My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

My name is Tanja (Sater) Miller and I'm excited about sharing my journey of converting my favorite recipes to gluten free! I am not a fancy cook - I prefer just a casual, fun meal. I am married with grown children (and have small grandchildren) & 3 dogs. I work full time as a registered nurse & I am a geek. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Fringe, Firefly, Farscape and most of the other Scify shows. You will probably see a little of my geek side come out once in a while! Please join me on my journey of cooking, baking & converting every day recipes into yummy gluten free meals that everyone can enjoy (not just those with a gluten allergy!) Don't be shy about checking out my recipes....I have the gluten free version along with the regular recipe that I adapted from!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Cake

Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Cake. I've tried a lot of different gluten free chocolate cake recipes and I found that most of them were really crumbly or too sweet....or didn't really have much of a chocolate flavor so I have been experimenting over the years and I came up with this recipe that I designed. You can frost it with whatever type of frosting you prefer. I chose a chocolate buttercream frosting on the outside and a cappuccino flavor buttercream for the inside frosting layer. (I had some leftover cake batter and frosting so I made my grand-daughter a mini version of this cake but used store-bought frosting in the center of hers since I didn't think she would like the cappuccino flavored frosting). This cake was for a friend of mine since she was having a dinner party celebrating a couple of birthdays. Since she didn't want anything "girly" and there were no restrictions on the decorations....I "GEEKED" it up using my silicone molds.  I had a lot of fun making this cake. I love to bake and I am learning how to decorate. No formal classes....just practicing! I will definitely invest in some decent frosting bags after this! (I struggled with the disposable bags rupturing so I couldn't get even pressure for my swirls and made a big mess! My kitchen smelled like a bakery but looked like a war zone when I was done!) Although this isn't as easy as a box cake mix...I think it is worth the effort.

Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Cake:
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar (I used unbleached, GMO free sugar but you can use regular white sugar)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend (I used Betty Crocker Gluten Free Flour Blend in today's recipe)
  • 1/4 cup gluten free coconut flour (If you don't have this then you can use gluten free flour or finely ground almonds instead. I like the silky texture of coconut flour in this cake. You can't taste the coconut flavor because the dark chocolate will be high lighted)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened gluten free cocoa powder (I used a German brand but you can use any good quality cocoa powder)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt ( I just use the regular table salt since it is finely ground)
  • 4 eggs (I used large sized organic brown eggs)
  • 1 cup milk + 1 teaspoon white vinegar (let stand 2 minutes to thicken. It gives the texture and flavor of buttermilk. You can substitute dairy free milk)
  • 3/4 cup black coffee (you won't taste the coffee but it will give the chocolate a depth of flavor that isn't too sweet. If you don't have coffee then you can substitute water or additional milk).
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened (you can substitute a dairy free cream cheese or shortening. I like the texture that the cream cheese gives this cake. It keeps it moist and makes the chocolate flavor more intense. I have substituted shortening but I do prefer using cream cheese when possible)
  • 3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
  • 5 tbs. softened real butter or margarine that contains at least 65% fat. Do not use light! (You can substitute shortening or coconut oil). I always prefer using real butter when possible.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 8" cake pans or one 9x13 pan with butter or gluten free cooking spray. Beat the cream cheese, butter, melted chocolate and sugar until creamy and smooth. No lumps! Add eggs one at a time. Add the milk & vinegar mixture. Gradually add the baking soda, baking powder, salt and flours alternately with the coffee. Beat for 2 minutes until mixture is smooth and well incorporated. Bake in pre-heated oven for about 26-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Baking time may vary depending on your oven and altitude. Check at 26 minutes and adjust accordingly. Cool in pans for about 30 minutes prior to removing to a cooling rack. Frost when cooled or sprinkle with powdered sugar if you decide not to frost cake.

Cake batter. It is slightly thick

Frosted in chocolate buttercream

My chocolates that I made in silicone mold

Up close view of cake topped with Star Wars chocolates

Ready to eat!

Side view

My grand-daughter's cake slice
50 birthday cake for a friend using same recipe
50 Birthday cake using same recipe and melted sugar & chocolate garnish
Another friend's birthday cake using same recipe and edible garnish

My gluten free cake taste tester!

