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I might blog about breakfast a lot, but that’s only because cereal can only go so far.  Sometimes, the family is hoping for warm and filling, but only on the weekends can I pull off a full morning meal with the time to clean up afterward. The beauty of French Toast Casserole is that you make it the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning.  Imagine the ease of putting this into the oven, heading off to take a shower and get everyone dressed, and enjoying the smell of freshly baking apply cinnamony goodness as you prepare for the day.

Apple French Toast

French Toast Casserole

A friend of mine posted a picture after she’d made a french toast casserole recently, and I was immediately craving it. Fruit baked into anything for breakfast is a personal favorite.  I did some sleuthing online, but couldn’t find a good gluten-free version of the recipe. Gluten-free and/or grain-free breads tend to be much more dense than wheat-based bread, and soak up liquid quickly.  I found a simple recipe and tweaked it to work with our bread.

Casserole-2

Ingredients

1 lb. of gluten-free bread, cut into small chunks

3 c. of milk (dairy, almond, coconut; your choice)

6 eggs

2 t. vanilla

3 t. cinnamon

¼ c. brown sugar

3 apples, cored and cut into chunks (we chose not to peel)

Directions

In a small bowl, mix together apples, cinnamon, and brown sugar.  Set aside.  Grease an 8×8 square or round baking pan.  If making this in advance, do not use a glass dish, since the pan will go into the oven cold.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until uniform in color, and mix in the milk and vanilla.  Gently spoon bread into the bowl, stirring carefully so as to not break the bread chunks.  Into the greased pan, layer half of the bread mixture.  Cover with a layer of apples, and add another layer of bread.  Continue until completed.  Let sit for a minimum of four hours, or overnight.  Before baking, preheat oven to 350.  Put pan into heated oven and cook for 60 minutes, or until cooked through.

Make this before bed, and your family will thank you the next day.  Share your favorite breakfast recipes below.  To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy breakfasting!

I used to cook and bake all.the.time.  Looking back at the early days of my blog, I was churning out homecooked meals and freshly baked bread and rolls three meals a day.  How did I do it?  I’m not really sure… I had a preschooler and toddler… where was I finding the time to both cook and document it?

Fast forward to five years later… I’m still cooking as often as possible, trying to keep our diet full of fresh, whole foods, but between full days of homeschooling and afterschool/evening activities an average of five days a week, I’m lucky my socks match.  I still blog, but my time to do so is always short and infrequent.  As I pick out our meals, I look for quicker, streamlined recipes with fewer steps and ingredients than I used to.  It’s just how life is right now.

On the flip side… relying on store bought shortcuts gets expensive, and processed ingredients can creep onto your plate.  I was making pulled chicken the other night and wanted to serve it with rolls.  At $5 for four rolls, buying them seemed like a waste, so I googled a few recipes. For less than the price of one package, I knew I could make almost two dozen rolls.  But which recipe?  There were some great ones but they required making starters first, rolling out dough, and other steps for which I knew I wouldn’t have time during our busy afternoon.  Finally, I stumbled upon one that looked simple but appealing.  I decided to give it a go, and by the end of the evening, we’d fallen in love.  Score!

Rolls-1

Easy Gluten Free Dinner Rolls

I found the recipe on My Gluten Free Kitchen’s blog.  Instructions were pretty clear cut, requiring a quick whisk of ingredients in the mixer, three minutes of mixing after adding wet ingredients, scooping and shaping them right into a round pan, an hour rise, and a 30 min bake.  No rolling and cutting dough, a short list of ingredients, and minimal shaping.  I did two consecutive batches, wanting to make enough tor lunch, dinner, and a few leftover for the next day’s breakfast.  I was delighted that they shaped easily, rose beautifully, and filled the kitchen with a fresh-baked bread smell. They were heavenly right out of the oven, and I warmed them again before serving them for dinner.  My husband asked if I could make them again for the next night, so I considered that a very good sign.  These are highly recommended!

Rolls-2

Share your favorite quick recipes below.  To see what’s happening in our kitchen, or to share what’s going on in yours, please stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy baking!

