Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

One of Paprika's favorite "treat" foods as a younger child was a corn dog.  When we went to the fair and were surrounded by food vendors selling just about anything you could imagine, Paprika was in the corn dog line.  When we went occasionally to a restaurant, the first question from Paprika was, "Do they have corn dogs?"  When we shopped the frozen food aisle at Costco, invariably I would feel that tug on my sleeve as we passed.....yep...the corn dogs.  This kid loved them.  So when we went gluten free and we begin to learn the foods on the "do not eat list," Paprika was disappointed that her beloved corn dogs were on that list.

Last Christmas Paprika asked if I could figure out how to make corn dogs.  The recipes I found at the time all used wheat flour.  Then I thought what if I just used cornbread mix.  Thus evolved these mini corn dog muffins.  We ate them on Christmas Eve for the first time and since then they have been a staple in my freezer for a quick lunch or snack.  I have since found recipes that make "real" corn dogs, but these are easy and delicious!

Mini Corn Dog Muffins

1 package of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix
1 1/2 cups milk (I use soy milk to make these dairy free)
1/3 cup oil or melted butter
2 eggs
1 package Hillshire Farms Lit'l Smokies (I used regular.  The beef smokies are a bit greasy.)

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Generously grease a mini muffin tin.

Place entire package of cornbread mix in a large bowl.  Add milk, eggs, and oil (or melted butter).   Mix with an electric mixer on low speed until blended.  Then beat on high for approximately 30 seconds.

Spoon enough of the cornbread mixture to cover the bottom of each mini muffin cup.

Place one Lit'l Smokie into each cup and press it into the mixture.  You might have to cut them to make them fit.

Spoon enough of the cornbread mix to cover your Lit'l Smokie.  You want this to be even with the muffin cup because it does puff up while baking.  Bake for 12 minutes at 375 degrees.  Tops should be lightly browned.  Cool on a wire rack. 

This recipe made 55 mini corn dogs to stock my freezer!

Today, Paprika smiled when she entered the kitchen.  "Hey, you made corn dogs!  Can I have one?"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes

When we first became gluten free everything seemed so daunting, especially baking!  I remember checking out books from the library and shaking my head when I came across recipes that used flours I had never heard of or recipes that used a long list of ingredients.  I resigned myself to the fact that I was probably going to have to use packaged mixes that seemed very expensive.

I did try to adapt some of my favorite recipes into gluten free versions.  The problem was that I was at the beginning of that learning curve and some of my attempts were not so great.  A good case in point was my adaptation of a French bread recipe that I had made for 18 years and my family loved. 

Yep!  You are right.  It did not turn out so well.  Actually, it tasted fine, but it was incredibly dense and had relatively no color.  It was pretty pathetic.

Over the past year and half, I have studied cookbooks and ingredients.  I have tried to learn the ins and outs of gluten free cooking and baking.  I still have a lot to learn, but I hope this will give all of you who are new to the GF life a reason to keep on trying. 

Tonight I made gluten free French bread using one of those recipes with a long list of ingredients!  I used the French bread recipe found in Bette Hagman's book The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread and had very different results!

It was delicious!  Definitely better than a year ago, don't ya think?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gluten and Dairy Free Tater Tot Casserole

Tonight I just wanted a good old casserole.  I remember the quick and easy days when I could mix a bunch of ingredients together, add some cream of mushroom soup, presto.....casserole.  Not so easy when you are both gluten free and dairy free.  For those of you who are only gluten free you can use Pacific Natural Foods Organic Cream of Mushroom Condensed Soup with great results. For those of us with dairy issues, it is a bit more difficult, but it can definitely be done!!!

Here is a solution if you are longing for a yummy Tater Tot Casserole.  This one is dairy free.  You could make this a dairy version using the Pacific Natural Foods soup by substituting two boxes of the condensed soup for the gluten free all purpose flour, soy milk, water, and bouillon cubes used in the recipe.  Or you could just substitute milk for the soy milk and follow the rest of the directions.  This is definitely the cheaper route.

Tater Tot Casserole (Gluten and Dairy Free) 

1 1/2 pounds ground beef or venison
1 onion chopped
2 stalks celery chopped
3 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup Gluten Free All Purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup soy milk
1 cup water
3 cubes beef bouillon (Not all beef bouillon is gluten free or dairy free.  Check the labels.)
Seasoning to taste (I used Mrs Dash Garlic and Herb, salt, and pepper)
1 package frozen peas (or you could use a package of peas and carrots)
1 large package of Tater Tots (I use Ore Ida.  They print gluten free right on the bag!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown ground beef, celery, onions, and garlic in a skillet.  Drain well.  Add the flour and mix until the flour is well incorporated.  Add soy milk, water, beef bouillon and seasonings to taste.  Stir until well mixed and bouillon cubes are dissolved and sauce has thickened.  This is easier if you measure your water (use hot) and place the cubes in the water at the beginning of your cook time.  They will already be partially dissolved and easy to smash once you add them to the pan.  Add the package of peas.

