My youngest son & me

My youngest son & me

About me

My name is Tanja (Sater) Miller and I'm excited about sharing my journey of converting my favorite recipes to gluten free! I am not a fancy cook - I prefer just a casual, fun meal. I am married with grown children (and have small grandchildren) & 3 dogs. I work full time as a registered nurse & I am a geek. Yes, I love Star Trek, Star Wars, Fringe, Firefly, Farscape and most of the other Scify shows. You will probably see a little of my geek side come out once in a while! Please join me on my journey of cooking, baking & converting every day recipes into yummy gluten free meals that everyone can enjoy (not just those with a gluten allergy!) Don't be shy about checking out my recipes....I have the gluten free version along with the regular recipe that I adapted from!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Banana Snack Cake

Grandma Goldie's Banana Snack Cake Recipe. This is a recipe that I have had for many years. My grandma Goldie took this snack cake to a family reunion and I fell in love with it. It is a thin banana cake with a silky, delicious melt in your mouth cream cheese frosting. I swear I could eat the entire cake myself! It is great for a potluck, large crowd, brunch, dessert or game day. (I have been known to eat this for breakfast!) This is one of my most requested recipes. I will say that I am a bit of a cream cheese frosting snob. This recipe ROCKS! Don't down play this cake with a store-bought version of cream cheese frosting. There is NO COMPARISON!

Okay, with all that being was difficult to convert it to gluten free. I wanted to maintain the moist, dense flavorful cake without it turning crumbly with gluten free flours. I really had to play with this recipe to get it to taste just like the original. Although, I changed a few of the ingredients to accommodate the gluten free turned out awesome! I will include the regular recipe below for those of you that don't have a gluten allergy and then I will give you the gluten free version which is slightly different but you would NEVER know it. It tastes the same! Yay!

This is one of my 2 1/2 year old grand-daughter's favorite cakes. She is a little chocolate lover but she makes an exception for this cake with the silky cream cheese frosting! (To tell you what a little chocolate lover she is...I gave her a granola bar the other day. She opens it, takes a bite...looks at me and said "Omi, this is broken. There is no chocolate in here." You just have to chuckle when they say the cutest things!)

I am making my Grandma Goldie's Banana Snack Cake recipe (gluten free version) for my husband's retired military group meeting this afternoon. I had some ripe bananas and some cream cheese I got on sale last week so I already had all the ingredients. It goes together pretty quick, it is very affordable and it feeds a large crowd. You can add extras like chopped nuts, cranberries, raisins or coconut. I prefer it plain...just the way my grandma used to make it. Simple. I like to taste the true banana flavor with the silky, rich frosting. I don't want my mouth to be distracted with other added ingredients but that is my personal opinion. Besides...I know a couple of the guys in the group don't like coconut or raisins and I am not sure if anyone has a nut allergy. I tend to keep it simple when I am making it for a large group. That way everyone can enjoy a piece! :)

Grandma Goldie's Banana Snack Cake Recipe (My gluten free version):

Cake Batter:
  • 1/2 cup real butter or margarine (make sure margarine has 65% or more fat or it contains too much water and will not bake correctly). You can substitute Crisco.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar (I used unbleached sugar but you can use whatever you have on hand)
  • 3 eggs (use 4 eggs if they are small or 1/2 cup egg whites)
  • 4 ripe bananas (peels should have black spots on them but not be mushy)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda (original recipe only calls for 1 tsp. but with gluten free flour I had to add a little extra)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups flour (I used Betty Crocker Gluten Free Flour Blend today. Be sure to add 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum if your gluten free flour blend doesn't contain it. You can use regular flour if you don't have a gluten allergy. If you are using regular flour then you can omit the xanthan gum).
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, softened (the original recipe does not call for this in the cake batter but I found it added some of the texture that I needed that you can't get when using gluten free flour. You won't taste it in the batter but it gives it a moist texture with no crumbling!)
  • 1 tsp. vinegar (white or apple cider vinegar). This will help lock in the moisture of the cake and bring out the flavor of the bananas. I use it in place of vanilla. It is an old hillbilly secret and it works! 
This is what bananas should look like
  I mix the bananas with the mixer to get them pureed. Add sugar, butter, vinegar, 3 oz. cream cheese and eggs. Beat until smooth. Mix in the baking soda, salt and flour. Pour into a greased 12.5"x17" cookie sheet with edges or a 10"x15"roasting pan. If you use a 9x13 pan then the cake with be thicker and you will need to bake longer. Bake the 12.5"x17" cake for 15-20 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven until the edges are slightly golden and toothpick inserted comes out clean. If you are baking in a 9x13 size pan or two round 9" pans then you will need to bake a little longer. I would start off with 22 minutes and check every 3-5 minutes until done. You can also make these into cupcakes and bake 17-22 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool & Frost.

