Weekend Treat…Gluten, Soy and Dairy Free Mini Muffins (with egg-free option)

Weekend Treat…Gluten, Soy and Dairy Free Mini Muffins (with egg-free option)


These mini-muffins are so easy! You can also make a dry muffin mix with this recipe and store it in an air-tight container to use later. We used to enjoy the Jiffy brand muffin mixes in the days before we were dealing with food allergies and Celiac’s disease. The muffins were our breakfast tradition…we’d bake them when anyone had a birthday and start the day off with a single birthday candle in the birthday child’s muffin. I’ve been working to find a recipe that is as quick and easy as the original mix, and I think this one comes very close! These can be made without egg, too, which makes them an easy allergy-friendly treat. Combine the dry ingredients ahead of time and store them for quick muffins…you can even put 2 1/3 cups of the dry mix into zip lock bags and store them in the pantry like a boxed mix!

Speedy Muffins:

1 cup white rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten free)
1 egg (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dry egg replacer, use 2 tbsp. additional rice milk if egg-free)
3/4 cup rice or soy milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup dried fruit (dried blue berries, raspberries or cranberries, or you can use frozen raspberries crumbled up)*

*I am investigating the ingredients in imitation blueberry and raspberry baking morsels…I have a bag I purchased from a baking store that looks gluten, dairy, egg and soy free but I am waiting for the manufacturer to get back to me about the product’s safety.

Instructions:

Mix the dry ingredients well. Beat the egg and combine the egg, milk and oil (if you’re making yours egg-free, mix the powdered egg replacer in with the dry ingredients and add 2 tbsp extra milk to the wet ingredients). Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well, then add the bits of fruit. Pour into a greased mini muffin pan and bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

To make the mix ahead of time, multiply the dry ingredients by however many batches of muffins you’d like to prepare for later. Mix all dry ingredients (dried fruit included) and store in an airtight container (you can freeze it if you won’t be using it in the next few months). When you want to make the muffins, use 2 1/3 cups of baking mix with one egg, 3/4 cup rice or soy milk and 1/4 cup oil for every batch and proceed as above (if you’re making yours egg-free, just add the egg replacer to the dry ingredients and then add 2 extra tablespoons of liquid to the wet ingredients).

Enjoy!

Some Gluten-Free Staples

Some Gluten-Free Staples


A friend of mine knows someone who’s son has just been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Those weeks after diagnosis can be so hard, you’re suddenly trying to figure out substitutes for all the basic items you’re used to cooking with. And for some reason, all the basic items you normally use in the kitchen seem to have gluten! Here’s a quick primer for those of you just starting out on the gluten-free road. It’s different being gluten-free, but there are blessings along the way that you’d never have had if it weren’t for this little digestive difference. The first year is hard…but in no time you’ll be a pro and you’ll find you don’t miss gluten so much after all! Blessings, and best of luck to you!

Here are some great products you can buy at the store to substitute regular gluten-containing foods:

Noodles: Tinkyada Rice Pasta. Tastes great, doesn’t fall apart or get soggy, and will pass as “normal” even to people who have never heard of gluten free!

Flour: I love Tom Sawyer brand gluten free flour. There is a store locally where we can get 10 pound bags of it, it is pricey but boy is it convienient! You can substitute this flour for wheat flour cup for cup and it is the closest to “normal” tasting that I’ve tried.

Soy Sauce: Watch out for soy sauce! Most of it has gluten. There are some really tasty sauces out there that are gluten free, but the easiest to find (and cheapest by a long shot) is La Choy brand.

Bread: Good gluten free bread is hard to find. We like Kinnikinnik brand “English muffins” (which, by the way, taste nothing like English muffins) cut into three pieces horizantally and toasted or warmed in the microwave. Gluten free bread is nasty unless you toast or warm it, so you’ll want to buy a toaster dedicated to gluten free bread only.

Hot dog and Hamburger Buns, Pizza Crusts: Once again, Kinnikinnik wins on these. They’re in the frozen foods section.

Canned Chili: Western Family brand chili has ONE gluten free variety, and that’s the Thick and Chunky kind. DO NOT trust any other Western Family variety! They do have gluten. Also, Dennison’s chili and Hormel both have gluten free canned chili. Always read the label first, though!

