Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

 
Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies


These are the best gluten free chocolate chip cookies I've made so far. I made them crisp, because that's what I like--so I can't say that I know how these taste when baked to a soft consistency. These just tasted like great chocolate chip cookies: sweet, buttery, chocolatey--perfect.
I used  Better Batter Gluten Free All Purpose Flour, and that's important to note, because all gluten free flour is different. Better Batter is the brand I use most, as it contains xanthan gum, which is something I've had to add when using other brands. It is what worked for this recipe. 
Feel free to use whichever brand of GF flour you like, but know that you may get different results. 
This recipe also uses a unique mixing method that I discovered when I found my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I think that the mixing method makes a difference too.
So, there you go. Another gluten free recipe that's not healthy at all, but at least it doesn't have any gluten!


Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups Better Batter Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (I used dark brown)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) margarine, softened
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips (I like Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans (optional)
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Mix the four, sugars, baking soda, salt, and baking powder with a whisk in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a stand mixer or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream together the margarine, butter, egg, and vanilla. It may take a few minutes for the mixture to come together and emulsify, but mix until this happens.
Stir in the dry ingredient mix until completely incorporated with the creamed mixture.
Add the chocolate chips and nuts. Stir to combine.
Scoop dough by the tablespoon and place on parchment-lined pan, spacing cookies about 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes for soft cookies, 12-14 minutes for crisp cookies. 
Remove from oven and allow to cool on pan for about 3-4 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies



Sunday, August 27, 2017

Gluten Free Cheese Crackers

Gluten Free Cheese Crackers
I'm trying to delete gluten from my diet as much as possible because of inflammation issues I seem to be having as a result of eating wheat products. I love crackers--all kinds--and today I finally took the time to make some gluten free cheese crackers. 
I'm glad I did. I looked at several recipes, and decided to go with one of my favorite recipe sources: King Arthur Flour. They never let me down, even if I am trying to give up most of their products.
The original recipe called for 8 tablespoons of butter, but with the cheese I thought that would be too much butter and result in greasy crackers. I do enjoy greasy crackers sometimes, but knew I didn't want to make that today. So I cut the butter in half, and the crackers turned out fabulous anyway. 
They have great flavor and crispness, and I think they sort of taste like Goldfish Crackers. My boys think they taste like Cheese-Its. Either way, they're a success. I strongly recommend you use a sharp cheddar, as opposed to medium or mild, and you'll get a better cheesy taste from these.
Enjoy! (Gluten free!)


Gluten Free Cheese Crackers
     Adapted from KingArthurFlour.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups Better Batter Gluten Free All Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you can add more if you want a stronger bite)
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted garlic powder (regular garlic powder will work)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, sliced or shredded
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons water
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Gather two baking sheets.
Place the dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
Add the butter and process until butter is incorporated. Add the cheese and process until mixture looks like cornmeal.
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk the egg and vinegar until frothy. Add the water to the egg & vinegar, and mix. 
Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients. Process until you have a cohesive dough. If it seems very dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it is cohesive.
Place a sheet of parchment on a flat surface, sprinkle with some flour. Divide dough in half; set one half aside.
Try to form the dough into a rectangle and flatten slightly with an open hand. Sprinkle with a little flour and top with a piece of plastic wrap. 
Roll dough to about 1/8-inch thickness.
Remove plastic wrap and then using a pizza cutter, cut dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch squares. Either pierce squares with a fork, or make a slight imprint with a very small cookie cutter.
Slide parchment sheet with unbaked crackers onto a baking sheet, and try to separate pieces a bit if you can.
Repeat with the other half of dough.
Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 16 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Remove from oven and remove the ones that are done on the edges. Spread remaining crackers evenly over their pans and place back in the oven to bake until browned to your liking, about 3-5 more minutes probably. Keep an eye on them.
When crackers are all baked, cool completely on the pans or a wire rack. When completely cooled, move to an airtight container or zip top bags to store.

Makes quite a few crackers. 
(Sorry I forgot to count--they filled a gallon size bag about 2/3 full. I ate so many though, perhaps it would have been up to 3/4 full if I'd restrained myself more.)

