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, October 25, 2014

Italian Flourless Carrot Cake (Gluten Free)

Italian Flourless Carrot Cake. This recipe has an explosion of fresh flavors. My German cousin was visiting with his family and his wife, Christine was talking about this lovely gluten free cake that she thought I might enjoy. She said she had made it for a dinner party and they really liked it. She was kind enough to share the recipe with me. It is one of those easy recipes that you don't need a lot of different ingredients and no mixer required. It is simple, easy, and the fresh flavors just pop in your mouth. I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this recipe.

I will say that my husband is a bit of a dessert snob. He pretty much only eats chocolate desserts. However, he went back for seconds on this one! I did add shredded coconut to my cake although the original recipe didn't call for it. The first time I made the cake I shredded the carrots real fine. The second time I made the cake, I used store bought shredded carrots that were a little more coarse. Both worked fine although I thought the ones that I freshly shredded had a lot more flavor in the cake. I think in the future I will only use freshly shredded carrots for the extra flavor. I also added a teaspoon of almond baking emulsion instead of the vanilla extract the first time I baked it and I added the vanilla extract the second time I baked it. (Although both were good, we preferred the little bit of almond baking emulsion flavor better!) You can also swap out the sugar for honey. I have done it both ways and they are both great. The original recipe calls for pine nuts on top but I used pumpkin seeds this time and I have also used slivered almonds. It just dresses up the top of the cake a little bit although you can leave them off or sprinkle with shredded coconut instead. It is such a flexible cake! You can also add raisins and or chopped nuts to the batter if you like it in your carrot cake. I chose to just add some shredded coconut and keep it simple. I also like to bake this batter in cupcake papers since it is convenient for a quick snack or "on-the-go" breakfast. I figure this is healthy enough to be considered a breakfast muffin! ;) You can add ground cinnamon or other spices if you prefer. I just kept it simple and liked it that way. I didn't want the cinnamon to over power the flavor of the carrots. (If you are planning on doubling the cake recipe & frosting this cake with layers then I would leave the pine nuts or pumpkin seeds off the top).

Italian Flourless Carrot Cake Recipe:
  • 2 medium carrots, shredded or grated, about 1 cup (it can be a heaping cup)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar or honey (I usually use non-gmo unbleached sugar if I am using sugar)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (you can substitute vegetable oil, canola oil or coconut oil)
  • 3 large eggs (if your eggs are small, add 1 extra egg)
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespooons finely ground almonds (also called almond meal). If you have a nut allergy then you can substitute gluten free flour instead.
  • 1/2 lemon, finely grated lemon zest & juice. Make sure you don't get any seeds in the batter!
  • 1 tsp. almond baking emulsion or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (it can be sweetened or unsweetened), optional
  • 1/4 cup of golden raisins, optional (I did not add them since my guests didn't like raisins). Just make sure your raisins are nice and juicy. If not, soak them in hot water for about 5 minutes so they are plump and juicy. You don't want hard, chewy raisins in your cake!
 Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180C). I lined the bottom of my 9" spring form pan with parchment paper for easy removal. If you are using pine nuts, lightly toast them in a skillet or oven until they turn golden if you want them toasted on top of the cake. I used pre-cooked pumpkin seeds on mine today so I didn't have to toast mine first. Grate the carrots (or you can use a food processor if you have one. I just shredded mine by hands because I thought it was a hassle to drag out my food processor for just 2 carrots). If you don't have a hand grater or food processor, you can use a vegetable peeler or the back of a knife to scrape/shred the carrots. You just need the carrots in thin pieces so it cooks and the flavor is released. You don't want hard chunks of carrots in your cake. Whisk the sugar and oil until creamy and well mixed. Add the vanilla or almond flavor. Fold in the ground almonds (or gluten free flour), coconut (optional), lemon zest & juice and raisins (optional). Spoon into the prepared 9" spring form pan or muffin cups. Sprinkle with your pine nuts or pumpkin seeds or slivered almonds. (You can use sunflower seeds as well).  Bake 9" pan approximately 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Bake muffin cups approximately 18-23 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. (The toothpick may be slightly sticky but that is okay as long as it isn't runny batter). Let the cake cool for at least 20 minutes before you remove it from the spring form pan or else it might crack or fall apart. Serve with whipping cream or ice cream (vanilla or butter pecan ice cream is really good with this).

Grating my carrots by hand

I used these pumpkin seeds on top of my cake

I used this brand of honey in place of the sugar in my muffins. Turned out great.

I like using these thick paper cup cake liners. They don't need a special pan. Photo taken before baking.

Photo of muffins coming out of the oven.
Up close view of the cake baked in 9" spring form pan
Up close view of the inside of the muffin. I used store bought shredded carrots for this batch. I prefer the more intense flavor and texture of the hand shredded carrots better. My pieces were much smaller & more flavorful than the store bought version.

