Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sweet Memories

One of my fondest memories of Christmas of years past is of my grandmother. She lived nearby and was an important part of our life. My grandfather died when she was 70 and she lived independently in that same house for another 28 years. She loved to bake and help others.

I specifically remember enjoying her "Mexican Wedding Cakes" (or melting moments) around the holidays. They were covered in a gummy powder sugar layer and melted in your mouth. She gave me the recipe and explained that she shook the cookies in a bag of powder sugar twice. Once when they were still warm and once after they cooled. Yum!

In honor of my grandmother, I here is my gluten and dairy-free version of her wonderful holiday treat.

                                                                                  Print Recipe
Grandma's Mexican Wedding Cakes

1/2 c. plus 2 T. brown rice flour
3 T. cornstarch
3 T. potato starch
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1/2 t. zanthan gum
pinch baking powder
1/3 c. dairy-free margarine
1 t. vanilla
powdered sugar or frosting   

Whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a separate bowl cream margarine with vanilla. Work in dry ingredients until completely mixed in. Form 1 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly and bake at 350 degrees F for 10 - 12 minutes or until cookies are very lightly browned on the bottom and set. Cool until cookies are just warm not hot to the touch. Put about 1/3 c. powdered sugar in a plastic storage bag. Shake 2 - 3 cookies at a time in the bag to cover with sugar. Repeat again after cooled. If desired, frost instead. Cookies keep covered in a cool place for 2 - 3 days. Freeze any leftovers. Makes 14 - 16 cookies.

Remember, if you don't have a lot of GF cookie recipes for the holiday, it's easy to make different versions of your favorite recipes. Make meringue cookies with different shapes and colors like candy canes, put toppings or sprinkles on brownies or use nuts, jellies and chocolate to spruce up your sugar cookies. Be creative and have fun.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Go Nuts!

I am always looking for fun and easy things to make around Christmas time. This year I made flavored nuts for the holidays. Not only are they simple, tastey and a great gift, but my kids love to eat them as a treat while still getting the nutrition of the nuts.

Cranberry Orange Nuts           Print Recipe

2 3/4 c. nuts (almonds, pecans, walnut chunks)
1/3 c. coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1 egg white
1/3 t. orange oil
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 + 2 T. sugar
1/3 t. salt
1/3 t. cinnamon

Put nuts and cranberries in a large bowl. Whisk egg white in a small bowl until bubbly. Whisk orange oil and vanilla into egg white. Pour over nuts and stir until coated. Mix sugar, salt and cinnamon in another small bowl and pour over nuts. Stir until all nuts are coated.

Spread in a large, greased (oil spray or dairy-free margarine) cookie sheet with sides. Bake at 300 degrees for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until well toasted and dry. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Notes: If you like your almonds toasted more, toast them for an extra 5 - 10 minutes before making the recipe.

Simply delicious!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Make Mixes For Christmas

A very easy and thoughtful gift for Christmas is a mix for a favorite recipe such as muffins, cookies, pancakes, etc. It's especially nice for those who are gluten-free since mixes can be so expensive and yet so convenient. You can layer it in a jar if it has different color and texture ingredients that you will be able to see or just mix the dry ingredients well and put it in a bag. I like to use a sealed sandwich or quart bag and put it in a cellophane bag that I can tie with a pretty curled ribbon. Don't forget to include a cute hand written or computer made tag that gives the directions of what to add and how to make the item.

A favorite mix of mine to give this year is my pancake recipe using the buckwheat flour where it gives a choice, adding 1 T. extra brown sugar, using the 1 t. cinnamon, and adding 1/3 c. of both finely chopped dried cherries and pecans. The receiver only has to add the liquid, eggs, vanilla and oil.

Simple, tasty and fun for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Simple Traditional Sage Stuffing

I read somewhere that all you have to do is change the bread to gluten-free to make stuffing gluten-free. We wanted some for Thanksgiving, but wanted to make it like my mother's recipe.

I tried it (and changed the butter, too). I couldn't find bread crumbs, so I used a loaf of Udi's whole brain bread, chopped it into 1/2 inch cubes and toasted it in the oven at 250 degrees until it was dried out. It took about an hour stirring every 10 minutes. The flavor of the stuffing was fabulous, but it was a little dry even though I put in extra broth.

So, here is the adjusted the recipe. It goes nicely with turkey, chicken or pork. If convert your favorite recipe, you may need extra liquid.

Traditional Stuffing                        Print Recipe

1/2 c. finely chopped onion
3/4 c. finely chopped celery
3 T. ghee or dairy-free margarine
6 1/2 c. dried gluten-free bread cubes (1 loaf of Udi's whole grain bread)
1 1/2 t. sage
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 3/4 - 2 c. gluten-free chicken broth

Saute onion and celery in ghee or dairy-free margarine for 5 minutes or until tender on medium heat.

Mix bread cubes, sage, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in onion mixture. Pour broth over bread crumbs and mix until moistened. Put in greased casserole dish, covered, and bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until heated through. Leave cover towards the end of baking if you like a crunchy top.

This recipe can be dairy-free if you use dairy-free margarine. If you are just concerned about casein or lactose and are not familiar with ghee see link for ghee.

I think the flavors of the gluten-free bread really added to the overall flavor of the stuffing. I took it to our extended family Thanksgiving gathering and brought the dish back empty. Yum!