March 31, 2009


Hamburger Soup – What’s for Dinner Wednesday

what's for dinner wednesday 5

Welcome to What’s for Dinner Wednesday (gluten-free style). At the end of my recipe you will find links to other blogs with gluten-free dinner ideas. We would love for you to join by adding your link. If you have not participated before, please read the guidelines here.

I wasn’t sure I would have a recipe to post this week because I made so many dinners from last week’s WFDW recipes. There were several pasta dishes last week which inspired me to make my own pasta dish using what I had on hand. I wanted to show you my picture.

pasta, veggies & meat

I mixed gluten-free penne tossed in olive oil, a little bacon, leftover chicken, broccoli, and zucchini. I added basil and seasoned salt. The family really liked it. Now on to my recipe.

Spring is here, but it is still cool in Maryland. Cool enough that I made soup the other evening. I had some ground beef to use and pulled out this recipe which I hadn’t used in a while. I used 1 1/2 pounds ground beef because my boys like a meaty soup. After dinner, son #2 said, “That’s my favorite soup!” I made it in the pressure cooker, but it can also be done in the crock pot or on the stovetop.

Hamburger Soup



Pressure cooker: Brown and drain the ground beef. In pot combine water or broth, onion, potatoes (cut in 1/2 inch pieces), carrots and celery (whole) and bay leaf. Bring to high pressure and cook for 4 minutes. Bring pressure down under cold running water. Remove lid and slice the carrots and celery. Stir in the thyme, basil, salt, and pepper.

Crock pot: Brown and drain the ground beef. Lightly sauté the onion. Dice the potatoes (pretty small), thinly slice the carrots and celery. Add everything to the crock pot and cook on low 8 – 12 hours or high 3 – 5 hours.

Stovetop: Brown and drain the ground beef. Combine all ingredients in a pot and cook until the vegetables are tender.

If you are a reader who benefits from this blog carnival, please consider leaving comments to let people know you appreciate their ideas.

1. Brian (Enchiladas)
2. Rachel (Beef Curry)
3. Jessie (Simple Salmon)
4. Wendy (Turkey Meatball Stroganoff)
5. The W.H.O.L.E. Gang-Veg Huevos Rancheros
6. Gina (Steak, roasted potatoes)
7. Melanie (Potato salad and more)

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March 27, 2009


Gluten-Free Flour Mixes

If you’re new to the gluten-free diet and are trying your hand at gluten-free baking, you might be a bit overwhelmed because there are so many gluten free flours. Unfortunately, you can’t just buy a type of flour and substitute it for wheat flour. Gluten-free flours usually have to be combined to work well in baked goods.

Once you’ve figure that out, there’s a new problem. There are so many gluten-free flour mixes! There are recipes in cookbooks and on web sites for flour mixes, and there are packaged mixes at the health food store. Which one should you use?

To answer that question, you have to ask yourself a few other questions.
There are so many flour mixes out there because people have different answers to those questions. If there was one perfect gluten-free flour mix, we would all be using it! Once you have answered those questions, look for flour mixes that meet your requirements for the first four questions. Try them out to see how they match with your answers to the last two questions, and you will find what works for you.
Here are my personal answers to the above questions:
When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, there was not the wealth of information and recipes available that there is now. My greatest help came from cookbooks by Bette Hagman that I found at the library. Bette Hagman was a pioneer in the field of gluten-free baking and cooking. In some ways, we all owe her our gratitude for blazing the trail. One of her many accomplishments was to develop a gluten-free flour mix that works well in many recipes. I don’t use it as much as I used to, but I still keep the mix on hand and find that it works particularly well in dessert recipes.

Bette Hagman’s basic gluten-free flour mix (she did develop other mixes):
The second cookbook author who has greatly influenced me is Carol Fenster. You can check her out at Savory Palate. She also has several flour mixes, but my favorite is her sorghum flour blend.
You can see that Carol’s mix has more starch than Bette’s which makes it lighter. It does not contain rice, which is a benefit for those who can’t have it or don’t like the texture of rice flour. I also keep this flour mix on hand. Sometimes I will use a combination of the two mixes.

I know there are plenty of other good, nutritional gluten-free flours such as amaranth, millet, and quinoa. Some I have tried, some I haven’t. I occasionally try different things, but I run out of room to store so many flours, and what I have works.

