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Favorite Apple Pie

This is the apple pie recipe that I've been making for the past 40 years.  It's from a paperback cookbook that I was given at my wedding shower over 41 years ago called Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook, Popular Edition.  I don't know if it's still available or not, but it's 291 pages of pie recipes.  My book has been used so much that it's now held together with a rubber band :).  The only difference from the original is that I now use rice flour instead of regular flour, and of course my pastry is gluten free. 

Favorite Apple Pie (makes one 9" pie)

Pastry for a 2-crust pie (I used this recipe)
3/4 to 1 Cup sugar, depending on tartness of apples
2 Tbsp  rice flour
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
6 to 7 Cups sliced peeled apples (I like to use equal amounts of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples)
2 Tbsp butter or margarine (optional)

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Slice apples 1/4" thick.  Mix sugar mixture and apples.  Heap in pastry-lined 9" pie pan.  Dot with butter if desired.  Adjust top crust and flute edges; cut vents.

Bake in hot oven (425) 50 to 60 minutes, or until crust is browned and apples are tender.

I brushed the top crust with beaten egg white and then dusted it with granulated sugar.  This is the first apple pie I've made using the cream cheese pie crust recipe, and the edge seemed to get brown ahead of the top.  I'm thinking that next time I'll adjust the temperature to 400 in hopes of it browning more evenly.  I'll be making another one this month sometime, and if it works better, I'll revise the instructions above.


Gail's Green Beans

I made the yummiest green beans for Thanksgiving dinner!  I got the idea from my friend Gail who is one of the most creative cooks on the planet.  She's always up to something wonderful in her kitchen, and doesn't use recipes much, preferring to create as she goes.  Anyway, she brought these beans to a dinner we both attended and they were so wonderful I had to ask her how she did them.  No recipe, of course, but she told me what she had put in, so I did the same for Thanksgiving, and voila!  They were as easy and delicious as Gail said they'd be! 

Gail's Green Beans

Enough fresh green beans for 3-4 people (about 1 lb)
1 Tbsp butter
2 green onions, sliced
6 medium sized fresh mushrooms, cut in half and then sliced
2 slices bacon, fried crisp and chopped

Cook green beans in boiling water until tender-crisp.  Drain.  While beans are cooking, melt butter in large fry pan; saute onions and mushrooms in butter until cooked.  Add cooked chopped bacon and drained green beans and cook together briefly, stirring well.  Serve immediately. 


Chicken Pot Pie

This is a bonus recipe that combines the last two posts into one!  If you've made the Chicken and Dumplings, you're set to go.  I made this in individual sized ramekins, although it would work fine in a regular pie plate if you're feeding a family or don't have ramekins.  I decided I wanted to change up the chicken stew a little, so I just sauteed some sliced fresh mushrooms in a little butter and added some frozen peas to the mushrooms right at the end to thaw them, then stirred them into the chicken stew.  (I didn't use the dumplings at all.)  I've always thought that a bottom and top crust on chicken pot pie was too much, so I just ladled the jazzed up stew into the bowls...

and then topped them with the crust (using yesterday's recipe, which makes 4 tops).  If you like lots of crust, feel free to line the bottom and top -- I'll never tell!

Then I baked them in a 375 oven until the tops got browned.

They were yummy!  Here's a picture of one that's been cut into so you can see the flakiness of the crust.

These is also a great way to use up leftover turkey, vegetables and gravy from Thanksgiving dinner.  Just combine what you've got, add what you like, and top it with crust!  A hit every time!


Pie Crust

Up until now, I've been using Donna Jo's Dream Pastry from Bette Hagman's book More from the Gluten-Free Gourmet for my pie crust.  It is a great recipe, good-tasting, tender and flaky, but the dough is very delicate and hard to handle -- I always had to do a lot of patching once I got it into the pan because it broke apart so much in the transfer from surface to pie plate.  Recently my daughter-in-law got me a new GF cookbook called Life Tastes Good Again by Kirsti Kirkland and Betsy Thomas.  It had an intriguing pie crust recipe in it that I just had to try.  In the book it's called Best Gluten Free Pie Crust, although they explain that it's original name is "The Best Pie Crust You've Ever Eaten Because It's Amber's Recipe and She's Perfect," which made me laugh.  The biggest difference in this crust is that there's no water added, which makes it way easier to handle.  In fact, it handles just like regular pie crust!  And it turns out tender and flaky.  The flavor is a tad different, probably because of the cream cheese, but still very good.  Because of the ease in handling, this has become my new favorite.

Pie Crust

1-1/2 Cups Bob's Red Mill all-purpose GF flour
1/2 Cup gluten-free flour mix (I usually use basic or featherlight)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Cup real butter, softened

Whisk together flours, xanthan gum, sugar and salt.  Set aside.  Use an electric mixer on low speed to mix the cream cheese and butter together.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough clumps together.  Divide the dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Sprinkle some GF mix on a clean surface.  Roll each disc into a circle that is 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer to pie pan.  With your fingertips, pinch the top of the dough to make ridges all around the top of the crust or just press it all around with the back of a fork.  Chill 20 minutes before filling.  Fill with your favorite pie filling and bake as that pie recipe directs.  Makes one double crust or two single crusts.

If pre-baking:  Preheat oven to 375.  Prick the bottom of crust all over with a fork.  Line the inside of crust with aluminum foil.  Fill it with pie weights, uncooked rice, or beans.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until very lightly browned.  Lift foil and weights out of the shell and bake until browned, 10-15 minutes more, checking frequently to prevent over-baking.  Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding filling.

If you would like to have the Bette Hagman recipe, leave me a comment and I'll put it in a separate post.


Chicken and Dumplings

OK, you're finally getting my all-time favorite, ultimate comfort food recipe.  Be warned, however, that it is also labor-intensive, but totally worth it.  For the ultimate experience, you'll want to pay attention to the following, in order of importance:
1.  A cold day, preferably snowing or storming (this is definitely not a warm-weather dish).
2.  A day when you have a block of time with no deadlines and no stress, so you can just enjoy being in the kitchen (it turns out better with the love flowing).
3.  Make sure you have the ingredients you need on hand so you don't have to run to the store in the midst of making it (see #1).
4.  An evening coming up (not necessarily the day you make it) with family or close friends invited who love honest, simple, delicious homemade food and will appreciate your efforts (optional if you hate entertaining).

I have made this recipe for years and given it out numerous times.  I adapted it the first time (pre-GF) from a recipe I found in a magazine. That version was more casserole-y, with the chicken still on the bone in pieces, which I thought was weird because it was so hard and messy to eat.  So I changed that and a few other things that I'll explain later.  It became an immediate family favorite, and is usually what we have for Christmas Eve dinner (made a day or two in advance, when I can manage it--thank goodness it keeps well).  When we found out about Ron's allergy to wheat, I was determined to adapt it again so that we could continue to enjoy it -- it was impossible to imagine our lives without ever having chicken and dumplings again!  It took a few tries, at least for the dumplings, before it was back to its previous status as #1 fav.  I hope it becomes one of your family favorites as well. 