Banana cake batter

Spread into a greased 10"x15" roasting pan before baking

Silky Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe:
  • 4-5 oz. cream cheese, soft (don't use the whipped cream cheese)
  • 1/4 cup of real butter or margarine that contains at least 65% fat
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (I used the GMO free, gluten free version)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional

Beat the cream cheese and butter until soft and creamy. (No lumps!) Add the vanilla extract. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. The texture should be creamy and easy to spread. You can add fancy vanilla bean seeds if you have them. They are generally expensive and I don't usually have them on hand but they do add a nice extra vanilla flavor to the frosting. I sometimes have the vanilla bean paste and will substitute that in place of regular vanilla. This frosting also tastes awesome on pumpkin bars or spice cake! Well, tastes great on just about anything! ;)

Ready to eat!

Check out the silky frosting! Yummy!

Frosted in pan. Waiting to be cut into squares. I like the deeper pan if traveling so the foil doesn't mess up frosting!

My sample piece! Quality assurance ;)

Up close view. The cake is moist and flavorful. You can see it in the photo!

I left the top plain but you can sprinkle chopped nuts or cinnamon on top if you prefer

I hope you enjoy this super delicious yet affordable banana snack cake recipe. It is one of my family's absolute favorite recipes and I get requests for this frequently. It also freezes well. I have also baked the batter into 9" round pans for layers on a birthday cake and it turns out great also. It is so moist and doesn't have a crumbly texture or a fake banana taste.  It is a great way to use up those left over ripe bananas if you aren't in the mood for banana bread! Go ahead and try this potluck pleaser! 

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Mexican Dinner Pie (Lasagna)

Mexican Dinner Pie (Lasagna): I got this recipe from the Maseca Corn Flour website and I tweaked it a little bit to make it work with items I had on hand. I like the simplicity of it and that it is gluten free. You can easily double the recipe or make it ahead and bake it later in the week or freeze it to use later. It is more like a pie or Mexican Layered Casserole than a lasagna. Not only is it a great dish for a casual weekend dinner but it is great for game day, holidays, brunch or a fun dinner on the patio with friends. I like to serve it with raw veggies cut up, salsa & chips for a casual, easy meal. If we are doing buffet style Mexican dinner with a large group, then I also make Pasole, rice, tamales and have a taco bar. It stretches the food a little farther and gives everyone a chance to taste it all.

For the dough layer:
  • 2 cups gluten free corn flour (I used Maseca brand)
  • 1 tbs. garlic powder (not garlic salt) or finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbs. onion powder or minced dried onion
  • 2 tbs. beef or chicken bouillon (gluten free) if you aren't using broth
  • 1 1/4 cups water or broth
  • 2-3 tbs. salsa (you can use red salsa, chipotle salsa or green verde salsa)

Mix all the dough ingredients together well. You can use a mixer or mix it by hand. It will resemble pie crust or sugar cookie dough in texture.

Other ingredients you will need:
  • 1 1/2-2 cups pre-cooked meat (any type of meat you want to  use. I used shredded cooked pork loin today because that is what I had on hand. You can use rotisserie chicken, chopped chicken breasts, turkey, ground beef, ground turkey, shredded beef or if you are vegetarian you can use beans (re-fried or black beans). 
  • 2 cups cheese (I use whatever I have on hand). You can use thinly sliced or shredded cheese
  • 1 cup salsa (any type of salsa you like). I used green verde salsa today which I really like with shredded pork or chicken. I like the red salsa with beef or beans.
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (I used 2% fat cottage cheese but any of it will work)

Press half of the dough thinly in the bottom of 9x9 greased pan. Layer with cottage cheese. Then layer on the meat or beans. I used shredded pork loin today. Pour on the salsa then layer on 1 cup of the cheese. I hand press the other half of the dough onto a piece of waxed paper or thin cutting board close the shape of my pan. Flip the dough on top. It doesn't have to be perfect. I layer the remaining 1 cup of cheese on top. The other option is to crumble the rest of the dough on top rather than rolling it out. It will taste the same but takes less time. Bake 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until cheese is melted and the top layer of the dough appears slightly firm (like a baked pie crust).

If you find this to be too difficult to layer the crusts or if you need to stretch it for a larger group then you can just divide the dough in half and press each half into a greased pie pan (or one greased 9x13 pan) and make a Mexican dinner pie without a top crust. Divide the ingredients equally among both pies or layer it equally on the 9x13 pan. I like to sprinkle crushed tortilla chips on top if I don't do a top crust. It just makes it look more finished and gives it a nice crunch. Cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into slices.