On hot summer day, it’s often too hot to justify doing much baking.  I tend to make an exception when oodles of zucchini or berries are upon us and waiting to be baked into muffins, breads, and pies, but we’ve been eating our produce too quickly to have any left over for baking.  One other fun exception is popovers.  We discovered them a few years ago and were delighted with their versatility.. soft and puffy for breakfast, welcomed as a side dish for dinner… popovers!  Although not my recipe, I share it with you here as another gluten-free alternative that I have successfully made and recommend.

The popovers pictured above came from this recipe.  Be sure to use a good gluten-free flour blend, with xanthan gum, so that they “pop” nicely.  While a special popover pan is probably fun to use, they were made in a good, old-fashioned 12-cup muffin tin.  They went wonderfully with breakfast on this particular day, but they’ve accompanied dinner, soup, even a picnic on occasion.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Peruse past blogs and keep current with new blogs at Stephanie.hvparent.com.

Last week I baked up some fresh goodness for a friend of mine who had unexpected surgery.  Due to Celiac disease and food allergies, she cannot have gluten, soy, dairy, or nuts.  Feeling limited while recovering, she welcomed the thought of some comfort food that didn’t come from a package.  While eliminating foods can leave you feeling like there’s nothing left to eat, spending time trying recipes and reading cookbooks can leave you with a collection of options that work for your needs.  For all of my gluten, dairy, soy, and nut-free friends, this post is for you.  If you have a friend or child in your life who would appreciate eating something yummy just like everyone else, try out one of the recipes below.

Bread

Fresh Bread

The first thing that goes by the wayside is usually fresh bread.  Yes, you can find gluten-free bread in the grocery store, but it may be vacuum-sealed, it may be frozen, and it likely won’t be baked in the past 24 hours.  What I love about this recipe is that makes two soft, crusty loafs that are neutral and stand up well to your favorite sandwich filling. We typically go through one loaf while it is fresh, then slice and freeze the other. My friend’s husband tasted a slice and said it has an “angel-food consistency,” which is a nice description. Called Tapioca Bread, it’s a rice flour and tapioca blend, and the recipe comes from an oldie but goodie, The Gluten Free Gourmet.

Banana Muffins

Banana Muffins

Banana muffins lend themselves really well to gluten-free baking. With the moisture and intense banana flavor, you end up with a taste and texture identical to wheat-based baked goods. We’ve tried quite a few recipes, but our favorite is Mom’s Banana Bread from Cooking for Isaiah. The recipe in the book is for bread, but we divided the batter among a 12-cup muffin tin and baked them for 25 minutes. In fact, there was enough batter leftover that my little one suggested we put it in the donut pan.  Banana donut muffins were a nice treat for the kids.  Baked for ten minutes, we set two aside for my friend, and each had one warm out of the oven.

Banana Muffin Donuts

The world of food allergies and intolerances is unfortunately more complicated simply by the fact that one needs to carefully monitor every recipe, meal, and morsel.  Cooking for yourself is truly the safest way to go, but unarguably time consuming, and can be stressful.  Lots of people are overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed.  If you are avoiding allergens, share your favorite recipes and tips here.  To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Happy baking!

There’s no bread in our house… living the grain-free lifestyle while healing my daughter’s tummy, meals are kinda boring.  Sweet potatoes are as exciting as it gets. Meanwhile, I was looking back through old recipes and photos, and happened upon a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread I’d made quite a while ago.  Gluten free cinnamon raisin bread is special, in my opinion, because it’s not something you can find on any street corner.  Most stores carry sliced gluten free bread, but cinnamon raisin is unique enough that if you want a nice, fresh loaf, you’ll need to make it yourself.  Please, make and enjoy this for me, since I cannot.  Let me know how it turns out!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

What the Food has developed and shared a recipe on her blog for cinnamon raisin bread and rolls.  We did not try the rolls, but found the bread recipe to be delicious. It rose nicely, had a great cinnamon flavor, and made excellent toast for breakfast.  Find the recipe here.  I’m sure it would make incredible French toast as well!

Within a few weeks, I  hope we will have reintroduced eggs into our diet, and soon after, almond flour.  Then our diet will broaden, as I will be able to make various baked goods and take you further along on our journey.  Until then, happy baking!

