Easy microwave mushroom risotto


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Yes, you read that right.  You can make risotto in the microwave.  I didn’t think it would work, but it did, beautifully.

If you have ever made risotto, you know how labor intensive it can be.  You have to babysit it, and constantly stir the rice, adding stock a ladle at a time.  It’s a pain.  Besides, if you order it out in a restaurant, it will have butter and parmesan in it.  Why not make it gluten and dairy free, at home?  Here’s how I did it.  You can find the original recipe here.  This will take 30-40 minutes, so plan ahead.  I am giving the instructions for a 1100 watt microwave.  You can find the instructions for 700 watt microwave in the original recipe.  If you do not know the wattage of your microwave, check the owners manual, or online.

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TBT-Lost in Translation, the foreign language of food allergens


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I originally wrote this post in June of 2015.  Since then, I have pretty much licked all of these issues.  Gluten and dairy free products were all a foreign language to me.  But now I speak fluent gluten and dairy free.  

I love to cook.  When I started this journey of being gluten and dairy free, I had no idea that I would face not only the thrill of victory, but also the agony of defeat.  Novice that I was, I naively thought, oh, how hard can it be to cook gluten and dairy free dishes?  I will just substitute gluten free flour and non-dairy milk.  Well, as they say, you can’t always get what you want.

There is a lot of trial and error; and a lot of wasted time and money.  There are several things I have tried more the once before throwing in the towel.  I try to give things a fair shake before I give up.  And being a Capricorn, I am very stubborn and tenacious.  But sometimes you just have to face facts and move on.

These are some of the things that I believe just don’t translate well:

Pancakes 

Hubby loves pancakes.   I could take or leave them but every once in awhile I get a craving.  My first attempt tasted like a cross between wallpaper paste and paint.  It would have been good if we wanted to redecorate.  I noticed that the batter was very thick.  I tried these with both rice flour and gluten free Bisquick.  After the second attempt was an utter failure I just gave up.   Oh well, there is always Denny’s.  At least for him.

I have since discovered the perfect gluten free pancake recipe, thanks to King Arthur Measure for Measure flour. 

French toast 

I may not love pancakes but I do love French toast.  I tried this a couple of times and it just disintegrated.  Gluten fee bread just doesn’t hold up.

I can make french toast; the key is to not soak the bread for too long.  I don’t make it often, but it can be done!

Grilled cheese 

Another favorite and something I really miss.  Dairy free cheese is just not the same.  And toasting the bread ahead of time just defeats the whole purpose.

I do make grilled cheese.  The biggest problem that I have is that the cheese does not melt.  

Cheesecake 

I think this was just my most epic fail.  Dairy free cream cheese in a word-yuck!   I dont want to talk about it.

I found an excellent no-bake dairy free cheesecake recipe.

Gluten free soups

I was so excited when Progresso came out with gluten free soups.  But when I went dairy free they had to be crossed off my list.  They all contain dairy.  At least the ones my local stores carry.   And since they are not separated from the regular soup, I don’t have an hour to stand there and read labels.

I still avoid canned gluten-free soups.  You can make gluten-free cream soups really easily on your own.  And chicken noodle soup with gluten free pasta is easy to make too.  

Pasta

Now don’t get me wrong, some of the gluten-free pastas are good.  But the texture leaves something to be desired.  And forget pasta salad.

Both Ronzoni and Barilla make really good gluten free kinds of pasta, but I still can’t make pasta salad.  

These are just a few of my experiences with gluten and dairy free disasters. If there is one lesson to be learned it is that you have to be able to let go and move on.   That is the hardest thing of all, not only in dealing with food intolerance but also in life.

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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Some eggcellent facts about eggs


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Eggs are the perfect food.  They are full of protein, vitamins and minerals.  They are easy to make in a thousand different ways.  But eggs get a bad rap.  I am here to set you straight on some egg myths, courtesy of Eat this, not that!

I want to say here that if you can find a local farm that pasture raises their chickens, seek it out and get your eggs from them exclusively.  I realize this is not always an option.  But I can tell you from experience, once you taste the difference, you will never go back. Pasture raised eggs are lower in cholesterol saturated fat and contain higher levels of vitamin A, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and vitamins B9, C, and D.

Cage-free eggs may not be from cage-free hens

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Many consumers assume the “cage-free” label on egg cartons means the chickens laying these eggs have the ability to roam around a field. Unfortunately, that’s far from the truth. “Cage Free” only means hens are required to have a minimum of 120 square inches per bird, which is not even double the area of conventional battery cages. Hens often still exclusively live indoors, either in large barns known as aviaries or crammed into bigger “enriched” cages that allow for some natural habits.  

“Free-range” hens also often never step outside.  They are often provided a “small door” with limited access to the outside, and that door is often not large enough to accommodate a large flock.

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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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