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!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Quicker than a mix Peanut Butter Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies! I can't think of a quicker way to say Happy Valentine's Day! These cookies go together soooo fast and you wouldn't guess there are only 3 ingredients (unless you add extras like M&Ms, pretzels, Chocolate Chips, etc.) I love this recipe because it is so easy and requires minimal ingredients for a cookie. My kids used to make these by themselves after school for a snack (Middle school & High school aged at the time!) This is an old family favorite. This is a great way to say "I love you" without breaking the bank or without sucking up so much time preparing and cleaning up a kitchen mess.  (you can press a Hershey Kiss in the center when they come out of the oven hot (try the Caramel Hershey Kisses for a mouth watering twist! The gooey caramel blends fabulously with the peanut butter! I didn't have any of those handy today). I love this recipe because it is awesome for a quick cookie fix. We used to make these on vacation when staying in a rented condo. I could make homemade cookies really quick without buying a bunch of ingredients or needing a mixer. Since there is no flour in this recipe....they are gluten free without altering it! If you tend to like a sweet but slightly salty can add a pinch of sea salt for an amazing flavor! If you want the cookies to puff up slightly then you can add 1 tsp. gluten free baking powder. The basic recipe below will give you a nice, soft, slightly chewy cookie. Feel free to add chocolate chips, M&M candies, pretzel pieces or whatever you like or you can just leave them plain!

Quicker than a mix peanut butter cookie recipe:

  • 1 cup peanut butter (creamy or crunchy), I prefer Jif
  • 1 cup sugar (I used raw sugar today but you can use white or brown sugar). Note: The raw and brown sugar will make the cookies chewier than the white sugar. If you prefer a little crispier cookie then flatten these with a fork or glass and bake an extra minute or two!
  • 1 egg

Yep, that is it. No mixer necessary! Mix all the ingredients together with a spoon or fork by hand until well incorporated. If you decide you want to add extra ingredients (chocolate chips, extra peanuts, M&Ms, pretzel pieces, GF Rice Crispies, can do it now!)  I like the sweet & salty combination when adding the pretzel pieces. Sounds gross but it is quite tasty! Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. I flatten mine slightly with a fork or glass. These do not raise or spread much so don't be skimpy with the scoops of dough! If you are adding a Hershey Kiss or mini Reese cup in the center then roll the dough into balls and bake in ball form. Gently press Hershey Kiss or mini Reese cup in center when you first remove from oven. This will flatten the cookie slightly and make a nice little nest for the kiss or Reese cup to settle into.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10-13 minutes. Depends on how crispy you like them. Cool & eat! NOTE: If you notice that your peanut butter is a little oily then add a couple tablespoons of gluten free flour or corn starch to thicken it up. These should stay nice and chewy.

My grand-daughter wanted to help make cookies today

Helping scoop out the dough

I used a cookie scoop to keep the cookies evenly sized

She is patiently waiting for the cookies to get done baking!

Up close view of the cookies

Cooling on the rack

Taste tasting for the blog!

Close up view of the cookies today

Up close view of cookie. See the pretzel & M&M chunks we added to this batch?

Ready to eat!

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you have a great Valentine's Day! Take a few minutes today to bake some yummy love for your family and friends!

Gluten Free Casually

Monday, February 11, 2013

Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti

Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti. This is a super easy and very tasty version of a baked spaghetti. The flavor resembles a lasagna without all the effort. You will need to overlook the ingredients because I ate it for years at a friend's house and when I finally asked for the recipe...I was rather shocked with the actual ingredients. Cream cheese? Sour cream? Really? I would never have guessed it to be in this casserole. Honestly, if I would have saw this recipe in a magazine and read the ingredients...I would have skipped over it. The combination doesn't sound appealing. Oh but it is delectable! It isn't a dried out version of baked spaghetti. This is also a very forgiving recipe: you can tweak it and it still tastes great!

I haven't made this recipe for quite a few years and then one of my kids requested it. I decided to make it with gluten free spaghetti noodles. Then my daughter requested that I use fat free versions of the cottage cheese and cream cheese for her new gallbladder/pancreas diet. I tried it and none of us could tell the difference. (Even my mom who is not generally a fan of any type of baked spaghetti enjoyed it. She asked for the recipe to make it when she goes back to Ohio!) If you don't have any special diet restrictions you can certainly make it with regular spaghetti noodles & regular cottage cheese & cream cheese! Either way it is DELICIOUS! (Leftovers are just as good!)