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We love to cook and bake in our house, and somewhere along the lines, my kids got spoiled.  Cereal for breakfast is an insult… if it isn’t hot and doesn’t involve ingredients, it doesn’t count.  That said, I’m not running a diner, and can’t be expected to serve up a full breakfast on a daily basis.  We recently discovered the muffin-in-a-mug, and have never looked back.  What I love about this recipe is that it is grain-free, oil-free, and sweetened with honey instead of refined sugar. It satisfies our cravings for a “hot” breakfast without requiring mixing bowls, pans, and use of the oven.  It’s an easy one for the kids to put together themselves, and you can measure out dry ingredients the night before to streamline morning prep.  Best of all, it’s fun to watch as it bakes.  The muffin rises beyond the rim of the mug as it cooks, and then settles as it cools.  While the little ones are mixing ingredients and watching their breakfast cook, perhaps you use those 80 seconds to enjoy some peace and quiet?

Muffin in a Mug

Muffin in a Mug

I found many muffin-in-a-mug versions online, but most required oil or sugar.  Wanting to make our breakfast a little healthier, I adapted and experimented with a recipe until it was to our liking.  It’s perfect now, and in 80 seconds, breakfast is on the table.

Ingredients

1 egg
1 ½ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon applesauce
1 ½ tablespoon almond flour
1 ½ tablespoon ground flax seeds (meal)
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking powder

Directions

Crack egg into mug.  With a fork, whisk until until uniform in color.  Stir in applesauce and honey.  Add flour, flax seed, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and baking powder.  Mix until well combined.  Cook in microwave on high for 80 seconds.  Bottom of muffin will be moist and slightly gooey (almost like a lava cake); adjust cooking time as desired.  Frozen blueberries can be mixed in before baking; this will extend cooking time by 20-30 seconds. Chocolate chips would probably taste great added in, but we have yet to go down that rabbit hole.  Try out the muffin in a mug, you won’t be disappointed!

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.

Blueberry muffin

I have collected a lot of recipes over the years, and they all have something in common… my trademark cooking smudges and penciled in notes all over them.  Partially because I tend to be a bit picky and like to make substitutions; partially because I funnel my creativity into primarily two avenues (cooking and photography).  Whatever the reason, this habit became quite fortuitous when we became gluten-free and I needed to rework some old favorites so that they would not be left behind.  So this morning, I present you the blueberry muffin, once gluten-filled, yet now gluten-free.  Not just any blueberry muffin, though.  One with a crunchy topping, one that tastes like the stuff that daydreams are made of. Something you thought would live only in the past when you became gluten-free and settled for frozen, pre-made muffins purchased from your grocer’s freezer.  Don’t put this muffin into your healthy, low-cal, start-your-new-year-right category.  It’s a special one, saved for a lazy weekend morning when you have time to savor breakfast and the special people that make up your day.

Not your frozen blueberry muffin

Muffin:

1 1/2 cups of all-purpose gluten-free flour

1 t xanthan gum (omit if your flour contains this)

1/2 to 3/4 c sugar (your preference here)

1/2 t salt

2 t baking powder

1/4 c milk

1/4 c applesauce

1/4 c oil

1 egg

1 c blueberries (unthawed frozen or fresh)

Topping:

1/2 c sugar

1 1/2 t ground cinnamon

1/4 c all-purpose gluten-free flour

1/2 c gluten-free oats

1/4 butter

*Note: “t” stands for teaspoon

Directions:

In a large bowl, place flour, xanthan gum, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Whisk to combine.  In a small bowl, mix applesauce, oil, egg, and milk.  Add to flour mixture, stir well.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Divide into greased muffin tin- either a standard 12 or a jumbo six muffin tin yields perfect muffins.

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Dice butter.  Place in medium bowl along with remaining topping ingredients. Combine with two butter knives, pastry cutter, or fingers until mixture is pea-sized.

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Sprinkle on tops of muffins, bake in preheated 400 degree oven; 20-25 minutes for 12 muffins, 35 minutes for six muffins, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

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To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy baking!

Cookies

I have fond memories of Christmas cookies… I remember rolling dough in powdered sugar with my mom, and my Grandma’s crisp sugar butter cookies are legendary.  Her cookies were even kept in a motion-activated singing tin, because my sister and I were so likely to sneak a sample while we waited for dinner to be ready.

I’ve been thinking about cookies.  There are a few family favorites we bake each year, but I also like to try out some new recipes and flavors.   My little one loves to cook and bake like I do, and she’s been asking when the baking will begin.  Here’s our line-up.

