Archive for 2009

Double-Coconut Muffin-Waffle Batter

   When I first began to be serious about gluten-free living (actually living as opposed to avoiding the issue) I began to copy likely looking recipes off the web. When I began to blog about the gluten-free journey for Rita and me then the issue arose of giving credit to other bloggers who offer their insights and share their recipes.
   So I have recipes like this one that was inspired by Raspberry Double-Coconut Muffins from I-know-not-where. Yes, I searched many combinations of variables with no hits. Perhaps this generous person no longer blogs or has taken up other topics. But today Rita, her husband David, and I spent several fun hours trying the basic batter in several different forms.
   The batter was specified for muffins. But we were craving waffles as well as wanting to test the waffle iron. It was a a re-sale bargain and in need of a good gluten-free waffle batter. So here we went again. After the basic batter was mixed Rita turned half of it into muffins while I presided over the waffle iron and David gallantly assisted us both with a thorough evaluation of all results.
   The three of us loved this recipe equally as muffin or waffle. We tested pancakes by adding more liquid to the batter but the flavor balance was off. Another day, another experiment will be required for pancakes.

FTB - Orange Marmalade,  Raspberry Jam, Fig Preserve

FTB - Orange Marmalade, Raspberry Jam, Fig Preserve

Double-Coconut Muffin-Waffle Batter
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs
1 1/4 cup coconut milk (regular, light, or part coconut & part almond milk)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

coconut oil (for the waffle iron)

Preheat your oven to 400*F if you plan to have muffins.

In your batter bowl whisk together all of the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl beat together all of the wet ingredients. Then dump the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk all together. As in all such batters it will still be a bit lumpy but especially so with the coconut flakes.

For waffles: heat the appliance according to instructions. Oil it well with vegetable oil (we used coconut oil). When the appliance light signals that it is ready, spoon in the recommended amount of batter. Close the top and wait until it signals that the waffle is done. Then pull the waffle out and proceed to make the next one until the batter is all used up.

For muffins: spoon a good tablespoon of batter into each of 12 muffins cups or tins. We used the handy little silicon muffin cups that pop out muffins and wash up easily. Place about 1 teaspoon of jam in the middle of each cup. We tested fig preserves, seedless raspberry jam, and orange marmalade. Spoon in the remaining batter divided between the muffins to cover the jam. Bake for about 25 minutes depending on your oven. They will be very firm to the touch when they are done.

Yields 12 servings.

Mom and Rita (and David)

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Arroz Clásico

   This is the rice dish most requested by my family. It is easy to put together and the rice cooks while the rest of dinner comes together. The seasonings have changed as the children grew up and still it remains a favorite (basil, marjoram, and savory have replaced plain parsley). Rita is in Texas for the holidays and we had this with roasted chicken and green beans last night.

Arroz Clásico
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup converted rice (plain white or brown is OK, cooking time varies)
2 cups hot broth
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

   Heat the oil in a skillet over moderate heat. Add onion and cook until it is wilted. Then add the rice and cook until each grain of rice is golden yellow in color. Some grains will begin to brown and some of the rice starch will be sticking to the bottom of the pan. Drain excess oil if necessary.

   Add the broth, basil, marjoram and savory. I usually use 2 cups of water with 1 tablespoon of gluten-free broth concentrate and that takes care of the seasoning. You may need to add salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer covered for 20-25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat. Add the cheese, stir well, and allow it to mellow until the cheese is melted.

   There was rice leftover with just three of us for dinner and I plan to mix it with some leftover butternut squash for lunch.

   A Holiday special of note: Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs is giving away a cookbook, your choice. So get over there and register for Festive Freebies 2: Reader’s Choice Cookbook Giveaway .

Mom and Rita!

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Sweet Potato Biscuits

   The last of the sweet potatoes from the Gilmer, TX Sweet Potato Festival was calling me from the refrigerator even as I was cruising the net looking at recipes. I happened to pass by a recipe for sweet potato biscuits that was a bit spicy and served up with orange marmalade. I knew that my son-in-law would go for that. But that recipe said to just add mashed sweet potato to your regular biscuit recipe. And you know that gluten-free is not a regular recipe.
   So then I searched for gluten-free sweet potato biscuit recipe and found this one at Gluten A Go Go which I then adapted to my blend of flours and ingredients on hand (don’t we all?). What resulted was so good I immediately called Rita to tell her that I had only baked one test biscuit and that the other 11 were frozen and waiting for Christmas for her and David to arrive here in Texas!

