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, November 4, 2017

Rustic Pasta

RUSTIC PASTA! This is a super easy recipe that goes together quickly with just a few ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard. I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of making homemade pasta sauce. Some of my friends cook their sauce ALL day and although it is takes too much time for me.
However, I was in Germany visiting family recently and Axel made the best pasta sauce and it went together so fast. I couldn't believe how yummy it was and how simple! It is also very forgiving so you can change it up depending on what you have on hand. I don't think I will ever eat store bought sauce again! is that good and so ridiculously easy! I like meals that come together in 20 minutes or less especially on a busy work night or busy weekend!

You can choose to add meat or keep it meatless. In this recipe today I decided to do a meatless sauce because I was trying to do pasta but I also had a request for low carb (no pasta just meat with sauce) so I kept the meat separate in patties. I happen to like the sauce rustic with chunky tomatoes but if you prefer it smooth then you can puree it in a blender or food processor OR buy tomato puree instead of the chunky ones. I like it chunky and I hate to drag out the blender (another thing to clean on a busy work night) if I don't need to do it.

Someone used all my parmesan cheese so I didn't have any to grate on top of the pasta for presentation. Maybe next time. It doesn't really matter though because this is just as yummy without the cheese.


  • 2 cans of chunky tomatoes (I prefer the fire roasted ones but you can use whatever you have. You can also use a combination of chunky and puree tomatoes. Use whatever type you have). I don't drain it. I add the juice too. 
  • 1 small can or tube of tomato paste (This is virtually concentrated tomatoes and has a nice, rich, sweet taste. It also thickens the sauce. I highly recommend adding this. If you want your sauce a little less thick you can add just a few tablespoons. If you don't want to use the entire can then I suggest you buy it in a tube so you can put in the refrigerator for another day).
  • Pinch of sea salt (I like to use sea salt but you can certainly use regular table salt)
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of dried or a few chopped leaves of fresh basil or Italian seasoning blend. Either will work
  • Pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • fresh minced garlic (I like to add about 2-3 cloves but you can add more or less depending on your preference).
  • Drizzle of olive oil, optional but it really adds a nice flavor and texture to sauce

If you are adding ground beef, pork or turkey then go ahead and pre-cook it until it is crumbled and cooked through. Drain off excess fat. Set aside. I also love this with shrimp or scallops. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil in a skillet and add minced garlic. Skillet should be on medium heat. (I really like using fresh garlic for this. It really brings out the flavor in the sauce). Don't brown the garlic, just drop it in the oil. Add the two cans of chunky tomatoes and the tomato paste. If you want to thin the sauce down a little bit you can add a little bit of water. Add the salt, pepper, basil and chili flakes. Cook until hot and to desired consistency. Add meat if desired. I chose to go for meatless sauce today and do the meat patty on the side. Serve over noodles. I used Ronzoni Gluten Free pasta noodles tonight. They are one of my favorite gluten free pastas.

Refrigerate or freeze leftover sauce. TIP for storing left over noodles: Put in a glass bowl with a lid or ziplock freezer bag. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on noodles and gently toss. Refrigerate. This keeps the noodles from getting mushy or hard. Re-heat in skillet or microwave and then spoon sauce over left over noodles.

I like using tomato paste in a tube so I can add what I want and refrigerate the rest.

Cooking my sauce in my cast iron skillet

My pink sea salt

Cooking the sauce until nice & thick

Ready to eat

Up close view of the thick & chunky sauce

This sauce comes together in less time than it takes to boil the noodles! Yes, another quick and easy meal to the table in less than 20 minutes. I love easy week night meals or quick weekend lunch meals.  This recipe is easy and affordable but it tastes like it was sauce that cooked all day. I know I will probably take a lot of flack from people that cook sauce all day. I'm not competing for best sauce in the world recipe. I am looking for a delicious sauce that is affordable, easy, and gluten free. This one works well for our house. You can change it up easily to make it richer by adding grated cheese and heavy cream. I like things simple. We have a lot of friends and family with allergies and this recipe is easy and works for just about everyone. It is gluten free and dairy free.

Feel free to leave comments on any substitutions or things you added to your sauce. We all learn from each other. (I do love adding mushrooms and olives when I am the only one eating the pasta sauce. Not everyone else likes those so I don't add them often).

Bon Apetit!
Tanja @ Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Mini Fruit Pizzas

Mini Fruit Pizzas! I love this recipe because it is very easy and makes a great presentation. Oh, and they taste scrumptious! I used to make the crust from scratch but I didn't have all the ingredients in my cupboard and I had a yellow cake I experimented and made a fabulous sugar cookie type crust with the cake mix. How easy is that?!

