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, May 29, 2016

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcakes

Strawberry Shortcake! Nothing says summer like strawberry shortcake! The velvety texture of the buttery almond cakes with slightly sweet strawberries with their juices and a dollop of whipping cream (or cool whip). Actually, any type of fruit will work with shortcakes....but berries are my favorite. I chose this buttery cake recipe and baked in a little shortcake maker I bought on clearance. ( feels like an adult version of "Easy bake oven" but I just love it!) If you don't have a shortcake worries....just bake in a muffin pan or you can bake in a loaf pan or cake pan and just cut into cubes or squares.

I prefer making my cake from scratch when I have the time. However, if you are in a hurry or are not a can "doctor up" a gluten free cake mix to get similar results. Let's face don't have to be a chef to get a great dessert! I will share my favorite shortcake recipe with you but I will also give you tips on how to "doctor up" a cake mix to get very similar results. Baking should not be stressful! If you don't have all the ingredients on hand for baking gluten free from scratch then it might make more sense for you to "doctor up" a gluten free cake mix. Pillsbury makes a pretty decent gluten free cake mix and the one they carry at Aldi in the midwest is also really good. Gluten free baked treats are rather expensive and difficult to find and many of them are just plain disgusting. This is an affordable and easy way to make a fantastic gluten free treat that EVERYONE will eat! :)

 Shortcake Recipe: (This recipe makes a bunch so you can half the recipe if you want)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (you can use raw sugar if you prefer)
  • 3/4 cup margarine (make sure it is a margarine that contains at least 65% fat or it will won't work well for baking! I found that Kroger brand works well and it is cheap! (It can be found at Kroger or Fry's grocery stores). Or substitute real butter or you can substitute Crisco if you are dairy free
  • 3/4 cup real mayonnaise (this will give the cake a moist, rich texture. You will not taste the flavor of mayonnaise at all! Trust me! This is a great option for people that need dairy free options! I use BEST FOODS brand since it is gluten free & dairy free. 
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. almond extract or baking emulsion (I prefer the baking emulsion which I find in the cake baking department at Michael's crafts, JoAnn Fabrics, Hobby Lobby & Walmart
  • 2 tsp. butter vanilla baking extract or emulsion (optional)
  • 4 eggs 
  • 3 cups of gluten free flour (If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can just use regular flour).
  • 1 tsp. Xanthan Gum if your gluten free flour blend doesn't contain it. If you are using regular flour or if you gluten free flour blend already contains it then you don't need to add this ingredient.
Combine the sugar, margarine (or butter or Crisco), mayonnaise, water and almond baking emulsion + the butter vanilla baking emulsion (optional) together until smooth. Add eggs and beat well. Gradually add the baking powder, salt and flour. (Dough mixture will be thick  - kind of like a brownie dough). Spoon into the shortcake maker as directed in the instructions or bake uncovered in 350 degree oven  [35-45 minutes for 9x13 pan, 45-50 minutes for loaf pan, 18-25 minutes for muffin pan] or until toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs and top is lightly golden brown in color. Check your oven at the lowest cooking time and adjust. Each oven cooks slightly different and altitude can affect baking times. These shortcakes can be made ahead of time and put in a covered container for several days. They can also be frozen.

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. almond baking emulsion
  • 2 tsp. butter vanilla baking emulsion (optional)

Take rinsed strawberries and slice them up and place in a bowl. I like to add just a tablespoon or two of sugar and then cover with plastic wrap and let them rest on the counter for at least an hour or two so the strawberries produce juice. Spoon the berries and juice over the shortcakes. I like to add a dollop of whipping cream (or cool whip - specialty stores carry a non-dairy coconut milk version of cool whip which works well too). I grate a sliver of chocolate on top for extra decoration but you don't need to do that. I like to serve in wine glasses, parfait cups or pretty plates. If we are going to a picnic or a huge group of people...I put in individual plastic cups with pretty spoons for single serving size. Less waste and minimal cleanup! :)

This is my handy dandy shortcake maker (AKA: adult easy bake oven!)

My shortcake maker box

The inside of my shortcake maker so you can see how it makes the shortcakes with the indention

My shortcakes are cooling
View of shortcake prior to topping it with whipping cream and chocolate shavings

Ready to eat!

Up close view

This one is on a plate rather than a wine glass

Up close view before cutting into it!

