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Posts Tagged ‘party food’

These buttery, brownie/chocolate chip blondie hybrid bars are absolutely addictive! Unlike most desserts, these grain-free goodies taste better and better each day after you make them, and will last for 3 weeks in an airtight container – if you can make it that long without gobbling them up.  (Mine last that long because I won’t share them with my kids. I gave them life; they can eat store-bought GF cookies.)

The bar pictured is 3 weeks old and still has a moist, buttery crumb and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chips when heated in the microwave.

The bar pictured is 3 weeks old and still has a moist,       buttery crumb and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chips when heated in the microwave.

Warning: Please consume responsibly. Since these are made with honey instead of sugar, and almond flour instead of high-carb flours, you might be tempted to pretend that these are “healthy.” Feel free to make them a regular part of your Weight Loss for 1 in a Family of 4  diet in small amounts for dessert – but not dinner.

Grain-Free Nutella Bars

10 T. butter, softened (1 cube + 2 T.)
½ c. Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
½ c. honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ¼ c. almond flour (not almond meal)
¾ tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ c. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, mix the butter, Nutella, and honey until smooth.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Add almond flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Spread batter in a greased 9”x13” pan.  Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees until done in the center.  (These will get dark around the edges because of the cocoa, but they’re not overdone.) Cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Reheat individual bars for 10-15 seconds before serving.

Dairy Free Chocolate Chip Blondie variation (based on this recipe): Substitute coconut oil for the butter, increase the honey to 2/3 c. and salt to 1 tsp., substitute ½ c. almond butter for the Nutella, and use Ghirardelli or Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips (which are dairy free).

Keepin’ it Real…
While food bloggers tend to only share their success stories, we also have our share of epic fails. My most disgusting food fail – a 10 on the Gagometer scale – was my attempt to make gravy using potato starch instead of cornstarch.  Apparently, potato starch + turkey drippings = snot. My poor husband – who has bodily fluid issues – was traumatized, and at one point shrieked in horror, “It’s a dangler!”  My son, however, was fascinated by the gelatinous goo stretching from his fork to his plate and reveled in it’s grossness, as is befitting a 13-year-old boy.

"Its a dangler!"

“Its a dangler!”

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Turn on the oven, friends, because in 30 minutes you could be devouring delicious, gluten free, garlic and rosemary bread sticks. Substituting almond flour for 2/3 of the flour makes them low(er) carb. Using some potato starch and tapioca starch makes them crusty on the outside, yet soft and chewy on the inside. (Since potato starch and tapioca starch are derived from root vegetables – tapioca comes from the cassava root – it’s technically grain free, if you’re looking for a Paleoish bread that actually tastes like bread.)  Adding Parmesan cheese to the dough makes the flavor amazing!  And did I mention that the smell is so divine that I want to go lick the leftovers so I don’t have to share them with my family? Excuse me…

GF Rosemary Bread Sticks

I’ve also used this recipe to make pizza crust that is crispy on the bottom, yet pliable, so it supports toppings without being floppy or crumbing to pieces. If you value self care, you will choose the optional step of brushing garlic butter on the edges of the crust at the end. My kids have decided that this is now their favorite pizza crust, and it’s probably because of the garlic butter.

Low-carb Pizza Crust

The only downside of the pizza crust is that it’s best enjoyed fresh from the oven – which means I just gave you an excuse to eat the whole thing. You’re welcome. When I tried to reheat some leftover pizza that had been refrigerated, the crust had absorbed the sauce and turned soggy. Perhaps leftovers could be frozen and reheated in the oven instead of the microwave for better success. Or you could go with the preferred method of eating the whole thing. Your call.  The bread sticks reheat well on subsequent days. The bottom crust becomes soft instead of crusty, but still tastes awesome – especially when dipped in olive oil.

(Pssst, if you’re interested in a weight loss plan that includes this pizza once a week, check out my “Weight Loss for 1 in a Family of 4” easy weekly menu plans. Yes, I lost about 20 lbs. while still enjoying pizza!)