Cereal: There are several good cereals out there that are gluten free. Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles are both GF, also Kix and Honey Kix. Rice Chex is absolutely a must-have, because you can use it for breading things. BEWARE OF BARLEY MALT EXTRACT! Many cereals would be fine except they contain this gluten ingredient.

Chicken or Beef Stock: Watch out for gluten in chicken and beef broth. Pacific brand has a nice chicken and beef stock that comes in a box and is gluten free. Also, McCormick’s paste chicken boullion is gluten free and you can buy it in a large container at Costco. Kitchen Basics makes another paste-type boullion that is safe and tastey.

Oatmeal: Oatmeal is technically gluten free, but oats are usually grown along with wheat so most oats are contaminated and therefore unsafe. Bob’s Red Mill makes certified gluten free oats, as well as several other types of gluten free products. There are other gluten free oat companies, but Bob’s is the cheapest if you can find it.

And now for some recipes….

I’ll link to recipes on my blog, and add a few quick substitution hints and recipes here as well.

Cream of Mushroom/Cream of Chicken Soup: This is one of the biggest losses for gluten free people. I make a substitute for this that can be done gluten free and dairy free if need be, it’s not as easy as popping open a can but at least it tastes pretty close to the real thing and has a similar texture.

3 tablespoons butter or butter substitute
3 tablespoons gluten free flour (rice flour works fine)
2 cups milk or milk substitute (if you’re doing cream of chicken, add 1 cup milk and 1 cup gf chicken stock).
dash worshtershire sauce
dash garlic powder
1 small can mushrooms, finely chopped (or 1/2 cup finely chopped cooked chicken)
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, when it’s melted add the flour and whisk until combined. Add liquid(s) all at once. Stir until thick and bubbly, add worshtershire, garlic salt, salt and pepper. Add chopped mushrooms or chicken and cook a few minutes more. Use in place of undiluted cream of mushroom soup, or if you want to eat it like a soup you can add more milk until it’s the consistancy you like.

Gluten Free Gravy:

Chicken or Beef Stock, gluten free
Corn Starch
Water
Salt and Pepper to taste

I never measure for this, but it’s pretty easy to adjust. Just put the amount of stock you need (figure that the amount of stock is the amount of gravy you want for the number of people you’re feeding) in a sauce pan, bring it to a brisk boil. In a cup, mix corn starch (start with several tablespoons and work up if you need to) with water (about 1/4 cup) until well combined. Pour this into the boiling stock, stir until thickened adding more water and corn starch if needed.

Now for some links:

Here’s a recipe for homemade Egg Noodles that works wonderfully in soups or other recipes.

Store-bought Meatballs normally have gluten, so here’s a way to make them safe.

Need a Pie Crust? The crust from this recipe works great for any pie.

Here is a Crumb Crust for cheesecake-type pies. You can also substitute the ginger snaps for Midel brand chocolate chip cookies if that works better with what you’re baking. The crust is described in the Pumpkin Cheesecake recipe in this post, which has Thanksgiving Recipes as well…including gluten free stuffing.

Birthday Cake! You’ve got to have birthday cake. Here are several cake recipes…

Oreo Cake
Strawberry Birthday Cake
Black Forest Cake
Birthday Castle Cake (looks like a castle!)
Pineapple Upside Down Cake

And, if you want to speed things along…here’s a review of an easy gluten free cake mix! You can use the mixes in place of the cake recipe and then use the frosting and decorating ideas from the links above.

And some Cookies….

Scotch Shortbread
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip
Velvet Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Peanut Butter

Here’s a link to more gluten, dairy and soy free foods kids love.

Here’s how to make your own gluten free Chicken Nuggets.

And, finally, here’s a link to Gluten Free Meal Plans to help plan dinners.

Whew! There are tons of great recipes and resources out there, this is just a condensed version on what I have to offer here. Good luck in your gluten-free adventure, and God bless!

Traditions…gluten free, dairy free Scotch shortbreads

Traditions…gluten free, dairy free Scotch shortbreads

Traditions are such a wonderful part of being a family! So many holiday traditions center around food, those of us with food allergies or intolerances tend to remember them more during the Holidays. What doesn’t bother you during the rest of the year can make you feel deprived when you have to forgo the Christmas cookies at your office party or the traditional pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Some things are easy to make gluten free (that pumpkin pie, for example!). Others may prove to be a real challenge. While it would be better to remember to count my blessings around this time of year (less cookies, pastries and sugary baked goods means less possibility of gaining holiday weight, right?), I admit to sometimes succumbing to a little nostalgic longing where Christmas comfort food is concerned.

