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, May 25, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake! This is a very casual yet delicious country recipe. It is a great way to use up the zucchini crop in the summer months! You won't taste the zucchini in this recipe but it sneaks in the extra veggies for the kids. They can easily be made into muffins too. This recipe is sweet enough that you don't need any frosting. I have a friend that uses applesauce to cut back on the fat in the recipe. I did not do that for the batch today. You can also use all ground nuts in place of the flour or you can use all gluten free flour...or use half ground nuts & half gluten free flour. This recipe is very flexible which is great. You can also substitute peanut butter for the oil or the cream cheese. Like I won't taste the zucchini so don't worry about adding flavors. Any flavor that goes with chocolate will go great in this recipe. I have also added 1 cup of shredded coconut in the past.

This has always been one of my favorite recipes to use up the loads of zucchini that everyone passes out in the summer! It's a great summer treat. It is delicious with a cream cheese frosting or chocolate frosting but I like it just plain or with whipped cream. Feel free to double the recipe because it freezes well.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I use GMO free raw sugar but you can use regular or even brown sugar in this recipe)
  • 3 eggs (the original recipe called for 2 eggs but with the GF flour, I add an extra egg for volume)
  • 2 1/2 cups of finely ground almonds (or any other ground nuts) OR use 2 1/2 cups of gluten free flour instead or a combination of both to get 2 1/2 cups. If you don't have a gluten allergy then just use regular flour!
  • 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum (omit if your GF flour already contains it or if you are using regular flour)
  • 5 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs. ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese (original recipe did not call for this but it adds a moist texture to the cake) You can just add additional oil or substitute peanut butter if you don't want to use cream cheese to the recipe!
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used olive oil but you can use vegetable oil or substitute applesauce for lower fat)
  • 1/2 cup sour milk (1/2 cup of milk + 1 tbs. vinegar. Stir and let stand 5 minutes). You can substitute coconut milk, almond milk, lactose free milk, rice milk or any other non-dairy milk substitute)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini (I let it drain in a colander to let extra fluid drain from zucchini. Too much water in the zucchini change the texture of the cake. Squeeze or drain any extra fluid from zucchini before adding to the batter!)
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (can sprinkle chopped nuts or coconut instead). You can also substitute white chocolate chips or peanut butter chips if you prefer.
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the sugar, oil and cream cheese together. Add the cocoa powder, ground cinnamon and eggs until fluffly. Add the baking soda, salt, sour milk and ground nuts (and/or gluten free flour + xanthan gum if needed). Stir in shredded zucchini. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips (or nuts/coconut). Bake 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Altitude and oven temps will vary so check it at the 30 minutes and add 3-5 minutes cooking time until done. If you are baking in a loaf pan then you will need to increase your baking time to 50-60 minutes and cupcake pan you will need to reduce your cooking time to 18-23 minutes.

shredded zucchini (extra fluid squeezed out)

Ready to bake

Just removed from the oven

Still slightly warm

Up close view of how moist the cake came out!

Another view of the ready to eat cake

Nice texture and you can hardly see (and can't taste) the zucchini!

Warm from the oven. Couldn't wait for it to cool before cutting!

In the pan. Close up view.   

I hope you enjoy this very delicious yet casual recipe. Keep it in your file. It is a great way to use up all that zucchini people drop off on your front porch in the summer! (Plus it is a great way to sneak in those veggies so the hubby & kids (or grandkids) don't notice! ;)

Gluten Free Casually

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Nutella Marshmallow Chocolate Bars

Nutella Marshmallow Chocolate Bars! The fabulous combination of the hazelnut chocolate flavor of Nutella combined with chocolate fudge brownie style crust and added gooey, fluffy marshmallow topping is absolutely incredible. The flavor is rich yet simple. It delights the taste buds. For extra crunchiness you can add chopped hazelnuts too. This recipe is easy to make but tastes like you spent a lot of time preparing it!

