Thursday, December 30, 2010

Too many cookies.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Have some cookies!

Last year I went on a quest to make cut-out sugar cookies like my mom makes, only gluten free. I made three different recipes and they all turned out great. I took them with me to the family Christmas gatherings, and everyone ate them.

This year, I decided to try gingerbread cookies. I've never made this the gluten-full way, so I didn't think it would be a big deal. I tried two recipes. Both were okay at best, after picking at them for a couple days, we gave them to the dog. I had pretty much resolved to go without cookies this Christmas due to lack of time and inspiration when I saw this post from Bakers Royale. It looked easy enough and did not require a trip to the grocery, so I decided to give it a whirl.

To make a gluten free version of these cookies, I used King Arthur Flour's all purpose gluten free four mix for the flour and added 2 teaspoons of xanthum gum. I would probably use a 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthum gum next time.

I also reduced the sugar by about 1/2 cup and increased the cinnamon by 1/2 teaspoon. And liberally sprinkled the cookies with cinnamon and sugar before baking.

The resulting cookies were a hit! Super easy, these will surely become a go-to recipe. My gluten-eating family liked them as well.

I've had reasonably good success with converting recipes from gluten-full to gluten-free. To anyone out there who wants to try it, don't be afraid to see what happens. In my experience, you'll almost always end up with something edible, and more often than not it will be delicious, too! A good all-purpose GF flour blend is really important. I've had good luck with rice flour based blends, including King Arthur's. I was very excited to see that King Arthur's GF flour is now available at Kroger! My mom and I have both had good luck with the GF mixes and flours from King Arthur Flour. The bread mix makes the best GF bread that I've ever had... but I will save that for another post.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gluten Free Bakeries

Today a coworker asked me about local bakeries that sell gluten free desserts. Since gluten free dessert is one of my favorite topics, I decided to share my recommendations.


Pistacia Vera

(German Village) If you’re up for a non-traditional b-day dessert, the macaroons are delicious and the Passion Fruit Chambord Truffle is chocolate heaven.

Food for Good Thought
(Clintonville) Has awesome vanilla cupcakes and does full sized cakes as ordered. And you’re supporting a really great business (they train and employ people with autism).

Whole Foods
The gluten free cupcakes from Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakery (found in the Whole Foods GF freezer section) are the closest thing to “birthday” cake that I’ve had. I ate a lot of them for my birthday. J

Holiday Baking Company
(Worthington) Some of their stuff is really good, some is just okay. I love their carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, but was disappointed with their chocolate cupcakes. I’d ask to taste a sample of whatever you order before you order it.

Organic Bliss
(Toledo, but they ship) The best chocolate cupcakes ever (they taste like fudge rounds) and the best pumpkin roll I’ve ever had. The only thing I’ve had here that I didn’t like was the scones.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I have a husband who cooks. Not just frying a hamburger or grilling a steak cooking... painstaking, spend all afternoon in the kitchen, make a huge mess, totally worth it cooking... with sauce.

The picture of above is of the crab stuffed chicken, mashed potatoes, and sugar snap peas he made for me one day this summer. The sauce was delicious concoction of butter, cheese, and paprika. He found the recipes and did the conversions to gluten-free, just for me.

And the best part... (besides the food, of course) He even does the dishes!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

mmmm..... pie.

I love pie. I love all kinds of pie, though I strongly favor fruit pies. I would take any fruit pie over a cream pie any day... though maybe not my grandma's butterscotch pie... but I digress.

Gluten free pie crust is a pain in the arse. It is fragile and as a very narrow temperature window of workability. There are mixes that make it easier, the Gluten Free Pantry Pie Crust mix is delicious and fairly easy as far as GF pie crust goes. 

Fortunately, my mom had done the hard part and gave me a frozen single shell crust over the summer. All summer long I've been waiting for the perfect opportunity to make a pie. I wanted to wait until we had someone to share the pie with... I have zero will power when it comes to pie. 

This morning I woke up to a brisk pre-fall chill in the air. Perfect for baking. I had apples, one pie crust, pecans, and oatmeal. and so I bring to you: Apple Crisp Pie. 

Here it is just before it went into the oven. It baked up beautifully, but not as bubbly as I would have expected. Maybe next time I'll add a touch of liquid to the filling or a touch more butter to the topping.

