Sunday, June 26, 2011

Gluten-free bagel? No, wait, it’s a gluten-free hamburger bun!

I mixed up a recipe for bagels about 6 months ago, but never made them.  As with other mixes, it was just sitting in the refrigerator, waiting for me to do something with it.

Yesterday as I was looking for something to cook for dinner, without going to the grocery store, I saw the package of mix.  At first, I was going to try to make bagels, but remembered the disaster the first time I attempted to make some.

There was no need really to make bagels, as I have two packages of UDIs (fridge and freezer).   So, I thought, why not just make the dough, spread it in my ‘fabulous’  muffin top pan and see what happens.

As I finished the dough, spread it in the greased pan…..  I thought uhmm, why not sprinkle some sesame seeds on top?

I discovered that my combination George Foreman oven works great for letting dough rise.  It is not large enough for the muffin top pan.  So I had to improvise for something to cover the pan without disturbing the rising dough.  I have some of those large storage containers that are really old.   After trying a couple, found one that fit perfectly. 

I was so excited to see the dough rising under the container, decided to warm the oven a bit and slide it into the oven to allow it to rise.  The dough was progressing beautifully, so I had to take it out carefully with the top intact to allow the oven to heat up.

It seemed like forever for that oven to heat to 375F, so I carefully slid that pan in at 355F and let it continue to rise a little.  I was standing peeping thru the glass as the buns rose, like a kid peeping thru a candy store window!

When they were all puffed up, I had to tell myself to take a break and let the bread bake!  So I took about a ten minute break to unload the camera of the pictures I had been taking.

The buns were quite puffed up with a crispy outer and soft inside.   Wow, was I pleased!

Well, if you want to try your hand at making a gluten–free hamburger bun, try this one: Gluten-Free Hamburger Bun.    This will make ‘real’ hamburger buns that are larger than mine.

I was so excited about the success of the buns that I had to pull the Canyon Bake House bag out of the freezer for a compare!

Doesn’t this look good for gluten-free?  Now to find something to place on the bun…..maybe a turkey burger??

I will definitely try this again!   They taste good too!

The difference between making gluten-free bread and wheat bread is in the method. 

  • ·         Gluten –free bread has to be ‘beaten’ with the paddle rather than the dough hook.   If you have a good heavy hand mixer, you can use it too.  The dough will eventually kill the hand mixer because it really needs a heavy-duty mixer.

  • ·         All of the dry ingredients are mixed together.  All of the wet ingredients are mixed together.  The wet ingredients are added to the dry ingredients and mixed. 
  • ·         The dough is scraped into the baking container and shaped with a wet spatula or damp hands.  I prefer using a spatula, dipped in water with the extra water shaken off.
  • ·         You get one chance for the bread to rise.  There is one rise only.   No punch-downs, no second rise.
 If you are lucky, you will have success.  I do recommend buying a muffin top pan.

My motto is “baking gluten-free bread is a crap-shoot”.   It is kind of like Forrest Gump says, “life is like a box of chocolates you never know what you're gonna get

Lately, I have had more successes than failures. 

Sweet Pepper-Artichoke-Chicken Stir Fry with Black Bean Spaghetti

Saturday morning was rainy and I had just washed the vehicle the day before.  I used that as the excuse to look into the refrigerator vegetable bin to see what I could make a meal with.   Usually, I have bellas, peppers and spinach.  No spinach this time, just bellas and  a bag of multicolor small peppers.

Pasta is my favorite food, sans tomatoes…  I do not really like tomatoes in anything except soup. That is probably the reason that I do not like Mexican rice or red clam chowder.  I add tomatoes to pasta sauce when I make it, because tomatoes are supposed to be good for you.   The pasta sauce is usually loaded with bellas, eggplant, peppers, and garlic.  It tends to be more of a vegetable dish rather than a sauce.

My  stir fry skillet was almost done and I was still debating what to serve it with. 

I was thinking mashed potatoes, rice, penne or some of that quinoa ‘garden pagodas’ pasta.   As I was looking thru my stash of gluten-free pasta, saw the black bean spaghetti. 