I had a recipe that I made for years that was similar to this one but it had peanut butter instead of Nutella and of course it wasn't gluten free. I wanted to make this recipe gluten free so everyone in our family could eat it. I also had a guest coming that didn't like peanut butter but loves chocolate and hazelnuts. mind was spinning around what to make other than plain brownies. I came up with this recipe and it was a HUGE hit! Everyone loves it. I was invited to a BBQ this weekend and this "brownie" was requested. (I have also made a similar version of this recipe using a yellow cake mix and lemon curd or raspberry jam or pineapple jam instead of of using the Nutella. It was also yummy but my husband and grand-daughter are little choco-holics and they prefer the dark chocolate version with naturally I make it the most!). I love recipes that are easy, affordable, delicious & easy to adapt with what you have on hand. This recipe is wonderful because you CAN change it up easily. You can use any flavor cake mix you want (I use gluten free of course. However, if you don't have a gluten allergy then by all means use a regular cake mix!) You can substitute the Nutella with peanut butter, almond butter, lemon curd or jam. I add sprinkle chocolate chips on the top but you can either omit those or substitute chopped up candy bars (like Reese cups, Carmello bars, Rolos, M&Ms or any other gluten free candy bar) or use white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc. The combinations that you can use are endless! (One of my favorite creations is using a yellow gluten free cake mix and substituting lemon curd for the Nutella and use white chocolate chips in place of dark chocolate chips. I still use the marshmallow cream. It is absolutely delicious! I love the sweet & tart together! I will post the actual recipe for the lemon version in a separate post soon!)

You can use a store bought cake mix (be sure you use a gluten free one if you have a gluten allergy and watch the size. This recipe uses a 2 layer size and some of the mixes out there only make 1 layer which is fine if you want to half the recipe and bake in a 8x8 pan instead!). The other option is you can make homemade cake mix and not prepare it, just the combined dry ingredients. If you only have a yellow cake mix on hand and you prefer chocolate then just add 1/4 of unsweetened cocoa powder or a handful of melted chocolate chips and have chocolate cake! ;) This recipe also does not call for any EGGS. If you have an egg allergy then this is a great recipe for you!

Key ingredients you will need

Nutella Marshmallow Chocolate Bars Recipe:
  • 1 box of (2 layer size) chocolate cake mix, dry (I use gluten free cake mix but you can use a regular cake mix if you don't have a gluten allergy. You can also cut all the ingredients in half if you only have a 1 layer size cake mix. Just bake in 8x8 pan instead of 9x13)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (You can substitute margarine, Crisco or oil. I personally prefer the flavor of real butter)
  • 1/3 (can substitute almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, rice milk, coffee creamer, coffee or water in a pinch)
  • 3/4 cup Nutella (You can substitute peanut butter, almond butter, lemon curd or jam)
  • 1 jar (7 oz.) Marshmallow fluff cream (I like it a little better than mini-marshmallows. However you can melt your marshmallows slightly in the microwave until soft and fluffy like marshmallow cream. I have done it. I just use an extra handful of marshmallows so I have enough cream. If you don't have a microwave or marshmallow cream, you can certainly just sprinkle mini-marshmallows instead although the texture may be more firm).
  • 1/2 cup nuts, optional (I use hazelnuts if I have them on hand but you can substitute peanuts, almonds, walnuts or just leave out the nuts. It is good either way! Nuts can be expensive so if I don't have any on hand...I just omit them!) I did not use nuts in my recipe today.
  • 6-8 oz. chocolate chips (or substitute chopped candy pieces. Just be sure the candy and chocolate chips you use are gluten free. Some chocolate is processed on equipment that uses wheat flour to prevent sticking! Read the allergy label on the back of the package. It should list allergy alerts! If it says WHEAT then don't use it if you have a gluten allergy!)
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the dry cake mix with melted butter and 1/3 cup milk. Press 2/3 of the dough into the bottom of a greased 9x13 pan to make a "crust". Dough will be thick.  (Save 1/3 of the dough for topping.)

