Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving: The (upside) run-down

Yes this looks almost the same as last year, but why mess with what works?

Whenever you cook a giant meal, somethings got to give, and depending on what that something is, you either have a giant success, or a giant mess. Before I tell you what this year's "something" was, I will say, this year was a giant success.

Worth every OCD-inducing minute.

Here are some things I learned this Thanksgiving:

When you have an old oven, you must be prepared to sit there and watch as your oven thermometer goes up and down with no rhyme or reason, or concordance with the actual temperature-dial.  This oven assumes you have nothing better to do.

Even if you cook several things beforehand, there will be an hour when you are absolutely nuts, when you can't stand people coming into the kitchen, and when you are a bit of a terror. It's the price of a good cook.

Gravy - good, from scratch gravy - is a bitch. For those who like to have a complex savory-yet-sweet flavor, it is a long road. Also, gravy never comes out the same every year. You may find yourself putting odd things into it, but it really doesn't matter - it's your secret.

Getting baked.

No matter how many pies you make, they will be gone very quickly - if not that night, the next morning. (We are all animals when it comes to homemade pie. Especially pecan. Damn

And finally, some things that are completely wrong come out completely right. Case in point: this year, I cooked the turkey upside-down. I shall explain: My turkey came in a bag that was hard to see through (spices and such) and when I shoved it in the oven at 9 am I must have missed the fact that it was in fact, face-down (breast-down? whatever). I didn't notice it was thus until, whilst carving, I wondered why there was no breast meat on my turkey.


BUT - as it turns out, this works. Cooking the turkey upside down ensures that the dark meat is done and that the breast meat is very moist - perfectly so. All the juices go to the bottom of the bag and hang out in the white meat. My fellow diners suggested that I should make this mistake next year. Who knew?

This year, I am thankful that my mistakes turned out to be blessings, and I had people I love to share them with - even if those people drove me crazy, I am thankful that it's always a good day.

Coming up: a pie you need to make.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gluten-Free Thanksgiving 2012: This year’s menu!

All hail the one holiday that is purely about food!

I find myself repeating the same dishes for Thanksgiving, mainly because I don’t get to eat them any other time of the year. This year, it seems like Thanksgiving came so quickly with little time to plan, but I’m going to try to fit a couple new and “new” items onto the menu this year.


A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

* Starred items are those which can be made the night before (thankfully).

For Dinner:
  • Roast Turkey (last year I used Jennie-Os Oven Ready Turkey, and it was really good and super easy)
  • Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
  • Sweet Potato Casserole *
  • Steamed and Sautéed Green Beans
  • Canned Cranberry Sauce, a new way (since everyone seems to like the canned version more than the homemade, I’m tweaking it a bit) *
  • Gluten-Free Dinner Rolls *
  • Gravy (Secret: use Mandarin Orange juice for a tang)
For Dessert:
  • Pecan Pie *
  • Apple-Cranberry Pie *
  • Dairy-free whipped topping
I can’t remember the last time I made an apple pie, and I’m quite excited to try one with cranberries. There’s no pumpkin pie, but the sweet potato casserole makes up for it.

This year the oven in our apartment is tiny (think 1960s), so I’m a bit concerned about a turkey fitting. The oven itself also has a habit of getting way too hot with no logic to it, so I fear I will be checking in on the oven thermometer religiously (do you have a temp gauge for your oven and fridge? If not, I recommend getting one asap – so important!).

Definitely a “make it work” moment, folks.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Found on Pinterest: Friday Links

Inspired by the wonderful Hyperbole and a half.

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest.

On the one hand, it's fun to browse, there's usually at least one clever pin in your feed, and if you're planning (or scheming) a wedding, it's quite helpful.

On the other hand, some of the pins are crazy and completely unfeasible. Proof: Pinterest you are drunk or Pintester. We're talking housewife-on-steroids, craft-room-explosion, thoughtful-writing-on-everything crazy. Amy Odell wrote a interesting article this week entitled "How Pinterest is Killing Feminism," which is worth a read.

