Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's NYE 2008

Out with the old and in with the new. It's the last day of 2008.

Thinking back, this year has been pretty good. I've been gluten free for almost 2 years now, but the first year had a lot of was so hard to break some of my food habits, but there's been no cheating this year.

I can remember 2 times when I know I ingested gluten, but it was definitely unintentional and I can remember hundreds of times I wished I could just snatch up one of those delicious cookies from the grocers bakery, but I was strong and didn't cheat.

I had been walking a road to vegetarianism for a long time and had been constantly decreasing the amount of meat in my diet to the point where I just decided it was time to make the switch. I've been meat free for 7 months. I found that switch much easier than the GF diet change.

Tonight is a New Years Eve party at my friends house and I will bring something. Of course wine. I have a bottle of Cab that we'll bring.

My aunt once told me of this super easy recipe for tartlette crusts that I think I remember and should make for an excellent mini quiche crusts so I'm giving it a try.

Mini Quiches!
Preheat overn to 350.

1 part margarine (1/2 cup)
1 part cream cheese (1/2 cup)
2 parts flour (1 cup your favorite Gluten Free flour that contains Xanthan Gum)
(I used 1/3 cup Arrowroot Flour, 1/3 cup corn flour, 1/3 cup Brown Rice flour, plus 1 tsp Xanthan Gum)

Soften margarine and cream cheese and mix thoroughly. Stir in the flour and cream together. Roll into 24 balls and press into bottoms and sides of mini muffin cups.

6 eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup grated colby jack cheese

Sprinkle cheese into bottoms of mini crusts.

Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper with mixer for 1 minute. Pour into crusts.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

I ended up with a little extra dough and filling so I pressed the dough into a large muffin cup and filled with the remaining cheese and eggs and baked it separately.

The crust is just perfect for these little quiches and would probably make for an excellent "full size" quiche crust too!

This was my first time making quiche and my first time making pie crust. I'm calling this a complete success.

EDIT: edited to add in all the pictures from the NYE Party at my friends house. See pics at my flickr set here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

visiting old friends!

Tomorrow Steve and I are going to visit some friends I grew up with...I've, quite literally, known them my whole life but its been years since I've seen them.

I'm happy to be going to visit.

Since it's the holiday weekend, and I don't have any gifts, I made mini cupcakes to bring and share together.

I wanted to use up the last of the pumpkin puree I had and thought the cupcakes would be a nice treat. I didn't have a recipe, so I made up my own.

I started by mixing my own flour, and made about enough for 2 batches (i'll definitely be making this again, so I'm glad I have so much flour!!)

GF spiced flour mixture
1/2 cup Brown Rice flour
1/4 cup Quinoa flour
3/4 cup minus 1Tbspn Sweet Rice flour
2/3 cup Corn flour
3 Tbspn Tapioca starch
1 1/2 Tbspn Xanthan Gum
dash salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves

Pumpkin Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
3 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup water
1 Tbspn vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour mix

Cream shortening, sugar and pumpkin. Beat eggs separately and add into mixture. Mix in oil, water and vanilla. While mixing, add in flour blend.

Drop by spoonfuls into mini muffin pans. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

As far as my first really-all-my-own-recipe-not-adapted-or-anything, I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out. They are moist, light, and have good airpockets (like good bread) but are light on the pumpkin flavor. Also because I ran out of sweet rice flour, I used a little more corn flour and they are slightly reminiscent of sweet cornbread because of it, I think. All in all, though, I'm still pleased. They are good. The texture is good and the flavor is light.

I'll serve them with cream cheese frosting.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Always bring at least one thing you can eat.

The highlight of the meal was the pumpkin cheesecake. Even my dad enjoyed it (he doesn't like pumpkin). The recipe is gluten free and delicious.

1/2 cup Gluten Free Ginger Snap crumbs
1 1/2 cup Arrowroot Animal Cracker crumbs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar

Use food processor to 'crumb' the cookies and mix with sugar and butter. Press into bottom and partially up the sides of springform (or straight sided cake pan). Bake in preheated 350 oven for 7-8 minutes. Set aside.

1 package Fat Free Philadelphia Cream Cheese - softened
1 package Neufchatel cheese - softened
1/8 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsn Tapioca Starch
1 Tbsn vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (Libby's canned pumpkin)
3/8 tsp ground cinnamon
3/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3/8 tsp ground cloves

Stir sugars, spices and tapioca starch together. Cream cheese with sugar mixture. Add in vanilla and eggs. Mix until fully incorporated. Spoon in pumpkin and mix until just blended.

Pour into crust and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Turn down oven to 340 and continue to bake for additional 20 minutes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sunbutter Cookies

I'm bringing these cookies to the Christmas Eve party tonight. They are made with Sunbutter which is made from sunflower seeds and doesn't contain any tree nuts or peanuts.

