Thursday, June 30, 2011

Squash sausage rice

I learned this meal from my sister-in-law. It is one of the easiest, quickest meals to make. And delicious! There are 3 ingredients:
Acorn squash, sausage, and rice. And honey if you want to add a touch of sweetness to the squash (but that makes 4 ingredients). (Just check to make sure the sausage is gluten-free--Kroger's mild sausage is, but I don't remember which others are off the top of my head.)
I just throw the rice in the rice cooker (or cook it however you normally do), cook up the sausage on the stovetop, throw those together, and serve them in half an acorn squash. There are a few ways to cook the squash. The easiest is the microwave. Poke it with a knife in a few places to vent the steam (or it WILL explode. Not that that's happened to me....), then cook it for a few minutes. Probably 4-6 minutes, give or take a few depending on the size of the squash. Then cut it open, scoop out the seeds and eat. Or if you want to do it in the oven, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and place cut-side down in a pan with a 1/2 inch of water, then cook at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until it's soft.

Check out other gluten-free squash recipes here!
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GF Food Storage

One thing that I struggled with when Jake became gluten-free was our food storage. Our church puts a big emphasis on being self reliant, including having food storage in case of loss of job or another emergency. We had a good 3 month supply of food that we ate regularly, and were maybe halfway to having a year supply of the basic staples like wheat, oats, rice, dried milk, dried carrots and onions, sugar, potato flakes, etc. Of course what I had the most of was wheat and oats, both of which are decidedly not gluten-free. So we had to figure out how to do food storage all over again. I found a couple of good websites that helped point me in the right direction, particularly this one. I put all my wheat and about half of my oats up on craigslist to make space for new GF storage (Rachel and I eat oats, so I figure we'll use up the regular oats we have now).

I am not making very fast progress, but at least I'm making some progress. I've set a goal to get a few new things every month. There are about 3 or 4 places I get stuff for my food storage: our church cannery, amazon, Augason Farms, and Shelf Reliance. I've also picked up some bulk bags of brown rice and quinoa from Sunflower Market when there have been good sales (buying from the bulk bins isn't all that safe, since people may use the same scoops to scoop oats or granola as they use for rice, but they will sell you a 25 or 50 pound bag if you ask for it). And last Christmas when I was up in Utah I went up to Draper to get some bulk potato starch and GF pasta at Against the Grain. The stuff I got in bulk bags I put in PETE containers I got from here along with an oxygen absorber to keep them fresh longer. I know brown rice doesn't keep for long, so my extra cans of brown rice I keep in my freezer.
Here's some of my GF pasta, quinoa, and potato starch.

I happened to get my shipment from Augason Farms today, which is what put me to thinking again about food storage (trying to find room to keep food is half the challenge).

I like their muffin mixes--they're a lot like this recipe, only I don't have to get all those ingredients and mix them all together. I also get my tapioca flour, xanthan gum and pizza dough mix from them. I used to get soy flour from them, but I couldn't find any this time, so I ended up going with Amazon, which may end up being cheaper anyway.

I may rely a bit too much on Amazon these days. But I love their subscribe & save option. I get 15% off, free shipping, and the stuff gets automatically shipped, so I don't forget to build up my food storage. I get a shipment of GF oats every month (that also came today--it was a good day for packages!). I figure one of these days I may transfer the oats to a PETE container and add oxygen absorbers and they'll last a good long while.
We also get a few boxes of Kind Bars every month, and boxes of Nut Thins every 3 months from Amazon. It's cheaper than the grocery store and they're Jake's staple snacks.

So my goal/plan is to put in an order every month rotating through Shelf Reliance, Augason Farms, and the cannery, in order to build up our food storage with some regularity (besides the oats that are already automatically coming). We'll see how well I do....
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Quinoa salad

I mentioned before that I don't really like quinoa as a straight substitute for rice. I add it to rice all the time as a nutritional and volume boost (it just about triples in size when cooked). But there is one recipe I love with quinoa as the main ingredient: Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa. Or just Quinoa Salad for short. I got the recipe here, then tweaked it a little to get the deliciousness and colorfulness that you see here:
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest (I skip this half the time because I don't usually have limes on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4 green onions, chopped (I only used 2 today, and it was great)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (totally forgot about this one this time! Oops!)
  • about 1 cup of corn
  • avacado (or two), diced
Cook quinoa in 2 cups of boiling water (or at least in the ratio 2:1 water:quinoa), covered, for 10-15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. While that's cooking, whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste. Let sit in refrigerator for 30+ minutes before serving. 

