The Hot Handle

A blog interspersed with occasional gluten free recipes.

Please note: If you have a family member who requires a gluten free diet, be sure to use a cast iron skillet that has never previously touched gluten....and if it has, scrub it all down completely and re-season, to be on the safe side.

Looking for information on Celiac Disease? There are many good sites, but here is one to get started with:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Off the Handle: "The World's Only Good Fruitcake"

This is a picture of a throw that I thankfully finished in time to present to Katie and Andy for Christmas.  I started it right after their wedding, and finished it four months later.  Ever notice how the more time and effort something takes, the more proud you are of the finished product?

That twisted fringe is a favorite of mine for this type of project.  Very durable, and no unraveling!

But this isn't a knitting blog....

The cake below is something that takes a while, but it is not quite as labor-intensive as the pierogi from the last post.  I made it last year because we needed a substitute for traditional fruitcake, which my brother loves to serve on Christmas Eve.  I'm not clear where I got my inspiration for this particular recipe.....I think it was from the Silly Yaks list again.  Like everything else I do, I made my own personal changes and this is the result from two Christmases worth of baking. 

John, who never cared for traditional fruitcake, was very enthusiastic about this cake.  He refers to this as "the world's only good fruitcake"  ....hence the nickname.

Gluten-Free Fruit-Full Christmas Cake
(a.k.a., “The World’s Only Good Fruitcake”)
(serves 16)


Almost 2 lbs (or 4 cups) cut-up, dried mixed fruit (cherries, cranberries, apricots, golden raisins, cut-up prunes, dried figs….whatever suits your fancy) (Note: Don’t use fruit from bulk bins due to the possibility of cross contamination with gluten. Inspect your packages….and don’t use the fruit if it says anything like, “manufactured on equipment shared with wheat.”)

1 cup brandy, divided into 2/3 and 1/3 cups
¾ cup butter, softened (1 ½ sticks)
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 ¼ cup Bob's Red Mill GF biscuit & baking mix (has xanthan gum and baking powder in it)
          (note from 12/2011:  Bob's Red Mill worked better than a different mix used this year!)
1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup apricot jam


Place dried fruit and 2/3 cup brandy in a bowl with a tight-fitting cover.
Let it sit at least overnight (or up to 1 week), stirring/shaking it occasionally.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8” round, 3” high cake pan.
Line bottom and sides of pan with one sheet of parchment paper. (I scrunch it in.)

Using a heavy duty mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape the bowl and beat again until it’s uniform in texture.

In a separate bowl, mix the baking mix and spices. Add this to the butter-sugar-egg mixture and blend. Add your marinated fruit and stir until it’s well-combined.

Scrape this mixture into your parchment-lined pan. Press it into the pan and smooth the top surface with wet fingers. Sprinkle the slivered almonds evenly on top, and press them into the batter slightly with wet fingers. The batter may be even with the top of your pan. That’s okay.

Bake your cake for approximately 1 ¾ hours. A tester inserted into the center needs to come out clean. Pour the remaining 1/3 cup brandy over your hot cake.

Allow the cake to cool completely in the pan before transferring it to a plate.

Place the apricot jam in a microwaveable custard cup. Microwave it on high for 30 seconds or until warm. Spread this over the top of your cake. Allow it to soak in a while and cool, then you can cover it with plastic wrap for storage.


You will need to start this cake at least 1 day ahead.
Use a serrated knife and a sawing motion for slicing purposes.
Store it covered, but beware: everyone will continually nibble at this cake!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Pierogi

Like the star on our tree?

Last year we couldn't find gluten free pierogi for our Christmas Eve dinner.  It was our first year dealing with gluten issues and we really didn't know what we were doing!  I asked the "Silly Yaks" list, which has been a wonderful source of information, which led to this recipe, which I continue to tweak.  If you know more about gf pierogi than I do, please drop me a line and let me know any tips.  I'll surely appreciate it!

This is a wonderful team-building experience for the holidays! 
Try making pierogi with your gluten free loved one!

HH's Gluten Free Pierogi  (makes about 2 dozen)

1.  Make your filling:

Take 2 lbs of potatoes and boil them until soft.  Drain.
Mash them with ~6 oz of sharp cheddar cheese
and some salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste.
The mixture will be stiff.
Set it aside.

