Thursday, June 25, 2009

my favorite cookies

One day growing up my mom brought out a recipe for Monster Cookies. I'd never heard of them before but they contained all the things i LOVE:
chocolate chips
peanut butter
How could this cookie possibly go wrong?

Since becoming gluten free, I've not had these cookies...I've never found any certified gluten free oatmeal to try it with. But recently at a health food store in a tiny town in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I ran across a huge bag of certified GF oatmeal...I bought it!

Today I was thinking about those delicious cookies and how much I loved them (pre gf-diet) and started looking up recipes. Turns out that most of the recipes floating around the internet do not contain any flour whatsoever so it's a really easy recipe and with certified GF Oatmeal, it's "naturally" gluten free!

These are good cookies, but it's definitely not the recipe I'm going to call my go-to-monster cookie recipe. I kinda flubbed it up tonight and used too much corn syrup...the recipe is right, I just used the wrong amount. lol. I'll try this recipe again with the right amount of corn syrup and maybe it'll become a favorite.

For tonight, these are delicious and I am so glad to have them.

Monster Cookies
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
6 Tablespoons Butter flavor Crisco
2 eggs
1 cup creamy Peanut Butter
1/2 Tablespoon Light Corn Syrup
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 1/2 cup Certified Gluten Free Oats
1/2 cup (or more to taste) M & M's
1/2 cup (or more to taste) Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream sugars and shortening together until well mixed. Beat in eggs, peanut butter and corn syrup. Mix in baking soda, baking powder and vanilla. Fold in oats, m&m's and chocolate chips.

Spoon onto greased cookie sheet in 1 tablespoon sized amounts (I like smallish cookies). Bake for 7-9 minutes.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Test 2: Betty Crocker GF Brownies

The directions on the box call for 1/2 stick butter (1/4 cup) and 2 eggs.

The butter should be soft, but not melted. I mixed all the ingredients and stirred until all the mix was wet and all the butter/eggs incorporated. The batter was really thick (and tasty). :)

The box doesn't show times for making muffins or mini muffins, but I was out of town this weekend with 16 other people and knew that a regular pan of brownies wouldn't be enough, so I made 2 boxes of the mix into mini-muffins.

I placed mini liners into the pans, spooned tablespoon sized dollops into them and baked them at 350 for 15 minutes. They turned out delicious. The very centers were really gooey and the edges chewy and yum! I suppose I could have baked then 1 more minute, but they were good as they were.

I spooned a little Cream Cheese Frosting on the tops of them because I think brownies are always good with cream cheese frosting. I wanted to drizzle melted caramel over the tops too but I didn't have any caramels to melt. Anyway, they were still delicious and I left some without frosting for the brownie purists out there.

Betty Crocker definitely has GF figured out. These brownies were really good. And the next day, they are still really good.

In a few weeks/months I'll try test out the cake...right now I'm really baked out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

RE-Test 1: Betty Crocker GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

RE-TEST! I was so bothered by the results last night, knowing that Betty Crocker has higher standards than the results I was getting, that I decided to open the 2nd box and give the cookies another try.

This time I used butter and stuck with only 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

The dough was thick and crumbly just like the box said it would be. I contribute that more to the butter than the vanilla.

I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I didn't realize the impact butter vs margarine has on GF cookies. As a matter of fact, the reason I used margarine last night was that I had read some reviews that the cookies spread a lot and margarine doesn't cause as much spreading as butter. Boy did that backfire!!!

Lesson learned: in GF cooking, margarine causes less cohesion of ingredients. if recipe calls for BUTTER, use it and don't substitute with margarine.

I spooned 1 tablespoon size spaced 2 inches apart on baking sheet and baked for 8 minutes. Turned out great! Very cookie like. Very tasty and didn't crumble into a gazillion pieces like last nights batch did.

If you follow the instructions exactly, these make excellent cookies. Quick to mix up, quick to bake and tastes good too!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Test 1: Betty Crocker GF Chocolate Chip Cookies

The directions on the box call for 1/2 cup butter (I used margarine), 1 egg and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used 2).