Mmmm... low-carb pizza with garlic butter crust!

Mmmm… low-carb pizza with garlic butter crust!

Low Carb, GF Bread Sticks/Pizza Crust

Dry Ingredients:
1 c. almond flour
1/4 c. tapioca flour/starch (they’re the same)
1/4 c. potato starch (NOT potato flour)
2 T. Parmesan cheese (I used the kind from a can)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
(For bread sticks, also add 1/8 tsp. garlic powder)

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 c. + 1 T. hot water (hot enough to dissolve the honey)
2 T. olive oil + more for topping dough
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 egg

Bread Stick Toppings:
Olive oil
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed between fingers
Fresh ground pepper
Parmesan cheese
1 T. melted butter

Pizza Crust Directions:
Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the size of your baking stone/pan.  This makes a 13″ – 14″ pizza, so make the circle at least 15″.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  If using a baking stone (recommended), place it in the oven while it preheats. (If you don’t preheat your pan, the crust may not crisp as well.)

Mix together the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix together.  You should have a wet, sticky dough. Don’t worry if it seems more like batter than dough.

Place dough on the parchment paper and, using a greased spoon or silicone spatula, spread it out using circular motions, greasing the spoon as needed.  (I just spray my spatula with nonstick cooking spray when it starts to stick to the dough.) Spread it as thin as you can, with a raised ridge at the edge.  If desired, brush with a little additional olive oil.  (I skipped this step, but plan to do it next time.)

Slide a rimless cookie sheet under the parchment paper to help transfer the crust to the hot baking stone/pan.  Bake 8 minutes, then add toppings.  (I used Prego pizza sauce, Hormel Nitrate-Free Pepperoni, Falls Brand All Natural Hot Italian Sausage, mozzarella, white cheddar, and shredded Parmesan.) Bake 8 minutes more until cheese is bubbly and starts to brown.

For The Most Awesome Crust EVER: Melt 1 T. butter with a dash or two of garlic powder and brush on the edge of the finished pizza.  Pizza AND garlic bread sticks! Sooooooo good.

Bread Stick Recipe:
Follow the above recipe, adding garlic powder to the dry ingredients. After spreading the dough/batter into a 10-in. circle, use a spoon or spatula to press a few indentations into the dough. Drizzle with olive oil, letting it pool in the indentations. Crush rosemary between your fingers and sprinkle over the dough. I used a coarse-grind pepper grinder to lightly top the dough with pepper, then sprinkled a light coating of Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees. Melt 1 T. butter and drizzle over the top. Use a pizza cutter to cut into strips or wedges and serve immediately. Store any leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week, and serve warm with olive oil for dipping.

Keepin’ It Real…
Not all of my experiments turn out so well.  Here’s my first attempt at making grain free chocolate chip cookies.  The taste is spot on, so I will definitely be trying again, but they’re a bit…thin.

Grain Free Cookie Attempt

Grain free chocolate chip cookie…pieces.

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This moist, delicious chocolate cake is the only dessert recipe you need to serve all your loved ones with food allergies – unless they’re allergic to awesomeness!  It is not only free of the top allergens – wheat/gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts – it is super cheap and easy to make.  But most importantly, your guests won’t know what they’re missing.  When my gluten-eating family members come to a birthday party, they eagerly ask, “Is this THE chocolate cake?”  When I served this at a party with gluten-eating friends, one of the teenagers – a TEENAGER, people – said, “This is gluten free and dairy free?  It tastes better than regular cake!”  She is wise beyond her years.

The secret to the moist crumb is vinegar and baking soda for leavening instead of eggs.  I know, it sounds weird, but I promise you won’t taste the vinegar.  This cake is inexpensive, and doesn’t need refrigeration because it contains no milk or eggs.  Like most GF chocolate baked goods, it tastes better the second day, so it’s a perfect make-ahead dessert.  For a finer crumb to make cakes in molds, just omit the extra tablespoon of water and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.  To keep it from sticking to the pan, grease the pan and dust with cocoa.  The cake won’t be as moist and dark, but it will hold its shape for fancy cakes like my son’s Lord of The Rings, ring-shaped cake (a.k.a. One Cake To Rule Them All), which I baked in a tube pan.

