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!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sweet Potato Souffle (Gluten Free)

Sweet Potato Souffle. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! The first time I tasted this little bite of heaven, I was pregnant with my first child (25 years ago) and was at a Dinner Theater in Southwest Ohio. I had never been a fan of sweet potatoes before this recipe. This is a fantastic side dish paired with just about anything. It wouldn't be a holiday at our house unless this side dish is served but it also is a great way to dress up the traditional steak dinner on a casual weeknight. I would rather have this with a cup of coffee for dessert than many of the other dessert options. Yes, it is that good! :) The bottom is fluffy with sweet crunchy topping. It just melts in your mouth. It is also makes a great dish take to a party because you won't feel cheated if there is not a gluten free dessert available. This will satisfy your sweet tooth! (by the way...leftovers are fabulous the next day with a cup of coffee!)

It was a very easy recipe to tweak just a little bit to make it gluten free. I love these old recipes and would be very disappointed if I couldn't have them at the holidays. (The original recipe called for more butter but I never add it and it tastes just fine without it!)  My sister-in-law makes a similar recipe but she adds shredded coconut on top which I also really like. If you are a coconut lover like me...go ahead and add the coconut to the topping!

Sweet Potato Souffle Recipe:

  • 1 (29 oz) can sweet potatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup sugar (can substitute raw sugar or sugar substitute)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk (or if you can substitute the juice from sweet potatoes)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract


  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (or substitute raw sugar or sugar substitute)
  • 1/2 cup rice flour or finely ground oats
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Mash the sweet potatoes. Gradually add the sugar, eggs, extract and milk. Mix until fairly smooth. Pour into a greased 8x8 or 9x9 pan. Combine the melted butter with sugar, rice flour (or ground oats) and nuts. Sprinkle on top like a crumb topping. Bake uncovered in a pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes or until center is slightly set and top is golden brown and slightly crispy.

Enjoy this easy and scrumptious recipe this holiday season or whenever you feel like dressing up a casual dinner or brunch!

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cookie Crumb Cake (Vanilla Wafer Cake)

I love this recipe because not only is it easy to make but it is very flexible for people with a gluten allergy or diabetics. You can tweak this recipe easily and it always turns out great. Even people that can't bake well, this cake recipe is for you! I have experimented adding & substituting ingredients and it always comes out perfect. I also like it because I can use up cookie crumbs or "recycle" cookies that I really didn't like much into a fabulous cake or muffins. How can you not like a recipe like that? It also doesn't require a mixer so you just stir ingredients together with a wooden spoon. EASY! The cake goes together quickly so it is great for a last minute cake (just make sure you have enough eggs or egg beaters to make it because it does require 6 eggs!) I make this when we have guests for brunch and want to have something sweet on the table. No one ever guesses that I make it GLUTEN FREE and I rarely have leftovers! (Leftovers do freeze great for a quick breakfast later!) You can also serve this hearty cake with berries and whipped cream to substitute for a shortcake. I save my gluten free cookie crumbs in a baggie in the freezer (either homemade or store-bought) or even gluten free cookies that I am not crazy about - then when I get 10-12oz. of cookie crumbs - I make this lovely cake with them!

I first saw the "original" version called "Vanilla Wafer Cake" on Paula Deen's cooking show. I thought it looked super easy, yummy and the wheels were turning in my head about  how I could substitute items to make it gluten free. I tried it and not only was it super easy, it was very tasty. If you don't have a gluten allergy, you can use the original recipe that calls for vanilla wafers. Since there are no added flour to this recipe, there is no mixing of flours which is nice. It also doesn't have any added butter/fat so it is moist but not heavy or greasy.

Cookie Crumb Cake Recipe:

  •   12 oz. of crushed cookie crumbs (the original recipe called for vanilla wafers) but you can use any gluten free cookie crumbs, gluten free graham cracker crumbs, gluten free animal cracker crumbs, or an assortment of leftover cookie crumbs which is what I like to do if I have a bagful!). For today's cake, I am using a bagful (10-12 oz) of assorted cookie crumbs (shortbread, crispy chocolate chip & gingersnaps were in my bag). If you do not have a gluten allergy, you can use regular crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers or cookie crumbs! If you are diabetic you can substitute sugar free cookie crumbs!
  • 6 eggs or egg beaters (or substitute for equal amount of eggs)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (if you don't like coconut you can substitute additional 1 cup of crumbs or oats or nuts or cranberries, raisins, dried cherries, etc). I happen to love coconut so this works for me! (I added both coconut and a small handful of dried cranberries today to my loaf)
  • 1/2 cup milk (or you can substitute water, orange juice, cranberry sauce, cooled coffee)
  • 1 cup of your favorite nuts (hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, etc) - If you have a nut allergy you can just leave them out. I added chopped walnuts to my cake today.
  • 1 1/2  cups of sugar (you can substitute raw sugar, coconut sugar or diabetics can substitute Stevia or Splenda according to package directions). If you don't like your cake sweet you can use 1 cup of sugar and use 1/2 cup of ground oats or ground nuts or 1 cup of gluten free flour to give it the dry ingredients it needs without all the sweetness. The original recipe called for 2 cups of sugar but I felt that was just too sweet. Even 1 1/2 cups of sugar is on the sweet side for me.
  • 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon, optional (the original recipe didn't call for this but I like to offset the sweetness with a little spicy flavor)
Mix all ingredients together with a spoon in a large bowl. Mix just until the eggs are blended into crumbs and everything looks moist. Pour into a greased tube/bundt pan or bread loaf pan (or even in a 9x9 square pan). This cake does not raise much so you can fill it pretty close to the top. If you are baking in a muffin pan, I suggest you use paper liners because these little guys tend to stick to the pan and don't come out very pretty without them. I also would not suggest using a fancy bundt pan with a design because this is a chunky cake and the design won't be noticeable. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for about 1 hour for a bundt/tube pan or 20-25 minutes for muffins, about 35-40 minutes for a square cake pan. Since each oven is different and depending on your altitude, I would check cake at minimal cooking times to make sure it isn't getting overcooked. Cool at least 15 minutes before removing from pan. The top has a slightly crunchy top while the center is dense and moist bursting with coconut and/or cranberries and nuts. It is fabulous with a strong cup of coffee! 

Cookie Crumb Cake baked in Loaf Pan

Cookie Crumb Cake baked in Loaf Pan (close up view)

Thick slice of cake (see the coconut, nuts, cranberries?)

Cookie Crumb Cake baked in Bundt Pan

I hope you find this to be an easy recipe and tweak it to make it work for the flavors you like and for any special dietary needs you have. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have.

Gluten Free Casually

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Apple Crisp

APPLE CRISP. Plain, simple comfort food. This recipe is super easy to make with just a few ingredients and can EASILY be made into a gluten free version without having to purchase special flours which is very economical. This recipe is actually quicker to make than a mix but no one would ever guess because it tastes so heavenly. You can also substitute cherry or any fruit for the apple pie filling. You can even use fresh, frozen or canned fruit (like peaches, berries, rhubarb, cranberries, mangos, raisins or plums) if you prefer. This is a great recipe to take to family gatherings because everyone can eat it. It taste like "normal" food and the people with a gluten allergy can enjoy what everyone else is eating for a change. Plus it is economical so you don't mind sharing your "special" food! By the way, the left overs are fantastic for breakfast with a cup of strong coffee! :)  I will be making this for our Thanksgiving get together this year because it is always requested. Everyone loves the crispy oat topping! (I actually use this exact crumble topping for my pies too!) Diabetics can use Splenda or Stevia substitutions for the sugar and either use sugar free pie filling or fresh/frozen fruit. *If using fresh or frozen fruit that is tart, you may need to add additional sugar/sweetener to fruit prior to cooking.

We also make this crisp when we go camping. I just make the crumble part at home and put in a ziploc baggy and take some empty soup cans (without sharp edges) for individual servings. I spray the inside of cans with cooking spray & spoon in the pie filling, top with crumble oat topping and cook over open fire or on BBQ until golden brown on top. Eat with a disposable spoon. Quick & easy! Just throw away the can so we don't have any clean up! It is always a big hit to get dessert while camping!

I know a lot of cooking shows and recipes tell you that you can only use granny smith apples to bake with. They hold their shape and and tartness really good. However, I honestly use whatever apples are on sale at the store or whatever I have at home. I even mix different apples for a flavorful crisp. A crisp isn't expected to slice like a pie so don't stress yourself out if you don't have granny smith apples.  Any apple or basically any type of fresh fruit will work. You can also used dried fruit. You will just have to cook it on the stove with some water or fruit juice to make them juicy. Don't under estimate the flavor of dried fruit! (You will just have to use about 3 heaping cups and then add water and cook until soft before you use them). I love a good apricot or raisin, cherry, cranberry or a dried fruit combination being used in a crisp. You can also kick up the traditional apple crisp by adding raisins or cranberries to it. Be creative! Crisps are VERY FORGIVING! They will take substitutions well.