Of course you can add different types of chopped fruit or whatever toppings you prefer. I had some organic strawberries that worked perfect today. I chose to top my fruit pizza with a sweetened cream cheese spread and diced strawberries. If I wasn't taking them into work tomorrow, I would have probably chopped up the mint really fine and mixed in with the strawberries since I love that combination. My co-workers are not adventurous with flavors so I just used the mint from my herb garden as garnish. If you don't like cream cheese you can certainly use a whipped prepared frosting, mousse or whatever you prefer. You can also drizzle on some melted chocolate or add some mini chocolate chips for added color. I like these any way I make them!

Now that I have the crust converted to an easy recipe, I will have to sweet talk my mom into making her delicious berry tarts. They are so delicious! I will talk her into it and then I will photo and share the recipe in the future! :)

Mini Fruit Pizza Recipe:

  • 1 box of yellow cake mix (I used Gluten Free "Live G Free" brand from Aldi today but you can use any yellow cake mix, 15-18 oz size)
  • 8 oz melted butter (I used real butter today but if you have a dairy allergy then you can use a non-dairy substitute)
  • 1 tsp. almond baking emulsion or almond flavoring, optional (I like to add this for an extra rich flavor rather than vanilla extract)
  • 1 egg

Mix all together with a wooden spoon or spatula. Incorporate all the ingredients well. It should have the texture of sugar cookie dough. If it is too crumbly then add a little bit of melted butter or tablespoon of water until you get the correct consistency. I put it in a large ziplock bag and roll it out with a rolling pin. (If you don't have a rolling pin then gently press it flat with your hand). Roll into the desired thickness you want your cookies. I then cut the ziplock bag with scissors down each side (leave the bottom of the bag intact so you can just fold the top portion of the bag backwards to cut your cookies and then fold it back over to re-roll the scraps). Cut your shapes. Bake on non-greased cookie sheet (I like to use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper for best results). Bake 350 degrees for 6-10 minutes depending on the crunch you prefer. I like mine with a little crunch! Cool completely before putting toppings on them! You can also put the cookie circles into a muffin pan to make little mini pie tarts if you prefer. Baking time will be the same.

Rolling out dough in a ziplock bag. Less mess and no stick!

I used a canning jar ring to cut my circle shapes today 

Cut bag down the long sides and fold back
I mixed one 8oz. block of cream cheese with 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Up close view of deliciousness!

Now I am ready for a cup of coffee!

Ready for work!

Ready to enjoy!
I hope you enjoyed this simple way to make mini fruit pizzas using a cake mix for convenience. It is super easy, delicious and makes a great presentation for any special occasion! Enjoy!

Gluten Free Casually

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Buttery Peach Cobbler

PEACH COBBLER! This is my mom's recipe. I have no idea where she got it from but ever since I can remember...this is the one she uses for peach cobbler. She has other recipes for cobblers. Her blackberry cobbler is dynamite too (see my gluten free version) but this one is different. It is a little sweeter, moister and has a rich, buttery flavor. Completely different style than the others. It has more of a chewy, cakey texture.

If I am making blackberry cobbler...I use her blackberry cobbler recipe. If I want peach cobbler....this is my go-to recipe. It is super easy and just melts in your mouth. It is satisfying by itself but you can garnish it with whipped cream or ice cream to elevate it to the next delicious level! I personally love it slightly warm. However, I am not real picky and have no problem eating it cold (for breakfast!). This was something my mom made frequently in the winter at our house growing up. We had peach trees and my parents harvested them and canned them. This was a great way to enjoy our summer fruit during the cold winters. You can certainly used store bought canned peaches which is what I used today. I don't have a peach tree so I had to revert to using canned fruit from the grocery store. It all works. I am pretty sure you can use other fruit in this recipe but I ALWAYS make it with peaches.

