Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Recipe - Italian Hamburger Helper

Or in my case, turkey helper!

I mentioned in one of my posts already that I try to stay away from pre-made or processed foods as often as possible without giving up every thing. When I lived in the USA, I was very fond of hamburger helpers in any shape or form. Sure some more then others but in the end, what wasn't to love about pasta/rice/potatoes with some meat and sauce?? Oh yea... the added salt and other crap they add to it in the process to make it 'storable'. Bleh I say... making home-made is SOOOO easy and so much better for you. And it really takes no more time then adding the meat and liquid to those cheap not so good for your processed boxes. I found this by pure accident and have completely changed it to suit a gluten free diet while retaining pasta (in this recipe at least) and making it mine. The original recipe has been changed so much that it won't be worth mentioning any more here and it was for a completely different dish all together. This just kind of happened in the end by tossing this in, changing that and altering this bit and that bit. Hope you enjoy as much as my husband and I did!

As usual with some more in depth dishes, here are a few tips to make this go easier
Tip #1 - If you choose to use veggies in this, I suggest fresh/raw or frozen if you want to just cook the veggies right along with all the main dish ingredients instead of having another step later on. If you wish to use canned veggies, simply add them to the end of the main dish cooking time instead of at the beginning. Still suggest frozen or fresh though because they are better for you, aren't processed for 'storage' and don't have all that salt it's packed in.

Tip #2 - Use non-stick pans for the entire dish. You don't want pasta stuck to the bottom of your pan and most certainly don't want cheese burnt to it either. Remember to not use metal on the non-stick pans, especially if you are using a whisk for the cheese sauce. I always have a plastic one for these cases.

Tip #3 - If you are doing this with pasta (I use a rice based gluten free one) you must use macaroni! I've tried a number of other pastas from spirals to penne and they all just dissolve into nothing for some reason before the main dish is cooked through enough to absorb the liquid.

Tip #4 - Use a large pan to start this dish. In the end you will need a pan big enough to fit all of the below ingredients along with the fact that you'll need room to mix it all together along with the cheese sauce. I suggest a soup pot but it will be quite over sized. My option most of the time is I cook it in my deep sided frying pan and when I'm ready for the cheese sauce to be added, I transfer it to a large tuperware bowl and do my mixing there.

Tip #5 - This is two fold. When using seasoning mixes (such as the Italian mix I suggest in this recipe) try to get them in salt-free versions. They are better for you, allow the taste of the actual wanted spices to come through and also allow you to adjust the salt in the dish rather then making it the main seasoning. And part 2, I suggest not adding any additional salt to this dish (it's not even in the ingredient list) as there is already plenty of salt in the rest such as the cheese, the bouillon cube and the tomatoes alone.

Main Dish
 1 pound ground meat (I used turkey as I don't eat much red meat any more)
 16 oz can diced tomatoes (roughly.. a bit more won't effect it much but don't use less)
 1 chicken bouillon cube (or beef if you are using ground beef)
 16 oz water (use the can or carton from the tomatoes! Works well and less dishes!)
 2 TBS Italian seasoning mix (make sure to read the ingredients to ensure the mix doesn't contain gluten based bulking agents)
 1 cup broccoli florets (optional... peas, corn, carrots, finely cut green beans... all work well too)
 1 to 1/2 cups gluten free macaroni pasta (see tip #3)

Cheese Sauce
 2 TBS butter (must use butter or the sauce won't set right)
 2 TBS gluten free flour mix
 1 cup skim or 2% milk (don't use whole, it makes it way too heavy)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 or 3 TBS sour cream
 freshly ground pepper (season in the end to taste)

In a fairly large non-stick pan brown the ground meat until cooked through. On top of that add all of the rest of the 'main dish' ingredients (including veggies if you are using them). Stir together and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and cover. You want a nice firm boil going so I suggest a medium heat to remain under it. Cook about 20 minutes or until the liquid is 90% absorbed (you want some liquid to remain but not a whole lot... you want it to be thick). Come back every few minutes and stir the mixture and remember to do this as you want the pasta to cook evenly and not to stick to the bottom.

