Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mac n Cheese!

This has been on the recipe pad in the back of my mind for a while now. Can you believe I have yet to make mac and cheese (that does not come from a box)?

So when ginger lemon girl posted this super easy recipe with an ammendment for a cheese sauce, I decided: it's time.

Two bowls and less than 20 minutes later [start to finish you guys], I have a happy tummy. I added 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, but I think I will add 1 1/2 to 2 cups next time.

I also sprinkle in a bit of ground mustard, lots of pepper and a small pinch of garlic powder.

When I reheat the leftovers I'm going to throw in some tuna. I don't know why but I love tuna mixed with mac and cheese.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I feel crummy. Tired. Puffy.

I was happily munching on my Sonic M&M blast today when I suddenly tasted cinnamon. As in the cinnamon ice cream blast, which I'm pretty sure is not GF. Joy!

And I doubt my feeling crummy has anything to do with it, since I don't normally have big reactions and it was a small random piece, but still. I'm sure it didn't help.

My mom made beef stew that was AWESOME and she made sure to use my GF flour mix in it instead of regular flour. It was super nice to get home from annoying traffic and have a hot meal ready for me to savor. Okay, gobble down.

I am wondering if there's something to this "no refined carbs" kick that I see some bloggers embarking on. <-- preposition at the end of a sentence! It would be nice to not be puffy. Alas, I have no ambition for that today and I'm still having a hard time eating a balanced diet after cutting gluten. One thing at a time.

Oh-- apples are my go-to food that I always have on me, and I'm so happy that it's fall and they're starting to get crisper and sweeter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oatmeal Applesauce Flax Muffins

^Say that three times fast.

Ahh, procrastination at its finest.

I don't know what made this idea pop into my head, but I couldn't study until I made these muffins. That is why we have freshly baked muffins at near midnight on a Tuesday night.

gluten free oatmeal applesauce flax muffins
They're kinda brown and boring-looking. But I like them.

They are healthy and breakfasty. Lots of depth and texture, just a hint of sweetness, and not dense at all, like some muffins I've made. I'm proud of myself. These are even better when warm smeared with butter.

To make these you will need:

1/2 c. flaxseed meal
1/2 c. GF oats
1 c. GF flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 t. cinnamon
1 c. milk
1/2 c. applesauce
1 egg

Line a muffin tin with liners, or grease a muffin tin. Preheat the oven to 350.

Warm the milk a little (not hot, just barely warm) and mix it with the oatmeal. Let this sit for 30 minutes or so to soften the oats.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Beat the egg slightly in a different bowl. Mix in the applesauce and oatmeal/ milk combo.

Mix the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients with a spoon.

Use an ice-cream-scoop amount of batter for each muffin. It will make just enough for 12 muffins.

Bake them for 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let them cool for a minute before you try to eat them.

Horray for muffins! (And portable school snacks!)

Oh- and just for my sister Suzy, who came in, saw I was making muffins, and insisted I watch this:

Odd, yes, but I can see why it cracks her up. "mufffinnssssss!!!"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gluten Trials

My sister is trying to go a week without gluten to see what it's like.

Read here for day one: GF Trials: Day One
Read here for day two: GF Trials: Day Two
Read here for day three: GF Trials: Day Three
skip a few days...
and the last day: GF Trials

I love her!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Italian Pasta Soup

I made a soup in Home Ec when I was in 7th grade that was so good I made it for my family. They gobbled it up and asked for seconds. I thought of the soup yesterday when I was in my "soup mode" and dug through the house looking for it. It seems like we've kept everything else in the world BUT that recipe. That means it's time to throw stuff in a pot until it seems familiar.

I chopped and sauteed in some olive oil: 3 stalks celery and 1/2 an onion.

Then I threw in 1 1/2 lb of lean ground beef and cooked that up until it was brown. I shook on some spices at random will, heavier on coriander and cumin because that's what I like. Italian season blend, some garlic powder, mustard powder, parsley, you name it and I threw it in there, haha.

I added:

1 15 oz can kidney beans
1 15 oz can black beans
1 16 oz can tomato sauce
1 can-ful of water
1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

I let that simmer and stirred occasionally for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, I put on a pot of noodles to boil. I used brown rice shells, appx 8 oz. I drained those and stirred them in the soup.

My mom came in to taste, and she's been back through a couple of times to taste some more, saying, "I need another bite." Ha ha, that's the best compliment there is!

*note: I don't like my soups to be "brothy" so it's hearty. Add more water or chicken/beef/ veg broth to taste.

gluten free italian pasta soup

Saturday, September 20, 2008

pretty bagels, lack of inspiration

First thing's first. I made something pretty!

I've been eating bagels w/ cream cheese & strawberry jam for breakfast lately, and a $7 4-pack of gf bagels from the store were getting pricey. So, I whipped up a batch to freeze. And I actually waited until they rose properly. And they came out pretty! Look:

In other news, I've been wanting to cook something neat, because I haven't updated the blog here for a while. But nothing's really striking my fancy. The ole appetite is minimal for whatever reasons it has.