2.  Make your dough:

Put in your heavy duty mixer:

2 cups Bob's Red Mill GF flour blend,
1 cup rice flour,
2 tsp xanthan gum, and
1 tsp salt. 

Blend these dry ingredients.
Add 2 beaten eggs and blend.

Add about 2/3 cup of cold water in a thin stream, blending all the while.
You want to just add enough water to get the mixture dough-like.
I needed just an extra tablespoon or so for this year's batch.

3.  Assemble the pierogi:

Put the dough on a plate, covered with a damp cloth.

Have ready:
The plate, the dough, and a damp cloth,
lots of counter space,
lots of wax paper,
      (Note from 12/2011:  A silicone mat was very helpful to roll the dough on!)
a full can of cooking spray,
your rolling pin,
your dough,
a knife for lopping off pieces of dough to roll,
a 4-inch diameter crumpet ring,
a spatula for picking up your circles of dough,
your filling,
a plate to do the filling on,
a teaspoon for putting on the filling,
a fork for sealing, and
a platter to put the pierogi on.

Roll out the dough
between two pieces of wax paper sprayed with cooking spray,
to "pasta thickness."
You will need to frequently change the wax paper and spray it each time.
Cut out 4-inch circles with the crumpet ring.
Pass this to your pierogi partner who will fill it.

The pierogi partner places a small amount of filling near the center of the circle
and then folds the circle in half,
sealing the edges with a fork.

4.  Take a break:

Eat up the remaining mashed potato mixture for lunch or a snack.

5.  Cook the pierogi:

Heat up your cast iron skillet.  Have a pair of TONGS ready.  Do not use a spatula. 
These are slippery little devils!  (Ask how I know.....)

Using a combination of olive oil and butter, saute the pierogi until brown.

(This year I used some Earth Balance margarine.)

(I have previously been afraid to boil these, figuring it is safer to brown them in the pan to keep them from falling apart!  In 12/2011, however, I boiled a few for 3-5 minutes, or until they float, and they were fine!)

6.  Cook up onions:

Chop up 1-2 onions.
Saute these in olive oil/butter, also!

7.  Layer your dish.

Layer the cooked pierogi in a microwaveable dish
with sauteed onions, and
a little bit of water.

Another idea is to layer it in a small crock pot if you only need to hold it a few hours.
In general, heat up when you are ready to eat them, unless you are eating them right away.

Don't omit the water!  The pierogi will be hard without it, especially if you are using a crock pot.

Another idea is to layer it in a small crock pot if you only need to hold it a few hours.

Here are some photos:

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Chicken Curry Stew

I am tired today.  I have been doing some holiday baking, wrapping, shopping, and card-writing.  There is still a lot more to do.  I am sure the reader can relate.

Today John went off with his friends for a little holiday sightseeing and shopping in Newport.  I told him I would have a nice dinner when he came home, for him and his friends.  What to serve four young adults when you aren't quite sure when they are coming?

The crock pot is tailor-made to days like this.....

This was the second time I made the following chicken curry stew.  When you see a range of amounts, it reflects the first time I made it and the second time I made it. 
(I added more vegetables for more diners.) 

I never used coconut milk before this recipe, and was pleasantly surprised at how this came out!

HH's Chicken Curry Stew
(Serves 6-8)

Put the following in your crock pot:

1-1/2 lbs boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks,
1 onion, chopped,
1 to 2 potatoes, cut into small chunks,
9 to 16 oz frozen baby lima beans,
zero to 16 oz of sliced carrots (or baby carrots),
1 cup to a full 13-oz can of light coconut milk,
1 12-oz can diced tomatoes (I like mine fire roasted!),
1 Tbs cumin,
1 Tbs curry powder, and
1 tsp salt.

Mix it up.

Put the cover on your crock pot. 
Set it to high for 5 hours, or low for 10 hours.

Wave bye-bye as you allow your crock pot to do the work.
Serve with some parsley or cilantro on top as a garnish.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Easy Unwind Ahh-melet

Brrr!  Baby, it's cold outside!

And it's busy these days!

Recently I got home from my Zumba class to an empty house. 
I wanted a nice dinner but no fuss.  It was just me that night.  Hmmm....

I took out my 6-inch cast iron skillet and whipped up a nice omelet right on the spot. 
It was easy, fast, and satisfying. 
The 6-inch size turned out to be perfect for a one-egg omelet. 
(BTW, the 8-inch was perfect for a two-egg omelet when I made one earlier.)