While the main ingredients mix is cooking away you'll want to prepare the cheese sauce to go over it. In a small sauce pan melt butter but don't let it burn. Add flour, whisk and cook flour mix for 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk slowly. Bit by bit while whisking the whole time. You don't want lumps so start out slow. When you have about half the milk mixed in you can just pour the rest in at once. Return to a low heat. You don't want to burn your sauce so if you see it start to boil at all, remove again from heat. This is a vital part... do not let it boil. Once the mixture is hot but not boiling, add cheddar cheese and mix well. When the cheese is fully melted, you will have to judge if you want your sauce a bit thinner or not, if you want it thinner add more milk but only a tablespoon at a time. While you are doing this add your sour cream as well, this will also thin out the sauce a bit too. When you have the thickness you want, remove from heat and season to your taste with pepper.

When main mixture has absorbed most of its liquid and the pasta is fully cooked through, remove from heat, add cheese sauce and mix well. I think this dish is better served hot but hey it's pasta, can't go bad cold either!

Don't mind the silly looking hairy man below while he licks off the serving spoon from this delicious recipe. It only shows the honor to how great this dish is and his personal chef.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recipe - Tiramisu (cooked version)

Lets talk sinful for a while... sinful as in probably the most calorie and fat rich desserts out there today... Tiramisu (at least in this way). Why you might think do I classify this as one of the most sinful? Simple, 2 pounds of cheese made mostly of cream instead of milk (mascarpone), 6 egg yolks, lady finger/sponge cookies and to top it off because this is a cooked version of the recipe add 2 cups of whipping cream to it! How much more sinful and unhealthy can you get?! But we should all indulge once in and a while right?? RIGHT????

The reason this recipe is 'cooked' is 2 things have been altered. First you make another Italian dessert called Zabaione instead of just mixing cheese and raw egg yolks and 2nd where as traditionally the recipe for this calls for you to use egg whites whipped. This one uses cream. I rather have a cooked and higher fat/calorie dessert then eat raw eggs. My husband is always telling me that I worry too much but be my luck the first time I stop worrying about things like raw egg eating will be the first time I get really sick from it... or worse, make someone else sick so thank you, I'll stick to being on the over cautious side!

I ended up making this not because I really wanted to make it like most of recipes but purely by chance. I went shopping blindly, as in I thought about recipes I might want to make sometime soon and thus bought ingredients I thought might be in it. In this case I meant to make a recipe for Sicilian cheesecake which also calls for an Italian cheese but ricotta not mascarpone and on top of it I remembered it called for quite an amount... some where in the range of 2 or even 3 cups. In my house ricotta never is a miss any how because it goes so well in so many things. It's basically an Italian version of cream cheese. However, my mistake, I didn't know at the time which cheese was needed but for some reason I thought it was mascarpone and thus bought *2* 1 pound containers of the stuff. My god, what am I gonna do with all of that and I HATE wasting food. Then came this recipe!

The recipe I made here makes a massive amount, as in a 13x9inch baking pan that is 2inches deep and even then it came right smack to the top of the pan. Any more and it wouldn't have fit at all. So if you rather make a smaller portion, just half the recipe... there are enough of all the ingredients to do this simply.

I do have a couple of tips to make this go better for you
Tip #1 - Have all of your ingredients and equipment ready. This recipe is not something to just leave and forget about even for a few moments as you will end up with either cooked eggs or cream that doesn't whip or any other number of problems.

Tip #2 - Use a metal bowl for whipping your cream. Place metal bowl, beaters for your mixer and the cream in the fridge to chill out while you prepare the other ingredients. You want every everything that will involve whipping your cream as cold as you can get it without actually freezing it. I even went as far as placing my carton of cream in the freezer for about 30mins prior to the whipping process. Remember the cream though! Don't let it even get close to freezing as this will harm the whipping process... cream does not freeze well at all.

Tip #4 - Use Mascapone cheese and do not use something like cream cheese or ricotta. They are not made from the whole cream that mascapone is and on top of it have a completely different flavor and texture. It will not make the recipe come out the way it should. And lets face it, there is already 2 cups of cream in this recipe, you won't be doing yourself any favors by trying to use something lower in fat anyhow.