Ring Cake

I substitute cornstarch for 2 T. of GF flour because that’s how you make cake flour.  However, if you have a corn allergy, you can substitute potato starch.  If you don’t have sorghum flour, or are using a flour blend that contains sorghum, just substitute 2 more tablespoons of your flour blend for the sorghum.  I’ve made this with both my flour blend (below) and Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend (in which case I don’t use sorghum or add xanthan gum since this blend contains both).

For frosting, I have yet to come up with a chocolate frosting that tastes better than Pillsbury’s Fudge Frosting.  It is dairy free, but contains soy, so if you have a soy allergy you’ll need to make homemade frosting.  However, the original recipe I modified calls for a dusting of cocoa on top, so you could also try that instead of frosting.  If you want a white frosting that’s allergen-free for a birthday cake, I’ve made one using canned coconut milk that tastes really good (recipe below).

Moist Chocolate Cake

Allergy Friendly Chocolate Cake
Makes one 8″x8″ pan or 8″ round, or 12 cupcakes

1 c. sugar
3 T. cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s cocoa, found in the baking aisle)
1 1/4 c. GF flour blend*
2 T. sorghum flour (or use additional flour blend if yours contains sorghum)
2 T. cornstarch (or potato starch)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. xanthan gum (omit if it’s in your flour blend already)
1/2 tsp. salt
6 T. canola oil
1 T. GF vanilla extract (we get ours from Costco)
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1 c. + 1T. warm water (or more, if needed to get a loose batter)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  It’s important that the oven is ready to go and the cake goes into the oven as soon as the vinegar and soda are mixed, otherwise the cake will be flat.  For this same reason, be sure to grease your pan or muffin tin ahead of time.  If you’re planning on making a molded cake or removing it from the pan to frost, dust the greased pan with cocoa powder, as well.

Use a whisk or the whisk attachment from your mixer to combine the cocoa and sugar in your mixing bowl.  (I just hold the whisk attachment from the mixer to blend the dry ingredients, then attach it when I’m ready to mix in the wet ingredients.)  Once the cocoa is thoroughly blended with the sugar, to keep it from clumping, add the remaining dry ingredients and whisk to combine.

Fill your 1 c. liquid measuring cup with hot water, then set it aside while you add the wet ingredients, starting with the oil.  Add the water last and mix on medium low for about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl occasionally and adding the additional tablespoon of water to get a thin batter.  Do not overmix.  If you use a different flour blend that absorbs water more, you may need to add another tablespoon of water to thin it.  The loose batter guarantees a moist crumb.  (See notes above if you want to make a molded cake that requires a finer crumb.)

Fill greased pan or muffin cups and immediately place in oven.  Bake square or round pan 25-30 min., or 20-22 minutes for cupcakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (Use the shorter time if using a dark, nonstick pan.)  Cupcakes should rise to the top of the pan, but a square cake will not rise all the way up, so don’t worry that it didn’t turn out!  What it lacks in height can be made up with frosting…

Cool completely and frost or dust with cocoa powder.  Store tightly covered at room temperature.  Serve with vanilla ice cream – for a dairy free option, we like So Delicious brand coconut milk ice cream – drizzled with Hershey’s chocolate syrup, which is also dairy free!

Allergy Friendly Frosting:

1/2 c. dairy free margarine (I imagine coconut oil would work, with a dash of salt)
4 c. powdered sugar (this contains cornstarch, so do not use this recipe for corn allergies)
1/3 c. full-fat canned coconut milk (in the Asian food aisle, NOT the kind in the carton)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a large mixer bowl, cream margarine and half the powdered sugar until light and creamy.  Add coconut milk and vanilla.  Gradually add remaining powdered sugar, beating until smooth.  Add a little more coconut milk if frosting is too stiff, or a little more powdered sugar if too thin.  This will have a mild coconut flavor that complements the cake well.

