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, June 29, 2014

Chicken Pizza Roll-Ups

Chicken Pizza Roll-Ups. These have been a favorite in my family since my kids were little. I re-designed one of my mom's traditional recipes that had chicken stuffed with spinach and cheese and made one with pepperoni & cheese instead. I love to serve it with pasta (I use gluten free pasta). These are actually pretty easy to make and so much flavor!

You can pound out chicken breasts fairly thin and then stuff them with basically anything you want. Pizza stuffed ones are my favorite but I do like spinach & cheese, ham and cheese, basil and cheese or green chiles and cheese. You can serve them plain or add sauces like: Spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, enchilada sauce, cheese sauce, etc. Again, I like recipes that you can customize for the occasion. You can also substitute lean pork or thinly sliced boneless steak for this recipe. If you want to keep this recipe "low carb" then you can leave the coating off the chicken. It will still taste great!

I figure since I have done a lot of dessert recipes (my favorite!) on the blog this month...I had to add at least one recipe for a main dish! I can't have you all thinking that I live off of junk food! Although I absolutely love sweets...I try to eat them in moderation and eat healthy food most of the time. I will confess that I love baking though. I love the way it makes my house smell and just leaves me with a happy feeling. I find it to be a stress reliever. I just wish the cleaning fairy would clean up the mess after I am done! If I am can find me in the kitchen at least 75% of the time. I guess I need to get my own cooking show...that way I can be happy cooking & someone else would clean up my mess! :)  A girl can dream...right?! ;)

Chicken Pizza Roll-Ups Recipe:
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you can substitute boneless lean pork or steak)
  • 20-30 regular sized, thin pepperoni slices (about 4-5 slices per chicken piece)
  • 4-6 slices of thinly sliced salami (optional. I love salami but you don't have to add it. 1 slice per chicken breast)
  • 8-12 tbs. shredded mozarella cheese (or Italian blend) shredded cheese (2 tbs. per chicken piece)
  • 1/2 cup crushed gluten free bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, potato chip crumbs or gluten free flour
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg (for dipping the chicken on for coating. If you have an egg allergy then just use a little oil instead. If you aren't adding the topping (bread crumbs & parmesan cheese) then just skip the egg.

Pound out the chicken breasts until thin. I put my chicken on a cutting board and put plastic wrap on top of the chicken so when I pound it out...the chicken doesn't splash anywhere. I am speaking from experience is absolutely disgusting to clean up little pieces of raw chicken splatter. Do yourself a favor and take a minute for this extra step. It is worth it! Pound out the chicken with either a meat tenderizer tool or use a rolling pin or hammer. Keep in mind you want the chicken thin but not in minced pieces! Don't over beat it!

My chicken breasts before I pounded them out

My chicken breasts after they were pounded out thin but not minced!

Take 4-5 pieces of pepperoni and layer on each chicken breast. Cut the salami in half and layer those pieces on top of the pepperoni. Sprinkle about 2 tbs. of shredded cheese on top of salami.

Ready to start rolling the chicken breasts

Start rolling each chicken breast. I start with the narrow edge and then work towards the fat edge. It will keep the insides from leaking out. I secure with wooden toothpicks to keep them from unrolling during the cooking. Break the egg (I keep the egg shell for my garden) and beat the egg in a bowl until frothy. This will be your "egg wash". Combine the bread crumbs (or whatever crumbs you are using. If you are gluten free...please make sure you are using gluten free crumbs!) with the grated parmesan cheese. This will be your coating if you are using it. If you are doing "low carb" just skip the egg wash & coating portion of the recipe. Dip the chicken roll into the egg wash and then into the crumb-cheese coating.  Bake in a baking dish covered with foil in pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. I remove foil and then bake additional 8-10 minutes until the coating starts to brown and get crunchy. If you are skipping the coating then you don't need to remove foil.