Easy Unwind Ahh-melet

In a 6-inch skillet, heat up 1/2 Tbs oil on medium heat.

Scramble up an egg with 1 Tbs water
(This is a trick we learned years ago at a food show.  It makes the egg fluffier.)

Add the egg-water mixture to your pan. 

Sprinkle the egg with garlic powder and your seasonings of choice
(I like Italian seasoning.)

Once it's looking kind of set, layer on your filling. 
Check your refrigerator....what do you have? 
I cut up a mozzarella stick and sprinkled it all with parmesan to make a cheese omelet. 

Carefully fold the omelet over and let it cook a minute or so.

Flip it over and cook it a little more.

Light a candle.  Serve with your favorite relaxing music. 
I turned on Josh Groban. 
I also recommend a nice cup of decaffeinated tea. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Take-Along Kielbasa and Sauerkraut

In Manchester, Connecticut, there is a local icon known as "Shady Glen."  They have fabulous ice all-time favorite brand.  UConn ice cream is a close runner-up, to me.   This is understandable, since Shady Glen learned to make ice cream from UConn. 

This little elf reminds me of the holidays.  At each of the two Shady Glen locations, elves are painted on a mural on the wall.  Time stands still in these soda fountains.  The waitresses wear old-fashioned waitress dresses.  Soda is made with syrup and soda water.  The real thing. 

You can see this guy is enjoying an ice cream treat as well as a "crispy cheeseburger."  The recipe for the crispy cheese is a carefully guarded secret.  Some day I will have to figure out how to do this.  I will put it in a gluten free bun. 

The ice cream, purchased in a pre-packed half gallon container, in appropriate flavors like vanilla and pumpkin, worked out fine for my GF family member.  I definitely recommend them.  Pumpkin is my personal favorite. 

Anyway, do you know what smart elves make to bring to Christmas parties?

They are quite busy getting ready for the holidays.  There are cards to write, presents to wrap, decorations to assemble, and menus to prepare.  They need something easy to bring to a potluck gathering.

Enter:  the delicious but simple Kielbasa and Sauerkraut!!!

Peter knows this is an easy dish.  "Honey, we're going to -----'s for their annual Christmas party!  I told them we'll bring kielbasa and sauerkraut."

This is good. 

The last party we went to, I had no leftovers to bring home.  If you use a brand of kielbasa that is gluten free (I happened to use John Morrell), you have a gluten free dish until the rest of the group descends on it.  Before we left for the party, I set aside a plate for John to have when he was home the next day.  He appeared to be eternally grateful.  We have yet another party to attend in a few days, and I will do the same then.

HH's Take-Along Kielbasa and Sauerkraut

Take 3 14-oz gluten free kielbasas.

Slice them into 3/4" slices.

Take one 2-lb package of refrigerated sauerkraut.  Cut a corner off the bag and drain it.  Fill the bag once with water and drain it again to reduce the salt content. 

In a crock pot, layer:

1 cut-up kielbasa,
1/2 the bag of sauerkraut,
another cut-up kielbasa,
the rest of the sauerkraut, and
the last cut-up kielbasa.

Cover.  Cook 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.

Bring to your holiday party!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Apple Pie Minus the Crust

This is a photo from Newport, RI, last weekend.  It's so beautiful to go along Ocean Drive and look at the water.  You can see my shadow as I took this photo.  It was pretty cold outside, however, so we didn't linger much.

We enjoyed an event put on by the Newport Winery, where you get to taste the wines and other goodies from vendors.  We got some nicely decorated bottles to give for the holidays.  I also picked up a pretty bracelet from a sweet school-aged girl who was selling her wares as her mother sat by her.  You have to hand it to this enterprising young lady!

Most of the food items at a place like this are not gluten free, but one vendor sold spiced pecans that are all gluten free.  I got a prepackaged bag from him.

Vegetables, fruits and nuts are naturally gluten free.  I have started making more and more fruit desserts for this reason.  If you take a pie recipe, skip the crust, and use GF flour, tapioca or cornstarch for a thickener, you have a pretty healthy dessert that is lowfat.  Yesterday I made this one.  It came out great.  I used the 10-inch cast iron skillet and put the dessert into dishes as soon as it was fairly cool.  If you want to allow it to sit longer than that, you can use a regular pie plate.  Don't store foods in your cast iron skillet!