I hope you enjoy this very easy, simple and delicious recipe. It makes a great brunch or after dinner dessert recipe. It tastes like you spent a lot of time on this recipe but it is actually quite simple to make. I like the muffins for quick "on the go" breakfasts (they freeze great too) or for parties because they don't require plates and forks....just your hands since they are already in muffin cups. I really like the heavy duty cardboard style cup cake/muffin liners since they are sturdy and don't require a muffin pan to bake them. I can squeeze a bunch of muffins on a cookie sheet and put them in the oven all at once. I scored a 24 pack of the heavy duty cardboard style at the 99cent store. Keep your eyes open for these great little cup cake liners. Once you use won't want to go back to the paper liners! However, I will admit that I am a bit thrifty so I will not pay $4 for a pack of these liners. I love them but only if I can score them at a bargain!

Enjoy a cold evening with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy a slice of this simple, casual cake or muffin!

Gluten Free Casually

Monday, October 13, 2014

Butternut Squash, Apple & Sausage Jumble

Butternut Squash, Apple & Sausage Jumble is a super easy, absolutely delicious and very fast meal to throw together. We love it for breakfast or dinner. Nothing SCREAMS fall for me more than this simple dish. I love how the earthy flavor of the butternut squash blends well with the sweet-tart apple, the slightly spicy sausage and the tangy sweet onions. I will add chopped polenta if I have it on hand. This is one of those quick meals that you can throw together in about 10 minutes which is great for busy work nights and a quick breakfast on a lazy weekend! I get excited every time I see the displays for fall with all the squash and pumpkins & all the fun recipes that SCREAM fall time! The squash brings an earthy flavor to simple dishes.

If you want it to go together even faster with minimal mess, you can can purchase your butternut squash & apples already cubed (look in the refrigerator section in the produce section of your grocery store. I found them at Walmart and Trader Joe's). I like to use honeycrisp apples but any slightly tart apple will work well. You can also substitute (or add) acorn squash. I use any flavor of gluten free, low fat chicken or turkey sausage that I have on hand. Sometimes I will use a spicy chipotle or jalapeno flavor and other times I use an Italian or apple smoke flavored sausages. It really doesn't matter because they all taste great with this dish.

Butternut Squash, Apple & Sausage Jumble Recipe:
  • 1 1/2-2 cups of fresh, cubed butternut or acorn squash (about 12-16oz)
  • 1 sweet onion (I like Vidalia or a sweet yellow onion), thinly sliced
  • 4-6 gluten free, low fat chicken or turkey sausages (any flavor), sliced
  • 1-2 slightly tart apples, cubed (I used honey crisp) and I removed seeds/core but did not peel
  • 1 pkg in tube (6-10 oz.) gluten free polenta, cubed, optional. You do not have to add this. We like it and I add it if I have it on hand.  Make sure it is labeled gluten free. I found mine at Trader Joe's near the noodles on the shelf. (It is also sometimes called "corn meal mush" and located near the eggs).
I put a tiny drizzle of olive oil (any oil, lard or butter will work) in a skillet on medium heat and saute the sliced onions until they become soft and start to brown slightly. In the meantime, I put the squash and apple in the microwave for about 60-90 seconds. Just enough to soften them slightly so they cook a little faster and they aren't crunchy. I don't want them over-cooked so they turn mushy...just enough to soften them slightly. The chicken sausages I had were pre-cooked so I just sliced them and lightly browned them. (If your sausages are not pre-cooked then you will need to cook them with the onions so they have enough time to cook thoroughly). If you are using polenta, add it to the the skillet after the onions are starting to get soft (before you add apples and squash). You want the polenta cubes to start to brown slightly. If you aren't adding polenta then add your pre-cooked sausage cubes, squash cubes & apple cubes. Cook until everything is warm and slightly browned. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Serve warm.

This dish is great served as is. It is also great served with any of the following: rice, eggs, potatoes or gluten free pasta. If you are trying to stretch it out for a crowd or large family then I suggest serving it with rice or potatoes. A wild rice really compliments this dish well but it is also delicious with white or brown rice. Be creative!

Just browning my pre-cooked sausages
Saute until lightly browned

The sausages are juicy and the everything else is juicy 

My mouth is watering just looking at it!

Look at the fabulous colors and different flavors all blended together!

See how colorful & juicy?

Ready to eat!
I hope you enjoy this fall style dish as much as we do. You can add or delete items to customize it. When I see those beautiful butternut squash & tart apples on the fall display...I start craving this super easy dish!