But! Substitutions can be made! Our family has had a long-standing tradition of making shortbreads for Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving, Hubby’s family has always made Scotch and Irish shortbreads. The tradition involves making many dozen of each kind, carefully packing them into containers, and then hiding them so they can cure during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Further tradition involves at least one disaster during that time, where a dog finds and devours all the cookies or (more commonly) your loving Husband finds the stash and has just one cookie…several times a day…until you find you need to make another batch a few weeks after hiding the first.

Christmas morning always finds family sitting around the Christmas tree, shortbreads and a cup of coffee in hand. In fact, I discovered that gluten was wreaking havoc on my body due to eating Christmas shortbreads! They have been very difficult to make gluten and dairy free, since they are made entirely of butter and finely sifted flour.

But! This year, the shortbreads are back! Here is a recipe developed by a dear friend who also has Celiac disease and dairy intolerance. These are pretty darn close to the ‘real thing’, not too hard to make, and satisfy the family tradition quiet well. I know it’s too late to let them cure, but I wanted to share this recipe now so you can try it and then tuck it away for next year.  And, if you don’t need the gluten and dairy free part, go ahead and make them with regular flour and regular butter.  They are wonderful!

Gluten and Dairy Free Scotch Shortbreads

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter substitute (I use Nucoa, which is a completely dairy-free margarine. You could also use Spectrum butter substitute, which is soy-free as well)
  • 2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/3 cups gluten free flour mix (I used 1 part rice flour, 1 part tapioca flour and 1 tsp. xanthan gum per cup of flour)

Directions

  1. Sift dry ingredients over softened butter substitue. Cut in butter until completely incorporated.
  2. Knead dough on floured surface until soft, about 2 minutes. Form dough into 2 balls and cover with plastic wrap. Chill one hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  4. Knead dough to soften a bit then roll 1/4 inch thick and cut with a cookie cutter (I use an inverted drinking glass). Bake for 5 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet.

We use a cookie press to stamp crosses on ours before baking. You can also melt some dairy free chocolate chips (and soy free if you need to…Enjoy Life makes them) with a little allergy-safe butter and then dip half of each shortbread into the chocolate…it makes a great “black-and-white” cookie!

Enjoy!

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Menu

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Menu

A gluten free Thanksgiving menu! This is a repeat of last year’s Thanksgiving post, but we’ll be doing something similar this year. I can’t wait to be together with family again, spend time together and enjoy a wonderful meal.

The Menu:

Turkey: We usually brine the turkey overnight, which gives it a wonderful flavor and makes for some really exceptional gravy. This year, though, we may try rubbing it with salt and lots of black pepper, then criss-crossing it with a pound of bacon and roasting it very slowly all day long.

Gravy:
Use the drippings from the turkey plus some gluten free chicken stock (I like Pacific brand) and thicken with corn starch. My dad taught me to always mix the corn starch with some warm water before adding it to whatever you are trying to thicken, to prevent lumps.

Mashed Potatoes: We like garlic mashed potatoes. Boil some whole cloves of garlic with the potatoes, then mash them together with butter, salt and pepper, and maybe a little cream.

Cranberry Relish: A bag of whole cranberries, a large can of mandarin oranges plus the juice from the can, two cups water, two cups sugar. Cook until the berries burst and the sauce starts to thicken a bit, it will thicken considerably as it cools. I canned some cranberry sauce this week, so I won’t have to make it later! Note: Try adding a little clove and a couple of diced green apples to the sauce. Yum!

Stuffing: When we had to cut gluten out of our diet, I thought I’d never have “normal” bread stuffing again. Which was sad. However, I have two very good gluten free stuffing options that are so good nobody will notice they’re not “real” bread! The first is my dad’s Southern Style Cornbread Dressing. You make gluten free corn bread, and then proceed from there…it has fried oysters and onions in it. I will have to get the recipe from him, though…it’s one of those that he carries in his head and I don’t have it written down. The other recipe is for a wonderful sausage and green apple stuffing, my mom found it online at epicurious.com and we adapted it to be gluten free. I am not normally a fan of apples in stuffing, but this is amazing…you don’t taste *apple*, but instead the apples just make the stuffing very tangy and savory. I look forward to it all year! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • 5 cups chopped onion (about 3 large)
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 6 cups diced cored tart green apples (such as Granny Smith)
  • 1 tablespoon dried rubbed sage
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 5 1/2 cups Ener-G stuffing/croutons, gluten free (Order these NOW or find them at a health food store…or you could toast a loaf of Ener-G bread until it’s hard and cube it yourself).

