glutenfreebymarriage

March 10, 2013

This Week’s Menu – Easy Classics

Filed under: menu planning, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 13:25

green grapes

Menu 3/10/13 – 3/16/13

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: Omelette with Mushrooms and Tomatoes

Tuesday: Baked Chicken and Quinoa with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Wednesday: Turkey Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Dinner Out – Corned Beef and Cabbage

Saturday: leftovers

Misc.: GF Blueberry Muffins for coffee/tea, GF Chunky Monkey Cookies

 

About the grapes…

I recently realized that other than the bananas I use for baking, I almost never buy fresh fruit in the winter.  Once I realized the error of my ways I started adding fruit to the shopping list.  We started with honey tangerines.  They were tasty, but oh so messy.  Definitely not the sort of thing you can eat on the go or at your desk.  This week’s fruit is the green grape.

Conveniently packaged in self-contained, bite sized portions, the grape may be the perfect fruit snack.  In the car, at the mall or even in front of the computer they are easy to carry, easy eat and easy to share.  No peel, no sticky juice dribbling down your chin and no smell.  Even better, all the stores had grapes on sale this week.

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March 8, 2013

This Week’s Menu – Leftover Heaven

Filed under: menu planning, Uncategorized — Tags: — glutenfreebymarriage @ 16:18

red casserole dish

What would I do without leftovers?

I know people who refuse to eat the same meal twice in a week.  I guess it’s okay if you eat out every night, but between eating GF and that pesky little thing called a budget we don’t eat a lot of dinners out.

It’s okay.  I like to cook and as long as I plan ahead I usually have time to do it.  But not always.

It’s just the two of us and since most recipes make between 4 and 6 servings being able to cook once and eat twice is a huge time saver for me.  (It doesn’t hurt that many things, like soup, benefit from a reheat.)  The alternative is to get Mr. GF to cook, which wouldn’t be much of a help or a time saver.  Don’t get me wrong, he makes a hell of a meatloaf, but that’s about the only recipe he will make if I don’t do the prep.  There is also the small issue that he generally only cooks on Sundays.

Needless to say, we’ll probably want to eat at least a few days this week and since I’ve got a few work deadlines of my own we are maximizing our leftover opportunities.

Menu 3/3/13 – 3/9/13

Sunday: leftovers as Pork Sandwich with Honey Mustard Sauce and Mashed Potatoes

Monday: leftovers – last of the Bean Burritos

Tuesday: BLT with Turkey Bacon

Wednesday: Spaghetti with Sausage and homemade marinara

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Kielbassa

Saturday: leftovers

Misc.: GF Blueberry Muffins for coffee/tea

February 28, 2013

GF Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute #1

Filed under: gluten-free, recipe makeover, Uncategorized — Tags: , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 02:42

condesned cream of chicken soup

1st Attempt at an easy gluten-free condensed soup substitute

The first thing people think about when I say that my husband can’t eat gluten is bread.

I get it.  The brain goes from wheat to flour to bread.  It’s the most obvious observation, but the truth is that in today’s gluten-free world, bread is the least of my problems.

No, my biggest gf  headache isn’t bread, pasta, cookies or any baked good.  My number one gut-wrenching challenge with gf cooking is the lack of gluten-free condensed soups.

I admit it.  I used to be a Casserole Queen.

Back in the day I relied heavily on casseroles and one pot meals for weeknight dinners.  Bake some chicken mix it with vegetables or stuffing.  Add soup  and voilà.  When you are pressed for time there is nothing better than a casserole.  Unfortunately, the tastiest casseroles all seem to require a can or two of condensed soup.  Cream of chicken, mushroom or celery, the one commonality in those weeknight dishes was that salty, gelatinous goop in the bright red Campbell’s can.

You know the one I mean.  The canned paste euphemistically labeled soup, chock full of wheat and a day’s supply of sodium in every serving.   The stuff of kitchen legends, a perfect blend of moisture and binding agent that magically melds pretty much any meat and vegetable in a way that even the most finicky eater will pass their plate for seconds.   The magic that is condensed soup.

Now that I’ve mastered the fine art of gluten-free gravy, it’s time to take on the condensed soups.