The "crust after it is baked for about 15 minutes

Putting the Nutella & Marshmallow cream on the "crust"

Photo just before putting it in the oven
Bake the crust (without any of the toppings) for 12-15 minutes or until the center is almost set. Cool about 5 minutes. (This will prevent the toppings from sinking to the bottom of the crust while baking and making a gooey mess. Spread Nutella onto the crust. Top with small spoonfuls of the marshmallow fluff cream sporadically over the Nutella. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate cake mixture over the marshmallow fluff cream. Sprinkle nuts if you're adding them and chocolate chips or candy pieces over the top of everything. Gently press the mixture down into the crust. Bake 15-18 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely before cutting into bars. These bars freeze great if you have leftovers or like to make a batch and freeze for lunch snacks or future dinner desserts!

Featured in my photos below, I used a 1 layer gluten free cake mix and used half of the ingredients and baked in a 8x8 pan. I didn't have a 2 layer cake mix on hand so I just made a small 8x8 pan size in gluten free since I am also taking a batch of gluten free cookies to the BBQ.

Hot right from the oven

I cut it while still slightly warm but it cuts better completely cooled!

It has a brownie textured crust which is hard to believe from a cake mix!
Up close view of the delicious layers!

Close up in the pan...after they cooled a little bit. Much easier to cut!

Ready to eat!

This would be delicious with ice cream!

I hope you enjoy one of our favorite BBQ casual desserts. People will think you slaved all day in the kitchen! ;)

Gluten Free Casually

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Gluten Free Banana Bread

Banana Bread. I love banana bread when it is really moist and you can taste the bananas! If a banana bread is really don't need to dress it up with butter, cream cheese or frosting. It is perfect all by itself! I have always loved my mom's recipe for banana bread. It is simple, delicious and very moist! I like it with or without nuts. You can also add extra items like coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, cranberries, etc. I usually just keep it basic. Most people prefer it simple. I like simple & casual.You can also dress up banana bread and use it with fresh strawberries in place of shortcake. Yeah, the combination is absolutely delicious! :)

It was a difficult recipe for me to convert to gluten free. I just couldn't get the texture right. It was either too moist (almost mushy) or too dry and crumbly. I am the type of person that if it doesn't taste like the original recipe when I convert it to gluten isn't right. I will keep experimenting until I get it right...which sometimes takes a lot of experimenting in the kitchen! Sometimes I have to think "outside the box" to get the correct texture and deviate slightly from the original recipe so that it looks, tastes and the texture is like the original recipe.

We recently went to Maui for my brother's wedding. During the "road trip to Hana", we saw a lot of advertisements for the BEST BANANA BREAD EVER. Of course we stopped and my brothers paid $7 each for small loaves of banana bread just so they could try it. Everyone in the group tried the bread (except me because it wasn't gluten free) and they decided that although it was quite didn't compare to my mom's recipe. They suggested that my mom move to Maui and open her own banana bread shop!

I will also mention that this banana bread also makes delicious French Toast and bread pudding. (If you have any leftovers! The only time I ever have enough leftovers to make these... is if I have a huge case of very ripe bananas that I picked up on sale and made a bunch of banana bread!) My co-workers love it when I make banana bread and bring it into the office. Nothing tastes better with a good cup of coffee than a slice of moist banana bread!

First, I will give you my mom's original recipe for the banana bread and then I will give you my gluten free version which I had to change some of the ingredients to give it the texture and flavor of the original recipe. I tried just substituting the gluten free flour for the regular flour but it didn't rise quite the same and tended to be either slightly dry (and sometimes crumbly) or a little too moist and sticky. Don't get me was still decent but it wasn't PERFECT. I wanted my gluten free recipe to taste as close to the original as possible! Of course if you don't have a gluten allergy, you can make my mom's original recipe (or my gf version) using regular flour!

Mom's Original Banana Bread Recipe: (Not gluten free. My gluten free recipe is below)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3-4 ripe bananas (bananas should have black spots on the peels but shouldn't be completely black and overly mushy)
  •  1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup butter, soft but not melted (or substitute 70% fat margarine or Crisco)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional
Mash the bananas until fairly smooth. Beat in the soft butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Gradually add in the baking soda, salt and flour. Don't over-mix or your bread can turn out tough. Pour into a greased 9x5 loaf pan or a small bundt pan. (I like to use the small bundt pan or you can double the recipe and use a regular sized bundt pan). Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven (Yes, only 325...NOT 350 degrees!) for 55-65 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. Baking times will vary depending on your oven and altitude. Check it at 55 minutes and keep adding 5 minutes until done.

My Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe:
  • 1 1/4 cup gluten free flour blend (I don't use the ones that contain sorghum because I think it makes my baked sweets taste funky).
  • 1/4 tsp. xanthum gum or guar gum (do not add if your gluten free flour already contains it!)
  • 1 cup sugar (I use raw GMO free sugar)
  • 2 eggs (I had to add an additional egg to give it the volume it needed. The original recipe only calls for 1 egg)
  • 3-4 ripe bananas (bananas should have black spots on the peels)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda (I increased the baking soda by 1/2 tsp.)
  • 2 tbs. soft butter or 70% fat margarine (soft but not melted)
  • 1/4 cup of cream cheese (believe it or not, this gave it the texture and volume I needed and it didn't alter the flavor. It actually enhanced the banana flavor! I actually used the reduced fat cream cheese).
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped nuts, optional
Mash the bananas until fairly smooth. Beat in the soft butter, cream cheese, sugar and eggs. Add the vanilla. Gradually add the salt, baking soda and flour. (Add the xanthum gum if your gluten free flour mix doesn't contain it). Don't over-mix, stir until just combined. Stir in nuts if you are adding them. Spread into a greased 9x5 loaf pan or a small bundt pan (double the recipe for a regular sized bundt pan). Bake in a pre-heated 325 degree oven (Yes, it is NOT 350 degrees like most recipes!) for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. Baking times will vary depending on your oven and altitude. Check at the 55 minutes and keep adding 5 minutes until done.

Sorry my pictures didn't turn out great. I will try to get some better pictures of the banana bread. Seems like everyone wants to munch on it as soon as it cools slightly so I didn't get the camera fast enough!

Gluten Free Casually

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Gluten Free Spoon Bread (Corn Casserole)

Spoon Bread (also known to some people as corn casserole or corn pudding) is one of my FAVORITE dishes. It has the sweet flavor of corn bread but it is heavier and more moist. It goes great with any type of meal and I have been known to eat leftovers for breakfast...even cold!

I make mine from scratch but you can use store bought gluten free corn bread mix. (If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can just 1 box of Jiffy Corn bread mix instead). The spoon bread is slightly sweet so it compliments a spicy dish as well as a brunch dish. I serve it as a side dish for just about anything including steak, chicken, BBQ ribs and pulled pork. Our July 4th BBQ wouldn't be complete without this dish! I have noticed that some Mexican restaurants are now putting it as a side dish on their menu. I am pretty sure it is not a Mexican dish but like I said compliments just about anything and it is delicious! You can also add a can of green chiles or 1/4 cup chunky salsa to the recipe but I personally just prefer it plain.

The texture is different than bread. It has a dense texture similar to a very firm cheesecake. Although you could probably eat it with your fingers, most people eat it with a spoon...hence the name spoon bread. It is definitely not sandwich bread. Although you could probably make these into muffins, I have never tried it. I just always bake it in a casserole dish because I like the texture I get from baking it in a casserole dish. I bake mine in a round casserole dish with a lid but if I am making it for a crowd then I double the recipe and bake in 9x13 pan and cover with foil. The original recipe calls for 1 stick of butter and 1 cup of sour cream. I actually only use 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter instead because I find it to be less greasy without losing any of the flavor. I also substitute 3/4 cup of cream cheese for the 1 cup of sour cream. I found with making things gluten free... adding cream cheese in place of some of the butter or shortening will give the recipe a nice moist texture and keep it from becoming crumbly after a day or so. Of course if you have a dairy allergy then you can substitute a dairy free version of cream cheese. (You won't taste the cream cheese in the recipe).