You will find that most of my recipes on this site do not call for a flour mix, but have individual flour amounts listed. I do that so that if you want to duplicate what I have done, you can do so without having to make up a flour mix first. It is also because I am often tweaking a recipe a little. However, you can substitute whatever flour mix you like using for the total amount of flour I have listed, and you should still get good results. Just remember that if your flour mix has xanthan gum in it, omit that from the recipe or adjust it.

The one exception to substituting any flour mix would be when making a loaf of bread. If you’ve tried it, you know that baking gluten-free bread is tricky. Therefore, I recommend following anyone’s bread recipe closely the first time, unless you just like to experiment.
If you have questions about gluten-free flours or mixes, please leave a comment or send me an email.


March 26, 2009


7 Things You May Not Know About Me


  1. I have lots of hair! (My mom tried everything to keep it down.)
  2. I love the snow and hate being hot.
  3. My husband proposed to me on a mountain top, in the snow.
  4. I have two autoimmune diseases: celiac disease AND Hashimoto’s thyroid disease.
  5. I hate lima beans. Always have, always will.
  6. I share my birthday with Nancy Reagan, Merv Griffin, Sylvester Stallone, and George W. Bush (Listed in order of birth year. I’m the youngest.)
  7. I taught 4th grade before having my own kids.

Thanks to Diane at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang for tagging me. The 7 people I am tagging are:

The rules are simple. Link to your original tagger and list these rules in your post. Simply share seven facts about yourself in the post. Tag seven people at the end of your post and let them know they’ve been tagged. And have fun!



Celiac Disease on “The View”

This video with Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Dr. Peter Green is from 2007, but it is a good overview of celiac disease.

My thanks to Wendy at Celiacs in the House for the heads up on this one.


March 24, 2009


Beef Barbecue Sandwich

beef barbeque sandwich

This sandwich idea, whether it’s beef barbecue or some other filling, is an all time favorite at my house. For this particular sandwich, I used leftover beef and added Bull’s-Eye Barbecue Sauce, which does not contain high fructose corn syrup.

Going back to the beef, the evening before we had this, I cooked two large chuck roasts in my pressure cooker. One we had for dinner, the other I saved for this meal. It was perfect beef for barbecue—falling apart and stringy. I trimmed the fat, cut it or pulled it apart with a fork, and heated it in a sauce pan with the barbecue sauce.

What really makes this sandwich great, though, is the bread. I used the same focaccia bread recipe that I told you makes great hamburger buns. I put the dough into a 9 inch cake pan and a 10 inch springform pan. Two cake pans would also work. After it baked, I removed it from the pan and let it cool about 5 minutes.

beef sandwich 2I then sliced the loaves in half horizontally. I used an electric knife which worked great. If it’s gummy in the middle, it needs to cool more.

beef sandwich 3 Next, I spread the meat on the bottom pieces and placed the tops on them.

beef sandwich 4 beef sandwich 5

Since the bread and filling were both warm, I simply cut the big sandwiches into wedges and served them.

The two sandwiches were enough to feed my family of five with half of one left over. They were filling, but tasted so good, we hated to stop eating. That’s the kind of meal a mom likes to serve. We had a spinach salad with it which was good, and healthy, but definitely took second place to the sandwiches.

Try this with different fillings. Anything that is good in a hot sandwich will work, such as ham and cheese. Get creative, and try different sauces such as salad dressing or olive oil to add moisture. If you put a cold filling on the sandwich, simply wrap it in foil and return it to the hot oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

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March 23, 2009


Ham & Cheese Corn Muffins

ham-cheese corn muffinThe other day I wanted to make a breakfast muffin with more protein than the usual fruity muffins I make. I chose ground ham and grated cheese as my protein sources and thought that corn bread would go well with it. The ham gave the muffins plenty of flavor, but you could certainly add some herbs or onion powder. These were not real cheesy since I have one kid who doesn’t like cheesy.  These are a great breakfast or snack muffin. They are a little on the dry side as corn muffins tend to be. Spreading a little bit of butter on them helps a lot.

Gluten-Free Ham & Cheese Corn Muffins

In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the ham and cheese. In a smaller bowl or glass measuring cup combine the liquid ingredients. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix to remove most of the lumps. Spoon into a muffin tin that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes.

