Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gluten Free Cookbook Review

Howdy Y'all! It has certainly been a while since I have posted. Mainly because of my focus to run the Chicago Marathon. With that out of the way and actually surviving I can now focus on more important things. Like food. Did I mention totally awesome and incredible food? To be more specific. Bread. Lots and lots of bread. Now, I was lucky enough to be contacted to do a review on a recently published gluten free bread recipe book Gluten Free Bread more than 100 Artisan Loaves for a Healthier Life by Ellen Brown. Here is what is so exciting....over 100 DIFFERENT and might I add very unique and delicious bread recipes. This is not your dry, crumbly, might work better as a coaster gluten free bread recipes that us Celiacs and anti-glutites have come to know all too well. This book has many varieties and Artisan breads that we normally have to go without.

What caught my attention when I first was the author's preface...Bread is the staff of life. It is the essential food. The first petition in the Lord's Prayer "Give us this day, our daily bread." It's not "give us this day our daily banana smoothie." I had to chuckle at that last sentence lol! For people like me who has relatively given up bread and having the experience of enjoying a fresh out of the oven warm slice of bread and butter, this book is truly a blessing. Yes, we can buy a frozen brick, and might I add SMALL, of gluten free bread at most grocery stores, but honestly....why would we want to pay nearly $8 for bread that is full of refined starches and made months previously? In my book, that's just silly. So, I normally just go without, which I know many of us do. Now, it's not to say I haven't tried my hand at TRYING to make gluten free bread at home. Lets just say.....It has not been one of my crowning achievements lol! There are some really great things that I love about this book. First off, each bread recipe has healthy whole grain and protein packed bean flours which not only add amazing taste, but GREAT nutrition. Next (and honestly, this is my favorite part), each recipe has it's own particular blend of flours. I completely agree with the creator of this cook book that there is NO magical blend of gluten free flours. For each loaf to turn out amazing and and JUST like it's gluten filled counterpart, there needs to be a specific ratio of particular flours. What also is exciting is for EACH recipe, the author has included two types of measurement per ingredient of each recipe. Because of the dynamics of gluten free cooking, sometimes using the standard cup/spoon measurements will not lend an optimal outcome, SO she has included the weight to use for each ingredient along with the standard cup/spoon measurement. Now, honestly, I took the lazy man's way and just used my cups and spoons for each recipe I tried. BUT, I have been leaning toward using weight measurements in my gluten free baking as I know it provides more exact amounts required. As grateful as I am for the two sets of measurements I can only imagine the work this woman went into to create each recipe. Way to go Ellen!!

Now, I tried my hand and three of the recipes. All of which turned out fabulously. Well, aside from the white sandwich bread (which was due to MY fault at letting it rise in too warm of a location. I will be giving the sandwich bread a second attempt and am very excited to see the results. Now, that being said, the flavor and texture was amazing on this bread and I can't wait to dig into a big ol' cold cut sandwich using my very own homemade bread.

The first recipe I whipped up was obviously the White Sandwich Bread. Now, like I said, the end result of the loaf really had nothing to do with the recipe itself. It had more to do with my house being FREEZING cold and me letting it rise in my oven which I had warmed up. Unfortunately it was too warm and my dough rose a bit TOO much and proceeded to overflow a bit like molten lava out of a volcano haha! Still, the end result was very delicious, it just lacked the "pretty factor" so no picture was taken.

Recipe #2 I tried out is the Multiseed Bread. Holy heck on fire. This one was fabulous! I have really missed a good hearty whole grain bread filled to the brim with seeds and grains. My family loves Dave's Killer bread which to me looks and smells AMAZING. Boy, there have been times I have considered taking a big ol' bite out of one of those pieces, but the end result has obviously kept those cravings at bay. Well, not anymore. This bread was so fun to make and SO easy! What I really appreciated is the author's use of ground up chia seeds as the binding agent in the bread. So not only do we not need xanthun gum which lends absolutely NO nutritional value, but we now have a binder AND all the nutritional punch that chia seeds offer. Yet another thumbs up for Ellen Brown :) This loaf is also a quick bread and no yeast or time to rise was needed.

  Recipe #3 is the Beer Bread recipe. I myself have never tried beer bread. However, I have two dear friends that are always raving about tasty warm freshly baked beer bread. So, I was very excited when I saw a gluten free beer bread version in this book. Let me tell you. Beer Bread IS rave worthy :) I made a fresh loaf to go with a spicy batch of chili and Oh MY Goodness. Perfect combination.

