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, January 11, 2015

Frosted Orange Cookies

Frosted Orange Cookies. This is one of the many cookies that my mom used to make at Christmas every year and it was one of my dad's favorites. It is a soft, cake style cookie with a flavorful glaze. My sister-in law Becky & my mom both have similar recipes so I took both recipes and tweaked them to make it work gluten free. I also added more orange zest because I really like the flavor it adds to the cookies. If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can still make these cookies but just use regular flour instead of a gluten free flour blend!

My daughter and my boss both gave me a small bag of fresh oranges from their tree.  A few of the oranges were really ripe and extremely juicy so I decided rather than eat those ones, I would make some cookies with them. I also think that since my daughter's upcoming wedding is quickly approaching...I am missing my dad who passed away a few years ago and by making these cookies that he liked made me feel a little closer to him. :)

You can also substitute lemon or limes (or a combination of citrus fruit) for these cookies. They have a wonderful burst of flavor and they have a delicate cake like texture. They are very moist. The glaze takes them over the top! (They are good sprinkled with a touch of powdered sugar instead of the glaze BUT the glaze makes them sooooo much better! Our family prefers the glaze!)

Frosted Orange Cookies:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (I used the unbleached non-gmo type)
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening (like Crisco. Be careful with some of the generics because they are whipped and contain too much water and the cookies will not hold their shape. You don't want flat cookies!)
  • zest from 1 large or 2 small oranges
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Betty Crocker gluten free flour blend today. You will need to add 1/2 tsp. of xanthan gum or guar gum if your gluten free flour blend doesn't contain it!) I will comment that if you have a gluten free flour blend that feels extremely powdery or gritty to touch that you might want to add a small package of vanilla pudding mix. For some reason it gives it a little more moisture and holds the cookie together. I didn't need to add it to my Betty Crocker flour blend but there are a few GF flour blends out there that give a very crumbly result. If you aren't sure....only bake 2 cookies and see how the results turn out before you bake the entire batch only to realize that they are too crumbly.
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (if you don't have this then you can just add additional 1/2 cup of gluten free flour blend).
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix sugars, shortening, orange peel, orange juice and eggs. Beat until fluffy and creamy. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. The chilled dough will keep the cookies in a mound shape rather than having them spread so much. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (I use a cookie scoop for convenience but my mom never does) onto cookie sheet about 2" apart. (I also like to line my cookie sheet with parchment paper so I don't have to grease the cookie sheet and the cookies come off easier. If you are not using parchment paper then you will need to lightly grease your cookie sheet so the cookies won't stick!) Bake in a pre-heated 350F degree oven for 10-13 minutes or until tops and edges are very lightly golden. Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from cookie sheet to prevent crumbling. Drizzle with glaze if desired.

Dough after it has been refrigerated. Ready to bake!
 Orange Glaze:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (also called frosting sugar or confectioner's sugar. Make sure it does not contain gluten! Some brands add it to the powdered sugar!
  • 1 tbs. olive oil, melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 3 tbs. orange juice
  • 2 tbs. of orange zest
Orange glaze ready to drizzle onto cookies!

Ready to eat! Up close view

Ready to taste!

See how moist?

The cookie is soft and slightly sweet with a tangy glaze. Perfect combination of flavors!
 So if you have a couple of oranges hanging around in your refrigerator or on your tree...consider making a batch or two of these delicious, melt in your mouth cookies! Even if you have lemons or a combination of citrus in your can use a combination for a lovely cookie! These are an old fashioned cookie recipe that needs to get the attention it deserves! These are great for dessert or game day. They also freeze great for a quick snack at a later date! This recipe can be spread into a 7x11 pan and baked into bars if you prefer rather than drop cookies but you will need to adjust the cooking time to about 25 minutes or until edges are lightly golden and a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs.

Feel free to post any additions or suggestions & pictures of your cookies below. We all learn from each other! I experiment in my kitchen with my recipes to make them work. If you have another way of doing it, I'd love to hear about it! :)

Have a great day!

