Review of Namaste Gluten free Bread mix


The folks at Namaste sent me a free sample of their bread mix to review.  This review is my honest opinion, regardless of receiving a free product. 

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The search for truly good gluten-free bread has led me down some interesting paths.  I have tried mixes (King Arthur and Pamela’s), and frozen, (Udi’s, Kinnickinick, O’Doughs) and have not yet found gluten free bread that reminds me of real, yeasty, chewy and gluten-filled bread.

I have to admit, I was skeptical about this bread mix.  The directions are pretty straight forward and easy, but how would it taste?

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Here are the directions from the side of the box:

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May Strawberries and shortcake


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May is a great month.  Flowers are blooming, and fresh fruits and vegetables are being harvested.  The long winter is over, and we can eat delicious, fresh fruit again.

We are extremely lucky to have one of our local farms, Hill Family farm, growing fresh strawberries.

I have never liked supermarket strawberries.  They are picked before they are ripe, and are consistently on the dirty dozen produce list. 

I was lucky to get the last of the strawberries this year, so I thought, why not make strawberry shortcake?  I used to make it with Bisquick before I went gluten free, but I didn’t know if a gluten-free version would stand up to those wonderful, ripe strawberries.

I found a recipe on Betty Crocker’s website for gluten free strawberry shortcake.  I usually stick to King Arthur for recipes, but in this case, since the original uses Bisquick, I figured that their gluten free version would be the way to go.

Ingredients:

1/4 cup sugar
2 1/3 cups Gluten free Bisquick
1/3 (5.3 tablespoons) Earth Balance dairy free sticks-chilled
3/4 dairy free milk (coconut)
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut into slices.  You can macerate the strawberries the day before in some sugar to taste if needed.  The amount of sugar will also depend on the ripeness of the strawberries.  Mine only needed about a tablespoon. 
Cool whip, or dairy free whipped topping (cool whip does contain some dairy)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment.

Measure gluten free Bisquick and sugar into a medium bowl.  Cut cold dairy free spread into cubes.

With a pastry blender, begin cutting in the cold spread into the flour mix.  Using your hands, continue to blend in the spread, until the mix resembles course crumbs.  If the spread gets too warm,  put the bowl into the freezer for five minutes, or until the spread is firm again.  You want the spread to be cold, so that your shortcakes are flaky and will rise.

In a two cup measure, whisk milk, eggs and vanilla together.  Stir the mixture into the flour mixture until just blended.

Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet.  Pat into rounds, if desired.  You should have six to seven shortcakes.

Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  These will not brown on top like regular shortcakes.  

Cool on a rack until completely cool.  Place in zip lock bag and refrigerate.

To Serve:

With a serrated knife, slice shortcake in half.  They might crumble a bit when slicing. They are easier to slice when cold.

Spoon strawberries over the bottom of the shortcake and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Sit top of shortcake on top of whipped cream, and repeat with strawberries and whipped cream.

These shortcakes came out better than I expected.  They are slightly sweet, a bit crumbly and really complement the strawberries.

You can have strawberry shortcake!  It’s easy with gluten-free Bisquick!

 

 

My two year gluten free journey


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I cannot believe that I have been writing this blog for two years.  How time flies.  It seems just yesterday that I began this gluten free, dairy free journey.   I have learned a lot about not only living a gluten free lifestyle but also a lot about blogging.  I would like to share my insights with all of you.