Just removing them from the oven

Serving them with gluten free pasta & salad for dinner

Up close view

View of the inside of the chicken pizza roll-ups

This recipe is easy, affordable & delicious. Everyone will love it...even your non-gluten free friends! These also freeze great. I like to make extras and throw them in the freezer for busy nights so we can just re-heat and eat.

I hope you enjoy one of our family favorites as much as we do!

Gluten Free Casually

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Angel Puffs

Angel Puffs! Traditionally they are rolled in powdered sugar to give them a "heavenly" look but I like to dress them up for the holidays. Since July 4th is just around the corner, I am making these with red, white & blue sprinkles for the kids. (I personally don't care for the taste of sprinkles...I know! I know! I must be the only person in the world that doesn't like sprinkles! I love the way they look but I don't like the flavor or texture of sprinkles!)

It is a very basic dough that you can use for a lot of different things. You can do it the traditional way and roll them into powdered sugar or you can roll them into colored sugar, cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, sweetened chocolate milk powder, poppy seeds, chia seeds, crushed nuts or even roll them out into cut out cookies. You can also add other items to the dough like mini chocolate chips, dried cranberries or add flavors. They even make great flavor packets for frosting that you can add to the dough or you can add a dry Jello packet or Crystal Light packet to the basic dough to change the flavor. It is very flexible. I like recipes like this because you can use a recipe that YOU KNOW WILL WORK and customize it! These cookies also work great for weddings, showers and holiday cookie plates because they don't contain nuts for those that may have a nut allergy and are simple to make. These are a softer texture rather than a crunchy shortbread type cookie.

I also like this recipe because it doesn't call for a lot of ingredients. I tweaked it to gluten free by substituting gluten free flour blend & adding an additional egg and a little more cream cheese than the original recipe. If you don't have a gluten can follow this recipe except use regular flour in place of gluten free flour. If you have a dairy allergy then you can substitute a non-dairy cream cheese substitute & Crisco.

Ingredients I used to make the cookies

Angel Puffs Recipe:
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (you can substitute margarine but make sure it is 65% or more fat or it will contain too much water and texture won't be right)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened (I have used regular & light but not fat free!)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder (I used Clabber girl brand which is labeled gluten free)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (also called confectioner's sugar)
  • 1 3/4 cup flour (I used Betty Crocker Gluten Free flour blend since I got it on sale. If your gluten free flour doesn't contain either guar gum or xanthan gum then you will need to add 1/2 tsp. If you are using regular flour then just omit it). 

Beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy and smooth. Beat in eggs and powdered sugar.  Add baking powder, salt & gluten free flour. Mix until smooth and well combined. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. I used a cookie scoop to scoop out cookies so they would be evenly sized. Rolled them in sprinkles and then placed on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. (I found that parchment paper is so much easier for clean up and is easier to get cookies off the sheet without breaking them!) Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for about 8-11 minutes. Don't over bake. They will come out soft but continue to set up as they cool. They aren't suppose to be crunchy cookies. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container to keep them fresh.

Ready to eat!

Up close view

Pile of deliciousness!

Red, White & Blue for July 4

July 4 sprinkles

Traditional Angel Puff rolled in powdered sugar...just the way I like them!

Inside the pillow texture...yummy

Other sprinkle options I had in the cupboard. 

Happy July 4th weekend to everyone. I hope you have a fun & relaxing time enjoying your family, friends and freedom!

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Almond Butter Cookies (Flourless)

Almond Butter Cookies. How do you say delicious?! They have the European flavor and texture of a German cookie that I really like. They are slightly chewy but you can really taste the flavors of the almonds and honey in these! I was in the mood to do some experimenting for my friend Judi's birthday so I decided to convert my easy "peanut butter" recipe into a Almond Butter cookie recipe...although I had to improvise because I didn't realize Almond Butter is more gooey in texture. I added some ground almonds. I also wanted to cut back on the I substituted honey. I love the way the recipe turned out. It is very basic, very easy and it is naturally gluten free since you don't have to add any flour to this recipe! I wanted to make Judi a cookie that tasted great, had a European flare and had less sugar. I wanted a more "natural" type cookie especially since we vowed we were going to eat a little healthier this year. (I am a work in progress.  Ya'll know how much I like junk food!)

