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!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Pineapple & Cream Cheese Upside Down Cake

Pineapple & Cream Cheese Upside Down Cake. I saw this recipe in the Sunday newspaper and decided that I would like to make this recipe for Easter & convert this recipe to gluten free. I like pineapple upside down cake & I love cheesecake. The combination sounded delicious. The dessert has the traditional pineapple upside down topping and cake but it has an added layer of cheese cake filling in the center with another layer of cake on top. It is baked in a spring form pan so it is nice & thick. Yummy!

You can make this dessert a little quicker if you have a gluten free cake mix to use. (I didn't have one so I made a recipe of homemade cake batter instead. I included the homemade cake recipe below for those interested). I was holding my breath that this dessert would turn out tasting delicious but also be elegant enough to serve for the main Easter dessert. (I was really afraid that the layers would separate and slide off the cake pedestal or the cheese cake layer wouldn't be firm enough to hold the cake layer. Not to flipped over beautifully and held its shape perfectly).

Of course if you do not have a gluten allergy...just use regular cake mix or your favorite homemade cake recipe for the batter! 

Pineapple & Cream Cheese Upside Down Cake:

  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 can (20 oz.) pineapple slices
  • 8 maraschino cherries
  • 2 pkgs. cream cheese (8 oz. each), soft
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tbs. corn starch or tapioca starch or gelatin powder or you can use lemon flavor Jello
  • 1 (9 oz) yellow or white cake mix, prepared according to instructions on box (or one batch of homemade cake mix, prepared. The recipe should make one 9x13 pan or two 9" round pans). There are several good gluten free cake mixes available - just make sure it makes a regular size cake or you will need two mixes!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9" spring form pan with cooking spray. Stir together the melted butter and brown sugar. Spoon into bottom of pan. Place pineapple rings on top of the butter-brown sugar mixture. Place a cherry in each pineapple ring. Prepare the cake mix (or homemade cake batter) according to directions. Pour half of the batter over the pineapple & cherries. Beat the cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, eggs and starch or gelatin powder together.  Spoon gently over the cake batter. Pour remaining cake batter over the cream cheese mixture. Bake 65-75 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. Cool 5 minutes in pan before turning onto a plate or cake pedestal. Cool additional 30+ minutes before serving to allow cake to set up firm. (NOTE: if you are using raw sugar then make sure you put it in the blender or food processor to get a fine texture or it will be too gritty!)

Cake just pulled from oven. It is cooling 5 minutes before I flip it onto platter

My recipe for gluten free cake recipe:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup tapioca starch or corn starch
  • 1/2 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cups melted butter or you can substitute Crisco or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (you can substitute almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk or fruit juice. I used pineapple juice today since I didn't want to waste what was left in the can of pineapple rings. Just add a little water if you don't have quite enough juice or milk.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract (I like using almond baking emulsion)
  • 1 tbs. custard powder or vanilla pudding mix powder (this is optional. I think it adds a nice texture to the cake. Gluten free flour sometimes doesn't have the heaviness that regular flour has and I think the custard powder or pudding mix powder gives it a little balance. But it is completely optional). 

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Add the eggs, milk or juice & slightly cooled butter (you want it in a liquid form but not too hot that it will cook your eggs when you combine them!). Add vanilla or almond flavoring. Beat for 2 minutes.

I was pleased with the overall result of this cake and would definitely make it again. It make a nice showy dessert for a special occasion (Mother's Day, Birthday, Easter, Father's Day, etc.) I hope you enjoyed my gluten free version of these delectable dessert.

Gluten Free Casually

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gluten Free Waffles

Gluten Free Waffles! My granddaughter was coming over early this morning so I knew she would be hungry for breakfast. I decided to convert my old waffle recipe into a gluten free version. We all liked them! I have tried several of the pre-made gluten free waffle mixes and they were too powdery in texture and flavorless. I wanted homemade waffles.

I whisked all the ingredients together and then let it sit for about 15 minutes before I used it. The batter thickens up and the waffles are fluffier. These can be served with butter & syrup or fresh fruit or pie filling or I like mine with applesauce and cinnamon. I have also used left over waffles in place of bread for an egg sandwich.

Leftover waffles can be frozen in a ziploc freezer bag and then either put in the toaster to heat them up nice and crispy or you can defrost in the microwave if you like your waffles on the softer side. You can also prepare the batch less crispy then put all of them on a cookie sheet and bake in 350 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes or until warm & slightly crunchy. That way everyone gets a warm waffle at the same time!