View Printable Recipe

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March 20, 2009


Uno’s Chicago Grill Coupon

If you haven’t yet signed up at Be Free For here’s a good reminder. This morning I received a coupon from them by email. It’s good for $1 off your next gluten-free pizza purchase at Uno’s. If you’re not signed up yet, don’t worry, you can get your coupon here.


March 19, 2009



Ultimate Blog Party 2009Hi! Welcome to The Gluten-Free Homemaker. In case you haven’t heard, 5 Minutes for Mom is hosting the Ultimate Blog Party this week. So for those of you who are new to my blog, I’ll tell you a little about it.

In the fall of 2000, I was diagnosed with celiac diboys 3-19-09sease, an autoimmune disease which can only be treated by a strict gluten-free diet. Since my diagnosis, I’ve been learning to cook and bake gluten-free. I have greatly enjoyed the challenge and have discovered that gluten-free can be delicious. Many of my family’s favorite foods are a result of my gluten-free endeavors. My husband and three sons, ages 17, 15, and 12 are my taste testers. They are very happy with that job.

With the goal of passing on some of what I have learned, I started this blog in August 2008. I write about gluten-free recipes, gluten-free living, celiac disease and any other related topics.

what's for dinner wednesday small2 “What’s for Dinner Wednesday (gluten-free style)” is a blog carnival I began hosting last month. The goal is to provide a place where people can get gluten-free dinner ideas and to help build a sense of community among gluten-free bloggers and readers. So far, it has been great with some really good dinner ideas.

I hope you take a few minutes to look around. If you like what you see, why not subscribe to my RSS feed? The subscription button is in the top left corner of my sidebar.

Don’t forget to head over to the Ultimate Blog Party! Besides having links to lots of great blogs, they are also having giveaways. My top three picks would be:

  1. Kitchen Aid Artisan Stand Mixer - a great tool for gluten-free bakers!
  2. $100 gift card to Home Goods
  3. $50 Targe gift certificates offered by Shoot Me Now, Agoosa, and Beginner Baby Blog
  4. Retro apron from Country Girl, City Life (USC 58)

And since we're supposed to list any of the prizes we would like, here they are somewhat in the order I would want them. 88,68, 26, 91, 113, 118, 123, 121, 11, 12, 15, 43, 50


March 17, 2009


Spicy Western Beans

Beans are not a favorite in my family, especially lentils.  However, this is a recipe we all like.  Perhaps it's the bacon, and that we usually add shredded cheese on top. This bean soup makes a tasty inexpensive meal. My instructions are for cooking it in a crock pot, but it could be cooked on the stove.  More more crock pot recipes check out What's in Your Crock Pot at Smockity Frocks.  For other delicious recipes visit Tasty Tuesday and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday.

Spicy Western Beans


Boil the lentils in 1 1/3 cups water for 20-30 minutes. Drain. Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

My kids usually don’t like lentils, but I put them in anyway. However, I could only find red lentils at the store. I had never used that variety, so I boiled them as usual. I was left with nothing but mush. I strained it and stirred it into the soup, and the kids never knew they were there!

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Gluten-Free Chex Cereals - Available June 1st

This is a follow-up to my post, Corn Chex are NOT Gluten-Free.

After seeing pictures of Corn Chex and Strawberry Chex with “gluten-free” printed boldly on the front, I decided to call General Mills for the second time today.

This lady informed me that they received an email today stating that the following products are being reformulated to be gluten-free and will be widely available June 1st.

She said the boxes that have been seen in the stores already are probably part of a test market. When the gluten-free cereals are available, they will be clearly labeled gluten-free.

Yeah!!!!  Thank you General Mills!

If you don’t know, Rice Chex are already gluten-free. In regards to cross-contamination, their web site says,

“General Mills has prevented cross contamination and has tested the formula based on the proposed FDA standards.”

I assume the same will be true of the above listed cereals. Now we just have to patiently wait until June 1st!



Corn Chex Are NOT Gluten-Free

Please read my Chex update here.

When General Mills reformulated Rice Chex to make it gluten-free, we all rejoiced. Now, word has been passed on Twitter that Corn Chex, as well as other Chex varieties, are now gluten-free. I even retweeted the information. Then I read a blog post saying that the author spoke with General Mills and confirmed the reformulations.