Apple Pie Minus the Crust

(Serves 5-6)

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease your 10-inch skillet or a pie pan.

Combine in a large bowl:

6-7 cups peeled and sliced cooking apples,
1/2 cup sugar,
2 tsp cinnamon,
2 Tbs quick cooking tapioca,
1/4 cup raisins,
1/4 cup craisins, and
1/4 cup water.

Pour this mixture into your skillet or pie pan.
Bake 30 minutes uncovered.
Cover with a sheet of foil and bake 15 min. more.
Spoon into 5-6 dessert bowls.

Top with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

This picture doesn't really do it justice.  The tapioca didn't really look like that.....the resulting dish was smooth and tasty!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: HH's Family Favorite Beef Stew

This garlic press has a story. 

Look closely at it.  After you read the story you will want one.

See the little garlic papers?

A number of years ago, I went to a Pampered Chef party.  (No affilliation.)

The Pampered Chef consultant demonstrated their remarkable garlic press.  You put a garlic clove in it, without bothering to peel the garlic clove.  Press it through...and presto!  The garlic presses out, the paper stays in!

"Cool," I thought.  "I didn't know you could do that.  I have a good quality garlic press at home, and I'll bet that will work fine."

I went home. 

I tried it.

Apparently, a "good quality garlic press" may not be the best garlic press!

I called the Pampered Chef consultant.

You see the results above. 

This tool is made by Zyliss, by the way.  For what it's worth....

I decided to make our "family favorite" beef stew recently.  I have used other beef stew recipes but my family has always favored this one.  I found it was easy to use gluten free flour in this recipe.....I just substituted it 1:1; and the stew was just fine.  No worse....just as delicious.

Anyway, I had a lot of garlic in my cabinet. 

I went a little overboard on the garlic.  (Can you go overboard on garlic????) 
That darn press makes it so easy.....

HH's Family Favorite Beef Stew

Serves 6, at least....reheats well....

Place 1-2 lbs. of lean stew beef in the crock pot.

Add 1/2 cup GF flour (I used Bob's Red Mill) and stir to coat the meat.

Add:  1/2 tsp pepper,
1 1/2 cups beef broth,
1 tsp GF Worcestershire sauce,
2 cloves garlic (or equivalent of garlic powder)....or more?
1 tsp paprika,
4 carrots (sometimes I use a pound!), sliced....or even a pound bag of baby carrots....
2 onions, chopped (somehow this tastes better),
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks,
2 tsp Gravy Master, and
1 tsp Dijon mustard.

Stir it all to mix.

Cover and cook the equivalent of 10-12 hours on low (or 5-6 hours on high).

Optional additions:
   One can chick peas (garbanzo beans)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Quick and Easy Vegetable Rice Medley

I have been getting a lot of Christmas shopping done.  I also started wrapping, placing the finished items in Katie's old room.  Today Peter is putting up the outdoor decorations; I will place the candles in the windows and the wreaths on the doors.

Here is a quick and easy recipe that I devised when the kids were small.  Easy to ensure it's gluten free, reheats like a charm, tastes delicious.  Try it during this busy time of year!

HH's Quick and Easy Rice Vegetable Rice Medley

Take your 12-inch skillet.
Cook 1 chopped onion in 1 Tbs olive oil.
Add 1 cup of rice.  I used "Royal Blend".  Cook and stir to let it brown slightly.

Look at your rice container's directions.  How much liquid does it recommend for one cup of rice?  Mine recommended 1 1/2 cups of liquid, so I used 1 cup of GF chicken broth, 1/2 cup of water, and one GF chicken bouillon cube.  When I have used "converted rice," I used 2 1/2 cups of water and two of the bouillon cubes.  What you use depends on what you have on hand....but I always use either bouillon cubes with water, and/or chicken broth.  (You want a flavorful dish!)

Add your liquid stuff to your pan.  It will immediately careful!!!  (Go slowly and step back!)

Add some parsley for color.  About a tablespoon.

Cover and simmer 10 min.

Add 2 cups of frozen vegetables.  I used peas with mushrooms.

Add 1-2 cups of cut up cooked chicken or ham, if desired.  For today's version I cut up 12 oz. of little ham steaks.  Other times I have used a 9-oz package of Purdue "Short Cuts." 

