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, July 27, 2014

Pasta Alfredo

Pasta Alfredo. Dinner to the table in less than 20 minutes! The great thing about this dish is that you can add chicken, seafood, beef, pork, sausages or vegetables (or serve it plain for vegetarian entree) and it is a quick meal. It literally goes together super quick and you probably already have the ingredients on hand. On busy weeknights, I like to get dinner to the table in less than 20 minutes. This is one of those "go-to" recipes that gets dinner to the table really quick especially if you "cheat" and use rotisserie chicken, pre-cooked shrimp, pre-cooked chicken sausages or chicken tenders that you can cook up in a skillet in just a few minutes. Why go out to dinner and spend a fortune and the long wait...when you can cook dinner for your entire family for the price of one meal at a restaurant? Especially when it is this easy! Traditional Alfredo sauce calls for heavy cream which most people don't have on hand & it is pretty heavy on the tummy. I like this recipe because it calls for cream cheese which I usually have on hand. Just don't tell my husband this recipe has cream cheese in it...he thinks he doesn't like cream cheese and I sure don't want to ruin this dish for him when he finds out the main ingredient is something he "thinks" he doesn't like! ;)

I am not saying this is a recipe you would find on the cooking channel that competes with professional chefs and specialty ingredients. This is a fast, affordable but still delicious recipe. (Leftovers are even better the next day after flavors have "blended") This is a REALITY recipe that busy parents can make fast & on a budget to feed a hungry family. You don't need a bunch of special expensive spices or ingredients. It's a casual recipe. I wasn't posting these super easy dinner recipes on the blog originally because I figured that everyone had these basic recipes and wasn't interested in mine. However, I have been asked by my kids, friends and family to post more of my daily dinner recipes that are fast and economical because that is what they need for their everyday busy schedules and let's face it...most people like pasta...especially kids & it's economical.

I try to use up whatever meat I have in my refrigerator or freezer to go with this pasta Alfredo sauce. My husband prefers shrimp, scallops or langostino lobster tails. My kids prefer chicken. My mom prefers chicken sausages and adding spinach or broccoli. It all works. If you prefer vegetarian then you don't have to add any meat. You can also use this as a side dish. I make it with gluten free noodles (whatever shape I have on hand...it doesn't  have to be fettuccine noodles!) but you can use regular noodles if you don't have a gluten allergy. If you prefer using hamburger then it will be like a "hamburger helper" version. It all works. Be creative and use what you have on hand.

This Pasta Alfredo sauce recipe is also a great "sauce" recipe for making a white lasagna. If I am making a chicken lasagna or a vegetarian vegetable lasagna then I like to use this recipe. It has so much more flavor than the super runny store bought versions that taste more like corn starch than Alfredo sauce. I also like to use this sauce as the base for my homemade baked Ziti and for my Macaroni & Cheese recipe. I just add additional different flavor cheeses for a creamy, flavorful sauce. If you want to spice it up a little bit, you can use a flavored cream cheese like Chipotle flavor or Jalapeno flavor. I like to use half Chipotle cream cheese + half regular cream cheese if I decide to add some black beans & corn to the pasta for a "Mexican" flavored dish. Yeah... like I said before...I get creative sometimes because I use what I have on hand. You can add noodles & cheese sauce to just about anything and it turns out yummy! That is why I like quick pasta dishes on busy work nights! ;)