Dough has a pie crust or biscuit like texture

Pressing half of dough into 9x9 greased pan

Ready to start adding other ingredients

I used about 2 pounds shredded pork (pre-cooked)

Layering items on top of dough crust

The green verde salsa

Ready for the top crust OR crushed tortilla chips

This one has a dough layer on top then I added shredded cheese on top

This version has just the bottom crust with crushed tortilla chips on top

Up close view of the layers

Ready to eat!

I hope you enjoy this very casual recipe. It goes well for brunch, lunch or dinner. Great addition to a game day get together or casual patio party. I like to eat it hot or cold. Left overs can just be re-heated in the microwave or toaster oven & they freeze well too.

Gluten Free Casually

Monday, September 1, 2014

Peanut Butter Balls (no bake treats!)

Peanut Butter Balls. I love this no bake recipe! It is very flexible. You can change up some of the ingredients easily if you need to use what you have available in your pantry. You can also cut back or eliminate the sugar entirely in this recipe. You can use Cocoa Pebbles instead of Gluten Free Rice Krispies cereal or gluten free corn flakes cereal. You can use almond butter in place of peanut butter. It all works! (I used Cocoa Pebbles for the recipe in today's photo that is why they have a chocolate brown color. If you use gluten free crisped rice cereal or corn flakes then they will have a pale peanut butter color instead. They have a chewy caramel like texture when you bite into them. They taste like you spent a lot of time on them but they are super easy to throw together and it makes a bunch so it is economical too! The recipe can be cut in half if you want a smaller batch or doubled for a huge crowd.

This recipe goes together fast and is easy enough the kids can help. I let them cool down a little bit before I roll them into balls. You can make them in advance. You can also add extra items like chocolate chips, M&Ms, dried fruit, coconut, colored sprinkles, chia seeds or whatever else you like. I usually just keep it simple and add the basic ingredients in the recipe. I prefer using organic honey but you can use agave nectar, maple syrup or corn syrup instead.

These are great for road trips, tailgating, game day, holiday cookie plates, pot luck, picnics, sweet treat for brunch or even just a quick snack craving. They are great on the patio on a cool evening with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and they are easy enough that you can make them while camping! This is a recipe must have if you like easy recipes!

Peanut Butter Balls Recipe:
  • 1 cup honey (or you can use corn syrup, agave nectar or maple syrup)
  • 2 cups peanut butter (or you can use almond butter). I like to use crunchy so I have little nut pieces in the balls but you can use creamy if you prefer. I am also thinking these would be good with Nutella but I haven't tried it yet! Maybe next time!
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I use the non-bleached organic non-GMO sugar but you can use regular sugar or brown sugar if you prefer. You could probably use a sugar replacement like Splenda but I have never tried it. I have left the sugar out entirely and it worked fine but the sugar does make it slightly chewier and my family prefers them extra chewy so I do add the sugar.
  • 4 cups gluten free cereal (I like to use Cocoa Pebbles or Malt-o-meal cocoa dyno-bites cereal which are both gluten free but you can use gluten free crisped rice cereal or gluten free corn flakes).
Melt the sugar, peanut butter and honey (or agave nectar or syrup) in a saucepan on medium heat until it comes to a slow boil. Remove from heat and stir in your gluten free cereal. If you are adding any extra items like dried fruit, sprinkles, chocolate chips, M&M candies, etc. then add them now. Let it cool slightly before you roll it into balls so you don't burn your fingers! Place on waxed paper to set slightly. These will remain slightly chewy like a rice krispie type treat but they will have a richer flavor! My family prefers these over rice krispie treats! I make mine about the size of golf balls. You can make them larger or smaller depending on how you like them.

They aren't perfectly shaped balls but they are delicious!

These are cooling down a little bit. They are still slightly warm

These are my hubby's stash!

Ready to wrap up for my friend mouth is watering!

Golf ball sized peanut butter balls

See the up close view of the cocoa pebbles cereal and chunks of peanuts from the crunchy style peanut butter?

Ready to give away to a friend

Up close view of the chewy inside of the peanut butter ball

Yummy! Biting into the peanut butter ball
I hope you enjoy another one of my family's favorite no-bake easy recipes. We like easy, inexpensive and casual foods for get-togethers. I can whip these up faster than it takes me to run over to the grocery store to pick up a store-bought treat and they taste waaaaay better....not to mention they are gluten free. I like to make affordable gluten free treats that everyone enjoys but easy enough that I can make with my grand-daughter.

The next time you need a quick, affordable snack....give this recipe a try. You will be glad you did!

Gluten Free Casually