Disheartening news.

Over on Gluten Dude's blog today it says that a lot of our oats that are labeled as gluten free may not be gluten free?   I made oatmeal cookies for my family yesterday and today I got up feeling very bad.  Is it a coincidence?  I don't know.    I am getting ready to go see a nutritionist to get a food sensitivity test and do an elimination diet to see what other foods I am reacting to, but if there is gluten in my oats, then maybe I'm just reacting to the same old thing?  Again and again.  :-(


A few years ago I bought a trifle dish at Walmart for 6 dollars.  I had in mind to make something that we called punch bowl cake.  It was angel food cake layered with vanilla pudding, whipped cream, strawberries, bananas and pineapple.  My husband and I really like this but it turns out, my daughter doesn't like vanilla pudding.  So I started to think of different things that we could put in the trifle bowl, looking at Pinterest and recipe sites and we've gotten to the point where we take a trifle to nearly every holiday event.  Several of our family members are gluten free and so this will probably be the only dessert that they get at the party, so we want to make it a good one.  Traditional trifles contain alcohol, but we want ours to be okay for everyone to eat and Baptist friendly, so ours do not.  Just desserts.  In layers.  Of yumminess.

 These are particularly well-suited to gluten free cake mixes from the salvage grocery store that sometimes bake up dry.  The layers of fruit, pudding, custard, etc. help it moisten up.

I'll share a couple of our favorites, but when you make this, be creative.  I'll put a list at the bottom of the post of possible ingredients, but really, the possibilities are endless.

We like to make a black forest trifle which consists of chocolate cake cut in cubes, Pillsbury cheesecake filling (this comes in a tub but I haven't been able to find it lately) and cherry pie filling.  We get the most compliments on this one.  Last time I couldn't find the cheesecake filling I mixed up a combination of cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk like you would find in a cherry cheese pie.   

Sometimes we do vanilla/yellow cake, whipped cream and strawberries and sugar.  This is also very popular.

For Easter this year, we used a yellow cake mix, added lemon pudding and Country Time Lemonade  to make a lemon cake, then added a can of lemon pie filling and whipped cream and just for fun, some strawberries.   We barely made it home with any of this.

So anyway, get creative add whipped cream, any flavor of cake, any kind of fruit, any type of pudding, custard, pie filling, candy, brownies, sprinkles ... you get the idea.

These make special occasions really special.  :-)

Chocolate Chip Cookies Revisited.

We had a good recipe but then we lost it.  :-(  I have no idea how.  I keep my printed out recipes in a binder.  Oh well.  We've recovered.

Now we use this recipe:  Land O Lakes 

and either Bloomfield Farms gluten free baking mix or Simple Truth Organic baking mix.

Both are good.  I think with the Simple Truth, the cookies are flatter.  We'd like something that makes them a little puffy, but not too puffy.  We need to do some more research.  



Hamburger buns!

I didn't make these from scratch.  I used the Glutino bread mix that I have been getting at the salvage grocery for 50 cents a box.  I add things to the mix to make it taste better to us.  Sometimes I add pineapple juice instead of some of the water.  Today, I was out of pineapple juice so I used a teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger.  I was using half of the box of bread since I'd used the other half last week to make Impossibly Easy Cheeseburger pie.  That's easier, but this is better in my opinion.  Both are very good ways to have a cheeseburger.  These buns held together well and tasted good.  Very, very good.


Special Events - Gluten Free.

Right now I'm doing some planning for a couple of events.  My oldest son is getting married in July.  Both he and fiance are gluten free.  (She went gluten free after meeting him and got her Grave's disease to go into remission!)  So now I am excitedly planning both a shower menu and a rehearsal dinner cookout menu.  The wedding it out of state and the shower is local.  Both the rehearsal dinner and the shower will probably be upwards of 50 people in attendance.  I'm serving a full meal, of course, at the rehearsal dinner but for the shower, I'm going to go with finger foods and snacks.  Being gluten free makes everything a bit more complicated, especially if you are trying to stay on a budget.

For the shower, I'm going with a theme of dip, apparently, I'm doing fruit and dip, veggies and dip, gluten free crackers with a cheese ball, punch and other drinks and cake; which my cousin is going to make from gluten free mixes that I purchased at the salvage grocery store.  We eat these all the time and they are yummy, no concerns about quality.  They are King Arthur brand.  By buying these at the salvage store, I've saved about 4 dollars a box on them.  My cousin will do the icing.  She is good at this and she actually did my wedding cakes 28 years ago.

