Another Kid Friendly Gluten Free Recipe – Gluten Free Pretzel Parfait

Pretzel ParfaitThis is really not so much a recipe as it is an idea for a treat for the kiddos. My kids love this. I guess it’s kind of a simple, stupid idea, but it just goes to show that you can find some pretty tasty things if you just play with your food. I came up with this idea because one of my family’s favorite desserts is called pretzel salad. It’s a dessert made with crushed pretzels and butter for the crust and then it’s topped with jello mixed with frozen fruit and a whipped topping sort of topping. This one is a lot healthier. We love the Glutino gluten free pretzels in our house. I don’t usually let the kids have them though, because there’s not much that I can eat, so I tend to covet what I can. I haven’t been eating bread items too much lately, so I’ve been coveting things like pretzels a lot less. So, here’s my recipe for pretzel parfait:
Pretzel Parfait
Ingredients:

4 Ounces Gluten Free Pretzel Twists (can use regular pretzel twists for the family members that aren’t gluten free)
½ Cup Chopped Strawberries
(4) 6 Ounce Cups Low-fat Greek Yogurt (can use coconut milk yogurt or soy yogurt for a dairy free option)

Directions:
Turn the yogurt upside down into a bowl. Top with the chopped strawberries. Crush the pretzels and sprinkle over the top of the parfait.
Makes 4 Servings: 295 calories, 3g fat, 5mg cholesterol, 316mg sodium, 52g carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 17g protein

Vegan Gluten Free Zucchini Brownies

Gluten Free Zucchini Brownies Some of you out there are saying, “You took out the gluten and you took out animal products – what’s left?” Trust me; these are really good. They don’t quite have that chewy texture of brownies, but the taste is awesome. I’m writing a health book for homeschoolers. It’s a book for 4th through 9th graders, with age appropriate activities in each chapter. It’s meant to be used as a cross-age lesson book. I’m writing it out of necessity, because I love to teach my kids together as much as possible. Okay, yes it saves time, but really I just enjoy having the kids working together as much as they can. They are competitive, so they work better when they’re all together. Anyway, at the end of each chapter, I have one or two recipes that go with the lesson for the week. They’re not all gluten free recipes, but I do add ways to make them gluten free. This is a recipe I came up with for the Fruits and Vegetables chapter. I really love these brownies. They’re fairly low in fat, very tasty and they have a pretty nice texture as well. It’s more of a cake-like texture, but they’re so flavorful, you can forgive the fact that they aren’t like ‘regular’ brownies. AND, I snuck in some veggies into the recipe. My kids made them today and reluctantly tried them and now half of the pan is gone. I hope your family loves them this much.
Gluten Free Zucchini Brownies

Ingredients:
1 Cup Brown Rice Flour
½ Cup Sorghum Flour
½ Cup White Rice Flour
1 Teaspoon Xanthan Gum
1 Teaspoon Salt
¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Cup Cocoa
1 Teaspoon Almond Extract
¼ Cup Canola Oil
¼ Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 ¼ Cup Maple Syrup
2 Cups Grated Zucchini

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350º. Prepare a 8×8 baking pan by spraying it with cooking spray. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add vanilla, oil, and maple syrup and mix well. Stir in the zucchini. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool before cutting. Makes 24 brownies

Gluten Free Sonja Henies

Sonja HeniesI’ve heard somewhere that these were the figure skater Sonja Henie’s favorite cookies and that’s why they’re called ‘sonja henies,’ but I don’t know that for sure. I do know that they’re my family’s favorite cookies. These gluten free versions are just as good as the original version, but I like them even more than the original. They have that nutty flavor from the coconut flour and it contrasts nicely with the jelly filling. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 Sticks Butter, softened (can use half dairy free butter substitute and half butter flavored shortening instead)
½ C. Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
2 Large Egg Yolks
1 t. Vanilla Extract
½ C. Sorghum Flour
½ C. Oat Flour
½ C. Brown Rice Flour
¼ C. Millet Flour
¼ C. Coconut Flour
¾ t. Xanthan Gum
For Finishing:
2 Large Egg Whites
1 C. Finely Ground Toasted Pecans
½ C. Strawberry Jelly

Directions:
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla and continue beating until smooth. Beat in flour. Scrape dough into a large ziplock bag and flatten into ½ inch thick. Seal and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350º. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
When chilled, scoop dough with a small scoop. Roll into a ball. Beat the egg whites with a little water. In a separate bowl, place the ground pecans. Dip each cookie into the egg white and roll in pecans. Place on cookie sheet about 1” apart. Using the end of a wooden spoon, make a little well in each cookie (about ½ of the depth of the cookie). Fill each dimple with jelly.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until cookies are firm and slightly firm. Cool on racks. If jelly has boiled out of any cookies, heat up some jelly and refill the cookies.

