Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gluten Free Granola Bars

I love granola bars and they really are a great invention. They’re so nice for when you’re in a hurry or on the go, just grab one and you’ve got a great snack or meal. This is my first attempt at granola bars and I was happy with it but I’m sure I’ll try some other recipes and combos to see if there’s something better out there. My boy was all over them and after eating a large dinner he still ate a whole granola bar. I was impressed since he usually snuffs granola bars. Does it make me a bad mom to want to use this as lunch options for my kids? The chocolate doesn't really make them that bad does it? The nice thing is you can make this with whatever your favorite combinations are so the sky is the limit.

Granola Bars
Adapted from All Recipes

2 C GF oatmeal
¾ C brown sugar, packed
½ C cream of buckwheat (you can get this at Lee & Dad’s IGA in the cereal aisle)
¾ t cinnamon
1 C GF flour (I used Gluten Free Mama’s Almond flour, use whatever you like)
1 t xanthan gum
¾ C raisins
¾ C chocolate chips (Use DF if needed)
¾ t salt
½ C honey or agave nectar
1 egg, beaten
½ C vegetable oil (I used melted butter without a problem)
2 t vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a 9x13 baking pan.

In a large bowl mix together the oats, brown sugar, cream of buckwheat, cinnamon, flour, xanthan gum, raisins, chocolate chips, and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the honey, egg, oil, and vanilla. Mix well using your hands or a large spatula. Pat the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. You want the bars to turn golden at the edges but don’t overcook or they will get too hard. Cool for about 5 minutes then cut into bars while they’re still warm.

For variations you can add M&Ms, cranberries, peanuts, nuts, trail mix, coconut, or anything else you may like. There really is no limit.
ETA: Our favorite is a peanut butter granola bar, everything is the same but I add a 1/2 C of peanut butter. It will be really sticky when you level it out in the pan but it's so good.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cheese Stuffed Shells

I made an Amazon purchase of the Tinkyada brown rice pasta Grand Shells and I was dying to make stuffed shells. Seeing as how I had 12 boxes I needed to start baking. I finally had time to put these together and they don’t take too long, plus you can make them ahead of time, so hopefully I will motivate myself to make these a bit more often. The shells were great, I had no problems while filling them and they didn’t fall apart at all. I was really happy with this dish though the final product didn’t allow for a very good picture, trust me it tastes great. Hubby loved this dish and commented on it for days, that’s in part to us having so much leftover but even after eating it for a week straight during lunch Hubby still loved it. This dish makes a lot so you can easily split this recipe in two and freeze half for later.

Gluten Free Cheese Stuffed Shells
Adapted from All Recipes

12 oz GF jumbo pasta shells, this is 1.5 packages of the Tinkyada Grand Shells
2 eggs beaten
32 oz cottage cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz parmesan cheese, grated (fresh is the best here)
1 T dried parsley
2 t salt
1 t black pepper
2 (28 oz each) jars spaghetti sauce
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 pound buffalo burger, or whatever you have on hand

In a large bowl mix the eggs, cottage cheese, half of the mozzarella, half of the parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper until combined. Place in the refrigerator while you boil the pasta, this will make the filling more firm and make it easier to stuff the shells.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil then add 1T salt and olive oil along with the pasta. Cook for about 17 minutes then rinse under cold water and drain well on paper towels.

Brown the burger while boiling the pasta and add the two jars of spaghetti sauce and mushrooms to mix evenly. Put a layer of the sauce mixture on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish to keep the shells from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Fill the shells with the cheese mixture and place each shell open side up into the baking dish. I took a Ziploc bag and filled it with the cheese mixture, cut one corner off and used that to pipe the mixture into the shells, it worked great and was fast. After all the shells are filled top with the remaining pasta sauce mixture and then top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 45-60 minutes or until the edges are bubbly. Take the foil off for the last 10 minutes of baking.

You can get these shells for a decent price on Amazon and with free shipping it makes it even better. The cost ranges from $3.00-$3.50 per box depending on if you can catch a sale.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Applegate Farms Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets

I’ve been looking for these gluten free chicken nuggets since I first heard about them and I was happy as a clam to find them at Oak Street Natural Market. I couldn’t wait to make them so my first subjects were my kids and my boys buddy A. A is a gluten eater so when he scarfed down all of his nuggets along with my boy I knew they were keepers. I like these because they have the classic chicken nugget shape and the flavoring in the coating is really good. Also the breading doen't fall apart like some GF chicken nuggets so that's a bonus. I’m so happy to be able to give my boy a replicate of what everyone else is eating.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cherry Jello Salad

This is a dish that truly astounded me when I first had it and I’ve been making it non-stop since. When I was engaged my mom threw me a Pampered Chef Bridal Shower and part of the shower was having family and friends give me three of their favorite recipes to start my collection. One of my favorite recipes is this cherry Jello salad and it’s not your typical Jello salad. For starters it is creamy with a little bit of a zip to it, you have to try to know what I’m talking about.

