Sunday, December 29, 2013

Homemade Yogurt

My new toy is a yogurt maker. I asked for this as a Christmas gift after deciding that I want to make my own yogurt. I consume yogurt daily in my morning smoothies. Since I like to use Greek yogurt in my smoothies, it is much cheaper to make my own yogurt.

About a mouth ago while researching how to make yogurt, I came across the SCD website and information on Elaine Gottschall. In reading her book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle, I discovered the benefits of incubating the milk for 24 hours to produce a yogurt free of lactose. All of the medical information on benefits to eating lactose free yogurt can be read on the SCD site or in her book.

One can make yogurt within 4-6 hours, but I figure if I'm going to make my own yogurt then I would go the extra hours to produce a yogurt that is lactose free and healthier to the gut.

This yogurt is so yummy! It hasn't gone through the process of straining the whey, and the yogurt already tastes much better than the Greek yogurts found at the grocery stores. The taste is still sour, but has a sweeter flavor than found in the commercial yogurts.

Well, all of the yogurt research also lead me to new information and sites on how to make mascarpone,; and at the same website, how to make ricotta cheese and ghee. I was curious on how to make mozzarella. Mozzarella is also a very easy process. But for now, my next project will be making homemade frozen yogurt.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Yule Mouse

My Yule Log or Buche de Noel cake had a mouse popping its head out of the log this year all thanks to the creativity of my daughter. I used my favorite gluten-free chocolate sponge cake recipe,, for the cake. The icing was mascarpone, some powdered sugar, and chocolate.

One trick that I do to prevent cracking in the cake when rolling the cake into the log shape is to roll up the cake while warm in a cloth towel that is covered with a coating of powdered sugar. Let the cake cool before filling, then unroll cooled cake, fill with soften ice cream or favorite filling, and roll up cake. If any cracks do form, they can easily be covered with icing.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Betty Crocker to the Rescue

The Betty Crocker's gluten free cake mixes are so tasty!

This marble cake was made with Betty Crocker's gluten free yellow cake and gluten free chocolate cake mixes. The cake was decorated with chocolate mascarpone icing, English toffee bits, and white truffles.

One would never know that the cake is gluten free.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Apple Pies

...are so yummy!  I have always enjoyed working with a flour dough to make pies crusts for scrumptious pies.  In late summer, my one and only apple tree produces apples that only taste good after the apples have been cooked. Every summer, I use the best of the apples that drop to the ground to make apple pies.

This summer I tried a couple of gluten free dough recipes. This one was my favorite since it was the easiest to work with in forming a pie shell. It's the gluten free Land O'Lakes pie shell recipe. I just double the recipe.

This pie was given the thumbs up by husband and son.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nectarine Tart

I found this recipe in a non gluten-free cookbook. I just substituted the 1/4 cup flour with my rice flour blend to make it gluten free. I substituted peaches for nectarines in my last cake -still very yummy!

90 grams butter (3/4 of a stick of butter)
1/2  superfine sugar (or regular sugar)
2 eggs
1 cup almond meal
1/4 flour or gluten free flour blend
1/2 tsp baking powder, but I used 1 tsp with the GF blend.

2-3 nectarines (or peaches or apricots) slice.

Oven 320 degree Fahrenheit 

Mix butter and sugar.
Add eggs and blend well.
Add almond meal, GF flour, and baking powder, and mix well.
Spread into 9x9 pan. Top with fruit slices.

Bake 40 mins. to 1 hour or until tester comes out clean.
Cool in refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Serve with cooled orange syrup.

Orange syrup
1/2 cup orange juice
1/8 cup orange liqueur
1/4 cup superfine sugar

Boil for 15-25 minutes then cool.
Pour just a little bit of the cold syrup over slice of cake.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Yummy Brownies

These are easy to make gluten-free brownies.

 6 tbps. butter
 8 oz. semisweet chocolate
 3/4 cup sugar
 2 large eggs at room temperature
 1 tbps. cocoa powder
 3 tbps. corn starch
 1 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven 350, grease 8" square pan, bake for ~ 30 minutes.

1. Melt butter and chocolate in microwave.
2. Put chocolate mixture into mixer and add sugar, mix well.
    Add eggs one at a time.
3. Sift together cocoa powder and corn starch, then add to mixture.
    Beat well so that batter is smooth, about 2 minutes.
4. Mix in nuts and then pour into greased pan.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Gluten Free Apple Cake

This cake is yummy and pretty!