Preparation:

Sauté sausage in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through, crumbling sausage with back of spoon, about 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to large bowl. Add butter, onions and celery to skillet; sauté until onions are tender, about 15 minutes. Add apples; sauté until apples are tender but still hold shape, about 10 minutes. Add sage, thyme and allspice; sauté 1 minute. Add to sausage. Stir in stuffing cubes. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill.)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Generously butter a baking dish. Transfer stuffing to prepared dish. Cover with foil and bake until heated through, about 40 minutes.

Turnips with peas and bacon: This is a new recipe, but looks like a fun vegetable side dish. You need 8 slices of gluten free bacon (Hormel), cooked and crumbled, 1 stick butter, 4 Tbs. fresh dill, chopped, 4 cups turnips, peeled and diced, 2 lbs. frozen peas, salt and black pepper. Melt 1/2 the butter, saute turnips until tender, add crumbled bacon, peas and remaining butter and cook until peas are heated through, add the dill, salt and pepper and cook 30 seconds until the dill is just wilted.

Sweet Potatoes: My mom does a great sweet potato dish. I’m not sure if this is the exact recipe, but it’s really close…I found it on Martha’s website ;o) it’s sweet potato rounds with butter and pecans…MMMMMmmmmm!

Pumpkin Pie: Of course you can’t go wrong with the traditional pumpkin pie…you can use the pie crust recipe found in my apple tart post and use the pie filling recipe from the back of a can of Libby’s Pumpkin. Everything in it is Gluten Free except, of course, use your own crust! If you’re making the Pumpkin Cheesecake below, you might use another filling for the pie. Pecan? Chocolate? Apple or Cherry? Most fillings are easy to do gluten free or are naturally gluten free, so once you’ve got the crust covered it’s easy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake, gluten free: This is one of my very favorites! I use the basic recipe found at epicurious.com and instead of the wheat crackers, I use Mi-Del gingersnaps (about 3/4 of a bag). They work perfectly in this recipe! NOT dairy free, sadly. I have made dairy free cheesecake before…using Toffuti instead of cream cheese, and non-dairy creamer instead of cream etc. They do work, but will cost you a small fortune in supplies. Still, we’re talking about cheesecake here, and it’s sometimes worth it! I prepare the cheesecake as the recipe describes (substituting the GF cookies for the crackers), then top it with lots of whipped cream seasoned with nutmeg and vanilla. A drizzle of warm caramel sauce on top makes it…perfect!

Apple Tart: I may make this for Thanksgiving, or I may have it ready when my family comes in (sorry to ruin the surprise, mom….if you’re reading this, pretend you didn’t hear). You can find the recipe in this post.

Spaghetti and Meatballs Dinner

Here’s another fall favorite…It makes a lot, so it’s great for company and plan on leftovers! You can make everything but the noodles in advance and keep it in the fridge overnight, then plug in the crock pot the next day and all you have to do is boil the noodles before you eat!

Stuffed mushrooms make a good appetizer for this meal…here’s the recipe!

Meatballs:
1 1/2 lbs sweet Italian sausage (we get ours from the meat department at our grocery store, check to see if it’s gluten free)
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup gluten free bread crumbs (I use Rice Chex cereal, pulverized in the food processor)
2 eggs

Sauce:
3 large (29 oz.) cans tomato sauce or puree (check for gluten!)
5 cloves crushed garlic
1 large onion, diced
3 tsp. crushed basil
1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage

In the crockery part of a large crock pot, brown the 1/2 lb. of sausage. Add the diced onion and cook until it starts to look transparent. Add all 3 cans of tomato sauce, the garlic and the basil. Bring to a boil. Take the crock pot off the burner and put it in the base, plug it in and let it simmer all day (if you’re cooking ahead, you can put the pot in the fridge overnight and plug it in the next day).