GF Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup Substitute #1

Ingredients:

makes about 2 cups

  • 8 ounces low sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounces lactose free 1% milk*
  • 1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
  • salt to taste

*lactose free 1% milk: Mr. GF is also lactose intolerant so I used lactose free milk for this.  You could also use regular milk or pretty much any other milk substitute.  (Soy, almond, etc…)

Directions:

  1. Add chicken broth and milk to a small saucepan, stir over medium heat until liquid comes to a boil.
  2. Remove pan from heat and stir in potato flakes and salt.

Yes, that really is all there is to it.  Not quite as easy as opening a can and pouring, but almost.

Notes:  This was my first attempt at a gluten-free condensed cream of chicken soup substitute and I am pretty pleased.  I used it in place of  condensed cream of chicken soup in my regular chicken and biscuit recipe and the texture was spot on.  I should have used a lot more salt, but  otherwise it worked fine.

I have a couple other ideas I’d like to try, but this is definitely an easy to make substitute that closely resembles the original canned version in taste and texture and is well worth the effort if you need a gf alternative for your favorite casserole.

February 26, 2013

This Week’s Menu – Glowing Birthday Cake

Filed under: menu planning, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 01:55

empty fridge with bright pink birthday cake

It’s my birthday and yes, that is an unnaturally pink cake in the fridge…

This week’s menu is a return to life before gluten sensitivity.  Back in the day my birthday dinner meant seafood.  Mr. GF doesn’t really like fish and it tends to make the house smell bad so it was the one day a year that I could get it.   Nowadays, it’s the normalcy of a giant roll filled with meat, a.k.a. a Hoagie that I crave.  Okay, crave might be a little strong, but we both miss the convenience of picking up a sub on a Friday night so that is what I wanted for my birthday dinner.

It’s possible I used a little too much food coloring on the frosting.  This is what I saw when I opened the fridge this morning.   The frosting is actually brighter in person, it may even be glowing.

Menu 2/24/13 – 3/2/13

Sunday (Birthday): GF Italian Hoagies

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken and Biscuits

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Veggie Wraps Bean Burritos

Friday: leftovers

Saturday: Dinner out

Misc.: GF Chocolate Chip Muffins for coffee/tea, GF Lemon Pudding Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Note: If my mother-in-law is reading this, don’t worry, the fridge isn’t really this empty.  Call it artistic license, but I had to put a few things on the counter to get a better picture.  If you look closely you can still see plenty of fresh veg in the drawer,  lactose free milk,  juice and raisins on the shelves.  If you have really sharp eyes you might even notice the primer brush I keep in the fridge.  It’s murder on the brush, but a lot easier than cleaning it every time I use it.

February 22, 2013

Mexican Spice Blend (it’s not hot!)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 01:07

spices in green bowl

The perfect spice blend for people who don’t like it hot…

For some reason people hear Mexican and think jalapeño or habanero, but Mexican flavoring is more about the layering of flavors and textures than it is insanely hot chilies.  Think blends of sweet and smokey flavors with a hint of spice used to season inherently bland dishes like refritos, arroz con pollo or carne asada.  Yes, you can heat it up and top them with crazy mixes of cheese, hot peppers and sour cream, but that’s more of a South Western loud American thing than traditional Mexican.  Mexican cuisine is more subtle and oh so delightful on the palate.

Mexican Spice Blend

makes about 1/2 cup

  • 1/4 cup cumin
  • 1/4 cup dried cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and store in an air tight container.

The key ingredient in this spice blend is cumin.  Not only does it have a delightful aroma,  it adds a distinctive sweet taste to your favorite roasted meats and vegetables.

Sprinkled on corn on the cob or used as a dry rub on pork roast or chicken, this Mexican Spice Blend adds depth and flavor without fat or calories.   If you want to try a Mexican flavor but don’t like it spicy, this is the blend for you.

 

February 18, 2013

This Week’s Menu – Time to Raid the Freezer

Filed under: menu planning, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 15:27

basement freezer

Someone blew this month’s food budget…

After spending almost $100 at the supermarket last week, I realized that I was out of money and hadn’t bought any food.

Raisins, carrots, bananas, tangerines, potatoes, two pounds of chicken, a $3 steak and a ham steak, that’s about it.  That part of the bill only accounted for about $15.

So where did the rest go?