Chocolate Variation: I haven’t tried this, but according to my cookbook, you can replace 1/2 c. of the powdered sugar with 1/2 c. cocoa, sifted together with the remaining powdered sugar for a chocolate frosting.  For a mocha frosting, blend 1 T. instant coffee powder into the margarine.

*Brenda’s GF Flour Blend – I triple this and store it in a gallon freezer bag in the fridge:

1 c. rice flour
1 c. brown rice flour
1/3 c. cornstarch
1/3 c. potato starch
1/3 c. tapioca starch/flour
1 T. potato flour
1 T. sweet rice flour (also called sticky rice flour)

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Making gluten free frozen meals doesn’t have to take extra time, just extra planning, and it can save you a bundle on expensive GF convenience food for those nights when you just don’t have time to cook.  The most economical way to freezer cook is to stock up on meat and ingredients for side dishes that freeze well when they’re on sale, and plan to cook enough for 2 or 3 freezer meals in addition to your dinner that week.  If you do this only twice a week, you’ll have a treasure trove of quick meals for busy nights in no time!  I did this for three weeks last month, and was able to take the week before Thanksgiving off of cooking as a result.  It was awesome!  If you’re having company come to visit, then you’ll definitely be glad you took the time to make a few meals in advance so you don’t have to spend precious visiting time slaving in the kitchen.

Tips on Freezer Cooking
The key to successful freezer cooking is to get rid of as much air as you can in your bag or container.  I have a fancy vacuum-sealer that I never use because it’s cheaper to just use a Ziplock freezer bag (I use generic brands).  Just place your completely cooled food items into the smallest size bag that will work, press out the air, close the bag almost all the way and, if it’s not raw meat, use a straw to suck out the rest of the air.  You’ll see the bag shrink around your food.  Then just pull out the straw and quickly seal.  Your food will last for months this way with nary an ice crystal to cause freezer burn!  For casseroles or side dishes like mashed potatoes, I like to place them in a disposable tin pan (from the dollar store) with a layer of plastic wrap against the potatoes and heavy duty foil over that.

If you’re new to freezer cooking, avoid dishes with rice or pasta, as these can be tricky to freeze without them turning to mush – especially rice pasta, which gets mushy easily.  However, corn tortillas freeze well, as do potato side dishes.  Most GF breads freeze well, as do cupcakes and cookie dough.  (I prefer to freeze the dough, rather than cookies which can crumble after thawing, since freshly baked cookies are the best!)  Homemade meatballs and chicken strips freeze well and go with side dishes that are quick to heat, like pasta or frozen GF French fries (always read labels on fries, since some contain wheat).  When making a homemade sauce or cream soup for casseroles, be sure to add a pinch of xanthan gum to keep the ingredients from separating.  (This miracle ingredient is in just about every commercial sauce or convenience food, and it’s already in your pantry.  Use it!)  It’s best to freeze sauces or crunchy toppings (like the onions for my Green Bean Casserole) separately and assemble thawed ingredients just prior to baking.

Some of my favorite freezer meals are right on this blog:

Crock Pot Pork Taco meat can be frozen in serving sizes for tacos or nacho meat. You can also make the tacos ahead of time and freeze them in a bag.  These make great enchiladas, too, but freeze the sauce for enchiladas separately.  This is a very versatile meat that is on the menu regularly because it’s easy to throw together, makes a lot, and pork roasts often cost less than $2/lb.

  • If you don’t have enough green chilies, you can substitute chopped onion.  Or if you’re not a fan of pork, just freeze your favorite meat with GF taco seasoning!
  • If you’re new to cooking with corn tortillas, heat 3 or 4 at a time over low heat on a griddle sprayed with oil.  Flip after a few seconds, and immediately top with shredded cheese (we use cheddar or co-jack).  Put a 1-in. stripe of meat down the center.  When cheese is melted, lift one side of the tortilla over the meat, then roll the whole thing over to seal.  The heat makes them more pliable for rolling, and the cheese will keep the tortilla from popping open.