For the rehearsal dinner, it's more complicated.  We'll be 4 hours away from home in a state park and outside in a pavilion.  We couldn't afford to get a room in the lodge because we'd have to pay for catering.  Fortunately, the bride and groom are very easy going and even suggested a cookout.  So we're going to order these hamburger buns Rotella  and grill out burgers.  For side dishes I was kind of stumped.  I'm going to be staying in a cabin with a kitchen, but I don't know how much cooking I can do there.  It looks small on the web site and besides, I don't want to spend the entire day cooking.  I want to do vacation-y things.  Also, I am afraid that things like potato salad will get too warm and be dangerous.  So I called and asked and the pavilion does have electricity so that I can plug in crock pots.  I'm going to have crock pots full of baked beans, green beans and corn on the cob with watermelon slices and some of my special oatmeal cookies that I'm famous for, for dessert.  To feed a crowd like this, I'll probably have to borrow crock pots from several of my friends.  :-)

I'll probably bring potato chips to both, just in case we need to stretch the food a bit.  I need to find amounts of food to make for each and will utilize web sites like this one:  Cook Like a Caterer  and this one:  Chef Menus Quantity Chart

I think it's going to be fun!


My Saturday morning coffee companion.

She didn't get any coffee so she kept falling back to sleep.   :-)  I have discovered that I have some kind of gluten -like reaction to coffee and so now I only have 1 cup of decaf once a week.   If I have it more often I feel bad.


Some notes on gluten free flour.

Certain flours are better for certain things.  I have found this week that King Arthur gluten free flour * is the best, the absolute best for pancakes.  So.  Good.  I got a bag of the Pillsbury baking mix and it's not as good.  It does fine with other things though and it's cheaper, so there's that.  Pillsbury may have taken the lead for our family in cake mixes though.  We do love King Arthur's cake mixes, both the vanilla and chocolate, very much, but this week we made a Pillsbury Funfetti cake and my daughter's comment was that this was not just good gluten free cake, it was good cake, period.  A high compliment.  :-)

I also enjoy Glutino bread mix, but the last time I got a box of it, I didn't use it to make a loaf of bread, I used it to make hamburger pie and pigs in a blanket.  Yum.   The hamburger pie was served at an extended family gathering and many people ate it without realizing it was gluten free.  Success.
I should also note that Bloomfield Farms and Pamela's also make very good, solid performing, good tasting flours and Pamela's is definitely my choice for cornbread.

* Edited to note that the second box of King Arthur flour that we bought did not do well for pancakes and so now we've officially switched our favorite for pancakes to Simple Truth Organic.  The pancakes are fluffy and absorb the syrup in a way that is really, really good.


New Gluten Free Items At Walmart.

I was very excited the other day to find a bunch of gluten free stuff at Walmart the other day.  We tried the slow cooker pot roast seasoning packet and it was very good.  The Martha White biscuits are excellent and the Pillsbury sugar cookies are too.  We totally don't have to do without when eating gluten free.  We do have to be somewhat careful.  I have heard that the gluten free cheerios are not meeting the standards for gluten free testing, so be careful out there.  I recommend following The Gluten Dude to keep up with the gluten news.    


Salsa Chicken.

I haven't made this in a while, but I think it's time to dig the recipe out again.  Using Progresso Creamy Mushroom will make it gluten free.  Watch our for the reduced sodium taco seasoning.  At Kroger, where I shop, for some reason, the reduced sodium taco seasoning has wheat in it.

Salsa Chicken


Some food reviews.

Annies Bunnies.

We had these yesterday on our trip.  Points for portability and flavor but a little grainy/sandy texture.
Arrowhead Rice and Shine

We had a good test of this yesterday.  My son and his girlfriend made it, decided it did not taste good on it's own and tried to make it palatable.  She added cheese and butter, to make it more like grits and he went the sweet route, adding oatmeal and brown sugar.  He said that his was good and she did not like hers, but both agreed that next time, they'd just skip this and have grits or oatmeal, gluten free, of course.

Katz Donuts 

These are fabulous.  Get these.

Pamela's Baking Mix

This is my go-to for pancakes, banana bread, muffins and those Impossibly Easy pies from the Betty Crocker website.

Pamela's Artisan Blend.  

This is best for dinner rolls and bread.

Bloomfield Farms

Good for thickening gravy and for cookies.  Also good for baking.


Best for chocolate chip cookies.  :-)

So what do we eat day to day?

For a special breakfast, I like to have toast made in the skillet (Like a grilled cheese sandwich) made with Rudi's bread.  My daughter prefers the Schar bread.  I can also have eggs, bacon, sausage, Chex and some other types of cereal, Cocoa Pebbles are a favorite.  I also often have Yoplait yogurt or peanut butter smeared on a banana.