ON BLOGGING:

  • Find your own writing style.  You will grow into it as time goes on.  Don’t try to emulate anyone else.  Your true self will shine through in time.
  • It takes time to grow your audience.  Wordpress has a wonderful community of bloggers who will support your efforts.
  • Once you have established your blog, you can grow your audience with Adwords.  I believe it is worth the small investment it takes to reach a wider, worldwide audience.
  • Don’t clog your blog up with ads.  Most people find them annoying.  If I land on a blog that has a lot of flash ads, I tend to leave that site.
  • On that same note, don’t expect to get rich.  Blog because you love it, and want to get your message out there.
  • You can blog about anything you wish.  You can make it public or private.  You don’t need experience, and you can have a free blog.  Don’t let anything stop you from expressing yourself.
  • Take some free WordPress classes.  There are numerous topics, and taking them will help you to learn about how WordPress works, and how you can get more comfortable using it.
  • If you are thinking of moving your blog to wordpress.org, do your homework. Most widgets cost extra.  You might lose subscribers.  You have to do your own website maintenance.  These are just some of the pitfalls.  But you will also maintain complete control of your content and will be able to grow.  It’s an individual decision.
  • I do believe WordPress premium is worth the $99 per year cost, if for no other reason than to be able to chat with experts when you have a problem or question.

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Chocolate Covered Cherry Trifle


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This recipe wasn’t originally meant to be a trifle.  I experimented with an idea for a recipe, and it didn’t turn out the way I planned.  But I turned my frown upside down by re-working the idea into a delicious dessert.

I started out with my favorite King Arthur Cake Pan Cake recipe. I made some mistakes and some changes to this recipe, which might have changed the end result.  I added their cake enhancer to the batter.  I am not sure if this contributed to making the cake really soft or not.  The cake enhancer is supposed to make moister cakes that stay fresh longer.  I also cut the sugar by five tablespoons in this recipe and over poured the amount of oil. All of these changes might have contributed to the change in structure.

I originally wanted to make this a poke cake.  This might also have contributed to the softness of the cake, which prevented me from serving the squares I cut in one piece. Either way, it’s still a delicious, rich and decadent cake.

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And two for tea…review of The Republic of Tea


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I posted a review the other day of The True Tea club, and how I was not really impressed with them.  I ordered a sampler of teas from The Republic of Tea, and so far, I am liking them much better.

Sampler packs are a great way to not only discover new tea, but to be sure that you like something without buying an entire box, only to discover you hate it.  I decided to get their 12 count tea bag gift sampler.  They have other sampler packs available also, so you can tailor them to your taste.

The samples came in a cute little box.  No excelsior!  The tea bags are round with no tags or staples and are easy to use.

I have tried a couple of the flavors I ordered, and so far, I really like them.  I should have looked up the ingredients list before ordering, as one of the teas contained barley malt and chicory root (I know, shame on me!).  The other teas I received checked out okay as far as dietary ingredients I need to avoid.

So far I have sampled:

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and

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Both have really nice flavors.  The banana chocolate is especially interesting and really tastes like bananas.  It is made with Rooibos tea.  The caramel vanilla has a pleasant vanilla taste and is made with black tea.  It is hard for me to find herbal teas locally that I can drink and that I like.  This is a great way to find new herbal and also decaffeinated teas.

If you are looking for a way to sample a nice variety of tea with no commitment, then the Republic of Tea is the way to go!

 

Welcome new followers for April 2017


I want to welcome and thank all of your for subscribing to my blog this month.  You should check them out!

Thanks to those who followed me by email too!

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followers april

Reducing sugar in gluten free baked goods


I recently wrote a post about substituting sugar and oil in gluten-free baked goods.Today I am going to share an

Today I am going to share an article by King Arthur on how to reduce sugar in baked goods.   Please remember that these tests were done on cakes made with wheat flour, and are NOT gluten or dairy free.  Reducing sugar in gluten-free cakes may not have the same results.  I have taken recipes cited in this article as examples of cake types.

You need to consider which type of cake you are dealing with when reducing sugar in your baking.

There are four cake types:

Blended cake

Blended cake is the most basic: you simply put all of the ingredients into a bowl and stir them together.

Sugar doesn’t build volume in these cakes, but simply provides sweetness and moisture. Blended cakes are typically medium- to coarse-textured, and are often baked in a single layer: think sheet cake.

Example:  Apple cake

 

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picture courtesy of King Arthur flour

 

Creamed cake

This type of cake relies on “creaming” (beating together) butter and sugar until they’re lightened in color and fluffy. This builds volume and texture; these cakes may be high-rising, or dense.

