December 31, 2008


Chocolate Trifle

Last evening was a funny time to make a special dessert, but I did. I found this chocolate trifle recipe after Christmas and wanted to try it out before making it for a family gathering this weekend. I used my gluten-free brownie recipe and followed the trifle recipe as is. My husband's comment was, "That's got to be the best dessert ever!" I thought it was great, but a bit too sweet. Most trifles are best after they sit overnight, but not this one. I made it when the brownies were still slightly warm, although completely cooled would be fine. I then put it in the refrigerator for about half an hour before serving. It's still good today, but the brownies are not as good after being cold all night. I haven't decided if I will make it the same way next time or just use chocolate pudding mixed according to the package for the second layer. Either way, it's a great recipe!


December 30, 2008


Whole Foods Pulls Some Gluten-Free Products

This article explains that the Chicago Tribune investigation I mentioned in a post earlier today revealed that several Wellshire Kids brand products labeled “gluten-free” were not in fact gluten-free.  The Dinosaur Shapes Chicken Bites, Chicken Corn Dogs and Beef Corn Dogs sold only at Whole Foods  contained between 116 and 2,200 parts per million of gluten.  The widely accepted level for a food to be labeled gluten-free is 20 parts per million.  If you have any of those products on hand, they should not be consumed by anyone on a gluten-free diet.  For more information click on the article link above.



Spinach Dip

My kids are not spinach fans. Whose kids are? They will eat it raw in salads if there’s not too much, and cooked in one casserole they like. However, there is one spinach recipe that they ASK for. In fact, it’s my pickiest eater who asks for it the most. It’s spinach dip served with gluten free focaccia bread. I made it last week, but forgot to take a picture. I thought someone might be interested in trying it for a New Year’s Eve party, though, so the recipe is below. The focaccia bread recipe that I use is a modified version of Carol Fenster's Focaccia Bread. The recipe is very good as is, so give it a try if you need a bread to go with the dip. Just make sure the bread is completely cooled before cutting it up to serve with the dip. I have cut it too soon, and it ends up drying out.
Gluten-Free Spinach Dip Recipe
Cook the spinach and drain very well pressing the spinach against the colander to squeeze out some liquid. Combine with the remaining ingredients and refrigerate. Allow to chill at least 2 hours before serving.
For more spinach recipes, visit The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.

View Printable Recipe



Problems with Food Labeling

The article Review of thousands of food items leads companies to pull products from shelves discusses how the Chicago Tribune found mislabeled products at stores in the Chicago area. The Tribune reviewed labels and conducted laboratory tests, alerting manufacturers to problems. As a result, some manufacturers are recalling products or changing the labels. The article also offers five lessons for people trying to protect themselves or their children from foods which are hazardous to their health. Those lessons, which are elaborated on in the article, are:
  1. Label errors abound
  2. Technically, some labels confuse
  3. Oats are often tainted with wheat
  4. Beware of imports
  5. Skip unlabeled food

The article is a good reminder that despite food labeling laws, food is not always labeled as it should be. It's our responsibility to be diligent about reading labels, knowing terms, and using both caution and common sense.

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December 29, 2008


Gluten-Free Belgian Waffles

I didn’t make waffles before being diagnosed with celiac disease, and I didn’t think about making them gluten-free until son #3 recently asked if I could. As a result, I received a Krups Belgian Waffle Maker for Christmas. It makes four waffles at a time which I decided would be best for our family of five.

I looked over several recipes and ended up modifying this recipe from RecipeZaar. I doubled the recipe as well as made some changes. My recipe made almost 16 rectangular Belgian waffles. They were light and fluffy and quite a treat to eat. We’re looking forward to more of them!

belgian waffle

Gluten-Free Belgian Waffle Recipe
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a medium sized bowl combine the milk, oil and eggs. To make sour milk add 1 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice per cup of milk and let sit a few minutes. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk together. Batter can be slightly lumpy. Pour onto a hot waffle maker. For large Belgian waffles, I cooked them 5 minutes.

Remove and top with syrup, fruit, and/or whipped cream.