Hope you enjoyed my favorite version of gluten free chocolate cake!
Gluten Free Casually

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hawaiian Shredded Chicken

Hawaiian Shredded Chicken. This is a super easy meal that you can do in your crock-pot or if you are in a can use rotisserie chicken or substitute pork. The unusual flavors blend well giving you a little sweet with a little tangy flavor. It is a nice change from traditional shredded chicken and pork dishes. I love the tangy sauce and the occasional little tiny bit of pineapple that you get in each bite.

Don't let the simplicity of this dish fool you. It packs a lot of flavor from inexpensive items from your grocery store. You don't need to buy a bunch of expensive spices or ingredients for this meal so I like to have the items on hand for emergency meals. I like coming home from a busy day at work and having the dinner pretty much done by my crock-pot. You can serve it over a bed of rice with vegetables or my favorite is to serve it on buns (gluten free at my house!) along with a side of raw veggies and Maui Onion flavored potato chips. Simple yet delicious. You can easily double the recipe for a large crowd or freeze any leftovers for quick lunches or dinners down the road. I also really like it on my gluten free pizza for a Hawaiian style.

Hawaiian Shredded Chicken Recipe:
  • 1 (12 oz.) bottle of Heinz chili sauce
  • 1 (20 oz.) can of crushed pineapple with juice
  • 2.5-3 pounds of boneless skinless chicken pieces (or substitute pork)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (you can add a little more if you like it sweeter or a little less if you like it more tangy)

For the crock-pot, turn on low temperature (6-10 hr cooking time). Mine has an automatic shut off then will just keep it warm and it doesn't get too hot so I don't have to worry about not having enough liquids and it drying or burning the meat. If you aren't sure then I wouldn't leave it unattended. Place the chicken on the bottom of the crock-pot then pour the chili sauce, crushed pineapple with juice, and brown sugar on top of the chicken or pork. Walk away and let the crock-pot work the magic! After about 8-10 hours (mine cooks at a really low temperature and doesn't burn the meat), I remove the chicken (or pork) and give it a light cut with a knife so it shreds. I like my sauce on the thicker side so I remove most of the juice/sauce that is left in the crock-pot and put it on the stove top along with 2-3 tbs. of corn starch or tapioca starch and cook until it thickens a little bit. I pour the slightly thickened sauce over top of the chicken and stir. I let it sit in the crock-pot at least 10 minutes to soak up the sauce. (You can just put your crock-pot on warm and keep it that way until everyone is done eating).

If you don't have a crock-pot, this can be done in the oven on a low temperature (about 275 degrees) and a casserole dish covered with foil or oven safe lid. Cook about 3-4 hours. I still remove the chicken and give it a coarse chop with a knife to get it to start shredding and I still cook the sauce on the stove top. I have a friend that does not and hers is still delicious but just a little more sloppy.

If you don't have time for cooking the can take the cheater way out for dinner. Don't worry....we won't tell anyone! ;) Shred a rotisserie chicken. Mix the chili sauce, crushed pineapple and the brown sugar along with 2-3 tablespoons of corn starch or tapioca starch in a sauce pan on the stove top until slightly thickened. Pour over chicken and let it soak well for about 10-15 minutes before serving.
Dumped it all in the crock-pot and ready to cook

Removed chicken and gave it a coarse chop with my knife

I like to thicken my sauce slightly with a little corn starch

Ready to serve up on sandwiches, gluten free tortillas or rice. It even tastes great on pizza!
Ready to eat

Yummy! Tangy with a little sweet. Makes me feel like vacation!

I hope you enjoy this super easy recipe that gets you dinner to table quickly and on budget! I recently took this to a pot-luck and it was the first meat dish gone. I think everyone enjoyed the different flavor rather than the traditional sloppy joes, BBQ beef or shredded chicken dishes. This is a nice change and doesn't require a lot of time or expense. Great for any casual dinner.

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Gluten Free Cream Puffs (pate a choux)

Cream Puffs! These little things are light and fluffy and just melt in your mouth. I took these recently to two different parties and all 30 of the little puffs were gone quickly. No one even realized they were gluten free! Everyone said they were the best cream puffs they ever had. The thing I love about the puffs are that you can fill them with anything you want.

