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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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!

 

 

Crockpot Sausage ragout


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There’s nothing better than low and slow cooked pasta sauce.  I remember my mother making her sauce with sausage and meatballs.  I also remember the mess all over her kitchen.  That won’t happen when you use a crockpot to simmer your sauce.

I was going to make this bolognese sauce, but it has a lot of ingredients, including milk.  I wasn’t sure that dairy-free milk would work in a reduction with tomatoes, so I decided to whip up my own recipe, using sausage instead of ground beef.

This recipe makes about six servings.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 lb ground sausage
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 cup red wine or broth
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash original seasoning
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda*

Instructions:

Line a 6-quart crockpot.  Remove sausage from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking to allow to come to room temperature.  This will aid in the browning process.

Pat sausage dry with paper towels.  Heat a large stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat.  Add a half tablespoon olive oil and heat until shimmering.   Place ground sausage in the pan and allow to brown, about five minutes. Do NOT disturb the meat.  When you see a brown crust starting to form, flip the meat over to the other side and let brown an additional 3-4 minutes.  Begin breaking up sausage and cook until no longer pink.  It’s very important to thoroughly cook the meat here.  The crockpot won’t get hot enough to cook it through.  Remove sausage to the crockpot.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the additional half tablespoon olive oil to the pan and cook onions until soft.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add wine or broth to pan, and let reduce by half, scraping up any browned bits from skillet.  Pour remaining wine or broth and any browned bits into crockpot.

Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings on top of meat and onions.  Stir to incorporate.

Set crockpot on high and cook for 20 minutes.  Reduce setting to low and continue to cook for additional 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally.

*If sauce is too acidic, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in the last hour or so of simmering.  The sauce might bubble a little-that’s ok.

Serve over your favorite gluten free pasta.

You can’t overcook this sauce.  The longer it simmers, the better it gets.  And of course, it gets even better after a couple of days.

My husband raved about this sauce.  You will too!

Easy gluten free carrot cake


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I haven’t had a slice of carrot cake since I went gluten free.  Since there are only two of us, making large, 9×13 or multi-layer cakes is not practical.  I found a really good recipe at my go-to, Kingarthurflour.com.

This recipe uses their gluten free baking mix instead of regular gluten-free flour.  I did not use all of the add-ins in the recipe.  You certainly can.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Mix
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce (in place of oil)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (in place of molasses)
  • 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and grated carrots (use food processor)
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 square baking pan with cooking spray.

Mix together dry ingredients, except carrots and other add-ins in a large bowl.

 

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dry ingredients whisked together

Mix wet ingredients together in a glass measuring cup.

 

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wet ingredients whisked together

 

Slowly pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking to incorporate dry flour.

 

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use a whisk to mix ingredients together

 

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this is what batter should look like before add-ins

Stir in carrots, raisins, and any other add-ins.

 

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after add-ins

Scrape batter into prepared baking pan

 

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ready for the oven

 

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean and cake is slightly browned

 

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it should look like this

Cool completely before frosting with cream cheese frosting

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:

  • 4 oz dairy free cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons dairy free spread, softened
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions:

Add cream cheese, spread, vanilla, and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment.

 

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add all ingredients except sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer 

 

 

With the paddle attachment on low speed, beat cream cheese and spread together until creamy and incorporated.

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Beat in the sugar and continue to beat until creamy.  Add a dash of dairy-free milk if it’s not spreading consistency.

Spread onto your cooled cake.

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Refrigerate at least two hours to set.

Slice and enjoy!

Tips:

  • I replaced the oil with unsweetened applesauce.  You can use butter, oil or dairy free spread
  • I left out the nuts, coconut, and pineapple
  • make sure your dairy free spread is softened; I ended up with lumpy frosty, though it still tastes good
  • Check the cake after 30 minutes for doneness
  • I used baby carrots, but you can use whole carrots

This cake is moist and really good.  I would definitely make it again.  Please share your results if you make it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knowledge is Power-how to reach a wider audience


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I have been writing this blog for almost 2 years now. When I first started out I was really excited to share my tips, recipes and ideas with my fellow WordPress bloggers. As time has gone on, I began to realize that my readership was confined to just WordPress bloggers.  This was not the vision that I started out with.

I wanted to get my message across to those fellow gluten-free and dairy free sufferers who might be outside the WordPress circle. But how could I do this?

My son recommended that I run an AdWords campaign. At first, I balked at this; I could not see my way to paying for an increase in readership. Even though the cost is minimal, it almost seemed like it would be cheating.

I had run an AdWords campaign before when I ran my genealogy business. But that was a different story. In order to reach a wider audience, sometimes you have to think outside the box. In running an ad which is based on similar subjects and keywords, it is possible to reach people with gluten and dairy intolerance and celiac disease in all corners of the world.

Dietary issues and allergies are not restricted to your own corner of the world. It is a worldwide issue. I had no idea until I ran this campaign just how widespread it really is. Countries that I had no idea even existed appear on my insights page daily. It truly gives me Great pleasure and satisfaction to know that my gluten-free and dairy-free recipes, articles, tips, and insights are being read around the world.

You might think that it’s all about numbers, but it really isn’t.  Although I have to admit they have increased by leaps and bounds. This is not like acquiring hundreds of Facebook friends just for the sake of acquiring them. This is about truly helping others deal with their everyday food issues. I would like to show you an example of how my readership has grown over the last few months using this AdWords campaign:

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I began the campaign in October 2016. You can see the difference between the preceding months and the month of October, November, December and January.  I reached over 2,000 views in December and January.  My average before that was 400.

By increasing my views and visits, I am increasing knowledge.  They say knowledge is power!