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, July 28, 2013

Judi's Peach Crisp

My dear friend Judi had us over for dinner at their house the other night. I love going to their house for dinner because I never have to stress about things containing gluten. She is a great cook and adapts her recipes to gluten free for me.  Although I absolutely loved her pulled pork, I am going to feature her peach crisp recipe today since it is peach season. My mouth is watering right now thinking how delicious a piece of peach crisp would taste this morning with my coffee! My waistline is thankful that I don't have a leftover piece!

As with any crisp or cobbler recipe, you can use pretty much any type of fruit. My favorite is peach but you can use apple, pear, rhubarb, berries, concord grapes and even dried fruits like raisins. The recipe is very forgiving so substituting gluten free flour and even sugar free sweetener is acceptable. The recipe can be doubled for a larger crowd or if you just want leftovers. You can also substitute frozen or canned fruit. (Fresh always tastes best to me but I sure wouldn't turn down a slice made with just about any fruit!) Of course if you don't have a gluten allergy then you can just substitute regular flour! My recipes are not just for gluten free people...these were originally adapted from regular recipes so of course you can use regular flour! :)

Here is how Judi made her delicious peach crisp:

Peach Crisp Recipe:
  • 4 cups of fresh peaches (skins & pits removed and peaches sliced thin)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar (or substitute sugar free sweetener). You may need to add additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar or sweetener if your peaches are not really sweet!
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (you can substitute tapioca starch)
  • 1/2 cup real butter or margarine (at least 65% fat margarine or else it will contain too much water).  You can substitute coconut oil or crisco in place of the butter if you prefer. 
  • 1 1/4 cup gluten free baking mix or flour (Judi used Arrowhead Mills gluten free baking mix)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
Place the 4 cups of sliced peaches into a saucepan with 1/2 cup sugar or sweetener (if your peaches are not sweet then you may need to add additional sugar) until peaches soften slightly. Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or tapioca starch and cook until slightly thick. Pour into 8x8 greased baking dish. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, make the topping by combining the softened butter with gluten free flour and brown sugar with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. (If it isn't forming crumbs then add a little more flour). Taste test the crumb mixture to make sure it is sweet enough for you. If you like it a little sweeter then add a little more brown sugar. You can also add cinnamon but we all decided to skip the cinnamon with peaches although we like it with apple or raisins.

Peaches with sugar and cornstarch, ready for topping

Fresh from the oven. See the crispy topping? Yummy!

Ready to eat!

Another helping please! :)

Even more delicious topped with Cool Whip or Vanilla Ice Cream! :)

I hope you enjoy this super easy and very delicious recipe for peach crisp. I am lucky to have a good friend like Judi and I really appreciate her taking time to make gluten free foods for me! We had such a great time that evening at dinner. It was my favorite type of meal....casual, fun & delicious! I guess I am just a country girl at heart. I prefer jeans and a geek t-shirt over formal clothing AND I definitely prefer a crisp or cobbler over a fancy dinner party any day!

Now, I just have to get the delicious BBQ Pulled pork recipe from her. That was SO YUMMY! I ate so much of it I thought I would bust!

For camping: I just mix the "crisp" topping ingredients (except for the butter) in advance and put in a large ziplock bag. I used canned peaches (Drain some of the juice. Usually they are sweet enough without adding any additional sugar). You can cook in a dutch oven or I like to put in clean individual soup cans (without the white lining. Just the cheap ones but just make sure that the edges are not sharp! I spray lightly with cooking spray and put a few peaches in the bottom of each can . Add the soft butter (or coconut oil) to the ziplock bag then sprinkle on top of the peaches. Put over the coals of your fire on on your gas grill on the low setting (temperature should be about 350 degrees).

Enjoy your day!
Gluten Free Casually

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Glazed Banana Cookies

Glazed Banana Cookies! Out of this world! I love a soft cookie that has a light glaze on them. I love this recipe because it is a great way to use up over ripe bananas and it makes a bunch of cookies. These are great for parties, potlucks, holiday cookie plates...or just for no special reason! (These also taste good without the glaze but since I have a sweet tooth...I usually add the glaze on them!) I used to make these cookies when my kids were young...then I misplaced the recipe and forget about them until recently when I was re-organizing my kitchen cupboards. Recipe found! So I converted it to gluten free!

