Spaghetti Sauce…Also, Gluten Free Meatballs

There you go, plain and simple.

Spaghetti sauce.

Conjures up a plate of steaming pasta, a deep red sauce, some cheese-snow sprinkled on top, perhaps a meatball or three.

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I think we know someone with their own wonderful special sauce, some takes all day, some are handed down from your mother-in-laws cousins grandma in Sicily. Continue reading “Spaghetti Sauce…Also, Gluten Free Meatballs”

Amazing Brownies free from gluten, dairy or eggs

If you are wondering what to do for you gluten free friends…

la petite kitchen

(No one seemed to notice that there was no cocoa in this recipe. I am editing it now, for my own benefit. They aren’t very brownie-ish without that cocoa!)

Congratulations to Iris, my Pampered Chef lady and unstoppable cook! Her brownies won 1st place at the OC Fair and deservedly so. I have had them. They really are amazing. How the heck you can make brownies without all the brownie stuff like butter and eggs? But it’s for real!

No kidding.

You have to try these if you have any food allergies in the house. Even if you don’t, these are just plain good. And Iris likes to use the Pampered Chef brownie pan for lots of chewy edge pieces. The picture is small though, sorry. It does not do them justice.

She has graciously given me permission to share this recipe with all of you. So here goes.

INGREDIENTS:

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Gluten Free Lemon Blueberry Muffins & Life in SoCal

Hello there! Long time no hear…

Sooo, hubby said he was running errands and did I need anything. I asked him to pick up -A- bag of Bobs Red Mill multi grain cereal for bread making.

A bag.

Indicating one.

Here is what he came home with, bless his little heart!

The people at Bobs Red Mill should be very happy with my husband.
The people at Bobs Red Mill should be very happy with my husband. Anyone up for some Pirates of the Caribbean Monopoly? Sorry? Those games were already there, btw.

He happened to go to Big Lots (remember Pic n Save?) and pretty much bought them out on their baking cereals. Even picked up some gluten-free mix and some polenta. (Polenta, really?) He is too generous for his own good and he brought me home 2 bags of granola too, as well as a brownie mix we haven’t tried. This kind of reminds me of a commercial for TWC, where some guy is supposed to go pick out a sofa and comes home with a whole living room set, hmmm….

So, since I had the gluten-free mix, and some organic blueberries in the fridge, I thought I might as well make muffins.

I mixed the gluten-free mix I had of my own with about half the bag of Bobs GF mix. I have heard people complain that their mix is too beany and has a bean aftertaste in the baked goods. So I mixed it up a bit.

You tell me…

Blueberries bursting all over the place.
Blueberries bursting all over the place.

I thought they needed a little something, so I brushed melted butter on top and sprinkles cinnamon sugar. Its like pixie-dust, it makes the muffins fly right off the plates! You would never know these were gluten-free. They are just darn good muffins.

Here is the recipe. Feel free to adapt. You could make them dairy free with substitutions, like using coconut oil or other fruit for the blueberries or add nuts or use buttermilk…

GLUTEN FREE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

2 cups gluten-free all-purpose baking flour

1/2 cup brown sugar plus 1/4 cup white sugar. Or use all of one or the other

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled.

1/2 cup whole milk (I actually put a large blob of sour cream in the measuring cup and then filled it up to the 1/2 cup mark, whisking it smooth.)

2 eggs

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (plus I added a few drops lemon flavoring)

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen, but be careful. They will turn batter blue. I add them to each muffin individually, putting some batter in, adding frozen berries and then more batter.)

Preheat oven to 375.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.

In another bowl whisk together the wet stuff, like butter, vanilla, milk/sour cream mixture, eggs, and zest.

Now just stir these two groups together until pretty much mixed up (that almost sounds political, doesn’t it?)

Add the berries and mix some more, making sure there are not pockets of dry stuff. Batter will thicken up. It says not to over stir, but you certainly don’t have to worry about developing gluten, which is why you don’t stir regular muffins much. But whatever.

Put cute little muffin papers in each muffin cup. Add a large scoop of batter, filling to the top, but not over. I set the muffin pan on a baking sheet just in case it spills over or is thinking about burning the bottoms.

Bake 10 minutes, then rotate pans. Bake another 10 minutes or until they start to get a bit brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.Cool a few minutes in the pan, as they are hot as the dickens to touch! Then put on a rack to cool.

After they are cooled:

Melt just a bit of butter and brush it over the tops. Sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar blend.

Then dig in!

So, what have you all been up to this summer? It is really a busy time of year for many folks. Some of you are doing room additions, others are vacationing, while some are staying home to sew up long overdue projects.

We went to the beach yesterday. What a beautiful day!

