Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gluten free holiday party recipes

Happy holidays! I can't believe it's already December 6. Time is flying - and I don't feel anywhere near ready for Christmas!

Anyway - with all of the holiday parties, etc. going on this time of year, I wanted to share some of my favorite go-to holiday recipe bookmarks. These are great if hosting a party, and super-easy to make if bringing dishes over to someone's house as well! 

Appetizer: Indian Relish

This is my FAVORITE appetizer recipe. When I'm done following the recipe as-is, I stir in a brick of softened 1/3 less fat cream cheese (I usually use Philadephia, because of Kraft's labelling policy, but the brand probably doesn't matter as long as it's gluten free). Make the night before you want to serve or bring it, and let it chill in the fridge overnight - serve with plain rice crackers. It's delicious in a sweet-then-spicy, addictive sort of way. 

Main dish: Chili

This is a nice, simple, not-too-hot (unless you customize it) chili. It's great to bring in a crock pot if you're not sure someone's going to have gluten free offerings, and they'll always go quickly! I serve this chili with Scoops, sour cream, cheddar cheese, diced onions and diced avocados and it's amazing - and always goes! 

Dessert: Pecan Clouds

These are a super-yummy, easy and naturally gluten free holiday dessert. I use dark brown sugar for these, and they were also my go-to gluten free "pecan" dessert on Thanksgiving. I use chopped pecans (or chop them myself). 

Addictive Snack: Caramel Corn

This is my favorite fall-and-winter recipe. I use light brown sugar for these. It's wonderful, addictive, good for a dessert or a snack, and is guaranteed to be polished off. I usually make these in my turkey roasting pan so I have enough room to stir - it's good hot, but even better once it cools off! 

Hope that helps if you're looking for something to make this holiday season! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gluten Free Pigs in a Blanket

So, this year my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving for our families. The last couple of years my mother in law has been hosting Thanksgiving while I concentrate on finals, but this year was our turn. Well, one of the things that we had been thinking of for an appetizer were pigs-in-a-blanket: something that we hadn't had since childhood (when we used Pillsbury crescent rolls). I wasn't sure if I could do these, so I tried a trial run yesterday for lunch: 
First, I bought a package of Hillshire Farms cocktail weiners (after checking online and finding out that Sara Lee is another company that promises to clearly label gluten in their ingredients list - while I much prefer companies that go the extra mile and slap "gluten free" on their label, I won't complain here). Then, I rifled through my recipe box and found a pumpkin pie recipe that I had made a few years' back (the last time I hosted Thanksgiving). 

Here's the pie crust recipe, from Libby's: I hade made this the last time I hosted Thanksgiving, and used the crust for both a pumpkin pie as well as a homemade apple pie for my husband and mother in law. My husband liked the pie, but my mother-in-law informed me that it was not nearly sweet enough for a pie crust and needed a lot more sugar. So, in the recipe box it went, but I remembered how easy it was to roll out the pie crust and figured it might be an easy way to make pigs in a blanket. 

It's a pretty easy pie crust recipe: 
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider or white vinegar
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • The instructions basically have you combine all the dry ingredients, then cut in the butter and mix until it's crumbly. Then add the egg and apple cider vinegar. After that, just sprinkle the water in slowly until you get to the desired consistency - which is to be able to shape the dough into a ball. Now, be careful with the water here - just a smidge too much water and it's much harder to roll. I dusted my rolling pin with cornstarch, and it was very easy to roll out this crust with a rolling pin. 
  • I rolled out the dough very thin and cut with a knife. I then rolled up the weiners in the dough and placed them on a greased baking sheet. Don't over-do Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes - until the dough starts to get a little golden brown. Mine never got golden brown on top, just on the bottom. Don't over-cook them and make sure to check the bottoms after 15 minutes. 
Serve immediately, with spicy mustard - we like French's. :-)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Chex

We're always on the lookout for new gluten free "normal" cereals, and when we heard that Chex was coming out with an Apple Cinnamon flavor, we couldn't wait to try it! I have to admit that I love the fact that General Mills is reaching out to the gluten free community, for example through It's about time that a major company realized how much money there is to be made by properly labeling gluten free food, and I know that I vote with my dollars.

That said - I hate to say it, but as soon as I got my hands on a box of Apple Cinnamon Chex? ... Not that big of a fan. There's a very strong apple taste that overpowers the cinnamon flavor, and it doesn't quite go well with milk. I love their Cinnamon Chex, and think that their current Cinnamon Chex would have been a better place to start for an apple cinnamon flavor.

