postheadericon Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix review

Bunny ears and a toothless grin

Our family has been living gluten-free due to Celiac Disease for over 6 years. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and very similar to the protein found in outs. This means that any food needs to be made specially – bread, pasta, cake, pizza crust, pretzels, cookies, etc. Finding the Betty Crocker gluten-free mixes was a wonderful surprise!

Over the past 6 years there has been a huge increase in availability of gluten-free products, but most of the GF products have been found in the health food aisle of the grocery store or in a specialty store.

However, gluten-free products are becoming more mainstream as the number of people diagnosed with celiac disease rises, as well as the number of people living gluten-free for other reasons. Last summer, General Mills introduced a new, gluten-free formulation of Rice Chex (they changed the sweetener from barley malt to another sweetener). In addition to becoming more mainstream, gluten-free products are becoming much more commonly available and found in most grocery stores.
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postheadericon Chewy Chocolate Jam Cookies

Munching on a cookie

One of my friends on Facebook posted her variation of the Chewy Chocolate Raspberry Cookies in Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook. This is my adaptation of her adaptation.

I’ve now made this with 3 types of preserves – Lingonberry, blueberry, and raspberry (a special sneaky batch while the berry-allergic child was out of the house). Of the three, I have to say that the Lingonberry preserve version was the best, hands down. We used the preserves from Ikea, but you can buy 2 brands of lingonberry preserves them through Amazon if you don’t find any in the international section of your grocery store. This is a wonderfully easy and adaptable recipe, so I’m sure I’ll be trying more flavors soon!

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, top 8 allergen free, and vegan/vegetarian recipe.

Chewy Chocolate Blueberry Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup preserves. Great flavors which work with chocolate include lingonberry, blueberry, pomegranate, cherry, or orange marmalade. (For those who can tolerate seeded berries, the original recipe called for raspberry preserves, and strawberry would likely taste good too)

  • 1 cup sugar if using a sweet jam, 1 1/2 cups if using a tarter preserve such as Lingonberry
  • 1/3 cup melted margarine, or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cup GF flour (my current favorite is sorghum, but millet, bean, pea, or brown rice would also work well) Reserve the 1/4 cup, that might not be needed.
  • 1/2 cup starch (I prefer tapioca or arrowroot starch, but corn starch is acceptable if you aren’t sensitive to corn)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum or guar gum
  • (if you can eat gluten, use 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus an extra 1/4 cup reserved, and omit the xanthan gum)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips – (we usually use Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate chips, but Enjoy Life Baking Chips, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips are allergy-friendly and also soy free)
Lingonberry in Chocolate Lingonberry Jam Cookies

Method:
Note: each brand and variation of preserves/jam is different. Just as we need to add more sugar if using lingonberry preserves, sometimes more flour is needed when the preserves are quite liquidy, and sometimes a bit more sugar is needed if the preserves are tart. Be patient with this recipe, as the results are well worth it!

Preheat oven to 350, and line a cookie sheet with silpat, Reynolds non-stick foil or parchment paper. Or you could grease a cookie sheet, if you don’t have any of the above.

Chewy Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

In a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer), stir together preserves of choice, sugar, oil/melted margarine & vanilla in one bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk together well. (this replaces sifting in this recipe)

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing well with a whisk or fork between additions (or using the paddle of your stand mixer). If the dough becomes quite stiff, doing the final integration of the flour with clean hands works very well. If the dough does not become stiff, add the reserved 1/4 cup flour and incorporate it into the dough.

Mix in the chocolate chips after the wet and dry ingredients are well combined.

chocolate lingonberry jam cookies

Use an 18/8 cookie scoop (or roll walnut-sized balls of dough) flatten to make a cookie about 2″ diameter. Drop the balls of dough and gently push them down, leaving about 2″ apart on cookie sheet (they can spread out a bit as they bake). This makes 24 cookies

Bake for 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to let them cool completely. Eat and enjoy!

postheadericon Balsamic Chicken Sauté

This is a rich and flavorful meal that has a hearty feel to it. The combination of chicken meat, balsamic vinegar, and mushrooms leads to a wonderful depth of flavor and heartiness. A lighter meal with similar flavors is the Balsamic Chick Chick recipe, which pairs chicken with chick peas, plus the wonderful combination of balsamic vinegar and rosemary.

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, and top 8 allergen free recipe. This is also a faux fast food recipe, which can be on your table in under 45 minutes.