Lasagna – Okay, I know I said to not do pasta, but this is the exception since you don’t cook the noodles in advance.  Just layer the ingredients and freeze for later, or make a double batch so you can cook one and freeze one.

Mashed Potatoes – I tried the recipe from the Pioneer Woman blog for Thanksgiving and loved it!  I mashed a 5 lb. bag of potatoes the week before and had some for dinner, then froze the rest in a gallon-size freezer bag.  Then, on turkey day, I thawed it in the microwave and plopped it in a greased crock pot on high for a few hours, stirring occasionally to heat evenly.  At first, it was really soupy, but it thickened as it heated up – and tasted amazing!

  • For dairy free potatoes, skip the cream cheese and just use dairy free margarine and rice milk.
  • For a one dish meal, set aside some mashed potatoes for Shepherd’s Pie, which can also be frozen.

Fried Chicken Strips – These are a great way to use tenderloins trimmed from chicken breasts, or you can slice chicken breasts into strips.  I’ve linked my Mandarin Chicken recipe, but these work with any dipping sauce.

  • To freeze, cool cooked chicken at room temperature on plates lined with paper towels, then transfer to a freezer safe baking tray to freeze for a few hours.  Once frozen, transfer to a freezer bag and press out (or suck out) the air.  Cook from frozen in a 400 degree oven for about 20 min.
  • Recently, I’ve been using/loving the Hodgson Mill GF Seasoned Coating Mix (dairy, soy and corn free, and available at our Wal-Mart).  I follow the directions on the back for Country Fried Beef (which you can also make and freeze), and skip the messy egg wash by just applying a liberal amount of coating mix and frying in oil until golden brown.  (I coat all the chicken once, then do it a second time.)  The recipe on the box for Country White Gravy is easy and awesome, so make sure you freeze some potatoes to go with your chicken strips!  However, these also taste great with barbecue sauce or honey mustard.

Meatballs or Mini Meatloaves – You can grind oats in a food processor as a healthy substitute for bread crumbs in your favorite meatball recipe, or grind the heals from GF bread (I save mine in the freezer for making bread crumbs) and combine with your favorite seasonings.  Recently, I’ve begun adding shredded potato and grated onion to my meatballs for moist meatballs that somewhat resemble my Grandma’s Swedish meatballs (only I’m too lazy to roll them in flour and fry them, like we do with Swedish meatballs).

  •  I like to heat up frozen meatballs in spaghetti sauce while the pasta boils, but we sometimes eat them like mini meatloaves or as meatball subs in toasted Udi’s hot dog buns with some spaghetti sauce and melted mozzarella or provolone.

Ham and Cheese Sandwiches on Onion Poppy Seed Cheese Rolls/Buns – My mother-in-law made these for get-togethers with family and friends because you can make these in advance and pop the wrapped sandwiches in the oven for a quick meal.  I like to make cheese rolls from a Pamela’s bread mix for these, but you could use your favorite hamburger bun/hot dog bun/roll for these.

Also, don’t forget to freeze leftover turkey or roast chicken to make Turkey or Chicken Pot Pie Pizza or Biscuit Pot Pies!

Some of our favorite gluten free breads and desserts to freeze include:

With some quick meal items in the freezer this month, you’ll have time to bake yummy goodies like Sour Cream Sugar Cookies or these Easy Holiday Goodies to Make with Kids.  Throw some Wassail in the crock pot, and you’re set for the holidays!

 

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This versatile cookie dough is perfect for times when you need a dessert but are out of gluten free flour blend.  (Yes, I said “need a dessert.”)  We made some of these not-too-sweet cookies for our trip to Yellowstone last summer, and they were the perfect afternoon snack while hiking, providing protein and fiber from whole grain oats to keep us going.  I was surprised that they stayed soft and delicious for several days.