Cover again and simmer 10-20 min more on low, or until the liquid is absorbed.  You need to keep an eye on it to make sure the temperature is right and you stop cooking when it's done.

Add 1/4 cup parmesan; mix well and serve.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Apple Crumb Pie

A day after Thanksgiving, John looked at the apple pie my mom had made and sighed.  "Oh, I miss that...."

Obviously, there was only one thing to do!

I had a gluten free pie crust from the freezer case at Whole Foods.  I sent Peter out to our local apple orchards, and he came back with what I needed:  Cortland apples, which stay nice and white and fairly firm while cooking.  The result was delicious, and John took the last two slices back to UConn with him.

HH's Apple Crumb Pie

Preheat the oven to 350.

Take out a 9-inch single crust GF pie pastry from the freezer.  It will defrost as you do the rest.

Peel, core and slice 6 Cortland apples.  This will make a healthy 6 cups of apples.

Mix the apples in a large bowl with:
1/2 cup sugar,
1 tsp cinnamon,
1/2 tsp nutmeg, and
2 Tbs rice flour.

Pour that into the pie crust.

Go back to that dirty sense in messing up another one. 

Mix in the bowl:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar,
2 tsp cinnamon,
1/4 cup butter, and
1/2 cup GF flour.  (I used Bob's Red Mill.  As I was pouring, I remembered that I also have almond flour in my freezer, so I threw about 2 Tbs in, making 1/2 cup total.)

Use a pastry blender to mix it all together until it becomes crumbly.
Sprinkle this mixture over the apples.  (It will be tricky!  Pack it in a little....)

I put the pie on a cookie sheet so I wouldn't have a big mess.  It didn't spill over much at all (maybe a few drops), but I hated to think how I would feel if I had to clean my oven all over again.  Not only that, the cookie sheet ensures that I won't lose anything if the pie was a little heavy for the aluminum pan....

Bake 60-65 minutes.  Look for it to be a little bit bubbly.  You might want to cover it with foil for the last 15 minutes if you think it is browning too much.

Cool.  Serve plain, a la mode, or in the New England manner with a slice of cheddar cheese.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Getting a Handle on: Holiday Gatherings

I mentioned in my last post that I was hosting Thanksgiving this year.  We had 14 at the table, and it all went well.  I was happy to see that the relatives all have an acceptance of the gluten thing.  I invited others to bring some gluten free dishes, but I did not require it.  I had the most wonderful positive responses where people asked questions about how to do this.  They may have brought other dishes with obvious gluten (pies, green bean casserole....), but they were open to understanding about cross contamination issues.  When I thought about the things I am grateful for at Thanksgiving, that one was high on this year's list. 

Appetizers were the easy part.  I usually stick to cheese, crackers and nuts, since I love them all.  The Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins prompted comments of, "These are good!" and "Where do I get these?"  A cousin brought along pear halves stuffed with cheese and fruit.  Mmmm!

For the turkey, I mixed olive oil with McCormick Montreal Chicken Seasoning, pulled up the skin, and spread the mixture around under that.  We cooked the bird breast-side-down for the first two hours (tented with foil), which is supposed to make the meat more tender.  After two hours, we flipped it over.  I think that may have messed up the pop-up timer on it, but we always check with an instant-read thermometer nonetheless.  It was indeed tender!  We had a 12-lb turkey as I really didn't want to wrestle with a huge 24-lb one.

We also baked a turkey breast that I seasoned with a mixture of mustard, rosemary and garlic, topped it with a loose cover of foil, and baked that.  Again....very good. 

Gravy?  I found a good recipe online at  No one seemed to notice that it was gluten free. 

Stuffing?  Last year no one really wanted to try the gluten free stuffing that I had made.  In the interest of keeping a gluten-free cooking area, I assigned "traditional" stuffing to my brother.  People enjoyed his so much that they immediately labeled him the new "stuffing man" and told him it's his job from now on!  I sent the leftovers home with him. 

For John, I made a gluten free stuffing using two boxes of Van's waffles.  We put the waffles in the oven for a few minutes the night before.  I should have cut them into cubes at this point, but I was lazy and just turned off the oven and went to bed.  In the morning we had dried-out waffles.  I cubed them, cooked up onion and celery in 4 Tbs. butter, added 1 tsp sage, 2 Tbs parsley, and 2 tsp herbs de province; poured on 1 1/2 cups of gluten free chicken stock, and popped it into a crock pot for a few hours.  This worked out well!