The dough was about the consistency of thick cake batter, but according to the box directions, it should be thick and crumbly. I know I measured the margarine correctly. Could 1 extra teaspoon of vanilla really make this big of a difference? It's never affected my baked goods in this way before...even in GF baking. I'm puzzled.

Moving on, I followed the instructions dropping a tablespoon per cookie spaced 2 inches apart on my baking sheet and baked for 8 minutes. 6 cookies.

The cookies spread out flat and the very edges were crispy with the middles being done and soft. Trying to remove them from the cookie sheet was a problem. Even though I used a nonstick pan, the cookies stuck. One fell apart completely coming off the pan.

After cooling they did not hold together well. They are very crumbly and I believe it to be a lack of binding gum in the ingredients. Some people don't believe Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum is necessary in a cookie, but I definitely believe it would have helped this 1st batch.

Taste Test: flavor is great! Texture is poor but I contribute that to the dough consistency prior to cooking...dough is too wet to make a good cookie texture. Plan to re-examine texture in batch 2.

2nd batch of 6 cookies:
Chilled dough in refrigerator for one hour then scooped out 1 tablespoon cookies spaced 2 inches apart. Baked for 8 minutes. Reasoning on chilling dough: Gluten Free flours tend to absorb more liquid than their gluten-d counterparts. Since my dough seemed a bit viscous, I thought it might help to give the dough time to absorb whatever moisture was making it that way and thicken up a bit before cooking.

Upon removing from the oven, they looked about the same as first batch but seemed to spread just a tad less. They were just as difficult to remove from the baking sheet and after letting them cool actually fell apart MORE than the first batch.

Taste test, re-test texture: taste great, texture poorest of all. This is not eating a cookie, but more like going to a crumb festival. :(

3rd batch of 6 cookies:
Added 2 tablespoon Sweet Rice Flour and 1/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum to remaining dough. Dough was much more thick, but still not as dry as the box indicated it would be. I felt like the consistency was close to the GF cookie dough that I make from scratch. I Scooped 1 tablespoon cookies spaced 2 inches apart and baked for 8 minutes.

This batch fluffed up on the baking sheet. That is due to the Xanthan Gum...but they stuck together and were totally cohesive. And they were really easy to remove from the cookie sheet.

They were a bit cakelike but tasted really good. Edges and middle were equally soft.

Next time, I suppose I'll stick with 1T vanilla extract and use butter instead of margarine and see if that makes them bake as the box describes. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Betty Crocker

I keep reading about all the people who have found and tried the new Betty Crocker Gluten Free mixes. I see all the reviews and they all seem great. I'm curious how it compares to Kinnikinnick mixes but am convinced that Betty Crocker has high enough standards to make it "good" as opposed to just "acceptable". (So many of the gluten free mixes out there are barely edible. Sure, they are gluten free but that does not guaranty quality.)

So, this morning when I woke up I had an email from telling me that the Betty Crocker GF mixes were now available for purchase online. I knew that they were supposed to be in stores as of June 1st, but their website said they weren't in any stores within 50 miles of me.

I decided that the site might be wrong and it was worth investigating. Grocery list in hand, I started at my regular grocery store: Kroger. They have a good GF/natural/allergen free section and I'm able to get almost everything I ever want from there. I did all my grocery shopping and then went to that aisle I always avoid: the baking aisle. Sure enough right in the middle of the Betty Crocker mixes they stood!

I was overjoyed! 3 of the 4 new mixes were in stock at my normal grocery store! I quickly stuffed 2 cookie mixes, 2 brownie mixes and 1 cake mix into my cart and went to check out.

And I had thought I'd have to stop at 4 other specialty stores in hopes of finding them.

Wednesday I'll make the cookies for the Girls Night In at my house when we've hired a Airbrush Tanner lady to come and tan us! I will report back on the cookies soon! And the brownies too!


Friday, June 12, 2009

gluten free wedding cake!!

It was good. Really good. People knew it was gluten free because they watched me make it, but they thought it tasted "normal". Decorating it was a lot easier than I thought it would be, and I've learned to do that stringy scalloping thing pretty well now. It tasted amazing and was light, fluffy and moist.

