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!

Friday, April 26, 2013

No Bake Pretzel Bars

No Bake Pretzel Bars. I love the combination of sweet and salty. It is magic in the mouth! This is another great recipe for Arizona because when the heat hits 110+ degrees one wants to turn on their oven! This is a very casual dessert that is fun and easy. Great for a Friday evening with friends on the patio, potluck, BBQ or just watching Dr. Who movie marathon on the weekend! :)

This recipe was easily switched over to gluten free by using Snyder's Gluten Free Pretzels. (I found my gluten free Snyder's pretzels at Albertson's grocery store mixed in with the other Snyder's pretzels. They were the SAME price as the regular Snyder's pretzels which I thought was AWESOME! I get tired of getting gouged extra $$$ because it is gluten free! I was told that Whole Foods also carries the gluten free pretzels. If you can't find them at your grocery store, you can ask them to order them or you can purchase online at I have also used the Glutino brand gluten free pretzels and they work great too! (They have a nice buttery flavor to them). Glutino brand GF pretzels are available at most Walmarts, Military Commissary Stores, Sprouts, Whole Foods, some Fry's/Kroger stores. The best price for them is at the Military Commissary Stores or Walmart. Look for Glutino brand in the "Gluten Free Aisle" since they are generally not located with the regular pretzels. Of course if you don't have a gluten can just use regular pretzels!

No-Bake Pretzel Bars Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (you can use creamy or crunchy)
  • 1 stick of real butter or margarine
  • 2 cups crushed pretzels (I used GF Snyder's brand)
  • 2 cups of butterscotch baking chips
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream (or heavy cream)
  • additional 1/2 cup pretzel pieces, coarsely chopped
Line a 9x13 pan with foil. Lightly coat the foil with cooking spray & set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together powdered sugar, peanut butter and melted butter. Stir in 2 cups of the crushed pretzels. Press firmly into the bottom of 9x13 foil lined pan. Melt the butterscotch pieces (I reserve a small amount to sprinkle on top) and whipping cream in microwave or on stove top in a saucepan just until butterscotch pieces are pretty much melted. Pour the melted butterscotch mixture over the "crust". Sprinkle the dark chocolate chips (and if you reserved any butterscotch baking pieces then sprinkle them on top too) + the remaining 1/2 cup crushed pretzels over the top. Gently press down. (I use a piece of waxed paper or the back of a rubber spatula to press down). Cover and chill for at least 2 hours to set. Cut into bars and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this quick & easy no bake pretzel bar recipe. They are a great treat for the summer heat! :)

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes

 Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes. I have tried several gluten free cake recipes and the texture and flavor just wasn't what I was looking for. Most of the recipes out there are too crumbly and the flavor is bland. I wanted something that was moist with a nice "normal" texture and great flavor. I have tweaked several recipes and researched until I experimented and came up with this cake recipe that met my approval. My grand daughter's first birthday is quickly approaching and my friend Judi and I were looking for a great gluten free cake recipe for her "smash" cake. Not to mention that I was craving something sweet and cupcakes sure sounded awesome!
     This recipe could easily be tweaked to make a chocolate cake by adding some unsweetened cocoa powder in place of some flour or fruit flavored if you added fruit juice/puree in place of the milk. (This recipe can easily be cut in half if you want to make just a dozen cupcakes and not the full batch. You can also use this recipe to make a 9x13 cake or two round or square 8" cakes. (I added confetti sprinkles to the batter before cooking so I had confetti cupcakes)

     I made cupcakes for a recent family get-together just for a trial run. There were NONE left. Everyone ate them and couldn't believe they were gluten free. I added a dash of almond baking emulsion in place of the vanilla extract so it gave the cupcakes a really nice, rich flavor. It was like some gourmet wedding cake. I had some homemade frosting left over that my mom had made for my grand daughter's baptism so I frosted them with it. (But you can use either your favorite  homemade frosting recipe or store-bought frosting).

My July 4th version of the GF Vanilla Cupcakes with my homemade buttercream frosting

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes
  • 2 1/2 cups gluten free flour mix (I like Trader Joe brand or my recipe below). I do not like to use any flour mix that contains sorghum in my sweet baked goods. It gives it a weird after taste.
  • 1 tsp. xanthan gum (only use this if your flour mix does not contain it or guar gum)
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbs. custard powder or vanilla pudding mix (this gives the gluten free flour a nice heavy texture similar to regular flour for baked goods)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup melted butter or Crisco (if you substitute margarine: make sure it is 65% fat or it won't rise correctly!). Make sure the melted butter is slightly cooled.
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (you can substitute rice milk, soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk or fruit juice/puree)
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 1/2 tsp. almond baking emulsion or extract (I used almond baking emulsion. I get it at Hobby Lobby in the cake decorating department or sometimes I can find it at Home Goods or TJ Maxx in their food section). Since the flavor of almond is more pronounced than vanilla - go lighter on the amount!)
  • 2 eggs or 4 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup confetti (optional)