We had mashed some roasted sweet potatoes done in the same manner as my roasted new potatoes (11/21/10) and iron skillet potatoes (8/5/10), with olive oil and that WOW seasoning that I like.  I didn't really pay a lot of attention to the time, I just roasted them over an hour in the same 325-degree oven with the turkeys, stirring them about halfway.  The photo above is John and Peter helping out with the preparation for that dish.  They are a BIG help!  (Thanks, guys!!)

Other vegetables and sides were supplied by my cousins and aunt.  Most (not all) were gluten free, but once things are on the table the risk of cross contamination is high.  John took his food first, before others even sat down at the table.  To ensure that he had "safe" leftovers, I had him set aside a good amount of food to immediately put in the fridge for himself.  We labeled any leftovers that he could eat as "GF".  Cranberry sauce is gluten free....and Whole Foods has GF cheddar biscuits in their freezer case that are fabulous.   I think everyone enjoyed those!

Dessert is the tricky part.  I made a GF pumpkin pie, which I gladly served to anyone who wanted it, but I was determined to keep it GF for John's leftovers.  I served slices of this pumpkin pie, then put it aside while we served other pies.  If I went back to the pumpkin, it was with a clean knife and onto clean dishes! 

Most people want "a little piece of everything," LOL!

I also put out Dove chocolates, which everyone likes.

Here is my chestnut recipe, which are nice with coffee.  People can sit around the table, smacking chestnuts to open them as they continue to chat.  I did cook them in my cast iron skillet, which got them a little extra-roasted on the side that contacted the skillet.  This reminded me of chestnuts that you can get in New York City from vendors!

Roasted Chestnuts

Soak your chestnuts in a bowl of cold water for 30-60 minutes; drain.
(I find that the soaking makes peeling very easy!)

Make sure your oven is on.  I put it at 350. 
Cut a slit in the shell of the rounded side of the chestnut. 
Make sure the cut goes all the way through  the shell.

Arrange chestnuts in a single layer in your pan.
Bake 40 min.

Let cool at least 5 minutes.  Peel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sauced Apples

I am busy making a pumpkin pie for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast.  I am hosting it this year.  We are expecting 14 at our table.  In spite of the fact that I have become fairly adept at hosting dinners these days, this is a little different.  People have "expectations" for Thanksgiving.  I assigned items that have gluten in them (i.e., "regular" stuffing) to others, but the threat of cross-contamination remains during the dinner.  I will have John set aside a good amount of leftovers for himself while he is the first to take it should all work out....

Before I publish today's apple recipe, I have to state something about the ingredients.  The reader may notice that we sometimes use alcohol in our cooking.  Truth is, this is pretty much a recent thing.  Now that the kids are adults, we feel like we have more freedom in that regard.  But also, it's a fact that the brandy and other items used in some of these fruity desserts have been in our [locked] cabinet for a *long* time. 

I have always liked adding a splash of wine to recipes.  My understanding is that most of the alcohol evaporates as we cook it.  If you are uncomfortable with these ingredients or it isn't your style, feel free to substitute some apple or grape juice. 

You will note that none of these recipes has beer as an ingredient.  Traditional beer has gluten.  There are gluten free beers available, but we have not tried them yet. 

Peter likes getting creative with fruit when we have company.  He made this dish the other weekend, and we liked it so much that he made it for John when he came home from college for the Thanksgiving break.  He dubbed it, "Sauced Apples" as a twist on "applesauce." 

Sauced Apples

 Peel and slice 6 apples of various types.  Peter likes a mix of apples.....some that are "cooking" apples that hold their shape, like Cortland, and others that turn into mush when they cook, like Macintosh.  This gives a variety of texture to the dish.

2 Tbs lemon juice,
4 oz. red wine,
2 Tbs molasses,
1/4 cup raisins,
2 oz. brandy or cognac,
2 oz. spiced rum,
3 Tbs sugar, and
4 oz. cider or apple juice.

Pour it into a large ziplok bag and let it sit in the fridge for 4 hours or so, turning the bag every so often to let all the flavors blend in an optimal fashion.

Turn on your oven or your outdoor grill.  I set the oven to 400.