Tip #4 - Make sure if you aren't using an actual double boiler but a pan with a pot or bowl above it, that you use a bowl or what have you that is big enough to sit in the pot so that it doesn't hit the water below (this will scramble your eggs and you don't want this) but it also sits firmly enough in the pot that it doesn't let the heat out the sides. You need a low simmer of water going all the time and if steam is being let out the sides it won't keep an even temp.

Tip #5 - Make sure you have enough room in your kitchen to have a few processes going at once as you will have at least your stove with a double boiler going, a bowl to have the cheese in so you can add the zabaglione (the double boiler portion of the recipe) to it, another bowl for whipping your cream, most likely another larger bowl to put both the bowl of cheese/zabaglione mixture and whipped cream together in for the folding process, a bowl with espresso with your lady fingers ready and on top of all that as if it weren't enough... the pan for actually assembling the Tiramisu. So yea... have lots of room ready when you start to make this recipe.

Tip #6 - HAVE PATIENCE! Above all these, have patience. There are quite a few steps in here that require you to be calm and collective. When you think it is going wrong or 'why isn't it done yet?!', just a bit longer and it'll all come together... this is the KEY tip to making this dessert.

With the tips out of the way... lets move on forward with the recipe. I LOVED this dessert and I kicked it up a notch by adding fresh jumbo raspberries in the top layer after I did the dusting process. I do give a warning with this recipe though... if you have had your gallbladder out, eat this with reserve! A VERY small piece goes a long ways, the pieces I show in my photos out did me and actually brought back some painful memories of when I first had it out and eat a bit too much fat the first month due to the fat content in it and well although the dessert is so worth at least a small bite here and there, resist the temptation to eat it in the pieces I started to! You'll thank me for this in the end LOL.

Espresso Dip
 1 cup strong espresso (I used decaf)
 1/2 cup coffee liquor (Kalua works well)
 2 tsp granulated sugar

 6 egg yolks (this recipe does not use the egg whites at all)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup red port (for better but more expensive use Marsala wine instead)
 2 pounds Mascarpone cheese
 2 cups heavy whipping cream

 40 to 60 lady fingers (make sure you buy a GLUTEN FREE version!!!)
 coco Powder (the dutch process kind and not the sugared drink stuff)
 raspberries or strawberries (optional)

Combine the espresso, kalua and sugar in a bowl suitable for allowing you to dip the lady finger cookies in. Do this mixing while the espresso is still hot so that the sugars will dissolve completely. Set aside for later use and for it to come to room temp. You will need to be able to place your fingers in this so it has to be at least cooled.

Get your double boiler ready (or make-shift one). Again make sure your bowl doesn't touch the water and that you only let the water simmer. A boil will cause the pot above to become unstable, too hot for the this process and end up scrambling your eggs instead of thickening them. In the bowl or pot you'll be using as the top of your double boiler, whisk by hand the egg yolks and sugar until pale in color and slightly fluffy. Whisk (again by hand, only thing you'll need a mixer for is the cream later on) in the port and combine well. Place the bowl on the double boiler, turn your heat on, get it to your simmer and keep your whisk handy. This is one of the processes in which you need to have patience. You'll need to first let the water come to temperature, once it is you'll need to give a good whisking to the mixture every few minutes until you start to feel the mixture thicken. This process can take up to 20 minutes of your time but you will feel that perhaps in the end that its not cooked enough because yes it will have thickened up from it's cold state but it will still be quite thin. This is normal as it will start to thicken even more when it starts to cool and even more when you place the finished dish in the fridge to chill. Remember this process is to cook the eggs and to only slightly thicken the mixture.

In between the whisking of the step above, get a bowl ready with your mascapone cheese. With a rubber spatchula mash/break up the cheese a bit. Once you have the Zabaglione mixture finished and yes while it's still hot, pour it over the cheese. Keep your spatchula near-by and use your whisk to mix up the cheese and Zabaglione until well combined, no more lumps of cheese can be seen and it looks creamy.