View Printable Recipe



What’s in a Name: Celiac Disease

In my Internet reading I frequently come across the term “celiac’s.”  As in, “My mom has celiac’s.”  I understand how the mistake is made, but a mistake it is.  An apostrophe s has two possible meanings.  It can stand for the word “is” in a contraction in which case the above sentence would mean, “My mom has celiac is.”  Obviously that’s not right.

It can also be used to show possession.  “My mom has a disease belonging to celiac.”  That’s not right either.  Some diseases are named after people, such as Lou Gehrig’s disease.  In that case, Lou Gehrig actually had the disease so we could say that the disease belonged to him.

Celiac, however, is not a name.  It comes from the Latin word coeliacus meaning “of the bowels.”  Sometimes you will see the spelling “coeliac” which comes from the Latin spelling of the word and is used in Europe.  Celiac disease is a disease of the bowels not belonging to the bowels.  We say “heart disease” or “lung cancer”  not “heart’s disease” or “lung’s cancer.”  In the same way, celiac disease is like saying bowel disease.

I know it’s not all that important, but it’s one of those little things that bothers me every time I read it.  If you have celiac disease, or someone you love has it, I think it’s important to understand some basics, and what’s more basic than the meaning of the name?


December 24, 2008


Merry Christmas!

I'll be taking a break for the rest of the week, and I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas! I hope you spend your time (as I will) enjoying: family and friends, a break from daily routines, and plenty of delicious gluten-free food. I hope you take time to relax and remember what Christmas is really about. It is about Jesus being born. It is about the Son of God becoming man, living a perfect life, and dying a horrible death to save the very ones who crucified him. Jesus came to earth to make a way for there to be peace between God and man. I pray that you know that peace this Christmas.


Sweet & Salty Snack Mix

I recently gave you a link for Taste of Home's Corny Snack Mix. I gave it a try yesterday, and it was a huge hit with my family. This would be a great gluten-free snack to have around for the holidays. I of course substituted gluten-free cereal for the Corn Pops, but I also increased the amount of popcorn. I had plenty of popcorn to use, and I thought the sweetness could be stretched a bit. Here's my version of the recipe.

Sweet & Salty Gluten-Free Snack Mix



Using several large bowls, combine the popcorn, cereal, and chips. In a saucepan, heat the white morsels until melted and smooth. I used medium-high heat, stirring almost constantly, and didn't have any scorching. Spoon the melted morsels over the popcorn mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to baking pans/dishes and allow to cool. I put mine on top of my chest freezer in the garage. This allows the melted morsels to harden. You end up with a pan full of snack mix all stuck together. Break it into chunks and put into serving bowls.

View Printable Recipe


December 23, 2008


Cake Frosting Tip

As you can see, I'm not all that great at icing a cake, but I have learned on trick. To keep the cake plate (or in this case plastic) clean while frosting, place three sheets of wax paper under the cake. The paper should be in narrow rectangles and arranged to form a triangle that covers the surface area. When you are done frosting the cake, carefully pull the wax paper out, and any stray frosting will be removed with it. You need to pull each piece a little at a time to keep the cake from shifting one direction on the plate.

For more kitchen tips visit Tammy's Recipes.


December 22, 2008


Gluten-Free Holiday Guide

Gluten-Free Living Magazine has been a great source of information for me in the eight years that I have been diagnosed with celiac disease. They have done a lot of work researching ingredients, which was especially helpful before the food labeling law went into effect. On their web site they have a Gluten-Free Holiday Guide which discusses different categories of holiday food and provides a few recipes. If you're unsure about eating during the upcoming holidays (and even if you're not), you might find it very helpful.



Gluten-Free Search Engine

I learned from this press release about Gluten Free Fox, a new web site with a gluten-free Google powered search engine. You can type in something like "pasta" without specifying "gluten-free" and get gluten-free results! That doesn't mean that all search results will necessarily be gluten-free, but most of them are. A search for "blog" didn't show very good results compared to a search for "gluten-free blog." However, "recipes" did return mostly gluten-free results. They also have a few articles and a gluten-free food directory. Take a look and see for yourself. It's a site you will probably want to bookmark.


December 20, 2008


Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Recipe

A few days ago I included a yellow cake recipe at the end of a cranberry trifle recipe. I know I've used that cake recipe successfully before, but I tried it this morning and it didn't turn out well. In fact, I decided to make another cake and use my own recipe. This one turned out much better. I wish I had gotten a picture of the first one. It would make you laugh.