Pour the fruit mixture into a 12-inch skillet and dot with 2 Tbs butter.

Bake, uncovered, 30 min.

Let cool slightly.

Put into small bowls and top with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream,
serving it "a la mode."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fruity Pork Roast with Roasted New Potatoes

This is a red-tailed hawk.  We had at least one of these flying over our house this fall, screeching all the while.  It was eerie and way cool at the same time.  Peter once saw a hawk having a pigeon for lunch.  A neighbor recently told me he saw our hawk grab a rabbit and take off.  Amazing. 

Now that I have this blog, I am like a hawk only in that I am always on the lookout for new recipes to try.  With the holidays coming, there will be plenty! 

Last weekend we had friends over and served this dinner, along with some salad.  Everyone really liked it.  I don't seem to care much for pork roast, but I had a small piece, and I think the fruit was the best part.  Enjoy!

Fruity Pork Roast

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place a 4-lb pork loin roast in a roasting pan. 
Mix together:
1/4 cup deli mustard, and
2 Tbs brown sugar.

Spread it over the roast.
Tent the roast with foil.  (Leave it loose.)

Roast for 3 hours, basting with 1/4 cup apple juice after one and two hours.....
so that makes a total of 1/2 cup apple juice.

During the last hour that the roast is cooking, combine
1 cup dried plums,
1 cup dried apricots,
3/4 cup red wine,
1/4 cup brown sugar,
1/8 tsp. cloves, and
2 tsp cornstarch.

Heat it up in the microwave.  I didn't quite get it to boil.

Pour it on and around the roast in the last hour of cooking. 
Check for instant read thermometer will register 160 when it's ready.

That's it!

Roasted New Potatoes

Take the appropriate amount of new potatoes for your number of servings.  Eyeball it.  Use red, white, or yellow potatoes.

Wash them.  If you want to be fancy, peel a little strip around the outside.

Drizzle with olive oil to coat. 
Add some adobo seasoning to taste.  Mix it all up.
Put it all into an appropriately-sized cast iron one layer.
Bake 25 min at whatever your oven temperature is....(I have used both 350 and 425)
Bake 25 min more.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

HH's Family Favorite Pot Roast

Katie couldn't come for her birthday party with the Woodchuck Chicken because she had some sort of virus.  (Her birthday is the same day as John, but three years earlier.)  A week later, she was much better, and everyone still wanted to see her.  I needed to make dinner for six, had a broken-down dishwasher, and yet another dinner party the following day.  I needed something that would be EASY.

I had a lightbulb moment.

Pot Roast!  Pop it all in the crock pot and let it go.  Then I have time to visit and only one pot to clean.  I bought cupcakes for dessert (an especially pretty one for the birthday girl).  We all sang "Happy Birthday" and watched her open presents. 

HH's Family Favorite Pot Roast
(Serves 6-8)

Take a 3-lb pot roast.  (Once I had a larger dinner party and used a 5-lb roast.)

Trim the fat.  In a skillet brown the roast on all sides in a little oil
Place it in an appropriate-size crock pot.

Mix in a small bowl: 
1/2 cup red wine,
1/4 cup catsup,
3 Tbs quick-cooking tapioca,
1 Tbs. GF Worstershire sauce,
1 tsp thyme, and
1 tsp oregano. 
Pour this over your roast.

If you want, add new potatoes and cut-up carrots around the side of the roast. 
When I had the 5-lb roast I did not do this.  Last weekend I did. 
Both ways are delicious.

If your family likes onion, by all means add some. 
But my daughter does not like onion, so I left it out. 

Cover, cook on high 4-5 hours or on low 8-10 hours. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Parmesan Bread Sticks

We will be seeing this word a lot now that the holiday season is fast approaching.  But joy is an interesting concept when you start to ponder it.  For example, my dishwasher has been broken for the last week.  I will have a new one delivered this week, but in the meantime we have been washing by hand.  Although I am not thrilled at this extra work, and I continue to automatically open the non-functioning dishwasher to put my juice glass in at breakfast time, it does have its good points, such as the teamwork of washing and drying together. 

I have also been pondering the mindfulness exercise of washing dishes.  In books about mindfulness meditation, they discuss washing a dish mindfully.  Feel the water, sense the soap, take your time and involve your whole being in it.  Come to think of it, my dishwashing liquid smells pretty nice.  It's possible to find joy in the mundane.