I grew up in a rural area and my parents had a lot of fruit trees and vines/bushes. We had grapes, gooseberries, peaches, apples, pears, apricots, raspberries, blackberries and cherries. Over the years, some of the trees died or were cut down, but my parents used to harvest the fruit and none of it went to waste. It was used for cobblers, pies, jams or juice. I have had cobblers, crisps and sweet dumplings made out of all of these things. Delicious!

Apple Crisp Recipe:
  • 2 (approx 15 oz.) cans of pie filling or 1 quart homemade (about 5 cups fresh/frozen fruit). If you are using canned fruit like peaches then you will need to drain the juice or it will become soggy. The pie filling is thick so you can use it just the way it is. If your canned fruit or frozen fruit looks extremely juicy then you can add a tablespoon or two of corn starch or tapioca starch to thicken as it cooks. (It will give it a texture more like pie filling). If your canned fruit or fresh fruit is tart then you may need to add a little extra sugar! If I am using fresh apples, I peel them, slice them and I use about 7-8 apples for a 9x13 pan. I add a couple of tablespoons corn starch or tapioca starch and about 1/2-3/4 cup of regular or brown sugar. It will depend on how tart your apples are. **Note if you are using only dried fruit in your crisp like apricots or dried cherries or raisins then you will need to cook them on the stove top or microwave in a little bit of water or juice to reconstitute them and make them plump and juicy prior to baking.
  • 1 1/2 cups oats (I use Trader Joe's Gluten Free Oats. Although I have used Quaker Oats even though they are not marked "gluten free" - I have not gotten a rash eating them. I have tried generic brands and broke out in hives. However, you can purchase the gluten free oats if you are not sure what your reaction will be with Quaker oats). You can use either Old Fashioned or Quick Cooking Oats - both work great. 
  • 1 1/2 cups ground oats (grind in blender or food processor). Measure after ground. You can substitute a gluten free flour in place of the ground oats if you prefer. I have done it both ways and works just fine. If you do not have a gluten allergy then you can substitute regular flour in place of the ground oats.
  • 3 tsp. ground cinnamon (sometimes I add a little pinch of freshly ground nutmeg too!)
  • 3/4 cup melted butter (real butter will give it a richer flavor!) Do not use light margarine or else it is too watery and can give you a soggy topping. I suggest using real butter or margarine that contains 60% or more fat. You can substitute oil or Crisco if you have dairy allergies but honestly real butter is best! In a pinch, I have used oil but then I like to add a teaspoon of almond extract or vanilla or butter extract for a little flavor although you don't need to do this.
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar or raw sugar (If you are a diabetic you can substitute Splenda or Stevia baking substitutions. Read the package for equal cup for cup substitutions! Each brand varies!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon your pie filling or fresh/canned fruit into bottom of baking dish. (Drain your canned fruit first!) Combine the oats, ground oats (or substitute your gluten free flour), sugar, melted butter and cinnamon together. Crumble onto fruit. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and top is golden brown. Serve warm or cold. Delicious with vanilla ice cream on top! 

Apple Crisp in baking pan

Close up view of apple crisp

Apple Crisp

Peach Crisp (made with canned peaches)

Homemade apple pie filling

I hope your family enjoys one of our favorite super easy winter desserts!

Gluten Free Casually

Friday, November 9, 2012

Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup always reminds me of home. My parents always made vegetable soup in the fall with all the vegetables we had left in our garden. My parents had a huge garden and so did many of their friends. My mom wasn't wasteful when we were growing up so she would make huge pots of vegetable soup and then she would can or freeze any leftovers for winter days when we didn't have electricity because of a snow storm or for a quick dinner on busy nights. We could just open a can of the pre-cooked soup and just heat it on top of our Ben Franklin wood burning stove that we had in the basement or on our portable camping stove on the "snow days". I used to hate those nights without electricity but I was impressed with how my parents could manage dinner "pioneer style". I learned a lot from my parents and canning is one thing that I hated to help with as a kid but I am very grateful now that I have that skill. It has come in handy and I find that I enjoy doing it now. My favorite thing they canned was vegetable soup. I made some (and canned a few) to take with us this weekend to northern Arizona. We are expecting COLD weather and possibly snow up there so I want to have something warm and convenient to have for dinner since we cook "pioneer style" up there! 