Yellow Cake

With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the mixing bowl alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mix. Pour into a sprayed 9 x 13 inch pan or 2 round cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees 30-40 minutes for the rectangular pan or 25-30 minutes for the round pans. Let the cake cool in the pans about 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack.

*I used 2 c. Bette Hagman's basic flour mix and 1/4 c. corn starch, but any flour mix should work well.

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December 19, 2008


Gluten-Free Snack Mix

Taste of Home has a recipe for Corny Snack Mix. The ingredients are popcorn, corn pops, corn chips, and vanilla or white chips (the ones like chocolate chips). I know the corn pops are not gluten free, but everything else is (remember to read ingredients). I think some gluten-free cereal such as Gorilla Munch, Panda Puffs, or Rice Chex could easily be substituted for the corn pops. Sounds like an interesting recipe to me. Let me know if you give it a try.


December 18, 2008


Cranberry Trifle

I've given you a couple of cranberry recipes this week, and I thought I would follow with a cranberry dessert. This recipe is adapted from Bette Hagman's cranberry trifle in her book The Gluten-Free Gourmet Makes Dessert. It looks nice in a trifle bowl or other clear serving bowl.

    1 sm. pkg. instant vanilla pudding
    3-4 c. torn yellow cake
    1/2 c. orange juice (or 1/4 c. o.j. and 1/4 c. rum)
    16 oz. whole berry cranberry sauce
    2 cans mandarin oranges, drained
    whipped cream or cool whip

Prepare the pudding according to the package instructions and chill. Place half the cake pieces in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with half the orange juice. Top with half the cranberry sauce, oranges, and pudding. Repeat cake, juice, cranberry sauce, oranges and pudding. Chill for several hours. Top with whipped cream or cool whip before serving.

For more great recipes and ideas visit Blessed With Grace's Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.
Stop by The Happy Housewife to see more desserts as part of the Bloggy Progressive Dinner.

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A Unique Way to Support Celiac Disease Research & Awareness

At Alek's Controllable Christmas Lights for Celiac Disease you can control an elaborate display of lights and decorations at the Komarnitsky home. It's free, but you're also invited to make a donation to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research. In addition, you can cast your vote for the Komarnitsky home in the KFC Christmas Contest. If they win, the $1,000 prize money will be donated directly from KFC to the Center for Celiac Research.

You can read an article about this light display at Daily Camera.



Coconut Macaroon Recipe Link

Pioneer Local published an article today entitled A smart little cookie for holiday gatherings. The author, who usually gives cookies as gifts, chose to make a gluten-free cookie this year.

"I chose macaroons because so many people I know (or their children) are allergic to wheat or are gluten-intolerant, a condition known as celiac disease. "

The article provides a recipe for golden macaroons which are naturally gluten-free and contain coconut. The macaroons sound easy to make and tasty. I am going to give the recipe a try and possibly make some for gifts.



Celiac Disease - A Yuppie Health Condition

Top 10 "Yuppie" Health Conditions is an article found on the ABC News web site. The article covers ten conditions that patients wish would be taken more seriously. The first condition listed is "Wheat Allergy or Celiac Disease or Gluten Allergy." It includes quotes from Dr. Alessio Fasano, Director of the Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore, Maryland. Other conditions discussed in the article include chronic fatigue syndrome, tennis elbow, general anxiety disorder, and restless leg syndrome.


December 17, 2008


Ratatouille - A Delicious Vegetable Dish

A few years ago I tried ratatouille and simply loved it. This recipe is based on Bette Hagman's vegetable casserole in her book More from the Gluten-Free Gourmet. Many recipes call for cooking it on the stove. I like Bette's method of doing it in the oven. Either way, fresh vegetables, olive oil and herbs combine to make a delicious dish. It can be served alone or put on top of just about anything. It tastes good the first day, but it's even better if you let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. You can even make it a couple of days ahead of time and just reheat it when you're ready to serve.