Peanut butter blossoms

We always begin with peanut butter blossoms.  My friend Linda introduced them to us years before kids or gluten were ever a concern.  I was thrilled to find a gluten-free version which comes out just like the original.  Not too much needs to be said about this cookie; Hershey’s kisses and peanut butter speak for themselves.

PB Blossom

The M&M Chocolate Chip Cookie

Even though the chocolate chip cookie is an everyday-cookie that could be passed over, this recipe is so spectacular that they beg to be included.  They get dressed up with red and green M&Ms substituted for half of the chocolate chips, and offer a nice festive color to your cookie tray.

Chocolate Chip

Lemon Shortbread

Lemon cookies are another cookie that we enjoy, and I am looking forward to trying a new cookie this year.  Gluten-Free on a Shoestring shared a shortbread cookie recipe with five different versions including mocha, toffee caramel, and lemon.  Interestingly, the recipe relies on lemonade mix as well as lemon peel; a new method that I look forward to trying.

Lemon Slice

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Snowballs, also known as Mexican Wedding cookies, are up next.  Somehow powdered sugar makes everything prettier. We are trying a new recipe this year.  I’ll put in the disclaimer that I have not tried this recipe yet, but it comes from Gluten Free Girl, who is well-versed in baking with her own books and blog.

The Black and White

Another infamous cookie from my childhood is the black and white.  My dad commuted to the city, and often came off the train with a white, crinkly bag from Zarro’s. You know the one I’m talking about.  I was excited to find this recipe a few years back and delighted when I made my first batch and found they were pretty easy to make and tasted as good as I remembered.  I’m thinking minis, with white and red on some, white and green on others, will make a delicious cameo.

Molasses Crinkle

And finally… to round out all of the chocolate… molasses crinkle cookies.  They’re similar in taste to the gingerbread cookie, but they’re a drop cookie.  This is another one that I used to make before we were gluten-free, and am pleased to see Grandma’s Molasses created a gluten-free version that lives up to the original.  If you’re going to try these, note that although the ingredient list mentions sugar for rolling, the author forgot to mention this as the last step.  Add this back in, as the crunchy sugar on the outside gives the cookie its “crinkle.”

I’m still trying to recreate my Grandma’s butter cookies.  They are sweet, crisp, buttery, and have a texture I’ve not yet been able to replicate in a gluten-free cookie.  I have her recipe, we’ve tweaked it, but it hasn’t come out just right.  We’ll spend some time with the recipe this holiday season; I hope by next year it’ll be ready to share.

Happy Holidays… may your season be filled with fun times, peaceful memories, the best of company, and of course, good food.  To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.  Feel free to share your favorite gluten-free cookie recipes with us!

Whether you’re gluten-free or gluten-loving, there’s nothing like freshly baked bread.  If you are gluten-free and have experimented in the kitchen, you know that some bread recipes fall, well, flat.  Poorly made gluten-free bread can be crumbly, wet, dense, or taste peculiar.  What’s a sandwich, scone, or pizza loving gal to do?

Enter, Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread.  If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve already heard me sing the praise of this cookbook author, Hunn.  With the addition of her latest release, I am impressed yet again, although with some reservations this time.  Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread offers an impressive collection of recipes, and is written with the passion and sass that we have come to expect from Hunn.  The standards are present, such as sandwich loaves, dinner rolls, and pizza crust, but Hunn goes above and beyond with exciting new favorites and more ambitious treats, such as glazed yeast-raised donuts, Olive Garden-style garlic butter breadsticks, pretzel rolls, even cream puffs.  We’ve tried a number of recipes in our home and have been delighted by all.  Her book begins with custom blends for all-purpose, bread, and pastry flours, which are easily assembled with precise instructions for measuring or weighing ingredients.  Each recipe’s directions are step-by-step and occasionally, you can reference her website for videos of tricky tasks such as rolling out gluten-free pie dough.  The breadth of types of breads in the book is truly impressive, many even with their own dough starters.  With your scale, flour-covered apron, and French rolling pin, you’ll feel like you’re creating something very special.  For a preview of the foods you’ve been dreaming of since becoming gluten free, check out a recent chocolate babka recipe she shared on her blog.  We’re not just making slices of bread here, we’re rediscovering foods we no longer thought possible!