I have lots of apples from my apple tree this year. I made two apple pies with some of the apples, and I gave away a couple of bags full of apples. Well, I wanted to make an apple cake this weekend, but I had a difficult time finding a gluten free apple cake recipe from other folks' blogs that looked good enough to try. I tried one cake that had buckwheat and brown rice, but that wasn't very good-nor did it look anything like the posted picture. I then saw this gal's post: I thought could this be true; it looks too prefect. So, I tried her recipe.

3 chopped apples (I used 4 apples since my apples were small-medium)
Juice of 1 lemon
300g golden caster sugar
8 eggs
325g ground almonds
sliced almonds for top

In a pan, cook apples with lemon juice and a bit of the sugar.  Mash them when they are soft enough, but leave them a bit lumpy for texture.

In another bowl mix the eggs, and then add the ground almonds, rest of the sugar and lemon juice, and the apple mash.

Grease a spring form pan and pour in the mixture, sprinkling the sliced almonds on top.

Bake 350 degree oven for 40-60 minutes or until done. At 30 minutes cover top of cake with foil.

Yes, it looks just like the gal's cake. Yes, the cake is easy to make and delicious! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Naked Peach Cheesecake Tart

Every morning for the past couple of weeks, I have been making peach and banana smoothies for breakfast. My peach tree provided me with lots of yummy peaches, but most of the peaches were not fully grown. This was all due to the fact that the weight of the peaches caused one of the main branches to bend low and crack. I had forgotten to prop up a piece of wood to support the branch. So, I had to remove all the peaches from the tree to prevent the branch from further splitting. I had two large buckets full of peaches. Well, I tried a couple of peach tart recipes, and this was my favorite, Peach Amaretto Cheesecake Tart.

The recipe can be found here:
I removed the peach skin since someone in my family doesn't like eating the skins. The peaches look naked and not as attractive without their skins, but the tart is still very scrumptious. In fact, the tart was so delicious that I made a second one that same day since this one got devoured.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Apricot Tart

Due to the high temperatures last week, the fruit on my apricot tree ripen very quickly. I have given some of the fruit to my one neighbor since she loves apricots.

My fruit bin in the refrigerator holds some of the fruits that I picked so that the squirrels and birds don't get to all of the fruit. I'm leaving the fruit on the top of the tree for the birds to enjoy. One year I canned apricots, but I prefer just storing the fruit cold and then eating the apricots out of the bin or using them in tarts and cakes. I tried this yummy tart recipe the other day:

It's very easy to make and tasty.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Macarons and the Learning Curve

Yes, as in French Macarons. I made a batch of chocolate and a batch of vanilla, two different recipes. The chocolate recipe turned out to be the best recipe to follow since no liquid food color or liquid vanilla was added.

There is a fine line in folding the meringue into the dry ingredients. If macaronage isn't done correctly the macarons don't have the right consistency. Not enough mixing results in the outer surface not having that smooth even look, which is the result above with my chocolate batch. Over mixing makes the meringue mixture too wet with a baked result of hollowness and cracking. Under baking will cause hollowness too since the inside doesn't get a chance to fully cook. Even though the outside of my vanilla batch is brown, the inside was under cooked and hallow. I macaronage the vanilla batch to what looked like the right texture, but with the liquid vanilla added that made for more moisture in the batter. Lowering the oven temperature and longer baking time most likely was what I should have done with the vanilla batch.

Rapping of the tray on the counter before cooking is a must to dislodge any air bubbles that could rise up to cause cracking of the shell.

I made one more batch of the chocolate since I felt that I had the hang of the macaronage technique. The top has that smoothness and the bottom has the classic feet. Looks good!

Since I'm not a fan of the buttercream bases, I filled all batches with mascarpone that had been mixed with 1/4 cup of powdered sugar and 2 tbls of Hershey's 100% cacao since.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Strawberry Cake

Well this cake flopped! It fell after I took the cake out of the oven. That's when I knew this cake would be super dense, not the fluffy cake seen in the recipe's photo. I followed this recipe:

After reading many of the comments left about the recipe, I noticed that a couple of others had problems of the cake collapsing too. The cake is tasty and worthy of another try to rectify the fiasco. Next time I make this recipe, I will separate the egg whites, whisk egg whites into stiff peaks, and then fold whites into the batter. The recipe calls for baking at 350F for 30-40 minutes, but I plan to bake the cake in a water bath at 300 F oven for 60 minutes. Hopefully that will work!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gluten-free Chocolate Babka Buns

These are simple the BEST! The dough is just like a yeast dough!
I followed Karen Morgan's recipe:

My dough was very wet and sticky after the 30 minute rise compared to the recipe's dough. Since the stickiness made the kneading of the dough impossible, I just added more glutinous rice flour until I had the same consistence as shown in the recipe's photo.