Go get your bowl, beaters, mixer and cream. Make sure your bowl is at least 3x's the size of the 2 cups worth of cream that will be in it. Whip all 2 cups worth of cream. This is another part of the recipe that will require your patience. And no you do not need sugar for this process and why you might ask? Simple, with all of the sugar that is already in the Zabaglione as well as the sugars that are in the espresso mixture and cookies! This takes a while but with your mixer on full speed just let it mix the cream up. Again you'll start to wonder if it's gonna happen or not but as you let it run (I'd say give it 5 minutes at least) you'll start to see the mixture thicken and then you want to be even more patient because you want the cream thick. Not butter thick so watch that you don't over beat it but you want it to be able to stand in peaks on it's own when you are done.

This is where I would suggest a bigger bowl unless you were smart enough to already use a bowl 4x's bigger then the cheese mixture! You want to FOLD in the now whipped cream into the cheese mixture, put your whisk in the sink as you don't need it any more and grab that spatchula I told you to keep on hand still. Be gentle about this and slow. You want the mixture to come together completely and again you'll need patience. Do not get into beating it or something... just keep folding and in a bit of time it will all come together perfectly.

With your now completed cheese and cream mixture, your ready to assemble! Put your cookies in a way that you can just grab them (putting them in a bowl or on a plate works but get them out of their packaging as you'll have messy/sticky hands and won't want to have to reach for the package), grab your by now chilled bowl of espresso mixture and a 13x9x2 inch cake pan (for this recipe it MUST be deep! At least 2inches or deeper) and prepare yourself as this is where it was all worth that patience you had throughout!

Your going to start a layering process. Cookie by cookie, dunk each one in the espresso mixture for a few seconds but only VERY briefly as you just want the cookie to absorb a bit of the espresso mixture but not so much so that they are falling apart. You want a bit of a bite still to the cookie in the end and well you have to be able to get it over to the pan! As you finish dipping each cookie, start laying the cookies across the bottom of your pan in a single layer and try to cover the entire pan (I had to break a few cookies in half in order to do this). With the single layer of cookies laid, spread half of your cheese & cream mixture over the top and make sure you get the mixture into all of the small corners. Once the mixture is spread out evenly, take some of your coco powder and lightly dust the entire layer of cheese mixture so that you don't see any of the cream color coming through. The best way to do this is either have a very fine shaker of sorts meant for coco dusting or simply take a very fine mesh strainer (I have a 3-4 TBS sized one that worked perfectly for this), fill it about 3/4th full of coco (about what you'll need for the entire dish in the end) and then gently tap the side of it while over the pan to allow the dusting action to happen.

You'll now want to rinse and repeat the 2 steps above. Dipping cookies, layering them in a single layer across the cheese mixture this time and then spread out the last of the cream mixture on the cookies and ending with a firm dusting of coco powder. Don't be shy on the powder! If you are like me and don't really care for the bitterness of coco powder say in something like coco powder covered truffles, this is nothing like it! With all the sugars and cream going on, you want to have this slight bitterness coming through.

In my version, I also took a good portion of raspberries and simply placed them on top of the final dusting of coco powder and presses very gently so that they sink into the cheese. This was mostly for decoration in on my part but in the end it worked really nicely. I would even consider putting it in the first layer of cheese when done if you like raspberries as much as I do or even if your just looking for a slightly different Tiramisu recipe.

With your finished product, place in the fridge for at least 3hrs (if you have a fast cooling fridge like I do this is plenty of time) but as with most recipes that need chilling, I'd suggest leaving it over night. However if your like me, you can just as well take a taste before but remember, you'll ruin your perfect presentation if you do! I had at least enough self control to wait the 3hrs... over night was never going to happen!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Recipe - The Perfect Corn Dog

Mmmm corn dogs... what a treat! Ok they aren't exactly 'good' for you but this isn't what my blog is all about, it's about bringing you back to basics and cooking it gluten free. What does summer call out to you? BBQs, grilling out, family, good food, ball games, fairs... and with all those come the yummy things like CORN DOGS! Ok I have a complete weakness for these, I have since I was very little girl and even now as I'm getting on into my 30s.