This was one of those impulse purchases.  It was a new item over at TailorMade Nutrition, our local gluten-free grocery store.  They also have items free of the top 8 allergens.  I was willing to try it, because I like beans and it was not made of rice.

So I decided to cook the black bean spaghetti.  I figured that if it was bland, I could cover it up with the stir fry.   As it turns out, it is really good, not mushy either!   So this impulse purchase was a good one.

I was chopping and mixing and cooking, putting this dish together without tasting or even a recipe as a guide.  I figured that it would be good, because it had my favorite foods in it; peppers, bellas and garlic.

I always get everything out on the counter (or stove top) to make sure I do not omit anything.

So here goes my dish….

Sweet Pepper –Artichoke-Chicken Stir Fry with Black Bean Spaghetti
5 cups sliced multi-color sweet peppers
4 cups cubed cooked chicken (used meat only from 10 chicken thighs)
2 large roasted red pepper in oil (about 1 cup)
6 to 8 roasted garlic cloves in olive oil, drained
2 cups cooked sliced baby bellas, drained
1 tbsp basil pesto
1 tsp basil herb blend (from tube in vegetable refrigerated section)
1 12 oz jar artichoke hearts, drained
7 oz package Black bean spaghetti
1 tbsp oil for sautéing

1. Spray a large cast iron skillet with olive oil.  Add the roasted pepper and garlic. Break up the roasted pepper and garlic with a wooden spoon.  Add the peppers, basil, pesto and bouillon as the skillet cooks.  Stir and sauté on high for about 3 minutes.  Stir in the mushrooms, continue cooking.   Turn the heat to low.

2. Heat the water for the pasta to boiling.  Add the pasta to the boiling water.

3. Add the cubed chicken and drained artichoke hearts to the skillet.  Use the wooden spoon to slightly break-up the artichoke hearts, mixing as the skillet cooks.  Allow the chicken and artichokes to get hot before removing from the heat.

4. When the pasta is done, rinse in cold water, drain.

5. Serve pasta with a serving of Pasta Chicken Stir Fry

Add a sprinkle of ginger oner the pasta, if beans are an issue.

 Servings: 6 to 8

Nutrition Facts - for 8 servings
Nutrition (per serving): 362 calories, 11.7g total fat, 3g monounsaturated fat, 1.5g polyunsaturated fat, 2g saturated fat, 53mg cholesterol, 374.6mg sodium, 1605.8mg potassium, 28.4g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 22.4g net carbohydrates, 0g starch, 6.8g sugar, 35.5g protein, 2.7mg iron, 83.2mcg folate, 113.3mg vitamin c, <1mg vitamin b6, 18.3mcg vitamin b12, 16.4mg niacin, 0mcg lycopene, 2.1g aspartic acid.

Nutrition Facts - for 6 servings
Nutrition (per serving): 483 calories, 15.6g total fat, 4g monounsaturated fat, 2g polyunsaturated fat, 2.7g saturated fat, 70.7mg cholesterol, 499.5mg sodium, 2141.1mg potassium, 37.8g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 29.9g net carbohydrates, 0g starch, 9g sugar, 47.4g protein, 3.5mg iron, 110.9mcg folate, 151mg vitamin c, 1mg vitamin b6, 24.4mcg vitamin b12, 21.8mg niacin, 0mcg lycopene, 2.8g aspartic acid.

Those small peppers have lots of fiber, so this dish is very filling.

Friday, June 24, 2011

What’s for Breakfast? – Pancakes????, uh sort of…

Last Friday night, I set out the ingredients for buckwheat pancakes, because I planned to make pancakes for breakfast the next morning. 

Well, I got started late and couldn’t seem to find the time to pull out the griddle and cook them, and it was getting rather late for breakfast.

Buckwheat flour makes the best pancakes! The only thing is they will get a strong taste if there are left-overs.

I mixed up my usual mix for buckwheat pancakes, but remembered that there was a half banana wrapped in cellophane in the refrigerator. Out came the banana and into the pancake mix bowl…

I like fluffy pancakes, so I added in some dry milk powder to fluff it up. So here goes how I mixed it up. By now, I had decided I would just bake the pancakes. I figured the best way to bake them was in a muffin tin……thus pancake muffins.