My mom used to make huge batches of puffs for bridal showers and fill them with tuna salad, chicken salad, pimento cheese spread and of course my favorite...cream filling. There are many ways to make the filling. You can make it homemade or you can use a box of instant pudding mix and add whipped topping (like Cool Whip) to give it that light and fluffy texture. I personally don't like the heavy custard or just pudding filling. I like it more like a mousse. Light and fluffy!You can top it with melted chocolate, frosting, powdered sugar or if you are doing can top it with sea salt or paprika. The possibilities are endless. This recipe is a life savor for those of us on a gluten free diet. They taste great so those without special diet restrictions won't notice the difference and those of us that need a gluten free diet can enjoy them either sweet or savory!

You can make them small, large or extra large but you will need to adjust the baking time. You don't want to under cook them or they get a chewy texture. I like making them with my small cookie scoop. They puff up to the perfect size and one batch makes about 30 puffs. I would rather make them small when taking them to a party because a lot of times people just want a small taste of dessert or a "sandwich" especially if it is a potluck and there are a lot of choices. Leftovers freeze great too!

Of course, if you don't have a gluten allergy then you can make these with regular flour. My recipes can always be made with regular flour but have been adjusted and tested for gluten free baking. I won't put anything on this blog that I haven't tested and tasted myself that meets my approval. If it doesn't taste "normal" then it won't pass my taste test! :)

Cream Puff (pate a choux) Recipe:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup of butter or margarine or vegetable shortening (like Crisco). If using margarine, make sure your margarine contains at least 65% fat or it will contain too much water and will not rise properly. Do not use reduced fat!
  • 1 pinch salt (about 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 1/4 cup gluten free flour (I prefer using one without sorghum in it for my sweets because I personally think it leaves an aftertaste. I have used my own gluten free flour blend (recipe below) as well as Trader Joe's, King Arthur, Cup4Cup, and Betty Crocker all with great results. *If your gluten free flour blend does not contain either xanthan gum or guar gum then you will need to add 1/2 tsp to your flour if using a gluten free flour. If you are using regular flour, don't add the xanthan gum.
  • 5 large eggs (at room temperature)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. (This will help to remove them without sticking). Place the water, butter (or margarine or Crisco) and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer (tiny little bubbles start to form). Add all the flour at once and stir with a wooden spoon or heavy spatula until it forms a thick dough. Dough may be slightly sticky and oily looking. This is normal. Dump the dough in a mixing bowl and let it cool for 3-5 minutes before adding eggs. You don't want to add the eggs or you will end up cooking the eggs!

Bring water, butter and salt to a simmer or light boil

Add flour (and xanthan gum) all at once. This is will be the texture.
After the dough has cooled about 3-5 minutes, beat the dough with a mixer for about 1 minute prior to adding the eggs. This will help cool the dough down and mix it well. Add the eggs, one at a time. Beat well before adding the next egg. After all the eggs have been added, continue mixing until the dough is shiny and thick, about 2 minutes.

Beating the dough and then adding the eggs one at a time.

This is what the dough should look like after adding the eggs.
At this point, the dough has been mixed and ready to put onto your silicone or parchment paper lined baking sheets. You can drop by spoonfuls (try to keep each one similar in size so they bake don't want some of them over-cooked and others under cooked!). I personally like using my small cookie scoop but you can use a pastry bag if you prefer. (I find it easier to clean a cookie scoop than a pastry bag!) I tried to space them about 2 inches apart. They will puff up some but shouldn't spread too much.

Using my small cookie scoop to drop onto parchment paper lined baking sheets

Ready to bake in my 375 degree pre-heated oven

Bake for about 30-35 minutes and then check on your puffs. Oven temperatures and elevation can affect the baking time. You want them lightly golden brown and the inside should be light and airy and well cooked. They should not be gooey. (I take a knife and cut into one to check the inside consistency). I have an old oven that came with my house and it seems to take a little longer to bake so I ended up baking my puffs almost 55 minutes. Confection ovens and gas ovens generally bake a little faster. I suggest checking them at 30 minutes and then adjusting your baking time if needed. Remove from oven. I like to pierce the edge of each puff with a knife to let the steam escape but I know people that don't do that and their puffs turn out fine too. Cool completely before filling. Slice in half and add your favorite filling whether it is sweet or savory.