And if you want to be REALLY,  REALLY naughty and have these waffles as a dessert....well you can drench them quickly in melted butter and dip in cinnamon sugar for a "churro waffle". Only do this on a day that you aren't counting calories! :)

Of course if you don't have a gluten can just use regular flour and omit the xanthan gum!

Waffe Recipe:
  • 2 cups of gluten free flour (see my recipe below or you can use a prepared flour mix like Trader Joe's. I won't use the flour mixes with sorghum flour in it for my sweets or baked goods. It gives them an aftertaste that I don't like)
  • 1/2 cup corn starch or tapioca starch (it gives the waffles a nice texture)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (leave this out if your prepared flour mix already contains it or if you are using regular flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (or you can use almond milk, coconut milk or seltzer water)
  • 1/2 cup water (I like to add seltzer water if I have it. It gives the waffles a super fluffy texture. I didn't use it today because I didn't have any on hand)
  • 8 tbs. melted butter or oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar (you can substitute raw sugar or splenda if you prefer)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract (I prefer the almond extract or almond baking emulsion)
  • 1-2 tsp. of ground cinnamon, optional. I like to add it for the extra flavor but you don't need to.

Combine all the ingredients together. (I just dump it all in the mixing bowl and beat by hand with a whisk). Let it stand in bowl for about 10-15 minutes before using and the batter will become thicker. Pour into your heated waffle maker and follow instructions on your waffle maker. (I have a very basic, cheap waffle maker but it works fine. I think it was under $5 around Christmas time and I also have a Star Wars Darth Vader Head waffle maker that I absolutely adore! It makes the most perfect waffles and doesn't drip. I found it on sale at Kohls).

My gluten free flour mixture:

  • 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, gluten free)
  • 1 cup potato starch (not flour)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk, make sure it is very fine in texture
  • 1 cup corn starch or tapioca starch (I used corn starch for this batch)
  • 3 tbs. xanthan gum
Combine all ingredients together well. You can put it in the blender for an extra smooth texture if desired. I store mine in a glass container and use it in place of regular flour in all my recipes. This particular blend I really like for baked sweet goods. *If you have a milk allergy then just substitute powdered non-dairy coffee creamer or additional brown rice flour in place of the powdered milk.

Ready to eat!

Up close view

Taste testing for the blog!

Mmmmm good! 

Approved by the cutest critic! <3

My geek waffle maker! Worth the investment!

My favorite waffle maker

I love this waffle maker because it doesn't drip batter. It has a nice ridge

Two Vader Heads ready to eat!!! Geek Alert!!

I hope you enjoy this easy & casual breakfast recipe. (Breakfast is also great for dinner on busy nights!) 

Gluten Free Casually

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nutella Chex Bars

Nutella Chex Bars. I came up with this recipe when I had originally planned on making Chex Scotcharoos but realized I didn't have peanut I improvised with my hubby's Nutella instead! They turned out quite delicious. I personally think that anything that has Nutella in it is SCRUMPTIOUS! These bars are no-bake so you can make them on the stove top or microwave and not heat up your oven in the summer heat which is a bonus when you live in Arizona!

I use either General Mills Corn Chex Cereal or Rice Chex Cereal because they are gluten free. You can substitute gluten free Kellogg's Rice Krispies, Post Cocoa Pebbles (they are also gluten free). You can also use corn flakes if you can find them gluten free. Any of these will work just fine in this recipe. (Watch out for some of the generic versions of these cereals because most of them are NOT gluten free! Read the labels carefully!)

Nutella Chex Bars Recipe:
  • 6 cups of Corn Chex or Rice Chex
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1 cup Nutella
  • 2 cups semi sweet or dark chocolate chips
  • additional 1/2 cup Nutella (for topping)
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Over medium heat, stir together the corn syrup & sugar until melted. Bring to a full boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup Nutella until well combined and smooth. Pour over cereal and mix gently with a spoon until most of the cereal pieces are coated. Spoon into the greased 9x13 pan. Press down with the back of a spatula to compress them slightly. (I find that this is much easier if you spray a little cooking spray on the spatula first. It keeps the cereal from sticking to it!) Set aside. In a microwave safe bowl, combine the 2 cups of chocolate chips with the 1/2 cup Nutella and cook in 30 second intervals until melted and smooth. Pour over the cereal bars. Let stand until chocolate is set. (If I want to hurry this process along...I put them in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to set up faster! I don't like waiting to eat these!)

Oh...and if you want to kick it up another notch...just add some chunks of a chocolate hazelnut candy bar into the Chex cereal mix. Delicious! I love the hazelnut/chocolate combination. Mmmmm! :)

These are a great casual picnic pleaser + they are easy to make. Very similar to making Rice Krispie treats. I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Enjoy these super easy no-bake treats!