Ingredients:

Summer dinner tableau
  • 2 TBS canola oil

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 6-8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced (also called “Baby Bella” mushrooms)
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary, or 1 TBS fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning, or 1/2 tsp each basil and oregano
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 3 TBS balsamic vinegar

Method:
Prepare seasonings, meat, and vegetables – mince, slice, and dice vegetables. Then cut chicken into approximately 1 inch cubes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté onion and garlic until tender.

Add chicken to the pan, and stir frequently. I find that a pair of Oxo Good Grips Tongs helps me keep the food moving so it doesn’t burn, and yet stir so the different ingredients are well combined.

When the chicken has started browning, add the sliced mushrooms, rosemary, Italian seasoning, and kosher salt. Continue to stir the chicken and veggies until the chicken is well browned and the mushrooms have shrunken and become quite tender.

Balsamic Chicken Sauté

Drain any excess liquid from the pan after the chicken and mushrooms have cooked.

Pour the balsamic vinegar over the pan, and stir as it reduces and mixes together with the flavors already in the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, and continue stirring so the ingredients are integrated into the whole dish.

Serve over brown or white rice with a salad or roasted vegetables on the side. This is delicious!

postheadericon Junior Mint Brownies

This is a wonderfully easy treat tip for those of you who like chocolate-mint! This reminds me of the Mint Chocolate Brownies I remember from volunteering at the nearby folk music coffeehouse as a teenager.

Allergy note: my brownie recipe contains eggs, but is gfcf, gluten free, and dairy free. Junior Mints have soy in the ingredients, and a “may contain” warning for dairy and egg. We have a dairy intolerance rather than allergy, so we have been Ok eating foods that “may contain” dairy, and have had no issues with Junior Mints. However, contact the manufacturer yourself before you introduce Junior Mints!

Junior Mint Brownies

First, make a batch of Super Easy Brownies.

Once the brownies are done, shake a regular sized box of Junior Mints over the brownies, then gently press them into the cooked brownies.

Place the pan of brownies back in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and use a spatula or butter knife to spread the Junior Mints over the brownies. Gooey minty goodness, and so, so easy!

This also works fine over half the brownies, if you want to keep some of them uncontaminated for those of us who don’t like mint.

Variation: Try this with other chocolate-based candies, you may end up with a new favorite flavor combination!

postheadericon Shrimp Stir Fry

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, and fish free recipe. This is a faux fast food recipe, ready in under 45 minutes. If served without rice, this recipe is acceptable as part of the South Beach Diet phase 1.

Ingredients:

Shrimp Stir Fry
  • 2 TBS canola oil

  • 1 small vidalia onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 handfuls snow peas
  • 1 orange or red bell pepper (or 1/2 orange bell pepper and 1/2 red bell pepper)
  • 6-10 crimini mushrooms, sliced (also called “Baby Bella” mushrooms)
  • 1 lb large shrimp, shells, veins, and tails removed
  • 8 oz baby spinach (approximately)
  • 2 TBS soy sauce (LaChoy soy sauce, SanJ wheat-free Tamari, and Braggs Amino Acids are all gluten-free)
  • 1 TBS balsamic vinegar
Shrimp Stir Fry with Snow Peas

Method:
Dice the onion, mince the garlic, slice the mushrooms, and clean the shrimp. Remove the string from the snow peas. Slice the bell pepper into rings, and then slice the rings into smaller sections.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wok or a large skillet. Add onion and garlic to the heat, and stir. After they have cooked for a minute, add mushrooms, bell pepper, and snow peas. Use tongs or a wooden spoon to stir regularly, so they cook uniformly.

Shrimp Stir Fry and chopsticks

When the veggies begin to soften, add the shrimp. Keep the shrimp moving in the pan so they cook on both sides and cook evenly.

Add the soy sauce and balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan, then add the spinach. Stir to combine, then cover and turn off the heat under the wok/skillet. Use the residual heat in the pan to wilt the spinach.

Stir to combine well, then serve over rice with chopsticks and additional soy sauce at the table – yum!

postheadericon Fabulously Fudgy Frosting

I was making a chocolate bundt cake for my middle daughter’s 9th birthday when I ran out of cocoa powder. I wanted to make an icing-type frosting, and modified it to include chocolate chips rather than cocoa. It turned into this delicious fudgy frosting. All three girls (and the other tasters) agreed it was the best frosting ever!