    1 medium eggplant, cubed
    1 large onion, chopped
    2-3 small zucchini, halved and sliced
    2-3 cloves garlic, minced
    16 oz. diced tomatoes, drained
    1/2 medium red pepper, chopped
    1 Tb. dried parsley
    1/2 tsp. oregano
    1 tsp. salt
    1/3 c. olive oil
    1/8 tsp. ground thyme

Combine all ingredients in a casserole dish. Mix well to coat the vegetables with the oil and herbs. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, stirring about every 1/2 hour. The vegetables cook down considerably so what looks like a large volume to begin with will look much smaller in the end.

Notes: You can try adding any vegetable you like such as carrots, yellow squash, or green pepper. Vary the amounts of vegetables to your taste. You can also substitute chopped fresh tomatoes for the canned ones. Most recipes call for fresh, but I dislike cutting fresh tomatoes.

The Bloggy Progressive Dinner continues today at The Finer Things in Life with main dish ideas. While ratatouille isn't a main dish, it can be a delicious part of the main course. Do you like ratatouille?



Starfish Battered Fish Now Gluten-Free

According to a press release which you can read at Market Watch, Starfish has developed a line of gluten-free battered fish. A quote from the press release states:
The response from consumers has been enthusiastic, with many Starfish consumers preferring the gluten-free Starfish crispy battered products to the conventional wheat-based batters.

Starfish's gluten-free crispy battered products are available nationally at Whole Foods and numerous independent grocers..
I think this is pretty exciting news. It will probably be a big hit with kids who have celiac disease or eat gluten free for other reasons. Although battered fish isn't something I would eat often, it might be nice to have on occasion.

My concern right now is cross contamination. I was unable to find information regarding the processing of this product and what precautions are taken to prevent cross contamination. I wonder if they put a statement on the package. If any of you find more information, please let me know.

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Decorative Calendar Holder

Picture courtesy of

For years I have kept a calendar in the kitchen. It's helpful to me to see the whole month and to have appointments and events written down in a place that I see often. Even when I had a daily planner or a PDA, I used a kitchen calendar. Tools like that can be useful, but a kitchen calendar is available to the whole family.

When we moved to our current home, I couldn't find an obscure place to put our calendar. Any available space was just out in the open, in a place where a calendar hanging on a nail would be unattractive. My solution was to purchase a calendar holder. It provides a frame for the calendar, a hook to hang it on, and basket underneath. Mine is just like the one in the picture above. I also found a couple of complementary plaques to hang on either side of it. I've had it for several years and have been pleased.

The only drawback is that the holder is made to work with the calendar size that Current sells. Most calendars sold in stores are too large for the frame. I don't mind. I like the smaller size. It meets our needs without being overpowering. Current sells many different calendars with nice pictures and their prices are reasonable. At present there are seven Current calendar holders to choose from. You might want to consider one for your home.

For more great idease visit Rocks in My Dryer's Works for Me Wednesday.


December 16, 2008


Pineapple Cranberry Salad

My mom always loves to serve a jello salad with a holiday meal. I think jello salads are usually sweet enough to be served with dessert, but this one I've served with a main meal. Once again, I don't have a picture to show you, but with the cranberry sauce and raspberry jello, it is a pretty red addition to the menu. It is also naturally gluten free! (Just remember to always check the ingredient list on packages/cans.)

8 oz. can crushed pineapple
2 small packages raspberry jello
16 oz. whole berry cranberry sauce
1 medium apple, chopped
1/3 c. chopped walnuts

Drain the pineapple, reserving the liquid. Add enough water to the liquid to measure 2 cups. Pour into a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Add the dry jello and stir until dissolved. Add the cranberry sauce and stir until blended. Refrigerate about 1 1/2 hours until thickened but not set.

Stir in the pineapple, chopped apple, and chopped walnuts. Pour into a 6 cup mold that is sprayed with cooking spray. Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Turn the mold onto a serving plate. Makes 10 servings.

Note: I don't have a jello mold so I have used a bundt pan instead. Worked well for me.

The Bloggy Progressive Dinner continues today with salads at Parenting the Tiniest of Miracles. Stop by for more great recipes.



Gluten-Free Baked Goods in Chicago

Here is a video clip and article from Chicago's abc 7 News. It briefly explains celiac disease and interviews Lisa Albertson from Deerfield Bakery. Even if you don't live in the Chicago area (like me) you might be interested in the two recipes that are given: Amazing Chocolate Pecan Pie and Gluten-Free Mushroom Leek Stuffing.