For the meatballs, combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Form into 1 inch balls and brown the balls in a large skillet on all sides. The meatballs will be raw inside…I have found that you have to beat away family members who want to sample them at the risk of contracting salmonella! Put the browned meatballs aside until an hour before dinner (I put them in a zip lock bag in the fridge).

An hour before dinner, add the meatballs to the simmering sauce. The sausage in the sauce and meatballs will season the spaghetti sauce so that you won’t need to add much in the way of seasoning! Serve the sauce and meatballs over gluten free noodles with a little Parmesan cheese on the side.

Side Salad:

I love to serve a side salad with balsamic vinaigrette when we have spaghetti. The salad is just your usual lettuce-and-vegetables, and the dressing is quick and easy to make and will keep well in the fridge. The flax seed in the dressing sounds weird, but it gives it a creamy texture without using something like mayonnaise (plus the omega acids in the flax are great for you!)

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp. prepared brown mustard
6-10 Greek olives
2 tbsp. ground flax seed

Put all ingredients in a blender (I love my Magic Bullet for this!) and blend on high until the dressing is creamy. Toss with the salad, and store the rest in the fridge for next time!

Dessert…Pumpkin Cheese Cake! I use this recipe, (you can also find it in the Thanksgiving Menu) but instead of the graham crackers I use about 3/4 package of Mi-del gluten free ginger snaps. You could use regular gingersnaps if you don’t have to be gluten free…you’ll need around 4 ounces but I usually use slightly more than that for a thicker crust because the ginger-snaps give the cheesecake an extra little kick! Plan ahead on this one, the cheesecake will need to sit in the fridge overnight.

Enjoy!

Fall Favorites….Midwest Chicken Dinner with GF egg noodles

Fall Favorites….Midwest Chicken Dinner with GF egg noodles

Here’s a new family favorite! I got the recipe about a month ago and have already made this twice. It’s a very, um, starchy meal…but it hits the spot and goes well with cold and rainy Autumn weather. The Egg Noodle recipe is wonderful…they are so easy to make and go great in chicken noodle soup at well.

Midwest Chicken Dinner:

4 or 5 chicken thighs (bones and skin are fine)
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
Chicken bullion (McCormick and Better Than Bullion are good, they come in paste form)
1 Recipe GF Egg Noodles (recipe follows)
Salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste
Chopped fresh tomato, chopped fresh chive or green onion

Put chicken in a large stock pot and cover completely with water. Boil until the chicken is cooked, then remove the chicken and put it in the fridge until it’s cool enough to handle. While the chicken is boiling, make the noodles and potatoes as described below. Leave about 6 cups of the chicken-water in the pot, and add about a tablespoon of chicken bullion to the water. Bring back to a boil and add the chopped celery and onion, and while it’s cooking remove the skin and bones from the chicken and chop it into small pieces. Add the chicken back to the pot and then add the egg noodles. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed or has thickened. You may need to add a touch of corn starch if there’s too much liquid. Salt and pepper to taste, add a little garlic powder if you like.

Serve the chicken mixture over garlic mashed potatoes. Sprinkle chopped fresh tomato (garden tomatoes are wonderful on this!) and chives or green onions on top.

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GF Egg Noodles

2 cups GF flour mix (or 1 cup rice flour, 1 cup tapioca flour, and 1 tsp xanthan gum)
dash salt
2 large eggs
4 1/2 eggshells full of milk or water

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt and stir well. Make a well in the center of the flour and add both eggs. Beat the eggs and combine with the flour, mashing out lumps with a fork. Add 1/2 eggshell full of water or milk one at a time, and continue to combine until the mixture sticks together. You may need only 3 eggshells of water, you may need all four. The dough will be slightly crumbly. Knead the dough with your hands until it’s elastic enough to be rolled. Turn dough on a workspace dusted with GF flour, and roll 1/2 of it into a thin layer. Use a pizza cutter or a pastry cutter to cut the noodles…we loved the pastry cutter because it cuts them in a uniform size. Repeat with remaining dough and set aside the egg noodles for later. You may also put these in a zip lock back and freeze or refrigerate them for another day!