Example:   Bundt cake

 

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image courtesy of King Arthur flour

 

Sponge cake

Another path to the same destination is sponge cake which starts with a well-beaten mixture of eggs and sugar, instead of butter and sugar. Sponge cake tends to be moister than creamed cake, but is otherwise quite similar.

Example:  Hot milk cake

 

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image courtesy of King Arthur flour

 

 

Foam cake

And then there are foam-style cakes.  Egg whites and sugar, beaten to a thick meringue, create cakes whose texture is super-light, but also somewhat dry and “springy:” these cakes won’t fall apart at the mere sight of your fork, and thus are great for filling and rolling.

Example: Angel food cake

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image courtesy of King Arthur flour

 

The result of the testing by their master baker, Melanie Wanders?

Reduce sugar in any cake by 10% right now

After studying Mel’s test results, comprised of a dozen different recipes representing four types of cake, we believe you can reduce the sugar in any cake recipe by 10% without compromising its flavor or texture.

In fact, Mel reports the foam-type cakes are better with a 10% reduction: “I felt that the structure [with a 10% sugar reduction] was best in all three recipes I tested — there was no sinking.”

Now, is this successful 10% sugar reduction applicable to every cake recipe in the universe? I can’t guarantee that. But I feel confident that you can take your favorite cake recipe, cut the sugar by 10%, and be very happy with the result.

The easiest way to make this 10% reduction? Remove 5 teaspoons from each cup of sugar called for in the recipe.

Reduce sugar in blended cakes by up to 50%

“I found no difference in any of the four sugar levels in blended cakes [original, and 10%, 25%, and 50% reductions] other than how sweet you like things,” said Mel. “And for cakes with fruit in them already, I think the baker can decide to use any of the reduction amounts.”

The only reservation we have with this blanket endorsement of wholesale sugar reduction is for chocolate cake (e.g., Cake Pan Cake). Cocoa’s bitterness demands a certain level of sweetness to keep it palatable. So if you’re reducing sugar in chocolate cake, start with 10%, and take it down from there.

I have reduced the sugar by one tablespoon in their cake pan cake and had good results. But when you are dealing with cocoa powder, it can be bitter, so start with 5 teaspoons.

Reduce sugar in creamed cakes by up to 25%

Mel prefers a 10% sugar reduction to the original in creamed cakes. However, “To move to a 25% reduction or more would be too much for most bakers, in my opinion,” she said, adding that at 25% she had trouble with creaming, and with the batter separating.

Still, if you want to reduce the sugar in your favorite creamed cake recipe by 25%, I urge you to do your own test. I tried a 25% reduction in Brown Sugar Pound Cake  and certainly found the cake less sweet. But lowering the original level of sweetness allowed the butter flavor to shine through. And the cake’s texture, though a tad drier, was perfectly acceptable.

Another tip here: do not use oil in cakes that require creaming.  You can use a butter substitute, such as Earth balance sticks, but using oil will not allow the sugar to completely incorporated.

Reduce sugar in sponge cakes by up to 25%

We both find that a 25% sugar reduction in sponge cake recipes is perfectly acceptable. As with the creamed cakes, the reduced sweetness allows other flavors to emerge. And their texture is excellent: moist, fine-grained, and high-rising.

Speaking of texture, though, we find sponge cakes tend to suffer when you cut their sugar by 50%. While they’re still fine-grained, they don’t rise as high, and become unpleasantly rubbery.

Reduce sugar in foam cakes by 10%

Baking an angel food cake? Go ahead, reduce the sugar by 10%. Beyond that, though, you risk compromising texture. Says Mel, “Reducing sugar by more than 10% in foam cakes results in texture changes and an egg flavor that’s too pronounced for me.”

I think it is perfectly safe to reduce the sugar in most gluten free cakes by 10%.  Again, your results may vary.

What do you think?  Share your ideas and results!