I thought it was odd that I had not seen a press release about this and that the General Mills web site still only claimed Rice Chex to be gluten-free. Therefore, I called the number given at the Chex website. I was told that only Rice Chex are gluten-free, that any gluten-free products will be labeled, and that there are currently no Chex cereals other than Rice Chex which are labeled as gluten-free.

The person I spoke to was aware of the information being passed around on the Internet and told me the information was incorrect. When I asked if the company was working on reformulating other Chex cereals, she said she was not privy to that information.

Now, I admit it is possible, though unlikely, that the person I spoke to had not yet been informed of a change. The point is to be careful and always read labels. If I read an official statement from General Mills or see information on their web site contrary to what I have stated here, I’ll definitely pass it on. I would certainly be happy to have more gluten-free options available in the cereal isle of regular grocery stores.

You can read follow-up information to this post here.


March 16, 2009


Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

When I made these bars last week my husband couldn’t stop eating them. He said, “You can’t make these anymore.” Knowing he didn’t really want me to stop making them I simply said, “Okay.”  Then he answered, “Well…you can make them, just put some of them away.”

This recipe is adapted from Fudgy Oatmeal Bars by Betty Crocker. I changed the name from fudgy to chocolate because of a change I made in the recipe. The original one called for a can of sweetened condensed milk to be mixed in with the chocolate. I thought that would be way too much sugar so I left it out and added a little milk instead.

chocolate oatmeal bars Ingredients

First (and third) layer:

Second layer:


With a mixer, beat the sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. Add it to the mixing bowl and mix until combined. Remove beaters and stir in the oats. Reserve about 1/3 of this mixture. Pat the rest of the mixture onto the bottom of a greased jelly roll pan (15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 1 in.). I used a plastic bag over my hand, sprayed with cooking spray to pat the mixture down.

Note: I find that regular oats cause baked goods to fall apart easily. I twirl them in the food processor for a minute or so which seems to solve the problem.

In a saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 Tb. butter and chocolate chips. Stir in the  milk, vanilla, salt and nuts. Spread over the bottom layer in the pan. Move quickly because the chocolate gets stiff as it cools.

Drop the remaining oat mixture by spoonfuls over the chocolate layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Cut while still warm.

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March 13, 2009


Hamburger Buns & Focaccia Bread

We recently had some very warm weather that put my boys in the mood for grilled hamburgers. Hamburgers have been my exception to the rule that dinner is always gluten free. Normally, I use some type of gluten-free bun or bread, or simply go without, while the rest of the family uses wheat based buns.

I have kept store bought gluten-free buns in the freezer and I have made my own hamburger buns.  When I make my own, the kids are always jealous. I use my focaccia bread recipe which they love, so they would rather have a gluten-free bun than a wheat bun.

Knowing that, I treated the family by making gluten-frefocaccia bunse hamburger buns for all of us. The kids were thrilled. I used four English muffin rings and for the fifth one I folded a sheet of foil into a strip and made a circle the same size as the other rings. The foil didn’t hold the dough quite as well, but I was the only one who noticed the difference.

My gluten-free focaccia recipe made enough for the five buns and a small round cake pan sized loaf. This recipe is adapted from Carol Fenster’s recipe in her book Gluten-Free 101. I love it because it is so versatile. I didn’t use the Italian seasoning on top of the hamburger buns. You can of course use other toppings also. I like using this bread for dips such as spinach dip. It is also great baked in two cake pans or springform pans, sliced in half like a large hamburger bun, filled with sandwich type fillings, wrapped loosely in foil and reheated in the oven.

If you don’t want to use the flours listed in the recipe, just substitute any gluten-free flour mix. It should work well.

hamburber bun

Gluten-Free Focaccia Bread


Mix the wet ingredients together in the bowl of your mixer using 1 cup of the water.  Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and beat for 2 minutes. Add more water if it is too dry.  The dough should be very soft and sticky.

Transfer the dough to whatever pan you are using. This recipe will fill a large cookie sheet. Let it rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Brush the top of the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and Italian seasoning.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. The top should be nicely browned.