Delicious! See how moist and the juices are soaking into the scrumptious cake! Mmmmm!

I hope you enjoyed one my favorite summer treats! It is refreshing and super easy! It is a crowd pleaser and leftovers (if there are any!) will freeze fabulously. If you prefer chocolate cake in place of the almond cake then you can leave out the almond baking emulsion and leave out 1/2 cup of the flour and add unsweetened cocoa powder. The chocolate version shortcakes tastes fabulous with cherry pie filling and/or chocolate pudding. Yummy! :) This recipe (as well as ALL of my recipes can be made with regular flour if you do not have a gluten allergy.) These recipes have been created, tried and enjoyed by those of us that are gluten free!)

Welcome summer by treating your friends and family to this super easy dessert that can be made a couple days ahead of time. Bring on summer! 

Gluten Free Casually

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pretzel Crusted Chicken

Pretzel Crusted Chicken! This chicken coating is SOOOOO much better than using bread crumbs! It has a fantastic crunch, doesn't burn easily and keeps the chicken super moist as you bake it. I came up with the idea one day when I was going through my cupboards and organizing. I found a partial bag of gluten free flavored pretzels that were getting close to expiration date (but they were still crunchy). So rather than waste them....I decided to crush them very fine and use them to coat chicken for dinner! The old commercial from "Shake & Bake" ran through my head. I haven't coated chicken and baked it for a long time! We absolutely loved the results. My mom was having dinner with us and commented on how moist the chicken turned out and the coating was extra crispy without frying!

The pretzel coating is not limited to just chicken! I have since done it to boneless pork chops and fish too! The results were the same....crispy coating with meat that was very moist! I used gluten free pretzels (honey mustard flavor this time) but you can use regular pretzels if you don't have a gluten allergy. This recipe is ridiculously simple but I thought I would post it because it offer new ideas to people with gluten allergies. Gluten free bread (and bread crumbs) can be really expensive and I want to keep you on your grocery budget. This way you can buy the pretzels to eat in your lunch or snack + use them for coating your meat. (I also use gluten free pretzels (the plain flavor) as a crust for cookie bars sometimes. It gives a great sweet & salty twist to cookie bars! (I will post a recipe soon!) You can also use other gluten free items like flavored potato chips or tortilla chips to coat your meat and bake it. I have recently started doing that too. I really like the Maui Onion flavored potato chips (I found a brand out here in Arizona that doesn't have gluten) and used them finely crushed as a coating for pork chops. DELICIOUS! However, my favorite is still the pretzel coating. It has extra crunch and the texture is just more dense than chips or bread crumbs.

Pretzel Crusted Chicken Recipe:

  • 4 bones chicken breasts or thighs (you can probably use wings and deep fry them but I have never tried it). You can substitute boneless pork chops or fish if you prefer.
  • 1 egg, beaten  (if you don't have an egg on hand then you can use mayonnaise which does contain egg). If you are allergic to eggs then you can substitute sour cream or plain yogurt. It will help the crumbs to stick to the meat. Just spread a light coat on each side prior to dipping in crumbs.
  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed pretzel crumbs (depending on the size of your chicken pieces you may not use all the crumbs or you may need a little more)

Dip both sides of chicken (or other meat) pieces into the beaten egg then dip into the finely crushed pretzel crumbs. Place on cookie sheet (I line mine with parchment paper for easy removal and cleanup). Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until juices run clear and center of chicken is no longer pink (but still moist) which will depend on the thickness of your meat. If your meat is really thick then you may want to consider slicing it into smaller pieces so it cooks faster and evenly. *Note: do not save any unused pretzel crumbs or beaten egg that has come into contact with the raw meat. I only use the minimal and add more as I need them so I don't waste any.

This is the brand of gluten free pretzels I used today. I liked the flavor it gave my chicken.

I used my handy dandy mini food processor but you can just smash in a ziplock bag

This is the chicken after I removed it from oven and put on a dinner plate

This is the same pretzel crumbs but on a boneless pork piece (the lighting gives it a different color)

Crunchy topping with moist meat & ready to eat!

I hope you enjoyed this super easy weeknight dinner recipe. Feel free to post any tips, substitutions or photos that you have tried. We all learn from each other and I enjoy the comments!

Enjoy your week!
Happy eating!

Gluten Free Casually