3/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
1/4 cup white rice flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt (you might prefer less)
(pinch of red pepper – tiny, tiny pinch)
1 teaspoon evaporated cane juice
3/4 cup Earth Balance margarine and/or solid coconut oil
1 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
1/3 cup coconut milk (regular, not light)
2 teaspoon ground chia seed, dissolved in the coconut milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients and blend.
Add the shortening (I only had 1/4 cup Earth Balance; the remaining 1/2 cup was solid coconut oil) to the dry mixture and cut it in until the mixture looks like crumbs. Stir in the mashed sweet potato. Then slowly add the coconut milk/chia seed mixture and blend until you have a cohesive ball of dough.

Scoop balls of dough on to the baking sheet using a 1/4 cup measure. Pat them into biscuit shape. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: The brown sugar is for flavor and I didn’t feel like messing with the bag for just one tteaspoon. So I substituted a teaspoon of that liquid brown sugar flavoring; dark rum. There is no sugar and the alcohol and calories bake right out.

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Amy’s Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup

   I always loved my mother’s homemade lentil soup. Ever since then lentils and carrots seemed to me like a naturally ordained pairing. When Sprouts opened a new store nearby in Round Rock their prominently displayed gluten-free labels brought the Amy’s Organic Lentil Vegetable Soup to my attention and I decided to try it. This is really good soup. Not fancy, not too pricey, and just perfect to have in the pantry for a quick meal when there are no leftovers to be found in the fridge.
   The ingredients are simple organic vegetables, organic olive oil, sea salt and spices. The label specifies that the herbs and spices contain no hidden ingredients. While the facility does process wheat, I have personally had no gluten reaction. Instead my tummy is full of warm soup and I have an overall feeling of contented well-being after a bowl of this tasty, balanced, nutrition-packed soup.
This is not to be confused with the basic Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup which has fewer vegetables – read the labels and pick the one you like. I choose the one with more veggies (and spices)!


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Winter Fruit Salad with Sweet Potato Vinaigrette

   There hasn’t been much gluten-free baking going on lately. Two weeks before we left on our post-Thanksgiving vacation I bought bananas to ripen (over-ripen) for banana bread. Since we returned those bananas were ready-to-go and the final batch of banana bread has been tucked away in the freezer.
   Why bake with gluten at all? Well, the recipe that I created for my family when Rita was a child has not translated well to gluten-free so far. The closest that I have come is Ricki’s Oatbran Banana Muffins adapted from her recipe book Sweet Freedom which I love, love, love. But family favorites are not to be messed with so I have moved on to other experiments. This is why while I was baking that last batch for Christmas it was sooo hard to cope with that wonderful aroma in a responsible, gluten-free way.
   There were abundant fall pears on hand, celery as always, and boiled sweet potatoes in the fridge. I diced celery and two of the pears, toasted some finely chopped pecans (I really wanted walnuts but didn’t have any), added some dried cranberries, and thought about mayonnaise for a Waldorf type dressing. When those sweet potatoes calling my name prevailed, what resulted was a surprise – even as I was putting it together.

Sweet Potato Vinaigrette

Sweet Potato Vinaigrette

Sweet Potato Vinaigrette
1/2 cup diced, soft, cooked sweet potato
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (more if you want it tangier)
Sweetener depending on your taste and the sweetness of that potato

Preparing the sweet potato:
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite treats whether baked, boiled, or microwaved. When I have something softer in mind I will simmer them in water to cover until tender and a knife slides in easily. Then they cool in their own cooking liquid. Drained, they will keep well in the fridge for probably a week – they get used before then so that is definitely a guess.

Preparing the vinaigrette:
Put all of the ingredients in the blender and process. It is thick mixture rather like mayonnaise with just the 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Add more vinegar if you want it to pour or you could use pure cranberry juice to kick up the color and flavor. You could alternately add a touch of olive oil but the nuts added enough fat for my taste. I had been so ready for something sweet that I just mixed it up and ate. It was only after a few very satisfying bites that I remembered to save some for a picture. By the time this blog is posted that serving will be history! Yields 1 – 2 servings.


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Gluten-Free Carnival Cruise to Cozumel