That, and I had to throw out 90% of my food when the power went out, so the ingredients are ultra-low. But you know what that also means? A clean grocery-shopping slate! And I do love grocery shopping.

The weather here has given us a break, with a cool front right after the hurricane that lasted for a few days. Now it's warming back up and I'm longing for the cool-weather stews and soups. But who wants hot soup on a 90-degree day?

Maybe I'll crank down the AC and pretend it's cold outside. I'm thinking minestrone soup.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

hurricane food

Right before the hurricane, mom stocked up on stuff to eat, and wondered, "Will Jen have enough to eat?"

Well, I managed. The thing that saved my life was those packages of veggies or rice with chicken that are meant to be steamed in the microwave. Turns out, you can cook them in about 5 minutes on the stovetop. While everyone else was eating ramen noodles, I had a hot, veggie-ful meal. One night I heated up some chicken & rice soup, which was especially nice because I had a sore throat.

What else did I eat? I snacked on dried cranberries and slices of cheese. I discovered that bagels are toastable on the gas range. We scrambled eggs and sausage that had thawed in the freezer and rolled them up in corn tortillas. We grilled the rest of the meat that had to be eaten.

When we got bored, Chris and I went to Sam's and I found a huge barrel of cheese balls that said on the side, "this is a gluten free food." I brought those home and they were actually a big hit.

One night I headed over to Missy's and they had a "non-perishable mexican feast" which consisted of velveeta cheese dip with those rotel tomatoes, canned refried beans, and tortilla chips. I had a happy tummy that night.

Of course, if we did not have a gas stovetop it would have been a different story. I guess you can boil water with that sterno stuff.

But, contary to mom's fears, I did not starve during the hurricane, haha.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

it's still HOT here

I like how I'm starting to read about how it's turning into cooler, fall weather and people are making soups, chowders, and stews.

While here in Houston I'm sweating like crazy walking from class to class hoping my deoderant holds out, for the sake of the person who has to sit next to me.

Then I get home, defrost a bagel (best toasted), smear it with cream cheese and strawberry jam, and contemplate what to eat for real dinner. Using the oven does not appeal and there is a serious lack of ingredients in this place. Bean & cheese burritos are lookin' reallll good right about now. (btw, beans and corn [or rice] paired together supply all the amino acids our bodies do not produce. Not a complete protein, but good for you. This is good news for bean & cheese burritos.)

Meh, we'll see what I come up with.

Oh oh OH. Did you SEE when you clicked on the link above for bagels that they're coming out with graham crackers? And did you get as excited as I did? I thought so.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Natasha's Health Nut Cookies

I heard of these cookies through Gluten Free Food Reviews. They looked good and the cranberry one caught my eye, so I said what the hey and ordered some.

They come in three types: raisin amaretto, cranberry orange and vanilla chocolate chip. I got two boxes (6 cookies ea) of the cranberry orange and one of the vanilla chocolate chip. (FYI a minimum order is 3 boxes and it's about 20 bucks.) Not bad.

I was happy that I got a personal email from the company when my order shipped, and when I replied to the question "Where did you hear of us?" I got a reply back. Friendly vibes, yes. And they packed it in pretty gold paper.

So. The cookies.

In my opinion these are less like cookies and more like a cross between a muffin and a granola bar. The texture is not smooth, but rougher. It's much more substantial; heavier than a cookie. It's like a stick-to-your-ribs cookie. A wholesome cookie. A cookie on steroids, minus the unpleasant side effects.

<--See what I mean about texture? This is the cranberry orange.

I kept them refrigerated, and I have to be honest I wasn't crazy about the first one I tried. The texture did throw me off.

Still, I stuck them in my lunch and ate one at work when I got the pangs of hunger one afternoon. Wouldn't you know that it kept me over until dinner time? How many cookies do you know of that can do that?

In more detail, the cranberry orange one has larger pieces of cranberry in it, which I love just because I love cranberry. I didn't taste much orange right up front, but the entire melding of flavors was quite good. They are not extremely sweet. Even though I have a sweet tooth the size of Alaska, I thought the taste was great the way it was. If they were sweeter it would take away from the whole effect of the cookie.

^cranberry orange

The vanilla chocolate chip, I expected to be just like a chocolate chip cookie, with a fancier name. Nope, these are vanilla chocolate chip, just like it says. You can really taste that it's a vanilla cookie with small pieces of chocolate in it. The chocolate pieces are satisfying when you're chewing. They add a little texture of their own to the already... textur-y cookie. I agree with the GF Food Reviews that these are a little sweeter. This one tastes more like a treat while the other one gave me more of a "snack" vibe.

<-- vanilla chocolate chip

So, there you have it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Peanut Butter Cookies... Experiment!

It all started when I decided to send some peanut butter cookies to my little brother who is at Mississippi State. When contemplating the best way to mail them, I decided that the recipe I usually make are just too crumbly to make the trip.