For lunch, I usually have leftovers of whatever dinner I made the day before.   I work at home during the morning, but I am often out and about in the afternoon, so I try to fill the crockpot with something so that when I return about the time my husband returns from work, we can sit down to dinner.

Things that have been in the crockpot lately include beef stew, white chicken chili, and taco soup.  Visit Stephanie O'Dea's website for a treasure trove of gluten free (ALL OF THEM) crock pot recipes.

When I have a little time, I will cook something like taco pie or hamburger pie, or traditional meat, potatoes and a vegetable meals which can be adapted very easily to the gluten free lifestyle ... just make sure not to bread your meat!

Sometimes the simplest things are best.



Check out this Money Saving Mom recipe for apple butter muffins that are spectacular.   Oh.  My.  Goodness.  I used Bloomfield Farms flour and Chex oatmeal to make it gluten free.

Serving size is approximately 8 muffins.  :-)


Found this yummy bread at Walmart.

They aren't kidding about the fact that it is soft.  I didn't have to steam or toast it which is a first for me with gluten free bread.  The brand is Schar, which I now realize is not in the picture.   Here's a link, so you can read the ingredient list.  :-)  Schar


Why try?

We usually buy Rudi's brand  bread, but it is grocery day and we are out.  Fortunately we just got a shipment  (subscribe and save ) of Pamela's brand cornbread.   We needed a quick lunch so, tada, corn bread ham sandwiches.  I'm getting a little more creative with the breads.  I've went the whole route trying to get the taste of wheat bread adding things like sweet potatoes, pineapple juice and apple cider vinegar to the various flour mixes to try and emulate the flavor, but it seems impossible so why try?  Cornbread tastes good.   :-)  A couple of weeks ago, we also found that mashed potato pancakes make very fine hamburger buns as long as they and the hamburgers are pretty small.   I make these with Bloomfield Farms gluten free flour mix.


At long last, a burrito!

I haven't had a burrito in a long time.  They just aren't the same with corn tortillas.  I have made enchiladas and tacos and taco salads but never a burrito.  Then a couple of weeks ago, I found some gluten free wraps at the salvage grocery store and finally, last night, we tried them.  They were good and I really enjoyed my first burrito in approximately 5 years.  :-)   I had tried some kind of brown rice wrap way back in the beginning, but it fell apart and didn't taste good, but this one stayed together and tasted fine.  It was from Wrap-Itz and apparently they have several varieties.  They have some recipes on their website, which I am going to go check out now.  :-)

Have a great day! #glutenfreeyum



This is what happens when I don't do meal plans at the grocery and have to improvise.  This time it was pretty good.  I looked in the pantry and fridge and decided to make chicken enchiladas but then realized I didn't have any chicken (which is very unusual, but we've been kind of chicken salad crazy lately.) but I did have some steak I had gotten on sale last week.  So I put the steak in the slow cooker on a 4 hour cycle around lunchtime and then took a nap.  Then, when it was time for dinner, I gathered these ingredients, cooking the rice in the microwave.

Then I layered them in a casserole dish and baked until bubbly.  It was very good topped with sour cream and cheese.

So to review, a small package of steak, a can of Progresso Creamy Mushroom, 2 small cans of red enchilada sauce (or 1 big can), 1 package of Zatarains Jumbalaya Rice (not the family size, the regular), and some Mission corn torillas.   After 15 minutes had passed, it was half gone and I estimate that the leftovers will be gone by dinner today, so it was a hit.  Really, it tasted very similar to the enchiladas I had at a restaurant last week.
Over the years, I have tried several fillings for enchiladas, trying to make it less expensive than just filling them with meat.  I've tried refried beans, cheese, plain rice and other flavored rices but this one was the best of all, nice and spicy.  :-)   I am thankful to all of these companies for making them gluten free and clearly labeling them gluten free.  


This is what comes from not following the directions.

Gluten free pasta is not as forgiving as wheat pasta.  If you decide to add a little more water in (because you didn't measure the water the first time, as you should have --- shame on you!), it will go all goopy and weird and have to be thrown out.   Fortunately I had some more.  Gluten free pasta is easier to find now at the grocery stores than it was 5 years ago when I first went gluten free and it is less expensive now than it used to be.  For a time, I used the Thai rice noodles for spaghetti, but most of the time now, I buy some of the various gluten free specially made pastas because they are cheaper.

The moral of this story is to follow the directions on the pasta exactly.  :-)


Cherry cheese pie.

All 4 of the people living here had a simultaneous craving for this stuff.  One late Saturday night trip to the grocery store and here it is.  It is really good with the gluten free crust.