I don't agree with everything the article says, but I do think that there is an odd trend where we pin all these perfect images but then never actually do anything with them. It can also be annoying when you search for something and you get the same image pinned dozens of times. I'm also a bit skeptical of all those pins that claim they changed someone's life or came out perfect.

Bless the pins that have a sense of humor about their own craziness.

However, I am guilty of this pointless "ooh that's pretty" pinning. In my defense, I am actually planning a wedding, I do save recipes for future testing, and I like tumblr-esque silliness. And I am now going to share a few of my gluten-free pins for your general amusement and/or "pinspiration," because it rationalizes the whole thing a little. Maybe.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Coconut Treats

                                                                            Source: via Natalie on Pinterest

Gluten-Free Gooey Brownies

                                                                      Source: via Natalie on Pinterest

Pink Lemonade Jello Shots 
because they are hilarious

                                                                            Source: via Natalie on Pinterest

Pumpkin Fluff 
because it's Fall and if I don't blog about Pumpkin I'll get kicked off the internet

                                                                             Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Vegetarian Coconut Curry Noodles  
use wheat-free soy sauce

                                                                      Source: via Melissa on Pinterest

Slice-Baked Potatoes
giant chips, anyone?
                                                                           Source: via Melissa on Pinterest

A Very Autumnal Cocktail  
use gluten-free Maker's Mark

                                                                    Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

Blood Orange Margarita 
 falls under the category of "so pretty!"

                                                                 Source: via Jennifer on Pinterest

                                ~ Happy Friday! ~

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gluten-Free Coffee Cake Muffins


Sunday mornings are perfect for muffins. Throw in an afternoon walk and eat 2. Or three. Or watch a run of pseudo chick flicks on cable. It’s that kind of day.

~ Gluten-Free Coffee Cake Muffins ~

Adapted from The Cook Book

Makes 12 small or 8 large muffins

Streusel Topping:

  • 3 tbsp gluten-free flour (1/2 sorghum, 1/2 tapioca flour)
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 3 tbsp chopped pecans

Muffin Batter:

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour (1/2 sorghum, 1/2 tapioca flour )
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance buttery spread
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (thinned out slightly) or soy milk



For topping: In a small bowl, sir together 3 tbsp flour, sugar, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Cut in 2 tbsp butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in pecans, set aside.

For batter: in a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Cut in butter.

In a small bowl combine egg and thinned-out plain yogurt – I used a plain lactose-free variety from Green Valley Organics. (Original recipe calls for buttermilk and plain yogurt adds an extra tang and improves texture.) Add wet ingredients to flour mixture, stir until just moistened – battery should be lumpy and slightly thicker than pancake batter. If too thick, thin out with soymilk. Take care not to over-mix.

Spoon half of batter into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. Top with half of streusel topping, add remaining half of batter, and top with rest of streusel topping. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes; cool on rack and serve warm.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Product Review: The Gluten Free Bar

We all know how hard it is to find a protein or meal bar that meets all expectations - I myself usually end up eating a protein bar with dairy because there aren't other options. The folks at the Gluten Free Bar were kind enough to send me some samples to try - and I'm always happy to try samples!

They sent me three flavors: peanut butter, peanut butter chocolate, and cranberry almond. That stats for these bars are quite impressive: vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, with 12 grams of protein. They're also a decent size, which is important. Usually bars like this are "raw-" in other words, made mostly of nuts and dried fruit, which makes them very high in calories (sometime upwards of 400 cals/bar).

If I compare them to the bar I normally eat in the morning at work (some form of this) they stack up pretty well, though clearly they don't have as high amounts of protein and fiber. They do however have less saturated fat, sodium, and carbohydrates.

However, the big difference here is the ingredients: the gf bar is dairy-free. This is huge - it is extremely different to find a protein bar that doesn't use dairy. I can tolerate small levels of dairy, but there are days when I just can't add any extra irritants into my system (don't we all have those days). They're also quite tasty, with a texture that falls somewhere between a lara bar and a power bar. The bars are chewy and slightly-sweet - the peanut butter chocolate and the peanut butter are the best flavors. What I also liked was that they were rolled out into a large, thin squares which took longer to eat than the typical bar-size. They kept me full till lunch, and no stomach ache!

