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, July 19, 2015

Un-stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Un-stuffed Cabbage Rolls. Yeah...the lazy girl's version of American style cabbage rolls which is great for a busy weeknight! My mom makes the best cabbage rolls in the world...German style that don't contain rice and have a brown sauce. They just melt in your mouth. This un-stuffed version is a friend's recipe for her cabbage rolls (American style)....except I converted it to a busy mom version that you don't have to roll up. Just cook it all in a large skillet.....and dinner is done. Quick, easy and one pan! I like simple recipes in the summer that don't require much effort and don't heat up my kitchen!

You can also stretch this out by adding broth or tomato juice + water and make into a soup. This recipe is so easy and very flexible. I keep mine simple but you can add peppers or anything else you want. I don't care much for peppers so I don't add them although they add a beautiful color! You can serve it over rice or gluten free pasta, fried potatoes or baked potatoes for a complete dinner. If you are doing a low-carb diet then you can just eat it plain.

I looked in my refrigerator and realized I had some lean hamburger, fresh tomatoes and a bag of shredded cabbage that needed used up. We were talking about cabbage rolls recipes with friends the other night and so I whipped out my recipes to see if I could modify one to make it "un-stuffed" to use what I already had in my refrigerator. You can substitute ground turkey, chicken, pork or sausage for the hamburger. You can use fresh or canned tomatoes. I also thought about adding some frozen roasted corn to add color but chose not to do that today. (However, I think I will do that next time for some added color and sweetness!) I cooked a large batch so we would have leftovers for tomorrow night's dinner but you can certainly cut the recipe in half for a smaller batch (or freeze half for later!)

Un-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Recipe:
  • 2 pounds lean meat (I used hamburger but you can substitute ground chicken, turkey, pork or sausage if you prefer)
  • Onion, chopped (I used half of a large onion but you can add more or less)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped fine (or use 1 tbs. minced garlic in a jar) OR 1 tbs. garlic powder
  • 2 pounds of shredded cabbage (I used the pre-cut coleslaw blend in a bag)
  • 1 can or fresh diced tomatoes (about 12-15 oz), you can add more if you like a lot of tomatoes. If you like it a little spicier then you can add chunky salsa! Use what you have on hand!
  • 3-4 tbs. tomato paste (or just use a gluten free ketchup for a slightly sweeter flavor or if you don't want to open a can of tomato paste. My mom always did this because I don't think we ever had tomato paste in our house growing up). If you like it really saucy then feel free to add the entire can of tomato paste.
  • 1 envelope of gluten free onion soup/dip mix OR 2 tbs. gluten free beef bouillon granules (optional but I really like the extra depth of flavor it adds)
  • salt & pepper to taste (add this last because you may not need to add very much)
Cook your meat in a large skillet along with garlic, onions and beef bouillon or gluten free onion soup mix (if you are adding it). I used my heavy duty "Paella pan" (I received it as a gift and I love it! I use it a lot for many meals besides Paella!) If your meat is extremely lean then you may need to add a tablespoon of olive oil. (The original recipe calls for 2 tbs of olive oil but I just leave it out if my meat has a little bit of fat. I just don't drain the meat fat if there is about 1 tablespoon left in the skillet because it has more flavor than the olive oil. However, if your meat contains more fat then you will need to drain some off to prevent having greasy food!). Add the shredded cabbage and cook until almost tender but not soggy. Stir in diced tomatoes and either tomato paste or ketchup. Cook until warmed through. Salt & pepper to taste. Serve over cooked rice, gluten free noodles, baked potatoes, fried potatoes or quinoa. If you prefer a soup then add either some beef broth, vegetable broth or vegetable juice (like V-8 juice) plus some water to thin it down. You can add rice, pasta or potatoes to the soup too. The recipe is very, very flexible!

Cooking the meat, onion, garlic & beef bouillon

Added the cabbage and will cook until tender but not soggy

Added my chopped tomatoes. You can add more if you want!

Ready to serve up!

Ready to eat. Served it on white rice today!

See the beautiful colors?!

Grab a fork and eat! 

