Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Dinner – Eating Gluten Free

When one must be gluten free, it is a blessing when family and friends do what they can to make one’s life easier.

After explaining to everyone how food can easily be contaminated with wheat, there has been an overwhelming effort to prepare foods that I can eat without having to bring everything that is not contaminated with wheat.

For family get-togethers, someone will make dessert; another will make vegetables and meat, so that nothing accidently gets mixed. If a side has wheat, like MacNCheese, another person will make that.

When we all met for Christmas Dinner, the host (my Sister Jean) announced that we should only use the serving tool that is in each dish and not to use for anything else.

We had a feast of grilled and baked turkeys, barbecue chicken, baked ham, MacNCheese, Green Beans, Candied Yams, Gluten Free Cranberry Stuffing, Potato Casserole, Key Lime Pie, Red Velvet Cake, Lemon Cake, a mixture of gluten free cookies, almond bark and cranberry fudge. I have probably forgotten something.

The only things I could not eat were the cakes, pie and MacNCheese! There was such a big snowstorm Christmas Eve and Day that I decided not to make a gluten free pound cake for fear that I may have to eat all of it myself.

I made a variety of gluten free cookies and did not have time to journal them, so I will provide recipes and pictures.

One of the best tasting ones is this: Nutty Orange Marmalade Cream Cheese Cookies. My sister Barb liked it too. She tried the frosted version and said it did not need frosting.
Nutty Orange Marmalade Cream Cheese Cookies

Frosted (and rolled in sugar)


Nutty Orange Marmalade Cream Cheese Cookies

Wet Ingredients
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbs softened butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs orange marmalade
1/2 tsp orange extract
1 egg
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
Dry Ingredients
2/3 cup + 2 tsp sweet rice flour
2/3 cup + 2 tsp sorghum flour
1/3 cup +2 tbs cornstarch
3 Tbs + 2 tsp tapioca starch or flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp baking soda

Orange Frosting
1 Tbs butter
1 Tbs orange juice
1 1/2 cup Powdered sugar
1 drop orange food coloring (Wilton), optional

1. In large bowl combine sugar, butter, cream cheese, extract marmalade and egg; blend well. Add nuts and mix. Stir in flour mix until well blended. Chill dough for at least 1 hour. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Drop by rounded teaspoons or shape into a ball. Place 2 inches apart on parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely on wire racks.
2. Leave cookie plain, or frost with orange icing.


Rolling the balls in sugar gives a prettier more even cookie

Servings: 48
Yield: 48
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/48 of a recipe (0.8 ounces).
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.

Amount Per Serving
Calories 90.22
Total Fat 5.11g
Saturated Fat 2.28g
Cholesterol 14.06mg
Sodium 30.84mg
Potassium 19.33mg
Total Carbohydrates 10.4g 
Fiber 0.48g
Sugar 4.91g
Protein 1.28g


Chocolate Peanut Butter Sour Cream Cupcakes

I had a Chocolate Cupcake mix, sitting around for about 3 months and decided that I needed some Chocolate the day after Christmas. I mixed it up and baked them. They were really good. The recipe originally came from Bob’s Red Mill. I made a little change.  These are not only very good, they are nutritious.

Before going in the oven


Chocolate Peanut Butter Sour Cream Cupcakes
(Modified from Bob's Red Mill)

1/4 cup Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup + 2 tbs Water
2 Tbs dark chocolate syrup
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1 cup Sugar
1 1/4 cups Quinoa Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla powder
1/4 cup Sour Cream
1/3 cup peanut butter chips
1/3 container (16 oz) Chocolate or Fudge Frosting, optional  or your home made frosting

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine the Dry ingredients in a lidded container. Shake to thoroughly mix. (This can be prepared and stored for future use with mixing and baking instructions.)
3. Pour the Dry Ingredients in to a large mixing bowl, add the eggs, melted butter, sour cream and chocolate syrup. Mix to combine, gradually adding water. Mix at a medium speed for about 2 minutes.
4. Spoon into a muffin tin lined with paper cup cake liners.
5. Evenly distribute the peanut butter chips over the cupcakes. Lightly press them in with a fork or spatula.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
7. Let cool.
8. Frost by piping the frosting from a bag, if frosting desired.
Servings: 12
Yield: 12 delicious nutritious muffins

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1/12 of a recipe (2.6 ounces).
Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 256.02
Total Fat 10.4g
Saturated Fat 4.99g
Cholesterol 47.53mg
Sodium 214.73mg
Potassium 72.33mg
Total Carbohydrates 39.79g
Fiber 2.74g
Sugar 25.84g
Protein 3.68g

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Cookies - Gluten Free Old Fashioned Tea Cakes

I have been busy creating and modifying cookie recipes for Family get-together on Christmas Day.

An issue with gluten free cookies is that they can be very brittle, if the correct mix of alternative flours isn’t used. At first, I put peanut butter in everything, because it will ‘glue’ everything together. Then I progressed on to honey, which also helps the cookie not crumble. I also used finely chopped nuts to prevent cookies spreading too much.

I try to use flours other than white rice; so as to get some nutrition is an almost nutrient devoid treat. I use my newly purchased cookbook software to calculate nutrients.

My favorite flours are sorghum and oat. Sorghum flour is the newcomer on the market for gluten free flours. It is so new that the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, does not have it in the database.

Another issue with plain gluten free cookies like sugar cookies is they are usually bland. I tended to use several extracts to hide the bland taste. Yesterday, while browsing the local Gluten / Alergen Free grocery store (Tailor Made Nutrition), I saw Vanilla Powder by Authentic Foods. I decided to try it. It is a little pricy, yet worth the cost in flavor.