Gluten Free Casually

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Coffee Cake

Pineapple Coffee Cake
Scrumptious Coffee Cake. I love this old recipe for a simple coffee cake. My mom has been making this basic coffee cake since I was a young child. She got the recipe from a free mail order cookbook from Gold Medal flour. She varies the filling so she can customize the flavor. It is a nice, fluffy coffee cake that is not too sweet. It goes fantastic with a great cup of coffee. I have been able to tweak this recipe to make it gluten free since I really missed this particular coffee cake. I made it and took the gluten free version into work to see what they thought. It got thumbs up reviews and there were no leftovers! My boss also found me a bag of gluten free flour to try from Trader Joe's stores. I used my "homemade" version of gluten free flour in one batch and the Trader Joe's gluten free flour in the other batch. Both coffee cakes turned out perfect! The texture and flavor were great. I could not tell they were gluten free! I was impressed with the Trader Joe's gluten free flour because it is extremely convenient and bakes just like regular flour and the cost is about $3.99 for a one pound bag. It had a nice smooth texture (not gritty like some brands). Of course if you don't have a gluten can just make this recipe with regular flour like my mom does! 

It is a fabulous recipe for a casual brunch, holiday dessert or just treat your family or co-workers to a lovely surprise. It is so simple to make but it is delicious and impressive! I am lucky that my mom is the sharing type and doesn't get upset that I share her scrumptious recipes on my blog. :)

Scrumptious Coffee Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar (you can use raw sugar if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup margarine (make sure it is a margarine that contains at least 65% fat or it will won't work well for baking! I found that Kroger brand works well and it is cheap! It can be found at Kroger or Fry's grocery stores). Or substitute real butter (not light).
  • 1/2 cup Crisco shortening (I am becoming a stickler for certain brands. I used the generic store brand recently for some frosting and it turned out awful. I realized that some brands "whip" theirs with water to make it cheaper and reduced fat which does not work well in a lot of baking recipes. Sometimes it is worth the extra few cents for the real thing!
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract or baking emulsion (I prefer the baking emulsion which I find in the food section at TJ Maxx, Ross for Less, Home Goods stores or baking supply shops. But my mom uses almond extract and it works great also!) The original recipe only called for 1 tsp. but we like the rich almond flavor so we add 1 1/2 tsp. instead. 
  • 4 eggs or you can substitute egg beaters
  • 3 cups of flour (I used gluten free flour blend. I used Trader Joe's brand in one batch and my homemade version -recipe below- in the other batch. Both worked great. If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can just use regular flour. 
  • 1 tsp. Xanthan Gum if your gluten free flour blend doesn't contain it. If you are using regular flour then you don't need to add this ingredient.
  • 2 cups of pie filling, lemon curd or custard/cooked pudding (not instant pudding) or basically whatever type of filling you like. You can also make your own filling from canned or fresh fruit by cooking on the stove with approximately 3 tbs. corn starch or tapioca starch to thicken it + a little bit of sugar to sweeten if the fruit is tart. Instructions for my pineapple filling are below
Combine the sugar, margarine (or butter), shortening and almond extract or almond baking emulsion together until smooth. Add eggs and beat well. Gradually add the baking powder, salt and flour. (Dough mixture will be thick  - kind of like a brownie dough). Spread 2/3 of mixture into a greased 9x13 baking pan. Spread the pie filling on top as evenly as you can. Drop the remaining 1/3 of dough mixture by spoonfuls on top of pie filling. It will leave open gaps where you can see the pie filling. Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs and top is lightly golden brown in color. (*Note: in a pinch, I have used all margarine or all Crisco instead of the combination. There are times I have either Crisco or Margarine but not both. In this recipe you can improvise a little! The only thing I would not substitute if possible is the almond flavor. It gives this recipe a rich flavor that vanilla extract can't!)

2/3 of dough spread in bottom of  greased 9x13 pan

Cherry Pie Filling spread over the 2/3 dough in 9x13 pan

Remaining 1/3 dough spooned in clumps over pie filling before baking

 I usually put a piece of foil on top of the 9x13 pan after it is removed from oven to trap in the moisture and keep the coffee cake extra moist as it cools. (I leave the foil on for about 30 minutes before removing). When the coffee cake is cool then I take about 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar and a splash of milk to make a light glaze to drizzle on top. It adds an extra sweetness to the recipe but it isn't required. The scrumptious coffee cake is great served warm or cold. 