This is just one simple way to make breakfast when living gluten-free without a lot of fuss!

If you have a banana that is too ripe and do not plan to make banana bread, it works well added to almost any baked item that uses flour. Just add it in and enjoy the little bit of additional flavor.

Usually after all of the holiday baking, I have little bits of mini chocolate candy bars, chocolate chips, toasted oats, chopped nuts, crushed coconut, etc. I used to just add everything to a bar cookie. Well, I discovered that I could mix up some of those same ingredients and make a topping to have ready when needed. The topping on the muffins is a little bit of my topping mix.

Normally, you do not need xanthan or guar gum for buckwheat flour, but feel free to add 1/4th tsp. The banana also acts as a bit of ‘glue’.

Buckwheat Pancake Muffins
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup all-purpose gluten-free mix  (or a combination of potato starch, sorghum, rice flour, OK to use self-rising)
1 tbsp dried milk powder
1 tsp baking powder(additional, if using self-rising, otherwise, 2 tsp )
1/2 banana
3 tbsp Grapeseed oil (or canola, olive, etc)
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp finely chopped walnuts (or 1 T any topping mix you like)
2 tsp sweetener of choice, optional

This is best mixed with a hand mixer.
1. Combine the flours, baking powder and banana and mix to incorporate the banana.
2. Mix in the oil and egg, add water as needed.

3. Scrape the batter into an oil sprayed 6-muffin pan. Sprinkle the chopped nuts (or topping) over the muffins

4. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes until edges lightly browned or toothpick inserted comes out clean.

5. Serve warm, plain or with your favorite jam, jelly, spreads or syrup.

Makes 6 muffins

Nutrition Facts (as prepared)
Nutrition (per serving): 167 calories, 9.2g total fat, 1.7g monounsaturated fat, 5.6g polyunsaturated fat, 0g trans fatty acids, 1.2g saturated fat, 35.6mg cholesterol, 113mg sodium, 195.2mg potassium, 19.1g carbohydrates, 2.2g fiber, 16.8g net carbohydrates, 1.1g starch, 3.7g sugar, <1g sugar alcohols, 3.9g protein, <1mg iron, 17.3mcg folate, 1.8mg vitamin c, 2.9IU vitamin d, <1mg vitamin b6, <1mcg vitamin b12, 1mg niacin, 0mcg lycopene, <1g aspartic acid.

Finally around noon, I decided to eat some cottage cheese with fruit after deciding to bake the pancakes as muffins.  

Cinnamon perks up cottage cheese and it is reputed to be beneficial to our health.

Besides using it in cooking, cinnamon is also thought to have health benefits.
In traditional Chinese medicine, Cassia cinnamon is used for colds, flatulence, nausea, diarrhea, and painful menstrual periods. It's also believed to improve energy, vitality, and circulation and be particularly useful for people who tend to feel hot in their upper body but have cold feet.

By the time the ‘muffins’ were done, I was ready to eat one. They came out fluffy and quite tasty!


A little Chocolate Nut Butter 
Buttery spread

Easy, wasn’t it?    Buckwheat absorbs a lot of liquid and will dry out sooner than some flours.  So eat them within two days of baking.   I doubt they will last that long

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sweet Potato Muffin Top Biscuits - with Flax Meal and Hemp Protein Powder - gluten-free

I have heard a lot about protein powders, so I decided to try adding some to this Sweet Potato Muffin Top Biscuit.

I recently bought a bag of cold-milled flax seed meal without realizing that a bag was already in the refrigerator. My refrigerator is stocked with gluten-free flours and my made-up mixes, so it could easily hide behind something. I also have a container of Hemp protein powder (with fiber). Of course, this is not the same as the illegal drug, no; there is no THC in the ground seeds or final product. The hemp seeds do not contain THC.

I have tried a lot of pre-made mixes and individual flours. I prefer the individual flours, because I can make a mix tailored to my tastes and nutritional requirements. There is one bread mix that includes sorghum flour that I buy because it can be used for any bread, biscuit or scone. The texture of bread made from the mix is close to wheat bread. I have even used it for quick sweet breads.

