Monday, April 21, 2014

The Last Easter Basket

What a whirlwind I have been living in as of late.  My father-in-law had a heart attack in March and hubby and I had to make an unplanned trip to Dallas.  Then a dear uncle of mine left this world to be with those he loves in heaven.  Hubby had surgery.  A precious little boy is now in the arms of Jesus.  A family Disney World trip and then Easter. 

My father-in-law is doing well.  After spending a few weeks in a rehab facility he is at home.  Hubby is also doing well.  The trip to Disney was wonderful.  The first time ever that both kids, son-in-law and grands were on vacation together.  Money well spent and truly a priceless experience.

Yesterday we celebrated Easter.  The celebration of Christ's resurrection began for us on Maundy Thursday with a special service and continued on Friday with an outstanding presentation of The Lenten Sketches. 

Easter day was filled with activity.  This year Eric and I attended a sunrise service.  It was a true blessing.  A small gathering of friends from Sunday School.  Everyone took a breakfast item to share and I made a blueberry coffee cake (gluten free of course).  I will get to the recipe in a little bit. 

The Sunrise Service was followed by Sunday School and a very uplifting sermon at church.  About mid-afternoon I crashed and was able to take a much needed Easter nap.  I was a little sad that my children and grandchildren were not here to share the day.  Due to their schedules and illness we will be celebrating Easter as a family this coming weekend.  

Last night was a time of quite and reflection.  I have a photo of me when I was about 2 or 3 years old with possibly my first Easter basket.  Of course I don't actually remember the basket itself.  I only have the photo to remember.  I do; however, remember my last Easter basket.  Growing up money was tight.

Long after I had passed the age of Easter baskets, Mom gave me money with a list of candy treats to purchase at a 5 and 10 cent store in downtown.  I bought the items and brought them home.  A chocolate covered coconut cream egg was the star attraction.  

Together Mom and I filled a small basket with the Easter goodies and she gave it to me.  The Easter treats lasted several days and of course I shared the sweets with her.  It was a very special time for me.  A memory that I will cherish forever. 

Needless to say the last several weeks have been overwhelming but with the grace of God I have made it through.  Easter is a time of renewal and celebration.  To think that someone loved me enough to give such a supreme sacrifice.  

This morning Eric and I finished off the last of the coffeecake.  I promised to share my recipe with our hostess from yesterday morning.  What better than to also share the memories of my last Easter basket.

The coffeecake is an adaption of the recipe found at King Arthur Flour.  They have absolute the best gluten free products.

Gluten Free Blueberry Coffeecake

Topping

4 tablespoons soft butter
1 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons Gluten-Free Muffin Mix
1 cup chopped pecans
pinch of salt

Cake

6 tablespoons melted coconut oil or butter

3 large eggs
remainder of Gluten-Free Muffin Mix
1 cup milk
2 cups fresh or defrosted frozen blueberries, divided
1/4 to 1/3 cup candied lemon peel, chopped
powdered sugar for dusting, optional


Preheat oven to 375°F.  Grease a 9" x 13" pan, or two 8" X 2" round cake pans.

For the topping place the soft butter, brown sugar, 6 tablespoons muffin mix, pecans and salt in the container of your food processor.  Pulse several times until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside while preparing the cake batter.

Mix the batter, starting with the remainder of the muffin mix, butter or oil and eggs, on medium-high speed until well-blended.  Add the milk, 1/4 cup at a time, blending well and scraping the sides of the bowl between additions. When all of the milk is added, mix on medium-high speed for about a minute or until the batter has thickened. Gently fold in 1/2 cup of the blueberries and chopped candied lemon peel.
   
Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s)and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Top with the remaining blueberries.  Sprinkle evenly with the streusel topping.  Bake the cake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the middle reads 210°F.  Remove it from the oven, and cool.  This can be dusted with powdered sugar if desired.

Yield: about 16 servings.



As you continue on your journey remember the gift of Easter.  Don't forget to make memories with those you love.  
  

Friday, February 28, 2014

Nothing Beats Fried Chicken

Growing up I was always amazed at how my mother could make the absolute best fried chicken.  As far as I know she dipped it in some seasoned flour, brought real honest to goodness solid shortening from a can to temperature in a cast iron skillet and then filled the skillet with the dredged chicken.  She covered it with a lid that did not quite fit.  The chicken wasn't in a single layer.  Just piled in. 