Of all the things that are perfect for a gluten free diet, still be an indulgence but not be so bad for you food wise that you shouldn't even have it... it's these. They can be made short or long, thick or thin (depending on your batter) and for those that have the pleasures of finding gluten free hot dogs with say cheese in them, your well on your way! After all one of the biggest gluten free flour items out there is based on corn and the other being rice.

There are quite a few tips you should read and follow before going onto the recipe. It's a wonderful treat but they have to be made in a certain way, with certain things and they should be followed. I've made this quite a few times (will have to revisit for better photos though as the photos I have are again about 3years old now) and if you miss a tip or don't follow a direction, things can go horribly wrong and you've ruined a batch or 2, known from experience.

Tip #1 - Use a deep fryer. These will float first off and 2nd, you need something that is going to keep a nice even heated oil temp. A pan on an oven will vary as much as 20+ degrees at any given time as it regulates its set temperature. A fryer will only range about 5 degrees ever... unless you have a really ancient fryer over course.

Tip #2 - Always use a fresh batch of oil with exception if you have just made a batch of corn dogs. Don't mix this with other foods when frying because they will pick up the taste of what ever else was made in the oil before.

Tip #3 - Fry these all at a high temp. I have a temp of 180c (350f) and I used it on full but stood there with them the entire time to ensure I cooked them evenly and didn't burn them. It also ensures that the batter flash seals on the outside while the inside does this most wonderful steam style cooking. Yes the only true fat from the frying is what is absorbed on the outside shell, never inside... it's all nice and fluffy if done right.

Tip #4 - Make sure you have a plate/baking sheet ready with paper towels to set freshly fried corn dogs on to get rid of extra oil. This is vital if you don't want soggy corn dogs.

Tip #5 - Make sure when frying that you do not crowd the dogs. Even though you think you will have all this room when placing them in there, you won't. They will expand and you will need room to turn these as they cook. I suggest for the size I will explain below and for a normal sized deep fryer to not cook them more then 5/6 at a time. I used a mini fryer so I only did 2/3 at a time. Use your judgement, if you think it's gonna be too much, it probably will be, have patience... it's worth it!

Tip #6 - Let the batter sit for at least 10minutes before starting with the battering process. This will allow the corn meal to absorb the liquid much better and make batter stick to the hot dogs a lot better.

Tip #7 - If you are using full length hot dogs (I cut mine into more 1-2 bite sized pieces) I would suggest finding a jar longer then the hot dog you are going to use so that you can batter them with ease. This way you will get a good coating along the entire length. A good suggestion is if you buy hot dogs in a jar, simply rinse and dry the jar (don't even have to clean it if you are making these straight away) and use the jar as it should be just a bit longer then the hot dogs themselves. Other tall cups or glasses or anything else work well for full length ones.

Tip #8 - Use popsicle sticks because using something to thin width wise will just result in you loosing the hot dog in the thick batter or worse, in the frying process. I used tooth picks for the ones I made (mini after all) and I lost a number of them while trying to batter. If making mini, I might even suggest that you use something like a toothpick, coat them and then drop them in but use another toothpick to 'push' off the dog without the stick. Who needs a stick anyhow when they are mini??

Tip #9 - Make sure your using corn meal for the batter and not something called corn flour or corn starch. You want the really course stuff, not the flour/fine style stuff that is meant more for thickening sauces/soups.

Tip #10 - When preparing the hot dogs before the batter process, I suggest using latex or vinal style powder free gloves (like you find at the doctors office) while doing it. It makes for quick clean up afterwards and if you end up with too much moister on them with all the flour, it's easier to clean them off then your hands each time. I suggest this actually any time someone has to batter, bread or flour anything.

With that all out of the way, here is the recipe. Enjoy (I hope) your re-newed love for the good ol' American style corn dog!
These directions are for the mini style ones I have photos for, adjust as needed for full length. I will revisit this recipe I'm sure sometime during the summer and will do it again but for longer ones.