We were visiting Corona Del Mar
We were visiting Corona Del Mar. I guess everybody thought this was a good idea, because it was pretty crowded. Lots of sand castle building going on.
My freezer is full of summer tomatoes. Time to get some cilantro and make some pico de gallo!
My freezer is full of summer tomatoes. Time to get some cilantro and make some pico de gallo!
“You mean WE get to eat this??”
These are just screaming to be made into pulled pork sandwiches. If they dont sell at the bake sale tomorrow...We's eatin them!
These are just screaming to be made into pulled pork sandwiches. If they don’t sell at the bake sale tomorrow…We’s eatin them!
Shish-Kabobs and...
Shish-Kabobs and…
Apple crisp. Its always apple crisp season. (And you dont have to mess with a pie crust!)
Apple crisp. It’s always apple crisp season. (And you don’t have to mess with a pie crust!)

I am actually going to a friend’s house soon to have a little pie crust workshop. I am pie crust impaired. I am tired of everyone telling me how easy it is.  Buying the pie crust is easy too. But if Rita thinks she can teach me, she is a high school chemistry teacher so maybe she can. My friend baking Julie also offered to help me. She is the sourdough queen among other things. (See what I mean? Everyone else seems to be able to make pie crust.) So whichever house I make it too first. I should probably go to both. I need that much help.

I went to another friends house just last week and we did some canning, making some wonderful jams. But somehow I dont see any pictures of them! What was I thinking?

Oh wait, I found one…

The other Linda and a Rockcroc full of strawberry jam.
The other Linda and a Rockcroc full of strawberry jam. The other pot has peach-strawberry-raspberry jam simmering.

Or two:

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More tomatoes. Did you know you can just wash them, remove the stem and put bags of them in the freezer? Then, when its time to make sauce, you take them out and as they defrost, they just melt down. You can just pick the skins right out. (Or use a food processor and grind them in.)
More tomatoes. Did you know you can just wash them, remove the stem and put bags of them in the freezer? Then, when its time to make sauce, you take them out and as they defrost, they melt down. You can just pick the skins right out. (Or use a food processor and grind them in.)
Someone had his birthday...
Someone had his birthday…

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And someone else got a hair cut!
And someone else got a hair cut! He must have lost at least 10 pounds!

So that pretty much sums up our summer thus far. That and ribbons from the fair, but that’s another story. I haven’t been there yet.

Have a wonderful rest of July friends!

Breakfast Kabobs

Really, sometimes I wonder why I try.

Don’t you feel like that sometimes?

Someone, who shall remain nameless, says maybe we should go off bread for a while, to lose some weight. So I go out of my way to find breadless meals. And what does he do? Makes himself toast to go with it!

Guess he hasn’t figured out toast is bread. Or does toasting take the carbs out of it?

Anyhow, I wanted to share this easy and yummy little breakfast that can be adapted to whatever is in your fridge or what sounds good. I used my grill pan to heat it up. I happened to have breakfast sausage, but ham or smoked sausage would work too. How about peaches instead of pineapple? Or cantaloupe? We also had some pricy, fancy, sliced-so-thin-it-was-almost-invisible prosciutto. But I thought this a cute idea, whoever came up with it. I found a picture of it somewhere and used it. You don’t think I thought of this myself do you? HA, course not silly.

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I just rummaged through our fridge and found zuchinni, onions, tomatoes, sausage and, in a bowl on the table, a big ol’ pineapple waiting to be (gulp) chopped up. Oh, and I added some of that almost invisible prosciutto. I precooked by sauteing, the zucchini and onion. Just a little. Too much and it would not hold up to being speared.

I just cooked the sausage, speared it all together and grilled it on the grill pan to warm it.

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There, a gluten free breakfast. Made some home fries to go with it all, to fill him up. No toast this time around!

Not like this breakfast…

 

Good morning!!!
Good morning!!!

 

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TMI!
TMI!

Dairy-Gluten free Chocolate Banana Bread

Okay, just so you know, those of you who really don’t care about gluten free stuff, after my husband and son looked at these loaves and drooled all over the counter, I promised them a gluten filled loaf of their own. So that recipe will be forthcoming soon. We are having a cooler spell and baking is tolerable at this time.

One with chips, the other chipless

This was actually a request from a friend along the lines of “Can you make a kind of gluten-free loaf? Chocolate? Oh and Dairy free?” Sure thing!

Now I had doubled the original recipe and made two 9×5 loaves. I will give you the recipe for 1 loaf.