The glaze recipe is my own recipe. I combined my favorite brown butter glaze with some cream cheese for these little delightful cookies. I didn't want a traditional cream cheese frosting for these...too heavy but the brown butter glaze was a little too sweet. So I added some cream cheese and PERFECT! It is sweet but still has the tangy flavor of cream cheese. These are like eating little mini banana cakes. YUMMY!

Banana Cookie Recipe:
  • 3 medium size over ripe bananas (peels should have black spots on them but bananas should not be mushy)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (I used raw sugar but regular granulated sugar is fine too)
  • 2 cups gluten free flour mix (if you do not have a gluten allergy then just use regular flour. I have included the recipe for my GF flour below but you can use a store bought GF flour blend).
  • 1 cup finely ground nuts (I used almonds today because that is what I had on hand. If you don't have any nuts or have a nut allergy then just use additional 1 cup of gluten free flour mix instead).
  • 1 cup Crisco (if using a generic then make sure it is not whipped because it contains too much water! You can substitute real butter or margarine that contains 65% or more fat)
  • 1/2 cup milk (you can substitute almond milk, coconut milk or any milk substitute)
  • 1 tbs. white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum (only if your GF flour does not already contain it. Omit if using regular flour!)
Stir the vinegar into milk. Mash bananas. Mix in Crisco (or butter/margarine), sugar and eggs. Beat until smooth and creamy. Mix in the milk/vinegar mixture alternately with flour. Add baking soda, salt and xanthan gum or guar gum and nuts. Dough will not be thick. It will have a brownie batter type consistency. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. (I used a cookie scoop - looks like a mini ice cream scooper). Do not flatten. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until slightly golden. (Individual oven temperatures vary slightly and altitude can vary baking times. You may need to adjust slightly after the first batch). Cool slightly before applying glaze.

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Glaze:
  • 1 stick real butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Melt the butter, brown sugar and cream cheese on stove top in a large saucepan or small stock pot until completely melted and starts to boil. Remove from heat. Beat in powdered sugar until smooth. It should be a glaze (it will not be thick like frosting). Spoon onto cookies while glaze is warm. Let cool completely before storing cookies in a container with waxed paper between each layer. You can garnish with chopped nuts if desired.

My Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour 
  • 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 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. 

I hope you enjoy these cookies as much as we do! Sometimes I think it is good to go back to the old fashioned, simple recipes without a lot of fancy ingredients. Very casual... but everyone loves them! By the way...the glaze recipe also tastes good on other soft cookie recipes and pound cake!

Enjoy your day!
Gluten Free Casually

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies. These should really be called GUT BUSTERS! These bad boys are so addicting! They are rich and they tease you into thinking you will only eat one. However, you catch yourself dreaming about you wake up and eat one with coffee for breakfast...again telling yourself that they are so rich and fulfilling that you won't eat any more. The next thing you are taking a couple nibbles throughout the morning on another cookie. Go ahead...justify it with the "quality assurance excuse".... I sure did! By the end of the have scarfed down at least 3 of them! My excuse was that they didn't look spectacular so why did my mouth think they were so awesome? Was I just hungry? So back to taste tasting for quality assurance! :) I came to the conclusion that they remind me of a chocolate dipped Oreo cookie. Yep, that good! Maybe even a little better!

I suggest that if you plan on making these cookies that you take them to a party and LEAVE any leftovers! That way your host or hostess will gain the weight instead of you! Bahahaha! :)

These cookies were a complete experiment. I tried converting a chocolate cookie recipe to gluten free for a different purpose but these turned out the perfect thickness for a sandwich cookie that I couldn't resist. They are not too chewy and they aren't crunchy....just perfect for a sandwich cookie. Plus, they weren't crumbly. The dark, rich chocolate flavor isn't real sweet either. PERFECT! These were great to use with a sweet chocolate filling. (They were great just by themselves without any fillings too! I know this because I had to taste them for quality assurance of course!)