My suggestion: Combine some Cinnamon Chex with Rice Chex to tone down the cinnamon flavor, and add dried apples to make them "apple cinnamon."

That said - I'm glad that General Mills is innovating and creating new products. Now if only Post and Kelloggs would follow suit and add more options than Fruity/Cocoa Pebbles and Gluten Free Rice Krispies!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nacho Cheese Doritos

When my husband went gluten free, one of the things he missed the most was Doritos. Sure, Cool Ranch and some other flavors were safe to eat, but his favorite - Nacho Cheese flavor - contained wheat in the ingredient list.

Every week, for years, whenever he's been in the chip aisle of the grocery store, he's picked up a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos, seen that they still contain wheat, and said "Why!?!?"

... Until last week that is. We went to the grocery store and saw "Contains milk" under the ingredient list - NO WHEAT. Of course, I was immediately paranoid that it still contained wheat and it was a labeling mistake until I contacted Frito-Lay.

I'm happy to say that Nacho Cheese Doritos no longer contains wheat. I still wouldn't feel comfortable buying a bag that said "Contains wheat," and I'd double check the ingredient list to make sure you don't get an old bag, but how sweet - or should I say cheesy ;-) - is this?

Anyway, the response from my inquiry to Frito-Lay is after the jump:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sneak Peek at Elizabeth Barbone's New Book!

 I've mentioned Elizabeth Barbone on this blog before, but for those of you who don't know, she's a local gluten free author, and creator of delicious gluten free recipes. I had the pleasure of meeting Elizabeth over the holiday season at a Price Chopper baking event where she demo'd different recipes including gluten free pumpkin whoopie pies and a chocolate bark which I ended up making for both the cookie swap with the book club girls as well as my in-laws over the holiday!

Anyway, Elizabeth has a new book coming out, How to Cook Gluten Free. I was among those fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at some of the recipes in this book and so far I'm very impressed. One of the recipes that Elizabeth shared with me was for "Powdered Sugar Doughnut" muffins, and I have to admit that my curiosity was piqued. Muffins... that taste like doughnuts? Impossible, I thought. Powdered doughnuts are one of the things that my chocolate-hating husband misses the most since going gluten free, and I knew that if these were even half as good as promised I'd have enough good wife points to score a date to an opening weekend showing of The Hunger Games. :-) So here goes nothing...

Two things I noticed about the recipe right off the bat: first of all, this was a muffin recipe with no butter. Seems almost inconceivable, right? Second, this recipe calls for corn starch (among other ingredients) which I rarely use in baking. Before I continue, I'll offer you a tip: pouring corn starch out of that big plastic Argo container into a small measuring cup? Not necessarily a good idea. Especially if wearing superdark jeans and a black sweater. Moving on...

So, I followed Elizabeth's directions ALMOST to a T (I used a regular muffin pan rather than a mini muffin pan) and ended up with a dozen powdered muffins. I let them cool for as long as I could stand it, and then sampled a muffin while still warm. It was good - my husband and I shared the "tester" muffin and left the rest for breakfast the next morning. Let me tell you - don't bother testing the muffin, just let them all totally cool off. Because the next morning the flavor and texture was EXACTLY a powdered sugar doughnut. The only thing that was missing was a big glob of jam in the middle to make it a jelly doughnut (which will definitely be added next time!). Let's just put it this way. If the rest of her recipes are as good as these doughnut muffins, we're all in for a treat. :)

If you decide to make these muffins on your own, one tip: If you think you've put too much powdered sugar on the muffin, add some more. Some of the sugar will get sucked into the muffin after a day or so.  And, well, just as I feel that cupcakes are "frosting delivery services" I feel that doughnuts are "frosting/sugar/filling" delivery services and the amount of what is delivered needs to be maximized. ;-)

OK OK, I was going to write a teaser entry and make you all salivate over this, but Elizabeth gave me permission to post this recipe and share it with you.


Gluten-free nonstick cooking spray

Dry Ingredients

3/4 cup white rice flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup sweet rice flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking power

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 ground nutmeg (Note from Kat: The piece de resistance!)

Wet Ingredients

3/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil (Note from Kat: I used canola)

1 large egg

1 package (1 pound) powdered sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to the middle position and
preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease the
cavities of a mini muffin pan with nonstick
cooking spray.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry
ingredients. Add the wet ingredients and whisk
to combine. The batter will be thin.