Dry ingredients with butter and cheese processed in
After wet ingredients have been incorporated
Dough has been rolled, cut, and semi pierced with that little cookie cutter.
I removed the dark ones from the bottom after 13 minutes in the oven. Then I baked the rest for 4 more minutes.
Many different sizes and shapes, all equally tasty
Hey! It looks like a cracker inside there!


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Individual Cheese and Egg Puffs




I got this recipe ages and ages ago from my friend Kim's mom. I rarely make them because it's one of those brunch items that you take to events, and I guess I don't go to that many brunch events. 
Today, though, I got to make them for the Wilsons, as they were here for their bi-annual drive through Des Moines. Gosh, I love that family. Not only are they fun and awesome, but they love eating just as much as I do. 
The egg-eaters in our two families thoroughly enjoyed these yummy little puffs. They're tender, and somewhat light-tasting, with only a hint of the green chile flavor. They're salty, cheesy, soft, and very satisfying.
I have a few left that I'm going to try freezing, and I'll try to remember to put an update on here of how that goes.

Individual Cheese and Egg Puffs

Ingredients:
  • 10 large eggs
  • 12 oz. small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 pound jack cheese, grated
  • 4 to 5 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1 can diced green chilies 
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (I used Better Batter Gluten Free AP Flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
Instructions:
  • Prepare the day/night before.
  • In a large bowl, beat eggs until lemon colored. 
  • Blend in cottage cheese, jack cheese, Gruyere cheese, and diced chilies. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  • The next morning, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients and the melted butter to the egg mixture, and mix well.
  • Generously grease 24 medium size (2 to 2 1/2 inch) muffin cups (original recipe says 30, but mine only yielded 24). 
  • Divide egg mixture evenly among muffin cups, filling them about 3/4 full. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, or until tops are golden and feel firm. 
  • Let stand 10 minutes, and then run a knife around each muffin cup to loosen the egg puff.
  • Gently lift puffs out. 
  • Serve hot or at room temperature.
Makes about 24 puffs
Right after mixing the eggs, cheese, and chilis

After the addition of the dry ingredients the next day


Pan is ready to go into the oven

Hello, delicious cheesy, salty, eggy goodness.

I may have eaten a couple more after these two.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Roasted Broccoli


Delicious roasted broccoli



I needed a new way to prepare broccoli tonight, and Pinterest did not let me down. Everyone loved this, and now I'm wondering why we all tolerated simply steamed broccoli for so long.
The broccoli turned out mostly cooked, but still crunchy, and very flavorful. I may like broccoli again.

Roasted Broccoli
       Adapted from A Spicy Perspective

Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.
Wash, trim, and cut broccoli into bite-size pieces. Cut and peel stalk as well, if desired.
Pile broccoli onto the prepared baking sheet.
Drizzle olive oil over broccoli, and then sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper mix. Toss with hands and spread evenly over the surface of the pan.
Roast at 475 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until edges start to look a bit charred.
Makes about 3-4 servings


Meat Cubes (Meatballs Don't Have to Be Spherical)


Meatballs need not be rounded.

Why should meat balls be balls at all? I mean, they're time consuming to roll into the ball shape, and if you're frying them, they are hard to brown on all sides--because they have no sides. 
Meat cubes, on the other hand, make so much more sense to me. They consist of the same ingredients, they have the same amount of meat, they taste exactly the same, and they're so much less labor intensive. Plus they won't ever roll off the plate. These are also perfect for my homemade open faced meatball sandwiches (which, come to think of it, I've never blogged about).
To me, this is a happy medium between my crazy enthusiasm for homemade foods and my modern-day need for a little more convenience. I may never again roll meat into the shape of a ball, and I'm good with that.
Come join me in this rebellion against traditional arbitrary food shapes. Let's make our lives just a little bit easier while retaining all of the goodness and deliciousness of homemade cooking.
Note: When I made these the first time, I made only the half recipe, and they turned out rather thin. The second time I did a full batch, and got the chunkier cubes you see in most of the pics. They look more fun this way, and get more meat per cube.

