Saturday, November 29, 2008

First Gluten-Free Thanksgiving :)

This Thanksgiving wasn't much different from others in the sense that I still have so much to be thankful for. But to sum up what I feel the most grateful for this year, using the fewest words possible, I'd have to say that it's for the quiet moments in which I could actually recognize and appreciate God working everything together for good. God always works the same faithful way, but things tick a little differently in me.

What I'm thankful for might not seem like such a big thing to an outsider, but it's completely influenced my perception of life and love so much that I can experience those two things much better than I could before. Ah, the feeling of growth! And I'm not just referring to full bellies growing as a result of eating too many slices of pumpkin or apple pie ;)!

So what does any of this have to do with food? Well, remember that feeling you get when you're staring at all the gorgeous platters on the Thanksgiving table, right before you take the first bite? At that moment, you're hungry but also satisfied; you know the delicious feast is large enough to feed you, those you love, and yield plenty of tasty leftovers for tomorrow. That's how I feel right now. The blessings won't run out, there will be plenty of things to be thankful for tomorrow. I'm hungry with excitement for what's ahead but so satisfied with what I have now.

This was the first Thanksgiving my husband and I spent together in Boston and as a married couple. We wanted to document it :), so I took some photos of the things we ate. I should also add that it was our first gluten-free Thanksgiving! I didn't measure very much when I was putting the dinner together, but I'll outline a few of the recipes and provide links to the sites whose tasty recipes inspired our turkey day menu :). I hope you all felt satisfied this Thanksgiving, and I mean that in every sense of the word!

Cranberry Sauce Jam (adapted from Bobby Flay):
1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 1/4 cup water
1/2-2/3 cups sugar
1/2 small orange mashed, with skin removed
1 1/2 tsp gelatin (about half a small packet)
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of cloves
pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients, except for gelatin, in sauce pan
Cook on low until cranberries are soft
Stir in pectin about 1/2 tsp at a time
Refrigerate and serve cold

Gluten-Free Macaroni and Cheese:
Adapted from "A New Way To Cook" by Sally Schneider
found on RecipeZaar
I followed the recipe but used these gluten free noodles
Tips: Use half Parmesan and half jack cheese

Instead of using all the milk, I added a bit of heavy cream and chicken broth.

Fried and Baked Butternut Squash with Coconut (Inspired by Grace :):
1 small butternut squash
1/2 cup coconut
about 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
few tablespoons maple syrup
few tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup dried cranberries
3 tbsp apple cider
Bake butternut until tender (about an hour or so at 350)
Allow it to cool, then slice
Sprinkle each side of slices with coconut
Lightly fry squash in canola oil and sprinkle with cinnamon and maple syrup
Remove when golden.
Combine slivered almonds, about 1 1/2 tbsp maple, cider, and pinch of cinnamon
Cook in pan until maple syrup and cider become thick
Add cranberries
Serve squash with the maple almonds

Mashed Potatoes and Stuffing
5 red potatoes
1/2 cup evaporated milk
3 Tbsp butter
1/3-1/2 cup Colby jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Cut potatoes into cubes and boil in large pot until soft
Strain put potatoes back in the pot and mash them
Add the rest of the ingredients while cooking potatoes on low

2 lb Ham (uncooked)
2 TBSP maple syrup
1 1/2 TBSP apricot preserves
sprinkle of black pepper
Combine all wet ingredients in a small bowl,
Lather ham with syrup concoction
and sprinkle with pepper.
Bake at 325 for about 1 hour and 30 minutes

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips with Thyme
recipe by Danny Boome

2 lb turkey breast
4 TBSP melted butter
A few pinches garlic salt
A few pinches pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
1/8 tsp paprika
Gently poke turkey with sharp knife to create small incisions.
Create a pocket between the layer of skin and meat
Combine melted butter and seasonings
Lather turkey with butter, making sure to get in the pocket
Bake in a roasting pan at 325 for 1 hour and 45 minutes, then bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gluten-Free Lemon Bites

Oh the weather outside is frightful, the pumpkin pie smells so delightful, and since we no place to go...let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...lemon bites! I know the syllables threw the rhythm off, and I'm also one holiday ahead, but I'm finding it difficult to think straight with the sweet aroma of a freshly baked gluten-free pumpkin pie lingering in the air. I'm tempted to poke my finger into the spicy pumpkin filling! I bet you're all busy baking and cooking up your own holiday treats!