   Don and I took a post-Thanksgiving cruise to Cozumel. Don’s sister, Pat, flew in from Maine and joined us onboard the Carnival Ecstasy in Galveston. Those of you who eat gluten-free and/or have other food issues know what such travel implies. Don and Pat were trying to eat healthy and especially low-fat while I avoided gluten. Most passengers consider shipboard dining to be a major attraction. Personally I regard it with all of the enthusiasm usually reserved for galloping horseback through a field of beehives – somebody’s going to get stung and it’s not going to be pretty.
   My survival stash included Larabars, a package of dry figs, some raw almonds and Brazil nuts. We collectively agreed to eat only at the ship’s buffet where I could scout the main offerings as well as the salad bar. There may have been safe options on shore but we deemed that to be too risky to search out in the time allotted for excursions.
   Our previous experience has been that cruise lines have real chefs onboard and they prepare a tremendous amount of fresh fruits and vegetables. Every day there were fresh apples, oranges, pears, grapefruit, and bananas available. Slices of cantaloupe and honeydew melon were also available. A fruit salad of diced cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, and pineapple was in the service line and/or the salad bar. There were dairy products including several milk options, yogurt, and cheeses. The main serving line had so many offerings that only once did I pass it up completely because of doubt over the possibility of gluten in breading or a sauce. Fish and chicken were on nearly every menu. Two evenings featured roast lamb or prime rib. I sampled several of the delicious vegetarian options that did not have a pastry, sauce, or breading.
   The Salad Bar! There were some incredible taste surprises at the salad bar. By the last two days I was completely entranced and eating double portions of salad for a meal. It was so good I could savor each bite without a twinge of envy while my companions enjoyed the famous and incredible Warm Chocolate Melting Cake topped with ice cream. That is some seriously tasty salad! Of course it was the creative dressings that made it special. After enjoying these salads so much I have resolved to be more adventuresome with salad at home.
    A typical trip to the salad bar started with a few greens, slices of tomato, slivers of red onion, fresh sliced mushrooms, a few black olives and then finished with something like these (I should have copied the labels but here are just a few of the combinations as I remember them):
Rice, pineapple tidbits, seasoned and grilled tofu crumbles, red pepper, black olives in a vinaigrette dressing
Red beans, garbanzo beans, diced celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives in a sweet dressing
Roasted chopped pears, red peppers, sautéed spinach, candied walnuts with bleu cheese dressing
Roasted yellow potatoes, sautéed spinach, mushrooms, onions with bleu cheese dressing
   An internet search turned up several websites with recipes for those Carnival Cruise Lines Chocolate Melting Cakes which are more like ramekins of warm chocolate fudge sauce topped with ice cream. These really should be reserved for a cruise where you can spend all day walking off those calories! And if you do your own search be sure to select one that includes techniques. I will be searching my recipe box for the Chocolate Fudge Pudding Cake recipe that was totally vegan and low fat but always was received with rave reviews. That is the one that needs to have a gluten-free makeover!


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Cream of Celery Soup

    When you clean out your email messages you need to be careful that you do not delete something you meant to save! Rita and I often communicate by email because of our varying time zones and activity schedules. I found notes that we exchanged months ago about this quick, hot soup when she was in the middle of one of her very limited diets.
   This soup is tasty, fast, nourishing, and warm for those days when you are looking for comfort food without a heavy load of carbohydrates to drag you down. OK, Mom note here: it is fast if you have a ready supply of diced, boiled celery in the fridge (Mom has that Celery Obsession). Otherwise there is some preparation of the celery.

Boiled Celery
The coarse outer ribs and dark green leaves from a stalk of celery, chopped as fine as you prefer
1/2 cup of water
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

Simmer the ingredients together in a saucepan over medium-low heat until the celery is tender. Tough celery may take a while. Store in the fridge until you need it for Lentil Patties, Rice and Beans Casserole or this soup.

Cream of Celery Soup
1 heaping cup chopped boiled celery including some liquid
garlic powder, chili powder, and sea salt – a sprinkle of each
1/4 cup coconut milk

Mix the ingredients in a glass or ceramic bowl and heat in the microwave if you want it hot. It could also be served cold for a summer pick-me-up or with a salad for lunch. Adjust the seasonings to your taste.


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My Favorite Can Opener

   For the first time ever (that I can remember) this Thanksgiving will not be held with members of my own family. I don’t feel bad about this only because I have already had two fun-filled weekends this month with my wonderful family.
   The first weekend of November featured my children and their family members that could be here. The second weekend was a gathering with my siblings and their spouses and three nieces in Norman, Oklahoma. It was everything that you can imagine from such a diverse group :-) .
   So the only baking this week is a fresh batch of Don’s ‘golf food’ which is definitely not on the gluten-free list. When he first started playing golf he bought crackers and snacks out of the vending machines at the pro shop. In search of better options I began playing around with recipes that he liked and eventually a favorite spice cake morphed into even spicier raisin-filled muffins. His golfing buddies profess golf-food envy but he never shares.
   So with no cooking to be done I decided to write about my love of simple kitchen tools – those go-to, every-day, run-of-the-mill implements, simple in design but yet you-get-a-little-crazy if you can’t find it when you need it. Even though I am contemplating the purchase of a very modest food processor I have a special feeling for hand tools – no electricity or batteries required. They work when all else fails.
   Perhaps this preference came about from working in the kitchen with my paternal grandmother who raised her own chickens and vegetables, canned her own produce, and baked her own bread. Or maybe it was that five-days-iced-in-without-power, trees exploding in the yard with only the telephone, fireplace, and propane-camp-stove-on-the-dining-table experience when we lived in the country.
   My favorite can opener is called a ‘lid lifter’ because the lid does not fall into your food. The cutter part is quirky only because you might be accustomed to the type that produces sharp edges. Once you get the hang of how to set the tool on the can you simply turn the handle and the lid-lifter separates the seam on the side where the lid and can come together. No sharp edges and no lid in the can! If the lid is stuck (some kind of can glue) there is a tiny grabber that will lift the lid right off!!