Most of the budget went to replenishing the pantry and other miscellaneous supplies, think soap, paper towels, tissues and other essentials.  Needless to say, it’s time to take a peek in the freezer.

Menu 2/17/13 – 2/23/13

Sunday: leftovers

Monday: Mexican Rubbed Pork Roast with Potatoes, Carrots and Onions

Tuesday: leftovers

Wednesday: Kale and Butternut Squash Soup

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Pot Roast

Saturday: leftovers

Misc.: GF Blueberry Muffins for coffee/tea, Makeover Oatmeal Cake

February 11, 2013

Chicken & Rice and Everything Nice – Making Soup When the Cupboard is Bare

Filed under: chicken, cooking, gluten-free, lunch, soup/stew, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 13:15

chicken and rice soup with spinach and mushrooms

I love soup for lunch!

One of the benefits of cooking gluten free is that it gives me an excuse to break away from the same old sandwich for lunch and in the winter there is nothing better than opening your lunch bag and finding a cup of soup.

I’m still getting over a cold and Mr. GF just caught one, so the plan was to make chicken soup for this week’s lunches.  Sadly I’m pretty much out of fresh veg and the supermarket shelves were bare so I had to get creative.  Not to worry, it all came out fine in the end.

Chicken and Rice Soup

Ingredients:

makes 12 servings

  • 2 – 3 pounds  cooked chicken, diced
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cup water
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 16 oz package frozen spinach
  • a handful of chopped mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups rice

Directions:

  1. Normally I would be a purist and boil a chicken and use homemade stock, but I’m still sick and kind of tired after all that shoveling so I cheated and roasted some chicken.   You could buy a rotisserie chicken at the supermarket, but you have to be very careful.  Many of the precooked store chickens have coatings which typically contain flour or bread crumbs.  Honestly, it’s no big deal to cook chicken while you’re watching tv, doing laundry or surfing the web.  Just brush on a little flavored vinegar or olive oil, add a few spices and pop it in the oven at 3750 for an hour.
  2. Assuming you already have your cooked chicken, the next step is to make the rice.  Mix 2 cups of rice, 4 cups of water and a dash of salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until liquid is gone.  Set aside.
  3. Heat a couple tablespoons of canola oil in a large pot.  Add sliced carrots, onions and garlic, cook over medium heat until onions are tender.  Add chicken broth, water, chicken and spices and bring to a boil.
  4. Simmer 30 minutes until carrots are tender.
  5. Add spinach, rice and mushrooms, continue cooking until heated through.
  6. Ladle into containers.  Cover when cooled.

If you’re wondering if it’s worth the effort, let me ask you this.  How much does a bowl of soup cost at the take out place and how sure are you that it’s really gluten free?

A little time in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll save time and money all week long.  To put it another way, twelve lunches for less than $1 a serving and no gluten.  Not too shabby.

Note: We both have lingering colds so we thought we would boost the decongestant benefits of chicken soup by adding some spice.  I thought I had jalapeños at home, but was out so I ad libbed with chili powder.  We like spicy, but it’s not for everybody.  If you prefer a more sedate flavor I would probably just use 1 teaspoon of thyme in place of the chili powder, red pepper flakes and nutmeg.

One More Thought: After I ladled out the soup I kept thinking that a teaspoon of feta might make a nice garnish.  I didn’t buy any, and Mr. GF tries to avoid dairy whenever possible, but if I had it on hand I would probably give it a try.

February 10, 2013

This Week’s Menu – Digging Out

Filed under: menu planning, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 20:58

red shovel in the snow

Snowstorms, Shopping Lists and Empty Shelves – Just Another Day in NH

I thought I was on top of things.  We dug out yesterday, I had my menu and shopping list ready and was all set to shop first thing this morning then I looked out the window.

After spending a couple hours shoveling and snow blowing yesterday we knew the city would plow us back in, but this was excessive.  Hard packed piles of snow up to my mid-thigh driven about four feet up the driveway.   Fortunately teamwork and a lot of practice helped us make short work of the snow.   Had we known what the supermarket would look like we wouldn’t have bothered.