I hope you like my lazy Sunday version of Un-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls using ingredients that I already had in my refrigerator. My mom still makes the BEST cabbage rolls that I have ever had....but these are an easy, lazy alternative. I promise I will have my mom make her German version of cabbage rolls and I will post on the blog this fall. PROMISE! Until can make the lazy version of the American style cabbage rolls.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Gluten Free Banana Cream Cheese Stuffed Bundt Cake

Banana Cream Cheese Stuffed Bundt Cake. Two of my favorite things = Banana cake + cheese cake. Oh my! The sweet, moist cake pairs well with the slightly tart cream cheese layer...especially paired with a nice cup of coffee! That is what weekends are for! :)

I had a huge bunch of very ripe bananas that needed to be used + 1 had some cream cheese. I didn't want to make just a loaf of banana bread. I saw a recipe online for an apple bundt cake that had a layer of cream cheese in the center. brain went into overdrive designing a gluten free banana bundt cake that has a cream cheese layer in the center. Bundt cakes are always moist. They're relatively easy and no fancy decorating required! They also freeze well and last a long time in the refrigerator (not that they last long at our  house!). I had thought about doing a banana roll (similar to a pumpkin roll) but cake rolling intimidates me. I always do it wrong and get frustrated! I took my grandma Goldie's old banana cake recipe and tweaked it a little to be baked in a bundt pan + made it gluten free.

Yes, I relax on the weekend in between movie marathons, swimming and whatever other plans we have....baking. Mainly because I can't sit still for long! (I just wish the kitchen cleaning fairy was close by!) I don't think I am normal. (No comments on that please!) I enjoy looking at recipes and figuring out how I can change it up to use what I have in my kitchen + tweak it to make it gluten free. I consider it a hobby. Am I crazy or what?! (Please, please don't answer that!) So basically....I saw a recipe for a regular apple bundt cake with cream cheese filling & ended up with a banana bundt cake with cream cheese filling....gluten free! Yeah...that's how it works at my house! (If you don't have a bundt pan you can cut the recipe in half and bake in a 9x5 loaf pan but you will need to adjust cooking time since it won't need to bake quite as long).

I know a lot of the recipes and gluten free flour blends brag that you can turn a regular recipe into gluten free and you can't tell the difference. It is "sort of" true. I convert my regular recipes into gluten free ones all the time but I always have to adjust them slightly to get the EXACT texture and flavor of the original recipe.  The gluten free flour blends have a tendency to be a little more powdery in texture which can result in crumbly results. A few tips if you want to convert a favorite recipe: add at least 1 extra egg, consider adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the batter, I add slightly more baking powder or baking soda to the recipe and consider a gluten flour blend with assorted gluten free flours. I also like to add coconut flour for a small portion of the recipe if possible. I don't add it to a recipe if the flavor will be noticeable because I don't want to change the flavor of the recipe. Coconut flour has a silky texture similar to regular wheat flour so if you mix it into your gluten free flour blend, the results are very nice! However, I never use only coconut flour because the flavor is different than regular flour and slightly sweeter. Another option is adding ground almonds which will give you moisture and stability to cakes but I only do this if I know my guests don't have nut allergies. A lot of gluten free recipes increase the sugar and fat content which I try to avoid. Again, I don't want to alter the flavor or texture of my dessert recipe. I don't want a soggy, greasy cake. I like to mix my own flour blend but sometimes I just don't have the time or if I am traveling then it isn't convenient. Some of the brands that I have had good luck with are: King Arthur, Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, Cup4Cup and Trader Joe's. Some of the other brands contain a lot of sorghum flour which I do NOT like in my sweets or they are so powdery that my results are crumbly. Also always check to see if your gluten free flour blend contains either xanthan gum or guar gum. If not, you will need to add about 1/2 teaspoon to your baked goods to give it the elasticity that wheat flour contains. If it is really important that your cake or baked goods turn out fantastic and you are unsure about your flour blend...I highly recommend adding 3-4 oz of cream cheese (or non-dairy version cream cheese) to your batter for best results. (Good luck and feel free to post any tips or suggestions you have in comments below!)

