Another Health Book Recipe – Gluten Free Mozzarella Sticks

Oven Fried CheesesticksSo I’m in this mode of trying to get the health book done by the end of June and then I’ll be able to get it published. This is another recipe from the book. Actually, this is the gluten free option of the recipe. The original recipe calls for panko bread crumbs and the gluten free option uses bread crumbs made from gluten free bread. My kids loved this recipe. Hope you do to.

Oven Fried Cheese Sticks

8 Light String Cheese Sticks, cut in half
2 Tablespoon Rice Flour
6 Slices White Gluten Free Bread, cut into chunks
½ Cup Egg Substitute
3 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning

Partially freeze mozzarella sticks, for about 15-20 minutes in the freezer. Preheat the oven to 400º. To make the gluten free bread crumbs, put the gluten free bread into a food processor and process until crumbs. Place on a baking sheet and bake in oven until slightly brown and dried, about 5 minutes, and let cool. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the flour into a small plate and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Roll each cheese stick in the flour. Place breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning into a zipper top bag. Pour the egg substitute into a shallow dish. Dip each cheese stick in the egg substitute and then transfer to the breadcrumbs and shake to coat. Coat all the cheese sticks this way. Dip coated cheese stick a second time in the egg and coat again with the bread crumbs. Spritz each cheese stick with cooking spray. Bake in preheated oven 5-6 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Serve with your favorite marinara sauce. Makes 8, 2 stick, servings.


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!

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

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


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.

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms (using gluten free bread crumbs)

Stuffed MushroomsMy husband loves stuffed mushrooms. Well, I do too, but probably not as much as my husband. The standard stuffed mushroom I make has bread crumbs in them. For these, I found some gluten free bread crumbs at our local supermarket. The nature’s food section of the store has their own brand of them so they were much cheaper than the name brand (nearly half the price). I wanted to try them out. Originally, I had bought them to make some breaded mozzarella sticks, but haven’t used them for that yet. I’m not totally sold on using them, though. They seem to be a little too fake for my taste. Don’t get me wrong, there aren’t a bunch of chemicals in them: they’re made of milled corn, evaporated cane juice and sea salt. They look a little strange, though, so I’m not sure they would work for coating something in bread crumbs. I think that next time, I will just use some stale gluten free bread and whir it in a food processor to make crumbs. The bread crumbs themself don’t have a strong taste at all that sticks out in the recipe, so they worked well as a binder. Okay, I have to admit, the mushrooms aren’t the prettiest things, but they are so tasty! The tomatoes add a little acidity and brightness to the filling and the cheese adds a pungency that works well against the sausage. The texture of the mushroms is really nice and meaty. This is a recipe for my health book that I’m writing. They’re about 152 calories each, so you could eat two of them for a meal, or use them as a side dish to pasta. Tonight we had a light chicken parmesan and ate these as a side. I had them instead of pasta: low carbs, low fat, and high flavor. Enjoy!


4 oz. Italian Sausage, casing removed
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
14.5 oz. Italian Style Chopped Tomatoes, drained
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. Grated Parmesan Cheese
⅓ Cup Gluten Free Bread Crumbs (can use regular bread crumbs)
3 Tbsp. Finely Shredded Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese
Salt and Pepper, to taste
6 Portobello Mushroom Caps (about 6” diameter)
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 375º (350º convection bake). Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and sausage. Cook the sausage, breaking up into small crumbles. Remove the stems of the mushrooms. Scoop out the gills of the mushrooms with a spoon and add to skillet with sausage. Add the tomatoes and garlic and sauté until the water cooks out of the mushroom gills. Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add the bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and mix thoroughly. Spray the mushroom caps with cooking spray on both sides. Scoop a generous ⅓ cup of the sausage filling into each cap. Top with ½ tablespoon of shredded mozzarella. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.