View Printable Recipe


March 12, 2009


Reminders and a Review of What’s for Dinner Wednesday

Since What’s for Dinner Wednesday links don’t show up in the RSS feed, I thought I would compile the links from the last three weeks in this post. Readers only can jump to the links below. Participants, please read on.

I’m very pleased with how it’s going so far. I love hearing people’s dinner ideas, and I hope more people will join in. Here are a few reminders.

1.  You don’t have to write about what you are actually having for dinner that Wednesday. We’re doing this on Wednesday, but it can be any dinner in the past week, or you can even link to a post you wrote months ago.

I put my post up Tuesday night, so if you have something ready then or Wednesday morning you can link up. I think that doing it earlier would be helpful to people who remember this happens on Wednesday and want to get ideas for that night.

2. Try to visit the blogs of others who link up and leave comments. I’m not saying people aren’t doing that; it’s just a reminder.

3. Please leave a link back here somewhere in the text of your post, even if it’s an old post. It can just be a line at the bottom saying something like, “For more gluten-free dinner ideas visit The Gluten-Free Homemaker.” (Hey, I think you could just copy and paste that.)

4. Remember to put a 1 – 4 word description in parentheses.  It’s helpful to people who are looking over the list to have some idea of what your post is about. Most people are more likely to click on a link with a description than one without.  For this post, I filled in missing descriptions, but I’d rather not have to do that.

what's for dinner wednesday 5

March 11

1. Jessie (Baked Potatoe-woes)
2. Stacey (Pepper Beef Stir Fry
3. Diane ( The W.H.O.L.E. Gang)
4. Rachel (Tuna noodle casserole)
5. Debbie (Turkey with apples-Crock Pot)
6. Melanie( cabbage and beef)
7. Wendy(Polenta)
8. Mikki (Oriental Chicken and Broccoli/Cheese Casserole-Thingy)
9. Cheryl (pork chops, rice, & spinach)
10. Brian (chicken pot pie)
11. Daniel (grilled chicken, vegetables)

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March 3

1. Rachel (Chicken Smoosh)
2. Gina (tempura)
3. Stacey (Thai Chicken)
4. Melanie(steak, mashed potatoes, peas)
5. Debbie (Breakfast Casserole)
6. Wendy (chickpea potato curry)
7. Sylvia (Slow Cooker Chicken & Noodle)
8. Jessie (Meat Loaf)
9. Mikki (cream cheese cookies)
10. The W.H.O.L.E. Gang (crab cakes, coleslaw, potato wedges)

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February 24

1. Gina (soup & sandwich)
2. Stacey (Beef & Rice Medley)
3. Melanie (BBQ Chicken)
4. Cheryl (rice & veggies)
5. Liz (Cinnamon Chicken)
6. Debbie (roasted carrots)
7. Rachel (Onion rings) 8. Daniel (veggies & salmon)
9. Jessie (no-noodle lasagna)
10. Mikki - Spoonbread 11. Brenna (Sweet & Spicy Lentil Chili)

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March 10, 2009


Baked Salmon and Fries - What’s for Dinner Wednesday

what's for dinner wednesday 5

Welcome to What’s for Dinner Wednesday (gluten-free style). At the end of my dinner ramblings, you will find links to other blogs with gluten-free dinner ideas. We would love for you to join by adding your link. If you have not participated before, please read the guidelines here.

A Birthday Dinner

My husband is easy to please when it comes to food. He is not adventuresome which means that going out to eat to try new things is not his idea of fun. It does mean that on his birthday he is very happy to stay at home and eat something I prepare. This is his birthday dinner. It is simple, gluten-free, and delicious.

baked salmon and fries

Baked Salmon

The weather was warm enough that I was going to grill the salmon, but the grill wasn’t working after sitting all winter.

I placed a large salmon fillet on two sheets of aluminum foil, one piece of foil going each direction. I sprinkled the fish with lemon juice and “Old Bay with garlic and herb” seasoning. I wrap it tightly in foil and lay it on a baking sheet. I baked it at 450 degrees simply because I was also using the oven for the potatoes. It baked about 15 minutes.

Oven Fries

I don’t have exact amounts for this. Just use the amount

of potatoes you need and vary the rest according to taste. Try adding different seasonings for variety. I have been meaning to try Old Bay on the potatoes but didn’t since I had it on the fish.