Chicken and Dumplings (makes enough for 12 generous servings)

5 lbs chicken breasts and thighs, skinned, or 2 whole chickens cut into pieces
6 Cups thickly sliced carrots
6 Cups thickly chopped onions
3 Cups thickly sliced celery
13 Cups water
6 cans Swanson's chicken broth
Bouquet garni:  3 Tbsp dried parsley, 1 large bay leaf, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp rosemary, 1-1/2 tsp crushed peppercorns or coarse ground pepper.  The traditional way to make a bouquet garni is to put the ingredients in a couple layers of cheesecloth, and tie it with string.  I rarely have cheesecloth on hand, so I use a large spice ball.  The picture below shows 2 spice balls with a teaspoon in the foreground so you can get an idea of the size.  I most often use the one on the right, as you can tell from its beat-up appearance :).  Incidentally, large spice balls like these also work great for the spices used in spiced cider (I'll be sharing my favorite recipe for that soon!)

Cook chicken in 10 cups of the water.  Boil, skimming often, until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken from water and keep broth.  If you use whole chickens, you will, of course, have to remove the meat from the bones, which is more work.  Using skinned boneless chicken breasts and thighs speeds things along a little.  After it cools, cut into bite-sized chunks.

Cook the veggies in 3 Cups water, canned chicken broth and bouquet garni.  When veggies are done, remove bouquet garni and vegetables from broth.  Keep broth

While the meat and vegetables are cooking, mix up the dumplings:

6 Tbsp shortening
2 eggs
2/3 Cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 Cup rice flour
2/3 Cup potato starch flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp dried parsley

Beat the shortening and egg together.  Whisk the dry ingredients together.  Stir in the buttermilk alternately with the dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  This will be a fairly stiff dough.  Set aside.

3 cubes (1-1/2 Cups) butter
2 Cups brown or white rice flour
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper

In very large stock pot, melt butter.  Add flour, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.  Pour in 16 cups of the reserved veggie and chicken broth.  If you need additional, add water to make the 16 cups.  Stir until thickened.  Bring to a boil; lower heat until gravy is at a good simmer that is producing steam.  Drop dumplings by heaping tablespoonfuls into hot gravy.  Only put in as many as can fit comfortably, not touching each other.  Cover with tight lid and steam for 10 minutes.  Do not lift the lid while cooking dumplings.  It is the steam that cooks the dumplings.  You can test for doneness in the normal way - with a wooden toothpick.  They will be coated in gravy, but should be done in the center like biscuits.  Remove dumplings from broth and put in your next batch.  Keep cooked dumplings warm on an oven-proof plate in the oven.

Here's what they look like when done.  They aren't real attractive, but it won't matter.  Keep reading!

When all the dumplings are cooked, add the veggies and cut-up chicken back into the gravy, stirring well.  Lower heat. 

To serve, put a dumpling in the bottom of a bowl and ladle the chicken stew on top. 

Note:  Don't be tempted to put the veggies and chicken into the gravy before cooking the dumplings.  The veggies and meat will sink to the bottom and burn while the dumplings are cooking. Getting the gravy hot enough to produce the steam necessary to cook the dumplings without burning on the bottom is the trickiest part.  If you discover that the gravy has stuck and burned some on the bottom, don't panic.  Just transfer the gravy into another large pot, without scraping the burnt part with it, then add your vegetables and meat into the gravy and reheat at a low temperature.  The veggies and meat are usually still pretty warm and the gravy is hot, so it doesn't take long at all to get it to eating temperature.

There it is -- total comfort in a bowl.  And as an added bonus, your house will smell divine! 

For my gluten-eating followers, just use regular flour instead of the rice flour in the soup part, and here's the original recipe for the dumplings:

3 Cups flour
1-1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
15 Tbsp milk
2-3 Tbsp dried parsley

Mix dry ingredients and parsley in a bowl.  Mix milk and eggs together.  Add to dry ingredients and mix until just blended.  Dough will be sticky.  Proceed as directed above.


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread

This easy to make spread is great on the pumpkin muffins, and pancakes, and waffles, and anything else you want to spread it on.  Mmmmmm.  Thanks, Better Homes and Gardens!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup canned pumpkin
1/4 Cup sugar
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.  Makes 1-1/2 Cups.

With this and this in your refrigerator, you can forget about buying those expensive cream cheese spreads at the supermarket! 


Pumpkin Muffins

We were up in the mountains over the weekend and I decided to try to adapt a recipe I've had for awhile for Pumpkin Muffins.  Anything pumpkin seems appropriate this time of year, and it was snowing beautifully -- you know, the big fat flakes straight down kind of snow that automatically puts you in the mood for the holidays (and baking, in my case :).  So maybe it was just karma, because first-try adaptations rarely turn out well, or maybe it was the snow, but I have a new favorite muffin, they turned out that good.  So good, in fact, that I had to make a second batch today because I just can't get enough of them.  And, oh yeah, I had the idea to try adding some chocolate chips to this batch, and....woohoo, they got even better!  Not as healthy, maybe, but hey, it's the holidays!  (If you want healthy, try adding some raisins or nuts, which is what's going into my next batch.)  So here you go -- don't blame me if you get addicted!

Pumpkin Muffins

1-1/3 Cups gluten-free rice flour mix
3/4 Cup Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour or gluten-free four flour bean mix
1/3 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 Cup canned pumpkin
1/2 Cup milk
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp finely shredded orange peel
1/4 Cup orange juice
raisins, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, your favorite add-in (optional)

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In another bowl combine the eggs, pumpkin, milk, oil, orange peel and orange juice.  Add to the flour mixture all at once (along with any add-ins) and stir until moistened (batter should be lumpy).  Spray twelve 2-1/2 inch muffin cups if they have a non-stick coating, or grease regular muffin tins.  Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing evenly.  Bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes or until the muffins are light brown.  Cool in muffin cups for 5 minutes; remove and serve. 

This is a picture of my last plain one, and one of the new ones with the chocolate chips.  And what is that in the container to the side, you ask?  Check tomorrow for a new spread recipe that's perfect on these!