They are also gluten free.

Sunbutter Cookies
The recipe is adapted from Gluten Free Girl's peanut butter cookie recipe.

1 cup Sunbutter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 Tbsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix baking powder and soda with the sugars.

By hand, cream together sugar mixture with sunbutter.

Using the electric mixer, add the egg and mix until just incorporated. I do find it easiest to hand mix it just a bit first, but the electric mixer really helps after that...and keeps your arms from getting totally worn out.

Line the baking sheet with small balls of dough that are rolled in sugar and flatten them slightly. Use a fork to press the tines into the cookies for the classic peanut butter cookie look.

Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet 3 minutes before moving to cooking rack.

Add mini chocolate chips as the last step before balling the dough, if you like your faux-peanut butter cookies with chocolate! Trust me, it's delicious and worth a try.

Monday, December 22, 2008

how to eat GF at holiday feasts...

My best advice is to bring safe foods.

My family always does a pot-luck type of meal for holidays and family gatherings. It's nice because you don't have to make the entire meal yourself, but it's almost impossible to know if some of their dishes contain flour. That means I end up avoiding almost everything. And definitely avoid all the cake, brownies and cookies. But there is also usually icecream and that part is something I could probably have. At least the I can check the carton for ingredients to make sure.

Anyway, my plan this year is to bring 2 or 3 vegetable dishes. That way if there is nothing else I can eat safely, I know I can eat those and not be sick.

This is also my first Christmas Eve party as a vegetarian. My family are meat/potatoes people, and not all of them know I'm vegetarian, so I'm not really sure what to expect. I'm trying to remind myself that no one cares all that much what I eat or don't eat.

Christmas Day is going to be more complicated. It's a much more intimate feast, with only my parents, hubby, an aunt and an uncle. It's at my parents house and I have no idea what food choices there will be. They always say they'll do everything...and with my food restrictions, that's just not acceptable. What if I get there and all the vegetables are covered in cream of mushroom (Gluten of mushroom) soup!

I know I am bringing a Pumpkin Cheesecake (recipe and photo's to come as soon as I make it, promise) . I have emailed them to ask what sides I should bring but if they don't check their email, I'll bring a couple of vegetable dishes and surprise them. :)

My family (except for hubby) doesn't really understand Gluten Free or what it means for me and my health. And up until this year I'd not given them a reason too, because I'd cheat on my GF-ness during holiday/family gatherings.

I'm at the point now where I understand that it's not something I can cheat on. I'm gluten free. I have to stay this way in order to stay healthy.

If you are also gluten free, you know how challenging it is to eat other people's food...but it's Christmas and the people we eat with love us, food restrictions and all. They can handle learning that the reason you won't try their amazing cookies isn't because you are picky or that you don't WANT to, but is because of digestion problems with the protein in the flour. Or you could always just tell them it's an allergy to wheat. It's not the same thing, but people understand the severity of food allergies and it's sometimes just easier to explain it that way.


I practice yoga. I think that is why Namaste Foods PizzaCrust Mix caught my eye. Aside from being simply gluten free, it is also sugar free AND vegan. Also worth mentioning is that I love pizza and it's one of the things I miss about glutenous eating...Pizza is really delicious!

Well, I also enjoy cooking so I picked up the mix while grocery shopping.

Fast forward to later. I was trying to decide what to make for dinner and noticed the bag of pizza crust mix in the pantry. Hubs and I could always eat pizza, so I figured tonight was as good as any to give this mix a try.

I followed the instructions on the bag, but wasn't able to mix with the mixer for the full 3 minutes because the mixers kept sending my batter flying out of the bowl. (btw, it turned out fine mixing it less).

When I got it all mixed up I plopped the mix onto the hot pizza stone, covered my hands in vegetable oil (I don't have a rolling pin) and started pressing out the crust. This mix made A LOT of crust! My pizza stone is only 14" and the directions said this makes a 14" crust, but I think it could have made and 18" or 20" crust easily! The dough was thick and covered the entire 14" stone all the way to the edges.

I baked it on the lowest oven rack, as per the directions, for 10 minutes, then pulled it out and topped it with pizza sauce and shredded pizza cheese and threw it back into the oven on the lowest rack for another 9 minutes. When the timer went off, the cheese wasn't browning yet so I moved it to the middle rack and turned on the broiler for a minute.

mmm, mmm!

It turned out really tasty. I forgot that using the pizza stone adds a few minutes to the cooking time, so the crusty was a little more doughy than I prefer, but it was still delicious and we ate it ALL! The crust held together just like glutenous crusts and tasted the same too.

Next time I'll halve the recipe and make personal size pizza's.

I don't know if this pizza honors all that is in me, as I do in you, but it is beautiful and tastes great!