By the way, I mixed these bad boys by hand today. My cheap little hand mixer decided to quit working. I haven't replaced it yet and I don't have a fancy Kitchenaid type stirring by hand is what I did. I kept telling myself it was like living in the pioneer days without fancy contraptions and it justified why I deserved an extra cookie!  :)

Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Recipe:
  • 1/2 cup butter (if using margarine, make sure it contains at least 65% fat)
  • 1/2 cup Crisco (if using a generic, make sure it is not a whipped version like Walmart contains too much water!)
  • 2 cups sugar (I used raw sugar but you can use regular sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract or butter vanilla baking emulsion
  • 2 cups gluten free flour (If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use regular flour! I personally don't care for the GF flour that contains sorghum for baking sweets. It has a weird aftertaste. My GF flour mix recipe is below in case you want to try it)
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if your GF flour already contains xanthan gum or guar gum or if you don't have a gluten allergy and are using regular flour!)
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

I melted the butter and Crisco slightly in the microwave (not completely melted...just extra soft so my stirring would be easier!) I stirred together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, butter & Crisco until smooth and creamy. I gradually added the salt, baking soda and cocoa powder. Then I stirred in the GF flour and xanthan gum. (I used Trader Joe's brand of GF flour for today's recipe because I didn't have enough of my own GF mix on hand). The dough is slightly stiff like brownie mix. Stir in chocolate chips if using them. I put it in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. I used a cookie scooper (looks like a mini ice cream scooper) to drop my dough balls (don't flatten them!) onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet which keeps the cookies from sticking to the sheet. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 9-10 minutes. Don't over bake them. They should not be CRUNCHY but more like a brownie texture. Baking time may vary slightly depending on your altitude and individual oven so I suggest baking just 2-3 cookies the first time to see how they turn out. Make adjustments as needed (Bake a little longer or a little shorter or turn down the oven a 5-10 degrees). Cool completely before adding filling.

Chocolate Cream Filling Recipe:
  • 1/3 cup margarine or Crisco (make sure it contains 65% fat and is not whipped)
  • 2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbs. corn starch or tapioca starch (or Jello pudding mix powder)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or butter vanilla baking emulsion

Mix all ingredients together until fluffy. If you are finding that the filling is too sticky then add either a little more powdered sugar or a couple tablespoons of corn starch or tapioca starch. I add the corn starch or tapioca starch usually because it will keep the filling from being so sweet. Or you can add a tablespoon or two of chocolate or vanilla pudding mix powder. If you are finding that it is too stiff then add a tablespoon of water until you get a fluffy but slightly firm texture. I mixed my batch by hand since my mixer was broke. It turned out fine. The mixer makes it a little fluffier than my hand mixing but it still turned out okay! I have used the leftover homemade Nutella Frosting in place of this chocolate cream filling and it was delicious also. (See recipe from June 2013 for the Brownies with Nutella frosting recipe!) Store bought frosting in my opinion don't do these justice. It is too sweet and not thick enough. NOTE: I have substituted 1/4 cup cream cheese with 2 tbs. Crisco (instead of the 1/3 cup margarine or Crisco) and the recipe turned out just fine too!

Once the cookies have cooled completely then place about 1-2 tablespoons of filling onto the cookie. (This will depend on how much filling you like in your sandwich cookies and how big your cookies are!) I used the cookie scooper for my filling and scooped one "scoop" onto each cookie, gently spread a little bit with a knife and then topped with another cookie...making a sandwich. I decided to melt some semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave with a tsp. of Crisco until smooth and then drizzled over the sandwich cookies for decoration and extra chocolate. Not that these bad boys needed any more chocolate! Since there is no such thing as TOO MUCH CHOCOLATE...what the heck, I drizzled it over the top and YUMMY! We liked it but you certainly don't need to do it.