Cranberry Fruit Nutbread

This is my favorite Christmas tea bread that I told you I'd be sharing two posts ago.  Better sooner than later, I guess!   I make dozens of loaves of this every holiday season to give to neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.  Below the picture are some shortcuts you can take to speed things along if you're really cranking them out in production.  I also make them in different sizes of loaves -- a big loaf for a family, a tiny one for a single person -- you get the picture.  I also like to use the single-use pans they sell at the supermarket.  Some of them even come with little plastic lids that you pop on after they've cooled, and you don't have the stress of wondering if the loaf will come out of the pan cleanly -- you just leave them in the pan!  If you're really pressed for time, you can just stick on a bow or tie a pretty ribbon around the pan and lid, attach a tag, and you're good to go.  I usually wrap the whole shootin' match in foil (shiny side out) and then tie on the ribbon and tag.  So here we go:

Cranberry Fruit Nutbread

2 Cups gluten-free mix (I usually use the featherlight mix)
1 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 Cup shortening
1 tsp grated orange peel
3/4 Cup orange juice
1 well beaten egg
1 Cup fresh cranberries
1/2 Cup chopped nuts (optional)

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Cut in shortening.  Combine the orange peel, orange juice and egg in a separate bowl.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix.  Fold in cranberries and nuts.  Turn into greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 40 to 60 minutes, depending on size of loaf pans being used.  Cool thoroughly.  Best if wrapped and stored overnight before cutting.

You can double, triple, or even quadruple this batch to make more loaves without any loss of texture or yumminess. 

The loaf pictured is a tiny one, in case you're wondering why the cranberries look so big :).  If you're making a bunch of these, here's some tricks that will save you some time, but won't affect the quality of the loaf:

Rather than grating fresh orange peel, you can buy bottles of dried grated orange peel (in the spice section).  Just add it to the orange juice before you start putting together the dry ingredients so that it can soften and plump up.  Also, for the orange juice, instead of squeezing fresh orange juice, or even reconstituting frozen orange juice, just buy ready-to-go orange juice in the cartons.  I like to get the kind with the most pulp, so that it's most like fresh squeezed.  If you use the chopped nuts, you can buy them chopped up, rather than having to chop them yourself, or if you have whole ones, use a food processor to chop a quantity of them rather than doing it by hand.  Also, they don't have to be chopped real small.  Bigger chunks look more attractive and taste better, and still slice fine once the loaf has cooled.  In the picture is the orange juice I use, the little bottle of dried, grated orange peel, and the little loaf  pans with lids that I mentioned at the top.

For those of you who tolerate wheat -- substitute regular flour for the gluten-free flour and leave out the xanthan gum.


Clam Chowder

I think I've mentioned this in other posts, but my husband is also allergic to milk.  However, we figured out that it's only the whey he's allergic too, so he can tolerate cheese since the whey is taken out.  For whatever reason, he can also tolerate reconstituted evaporated (canned) milk when I use it in cooking.  I don't know if it's something about how it's processed or what, but I'm glad because it really opens up a lot of recipes to me.  This is one of them.  The original recipe calls for whole milk, of course, but I just substitute reconstituted evaporated milk (an equal amount of water reconstitutes it), and it works fine.  I've served this alot at parties and dinners, and it's always a hit. 

Clam Chowder

2 cans clams, chopped or minced (I use one of each so there's variety in the size of the pieces of clam)
1 Cup finely chopped onion
1 Cup finely diced celery
2 Cups diced potatoes
3/4 Cup butter
3/4 Cup rice flour (or regular flour for the gluten-tolerant)
1 qt milk (see note above)
1-1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp sugar

Put vegetables and clams with juice in sauce pan.  Add enough water to barely cover vegetables.  Simmer covered over medium heat until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes).  In meantime, melt butter in a stock pot.  Add flour, blend and cook for one to two minutes.  Add milk all at once and stir until smooth, creamy and thickened.  Add veggies and clams (with cooking water) and heat thoroughly.  Season with salt, pepper, and sugar.  Serve.  Makes about 3 qts of soup.

I'm not into embellishments on soup much, but this looks pretty boring, so I probably should have added a little something.  Trust me, though, it tastes great!  Perfect for a cold day. 


Orange-Cranberry Cake

I saw this recipe on the Better Homes and Gardens website and was intrigued because it had some of the same ingredients as my favorite tea bread (which I'll be sharing sometime between now and Christmas).  Unlike yesterday's muffins, this recipe calls for fresh cranberries, so I've been hanging on to it for a while waiting for the cranberries to come on the market, and yesterday, there they were!  I have several recipes that call for fresh cranberries, but the only time you can buy them, at least around here, is during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.  I've tried freezing them for use at other times of the year, but was disappointed in the result.  As soon as they thaw, they kind of deflate and go watery.  The thing I like about them when they're fresh is how they hold up in baked goods, and the frozen ones just don't cut it.  So I've decided that cranberries are like peaches -- enjoy them as much as possible in season and try to be patient the rest of the year.  I'm grateful they last so well in the refrigerator so that I can buy a quantity of them as soon as they're available.  There have been some years where I bought a few at a time and then they were gone at the supermarket, never to reappear, and I hadn't had nearly my fill.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy this cake.  The recipe said to cook it in a 10-inch tube pan (like you would angel food cake), but I thought a bundt pan would be much prettier, so that's what I used and it worked fine.

Orange-Cranberry Cake (adapted from Better Homes and

2-1/4 Cups gluten-free rice powder mix
1-1/2 Cups rolled oats (Bob's Red Mill sells guaranteed gluten-free rolled oats)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Cup milk
2 Cups fresh cranberries
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp finely shredded orange peel

1.  In bowl, whisk together flour, oats, xanthan gum, baking powder, soda and salt. 
2.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the 1 Cup sugar; beat until well combined.  Add eggs; beat until well combined.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition until combined.
3.  Toss cranberries with 2 Tbsp sugar; fold into batter with the orange peel.  Spoon batter into greased and floured bundt pan (or sprayed one if yours has a non-stick finish).   Spread evenly.
4.  Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool.  Prepare Orange Glaze; spoon over cooled cake.  Let stand until glaze is set.  Makes 12 servings.

Orange Glaze
In small bowl combine 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp finely shredded orange peel.  Add 2 to 3 teaspoons orange juice to make drizzling consistency.

My husband likes lots of glaze, so I doubled the glaze recipe :). 


Buckwheat Cranberry Muffins

I remember my grandmother loving buckwheat pancakes.  She kept trying to get us grandkids to like them, but we ranged from ambivalent to adverse.  I haven't thought too much about buckwheat since then, but since it is a gluten-free flour (despite its threatening-sounding name -- at least for those with wheat intolerance), I thought I'd give this recipe a try and see if I liked buckwheat any better now than when I was a kid (I was the ambivalent one).  The answer is no, I'm still ambivalent.  But in case you're someone who loves buckwheat, these really are good muffins that I think you'll enjoy. 

