convenience items to throw out. But there were a few, and the one I was saddest to get rid of was Campbell's Tomato Soup. Sometimes you just need a grilled cheese sandwich and a hot bowl of tomato soup.

Luckily I have found a delicious and simple recipe to replace it. It's almost as easy, and so much more delicious than condensed soup. This recipe is an adaptation of a Creamy Tomato Soup recipe by Pam Anderson in USA Weekend. You can find the original on their web site.

Gluten-Free Creamy Tomato Soup
1-28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup chicken broth
1-5 oz. can of evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste

Check your ingredients and make sure they are gluten-free (see note about ingredients). Pour tomatoes into a blender and blend until creamy and smooth, about 30 seconds. Whisk the baking soda into the chicken broth until it is dissolved. Combine the tomato puree, and the broth/baking soda mixture in a large sauce pan. Whisk together and heat over medium heat until hot, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the can of evaporated milk. Return soup to a simmer if needed (I don't bother). Season with salt and pepper. Makes 4 generous 1 cup servings. This recipe keeps well for a few days in the fridge, and reheats in the microwave nicely. I like a large mug of it for quick and healthy lunch.

A note about ingredients: If you can't find 5 oz cans of evaporated milk, you can double the recipe and use a 12 oz. can. I buy 5-oz cans of Great Value evaporated milk at Walmart. They are marked gluten free (most evaporated milk should be, but I appreciate that they have gone to the trouble of labeling).

Note for diabetics: 1 cup of soup has about 20 g of carbohydrates.

Monday, February 2, 2009

My favorite cookbook: Gluten-Free Baking Classics

My copy is looking a little worse-for-wear.

Annalise Roberts' "Gluten-Free Baking Classics" is a great cookbook. I checked out every GF cookbook I could find in the public library after my son was diagnosed, and read all the reviews for GF cookbooks on Amazon, and this is the only book I've bought. I have not been sorry, I bake extensively out of this book. This book has made feeding my son and my family SOOOOO much easier. I recommend it without reservation (and if you read her reviews on, you will see that I'm not the only one). There are very few baked goods that I can think of that aren't in this book (maybe pumpkin cookies and peanut butter cookies). UPDATE: Annalise just emailed me to say that there is a new pumpkin cookie recipe on her website. I'm all over that -- 2/5/09.

This book is well written with clear instructions that even a beginning baker can follow. She depends on two basic flour mixes, a rice blend for most goodies, and a millet/sorghum blend for bread, neither use bean flour. She does recommend a specific brand of rice flour, Authentic, because it is ground finer than most other brands. But I have a hard time finding that brand, so most of the time I use Bob's Red Mill brand, and most of her recipes turn out just fine. Occasionally, I notice a little grittiness when I use BRM on some recipes. I also had a hard time finding millet flour, I had to order it by the case from Sunflower Farmer's Market, but it is worth it. I also like that her mixes are half whole grain.

We've tried a lot of GF recipes and mixes, but Annalise Roberts' recipes are among the few that really taste like the wheat version. And because she doesn't use a bean flour in her bread mix, her breads don't have that funky after-taste. My celiac son loves PB&J sandwiches on her bread, my non-celiac husband is partial to her pizza crust and chocolate chip cookies, and I love her hamburger bun recipe, it is so much better than the (wheat-flour) buns that you can buy in the store. We have also enjoyed the cornbread recipe, the blueberry muffins, the vanilla cupcakes, banana bread, pumpkin bread, buttermilk pancakes, dinner rolls, stuffing, and chocolate fudge cake. I even made a GF Boston Cream Pie for my birthday, yummy!

I got it for about $12 on Amazon, but if you want to try some of her recipes before you buy her book, she has her sandwich bread, and quite a few other recipes on her web site, I also e-mailed her with a question and she e-mailed me right back. I'll repeat myself and say: I would recommend this book without any reservations.

Why the blog? Why a monkey?

I started this blog because I wanted a place to record what I've learned about feeding a child with celiac disease. My 6-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at 16 months of age, and then last year with celiac disease. Both diseases require a lot of effort by myself and my husband to keep him healthy. But it is all worth it -- he's a super kid, and he feels so much better now that he is gluten-free, he's growing like a weed, and his blood-sugars have improved. It has been difficult, but not as difficult as I originally thought it would be. And I have to give him credit, he has done great, and has been so good about going gluten free.

I've been keeping a file of recipes, GF products, ideas, and it was just getting out of control. SO I thought I'd start keeping a lot of those things online, that way I can access them without digging through a giant pile of paper, I can refer family members or friends to them when they need to feed my son, and hey, if I can make life easier for another family dealing with celiac disease I'm all for it. I know how hard the initial shock and adjustment to a life-changing diagnosis can be, I've done it twice.

Why the monkey? Well, for many reasons: I needed a mascot and I didn't have a crocheted yak puppet, my boys and I love Curious George, my boys have been known to act like monkeys, and when I want them to know that I really, really love them, I call them my little pumpkin-monkeys.