Gluten is not the only thing we avoid, we also don’t eat High Fructose Corn Syrup, Nitrates or Nitrites, or MSG. When I wanted to make this salad I started looking at labels and of course the Sprite and cherry pie filling both contained HFCS, bummer. But I found a way around this and I think it’s even more delicious than with the HFCS containing ingredients. This is a great salad any time of year and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Cherry Jello Salad
Adapted from Hubby’s Aunt Barb

30 oz of Oregon Fruit Pitted Dark Sweet Bing Cherries in Syrup (drained reserving syrup)
4 T Cornstarch
½ C granulated sugar
1 ½ C water
1 Large cherry Jello packet
1 can of lemon lime pop, I use Blue Sky
2 caps of lemon juice

Combine the reserved syrup, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened. Add the cherries and the 1 ½ C of water. Stir occasionally and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add the cherry Jello packet. Let it cool for about an hour or so, I just leave it on the counter top and give it a stir every now and then. Add the Blue Sky lemon lime pop and lemon juice. Stir well then pour into a mold or bowl. Be careful when you pour because those cherries like to plop and stain your shirt red. Put it in the refrigerator to cool and set. I always make this a day ahead of time to give it plenty of time to set.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gluten Free Corn Dog Muffins

My household has two muffin fanatics, if you didn’t know, and I think muffins are a gluten free mom’s blessing. They are great for breakfast, lunches, and snacks and I love that I can freeze them and have an easy lunch box item on days I don’t have leftovers to send with the kids. I make mostly fruit muffins so when I saw corn dog muffins I had to give it a gluten free try.

Gluten Free Corn Dog Muffins
Adapted from AllRecipes

1 10 oz package gluten free cornbread mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 T brown sugar
1 eggs
¾ C milk
½ C cheddar cheese, shredded
4 hot dogs, chopped in bite sized pieces (I sliced them length wise then cut into smaller pieces, mostly to avoid a choking hazard for my one year old)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Mix together the cornbread mix and brown sugar. In a small bowl whisk the eggs and milk until smooth. Fold the egg mixture and cheese into the cornbread mix until moistened. Add chopped hot dogs and mix until evenly distributed. Spoon into muffins tins (either lightly greased or use paper liners) until 2/3 full. Bake 14-18 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in a muffin.

Serve with honey butter, its funny how my sons eyes light up when he opens a muffin to find butter already spread on it.

Honey Butter
¾ C butter, room temperature
¼ C honey

Mix together the butter and honey until smooth then store covered in the refrigerator.
My kids like to pick the hotdogs out of them first and then eat the corn bread. I didn’t find them to be the best things in the world (I could do without the hotdogs in them) but they’re not bad. They definitely need the honey butter.
The important part is they made these two smile, at least before my girl threw hers across the counter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Potato Pancakes Naturally Gluten Free

This past weekend we had a wonderful dinner of steak, corn on the cob, cucumber salad, and Gorgonzola mashed potatoes. Yum and all naturally gluten free! The mashed potatoes are a favorite of Hubby’s, a restaurant we used to go to had these for a long time and he fell in love. I don’t really have a recipe for them, just make mashed potatoes like usual with some milk and butter added while you’re whipping them and then add about ½ C of Gorgonzola cheese whipping it really well. Taste test to see if you want more added before serving these yummy taters. We had a lot of these left over and I wanted an easy dinner so I decided to make Potato Pancakes, you can’t go wrong with these.

Potato Pancakes
Adapted from AllRecipes

2 C mashed potatoes
1 egg beaten
¼ C shredded cheese - for dairy free use Daiya
5 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
¼ C copped green onion

Preheat your griddle to about 400 F. In a bowl combine the potatoes, egg, cheese, bacon, and onion. Drop on the griddle and flatten to ½ inch thick. Fry until brown then flip and fry on the other side. My potatoes weren't very thick, they were more on the runny side, so I had to fry them for quite awhile before I could flip them. I had a lot of ugly potatoe pancakes from them not being fried enough but if your potatoes are thick you won't need to fry them for quite as long.
We like these as they are and don’t add a thing to them.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Schwan's Gluten Free

I went out for a mom's night last night and my friend told me that she had some gluten free information for me but coudln't remember what it was. She remembered today and texted me saying Schwan's has a gluten free dish. It's their Triple Play Turkey Meatballs and Pasta Dinner. The picture looks good but reviews vary on it, I think most of the people reviewing it aren't GF individuals. This makes me want to track down our Schwan's guy to give them a try.