Banana Cream Cheese Stuffed Bunt Cake Recipe:
  • 5-6 ripe bananas (bananas should have dark spots on peels but shouldn't be real mushy)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar (I used unbleached, non GMO but you can use white sugar)
  • 2 cups gluten free flour blend (I like to use the type without sorghum because it leaves a weird aftertaste in my sweets).  If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use regular flour.
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds (if you have a nut allergy or don't have these then you can just substitute additional 1/2 cup gluten free flour or regular flour if you don't have gluten allergy)
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum (only add this if your gluten free flour doesn't contain it. Do not add if you are using regular flour).
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbs  Crisco (or substitute butter, coconut oil, olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 1 tbs. white vinegar (optional but I like to add it to make the cake extra moist) 
  • NOTE: If you are experiencing your gluten free flour being too powdery and the texture of your baked goods are too crumbly (try a different brand in the future) but in the meantime beat about 3-4 oz of softened cream cheese to the cake batter and it will keep it from being crumbly. You don't need to do this but I have found that not all gluten free flour blends are equal and they can be expensive so you don't want to waste them! If you are afraid your cake might turn out crumbly then add the cream cheese because it will give the cake moist, silky texture. 
 Cream Cheese Filling Recipe:
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I like to use gluten free powdered sugar for an extra smooth texture but you can use regular white sugar or unbleached sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tbs. corn starch or tapioca starch or gluten free flour (or regular flour if you don't have a gluten allergy)
  • *I also like to add one tsp. of lemon or lime zest if I have it on hand but it is purely optional or you can substitute 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon but it is optional. Leaving it plain is just fine.
For the cake batter: Beat the ripe bananas, sugar, Crisco (or oil) and eggs until fluffy and smooth. If you are adding cream cheese to your batter then add it now also and beat until smooth. Add the baking soda, baking powder, salt, vinegar, flour (and nuts if you are adding them). Mix until well incorporated but don't over mix.

For the Cream cheese filling: Beat the cream cheese, sugar, egg, corn starch (or tapioca starch or flour) & lemon or lime zest or cinnamon if you are adding it.

Bananas should be ripe with brown spots on peels

Half of cake batter on bottom then I added cream cheese layer and will top with remaining cake batter 

Grease a bundt pan. Pour half of the banana cake batter into bundt pan or angel food cake pan. Spoon the cream cheese filling layer on top of the cake batter trying not to touch the edges of the pan so the cheese layer stays thick. Pour the remaining cake batter over the cream cheese layer. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 60-75 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Do not under-bake or your cake texture could be mushy in the center. The cream cheese layer will not be gooey. Oven temperatures and altitudes can vary cooking times. If you are baking in a loaf pan then adjust cooking time to 40-55 minutes. I let it cool in the pan for about 30 minutes before removing it so it holds the shape and doesn't want to collapse. You can drizzle with a light glaze of powdered sugar and water or milk OR make a thin cream cheese drizzle using a few tablespoons of soft cream cheese or butter, powdered sugar and drizzle of milk or juice or coffee + 1 added a teaspoon of instant espresso powder (or you could use instant coffee) and a pinch of ground cinnamon. I think the espresso/coffee flavor keeps the glaze from being too sweet and adds a depth of flavor. Just make sure it is thin enough to drizzle but not watery. You can dust with powdered sugar instead of glaze....or just leave it plain. This cake is fantastic left undecorated. The flavors tell the story. You don't need to dress it up!

I think I will have to try my hand at baking a few other flavors of bundt cakes with the cream cheese layer. It would be delicious with just about any type of bundt cake....even the original apple bundt cake that I got the idea from! Just think.....carrot cake, red velvet cake, strawberry cake, spice cake, pineapple cake, mango cake, chocolate fudge.....the list just goes on and on! :) It makes a great bundt cake for a brunch or dessert. The slices freeze well too so that is convenient for a breakfast on the go!

I am seriously considering making cream cheese filled bundt cake for Thanksgiving (in addition to pies) for a nice change. I like that they can be made a couple days in advance (flavors are even better a couple days later!) and that gives us leftovers for breakfast on the go for Black Friday Shopping!

Unglazed, fresh from oven. I let it cool in pan about 20-30 minutes before flipping onto rack to cool!

Glazed and ready to slice & eat! You can add chopped nuts or coconut for decorations too but I didn't do it today
Up close view of the cake slices

See how moist? The flavor is incredible!

It is a very simple recipe, casual enough for a BBQ but elegant enough for holiday brunch or dessert!

I hope you enjoyed my cooking adventure this week. Feel free to comment any tips, suggestions, substitutions that you have tried in the comments below. We all learn from each other!

