My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

Hi!
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!

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 cocoa....it 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 hand...it 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!

Yummy!

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! ;)

Fiesta!
Tanja
Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Frosted Orange Cookies

Frosted Orange Cookies. This is one of the many cookies that my mom used to make at Christmas every year and it was one of my dad's favorites. It is a soft, cake style cookie with a flavorful glaze. My sister-in law Becky & my mom both have similar recipes so I took both recipes and tweaked them to make it work gluten free. I also added more orange zest because I really like the flavor it adds to the cookies. If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can still make these cookies but just use regular flour instead of a gluten free flour blend!

My daughter and my boss both gave me a small bag of fresh oranges from their tree.  A few of the oranges were really ripe and extremely juicy so I decided rather than eat those ones, I would make some cookies with them. I also think that since my daughter's upcoming wedding is quickly approaching...I am missing my dad who passed away a few years ago and by making these cookies that he liked made me feel a little closer to him. :)

You can also substitute lemon or limes (or a combination of citrus fruit) for these cookies. They have a wonderful burst of flavor and they have a delicate cake like texture. They are very moist. The glaze takes them over the top! (They are good sprinkled with a touch of powdered sugar instead of the glaze BUT the glaze makes them sooooo much better! Our family prefers the glaze!)

Frosted Orange Cookies:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used the unbleached non-gmo type)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening (like Crisco. Be careful with some of the generics because they are whipped and contain too much water and the cookies will not hold their shape. You don't want flat cookies!)
  • zest from 1 large or 2 small oranges
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Betty Crocker gluten free flour blend today. You will need to add 1/2 tsp. of xanthan gum or guar gum if your gluten free flour blend doesn't contain it!) I will comment that if you have a gluten free flour blend that feels extremely powdery or gritty to touch that you might want to add a small package of vanilla pudding mix. For some reason it gives it a little more moisture and holds the cookie together. I didn't need to add it to my Betty Crocker flour blend but there are a few GF flour blends out there that give a very crumbly result. If you aren't sure....only bake 2 cookies and see how the results turn out before you bake the entire batch only to realize that they are too crumbly.
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (if you don't have this then you can just add additional 1/2 cup of gluten free flour blend).
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix sugars, shortening, orange peel, orange juice and eggs. Beat until fluffy and creamy. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. The chilled dough will keep the cookies in a mound shape rather than having them spread so much. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (I use a cookie scoop for convenience but my mom never does) onto cookie sheet about 2" apart. (I also like to line my cookie sheet with parchment paper so I don't have to grease the cookie sheet and the cookies come off easier. If you are not using parchment paper then you will need to lightly grease your cookie sheet so the cookies won't stick!) Bake in a pre-heated 350F degree oven for 10-13 minutes or until tops and edges are very lightly golden. Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from cookie sheet to prevent crumbling. Drizzle with glaze if desired.

Dough after it has been refrigerated. Ready to bake!
 Orange Glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (also called frosting sugar or confectioner's sugar. Make sure it does not contain gluten! Some brands add it to the powdered sugar!
  • 1 tbs. olive oil, melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 3 tbs. orange juice
  • 2 tbs. of orange zest
Orange glaze ready to drizzle onto cookies!

Ready to eat! Up close view

Ready to taste!


See how moist?

The cookie is soft and slightly sweet with a tangy glaze. Perfect combination of flavors!
 So if you have a couple of oranges hanging around in your refrigerator or on your tree...consider making a batch or two of these delicious, melt in your mouth cookies! Even if you have lemons or a combination of citrus in your refrigerator...you can use a combination for a lovely cookie! These are an old fashioned cookie recipe that needs to get the attention it deserves! These are great for dessert or game day. They also freeze great for a quick snack at a later date! This recipe can be spread into a 7x11 pan and baked into bars if you prefer rather than drop cookies but you will need to adjust the cooking time to about 25 minutes or until edges are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.

Feel free to post any additions or suggestions & pictures of your cookies below. We all learn from each other! I experiment in my kitchen with my recipes to make them work. If you have another way of doing it, I'd love to hear about it! :)

Have a great day!