Herb and olive oil Focaccia

Focaccia

Caveat.  Many of the recipes require the dough to be made in advance- with an up-to-24-hour rise in the fridge.  I don’t know about your lifestyle, but mine doesn’t always allow for that kind of planning.  Often we are a, “Crusty bread would go great with this dinner,” kind of family, but most recipes in the book don’t allow for that on-the-fly thinking.  Secondly, there are some specialty ingredients and tools that Hunn has never required before.  Unflavored whey protein isolate and expandex modified tapioca starch, found only online?  I understand why they are used- they help recreate a gluten-esque quality- but gluten-free flours are already expensive enough, and take up enough real estate in my pantry, without having to add another level of specialty items.  Finally, Hunn discusses some pretty fancy equipment that may be helpful- a proofing bucket, dutch oven, and couche, for example.  But unless you are getting ready to open your very own bakery, I am guessing you could make do with traditional tools.

Donuts

Donuts

That aside, the recipes in Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread are excellent.  With clear, detailed instructions, you can recreate old and new favorites with ease and success.  Her book stands apart from other gluten-free baking methods because when you follow her recipes, you won’t be quite sure if that freshly baked bread could possibly be gluten free.  Sure, Hunn moved away from her thrifty, grassroots ways and got a little fancy, but with the goal of stepping up the quality and authenticity of the finished product.  Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread is already a go-to classic in my kitchen, and I’m thankful for bloggers such as Hunn who put forth the painstaking effort so that we can maintain our gluten free diets without sacrificing the ability to enjoy focaccia or cinnamon buns once in a while.

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook.

Thanksgiving is upon us and I couldn’t be happier. I tend to be a bit Grinchy once December rolls around, but I end November on a high note with all of my favorite foods, people, and holiday. Special occasions can be tricky when you’re gluten-free, but over the years we’ve put together a menu that is allergen-friendly yet not missing any old favorites or traditional dishes. Many Thanksgiving staples are naturally gluten-free—turkey, potatoes, roasted vegetables are all safe. Here are a few sides that will make your day easier, whether you’re bringing a dish to someone else’s home or hosting in your own.

Gluten-free Cornbread

Whether your cornbread stands alone or is turned into stuffing as in our kitchen, a slightly sweet, moist and light cornbread is a great place to begin.

2 large eggs

¼ c milk

¼ c applesauce

2 T* oil

¼ c brown sugar

½ c corn kernels, mashed slightly for texture

½ c coarsely ground cornmeal

½ c. gluten free all-purpose flour

½ t xanthan gum

2 t baking powder

½ t baking soda

½ t salt

*Note: “T” stands for tablespoon; “t” stands for teaspoon.

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9 x 13 pan. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, applesauce, oil, brown sugar, and corn. In another bowl, whisk together flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and soda, and salt. Form a well in the dry ingredients and stir in wet ingredients. Pour into prepared pan, bake 20-22 minutes, or until just firm in center and slightly browned.

Stuffing

Gluten-free Cornmeal Herb Biscuits

For as long as I can remember, my mom made these special biscuits on Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving only. We looked forward to them all year-long. They were the first holiday recipe to get converted when we became gluten-free. Our first year’s attempt didn’t come out quite right, but I kept trying recipes and tweaking till I found the one. Two very important steps are chilling the uncooked biscuits and baking sheet in the freezer, and dusting the biscuits with flour before baking. Gluten free dough doesn’t act quite the same as traditional dough, and these extra additions to the process made the difference in the outcome. The recipe begins here; to make them into Thanksgiving biscuits, make the following adjustments: Substitute four ounces of shredded carrots for the cheese. Into the flour mix, add one teaspoon each of dried basil and parsley flakes.

Biscuits

Gluten-free Pies

Pie is another part of the menu needing some special attention. Very fortunately, an excellent pie crust recipe and even how-to-video for rolling it out await you. Once you have this lovely crust prepared (one recipe makes two balls of dough, so you can go all out with two pies! We always do) you can use it for any of your old favorites. Pumpkin, apple crumb, and pecan always grace our table.

Pie

To find out what’s new in our kitchen, stop by, or become a fan on Facebook. Happy Turkey Day!

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