Now that I have all of this stuff,  I need to use flax seed meal and hemp protein powder at every opportunity.

This time, I sort of improvised in making the muffin top biscuits, since I wanted to add in the ‘extras’.  The flavor is a little different from the first Sweet potato biscuits, the hemp protein powder mutes the potato taste somewhat.   I expected the protein powder to be over-whelming, so I added a little more cinnamon and nutmeg.  This biscuit is a little less crisp than the first one because of the buttermilk.  I could increase the xanthan gum to make it a little more crisp.

Sweet Potato Muffin Top Biscuits - with Flax Meal and Hemp Protein Powder - gluten-free

Dry Ingredients
1 cup gluten free whole grain self rising flour blend
2 tbsp flax seed meal  (ground flax seeds)
2 tbsp Hemp Protein Powder (with fiber)
2 tbsp tapioca flour/starch
2 Tbsp fine milk powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
Wet Ingredients
3 1/2 tbsp palm shortening
1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup (or agave nectar or honey)
1/2 cup puréed sweet potatoes or yams
1/4 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Grease the muffin-top pan or a heavy shiny baking pan with shortening or oil. Put just enough shortening to put a film on the pan. Dark pans will cause the bottom to burn before the biscuit is completed cooking
3. Combine all Dry Ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk to mix.

4. Whisk in the shortening until mixed in and crumbly.

5. Combine the sweet potatoes, maple syrup and cider vinegar. Stir it into the Dry Ingredients until mixed. Stir in the butter milk just until mixed.

6. Divide the dough into the prepared muffin top pan or into 6 mounds on the baking sheet, depending on how large you want the biscuit to be.
7. Use the spatula to gently stretch the dough into the muffin top tins or into a rounded shape on the baking sheet

8. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes depending on size of biscuit. The moister the biscuit, the longer it takes to bake. When edges are browned and the top springs back, remove from oven. Allow to cool in pan for about 5 minutes.

9. Serve warm, plain or with your favorite spread.

Yield: 6 biscuits

Nutrition Facts - 1/6th of recipe (as prepared)
Nutrition (per serving): 232 calories, 9.2g total fat, <1g monounsaturated fat, <1g polyunsaturated fat, 0g trans fatty acids, 7g saturated fat, 1.1mg cholesterol, 153.4mg sodium, 187.3mg potassium, 34.1g carbohydrates, 3.1g fiber, 30.1g net carbohydrates, 8.4g sugar, <1g sugar alcohols, 3.7g protein, 1.9mg iron, 6mcg folate, 6mg vitamin c, <1mg vitamin b6, <1mcg vitamin b12, <;1mg niacin, <1mcg lycopene, 3.5g aspartic acid.

I really like creating, modifying and trying out new recipes. But it would be really nice to have a live-in gluten-free chef!  Or one who makes house calls....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Fixing up Gluten-free Mixes: Making Strawberry Muffins

Since I began this gluten-free lifestyle, I have tried lots of individual flours, mixes, snacks, and baked goods.
I believe most, like me, will look for bread first. I ate some awful bread for about 2 years before learning to bake a reasonably good loaf.

Since going gluten-free, a number of great things (and some less than great) have happened.
• A gluten-free grocery store opened near my home.
• More bakeries entered the gluten-free bread market.
• More local stores started selling gluten-free products.
• More food companies entered the Gluten-free grocery arena.
• More food processors entered the gluten-free flour mix market.
• More food companies are attempting to get into the gluten-free market by stating ‘naturally gluten-free’, instead of stating ‘processed in a dedicated facility’ or ‘certified gluten-free’.
• The gluten-free cookbook market is being flooded with cookbooks from gluten-free and not gluten-free people.
• Hollywood has made gluten-free to be the chic new diet. Being gluten-free has taken on the false appearance of something that is not required. Once, I was offered a herb to help me ‘digest’ gluten.
• Some products were rushed to market without real taste testing.
• Some dessert mixes were rushed to the market without comparing the texture to existing wheat-based dessert mixes.
• Some great-tasting bread, hamburger buns, hotdog buns and bagels arrived on the market, due to the competition among baking companies.