Sometimes little experiments like these will keep me busy in the kitchen for hours. I make a batter and then bake 2 cookies and see how they turn out before baking the entire batch. Less waste of ingredients that way! I ended up adding more ground almonds to the batter until I had it perfect. Then I decided to sprinkle some shave almonds on top. (Only because I already had some on hand. I sure wouldn't run out to the store to buy them...although it does dress them up!)

Almond Butter Cookies (Flourless) Recipe:
  • 1 cup Almond Butter (I used Trader Joe's brand which has no added sugar. You can make your own if you prefer). 
  • 1 cup finely ground almonds (also called almond flour although no flour is added)
  • 1/3 cup honey (I used raw, organic honey). If you have a honey allergy then you should be able to substitute Agave nectar. 
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder (make sure it is gluten free)
  • pinch of salt (I used about 1/2 tsp)

Mix all ingredients together well with a spoon. Batter will be thick and slightly sticky. I used a cookie scoop so I could make evenly sized cookies with minimal mess. Yes, I am messy and I didn't want to be caught licking my fingers on cookies that were a gift! Drop onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10-13 minutes. Oven temperatures and altitude can vary cooking times so check them at 10 minutes. They will set up a little more after you remove them from oven so don't over bake them!

Batter (It is thick and slightly sticky)

Dough Balls sprinkled with shaved almonds ready to bake

Up close view of dough balls before baking (you don't need to flatten)

Just removed from the oven. Still hot!

Ready to eat!

Up close view of the cookie

Side view of cookies

Ready to box up for Judi's birthday!
Ready to give Judi

This is a great way to package treats for party favors, gifts or bake sales!
I like to use the short, clear disposable cups and package cookies, cupcakes, truffles (basically any type of treat) in them. Wrap them in a clear cellophane bag that you find in the birthday department that are made for party treats. It is an inexpensive but pretty way to transport treats. I also like to do this for gift baskets. Keeps all the flavors separate and prevents treats from getting crushed.

Have a beautiful summer day! Stay cool!
Gluten Free Casually

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chia Seed Oat No Bake Balls

Chia Seed Oat No Bake Balls. I have to admit that I was quite surprised how tasty these little guys were! I have a sweet tooth but I admit that I am not as "healthy" as I would like to be. I usually don't care for all the low-carb desserts, organic & raw desserts, etc. I am a hillbilly girl at heart and I like a HEARTY DESSERT! (I try my best to use organic and raw ingredients in my recipes when possible but they are usually mixed in with other decadent ingredients so they aren't always the healthiest recipes...although tasty!) However, this recipe is not only pretty is really delicious, easy to make and you don't have to heat up your kitchen to make them!

My sister-in-law (Becky) shared the recipe with me because they are gluten free. I know that chia seeds are healthy but until now...I haven't tried them. I was surprised how much I like them! They remind me of poppy seeds. It adds a nice little crunch. (They will swell up and get a jelly-like texture if you put them in water but they hold their crunch in this recipe). These chia seed oat no bake balls remind me of oatmeal cookie dough. The flavors explode your mouth! I love all the flavors in this recipe and I love how easy it is to prepare. I personally could justify this as a breakfast treat too! It has oats, chia seeds, honey, almond healthy is that? We add the chopped up chocolate chips but you can omit that if you want. I really like how you can actually taste the honey in this recipe. Many recipes that call for honey...the flavor gets hidden from the other ingredients. I am pretty sure if you have a honey allergy then you can substitute Agave nectar for similar results. I bought my ingredients at my local Trader Joe's grocery store. I found that they were considerably less expensive than some of the specialty stores. They have a decent selection of gluten free, raw & organic items.

