Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Best Smoothie I Ever Had

I've been having a craving for a chocolate milkshake.... since I don't consume any milk products anymore, I had to come up with something similar. I can't say that it exactly replicates a milkshake, but it is still the best smoothie I ever had. Sweet and chocolatey, a little coffee for a mocha twist, and best of all, you'd never know it has tofu in it. I swear, if you gave this smoothie to someone diametrically opposed to tofu, it might change their minds! It would be great with some rum, for a cocktail, also.... And it was easy, all you need is a blender or immersion blender and a pitcher, which is what I used. I should just create a sub-category for smoothies, I have too many recipes for them...

Chocolate Mocha Smoothie

You will need:
1 16 oz package silken tofu
2 cups cold coffee (cooled, at least)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup cocoa
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups vanilla or chocolate soy or rice milk

Simply combine all ingredients in blender or pitcher, whatever you're using, and blend thoroughly. If you wanted to skip the coffee, just use an equal amount of rice or soymilk, and feel free to give it to your kids, they'll love it too! Makes about 4 servings, though you may want to drink it all by yourself! Enjoy. Now, if only I had an ice cream maker, I'd try making an ice cream out of this....

Friday, August 7, 2009

More Recipes to Share

So I have some requested recipes I should post. I have made one friend who is new to the Gluten Free Life, and I figured the nicest thing I could do was give her some recipes that she can consume without fear. The first one I've got for everyone today is a GF/DF/Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie, because my new friend Grace is as much of a cookie fanatic as I am. And my neighbor called them Da Bomb Melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Chip Cookies. My family managed to consume the whole batch, except what we sent over to my neighbor, by the morning after I made them. Before I go to the recipe, a quick note about replacing eggs. I had no eggs when I came up with this recipe, so I used silken tofu and soymilk. Tofu binds similarly to eggs, though not as tight, so I doubt you could use it in bread, but it worked to create a very tender and moist crumb in my cookies. I also use shortening for my cookies, even knowing how bad it is for you, because of the dairy allergy we have in our house. You could use softened butter or margarine, obviously, if you have no dairy allergy. They won't be dairy free, and I'm not sure if that would still make them vegan. Have to look that up. But here goes.

Gluten Free/Dairy Free/Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 cups Suzy's GF Flour blend (see earlier post for flour blend recipe)
1 tsp. Xanthan gum
1 tsp. Kosher salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup silken tofu
3 Tbsp. Vanilla soymilk
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you've got)
1 Tbsp. Real Vanilla extract
1 cup Chocolate Chips (Make sure they're GF! I use Guittard or Ghirardelli)

Preheat oven to 380 to 395 degrees (mine is not perfectly accurate, so somewhere in there)

So you pretty much make these like any cookie. I still use a Stand Mixer for ALL my GF baking, except muffins- they're easier to stir. In the bowl of the stand mixer, combine the shortening, soymilk, both sugars, salt, vanilla, vegetable oil. In a 1 quart bowl combine the flour blend, baking powder, and xanthan gum and blend together with a wire whisk. Turn on the mixer and blend together the sugar and shortening, etc. until mostly not lumpy, stop the mixer and add the tofu, start it up again and run on medium speed lightened in color and beginning to rise up the sides of the bowl, a minute or so on low and then speed it up to medium and let it run for another minute. Turn off mixer and scrape the bowl all the way down in the bottom, run it again for a few seconds to make sure there's no unmixed spots. Turn mixer back on to low and add the flour mixture slowly to the bowl. I usually add in about three installments, bit by bit. If you dump it all in at once, you'll make a big mess. Mix for a minute or two, until thickened. Be sure and scrape the bowl and be sure there's no dry spots in the bottom, and mix again. It will not exactly match the texture of a gluten dough, but you'll know what I mean when I say thickened. Take the bowl off the mixer and stir in the chocolate chips by hand.
Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper, I use AirBakes, they make great cookies. You can reuse the same piece of parchment for subsequent pans of cookies, at least about 3 times, so if you only have one baking sheet it's okay. Drop medium sized balls of the cookie dough on the baking sheet, about the size of a walnut. So 1 and 1/4 inch or so. I have bigger cookie sheets, I can fit about 20 cookies on each sheet, but space them about an inch and a half apart or so, they don't spread as much as you'd think. Bake for about 11 minutes per sheet, one sheet at a time with the oven rack in the top, or high, position. These will not get very brown, and if they do they'll be drier when you eat them. When removed from the oven, let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire cooling rack. Cool for at least 10 minutes before eating, or you might burn your mouth.:) It may take some experimentation to get them right in your oven, but they're really really good cookies! Makes about 3 dozen 2 inch cookies (when baked) though you may get a few more than that, depends on how much dough you eat! Enjoy.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Gluten Free Meatballs