Tanja
Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake. Simple. I love how the slightly tart, moist cake meets with just a hint of sweetness. My friend Judi gave me a handful of fresh lemons from her tree and I wanted to experiment with a gluten free lemon cake for my daughter's upcoming wedding. I have been experimenting with a couple different types of cakes and seeing which ones taste the best and hold their shape. This one is definitely in the running. I shared the cake with some friends (since I don't want the temptation of eating it all myself!) and they felt this was great and recommended I make this as one of the wedding cakes. You could also just bake it into a loaf pan and drizzle a glaze on it. I took a couple of different lemon cake recipes and tweaked them into one recipe to work for what I had in my house. You could very easily make this with fresh oranges or limes instead of lemons. There are a lot of recipes out there for lemon cake but I wanted one that used fresh lemons and didn't add lemon pudding mixes or anything that had artificial lemon flavor into the batter. You could easily substitute almond flour for the gluten free flour blend and you can toss in a handful of poppy seeds if you desire.

Forgive me for taking the month of December off of writing for the blog. I was still baking and experimenting in my kitchen but I just needed a break from the computer. December was a busy month for us so I gave myself a "vacation" from the blog. I will be catching up on some recipes to post.

Lemon Cake Recipe: (makes one loaf or one round 9" single layer cake). Recipe can be doubled.
  • 1 cup gluten free flour blend or substitute finely ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (only add if your gluten free flour doesn't contain xanthan gum or guar gum. Don't add this if you are using regular flour or if your GF flour already contains it).
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar (I used unbleached non-gmo sugar)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (I used lemon infused olive oil that I received as a gift but you can use olive oil or substitute vegetable oil)
  • zest & juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese (or you can substitute a non-dairy version of cream cheese or just use Crisco)



Grease (or use a non-cooking spray) to coat a 9x5 loaf pan or 9" round cake pan. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Beat the sugar, eggs, oil and zest. Beat in eggs one at a time. Continue to beat until mixture is creamy and pale in color, about 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cream cheese or Crisco. Slowly add the flour (or ground almonds), xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. Beat until smooth and creamy.

(The creamy batter)
 Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake in center of the oven for 20-25 minutes for 9" round pan or 45-60 minutes for a loaf pan. Oven temperatures & altitude may vary your cooking times so check it at the earliest cooking time and adjust the time as necessary. Bake until toothpick or sharp knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cook 15 minutes before removing from pan.

You can either frost with a lemon butter cream frosting, lemon ganache or a simple powdered sugar & lemon juice drizzle. I chose to use a lemon butter cream frosting today for this trial run. I would consider adding lemon curd to the layers also. Yummy!

For the Lemon Butter Cream Frosting I made today:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (confectioner sugar)
  • 1/4 cup real butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • lemon zest
  • 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice


Mix until smooth and spread over cooled cake. Since I only wanted to do a "trial" on this cake, I only baked one 9" round layer. I cut the layer in half (half circle) and made a layer cake out of it. (Basically, I just folded the cake in half). I frosted the top of one half and topped it with the remaining half to form a layered cake. If I decide to make this for the wedding, I will double the recipe for two layers. Keep in mind that I only wanted to test the cake portion so the pictures are not great and I didn't take any time to try and decorate it fancy. I leave that fancy cake decorating up to my mom and my sister-in-law, Becky. They are the professional cake decorator's in our family!

fresh out of oven & cooling


I just cut the cake down the middle making two half moon shapes & frosted

Ready to eat

See how moist?

Up close view

I will definitely keep this cake in the running for potential gluten free wedding cake options. It was a big hit with friends and it was nice & moist. I will post pictures if I decide to use this for one of the wedding cakes after my sister-in-law decorates it. We are having a regular wedding cake that my mom is making & decorating & since we have several gluten free guests...we are making a smaller version of a wedding cake that is gluten free that my sister-in-law graciously offered to decorate for me! :)

Happy New Year 2015! Let it be a great year for everyone! Although last year had some difficult times, the good times took over and made it a great year overall in 2014. I am determined to slow down a little and enjoy my family and great friends more.