 1 cup GF flour mix
 2/3 cup corn meal
 2 TBS sugar
2 tsp GF baking powder
1/2 ts salt (optional)
 2 eggs
 1 cup milk
 1 TBS oil (other then frying oil)
 1 package (10) GF hot dogs
 GF flour mix for coating hot dogs

Combine GF flour mix, corn meal, sugar and salt (if using) and make sure the corn meal is well combined throughout. Add oil, eggs and milk starting at 3/4th cup and add 1 TBS at a time if more is needed. Most likely you'll end up using a bit more the longer you let the batter sit. Simply whisk it together until there are no lumps and let sit while preparing hot dogs for battering (tip #6 above).

Cut hot dogs about 3inches long. The sausage style hot dogs I used were massive so I had a lot more then the normal American style hot dog will make. Pierce each hot dog end with popsicle stick or with toothpick if doing it the mini corn dog style and be careful when using a tooth pick, see tip #8 above.

Set up your fryer and get it heating so it's nice and hot while you take the next steps. dredge hot dogs in a gluten free flour mix (I would think plain corn starch would work just as well but if you have a mix available like I do, use it by all means). Shake/rub off any excess flour as you just want these dusted so that when you go to batter them that the batter will stick to them properly. I suggest laying them all out on foil after your done with the dredging, it makes it easier to work with while doing the battering and frying process. Do this for all the hot dogs you intend to use before going on to the other steps. You don't want to have to stop in the middle of frying just because you need to coat more hot dogs.

When fryer is at temp, take the amount of hot dog pieces (on a stick) and place them stick side up into the batter bowl. Turn and twist hot dog stick until well coated and make sure you get the top part where the stick is as well as you want the batter to seal around the stick once you set it in the hot oil.

Transfer straight from battering bowl to the deep fryer. If high enough, the corn dog will be sealed on the outside and actually steam itself until cooked on in the inside. That wonderful 'corn dog' shape will come to it's own very quickly when you start to fry. Make sure you stay near by. You want a light golden brown color but from my experience you will need to turn them and might even have to hold them in place while they fry because they like to float but for some reason don't like to turn on their own. I suggest using heat resistant tongs when doing this as it will give you the mobility that you to keep these cooking correctly.

When you have a nice light to dark golden brown color all around, remove from fryer to prepared paper towel lined plate or baking sheet (tip #4 above). Let cool slightly before serving, the inside will be extremely hot!

 I always liked to mix plain ol' American original style French's
with ketchup and use it as dipping sauce but I bet my BBQ
Sauce Recipe
would go wonderfully with these as well!
 If you like cheese filled hot dogs and can find them gluten free, they will work wonders!
 If you ended up making dozens of these wonderful mouth full size treats, put in freezer bags or other freezer ware and freeze. They take only seconds in the microwave or a few minutes in the oven to bring them right back to their hot out of fryer taste.
 Comment and leave your own suggestion!

Edited On 4-20-2012
I will be making these again very soon. This is one of oldest recipes to date and it's been years since I made them. I have all the ingredients ready to go, fresh oil in the fryer and my canon camera at hand to make this better. Will re-post the recipe with new photos in a new entry.

Read, Read and Read!

There are quite a few things to learn while on The Gluten Free Experience trip so I hope I'll be able to bring some enlightening information or news throughout my postings.

Some people really do not realize how hard it is exactly to live a gluten free life style. It really is not about just reducing the gluten you get in your diet, it's about getting rid of it completely. When you are required to go down this path it's because your body is not able to process the gluten protein that some grains carry such as wheat, barley, rye and spelt (there are more so read up and learn about them).

That brings the reason for my topic of this post. READ, READ and READ! I can't stress this one factor more clearly. Even when buying 'fresh' meat products, READ THE INGREDIENTS. Gluten is hidden in so many products in so many different forms for so many different reasons that you have to make time to read labels! My biggest tip, if it doesn't have an ingreditent list or doesn't clearly state '100%' of what ever it is, simply don't buy it. There is more than enough of a selection that you can just skip 1 or 2 products and choose something else.

Even if you have read the same label 40x's, read it again even a week later because not only is gluten hidden in so many things but it's also likely to creep back up in some form when a company changes factories or even when they change their recipe even slightly. I've had this happen so many times in the years I have lost track of exactly how much.