So I came up with this recipe today, because my husband put the idea in my head. I have never made meatballs before, other than the take 'em out of the freezer and toss them in the microwave kind, so this was an interesting experience. And they came out so good, I'm gonna put the recipe here. A word, first, about TVP. Textured vegetable protein is made from defatted soybeans, and roasted so it's really tasty. If you ever ate Taco Bell food back in the '90s, you know what it tastes like, you just don't know it. I used TVP in my meatballs, partially as a binder because I used ground pork, not beef, and I didn't use any eggs, like you would for meatloaf and some recipes for meatballs call for. I also wanted to extend the meat a little, and make about 20 meatballs, enough for my family to eat and have a little leftover. TVP is really easy to use, it just takes 10-15 minutes to rehydrate and then you can cook it or mix it with meat, etc. So maybe I should include the recipe for the whole meal, pasta, meatballs, and sauce, huh? That's probably a good plan. Here goes:

GF Meatballs with Rice Noodles and Tomato Sauce

1 pound lean ground pork
1 14 oz package Thai Kitchen Stir Fry Rice Noodles (like fettucini, pretty much)
2 15 oz cans diced or stewed tomatoes
1 cup dry Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
7/8 cup boiling water
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus 3 Tbsp, divided
1/2 large onion, or 1 small
2 to 4 cloves garlic
2 tsp dry basil, divided
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dry oregano, divided
1 and 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
fresh ground black pepper, as you like it

First things first, fill a large pan with about a gallon of warm water. Add 1 package Thai Kitchen stir fry rice noodles to the water and let soak while you ready the rest of your ingredients. Next, measure herbs and spices into a 1 quart bowl.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1 tsp ground ginger
about 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Add 1 cup dry TVP to the bowl. Stir herbs and spices into dry TVP. Add 1/4 cup vegetable oil or olive oil to the TVP, it will help it all stick together in the long run. Heat water to boiling, add 7/8 cup boiling water to the TVP and stir, let stand for 10-15 minutes, while you get the rest of your ingredients ready.

Chop 1/2 large onion, as fine as you like it. Smash and chop 2 to 4 cloves garlic, as much or as little as you like. Have ready a large nonstick skillet, with high sides. (Helps keep the splattering down if the sides are 2 inches tall, at least.)

In a large bowl combine 1 pound lean ground pork with the TVP and spice mixture. Squish it all together, it works best if you use your hands, make sure the texture is as consistent as possible. It will still feel a little loose, but it will work into a ball. Form balls about the size of a large walnut, so 1 and 1/2 inch or so. You should preheat the pan with about 3 Tbsp vegetable oil in the pan while you make the meatballs. Remember, you should get about 20 meatballs, if not you might need to make them smaller, or they may not cook properly. Have ready some tongs to roll the meatballs over with. Add meatballs to the pan one at a time, in a pattern you can remember, clockwise works for me, and let them each cook for at least 2 minutes over medium high heat, until browned and crispy on the bottom. Roll them each over in the pattern you put them in the pan, so they all cook for about the same amount of time. Roll each one and cook on at least 3 sides, so you know they're cooked through. Remove them from the pan, so you can make your sauce. Drain the meatballs on a plate with a paper towel, or a rack, so they won't be greasy (though it's a remarkably nongreasy recipe, really).