Gluten Free Baked Goods


December 15, 2008


Christmas Tree and Warm Fruit Punch

Today is the 2008 Christmas Tour of Homes at Boo Mama and the beginning of A Bloggy Progressive Dinner hosted by The Finer Things in life. The progressive dinner starts out with drinks at Five J's. I thought I would combine the two and show you my Christmas tree along with a recipe for warm fruit punch.

I feel pretty bad that it's December 15 and the only decorating I've done is putting up the Christmas tree. I would have done some over the weekend, but our puppy was spayed on Thursday and her recovery has been time consuming, tiring, and interesting. I think she's healing well enough, but she's been fearful, especially at night. She has also developed a new way of expressing herself--howling. She now howls at a number of things. Do you think it has to do with the full moon we had the other night? Anyway, back to Christmas.

I haven't gotten out our nativity set which is usually what I put up after the tree. It's not really anything special as far as nativity sets go, but it's special to us. Even though I can't show you a picture, I thought I would tell you where it came from. My mother-in-law had a tradition of giving a nativity set to each of her children the first Christmas they were married. I enjoy the decoration not only because it reminds us of the reason for Christmas, but also because it reminds us of my mother-in-law. It's even more special now that she is gone. I hope it is a tradition that we will follow with our kids.

Earlier, I wrote about our Christmas tree, and why we use an artificial tree. In this picture you can't see the variety of ornaments we have on the tree, but you can see the red balls. I put those on to help tie it together and I always like the way it looks. The balls are not glass, but are covered in satiny fibers. They look pretty and shiny and don't break if they fall on the floor!

Now, how would you like to have some warm fruit punch? I got this recipe from my mom years ago. People always enjoy it, adults and kids. This recipe uses the crockpot, but I'm sure you could adapt it to the stove top.

Warm Fruit Punch

8 c. water
12 oz. frozen cran-raspberry juice concentrate, thawed
12 oz. frozen orange juice, thawed
6 oz. frozen lemonade, thawed
1/4 c. sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
1/4 tsp. cloves
orange slices

Combine all ingredients in the crockpot. Heat on high for 3 hours, then turn to low. Remove the spices. (I use a tea ball for the cloves.) Garnish with orange slices. If you have a keep warm setting that would be perfect for serving the punch. It's so easy!


December 11, 2008


Genetic Link Between Type 1 Diabetes & Celiac Disease

An article in US News & World Report states:
"Researchers have identified common genetic mutations between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, suggesting that the two inflammatory disorders may stem from a shared underlying mechanism. "
"Researchers had previously seen genetic links between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease...But the new research shows there is "considerable overlap, and much more than we anticipated" he said. "Almost every celiac disease susceptibility gene had an effect in type 1 diabetes." "

If you want details, see the article in The New England Journal of Medicine.



Making a Christmas Gift Bag

This evening I'm home with my recovering puppy, but the rest of my family is at a party. They each had to take a white elephant gift with them, and I found myself scrambling to put one more gift together just before dinner. The item I had didn't fit in any gift bags I had, and I didn't want to take the time to wrap it. What I did took more time than wrapping it would have, but it was much more fun.

I found a brown paper bag with Pier One written in the middle on both sides. It was a nice bag with handles, though, so I thought I would decorate it. I didn't have stamps, and that wouldn't solve the problem of the name. Since I had a box of paper to be recycled sitting out for tomorrow's pick up, I decided to look through it. I had several catalogs from places like Harry & David and The Popcorn Factory. They were full of great Christmas pictures. I sat down and started cutting and gluing and ended up with the pictures you see. The kids and I both thought it turned out pretty well.

I saved the wrapping paper and used something I had on hand. What resourceful means have you used to wrap gifts this season?

For more frugal tips check out Frugal Fridays.



This Week's Menu & Nacho Casserole Recipe

When I wrote my first "What's for Dinner?" post I thought I would write at least one per week, but I haven't done it. My reasoning behind the "What's for Dinner?" idea is that it helps people new to the gluten-free diet to have an idea of what other people eat. As I mentioned here, I don't menu plan. However, I thought I would show you this week's menu since it's half over and I have a good idea of what we'll have the rest of the week. I also have a recipe for you!