Gluten Free Casually

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pumpkin Pound Cake

Pumpkin Pound Cake. This is an incredibly moist pumpkin cake. The cooler weather is finally arriving here in Arizona. (Okay, so it is still 100 degrees during the day but the evenings and mornings are in the 60s) Living a big chunk of my life in Ohio before heading west...I still crave fall foods when the weather changes. I see all the Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations in the store and I start craving fall goodies like pumpkin pound cake. My mouth was watering all weekend thinking about pumpkin pound cake. I was shopping with a friend over the weekend and kept talking about how much I wanted a slice of pumpkin pound cake with my coffee. Sunday I broke down and made it. I had to take it to work to share with my co-workers because I was afraid I would eat the whole thing!

I like to add the streusel topping but you can certainly leave it off. I like my desserts on the sweet side so I add streusel topping. You can leave it plain or you can sprinkle a little powdered sugar or make a glaze with powdered sugar & milk and drizzle over the top. This cake also tastes FABULOUS with my grandma's silky cream cheese frosting. (This cake is fantastic plain but you can dress it up and take it to the next level of deliciousness with the streusel topping or cream cheese frosting.  I've included the recipe for the cream cheese frosting below). Yummy! I am not a lover of pumpkin pie but I really like the flavor and texture of this pound cake. I did have to make some changes from the original recipe in order for the gluten free version to taste EXACTLY like the regular version. I also found that the gluten free version tasted a lot sweeter for some reason so the next time I baked it, I cut back on the sugar. I chose to bake it in a 9x13 pan for today's recipe but you can bake it in the traditional bundt pan or loaf pans. I also chose to keep it basic and not add extras like chocolate chips or cranberries but you can add whatever you like. I think next time I will try adding a little bit of shredded coconut to the streusel topping for extra crunch. I converted this old recipe to gluten free but of course if you don't have a gluten allergy the you can use regular flour. You can also bake it into cupcakes if you prefer.

Pumpkin Pound Cake
  • 2 cups gluten free flour blend (I do not use any that contain sorghum because I don't like the flavor in my sweet baked goods. I used Betty Crocker gluten free flour blend today. If your gluten free flour blend does not contain either xanthan gum or guar gum, you will need to add 1/2 teaspoon. If you are using regular flour, you don't need to add it). I have also used 1 cup of coconut flour + 1 cup of gluten free flour blend in the past and it worked out fine too. Of course if you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use regular flour!
  • 1 cup of finely ground almonds (also called almond flour or almond meal. If you have a nut allergy or don't have any on hand, you can substitute another cup of gluten free flour or regular flour if you don't have a gluten allergy).
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tbs. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso or instant coffee powder (optional)
  • 4 oz. butter, margarine, coconut oil or Crisco or lard (If you are using margarine then make sure it contains at least 65% fat or else it contains too much water and won't rise properly)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese or cream cheese substitute (If you don't have this then you can substitute Crisco vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup sugar (I use the non-GMO cane sugar, unbleached). You can also substitute 3/4 cup honey or agave nectar in place of the sugar but then you will need to add 4 tbs. extra flour or corn starch to make up for the wetness of the liquid sweetener.
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (I use the non-GMO)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling that already has everything added)
  • optional items: 1/2 cup chocolate chips, coarsely chopped nuts or cranberries (I did not add any of them to my cake today)
Streusel topping (This is optional and you don't need to add it to the cake):
  • 1/2 cup flour (I used Betty Crocker gluten free flour blend)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or regular sugar (I use the non-GMO)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or oil
  • 1/8 cup of slivered or chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • (I would also consider adding either 1/4 cup of shredded coconut or gluten free oats next time)

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease your pan with either butter, Crisco or cooking spray. Beat cream cheese and butter (or margarine, Crisco or coconut oil) together until creamy. Add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy. Add pumpkin puree & sugars. Slowly add remaining dry ingredients. Mix until smooth and well incorporated. Spoon into your greased pan(s). For 12 cup bundt pan or loaf pans, bake about 65-75 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. For 9x13 pan, bake 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. For cupcake pans, bake 22-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Altitude and ovens may vary cooking times. Always check at the soonest cooking times and adjust. Do not cook at a higher temperature or you may burn the top without cooking the center. (I like to cover mine with foil for the first half of cooking so I know the center gets done and the cake doesn't dry out and then I remove it the last 10-15 minutes of cooking so the top gets slightly crispy.

Silky Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe: (This is another option for topping your cake)
  • 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! ;)

Cake batter with streusel topping being added on top (prior to baking)

Ready to eat

Up close view (pumpkin pound cake with streusel topping)

In the 9x13 pan
So this week if you are out shopping and see a can of pumpkin puree jump into your grocery cart or if you are carving pumpkins and have plenty of pumpkin puree then I think you should take a few minutes to make this terrific dessert. It is slightly spicy, dense and the cake melts in your mouth. It tastes wonderful for breakfast with a cup of strong coffee or for a chilly evening dessert with some hot chocolate. This is also a nice change for the holiday brunch table. 

Gluten Free Casually