Add the chopped onion to the still hot pan and cook over medium heat until starting to get clear, about 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add chopped garlic, another 1 tsp dry basil, 1/2 tsp dry oregano, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper and stir for about a minute, just to get the garlic started cooking but not burned or it will be bitter. Add two 15 oz cans of your favorite diced or stewed tomatoes, whatever kind you like the best, and stir. Cook for about 5 minutes, just long enough for the flavors to meld. Drain noodles and add to the pan of sauce. Cook for an additional minute or two, until pasta feels al dente and not still hard, though it will be pretty soft by the time you put it in the sauce if you follow directions. If you want, at this point add the meatballs back into the pan and cook with the noodles and sauce, or place individual portions on top of each bowl of noodles. This meatball recipe also approved by my children, but they wouldn't eat the pasta, just the meatballs. But my kids like meat. Yummy and pretty easy. Serves 3 or 4

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The weekend, at last...

So I'm thinking about the barbecue... and maybe some tri-tip. The good news is, I can make virtually anything gluten free, and meats and veggies are ALL GF. As long as not cross-contaminated, anyway. And in my world, I take good care because no one in my house really needs any wheat, right? Well, my husband is another story, but even he has gone GF, just to save me the unfortunate side effects of having wheat in my house. Ah, and BBQ tri-tip sandwiches sound sooooo good, too. Gotta make the bread, though. Damn, forgot to buy eggs this morning, I'll have to go to the store again before making bread.

It occurs to me that not only should I be posting some recipes, but photos would be a good plan, too. We'll get there, I'm sure, just bear with me.

As far as recipes go, though, I can start those up, right? So here's my favorite bread recipe, starting with my favorite flour recipe.

Suzy's GF Flour Blend (I use this for virtually everything, baking wise. Cookies, cakes, muffins, bread, pizza, etc.) All flours are from Bob's Red Mill, available online.

1 24 oz package brown or white rice flour
1 23 oz package millet flour
1 20 oz package tapioca flour
1 22 oz package sweet white sorghum flour
1 24 oz package potato starch flour
(weights may be slightly off as Bob's Red Mill has changed the weights on some items recently)
In large container, blend all flours thoroughly, store in a cool dry place and use within one month for freshness. You may refrigerate or freeze for longer term storage. I use it up so fast, we don't refrigerate it.

So now, for the bread...
3 1/4 cups flour blend (see above)
1 Tbsp. Xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. sugar or honey
1 1/2 Tbsp. RapidRise yeast
2 whole eggs
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil

This is the simplest bread I've come up with, and it's really good. And Dairy free, too! As yet, I don't know if it will work without eggs... Anyway, preheat oven to about 200 degrees, or low, and turn it off. In the bowl of your stand mixer (you don't want to do this by hand!) combine dry ingredients (flour, xanthan gum, and salt) and blend on low with your paddle attachment. Add sugar to warm water and stir to dissolve. Add yeast and wait for it to bloom (bubble). When it bubbles, add vinegar, eggs, and oil to warm water mixture. Turn mixer on low and add the wet stuff slowly to the dry stuff and mix on low until dough is no longer really lumpy. Turn the speed up to medium and mix for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until dough looks smooth. It will still be really sticky, don't try to handle it. Use a silicone spatula to scrape the bowl, get down in the bottom of the bowl and make sure there's no dry spots left. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and mound the dough on the parchment. Be sure and try to smooth it out, it will only stick together if you mush it into shape really well, otherwise it will spread too much. You can use a 9x5 bread pan, too, but oil it really well, or the bread will stick like glue! Put the loaf in the oven (still off!) and use the oven as a proofing box, let it rise uncovered in the oven for about a half hour. When dough has doubled in size, remove from the oven and preheat oven to about 380-400 degrees. When oven is hot (give it ten minutes or so, depending on the oven) put the bread back in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, depending on how dark you like your crust. Voila! GF and totally excellent bread!