Sunday: Roast beef, brown rice (out of potatoes), gravy (made with corn starch), fresh steamed broccoli

Monday: Nacho Casserole (recipe below), salad

Tuesday: Baked chicken breasts with olive oil and dry Italian and Ranch dressing mixes sprinkled on top, quinoa, fresh steamed green beans

Wednesday: Sausage, pancakes, and fresh fruit

Thursday: Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, zucchini and onions sauteed in butter with dill weed

Friday: Gluten-free pizza (see recipe index), salad

Saturday: Leftover chicken used in a soup or casserole, not sure what else

Gluten-Free Nacho Casserole

1 pound ground beef
1 pkg. taco seasoning (McCormick is GF)
1 can refried beans (or other beans of choice)
1 c. salsa
1 c. shredded cheese (cheddar or Mexi blend)
Tortilla chips

Cook and drain the beef. Add the taco seasoning mix and prepare according to the package instructions. In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, spread the refried bean over the bottom. Add the beef spreading it evenly to the edges. Pour the salsa on top. You can use more than 1 cup if desired. Put some lightly crushed tortilla chips over top. You don't want crumbs, just not really big chips. Put on a thick layer. Top with the shredded cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Note: This is not a thick casserole. We ate it all and could have eaten more, but didn't really need more.

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December 10, 2008


Writing a Christmas Letter

I like receiving Christmas letters from family and friends. Let's face it. Who has time to write long personal notes to everyone on their Christmas card list? I like hearing what's going on in people's lives. It's nice if they add a brief personal note, but either way I think a form letter is better than a card with only a signature.

Having said that, I should correct myself and say that I like a well written Christmas letter. There are lots of ways that can be done. What I don't like are letters that give lots of details, details that only a few people would be interested in (maybe only one person, Grandma).

Since I like receiving those letters, I also send them. I've done it different ways over the years. Some have had a full page of writing. Some have had half a page of writing. Some have had pictures on them and some haven't. This year I wasn't inspired to write much. Instead I put lots of pictures on the page. I didn't get a good family picture taken so I included pictures of individual family members. Next to the pictures I added a brief description of what each person was doing. I think it turned out well. People can see how the kids are growing and how hubby and I are aging, and they learn the basics of what we've been up to.

Writing a Christmas letter works for me. How about you? Do you like receiving them? Do write them?

To find out what works for other people visit Rocks in My Dryer's Works for Me Wednesday.


December 9, 2008


A Few Gluten-Free Recipe Links

These recipes come from The Washington Post but were adapted from other recipes.

This one is adapted from a Carol Fenster recipe (I don't know what they changed). It uses my favorite flour, sorghum, so I'll be giving it a try.

Frosted Spice Cookies

This is adapted from a recipe on the blog 101 Cookbooks. It uses oats and almond meal. If you can handle oats, it calls for the old fashioned rolled type which is how most gluten-free oats are made.

Nikki's Healthy Cookies

This recipe comes from the book Holiday Cookies. It uses almond paste and is naturally gluten free.

Sardinian Almond Cookies
Almond Paste

Here is another recipe adapted from a Carol Fenster recipe. It is flourless.
White Chocolate Apricot Almond Balls

If you try any of these, let me know how they turn out.


December 8, 2008


Six Layer Bars

Here is a modified version of the well known seven layer bars recipe. I changed it to six layers because I have left out the butterscotch chips. You could, however, use gluten-free white morsels in place of half the chocolate chips. This is a well liked recipe and it's so easy to make. Traditionally, it has a graham cracker crust. I use sorghum flour and brown sugar in this recipe. You could also try using crushed gluten-free cookies. I use a nut crust in many recipes, but thought I would try something different since there are nuts on top. I think the sorghum worked well, and my family liked it.

Gluten-Free Six Layer Bars


    1 1/2 c. sorghum flour
    1/2 c. brown sugar
    1/2 c. butter, melted
    14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
    2 c. chocolate chips
    1 1/3 c. coconut
    1 c. nuts, chopped
Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Combine the butter, sorghum flour and brown sugar. Press into the bottom of the pan. Drizzle half the sweetened condensed milk on top. Sprinkle the chocolate chips, coconut, and nuts on top. Drizzle with the remaining condensed milk. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into bars. If you can't wait, you'll need to use a fork.