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, top 8 allergen free, and vegan/vegetarian recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBS margarine or shortening (Fleishmann’s unsalted margarine is dairy/gluten free, Spectrum Naturals Organic Shortening is also soy-free)

  • 2-3 TBS milk substitute or water
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life Baking Chips are allergy-friendly, and Trader Joe’s sells dairy/gluten free chocolate chips)
  • 2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Method
In a small saucepan over medium/low heat, melt margarine/shortening and chocolate chips. Once it is melted, remove from heat and whisk until well combined.

Whisk in 1 TBS milk substitute, then 1 cup confectioner’s sugar.

Whisk in 1 TBS more milk substitute, and the final 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar.

If the frosting is very thick and not pourable, whisk in a 3rd TBS of liquid.

This frosting drips almost like an icing, but is thicker, and doesn’t set as firmly – it has a wonderfully fudgy texture to go along with the fudgy taste! Enjoy it on top of a chocolate bundt cake – mmmm….

postheadericon Love and Apple Pie

Golden brown goodness

There is nothing quite like the smell of a freshly baked apple pie – it brings back wonderful childhood memories of moms and grandmothers baking. If you’ve been living gluten-free, pies can seem unattainable. However, this is an easy and wonderful pie that is allergy-friendly and delicious. Show someone you love them with an apple pie that will wow allergic folks and their non-allergic family and friends.
This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, top 8 allergen free, and a vegan/vegetarian recipe.

Ingredients:

Just one slice
  • top and bottom pie crust, from our full 6 pie crust recipe or the half recipe for 3 pie crusts

  • 4 medium Granny Smith apples
  • 3 medium Gala or Fuji apples (or another red eating apple)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 TBS quick cooking tapioca
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • sprinkling of cinnamon sugar

Method:

Slicing the apples

Prepare top and bottom pie crust, from our full 6 pie crust recipe or the half recipe for 3 pie crusts

Peel and quarter the apples, removing the core. Slice the apples thinly across the width of the apples, and combine in a large bowl.

Resting apples

Add sugar, tapioca, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice to the bowl of apples. Stir gently but combine well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 9-10″ pie pan.

Roll out bottom crust between two pieces of plastic wrap, and place in the greased pie pan. Mix apples again, then pour over the pie crust.

Pi Pie

Roll out top crust, and tent it over the apples. Use a fork to press the edges of the top crust and bottom crust together. Use a fork or knife to make a few venting holes (making the vent holes in the shape of the mathematical symbol for pi is purely optional).

Lightly sprinkle top of the pie with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, until the crust has turned golden brown. Eat while it’s still a bit warm, or cooled for breakfast the next morning. Yummm…

postheadericon 3 Perfect Pie Crusts

Just one slice

If you don’t need to make the full 6 pie crust recipe, this version makes a top crust, bottom crust, and a spare crust to freeze for later.

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, could be egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, top 8 allergen free, vegetarian, and potentially vegan recipe.

Ingredients

Pi Pie
  • 1/4 cup shortening (I use Spectrum)

  • 1 cup margarine, or two sticks (I use Fleishmann’s unsalted, but you could also use an additional 1 cup shortening)
  • 3 cups gf flour mix – 2 cups flour, 1 cup starch

  • 1 TBS xanthan gum (if not GF, just use 3 cups flour and omit this)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (optional, omit if corn-free)
  • 1 TBS sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg white (or egg replacer of your choice)
  • 1 TBS cider vinegar
  • ice cold water

Method

Blending together the Pie Crust

Combine flours, xanthan gum, baking powder (if using), sugar, & salt in a large bowl. Add shortening & margarine and cut in using a pastry blender or 2 knives until it begins to resemble coarse meal.

In a measuring cup with a spout, beat the egg, vinegar, and enough water to equal 1/2 cup. Gradually add the liquid to the flour, tossing with a fork, until the pastry gathers into a mass.

If the dough needs more water, add 1/4 cup iced water at a time, until sticks together.

Divide the pastry into 3 portions and form each into a patty-like disk. Each patty makes 1 crust. Put each in a small ziploc and freeze, or, if you are using now, chill for at least an hour. If you freeze, the dough must be completely thawed before rolling.

Rolling out the dough

For easier handling, roll out between two sheets of plastic wrap. Peel off top piece of plastic wrap, position dough in greased pie pan, then remove bottom piece of plastic wrap.