These buns are so tasty with the warm melted chocolate. The next day, they still had the same texture of dough as they did when taken out of the oven.

I'm planning to use this dough recipe with a savory filling. A ham and cheese filling would make for a yummy breakfast bun too.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Perfect Popovers

I love popovers. I thought I would never be able to make the perfect popover with non-wheat flours, but was I ever wrong.

This excellent recipe can be found in the Gluten-Free Makeover cookbook by Beth Hillson. Her recipe calls for her basic blend flour and 1/4 cup of chickpea flour.  I substituted the chickpea flour with oat flour and used buttermilk for the milk. I was very surprised with how well this recipe worked with substitutions. The texture is just like the wheat flour popovers.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Rosemary Rolls

These rosemary rolls are a perfect accompaniment to the Chicken with Thirty Clovers of Garlic dish. The bread recipe can be found in "gluten-free girl and the chef" cookbook.

I baked these rolls on a pizza stone on the grill to achieve the flawless texture. 
Even though this dough requires 3 hours preparing, it's well worth the wait since the rolls are wonderful to use in soaking up the garlic gravy in the scrumptious chicken dish.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Maraschino-Marzipan Kisses

These elegant cookies are so easy to make. The recipe is from Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free cookbook. I was so surprised as to how easily it is to make marzipan from just almond flour, sugar, almond extract, and egg whites.

The centers of these delicious cookies are maraschino cherries.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Chicken with 30 Cloves of Garlic

This is a very simple meal to assemble and bake. The chicken always comes out so moist and tasty without the garlic overpowering the dish.

Wash and dry chicken quarters. Pour a small amount of olive oil in bottom of a casserole dish to just coat the bottom of the dish. Place one layer of chicken quarters in dish, and then top quarters with half of the garlic cloves, chopped rosemary and thyme. Add remaining chicken quarters and top with remaining garlic and herbs.

To make the dough seal for this dish:
I use to make this dish with a wheat flour paste to seal the lid of the casserole dish. Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Flour can be used alone with psyllium to make the dough paste as a substitute.

I used about 1 cup of the flour, 1/4 cup of psyllium, and water to make a thick paste. If the paste is too thin it just runs down the rim of the casserole dish.

Place the thick paste on rim of dish and then place lid on top to seal. It doesn't have to be pretty or perfect since it's just a seal.

Bake for in 375 F for 1 1/2 hours or until chicken is cooked. Pry open the lid with knife. There will be lots of wonderful juices that can be use to dip gluten-free rosemary dinner rolls into the juices.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blue Cheese and a Huge Thank You

I LOVE blue cheese, always have...even as a little kid. I'm so happy to read that blue cheese IS gluten-free.

I thought I had to give up my blue cheese since I thought it was made from wheat mold. Thank God I have been reading "gluten-free girl and the chef" . It's a wonderful book packed with cooking tips, trivia, yummy recipes, and more.

One very significant piece of information found on page 155 on the Ahern's book is that in 2009 the Canadian Celiac Association conducted tests to different types of blue cheeses from all over the world. The results were NO gluten is found in blue cheese. Thank you Shauna for posting this bit of trivia in your cookbook.

The Ahern's cookbook "gluten-free girl and the chef" is more than a cookbook for those with celiac or gluten intolerance. It's a love story...a very well written and sweet story of their lives together. I'm so happy that my first google blog  search on living gluten-free produced their blog at the top of the search list. Their blog and cookbook are so refreshing, unpretentious, and simple sweet. Thank you Shauna and Danny for sharing! I'm looking forward to reading more of your outstanding pieces of works.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Chocolate Chip Challenge

Making a tasty gluten-free chocolate chip was one of my first goals when I found the time to bake for myself after the Christmas Holidays this past year. When I googled recipes, the first recipe that came up was the one from Land O'Lakes. Back in January, I made that recipe, and I posted the results on my quilting blog since I hadn't started this blog. Those cookies were yummy and had the texture that I liked in a chocolate chip cookie. Here is a photo of that first batch.