Cut the potatoes lengthwise into wedges or fry shapes. The larger you cut them, the longer they need to bake. I rinsed mine after cutting them because they seemed very starchy. Put them in a large bo

wl and lightly coat them with olive oil. Add the garlic and seasonings, except the parsley and toss with a large spoon or spatula.

Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees about 25 minutes, turning half way through. If you would like them more brown, put them under the broiler for a few minutes. Add the parsley and toss to coat.

Steamed Broccoli

This is by far my family’s favorite vegetable, but it has to be the right broccoli cooked and served the right way.

The right broccoli: Frozen broccoli doesn’t cut it. The stalks of fresh broccoli I find at the grocery store don’t cut it. What my family likes is the broccoli pieces that are cut and washed and sold at my local BJ’s Club warehouse. The flower part on these pieces is somehow different

than what I get on the regular stalks.

Cooked the right way: It has to be lightly steamed. Not boiled, roasted or fried. The broccoli should be just barely tender. Not too crunchy and definitely not mushy.

Served the right way: Tossed with a little butter and salt.

What did you have for dinner?

Note: To help build community, remember to leave comments when visiting other blogs. Please also remember to have a link back here somewhere in the text of your dinner post.

1. Jessie (Baked Potatoe-woes)
2. Stacey (Pepper Beef Stir Fry
3. Diane ( The W.H.O.L.E. Gang)
4. Rachel (Tuna noodle casserole)
5. Debbie (Turkey with apples-Crock Pot)
6. Melanie( cabbage and beef)
7. Wendy(Polenta)
8. Mikki (Oriental Chicken and Broccoli/Cheese Casserole-Thingy)
9. Cheryl (pork chops, rice, & spinach)
10. Brian (chicken pot pie)
11. Daniel (grilled chicken, vegetables)

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March 9, 2009


Mikki’s Story

Mikki Mikki, a wife, mother, and high school teacher formed a weight loss group with some friends. She did everything right. She ate well and exercised, but instead of losing weight she gained it. She also became very tired and sluggish. She says,

“I was SO tired. The tired-ness started affecting my work habits, my dress, my attention span, everything.”

Next, Mikki got a headache. A bad headache that she tried relieving with a glass of wine not knowing that the tannins in the wine would make it worse.

“The pain in my head exploded exponentially, and I ended up in the urgent care, thrashing in the worst agony I had ever felt. I missed 2 days of work before it faded back to a steady ache. I had that headache for 2 weeks before I dragged myself to a doctor.”

Mikki finally did see a doctor who said, "You look allergic." Mikki writes,

“Those three words changed my life forever. He took me off of all wheat, corn, and dairy products, as well as all artificial flavors and preservatives. It would clean out my system, he said. You’ll lose some weight this week, he said, and that’s ok. Just be sure to keep eating balanced meals.”

The doctor then had some tests done and told her to return in two weeks. Those test came back negative, and the doctor suspected a dietary problem. He had her eat wheat again which she did for two days. Her awful symptoms came back immediately. The doctor then ran a blood test for celiac disease. The result was positive. Very positive.

Knowing nothing about celiac disease and no one who had it, Mikki began researching. She then purged her pantry and began the task of learning to shop for gluten-free groceries. Before long she was cooking with confidence and then became comfortable enough to start experimenting.

You can read more about Mikki’s experiences at her blog Here's What Let's Do. I have summarized her story, but you will enjoy reading it in her own words here.

Last week I asked you to tell me your gluten-free story. I need a new one for next week, so take a few minutes this week to send me your story. You can email it to me here.


March 8, 2009


Gluten-Free Cheesecake

Saturday was my husband’s birthday, and instead of a birthday cake, he asked for a cheesecake. I thought it was a great idea, especially since I had some huckleberries in the freezer. My husband grew up in an area where huckleberries grow, so that’s a special treat for him.

There are three parts to making this scrumptious gluten-free dessert: the crust, the cheesecake, and the topping. However, it’s not difficult to make.

The Gluten-Free Crust

I love using a nut crust with this recipe. I used pecans this time and have also used walnuts.
Combine the flour, xanthan gum and brown sugar. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the butter until you have small crumbs. Stir in the nuts. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 10 inch springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. The crust does not need to be precooked. It will cook along with the cheesecake.