Pasta Alfredo Recipe:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese (you can use regular or light cream cheese. If you use fat free then you may need to add 1 additional tablespoon corn starch or tapioca starch to get it to thicken. Be sure your corn starch is gluten free if you have a gluten allergy!)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (you can use any type of milk including vitamin D, 2%, 1% or fat free. I have used them all at one time or another and they all worked. I use whatever I have on hand).
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter. I like to use real, unsalted butter but you can substitute margarine although you may loose some of the rich flavor that only butter can provide.
  • 1 tablespoon gluten free cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 1-2 tbs. fresh minced garlic (or substitute 1 tsp. garlic powder, not garlic salt!). I like the flavor of fresh garlic and try to use it whenever possible.
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 12-16 oz. pasta noodles, any shape (I used Ronzoni gluten free noodles in my batch today)
  • 12-16 oz meat (any type), optional (I used chicken breasts for today's batch)
 If you are cooking meat then start it going first. I used boneless, skinless chicken breast today that I cut into strips to cook faster. I just cooked with a little olive oil and garlic in a skillet & set off to the side while I prepared the other ingredients. If you are using already cooked meat then you can just warm it up after everything else is done. Put your noodles in a pan of water and bring water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to box instructions. I find that I need to cook the Ronzoni gluten free noodles a minute or two longer than it says on the box so they are a little softer. In the meantime add the butter to a skillet along with the garlic. Cook until melted and then add the cream cheese (I cut into cubes before adding to the skillet because it melts faster) and cook until smooth and melted. Add the Parmesan cheese, corn starch (or tapioca starch) and milk. Cook, stirring constantly until smooth, creamy and slightly thick. Salt & pepper to taste. By this time, the noodles should be done. Drain & rinse noodles. Pour sauce over noodles and gently toss. You can mix your meat (and any veggies that are pre-cooked if you are adding them) into the pasta-sauce mixture or you can serve them on the side. I like to lay my meat on the top for better presentation and veggies on the side so people can eat what they want and not have to pick stuff out of the pasta if they don't like it. Sometimes if I feel a little fancy...I will garnish it with chopped basil or parsley for color.


Cooking the melted butter, garlic and cream cheese until smooth

Cooking the sauce after adding remainder of ingredients

Served immediately (sauce will thicken as it sits)

Up close view of pasta & sauce

Dig your fork in! Time to eat!


Another view of chicken & pasta

Ready to eat!


Up close view of the creamy sauce bursting with flavor


I hope you enjoy one of my family's favorite quick & easy weekday dinner meals. I love the flexibility of this recipe. I know it isn't "authentic Italian" but it is still delicious. Besides, it is quick, easy & affordable...and I am able to get it to the table in less than 20 minutes which is important to me on busy weeknights.

Feel free to share your pictures or your version of this pasta dish. We all learn from each other and I enjoy hearing your tips & what combinations you do with a basic recipe!

Enjoy!
Tanja
Gluten Free Casually

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Homemade Hamburger Helper. Easy, Casual & Simple. I did not grow up eating "Hamburger Helper" and I personally don't really care for the stuff out of the box. However, I do like my homemade version. (I think I don't like the taste of the powdered cheese in the box version). This recipe is very economical, super easy (just about as easy as dumping it out of the box) and the flavor doesn't even compare with the box version. My version is so cheesy!

The other nice thing about this recipe is that you can change it up by substituting different flavors of cheese or switching out a few spices. You can use traditional hamburger but you can also substitute vegetarian crumbles, chicken, turkey, steak, ham, pork, sausage or tuna. It all works great. It is a great way to use up leftover meat!

All I had to do to this recipe to convert it to gluten free was switch out the noodles. I used the Ronzoni gluten free noodles in today's recipe. If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use regular noodles (any shape). How easy is that?