Cake Batter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line cupcake pan or two 8 or 9" cake pans. Combine the gluten free flour, xanthan gum if it isn't already in your gluten free flour mix, baking powder, salt, custard powder or pudding mix and sugar. Beat in eggs. Add milk and melted butter (or Crisco or margarine). Add the vanilla or almond flavoring. Beat for 2-3 minutes on high speed. Stir in confetti if you are adding it. Pour batter into cupcake pan or cake pan. Bake 15-18 minutes for cupcakes (until they spring back when lightly touched or toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs). Bake two 9" pans for 22-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. (Oven temperatures and altitude can affect baking times so check at the lowest cooking time and adjust. You may need to bake longer). 9x13 pan you will need to bake 35-45 minutes.

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. 

Cupcakes right out of the oven 

Cupcakes that are ready to eat!

Cupcake up close view. See how moist? 

I received this shortcake maker as a gift. I tried my GF batter and it worked great!

Made in my shortcake maker

I used buttercream frosting in center which made them taste like twinkies. You can use whipped cream and berries instead!

I hope you enjoy this recipe for a really good cake/cupcake! It is now one of my favorite recipes for birthdays! My mouth is watering right now. I am wishing I had one of these lovely little cupcakes to eat while I am working on my blog and drinking coffee this morning.

Enjoy your day.

Gluten Free Casually

Monday, April 8, 2013

Coconut Macaroons (Only 2 ingredients!)

Coconut Macaroons. Mouthwatering. Moist. Chewy. I love coconut. I know it is one of those things that you either love it or hate it. For the avid coconut lover...this recipe is a must for your recipe box! It is simple, inexpensive and absolutely heavenly!

     This is one of the recipes that I almost hate sharing because it is SO EASY and delicious. Now people will have my secret to quick & easy cookies. They won't think I slaved all day over these. I thought I would be nice and share the recipe because it is a huge time saver when you need quick cookies that taste like you spent all day making them! These are a great addition to cookie plates for parties & holidays. It is also great for bake sales, potlucks or picnics. You can also dress them up with chocolate and put them in a nice tin or box for gift giving. (For Easter you can press your thumb in the center to give the cookie a "nest" look. Bake as directed & when they are completely cool then add some egg shaped M&M candies. Everyone loves eating these cute little nests!) You can also fill the thumb imprint with lemon curd, jam or a chocolate Hershey Kiss. That is why I love this is so versatile!

     These macaroons can also be dipped in melted chocolate if you want your macaroon to taste like a Mounds or Almond Joy candy bar.  Or add mini chocolate chips or 2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder to the dough! I have used this recipe in place of a traditional pie crust for my cream pies. It is not only quick & easy but it is already gluten free and doesn't require expensive flours. I just spray my pie pan with non-stick cooking spray press the cookie mixture in the bottom and up the sides of the pan and bake 350 degrees until it is golden brown on top. Cool & fill with your favorite no-bake pie filling. (This is great for chocolate cream pie, vanilla cream pie, coconut cream pie, banana cream pie, no-bake cheesecake, etc.)

     My entire family loves coconut so this recipe was something we used to make on vacations. When my kids were small, we used to vacation in Florida frequently and stay in a condo or apartment close by the beach. Eating dessert out can be expensive for the entire family so this was a recipe that I would make with the kids (we also used to make the peanut butter cookie recipe that only took 3 ingredients - see the recipe for that on my blog in Feb 2013). This recipe was less expensive than buying pre-made cookie dough & just as easy! Doesn't require a mixer - just a bowl & spoon. Plus, these cookies stayed fresh for a loooooong time!

Coconut Macaroon Recipe:
  • 1 ( 14 oz.) bag of shredded coconut (I used the sweetened kind)
  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (NOT EVAPORATED!)

Yep, that is it! Just these two ingredients. Mix together in a bowl with a spoon until all the coconut & condensed milk are incorporated. The dough will be sticky. (At this point I like to put the bowl in the refrigerator for a couple of hours if I am making cookies. It helps keeps them in a ball shape when baking. ). Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheet (makes removing the cookies much easier!). I use a cookie scoop because it packs the cookie dough tight and keeps them from spreading much while baking. If you don't have a cookie scooper then just press the cookie dough together with your fingers or two spoons. Bake 350 degrees for about 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top. Cool & eat. You can bake these bars in a 8x8 greased square pan for 20-25 minutes if you prefer. If I am spreading into a 9x9 baking pan to cut into squares then I just spread in prepared pan and bake without refrigerating first. I like making these into cookies rather than bars because it seems like you get more! (I don't don't recommend using the light or fat free condensed milk in this recipe).

Just out of the oven. 