Ready to fill with my sweet filling today

I chose to fill my puffs with a fluffy cream filling today. Sometimes I make my filling from scratch but I admit that most people comment on my fluffy filling when I use instant vanilla pudding mix and mix it with Cool Whip. I use two small boxes of vanilla instant pudding mix (prepared for pie filling) and then stir in 2-3 cups of Cool Whip until I get the desired texture I am looking for. The texture I aim for is fluffy but still holds it's shape. You can add whatever type of filling you like. I cheated for today's batch and used store bought chocolate frosting that I melted in the microwave and drizzled on top. There are many options and you can adjust this recipe to work for what you have on hand or for a specific party. You can add savory fillings like chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad, pimento cheese spread, etc. You can also add any type of sweet fillings like custards, puddings, mousse, ice cream, cheesecake fillings, etc. Sometimes I will top mine with powdered sugar, fruit or chocolate drizzle. It just depends on what I have on hand or what type of party I am taking a dessert. I have made with no-bake cheese cake filling and topped with fruit or pie filling in the past. It was delicious! Store in refrigerator or freezer.

I put these in the refrigerator for my potluck tomorrow

Ready to eat!


Yes, please!
My Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour (made from sticky rice, gluten free)
  • 1 cup potato starch (not flour)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk, make sure it is very fine in texture
  • 1 cup corn starch or tapioca starch (I used corn starch for this batch)
  • 3 tbs. xanthan gum
Combine all ingredients together well. You can put it in the blender for an extra smooth texture if desired. I store mine in a glass container and use it in place of regular flour in all my recipes. This particular blend I really like for baked sweet goods. 

I hope you enjoy this very flexible recipe. I love having recipes like this on hand that I can adjust to fit many different meals either sweet or savory. I also like that this recipe doesn't call for much gluten free flour so it is also affordable to make for a large crowd. I look forward to your versions of this recipe or any different fillings that you use. We all learn from each other so please feel free to post questions, comments or photos!

Gluten Free Casually

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Almond Pound Cake

German Almond Pound Cake. This is a great cake to make for just about any occasion. You can dress it up and serve it with fresh berries in place of strawberry short cake or serve it alone as dessert or on the brunch table. It even tastes better a couple days later when all the flavors have "blended". It is also great to use as a wedding cake because it is a solid cake that holds moisture and it's shape. (I just leave off the crumb topping for wedding or birthday cakes and decorate them like you would a regular cake). It is very flexible and you can bake it in a bundt pan, angel food cake pan, loaf pan, 9x13 pan or cupcake tins (just adjust the cooking times!) You can make it with the crumb topping (which is my favorite!) or leave the topping off. It is a personal preference.

This is a German recipe and a favorite with our family. This is a typical cake that is served with afternoon coffee in least with our German family. My mom is a fantastic baker and she used to improvise recipes to suit what she had on hand. The recipe calls for 2 cups of ground almonds but if she didn't have them she would substitute 2 cups of flour and add 2 tbs. of almond extract instead. If she didn't have cream cheese then she would add sour cream or Crisco + 1 tbs. vinegar to give the tartness that cream cheese or sour cream would give the cake in it's place. The recipe still always turned out great! That is what I love about pound cakes....they are very flexible and always turn out great! Be sure to let them cool completely before you start removing them from the pan or else they sometimes will want to fall apart. I have found from experience to be patient and let them cool first. I have also found that the crumb topping works best for me if you wait to add it about the last 20 minutes of cooking time. If you add it too soon then it wants to sink into the batter or it browns too quick. You only want a light golden brown color to the crumb topping.

Another baking trick I have learned over the years is to add the almond extract or baking emulsion (or any extracts like vanilla extract, peppermint extracts, etc) when you are beating the butter and sugar together. It gives the cake a better flavor. It seems to infuse the flavor more evenly and the results are better. Most recipes suggest adding the vanilla near the end of the mixing time. I disagree....add it at the beginning. I also prefer using baking emulsion in place of extracts when I can. They are a little thicker and the flavor is just a little more pronounced. You can find them at most baking supply stores or chain craft stores including Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, and Michael's. Look for them in the cake supply aisle. (I always go online and print out the 40% coupons that they have so it makes it less expensive!) Sometimes you can find the baking emulsions at places like Home Goods or TJ Maxx too. You just have to look. Of course if you can't find them you can just use extract from the grocery store. It will work too.