October 2013 005

This recipe yields a lot of dough and freezes beautifully, so it’s handy for this time of year when you may need a last minute treat to take to a party or family get-together.  The chocolate-covered bar variation looks especially festive for fall when you sprinkle mini Reese’s Pieces on top, and is always a hit with my “gluten friends.”  To make festive looking cookies, just substitute M&Ms with holiday colors for the chocolate chips.  My nine-year-old daughter helped me throw together the easy dough for cookies this afternoon, then I pressed the remaining dough into 2 gallon-sized freezer bags set inside my 8×8-in. pan to freeze for later, so I can plop the frozen dough right into the pan to make chocolate-covered peanut butter oat bars the next time our “need” for dessert arises (a.k.a. next week).

October 2013 006

The cookies are fine stored at room temperature, but the bars taste best refrigerated, even though the candies on top may pop off when you cut through the chocolate topping.  (I call the loose candies the “mom tax.”)

Flourless Peanut Butter & Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies

1 1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. butter or dairy free margarine, softened
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. baking soda
4 1/2 c. GF oats (Winco carries cheap bulk GF oats, but they’re no longer labeled GF, so ask an employee to help you)
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips or holiday-themed M&Ms
1 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips or mini M&Ms (we prefer semi-sweet chips for at least 1 c. of the chocolate)

In a large mixing bowl – seriously, it needs to be large – cream peanut butter, butter and both sugars.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Combine oats and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and/or M&Ms.

Using a cookie scoop, drop mounds of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Smash down with fingers to the height of the chocolate chips, since these won’t spread very much.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes.  (I like my cookies soft and chewy, so I prefer a shorter baking time and pull them out before they brown around the edges.)  Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Yields 2 dozen cookies plus one 9×13-in. pan (or 2 8×8-in. pans) of bars.

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Oat Bars:

If using frozen dough, place frozen dough in a greased 9×13-in. pan (or 2 8×8-in. pans) and thaw.  Bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.  When bars are cool, melt 1 package of milk chocolate chips (or semisweet, if you prefer) with 2/3 c. chunky peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl on 70% power until chips look glossy, about 45-60 seconds.  Stir until smooth, heating for 15 sec. intervals as necessary to melt chips – don’t overheat or you’ll get frosting.  (If making one 8×8-in. pan, use 3/4 c. chocolate chips and 1/3 c. peanut butter.)

Pour melted chocolate over bars and immediately sprinkle with mini Reese’s Pieces, if desired.  Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, and cut into bars.  Store in the refrigerator.

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My son returned home from camp yesterday, and after I casually inquired about his week (Did you make any new friends?  Did you do all the activities this time?  Did you remember to shower?), I decided to celebrate his survival/success at camp with my homemade pizza (even though homemade pizza itself is a reason to celebrate in this house).  But as I was gathering my ingredients, I realized that I’m guilty of both procrastinating and hoarding this recipe – two things I’m trying to address through The Fast.  This recipe is hands down the best pizza in town, according to the 4 people in my home.  I can’t speak for anyone else because we don’t share our pizza.  Ever.  Pizza is a lot of work to make from scratch, people, so my son goes into Super Flattery mode every time I make it in an effort to get pizza more often.  If we order one from Domino’s or pull out an Udi’s crust – which we still like, it’s just that they’re expensive and small – he bemoans the fact that it’s not my recipe.  Loudly.

So please forgive me, readers, for holding out on you and not posting this sooner.  My site stats tell me that most of my visitors are gluten free parents, and my phone book tells me that most of what we Americans want to eat is pizza.  So I apologize for my procrastination.  (I took this picture of a baked pizza a year ago.  Please don’t hate me.)

