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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Gluten Free Play Dough

There are so many things in life that you take for granted......until you're faced with food related issues.  The amount of those things quadruples when you're a mother of a kid with food issues, rather than it just being YOURSELF that is dealing with said issues.  Play dough is most definitely one of those issues when you are a mother of a child with gluten issues.

Such a simple & seemingly harmless part of every child's life--play dough.  It makes me cringe with fear.  And I would bet that every mother who has a child with gluten issues feels the same way.

Last summer when I was setting up needed supplies for our homeschool preschool I bought some play dough.....but I always keep it out of my son's reach.  We use it for school & only when I'm right there watching him & then I have to take it away from him & make him wash his hands three times.  And even then it isn't completely off of his hands.  So I have to remind him constantly to not put his fingers in his mouth or anywhere near his face.  It's very stressful for me.  

Prior to learning that my son had gluten issues I use to make him home made play dough.  I'm sure there are many recipes out there, but I used one from the book "Super Baby Food" by Ruth Yaron.  It calls for: 

2 Cups white flour (non self rising)
1/2 Cup table salt
1 Cup hot tap water
1 teaspoon oil (optional)
optional: coloring, glitter, etc

I had made this many times for my son.  But once we went gluten free I tossed out all wheat flour & certainly won't handle wheat myself for any reason.  

Since going gluten free I've tried to find recipes to make gluten free play dough, since all the ones in the stores contain gluten.  All the recipes I've found required cooking it on the stove & none of them turned out well at all.  

A couple of weeks ago I was going through my bookcase, trying to get rid of unnecessary books.  I stumbled upon the Super Baby Food book & was going to put it in the giveaway pile, since my son is no longer a baby & I never cared for the baby food ideas in it anyways, but then thumbed through it & saw that it had a lot of great birthday party ideas & other creative ideas in the back.  So I decided to hold onto it.  As I was finding a place to put it I saw the flag for the play dough recipe & I realized that this was where I had gotten that recipe from.  I knew I had made it before, but couldn't remember where I had found the recipe.  It suddenly occurred to me that I could try to convert this recipe to gluten free, rather than trying to find a gluten free recipe elsewhere.

Today I gave it a try & I am so very pleased.  So here's my gluten free version of the above recipe:

2 Cups gluten free flour mix (I used King Arthur)
2 teaspoons xantham gum
1/2 Cup salt
3/4 Cup hot water
1 teaspoon oil (optional)
optional: glitter, color, etc

I actually bought the King Arthur flour mix when I first realized I needed to be gluten free.  I knew nothing about gluten free flours & flour mixes back then.  I had impulsively bought it & then when I got started baking, the cookbook I was using taught me how to make my own flour blends & I have always done so.  So today, when I decided to try my hand at the play dough, I decided to finally put that box of flour mix to good use, LOL!!

When I first started mixing it I noticed it was pretty mushy.  The gluten in the wheat flour is what gives wheat dough it's structure.  Xantham gum (or guar gum & sometimes other things like psyllium) are used to imitate the gluten.  I always find that xantham gum gives the best results, at least with loaves of bread.  With other items, life muffins or cookies, you can get very decent results with guar gum or psylium.  

My son was VERY happy when I asked him if he wanted some play dough to play with.  I will definitely be making more, probably in different colors.  I made this one cornflower blue.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Breaded Chicken Tenders

Breaded Chicken Tenders
(gluten free, dairy free, grain free)

2 Cups almond flour (I like using Trader Joe's almond flour for this recipe, it's a little more coarse than Bob's Red Mill, my family prefes the coarser texture for this recipe)
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 1/2 lb chicken tenders or chicken breasts sliced like tenders

*preheat oven to 475 F
*line baking sheet with parchment paper
*place wire rack over parchment & spray with oil
*combine first 6 ingredients in a zipper bag
*take a piece of chicken, dry it thoroughly, then dip in egg, then place in zipper bag & coat well
*transfer chicken piece to the wire rack
*repeat with all the other chicken pieces
*bake 20 minutes
*really good served with ranch or dipping sauce of your choice

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gluten Free (Dairy Free) Snickerdoodle Cake (with Cinammon Buttercream Icing)

I normally make everything from scratch.  But I saw this recipe & really wanted to give it a try.   My hubby loves snickerdoodles & our son LOVES cinnamon.  Like always, I actually made a lot of changes from the original recipe that I stumbled upon.  But I did still use a boxed cake mix like it calls for.

I am actually planning to workout a way of making my own "cake mix" from scratch.  That must be an oxymoron or something like that, but it's how I like to do things.

**If you want this to be dairy free also you can sub vegetable shortening for the butter in the filling & oil for the melted butter**

Anyways, on with this recipe: GF Snickerdoodle Cake

Crunchy Filling:
3/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons butter

1 15 oz. gluten free yellow cake mix
1/4 Cup vanilla instant pudding mix (that's something else I need to learn how to make from scratch!)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 Cup milk (I used almond milk)
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) melted butter
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

*preheat oven to 350 F
*oil two 8 or 9 " cake pans & line with parchment paper
*prepare the crunchy filling (just combine the ingredients until butter is incorporated) & place evenly into one of the cake pans & set aside
*put cake mix, pudding mix, & cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer
*mix to combine, then add milk, butter, eggs, & vanilla
*mix on low speed until just incorporated, then stop & scrape down
*mix on medium speed for 90 seconds
*divide between the 2 pans, place pans in preheated oven
*bake 18-22 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean
*when done, place pans on wire rack for 5 minutes
*after 5 minutes run a knife around the edge of pan & then invert cakes onto the wire racks to cool
*cool completely before assembling & icing/decorating
*when assembling, place the crunchy filling so it's in the middle of the cake, then fill & frost the cake as desired (I just used a standard buttercream recipe, but subbed my home made cinnamon extract in place of the vanilla extract called for in the recipe)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

GF Honey Almond Sourdough Bread

This recipe originally comes from "The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread" by Bette Hagman.  I have, however, made some changes to it.  It's a good reference point, to begin exploring the world of sourdough.  And from this you can adapt other recipes as you desire.


