Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Try, try, and try again…

One thing I’ve discovered since eliminating gluten from my diet is that it isn’t easy and it isn’t always affordable, especially when it comes to baking.  I have had, and continue to have, my share of failed attempts in the kitchen before I get a recipe right.
Today was one of those days!  My little bakers and I tried making some cookies in hopes of giving them to my sister for her birthday.  It was not a gluten free recipe and I thought I knew just what to do to switch up the ingredients.  I subbed in my favorite gluten free flour blend and upped the wet ingredients a bit so the cookies wouldn’t be so dry.  The dough looked fabulous going into the oven and they smelled divine as they were baking.  Then it happened, I took them out of the oven only to find that their appearance had not changed…they looked like the little round mounds that I put in the oven 15 minutes ago.  Not only did they crumble at the touch, but they had no flavor.  So, what happened?  I really don’t know.  This is the joy of baking gluten free…you just don’t know until you try, try, and try again!
Here’s a look at the before (my failed attempt):
And here’s a look at the after (my second and successful attempt):
Kid tested and mother approved!!
DSCN0314 DSCN0315 Chocolate Chip Cookies w/ Almond Butter
     (inspired by Sarah @ Peas & Thank You)
1 cup Pamela’s Baking Mix (or whole wheat pastry flour)
1/2 tsp baking powder (omit if using Pamela’s Baking Mix)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 unsweetened applesauce
1/4 almond butter (or nut butter of your choice)
1/4 cup organic packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sucanat (or other granular sweetener)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 “flax” egg (1 T ground flax + 3 T water)
1 cup dark chocolate chips
splash of coconut milk to moisten (or other non-dairy milk of choice)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small mixing bowl.  Beat nut butter, applesauce, sugars, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl until creamy.  Add in flax egg, beating well.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and a splash of coconut milk, if needed.  Drop by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. 
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes before removing to cool completely.

While we were waiting we feasted on one of these…
Fresh Fruit Cups
We simply layered plain yogurt, homemade granola (recipe to come), and some fresh fruit we had on hand (organic grapes, white peach, pluot, and a nectarine). 

If I could offer a few tips on how to make gluten free living a bit more affordable, they would be this…
  • Plan, Plan, Plan!  Plan your meals and plan your grocery list.
  • Shop the ads – look for new sales each week ( you can often find online ads and some stores even offer a list of gluten free items that they carry – i.e. Trader Joe’s, Sprouts,  and Whole Foods.)
  • Sometimes it pays to buy in bulk!  I find it more beneficial to purchase my flours and oats in bulk.
  • Think outside the grocery store.  For example, sometimes Amazon has some really great deals on gluten free items and any purchase over $25, shipping is free!
  • If you live near a Whole Foods Store (so wish I did) they will let you try an item that you have never tried before for FREE!
  • Try to find a flour mixture that you like best and make it yourself.  Here’s one that I like and it can be substituted in most recipes (key word: MOST!)
  • Buying premade flours and mixes can be pricey, but in a pinch (or if I’m lazy, like today) I love the flavor and texture that Pamela’s Baking Mix offers.  Bob’s Red Mill also carries an all-purpose gluten free flour.
  • Make recipes from scratch!  It takes a bit more time and energy, but it’s a lot less expensive to make your own chocolate chip cookies than buying a mix…and you can name all the ingredients going into your sweet treat!
  • Try contacting gluten free companies and asking them to send you coupons to try their products.  Who knows, you might even score a sample!
My success came at dinner last night when I fixed this (sorry I’m catching up from not posting yesterday)…
One Pot Chili
1 lb. cornbread
1 can vegetarian bean chili (or your favorite chili)
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 12oz. jar medium salsa (I love Trader Joe’s chunky salsa, but tonight I subbed in some homemade salsa)
1 1/2 cups monterey jack and cheddar cheese, shredded
3 scallions, sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Crumble half of the cornbread into the baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine the chili, beans, and salsa.  Spoon the chili mixture over the cornbread.  Crumble the remaining cornbread over the chili mixture.  Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, until cheese is melted and top is golden brown.  Allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle sliced scallions on top and enjoy!

And tonight when I fixed this…
Lasagna Roll-Ups
(inspired by The Edible Perspective)
1 box brown rice lasagna noodles (or whole wheat)
1 jar marinara sauce
4 oz. mozzarella, shredded
4 oz. harder shredded cheese (I used a combination of parmesan and romano)
5 oz. container baby spinach
1 medium container small curd cottage cheese
Fill a large pot with water and 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil.  Add the lasagna noodles being careful not to break them.  Cook until al dente (about 7-8 minutes).  Strain noodles and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.  Lay noodles flat on a kitchen towel and pat dry.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with about 3/4 cup of the sauce.  Take 1 noodle at a time and add about 2 Tbsp cottage cheese (from end to end), then a single layer of spinach, and a sprinkle of parmesan/romano cheese.  Tightly roll being careful not to tear the noodle and place seam side down in the dish.  Repeat until all are rolled.
Cover roll-ups with the remaining spinach and spread the rest of the jar of sauce on top.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, uncover, sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and broil for 3-5 minutes until golden and bubbly.

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