I would not be gluten-free, if wheat did not make me severely ill! I really do miss whole-wheat-12-grain bread. Those Duncan Hines cakes were the best! There are so many other great products that I really do miss.

As I have been trying all of these new products, a few more than I really need are in my pantry as I prefer to bake from scratch.

I have also stopped buying products that contain soy. I have several in my pantry with soy lecithin, once they are gone; no more.

Creating the “Muffin Mix”
Yesterday, I decided to use a box of yellow cake mix to make a muffin mix with a little more nutrient. This is also one of those that have a texture that is too gritty to be called ‘cake mix’. The brand (remaining nameless) contains coarse grind white rice flour, tapioca starch, coarse grain white sugar, the dreaded soy lecithin and baking soda.
The box is about 2 cups of ‘stuff’. I mixed in some additional flour. I added 2 tbsp each of sorghum, quinoa, coconut, flax meal, millet, tapioca, dry milk; and 1 fourth cup almond meal.
Since I had added about 2 cups of additional mix, I added 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 tsp gum and 1/4 cup of sucralose. I admit there was enough sugar already, so decided to use sucralose or granulated Stevia.
Now, you know how to fix-up a box mix that is not the best for its intended purpose! Just add in whatever you need to get it to what you want to make of it.

Now that I have a muffin mix, I estimate 1 1/4 cup will make 6 muffins. Now on to making my version of Strawberry Muffins……

Making the Muffins
Strawberry Muffins

1 1/4 cups “Muffin Mix”
1/4 cup fresh chopped strawberries
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp dehydrated strawberries, crushed into smaller pieces
3 tbsp buttery spread, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract (strawberry is best, if you can find it)
1/4 cup butter milk
1 tbsp water, if needed
Frosting, if desired
Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Combine the fresh strawberries with the tsp of sugar and mash with a spoon to break up the strawberries. Set aside.
Soften the Buttery Spread and beat with the egg.

Continue beating as you add the fresh strawberries. Beat until the strawberries do not have any large pieces. Mix in the butter milk and vanilla extract.

Mix in the muffin mix and mix for about 1 minute. If the batter is too stiff, add the water as needed.

Fold in the crushed dehydrated strawberries.

Divide the batter among 6 paper-covered muffin tins.

If you have a little extra batter, spray a mini-muffin and spoon batter into the mini cups.

Bake in the pre-heated oven in the center rack. The bottoms will burn, if not in the center of the oven. The batter will spread more at a lower oven temperature is the reason for 375 F.  Baking time depends on the mix and flour used. The full-sized muffins baked 25 minutes.

As I attempted to make frosting and frost before they were completely cooled, the frosting started running.

The muffin doesn’t taste like strawberries, because I did not have strawberry flavor, so the frosting will have to suffice. The strawberry frosting was definitely strawberry!

Simply mix in strawberry preserves into existing can of frosting instead of using fresh strawberries with powdered sugar. The canned frosting is a lot easier to modify!

Nutrition Facts (without frosting)
Nutrition (per muffin): 204 calories, 7.7g total fat, 3.3g monounsaturated fat, 1.6g polyunsaturated fat, 0g trans fatty acids, 1.7g saturated fat, 35.9mg cholesterol, 149.6mg sodium, 77.2mg potassium, 30.5g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 29g net carbohydrates, <1g starch, 13.2g sugar, 3.4g protein, <1mg iron, 9.1mcg folate, 8.7mg vitamin c, 2.9IU vitamin d, <1mg vitamin b6, <1mcg vitamin b12, <1mg niacin, 0mcg lycopene.

And now to use some of those strawberries in a Chocolate Strawberry smoothie!
The chocolate smoothie is a smaller version with half a scoop of protein powder. The strawberry is 4 large strawberries, 2 tbsp Greek fat-free plain yogurt, 2 tbsp almond milk.
I also have another Strawberry Blueberry Banana Almond Smoothie posted

After eating a couple of those muffins, this is my dinner