This soup can be made with fresh vegetables from your garden or grocery isle or if you are can just get everything frozen so you don't have all the kitchen mess. You can buy a bag of mixed vegetables, green beans and a bag of refrigerated cabbage and add a packet or two of dry onion soup mix and some broth for a very quick & great tasting soup. You can customize it for your needs. Be sure to check labels for gluten free broths, bouillon and onion soup mix if you have a gluten allergy! If you want to add meat to this recipe then you can add stew meat or left over pot roast, cubed chicken, etc. I usually like to add a little bit of stew meat or pot roast for extra flavor but you don't have to. If you are a vegetarian you can leave out the meat and go with vegetable broths & bouillon instead. You can also add any other vegetables like peas, lima beans, mushrooms, squash, etc if you desire. My parents used whatever vegetables we had in our garden. I use whatever I have on hand in my refrigerator or freezer. If you are watching your carbs, you can leave out the potatoes and corn. 

Not only does this soup taste great but it is pretty easy to make. It makes a huge pot and you can even double to recipe for a larger crowd or to freeze or can for later use. You can even put it all in the crock pot in the morning and come home to a delicious soup for dinner! I like it because it reminds me of snow days and it doesn't have gluten like most of the store bought soups. I can't believe that commercial soups put wheat flour in theirs soups! The nice thing about this soup is that you can make it over the weekend and then re-heat it on the busy weeknight or you can whip it together with frozen vegetables, onion soup mix and broth and get it together in less than 20 minutes to your table for a quick dinner on a weeknight. 

This is one of the first "finger foods" my kids got as toddlers. I just scooped out the vegetables without the broth and put it on their high chair tray. They loved it because of all the different textures and flavors. My kids grew up eating vegetables at a young age so I never had issues with them eating vegetables growing up. All of my kids still love vegetable soup! I plan on making it for the grandkids too when they come to my house. Too many kids these days won't eat vegetables. 

Vegetable Soup Recipe:
  • 2 cups shredded or chopped cabbage (you can chop it yourself or buy the pre-cut packages in vegetable isle at grocery store)
  • 2 cups green beans (fresh, frozen or canned)
  • 1 cup corn,  more if you like lots of corn! (frozen or canned - I like to use the frozen fire roasted ones from Trader Joes)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped (or use 3 tbs. of garlic in a jar)
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 3 (16 oz.) cans of gluten free broth (any type will work: vegetable, beef or chicken broth)
  • 1-2 packets of gluten free dry onion soup mix (I use the Everyday Essential brand from Albertsons or the Hytop brand from Winco or the 4C brand - none of them contain gluten OR you can just use 2 tbs. diced dried onion + 2 tbs. of beef bouillon - if you are a vegetarian use vegetable bouillon instead - just make sure it is gluten free if you have an allergy!)
  • 1 carrot, sliced or shredded
  • 2 medium sized potatoes boiled or baked then chopped, optional
  • any other vegetable you would like to add: spinach leaves, lima beans, sweet potatoes, etc
  • 1 can (16-18 oz) chopped tomatoes or 4 medium sized fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • water or additional broth to cover most of the vegetables in the pot. (The vegetables will cook down a little bit so don't add too much liquid. You can always add more later if needed.
  • salt & pepper (we like to use sea salt at our house)
  • stew meat, left over pot roast or chicken, optional. (I usually pre-cook the meat a little before putting it into the soup. I saute the stew meat first unless I am am using the crock pot - then just dump everything in there uncooked and it cooks everything for you. Or if I have just a little pot roast and broth left over then I will put it in the freezer and use it in my soup at a later date. You can also purchase rotisserie chicken or use left over turkey from a holiday meal). This soup is also great without any meat). Customize it for your family! 
Mix everything together in a large pot and cook on medium until vegetables are soft. My mom used to cook it on low heat for hours so the flavors blended really nice. If I am making a smaller batch, I will just toss everything in the crock pot and let it do the cooking for me! The soup actually tastes better the second day. These are fabulous paired with corn bread muffins. (See my gluten free version of Jiffy Muffin mix on my blog!)

I hope you enjoy my family's recipe for vegetable soup! 

Gluten Free Casually