I made a batch of these yesterday and my grand-daughter (age 2) really liked them! My husband and her were sitting on the couch watching "FROZEN" Disney movie and eating these little treats. I figure it was healthier than cookies and ice cream! ;) Since I keep them in the refrigerator...she asks for a "cold cookie". Kids are just too cute!

Chia Seed Oat No Bake Balls Recipe:
  • 1 cup dry oats (I used Trader Joe's brand that is gluten free). You can use either the quick oats or the rolled oats. I like the texture of rolled oats so I try to use them. 
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut, optional
  • 1/2 cup all natural almond butter (you can substitute all natural peanut butter or cashew butter instead. I get the one with no added sugar or minimal added sugar since the honey will sweeten these up a lot. 
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds, whole
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate (the original recipe called for 1/2 cup chocolate chips but I only used 1/4 cup since I chopped mine up really fine so it could blend into recipe. I thought it was plenty sweet enough and didn't miss the other 1/4 cup). You can leave this out if you don't want to add it. Sometimes I add it, sometimes I don't. 
  • 1/3 cup honey (I like to use organic, raw honey)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract, optional (I didn't add today)
  • You can also add a little protein powder if you desire for extra protein

This is what the "dough" looks like
Combine all ingredients together with a spoon. Refrigerate for about 1 hour before rolling into balls. I store mine in refrigerator in an airtight container. That is it. How easy is that? Reminds me of a yummy breakfast cookie! If the texture feels a little dry then add a little more almond butter or peanut butter. If it is too moist then add a little more oats. Depending on brands, you may have to play with it a little bit to get the desired texture for rolling into balls. You can also add more or less of a certain ingredients depending on your taste preference or what you have in your cupboards. Feel free to add raisins, cranberries or anything else!

Up close view of the Chia Seed Oat No Bake Balls

Rolling them up and ready to eat!

Can you eat just one?

Ready to eat!

Biting into the ball. The evenly distributed deliciousness is amazing!

Not only is this a delicious little snack that tastes like cookie dough but it also is awesome on a brunch table. Yes, how delicious are these with a cup of coffee? I am eating one now with my coffee for breakfast. I love how the flavors pop. You can probably press them into a pan and cut into bars for a granola bar but honestly...they are so much fun just popping the little balls into your mouth! :)

I also have some stashed in the refrigerator for the "after the pool swim" for my husband and grand-daughter for this afternoon. I think they will find them refreshing after the outside heat today! Nice and chilled "cookies".

I haven't had time to experiment with this recipe much. I really like the original recipe so I don't think it needs changed. However, you could use any type nut butter instead of almond butter if you prefer. You can also use ground nuts, finely chopped dried fruit or whatever else you want to add to these in place of coconut and/or chocolate chips (Just like you would for cookies or granola bars). However...I like this basic recipe.

Feel free to add any comments on any substitutions you made to the recipe!

Stay cool in this summer heat!
Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Butterfinger Brownie Trifle

Butterfinger Brownie Trifle! This is one our family favorites. I frequently get asked to bring this recipe to parties and I always come home with an empty bowl! I love the recipe because you can change the ingredients to customize flavors and you can serve it in a trifle bowl, glass bowl, individual wine/dessert glasses or even just cut it into squares. I have also served this in individual clear plastic short disposable cups when I go to a picnic or BBQ where I don't want to drag my heavy glass trifle bowl. A friend of ours has grown children and when they come into town...I always ask what they want me to bring is ALWAYS this recipe!