A month later, I was craving chocolate chip cookies again. So, I made another batch using the same recipe which baked into a flat mess with chips as the peaks. I was so disappointed since they were not the same consistency. Plus, they had turned into a crumbly mess the next day.

A month later, I decided to borrow numerous gluten-free cookbooks from the library. While reading, I bookmarked the chocolate chip cookie recipes that I would try. Well, I made a batch of Hasselbeck's recipe (left cookie), and I made Karen Morgan's recipe (right cookie).

Both of the cookies tasted good, but the texture and consistency that I liked was Karen Morgan's recipe from her Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free cookbook, a soft cakey cookie loaded with chocolate chips.

Two nights ago while skimming through Shauna James Ahern & Daniel Ahern's cookbook Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, I came across baking tips on page 201. The one tip that interested me the most was the information about not to over cream the butter and sugars for gluten-free cookies . I read that paragraph again to reflect on what they were informing the reader. Ahern states to just mix until combined to prevent spreading. Wow, that was the cause of my flat cookies! Now I knew what I had done wrong. That was what I had done with the Land O'Lakes recipe on the second baking and same with the Hasselbeck's recipe, I had over creamed the butter and sugars.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Strawbery-Almond Cake

I followed this recipe that I found on the internet:

Well, I almost followed it exactly. I couldn't find the Solo pure almond paste; so, I substituted the pure almond paste for the Solo almond cake and pastry filing. That may have been mistake #1.

I didn't use the Manischewitz potato starch because I couldn't find that either locally. And the potato powder that I purchased from the Asian was granular in texture which might have contributed to mistake #2. Normally that potato powder is very fine.

Mistake #3 was baking the cake too long. The cake was a bit dry and hard at the edges. Next time, I'll cut the baking time down and watch the baking more closely.

The recipe calls for 2 cups of heavy whipping cream and a quart of strawberries. I don't know how many strawberries makes a quart since I didn't purchase a quart of strawberries; I had a larger container. I layered the cake with 2 cups of sliced strawberries. And then smothered the strawberries with the rest of the whipped cream, placed top cake on, and dusted top of cake with powder sugar.

 This is a wee bit too much whipping cream. Where's the cake?

The photo below is of the author's cake, while my cake is the above cake. I did use all of the whipping cream that was called for in the recipe. Looking at the difference in the photos makes me wonder if the author used the total amount of whipping cream that they suggested since their slice looks like less whipping cream.

Lessons to be learned: follow directions...well almost, just minus some cream, omit the grated lemon rind(I didn't like that flavor with the almond), and cut down on the bake time. Will I try this recipe again? You bet! Smother anything with tons of whipping cream and it's delicious enough to eat.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Shepherd's Pie

This is easier than dealing with pie crusts, loaded with veggies, and so yummy that everyone will enjoy.

Shepherd's Pie

6-8 potatoes
sour cream
1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs
garlic, allspice, thyme
button mushrooms
pepper, cayenne pepper, parsley, paprika
cheddar cheese

Boil potatoes then peel.
Add 2 Tbps sour cream, 2 Tbps butter, and 1/4 tsp pepper then mash.
Set aside.

Cook about 1.5 Lbs of boneless chicken thighs with 4-5 cloves of garlic, 5-6 whole allspice, 1/2 tsp thyme, and enough water to cover chicken. Cool and cube meat.

Cook 1 large diced onion
Add 8-9 sliced mushrooms.
Add sliced carrots (I used half of a small bag of the baby carrots) and 1/4 of a small head of cabbage sliced. Cook until just done.
Add frozen peas (or fresh) and cube cooked chicken.

Add 1 cup of the chicken broth (from cooking the chicken) and 1/2 cup of milk.
Add pepper, cayenne pepper, fresh parsley, cooked garlic cloves, and paprika to taste. Cook until bubbling, then add cornstarch paste (3 Tbps of water and 2 Tbps cornstarch) to thicken.

Fill a deep-dish glass pie pan with veggies and meat mixture.
Spread mashed potatoes over top of mixture, then top mashed potatoes with shredded cheddar cheese.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes until top is golden brown.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


This recipe is always a hit in my house. It's basically a cabbage pancake. My version of the pancake is loaded with cabbage, less batter, and lots of goodies on top. One can make it with more batter and less cabbage.