3. Fill the muffin cavities about half full. Bake for
20 to 25 minutes, until the muffins are golden


4. While the muffins are baking, fill an 8-inch
square baking dish with the powdered sugar.

5. Remove the muffins from the oven and
working in batches, place them directly into
the powdered sugar. Gently roll the muffins in
the sugar to cover them. The steam from the
hot muffins will make the sugar stick to the
muffins. Remove the muffins from the sugar
and tap off any excess. Transfer the muffins
to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight
container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1

Makes 24 mini muffins

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cupcake Decorating at Bettie's Cupcakes

Last week I dragged my husband tomy husband joined me for a cupcake decorating class at Bettie's Cupcakes in Latham (right in Hoffman's Playland, next to Subway). The theme was Angry Birds, and since I've been known to be addicted to the game on my iPhone I just couldn't resist checking out the class! It was $30 per person (pre-paid by credit card when you make reservations), and they'll let you decorate their gluten free cupcakes if you ask. Which is awesome because then my hubby could eat his artwork! ;-)

This class started out with fondant - coloring and shaping fondant for their bodies, eyeballs, beaks, etc. We hand-kneaded balls of fondant and then colored them with a sort of high-test, thick food coloring. We kept some white, and used green, black, red, yellow, blue, and orange (for beaks).

We used buttercream frosting to fill the cupcakes (just pressing down the pastry bag in the cupcake and slowly squirting filling in - my new favorite cupcake technique) and then as a base for the fondant. Then we used chocolate chips for eyeballs and the pig's snout and ears. Don't these look adorable? (Full disclosure - the tongue on the pig was my creative license and not part of the instructions). The cupcakes tasted GREAT - though unfortunately after a couple of days they got a little stale (in other words, eat quickly or share!). I'd definitely take another class though - it's a fun time decorating these cupcakes and I think I learned a thing or two! Bettie's has a lot of different themed classes announced on their FB page if you're interested!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's Day dinner

So, you know that I'm not that big a fan of the whole Hallmark-holiday quality of Valentine's Day. I mean don't get me wrong, there are very few red-blooded American girls who don't like flowers and chocolate, but a) the markup on flowers is so high around this time of year that I could wait and get three bouquets of flowers at different points in the year for the exact same price (and surprises are better anyway - hint, hint), and b) let's be honest here. Target and CVS have already had Easter candy out for a month, and that's WAY better than any Valentine's Day candy sold. Still, we do like to have a nice dinner at home - no gifts - that weekend, and that's what we'll be doing this weekend.

So what are we doing? Well, we decided to do the whole Melting-Pot thing at home and try a four course dinner made up of two different fondues and then dessert. Sounds good, right? We've got a bottle or two of sparkling wine left over from New Years so we'll be cracking that open to go along with everything.

First course: Garden salad, while the cheese fondue heats up.

Second course: A cheese fondue appetizer, using a modified (no wheat flour) version of this cheese fondue recipe or else this champagne-cheese fondue recipe (again, modified so there's no wheat flour). For dipping: gluten free bread, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots

Third course: I found this awesome-looking wine fondue recipe that I'm interested in trying. For dipping: shrimp, beef, portabella and white mushrooms, snow peas, and red peppers.

Dessert: Unfortunately, since the hubby doesn't like chocolate three courses of fondue are out. :-( HOWEVER, I just happened to get the CIA's gluten free baking book this week, as well as a brand new pizzelle press. Sooo... hopefully, that will work out and I can either make gluten free pizzelles or shape them into dessert cups to serve ice cream in... or roll them into a cannoli shape. If the pizzelles don't work out, then we might be playing it by ear.

Gosh, this is a lot of food. Thankfully my boot camp class is the next day to burn off some of these calories!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rant on Sugar as a Toxic Substance

I saw, and posted, this article earlier today on whether sugar should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco. A team of researchers from the University of California at San Francisco have decided that sugar is toxic and (slowly) killing us - therefore, it should be regulated along with other dangerous substances. Proposed age limits - no sugary drinks sold to children under the age of 17 - would supposedly curb sugar consumption in children, lessening childhood obesity and improving overall health.