I was asked a question yesterday about how to entertain people who have gluten (and other) sensitivities.  It's funny because this is something that my friends have been dealing with for the past 5 years, very nicely and sweetly, but not something that I have had to deal with.  However, if I do have someone over who is gluten sensitive, I will worry that they are more gluten sensitive than me and my 2 kids and maybe I will make them sick.  What a horrible thought.  We do share our kitchen with the 2 gluten eaters in the household and though I am planning to divide it more and start using separate dishes and utensils, we haven't done it yet.

So what would I do?  That is a good question.

If I were baking using my baking pans that have been used for gluten-full items in the past, I'd use baking parchment.   I might make baked chicken or a roast with potatoes and carrots.  I might buy disposable or new baking pans and make things like

scalloped potatoes.

8 potatoes sliced thin - you don't have to peel them.
1 can Progresso creamy mushroom soup - which is gluten free.
1  1/2 onion
a few sprinkles (very light) of garlic salt.  Check the label on this, it may contain wheat.
10 slices american cheese or 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. 

Layer in 13 x 9 pan.
Cover with foil. 
Bake at 375°F for approximately 1 hour or until potatoes reach desired texture.
For a crispy top layer, uncover during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.  

or hash brown casserole
Here's the hash brown recipe:
Servings: 8
Prep Time: 15 Min.
Cook Time: 1 Hr.
What you need:
* 32 oz. package frozen shredded hash browns
* 1 c. cold 2 % milk
* 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
* 1 tsp. chicken bouillon
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/2 c. chopped onion
* 1 c. sour cream
* 2 c. grated cheddar cheese (or bread crumbs from gluten-free bread tossed with melted butter)
What to do:
1. Spread hash browns in the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan.
2. In a small saucepan mix cold milk and cornstarch with a wire whisk. Add bouillon, salt, and onion.
Heat to a boil, stirring constantly.
3. Remove sauce from heat and stir in sour cream. Pour over hash browns.
4. Top with grated cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 375 F for 1 hr.
 If I were feeling very insecure about my ablity to cook gluten free, I might just buy a rotisserie chicken from either Kroger or Walmart, add some Country Crock mashed potatoes and Bush's Baked Beans (again, cooked in the disposable or new pans.)  

A great resource for gluten free crock pot meals is A Year of Slow Cooking.  There are over 300 recipes there and every one that my family has tried has been good.

Another good solution for a meal is taco salads/tacos.  This is a hit with most people and easy-peasy.  All of the Old El Paso mixes are gluten free and you can make some hamburger and/or chicken flavored with them and then get all the fixings, taco shells and chips, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, avacados or guacamole, peppers, taco sauces and have a wonderful time with everyone building their own tacos or taco salads.

For dessert, have ice cream or if dairy free, fruit sorbets.  

Go ahead, be brave, be careful and invite them!  


Chicken salad sandwich.

Chicken salad.

On Rudi bread (steamed in the waffle iron to soften).

For breakfast.
(this morning glory is symbolic of, well, morning, so breakfast time.) :-)




Batch cooking.

I'm not sure what the word is, batch, bulk?  I don't do the marathon cook a month at a time thing (yet) but I do cook quite a bit on the days I don't have anything else scheduled.  I kind of have an odd rhythm to my life right now because I go see my mom every third day and I am gone a minimum of 4 hours.  So I work in the mornings, Tuesday through Saturday and do my visiting schedule so that means that often I am not here at dinner time, so on the afternoons when I am here I do extra cooking.  This seems to make the gluten free lifestyle a bit easier for me.  There are gluten free things in the fridge that just need to be warmed up, nearly all of the time.  Right now, I'm home so I have boneless chicken in a slow cooker for chicken salad to make later, I'm making taco soup and vegetable soup and later on, probably cornbread.   I use a 2 pound hamburger package for both of the soups, since each require one pound.  It will simplify my weekend, having this done.
Maybe I'll get some of the other housework done?  It could happen.  :-) 



A great trip to the salvage store.

There's a salvage store about 30 minutes from here.  They sell bent and dent kind of groceries and things that are past their expiration date.  I won't buy things that are way, way out of date, but if it was last month, sure.  I get a lot of bargains on gluten free foods in this way and this is a great way to try things that I wouldn't ordinarily take a chance on because of the expense.

Here's an excerpt from the Time Magazine article I linked above.