Place mixture in a casserole dish.  Cover the top with Tater Tots.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes until heated through and Tater Tots are browned.

My family loved this tonight!  I hope you will enjoy it as well.

     The Herb Ox Beef Bouillon Cubes are not dairy free due to the whey ingredient.  Herb Ox does make a sodium free bouillon that is dairy free.  Since originally posting this recipe, I do not use the bouillon and instead substitute a cup of beef broth for the cup of water and the bouillon.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gluten and Dairy Free Cranberry-Orange Pecan Scones

Paprika wanted to make scones today.  Dairy free scones.  What we thought was going to be simple, ended up a true search through several cookbooks.  We ended up winging it, but based our recipe on one from the book Gluten-Free Made Simple by Carol Field Dahlstrom.  This is a great book by the way!  It it formatted beautifully and the instructions include pictures!  Awesome.

Cranberry-Orange Pecan Scones

2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, cut up
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2/3 cup vanilla soy milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Grease a cookie sheet.

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange peel.  Mix thoroughly.

Cut the butter into the mixture using a pastry blender until the mixture becomes crumbly and resembles small peas.  Add the cranberries and pecans.  Mix together and add the milk, stirring until it is just moistened.  Turn onto a floured surface.  Kneed 5-6 times.

Pat into a circle.  Cut into 8 wedges.  Place 1 inch apart on the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

We had ours with coffee or tea and a little or maybe a lot of whipped cream.  I use Soyatoo Soy Whip.  The scones were yummy!  A bit crumbly, but delicious.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Leftovers: Salmon

Several days ago I shared with you my favorite way to make salmon baked with brown sugar and butter.  We usually have enough leftover to make another favorite: a salmon sandwich spread.  It is super easy.  I just take the remaining fish and flake it into small pieces, removing any bones.

 Then simply add enough mayo to make it creamy.  It will really depend on how much fish you have leftover.  This is just like tuna fish, except the brown sugar really gives this salmon spread a delicious flavor.

  Spoon on top of gluten free bread or rolls.  It is great on crackers too.  I like to use Crunchmaster Multi Grain Crackers for this spread.  They have the right texture and flavor to make a wonderful snack.

A quick, delicious use for leftovers.  Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Quick, Easy, and Under a Buck

Eating gluten free often times takes plenty of preparation.  I like it when I can find something that is fast and easy.  One of our favorite easy lunch meals or individual dinners when it is a "fend for yourself night" around here is Thai Kitchen.  The instant rice noodle soups are a hit with my family.  We don't just eat them as the package suggests though.  We jazz them up a bit.

We have added all kinds of variations to this simple soup.  We make the soup according to the package and then add a vegetable and a protein.  Our vegetable choices are frozen peas, corn, mixed veggies, broccoli, or a Normandy mix, fresh sliced onions or mushrooms.  We add these during the boiling stage to thaw them out and quickly cook them.   Next we add a protein like crumbled bacon, leftover ham or chicken, shrimp, or hard boiled eggs.  We let it cool and allow the soup to thicken into more of a sauce.  Yum. 

Not only is this dish quick taking less than five minutes start to finish, but it is inexpensive.  You can make this dish for less than a dollar.  Quick, easy, gluten free, and frugal!  What more could you want!  Oh, and it tastes great too!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quick and Easy Salmon

We are a family that loves the outdoors!  We love all kinds of outdoor activities like hiking and camping, but we especially enjoy activities that also provide food for our table like hunting, fishing, berry picking, and gardening.  Okay, gardening is not my favorite, probably because in recent years I have not been all that successful.  I have had to compete against some pretty tough competitors too:  gophers, deer, chickens, freezing temperatures, and even my dog who apparently loves cucumbers and tomatoes.  I like the idea of gardening and bringing in something from the outdoors to prepare for dinner.  Maybe this will be the bounty year.  Looking at this picture of last years tomato bounty, I have my doubts.

I am much more successful when it comes to berry picking!  Even fishing!  We do love to eat all kinds of fish.  We like to catch bass and crappie to fry, trout to smoke, salmon to bake or barbecue, and everything else in between!  The other night we had salmon.  Now for those of you who don't fish, you might think that salmon is a dinner budget buster.  Depending on your other side dishes, salmon can be a deliciously frugal meal.  Try pairing it with rice and a salad for minimal cost.

My favorite way to make salmon is so quick and easy, not to mention yummy.  To start, simply line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.  This will make clean up a snap.  Next place your salmon pieces on the foil.  I make cuts across the fish (width) and insert butter (I use Earth Balance to make it dairy free).

Next, I season the fish with salt and pepper.  Then I pack brown sugar on top of the fish.

Cover the fish with foil.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes.  I start checking after twenty minutes because you don't want your fish to be overly done.  It dries it out.  The fish should flake easily. 