Paczki as Promised

Gluten Free PaczkiWell, here’s the paczki recipe. For those of you new to Polish delicacies, it’s pronounced ‘poonch – key’. These were a little difficult to make. The dough, once again, is delicated, and you have to be gentle when moving it around. Also, you have to be resigned to the fact that you will never again have a light and fluffly donut again. But, it’s a fun treat to try and make and they are tasty. You could substitute some other flours for the sorghum, like maybe white rice flour instead, and it will be a little lighter in texture, but I like these. The jelly filling with the sorghum flour is a nice treat. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
½ C. Soymilk
2 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tsp. Yeast
2 Large Eggs
1 Tsp. Vinegar
¼ Tsp. Vanilla
¼ Tsp. Salt
1 C. Sweet Sorghum Flour
½ C. Brown Rice Flour
¼ Cup Coconut Flour
1 Tbsp. Tapioca Starch
1 Tsp. Xanthan Gum
Filling of choice (about ¼ cup)
Sugar for dusting

Directions:

In a large glass measuring cup, heat the milk, butter, and sugar in microwave for about 45 seconds, until just a little warmer than room temperature. Add eggs, vanilla, salt, vinegar and yeast to milk mixture and let stand for about 5 minutes, until the yeast is puffy.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, tapioca starch and xanthan gum. Mix thoroughly. Slowly add in the milk mixture and mix for about 2 minutes, until all of the ingredients are fully combined.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour. Punch down dough. Roll out to 1/4” thick. Cut with a biscuit cutter and place half of the donuts on a cookie sheet dusted with rice flour. With a little beaten egg, wet the edges of the donuts on the cookie sheet. Top each with ½ tablespoon of jelly. Top each donut with another donut round and press together lightly. Let rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oil to 350º. Fry Paczki for about 3 minutes, turning over about every minute, until golden brown. Drain on a cooling rack. Dip in sugar to coat. I used seedless raspberry jam for mine, but custard or any other filling of your choice will work, or you can leave them as is and just coat them with sugar. Makes 8-10 donuts, depending on how thin you roll them out.

Polish Night at the Markowskis: Gluten Free Pierogies and Paczki

Gluten Free PierogiesThis is a once in a blue moon type of dinner. First of all, the Polish weren’t exactly known for eating light. Second of all, these are kind of labor intensive. The problem with gluten free dough is that it doesn’t stretch, which is really what you need to be able to do things that are stuffed. Another problem is that it doesn’t puff up in the same way that wheat flour does because it has a delicate structure. It’s like the difference between building a house out of mud versus building a house out of steel (the mud being gluten free flours, and the steel being flour with gluten). You can get a fluffy sort of texture with gluten free flour, but it is a delicate structure. Gone are the days of that crisp crack of the outer layer of bread with the stretchy, airy inside. But, hey, I’m getting over it. Sort of. So, we had a friend of ours over last night for dinner. He’s Italian and whenever he comes over, we make Italian food. Larry wanted to give him something different and make him a traditional Polish American dinner. Our gluten free dinner was gluten free pierogies with a dairy free cheese filling, gluten free ‘rye’ bread (it had caraway seeds in it to mock the rye taste), some gluten free kielbasa and lots of sauerkraut and horseradish. Ugh. It was tasty, but it really is a stomach killer. We’re all moving a little slow today. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the gluten free paczki for dessert (a Polish donut). I did make ‘regular’ food for the boys, but my daughter and I had the gluten free.

If you’re up to a challenge, try the pierogies sometime. They’re a good substitute for regular pierogies, a little chewier than regular ones, but just as tasty. I used a brand of cheese called Daiya, but you can use whatever you want, even regular cheese. Daiya is expensive but worth it. It’s not something I buy very often, but good for a special occasion. The dough for the pierogies is very delicate, so be patient and use lots of dusting with rice flour. A bench scraper works well for moving the dough around. For cutting out the cirlces, I used a cup from Cumberland Farms (which is a convenient store in our area), but you can use anything that is 3″-4″ wide. The soup take out containers from our local Chinese restaurant is about the same width. I hope you give it a try sometime. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Filling:
1 ½ C. Mashed Potatoes (about 2 potatoes, boiled and mashed)
7 oz. Dairy Free Cheddar
3 ½ oz. Dairy Free Havarti Style Cheese
1 Tbsp. White Rice Flour

Dough:
2 C. Tapioca Flour
1 C. White Rice Flour
¾ C. Potato Starch
½ C. Arrowroot Starch
2 ½ Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tsp. Xanthan Gum
¼ Tsp. Salt
1 ¼ C. Water
2 Tbsp. Oil
¼ Tsp. Vinegar
2 Large Eggs
Extra rice flour for dusting

