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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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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Conquering my fear of Hollandaise sauce, with thanks to Gordon Ramsey


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I confess, this is not my picture

Until I sailed on Norwegian Cruise Lines, I had no idea you could make hollandaise sauce with olive oil.  It’s because of the butter that I had to give it up.

Before I went dairy free, I used to meet a friend of mine in a local diner.  I always ordered eggs benedict.  It always made me sick, but I had no idea why at the time.

Hollandaise is an emulsion of eggs and oil, much like mayonnaise.  If you do it right, it results in a thick, creamy and eggy sauce.  If you do it wrong; scrambled eggs.

Hollandaise can be difficult for even the most accomplished chefs.  I wanted to replicate that wonderful, creamy hollandaise I had onboard the ship.  So I did some reading up on it, and found that Gordon Ramsey’s recipe is the most straight forward.   But you can only do so much reading before you actually have to take a deep breath and just do it.  I didn’t follow his recipe exactly, and my sauce curdled.  But I was able to save it.

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#TBT Retro Recipe-Chicken pot pie


When I originally posted this on May 25, 2015, I was just beginning my gluten free journey.  I was never much of a baker until I discovered that if I wanted to have my favorite treats, I would have to make them myself.

When I made this pie, I was terrified of pie crust.  I still am, actually, and have not made this recipe again.  But sometimes we do things just to prove we can, and I felt a great sense of triumph after successfully pulling this recipe, or conglomeration of recipes, off. 

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Baking pie has always terrified me.  It is the one thing I have never attempted.  Okay, maybe it’s a silly fear.   My grandfather was the birthday cake baker.  But my grandmother would bake pies- from scratch with no recipe.  Ah, those were the days!

Last week, hubby was grumbling about how awful those frozen pot pies are.  One of the things I had to give up but don’t really miss.  You know the type; all crust and no filling.  Brings to mind Mrs. Lovett-“the worst pies in London”…  So I said, “I can probably make one of those” before I could stop myself.  And unlike Mrs. Lovett, I wouldn’t be using any priest.   Just plain old chicken.

I found a recipe; one thing about the internet is there are millions of gluten free recipes.  All of the guesswork and trial and error are done for you.  I only tried converting one recipe which was a bundt cake.  It became bundt crumbs when it stuck to the pan.  So I let others cry over crumbled cake.   The pot pie recipe did come with a pie crust recipe but for some reason, it sounded complicated to me.  I wanted something easier.  Pamela’s to the rescue!

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Making the most of your crockpot


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Tell me what you think!  Share your crockpot tips!

Ah, the humble crock pot.  It turns everyday ingredients into a magic brew of deliciousness.  Why slave over a hot stove when you don’t have to?

I would like to share some tips that I have found useful, especially as they pertain to gluten and dairy free cooking.

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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!

Tater tot Mexican Casserole


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We love Nachos in our house, but it’s always good to try new recipes.  I came across this recipe and thought, huh, I wonder how this would taste with tater tots instead of tortilla chips?

I used Mrs. Dash taco seasoning in this dish-it is gluten free and not too spicy. It is also salt-free.  Ortega also makes gluten free taco seasoning mix.  I used OreIda tater tots; they are also gluten free.  On with the recipe.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 packet taco seasoning mix
3/4 cup water
4 cups frozen tater tots or enough to cover the top of the pie plate
water for taco mix*
1/4 cup dairy free milk of choice
1 egg
2 cups dairy free shredded Mexican blend cheese (or any cheddar blend)

Instructions

Grease a 9 or 10 inch pie plate with cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef in oil until starting to brown. Add onion and pepper.  Cook until beef is no longer pink, and onion and pepper start to soften.  Drain fat.

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*Add taco seasoning mix and amount of water called for on the package.  The amount may vary depending on the mix you use.   Follow package directions for cooking the meat and taco mix together.  Cool for 2 minutes.

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In a large bowl, whisk together egg and milk;  add cheese and stir until combined.  Add in beef mixture and mix until combined.  Turn into greased pie plate.

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Top with tater tots and bake for 37 to 39 minutes, or until filling is set and tots are golden brown.

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Let cool 10 minutes.  Serve with toppings such as sour cream and salsa.

Tips:

  • Be sure to read labels when choosing taco seasoning mix.  They are not all gluten free
  • Brown your beef by flattening it out in the pan, and browning one side.  Turn over and brown on the other side.  Then break up beef to complete browning.
  • You can omit the red pepper if you like, but it gives a nice sweet taste.
  • Check your tater tots label to make sure they are gluten free.  Some companies add wheat
  • I did not measure the tots-I just used enough to cover the top of the pie plate.
  • You can omit the taco seasoning.  Here is a recipe to make your own.
  • I used Go Veggie Monterey Jack blend.  You could use a Daiya cheddar block and shred it yourself.

We really enjoyed this and will be adding it to the meal rotation.  It gets the hubby seal of approval!