King Arthur Cookie Mix

IMG_8041I love chocolate chip cookies.

No, really, I LOVE LOVE LOVE chocolate chip cookies. You get the point.

Cookies are my weakness….and brownies too, but that’s for another experiment.

It’s a real bummer that I’ve taken it on myself to try all the different cookie mixes and review them. Oh darn…. 😉

Today, I decided to try the King Arthur Flour Gluten-Free Cookie Mix. It’s base is rice flour blend, which I’m learning is my favorite gluten-free blend.

The was as easy as any other mix…pour in a bowl and add a bunch of stuff to it. The recipe called for 1/2. butter/oil, which I substituted 1/4 c. applesauce for half of the oil. The mix is a cookie mix, so you can technically add up to 3 cups of your favorite mix-ins. I was thinking this recipe would be great with walnuts, cranberries, and white chunks. But I didn’t have all that and was in the mood for chocolate.

So, chocolate chip cookies was the final out come. I used the Enjoy Life dairy-free chocolate chunks.

Final verdict on the cookies: PURE AWESOMENESS! Excellent fluffy cookies without the “gluten-free” flavor. Basically, it tastes like the ‘real thing.’

These are not sugar-free, but they taste great for the occasional gluten-free treat. I do NOT however, like the price for the mix. Ugh! I think its was over $4.50! Ah, all for the sake of the blog… 😉  Back to my quest for the perfect homemade flour blend!!! 🙂

Kelly

Step by step: How to make homemade Rice and Oat Flour

Making homemade Oat and Rice Flour….let my mistakes be to your benefit! No, honestly, it wasn’t that bad. Here are some step-by-step directions, with pictures, to show you how easy it really is.

IMG_8026Step 1: Gather all your supplies. Food processor or blender, rice and oats. I used jasmine rice but I think next time I’m just going to use regular ol’white rice. Let’s start with Oats. Pour in Gluten-free Oats into processor and hit “on” button.

 

 

 

IMG_8028Step 2: Pour ground oats into a container, label, seal, and store in a cool, dry place. I put mine in the freezer.

 

 

 

IMG_8029Step 3: Pour rice into food processor and hit “on” button.

 

 

IMG_8030Step 4: Realize that the food processor really isn’t the right tool to grind up the rice. Not sure why…..Anyways, stand back and scratch your head and look around the kitchen for another tool. I used my hand wand mixer. I think the Nutribullet would’ve handled it too.

 

 

IMG_8031Step 5: Take the hand wand mixer out while still running and spray rice all over the kitchen. (note: you are welcome to make this step optional. It’s only recommended for the die-hard kitchen cleaner types.)

 

 

IMG_8035Step 6: Finish grinding rice and pour it into a container, label, and store in cool, dry place. Again, I store my in the freezer. This helps it from becoming rancid.

 

 

 

IMG_8037Step 7: Enlist a munchkin to help clean up from problem on Step 5. Thankfully, (or weirdly) he loves the taste of raw rice and was happy to help.

 

 

 

*Update since trying this: I found that my Nutribullet, using the grinder, worked AWESOME on the rice

Happy Baking!!
Kelly

Making homemade flours

Another wonderful gift I received for Christmas was a food processor. I got this from my 4 wonderful children and husband. (LOVE! XOXO!)

Since we are a family of six, on a budget, I like to keep our food costs down. I’ve mentioned before that buying pre-made mixes and flour is expensive, but it is still cheaper than buying a pre-made gluten-free product. So I justify it, to a certain extent.

My quest has been to start making my own flours. Before I got my fancy new tool, I was limited on the flours I could make. Oat Flour was super easy and my blender could handle grinding it up small enough to bake with. But I was limited on the other flours I could make.

….until now….

I’ve been researching making how to make my own rice (brown and white rice!) flour, bean flour, almond flour, etc…. and what exactly to do with it all to make a product that my family and I would want to eat. (More to come on all that…)

So, I’ve made oat flour —EASY!

And now, thanks to my new food processor, I’ve moved up to making my own rice flour! I’m off to Sprouts to buy some bulk rice, and from everything I’ve read, making the flour is as easy as: pouring the product in, hitting “on,” and storing in the cool place until used.