I mixed up a batch of Old Fashioned Tea Cakes, AKA Sugar Cookies, AKA Snicker doodles. I did not journal the process with pictures as I was mixing, because these are simple cookies.

Old Fashioned Tea Cakes - Gluten Free (AKA Sugar Cookie, AKA Snickerdoodle)

1 cup butter
1/2 cup Brown Sugar - (packed)
1/4 cup honey
1 cups sugar
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups sorghum flour
1/2 cups chickpea flour
1/2 cups sweet rice flour
1/2 tsp GF vanilla powder (Authentic Foods)
1/2 tsp Ginger, Ground
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tbs granulated sugar (optional) for rolling balls in
No gum needed

1. Mix the flours with the vanilla powder, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and cream of tartar, shake in a container to thoroughly mix and set aside
2. Cream butter, sugars and honey. Beat in eggs one at a time into creamed mixture. Add about half of the flour, continue mixing with mixer. Stir in the remainder of the flour with a spatula.
3. Shape into 48 1-inch balls. Optionally roll each ball in granulated sugar.
4. Place on parchment covered cookie sheet 2 inches apart. The cookie will spread, but not run. Flattening slightly is optional.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F until lightly brown - (12 to 13 minutes). If rolled in sugar, cracks will appear. If the cracks seem a little wet, leave in the oven a little longer.
6. After removing from oven, lift with a lifter to another cookie sheet to cool completely as they will be a little brittle while warm.

Servings: 48 Yield: 4 dozen 3 inch cookies
Preparation Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Author Notes

 If you have powdered flavorings, they work best with this cookie.  Honey  and brown sugar helps with keeping the soft center.

Nutrition Facts

 Serving size: 1/48 of a recipe (1 ounce).

 Nutrition information calculated from recipe ingredients.

 Amount per Serving

 Calories 111.07

 Total Fat 4.42g

 Saturated Fat 2.5g

 Cholesterol 18.98mg

 Sodium 30.99mg

 Potassium 36.16mg

 Total Carbohydrates 16.69g

 Fiber 1.05g

 Sugar 7.17g

 Protein 1.81g

 I made an earlier version with 2 tbs of honey.  This is that version.  It did not spread as much.  The additional honey keeps it soft in the center.

A Few Retirement Woes which leads to Health Insurance Woes

During the last few weeks of December, most companies send out the ‘usual’ information about pension, health care and 401K plans.

Recently, I received my copy of the Summary Annual Reports from both prior employers. I was a bit surprised (maybe not) that the three plans from one company are 401K savings Plan, Trusted Employee Benefit Plan and Non-Trusted Employee Benefit Plan. Wouldn’t you feel a bit uneasy if you knew you were in a ‘Non-Trusted Plan’?

Instead of saying that the Health Care Plan is not funded, a new ambiguous term Non-Trusted Employee Benefit Plan is now being used. It also is referred to as the Employee Welfare Plan.

This leads me to believe that we may expect to be jettisoned from previous employer plans by way of excessive premium increases as a means to force enrollment in any ‘public option’ plan. My retirement benefit of cost-free health insurance is now $5500.00 per year. The 2010 amount is a 73% increase from last year. Employers made promises that were in writing, yet congress allowed those promised benefits to be removed saying they were not pension benefits. That fact in itself is one of the reasons there are so many people without health insurance.

I do not know enough about the new Health Care Plan to offer an opinion. What I do know is that large corporations are taking advantage of employees by requiring the employees to pay up to 75% of their health insurance premiums. Health insurance has always been a benefit of the offer of employment.

If Corporations do not intend that health insurance benefits be a part of the ‘package’, why mention it at all. Just pay the employee a full salary and the employee can choose their insurance coverage elsewhere.

Just had to get that off my chest before I could share my
Christmas Cookies!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The weather was not the best, so I mixed up another batch of cookie dough to freeze.

Today, the weather is reminding us that Winter is only a few days away.  It isn't really that cold, just too cold to wear a light jacket and not cold enough to wear the long down coat. I guess I am missing seeing a good snow by this time of year. 

So here's a little preview.
If the final lawn work is not complete, it may be a little late to get started. 
If the Holiday lights aren't up, plan on dealing with frosty noses and chilly fingers.
Well, at least I don't have to deal with this going to work during the Winter.

I suppose I should show you what type of cookies I made and if they were any good!

Gluten Free Double Peanut Nutter Butter Cookies
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup Blue Bonnet margarine
1 egg
1 cup sorghum flour
1/8 cup chickpea flour
1/8 cup sweet rice flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger, ground
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup peanut butter chips
Granulated sugar to roll cookie balls in

1. Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, beat brown sugar, peanut butter, butter and egg with electric mixer  until fluffy.  Combine the gluten free flour mix, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt in a container and shake to combine thoroughly.  Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture until just blended.  Stir in chopped peanuts and peanut butter chips.
2. Shape dough into 45 balls(about 1 inch). Roll balls (or dip one side) into granulated sugar. Place balls on parchment papered cookie sheet with a sugared side up.  This will give the cookie a cracked look.   Do not flatten or press with fork.
3. Bake cookies 10 to 11 minutes or until light brown and cookies have cracked. Cool about a minute on cookie sheet.  Lift with a lifter to another cooled sheet to finish cooling.

Makes 45  2-inch cookies
Nutrition (calculated from recipe ingredients)
Calories: 104

Calories From Fat: 51
Total Fat: 6.1g
Cholesterol: 10.1mg
Sodium: 76.8mg
Potassium: 46.8mg
Carbohydrates: 11.7g
Fiber: <1g
Sugar: 5.7g
Protein: 2.1g
This cookie is very close to 'normal' cookies - the ones with all that gluten! It is not brittle even when warm.  It is a soft cookie.
No gum was needed, because peanut butter takes on the 'glue or binder' effect.