Buckwheat Cranberry Muffins

1-1/3 Cups dried cranberries
3/4 Cup sugar, divided
3 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 Cup gluten-free flour mix
1 Cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1-1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 Cup buttermilk

Combine cranberries with 1/2 Cup of the sugar and the orange juice in a bowl.  Let stand 30 minutes.  Beat the eggs with the melted butter until smooth.  Stir in the cranberries with all their liquid.  Add the flours, remaining sugar and rest of dry ingredients.  Stir in enough buttermilk to make a soft batter.  Grease or spray muffin tin.  Fill cups 3/4 full.  Bake at 375 until firm and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin.  Makes 12-14 muffins.


Magic Vanilla Ice Cream

I got this recipe off the internet from Cook' last August and finally got around to trying it yesterday.  I wish I hadn't waited so long!  It sounds impossible, but it turned out great!  And best of all, you don't have to own an ice cream maker to make it.  I guess that's what makes it magic :). 

Magic Vanilla Ice Cream

1/2 Cup sweetened condensed milk
1 ounce white chocolate chips (see note)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1/4 Cup sour cream
1-1/4 Cups cold heavy cream

1.  Make Base:  microwave sweetened condensed milk and white chocolate in large bowl until chocolate melts, stirring halfway, about 30 seconds.  Let cool.  Stir in vanilla, salt, and sour cream.
2.  Whip Cream:  with electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip heavy cream to soft peaks, about 2 minutes.  Whisk one-third of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture.  Fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate mixture until incorporated.
3.  Freeze:  place in airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 2 weeks.  Serve.  Makes 1 quart.

Note:  shop carefully.  White chocolate varies greatly in quality.  We like Guittard Choc-O-Lait Chips or Ghirardelli Classic White Chips.  If you use a bar instead of chips, chop it fine before melting it in step 1.  If you plan to store ice cream for more than a few days, place plastic wrap directly on its surface before you freeze it.

Remember the hot fudge sauce recipe from last June?  Oh yeah.  A match made in heaven.


Orange Buttermilk Waffles

I love breakfast foods.  They're my absolute favorites, so most Saturday mornings you'll find me in the kitchen whipping up something wonderful to eat.  This recipe is one I've wanted to try for awhile, and finally got around to this morning.  They turned out so well that I thought I might as well share them right away.

Orange Buttermilk Waffles

1-1/4 Cups gluten-free flour mix
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt

1/2 Cup orange juice
3/4 Cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp grated orange peel
2 eggs, divided

Coat inside of waffle iron with cooking spray and preheat.  Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  In another bowl, whisk together the orange juice, buttermilk, vegetable oil, grated orange peel and egg yolks.  Pour into flour mixture and whisk together until dry ingredients are incorporated.  Beat egg whites until soft peaks form; fold into batter.*  Pour batter onto heated waffle iron and bake until steaming stops and waffle is golden.  Makes 4-6 waffles.

*Doing this step will ensure light, crispy waffles.  However, having raised kids, I know that sometimes everyone is clamoring for breakfast and you'd rather have your teeth drilled than dirty one more bowl and dig around in the bottom cupboard for your hand mixer, let alone take the time to beat the egg whites and then slowly fold them into the batter.  So hey, go ahead and just beat the whole eggs into the liquid ingredients and proceed.  I won't report you to the waffle police, the waffles will still turn out delish, your family will never know the difference, and you can still feel proud of yourself for having produced something better than cold cereal.  Happiness all around :-D.

In case you're wondering what's smeared on the waffles in the picture, remember the Cream Cheese Spread from earlier in the month?  Oh. My. Goodness.  They are M.F.E.O. (remember Sleepless in Seattle? )  Seriously, you've got to try it.  Mmmmmmmmm.


Pumpkin Bundt Cake

If you have people in your family who don't care for pumpkin pie, this cake would be a great substitute on Thanksgiving.  It has that autumn/holiday aroma and taste, great texture, and a cream cheese frosting -- how can you go wrong?  Best of all, no one will ever guess it's gluten free.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

3 Cups rice powder gluten free mix (click here if you need the recipe for the mix)
1 tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp baking powder
2-1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Whisk together in a bowl.  Set aside.  In a stand mixer, if you have one, or with a hand mixer beat together:

1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1-1/2 Cups granulated sugar

Beat until light and fluffy.  Don't skimp on this step -- it needs to be billowy for a nicely textured light cake. 

3 eggs, added one at a time
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/4 Cups solid-pack pumpkin puree

Beat into butter/sugar mixture. 

1 Cup milk

Beat in alternately with flour mixture.  Spoon into sprayed bundt pan.  Bake at 350 for 57-60 minutes -- test for doneness with toothpick.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Invert onto plate and let cool until just slightly warm.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz cream cheese
1/2 Cup sifted confectioners sugar
4 Tbsp milk
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Beat together until well blended.  Pour over cake top while it's still slightly warm, letting it drip down sides.  Cool completely before cutting.

(For you gluten eaters, just substitute regular flour and leave out the xanthan gum.)


Cider Doughnuts

The weather is turning cooler -- time to start baking!  Actually, these aren't baked, they're deep-fried, but you know what I mean.  If you haven't tried making your own doughnuts, now's the time to start.  It's much easier than you think.  You'll need a large heavy pan (cast iron is wonderful, but any heavy pan will do) with at least 2" of oil (use one with a high smoke point -- safflower or corn oil work well) in it and a thermometer (it needs to be 365 degrees to be hot enough to fry the doughnuts), or dig out your Fry Baby or Fry Daddy deep-fat fryer, dust it off and go for it!  I'd almost forgotten I had a Fry Daddy, but discovered it when I was cleaning out a closet recently, and it immediately made me start thinking about doughnuts, of course.  I actually hadn't made homemade doughnuts since before we had to go gluten-free, so I had to do some experimenting with this recipe to make them turn out well.  It took a couple tries, but this morning, success!  So here you go -- the taste of fall in a doughnut:

Cider Doughnuts

In a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat together until batter forms ribbon when beater is lifted:
2 large eggs
2/3 Cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp cardamom
Whisk together in a small bowl:
4 Tbsp butter, melted
4 Tbsp sour cream
Gradually beat into the butter/sugar/spice mixture.  Then gradually beat in:
1 Cup apple cider *
Whisk together in a bowl:
3-1/2 Cups rice powder gluten free mix (click here for mix recipe)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
Beat into above mixture.  Will be a heavy batter.  Refrigerate covered for 1 hour. 

Remove from refrigerator.  Divide in half.  Pat out half on floured board (just use more of the rice powder GF mix) to about 1/2" thick.  Cut with floured doughnut cutter (dip it into the flour between each doughnut that you cut to make the doughnuts release easily).  When oil is up to temperature, fry doughnuts 3 or 4 at a time (depending on the room in your pan/fryer), turning once.  Remove with slotted spoon.  Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.  Or make a light glaze and glaze the doughnuts.  The glaze works especially well if you're going to have leftovers for later -- it keeps the doughnuts moist.