Anyone else experimenting with homemade flours?

Faster than a…Nutribullet!

https://i1.wp.com/i00.i.aliimg.com/photo/v0/128022788/NutriBullet.jpg

I am proud to say, that I am a new owner of a Nutribullet!

My parents surprised me with one for Christmas, and in the two months since, it has been very loved and used!

The approach of the Nutribullet is to take regular fruits, vegetable, nuts, and seeds, put them in the container and BLEND them to make a quick and easy smoothie to consume on the go. It blends the ingredients so small that it is very easy to drink.

Nutribullet suggests making a smoothie with 50% greens (such as spinach or kale), and the other 50% fruit. Finally sprinkle fats, such as nuts, over the top. Since we have been blending for quite some time now, I can tolerate the flavors of “green smoothies.” But if the idea of having a green smoothie isn’t your favorite, and you want the benefits of greens in your diet, Nutribullet suggests starting off with smoothies as low at 25% greens and work your way up as you get used to the flavor (or mindset!!!).

The great thing about mixing greens in with fruit…and I’ve said this time and time again on this blog!….you CANNOT taste the greens, especially a mild one like spinach, when you mix it with fruits. But you get the awesome benefits of the greens!

My favorite morning blend:

  • 1 hand full of spinach
  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • a few chunks of pineapple
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of pumpkin (because I HATE orange/squash veggies…and know I need to get them somehow!)
  • 1 banana

Talk about your hardy breakfast!!! If I run that morning and need a few more carbs to keep me going for the morning, I might mix in 1/4 cup of oats.

Happy blending!

Kelly

Experimenting the gluten-free way

Baked goods in my house go way too quickly. I don’t make them all the time, but when I pull out a batch of chocolate chip cookies…forget it…it’s gone by that night. Yes, six people really can eat 24 cookies in a day! So, I save the baked things for special times, or when I’m feeling in a “sweet kind of mood.” (um, yes, women, you understand!)

Since September of 2011, I’ve been experimenting with various different gluten-free flours and baking mixing. I shared with you about Pamela’s, which is my first go-to choice for mixes. But I try to have an open mind.

When we started our adventure, I baked solely with coconut flour. I liked the flavor and texture of the finished product, but hated the fact that coconut flour required so much liquid and eggs!

So, I slowly started moving to almond flour. My husband loved my baked goods with almond flour, but he’s a “fat lover”…and I’m a “carb lover.” So whenever I ate an almond flour cookie, I was left unsatisfied.

After almond flour, I was discouraged and just started following other peoples ideas from their recipe books. I also discovered the line of Bob’s Red Mill products. I realized very quickly that I hated the Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free products. I couldn’t figure out why. Then recently, I realized, it was the sorghum flour that I dislike….VERY MUCH SO! *bleh!* Apparently, I’m the only one in the family that can taste the sorghum flour.

Anyways, I have gotten away from Bob’s Red Mill and started experimenting with Pamela’s, King Arthur, and also Betty Crockers Gluten-Free line. I have learned the flavors that bake up nicely, have a great texture, and also have a wonderfully great taste! I noticed my top picks for all my pre-made mixes all have “rice-flour blend” for the base. I think I need to readjust my thinking on flours!

Whenever I try out a new mix, these thoughts go through my mind:

  1. Does it taste like the wheat-flour alternative?
  2. Does it bake nicely?
  3. Is it easy to make?
  4. Does the smell in my kitchen make me want to devour every last bit of it?

If I answer “yes,” to all the above, it get the “Kelly Seal of Approval.”

From trying the pre-made mixes, I have learned what I like to bake (and EAT!). The pre-made mixes can be expensive, especially for a family of six. I feel like all of our experimenting has helped me learn the World of Gluten-free….so maybe my next mission will be to make my OWN gluten-free flour blend!!

But everyone has different taste buds and cravings.

Would love to hear your favorites!!

Kelly

(picture from: whats4dinnertonight.wordpress.com)

What’s THAT?: ‘Xanthan gum’?