I do challenge you to make this cake...and share it with at least one person that is special to you. Life is short...enjoy it and share it! :)

Tanja
Gluten Free Casually

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pineapple Fluff

 I like "salads" that can be used as a side dish or dessert. Seriously, I am not sure who classified this as "salad" but I think it is funny. I consider it more of a dessert that you can get by with on your plate next to a thick ham slice! Ha!Ha! I really like to add these type of "salads" to my holiday brunch menu. They are affordable, easy, delicious and can be made ahead. They are also pretty flexible. You can change out the flavor of the instant pudding mix or fruit and you have a whole new combination. This version is one of my family's favorites. We all love coconut so I add shredded coconut to the pudding but the original recipe did not call for coconut...you can leave it out! I have a lot of friends that don't like coconut so I don't add it if I am taking this to their house when we do potluck meals. If there will be a large crowd there then I will double the recipe. Everyone always seems to come back for seconds! I always hope I will have leftovers....but rarely do!

This recipe reminds me of a cream pie...without the crust! It just melts in your mouth and definitely tastes better the next day so I like to make it the night before I will be serving it. That way the yummy little mini-marshmallows get a spongy texture. I generally try to use a vanilla or French vanilla instant pudding mix in this recipe but you can substitute lemon, banana, chocolate, pumpkin or whatever other pudding flavor you prefer! (Jello brand doesn't contain gluten so I stick with that brand).

Pineapple Fluff Recipe:
  • 1 small box instant pudding mix, dry (don't prepare it! you just need the dry powder!). Make sure your pudding mix is gluten free. I use Jello brand. I prefer using either vanilla or French Vanilla instant pudding mix. I have not tried the sugar free version so I can't tell you if it will work well but I assume it would. 
  • 1 (12 oz.) container of Cool Whip non dairy topping, thawed (If you live in a country that doesn't have Cool Whip then you can substitute Whipped cream, prepared Dream Whip or even use Mascarpone cheese that is slightly sweetened).
  • 1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks or tidbits (including the juice!). If you want extra flavor you can add a small can (6-8 oz) crushed pineapple with juice too! (Our family prefers pineapple so I stick with that but you can substitute fruit cocktail or peach chunks).
  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut, optional (it can be unsweetened or sweetened)
Pour the dry instant pudding powder into a bowl. Stir in the pineapple chunks with the juice. Stir until the pudding powder is mixed into the juice well (no clumps!). Stir in the Cool Whip and mini marshmallows. Cover and put in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight so the flavors blend and the mini marshmallows get spongy.





This recipe is so easy to prepare that I didn't even bother taking pictures of the steps. It is basically dump the ingredients into a bowl, stir and refrigerate. It isn't rocket science! I made this last night and this is what it looks like this morning. You can dress it up by adding some maraschino cherries or nuts if you prefer. I just like it simple. Not only is it less expensive without adding the nuts but I don't have to worry about nut allergies when I take this to a potluck. 

Enjoy this super easy recipe at your next potluck or holiday brunch. Make a double batch if you plan on having leftovers! :)

Enjoy!
Tanja
Gluten Free Casually



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mexican Casserole

Mexican Casserole. I like this meal because not only does it go together quickly but it also has a lot of flavors that tickle the taste buds and it is very hardy. It is one of my "go to" recipes during the busy holiday season because I can make it ahead and reheat it later...or it only takes about 15-20 minutes to get dinner to the table so it goes together fast for a last minute dinner. It is also very flexible. I generally use ground beef but you can use chicken (if you use rotisserie chicken then you don't even have to take any extra time cooking the chicken and your meal preparation just turned into only 5 minutes!) or you can use ground turkey, chorizo, shredded beef, shrimp, fish or pork. If you prefer meatless then you can just use beans. You can also change the flavors depending on what type of salsa and tortillas you use. You can add or delete items you like to this recipe. I happen to love sliced olives and corn in my casserole but not everyone else does. Leave them out if you don't like them! This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a large crowd. You can layer it in a round casserole dish or in a 9x13 pan. It is okay if the tortillas overlap. You can also cut some of the tortillas in half or quarters if you need them to fit better in the pan you are using. (If you don't have a gluten allergy then you don't have to worry about using "gluten free" products!)