Gluten Free Meatloaf

I know not everyone likes meatloaf but my family does and there’s nothing better than a meatloaf sandwich on a cold day. This is easy to put together the night before and then just pop in the oven when you get home from work. I love to serve it with green beans.

Gluten Free Meatloaf

1.5-2 pounds ground beef or buffalo
1 egg beaten
¼ C milk
¼ C ketchup
1/3 C croutons or bread crumbs
¼ C chopped onions (adjust to your taste or just use onion powder)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the egg, milk, ketchup, and croutons. Let it sit for a couple minutes so the croutons can absorb some liquid. Add the onion, garlic and ground beef. Mix together with your hands. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil then form a rectangular shaped loaf on the cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until it’s no longer pink in the middle. You can top it with ketchup the last 5 min of baking or just add it to your plate.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another ZPizza Update

Here's the e-mail response I received from the owner of ZPizza in Billings, it's refreshing to read.

Hi Cindy ! I would like to introduce myself to you. I am the Owner/GM of ZPIZZA-Billings. I just received an email from the corporate office that you believe you were glutened at our store. I would like to extend my sincere apologies. I, first off, would like to tell you that we take celiac disease extremely serious at ZPIZZA. When we first introduced gluten-free and I was preparing a class to teach my staff, I tried to think how I could get it across to them how important it is to not skip steps and follow each one. I came up with treat the pizza as if you were preparing it for one of your family members who is gluten-intolerant. I would, however, like to clear up some points in your email. The gluten-free pizzas are prepared in the back of the kitchen in its own designated area with ingrediants prepared and stored in particular containers. This area has everything in red as the color that denotes gluten-free only items. This includes storage container lids, a pizza cutter, a cutting board, spatula, even the oven mitt. Yes, we do use the same oven to cook gluten-free and regular pizzas. However, we use an oversized pan that is similiar to a deep dish pizza pan. It is solid (not a screen) and has 2" raised sides on it. These are used only for gluten-free pizzas. Yes, the same pizza peel is used but, it never touches the pizza because the pan is solid. The pizza is then taken in the back where an employee puts the pan on the steel shelf (never on cutting board since gluten may have cross contaminated to the bottom of pan during cooking). The pizza is taken out of the pan, placed on the "red" cutting board, and then cut with a traditional pizza cutter with a red handle. A guest would not see this procedure because it is done in the back of the house. What you saw upfront is not where we prepare, cut, or box/plate gluten-free pizza. What you saw is how we cut regular pizzas. Even the boxes and liner paper are specifically picked from certain areas. When you dine in we handwash the pizza plate, knife, and fork. I am by no means dodging blame that cross contamination happened. I would love to discuss this further if you would like. I would even be happy to show you the back where your pizza was prepared. I can understand your hesitation with dining with us again but, I can assure you we have sold hundred of gluten-free pizzas and even have people order every other day. I would love you to try us again and let us make it right with you.

So after reading this I'm not sure how we got glutened. Maybe it was from things being busy and something got accidentally used? Who knows, but I will go back to ZPizza again because for one the pizza is delicious and second this e-mail convinced me that they really do work to prevent cross contamination. If you have any concerns I'm sure Denise would be more than happy to talk with you. Yippee for still being able to have GF pizza in Billings.

Also a second ZPizza location is opening in downtown Billings, I don't know where or when yet.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ZPizza & Olive Garden Gluten Free?

This is a sad update for me but I don’t want anyone being contaminated so here it goes. We spent most of Labor Day weekend in Billings and Friday night we stopped by to pick up two GF pizzas and two regular pizzas before heading to a friend’s house. The wait was an hour, which would have been nice to know when we ordered, but I learned a few things during that hour wait so I guess it was a good thing. First off I wanted a ZBQ pizza but was informed that they cannot guarantee that pizza as GF anymore because of the BBQ sauce. I was then given a list of what is GF at ZPizza and here it is.


Organic Tomato/Marinara/Chipotle Pesto/Basil Pesto/Chutney/Roasted Garlic

All fresh vegetables/Greek olive mix
Avocado/bell peppers/button mushrooms/cucumbers/red onion/Roma tomatoes/zucchini/mushroom mix

Pepperoni/Italian Sausage/Salami

Girard’s Caesar/Girard’s Old Venice Italian/Girard’s Balsamic/Girard’s White Balsamic

GF Most Popular:
Cheese & pepperoni/Sausage & mushroom/American/California NO black olives

I guess the black olives contain gluten? This is a first for me.

The peanut sauce in the Thai pizza and salsa in the Mexican pizza were also not guaranteed GF. This reduced the selection but there’s still plenty to enjoy, just please be careful about what toppings you order. We had the Tuscan and it was delicious but it was cross contaminated.