Up close view of inside of cookie. Slightly crunchy top with moist chewy center

Here are the cute little "nest" cookies with chocolate eggs

Here are the cookies with a thumbprint indented center filled with chocolate

Up close view of my moist coconut macaroons! Yummy!

I hope you enjoy this super easy, yummy and very versatile recipe!

Gluten Free Casually

Friday, April 5, 2013

Hash Brown Casserole

Hash Brown Casserole. The first time I ever had hash brown casserole was at my Aunt Carol's house on Christmas day many years ago. It quickly became a family favorite and I looked forward to having this on Christmas day at her house. Matter of fact...I think I made a meal on just the potatoes and her Chex mix! After I had children and couldn't always make it to Christmas dinner at her house, she shared her recipe with me. Since then, my family has enjoyed the hash brown casserole on most of our holidays. (And sometimes we just craved it so we had it on a casual weekend with steak dinner!) Then I found out I had a gluten allergy and haven't made these potatoes for a couple of years. Our family really missed these scrumptious potatoes at the last few holidays. I was determined to make them gluten free, delicious and economical. I do not think that gluten free food has to be expensive or tasteless!

     I grew up in a family that has some fabulous cooks (many of our friends are great cooks too!) and food is an important part of our socializing. We get together for holidays, celebrations and just to visit. Food is always in the center of the entertaining. No one wants to eat tasteless food and purchasing special food is extremely expensive. I want to enjoy the comfort foods that I grew up eating and I don't want to sacrifice flavor + I want my guests to enjoy the meal also. (Let's face it...if the food sucks then no one wants to come to my house for dinner! My goal is to make my food gluten free and delicious so everyone loves it and those with gluten allergies can have a great meal without health issues).

     I have been to several restaurants including Cracker Barrel, that have similar potatoes but they all have gluten in them. All the recipes that I have come across have cream soups in them which are not gluten free. (Yes, you can go to a specialty store and buy expensive gluten free soups but I am way too frugal for that!) So, I have tweaked Aunt Carol's original recipe to make it gluten free so everyone that eats at our house can enjoy the hash brown casserole and would never guess it is gluten free. It doesn't require any expensive "special" ingredients. The nice thing about this casserole is you can make it in advance and bake it the day you need it. It also freezes very well. (And leftovers taste great stuffed inside a homemade egg burrito made with corn tortillas...just saying!)

If you have a dairy allergy then you can substitute dairy free cheese, dairy free margarine (or oil) and you can use dairy free evaporated milk. (I included a recipe below for dairy free evaporated milk for those of you that want to try it).

Hash Brown Casserole Recipe:
  • 30 oz. bag of frozen hash browns (shredded or cubed), defrosted. You can use potatoes that you have shredded or cubed yourself if you prefer. It is a good way to use up potatoes. Potatoes are cheap if you are willing to do the work yourself.
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1 tbs. chopped garlic
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk (I used fat free). You can also substitute 1 1/2 cups heavy cream or half & half for the evaporated milk. 
  • 2 tsp. chicken bouillon granules (Make sure they are gluten free. I used Goya brand today. Better Than Bouillon brand is a paste form that is gluten free and wonderful to use also). If you are vegetarian then substitute a gluten free mushroom bouillon or any other gluten free flavoring you prefer. I have even added 1/2 cup of left over gluten free alfredo sauce and it was a yummy addition!
  • 1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used non-fat greek plain yogurt today). You can also substitute mayonnaise or a dairy free equivalent. 
  • 1 tbs. corn starch 
  • 8 oz. shredded cheese (I used Mexican blend cheese. You can use cheddar cheese if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter (I used real butter because I prefer the flavor but you can substitute margarine or oil)
  • 2 cups crushed tortilla chips (or you can use gluten free corn flakes cereal or regular potato chips)
Spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the hash browns, chopped onion, shredded cheese and sour cream together. Warm the milk in the microwave or stove top with the chicken bouillon and corn starch until smooth and slightly thickened. Stir into the potato mixture. Spoon into 9x13 pan. Mix the melted butter or oil with the crushed tortilla chips (or corn flakes or potato chips) and sprinkle on top of the potato mixture. Bake 350 degrees for about 45-60 minutes or until heated through so cheese is melted and top is golden brown and crunchy.

Diary free evaporated milk recipe:

  • 12 oz. Rice Milk
  • 12 oz. Coconut Milk

Shake the can of coconut milk well to incorporate "cream" that solidifies at the top of can. Combine the rice milk and coconut milk in pot on medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Bring to a slow boil. Turn heat to low and simmer (stirring occasionally) until liquid has been reduced by half. Cool to room temperature before storing in a mason jar or container that seals. Store in refrigerator up to 5 days before using. NOTE: Liquid will separate after it is cooled. Just whisk together before using.

I hope you find this recipe becomes a holiday tradition for a casual side dish!

Gluten Free Casually