Here's another little drawing. There's a friendly squirrel who always comes by my porch because I leave him apples and carrots; he always leaves the celery behind though ;). I've noticed that he, along with his other squirrely friends in the neighborhood, put on a couple of extra ounces in preparation for the many cold days ahead! I have a feeling he'd be a big fan of carrot cake, considering he loves that crunchy orange vegetable so much.

Happy Thanksgiving :)!

Gluten-Free Soft Lemon Bites

Soft and lemony cookies

See Gluten-Free Soft Lemon Bites on Key Ingredient.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gluten-Free Mexican Chocolate Biscotti

I hope you all are having fun getting ready for Thanksgiving! I sure am :). We just got back from the grocery store a little while ago after a two hour trip! It was an eventful one, I nearly knocked down and got attacked by the entire squash and pumpkin display in an effort to rescue the best looking (and tiniest) spaghetti squash buried beneath a pile of the more monstrous looking ones! :P

I'm really excited about this year because I'll actually be using recipes for the dinner. Last year, I winged it and somehow managed to serve a decent turkey without giving anyone in the family salmonella. But I've been hypnotized by the Food Network, I now have all these cravings for things I've never even tried before! (How do they do it?!) All those amazing seasonal and holiday dishes that their cooks and chefs have been preparing has me convinced that I need to use their recipes! So even though it's just going to be the hubby and me for Thanksgiving this year (because they haven't invented teleporters yet and it's too expensive to visit family across the country both now and at Christmas time) I still plan on preparing a feast and making the most of it!

What's the holiday season without cookies? Better yet, chocolatey ones that you can dunk in your favorite holiday tea like Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride or Nutcracker Sweet? (<---Gluten-free folks, please don't drink the Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea, it contains gluten...I found this out after drinking a cup without reading the box, then getting sick :P! ) Oh, but what about hot chocolate?! Sure, you can dunk these biscotti into a cuppa hot chocolate but just realize that they already contain the hottest of chocolate! I used a whole bar of this awesome mexican chocolate to give the biscotti a really deep chocolate and cinnamony flavor. I also added Piloncillo! Try it! It's goood! Leave these for Santa this year and you might just get that totally affordable camera you've been wanting! Btw, my New Year's resolution is to stop projecting my desires onto my poor readers, but I still have a month and a half to get away with it ;o)!

Gluten-Free Mexican Chocolae Biscotti

3/4 cup white rice flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup millet flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
2 TBSP potato flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 bar of mexican chocolate
1/2 of a piloncillo cone
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup milk
1 large egg
4 TBSP room temp. softened butter
1 tsp xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 375

Combine all flours and sugars in one large bowl (and almond meal), along with the xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder.

Break bar of chocolate in half and melt in a large cup filled with 1/3 cup milk . Melt in micro for 45 seconds then mix with a spoon, then melt for another 45 seconds to one minute.

Shave the piloncillo into small pieces using a knife

In a small bowl, add the cinnamon, melted chocolate and milk, and egg. Then mix in the melted butter. Combine with the bowl of flour.

Mold the biscotti into a long loaf, or you can use a rolling pin to roll it out into the shape of a rectangle about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. You can sprinkle vanilla sugar and almonds on top.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375, then lower the oven temp to 350 and bake for another 10 minutes.

Remove biscotti and turn off the oven and cut with a sharp knife into 1/2-3/4 inch wide pieces.