Dry Ingredients:
2 Cups 4 Flour Bean Mix**
1 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon egg replacer
3 Tablespoons almond meal
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

Wet Ingredients:
1 egg + 1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 Cup sourdough starter
3 Tablespoons oil (I use sunflower oil)
3 Tablespoons honey
1 Cup warm water (more or less)

*preheat oven to 375 F, oil bread pan
*combine dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer
*in another bowl combine egg, vinegar, sourdough starter, oil, & honey
*warm water to 110 F
*to the bowl of the mixer add egg mixture & mix in
*add water, a little at a time, until dough has proper consistency (just a tad thicker than cake batter)
*mix all in & scrape down bowl
*mix on high speed 4 minutes
*scrape into bread pan, smoothing out the top
*cover lightly & let rise (30-60 minutes or so--just up to the top of the pan)
*bake 10 minutes
*remove from oven & cover with aluminum foil & bake another 40-50 minutes

2/3 part garbanzo & fava bean flour (2 cups)
1/3 part sorghum flour (1 cup)
1 part cornstarch (3 cups)
1 part tapioca starch (3 cups)

Sourdough Starter

I've been baking for a really long time--close to 30 years I guess, since I started as a teen.  When I used to bake with gluten I always had a dream of learning how to do sourdough breads, etc.  I never actually got around to it.  But now, as a gluten free baker, I am delving into the world of sourdough.   I am very excited about this.  The older your starter is the more flavor your bread will have.  I did already make a loaf of sourdough bread & it didn't have a lot of sourdough flavor, but I will keep my starter going & aging. 

Having a starter in the house feels a little like having a pet (we already have a dog & a bunch of fish!!).  It's a living thing, you have to care for it & feed it.  You 'should' keep it at room temperature as much as you can.  But if you aren't using it or are going on vacation you can refrigerate or even freeze it.  And you should feed it each time you use it or at least once a week to keep it alive & thriving.

I found this sourdough starter recipe in "The Gluten Free Gourmet Bakes Bread" by Bette Hagman. 

So your first step is to get the starter started.....


2 1/4 teaspoons (or 1 packet) dry yeast granules
1 Cup lukewarm potato water (left-over water after boiling potatoes)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 Cups white rice flour

*in a 1 quart glass container (never metal or plastic--I use a mason jar) dissolve the yeast in the water
*add the sugar & rice flour & mix in
*cover & let sit at room temperature until fermented (1-3 days), stirring every few hours at first
*it will bubble up & ferment & then die down with a skim of liquid on top
*be sure to stir well before using--the consistency should be like pancake batter
*replenish by feeding with 1/2 Cup lukewarm water & 3/4 Cup white rice flour each time you bake or once a week if you haven't baked in that time
*if your container becomes too full, discard all but about 3/4 Cup of the starter & add the 1/2 Cup lukewarm water & 3/4 Cup white rice flour to what is left.

Gluten Free Gravy

I have always bought the organic turkey gravy at the health food store.  I cannot recall the brand at the moment, but it's organic & gluten free.  But I've never been thrilled with it I must say.  It's not as thick & creamy as I would like & it has an after taste that I don't like much.  So I decided to experiment & learn how to make my own.  And I must say I was beyond thrilled with the results.

I forgot to take a pic BEFORE we devoured it!!  Here's what little was left!
1/4 Cup butter (or if you want dairy free you could try a butter alternative)
1/4 Cup sweet rice flour
1-2 Cups chicken stock (or juices from a roasted chicken or turkey if you have it)
salt & pepper & desired seasonings to taste
*melt the butter
*slowly whisk in the flour, a little at a time
*once all the flour has been added, let it cook 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly--the color should change during this time, but be careful to not let it scorch
*remove from heat for a couple of minutes
*put it back on low-medium heat & slowly, in very small amounts, drizzle in the chicken stock
*whisk vigorously & constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed (this may take up to 10 minutes--be patient, adding liquid until you've reached the desired consistency/thickness
*season with salt, pepper, & any other seasonings you desire
*remove from heat & serve immediately

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Muffins

The texture of these is a little spongy to me.  I will probably revamp the recipe at some point, & edit this post here when I do so, to improve the texture.  But they do satisfy a chocolate craving just fine despite the texture. 
Gluten Free Double Chocolate Muffins
1/2 Cup butter (or butter alternative if you want dairy free)
1 Cup sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)
4 eggs
2/3 Cup cocoa powder
1/2 Cup potato starch (NOT potato flour)
1/2 Cup tapioca starch
1/3 Cup white rice flour
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum
1/2 Cup oil (I use sunflower oil)
2/3 Cup milk (I use almond milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 Cup chocolate chips (I used semisweet)
*preheat oven to 350 & line or grease muffin tins
*cream butter until fluffy
*add sugar & beat until creamy
*add eggs, one at a time, incorporating fully before adding the next
*combine dry ingredients in separate bowl & add 1/3 of this to the butter mixture
*add oil & blend in
*add 1/2 of the dry ingredients & blend in
*add 1/2 of the milk & blend in
*add the rest of the flour & blend in
*add the rest of the milk & blend in
*add the vanilla & blend in
*gently fold in the chocolate chips
*fill the muffin tins with batter & bake 15-20 minutes