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December 6, 2008


Cinnamon Roll Update

The batch of cinnamon rolls I made the other day was just a teaser for us. Son #3 practically begged me to make some more today. After I did, he said I spoil them too much! This time I made a double batch with the sorghum flour just like last time, except I remembered to add the oil. It made a BIG difference. They were much softer and as good as the original recipe. I will be making this new recipe for Christmas!

If you're interested in making a double batch, here's what I did. I kept the yeast at 1 tablespoon. I increased the xanthan gum to 4 teaspoons. I warmed 1 1/3 c. milk, but held back 1/4 cup. The last time I used all the milk, but that was probably because I forgot the oil. I mixed the double batch of dough together, then divided it in half to roll out two separate logs. After they were cut and ready to bake, I placed them in a 9 x 13 inch metal baking pan. They baked for about 22 minutes.

If you haven't tried this recipe yet, what are you waiting for?



Jelly Belly Candy Canes

Yesterday I picked up a box of Jelly Belly candy canes and was pleased to read the following on the back of the package:
This product does not contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat or gluten. It has been manufactured on dedicated equipment.
I like supporting companies who not only make gluten-free products, but make it a point to communicate that information. If you have a gluten-free child (or not, as in my case), pick up a box of Jelly Belly candy canes for the holidays. We like their non traditional flavors.


December 5, 2008


Our Christmas Tree

I'm going to let you in on a secret. For many years we have had an artificial Christmas tree. I know there are strong feelings on both sides of the real vs. artificial tree debate. I can't say I have strong feelings, and I don't do it to save the trees. I do like using an artificial tree, though. Initially, we bought a fake tree to save money. Trees were very expensive at the time and we thought it was wiser to put money into a tree that could be used for many years.

We bought the tree at an after Christmas sale. Trying to get the best tree we could for the money we wanted to spend, we bought one that was very realistic looking. It was full and beautiful. One piece of information they list with the trees is how many tips the tree has. That means how many little branch tips there are. We bought a tree with 5,000 tips. It had way more than most of the other trees. That was why it looked so nice. Unfortunately, I didn't realize that those 5,000 tips had to be shaped when you set up the tree. Yes, 5,000 little fake branch pieces to straighten up and spread out.

Every year it took a long time to set up that tree. Not only did I have to shape the 5,000 tips, but each branch had to be put into the trunk. We had to look at the directions every year. The branches were color coded and had to be put on in the correct order. I never timed it, but I know it took at least 2 hours just to set up the tree. At least it did look really beautiful. I don't remember how many years we had it, but we got our money's worth out of those 5,000 tips.

Last year we passed that tree on to a friend and bought a new one. I'm especially happy with the new one. It has a reasonable 1,500 tips and still looks great. It also comes in three pieces and has lights on it! I timed the set up. It took me 30 minutes to get the box down from the attic (with help) and get it set up (by myself) with lights on and ready for ornaments. Wow! It looks great, too. It's about a foot shorter than our old one, but for having a lot less tips, it still looks nice and full and beautiful.

We bought that tree before Christmas last year at WalMart. I don't remember what we paid. The regular price was $200, but I know it was significantly discounted. We will probably break even after three years of use.

I know there's a lot of fun in picking out or cutting down a real tree. We have done it a few times over the years just so the kids have that experience. Having done it both ways, though, I'm happy with the artificial. Besides, I always seem to have sinus problems when we get a real tree.

For more frugal ideas check out Frugal Fridays at Biblical Womanhood.


December 4, 2008


Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

I have added an update to this post, and I have posted a more whole grain version of the recipe.

For years our family has had the tradition of eating a nice Christmas breakfast together, including cinnamon rolls. They were always one of the highlights for the kids (well, for everyone). The year I was diagnosed with celiac disease we went without cinnamon rolls. No one complained, but it just wasn't the same and I was determined to find a recipe by the next Christmas. I tried a number of recipes and ended up modifying one that I was pretty happy with. We had those every Christmas until last year. That's when I found Roben Ryberg's cinnamon roll recipe. I was blown away. It was so easy and so very very good. My family raved about them. I will never go back to my old recipe, however, I have had a desire to modify Roben's recipe.