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Youngest loves to help! Cut the noodles with a pastry cutter…

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Then peel them off and cut some more!
Garlic Mashed Potatoes:

Peel and cube 10-12 potatoes. Peel 4 to 6 cloves of fresh garlic, cut off the tough ends. Toss the potatoes and garlic in a large pot, cover with water and boil until soft. Drain potatoes and garlic, put in a large mixing bowl and throw 1/4 cup butter or non-dairy butter in while they are hot. Mix with your electric mixer or by hand until most of the lumps are gone, adding milk or milk substitute until you reach the desired consistency and salt and pepper to taste.

Some Fall Favorites….

Some Fall Favorites….

Here’s a recipe for gluten free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies! They taste like the real thing and bake up nice and puffy. This post is a re-run from last year but it feels like it must be time for some pumpkin cookies again. Enjoy!



Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

½ cup butter
1 cup white sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups white rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1 ¼ tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ginger
½ tsp salt
½ cup chocolate chips

In large mixing bowl beat together butter and sugars; add eggs, pumpkin and vanilla. Mix until well blended.

In medium mixing bowl combine dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and or nuts. Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. (adapted from a recipe I found on cookingcache.com).

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gluten Free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


A post from the archives…

Oh, yummy….Jan found a recipe for Oatmeal Chip cookies that’s Gluten free and soooo good! She found it at the Southern Living website. Here’s the recipe:

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened (substitute soy and dairy free)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. gf vanilla extract
1 tsp light corn syrup
4 1/2 cups gluten free oats (Bob’s Red Mill are the most reasonably priced!)
1 cup semi sweet gf chocolate chips
1 cup GF candy coated chocolate pieces (dark chocolate M&M’s…yum!)
2 teaspoons baking soda

beat sugars and butter at low speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and next 3 ingredients, beating until combined. Stir in oats and remaining ingredients.

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake, in batches, at 350 for 15 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool

Product Review:  Bettry Crocker Gluten Free Baking Mixes (Brownies)

Product Review: Bettry Crocker Gluten Free Baking Mixes (Brownies)

That’s right….Betty Crocker has come out with a new line of Gluten Free baking mixes! Those of you with Celiac disease, food allergies or sensitivities know….this is monumental. These new baking mixes can be found right in the baking isle, by all the other cake mixes. They also cost considerably less than most gluten free mixes! As soon as I heard the news, I went out and purchased some to try them myself.

This might not make sense to someone who hasn’t gone years making nearly all their food from scratch and driving miles out the way to find gluten free substitutes, but seeing those yellow boxes right up there with all the “normal” baking supplies nearly brought tears to my eyes. There they were! Mixes for Yellow Cake, Devil’s Food Cake, Brownies, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. It has been many years since I purchased something from that section of the grocery store, and it was an oddly emotional moment.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that many of these mixes are also egg and dairy free, and that some of them are soy free (with no soy ingredients, but they carry the warning that they may contain soy…probably because they are processed in a plant where soy is also used). If you can’t have dairy or eggs, you can use egg substitute and soy or rice milk and have allergen free treats!

I decided to put the mixes through the Three Point Picky gluten-free test. Are they as easy to make as a regular cake mix? Do they taste as good? Are they worth the money? I’ve gotten good at making everything from scratch, so to be worthwhile a product has to either be better than I can make on my own, or as good but much easier or faster to make.

The first box we tested was the Brownie Mix. Here are the results, along with some photos!

The Three Point Picky Test (TPP):

1. Can my ten year old make it?
2. Does an unsuspecting guest notice it’s gluten free?
3. Is it worth shelling out the money when you could skip it or make it yourself?

1. The ten year old test: Middle Child did make these brownies by herself! They were easy to make, had clear directions, and only required 2 eggs and 1/2 stick of melted butter besides the mix. The only difficulty was that she needed help putting the batter into the pan and spreading it around, because the batter is very thick. She would have needed help here with any other good brownie mix, however. I do recommend greasing the pan very well, as they were a little hard to get out. However, we relied on the stoneware’s patina and didn’t grease the pan at all. Next time we will!

2. The unsuspecting guest: We gluten free families are used to food that tastes a little bit odd, after awhile you forget what “normal” baked goods are like. So I decided to test these with someone who didn’t know there was anything different about them. They passed! They are chewy, moist, and very chocolaty. They taste like any other brownie, although they are slightly more dense and perhaps a little chewier. There was no rice-y flavor. We loved them! Just like the yummy brownies from pre-gluten free days, and fast and easy too. I hate to say it, but I think they are better than the ones I make from scratch…all the chocolate chips in this mix really add to the taste and texture.