So there you have it, try it yourself, let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This whole GF thing....

Do you know how rare it is to find other people at random who are also affected by Celiac Disease? I just found out yesterday that a good friend of my neighbor's is also a Celiac. So, my mom, me, and now one more person in this town. Oh, and my friend's mom. My goodness, but that's few and far between. I live in a town of 6,500 souls. I don't think there's even a CD support group in the area, no GF restaurants, not even GF OPTIONS most places. No wonder. I'm beginning to feel like I need to start raising awareness or something. My husband and I have been kicking around the idea of a GF Cafe/Bakery for a couple of years now. I'm thinking it sounds like an awesome idea now, but I need to work out the funding, and employees and such. I should ask all my friends how they'd feel about it first, I guess, they're the only people I'd want to hire. Kind of like Ace of Cakes on Food Network, huh? Get all my friends together and build a business. Wouldn't that just rock, to be able to do the thing I love best, cook for people, and have a true love for my work? We can all hope.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The GF sugar cookies were such a hit that they're already gone. Of course, if your family is anything like mine, baked goods of any sort don't last long in most households, I'm sure. My family is always eagerly awaiting my recipe tests, which is nice. No matter what I feel like making, someone is happy to have it. So far, I've got bread perfected, lots of cookie varieties, muffins of all sorts, cakes, cupcakes, scones, biscuits, lots of stuff I didn't eat for a while after I stopped eating wheat because the alternative GF foods were just not worth eating. That was my inspiration to relearn how to cook and bake without wheat, the GF foods that were like eating cardboard, and the anticipation of my family.
It was unnerving how much I had to give up in my diet, so many things to miss. Oh, for a bagel! One of the Costco parmesan ones, toasted with butter! But no more bagels, at least until I learn how to make them, and no butter when I do, everyone in my house is allergic to milk and all things milk anyway. Oh, for a Hostess Chocolate Cupcake... but I make some awesome GF Chocolate Muffins, which come in as better than a Hostess Cupcake, just a different texture and whole grain, without preservatives! And no mystery white goo in the middle, either, though that may be the best part of the cupcake. What else do I miss... Twix. But those, I'm not even going to try to replicate. Fresh hot Sourdough bread at the store, I miss the convenience of just picking up things at the store. But now, I go grocery shopping and if they're baking in the bakery, I indulge in the smell but try to make it as quick as possible, because my gluten sensitivity is so great that I have reactions simply from sharing the air with the particles of wheat flour from the bakery! And I can live without the pain of a reaction, thanks very much.
My kids are both gluten sensitive, too. I'm not going to list off the tests done to determine this, there were none. I figured it out by trial and error. But at least I figured it out quicker than my mom did, she didn't find out about her Celiac Disease until she was near 50, and I was 24, almost 25. I've been sick my whole life, my mom was, too. My kids will not have to go through what I did, that's the good news. No one needs the stomach pain involved in a wheat reaction, no one needs the emotional unrest of not knowing what's wrong with them for years and years, the depression, withdrawal from life, anxiety, even just the heartburn! I'm finally at a point where I am truly happy to be gluten free. Of course, I don't think I was ever happy before going GF, anyway. There was too much in the way of me being happy.
I've never felt this good in my whole life.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

For Seconds...

Listening to some reggae on the KMUD radio station, thinking about the awesome gluten free sugar cookies in the kitchen that I made. Finally, sugar cookies again. I was never the biggest fan of the sugar cookie, per se, but now I have a new appreciation since I have perfected the recipe. Now, all my recipes take experimentation, but these I got almost perfect on the first try, and perfect on the second try. Totally gluten free, dairy free, and whole grain, so not just a treat, but still at least a little bit good for you. The draw of them in the kitchen may be too great to resist.