Million Dollar Baked Spaghetti Recipe:
  • 8 oz. spaghetti noodles (I used Hodgson Mill Brown Rice Gluten Free Noodles). You can use regular spaghetti noodles if you don't have a gluten allergy.
  • 16 oz. Cottage cheese (I used fat free)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened (I used fat free)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I used fat free)
  • 1 can (24 oz.) spaghetti sauce (I used Hunt's Zesty)
  • 1 pound lean hamburger, I used 93% lean hamburger (or you can substitute ground turkey or vegetarian crumbles)
  • 1/2 cup diced onion, optional

Brown hamburger & onion in a skillet until onions are tender and meat is no longer pink; drain grease if there is any. (If you are using the vegetarian crumbles then you can omit cooking them in the skillet since they are pre-cooked! Just saute the onions if you are using them). Add spaghetti sauce and set aside. Boil noodles until done; drain. Mix the cream cheese, sour cream and cottage cheese until well combined. (I put it in the microwave for almost 1 minute so the cream cheese softened enough to mix well). Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Spoon half the spaghetti noodles into bottom of pan. Spoon half of the cream cheese/cottage cheese/sour cream mixture on the noodles then top with half of the hamburger/sauce mixture. Repeat layers. Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until cooked through. Cut into squares and serve. Leftovers freeze well.

It was fun bringing an old favorite dish into my gluten free world. This is one of those yummy comfort foods that brings back smiles. Although I enjoy experimenting and trying new recipes...sometimes the old comfortable ones are the best! I am sooooo glad that the gluten free (and fat free) substitutions stood up well to this recipe! It is a keeper!

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Brownie Cookies

Brownie Cookies. It is a brownie hidden in the form of a cookie. Double yummy! I love brownies & I love cookies. I like the individual cookies because you seem to get more for some reason when you make a batch in cookie form then when you cut brownie squares. I played around with a lot of different recipes and came up with this batch that turned out well. I added mint flavored chocolate chips to my batch because we were craving mint/chocolate combination today but you can use any flavor of chocolate chips and/or nuts you want. This is a basic recipe that can be customized to your favorite brownie preference. They can also be left plain, frosted or sprinkled with powdered sugar. By changing the chips/nuts or topping you can change up the recipe easily. Another one of our favorites is to add a pinch of Chipotle Chili powder & dark chocolate chips for a spicy sweet treat which goes great with Mexican food!

Brownie Cookie Recipe:
  • 2/3 cup margarine (Use one that has 65% or more fat or else the texture won't be right. I used Kroger brand for today's batch). You can substitute Crisco shortening if preferred. 
  • 1 cup sugar (I used raw sugar but you can use regular sugar if you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour (If you do not have a gluten allergy, you can just use regular flour). You can buy brown rice flour at most grocery stores OR if you have a good blender/grinder then you can grind your own brown rice flour which is less expensive. (Just do it in small batches so you don't burn up the motor in your blender/grinder!)
  • 1/4 cup corn starch or tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (you can leave this out if you are using regular flour). Most Walmarts sell small little packets for under 50 cents each if you don't want to invest in a large bag of it.
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (any flavor) or chopped nuts, optional. (I used mint flavored chocolate chips in today's batch but you can substitute any flavor you want or just omit them if you prefer plain brownie cookies. They are good either way!
single packets sold @ Walmart

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat margarine or shortening and sugar until creamy; add egg. Gradually add vanilla and beat well. Gradually add rice flour, corn starch or tapioca starch, cocoa powder, baking soda & salt until just combined. Don't over mix. Stir in chocolate chips and/or nuts if desired. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake about 9 minutes or until set. Do not over-bake or they will be coffee dunkers! Cool slightly before removing from baking sheet onto cooling rack. *The dough can also be spread into a 9x13 greased pan and baked for 18-23 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.

I hope you enjoy these little heavenly brownie-like cookies. We really enjoyed them! They would make a great Valentine's Day treat. The dough freezes well too. The dough can also be pressed into a 9x13 and baked into brownie squares if you prefer.

Gluten Free Casually