My sister-in-law Becky brought this to a family party many years ago and it was a hit. She was kind enough to share the recipe and it has been one of our favorite recipes. Becky's original recipe called for regular brownies but I just converted it to gluten free by substituting gluten free brownies. You can use homemade brownies or boxed brownies. It tastes great either way. I will warn you that this is a very rich dessert and it isn't low calorie! ;)

You can change this recipe by substituting either Heath Toffee Bits, Chopped up Reese Cups or Chico Sticks in this recipe. You can also substitute a soft, chewy peanut butter bars in place of brownies if you don't like chocolate & change the pudding flavor to vanilla. If you decide not to layer the ingredients in a trifle style and prefer to serve them into sliced squares then you will need to make the pudding layer very thick and add 1/2 cup less milk like it suggests for the "pie instructions". If you have a milk allergy then you can make the pudding with almond milk, coconut milk, soy milk, etc. I use Cool Whip non-dairy topping because it holds it's shape and doesn't separate like real whipped cream does. However, you can make it whichever way you prefer. I prefer making this dessert with brownies or a brownie texture like bar but you can make it with a cake instead. (There are many great gluten free cake mixes out there or make one from scratch).

I made this recipe today in celebration of Father's Day since it is one my family's favorite recipes. We just did a very casual pool BBQ on Saturday so everyone could do their own thing on Sunday. 

Butterfinger Brownie Trifle Recipe:
  • 1 pan of brownies, 9x13 pan size (I made my homemade gluten free brownies (recipe below) but you can use gluten free brownie mix or if you don't have a gluten allergy then just use regular brownies. Just make sure you are using a recipe that makes a 9x13 pan or you won't have enough to layer in a trifle bowl! If you are cutting into bars or layering in a wine/dessert glass then you can use whatever size you want).
  • 6 full size Butterfinger candy bars, crushed (I just put mine on a cutting board and chop with a knife) or use 12-16 snack size bars, chopped
  • 1 Chocolate instant pudding mix (5.9 oz size) or 2 small boxes, prepared using 2.5-3 cups milk. If you are making these into squares rather than trifle, I would only use 2 1/4 or 2 1/2 cups milk so it is thick and sets up nice. If you are making it into a trifle then you can use the full 3 cups of milk and make it into a regular pudding. 
  • 1 large container Cool Whip non-dairy whipped topping (16 oz. size for trifle bowl or 8 oz size for bars)

Prepare the brownies according to your recipe or box. Cool completely.

If you are keeping them in the 9x13 pan and cutting into squares: Spread the prepared pudding layer on top of cooled brownies. Sprinkle half of the chopped Butterfinger candy bars onto the pudding layer. Spread the 8 oz. Cool Whip over top. Sprinkle with remaining chopped Butterfinger candy. Refrigerate for several overs prior to cutting so layers can settle. Keep any leftovers refrigerated.

For the trifle: Cut the cooled brownies into chunks. Layer half of the chopped brownies on the bottom of the bowl. Spread half of the prepared pudding on top of the brownies, top with half of the chopped Butterfinger bars, then 1/2 of the 16 oz. Cool Whip. Repeat layers ending with Cool Whip on top. I generally reserve about 2 tablespoons of crushed Butterfinger candy to sprinkle on top of them Cool Whip for decoration but you can leave it plain or sprinkle with some chocolate chips. Chill for several hours before serving. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Up close view after it was getting spooned out of bowl

Ready to eat!

My homemade gluten free brownie recipe that I used for this recipe today:
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cup ground almonds (can substitute ground walnuts, hazelnuts or cashews). If you have a nut allergy the just substitute a gluten free flour blend
  • 2/3 cup rice flour or gluten free flour blend
  • 12 tablespoons butter, margarine or Crisco, melted. If using margarine, please make sure it contains at least 65% fat or they will not rise correctly.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
  • 3 eggs

Melt chocolate chips in microwave or double boiler until smooth. Cool about 5 minutes. Combine the ground almonds, flour and salt. Gradually add the melted butter to the melted chocolate alternately with the flour mixture. Stir until combined, about 15 strokes by hand. Don't over mix. Pour into greased 9x13 pan or two 8" round or square pans. Bake 325 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until set. Toothpick inserted should come out clean or moist crumbs. Cool completely.

Since I made the trifle version today, I don't have any photos of the bar version but will add them at a later date. Please feel free to add any substitutions that worked for you. I always enjoy learning tips from others and baking gluten free has it's challenges. We all learn from each other!

Gluten Free Casually