And here we have all my lovely leftover beer bread drying to be used for Thanksgiving's gluten free stuffing. Yet another wonderful suggestion from the author (since there is just no way I could eat that entire loaf)

In closing....I love this book. I really do. Now, I have in NO way been paid or coached to add a positive review on this book. All opinions expressed are my own. This book is wonderful and I enjoyed trying new recipes and look forward to trying more. Plus.....let me tell you, there is a downright GENIUS bagel recipe in here that I will be sharing in the future. Thanks as always for reading my blog and I look forward to sharing more healthy and tasty gluten free recipes with you all.

Jill ~The Pink Cowgirl~

Friday, August 9, 2013

Oven Roasted Summer Vegetables

Oven Roasted Summer Vegetables

Ok, so this is another loose recipe. Basically, it's whatever you have surplus from your garden or refrigerator. For me, it's bell peppers, eggplant, and summer squash (namely crookneck and zucchini). Plus, this wonderful side is so darned easy and can be put together in a jiffy.

So here it is.

Preheat your oven to 400. Then you will want a total of 7 cups of chopped vegetables and 1/4 cup olive oil. I used 1 onion, eggplant, zucchini, crookneck squash, and 1 large red bell pepper. Toss all together in a large bowl then add salt and pepper tossing a bit more. Pour into a casserole dish, cover, and bake for 30-40 minutes until vegetables are cooked and slightly browned on the edges.

Soooooooo ya, that's it. You can pretty much use any vegetable, just cover with oil, salt, and pepper then roast in your oven. As my wonderful friend Sharla once said, sometimes the simplest of ingredients makes for the most delicious of dishes :)

Happy cooking everyone!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

All about gluten free

As I get asked quite frequently about getting started going gluten free and since May is officially the gluten free month, I decided to write up a quick reference guide/post thingy that hopefully will help answer any questions you might have about eating and cooking gluten free. I will most likely be updating this blog quite frequently as I get new information or find new tools on the web.

To start.....going gluten free is actually very easy. Cut out the processed foods and go back to whole foods. Namely, meats, vegetables, fruits, eggs, milk, nuts, and gluten free grains. Most of gluten will lie in processed foods like bread, cookies, crackers, sauces, frozen dinners, boxed meals (hamburger helper anyone?). So if you are nervous about completely changing your eating lifestyle or are so confused with gluten free and it's flour blends, weird grains, xanthan gum, ect.....take a deep breath and realize, that you can still eat and eat well just by shopping around the EDGES of the grocery store. Seriously, that is where you will find the food that is NATURALLY gluten free. It's the isles of the store where most of the food containing gluten lies.

Now that you have an idea of where to start.....lets talk about food ingredients that are taboo. That will help you on your way to learning to read labels and knowing exactly what you are putting into your body. Prepare to become a label reading Nazi. Basically, to avoid gluten you will need to cut out wheat, barley, and rye. is the thing about oats. Oats are NATURALLY gluten free, BUT are cross contaminated VERY easily. They can even pick up gluten from the fields they are grown in. So unless the package states Certified Gluten free, do not consume. Here is a wonderful link that lists everything to steer clear from:Unsafe Foods List. It's a wonderful quick reference to all ingredients that would contain gluten. If you have a smart phone, put it as one of your favorites so you can reference it quickly while on the go. Now, my blog is a gluten free AND corn free blog as I am intolerant to corn and it affects me much as gluten does. The good news is, corn IS gluten free AND is very versatile. So by all means, enjoy your nachos, corn tortillas, polenta, and good ol corn on the cob :)

Next is how and where to eat out. Most restaurants are wanting to capitalize on the "gluten free movement" so you will be able to find many places will offer choices that he can eat. There is a great app you can get called FindMeGlutenFree. It searches using the gps location function on your phone to search for all fast food joints and restaurants that offer gluten free options or a gluten free menu. It also has user's comments which is great because some places that state that they offer gluten free, may either have a pitiful selection or the food was cross contaminated by an uneducated staff. Even though this app works wonderfully and I use it weekly, I still find it's best to call ahead to an establishment to verify IF they offer gluten free and what are the menu items/options.