* In a hurry and don't want to refrigerate?  Use 1 Cup frozen apple juice concentrate instead of the apple cider -- it will make the dough cold enough to handle immediately.

Cream Cheese Spread

I recently found some notes I took a long time ago while watching a "Barefoot Contessa" show on the Food Network.  I had just finished making some muffins and decided to throw together this super easy recipe from my notes and try it out on the muffins.  Nirvana!  Plus, it would be wonderful on pancakes, waffles, sugar cookies, etc. etc. etc. or just by the spoonful out of the bowl -- not that I did that, of course, I'm just sayin'.  Plus, if you wanted it lemony, you could just substitute lemon zest for the orange zest, and think of all the things you could use that on....yumminess!

Cream Cheese Spread

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese
1 heaping Tbsp fresh orange zest
1/3 Cup sugar

Beat together until well blended.  Store in refrigerator.

That's it!  On your mark, get set, go!!


Pear Bread

Now that pear season is here, I just had to share this recipe.  It's one I've been working on for a couple years.  For some reason, it was a tough transition from the original non-gluten-free recipe to this one.  If you looked at them together, you'd never guess the GF version had come from the original version, their ingredients are that different from each other.  So sorry non-GF followers -- this is one of those recipes that is not an easy switch back.  If anyone really wants to see the original recipe, leave me a comment and I'll post it.

The main reason I worked so hard adapting this recipe is because it's my husband's favorite quick bread.  He looks forward all year to pear season so he can have some of this bread on those crisp evenings that are such a joy in the fall.  So here you go -- bake some up and enjoy!

Pear Bread

3/4 Cup sour cream
6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 Cup sugar

Cream together until fluffy.  Add:

2 eggs

Beat well.  Whisk together in another bowl:

2 Cups gluten-free flour mix
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Add to creamed mixture and mix well.

1-1/2 Cups peeled, cored, finely diced ripe pears (about 2 medium-sized pears)
2 tsp vanilla
3/4 Cup chopped macadamia nuts (optional)

Add to batter and stir in by hand until well incorporated.  Spoon batter into well greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size of pans.  When browned on top, test for doneness with a toothpick.  Makes 3 small or two medium loaves.


Potato Soup

I made this soup today, thinking I had made it before, but discovered that I hadn't!  I have no idea where I got the recipe, although it was written out on a card in my handwriting.  At any rate, it is delicious.  My husband's comment was, "This is a potato soup that you would get at a fancy restaurant!" 

When I started making it, I assumed it would be a creamy soup -- all my other potato soup recipes are -- but surprise, it's a broth based one.  Plus it has some carrots and mushrooms (lots of mushrooms) in it, which also makes it different.  Anyway, I hope you'll try it.  I think you'll be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

Potato Soup

3 Tbsp butter
2 chopped green onions
2 sliced carrots
8 Cups Swanson's chicken broth
2 tsp dill weed
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
5 Cups potatoes, diced
1 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
1 Tbsp butter
1 Cup light cream (half and half) or 1/2 Cup heavy cream and 1/2 Cup water mixed together
1/4 Cup rice flour

Saute green onions and carrots in 3 Tbsp butter for five minutes.  Add chicken broth, dill, salt and pepper, bay leaf and potatoes and cook about 20 minutes until potatoes are tender.  Remove bay leaf.  Saute mushrooms in 1 Tbsp butter; add to above.  Whisk cream and flour together and stir into above a few minutes prior to serving to thicken slightly.  Makes about a gallon and a half of soup.


Quick Dinner -- Turkey or Chicken over Rice

I have been sooo neglecting this blog lately -- we've been traveling almost non-stop -- 3 times to Utah in a month (too much!) and lots of time in the mountains before winter gets here.  Anyway, I had nothing planned for dinner one night, so I quickly put this together with what I had on hand, and it turned out so good I thought I'd better share it!  I know the name is lame --- but I couldn't think of what to call it!  If you have a better name, let me know and I'll change it.

Quick Dinner -- Turkey or Chicken over Rice

Put your rice on to cook while you do the following:

6 Tbsp butter, melted
4 Tbsp rice flour

Stir together and cook 1-2 minutes.

3 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced, or 1/4 Cup chopped onion
1 Cup sliced fresh mushrooms
2 Cups shredded or chopped cooked turkey or chicken (you can used canned, if you want)

Add to butter/flour mixture and cook until veggies soften.

1 can chicken broth
1 tsp coarse ground pepper

Add to above and stir constantly until it's gravy.  Serve over cooked rice.  Quick and easy!


Ham and Cheddar Scones

Sorry I've been so out of touch lately -- been running around to out-of-state weddings.  Hopefully September will be a little less hectic.  I saw this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens.  The first part reminded me of my biscuit recipe, so I was pretty sure I could adapt it and make it gluten free.  They turned out great!  So here you go:

Ham and Cheddar Scones

2 Cups GF Four Flour Bean Mix or GF basic flour mix made with brown rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 Cup butter
1/2 Cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 Cup small diced cooked ham
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dillweed
3/4 - 1 Cup sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp Dijon-style mustard

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in cheese, ham, and dill.  Combine sour cream, egg, and mustard; add all at once to flour mixture.  Stir until mixture is moistened.  (Start with 3/4 Cup and keep adding until it's evenly moist.  I used Four Flour Bean Mix and needed 1 Cup sour cream to get the right consistency).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead dough gently until it holds together.  Pat out until it's about 3/4 to 1" thick.  Cut with a floured biscuit cutter.  Dip cutter into flour between cuts.  Reroll scraps as necessary.  Place circles 1 inch apart on sprayed or parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden.  Serve warm.  Makes about 12 scones.


Dips for Fruit

Since we're at that time of the summer when fresh fruits are most abundant, I thought it would be fun to supply you with some great dips to go with all that fruit!  I got both of these recipes decades ago, and have used them frequently.  They're very different from each other, but both delicious and easy to make -- just a few ingredients that you're likely to have on hand!  So whip some up and enjoy.  They're perfect any time.

Orange Fruit Dip

1 6-oz can frozen orange juice concentrate
1-1/4 Cups cold milk
1 3-1/2 oz package vanilla instant pudding
1/4 Cup sour cream

Combine undiluted orange juice and milk in small bowl with electric beater.  Beat in pudding mix on low speed for two minutes.  Stir in sour cream and chill two hours before serving.

Raspberry Fruit Dip

1 3-oz package cream cheese
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 Cup Red Raspberry yogurt (or your favorite flavor)

Beat cream cheese and sugar together until softened and smooth.  Add yogurt and blend well.  Chill until ready to serve. 



Shrimp and Sausage Red Rice

I found this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine and tried it this weekend -- fantastic!  So thought I'd share it with all of you (along with my notes).  It's not fast (takes about an hour to an hour and 15) but worth it!