I adapted the recipe from several that I found online. I always use less sugar than a recipe calls for, and I like to use more spices (great taste without the sugar). My review on the taste isn't terribly reliable, I got a stomach bug soon after eating my first piece... but Ben did a solid job on the pie, eating at least 3 pieces, which for him is a lot. He's really picky about desserts, so I'll take it that this one was a success. 

Here's my recipe:

Pie Crust (I used one prepared and frosen crust from a Gluten Free Pantry mix.)

Pie Filling
6ish apples (4 Granny Smiths and 2 giant Ginger Golds)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 heaping tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
sprinke of allspice
1/4 c light brown sugar
1/4 c dark brown sugar
3 T tapioca starch

1/2 c gluten free oats (if tolerated)
1/2 c finely chopped pecans
1/4 c sweet rice flour
1/4 c butter (room temperature)
1/4 c dark brown sugar

Bake for about an hour at 375 degrees. Cover edges with foil if they start to get too brown. Apples should be tender, and crust should be golden brown.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cornbread and jam (I don't make the jam)

Ben: What'cha making?
Abbie: Cornbread.
Ben: You mean you're making a vehicle to eat your mom's strawberry jam.
Abbie: Yes.

I have always loved cornbread. Before going gluten free I always had a box of the Jiffy Cornbread Mix in my cupboard. I didn't know how easy and cheap it would be to make from scratch. Until I found this recipe at Gluten Free on a Shoestring (GFOAS). It is the epitome of cheap, easy baking.

This recipe has become a standard in my rotation. It has a coarse but tender crumb, has slightly crispy edges, and works in a square pan or as muffins. I often make muffins, reducing the cook time by 5 minutes or so. They are easy to transport and it's a little easier to have just 1 (or 2) muffins. I can cruise through a square pan in a couple of days. 

GFOAS offers some options in the recipe, and I've tried nearly all of them. My preferred variation is to use butter, plain yogurt (low or nonfat works fine), and honey. I like my cornbread a little less sweet (so I can load it up with homemade jam) so I only use 2-3T honey. 

I'm sure this cornbread would be delicious for stuffing at Thanskgiving, or with beans and rice this winter. But as long as my mom keeps making jam, I'll keep eating it on my cornbread.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gluten Free at the Ohio State Fair

This weekend I went to the State Fair. Not only did I GO to the fair I ATE at the fair. AND I didn't get sick! I consider this a major triumph. I am going back to the fair this week and can now look forward to a few tasty treats.

Here's what I ate and where:

Pig Wings from the Ohio Pork Association. They were grilled and came with BBQ on the side. The BBQ has the ingredients listed on the bottle and the workers assured me that the sauce in the bottle was the sauce that came in the bottle. There was probably some risk of cross contamination because that vendor also sold sandwiches, but it was a big stand and the pig wings looked like they were pretty well separated from the sandwich area.

Ice Cream (Strawberry and Chocolate) from the Dairy building. I ate this while marveling at the butter cow!

German Roasted Almonds from a cart that sold only roasted nuts. The nuts were coated in cinnamon and sugar, no other ingredients. I am definitely going back for more of these. 

Lemon Shake Up from a cart that only sold these. This was okay, but had so much sugar that I had to chew several of the first sips.

I probably could have had corn on the cob, Brats from Schmidts sans buns, and kettle corn pending investigation at each vendor. 

I stayed away from fried food and small carts selling anything with gluten. I figured the chance for cross contamination was probably exponentially greater the smaller the work space in the "kitchen." Also, my dad has always been a stickler for getting as much of one's fair food from the "Associations" and farmers groups as opposed to the little trailers that populate the midway. This rule has stuck and probably aided in helping me select quality food from people who know about the food they are serving. I was fortunate in finding people who were not offended by my asking questions about ingredients and who were very helpful.

This successful experience has helped me feel less anxious about being in new places where I'm likely to have difficulty finding food that I can eat. However, I am reminding myself that vigilance is key to my continued success. It's when I let my guard down that I get glutened. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I love July.

I love July. It has become my favorite month. I love lots of things about July, but some of the things I love most are: my anniversary, heat and sunshine, and veggies.

Tonight, I made this. I don't know what to call it, except delicious. Grilled corn on the cob, basted with olive oil while it cooked. Quinoa flat bread (grilled) topped with grilled green and yellow zucchini topped with a 3 tomato salad. All fresh, mostly local, all good. No gluten required.