Homemade Hamburger Helper Recipe:
  • 1-2 pounds of hamburger (you can substitute any meat you like or use vegetarian crumbles)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk (you can substitute coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk or broth)
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 2 cups uncooked noodles, any shape (I used gluten free Ronzoni noodles today)
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch (make sure it is gluten free if you have a gluten allergy!) or tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I like to use Chipotle but you can use any chili powder). You can add less if you don't like it spicy or you can substitute a different spice in it's place.
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder (not garlic salt) or you can use 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp. salt (I start off using 1 tsp. and add more if I feel it needs it)
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, optional (I don't add these if my grand-daughter is eating it with us)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, any flavor (I used shredded cheddar cheese today). You can also substitute the creamy Velveeta sauce packets which are also gluten free. I prefer shredded cheese but both types will work in this recipe.
  • * Note: You can add any type of spices or steak seasoning, etc that you have on hand. These are the basic seasonings I used today. I have used a pre-mixed hamburger seasoning, steak seasoning or Mrs. Dash seasonings in the past. It all works fine. Use whatever you like or whatever you have on hand. Keep in mind that if your pre-made seasoning contains salt, you may want to omit adding any additional salt. 
 Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook your hamburger (or whatever type of meat you are using). If your meat is pre-cooked then skip this step. Discard any grease in the pan. Add the dry, uncooked noodles, milk (or broth), water and spices. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until noodles are "al dente". Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheese. Serve warm. (Note: Do not pre-cook the noodles before adding them to the pan. They need to be uncooked so they absorb the liquid...that is why this is such a great dish...one pan!)

Simmering on low heat until noodles are cooked

Noodles are cooked, ready to add cheese

Adding cheese and stirring.
  I love recipes that go together quickly and you can get dinner or lunch to the table in about 20 minutes. It is great for those busy work nights or a quick weekend lunch. It is a ONE SKILLET dish that has minimal clean up! It is also a great way to use up left over chicken, turkey, pork roast, roast beef or whatever you have on hand. I also like the flexibility of this meal. You can use whatever meat you want, whatever cheese you like and whatever spices you have on hand. How convenient & economical is that?
Cheese is now stirred in and it is ready to serve!

Up close view of Hamburger Helper

See how cheesy?

Add a side of vegetables and you have a quick yet delicious dinner!



 I hope you enjoy this super easy dinner recipe. You can even add vegetables to make it a one dish complete meal. Feel free to post any substitutions or pictures of your Hamburger Helper dish. We all learn from each other and I enjoy hearing from you.

Enjoy!
Tanja
Gluten Free Casually




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Chipotle Baked Beans with Pulled Pork

Chipotle Baked Beans with pulled pork. This is a BBQ recipe that gets requested frequently. I like it because you can do it the old fashioned way...soak your beans and do it from scratch OR you can open a couple of cans of prepared beans and doctor them up with spices and meat. Either way they taste great! When I am on one of my healthier kicks then of course I do it entirely from scratch. It is a little less expensive and no preservatives. However, I am also guilty of opening the cans and doctoring up the beans with the SAME ingredients as the homemade beans. Either way...your beans will rock the BBQ!

The nice thing about this bean recipe is that it is VERY FLEXIBLE. You can add or delete different types of beans, meat and spices to customize it. I generally like to make it with shredded pork roast (also called pulled pork) but sometimes I use ham (especially if I get one on sale) or I use cooked bacon which also tastes great. I have even used sausage or shredded beef in a pinch. (I personally stay away from turkey sausage, turkey bacon, etc in this recipe. (My daughter made her beans with turkey bacon and it had a funky flavor). If you are a vegetarian you can leave the meat out. I generally stick with northern beans and add some black beans but you can add lima beans and/or pinto beans too. None of the beans really have much flavor on their own...it is the SAUCE that makes this dish. We consider this a "side dish" at our house but technically since it has beans and meat...it is a great protein source and can be used as a main dish.

The key thing to preparing this recipe is to give it enough time to allow the flavors to blend. If you just mix all the spices with the beans an heat them up...you won't have the wonderful "marriage of flavors" that you expect from great baked beans. I like to make my beans several hours before serving or better yet...the night before. It gives all the ingredients time to mingle so the flavor intensifies. I have cooked mine on the stove top, camping fire pit, BBQ grill, baked in the oven and used the crock pot. The beans turn out great every time. I like to take the lid off the beans about 20-30 minutes before serving so they get set up a little bit. No one wants runny beans! The instructions below are for the various options to prepare them. I know it looks lengthy but it is really SIMPLE. If you prefer doing it the easy way (and less kitchen clean up) then I would purchase the extra large can of Bush's Baked Beans from Costco or Sam's club and just add the BBQ sauce, chipotle, garlic, onion, half of the brown sugar & pork. Throw it all in the crockpot. Simple & Delicious!