Shrimp and Sausage Red Rice

3 Tbsp bacon drippings (I didn't have any, so just used olive oil.  Bet it would be even better with the smoky bacon flavor from the drippings, though)
1/2 Cup chopped onion
1/2 Cup chopped green sweet pepper
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (optional) (I put it in -- like the spiciness!)
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
1 14.5-oz can petite diced or crushed tomatoes**
1 rounded Tbsp tomato paste
2 Cups chicken stock or water
1 Tbsp butter
1 Cup long grain rice
8 oz. andouille or cooked, smoked chorizo sausage, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
1 Cup sliced fresh okra -- use small whole okra pods with the stem end trimmed (we were up in the mountains and the little grocery store up there didn't have okra, so I left it out -- it was great anyway) 
1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp

1.  In a large skillet heat bacon drippings.  Add onion; cook over medium-low heat without stirring for 5 minutes.  Add the sweet pepper, jalapeno, garlic, thyme, and crushed red pepper.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Cook over low heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until onion and pepper are soft but not browned.
2.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste.  Stir in stock; bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes.  Taste carefully for seasoning (broth should be highly seasoned to flavor the rice).
3.  In a heavy, wide-bottom nonreactive pot or heavy 12-inch skillet heat butter over medium heat until melted.  Add rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes until rice becomes translucent.  Carefully stir in the hot tomato mixture.  Cover quickly and cook over low heat for 20 minutes.  Add the sausage and okra, mixing in gently with two forks.  Return cover and cook 10 minutes longer over very low heat, just until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.  (When I went to add the sausage, I discovered that the rice had absorbed all the liquid and was done, so I just dumped in the sausage and shrimp all at once and cooked it until the shrimp was done)
4.  Sprinkle shrimp lightly with salt and pepper.  Stir the shrimp into the rice mixture.  Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes longer, just until shrimp is opaque.  Remove from heat and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.  Makes 6 servings.

*Hot chile peppers contain oils that may burn skin and eyes.  Wear plastic or rubber gloves when handling.
(didn't have any gloves at the cabin where I cooked this, so just washed my hands several times after chopping the jalapeno pepper, and then did the dishes after dinner, and that got rid of all the oil!)
**If you don't have petite diced or crushed tomatoes, you can use whole ones.  Working over a bowl, squeeze tomatoes with your hands to break into pieces.  You can also use fresh tomatoes in season -- dice up about 1-1/4 Cups.


Hearty Bread

I've been trying to create a soft, but hearty bread (thanks Geri, for your inspiration), and finally had success today!  This bread has a lovely, light texture, but hearty almost-like-wheat-bread taste.  It does include some rolled oats, so be careful -- if you know you can tolerate them, go ahead, but if not, either get gluten free oats or try using quinoa flakes (for those of you new to this, oats are usually harvested and processed in wheat producing facilities, and thus can't be tolerated by those with celiac.)

Hearty Bread

4 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 Cup evaporated milk
3/4 Cup warm water
3 eggs
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
1/4 Cup agave or honey

Whisk together and put into bread machine pan.

2 Cups basic gluten free flour mix made with brown rice flour (see here for flour mix recipe)
1/2 Cup rolled oats (see note above)
1/2 Cup teff flour
1/4 Cup sorghum flour
1 Tbsp xanthan gum

Whisk together and put on top of liquid in bread machine pan.  Make well in flour mixture and fill with:

1 Tbsp yeast

Choose your machine's white bread setting, medium crust color and press go.  That's it.  Hot, fresh bread on the way!



It's been blissfully cool and lightly raining here all day, a blessed relief from the weeks of hot weather we've had, so I got reacquainted with my oven and made pizza!  In case you missed my post on pizza and how to make a good gluten free pizza crust, look here.  In that post I gave suggestions for toppings at the end, but since then have tried some new ones that taste great that you might like too.  Here's the latest:


1 GF pizza crust, about 14"
3-4 oz of pesto
Grated mozzarella cheese -- whatever amount you like
Sliced Canadian bacon or chunked chicken
2-4 chopped green onions
sliced fresh mushrooms
quartered artichoke hearts (you can buy these canned -- I like them better than marinated ones)
Grated sharp cheddar cheese -- whatever amount you like

Prepare the pizza crust per instructions.  Use the pesto as the sauce and layer all the other ingredients in the order given.  Bake at 400 until edge of crust is browned and cheeses are melted and bubbling.  Enjoy!

Recently I found ready made GF pizza crusts at my local health food store.  We tried them and liked them!  They really speed the process along if you're in a hurry.  In my other post I suggested using a white sauce,  and pesto here, but of course you can always go back to your favorite red sauce.  That's the great thing about pizza -- it's design your own!  Have fun with it -- you can even throw a party, use previously made small individual pizza crusts or ready made ones, set out all the toppings and let guests make their favorites!



Blog Worth Checking Out

Thanks to Cindy for finding this blog and letlting me know -- looks like lots of great gluten free recipes!  Let me know how they turn out:


Pasta Chicken Fruit Salad

This is another fantastic salad recipe from my friend Janice, who also supplied the wonderful Strawberry Spinach Salad.  If you like fruit in your pasta salads, you'll love this one.  It makes a bunch -- enough to feed 12-15 people -- so it's a great party salad.  If you don't have gluten intolerance, just use regular pasta.

Pasta Chicken Fruit Salad

2 Cups brown rice shell pasta, uncooked
1/2 tsp grated green onion
4 Cups cooked chicken, chopped
2-20 oz. cans pineapple chunks
2 Cups grapes (I like to cut them in half so you don't have to chase them around your plate :)
2 apples, peeled and diced
1/2 Cup slivered almonds
2 Cups celery, diced
1 Cup mayonnaise
1 Cup coleslaw dressing (you can buy this at the supermarket - I like Hidden Valley brand)

Cook pasta and drain.  Mix all ingredients together.  Refrigerate.  Salt to taste before serving.

I took this to a party tonight and came home with maybe 1-1/2 cups worth -- everybody loved it!


Georgia's Meatloaf

My mom is a great cook, but as a kid I never liked her meatloaf.  Up until I got married and tasted my mother-in-law's meatloaf, I thought all meatloafs were pretty much the same (read: like my mom's).  To my surprise, I liked my mother-in-law's meatloaf, and it's the only one I've made since then. 

Meatloaf is problematic for those who are gluten intolerant, since nearly all recipes call for cracker crumbs or bread crumbs to be mixed into the meat, as does this one.  I've been experimenting and have discovered that rice crackers crushed up, or gluten free bread crumbs (remember those failed loaves of bread you made into crumbs?) both work, but I prefer the texture of the one made with cracker crumbs.  I also discovered when taking a picture for this post that making meatloaf look appetizing in a picture is nearly impossible.  So my apologies to you photo buffs out there, and please don't judge the flavor by the picture :).