The birds have discovered our tasty tomatoes in the garden unfortunately, so we had less tomatoes than I'd expected--just a handful of cherry tomatoes, but it was good anyway. We had this with chicken tenders tonight, but it's pretty good on it's own, or throw in some tortilla chips and use it like a dip.
Even our youngest customer was a big (messy) fan:
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Living in Tucson we eat Mexican food quite a bit. Lucky for us, Mexican food, except the flour tortillas, is usually pretty easy to make gluten-free. I wish I was better at Asian cooking, because that is usually pretty easy to make gluten-free, too. Instead we just settle for visiting Thai restaurants, which are usually almost completely gluten-free, or most meals can be adjusted to be GF.

Anyway, last night it was dinner time and I hadn't even thought about starting to make dinner and I was hungry. I looked around the kitchen and saw the stack of hard corn tortillas and thought "tostadas!" And about 3 minutes later dinner was ready. All I had to do was gather the ingredients on the table for everyone to make their own:

hard corn tortillas
refried beans
ground beef (I left this out last night for time's sake)
shredded cheese
sour cream
avacado or guacamole

The beauty of this meal, besides the quick and easy aspect, is that people can put on what they want and leave off what they don't. I try to have meatless meals at least once a week, and this is really easy to adjust to be meatless and still be filling.

Santa Fe Chicken

One of my go-to meals for company, or just when I want something quick and easy and delicious is Santa Fe Chicken.
chicken (2ish pounds)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups corn
1 16 oz. jar of salsa
half a package of cream cheese
a cup or two of shredded cheese
Throw the chicken, beans, corn, and salsa in the crock pot and cook for at least 5-6 hours on low (or about 2 1/2 or 3 hours on high). Add in the cream cheese and shredded cheese a half hour to an hour before you're ready to eat. If you want to eat it with rice, throw the rice on about now, too.
The original recipe I got from a friend said to cut the chicken before you threw it in the crock pot, but I've learned it's easier to just throw in whole chicken breasts or chicken tenders and if they cook long enough they get really tender and easy to tear apart with a fork when it's all done. I usually serve it over rice, but it's also good as a burrito if you have tortillas on hand, too.
And a side note about the rice: when we started this GF thing I read all about this quinoa stuff (pronounced keen-wa). We tried it and I guess since it looks kind of like rice I was expecting it to taste kind of like rice. It doesn't. I have one recipe that I really love that uses quinoa straight, but other than that I usually just throw half a cup, or a whole cup in with the rice along with the same amount of water, and it adds the nutritional value (which people on a GF diet often need a boost in since they generally eat less whole grains), but doesn't really affect the taste. So, for instance, here I put 1 1/2 cups of brown rice and 3 cups of water in my rice cooker (the normal ratio), then added a 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1/2 cup of water. Quinoa really expands a lot, so 1/2 a cup goes a long way.
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We had meatloaf the other day. I used to use crackers and wheat germ in my meatloaf, rather than bread crumbs, but that's kind of not an option any more. In my early GF cooking days I once tried adding almond flour, or maybe it was almond meal to my meatloaf. YUCK! Bad idea.
Now I usually use Rice Chex. Corn Chex would probably work okay, too, though it might add a little different flavor. I'm not all that good at following recipes exactly, so I don't have an exact recipe, but here's the general idea:
1 lb. of ground beef (this is enough for 3 people, but not much more)
a few handfuls of Chex, crushed
a couple squeezes of ketchup
1 egg
salt and pepper
Mix it all together well (I use my hand and squish it all between my fingers to get it really mixed). Put in loaf pan (this time I actually put it in a muffin tin--it made 6 muffins perfectly). Cook at 350 until done (about 45 minutes?).
I didn't get a picture before the meatloaf was attacked, but you get the idea. We also had butternut squash from our garden (yum!) and one of those brown rice fake couscous dishes that I picked up at Sunflower Market. Delish!
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Zucchini muffins