This idea is, in theory, just about as sound as the "flat tax" theory. It sounds passable at first, until you start to think rationally. While I'll completely agree that sugar is addictive and too much sugar is bad for you (and I'll confess that I eat WAY too much sugar myself), are you going to tell me that all sugars are equal? There's sugar in bread - it's food for yeast. Carbs like white bread break down into - you guessed it - sugar! There's even sugar (fructose) in fruit! I'm all for downsizing the prominence of high fructose corn syrup in our daily lives, but demonizing all sugars in the process is patently ridiculous. If you show me a Type I diabetic, I'm sure they have some type of sugar stashed in their car or purse for blood sugar emergencies. If you show me an otherwise healthy, highly active kid who's on two or three sports teams, I'm willing to bet you that a Gatorade after practice isn't going to do any damage. And if you try to take my chocolate away during THAT WEEK, you'd better be wearing protective armor.

If we ban sales of sugar for kids, what's next? Am I going to get hit up by a 12 year old outside the supermarket with a fiver asking me to buy soda? Are parents going to be carted off to jail because they served birthday cake to a group of ten fourth-graders? Are schools and employers going to administer random blood glucose tests? Are we going to completely absolve ourselves of any personal or parental responsibility? Why don't we - as individuals and parents - say "Hey, that Coke should be enjoyed in moderation" and leave it at that?

There are better ways of attacking this problem than nanny-state legislation like age restrictions on sugar consumption and extra taxes on sugary drinks and snacks. How about we look at how much money is being poured into corn subsidies and the relationship of corn production to the amount of available, CHEAP high fructose corn syrup? How about we start funneling money into more local farming initiatives with the goal of making apples, carrots and other healthy foods the cheapest ingredients in our grocery stores? How about taxing corporations that do horrendous things to our food supply in the name of saving cents per pound, damn any potential negative health consequences for our public (pink slime, anyone?)

In the end, I don't think sugar will ever be regulated - I think there will be a horrendous backlash on any proposed legislation (if it ever got that far). That said, I think it's sad that we've gotten this far, to the point where we're so unwilling to take responsibilities for our own actions as individuals and parents.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I can't believe it's already time for another Superbowl! We're planning on staying home to watch the game this year, though a couple of friends are popping by to watch the game, it'll be pretty laid-back. My husband is a HUGE Giants fan, so of course I'm rooting for the Patriots. (Full disclosure: I have a reputation as a Patriots fan that I just can't shake, when in reality I used to be a Tom Brady fan back in the days before he showed the world what a world-class ass he was by leaving his pregnant girlfriend for a supermodel).

Anyway. I digress.

It wouldn't be the Superbowl without snacks, and that's what the whole point of this blog post is. Snacks! It's the second-best day of the year for gluttony (it doesn't have anything on Thanksgiving), to the point where it just doesn't feel right to watch the game without some fattening food. Plus I have boot camp that morning, so I won't even feel (much) guilty! We'll have four people (I think - that could change), one gluten free, and one vegetarian.

I'll start with the drinks - I'm going to pick up a case of Sam Adam's Angry Orchard cider. If you haven't tried this yet, you should - it's just about the best hard cider we've ever tasted. Yes, it's that good. I've only tried the regular version but it's amazing. That, and we have some leftover Killian's from New Years, and sodas to put out.

Now for food - I'm going NACHOS!!!!

The main nachos I have are sooo easy. I layer tortilla chips with ground beef (browned with taco seasonings), refried beans, jalapenos, sliced black olives, and a ton of melted monterey jack cheese. (I just put it under the broiler until it starts to turn brown). Then, I top it with shredded iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes and onions, and serve with salsa, sour cream and guacamole for dipping!

I'll also be making a vegetarian 5-layer dip with refried beans, sour cream and taco seasoning, monterey jack cheese, jalapenos, olives, guacamole, and salsa. (I'm not sure if that's 5 layers or something else, or what constitutes a layer and what doesn't - but either way, served with tortilla chips it should be yummy!

My husband also really wants to have wings (and who am I to deny anyone buffalo sauce?) so we'll also be doing a batch of wings. For a hot vegetarian munchie, I'm thinking potato skins, sans bacon - but I could change my mind! (Any suggestions!?)

If you're hosting a (gluten free or not) Superbowl party and are looking for some ideas for stuff to serve, some other ideas include:
  • Chili is a good staple! I swear by this recipe for Flatlander chili
  • Pizza - I have a pretty good base crust recipe, though I might suggest a different topping than white pizza for the Superbowl! (How about buffalo chicken pizza? Just make sure to marinate grilled cut up chicken in buffalo sauce overnight for the full effect!) 
  • Standard chip and dip options always work.
  • My go-to pizza puff recipe is always a hit with non-GF people too (I love it when people request them, because I also know I'll be bringing stuff my husband can eat and enjoy!) 
Most importantly - enjoy!!!