The only con: they aren't available in any stores in the bay area yet, so you have to buy them online, and they are a little expensive - about $28 for a box of 12. I imagine if you find them in stores they will cost you more. But if you have the means, definitely check them out.

In all, a strong A.

Buy them here

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

And Now for Something Completely Frivolous: Gluten-free Marshmallow Cereal Squares

Oh Pinterest, sometimes you are silly (see this for proof), but sometimes you are genius. Because without you, I never would have thought to make a batch of these last Friday.

They are super colorful, not all that good for you, and full of sugar.  (Though they're pretty low on fat, if I stop to think about it.) In other words, fun.

~ Gluten-Free Marshmallow Cereal Squares ~

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Vegan (if made with vegan marshmallows)

I used Trix, but you can use any gluten-free cereal you like. I was THISCLOSE to using Reece's Puffs (for obvious reasons - they are puffs of Reece's), but opted for the Trix because it had 1.5 grams less fat per serving, because that matters when you're making something that is 85% sugar.  (Ssssh. It does.) Also, the squares come out looking like something straight out of a Lisa Frank-themed party, which makes this very sneezy-itchy-allergy time of year seem a little better.


  • 6 cups gluten-free cereal of choice

  • 3 tablespoons Earth Balance

  • 1 bag marshmallows

Melt Earth Balance over low heat in a non-stick skillet, add marshmallows. Stir occasionally until marshmallows are completely melted (a silicone spatula works wonders here), mix half of the cereal into mixture while pan is still over very low heat.

Once incorporated, add remaining cereal and smooth out into a lightly-greased pan (a few sprays of Pam will do). A baking pan about 10 x 10 will work. Let sit till cooled, cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

A Note: If you make these with a gf rice cereal, there is a certain one that many health food stores sell in bulk that doesn't work as well in this recipe. They look like Rice Crispies (without the malt) but they're much harder and crunchier, and don't soften up as well after being combined with the marshmallow - they come out more crunchy than chewy. Last summer we were promised a GF version of Rice Crispies, but I have yet to see them on shelves. In the end I think you're better off with a fun cereal. Kix would be good too!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gluten-Free Rum Balls (or Easter Eggs!)

These rum balls, while traditionally made around the holidays, are a perfect "adult" treat for Easter - if you're feeling particularly grown-up you could even dip them in dark chocolate. This recipe is easily adaptable if rum isn't your thing, though coconut rum sounds perfect for Easter!

 ~* Gluten-Free Rum Balls *~

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan

A food processor is the quick way to go here, but if you don't have one you could try crushing the  cookies/nuts with a mallet.

Best made a couple days in advance


  • 1 cup gluten-free wafers (or other crisp gf cookie)

  • 3/4 cup walnuts

  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup

  • 3/4 cup powdered  sugar, plus sugar for coating

  • 1/3 cup rum (spiced, coconut, etc.)

I doubled the recipe, hence 2 cups of crumbs
Begin by pulsing cookies (I used GF animal crackers in a pinch, though I think there are better alternatives out there) into large crumbs - make sure you do not crush them too finely! I made this mistake initially and it made for a very gooey rum ball that wouldn't firm up until I added extra powdered sugar. You want large crumbs, not flour. Same goes for the walnuts - if you even just chop them with a knife that works too.

Once your cookies and walnuts are ready, assemble them in a separate bowl (again, if you process everything together it's quicker but you run the risk of chopping everything too finely); add powdered sugar.

Pour in corn syrup, and slowly mix in rum, taking care that the mixture does not become too wet or sticky. (Conversely, if it's too dry you can add more rum.) Using a teaspoon or small ice cream scoop, form the batter into small balls and roll in powdered sugar. Let sit on parchment paper to set. If you're having trouble working with the dough, set it in the fridge until if firms up a bit.

Place rum balls in a parchment-lined cookie tin or container and - here's the hard part - let sit for a few days for the best flavor. If you like a very firm rum ball, you can keep them in the fridge, though honestly they get better with time if they sit out on the counter.

How many is too many? Up to you!
If you're making Easter eggs, roll balls into egg-shapes and decorate with chocolate. You can also add cocoa powder for extra chocolate flavor!