Spoon Bread Recipe:
  • 1.5 cups gluten free DRY corn bread mix (see my recipe below if you want to make it homemade. You can use 1.5 cups of a store bought gluten free mix if you prefer but you will need to add 2 tablespoons of sugar since most of them aren't sweet enough. If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use 1 box of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix). DO NOT PREPARE CORN BREAD MIX...YOU JUST NEED THE DRY INGREDIENTS FOR THIS RECIPE!
  • 1/4 cup of melted real butter (original recipe called for 1/2 cup but I found it was a little too greasy for me so I cut back on the butter and it still tasted great!)
  • 3/4 cup cream cheese (I have used the regular and reduced fat version. I wouldn't recommend using fat free since I can't guarantee it will work. The original recipe called for 1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt. I prefer the cream cheese. It gives the spoon bread a really great texture and enhances the flavor of the corn. It also prevents it from becoming crumbly when re-heating leftovers).
  • 2 eggs (the original recipe called for 1 egg but converting it to gluten really need 2 eggs to get the right texture. I've done it both ways and 2 eggs works better than 1 egg!)
  • 1 (14-16 oz) can creamed corn (If you don't have creamed corn on hand, just take a can of regular corn (including the juice in the can), 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tbs. cornstarch and blend)
  • 1 (14-16 oz) regular whole kernel corn (not creamed), drained
 Mix all ingredients together by hand (or use a mixer but don't over-beat it!). At this point, you can add any extras like green chiles if you want. I prefer mine plain but I know some people prefer chiles or chunky salsa in their recipe. Pour into a greased 2 quart casserole dish (or 8x8 or 9x9 pan) with a lid or use foil to cover it. Cook in pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 1 hour. Top should be lightly golden and it should be slightly firm like a cheesecake texture. It should not be "jiggly". Knife inserted in center should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs. Depending on your oven and altitude, you may have to adjust your baking time. I have been other places and have had to bake it an additional 20-25 minutes longer. Just check it at 1 hour and see if it is done. (Baking it with the lid/foil will help it to cook faster on the inside, keep it moist and prevent the top from burning before the inside is done. If you like the top a little more brown then just remove the lid/foil about 15 minutes before removing it from the oven.  RECIPE CAN EASILY BE DOUBLED AND BAKED IN 9x13 PAN or LARGER CASSEROLE DISH. YOU CAN ALSO COOK IT ON LOW SETTING IN CROCKPOT FOR 4-6 HRS.

Gluten Free Corn Bread Muffin Recipe (Copy cat for Jiffy brand)
1.5 cups of the mix = 1 small box of Jiffy corn bread muffin mix.
(Recipe below is equivalent to 1 small box of Jiffy corn bread/muffin mix)
  • 2/3 cup flour (I used my gluten free flour blend, see recipe below but if you don't have a gluten allergy then you can just use regular flour!)
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (I prefer using 1/4 cup corn flour + 1/4 cup polenta but cornmeal works fine too)
  • 1/8 cup sugar (you can add a little less if you don't care for sweet muffins or add a smidge more sugar if you prefer them slightly sweeter. You can also substitute raw sugar or stevia. If using Stevia you will need to check box for how much to substitute. I am not sure if it is equal amounts).
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
Mix ingredients together with a fork or spoon. If you are not using it right away, you can store it in a ziploc bag, glass jar or rubbermaid container. I like to double or triple the recipe so I have it on hand when I need it. 1.5 cups of the mix = 1 small box of Jiffy corn bread muffin mix.

To prepare muffins, combine 1.5 cups of the mix with 1 egg, 2tbs. oil or melted butter and 1/3 cup milk by hand and let stand for about 5 minutes before putting into either greased muffin cups or paper lined muffin cups. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for approximately 13-18 minutes or until lightly golden on top and muffin springs back when gently touched or toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

My Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour 
  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour or soy flour
  • 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. I store mine in a glass container and use it in place of regular flour in most of my recipes. *Glutinous rice flour does not contain gluten, it is made from sticky rice.

I hope you enjoy one of my old "hillbilly" recipes that I converted to gluten free. Please post any substitutions or additions that you made in the comments below. My family loves this recipe and I make it for most of our casual family get-togethers. I think my kids (and most of my friends) would throw a fit if I didn't make this for Easter, Thanksgiving & our July 4th BBQ. When we have a large crowd...I will 4x the recipe so we have enough to eat + a little extra for leftovers! My kids always want to take some home with them!