This is how I convert my dried beans to canned beans. It isn't rocket science and it may not be perfect but it works for me: 
3 cups dried beans = 1 1/2 pounds bag of dried beans = 9 cups of beans after cooked = 6 (15 oz. each) cans of beans, drained. *Note: If you are making this using Bush's baked beans then you can go to Sam's club or Costco and get 1 extra large can of Bush's baked beans. Follow the instructions below but leave out the ketchup and start off using about half of the brown sugar and add more if you need it. Simple, right?


Chipotle Baked Beans with Pulled Pork Recipe: (This makes a large oval crockpot full)
  • 3 cups dried beans (or substitute 6 (15 oz. size) cans of beans). I generally use northern beans & black beans (but I have also added kidney beans or pinto beans. I have friends that add lima beans). Most beans are pretty bland by themselves so you can add any type of bean or combination that you want. Make sure you drain the juice off the beans unless they are canned baked beans. If you are buying the Baked beans that are already prepared (like Bush's baked beans) then you may not want to add as much sugar and leave out the ketchup because they already contain it. You will have to taste test and adjust. The cans labeled "Pork & Beans" generally don't have any sugar or ketchup in them (or very minimal) so you can just dump them in the pot and season as instructed below without draining them first.
  • 1-2 chipotle chile peppers in adobe sauce, pureed (I freeze the remainder of the can to use later) OR substitute 1-3 tbs. ground Chipotle chile powder. (I prefer using Chipotle chile because it has a nice slightly smokey flavor rather than cayenne pepper or regular jalapeno peppers). You will have to decide on how spicy you like your beans. We like our beans with just a hint of spicy flavor. Just enough that it tingles your tongue but not enough that it scorches it and leaves you gulping water. I generally start off adding 1 chipotle pepper or 1 tbs. chipotle chile powder and add more if I need it. It is always easier to add then take away. However, if you find it is too spicy...just compensate with a little more sugar and it will tame down the spice. I also use Rudy's BBQ sauce when possible (limited availability for me) and it is slightly spicy too so I don't need to use as much chipotle chile flavor. If I use a different brand of gluten free BBQ sauce then I sometimes need to add more chipotle chile. Keep in mind that when the flavors heat up during the cooking, the spicy flavor will come out. Don't over power your beans with too much chipotle chile flavor to start with. You can always add a little more later if you need it.
  • 1 cup of gluten free BBQ sauce (My favorite is Rudy's. Our friend's Pat & Lory gave it to us from New Mexico. It is a little spicy. However, I  have used Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce also and it works fine. I have also made my homemade BBQ sauce if I have time. If you have a gluten allergy then just make sure the BBQ sauce you are using is gluten free. Feel free to add more BBQ sauce if you prefer it.
  • 1 1/2 cup ketchup (you may not want to use this if you are using Bush's baked beans. It already contains ketchup in the sauce)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (or you can use the finely chopped garlic in a jar or substitute 1 tsp. garlic powder (NOT GARLIC SALT!)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar (You can add more or less depending on how sweet you like your beans. If you are using prepared Bush's baked beans then you may want to cut back on the sugar. You can always add more later if you need to. You can use regular white sugar or unprocessed raw sugar too or even honey. It all works to sweeten the beans. I prefer using brown sugar because it gives the beans a molasses flavor.
  • 1/2 of a large onion, diced
  • 1-2  pounds of shredded cooked pork (pulled pork) or you can substitute ham (not lunch meat ham. That will not give you the same flavor!) or use cooked & crumbled bacon. If you are making them vegetarian style then just omit the meat.
Besides the beans, these are the main ingredients you will need

Pork roast, getting ready to shred it. I cooked mine with onions and chile peppers
 