Prior to going gluten free, I spent years trying to replicate her chicken.  Well it never worked.  I found it was much easier to stop and get take out chicken which only helped to play into my fast food addiction.  Yes, I'm a recovering fast food addict.  I think that confession was in a previous post somewhere along the way.  Now back to the chicken thing.

Hubby also loves fried chicken.  I think his mother was a little more advanced in the process.  She had a cast iron skillet that she called a chicken fryer which had a well fitting lid.  I believe the process may have been pretty much as my mother's but since I never saw my mother-in-law fry chicken I can't be positive.  A few weeks ago it was requested by my darling husband, hereafter referred to as DH, that I fry chicken and do a honey drizzle over it.

ASimply Gluten Free I found a recipe for fried chicken that I was able to adapt to suit my needs.  Carol Kicinski is a well known author and gluten-free recipe developer so I figured her recipe would be perfect to use.  However, those of you who know me know that I frequently have a difficult time following direction.  So I took her recipe and made a few adjustments.  The adjustments were made for 2 reasons:

  1. I don't take direction well.
  2. I wanted to use up some products before they went bad.
With that being said here is my recipe.

Gluten Free Fried Chicken with 
Ancho Chili-Honey Drizzle for 2

2 large chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 to 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce,  several dashes to taste
1 cup Gluten-Free Bisquick
1/8-1/4 teaspoon sea salt (Use your judgement.  I don't use a lot of salt in cooking.)
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
Vegetable Oil for frying

Ancho Chili-Honey

1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder

Cut each chicken breast into 3 long strips.  Put into a medium size bowl and pour buttermilk over.  Cover and place in refrigerator for several hours.  When ready to cook the chicken, remove chicken from buttermilk and discard the buttermilk.  Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and lay  on flat surface.  Can season lightly with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Whisk together the egg and hot sauce.  In a separate bowl blend together the Bisquick and seasonings.  Dip the chicken in the egg mixture and lightly shake off excess.   Then into the seasoned Bisquick.  Allow the chicken to rest at least 5 minutes.

Using a heavy cast iron skillet or saucepan heat about 1-1/2 to 2 inches of oil to 380°F or until the handle tip of a wooden spoon inserted into the oil sizzles.  Preheat oven to 200°F.  Place a wire cooling rack over a cookie sheet and place in preheated oven.  

Once the oil is ready re-dip the chicken into the seasoned flour, shake gently and place 2 to 3 strips at a time in the hot oil.  Cook until golden.  The chicken being boneless and cut into strips should cook through in the time it takes for it to turn golden brown.  

As the chicken browns and crisps, remove from oil and place on prepared cooling rack in oven.  This will help to keep the strips warm and crisp while cooking the rest.

Mix the chili powder and honey together.  Drizzle the chicken with the honey and serve warm with additional chili-honey on the side if desired.


As I believe I have said before nothing can ever replace those wonderful childhood memories but making new memories can also be a very good thing.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Post Valentine Meal

I have heard someplace that things are often better the second time around.  Well I hope that is the case here.  I had my post ready to go.  All I needed to do was hit POST.  I hit something else, not sure what, and the whole thing went away.  How maddening!!!!!

Here it is only a few days past the 7 1/2 inch snow that covered us and it is a beautiful day with temps in the 60's and a bright blue sky.  The snow is gone but evidence of the storm still remains.  There are some downed trees along the road side and a small one on the property line between our house and the neighbor.  I think hubby and neighbor are waiting to see who is going to give it a proper send off.

Valentines Day has passed and memories being filed away for the future.  Some good and probably some not so good.  For a real Foodie such as I the day of lover's is a wonderful time to show off my culinary skills.  In the last 12 to 15 years it became a day of special culinary delight for hubby.  Several weeks ahead I would secretly begin to plan for the day.

Earlier than usual I would rise and prepare a special breakfast for the two of us.  That would then be followed up with a delightful romantic dinner for 2. Frequently I would leave work a few hours early and rush off to the grocery to purchase the items needed to complete the feast.  Funny thing is the only entrees that I can remember are snow crab legs and an occasional steak.  But the desserts.  Oh the wonderful chocolate cakes, brownies, cheesecakes and dipped strawberries.  When I started following a gluten free diet their were flourless chocolate cakes, decadent flourless brownies and of course cheesecake stuffed strawberries.  

