Bechamel sauce and Green bean casserole


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I have mentioned green bean casserole in several posts, specifically about holiday dinners.  But you don’t have to wait for a holiday to have gluten and dairy free green bean casserole.

Two obstacles to making gluten and dairy free green bean casserole are cream of mushroom soup and fried onions.  I found really great gluten and dairy free fried onions here.  As far as I know, this is the only place you can purchase these.  You could make your own, but it’s really labor intensive.

Then there is the cream of mushroom soup.  I have been unable to find both gluten and dairy free cream of mushroom soup that I like.  You can make your own.  That’s where the bechamel, or white sauce, comes in.  Bechamel can be used not only to make cream of mushroom soup, but also for cheese sauce and lasagna.

I find it easier to whisk the bechamel in a skillet, but you can also use a large saucepan.

Ok, let’s get started with the bechamel recipe.

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For one cup of bechamel:

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dairy free milk
1/2 cup chicken or beef broth (this adds flavor, if you want to omit it, use 1/2 cup of milk)
1 tablespoon dairy free spread
1 tablespoon white rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon herbs of choice, for example, thyme ( for cream of mushroom soup), italian seasoning (for lasagna)

Additional ingredients for cream of mushroom soup:

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4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 small onion, chopped

Instructions for plain bechamel:

Melt the spread in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat until bubbling.  Sprinkle the flour over the spread and whisk until incorporated.  Mix together the milk and broth in a large measuring cup.  Pour slowly over flour mixture and whisk continually until thickened.  Bechamel should be thicker than gravy, but still spoonable.  If mixture is too thick, add additional milk or broth until desired consistency.

Instructions for cream of mushroom soup:

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute mushrooms in one tablespoon of butter, until softened.  Sprinkle one tablespoon of rice flour over mushrooms, stirring to incorporate. Follow above instructions for plain bechamel.

Assembling the green bean casserole:

Ingredients:

1 can green beans, drained
1 recipe cream of mushroom soup, above
1 package crunions

Instructions:

In a medium casserole dish, add drained green beans.  Season with salt and pepper if desired.  Pour in your cream of mushroom soup and stir to combine.  Add half of the package of crunions, and stir together.  At this point, you can refrigerate the casserole until needed, up to one day.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  If you have made the casserole ahead, remove from refrigerator at least 30 minutes before baking.  Put casserole in oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until bubbling.  Add remaining crunions to top of casserole, and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until crunions are slightly browned.  Remove from oven and serve.

You might need to increase the amount of the bechamel, according to the recipe.  For each cup of bechamel, use one cup of milk, one tablespoon of dairy free spread, and one tablespoon of rice flour.

There you have it!  Green Bean casserole, fresh from your own kitchen!

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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Review of King Arthur gluten free Gingerbread mix


 

 

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I don’t usually like gluten free cake mixes.  I find that most of them are disappointing. Having said that, I am consistently pleased with King Arthur gluten-free flour, so I thought I would try their Gingerbread mix.  You can also make cookies with it.

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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!

 

Tea for two-review of The True Tea Club


I don’t normally write posts about tea, but since I cannot drink coffee, I often get bored with the same old tea flavors.  I thought I would try out a tea club so that I could experience different teas from around the world.  Box clubs seem to be very popular now, so why not include tea?

The True Tea Club is a UK based company that specializes in sending boxes a variety of four teas from around the world every month to subscribers.  These are loose teas, and require the use of an infuser. Here are some FAQ’s about their subscription, including costs.  There are definite benefits to subscribing to a monthly tea box, but there are also drawbacks, especially if you have specific allergens and tastes.  Let me elaborate.

Tea, in my case, comes with a myriad of ingredients that I need to avoid, such as nuts, and flavors I do not care for, such as Earl Grey and florally teas, as well as any gluten, dairy, or honey.  When you first subscribe, you can tailor your selections to your own tastes.  I did specify no gluten, dairy or nuts.  I later sent an amended email (to which I received no response) stating I wanted no Earl Grey (I hate bergamot), and nothing florally.  Having some flowers in the tea is ok, as long as it is not overwhelming.  I know, I really fussy about my tea!

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