Put biscotti back in the oven for 15 minutes THEN turn the oven back on to 350 and BAKE for another 15 minutes. (Total time in the oven should be 50 minutes -- that includes the off time)

Let cool before eating. If you want the biscotti extra crunchy: After the final 15 minutes, turn off the oven and let the biscotti rest in the oven for up to 30 minutes).

Random Sidenote:
After coming to terms with my obsession with cute things and yummy food, I realized...hmm...I like to draw, I like cute things, why not draw cute things that are somewhat foodie related! So this is what I'm doing these days when I'm not cooking/baking or writing really long blog entries; haven't picked up the pencil in awhile, so I'm a little rusty, but it's a lot of fun so far :).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Apple Pecan Bacon Chicken for the Birdie Know It All Tutorial Contest

What do you do when you have bacon grease left over from bacon and need to think of a fun recipe to enter into Gisele's Birdie-Know-it-All Tutorial contest?

You use it to make a sweet and savory Sunday dinner, Apple Pecan Bacon Chicken, to be exact :). So here's my tutorial! Have you all checked out the contest? It is so cool because it's no just for cooks/bakers; if you're into designing stationary, making handmade cards, or even creating your own holiday decorations, you can join too. Plus, you get to feature this cute little logo on your blog :). Click it to find out more about the contest and cute prizes!

I think Paula Deen would've been so proud seeing me use up the bacon grease to fry some chicken! (Have you all seen that episode of Paula's Party where she fries everything, including that yummy pumpkin cake? Delicious!)

This dish is tasty and fun to make, it offers afew different textures and tasty flavors...not to mention two of my favorite fruits, cranberries and apples! Yum! Plus, I threw in some bacon, the hubby's favorite food. It wasn't a one skillet meal, even though it kinda looks like it. I cooked the apples in a separate pan, then I baked the chicken, but it was worth all the dirty pots/pans/cutting boards/time etc. :). (The cool thing is that you can stick that skillet in the oven, though.)

These pictures are a part of the tutorial, please excuse the not-so-pretty yellow tinge of my kitchen, I don't get very much natural light in there! A big thanks to my hubby for taking these photos, please don't cook and take really isn't safe :P!

You can use 4-6 chicken drumsticks for this recipe.
Bacon drippings (from about 4 strips of bacon)
1 iron skillet
1/2 cup gluten-free chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped sweet onion
1/4 cup chopped leeks
2 TBSP honey
pinch of pepper
1 large Macintosh apple
2/3 cup pure apple cider
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup cranberries
1 strip of bacon
Aluminum foil
1/4 tsp crushed bay leaves
1/4 tsp thyme

Instructions for Tutorial:
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cook 4 strips of bacon in an iron skillet.
  3. Save the bacon drippings in the skillet.
  4. Chop 1/4 cup each of sweet onion and leeks.
  5. Cook onion and leeks on medium/low in bacon grease (in the skillet) for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add chicken, use tongs to brown chicken drumsticks on all sides (watch for popping oil, be careful not to burn yourself).
  7. Sprinkle chicken with a pinch pepper and add about 1 1/2 - 2 TBSP of honey.
  8. Pour 1/2 cup gluten free chicken broth in skillet with chicken; cover and cook chicken on low for about 20 minutes.
  9. Flip chicken onto side that wasn't cooking and now cook for another 15-20 minutes on low while you prepare the apples.
  10. Peel and slice 1 large Macintosh apple.
  11. Pour 1/4 cup warm water and 2/3 cup pure apple cider into a sauce pan, add about 1 1/2 TBSP brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Then add about 1/3 cup roughly chopped pecans. Cook on medium/high for about five minutes (without apples). Then lower flamer to low, add apples and 1/3 cup cranberries and cook for about 5 minutes (you don't want them too soft, just cook until they are slightly soft but still somewhat crunchy).
  12. Cover the chicken in the skillet with the apple mixture (use only 1/2 of the apple mixture if you use 4 drumsticks, use all of the cooked apples if you have 6 drumsticks). Sprinkle with thyme, bay leaves, and bacon bits (from 1 freshly cooked but cooled strip of bacon) and bake (COVERED WITH ALUMINUM FOIL!) for 10 minutes then turn chicken drumsticks over. Lastly, bake for about 15 more minutes minutes. Let cool then eat! :)