This year the menu consisted of Gluten Free Fried Chicken, one of hubby's favorite foods.  Served with of all things white rice and steamed broccoli with garlic chips.  Now that I have that documented we shall move on to dessert--a Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  Once again I went to my favorite website King Arthur Flour and of course they did not let me down.  I found a recipe for Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  The cake mix makes an 8 to 9 inch cake and 8 delicious cupcakes to enjoy later on.

Gluten Free Pineapple Upside Down Cake
adapted from King Arthur Flour

Topping:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon Baking Spice Blend (Recipe to follow)
  • 20-ounce can pineapple rings in juice, drained, juice reserved
  • pecans halves
Cake:
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1 box King Arthur Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix 
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup pineapple juice (If needed add water to reserved juice to make the needed liquid.)
Preheat oven to  350°F.  Place the butter in a 9 to 9 1/2 inch cast iron pan.  Place in the oven while it is preheating.  Once the butter is melted, remove the pan from the oven.  Mix the brown sugar and Baking Spice Blend together and sprinkle over the melted butter.  Arrange the sliced pineapple over brown sugar/butter mixture.  If the slices are slightly up the sides of the pan there should be room for 7 slices and 1 in the center.  There should be 2 slices left.

Using a stand mixer and large mixing bowl cream together the coconut oil and butter.  Using lowest speed, add in eggs once at a time mix until thoroughly blended, scrapping bowl as needed.  Mix in 1/3 of the pineapple juice alternately with 1/3 of the cake mix.  Mix until smooth, scraping bowl as needed after each addition.

Pour a little over half the cake batter over the pineapple slices.  Divide the remaining cake mix between a muffin tin that has been lined with 8 cupcake liners that have been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Place cake and cupcakes in the preheated oven.  The cupcakes should be cooked through in 20 to 25 minutes.  The cake should be cooked through at 40 to 45 minutes.  Using an instant read thermometer is a helpful tool with gluten free baking.   The internal temperature should register between 210°F and 212°F. 

When done, remove cake from the oven and run a spatula or dull knife around the edge, allow to rest for 3 minutes.  Turn the cake over onto a serving plate. Wait another 30 seconds, lift the pan off. If anything sticks to the pan, just scrape it out and arrange on the cake.  The cake makes 8 generous servings which can be served warm or at room temperature.


 Baking Spice Blend

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon dried orange zest

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients with a wire whisk until thoroughly blended.
Pour mixture into a 1/2 cup container with tight-fitting lid, label and date.

The cake is amazing and one that I will be making many times over.  The recipe for the Baking Spice Blend is one that I found years and years ago.  I use it to add a special something to baked goods.  It also makes a very nice gift for teachers or friends. 
Until next time enjoy each minute of the day and show kindness to others.



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Childhood Memories--Mom's Macaroni and Tomato Soup

Remember yesterday?  As I was writing my first post in months and months it was snowing.  Well this morning I woke to a winter wonderland.


That is the view of my backyard from the safety of my deck.  The sun coming through the snow covered branches is breathtaking.  The lot is one of the main reasons we bought our house.  It was described as a gently sloping lot and gently sloping in Tennessee means a lot.  There is a rock covered drainage ditch in the back and our nearest neighbor to the back of us probably a quarter of a mile away.  The view this morning gave me pause to be thankful for the beauty of God's handiwork. 

The snow has always brought back wonderful childhood memories.  I grew up part of the time in a suburb of Chicago, "The Windy City".  It truly is "The Windy City" and tons and tons of snow.  I remember the first snow falls and the beauty.  The field with the ice skating rink.  Walking to the bus stop for the long ride to school.  Walking home in the bitter cold with my mother waiting.  

My mother was often waiting with a warming bowl of beef stew.  The beef was an inexpensive cut but somehow she could cook it till it was falling apart.  Tender yet moist.  We had a boxer back then, Rocky, who loved her beef stew almost as much as I did.  I would bring in his food bowl and she would give him a ladle or 2 and then set it aside to cool.  Rocky always liked his bowl clean.

In fourth grade we lived someplace in Indiana.  Not exactly sure, maybe the Hammond area.  We lived about 6 blocks or so from the school and I would walk to school in the morning, walk home at lunch, walk back after lunch and then home again the the afternoon.  With all that walking I should have been fit but don't remember that part, just the walking to and from in the cold and the snow.  Brrrrrrrr!