If someone has a dairy allergy then you can substitute dairy free cream cheese (available at Trader Joe's or a specialty store like Sprouts). You can also use a dairy free margarine or Crisco in place of the real butter but just make sure it contains at least 65% fat or it won't rise correctly! You don't want to add a creamy butter spread that is too watery. For nut allergies you can just substitute flour in place of the ground almonds. The flavor and texture will not be quite the same but trust will still be a delicious pound cake! I would just add a couple extra drops of the almond extract to bring out the flavor that you are missing from the ground almonds!

German Almond Pound Cake Recipe:
  • 3/4 cup butter (you can substitute margarine that contains at least 65% fat or Crisco. DO NOT USE LIGHT BUTTER OR MARGARINE. THEY CONTAIN TOO MUCH WATER AND CAKE WILL NOT RISE PROPERLY!)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (If you do not have this you can substitute either sour cream or plain Greek yogurt + 1 tbs. of tapioca starch to make it thicker OR Crisco + 1 tbs. white vinegar to give it the tartness). I prefer using cream cheese which I did in my recipe today. You can use regular or the light....not fat free. I have also used the dairy free cream cheese available at specialty stores & Trader Joe's and it worked fine too!
  • 1 tsp. almond baking emulsion or 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I just use traditional table salt because it has a fine texture that I like for baking)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 1/2 cup sugar (I use the GMO free sugar that is not bleached white but my mom always uses the regular white sugar and it works fine)
  • 6 large eggs (I prefer using the brown eggs but you can use whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 cups finely ground almonds (sometimes called almond meal or almond flour). I bought mine at Trader Joe's because they were more affordable than the specialty stores. You can also grind your own in the food processor if you prefer. 
  • 1 1/4 cup gluten free flour blend (I generally mix my own flour blend but for today's recipe I used King Arthur's gluten free flour blend. If your gluten free flour blend does not contain xanthan gum or guar gum then you will need to add 1/4 tsp. If you are using regular flour then you can omit the xanthan gum). I personally avoid the gluten free flour blends that contain sorghum for my sweet baked goods. I don't care for the flavor. It is fine in savory dishes but I don't like it in my sweets!
Beat the butter (or Crisco or margarine) together with the cream cheese (or sour cream or yogurt + tapioca starch or the additional Crisco + vinegar if you are substituting the cream cheese). Add the almond baking emulsion or extract and beat until smooth and creamy. Add the sugar. Beat until creamy and fluffy. Gradually add eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Add the baking soda and salt (add xanthan gum if you are adding it). I like to add them before the flour so they get mixed in really well. Add the ground almonds along with the flour and beat until creamy and fluffy. Batter will be fairly thick. Pound cakes have a heavier texture than a cake mix!  Pour into a greased pan (I used an angel food cake pan (also called an apple cake pan). I like to use this type of a pan in place of a bundt pan if I am putting a crumb topping on it. The bundt pan is more difficult because the crumb topping will be on the bottom when you flip it over which I personally don't like! Bake in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for about 70-75 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. If you are adding the crumb topping then add it the last 20 minutes of cooking time so the topping doesn't sink into the batter. If you are baking in a large loaf pan, bake 55-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean, muffins 18-25 minutes and 9x13 pan, about 25-35 minutes. Check at the lowest cooking time because oven temperatures and altitudes can change the baking time at your house!

Crumb topping:
  • 1/3 cup of butter, margarine or Crisco, soft but not melted
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour (if you have a gluten allergy. Otherwise use regular flour)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I use GMO non-bleached sugar)
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds or slivered or shaved almonds)
  • a tiny drop of either almond or vanilla extract. Not much...just a drop

Mix all together until crumb texture. If it is too dry then you can add tablespoon more butter or if it is too moist then you can add a tablespoon additional flour or almonds. Taste a pinch. If you want it a touch sweeter than add a tablespoon more sugar. The texture and flavor of the crumb topping will resemble shortbread. It shouldn't be over sweet. Sprinkle on top of the pound cake during the last 20 minutes of baking time. (I just take it out of the oven and sprinkle on top. It is less messy and I don't burn myself this way! Bake until pound cake is cooked through (knife inserted should come out clean) and topping should be a light golden brown and crispy.