Directions:

For the filling: Do the filling first, so if you are boiling the potatoes, the filling will be cool when you fill the pierogies. In a bowl, mix all ingredients thoroughly. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, scoop balls of the filling onto a cookie sheet and shape into football shapes. You want to make at least 24 scoops.
For the dough: In a large mixing bowl, add the tapioca flour, white rice flour, potato starch, arrowroot starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt. Mix thoroughly. In a 2 cup measuring cup, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and eggs. Mix well. Slowly pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture. Beat on medium for about 1-2 minutes, until thoroughly combined.
Have a cup of water handy and a cup of rice flour for dusting. Split the dough into fourths. Wrap 3 of the balls of dough in plastic wrap. Dust a board well with rice flour and place one ball of dough on the board. Make sure your hands, rolling pin, and board are coated with rice flour. The dough will be very sticky at first. Roll out dough thin, to about 1/16” thickness. Cut into 4” circles.
With wet fingers, wet the outside edge of the dough circle. Place a football shaped potato filling onto the dough circle and fold over. Pinch the edges closed. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, dusted with rice flour. Repeat with remaining dough. You should be able to get about 6 pierogies out of each quarter of dough. Cover prepared pierogies until ready to cook.
When ready to cook, fill a large Dutch oven about half way full with water. Generously salt the water. Bring water to boil. Drop in the pierogies, one by one, cooking only a few at a time. Boil on medium high heat for a few minutes, until the pierogies float. Remove from water and drain well.
At this point, the pierogies can be eaten, or you can pan sauté them in a little butter mixed with olive oil. Serve with sautéed onions. Makes about 2 dozen pierogies.

More Bacon, Please: Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts – It’s What’s For Dinner

Bacon Wrapped Chicken BreastsReally, I’m not a total bacon nut. Yes, it probably does make most things taste better, but, really, I don’t sprinkle bacon on everything we eat. My family, on the other hand, probably would if I would let them. I guess there’s a show called United States of Bacon (or something like that) that my husband and kids were watching and they saw bacon wrapped chicken thighs and were kind of gaga over them, so here’s my stab at the recipe. Okay, so I only had boneless breasts, so I used those instead of chicken thighs, and I made up a stuffing that I use as my regular go-to stuffing for stuffed mushrooms. I found a gluten free brand of barbeque sauce, so I didn’t need to make my own: Dinosaur BBQ Sauce is gluten free (there are some others, but Dinosaur was the most affordable and the only name brand one there), and I used the honey garlic sauce because I thought it would compliment the sausage stuffing well. This turned out really good. It’s more like a Saturday night recipe, though, because it is a little time consuming. Wrapping the breasts in bacon isn’t the easiest thing to do and it takes a little patience. In terms of cooking, it really is an overall easy recipe. It just takes a little bit of time. I served them with smashed yukon gold potatoes and it was a nice mid-week meal. Hope you give it a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, pounded thin
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 lb. Italian Sausage, casings removed
½ lb. Mushrooms, chopped
1 Shallot, chopped finely
½ Cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
½ Cup Chicken Broth (gluten free)
6 Tbsp. Shredded Dairy Free Cheddar Cheese
18 Slices Thinly Sliced Bacon
¾ Cup Barbeque Sauce (gluten free)

Directions:
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and add the sausage. Break up sausage while cooking. When almost done, add the shallot and cook until translucent. Add in mushrooms and cook for about 5-10 minutes, until mushrooms are thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat. Add in the bread crumbs and chicken broth and stir to combine.
Preheat the oven to 375º.
To stuff the breasts: lay out each breast. Place about 1/3 cup of the stuffing over the breast. Top with 1 tablespoon of cheese. Roll up the breast and wrap with 3 pieces of bacon. Brush with barbeque sauce. Bake in oven for about 45 minutes. Baste again with barbeque sauce about half way through the cooking time. Turn the oven to broil and broil for about 3-5 minutes, until top is slightly caramelized. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings (very generous servings: we each only ate about ½ of a breast).

Dairy Free Cheese (for pizza)

Dairy Free CheeseYes, I know, this is supposed to be a gluten free blog, but for me, dairy free goes hand in hand with gluten free, so ya gotta do what ya gotta do. First, I have to say that I have hated every dairy free cheese that I’ve bought from the store. Ugh. Really nasty. And I’ve tried every one that our store sells and every one that I’ve found at other stores. AND, they’re not cheap. It’s a lot to pay for a plastic/soy tasting nastiness. Okay, I shall step down from my soap box now. I mad a dairy free cheese a couple of times before that I liked. It was a cheddar kind of flavor to it. But, it doesn’t taste that great on pizza It’s tasty in an omelet or on a gluten free quesadilla, but not on pizza. This cheese tasted great on pizza. Okay, so it doesn’t melt that great on pizza. Maybe it would on a grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla, because you can cook it longer, but it still has a very nice taste on the pizza. Plus, it has a very delicate texture, so it doesn’t taste like little shreds of plastic, even though it doesn’t melt like traditional mozzarella. I have to admmit, though, that the ingredients aren’t exactly easy to find. I make a 40 minutes drive to be able to buy the nutritional yeast flakes and agar flakes, but I know that they sell it on amazon.com too. Give it a try. It’s fun to make and tasty. Enjoy!