Like my son, you're probably wondering why I would want to modify something that is already practically perfect. After trying to explain to my son without using these words he said, "Oh, you want to make them healthier." Yes. I do. I don't want to ruin them, but Roben's recipe uses only starch as the flour. So today to tried one simple modification. I substituted sorghum flour for the potato starch.

The verdict: My family didn't notice any difference. I has been months since I made them, so the old recipe is not fresh in their minds. They were mostly surprised that I made cinnamon rolls and thrilled to eat them. I noticed the difference. The sorghum added a slightly different flavor. They were a little heavier and didn't fill out as much. They seemed a little dryer, but then I realized I forgot to add the oil. One big concern I had was how the dough would handle, but that was fine. Overall, I was very pleased with the results. I think I might go back to the original recipe for Christmas as long as we have plenty of protein along with it.

I put the rolls together in slightly less than half an hour and they baked for 20 minutes. From start to finish you can have fresh delicious cinnamon rolls in less than an hour! That's better than you can do with wheat flour. You can also put the unbaked rolls in the refrigerator overnight and bake them in the morning. I did that last Christmas and didn't notice any difference from when I baked them immediately. And finally, the recipe....

The Best Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls

  • 2/3 - 1 c. brown sugar 
  • 1 1/4 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1/3 c. chopped nuts (optional) 
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla 
  • milk

Using a mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Mix well. Add the milk, egg, oil, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the wet mixture. (If you don't use instant yeast, you should add it to the milk.) Beat on high until well mixed with no lumps. The dough will be soft. You might want to hold back a little milk and see how the consistency is after you mix it. The first time I made these they were too wet and barely held together. They ended up not being distinct rolls in the dish, but they still tasted great. I did use the whole amount of milk in this version of the recipe.

Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and sprinkle it with sugar. Lay the dough on top and cover it with another piece of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 13 1/2 inch square. Lift the top piece of plastic wrap often and reposition if necessary. You can spray the wrap with cooking spray if the dough is sticking.

Combine the filling ingredients. I prefer to use 2/3 c. brown sugar. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap. Spread the filling on the dough leaving a margin at one side. As you roll the dough, the filling with get shifted. The margin keeps it from being pushed all the way out at the end. Roll the dough by lifting up the plastic wrap. Once you get the roll started, it will roll on its own. Once rolled, smooth out the edge. If you want nice clean end pieces, cut a little off each end. I leave them as is. Cut the roll into 8 or nine slices. I do 8 because it's easy to make them even. I cut the roll in half, then cut each half in half, then cut the quarters in half. Use a sharp knife. I find it helps to spray it with cooking spray. Place the rolls in a glass pie dish and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Combine the glaze ingredients. Add milk a teaspoon at a time until the glaze is the right consistency. You can adjust the amount of glaze to your taste. Drizzle the glaze over the warm rolls and serve! I usually make a double recipe because they don't last long and eight rolls is not enough for everyone to have two!

View Printable Recipe

This post is linked to Holiday Food Fest.  For more scrumptious recipes visit Happy to be at Home.


December 2, 2008


Toasting Nuts for More Flavor

I didn't think I would have a kitchen tip to post today, but last night I was reminded of one as I was making muffins. Toasting nuts brings out their flavor. It's easy to do and makes anything you add the nuts to more tasty. If I'm baking something like muffins, I put the nuts in the oven while it's preheating. Spread them out on a cookie sheet and bake about five to ten minutes. It's best to toast them whole and chop them afterwards. Chopped nuts will burn quickly. You can also toast them on the stove top in a heavy skillet. Stir them often until they are golden brown and you can smell their nutty fragrance.

For more kitchen tips visit Tammy's Recipes.


December 1, 2008


Cooking in a Hotel Room

I saw this how-to on my google homepage and decided to take a look. I've cooked in a hotel room a number of times. I've always used a microwave, though. Either one the hotel provided or one I brought with me. These ideas crack me up. I don't think I would try them unless I was desperate, but being celiac that could happen. What do you think?

How to Cook Food in a Hotel Room


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