For lunch my mother would frequently have a bowl of wonderful soup waiting.  I have no idea how she did it but with just a few basic ingredients the soup was amazing and so warming.  After I was grown I asked her what she put in that soup and she laughed.  She said it was a way to stretch the food budget.  There are no photos of the soup today, maybe when the thaw happens I can get the primary ingredient......tomato juice.

Mom's Macaroni and Tomato Soup

1 tablespoon butter (Mom probably used margarine.)
1 medium onion, chopped
32 oz tomato juice
1/2 cup or so of elbow macaroni (a gluten free option works fine)
salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large saucepan melt the butter and add in the chopped onion.  Cook over medium heat until onion is wilted.
  2. Pour in tomato juice and bring to a gentle boil.  Stir in elbow macaroni, return to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer until macaroni is cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

The above recipe is from memory and may not be exact.  I am looking forward to giving it a try very soon.  Mom often served it with toasted cheese bread.  The bread was usually a hamburger bun with a slice of American cheese on top and then placed under the broiler until the cheese melted.  

Mom passed on many years ago but she left me with some wonderful memories.  It is amazing how the mind works.  This started out as a post concerning Snow Cream and ended up with the soup.  If you make the soup let me know how it tasted.  I'm really looking forward to giving it a try soon.  Not sure if I can replicate the goodness and love that Mother gave it.  A Mother's love is an amazing ingredient.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Simple Granola

It is snowing!  Big beautiful flakes are falling outside.  There is a light dusting in the backyard.  I woke this morning to the sound of falling sleet which was replaced with a dusting of snow which was then replaced with rain-snow mix and now we are back to snow.

What does someone do when they don't want to be out in it?  How above making granola?  Has anyone ever looked at the price of "gluten free" granola?  It is ridiculous!  A 12 oz bag can cost as much as $6 a bag.  Why?  Probably because it says "Gluten Free" on the bag.

I found an Alton Brown recipe on Food Network which I tweaked to fit my needs.  My needs being what I had in the kitchen and/or freezer.  I'm not going out in the snow!

Simple Gluten-
Free Granola

3 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free, Extra Thick, Rolled Oats
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pecan pieces
3/4 cup shredded sweet coconut
1/4 coconut oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup dried fruit; raisins, blueberries, dried cranberries

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine the oats, almonds, pecan pieces and coconut.  
  3. In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil with the brown sugar, maple syrup and sea salt.  Pour over the oat mixture and stir to combine
  4. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper, divide the granola mix between the 2 cookie sheets and place in the preheated oven.
  5. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.  Allow to cool then stir in the dried fruit.  Enjoy!

A nice crunchy granola for a fraction of the cost. 



Anyone wondering where I've been?  Long, long story but I am so enjoying retirement.  




Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lemon Curd

Wouldn't you know it....here it is the end of March and we had snow flurries yesterday and last night.  The flurries also continue this morning.  In viewing the news report from around the country I should be counting my blessings.  We are only having flurries and not inches of snow.  I am ready for spring and am looking forward to getting my herb garden in shape as well as our new garden plot.

There is a local church that rents garden plots for $25 a year.  It is for organic gardening.   There are tools that can be borrowed to clear your plot, compost and mulch.  I am so ready to get started.  
 
A few weeks ago my post dealt with scones.  :yummy:  But what are scones without lemon curd?  There are many, many recipes out there for lemon curd.  King Arthur Flour not only has a great gluten free scone recipe but wouldn't you know it a lemon curd recipe as well.  

Microwave Lemon Curd
by 
King Arthur Flour

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (Approximately 4 medium to large lemons should yield 1 cup of juice.)
  • zest of 1 lemon (optional)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs

1.  The zest was an optional ingredient from King Arthur's blog.  It did suggest combining the lemon juice and zest and processing in a food processor or blender.  I added the freshly squeezed lemon juice with the zest and blended in the Vita-Mix.  

2.  Combine the juice with the remaining ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl.  The use of a large bowl is encouraged to prevent spill overs.  I used a 2.5 quart glass mixing bowl and trust me it was needed.