Speaking of cross is imperative to be super duper uber careful if you are celiac or gluten intolerant. The littlest spec of gluten will make you sick and if you are celiac, throw your body into an auto-immune reaction. You will need to have your own toaster, condiments (mayo, peanut butter, butter, ect) as it is SO easy to contaminate jars if there is still normal bread in the house. This is how easy it is to cc (cross contaminate) use a butter knife to spread some jam on a roll or bread of the regular gluten filled variety, then stick it back in the jar to get a bit more and BAM! It's been contaminated and is no longer safe for us anti-glutites. For more tips and information on avoiding cc in your home and kitchen please visit this link: Avoiding Cross Contamination

Next on the list are gluten free flours and baking. Now, I do not doubt that even the thought of gluten free eating is scary, let alone being overwhelmed with the plethora of flours, flour blends, and gums. So I will try to explain things simply so you have a better understanding of gluten free flours, why we use blends, and the need for gums like xanthan or guar. Gluten is a binding protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have ever made bread or watched someone make it, you can see the strands of gluten when kneading your dough. It's what creates those lovely little fluffy bubbles in your bread and holds all of your baked items together. Now, unfortunately when you bake gluten free, there is no more bind. That is where xanthan gum or guar gum come in. In the correct ratio's, it will replace the gluten's binding and will help your baked goods stay together. Here is a "rule of thumb" ratio on different types of baked goods:

Bread and pizza dough recipes: Add 1 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per cup of gluten-free flour used in bread and pizza dough recipes
Cake, muffin and quick bread recipes: Add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum per one cup of gluten-free flour used
Cookie and bar recipes: Add 1/2 teaspoon (or less) xanthan gum or guar gum per one cup gluten-free flour used 
Now, as for gluten free flours. Unfortunately there is not one gluten free flour that can be used as a cup for cup replacement with regular all purpose flour. You will need to have a combination of flours to mimic the protein and starch that regular flour contains. I'm sure it's overwhelming when you start seeing flours like sorghum, teff, millet, bean, sweet rice, tapioca starch. The good news is that many wonderful gluten free bakers and bloggers have come up with wonderful gluten free flour blends that are premade AND can contain the proper flour/gum ratio and will measure cup for cup with regular flour. So the guess work is taken out and you can bake pretty much ANY recipe out there just by using your gluten free all purpose flour blend. So don't toss out your good ol' Betty Crocker cookbook, keep it and keep using your recipes JUST like you would with normal flour. The drawback to premade gluten free flour blends is that they are expensive. By being a stay at home mom, I have needed to learn how to pinch my pennies. I have found the most cost effective way to feed me and my family is to just make everything from scratch. I buy my gluten free flours in bulk and keep them in containers in my spare freezer. The reason I keep them frozen is that some flours like brown rice flour has a very short shelf life. By keeping it frozen, I can extend my use of it by MONTHS. I buy my flours at two different places. First being Winco and second at the Asian store. Most Asian stores will have potato starch, tapioca starch, and both sweet and white rice flour. Winco is awesome because I can buy my xanthan gum, brown rice flour, tapioca starch all in their bulk section. Another wonderful thing about Winco is that they offer gluten free noodles, granola, oats, quinoa, and many different types of rice in their bulk saving you TONS. I can get a pound of gluten free noodles for $2 vs. $7 at a health food store. All I am paying for is pretty packaging which will just be tossed in the trash anyway. Next is a little list of flours that I have found to work wonderfully with cooking:
Sweet rice (otherwise known as glutinous rice) works wonderfully with creating white sauces and gravies. It will make a nice thick cream soup or make divine gravy. It is very finely ground and will not have a grainy texture
Bob's red mill gluten free flour blend is great for making roux for gumbo's as it has a hearty rich flavor. It also works well with baked goods, just don't taste the batter before it's baked, you will have a bitter batter that is not so pleasing to the palate haha!
Corn starch works great as a thickening agent to create glazes or sauces like sweet and sour chicken sauce. If you are intolerant to corn, then arrowroot starch or tapioca starch work well as a substitute.
There are many wonderful blogs and websites that feature gluten free cooking and baking. I try to keep mine updated, but unfortunately life gets ahold of me and I can get pretty busy. Here are some of my "go to" places when I need inspiration in the kitchen:
Gluten Free Homemaker not only does she offer family friendly gluten free recipes, but she hosts a gluten free Wednesday where other bloggers can showcase their recipes.
Fave Gluten Free Recipes this website ROCKS! Everything listed is gluten free and there are TONS of recipes to pick from :)
Jules Gluten Free blog is wonderful! She offers a great gluten free flour blend with lots of yummy treats and baked goods recipes.
Hopefully you can feel a little more confident in delving into the world of gluten free. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have. I will be updating this post periodically as new information comes my way or I learn new tricks to the gf trade.
Jill - The Pink Cowgirl