Oh, you should also know this. One of the loaves had chocolate chips put in it, both half way through and on top of the dough. (Kind of like buttering popcorn at the movies.) The other loaf is just the coco banana loaf. You get to figure out which is which…

Here is the recipe I adapted from several other recipes:

Gluten-Dairy free Banana Chocolate Bread

2 eggs

1/4 cup non dairy milk (I was out and used water with an extra tsp. of non dairy spread melted in)

1/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup melted non dairy spread (or coconut oil or oil)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 ripe mashed bananas

2 cups gluten-free mix (I use mine, but any will do)

1/3 cup baking cocoa

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. Xanthan gum

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

optional, dairy/gluten-free chocolate chips or regular chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a loaf pan, 9×5

In a mixing bowl, using a hand or standing mixer, mix the bananas, eggs, sugar, applesauce, non-milk, melted spread and vanilla.

In another bowl whisk together the dry ingredients.

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together and scoop into the loaf pan. Smooth over the top.

Now if you want to add chocolate chips, just put half the batter in the pan, sprinkle with chips, add the rest of the dough and top with more chips.

Bake until done. This is actually the hardest part.

Really.

When I bake with regular breads, I use an instant read thermometer so I know when its done. So far I have yet to see a recipe that says “bake GF loaf until it is ___ degrees”.

So I set the timer for about 45 minutes and check it. Does it still look wet? Put it in another 10 minutes. Check it with a straw or some such thing. Is it dry? It may still not be safe. Gluten free baked goods really need to be done!

Some suggest turning off the oven and keeping it in there for an extra 10 minutes when its done baking. But this is your call. All I know is that this time, they turned out looking perfect. Hopefully (I will have to ask) it tastes wonderful.

Okay, results are in. Bread came out too dry, lacking flavor. Hmmm. Bake less. Overbaking/underbaking. The bane of gluten free baking. We need some temperature control here. I will try again and take its temperature. The ingredients were right for flavor. I am pretty sure it is in the baking time table, although I will try to get some coconut milk for next time too. Good luck with yours.

Next stop, back in the kitchen to make it all again, but with flour, milk and maybe… butter! Keep the menfolk happy!

Amazing Brownies free from gluten, dairy or eggs

(No one seemed to notice that there was no cocoa in this recipe. I am editing it now, for my own benefit. They aren’t very brownie-ish without that cocoa!)

Congratulations to Iris, my Pampered Chef lady and unstoppable cook! Her brownies won 1st place at the OC Fair and deservedly so. I have had them. They really are amazing. How the heck you can make brownies without all the brownie stuff like butter and eggs? But it’s for real!

No kidding.

You have to try these if you have any food allergies in the house. Even if you don’t, these are just plain good. And Iris likes to use the Pampered Chef brownie pan for lots of chewy edge pieces. The picture is small though, sorry. It does not do them justice.

She has graciously given me permission to share this recipe with all of you. So here goes.

INGREDIENTS:
2 CUPS GF FLOUR (I use Bob’s Red Mill), you can make your own GF flour too.
2 cups brown sugar                                                                                                                                                             3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthum gum (if you use regular flour you don’t need to use xanthum gum).
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup express coffee + 3/4 cup water (total of 1 cup of liquid)
1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

mix all the ingredients together.  pour into a brownie pan (13×9 pan), and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25-30 minutes.

Yep, that’s it. I know its hard to believe. No creaming or special instructions. Just the best way. Mix, pour, bake.

Then she wins 1st place at the fair. Way to go Iris!

pancakes, gluten, sugar and dairy free, not taste free! Who knew?

gluten free/dairy blueberry pancakes with grade B maple syrup, the nectar of the gods.

I see some blueberry juice is leaking out. (I almost called it blueberry guts, but didn’t want to offend.)

Well, we have been, once again, playing with the food habits around here. For a limited time only, we are going dairy-sugar-gluten free. I am a little bit better informed now and better equipped to deal with hungry guys.

Sort of.

I at least have a list of what they cant eat.

“I’m starving! What can I have??”

“Well,  you can’t have that or that or especially this. And no sugar, no dairy.”

“But what can I have??”

“Well, um…just find something that’s not that!” followed by exasperated sighs, rolling of the eyes and muttering like “I guess I’ll just starve then”.

Breakfasts are especially hard. I mean, cereal has sugar and milk. Pancakes, waffles, french toast, all gluten and syrup and dairy, whats a person to have for breakfast? Especially when the one that should most be on this diet doesn’t like eggs?

Lots of hot cereal, man.

So imagine how excited I got when I finally relented enough to get maple syrup and make pancakes. Gluten/dairy/sugar-free ones made from my jar of home made mix.

But before I get there, if you need any kind of sweetener, come on by. I now stock white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, honey, agave and stevia. You name it, I got it.

Well, not exactly. I don’t have date sugar or coconut sugar. Just give it time.

I feel the inner mad scientist lurking nearby. If I had a way to monitor blood sugars, I can just imagine me taking unsuspecting neighbor children aside, feeding them different kind of sweetened treats and jabbing them with a needle to get a blood sample. “Why look! Your blood sugar level is much better than his because you had agave and he had honey.  Why yes, that does make you a better person.” But then I would have to change my name and move.