A friend brought over some zucchini bread on Sunday that was so delicious my daughter and I consumed it all in about two hours. I felt a little bad that Jake couldn't enjoy any (but not too bad--more for me!). Luckily, our garden has just begun producing zucchini, though not yet at the rate of yellow squash (I'm sure it'll catch up soon). I used a couple zucchini to make a double batch of some gluten-free muffins. I didn't have any sorghum flour, so I just used soy flour.
Can I just say, YUM! These are the best zucchini muffins I've ever had, with or without gluten. The batter was pretty thick, almost like cookie dough (this may be because I added a little flax seed for a little nutritional boost, but didn't add any liquid). The outside gets nice and crisp, and the inside is perfecly moist. More than half of the muffins were gone before the end of the day. Looks like I'll be making this again soon. Luckily I discovered last summer in my pre-GF baking that yellow squash is interchangeable with zucchini in baking with no noticable difference, so yellow squash muffins, here we come.
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Pasta Salad

It's summer, so we have a plethora of fresh vegetables from our garden. I'm loving it. There's something fulfilling about going out to my backyard and coming back in with a handful of food. :) Currently the highest producer is our yellow squash. We get at least one a day. To use some up I decided to make pasta salad.
We used this veggie curl pasta--my 3-year-old is much more likely to eat food that is 1.curly and 2.multicolored.
The pasta was a really good last night, but today for lunch I had leftovers and it was a little more al dente than I like, though still good enough. But it is better served fresh.
I just cut up the veggies I had on hand: yellow squash, cucumber, green onion, and carrots. I steamed the squash, carrots, and onion (I usually include red pepper, too, but didn't have any on hand), then threw those in with the drained pasta, added some chopped olives and cubes of cheddar cheese.
Top it all of with a few squeezes of Italian Dressing, mix it all together and stick it in the fridge for a little while to chill. Then, enjoy!
Sometimes I like to cut up some pepperoni and throw that in to the mix for a little extra flavor, but we didn't have any on hand, so we left it out.
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Taco Salad

On Fridays I usually do somthing that involves minimal effort. 50% of the time that means Super Nachos. This time it meant Taco Salad. I have 2 different ways to do it, but the ground beef way is not minimal effort (I have to turn on the stove for that one), so we went with the chicken.
I take canned chicken, frozen corn and some taco seasoning (not the whole package), mix together, and microwave until the corn is cooked.
And then you're done. Almost. You have to open a can or two and mix it all together, or let your family assemble their own.
For salad, of course, you need lettuce. Top that with the meat and corn, cheese, tomatoes, and some black beans (drainied and rinsed), then add your dressing and you're set. For a tasty "chipotle ranch" type dressing just mix some ranch and salsa together, and viola! Tasty food.
Of course when I went to get out the lettuce we were almost out, so the taco salad turned into tacos. My daughter and I use regular flour shells, and my husband was going to use the tortillas I'd made for him a while back, but apparently it was a long while back and they were beginning to grow stuff. So he went with corn tortillas and was happy as a clam.
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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cheesy Potato Casserole

1 package hash browns (Ore Ida is GF)
1 pint sour cream
1 can GF cream of chicken soup
1/4 C. butter, melted
1/3 C. green onions, chopped
1 1/2 C sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 C. crushed GF corn flakes
2 T. melted butter
Mix the sour cream, soup, butter, onions and cheese together. Add in the hashbrowns, mix well, and put in a 9x13 pan. I decided to half the recipe today, since I didn't have enough sour cream, and with only 3 of us eating we don't need the whole thing.
Crush corn flakes. Or if you don't have GF corn flakes, you can use Corn Chex. They work just as well.
Put the crushed flakes in a baggie, add the melted butter and mix it all around, then spread on top of the potato mixture.
Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes.
We usually eat this with ham, but as we didn't have a ham on hand, we ate it with Oscar Meyer beef hot dogs. Soooooo good. Beef hot dogs are leaps and bounds better than regular hot dogs. We cut them up and mixed them in with the potatoes and they added a real tasty zing. Yum yum!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Potato salad