I've been making the flat bread more often than sandwich bread this month. I haven't wanted to devote an evening to bread making and this flatbread is fast, easy, and tastes pretty good. It's not the best thing I've ever eaten and I'm still experimenting with how to make it as good as it can be. Grilling it was a nice touch and the nutty flavor of the quinoa was a great contrast to the veggies. I'll post the recipe when I get it more consistent.

The 3 tomato salad is a celebration of my flower beds. Instead of flowers, most of my flower beds are full of herbs, tomatoes, and a couple of pepper plants. I picked two types of tomatoes from my own plants, and had grape tomatoes from the farmer's market. I cut them into small pieces, added some peeled, diced cucumber, and cubed Monterey cheese from the farmer's market. Tossed all that in some EVOO with salt, pepper, and shredded freshly picked basil leaves. I let it all sit while I grilled everything else and YUM. I'll be making that again. Really, it's taking a lot of will power not to eat the rest of it before Ben gets a chance to try it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


The title of this post says it all. It's the word that can bring a newly diagnosed Celiac to her knees. The word I cried over at mealtimes those first few months. Bread.

Now I've never been huge into sandwiches. I did the low-carb thing for a summer. I know that bread isn't really even that "good" for you. But nothing can compare to that fresh out of the oven buttery goodness of homemade bread with some of my mom's elderberry jelly. or a BLT. It's BLT season and it's just not the same without some toasty bread.

So, as most GF-ers do, I began my quest for bread. I found a bakery in Toledo, Ohio that sells delicious GF bread... and they ship, too! It's pricey, but a worthy treat. And good bread for me has always been a treat. I'm not a Wonderbread kind of girl.

Still, there was something about not being able to bake by own bread (from scratch, no mixes) that bothered me. My mom is famous for making bread. She and my aunts make wonderful rolls and breads for holidays and family gatherings. So, I tried to make my own. Many were abysmal failures. One the dog wouldn't even eat.

For my birthday I asked for a King Arthur Flour GF bread pan and some flour. I was ready to try again. That same time a friend posted her latest grain free recipe on Facebook. That settled it. I came home from work that Friday night and set my attention to making bread.

The First Loaf.

Using my King Arthur GF Flour, bread pan and their recipe, I made my first batch of respectable gluten free bread. Not quite as light and airy as the pictures on their web site, but delicous and buttery. So good my husband ate a grilled cheese sandwich out of it and hugged me.

The Second Loaf.

The second loaf was totally different in ingredients and techinque. The dough was much less manageable. In fact, after the dough engulfed my hand mixer, I had to finish by hand. The resulting loaf was edible. The flavor was good, but the texture was dense and the loaf misshapen. I am confident that if I had used a stand mixer it would have been better. I also ground my own bean four for the recipe and using purchased bean flour might have helped, too. But, I was feeling ambitious and had read that white bean flour ground fresh in your coffee grinder is more delicious than chickpea flour you buy in the store. I am not a fan of the chickpea flour. I am one of those people who notices the "beany" taste in bean flour recipes. But, the bread did not have that taste, so maybe grinding my own beans helped... I won't know till I try it again. But I won't be trying this recipe again until I get a stand mixer.

The Moral of The Story. (or) Abbie Needs A Stand Mixer.

I am pretty confident that for gluten free bread baking, a stand mixer is a big help. But, if all you have is a hand mixer, you can still get a good loaf of bread. It's worth the trial and error when you have that first grilled cheese, or BLT, or almond butter and jelly...

If you have any suggestions for gluten free bread recipes, tips, or tricks (or stories of comedic failure) please share them in the comments section!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

White Wine Cream Sauce

We went to The Refectory for our anniversary dinner. If you've been to The Refectory, you know that it was amazing in every way. If you haven't, put it on your list of places to eat. If you don't live in Columbus: Come here. Eat there.

The gluten free menu was almost as robust as the regular menu, and just as impressive. I had scallop pomponnette (a light and creamy scallop mousse in white wine cream sauce with leeks and tomatoes). That was followed by mussel soup. Now, I had thought for the past two years the the fennel soup at Handke's was the best soup imaginable. I was wrong. The mussel soup at The Refectory is a perfect blend of complex and simple, light and rich, and all that is good about life. Do I have to mention that it had a white wine cream base? For my main course, I had sauteed lake walleye. I'd never had walleye, and was pleasantly surprised with how light it was. The sauteed leeks, jasmine rice and white wine, butter, red pepper and sundried tomato cream sauce was divine. Finish that up with creme brulee, espresso, and a sample of the most amazing dessert wine and I was a a happy, happy lady. Ben had pretty much the same thing, except he had the rack of lamb. It looked fantastic, but had a bit of flour in the sauce, so I didn't try it. He raved about it, though.