Taste one. If you are finding the flavors explode in your mouth and your tongue is very happy....pack up the remaining cookies and get them out of your house! This is a warning! If you do not do this...expect to gain a pant size by the end of the week! These bad boys are gut busters! Completely addicting! They call your name when you are innocently doing chores!

My Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour 
  • 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 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. 

Okay, these pictures are torture. I am craving ANOTHER cookie. This is bad. Really bad. Really, really bad! I think I need to pack these up and drop them off at a friend's house. My brother's wedding is 6 months Hawaii. YIKES! I can't eat any more of these cookies today or I will have to buy a new wardrobe!

If you are feeling a little devilish today...bake your skinny girlfriends a batch of these bad boys. Just don't let them open the box and offer you one. Get out of there before that happens or you will be tempted!

Enjoy your day!
Gluten Free Casually

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Italian Rice & Peas (Risi e Bisi)

Italian Rice & Peas (Risi e Bisi). My friend Judi and I were talking one afternoon and she mentioned she loved an Italian dish that was made with rice & peas that she enjoyed while vacationing in Italy. I thought it would be nice to surprise her with a recipe for it. I searched the internet and really couldn't find any good I contacted some family members that vacation in Italy often and they shared their recipe with me. (I am not sure if it is the EXACT recipe that Judi enjoyed on her trip but I am attempting to surprise her with this dish! I know that different regions and families make things slightly different but I am hoping that this recipe is what she is looking for!)

I had to do some conversions because the recipe was given to me in grams. Although this may not be the exact recipe that she enjoyed...I think she will like it very much! My husband and I thought it was DELICIOUS and since it was already gluten free...I didn't have to tweak it at all! (I LOVE THOSE TYPE OF RECIPES! No special ingredients to purchase!) I think this recipe will become a family favorite! It makes a great side dish for any meal. (I will have to consider making this dish for Thanksgiving!) This particular recipe contains prosciutto or bacon but if you are a vegetarian, just leave it out. I also used a tablespoon of real butter but if you have issues with dairy then just substitute olive oil.

Risi e Bisi Recipe:

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice (I am not sure how this would turn out with a different type of rice or with a quick cooking rice. Since the recipe called for Arborio, I didn't want to substitute on my first try! Arborio rice is a short grain rice which I really like!)
  • 2 cups of sweet peas (I used petite frozen peas from Trader Joe's)
  • 3 strips of bacon or prosciutto (I used prosciutto today), optional
  • 1/4 cup of minced onion
  • 1/4 cup real butter (or substitute olive oil). I would avoid margarine in this recipe. You want to get a rich flavor that only butter or olive oil will provide!
  • 8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (you can always add more if you want. I only used 1/4 cup because I didn't want the cheese to overpower the overall flavor of the dish)
  • salt & pepper to taste, optional ( I actually didn't need to add any salt or pepper to mine. The prosciutto and the cheese were salty enough for me)
  • minced parsley, optional for garnish. (I didn't add it because I didn't have it on hand and didn't feel like running out to the store just for this. The dish was pretty enough on it's own!)
  • 1 tbs. of real butter or olive oil (this helps the cheese stick to the rice after cooking)
Brown the prosciutto or bacon and onion in the 1/4 cup of butter or olive oil. When the meat is brown, then add 4 cups of broth and cook until boiling. Add the rice. Turn stove temperature down to low and simmer. Stir occasionally to keep it from sticking. Gradually add the remaining broth and cook until rice is al dente. Add the peas and cook an extra 2 minutes or until peas are warm but not mushy. Add the 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil and sprinkle on cheese. Stir & serve. Garnish with parsley if desired. 