I am fairly new to having this in my pantry. I bought my package back in September…I think…and even though I’ve been slowly using it (when the recipe calls for it!), I still have most of the package left. That is because when a recipe calls for it, I only have to use 1/4 teaspoon or less!

So what in the world is this stuff?

Xanthan gum is a fancy little ingredient that food companies put in products to make the ingredients bind together. It’s in salad dressing, crackers, chewing gum, toothpaste, spices, ice cream, etc, etc. You get the point? It’s everywhere!

In short, it’s the sticky stuff that holds your food together.

Why is it in your pantry?

Well, in regular wheat flour baking, gluten holds the bread, muffins, etc. together. But in gluten-free baking, there is not much holding the baked product together. By adding xanthan gum, it helps stabilize your cookies and make them chewy…without all the crumbs.

How much do I use?

One of my books, “Simply Sugar and Gluten-free” by Amy Green, says: “My general rule for using xanthan gum is 1/4 teaspoon per 1 cup flour when making cupcakes, cookies, and muffins, and 1/2 teaspoon per 1 cup flour for cakes.”

If you add too much to your recipes, you will end up with a rubbery sort of mess. So it’s kind of a chemistry project!

Kelly

Pamela’s Gluten-free mix products

I’m not big on buying premade gluten-free stuff. I do buy the boys gluten-free animal crackers for school, but that’s about it. In August, on a trip to Colorado, I discovered Pamela’s Baking and Pancake mix. And oh my gosh, it is the…BOMB! 😉

It is more expensive than regular wheat baking and pancake mixes, but for a gluten-free mix this stuff tastes and acts very similar to wheat products. And it’s still way cheaper than buying the products pre-made. You can get it in most stores, but I buy it from Amazon (3- 4lb bags for $47.49). It lasts our family of six about 4 months. I make cookies, pancakes, waffles, and muffins with it.

Pamela’s has another product I’ve been really enjoying….especially lately!….Gluten-free Bread mix. Our family doesn’t eat much bread, but it is nice to have a bread mix around for the occasional “hey, I feel like a PB&J today.” The bread made from this is awesome! It holds up really well, and in a tastes test against regular white wheat bread, I bet I could fool you! 😉 Anyways, I want to try to make pizza crust with it sometime. More to come, I guess!

(No, I don’t get paid commission by Pamela’s…I just really love their products!!) My last recommendation is Pamela’s Chocolate Brownie Mix. Another great product with great results. This is great for the quick “Oh no, I’m suppose to bring a dessert!” mix. Two great things about this product: 1. No sugar. It uses honey and molasses; 2. On the packaging there is several different options to make up the brownies. If you want less fat, follow this direction. If you want egg-less, follow this direction. If you want cake-like, follow this direction…and so on. Anyways, great product. Love, love me some chocolate brownies!!

Happy Baking!

Kelly

Emergency Turkey Day Kitchen Substitutions

This handy chart came across my email from WearEver. I thought it was helpful and useful, and wanted to pass it along.

Enjoy!
Kelly

Cooking Emergency 411:

1 cup honey = 1 1/4 cups sugar + 1/4 cup liquid

1 cup whole milk = 1/2 cup evaporated milk + 1/2 cup water

1 tsp. lemon juice = 1/2 tsp. vinegar

1 cup butter = 1 cup margarine or 7/8 cup vegetable oil

1 cup yogurt = 1 cup buttermilk

1 Tbsp. flour (for thickening) = 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch or 2 tsps. quick-cooking tapioca

1 cup buttermilk = 1 or 2 Tbsps. lemon juice or or vinegar plus enough milk to make 1 cup

1 Tbsp. fresh herbs = 1 tsp. dried herbs

1 square unsweetened chocolate = 3 Tbsp. cocoa plus 1 Tbsp. shortening

1 tsp. baking powder = 1/3 tsp. baking soda plus 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar

1 cup all-purpose flour = 1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup brown sugar = 1 cup white sugar plus 2 Tbsp. molasses

1 egg = 1 heaping Tbsp. soy flour plus 1 Tbsp. water

1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt

1 tablespoon of dried minced onion = 1/4 cup raw minced onion

Recipe: Roasted Maple Cranberry Sauce

One week until the BIG day (Thanksgiving) and I have yet to actually sit down and plan a menu. I like to wait until the last minute, and I have no idea why I put that kind of stress on myself. But such is!