Cake mix by Kinnikinnick, whom I cannot say enough about. I love them. EVERYTHING they make is amazing. honest.

Everything else was made from scratch and all decorating was done by me.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

pre-wedding excitment!

I'm leaving today for the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia for my sister's wedding this weekend. I'm very excited about seeing her and Patrick again. They are super people.

I will, of course, take a trillion-billion pictures of the whole weekend, including the cake/s. My laptop has a card reader slot and if I can get internet while there, I'll try to upload the pics to flickr each day. Hopefully that will work out. :)

My hope is to not get gluten-ed while's always my biggest problem with eating in my non-regular spots, but I am bringing a bunch of safe foods and am going to eat mostly fruits and vegetables b/c I know they are safe. Plus I know the cakes will be safe since I'm making them (helping with the grooms cake).

My sister, brother and father are all also allergic to wheat (sister hasn't been tested for celiacs yet but plans to once she has medical insurance again)...anyway, that is why I'm doing the cakes, so that we can all enjoy them without feeling sick afterwards. I'm the only one who is currently on the gluten free diet and plan to make a wedding cake so good no one knows it's also GF!

Monday, June 1, 2009


Pasta: The Long-Forgotten Food of the Gluten Intolerant

When finding out that I'd have to forgo grilled cheese sandwiches and spaghetti forever I cried. I loved bread & pasta and hated that I'd have to let them both go from my diet.

That reminds me of a funny story. Several years ago when Steve and I were dating, we went to an Italian restaurant. We were trying to eat pretty healthy so we both ordered the "build your own" bowl of pasta. I think I ordered the whole wheat pasta with bolognese sauce, garlic, broccoli and fresh mozzarella. It still sounds good to me just thinking about it.

They started us out with a bowl of olive oil with cracked black pepper and a big loaf of a dark brown herb bread. We ate the entire loaf in just a few minutes and then the server brought out another. Remembering that we were trying to eat "healthy" we decided to have just one piece of the second loaf and then stop eating it!

Several minutes passed and we still didn't have our meals yet but that delicious bread was just sitting there on the table in front of us, hot, steaming, and smelling amazing. I reached for it and Steve (willpower of steel!) stopped me. He reminded me once again about how many calories are in bread and that we really had already had more than we should have had all day.

He was right and I hated it b/c I wanted it. More time passed and I decided it didn't matter...that I wanted the bread. I reached for it and Steve said to me something like, "no, really christy our food will be here in just a minute". He was trying so hard to keep me from sabotaging my own healthy desires. It stilled me for a moment but then I just reached, unthinkingly, towards the bread again.

That's when he struck. Fast as lightening his hand reached the bread first and picked up the entire loaf. In one fluid movement it fell to the floor and his shoe smooshed it...and in the same movement he picked it up and put the now squashed loaf back on the bread plate.

I was shocked. Laughing and shocked. Obviously I couldn't eat it now and it totally did the trick. He stepped on the bread! stepped on it!! and it was the funniest thing ever. I don't think anyone in the restaurant saw or knew what had just happened but I'm sure the server wondered, when bussing the table, why the bread was completely flattened...and not in the "holding it so i can cut it and smashed it" kind of way.

We laughed until our food came and then laughed about it again. Even still, whenever we know we've eaten our share of something but are having faulty willpower, we'll offer to "step on it" for the each other.

There haven't been many times since then that we've had Italian food. I found out sometime after that that I'm allergic to wheat and must go on the GF diet.

I've a recipe for pasta sauce that is straight up awesome. Everyone loves it. I love it. It's something I miss being able to cook.

The rice based GF pasta's fall apart and turn into little bitty mushy bits no matter how "al dente" you try to cook them. The corn ones taste ok, but still not like regular pasta. I've had potato pasta which is good, but is almost impossible to find.

Today I tried Quinoa pasta. I wasn't sure what to expect and was hoping it wasn't worse than the rice pastas...

It wasn't at all! It was freaking awesome. If you've ever had a full gluten vegetable pasta, it tastes just like that. The texture was firm and it didn't turn to mush even when I overcooked it slightly (it cooked fast). It tasted good! I was really happy.

Maybe I'll start making my pasta sauce more often again.