My Favorite Can Opener – Kuhn Rikon Slim Safety LidLifter


View of Lid Edge and LidLifter

   No more worries over washing the can tops or keeping bandages in the drawer for can opener mishaps. And still Don prefers and uses only the electric can opener – men and their power tool fetish extends even to the kitchen.  Just wait until we have a power failure!


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Pumpkin Pudding

   My nutrition professor often emphasized that very small children should eat simple nourishing foods and that they do not have the capacity for concentrated sweets and high calorie fatty foods simply because their total daily calorie needs are so small. The concentrated foods displace the necessary foods that children need for optimal growth and health. When Rita was small and as her siblings joined us those were the tenants of meal planning that I followed for our family.
   We moved quite often when they were young due to the nature of employment and shelf stable foods became important. During this time I created a simple nourishing pudding recipe from canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, plain gelatin, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. It became quite popular with many family members and it was included in the family recipe book that was published in 1993.
   Every year during this holiday season it has been a tradition to make a batch of pumpkin pudding for my younger brother. He has a family of his own now so I make a double batch that is enough for them to share. So in preparation for my sibling reunion this past weekend I made pudding for Jon. Here is the recipe in all its gluten-free glory.        

Pumpkin Pudding

2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon (1 packet) plain gelatin *

1 15-16 ounce can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup brown sugar *
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup evaporated milk *

Fair warning: Gelatin is tricky so go slowly and follow these steps in the order written.

1. Put the water in the bottom of a 1-quart saucepan. Sprinkle the dry gelatin granules over the water and try to distribute so that there are no dry patches remaining. Give it 2-3 minutes to ‘soften’.
2. Turn the heat on low to medium-low and gently melt the mixture until it looks like clear glue. Stay with it here – gelatin plus too much heat rapidly deteriorates.
3. Stir the pumpkin puree into the gelatin mixing it thoroughly and keeping the heat low. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon and keep stirring. (Don’t forget the cinnamon – if you add it with the milk it will lump and not mix properly ;-) ).
4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Gradually add the evaporated milk stirring to mix well.
5. Pour into a serving bowl. Chill until firm and cover after it sets up (it sweats and drips onto the pudding if you cover it first).

* Knox is the brand of gelatin and I much prefer Carnation evaporated milk (my personal taste). It tastes wonderful made with coconut milk as well (the full fat version, not lite) For the sugar you need to consider your audience. Small taste buds may not care yet for brown sugar whereas adults like the dark brown. The middle-of-the- road light brown sugar is a good choice when you are not sure. We have also made sugar-free on occasions with various substitutes.


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Sugar Is Sweet

   This morning while preparing multiple batches of baked goods (some to freeze for myself, some to share, and some for a fund raiser) I was musing over the nature of gluten-free ingredients and how often I end up substituting ingredients. For the most part these substitutions are successful as it can be a financial as well as a culinary disaster to ruin a batch because of the expense of some gluten-free ingredients.
   Sugar used to be the least expensive baking ingredient until I started paying attention to the quality of ingredients including the sweetener(s). Sweeteners is plural now because of recipes calling for evaporated cane juice, agave syrup, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses and several others. These all have a different intensity of sweet as well as background flavor (and price).
   The flavor of brown sugar really speaks to my taste buds. So much so that many years ago I started using Myer’s Dark Rum as a flavoring agent to increase the intensity of that brown sugar flavor. My current bottle has been in the pantry for probably 15-20 years because it lasts that long using a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time. I think of it as a brown sugar extract in the same way that vanilla extract is a flavoring agent.
   Another way to intensify that deep brown sugar flavor is to substitute some Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup for some of the other syrup in the recipe. Molasses is an even darker option but somehow it has a different quality that doesn’t quite make the same impression as the somewhat lighter Steen’s.
    And what is a discussion about sweets without talking about glycemic index? This is a topic of interest because of recipes that I sometimes prepare while keeping in mind people who are diabetic or sugar sensitive. For information on glycemic index as well as other nutrition data I often reference This reference possibly provides more information than you care about but one of the more recent, and interesting to me, is a value that is labeled Inflammation Factor or IF. When I have the time to build a recipe profile IF is one of my spreadsheet columns.


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