First start by thinly slicing a quarter of a medium size cabbage. I use a mandolin to slice the cabbage very thinly. Then add shredded carrots and mix. Set that to the side while mixing up batter.

The original recipe calls for flour, salt, and baking powder, but I'm making mine gluten-free.

Gluten-free batter dry ingredients:
4 Tbps rice flour
2 Tbps millet
2 Tbps potato powder
1 Tbps tapioca flour
1/2 tps baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Mix ingredients together. Then mix in 1 egg and 1/4 cup of dashi or chicken broth. If dashi contains wheat, then substitute with chicken broth. Add this to cabbage and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

Fry out bacon and cut into small pieces. Drain off the bacon grease so that the pan is just lightly coated. Add cooked chicken, if you wish. Add 1 cup frozen peas that have been thawed, and sliced spring onion.

Before adding cabbage mixture to pan, mix the cabbage mixture once more. Then place cabbage mixture on top of meat and pea mixture to cover entire skillet. Do NOT mix. Place lid on top of frying pan and cook on medium heat until bottom browns. Remove lid, and flip pancake over by taking a large plate and flipping pancake onto the plate and then sliding pancake back onto the pan. Cook until underside is brown about 5-10 minutes. Slide pancake onto large plate and serve with gluten-free condiments to taste.

Sauces and condiments to use as final toppings, just make sure they are gluten-free:
Okonomi Sauce (most likely not gluten-free)
soy sauce
dried bonito flakes
red pickled ginger, minced
aonori (powdered seaweed)

If you want a pancake with more batter, then follow a good gluten-free pancake recipe, but omit sugars, milk, or buttermilk; and use 2 eggs and 1 cup of dashi or chicken broth.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Korean Rice Cakes and Beef Stroganoff

Why rice cakes? And how do I prepare them since they are hard as a rock before cooking? These were just some questions that came to mind when I first saw a package of rice cakes at the Asian grocery store. Rice cakes can easily be used as substitute for wheat flour pasta in many dishes, but how does one cook with them.

Preparing Rice Cakes:
The directions on the package can be a wee bit confusing, but not daunting.
These are my directions, taken from what I could figure out from the package.
Soak the frozen rice cakes in cool water for about 10 minutes. While they are soaking, boil a huge pot of water (same as if cooking pasta). Once the water is boiling, drop the rice cakes in and let them cook for just about 1-2 minutes (until just soft). Now the rice cakes are ready to add into soups, pan fry, or other dishes. I made Spicy Ground Beef Stroganoff with rice cakes.

My Spicy Ground Beef Stroganoff recipe.

1-2 lbs ground beef
10 large white button mushroom, sliced (I like to slice mine with an egg slicer)
1 large diced onion
~8 oz. sour cream
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cayenne red pepper
1-2 tsps. chile garlic sauce
1 cup peas
3 sliced spring onion

Cook ground beef with salt and pepper, then remove beef and leave fat and juices (that adds the liquid needed and flavor).
Cook diced onion until clear in color, about 5 minutes.
Add mushroom and cook to your liking.
Add cooked beef to onion and mushrooms.
Stir in sour cream, cayenne, chile garlic, cook for 5 minutes.
Add more spices if needed, to your taste.
Mix in peas and prepared rice cakes, cook for 5 minutes.
Top with sliced spring onions.

The Spicy Garlic that I used for this recipe I purchased in Asian grocery store. I didn't see any wheat on the list of ingredients. There is corn starch used as the thickener. I'm fine with that since I'm just gluten sensitive, but for those that are Celiac I would omit using this product just to be on the safe side. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rice Porridge for Breakfast

This is an easy meal that can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but in my house it is served mainly for breakfast. Start with leftover rice, then add enough water, ~2-3 cups, and cook the rice into a porridge.

Sometimes I add seaweed and leftover salmon.

I always add an egg by dropping it into the porridge to cook.

Soft rice porridge is so simple to make and a healthy morning start.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Red Velvet Cake

This is the second time I have made this Red Velvet Cake recipe. It has been a hit both times with everyone, even those that prefer eating gluten and have no issues eating gluten. My father-in-law loves this cake so much that my sister-in-law purchased for me this bottle of Red Velvet after I had made the first cake, just a hint to make another cake.

I followed this recipe: Instead of cupcakes, I made a layer cake. I like to frost my cakes with  8 oz. of mascarpone mixed with a 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. This dense and moist cake is so yummy!