Luckily potato salad is naturally gluten-free. At least the way I've always made it:
Miracle Whip
Pickle juice
Salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes until tender and eggs until hard boiled. Dice potatoes, eggs, and pickles, add miracle whip, mustard, and pickle juice to taste, mix together and add salt and pepper. Use more mustard than you think you should. Mustard and miracle whip are about equal portions. It makes it oh, so tasty.
I used 5 potatoes and 6 eggs. I think 3ish pickle spears. That'll make plenty for the 3 of us that can eat real food, with enough leftover for lunch for all of us tomorrow.
I think we'll have this with fried chicken tonight.

Starting out

I've been toying with the idea of this new blog for a little while, figuring that as long as I'm figuring out quick, easy recipes that are gluten free, I might as well share it with others.

To start I figured I'd give a quick little overview of our story. Last February my husband had his appendix out. After the regular recovery period he was kind of back to normal, but his digestion never quite returned to normal. He was put on a lactose-free diet for a few months. It was tough figuring out substitutes at first because we love dairy. Just when I was beginning to figure the lactose-free diet out, Jake went back for the check up with his gastroenterologist. Because the lactose-free diet didn't do much to help, the doctor ordered some tests. The tests came back indicating Celiac Disease. The day after Jacob's birthday, an endoscopy confirmed it was, in fact, Celiac Disease. And thus Jake became the Silly Yak in the family.

We read up on a gluten free diet, bought Living Gluten-Free for Dummies, met with a nutritionist, stopped going out to eat at restaurants, and started going to Sunflower Market and Trader Joe's more often. I began the process of de-glutenfying our kitchen. Before this diagnosis I usually baked bread from scratch, including grinding my own wheat, which means little particles of flour were scattered all over the kitchen. I had to clean out every cupboard and drawer, wiping down all the surfaces to rid them of gluten. I went through my bakeware and got rid of most of my cake pans, cookie sheets and the like. I actually kept one of each size, and our muffin tins and currently store them out in the garage for those rare occasions when I might make real cupcakes for my daughter's birthday, or something.

We were faced with the decision of should the whole family go gluten-free, or just Jake? Not a tough decision for me since I'm not so self-sacrificing as others might be. I like my cereal, if nothing else. We (more like I) decided to go gluten-free for dinner, since I am much too lazy to actually make two separate meals, and that would just cry out for cross contamination. But for breakfast and lunch most of the time we wouldn't worry about it. We don't go through much bread, so we stick to only gluten-free bread for now, though when my kids get older and I have to make lunches for school, rather than just leftovers from the night before, which is more often than not, what we eat for lunch, I might break down and go with gluten bread, and separate peanut butter and jelly jars for the Silly Yak.

Having decided to go gluten-free for dinners, I proceeded to go through my pantry and get rid of all the stuff I no longer had any use for: cream of mushroom, chicken, and celery soup (so sad to see my biggest cooking staple go, but boy, was I SO happy when I found gluten-free versions a few months later), cake mixes, muffin mixes, etc. I also went through our stash of food and did the arduous task of figuring out what was or was not gluten-free. This involved many google searches: "Hormel chili gluten free" "gluten free A1 steak sauce" "Kroger spaghetti mix gluten free." Anything I couldn't find out online I put in a box and either emailed or called the company. During that first week or two I often thought, "If I could just have someone who has had celiac disease for more than a month come to my house and go through this with me, I'm sure this would be a lot quicker." Oh well.

With the kitchen cleaned out, and the glutenous food cleaned out (or at least moved to two dedicated gluten shelves in our pantry if they were things we'd still eat even if Jake couldn't), I was ready to begin figuring out what we could eat besides steak, roast, chicken, potatoes and rice. And I guess this blog is here now to share what I've learned since then.