Gluten Free Pizza

What I love about this pizza is that it makes a large, 14-inch crust!  If you’ve ever gone out to a restaurant with wheat-eaters, and plunked down twice what they spent on their bulging, large pizza for your little kids-size, gluten free/cardboard pizza, you understand the injustice of the gluten free pizza universe.  It’s especially tough to feed a family on small pizzas.  ($22-$26 for two small, marginally decent pizzas?  I don’t think so.)  My recipe makes a thin crust pizza.  When you bake the crust initially, it will rise and look pretty and fluffy (remember those days?), but once you load on the toppings, it will settle into a thin crust – that tastes wonderful!!  The crust is nicely browned on the bottom (with no soggy center!) and makes delicious bread sticks or focaccia if you decide to just bake it with olive oil and herbs, in which case it stays nice and fluffy.  (Gluten Free Cooking Tip: I’m convinced it’s the corn flour that gives your taste buds something to latch onto, and makes this taste like wheat crust – you don’t taste the corn.  I now add 1 or 2 T. corn meal/cup of flour to all my savory GF breads, and it makes all the difference!)

14" Pizza Crust

The best part for me is that it doesn’t require any time to rise, although it still takes me an hour to make because I’m totally OCD about toppings placement. (Or has my husband says, “No, you’re just doing it RIGHT.”)  One of these days, I’ll post my homemade pizza sauce recipe, when I can reproduce it the same way twice and actually remember what I did.  But since the crust is what matters to GF folks, I’ll say no to excuses for procrastination and share this recipe for 12 slices of heaven with you.

Heavenly Gluten Free Pizza Crust / Focaccia Recipe

Dry ingredients:
1 c. + 2 T. Brenda’s flour blend (recipe at the end)
1/4 c. potato starch (not potato flour; could substitute corn starch)
2 T. corn flour (mine is coarse ground; could substitute corn meal)
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1 packet yeast (regular, active dry yeast)

Wet ingredients:
1/2 c. hot water + 2 T., divided
2 T. olive oil (EVOO or the cheap stuff; I like 1 T. each)
1 egg
1/2 tsp. cider vinegar

Corn meal for dusting parchment

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit your pizza pan or baking stone.  (I use a 15-in. Pampered Chef baking stone, and it really does make a difference.)  Place baking stone in cold oven and preheat to 450 degrees.  (If you’re using a regular metal pan, you can probably wait to preheat your pan until the dough is mixing.)  Sprinkle corn meal on parchment paper and set aside on counter.

In the bowl of your mixer, whisk together dry ingredients.  In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 c. hot water, olive oil, egg, and vinegar.  Add to dry ingredients and mix together on low until combined.  Continue mixing and gradually add additional hot water, 1 T. at a time, until batter is smooth and thick.  (I use 2 T. water, but if you alter the flour blend in this recipe, you may need more or less water, since gluten free flours absorb water differently.)  Beat 5 minutes on medium-high, scraping bowl occasionally.  (If using a metal pizza pan, preheat your oven and pan at this time.  I also like to fry the sausage and shred cheese, if needed, while the batter is mixing.)

I call this “batter” instead of “dough” because unbaked gluten free bread products do not resemble wheat dough.  Don’t let this freak you out – I promise it tastes good!  Because it is a sticky batter, the process of spreading it out on the parchment is a little tricky and takes time, but if you’ve ever tried to make pizza with wheat dough, you know that it’s just as tricky but in a different way.  (There’s a reason we all order takeout or buy frozen pizzas.)  So to get a large circle of “dough,” you’ll want to drop about 5 mounds of batter in a circle with the remaining batter in a mound in the middle.  Fill your empty mixing bowl halfway with water, then dip a rubber spatula/scraper in the water and use the back of it to flatten each dough mound, dipping in water as needed to keep the batter from sticking to the spatula.  When each mound is flattened, begin to spread the mounds together, working from the middle outward.  Once it’s all in a circle, you can begin making circular strokes and spreading the dough toward the edge of your parchment, creating a slightly raised edge that comes within 1/2-in. of the edge of the paper.  (My stone is about 15-in., so I end up with a 14-in. pizza.)

Drizzle a little olive oil in a spiral and spread over top of crust with a brush or your spatula, for a nice, golden crust.  Slide parchment paper onto a large baking sheet with no edges (or an upside-down one).  Remove baking stone from oven and carefully slide the pizza crust onto the hot stone.  (This step is what gives you a golden crust, instead of a soggy one.)  Bake 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with your favorite toppings.  (I like to layer pepperoni and sausage on my sauce, then top with mozzarella and a little cheddar.  Putting the cheese on top instead of underneath guarantees that the toppings don’t fall off!)  Bake pizza 8-10 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and starts to brown.