After a quick trip to Market Basket we went to Hannaford for the things that MB didn’t have.  It was unreal.  The bins and cases in the produce department were completely empty.  I was looking for broccoli, cabbage and kale.  They had nothing.  The next stop was the meat department.  I wanted to make Sesame Beef with Noodles for Chinese New Year, but there was no meat.  Again, all the cases were empty.  Aisle after aisle, the shelves were empty.  It was crazy.  The combination of the storm frenzy and not getting a truck yesterday left the entire store decimated.    It was just one day!!!

So much for all my careful planning.  Re-jig the menu, hot dogs for today and hopefully the stores will be restocked by Tuesday.

Keep warm and have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Menu 2/10/13 – 2/16/13

Sunday: Chili Dogs

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: Sesame Beef with Noodles

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Winter Kielbassa Casserole

Friday: leftovers

Lunches: Chicken and Rice Soup

Misc.: GF Blueberry Muffins for coffee/tea, Sugar Cookies for Valentine’s Day

February 8, 2013

Basic Gluten Free Cookie Flour Blend

Filed under: baking, cookies, recipe makeover — Tags: — glutenfreebymarriage @ 15:39

cup of flour

So, you want to make cookies

They say that the first step to overcoming a problem is to admit that you have one.  I’m not so sure about that, I think it really depends on the problem.

Take cookies for example.  With the exception of pfeffernüsse, I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like.  Some would say that I have a cookie problem.  It’s not like an actual addiction, I can control my consumption and I don’t have withdrawals if I don’t eat any, but it’s not easy.  I still have to make a conscious effort to step away from the cookie jar and I throw a lot of virtual speed bumps in the path of cookie madness.  The big one being that cookies should be homemade.  It’s not a hard and fast rule, but it is one that does help cut down on the free range munching, or at least it did until I got used to banging out a few dozen cookies at the drop of a hat.  But I digress.

The real cookie problem began when Mr. GF had to give up gluten.

You have to understand that I’ve literally spent years developing my repertoire of cookie recipes.  The perfect chocolate chip cookie, check.  Sugar cookies, check.  Peanut butter cookies that are both crispy and chewy, check.  Maybe it is an addiction, but I wasn’t going to give up cookies without a fight.

After a lot of trial and error I have finally managed a good basic gluten free flour blend for cookies.  Keep in mind that baking is as much science as art and that the type of cookie you are baking will require tweaks in the ratios, but this flour mixture is a good starting point when you want to convert your favorite family cookie recipe to an intestine friendly gluten-free version.

Gluten Free Cookie Flour Blend

makes 2 cups flour

  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum

Note: One of the side benefits to cooking gluten-free is that the flours can be custom blended to make whatever density or texture you want.

My favorite gf yellow cake is heavenly and has a much lighter texture than any cake I’ve ever eaten.  The same goes for cookies.  This particular blend will result in very light, airy cookies that simultaneously crumble and melt in your mouth.  If you need a heavier or chewier texture just play around with the proportions.

Try 1 cup of brown rice flour and eliminate the potato starch.  Increasing the sorghum will give you a dryer texture which is great if you are trying to simulate something with a whole wheat flavor.

Experiment until you find the right blend for your recipe.  You may have some misses along the way, but you will get a feel for what each of the alternative flours brings to the table.  Before you know it your cooling racks will be lined with fabulous gluten-free cookies!

February 7, 2013

This Week’s Menu – I hate being sick

Filed under: menu planning, Uncategorized — glutenfreebymarriage @ 19:09

box of tissues

Wouldn’t you know it, I finally get everything back in the kitchen and WHAMMO! I get a cold.  This week’s menu is a cross of convenience, comfort and heat.

Menu 2/3/13 – 2/9/13

Sunday: Super Bowl, dinner out  Beef Stew – courtesy of Mr. GF’s mother 🙂

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: Black Bean and Sausage Soup (very spicy!)

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Smoked Pork Chops on Potato Apple with Horse Radish Cream Sauce, What’s for Dinner? 365 Lean & Natural dinners, p. 55

Friday: leftovers

Misc.: Sugar and Spice Cookies

It’s Thursday, the sun is shining, I’m not coughing (much) and after an entire week of being huddled under a blanket on the couch I spent the last hour kneeling on the basement floor trying to repair a broken roof rake.  This is so not what I imagined life would be like when I was a kid.  Oh well, time to do some baking and finish getting ready for the storm.  (Did I forget to mention the impending nor’easter?)

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