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Saturday, March 24, 2012

What Is Gluten?

Yesterday I was talking to a friend and she asked me what gluten was.
I gave her a pretty simple answer- what causes bread to rise.
But, it is really more than that.

It is what makes dough stretchy.
It's what gives cookies structure.
It is why bread rises so much. The yeast helps, but it needs gluten.

If your flour doesn't contain gluten, the results are different.
To get the same effect, you may need to add more eggs or use a flax seed slurry, xantham gum, or guar gum to mimic the effects of gluten.

In Going Gluten Free part 1 & part 2, I gave you a general idea of what you need to know to be gluten free.
Now,I am going to tell you what gluten is.

Gluten is made up of two proteins- the gliadins and the glutenins. When they come together, you end up with the texture you want in breads, cookies, and cake.

The protein gliadins is the major trigger for celiac disease.
There are three subtypes of gliadins.
They are a/B-gliadins, y-gliadins, and w-gliadins.

Glutenins are basically what causes the rising or structuring effect.
It adds in air and is why the crumb in your baked product is the way it is.

Wheat is the major producer of gluten.
The amount of gluten does vary from strain to strain of wheat.

The ancestors of modern wheat, emmer and einkorn, contain far less gluten.

Gluten is also present in barley, rye, bulgur, kamut, or triticale.
Oats do not contain gluten, but may be cross contaminated if processed in a facility where gluten products are being processed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Apple Crisp

This apple crisp is a little different than most. It is made with all oats instead of oats and flour.
If you would like flour, you can blend half the oats in a blender until you get oat flour.

You will need a 1-1/2 to 2 quart casserole dish.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit/190 Celsius.


4 apples
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
5 Tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

 In a medium size bowl, mix the brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and oats. Add the butter and cut in until crumbly.
Set aside.

Core, peel, and slice the apples and place them in your dish.
Sprinkle the brown sugar topping over the apples. Put in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes or until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife.
Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Serve warm or room temperature.

You will get 4 nice servings. Six, if they are smaller.
 If the apples are really juicy, you may get some juices pooling at the bottom. Just spoon some over the top of your crisp. Amazing!

This is great if you are wheat free or even have problems with gluten. If you have celiac disease, you may need to find certified gluten free oats. Most people that are gluten sensitive can tolerate oats, but there may be some cross-contamination with wheat or barley during processing.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cheesesteak Pizza

Homemade pizza is great! You get to put on how much of what toppings you want. For this pizza, I decided to try my hand at a cheesesteak pizza. Razor thin and tender meat, green peppers and onions topped with cheese all on a pizza crust. Yummy!

You will need an 11"x15" baking pan OR a 16" round pizza pan.


Store bought or homemade pizza crust
1/2 pound thinly( approx. 1/8 " thick) sliced beef. I used loin, but choose what kind you prefer.
1 cup sliced green bell pepper
1 cup sliced onion
salt and pepper to season
Cooking oil for sauteing the meat and vegetables
2-1/2 to 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Prepare the crust and set aside to rest.
Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet.Medium heat is good.
Add the sliced meat and season with salt and pepper.
Cook for a few minutes until meat is browned.
Add the peppers and onions and cook until they are tender. Stir a couple times so they won't scorch.
Set that off the heat.
In a small pan, melt the butter and add in the oregano, basil, garlic powder,and onion powder.
When melted and mixed in, remove from the heat.
Grease your baking pan and press the dough into it.
Build up the edges slightly.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit /220 degrees Celsius.
Brush the butter/herb mixture of the pizza dough. A pastry brush is great, but a large spoon will work.
Spread the meat/veggies over that.
Top with the cheese.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until  the cheese is starting to brown and the crust is golden.

Remove from the oven and let it set for a few minutes to make for easier cutting.

Makes one large pizza.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Taco Sauce

This taco sauce is really simple to make. So, next time you are making something that you want taco sauce for and you don't have any-make some.
I don't always have taco sauce on hand. But, I always have canned tomatoes and spices.

You will need a blender. I use a hand held immersion blender.
You will need a small or medium size saucepan.


1(14.5 to 16oz) can chopped tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon sugar- optional
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Blend the tomatoes until smooth.
Combine in the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.
Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
Continue simmer for about 30 minutes or until as thick as you like.

This will make about 1-1/2 cups.
It will keep in the refrigerator for a few days up to a week.