I love using real butter in this recipe because it adds a great rich, butter flavor. However, if you have a dairy allergy or don't have butter on can use Crisco, margarine or dairy free margarine substitute (just make sure it contains at least 65% fat or it will be too watery causing your cobbler to be soggy. No one wants soggy cobbler!). I have also substituted vegetable oil. Coconut oil is an option but you will get a faint taste of coconut and that will change the flavor of the cobbler. Olive oil is an option if it isn't too strong in flavor. Strong flavored olive oil can have a heavy, earthy flavor which doesn't always taste great in baked goods. Taste it first!  (I love chocolate infused olive oil in my brownies but I find it heavy for most cakes). Since we are talking about substituting items: you can also substitute a dairy free version of the milk. You can use almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk......or mayonnaise mixed with water. Yes, I know that sounds weird but it honestly works in baked items! It gives it a tangy buttermilk flavor but it seriously is a life savor in baked goods if you need it dairy free or if you are out of milk! I guess a lot of people don't realize that mayonnaise is actually dairy free. (Of course read your labels to be sure the brand you are using is labeled gluten free and doesn't contain dairy. I use Best Foods/Helman's brand).

This recipe can easily be halved for a smaller (8x8 or 8" round pan) or doubled for larger crowds. It is pretty flexible. I also have improvised when I didn't have quite enough flour so I substituted a gluten free yellow cake mix in place of the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. It worked fine too. I usually make my own homemade gluten free flour mix (because I do a lot of baking and prefer it) but you can use a store bought gluten free flour mix. I prefer one without sorghum flour since I don't care for the taste in my baked goods. I think it leaves a pea pod earthy taste that I don't like. If you don't mind the earthy taste in your baked goods....go ahead and use it. Of course if you don't have a gluten all means use regular flour! This is an OLD recipe that originally used regular flour and I converted it to gluten free so I could continue to enjoy it. All of my recipes on this blog can be made regular or gluten free. 

Peach Cobbler Recipe:

  • 1 cup butter (I prefer using real unsalted butter but you can substitute margarine, dairy free margarine, Crisco or vegetable oil. Just make sure your margarine contains at least 65% fat or it will be too watery). I also like to use a vanilla bean (even if you have scraped out the seeds and only have the pod) and put in a bottle of canola or vegetable oil. It gives baked goods a nice flavor especially if you are making them dairy free. Let's face it...nothing tastes as good as real butter but adding a vanilla bean pod to the oil makes it so much better! 
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar (you can use less sugar if you prefer it less sweet or if your peaches are canned in syrup because this will add to the sweetness of your cobbler).
  • 2 cups gluten free flour (if your mix does not contain guar gum or xanthan gum then you will need to add 1/2 teaspoon). If you don't have a gluten allergy then you can use regular flour and leave out the xanthan gum. 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • two cans or jars (about 15 oz each) sliced peaches. Save juice
  • 3/4 cup milk (you can substitute a non-dairy milk like almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk OR 1/4 cup mayonnaise mixed well with water. I sounds weird but it works in baking if you need to substitute milk. It gives it a tangy buttermilk flavor but it works. This is my secret if I don't have milk or if I need to make it dairy free! I don't recommend it on cereal or coffee though!)
Melt the butter or margarine or Crisco into a liquid form & pour it into the bottom of the 9x13 pan. If you are using oil then just pour it without warming it. (REMEMBER if you only want a small 8x8 pan then you will need to half the recipe!). Mix the flour, milk, sugar, salt and baking powder. Pour onto the melted butter. DO NOT STIR! The batter sink and the butter will ooze between it. Don't worry about it being perfectly uniform. It is a cobbler! It should look rustic! Place the peaches over top of the batter. I spoon half of the peach juice with the peaches. DO NOT STIR! It will bake together and the batter will absorb the peach juice and the butter or oil. Bake uncovered in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or until top is lightly golden brown and cake portion springs back when lightly touched.

This is cobbler prior to baking. Don't stir the layers!

Baking in the oven

Just removed from the oven. Golden brown on top. Moist and peaches are soft!

Ready to cut and eat!

I wish you could smell it! Mouth watering!

Up close view! See how tender the cobbler cake portion is?

On a plate & ready to eat! :)

Where is the fork? This is still warm!

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!)

This is one recipe that the flavors intensity after it cools down. I just can't ever seem to wait until it cools down! I burn my tongue EVERY TIME! The peach flavor really comes out after a few hours or overnight. This is a great recipe to make the night before and let it cool. You can always re-heat it in the microwave if you like to serve it slightly warm.

I hope you enjoyed a recipe blast from the past! This is one of my childhood favorites. When I think of a cold winter during a snow storm in SE Ohio....I think of my mom's peach cobbler. (Another favorite is Hillbilly sweet dumplings made with peaches but I just haven't perfected it gluten free....yet!) Nothing was better than warming up with this delicious treat....except a snow day with no school! Those were the days! 

Gluten Free Casually