That's when the research started. I knew I'd probably have to add flour to help keep them together, and the recipe I found over and over was the one I'll post in a bit. But first more talking.

While I was doing research, I saw that most of the recipes called for chilling the dough for at least an hour. The general consensus was that, if the dough is at room temperature before baking, the dough will spread more, resulting in a crispier, flatter cookie. On the other hand, if it was chilled, the cold dough would prevent the middle from cooking as fast as the outer layer. This would result in a cookie that would spread less and be more chewy.

I decided to see if that was true.

The recipe:

1/2 c. butter, room temp
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 c. flour*
3/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt

*the recipe I saw online called for 1 1/4 c. flour, but I thought the dough was good enough after adding in 1 c. I didn't know how the flour mix would work and didn't want the cookies to taste "gluten free." So, I figured less was okay, and it was.

First I creamed the first 4 ingredients and then added the egg. I mixed the dry ingredients together and added them to the dough.

I split the dough in half and refrigerated one half for 1.5 hours.

Each batch went into a 375 oven for about 8 minutes. Each cookie was the same size blob of dough before it came out.

The Results:

I was skeptical, but sure enough. The cookies that were not chilled were much crispier and the ones allowed to chill were much chewier.

Both cookies spread out, but that may have been due to the fork-mark process. It kinda mashes them down. Even so, it does not flatten them completely and the chilled ones were not any thicker than the room-temperature ones.

I do wonder if I had added all the flour, if it would have provided more structure and more opportunity for the chilled cookies to stay thicker. The flour mix did not affect the taste of the cookies. They were not as rich as the previous recipe but still very very good. I don't think the addition of the 1/4 c. flour would alter the taste much. *hmmm* I guess I will try that next time.

Yet another question in my head is the issue of creaming the butter and sugar. Over at Gluten Free [Cooking School] they had their own experiment that yielded very different results depending on the creaming technique. And Gluten-Free Girl also recommends just barely creaming the butter and sugar (comment at the very bottom of the post). I've come across this issue a few times.

So I guess I'll have to perform another experiment and cover all the variables. I hypothesize that if I barely cream the butter and sugar, and chill the dough, the cookies will both spread less and be chewier.

We shall see! Right now I'm kinda burnt out on peanut butter cookies as I ate about 6 last night. And 2 for breakfast. :o)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Product Review: Enjoy Life Brownie Cookies

As with a lot of the new things I try, this was one of those "I'm shopping hungry and this looks good" buys.

They come in nuggets that are fatter than a cookie, the kind of size that makes it sooo easy to shove them in your mouth one after another.

The nuggets are pretty chocolatey, and the texture is good although slightly crumbly. I love that there are mini chocolate chips scattered inside the cookie.

The thing is, though, as I was eating them I detected a taste that I couldn't quite pinpoint. It wasn't chocolate, and it slightly competed with the chocolate taste.

Then I read the ingredients and I figured it out. Second and third on the list of ingredients were fruit juices and date paste. I suppose they keep the cookies moist and less crumbly, but you could definitely taste it.

And I don't know about you, but I don't like the taste of fruit to compete with chocolate in my chocolate brownies. It's subtle, but it's there.

Overall, if the taste of the dates don't bother you, these are not bad. However I think I'll be sticking to homemade versions.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Help- cleaning tips?

Real quick because I have to get back to writing a pre-lab.

I put some really garlic-y tomato sauce in a plastic container and even though I've washed it, it still smells. Any suggestions on how to get it out? I really don't want to throw it away because it has sentimental value (I know, odd).

Help is appreciated!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Granola Bars

I haven't cooked in a while. School this past week was in-my-face and busy.

The hardest thing about school starting is the sudden loss of an available kitchen during the day. I can't just make something for lunch anymore. I have to make sure and pack enough food so that I'm not starving in the middle of my last class. Lots of planning goes into lunch. [Future blog coming about that.]

In an effort to mix things up a bit, I made granola bars... ones that actually stick together! Don't be fooled by the picture. They were still a little warm because I didn't want to wait to eat them.

gluten free granola barsIt's Alton Brown's recipe, but I substituted flax seed meal for the wheat germ, which we all know is evil.

Granola Bars

1 c. oats
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1 c. almonds
1/2 c. flax seed meal
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 oz butter (I figured this to be 2T)
2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. kosher salt
6 1/2 oz dried fruit (I used cranberries. I love those things.)

Preheat the oven to 350. Toast the oats, sunflower seeds, nuts and flax for 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while. When it's done toasting, turn the heat to 300.

While that's happening, heat the honey, brown sugar, butter, vanilla and salt over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Mix the toasted stuff with the honey mixture and stir in the fruit. Press it into a buttered 9x9 pan and bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes.

Let them cool and cut into bars.


These are awesome at curbing that "wasting away- gotta eat now!" hunger that strikes when you least expect it. I ate a bar when I felt the beginning pangs before a lab, and I was good for a few hours. Awesome!