If you are doing it the old fashioned way then you will need to soak your beans overnight in cold water. Just put them on the stove top and let them sit there absorbing the water. They are dried and need absorb the water to become tender and juicy again. You will need to drain & rinse the beans in the morning. Put the beans in the pot with water and simmer on low heat for about 1-2 hours until soft but not mushy. (You can also do it the quicker way by covering the beans in water in a pan and bring them to a boil - take it off, cover them, and let them soak for an hour (rather than overnight) and then change your water and cook them for 1-2 hours until soft but not mushy. I know that's not very quick, but faster than overnight and a few hours simmering!) If you are using canned beans then you skip the entire process of soaking & pre-cooking the beans.

I like to saute my onion & garlic in a little olive oil or butter to soften them. I don't like them crunchy in my beans. You can also just put them in the microwave for a minute or two to soften them. Combine onion, garlic, ketchup (if you are using it), BBQ sauce, brown sugar, chipotle and pork (if you are using it). Put the beans in the crockpot and pour ingredients over top of the beans. Gently stir. Put the lid on your crockpot and cook on low heat for 4 hours. If you are cooking on the stove top then I cook on low heat for about 1 hour. Remove from heat and let stand for a couple of hours for flavors to blend well. Re-heat just before serving. If you are baking the beans then I bake covered with foil for about 1 hour @ 350 degrees, remove foil and bake additional 20 minutes without foil so they thicken. If you are cooking on gas grill or fire pit, cook on lowest heat available for about 40-60 minutes.


TIPS: If you think your beans are too sweet then you can add a couple tablespoons of vinegar to give them a more tangy flavor. If they are too spicy then add a little more sugar to bring down some of the heat flavor. If you find the beans are too dry then add 1/4 cup of water (or more) and if they are too runny then make sure the lid is off so they can thicken. If that doesn't work you can add 1 tbs. of cornstarch or tapioca starch or even instant mashed potato flakes to give them a little thickness. Sometimes we just have to improvise on a recipe because different brands of products will vary slightly.

My homemade BBQ sauce recipe: (if you prefer making everything entirely from scratch)
  • 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!)
  • 1 cup ketchup (I used Heinz which is marked gluten free on the back of bottle)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (or raw brown sugar. 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 or ground cayenne pepper
  • 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)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper flakes, optional
  • 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 broth or water (I used broth from my pork roast today)
Combine all ingredients together in a sauce pan and cook on low heat until well combined and slightly thick. If you prefer the sauce a little thicker then you can add 1 tsp. corn starch or tapioca starch to get it to thicken faster.

Chipotle baked beans with pulled pork in crockpot

Chipotle Baked Beans with pulled pork

Chipotle Vegetarian version baked beans

Chipotle Vegetarian version of baked beans (up close view)

I hope you enjoy my version of baked beans. Feel free to add or delete whatever you need to make it work for your family. Also feel free to post any substitutions or tips & photos. We all learn from each other!

Tanja
Gluten Free Casually

Friday, July 11, 2014

Nutella (One Bowl) Brownies!

Nutella Brownies! I will say that just about ANYTHING made with Nutella is pretty tasty in my opinion. However, I was quite surprised how INTENSE the Nutella flavor was in this recipe. A lot of the recipes that call for Nutella...well they just have too many other ingredients & the hazelnut flavor gets lost. It seems like the other ingredients over power the Nutella...but NOT in this recipe. This is super easy, super quick and absolutely delicious! If you love Nutella then this recipe is a must for you!

I found a recipe similar to this on the internet and then I tweaked it a little bit to make it work gluten free and retain the wonderful Nutella flavor. I have been a Nutella lover since I was 5 years old...when I first went to Germany to visit family. (USA didn't have Nutella available back then. I only got Nutella if we went to Germany for a visit or our German family mailed a package). My husband got addicted to Nutella when we visited my German family a few years ago. We had such a wonderful time. My cousin's children (Paula, Mila & Luke) would make sure that they had Nutella on the table every morning for Dave and they gave him a "Nutella knife" for Christmas when we left. He uses it all the time!  We would love to go back to Germany soon. I miss my German family!