As I mentioned I waited for an hour for our pizza and toward the end I started watching them bake the pizza. If so much time hadn’t gone by and I wasn’t starving (with three other starving individuals) I would have said something but I just wanted to eat. I know it’s a horrible cop out but I just couldn’t deal with the alternative. They bake the GF pizzas in the same oven as the gluten pizzas with no use of a pizza pan to keep the GF crust from touching the same surface as the gluten crust. This alone causes cross contamination issues. I then notice that the same pizza cutter is used for all of the pizzas so again more cross contamination issues. It was even more apparent when my hubby broke out in a glutened rash that evening, fantastic. I am sending them an e-mail to address these cross contamination issues and hopefully get this taken care of, I do love this pizza but until it’s fixed I won’t be eating there. My fear is that they’ll just throw their hands up in the air and not guarantee anything GF. It’s so frustrating to try to eat out and even more so when a GF option isn’t really GF.

Since I’m the bearer of bad news today I’m going to add Olive Garden to the mix. A couple weeks ago I heard that Olive Garden has gluten free pasta. A fellow GF Montanan (hope you’re OK with me sharing this info Stacey) called to verify with the Billings Olive Garden that they had the GF pasta and off she went to enjoy lunch there. For starters the GF pasta cannot be part of the never-ending bowl and only comes with marinara sauce. She said it tasted a little off to her and wasn’t that great. When she ordered the pasta the waitress commented that they don’t like to always say it’s GF. OK? That’s a bit troubling. Sure enough she reacted to a glutening shortly after eating the pasta. I’m not sure if Olive Garden uses the same pots of water and utensils or what but be warned it’s probably cross contaminated.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gluten Free Tuna Noodle Casserole

I love tuna noodle casserole and I’ve tried several recipes but the one I made this weekend was a hit. My boy didn’t care for tuna noodle casserole the last time it graced his plate but he loved it this time declaring, “This is my favorite” and then eating 3 servings. When that happens you know you have a keeper. It doesn’t have a strong tuna flavor and it’s really quite good and pretty quick to whip together. This is another recipe from Jill at Hey, That Tastes Good, she sure knows how to cook.

Gluten Free Tuna Noodle Casserole
Adapted from Hey, That Tastes Good

½ onion diced
2 celery stalks dices (I made them very small)
4 garlic cloves minced
8 T butter
3 T gluten free flour
2 C milk
Salt & pepper to taste
2 C cheddar/colby cheese shredded
1 C breadcrumbs, use these
2 cans tuna
16 oz dry pasta (I used Tinkyada Rice Spirals)
1 can peas
Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a large casserole dish and set aside. Cook the pasta, adding about 1 T olive oil to the water. While the pasta is cooking sauté the onion, celery, and garlic in 2 T of butter until browned and softened. Put the tuna, vegetables, peas, and pasta in the casserole dish. Make the cheese sauce by melting 4 T butter and whisking in the rice flour. Whisk in the milk, salt, and pepper and cook until thickened whisking regularly. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Pour the sauce into the casserole and mix everything evenly. Melt 2 T of butter and stir the breadcrumbs into the butter. Sprinkle over the casserole and then sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes or until its heated through and bubbly. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tortilla Pizza & a Review

The other day I found myself with 15 minutes to put dinner together, I was really wishing I could order in but as we all know GF and ordering in doesn’t really go hand in hand. I opened the fridge and stared at the contents and then I saw my favorite GF tortillas. La Tortilla Factory Ivory Teff Wraps are fantastic. They hold together like wheat tortillas (just zap them in your microwave for 20 seconds before using) and taste great. I get mine at Lee & Dad’s IGA and they are located near the produce. We always have these on hand. My friend Wendy mentioned they do tortilla pizzas and it was time to give it a try. It’s fast, simple, and yummy.

Tortilla Pizza

GF tortillas
1 T garlic flavored olive oil
Pizza sauce
Pizza toppings (pepperoni, bacon, black olives, mushrooms, peppers, etc)
Mozzarella Cheese shredded
Cheddar/Jack Cheese shredded

Preheat oven to 350F. Lay out tortillas (I made two tortilla pizzas but next time I’ll make 3 or 4, we didn’t quite have enough for 4 of us) and drizzle olive oil on top. Spread evenly over the tortilla. Spread the pizza sauce over the tortilla then put pizza toppings on the sauce. Top with mozzarella cheese and cheddar/jack cheese. Put in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.

This makes a nice crisp thin crust, it was fantastic. Note that I did bake this in the top oven (I have a double oven and love it) and it turns out much better than in the big bottom oven.