Apple Pecan Bacon Chicken


See Apple Pecan Bacon Chicken on Key Ingredient.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Gluten-Free Cranberry Carrot Cider Cupcakes with Gingerbread Frosting

This Gluten-Free Cranberry Carrot Cider Cupcakes with Gingerbread Frosting recipe is my November Cupcake Hero submission! I love cranberries, so I was happy to see that these colorful and festive jaw-locking berries were this month's spotlight ingredient. The tartness of the cranberries really pops and gives the cupcakes a refreshing burst of flavor.

These cupcakes remind me of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Why? Well, they have the pumpkin pie spice, they've even got a bit of cider, and let's not forget about the gingerbread frosting! I was so happy that the frosting ended up tasting like gingerbread, just like I'd hoped!

When my husband tried them out he asked, "Are these gluten-free?!" as if I'd suddenly thrown him a curve ball and started cooking with AP flour again :). Nope, haven't done that, these cupcakes are as gluten-free as cupcakes can get! But the great thing is that they don't taste gluten-free at all; serve these at your holiday party and no one will know that they're not eating any gluten! These cupcakes are really tasty, try 'em!

Gluten-Free Cranberry Carrot Cider Cupcakes with Gingerbread Frosting

Tastes like Thanksgiving and Christmas in a cupcake!

See Gluten-Free Cranberry Carrot Cider Cupcakes with Gingerbread Frosting on Key Ingredient.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gluten-Free Banana Maple Yogurt Cake and Vintage Thingies Thursday

Warning: Lengthy post ahead (not so surprising ;)!

One of the great things about going on a gluten-free diet when you have a gluten intolerance is that a few months or so later, you notice that you're not as sensitive to other foods you initially thought you were sensitive to. For instance, I eliminated quite a few dairy products from my diet about a year ago, thinking they were the culprit of too many rumblies in the tumbly. Thankfully, this wasn't/isn't entirely true. It seems I'm not as sensitive to milk products as I previously thought. This doesn't mean I can chug down a glass of milk or eat a whole block of cheese (I wish!), but, thankfully, I can handle more dairy than once believed, like yogurt. This is a GREAT discovery. You have no idea how much I love love love dairy products. I've moved from rice milk to lactose-free milk, I've started sprinkling bits of cheese on so many different savory foods I eat, and I've even started adding yogurt to my cakes. Before I began this gluten-free adventure (and it is an adventure ;) I had to take off my wedding ring because it was slipping off! I went to put it back on this weekend, and I actually had to struggle a little to get it on my finger! Thank God for little discoveries like gluten-intolerances (of course, I'm not so thankful for the intolerance itself, but you know how it goes ;). Oh yes, and thank God for allergy tests, it turns out I'm really allergic to sesame seeds! No sesame seeds or oil for me!

Yogurt does wonders for a cake! It adds moisture and flavor! I used Stonyfield Organic Whole Milk Yogurt for this cake to make it extra moist without using tons of butter. You know what other ingredient I love to bake with?? Maple syrup! I know it sounds crazy, that stuff is so rich and sugary, but it adds an element of buttery flavor to sweets, at least that's what I've noticed. Maybe my taste buds are off, but I'm telling you, maple syrup tastes awesome in cakes or muffins. I don't like to pour it on when it comes to waffles or pancakes, but sneak a little bit into that batch of carby delights and you'll see what I'm talking about! I also sprinkled on some cinnamon chips and slivered almonds, this cake does not need frosting! Maureen over at Hold the Gluten had an awesome pumpkin bread recipe that I still need to try! She put cinnamon chips in her bread and I knew I had to get some right away!