Meat Cubes (half recipe at the end of this post)

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten free breadcrumbs from gf French rolls)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 small onions, finely diced
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 5 pounds ground ground (90/10) 
  • more vegetable oil 
Instructions:
  • Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
    In a large bowl, place the breadcrumbs and pour the milk over them. Allow to sit while you prepare the onions & garlic.
     
  • Heat the 5 tablespoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions until translucent. Add garlic, stir, and cook one minute more. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. 
  • To the breadcrumbs and milk, add the eggs, parsley, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese. Stir to incorporate all ingredients. Mix in the onions and garlic a little at a time (so you don't cook the eggs). Add the ground beef. With your hands (I use plastic gloves for this), gently incorporate the beef into the other ingredients until the mixture is uniform. 
  • Place 3/4 of the meat mixture in prepared 9 x 13 inch pan and spread out to evenly in the pan. Cover and freeze 60  to 90 minutes. Form the rest into balls and flatten, and you'll be cooking those for dinner tonight. You could put the other fourth into a smaller pan and freeze and cut those too. (I'm only really telling you what I did--only 3/4 of the mixture should be put into the 9x13 pan.)
  • When meat is mostly frozen, lift out of the pan by grabbing the edges of the parchment paper and lifting. Place on a cutting surface, and using a large sharp knife, cut into about 48 cubes (6 x 8), or 1.5 inch squares.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and tilt pan to distribute oil evenly. Place as many meat cubes in the pan that fit comfortably with a little space between. Cook until well browned on the first side, and then turn using a metal spatula. Cook until well browned on the second side and so on until most of the sides have browned. Remove cooked meat cubes to a clean baking sheet and continue frying meat cubes in batches until complete, adding more oil to the pan as needed. If you want the cubes cooked well all the way through, you can place the pan in a 325 degree oven for an additional 20 minutes.
  • Use as many cubes as you want for now. Allow the rest to cool completely, place on a freezer paper lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. Move frozen cooked meat cubes to a large zip top bag and place in the freezer. Use within about 2 months.
Makes about 4 dozen meat cubes
I would allow about 4 cubes per serving.




Once the sauce is added, you don't even care about the shape.
Meat Cubes Half Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I use gluten free breadcrumbs from gf French rolls)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, finely diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground ground (90/10) 
  • canola oil 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Simple Chuck Roast (in Tacos)

 
Simply delicious roast beef




Roast beef is, I think, a perfect meat. It's great the first night, and you can do so many things with leftovers. For instance, you can eat roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy one night, and the next you can have roast beef tacos or taquitos--or you can douse the leftovers in teriyaki sauce and serve it with fresh steamed white rice. Ah, so good. 
Since my sister-in-law turned up with a soy allergy, and my nephew has a severe wheat allergy, I had to come up with an easy, controllable alternative to the Lipton Onion Soup mix that I was accustomed to using on my pot roasts.
This turns out to be a perfect seasoning. Most people have the ingredients in their cupboard, and one batch of seasoning is good for about three or four roasts. The flavor is just a nice, savory taste that can morph with the addition of various spices and seasonings.
Tonight we enjoyed this roast inside tacos. The remainder will be put into taquitos that will be frozen for a quick lunch option while most of us are home for the summer.
So here you go, an easy and tasty way to season your roast.

Simple Chuck Roast (in Tacos)

Ingredients:
  • 3 pound chuck roast
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons seasoning mix (recipe below)
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • canola oil for frying
  • taco toppings
Seasoning Mix:
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder (NOT onion salt)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 scant tablespoon chili powder
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Combine all of the seasoning mix ingredients in a bowl or sealed storage container.
Place roast in a roasting pan and coat with 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of seasoning (use less for a smaller roast, and more for a larger roast). Cover roasting pan with foil to keep moisture in.
Place pan in oven and roast for about 3 1/2 to 4 hours, or until meat is very tender and shreds easily with a fork.