I love that this recipe was easy to make and other than the time it took to simmer on the didn't take long at all. The flavors were soft and not overpowering but it left a nice rich flavor on the tongue. It made me feel like I was in Europe again! The Europeans have a way of making dishes taste absolutely delicious with just simple ingredients! I would rather have a smaller portion of something that is savory and enjoyable than a "low fat" version of something that just doesn't tickle the taste buds. Life is like you are on vacation! :)

Enjoy your day!
Gluten Free Casually

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cheesecake Delight

Cheesecake Delight! Yummy and sweet with a little tart twist to it. My kids and I all LOVE any type of dessert that involves cheesecake. We especially like the ones where the crust is crispy but the inside is creamy. I generally use a graham cracker crust but it is sometimes difficult to find gluten free graham cracker crumbs. My Sprouts store doesn't always have them and I have never made them from I decided to make a shortbread crust instead. It was delicious! (You could use this crust for any type of dessert base also....or just make cookies with them!)

I have found that being gluten free requires a lot of adapting things that you have found works well into other recipes. You have to improvise and think outside the box to make recipes work especially if you can't find an ingredient that you need for a particular recipe. I was not going to miss out on having cheesecake because I couldn't find gluten free graham cracker crumbs! (I have a lot of different varieties of cheesecakes using different types of crust so I am sure you will see them posted in the near future! Since we have friends visiting that have a nut allergy, I am making a crust that doesn't contain nuts) If you do not have a gluten allergy then just substitute regular flour in the shortbread crust recipe.

No Bake Cheese Cake Filling:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 cups of Cool Whip or 1 packet of Dream Whip prepared
  • 1 tsp. of lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 tbs. lemon zest (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together until fluffy and smooth. Put the cheesecake mixture into the refrigerator while you prepare the crust. (Note: If you are using a generic brand of Cool Whip and the texture seems a bit runny, just add one tablespoon of cornstarch or tapioca starch to thicken slightly. I have found the some of the generics are getting cheaper and whipping in extra water and the texture is NOT the same as it used to be. I am not generally a stickler for name brands but lately I have noticed a HUGE difference in generics. The quality is NOT the same anymore! Sometimes you get what you pay for!)

Shortbread Crust Recipe:
  • 1/2 cup butter (if using margarine then use one that contains 65% fat or higher. This is important for baking. If you use any type of light butter or margarine that doesn't contain at least 65% fat then it contains too much water and it will not bake correctly! In a pinch, you can use Crisco or lard).
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used raw sugar but you can use regular or even brown sugar)
  • 2 tbs. lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract or lemon extract (I used lemon baking emulsion)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup gluten free flour blend (like my recipe below or you can use a store bought brand like King Arthur or Trader Joe's. I don't care for the flour blends that contain sorghum in my sweets. It gives it a funny after taste). I added my flour blend recipe below.
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum if you gluten free flour blend does not already contain it! (If you are using regular flour then you can omit this)

Mix the butter, sugar, lemon zest, extract together. Beat in eggs one at a time until creamy. Gradually add salt and flour. Dough will be thick. At this point you can refrigerate it if you prefer. I just lightly greased the bottom of my pie plate and pressed the dough into the bottom and up the sides. I baked it  in a preheated 350 degree oven until lightly golden which took about 16 minutes in my oven. (Check your crust after about 12 minutes. Each oven temperature and altitude can vary baking times). Remove and let it cool completely.

After the crust is completely cool, then add your cheesecake filling. At this point you can top it with whatever you like or just leave it plain just like it is. I decided to go with some extra zippy flavor and add lemon curd as my topping since we all like the tart flavor. (I got my jar of lemon curd from Trader Joe's because I was too lazy to make it from scratch today!) But you can use pie filling, jam or fresh fruit to top this recipe if you desire.

NOTE: If for any reason your shortbread does not turn out exactly perfect or is too crumbly, do not throw it away! Just layer the crushed shortbread & cheesecake filling into wine glasses or little parfait cups. It will still be an elegant and delicious dessert. (Okay, another confession....usually if you see a dessert served parfait style at my was a goofed up crust of some sort that tasted okay but was crumbly and I "recycled" it into a parfait! My husband calls me the "recycler baker"). I just figure that if I put that much time and expense into a recipe and if  it still tastes okay...I am not wasting it! :)

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. 

See how creamy the center is? If you want it stiffer, just add a little cornstarch or tapioca starch

Gluten free casually