This cake should be cooled completely in the pan before removing it to a wire rack or plate. I find that if I run a knife along the edges and the center of the angel food cake pan then it doesn't stick and comes out much easier. It will fall apart if you remove it when it is still warm. I take a spatula if I feel I need extra support on the bottom to remove it. My mom used to flip the cake onto a plate and then flip it onto another plate to get the crumb topping on top. I find this harder for me. I just tip the pan gently to get the cake moving and then lift it with one hand an a spatula. You can drizzle a powdered sugar and milk or water glaze on the top. There isn't a recipe for that. You just mix water and powdered sugar until thin enough to drizzle over cooled cake.

This is what I prefer to use when I have it available. Look for it in the baking aisle at craft stores

Sorry that I don't have better pictures. I wasn't planning on adding this cake anytime soon to the blog but I had several people ask for the recipe lately so I just quickly added it. I will update photos the next time I make it. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Casually

Friday, March 20, 2015

Southern Style Brisket

Southern Style Brisket. Cooking a brisket is a lot like cooking ribs.....low temperature for a long time! It doesn't really matter if you cook it in the oven, grill or just needs to be at a low temperature and several hours. I love my meat cooked in a crock pot with the exception of brisket and ribs. I don't want them tasting like pot roast. (Don't get me wrong, I love pot roast but if I want brisket or ribs....I don't want them tasting like pot roast!). I like a light glaze of BBQ sauce baked on top to finish it off.

I used to be afraid to cook brisket or ribs because the few times that I did (when I was much younger)... they always were either too dry, too mushy or the flavor and texture just weren't right. After discussing this with a restaurant owner, he explained that you need to cook the meat at a low temperature for 6-8 hours and not put the glaze or sauce onto the meat until the last 20-30 minutes of baking. You also need to "tent" the meat pan and add a bowl of water or other liquid to the oven for steam. It isn't rocket science but there is a trick to creating the perfect brisket! I also recommend experimenting with a cheaper cut of meat (mock tenderloin, thick cut of flank steak, London Broil, etc) before you tackle an expensive cut of brisket. I will be honest...sometimes if I am craving brisket and it isn't on sale then I just buy a thick cut of flank steak or similar cut. It will be a little less fatty so the flavor isn't exactly the same but it is close enough and more affordable! If I am having a huge crowd over for brisket....I ALWAYS add a couple of thicker flank steaks or "mock beef tenderloin" to the brisket to stretch the meat further for a more affordable BBQ. No one has ever noticed! You can also cook a pork loin or pork tender loin the same way. If it is a really thick cut of meat then you will need to slice it in half. (Your butcher can do this for you if you ask).

I don't have a fancy smoker so I generally cook my brisket in the oven. If it is going to be really hot outside then I will cook it on my BBQ gas grill so I don't heat up my house. Just make sure you have plenty of gas in the tank before you get started! I like to put a custom seasoning rub on mine before I start cooking and then finish it off with a thin swipe of gluten free BBQ sauce that I add the last 20 minutes of cooking. You can customize the flavors however you want. There are many recipes for sauces, marinades and spice rubs. I generally stick to my own recipe because it always turns out great and we love the flavors at our house. I usually serve it with my chipotle baked beans (recipe July 2014 on my blog) and corn bread muffins (recipe Dec 2012 on my blog) or spoon bread recipe (May 2014 on my blog) and cucumber salad or spicy slaw. YUMMY!

Southern Style Brisket Recipe:
  • 1-2 briskets or similar cut of meat (you can substitute thick flank steak, mock beef tenderloin, London broil or other similar cuts. Try to find cuts that have some fat running through them because the fat will give the meat extra flavor!)
  • Spice rub of your choice (I use my custom blend below but feel free to use a steak rub but make sure it is gluten free!)
  • BBQ sauce or finishing glaze, optional (just make sure it is gluten free!). We prefer BBQ at our house but I have had parties where I have done a peach-chipotle glaze, honey-jalapeno glaze, apricot-onion glaze or a teriyaki glaze. They are all delicious but we prefer the traditional BBQ at our house most of the time!