Honestly, I think I’m still in denial of the calendar and just how early Thanksgiving is this year. Usually my husbands birthday is thrown into the mix of things, but this year even that is a week later in the season than usual.

I thought I would recipe share today: Roasted Maple Cranberry Sauce. This is the sauce I made last year, and it turned out pretty good. It also does not include the typical ‘2 cups of sugar’ normal cranberry sauce calls for….YIKES!

This recipe comes from the book “The Best of Clean Eating” from the editors of Clean Eating Magazine. This will be on my Thanksgiving table this year. Well, I guess I have on thing planned!

Roasted Maple Cranberry Sauce

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp real maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 lime
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Place cranberries on a pie plate and drizzle with quarter cup maple syrup and water. Using a zester, peel strips of lime; stir into mixture.

Bake, uncovered, in a preheated 350 degree F oven, stirring occasionally, until cranberries break and sauce is bubbly, about one hour. Remove from oven. Squeeze in juice from lime and stir in remaining two tablespoons syrup, along with shallot, tarragon, and salt.

Time-Saving Tip: The sauce will keep well, covered and refrigerated, for up to two weeks–the flavor will blend and improve the longer it sits. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Enjoy!
Kelly

Happy Thanksgiving….2009!?!

Two weeks from today is Thanksgiving. The holiday is meant to be a time of Thanksgiving—meaning giving THANKS for the blessings God has provided for us.

Thanksgiving also means a time a feasting (a.k.a. over eating), watching football, time with family and friends, and parades (my hubby hates watching parades, so I had to throw this one in because I love watching them!).

Whether your Thanksgiving is just you or 20 family members and friends. Or if you celebrate with a “tofu-turkey,” regular ol’ turkey, fried turkey, tur-ducken, or whatever….chances are we all will bond on that day with the same old feeling after indulging in a large meal: naptime!

I have been host of our family’s Thanksgiving for several years now. It’s a wonderful time to have all my side of the family stayin’ cozy in our house and eatin’ lots of good food. Our Thanksgivings have changed over the past few years. I am a geek and have actually kept my menu planning notes from all the Thanksgivings I’ve hosted. (Please don’t make fun of me…) I decided to share a few:

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

Menu:

  • Turkey with stuffing (oven baked with skin on and stuffed with Pepperidge Farm Stuffing.)
  • Mashed potatoes and gravy
  • Green bean casserole
  • Rolls
  • Carrots (probably soaking in butter…)
  • Sweet potato pie (the ones with the marshmallows)
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Schwans Pecan Pie (*gringe!*)
  • Pumpkin cookies

The menu probably wasn’t much different than most Americans.

Well, in 2011, I decided to change it up a bit. Our menu looked a little different because Shawn and I had made some diet changes. It really would’ve been a great blogging opportunity…”How to Celebrate Thanksgiving without Several Traditional Items on the Menu.” I checked first with the family to make sure it was okay to change it up. They all said they were okay with it, so I pushed forward:

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

Menu:

  • Turkey (oven roasted without stuffing)
  • Mashed potatoes with gravy (using arrowroot powder instead of cornstarch)
  • Sauteed green beans with onions
  • Butternut squash
  • Mashed sweet potatoes (minus the sugar and the marshmallows!)
  • Cranberry sauce (using maple syrup for the sweetener)
  • Cranberry bread (using coconut flour)
  • Pumpkin pie (using a grain-free crust)

The point wasn’t to buck-traditional items and make them taste funny, it was to see if I could do it. It was my personal challenge: could I really make a healthier Thanksgiving dinner that tasted awesome.

My personal feelings on Thanksgiving and eating off the normal diet has not changed. I believe it is okay to have one day, or meal, of indulgence. It is the continuous indulgences that make the scale go up…not just the one special Thursday meal.

I have two weeks to plan the big day, and I plan on continuing my personal challenge, to make a healthier Thanksgiving dinner.

What are your plans for Thanksgiving?

Kelly