The Cheesecake

I used Amber Lee's cheesecake recipe (also found here). It has always turned out well for me.

The Huckleberry Topping
In a medium sized saucepan, combine all ingredients except the butter. Heat and stir until it thickens. Stir in the butter if desired.

Remember to come back Wednesday for the What’s for Dinner Wednesday blog carnival. I’ll be telling you about my husband’s birthday dinner.


March 6, 2009


Instant Yeast vs. Active Dry Yeast

Instant yeast, which is also known as rapid rise yeast or bread machine yeast, has become the type of yeast I always use. Why? It makes bread baking easier and the results are just as good as with active dry yeast.

With instant yeast, you skip the step of dissolving the yeast in warm water.  It is more finely ground than active dry yeast and therefore absorbs moisture much faster. As the name implies, instant yeast also works more quickly than its counterpart.

Another difference is that when using instant yeast with gluten bread, only one rise time is needed and the dough is not punched down. That’s not significant to us gluten-free bread bakers because our dough only requires one rise time anyway.

If you are following a recipe that calls for active dry yeast, use about 25% less of instant yeast. Mix the yeast in with the dry ingredients and combine the wet and dry ingredients according to the instructions.

Bread machine yeast is easily found at grocery stores. I buy vacuum packed instant yeast from BJ’s wholesale club. SAF Instant Yeast is one brand I have used. Once I open the pack, I put some into a small container I keep in the refrigerator and the rest of the package I close, put it in a zip lock bag, and store it in the freezer.

You’ll notice that my recipes use instant yeast. If you don’t have instant, you will have to dissolve the yeast in the warm liquid. You may also want to increase the amount of yeast a little. If you haven’t given instant yeast a try yet, I hope you will soon. I think it will quickly become your preferred type of yeast.


March 5, 2009


Sorghum and Cornmeal Porridge

Like most people these days, we are looking for ways to save money. Last week everyone at my husband’s office was told they must take a week off without pay in March. So this month I’m trying especially hard to save money on groceries.

With a bucket of whole grain sorghum on hand, I figure that using sorghum flour is a good way to help make healthy inexpensive meals. (You can read more about milling sorghum here.) Cold cereal can be expensive (gluten-free or not), and even though I don’t buy sugary cereal, it’s still not the healthiest option. That’s what led to making sorghum porridge this week.

Yesterday I made the porridge using only sorghum flour. Today I added cornmeal to it. I don’t have a picture for you because, honestly, it’s not an attractive food. One of my kids who is very picky about texture just didn’t like eating mush. The rest of us thought it was pretty good. Here’s what I did.

Bring 4 1/2 c. water to a boil. Add 1/2 tsp. salt. Slowly add 1/2 c. corn meal and 1 c. sorghum flour while mixing with a whisk. I had a few lumps, but not many. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve with honey or agave nectar and a little butter if desired.

You can adjust the amount by using water that is three times the amount of flour. This made a fairly thick porridge. If you want it thinner, just add more water or serve it with milk. I found that adding hot water is useful when warming up cold porridge.

With some fruit to go along with it, I found this to be a filling and tasty gluten-free breakfast.


March 3, 2009


Ham and Broccoli Skillet Dinner

what's for dinner wednesday 5

Welcome to What’s for Dinner Wednesday (gluten-free style). It is a weekly blog carnival where we share gluten-free dinner ideas with each other. If you would like to participate, see the guidelines here.

I know I wrote about a dinner with ham last week, but I decided to tell you about another one. My boys do some basic cooking, but are not particularly interested in it. I like to involve them somewhat, though, so I often ask them what they think would be good together or how they would like something prepared. That’s what I did on this particular night. I had more of that turkey ham to use and decided on some other ingredients. I then ask son #2 how I should combine them.

broccoli ham skillet This is a very simple dinner and one you could easily improve on. I sautéed mushrooms in olive oil, then added fresh broccoli pieces and cooked/stir fried it until tender. I diced the cooked ham and added it to the skillet towards the end of the broccoli’s cooking time.

Separately, I cooked brown basmati rice and red quinoa together in chicken broth. I served the two dishes separately, because that’s what my family likes, but they could easily be combined.