 Georgia's Meatloaf

1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef
2/3 Cup evaporated milk
1 egg
1/2 Cup crushed rice crackers (or 1/2 Cup GF bread crumbs)
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 Cup finely chopped onion
1/4 Cup finely diced green pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well blended.  Put into loaf pan and bake for 1 hour at 350.  Serve immediately.  Top with catsup if desired.

Remove from the pan and refrigerate any leftovers -- they make great sandwiches the next day!


Microwave Caramel Corn

My mom was craving some caramel corn recently.  She and my dad used to always get a big bag for her when they were at the mall, so she asked if I would pick some up for her.  I dutifully went to the mall and discovered that unfortunately, the place where they got it no longer existed, so I decided I'd make her some.  I knew I had a recipe for microwave caramel corn from years ago that reminded me of Cracker Jacks (minus the nasty burnt-tasting peanuts), so I looked through my recipe box and discovered that I had seven (7!) different recipes for caramel corn!  Is there a message here?  Anyway, here's the microwave recipe with one variation included.  Maybe I'll post some of the other ones if this one turns out to be popular :).  Enjoy!

Microwave Caramel Corn

22-24 Cups popped corn
1/2 Cup butter
1 Cup packed brown sugar
1/4 Cup light corn syrup (or if you don't want to use corn syrup, use 1/4 Cup gran. sugar and 1 tsp water)
1/2 tsp salt

Put popped corn in a large brown paper grocery bag.  Put all the other ingredients into a deep microwave safe glass bowl.  Microwave on high for 4 minutes or until it boils (it only took 2 minutes to boil in my microwave, so watch carefully!), stirring at end of each minute.  Once it boils, microwave for two more minutes,  stirring at end of each minute.  Remove from microwave. 

1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

Stir into caramel mixture.  Pour over popcorn in bag.  Shake well.  Fold down top of bag and put in microwave.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Remove from microwave and shake again.  Put back in and microwave for another minute.  Take out and shake again.  Spread out on waxed paper to cool.  Break apart with hands into bowl.  Serve.  If there's any left, store in a tightly covered container.



Avocado Cucumber Dip and Salad Dressing

This recipe is a great way to use avocados that are getting too ripe (besides guacamole), a wonderful dip for fresh veggies, or a tasty salad dressing.  Talk about multi-tasking!  It has a bright, fresh taste and a smooth texture.  You're gonna love it!

Avocado Cucumber Dip and Salad Dressing

1/3 Cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2-4 Tbsp dried cilantro or 1/2 - 3/4 Cup chopped fresh cilantro (depending on your taste)
2 avocados, peeled, seeded and chunked
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chunked
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Put olive oil and garlic into a blender; process until smooth.  Add cilantro, avocado, cucumber and lemon juice.  Blend until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate.


On Vacation!

I'm on vacation!  See you next week!  Michele


Orange Cole Slaw

I love cole slaw!  I have several different recipes for cole slaw (sweet, spicy, oniony) which I use depending on what I'm serving it with.  However, since my doctor has had me on a strict no-sugar diet, cole slaw has not been the same.  Commercial mayonnaise has sugar in it, and all of my recipes call for mayonnaise and include added sweetener of some sort.  When I tried making it with my own homemade mayonnaise and no added sweetener, I didn't care for it at all.  So, I began experimenting.  Was it possible to make it sweeter with things I was allowed on this diet?  The answer was yes!  So here's the recipe I created, which has given me back cole slaw and bonus! my husband loves it too.

Orange Cole Slaw

1/2 small head cabbage, sliced fine (about 4 cups)
2 oranges, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 Cup plus 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 rounded Tbsp finely grated orange peel (be sure it's just the orange part--no pith, which is bitter)
1/4 Cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Put cabbage and orange chunks into a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, orange peel and orange juice.  Pour over cabbage and oranges and mix thoroughly.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4.

Refreshing, delicious, and good for you too!  Such a deal!


Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar

This isn't actually a recipe -- just my absolutely favorite way to eat fresh strawberries!  Since I've rarely run into anyone else who eats them this way, and since great strawberries are in plentiful supply right now, I thought I'd pass this on.  Take my word for it, these are totally addicting.  You may never look at fresh strawberries in the same way again.

Strawberries with Sour Cream and Brown Sugar

Fresh strawberries, washed and drained, with the little green tops left on -- they make a perfect handle!
Sour cream
Brown sugar

Now for the fun part:  grab a strawberry, dip it in the sour cream, then dip it in the brown sugar, then pop it in your mouth and bite down.  Get into a rhythm, and mmmmmmm, strawberry nirvana!  I took this picture of one that had been dipped sitting on a plate because I couldn't hold it in my hand and shoot the picture at the same time.  But trust me, you'll never see another one sitting on a plate.  You don't even need a plate -- they just go straight from the fingers into the mouth, as fast as you can go, until you hit pure bliss.  Enjoy!


Lemon-Garlic Shrimp Scampi

If you love garlic and shrimp, you'll love this recipe!  Scampi has always been my favorite way to have shrimp -- but it's so expensive to buy!  Now that I have this recipe, which is so easy, I can have scampi whenever I want -- yahoo! 

Lemon-Garlic Shrimp Scampi

 1 lb large raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails on or off, you choose
1/2 Cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 tsp salt
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped or 2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp grated lemon or lime peel
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice or lime juice
Lemon or lime wedges for garnish (opt)

If you buy frozen shrimp, thaw.  Prepare shrimp, wash under cold running water, drain well, and dry on paper towels.  Melt butter and combine with remaining ingredients (except garnish).  Arrange shrimp in single layer in a baking dish (a 9 x 13 casserole works well).  Pour garlic butter sauce over top.  Bake in preheated 350 oven 5 minutes.  Remove and turn shrimp.  Bake 8-10 minutes longer or just until shrimp turn pink.  Arrange shrimp on heated platter.  Pour garlic butter drippings over all and garnish with lemon or lime wedges.  Makes 4 servings.  Also good served over rice.

Dive in!


Banana Bread and Breakfast Cookies

Today's post features two recipes that call for overripe bananas.  I discovered today that I had four bananas that I needed to use or lose, so voila!  Recipes for the blog!  Blogs are handy that way :).

The first recipe is one from my mother that I've been eating as long as I can remember.  I had to change it a little to make it gluten free, but it's still delicious.  Instead of one big loaf, I made two small ones with the intention of giving one away, but my hubby devoured one between lunch and dinner, so I guess not! 