I first had this recipe over 22 years ago at a party. I wasn't much into Mexican type food back then (Wow! Have times changed since moving to Arizona!) and this was something completely new to me. I didn't even ask for the recipe because I thought with all the layers that it must be really involved and I was a busy, working mom with 3 kids back then. I overheard one of the the other ladies ask for the recipe and she wrote it down and explained how to make it. Wow...it sounded pretty easy! I tried it and my family loved it. I was happy because it was easy to make and can be easily adapted to what type of meat, beans and tortillas you have available. Although, I am pretty sure this is not an "authentic" Mexican dish...we like it and all the fun Mexican flavors are captured in this sassy dish so we enjoy it. It is a recipe that I like to make for a crowd because it is easy, delicious and doesn't break the bank. Leftovers freeze well too and you can make it ahead and just re-heat it later in the week.

The only conversion that I needed to make for this Mexican dish to make it "gluten free" was to be sure that my Taco Seasoning was gluten free and verify that the corn tortillas were labeled gluten free (you need to read labels because some corn tortillas are made in a facility that uses wheat flour on the equipment!). You can also use gluten free flour tortillas if you prefer. They are a little more expensive but tasted just fine in this recipe. You can certainly make your tortillas from scratch if you prefer...I am not very good at it so I usually just purchase mine. You can purchase taco seasoning labeled gluten free or you can mix up your own batch from scratch (my recipe below).

Mexican Casserole Recipe:
(recipe is for 8x8 pan. You can double it for 9x13 pan)
  • 3-4 gluten free tortillas (I used gluten free flour tortillas for today's batch. Corn tortillas also work well but they usually are smaller in size so you may need a couple extra if your corn tortillas are small)
  • 1 pound meat (I used lean ground hamburger today but you can use ground turkey or chicken, sausage, chorizo, chicken breasts (or rotisserie chicken or leftover turkey from a holiday dinner), shredded pork or beef, shrimp or a mild white fish (like cod). If you are vegetarian then you can leave the meat out and add extra beans.
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans or even refried beans. The choice is yours. If you don't like beans then you can certainly leave these out. If you are doing a vegetarian version then you can use an assortment of beans for extra protein, flavor and color!
  • 1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained, optional
  • 1 can (16 oz.) jar salsa (any type you like. It doesn't matter if it is chunky or smooth. It can be a traditional red salsa, chipotle salsa or verde salsa which is green. It doesn't matter as long as you like the flavor.
  • 1 packet of gluten free taco seasoning (or use my gluten free recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups of shredded cheese (you can use any type of cheese you want. I generally use the Mexican blend cheese but cheddar, pepper jack, chipotle cheddar, co-jack, plain cheddar, etc. will all work). I usually use almost 2 cups because I like mine real cheesy!
  • 1 (3oz.) can black olives, sliced, optional
I used ground beef today for my Mexican casserole. When it was almost done cooking, I drained the fat and stirred in the taco seasoning. Feel free to use ground turkey or chicken OR substitute any other meat that is pre-cooked.

I used black beans today in my Mexican Casserole. Feel free to use Kidney beans, pinto beans or re-fried beans.

This is the salsa that I had on hand today. You can use any flavor or type of salsa you like. Just double check the label to make sure it doesn't contain gluten. Most salsa is gluten free but read the label just to make sure! I also like Verde green salsa