 ♥ Doritos Chips (exception 'all natural' style). These at one point was something I could eat... in the beginning. Then they changed their recipe (I still check the ingredient list every few months though because these are one of my favorite chips) and it started to include 'aromas with wheat' and again a year or so later they changed the recipe again and now fully include wheat as an addition to the ingredients.

 ♥ Processed Lunch Meats. ANYTHING processed, be especially careful of the label. Lunch meats are something we that eat meat, eat often if not daily. These are probably the worst item when it comes to labels. Even if it's something as plain as chicken breast because they add things to it to 'bulk' it up... again comes to the 'keep the price low while making it seem that they are selling you more' reasoning. Also these are the worst when it comes to 'made in a factory of' warnings. The reason for this is because typically if they offer a 'plain' flavor, they also offer seasoned ones and those tend to have wheat added in some form and thus cross contamination happens and the factory warning shows up.

 ♥ Sausages. Aaaaa who doesn't love a good ol' brat worst or chicken sausage on the grill?? BE CAREFUL! Almost any pre-made sausage is again bulked! Added to it can be so many things that are gluten based it's not funny! Breading (yes actual bread), flour, bread crumbs, wheat dextrose and so many more. Your safest bet to get these yummy summer grillin' treats is either buy a sausage grinder and learn how to make them yourself or have the luck I do with a number of fresh butchers that will make a 100% meat filled sausage for you (or will offer to make them with products you bring in that are gluten free if it really needs something to stabilize it like say meat loaf).

♥ Sauces. You thought sausages are bad? Sauces (powder or liquid form) are most likely just as bad if not worse. In my thoughts, worse to be quite honest. Why? Because even something as simple as every day mayo, which if real should only have eggs and oil), can carry some form of gluten even just in the way they try to thicken it. Powder forms are worse then liquid style ones though because they add gluten style products to it in order to make it thick when you start to cook it according to their directions. Not all sauces have gluten in them and some are even marked that they are especially good for a gluten free diet (I suggest checking out Heinz because at least in the country I live, they actually have the sauces marked if they are gluten free). Your chances to find a sauce that doesn't have gluten in them lay in the ones that are 'clear'... sauce as sweet & sour sauces or other vinegar based sauces. More chances that it WILL have gluten if it's a mayo based sauce and even more if it's a powder form of sauce.

 ♥ Sandwich salad spreads. These go along the lines of being difficult because most of them are again mayo based or worse, they make the traditional 'fake' style crab salad and that stuff is made with wheat to give the bulk factor again and thus most salads carry a 'made in a factory of' warning even if there is no gluten in it.

Above are just some of the things I've run into over the years. I'm sure there is more and as time goes I'll post about them. But it still comes down to READ, READ and READ! Even if you've 'been buying it forever', unless it is a specially made gluten free product, read the label time and time again! They change so often and there are so many hidden dangers. I know it takes time and sometimes you don't have it, that is what makes this diet so hard to follow sometimes. MAKE TIME. If you are going to go shopping, don't make it a quick trips, make it a 'I've got a spare hour' trip. It'll save a lot of hassle in the end. And it does get easier as time goes on to eat and live this way in every aspect you can image... I promise this.

Seasoning Recipe - Taco Seasoning

I do try my hardest to cook 'good & healthy' but lets face it, we can't always do this. We live in a day and age where it's almost impossible to ward off having a cupcake or piece of chocolate at some point through-out our day. But where I can, I do try to make better choices and the first being that I now cook as much as I can time allows from scratch instead of buying pre-made.

One of these choices was to replace the pre-made taco seasoning found in packets across the world (or at least most countries! Even here in my country!). I decided this a long time ago, well before I went gluten free. The biggest reason though was who in the heck needs all the added salt and sodium that is add to it?! Always about keeping price down while trying to make it seem that they are selling you the most for the price they charge. It's another reason that being gluten free is so hard when buying pre-made items... we'll get into that in another post though!

Now I'm sure I'm not the only one out there that LOVES to have tacos or any other mexican-American style food that calls for taco seasoning so I've gotten this wonderful recipe that (drools like Homer Simpson) just makes all that pre-made store bought crap seems worthless and it really takes less time then going out to the local store to get that packet because it uses the most simplest of ingredients! I usually make 4x's the recipe below and store it. Go on, look in your cupboards (I'm sure you'll have most of the seasonings on hand if you are an at home cook of any sort) and make some, you won't be disappointed!