I converted this recipe to gluten free but if you don't have a gluten allergy you can certainly make these with regular flour.  Any of the recipes on my blog can be made gluten free as the recipe suggests but you can always substitute regular flour if you don't have a gluten allergy. You can also substitute peanut butter or almond butter if you don't like Nutella (but really...who doesn't just love Nutella?!) or if you don't have Nutella on hand and still want to make some killer delicious brownie or blondie bars. I like recipes that are flexible and EVERYONE can use them! :)

Nutella Brownie Recipe:
  • 1 cup Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread). I have also used the Hershey version and it worked fine too
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used a non-GMO version but you can use whatever you have on hand). If you like your baked goods less sweet, reduce sugar to 1/4 cup + add 1/4 cup more flour to keep the correct consistency.
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend
  • 1/4 cup finely ground hazelnuts, optional. (I have made the recipe with & without the hazelnuts. I like the extra little texture and flavor it gives the brownies but if you don't have them on hand, just go ahead and make them without the nuts. They will still taste great!
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine that contains at least 65% fat (Actually I left the butter out of the last batch I made today and they still turned out just fine. Maybe a little flatter but tasted fine).
  • 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum (ONLY USE THIS IF YOUR GLUTEN FREE FLOUR BLEND DOESN'T CONTAIN IT. DON'T USE IT IF YOU ARE USING REGULAR FLOUR). I have my gluten free flour blend recipe below or you can use a store-bought blend. I prefer one without sorghum flour for my sweet baked goods. (I have used Betty Crocker, Trader Joe's, Cup4Cup and King Arthur brand of gluten free flours with success).

Ingredients you will need. (Ground hazelnuts are optional. I like to add them but you don't have to!)
 Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the Nutella, sugar and eggs until creamy. I just mixed it by hand. You don't want to over-beat brownies or the texture can turn out weird. Add the flour, baking powder & pinch of salt. If your gluten free flour blend doesn't contain xanthan gum or guar gum...add it now. Omit it if your flour contains it or if you are using regular flour instead of gluten free. Spread into a greased 8x8 baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes or until center is set. You can frost them if you want. I prefer mine plain. My hubby likes his sprinkled with powdered sugar.

This is what the batter looks like just before putting it into the pan to bake


My Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour (I used sweet rice flour for this batch)
  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour (made from sticky rice, it's 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 tapioca 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. (A friend of mine that has a dairy problem used non-dairy creamer powder in place of the powdered milk and said it worked just fine!)

Up close view of the chewy chocolate brownie....YUMMY!

Fresh from the oven.

One for me!

Two for hubby!

Up close view of how dense and rich they are!

I hope you enjoy one of our new favorite recipes. We are a Nutella loving family so of course this is a huge hit at our house. They are great for a casual weekend dessert or BBQ.

Enjoy!
Tanja
Gluten Free Casually

Friday, July 4, 2014

Berry Cobbler

BERRY COBBLER! This is absolutely one of my FAVORITE "comfort foods" in the world. This is a very old family recipe that our family has made for generations. I love it! Every time my brothers and I get together...this is a recipe that we make! My parents always grew an abundance of berries (blackberries, red raspberries, gooseberries, and strawberries) when we were kids. Their yard had fruit trees, berry vines and grape vines so we ALWAYS had plenty of fruit. Cobbler was something that was frequently on our table year around. (My parents froze berries and fruit so we always had them available in the winter too!) It is easier than making a pie and tastes delicious warm or cold.