I found these gluten free "flour" tortillas at my local Sprouts and at Safeway grocery store. You can ask your grocery store if they carry them or ask them to special order them for you. You can also use gluten free corn tortillas. Both work just fine.
  If your meat is not pre-cooked then go ahead and cook your meat & add your taco seasoning. If your meat is pre-cooked then just add the taco seasoning and stir to mix. You don't need to add water to the seasoning packet....dry powder is just fine. I never add water to my taco seasoning like the packet says. I think it makes the meat too runny. I like to warm my tortillas in a warm skillet for a few seconds on each side before using them. I think it brings out the flavor of them and makes them more pliable. You are not making them crispy...just a few seconds to warm them. I spray or grease my casserole dish (I used a round 8" size today but you can use any shape. If you are using a 9x13 pan then just make sure you are doubling recipe!). You may have to either overlap the tortillas or cut them to fit in the pan. It is similar to assembling lasagna. Put a layer of tortilla(s) on the bottom of the casserole dish. Sprinkle 1/2 the meat on top of tortilla(s), then layer: 1/2 of beans, 1/2 of corn, 1/2 black olives, 1/2 of salsa, 1/3 of cheese. Repeat layers. Put a final layer of tortilla(s) on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Okay....the Mexican casserole is complete. Now you can either put it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes until everything is heated throughout and cheese is melted OR you can toss it in the 350 degree pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until it is heated through and cheese is melted. It is that easy!

Gluten Free Taco Seasoning Blend:
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (not onion salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red chili pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper, optional
Stir to combine. This makes a single batch. I like to make a big batch at a time and keep it in a glass jar so I have it ready for quick meals. You can use store-bought gluten free taco seasoning if you prefer. Just be sure to read labels! There are a lot of different variations to taco seasonings and you can find variations online. This one is basic. I like to add the chili pepper flakes and a pinch of chipotle but you can leave those out.

This is how I layered the Mexican casserole. I added cheese on top and then repeated layers, ending with tortillas and cheese on top. Then you can either bake it in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until heated through & cheese is melted or you can toss it in the microwave for a few minutes until everything is heated & cheese is melted. Easy peasy!

Just removed mine from the microwave.

It is still hot from the microwave.

Look at all this lovely cheesy ingredients. Mmmmm!

This is another angle of the Mexican casserole. You can see the layers a little better.

This is the Mexican casserole that I cooked in my round casserole dish and cut into wedges. It is perfect for 4 large portions or 6 regular size portions. This is the size I make if it is just my hubby & I having dinner. It is enough for dinner + leftovers. If I have a crowd over then I make a 9x13 pan or more. If I am having a party then I will sometimes make a couple different varieties. A beef with red salsa, a chicken version using green salsa and a vegetarian version using just assorted beans. That way I can please all of my guests. Serve it with a Mexican salad, chips & salsa....dinner served! Quick & Easy. I also like to serve this with a Mexcian or Spanish type dessert like flan, Mexican chocolate pudding cake, sweet dessert tamales, Mexcian corn flour cookies or my flour-less chipotle chocolate truffle cake.

I hope you enjoy this super easy recipe that tastes like you spent a long time preparing it. It is simple, easy and affordable but looks like you spent hours in the kitchen preparing it. Simple enough for a quick, weeknight dinner but it is also perfect for entertaining a crowd.

Enjoy!
Tanja
Gluten Free Casually





Saturday, October 25, 2014

Italian Flourless Carrot Cake (Gluten Free)

Italian Flourless Carrot Cake. This recipe has an explosion of fresh flavors. My German cousin was visiting with his family and his wife, Christine was talking about this lovely gluten free cake that she thought I might enjoy. She said she had made it for a dinner party and they really liked it. She was kind enough to share the recipe with me. It is one of those easy recipes that you don't need a lot of different ingredients and no mixer required. It is simple, easy, and the fresh flavors just pop in your mouth. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this recipe.