3. The budget test: Because they are more expensive than regular brownie mixes, they have to be pretty good for me to buy a mix rather than do it myself. However, it was very nice to just open a box and go. You only have to add 2 eggs and 1/2 stick of butter, which isn’t a lot of extra ingredients. It also allows for you to make substitutions if you need to! They do not make as many brownies as some mixes, but the ease of having the mix and the yummy end result made this worth the money. I will keep a box of these in the pantry all the times for unexpected guests or surprise chocolate attacks…and it helps that it’s easy enough for my kids to do by themselves!

Look how “normal” the box looks! Just like any brownie mix.
The list of ingredients (no egg or dairy, either!)
Contents of the box
Easy to follow instructionsIn goes the mix
adding butter substitute
and eggs….
the batter was a bit thick to stir
and she needed some help scraping it into the pan (but she needs help with that when we make them from scratch, too).
ready for the oven!
Yummy Brownie Goodness!

This Week’s Gluten Free Menu

A little late…

Monday: Greek Scampi. This recipe came from the wonderful cookbook my step mom gave all her kids…an amazing volume full of favorites. I changed it around a bit….in a dutch oven or oven safe pan cook 5 cloves of garlic in some olive oil. Add a large can of chopped tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 pound of salad shrimp, cook 5 minutes more. Add 1/4 cup chopped Greek olives, and some salt and pepper. Sprinkle about a cup of feta cheese on top (leave cheese off of one area if you have dairy issues). Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Serve over hot gluten free pasta, I snipped some fresh basil over it since we’ve got a lot in the garden.

Tuesday: Leftover Chinese food. I made too much last week, and froze it for later.

Wednesday: Grilled chicken, peas and turnips with bacon and dill butter (another recipe from Mom’s book…from a Bon Appetite magazine), and baked potato fries. I will cut the recipe for the peas and turnips in half…but I’ll put the whole one here. It’s good for Thanksgiving!

The recipe:

8 T butter (1 stick)
4 T chopped fresh dill
8 Bacon slices, chopped (Hormel is GF)
1 1/4 pounds turnips, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
2 16 oz packages frozen petite peas, thawed (Mom uses less peas and more turnips…it’s better that way)

mix 6 T butter and 3 T dill to blend. Season butter with salt and pepper. Set aside. Saute bacon in heavy large skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown (you can do this ahead, or use pre-made bacon crumbles). Melt remaining 2 T butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turnips and saute until tender and golden, about 9 minutes. Add peas and dill butter and stir until peas are heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1 T. dill and serve.

Thursday: Tostadas. I am combining another Mom recipe with one we use…I’ll mix 2 cans of refried black beans (check for gluten) with about a cup of Pace picante sauce. Then cook a couple of summer squashes and some red onion until crisp-tender, and chop some fresh tomato and lettuce. Put corn tortillas (we use Mission brand) on baking sheets and put about 1/4 cup of refried beans (you can use more or less) on each tortilla. Over the beans, spoon some of the cooked vegetables. Sprinkle cheese (we use regular cheese for those who can have it and rice cheese for those who can’t…but we’ve also done this with no cheese and it’s still good) over the tostadas and cook them in the oven at 400 until the cheese is melted and bubbly and the tortillas are crisp around the edges. Serve with fresh tomatoes and lettuce and a dollop of sour cream or sour cream substitute.

Friday: We’re eating at a friend’s house, so no recipes for today.

Saturday: Quinoa with chicken, green salad. The recipe for the quinoa can be found here…I’m loving quinoa right now! It tastes great, has a great texture, and is very good for you. It’s also a great substitute for cous cous, which is never gluten free (it’s actually a pasta!).

Sunday: Chicken pesto pasta with red onion. I’ll saute some chicken with salt and pepper (about 2 chicken breasts should do it). Then make a pesto with fresh basil, pine nuts and olive oil. Saute a red onion (sliced in rings) with some olive oil until nearly caramelized, then add some frozen peas and cook until the peas are warm. Add the cooked chicken to the pan to warm it up, then add the pesto over everything and stir until combined. Serve over cooked gluten free pasta, with shredded Parmesan for those who can have it. This is also good cold!