Absolutely yummy!  I hope you enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey...Burgers

I can easily rely on routine.  Often times I find myself making the same dinners each month.  I try to challenge myself with New Menu Night and I have also started to shop with an eye for something new to try each month.  I am always on the lookout for something new with a "Gluten Free" printed neatly on the package.  It helps me stretch.  Break from the routine a bit.

Last week I went to Costco and found something new:  turkey burgers.

I know.  Turkey burgers are not new to most people.  I told you I rely on routine and quite frankly, turkey burgers were not on my radar.  They sound a bit too, I don't know, healthy?  But there on the bag printed oh so neatly were those two magic words!  How could I pass this up!

There are a couple more features that make this worth purchasing.  First the prep time is quick!  Twenty minutes quick!  Sometimes being gluten free is hard because there is so much preparation and planning involved.  It is nice to find something that you can make in a hurry!  Second, the ingredient list is short and only uses words I can pronounce like turkey, kosher salt, rosemary extract, and pepper.  Can't hide much in there!  Finally, the cost is $10.49 for 12.  Using five for my family only costs me $4.37.  If I add a salad and perhaps some fries or roasted vegetables I can round out this meal rather nicely for around eight dollars.

Tonight we had turkey burgers topped with onions, pineapple, avocado slices, and tomatoes.  Everyone loved it! 

I served it with the salad and fries, because well, I decided to have a balanced meal: the healthy turkey burger and the maybe-not-so-healthy fries.

Anyway, it looks yummy to me!  And it was!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


It's a Saturday night and nothing sounds better than pizza!  Right?  I thought I would share with you my favorite way to make this delicious indulgence!  First of all, let me say that I have tried many other varieties before I found my favorite.  I started out  in the freezer section, but the frozen crusts are expensive and small!  I tried a couple other mixes, but the taste was off and the texture was less than perfect.  Then I tried Gluten Free Mama's Pizza Crust.  You can get a pack of 5 for $23.02 on Amazon's Subscribe and Save.  That makes each individual package $4.60 and it makes two 12 inch pizza crusts.

The crusts are easy to make.  They come with their own yeast packet and you just need to have an egg, cider vinegar, milk (I use soy milk), and olive oil on hand.  A word of caution for those allergic to tree nuts: this mix has almond meal as an ingredient.  It only takes a few minutes to make the dough and to prepare it, however you need to let it rest for 15 to 30 minutes.

While the two crusts are resting, I make my own pizza sauce.  I can't actually give you the recipe because it is in my head and it is one of those recipes that I don't measure anything.  I do use a can of tomato paste, olive oil, water and mix it until I have the right consistency.  Then I add Italian seasonings, basil, salt, sugar, minced garlic, and minced onion to taste.

After the crust is done resting, you can put the crusts in the oven for 12 minutes.  During this time I get all my topping ingredients together.  This is obviously not a pizza you can just bake in a quick ten minutes.  You need about an hour when it is all said and done, but it is worth it!

After the 12 minutes, you can then top your pizza and return them to the oven to bake for another 12-14 minutes.

Can you guess which part of the pizza is mine?  Yep that's right.  The side without the cheese!  I have tried a couple of different substitutions for cheese, but I could not find one that was similar in taste or texture.  The last one I tried was so awful I vowed never to try again.  Actually, I don't even miss it!

Depending on the toppings you use, you can easily make two 12 inch pizzas for less than ten dollars.  It feeds our family of five when I serve it with a side salad. 

If you want a less expensive crust or one that is free of almond meal, you may want to try Bob's Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix.  You can find it on Amazon's Subscribe and Save for $10.95.  It comes in a pack of four and makes two crusts as well for $2.74.  I have used this crust mix as well and my family does like it.  Although this mix is dairy free and is quicker to make, I prefer the taste and texture of the Gluten Free Mama's mix.  

When we first discovered what our gluten free life entailed, one big questions was, "But, what about pizza?"   I admit the prospects at the beginning looked rather grim. We tried plenty of tasteless or plain expensive alternatives.  I am glad to have found one I think rivals any gluten filled crust!  A couple of years later the question has become, "Can we have pizza tonight?" to which I can enthusiastically respond, "Sure!"

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Day of Their Own

For Christmas Dan gave me a wonderful gift!  It was to spend the whole day with him and letting him spoil me with dinner and shopping, coffee and chit chat, and a massage and a movie.  What more could a girl want?  OK maybe a clean house, but we won't go there.  We headed out the other day and waved goodbye. So, what happens when you leave two teenage girls at home alone for the day? 

Hmmm.  Probably up to no good.  I even have pictures to prove it!

What?  Does Cinnamon look innocent to you?

Paprika look studious to you?  I don't think so.  So what did two teenage twins do all day while I was gone.  You know the saying: when the cat is away, the mice will bake cupcakes?

Delicious chocolate cupcakes with orange cream cheese frosting!

Oh......and they did CLEAN HOUSE.......the WHOLE house!  You gotta love coming home to the fresh scents of chocolate and Clorox.  Life just doesn't get much better than that!
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