The thicker it is, the hotter it will be. And remember that it will thicken a little upon cooling.
This is not really hot, but it does have some heat to it.
If you want it milder, start off with half the amount of cayenne and taste before adding the rest.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Blueberry Pie

This pie is bursting with blueberries. Great made with fresh or frozen blueberries.

Bakes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit(190 Celsius)
You will need a 9" pie pan

Pastry for a 9" double crust OR use 2 premade 9" pie crusts
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour( if blueberries are extremely juicy add an additional 1 Tablespoon if you want)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice(optional)
5 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

To brush over crust-

Roll out half of the pastry a little bigger about 11" diameter and fit into pie pan.
Roll out the top crust 12".
In a bowl, mix the sugar, flour, lemon juice, and blueberries. If you have frozen blueberries, let the mixture sit 15-30 minutes before adding to pie pan.
Pour the blueberry mixture into the pie pan.
Lay the top crust over the blueberries and tuck the top crust under the bottom crust and crimp to seal.
Brush a little milk over the top crust. Sprinkle with a little sugar.
With a knife, make slits in the pie crust to allow steam to escape.
Preheat your oven.
Cover the edges with a pie shield OR a foil ring.
Bake for 25 minutes from fresh fruit and 50 minutes for frozen.
Remove shield or foil ring.
Bake for another 20-30 minutes or til top is golden.
Remove to cool on a wire rack.

Serves 6-8.


If you have leftover pastry make cinnamon pastry roll-ups!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chocolate Tea Bread

If you are a fan of quick breads and chocolate, you are going to love this bread. It is fantastic!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit(175 Celsius).
Grease and flour a 9"x5" loaf pan.

1-3/4 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened unsalted butter ( if using salted butter, omit the salt)
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder,baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Set aside.
In another mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
Beat in the vanilla extract.
One at a time, beat in the eggs.
Blend in the sour cream.
Gradually mix in the flour mixture.
Scrape the batter into the greased and floured loaf pan.
Bake for 60-70 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the middle of the bread.
Remove from the oven and let sit for about 15 minutes.
Loosen and remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.

Makes 1 loaf.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Buttermilk-Blueberry Muffins

These blueberry muffins are a little different from most homemade blueberry muffins. This version not only has buttermilk, but it is sweeter and has vanilla extract. It is more like a blueberry muffin you would buy from a bakery or even the little Hostess muffin bites.
If you don't have buttermilk, pour 1/3 cup vinegar or lemon juice into your liquid measure and fill it up the the 1 cup mark with milk. Let stand 5 minutes before using.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190 Celsius).
Grease 12 regular size muffin cups OR line with cupcake liners.


2-1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup olive oil or other cooking oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

In a mixing bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the buttermilk, egg, oil, and vanilla extract.
Pour that mixture into the flour mixture.
Carefully fold in.
When it is well moistened, fold in the berries.
Don't overmix or your muffins will get all pointy in the oven and there is the possibility they could be tough. Also, if you use frozen berries and you mix too much, melting starts and you get purplish swirls throughout the muffins.
Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Each cup will be almost full.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they test done when poked with a toothpick.
Let stand for 5 minutes. Remove from pan.

If you have olive oil, I really recommend using it. The muffins are very light.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stuffed Pepper Soup

One of my favorite parts of growing bell peppers is making stuffed bell peppers. This soup is a great way to get the flavor of stuffed bell peppers in a comforting bowl of soup.

If you happen to grow your own peppers, slice or chop some and freeze for making this soup. They work great!

You will need a Dutch oven or large pan for making soup.


1 pound ground beef
2 cups chopped and seeded green bell pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1 quart chopped tomatoes( you could use a 29 oz. can if needed)
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1-3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon ground, dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground, dried sage

1-1/3 cups water
2/3 cups white rice

salt and pepper, if needed, to taste

Brown the ground beef in your Dutch oven. Drain off fat, if needed.
Add the onion and peppers. Cook about 5 minutes until the onion is tender.
Add the tomatoes, paste, broth, thyme, and sage.
Cover and simmer until the peppers are tender. Fresh peppers about 30-40 minutes.
Frozen peppers will maybe take about 20 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, add the rice to the water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
Cover and cook approximately 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat.
Add the rice to the soup and heat through.
Taste and season with salt and pepper if you want.

Tastes great with shredded cheddar cheese sprinkled over the top.

You will get 6 filling bowls of soup.