Bonus Points: If you really want to rock your husband’s world, while the pizza is baking, melt 1 T. butter with a pinch of garlic powder and brush on the edges of the crust when the pizza is done baking.  Pizza AND garlic bread sticks!  Yum!

Focaccia: Let the dough rest for 20 minutes after you spread it on the parchment.  Dimple the dough with wet fingers, then sprinkle with herbs (I like rosemary), minced garlic, and coarsely ground black pepper.  Drizzle 2-3 T. olive oil on top.  Bake 15 minutes until lightly browned.  Sprinkle with grated Parmesan.  (Modified from the recipe in The Gluten Free Bible.)

Brenda’s Flour Blend* (I usually triple this and store in a gallon-size zippered bag in the fridge):

  • 1 c. rice flour
  • 1 c. brown rice flour
  • 1/3 c. potato starch (not flour)
  • 1/3 c. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. tapioca starch/flour (same thing)
  • 1 T. sweet rice flour (also called sticky rice flour)
  • 1 T. potato flour

*There are lots of good flour blends, so feel free to substitute your favorite, although I can’t guarantee the same results.

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If you’re looking for an easy, tasty, gluten free dish to bring to a party or set out for guests with allergies, here is a favorite that doesn’t require “special” ingredients or expensive gluten free substitutes.  The hot wassail punch is always a hit at parties, and is easy to throw together in the crock pot earlier in the day to make the house smell wonderful when guests arrive (and cover up the smell of cleaning products from last minute cleaning – not that I wait until the last minute to clean…).  

We love bringing homemade kettle corn with holiday M&Ms to parties because it’s cheap and serves a lot of people.  For more dessert ideas, check out my previous post with 10 ideas for easy gluten free desserts.  

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Not-Too-Spicy Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 12.5-oz. cans of chicken or 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese (I use light cream cheese, also called Neufchatel)
1/2 c. buffalo wing hot sauce (I use cheap dollar store brands)
1/2 c. ranch or blue cheese dressing (my family prefers ranch)
1-2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Celery sticks for dipping
Gluten free tortilla chips for dipping (read labels, since not all chips are GF)

Place the unwrapped cream cheese in a large, microwave-safe mixing bowl.  Heat for 30 sec. in the microwave.  Flip cream cheese bricks over and heat for another 30 sec.  Drain and flake cans of chicken.  Add chicken, buffalo sauce, and dressing to the bowl.  Stir together until you no longer see streaks of cream cheese.

Spread mixture evenly into a greased, 9″x13″ baking dish.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Bake 20 min. at 350 degrees until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown a little around the edges.  Serve warm with tortilla chips and celery sticks.  (We like to cut the recipe in half and make it in a 7″x11″ pan for an easy football game snack.)

Wassail
(Double this recipe for groups larger than 8 people or for tasty oatmeal*)

4 c. apple cider
2 c. cranberry juice (either cranberry juice cocktail or 100% juice blends work)
1 c. orange juice
1 11.5-oz. can apricot nectar (found in non-frozen juice aisle or Mexican food section)
1 c. sugar (can be reduced to 3/4 c. if using cranberry juice cocktail which has added sugar)
2 cinnamon sticks

Stove Top Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot on the stove and heat over medium until warm, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low and simmer at least 20 minutes.  (The longer it simmers, the stronger the cinnamon flavor will be.)

Crock Pot Directions:
If you’re using a crock pot, mix everything together and heat on high for 3 hrs., then turn to low for the party so guests don’t burn their tongue.  I usually heat it on the stove about an hour before the party, then transfer it to the crock pot to keep warm.

*We love to use leftover wassail to make homemade oatmeal.  Just substitute it for half the water in your oatmeal and stir in some dried cranberries, if desired.  So easy and yummy!

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