Line a cookie sheet that has edges with foil. (This just makes it easier for clean up later). Lay your meat down flat onto the foil lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle your spice rub onto meat. Take your freshly washed hands and press the spice rub into the meat. Cover the baking sheet with foil making a "tent" in the center. The center will "poof" up in the center. Put in 275F degree oven along with an oven-safe glass bowl or casserole dish that is filled part way with water. This will keep the oven environment moist and steamy for the cooking. You might have to check the water level part way through the cooking time to make sure that the water hasn't run dry. You don't want to crack your glass bowl! (You can put the brisket in a smoker or on your BBQ grill if you can set the temperature for about 275F). Cook for about 6-8 hours. I don't even check on the meat until usually after 7 hours (unless we are starving then I might check it at 6 hours) but it will be the most tender after 7-8 hours. I take it out of oven and check the meat with a knife. If it is pulling away in tender chunks then I put on a light coat of BBQ sauce or glaze and pop it back into the oven but without the foil tent this time. I want the sauce or glaze to get a nice cooked texture.

My special seasoning rub (recipe below)

I wrap the foil around the meat to form a "tent"

Ready to eat! Yummy!

Close up view

It just shreds great and you can eat it sliced, on a sandwich or in a tortilla

My Special Gluten Free Spice Rub Recipe:
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1/8 cup black ground pepper
  • 5 tbs. ground chipotle pepper (you can substitute cayenne if you don't have chipotle)
  • 1/4 cup salt (I like to use finely ground sea salt but regular salt will work fine too)
  • 1/8 cup garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
  • 1/8 cup onion powder (not onion salt!)
  • 3 tbs. ground tumeric
  • 3 tbs. ground coriander 

Mix all ingredients together well and store in a glass spice jar or empty jar with a lid. (If you don't have an empty jar then you can find inexpensive ones at your Dollar Store, 99cent Store or Ikea. If you have an empty jelly jar then you can just use that too. This isn't fancy!). You can use this seasoning on meat, vegetables, potatoes, popcorn or just about anything you want! I usually double the recipe and share with my son David who absolutely loves this spice. He says he uses it on everything but especially likes it on chicken. He said it reminds him of the seasoning used at Outback Steak House. 

My homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe:
  • 1/2 onion, chopped fine and cooked until soft (you can either cook it with the meat or in a little water in the microwave or stove top. You don't want crunchy onions in your sauce! Or you can substitute a packet of gluten free onion soup mix added to the 1 cup of water below)
  • 1 cup ketchup (I used Heinz which is marked gluten free on the back of bottle)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (I used raw brown sugar today but regular will work too. Add a little less if you like it more tangy or add a little extra if you like it sweeter)
  • 1/2 tsp. dry ground mustard (this is found in the spice section of your grocery store)
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder (optional. This is something I like to add because we like the smokey flavor. If you don't have it on hand, I wouldn't run out to buy it. You can also add more for extra spicy)
  • 1 tbs. vinegar (I used white vinegar today but you can use apple cider vinegar)
  • 2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce (I used Lea & Perrins which was labeled gluten free)
  • 1 cup beef broth or water
Cook all the ingredients together on low heat on your stove top until slightly thickened. Spread onto your meat or put into a jar so that you can add the sauce on the side in case people don't want BBQ sauce or they want extra sauce (which is usually the case!). This sauce can be used on any of your favorite meats including pork, chicken or beef. It is also delicious in place of making sloppy Joe's with your ground burger. YUMMY! I also like to add some to my homemade baked beans if I have it on hand.

I hope you try this super easy recipe for brisket. We have a hard time going out for dinner for brisket and ribs because they are so expensive and many times we get disappointed with the results. I like making them at home because I know they always turn out great and it is much more affordable! You just have to plan ahead. You can't rush the cooking or the flavors just don't turn out the same. I have tried boiling the brisket like people suggest but honestly...nothing beats low temperature cooking for hours. Try won't be sorry. There are also a lot of great gluten free seasoning blends that are already prepared (Weber makes several and you can find them at most grocery stores including Wal-Mart, Fry's or Kroger in the spice aisle). If you don't have time to make your own or you don't cook a lot....certainly don't go out and buy all the ingredients to make your own spice rub. That can get expensive! We use the rub a lot and I buy the spices in bulk so it is affordable for us. I also give the spice rub out to friends at the holidays since they all love it and our homemade flavored sea salts. The homemade BBQ sauce is great too but there are plenty of delicious ones that you can purchase at the grocery store for your convenience. My favorites are the Rudy's gluten free BBQ sauce which our friends in Albuquerque got us hooked on. I like it because it is spicy. I believe that Baby Ray's brand is also gluten free (just read the bottles at the grocery store!). 