I will say that my husband is a bit of a dessert snob. He pretty much only eats chocolate desserts. However, he went back for seconds on this one! I did add shredded coconut to my cake although the original recipe didn't call for it. The first time I made the cake I shredded the carrots real fine. The second time I made the cake, I used store bought shredded carrots that were a little more coarse. Both worked fine although I thought the ones that I freshly shredded had a lot more flavor in the cake. I think in the future I will only use freshly shredded carrots for the extra flavor. I also added a teaspoon of almond baking emulsion instead of the vanilla extract the first time I baked it and I added the vanilla extract the second time I baked it. (Although both were good, we preferred the little bit of almond baking emulsion flavor better!) You can also swap out the sugar for honey. I have done it both ways and they are both great. The original recipe calls for pine nuts on top but I used pumpkin seeds this time and I have also used slivered almonds. It just dresses up the top of the cake a little bit although you can leave them off or sprinkle with shredded coconut instead. It is such a flexible cake! You can also add raisins and or chopped nuts to the batter if you like it in your carrot cake. I chose to just add some shredded coconut and keep it simple. I also like to bake this batter in cupcake papers since it is convenient for a quick snack or "on-the-go" breakfast. I figure this is healthy enough to be considered a breakfast muffin! ;) You can add ground cinnamon or other spices if you prefer. I just kept it simple and liked it that way. I didn't want the cinnamon to over power the flavor of the carrots. (If you are planning on doubling the cake recipe & frosting this cake with layers then I would leave the pine nuts or pumpkin seeds off the top).

Italian Flourless Carrot Cake Recipe:
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded or grated, about 1 cup (it can be a heaping cup)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar or honey (I usually use non-gmo unbleached sugar if I am using sugar)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (you can substitute vegetable oil, canola oil or coconut oil)
  • 3 large eggs (if your eggs are small, add 1 extra egg)
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespooons finely ground almonds (also called almond meal). If you have a nut allergy then you can substitute gluten free flour instead.
  • 1/2 lemon, finely grated lemon zest & juice. Make sure you don't get any seeds in the batter!
  • 1 tsp. almond baking emulsion or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (it can be sweetened or unsweetened), optional
  • 1/4 cup of golden raisins, optional (I did not add them since my guests didn't like raisins). Just make sure your raisins are nice and juicy. If not, soak them in hot water for about 5 minutes so they are plump and juicy. You don't want hard, chewy raisins in your cake!
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180C). I lined the bottom of my 9" spring form pan with parchment paper for easy removal. If you are using pine nuts, lightly toast them in a skillet or oven until they turn golden if you want them toasted on top of the cake. I used pre-cooked pumpkin seeds on mine today so I didn't have to toast mine first. Grate the carrots (or you can use a food processor if you have one. I just shredded mine by hands because I thought it was a hassle to drag out my food processor for just 2 carrots). If you don't have a hand grater or food processor, you can use a vegetable peeler or the back of a knife to scrape/shred the carrots. You just need the carrots in thin pieces so it cooks and the flavor is released. You don't want hard chunks of carrots in your cake. Whisk the sugar and oil until creamy and well mixed. Add the vanilla or almond flavor. Fold in the ground almonds (or gluten free flour), coconut (optional), lemon zest & juice and raisins (optional). Spoon into the prepared 9" spring form pan or muffin cups. Sprinkle with your pine nuts or pumpkin seeds or slivered almonds. (You can use sunflower seeds as well).  Bake 9" pan approximately 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Bake muffin cups approximately 18-23 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. (The toothpick may be slightly sticky but that is okay as long as it isn't runny batter). Let the cake cool for at least 20 minutes before you remove it from the spring form pan or else it might crack or fall apart. Serve with whipping cream or ice cream (vanilla or butter pecan ice cream is really good with this).


Grating my carrots by hand

I used these pumpkin seeds on top of my cake

I used this brand of honey in place of the sugar in my muffins. Turned out great.

I like using these thick paper cup cake liners. They don't need a special pan. Photo taken before baking.

Photo of muffins coming out of the oven.
Up close view of the cake baked in 9" spring form pan
Up close view of the inside of the muffin. I used store bought shredded carrots for this batch. I prefer the more intense flavor and texture of the hand shredded carrots better. My pieces were much smaller & more flavorful than the store bought version.

I hope you enjoy this very easy, simple and delicious recipe. It makes a great brunch or after dinner dessert recipe. It tastes like you spent a lot of time on this recipe but it is actually quite simple to make. I like the muffins for quick "on the go" breakfasts (they freeze great too) or for parties because they don't require plates and forks....just your hands since they are already in muffin cups. I really like the heavy duty cardboard style cup cake/muffin liners since they are sturdy and don't require a muffin pan to bake them. I can squeeze a bunch of muffins on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven all at once. I scored a 24 pack of the heavy duty cardboard style at the 99cent store. Keep your eyes open for these great little cup cake liners. Once you use them....you won't want to go back to the paper liners! However, I will admit that I am a bit thrifty so I will not pay $4 for a pack of these liners. I love them but only if I can score them at a bargain!