Overnight Chicken

Overnight Chicken
Want to add a kick to your chick? Looking for a new way to serve up that cooking staple chicken breast?
Now when the planets are aligned and the karma smiles down on the Wilkins home. I'm able to plan our dinner the NIGHT before. Not looking at the clock ticking away at 6:20pm thinking "now WHAT am I going to make for dinner?". Not that this recipe isn't easy peasy, but it's just the matter of planning on my part. Meaning, I have to take out my frozen chicken, thaw it, then whip up the marinade. SOooooOOOOooOOoo like I said earlier....when life slows down just a bit, I will whip up this tasty bird marinade.
I don't honestly know where I found this, but I stumbled across it whilst browsing the interwebs one day. After trying it out, I realized that this would certainly be a regular dish at our house. First off, I most always have chicken in my freezer. Secondly, the marinade ingredients should pretty much be in any kitchen. No need to go to the store for that ONE item then ending up filling your cart with impulse buys. Not that I would know anything about that hehehe.
So, here it is. Try it. Eat it. Love it.
Overnight Chicken
4 chicken breasts or 5-6 skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon curry powder
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
Mix together the honey, mustard, soy sauce, and curry powder.
Put the chicken and marinade in a ziplock plastic bag then refrigerate overnight.
The next day, pour the chicken with all the sauce into a baking dish, cover, and bake at 350 for at least an hour. Then uncover the chicken and baste and bake an additional 15 minutes.
You can slice the chicken in strips an serve over rice or on it's own with a side of veggies and taters. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Honey Soy Glazed Carrots

Honey Soy Glazed Carrots
Want an easy, delicious, quick, tasty, can be whipped up in a jiffy side dish? Want a recipe with just four simple ingredients you will already have in your pantry? Want to get your picky little tike (and husband for that matter) to eat cooked carrots without scrintching up her nose? Make this recipe. Now, I love carrots. In fact.....want to be let in on a little secret? I eat so many carrots the  bottoms of my feet and palms of my hands are orange. No JOKE. You wouldn't really notice (thankfully, unless I held up my hand next to yours). Apparently it's a known condition called carrotitis or something like that. On a whim I Googled it. Guess it's good to know I'm not the only human Bugs Bunny out there. Now why doesn't HE have orange hands and feet.....I would really like to know. Ok, so to whip this little number together, all you need to do is peel 1 lb of carrots then place in a saucepan with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil and cook until slightly tender (about 6-8 minutes). Drain then set aside. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Stir in the carrots and soy sauce bringing the heat to high. You will want the carrots to get browned in spots, so only stir occasionally (for only about 2 minutes). Once the carrots have some nice coloring, stir in the honey and cook until carrots are glazed nicely. About 1-2 minutes.

Thats all folks! hehehe.
Honey Soy Glazed Carrots
1 lb Peeled Carrots
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 tablespoon Gluten Free Tamari Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Honey
In a large saucepan filled with water, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil. Cook until slightly tender (about 6-8 minutes). Drain then set aside. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Stir in the carrots and soy sauce bringing the heat to high. You will want the carrots to get browned in spots, so only stir occasionally (for only about 2 minutes). Once the carrots have some nice coloring, stir in the honey and cook until carrots are glazed nicely. About 1-2 minutes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Jalapeno Quinoa Bites

Cheesey Quinoa Quiche Bites

Who would have thought a recipe donning two Q's could be so tasty and so easy. Plus, lets talk about their versatility. What's great is as long as you have the quinoa, eggs, and cheese as a base, you can throw in almost anything. Tomatoes, shredded carrots or zucchini, feta, basil. I love making these little guys then putting them in a ziploc baggie and freezing them for morning emergencies when I just don't have time to make anything. Perfect little protein and fiber packed bites.

Yes. I heart these little bites :)
Now, here is how to make them.

Jalapeno Quinoa Bites

1 cup cooked quinoa
1 egg
1 egg white
1 1/2 tablespoons diced jalapenos
1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
dash of salt

Lightly grease a mini muffin tin. Blend all ingredients together well and spoon roughly a tablespoon in each mini muffin cup. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

*can be frozen then microwaved at 25-30 seconds each to satiate major munchie cravings*