Happy snacking!
Gluten Free Casually

Friday, July 3, 2015

Gluten Free Zucchini Coconut Lime Loaf

Zucchini Coconut Lime Loaf. I love the moist loaf with the tart lime glaze. It just melts in your mouth. The only downside is that you are tempted to go back for seconds because it is really yummy. I had a patient that gave me a couple of gigantic zucchinis so I wanted to design a gluten free zucchini loaf that wasn't dry or overly sweet. I like coconut so I added about 1/2 cup of shredded sweetened coconut (but you can obviously leave that out if you don't like it) and I added a slightly tart lime glaze that compliments the sweet loaf. It is kind of a cross between a sweet bread and a cake. You can serve it for breakfast or dessert. This also freezes very well...if you have any leftovers! I will also freeze some shredded zucchini so I can make some of these scrumptious loaves later in the winter! (Winter here in Arizona means breakfast on the patio!)

I couldn't find a recipe that I thought would work for a gluten free version so I took a regular zucchini cake recipe and a zucchini bread recipe and added a few extra things (and substituted gluten free flour) to it to make it a customized loaf recipe to meet my needs. You can substitute lemon or orange in place of lime if you prefer. You can leave out the coconut. You can leave out the finely ground almonds and substitute flour instead. It is a very flexible recipe which is what I like about it! Since zucchini doesn't really have much of a is a great way to get moisture (and vegetables!) into your loaf. You can make this recipe using regular flour if you don't have a gluten allergy!

Zucchini Coconut Lime Loaf:
  • 2 cups of gluten free flour blend (I used my recipe below but you can use any gluten free flour blend that you prefer. I prefer the ones without the sorghum because it leaves a weird after taste in my sweets). I have also used 1 cup GF flour blend + 1 cup coconut flour and had great results too. Of course if you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use regular flour.
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds (or substitute additional 1/2 cup of gluten free flour)
  • 1 cup sugar (I used unbleached non GMO sugar but you can use regular white sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum or guar gum if your gluten free flour doesn't contain it. Leave out if you are using regular flour or if your GF blend already contains it.
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk + 1 tbs. vinegar (let stand until it starts to thicken. This resembles buttermilk). You can substitute almond milk, coconut milk or any dairy free milk.
  • 1/2 cup oil (I generally use olive oil or avocado oil but vegetable oil will work too!)
  • zest of one large lime (or a couple small limes)
  • about 1/8 cup of lime juice
  • 3 eggs (I used brown, organic eggs)
  • 1 1/4 cup shredded, uncooked zucchini (I shred with peel on after I wash it real well)
  • 1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut (optional)
Lime Glaze:
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 tbs. lime juice
  • zest of one lime

 For the loaf: Mix flour, salt, baking powder & baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat the eggs, oil, sugar, lime juice & zest and milk-vinegar mixture. Slowly add in the flour mixture with the ground almonds if you are using them. Fold in zucchini and shredded coconut. Pour into greased 9x5 loaf pan. Bake in pre-heated 325 degree oven for approximately 45-55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool slightly before pouring glaze over top. I chose to keep my loaf simple but you can decorate the top with slivered almonds and coconut if you want to dress it up!

For Lime Glaze: Mix powdered sugar, lime juice & zest until smooth consistency to pour over loaf.

You can double the recipe and bake in a large bundt pan but you will need to increase the baking time slightly. If you choose to bake in muffin cups then you will need to reduce the baking time to approximately 18-22 minutes. Keep in mind that oven temperatures and altitudes can change the baking time! Always check at the soonest baking time and adjust as needed.

My Homemade Gluten Free Flour Blend Recipe:
  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour (I used sweet rice flour for this batch)
  • 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour (made from sticky rice, gluten free)
  • 1 cup potato starch (not flour)
  • 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk or dairy free milk powder, make sure it is very fine in texture
  • 1 cup corn starch or tapioca starch (I used tapioca starch for this batch)
  • 3 tbs. xanthan gum
Combine all ingredients together well. You can put it in the blender for an extra smooth texture if desired. I store mine in a glass container and use it in place of regular flour in all my recipes. This particular blend I really like for baked sweet goods and breads. (Note: if using my homemade gluten free flour blend you will not need to add additional xanthan gum to your recipe since this batch already contains it!)

Prior to baking

Slightly cooled & just glazed

Glazed and ready to put on a decorative plate

Up close view of the lime glaze

Ready to eat!
 I hope you enjoy this very moist, slightly sweet & slightly tart zucchini loaf. I will be making this recipe again this weekend so I can share with my co-workers since I have another zucchini in my refrigerator.  So the next time someone gives you a bag full of zucchini.....try this recipe and see how scrumptious it tastes! :)

Happy Baking!
Gluten Free Casually