When I'm not pouring loads of sugar into my baked goods, I'm collecting old things from here and there :)...for Thingies Thursday! Well, I don't really go out antique shopping that often, but when I'm in need of a new piece of furniture, or something to hold my magazines, or maybe something to hold my other somethings (as you can see, I really try to find any excuse to buy these little thingamabobs we refer to as antiques ;), I pay a visit to my favorite antique store in Cambridge. If you're a fan of antiques, you have to check out the Cambridge Antique Market.

To be honest, I've only gone twice, but when I do go, I stay for quite awhile. There are 4 or 5 floors, I've lost count! My head's too busy spinning round and round (there's so much to look at) that I don't even notice when I've gone from one floor to another; it's like I'm a drifter being sucked antique land. I went this weekend in search of a night stand. Thankfully, I found one at a great price! I hate paying full price for antiques (usually they're ridiculously overpriced) but I got this little table for under $25! (Sorry if you find it tacky that I mentioned the cost, but I just get so darn excited when I find something on sale that I feel like I need to spread that excitement around!) Now that's a steal! I've decided to buy furniture for my apartment slowly, instead of all at once, so that I can purchase something cute with character, a real charm made out of real wood. I figured, if the little table has been around this long, it's sure to last a while longer. I might've looked silly walking two blocks with it then taking a ride on the crazy Cambridge bus with this table, a bag of random groceries, and Christmas wrapping paper (Ah, the car-less life! I had to pick up Christmas wrapping paper, it was on sale :D!!), but I'm glad I did :).

As for the little lamp, that's also an antique I found on Craigslist. I later found one at Goodwill for half the price! :D Other cool items I've found at Goodwill? Antique tea cups! I don't host tea parties, but I'm convinced that one day I just might (you never know!), so I better stock up on the tea cups now ;).

Gluten-Free Banana Maple Yogurt Cake with Almonds

Good to the last bite :)

See Gluten-Free Banana Maple Yogurt Cake with Almonds on Key Ingredient.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Gluten-Free Biscuits and Chicken and Dumpling Stew

Like everyone else, I'm glued to the TV (watching CNN), so I'm going to make this short and sweet...or savory, I should say :). I know, it's another stew! I bet you're wondering if I eat anything other than stews and desserts :D. This cold weather has me craving hot food non-stop, it doesn't get old!

Gluten-free Biscuits

Deeelish and super easy to make :)

See Gluten-free Biscuits on Key Ingredient.

And if you're a long-time Flour Arrangements reader, you're probably not surprised to see biscuits. But This time, they're gluten-free! Big difference: more flours, a little bit of sugar, and the star ingredient: xanthan gum! The Gluten-Free Girl posted a tasty recipe for buttermilk biscuits that I wanted to make, but I didn't have all the ingredients, so I had to improvise. (I ended up eating half of them in one night! :) The stew has dumplings, but I can't get enough carbs, so why not have chicken and dumplings AND gluten-free biscuits?! Sounds like a tasty combo to me. This isn't just any ol' chicken and dumplings meal either, I added veggies to the stew. I tried to make it as hearty and nutritious as possible.

I've been thinking about something, I'm going to change Flour Arrangements up a bit. Not really change it, more like spice it up. I know how frustrating it can be to not be able to gluten-free recipe online; I can imagine how much harder it is to find recipes for other allergy=related diets. Purchasing specialty foods can get expensive, too, so that's why I've resorted to making almost everything from scratch. I know I'm not the only one. This is why I'd like to extend this invitation to you all: If there is a dessert/savory dish that you're craving, and you're on a special diet and can't find a recipe for it, I'll try to make up a recipe for you. I can't promise that I'll get it to you right away, but I'll do my best :). (Please just don't ask me to make basil cupcakes ;)! much for a short and sweet post :P!

Gluten-Free Chicken and Dumpling Stew

Tasty on a cold day :)

See Gluten-Free Chicken and Dumpling Stew on Key Ingredient.