I always raid my mom's freezer when I visit and whip out a cobbler or two during my visit. I just can't resist! (I always try to reserve a piece so I have it for breakfast the next day but don't tell my brothers or they will know my secret! I get up early, start the coffee and privately enjoy that LAST piece of cobbler...alone before anyone else gets up! ;) Today, I was craving something red, white & blue to celebrate the July 4th holiday...so I whipped up a mixed berry cobbler using a bag of frozen mixed berries. You can use any type of berries or fruit in this recipe. It is easy to change it up. You can even use canned pie filling in a pinch or canned fruit. Of course I normally double (or triple) the recipe for our family but today it is just us so I made the regular 8x8 pan size although I baked it in a round casserole dish.

Berry Cobbler Recipe: (8x8 pan size, double recipe for 9x13 pan)
  • 16 oz. bag of frozen berries (any type, I usually use blackberries but today I used mixed berries)
  • 1 1/2 tbs. corn starch or tapioca starch
  • 1 cup flour (I used gluten free flour blend. If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use regular flour. If you are using a gluten free flour blend, you will need to add 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum if your flour mix doesn't contain it)
  • 1/4 cup butter (or substitute Crisco or margarine that contains at least 65% fat)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbs. milk (you can substitute coconut milk, soy milk or almond milk)
I just used a bag of frozen mixed berries today

Berries before I add the cobbler dough

My geeky baking corner in my kitchen! GEEK ALERT!

This is what the dough should look like. I mix it with a fork.

Before baking
 Gently mix 1/4 cup of the sugar with corn starch (or tapioca starch) and berries. Pour into a 8x8 pan and place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven. Bake until fruit is slightly thick, about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the flour, remaining sugar, butter, baking powder and salt alternately with milk to get a consistency similar to brownie batter. Will be thick but thinner than biscuit dough. Spoon over warm berries, leaving some blotchy spaces for fruit to bubble. Cover with a oven-proof lid or foil & bake approximately 25-30 minutes. I remove the covering the last 5 minutes of baking. (NOTE: baking this with gluten free flour will not brown on top as quickly as regular flour. Don't over bake or it will become crumbly!) This recipe is delicious served plain or with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Note: I prefer either making my own gluten free flour mix (recipe below) or I use one that doesn't contain sorghum in it for my baked goods. I personally think sorghum flour gives sweets a funny aftertaste so I avoid using it for my baked goods. I have used Betty Crocker Gluten Free Flour Blend, King Arthur Gluten Free Flour Blend, Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour Blend & Trader Joe's Gluten Free Flour Blend with good results. 



My Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour (I used sweet rice flour for this batch)
  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour (made from sticky rice, it's 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 tapioca 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. (A friend of mine that has a dairy problem used non-dairy creamer powder in place of the powdered milk and said it worked just fine!)

Just out of the oven

Up close view of the cobbler

Ready to eat with my coffee! Now I just need some geek bowls too!

See how moist and soft the cobbler is? It is not a cake or a biscuit...it's in between!

Can't you just taste this? I wish you could smell it. Heavenly!

No other words except...YUM!

Not too tart...not too sweet...it is just right!


The berries are tender and add so much flavor to the cobbler

I am digging in for a bite! I just can't resist! 




I hope you enjoy one of our family's favorite recipes as much as we do. It is a simple and very casual recipe. That's the way I roll...CASUAL. My house may not always be in perfect order and more than likely you will catch me in a geek T-shirt baking in my kitchen. That's just who I am. I like good food. It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy...just delicious. I won't put a gluten free recipe on here that I wouldn't eat myself. I would rather go without a dessert than have one that tastes like cardboard! If you don't have a gluten allergy, you can still make all of my scrumptious recipes without using the gluten free flour.






Happy July 4th!
Tanja
Gluten Free Casually




Sunday, June 29, 2014

Chicken Pizza Roll-Ups

Chicken Pizza Roll-Ups. These have been a favorite in my family since my kids were little. I re-designed one of my mom's traditional recipes that had chicken stuffed with spinach and cheese and made one with pepperoni & cheese instead. I love to serve it with pasta (I use gluten free pasta). These are actually pretty easy to make and so much flavor!