Enjoy a cold evening with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy a slice of this simple, casual cake or muffin!

Tanja
Gluten Free Casually


Monday, October 13, 2014

Butternut Squash, Apple & Sausage Jumble

Butternut Squash, Apple & Sausage Jumble is a super easy, absolutely delicious and very fast meal to throw together. We love it for breakfast or dinner. Nothing SCREAMS fall for me more than this simple dish. I love how the earthy flavor of the butternut squash blends well with the sweet-tart apple, the slightly spicy sausage and the tangy sweet onions. I will add chopped polenta if I have it on hand. This is one of those quick meals that you can throw together in about 10 minutes which is great for busy work nights and a quick breakfast on a lazy weekend! I get excited every time I see the displays for fall with all the squash and pumpkins & all the fun recipes that SCREAM fall time! The squash brings an earthy flavor to simple dishes.

If you want it to go together even faster with minimal mess, you can can purchase your butternut squash & apples already cubed (look in the refrigerator section in the produce section of your grocery store. I found them at Walmart and Trader Joe's). I like to use honeycrisp apples but any slightly tart apple will work well. You can also substitute (or add) acorn squash. I use any flavor of gluten free, low fat chicken or turkey sausage that I have on hand. Sometimes I will use a spicy chipotle or jalapeno flavor and other times I use an Italian or apple smoke flavored sausages. It really doesn't matter because they all taste great with this dish.

Butternut Squash, Apple & Sausage Jumble Recipe:
  • 1 1/2-2 cups of fresh, cubed butternut or acorn squash (about 12-16oz)
  • 1 sweet onion (I like Vidalia or a sweet yellow onion), thinly sliced
  • 4-6 gluten free, low fat chicken or turkey sausages (any flavor), sliced
  • 1-2 slightly tart apples, cubed (I used honey crisp) and I removed seeds/core but did not peel
  • 1 pkg in tube (6-10 oz.) gluten free polenta, cubed, optional. You do not have to add this. We like it and I add it if I have it on hand.  Make sure it is labeled gluten free. I found mine at Trader Joe's near the noodles on the shelf. (It is also sometimes called "corn meal mush" and located near the eggs).
I put a tiny drizzle of olive oil (any oil, lard or butter will work) in a skillet on medium heat and saute the sliced onions until they become soft and start to brown slightly. In the meantime, I put the squash and apple in the microwave for about 60-90 seconds. Just enough to soften them slightly so they cook a little faster and they aren't crunchy. I don't want them over-cooked so they turn mushy...just enough to soften them slightly. The chicken sausages I had were pre-cooked so I just sliced them and lightly browned them. (If your sausages are not pre-cooked then you will need to cook them with the onions so they have enough time to cook thoroughly). If you are using polenta, add it to the the skillet after the onions are starting to get soft (before you add apples and squash). You want the polenta cubes to start to brown slightly. If you aren't adding polenta then add your pre-cooked sausage cubes, squash cubes & apple cubes. Cook until everything is warm and slightly browned. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Serve warm.

This dish is great served as is. It is also great served with any of the following: rice, eggs, potatoes or gluten free pasta. If you are trying to stretch it out for a crowd or large family then I suggest serving it with rice or potatoes. A wild rice really compliments this dish well but it is also delicious with white or brown rice. Be creative!


Just browning my pre-cooked sausages
Saute until lightly browned

The sausages are juicy and the everything else is juicy 


My mouth is watering just looking at it!

Look at the fabulous colors and different flavors all blended together!

See how colorful & juicy?

Ready to eat!
I hope you enjoy this fall style dish as much as we do. You can add or delete items to customize it. When I see those beautiful butternut squash & tart apples on the fall display...I start craving this super easy dish!

Enjoy!
Tanja
Gluten Free Casually