Wait, see what happens when I am home alone for a little while? My typing fingers run amok. That wasn’t me, really.

So I looked up several pancake recipes that were gluten free and got the feel for it. It’s not really that different from any other ol’ pancake. In fact it is one of the easier things to make without wheat. I cooked them a little longer to make sure they were done.

I always put the blueberries on the pancake after it is poured in the pan. I use a spoon to push them in and try to cover them with some pancake batter, sometimes even taking and pouring more batter over them. It does make extra thick pancakes though, if you do that. But by making them individually, you can give some people blueberries and others not and you don’t have to worry about blue/grey batter from leaky berry guts.

So here is how I made them. I made a smallish batch which made about 6 pancakes.

1 1/2 cup of all purpose GF mix of your choice

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

(notice I did not add Xanthum gum. The mix had some in it and the pancakes do not need more than that.)

whisk these together. In a large measuring cup or a bowl, mix:

1 1/4 cups coconut milk (or more. I used unsweetened just because I had never bought it and that s what sounded good. It really has no flavor. You, of course,  can use whatever you want, milk, buttermilk, almond milk. etc.)

1 egg

2 Tbsp. coconut oil (you can use melted butter or canola oil or whatever)

2 squirts of agave nectar. (about 1 1/2 Tbsp. I guess)

a splash of vanilla

a bit of salt.

Mix these together, adding more milk or flour mix as needed to get a nice pancake batter consistency. I think I did add quite a bit more of the coconut milk. The batter was not too thick, not too thin. I poured then into a hot skillet with coconut oil heated in it.

Then put some blueberries on top. Waited until it was good and brown before flipping. Then served them up and ate.

Very good indeed!

Crananasauce Gluten Free Muffins

I was just looking for something new in the gluten-free department. I have conquered the lemon blueberry coffeecake. I got the cookies. Gave up on the bread for now. What to do, what to do? Ah-ha! Found this muffin recipe and adapted it. The little things turned out wonderful! They came out moist, lightly sweet and  stayed together.

They are actually banana applesauce cranberry gluten-free muffins. But who wants to say all that! So I shortened it just a bit. I already posted it on pinterest. But here is the recipe with pictures of the ones I made.

Credit goes to  Gluten-Free Culinarian for the recipe I started with.

It is really very simple, if you have gluten-free baking mix. I make my own and have a big jar of it on hand for quick and easy baking.

Preheat the oven to 375.

You will need:

4 Tbsp. (half a cube) of melted butter

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup of unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp. vanilla

1 large overripe banana, lightly mashed up

1 egg

3/4 cup gluten-free baking mix

1 Tbsp cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (which I love to use all year, if I can get it.)

1/8 tsp. xanthum gum

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup Craisins

cinnamon sugar for topping

In one mixing bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, banana, vanilla, applesauce and egg.

In another bowl, whisk together the gluten-free baking mix, xanthum gum, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Put these two together, gently mixing them. It should be wet, but not runny. Now I add a handful of Craisins.

Spoon into prepared muffin pan. Top with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

Bake in a 375 oven for about 12 minutes of until a straw or toothpick comes out with crumbs but no wet batter.

 

ta-da! ta-da! ta-da! 1st gluten free loaf of bread a sucess ta-da!

Ah-ha, I have conquered my fear! I have scaled the highest peak, braved the monsters under the bed, sneered in the face of failure. Even missing the 1/2 cup brown rice flour I was supposed to put in there, my first loaf of gluten free bread came out a success!

Gf loaf #1

(Have you even gone to use an ingredient, or maybe to put it away, noticed it was not open yet and have that “oh-oh” moment? Like when the brown rice bag wasn’t even open and the bead recipe called had for it.)

#2 is about to come out of the oven. I will include that picture when it is done, cooled and I have tasted it. Not that I am a GF bread connoisseur. The only reason I am making it is I have had several people ask me about it due to their special dietary needs. I put this off for a looooong time! Bread without wheat flour, bahh! Thats like wine without grapes, bubble without gum…But I yield to the needs of my friends.

You may remember my brief interlude with gluten free eating. I didn’t even give it a chance. But I have faced my fears and finally made bread with rice and sorghum flours among other things. As you can tell, I am very excited. Now I better get back to the oven and take out loaf #2.

gluten free loaf #2

 

Gosh, this looks a lot like loaf #1 doesn’t it? Hmm. Very strange. Well, there you go. I have one other recipe I am going to try on sat. and that one includes sunflower seeds for crunch and flavor.

Wish me luck!

Oh yeah, we got “Hugo” in the mail today. Can’t wait to watch it tonight. Will make special popcorn and everything. If you haven’t seen it, you should.