*Please note that I do not sponsor any particular brands, I don't get paid to write this blog so therefore any of my recommendations in this blog is purely my preference on things I have tasted and used with good results.

Consider making brisket for your next BBQ for a great casual dinner. Let the oven do the work while you have time to prepare other side dishes or relax if you let others bring the side dishes! :)

Chow! (Yes....this is my hillbilly way of saying it! Hahahahaha!)
Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Spanish Spice Bars

Spanish Spice Bars. This is a very old fashioned recipe. Most people remember it from the old grocery stores like A&P. It is a very moist spice cake recipe that has a fluffy butter cream frosting. It resembles a carrot cake but it is much easier to prepare and I think the flavors are much more intense. The flavor gets better after a day or two!

This isn't a lame spice cake mix version! There are a lot of recipes out there for Spanish Spice bars and some of them call for cocoa powder to get the intense dark color. Actually, the dark color isn't from is from raisin puree. Yep, it gives the depth to this cake that can't be substituted! Even if you hate raisins, you will love this cake! You can also add nuts and a handful of raisins for a chunky cake but my family always preferred it without the chunks. I wanted to re-create this cake in a gluten free version and the results were fantastic. It kept the moist texture and the flavor was just as I remembered it. If you don't have cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice separate but you have either apple pie spice or pumpkin pie spice then you can just substitute 2 1/2 - 3tsp. of that instead.

Spanish Spice Bar Recipe:
  • 2 cups gluten free flour (I used the Pillsbury gluten free flour blend today since my hubby went shopping and came home with it. Mine already had xanthan gum in it so I didn't need to add any. If you are using a gluten free flour that doesn't contain guar gum or xanthum gum then please add 1/2 tsp. If you are using regular flour then you can omit it).
  • 1/4 cup of gluten free oats, finely ground into a flour (I measure after I grind it in my blender)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I used the GMO free sugar)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg (if using freshly ground nutmeg, reduce to 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup water (I use the water I have leftover from plumping up my raisins)
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins (I like to use the assorted raisins but traditional raisins will work)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the raisins in about 2 cups of boiling water and let them plump up for about 5 minutes. Mix the sugar, oil, shortening and eggs until fluffy and smooth.  Beat in the baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and allspice. Take the raisins with a couple tablespoons of the liquid and put in a blender or food processor (if you don't have one then just mash the best you can with a fork) until it is puree. Add the flour and puree alternately with the 1 cup water (I use the water from the raisins). At this point if you want to add a handful of nuts or additional raisins for a chunky cake then add then now. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan for thicker bars (like a cake) or a 11x15 jelly roll pan for thinner cake bars. Bake 9x13 pan for approx 30-35 minutes & 11x15 pan 18-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool & frost with butter cream frosting.

Butter Cream Frosting:
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
  • 1 cup real butter or margarine (don't use margarine with less than 65% fat or it contains too much water)
  • 7 cups powdered sugar (be sure it is gluten free)
  • 1 tsp. almond extract or almond baking emulsion
  • 1 tsp. butter flavor extract or baking emulsion (if you have it on gives extra flavor!)

Beat the shortening and butter or margarine with extracts. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy. Frost cooled cake.

Butter Cream Frosting

These are the raisins I used today. They are my favorite!

I put the plumped up raisins in my mini food processor. (You can mash with a fork if you don't have one)

This is what the raisins look like after they are pureed

This is the cake batter before baking it

See how dark and rich the cake turned out?

It is moist and has a depth of flavor!


Up close view of the moist cake!

Results? Yummy! Glad I converted to gluten free (you can make it with regular flour too!)

I am glad I reached into my old recipe box and decided to make this delicious, moist cake with a depth of flavor. This is one of my oldest son's favorite cakes. I haven't made it for years and since it was his birthday, I decided to attempt to make it gluten free. I am glad that I was able to recycle an old favorite and share this version of Spanish Spice Bar with people that have always wanted to make it. This recipe gives carrot cake a run for it's money! ;)

Gluten Free Casually