Trader Joe's Gluten Free Flour
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, gluten free)
  • 1 cup potato starch (not flour)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk, make sure it is very fine in texture
  • 1 cup corn starch or tapioca starch (I used corn starch for this batch)
  • 3 tbs. xanthan gum
Combine all ingredients together well. You can put it in the blender for an extra smooth texture if desired. I store mine in a glass container and use it in place of regular flour in all my recipes. This particular blend I really like for baked sweet goods. 

Pineapple Filling Cooking on Stove
Pineapple Coffee Cake Filling:
1 can (approx 15 oz) of crushed pineapple with juice
3 tbs. corn starch or tapioca starch
1 tbs. sugar, optional

If you are not using crushed pineapple then take whatever pineapple you have on hand (rings or chunks) and put it in the blender or food processor for a few seconds to puree it. You don't want huge chunks in your coffee cake. In a saucepan, combine the pineapple with juice, cornstarch or tapioca starch and the sugar. Cook on medium heat until the pineapple mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat and spoon onto your coffee cake dough. 

Just removed the cherry coffee cake from oven. No glaze added yet!

Up close view of cherry coffee cake. See how moist it is?

Up close view of the pineapple coffee cake. Yummy!

I hope you enjoy one of our family's favorite recipes that I was able to turn into a scrumptious gluten free version. (Of course you can make it with regular flour if you don't have a gluten allergy!). We love this recipe because you can change the filling and have a different coffee cake each time! My favorites are cherry, pineapple, lemon curd or apricot. My husband prefers apple pie filling. You can use homemade or store bought filling. It all works just fine! 

I hope this inspires you to whip up a scrumptious coffee cake and sit back and relax with a cup of coffee and some friends to enjoy this recipe!

Have a great day!

Gluten Free Casually

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cuban Pork Sandwich

Cuban Pork Sandwich. My husband and I first tasted this super yummy sandwich years ago in the Miami area while on vacation. Since then, you see it creeping up on the menus in places like Margaritaville. It is a good solid sandwich and pleasing to the taste buds. Simple. Delicious. Grilled. Can it get much better than that? As with any ethnic dish, there are variations depending on the region. My sandwich is the basic one that we like. You can serve it with mustard or a seasoned mayo on the side but the place we had it in Florida did not have condiments on it except for the optional dill pickles. The juices from the meat on the sandwich and cheese is a perfect blend. Why ruin that?

The traditional sandwich calls for Cuban Bread which is slightly sweet (reminds me of the King's Hawaiian bread) but since I am making mine gluten free today...I substituted Udi's bread which worked just fine. (You can also check out my recipe for homemade bread in January on the blog if you prefer making homemade bread!) I serve my Cuban Pork sandwiches with a side of coconut rice because we like the way the sweet sticky rice melts in your mouth with the pork.

I make our Cuban Pork Sandwiches with left over shredded pork roast and gluten free sliced deli ham, baby Swiss cheese, gluten free bread and dill pickles. I make ours in the George Foreman table top grill because it smashes the bread down while it grills - kind of making it into a panini. You can just grill it in the skillet on medium heat and press it down while it is cooking to flatten it. (The sandwich should flatten considerably).

Cuban Pork Sandwiches: (Makes 2 sandwiches)

  • 1/2 pound of shredded cooked pork
  • 4 slices of gluten free deli ham
  • 4 slices of Cuban Bread or substitute Hawaiian bread (I substituted Udi's gluten free sandwich bread for today)
  • 4 slices of Baby Swiss Cheese
  • real butter to spread on the bread slices prior to grilling
  • dill pickles, optional (my husband doesn't care for the pickles so I usually leave them off his sandwich!)

Shredded pork roast

gluten free ham
Udi's Gluten Free Bread

Butter the bread slices. Put a slice of cheese on one bread slice. Layer with shredded pork roast, 2 ham slices per sandwich and another slice of cheese. Add pickles if desired. Put in hot skillet or George Foreman style table top grill. Cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted. I serve our sandwiches with coconut rice. (Just add a handful of shredded coconut when adding your rice to the water to cook. The rice will absorb the coconut flavor and soften the coconut to give it a nice fluffy texture. No need to use expensive coconut waters/milk for this recipe. The shredded coconut will give it plenty of flavor for a fraction of the cost).

Ready for the grill!

Layering the sandwich ingredients

Getting ready to close the lid on the grill/press

Ready to eat! :)

Up close view of the yummy sandwich!
This sandwich makes a great casual dinner for nights when you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. We like to take ours out to the patio and enjoy the weather. I always save some of our pork roast so that we can enjoy these sandwiches for lunch or dinner the following day.

I hope you enjoy this casual but fun sandwich!

Gluten Free Casually