This makes 3 single pie crusts, perfect for making a double-crusted pie and setting one crust aside in the freezer for a rainy pie day.

postheadericon Creamy Rice Pudding, hold the cream

I love rice pudding, it is so incredibly soothing and delicious. It’s also very creamy, and it took me some time to get a rice pudding recipe that I thought was creamy enough without using dairy. This is the recipe I’ve been making for a while, and it’s one that my oldest daughter, Mackenzie, will sometimes make on her own.

Rice pudding with cinnamon sugar on top

I’m not a fan of raisins, but some dried cranberries can be a nice addition at times. Sometimes when I use coconut milk I’ll add some flaked coconut, too. There are plenty of variations possible, depending on your mood – my middle daughter puts chocolate syrup on top when she eats it!

This is a delicious gfcf, gluten free, family-friendly recipe! It is also (if you double check ingredients!) a wheat free, dairy free, soy free, egg free, tree nut free, peanut free, fish free, shellfish free, corn free, top 8 allergen free, and vegan/vegetarian recipe.

Ingredients:

Bubble Bubble rice pudding pot
  • 2 cups basmati rice (brown or white)

  • 1 plain quart milk substitute, (2 cans of coconut milk is our favorite, but 1 quart of soy, hemp, rice, almond, etc milk works well too)
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup white or brown sugar
  • optional add-in ideas: 1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries, other dried fruit, chocolate chips, slivered almonds, pecan pieces, flaked coconut, or 1 tsp cinnamon

Method
In a medium pot, combine salt, rice, and milk substitute. Stir well, and bring to a boil on high heat.

Stir well once it is boiling, bring heat down to low, then cover and set the timer for the cooking time recommended on the rice packaging.

Don’t leave the rice to simmer unattended! When using a milk substitute rather than water, the rice tends to clump, so stir it about every 5 minutes while it cooks.

When the timer goes off, test the rice for done-ness. You may need to cook it for 5-10 more minutes than usual.

Completed rice pudding

When the rice has finished cooking, take it off the heat, and add the vanilla and sugar. Use a silicone spoonula or something similar to gently but completely combine. Once the sugar and vanilla is assimilated, stir in any desired optional add-ins.

Cover again, and let the flavors meld and the rice pudding cool for about 15 minutes, then spoon into a ramekin and eat warm. Yum! What a delicious, creamy, and soothing comfort food! This is also great for kids with a “crummy tummy”, or any day when you want food that feels like a warm hug. Refrigerate any leftovers, then warm individual servings in the microwave or on the stovetop. Serve as is, or with a bit of cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top, or with a bit of any of the suggested add-ins.

postheadericon Adapting your menu for allergies

(This is a portion of a longer blog post at our “A Gaggle of Girls”, blog)

Happy Celiac Disease Awareness Month!
Happy Food Allergy Awareness Week!

If you are living with food allergies, Celiac disease, food intolerances, or any other dietary restrictions, you are already used to adapting your menu. But what happens when one person wants to be a vegetarian? or you move into a home where people eat dairy? or your children have opposing allergies? or you have one kid who loves peppers and another who hates them? You learn how to adapt your menus so you can make (almost) everyone happy with one meal.

Tagging the pizza

For Mother’s Day, I made a double batch of quiches, and made them in individual sizes so each person could have the ingredients she wanted. This meant that those who like soy “cheese” could have some, and those who like bacon can enjoy without upsetting the new vegetarian. Individual pizzas, quiches, mexican pizzas (tortilla, refried beans, ground meat, salsa, soy or dairy cheese), and tacos are some incredibly easy ways of letting each child eat the ingredients she loves.

One of my favorite adaptation methods is “on the side”. I loved When Harry Met Sally, and I’m afraid I may sound like Sally when I’m in a restaurant! However, at home I have embraced that concept with my daughters. We make salads with dressing on the side, of course, but also make Pad Thai with the shrimp, limes, and peanuts on the side, a risotto with meat and/or cheese on the side, a vegetable curry with meat and some veggies on the side, or make a meal of pasta or polenta with marinara or White Sauce and sausages or meatballs on the side.

2 pizzas just out of the oven

When you start to think about meals in a new way, a way where everyone can enjoy a similar meal, you can find new ways to deconstruct dinner. A buffet of choices for pizzas or ice cream sundaes becomes more fun, not just a way to accommodate food allergies and pickiness! Shifting your perspective to fun rather than a chore can help you enjoy your meals, too – not just feel like you need to get through them somehow.

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