While meat roasts for the last half hour to an hour, heat up about one inch of canola oil in a high-rimmed frying pan. When a little bit of corn tortilla placed in the oil sizzles immediately, the oil is ready.
Using a pair of metal tongs, carefully slide one corn tortilla into the hot oil. Immediately fold the tortilla in half using the tongs. Fry on each side for about 1-2 minutes, or until the edges are crisp. Don't let them get too crisp, though, because they'll break when you try to fill them with the meat.
Repeat with remaining tortillas, and you can fry 2 or 3 at once, depending on the size of your pan. Drain fried taco shells on a plate or cooling rack lined with paper towels.

Place about 1/4 cup of shredded roast beef in a taco shell, top as desired, and enjoy.

Makes 12 tacos, perhaps with some meat leftover for tomorrow.






Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Potatoes Lyonnaise

 
Potatoes Lyonnaise



Potatoes, caramelized onions, garlic, and butter layered and baked to tender savory perfection. Mmm. Even if it doesn't do my actual heart good, it sure comforts my soul today. 
This is just a satisfying potato and onion dish that compliments any meat, in my opinion. It's buttery, tender, intermittently crisp, with the sweet saltiness of perfectly caramelized onions. I'm literally sitting here after dinner eating the leftovers with my fingers, probably getting the keyboard all buttery.
Speaking of butter, the original recipe calls for a whole stick of butter, and I only used 6 tablespoons. I have to say, though, that the next time I make these I'll probably back it down to 5, or even 4 tablespoons. My remnants are nearly swimming in butter. Delicious, but really more than I should be consuming right now.

Potatoes Lyonnaise
    Adapted from DownHomeComfortFood.com

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds yellow-fleshed potatoes, sliced thin (about 1/8 inch)
  • 4 smallish onions, halved and julienned
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons butter, plus a little more for brushing
  • more salt for boiling
Instructions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place sliced potatoes into a large pot with salted water. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally to separate potato slices so they can cook evenly. Drain water completely and set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste. Stir and allow to cook until starting to brown. Stir again and reduce heat to medium low. Stir and cook onions on low to medium until they start to caramelize, but don't turn to mush (about 12-15 minutes). Add minced garlic, stir, and cook for another minute. Remove onions & garlic to a heat-proof bowl.
  • Return the pan to the burner and melt 6 tablespoons butter in the pan. Make a potato layer on the bottom of the pan with 1/3 of the potatoes. Evenly distribute half the onions on top of the layer of potatoes. Add another layer of 1/3 of the potatoes. Add another layer of onions. Top with the final 1/3 of the potatoes. Brush tops of potatoes with a little melted butter.
  • Place pan in oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are browned.
  • Remove from oven and serve.
Potatoes: boiled and drained
Onions just starting to caramelize
The first couple of layers
Just a little butter on top before going into the oven
Comfort food--all hot and bubbly




Monday, May 29, 2017

Heidi's Bacon Green Beans

 
Mmm. Bacon Green Beans.


My sister-in-law Heidi can COOK. Every time I eat at her house I come away with a new recipe or five. This one has quickly become one of my favorites that is currently a weekly side dish at my house. I'm not sure if my family loves these as much as I do, but I don't care. Even as leftovers these green beans are heavenly. Must be the bacon.

The high heat on these beans makes them a little charred on the outside, and the salty bacon along with the fabulous savory flavor of the shallots make this a fabulous sensory experience. Even if you're not a fan of green beans in general, you might like these. And they're easy. So easy.

I use the meat counter slab bacon for these green beans. My brother pointed out to me that bacon is really cheaper that way, and it's a thicker cut, so it feels meatier AND it doesn't burn with the high heat in this application.

Heidi's Bacon Green Beans

Ingredients:
  • 4-5 cups of washed and trimmed fresh green beans (I also like to cut them in half)
  • 4-5 strips of thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4 inch strips (crosswise, not lengthwise)
  • about 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
Instructions:
  • Place a large cast iron skillet on the stove and turn the burner to medium high. Add bacon before the pan gets hot.
  • Stir bacon until is just starts to render some fat.
  • Add the green beans and continue to stir over medium high heat until green beans have some dark, almost burned spots. 
  • If bacon seems to be crisping up too soon, you can remove some of it, or turn the heat down a little.
  • Sprinkle with salt and shallots, cooking another minute or so after the beans seem done.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
Makes about 6 servings


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