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Lemon Cake

Lemon Cake. Simple. I love how the slightly tart, moist cake meets with just a hint of sweetness. My friend Judi gave me a handful of fresh lemons from her tree and I wanted to experiment with a gluten free lemon cake for my daughter's upcoming wedding. I have been experimenting with a couple different types of cakes and seeing which ones taste the best and hold their shape. This one is definitely in the running. I shared the cake with some friends (since I don't want the temptation of eating it all myself!) and they felt this was great and recommended I make this as one of the wedding cakes. You could also just bake it into a loaf pan and drizzle a glaze on it. I took a couple of different lemon cake recipes and tweaked them into one recipe to work for what I had in my house. You could very easily make this with fresh oranges or limes instead of lemons. There are a lot of recipes out there for lemon cake but I wanted one that used fresh lemons and didn't add lemon pudding mixes or anything that had artificial lemon flavor into the batter. You could easily substitute almond flour for the gluten free flour blend and you can toss in a handful of poppy seeds if you desire.

Forgive me for taking the month of December off of writing for the blog. I was still baking and experimenting in my kitchen but I just needed a break from the computer. December was a busy month for us so I gave myself a "vacation" from the blog. I will be catching up on some recipes to post.

Lemon Cake Recipe: (makes one loaf or one round 9" single layer cake). Recipe can be doubled.
  • 1 cup gluten free flour blend or substitute finely ground almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum (only add if your gluten free flour doesn't contain xanthan gum or guar gum. Don't add this if you are using regular flour or if your GF flour already contains it).
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar (I used unbleached non-gmo sugar)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (I used lemon infused olive oil that I received as a gift but you can use olive oil or substitute vegetable oil)
  • zest & juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese (or you can substitute a non-dairy version of cream cheese or just use Crisco)

Grease (or use a non-cooking spray) to coat a 9x5 loaf pan or 9" round cake pan. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Beat the sugar, eggs, oil and zest. Beat in eggs one at a time. Continue to beat until mixture is creamy and pale in color, about 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cream cheese or Crisco. Slowly add the flour (or ground almonds), xanthan gum, baking powder and salt. Beat until smooth and creamy.

(The creamy batter)
 Pour into prepared pan(s). Bake in center of the oven for 20-25 minutes for 9" round pan or 45-60 minutes for a loaf pan. Oven temperatures & altitude may vary your cooking times so check it at the earliest cooking time and adjust the time as necessary. Bake until toothpick or sharp knife inserted into center comes out clean. Cook 15 minutes before removing from pan.

You can either frost with a lemon butter cream frosting, lemon ganache or a simple powdered sugar & lemon juice drizzle. I chose to use a lemon butter cream frosting today for this trial run. I would consider adding lemon curd to the layers also. Yummy!

For the Lemon Butter Cream Frosting I made today:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (confectioner sugar)
  • 1/4 cup real butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • lemon zest
  • 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice

Mix until smooth and spread over cooled cake. Since I only wanted to do a "trial" on this cake, I only baked one 9" round layer. I cut the layer in half (half circle) and made a layer cake out of it. (Basically, I just folded the cake in half). I frosted the top of one half and topped it with the remaining half to form a layered cake. If I decide to make this for the wedding, I will double the recipe for two layers. Keep in mind that I only wanted to test the cake portion so the pictures are not great and I didn't take any time to try and decorate it fancy. I leave that fancy cake decorating up to my mom and my sister-in-law, Becky. They are the professional cake decorator's in our family!

fresh out of oven & cooling

I just cut the cake down the middle making two half moon shapes & frosted

Ready to eat

See how moist?

Up close view

Gluten Free Lemon Cake (My talented sister-in-law decorated it for me!)

The gluten free lemon cake is on the right. It turned out moist & delicious!

I will definitely keep this cake in the running for potential gluten free wedding cake options. It was a big hit with friends and it was nice & moist. I will post pictures if I decide to use this for one of the wedding cakes after my sister-in-law decorates it. We are having a regular wedding cake that my mom is making & decorating & since we have several gluten free guests...we are making a smaller version of a wedding cake that is gluten free that my sister-in-law graciously offered to decorate for me! :)

Happy New Year 2015! Let it be a great year for everyone! Although last year had some difficult times, the good times took over and made it a great year overall in 2014. I am determined to slow down a little and enjoy my family and great friends more.

I do challenge you to make this cake...and share it with at least one person that is special to you. Life is short...enjoy it and share it! :)

Gluten Free Casually