We found that the broccoli was too big to go with the mushrooms and diced ham. It was difficult to eat them together. My son didn’t want anything mixed with the rice and quinoa, but I think it would be best to serve the rice, quinoa, ham, and mushrooms together, then cook and serve the broccoli separately.

Onions, peppers, and soy sauce would be nice additions to this. The idea is to be creative and/or use what you have. And don’t be afraid to get the kids involved. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s still good.

Note to subscribers and followers: Mr. Linky and the links people leave do not show up in your reader. I know it’s a pain, but you will have to visit the site to participate and follow the links of others who are participating.

Note to participants: Please provided a link back here somewhere in the text of your post so that people can see all the links and hopefully get involved.

Also, I have new picture codes in the guidelines, including the code for a small picture that will fit in a sidebar.

1. Rachel (Chicken Smoosh)
2. Gina (tempura)
3. Stacey (Thai Chicken)
4. Melanie(steak, mashed potatoes, peas)
5. Debbie (Breakfast Casserole)
6. Wendy (chickpea potato curry)
7. Sylvia (Slow Cooker Chicken & Noodle)
8. Jessie (Meat Loaf)
9. Mikki (cream cheese cookies)
10. The W.H.O.L.E. Gang (crab cakes, coleslaw, potato wedges)

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March 2, 2009


Owen’s Story

Owen started having health issues when his mother Melanie put him on solid foods. He would react with rashes, diarrhea, passing undigested food, spitting up, screaming, and waking up at night, among other things. Owen’s family lived in Germany and saw  doctors there who tested for a number of things, but a test for celiac disease didn’t get done. The tests all came back negative.

Next, Owen saw a doctor who practices alternative medicine and was tested for allergies. Those tests indicated that he didn’t tolerate wheat, oatmeal, and some other grains. Melanie tried giving him spelt, but the results were bad. At that point Melanie put him on a gluten-free diet to see how he would do. About his response Melanie said,

“Within a couple of days on the diet, he was improving and much happier. A couple of weeks later, he was rash-free and sleeping through the night most of the days.”

Owen was gluten free for about six months, then was put back on a diet containing gluten. They flew to the U.S. where Owen saw a G.I. specialist. The doctor did an endoscopy and told them that Owen did not have celiac disease. His answer was that Owen had toddler diarrhea. When asked why Owen did better on a gluten-free diet, the doctor said, “It’s the fiber in the gluten-free foods.” Back in Germany, Owen resumed a gluten-free diet and improved once again.

Life is still challenging for Owen and his family, though. Melanie says,

“We are still in search of a diagnosis as he still has reactions to this day. He will flush, have swollen hands, lips and a swollen face, go into screaming fits and complain of stomach/head and bone/muscle pains. He will always run a low grade fever and have diarrhea a day after a big reaction. Once we see a reaction coming on we give him Benadryl and usually within about 20 minutes he is improving. And we also have noticed that he is digesting his foods a lot better while taking Zyrtec on a daily basis. Now that we are back in the states we are starting our next round of seeing different specialists to figure out what is going on.”

Owen is now almost four years old. He is the only one in the family who eats completely gluten-free, but everyone eats gluten-free dinners since that makes things easier.

Melanie would like to encourage others through their story and the small steps they took in the right direction. She also wants to let others know that they make mistakes and don’t always pay close enough attention, and Owen gets sick because of it. However, it does get easier with time and can soon become second nature.

Melanie and her other son Jonathan also suffer from allergies. You can read more about them on Melanie’s blog Allergy Family.

Don’t forget to write to share your gluten-free story with me.


March 1, 2009


What is Your Gluten-Free Story?

Today I’m asking all of you, my readers, to write something for me! I would like to get to know you better, to hear your story, and find out how I can help you more. I would also like for all of you to get to know each other a little bit and learn from each other. Here is what I propose.

You tell me about yourself and/or your family by sending me an email with the following kind of information:

I will excitedly receive your emails and read them thoroughly. I will then choose some (depending on how many I receive) that I will write about and post on my blog as an introduction to that particular person or family (using first names only). Pictures would be welcome. If you are a blog author, I would include that information also. I would love for this to become an ongoing weekly feature to my blog.

Please email your gluten-free story to me by clicking on the link in this sentence, or using the “Contact” button at the top of the page. I look forward to hearing from you!


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