  
You can pound out chicken breasts fairly thin and then stuff them with basically anything you want. Pizza stuffed ones are my favorite but I do like spinach & cheese, ham and cheese, basil and cheese or green chiles and cheese. You can serve them plain or add sauces like: Spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, enchilada sauce, cheese sauce, etc. Again, I like recipes that you can customize for the occasion. You can also substitute lean pork or thinly sliced boneless steak for this recipe. If you want to keep this recipe "low carb" then you can leave the coating off the chicken. It will still taste great!

I figure since I have done a lot of dessert recipes (my favorite!) on the blog this month...I had to add at least one recipe for a main dish! I can't have you all thinking that I live off of junk food! Although I absolutely love sweets...I try to eat them in moderation and eat healthy food most of the time. I will confess that I love baking though. I love the way it makes my house smell and just leaves me with a happy feeling. I find it to be a stress reliever. I just wish the cleaning fairy would clean up the mess after I am done! If I am home...you can find me in the kitchen at least 75% of the time. I guess I need to get my own cooking show...that way I can be happy cooking & someone else would clean up my mess! :)  A girl can dream...right?! ;)

Chicken Pizza Roll-Ups Recipe:
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can substitute boneless lean pork or steak)
  • 20-30 regular sized, thin pepperoni slices (about 4-5 slices per chicken piece)
  • 4-6 slices of thinly sliced salami (optional. I love salami but you don't have to add it. 1 slice per chicken breast)
  • 8-12 tbs. shredded mozarella cheese (or Italian blend) shredded cheese (2 tbs. per chicken piece)
  • 1/2 cup crushed gluten free bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, potato chip crumbs or gluten free flour
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg (for dipping the chicken on for coating. If you have an egg allergy then just use a little oil instead. If you aren't adding the topping (bread crumbs & parmesan cheese) then just skip the egg.

Pound out the chicken breasts until thin. I put my chicken on a cutting board and put plastic wrap on top of the chicken so when I pound it out...the chicken doesn't splash anywhere. I am speaking from experience here...it is absolutely disgusting to clean up little pieces of raw chicken splatter. Do yourself a favor and take a minute for this extra step. It is worth it! Pound out the chicken with either a meat tenderizer tool or use a rolling pin or hammer. Keep in mind you want the chicken thin but not in minced pieces! Don't over beat it!

My chicken breasts before I pounded them out

My chicken breasts after they were pounded out thin but not minced!

Take 4-5 pieces of pepperoni and layer on each chicken breast. Cut the salami in half and layer those pieces on top of the pepperoni. Sprinkle about 2 tbs. of shredded cheese on top of salami.

Ready to start rolling the chicken breasts

Start rolling each chicken breast. I start with the narrow edge and then work towards the fat edge. It will keep the insides from leaking out. I secure with wooden toothpicks to keep them from unrolling during the cooking. Break the egg (I keep the egg shell for my garden) and beat the egg in a bowl until frothy. This will be your "egg wash". Combine the bread crumbs (or whatever crumbs you are using. If you are gluten free...please make sure you are using gluten free crumbs!) with the grated parmesan cheese. This will be your coating if you are using it. If you are doing "low carb" just skip the egg wash & coating portion of the recipe. Dip the chicken roll into the egg wash and then into the crumb-cheese coating.  Bake in a baking dish covered with foil in pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. I remove foil and then bake additional 8-10 minutes until the coating starts to brown and get crunchy. If you are skipping the coating then you don't need to remove foil.

Just removing them from the oven

Serving them with gluten free pasta & salad for dinner

Up close view

View of the inside of the chicken pizza roll-ups

This recipe is easy, affordable & delicious. Everyone will love it...even your non-gluten free friends! These also freeze great. I like to make extras and throw them in the freezer for busy nights so we can just re-heat and eat.

I hope you enjoy one of our family favorites as much as we do!

Tanja
Gluten Free Casually