  • “Use by” and “Best by”: These dates are intended for consumer use, but are typically the date the manufacturer deems the product reaches peak freshness. It’s not a date to indicate spoilage, nor does it necessarily signal that the food is no longer safe to eat.
  • “Sell by”: This date is only intended to help manufacturers and retailers, not consumers. It’s a stocking and marketing tool provided by food makers to ensure proper turnover of the products in the store so they still have a long shelf life after consumers buy them. Consumers, however, are misinterpreting it as a date to guide their buying decisions. The report authors say that “sell by” dates should be made invisible to the consumer.
I got some Glutino crackers and cookies, some pasta, some cornbread mix, 4 of the big Snickers for a dollar, the ones that are at least a dollar each.  (Those are hidden in the pantry for a post-Easter-candy-chocolate emergency),  a Brownie mix and some to them were priced as low as 50 cents.  It's pretty amazing.  Do a Google maps search of your area for Salvage Grocery stores and see if you can find one near you.  


Easter Dessert.

Its ready, in the fridge.  My daugher made it last night, a black forest trifle with chocolate cake (gluten free of course), cherry pie filling and ready to eat cheesecake.  Doesn't it look wonderful?  #glutenfreeyum


Jarred salad.

Sometimes we gluten free peeps get tired of salads but sometimes we just get a hankering for them.  I made 12 small salads for the three of us who eat them and the other person here in the house made her own kind of salad. 

So then I got up this morning and was pondering a snack and what did I choose?  
Don't worry, they're Glutinos. 


Simple breakfast.

These sausages were clearly marked gluten free in letters I could have even read without glasses at Kroger the other day.  Today for breakfast, I fried them up with some eggs.  I could have added a piece of gluten free toast made with either Rudi bread or Whole Foods bread both of which I have in my fridge or I could have added some hash browns.

Simple.  Easy.  Good.


Cornbread Taco Bowl

I made tacos today, and normally I'd just eat it with a corn tortilla or corn chips, but today, I just put it on top of some leftover cornbread.  It was pretty yummy.

Just read the labels to make sure everything is gluten free.


Pizza Toast.

I picked up some whole foods bread the other day and I had some leftover Hormel pepperoni, some mozzarella cheese and some pizza sauce from making pizza the other day so today I combined them.  I toasted the bread in the oven first, a little on both sides, then added the sauce, the pepperoni and the cheese.  It turned out really good and is a very quick lunch.


Carrot Cake.

Divas Can Cook

This past weekend was my husband's birthday and he wanted carrot cake.  I had my son (who is also not gluten free) bake him a regular cake from a mix, but my daughter and I kind of wanted some too.  Of course I had to look it up and found this wonderful recipe on the Divas Can Cook blog.  It's very, very good.  My carrots are not small enough is my only complaint.  Next time I will blend them up some more.


The care and eating of gluten free bread.

We eat Rudi brand bread.  We like it the best of the gluten free breads that we have tried, minus some that you have to bake yourself and some that they used to have at a local bakery.  That is to say, we like it the best of our current choices, not to say that it tastes just like regular, gluten-full (poisonous to us) wheat bread.   We have grown to like it but we have to adapt it.   It makes sandwiches, french toast and cinnamon toast possible.  :-)  On the package of the bread, it says for the softest bread, to let it sit on the counter, however, not having gluten makes it not very soft, even at its softest.  We have found that it makes an excellent grilled cheese and excellent, very tasty, toast but in our opinion, it's just not very good right out of the bag.  For some sandwiches (PB & J for instance), I like soft bread, but not really toasted bread, so I put the bread in the waffle iron for a short time, not enough to toast it, but just enough to kind of steam it.  This makes it soft and then it makes a very good sandwich.  I hope this helps you as you try to cope with your favorite brand of gluten free bread.


Bacon Wrapped Chicken.

I made this bacon wrapped chicken a little differently, in that I just layered it in a pan, bacon, chicken, cream cheese and garlic powder, cheese and another layer of bacon, but if when I make it again, I am going to skip the bottom layer of bacon because I couldn't turn them over this way to get all of the bacon crispy.  Still yum.

I served it with a broccoli, carrots and cauliflower blend.
  Remember to read your label on your bacon to make sure it's gluten free!  


Comfort food - Cinnamon Toast.

I don't have a dedicated toaster, ours is a split, gluten free and not gluten free household, so I tend to pan fry toast.  We do have a dedicated frying pan.  I fried up a couple of pieces of Rudi's bread, with a little butter and sprinkled it with a cinnamon/sugar blend.  It was pretty wonderful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that you are having a wonderful gluten free Thanksgiving!


The First Donuts I have had in 5 years.

These are frozen, microwavable chocolate dipped donuts from Kinnickinnick..
A couple of minutes later ....

They were very good.