Ingredients:

1 Cup Raw Cashews
1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tsp. Smoked Sea Salt
2 Tsp. Onion Powder
½ Tsp. Granulated Garlic
1 ½ Cups Water
2 Tbsp. Agar Agar Flakes

Directions:
Cover the cashews in water about 1” over the level of the cashews. Soak the cashews for at least 4 hours, or overnight. I soaked mine for about 5 hours.
Drain cashews well. Add cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, salt, onion powder, and garlic to a food processor bowl. Bring the 1 ½ cups of water to a boil and add the agar agar. Stir while boiling for one minute. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for another 7 minutes, until agar flakes are completely dissolved. Add agar mixture to the food processor with other ingredients and process until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a dish to mold the cheese in. I have a cheese mold that is just the right size, but you can use any container that is about 2 cups. Line the dish with plastic wrap and spray with cooking spray. Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared dish and let sit for about 2 hours until the cheese is set and ready to be used.

Easy Dairy Free / Gluten Free Strawberry Cheesecake

Gluten Free Dairy Free CheesecakeI used to be a milk queen, and not like a Dairy Princess type of queen, but like the type that swigs milk out of the jug. When I was in college and hardly had any money to live on, I would live on cornflakes and milk. Hey – for two bucks I could buy a huge box of cornflakes and a gallon of milk and be a happy camper for a week. I’ve always had a love-love relationship with milk. Therefore, I’ve also loved cheese too. Someone once said that ‘cheese is milk’s leap toward immortality.’ Man, there’s nothing like a really nicely aged piece of cheese. Thankfully, my food budget has increased since college, but alas, now when I could afford a good piece of cheese every so often, my body won’t stand for it any longer. I tend to have joint issues and immune system issues when I drink milk or eat cheese. Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and make some homemade butter to have on my gluten free bread, or I’ll have some real cheese on my gluten free pizza. But generally, I try to stay away from it. So, this brings me to dairy free cheesecake. Last weekend was my son’s birthday and his favorite thing is strawberry cheesecake. Of course, I had to make him a good old-fashioned New York cheesecake, but I felt a little envious of not being able to have some. This recipe is something I put together. I used a 10″ pie pan instead of a springform pan because I only have one springform pan, but it worked out pretty well. I have to admit, this was a really good ‘cheese’cake. It was very creamy. It only had a slight hint of soy taste to it. The texture, though, was really the winner for me. I call it easy because I didn’t do the whole soak raw cashews and make it that way. I was already making one cheesecake, so I was looking for something easy to do and I used tofutti cream cheese. That, and I used already made gluten free graham crackers. It worked out well. And the nice thing about using tofu cream cheese is that you don’t have to worry about baking the cheesecake in a hot water bath (known as a ‘bain-marie’) because it won’t crack. Next time I’ll try the cashew way and see how that works. For now – Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Crust:
8 oz. Pkg. of Gluten Free Graham Crackers
2 oz. Melted Butter Substitute
2 Tbsp. Turbinado Sugar
¼ Tsp. Salt

Filling:
3, 8 oz. Pkgs. Dairy Free Cream Cheese
1 Cup Turbinado Sugar
2 Tbsp. White Rice Flour
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
¼ Cup Coconut Milk
3 Large Eggs
Lemon Zest from 1 lemon

Topping:
(2) 12 oz. Pkgs. Frozen Sliced Strawberries, unsweetened
2 Tbsp. Arrowroot
¼ Cup Turbinado Sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300º.
In a food processor, grind the graham crackers into fine crumbs. Add in the melted butter, sugar, and salt. Combine thoroughly. Press into a 9” spring-form pan, or into a 10” pie plate.
For the filling, combine the cream cheese and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add in the white rice flour, vanilla extract and coconut milk and beat on low until creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time and lemon zest. Mix until smooth and creamy. Pour filling into crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until the top is mostly set and will have a slight golden brown color to it. Cool completely before serving.
While cheesecake is cooling, prepare the filling. In a medium sized saucepan, mix all of the topping ingredients. Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and bubbly. Cool slightly and serve over cheesecake.