2.  Microwave in 1-minute increments, removing from the oven and stirring to combine after each minute.

3.  When curd starts to thicken; coats the back of a spoon; and starts to mound a bit as you stir, it's done. The recipe on King Arthur says that this could take up to 10 minutes depending on the wattage of your microwave.  If memory serves me correctly it took about 4 to 5 minutes in my microwave. 

4.  Stir the curd one more time, spoon it into a storage container, and refrigerate until firm.   The curd was prepared in the afternoon and then served the next morning.  It was perfect texture.

5.  Keep curd refrigerated for up to 3 weeks; freeze for longer storage.
Yield: a scant 2 cups lemon curd.

 
 The curd, along with some of the scones was shared at a recent ladies group.  The curd got some very positive comments.  It is very tart and such a wonderful contrast to the lightly sweet scones.  I think it would also be delicious served on pound cake or over fresh berries. 

True to my decision to use more King Arthur gluten free recipes in my cooking I have made Gluten Free Lobster Rolls, Gluten Free Apple Cobbler and this morning used the Gluten Free Muffin Mix for muffins.  Plans are to share the results with you over the coming weeks.  Until next have a safe a wonderful Easter Season.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tired of Substandard Gluten Free Baking?

I have been doing this blog for a couple of years now.  It has been a challenge to get out a post or two every month and then the moving thing really put things on hold.  It seems that I did better at keeping current when I was working.  Sounds funny I know but it is amazing how full a person's life can be at retirement.

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of attending a baking demo by King Arthur Flour.  While the demonstration was using their glutenous products the techniques taught also work with gluten free products.  If you want a good gluten free baked good you must start with good quality gluten free ingredients.  Over the last couple of years I have come to respect and appreciate the high standards of King Arthur Flour.  Since I am using their products and for the most part their recipes I have decided to dedicate the next several months to blogging about the recipes and ingredients I find there.

This morning I tried the Gluten Free Scones recipe.  As was anticipated the scones were wonderfully flaky and lived up to the high standards the company has set.  Specialty items you might need:






Quality scone pan.  My photo shows my trusty divided scone pan by Lodge.  It has years of use not just in making scones but in making delicious cornbread

Perfect Pie Blender not just any but the one from the King Arthur Flour website. I have tried other pastry blenders but this one does the job right.   

Bowl and Dough Scraper

Hot pad for setting the hot pan on after your wonderful scones are cooked through.

Naturally you will also need assorted measuring cups, spoons and bowls.  I would also recommend a digital scale for measuring flour.  Let's face it, if you have done any gluten free baking you might already be aware that they can measure much differently from glutenous flours.

and of course a recipe.

Gluten Free Scones

by King Arthur Flour
and adapted by PaulaG


  • 1 3/4 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour or 2 1/4 cups brown rice flour blend
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 3/4 cup diced dried apricots, raisins, or cherries
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup cold milk
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract 





  • 1.  Whisk together the flour or flour blend, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and nutmeg.  The flour was the Brown Rice Flour Blend recipe that is referenced using 2 cups along with 2 tablespoons of buckwheat flour made a perfect dough.  In place of the nutmeg I used Baking Spice Blend which is Recipe #145505 on Food.com.

    2.   Work in the cold butter till the mixture is crumbly.  I cut the butter into small cubes.  Worked in half the butter and then added the remainder and continued to work until crumbly.  Cold butter is essential to achieve flaky scones.

    3.  Stir in the dried fruit of choice.  This morning I had some dried blueberries and used those in the recipe.  Wonderful!

    4.  Whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla till frothy.  My milk of choice is almond milk.

    5.  Add to the dry ingredients and using the Dough and Bowl Scraper blend the ingredients until well blended. The dough should be cohesive and very sticky. 

    6.  Drop dough by the 1/3-cupful into the scone pan or onto the baking sheet.   Hint:  If you spray the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray it is very easy to scoop into the pan.  Let the scones rest for 15 minutes.  Mine rested in the refrigerator to keep the butter cold.

    7.  Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a divided scone pan, or grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet.

    8.  Sprinkle the scones with sparkling sugar or cinnamon sugar, if desired. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, till golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes or so before serving. Best enjoyed warm, with butter and jam.

    Yield: 8 scones.

    After the 5 minute standing time the scones lifted out of the pan with the aid of my brownie spatula and we enjoyed a delicious scone with homemade apple butter.


    Happy Baking!