Banana Bread

1-3/4 Cups rice powder gluten free mix (look here for the basic GF mix recipe; make it using rice powder rather than rice flour for pastry-type baked goods)
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
3/4 Cup soft shortening
2/3 Cup granulated sugar
2 eggs unbeaten
1 Cup mashed ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla

With electric mixer at medium speed, thoroughly mix shortening with sugar, then add eggs, and beat until very light and fluffy (you'll know you're there when it looks like silky fluffy frosting).  Sift dry ingredients together.  With mixer at low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with bananas and vanilla, just until smooth.  Grease a 9"x5"x3" loaf pan.  Turn batter into pan.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour, or until done.  If using smaller pans, decrease baking time.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, remove to rack.  Cool before slicing.  Chopped dates, nuts, dried apricots, or raisins may be added for variety.


The next recipe is a fun one.  It would be great for a birthday child's breakfast -- the child thinks they're getting cookies for breakfast, but mom knows they're actually getting something nutritious.  These are moist and don't keep well, so go ahead and let the kids eat them up while they're warm--that's when they're yummiest!  Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Breakfast Cookies

1/2 Cup butter, melted
1 Cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 Cup dried fruit of your choice (dates, apricots, cherries, etc), chopped (this can be quickly done in a food processor)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp evaporated milk
1/2 Cup boiling water

Place in blender and mix well, or use beaters to mix thoroughly. 

2-1/2 Cups brown rice gluten free mix (same mix as above, only made with brown rice flour rather than white rice flour or rice powder)
1/2 Cup rice bran
1/2 Cup powdered milk or instant nonfat dry milk
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 Cup chopped nuts (opt)
1 Cup raisins (opt) (you may be able to get your kids to eat them if you chop them up in your food processor so they're not recognizable :)

Mix into liquid mixture until blended.  Spray a cookie sheet with Pam.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.  They don't brown much, so don't wait for them to look browned or they'll get too dry.  Serve immediately.  Makes two dozen.

I used chopped apricots and whole raisins in these.  A festive breakfast!


Pasta Salad

Happy Independence Day!  Today's recipe is a natural at Independence Day picnics -- healthy, easy to fix and transport, pretty to look at, and always popular.  I don't think I've ever had leftovers to take home after a picnic.  OK, I know most everyone has their own version of pasta salad and that you can buy them at delis everywhere, but you have to agree that it's one of the most versatile dishes on the planet and therefore worth talking about a bit.  The good news for those who have to eat wheat free is that there are now great wheat free pastas available.  (Look here if you're searching for one.)  And, there's no better way to use up leftover vegetables or clean out your refrigerator than a pasta salad -- virtually anything works in it!  The trick is putting together good combinations.  So here's some suggestions of how to get started, and then some variations.

Pasta Salad

1 12-16 oz pkg brown rice pasta, your choice of shape, cooked, drained, rinsed with cold water, drained again
Chopped vegetables -- the following are basic to all recipes:
celery, sliced
radishes, sliced
green pepper, diced
carrots, cut small
zucchini, diced
cucumber, diced

For an all-vegetable pasta salad, you can add any or all of the following:
green onion, sliced, or red onion, diced
broccoli, cut small
cauliflower, cut small
mushrooms, sliced
avocados, ripe but firm, diced
canned beans of your choice, drained and rinsed well

To make it super easy, just use your favorite gluten-free Italian salad dressing as the sauce for it.  Add some, stir, taste, add more and keep going until it's to your liking.  If you make it a day ahead, be sure you stir and taste before serving -- you may have to add more dressing as the pasta absorbs some while it sits.  If you'd like to make your own dressing, here's a good one:

1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
ground black pepper to taste

Whisk together in a bowl.  Pour over pasta salad and stir.  Add additional salt to taste, if desired.

For a vegetable/fruit pasta salad, you can add any or all to the basic recipe:

pineapple chunks
mandarin oranges
fresh oranges, chopped
grapefruit sections
apple chunks
kiwi fruit, chopped
fresh berries or strawberries if serving immediately (they turn everything pink if left overnight)
raisins, craisins, dried cherries, or other dried fruits

Here's a light citrus dressing I love for a fruited pasta salad:

1/2 Cup orange juice
1/4 Cup lemon juice
1/4 Cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a blender, cover and process until blended.  Pour over salad, stir and taste, adding salt as desired, until it tastes right to you.  Refrigerate any leftover dressing.

Mayonnaise thinned with a little fruit juice also works well as a dressing.

Nuts or seeds can be added for additional crunch and good taste. If you want to make either salad into a main dish salad, just add cooked, chopped meat:  chicken, turkey, ham, shrimp, beef, or pork.

The variations are endless!  Get creative and have fun.  Here's a picture of a pasta salad I made today -- it's just the basic recipe with chopped fresh orange added and the citrus dressing.  Yummy!



This recipe is in honor of our daughter Afton, whose birthday is this week.  This was her favorite dinner growing up, and now she makes it for her kids.  It's a little more work than some of the shortcut methods of doing lasagne or buying it ready-made, but according to Afton (who's done both of those) this tastes much better and is worth it :).  So here it is -- happy birthday sweetie!


1-1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or mashed
2 8-oz cans tomato sauce
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 Cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
Rice lasagne noodles (for a good brand look at this post--they make lasagne noodles too), enough for a couple layers in your casserole (you can figure this out by laying the dry ones in your casserole dish)
1 lb ricotta cheese or small-curd cottage cheese, or substitution (see note below)
1/2 lb mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 Cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil.  Cook noodles in boiling water according to directions on package. 

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan that has a cover, cook ground beef, onion, and garlic together, stirring, until meat is brown and crumbly and onions are soft.  Stir in tomato sauce, tomato paste, and water.  Add salt, oregano and pepper, stirring until mixed.  Cover pan and simmer slowly until lasagne noodles are done.
When noodles are done, drain, rinse with cold water, and lay on clean kitchen towel to drain, dabbing top with paper towel to remove excess moisture. 

Arrange a layer of noodles on bottom of casserole dish (I use a 9x13).  Spread 1/2 of the meat mixture over the noodles; top with 1/2 of the ricotta and 1/2 of the mozzarella.  Arrange another layer of noodles on top of cheese; use remaining meat mixture on top of noodles, then remaining ricotta and remaining mozzarella.  Top with Parmesan.  Bake uncovered in a 350 oven for 30 minutes.  If casserole is very full, place it on a cookie sheet before putting in oven as it may bubble over the sides of the casserole.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.  Makes 6-8 servings.

A note about the cheese:  as I mentioned in an earlier post, my husband is allergic to milk, but we have discovered that it is only the whey he's allergic to, since he tolerates cheese just fine.  However, I have recently found out that ricotta cheese is made from whey (and cottage cheese, of course, has milk in it), so I substitute shredded sharp cheddar cheese for the ricotta.  With allergies, substitution is the name of the game!  The lasagne still tastes great.

I don't know how they get those perfect looking squares of lasagne in magazine pictures -- they must be frozen!  This is how real, just-out-of-the-pan, hot lasagne looks moments before being devoured by my husband.  Enjoy!