1 TBS chili powder (this is the American style chili powder! If using stronger stuff, reduce the amount you use but I highly suggest the American style as it also gives it bulk)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 ts cumin
salt/pepper to season (VERY optional)

This really is a no-brainer, place all ingredients into a small bowl and combine well. Goes well on and in a number of dishes. Remember the salt and even the pepper in this recipe really is not missed if you don't add it. This amount is considered a 'portion' and I refer to it as such below in my suggestions.

 ♥ 1 portion to 1 pound ground meat (turkey, chicken, beef or any other ground meat you think works well for tacos and Mexican food). Cook meat through, add 1 portion taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water and let simmer until water is absorbed. If you are like me and want a stronger taco seasoning taste, simply add more seasoning... I tend to use like 2 or 3 portions personally.
 ♥ Mix a portion with 1 pound shredded meat (chicken, beef and pork go well for this type) and make tostadas!
 ♥ Make 4x's the recipe (or more) seasoning and place in a seal proof container (plastic zipper bag, tuperware container or what not), it'll keep for months!
 ♥ Comment and add your own suggestions!

Sauce Recipe - BBQ Sauce

Sometimes you just crave those wonderful summer treats that every one else seems to have and with no worries. All of us doing The Gluten Free Experience know that we can't let our guard down when it comes to sauces so I've almost perfected this recipe to the point that I don't think it could get any better.

It's rich, thick, tangy, a bit spicy and wonderful on so many things... chicken for the grill and more for dipping springs to mind almost instantly.

I have one old photo to share of some chicken I made like 3years ago but it's only the beginning of summer this year, I'm sure there will be a chance to make this sauce before it's over and I'll revisit it when I do. Hmmm... I even think I have some wonderful little drummies in the freezer just begging to be defrosted and thrown on the grill!

Original Recipe from Glutenfreeda
original recipe was altared to include dijon mustard and honey in order to make it a 'honey mustard' version
 1/2 cup brown sugar
 2 Tablespoons chili powder
 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
 1 Tablespoon onion powder
 2 teaspoons garlic powder
 2 teaspoons celery salt
 Dash of cayenne pepper
 2 cups ketchup
 1 heaping TBS honey
 1/8 cup dijon mustard
 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
 3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Directions - This couldn't be easier if you tried!
Combine the brown sugar and all dry spices in a kettle big enough to hold 4 cups... make sure to mix them very well until you can't tell which spice was which and the brown sugar is mixed through. Then add all wet ingredients. (I've even gotten to the stage that I've made this enough times that I just throw everything into 1 pot, give it a really really good mix up instead of separating the dry vs the wet ingredients)

Heat over a VERY low heat for about 15mins. Then use as you wish! It's great for anything you would put BBQ sauce on! My personal favs are chicken and beans! (mmmm beans.... hamburger... bbq sauce... I feel another recipe coming on!).

 Marinate chicken, beef or pork over night and grill (works well instantly too but will give a better and deeper flavor if left to marinate over night... remember to refrigerate!)
 Put still warm in a dipping cup and make home-made chicken strips or nuggets to dip (will post a recipe at some point for these)
 ♥  Post a comment with your suggestion!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome To The Gluten Free Experience!

Welcome to my spare time project! I know I know, you're saying to yourself 'oh great another food blog' but this blog comes with a purpose... a good purpose! To write to all of those out there that are living the Gluten Free life style! I had to go about this about 5years ago as of this post and new blog. It's been a crazy experience from lots of good things relearned, bad mistakes, flopped cooking, really good cooking, depression days due to feeling sorry for myself and much much more.

I wanted to start this little project here because it'll give me a way to express what I'm doing with my life in the way of my food & cooking while enjoying some things I like more, photography... writing and of course computers! I hope you'll find something good out of this blog and that you'll enjoy my ride with me! 

Feel free to link to your blog but please keep it related to gluten free cooking. If it's a blog entry only that is fine but please link to the entry and not just the blog itself... keep it real and I'll keep it real.