The service, the atmosphere, the food: everything was perfect.

And the VERY BEST PART was that I got to share it all with Ben. I'm a happy, lucky lady.

Monday, February 15, 2010

ANOTHER winter storm system is moving through central Ohio today... so, what's a girl to do? I spent the weekend cooking and baking, so I'm not so motivated to be in the kitchen. I will however share a couple of recipes that were successful over the weekend while remaining on the couch with my blanket and season 3 of 30 Rock. Yes, this girl knows how to use a day off!

The first is my gluten free Italian meatballs. I found out that these are also in the top five things that my husband likes me to make. I serve these with brown rice pasta (Trader Joes is my fave) and a Puttanesca and marinara sauce blend. Super easy, delicious, and not too unhealthy. I came up with the recipe by melding a bunch of recipes I found online.

1 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
1 onion diced small
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp red pepper flake
1/2-1 c gluten free bread crumbs
1-2 eggs (add one, if the mix is too crumbly, add the 2nd)

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Use your hands; it's messy, but the best way to get everything combined.

Roll into golf-ball-sized balls and place on baking sheets and bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. This recipe makes about 32 balls.

This next recipe is a new staple for our house. delicious as breakfast, snack, or even dessert! It was also a recipe that I converted all by myself. The original is from the Joy of Baking website.


1 c canned pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1/2 c plain yogurt
1/2 c oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c all purpose flour mix (I used Bob's Red Mill)
3/4 c rice bran (I use Ener-G)
3/4 c granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1tsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 c raisins

Mix the pumpkin, eggs, yogurt, oil, and vanilla with a wisk in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, mix the four, bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, all spice, and salt.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mix until just combined.
Stir in the raisins.

Spoon into muffin tins. Makes 12 muffins.

Bake at 400 degrees, for 18-20 minutes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So, I've been a really bad blogger... I'd promise to do better, but really, we know how that usually goes. But for now, here's a new post!

I've noticed a trend in gluten free eating for which I am grateful. Frugal gluten-free food. Everyone who goes gluten free notices the dramatic increase in their grocery bill. Especially if they buy gluten free versions of the foods they ate before ($3.00 for GF mac and cheese in a box?!?!). If you are willing to eat a lot of rice and beans and cook your meals from scratch, it's easier to keep the grocery bill down. That's been my method. But a lot of times I feel like I have had to choose between convenience and cost, and nutrition and taste. Most times I need a delicious dinner that will not take all night to fix and that will reheat for lunches the next day that will not cost an arm and a leg. Not much to ask, right?

This recipe has made it into the "Top 5 Recipes that My Husband Likes Me to Cook". At least that's what he said last night. Sadly, I have no idea what the other 4 are! Hopefully he will clue me in soon! It's super easy, costs around $20 to make and will feed the two of us for 1 night and 3 days of lunches.

Mexican Lasagna

Corn tortillas (about 6 of them)
Salsa (1 medium jar)
Refried beans (1 can)
Sour cream (big container)
shredded cheddar cheese (about a pound)
onion (1 medium, chopped)
chicken (about a pound, cut into small pieces)
"taco" seasoning (I use a mix of cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, and cilantro)

Cook the chicken, onion, and seasoning in a large skillet. Just before it's finished add 1/4 c water to the pan to make sure it is good and moist.

While the chicken is cooling, lightly oil a 9x11 casserole dish.
Place a layer of corn tortillas in the bottom of the dish.
Spread refried beans on the tortillas.
Add a layer of the chicken (about 1/2 of it), and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese.
Add a layer of sour cream, followed by salsa (the layers get kinda messy, but it's all good!).
Start with another layer of tortillas and repeat. Be sure to save some shredded cheese for a final layer on the top.

Variations: if you wanted to cut costs further or go veggie, skip the chicken layer or substitute some black beans or grilled veggies.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

my old/new favorite!

So my old favorite restaurant is my new favorite restaurant! I hadn't eaten at McCormick and Schmidts since going gluten free because I was so afraid that I wouldn't be able to eat there. I am so glad to know that I was wrong. The manager on duty was a fellow Celiac, and had done a lot to educate the staff. The food, the service, the atmosphere, everything was lovely and perfect. It was a truly wonderful Christmas date.