We continue to do a fair amount of entertaining lately.  It's much cheaper than dining out, and by doing things for others we activate the pleasure centers in our brains.  I get a lot of joy out of making food that not only does John enjoy, but everyone else does as well.  When it was his birthday last weekend I attempted to make breadsticks like the "Chebe" brand.  The recipe is below.  We then tasted both the Chebe and my attempt....and the agreement was that although the Chebe has a slightly better texture, mine have more flavor.  Everyone seemed to like them both.  If you try them, let me know what you think!

Yes, John took every last one back to school.  They are considered to be a successful recipe that brought joy to all. 

Parmesan Bread Sticks
(Makes 16)

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix in a bowl:

1 7/8 cups gluten free flour (I used a tapioca blend, specifically "Jules" brand.  If you use GF flour that doesn't have xanthan gum already in it, consider adding a tsp or so.),
1/2 tsp salt,
1 tsp Italian herbs,
1/2 tsp garlic powder, and
1/2-3/4 cup parmesan.  (I used 1/2, am wondering if 3/4 will work better.)

Add 2 Tbs oil, 2 eggs, and 1/4 cup milk
Mix, adding more milk as necessary to make a dough pie crust.  Use your hands and knead it a little. 

Separate dough into 16 pieces.
Form dough pieces into sticks about 1/2" in diameter.

Place sticks into an ungreased pan.  I did put some into my cast iron pan and that worked nicely, but some also went on a cookie sheet.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until brown.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Woodchuck Chicken

I took this photo at the Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock, Vermont.  We like their cheese. 

The tall trees remind me of wood.  The wood reminds me of Woodchuck Hard Cider.  John really wanted to try this as he turned 21 last weekend.  Peter had the idea of marinating boneless chicken in it.  And it came out nice and tender!!!  We were happy to have two pieces left over for Monday night's dinner.  A keeper recipe....with a catchy name!

We should have taken a picture, but we didn't.  It looks like grilled chicken.....and tastes fabulous!

Woodchuck Chicken

Take 4 1/2 lbs. of boneless chicken breasts.

Drizzle them with 2-3 Tbs. of olive oil,
2 Tbs of lemon juice, and
garlic powder to taste.

Mix this all up.  Add some salt if you want.  I meant to add some, but didn't get to it. 
It was still excellent.

Poke holes with your fork all over the chicken.

Pour 1/2 bottle of Woodchuck Hard Cider over the chicken.  Cover and let sit in the fridge for 6 hours.

Grill.  Use an instant read thermometer to make sure you cooked it properly.


And....FYI....there are woodchucks among those trees.  Take a look at this photo:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

HH's Basic Little Meatballs

I picked up this sign this summer and placed it over my stove.  I thought the message is worth seeing over and over.  It makes sense.  When I think back on my life, the stuff that stands out are little things:  a funny story, a look that someone gave you, cooking steak and potatoes over a fire at a state park on a Sunday afternoon, a baby sleeping on your chest......great memories, but little events at the time. 

John came home for the weekend.  I have been wanting to make him meatballs for a while now.  I finally did it! 

Meatballs are something we all take for granted.  It's easy to pick up a bag of frozen meatballs for your pasta, unless you need to be GF.  It's a little thing to enjoy.  Not hard to make, but a nice complement to a pasta meal.  You can adapt these in a number of ways, but this is the basic recipe:

HH's Basic Little Meatballs

Preheat oven to 350.  Get out your 12-inch skillet.

Mix in a bowl:

1 lb lean ground beef,
1/2 cup GF breadcrumbs,
1 tsp GF Worstershire sauce,
1/4 tsp garlic powder,
1 tsp Italian seasoning, and
1 egg.
Add salt as desired.  I didn't add salt, but I thought a little would have improved it slightly.  Try 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.  I'm not one to go overboard on salt.

I have a little meatballer-gadget that makes meatballs 1-3/8 inches in diameter.  You don't need to be quite that precise, lol!  Make them 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter with your fingers, if you don't have a meatballer-gadget.  I made about 22 meatballs.  Put them in the skillet.  No need to grease it first. 

Bake 20-25 minutes.  Celebrate that meatballs are so easy!  They can be frozen to heat up again in the microwave as needed. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Avocado Salads

These are angora goats.  We get mohair from them. 

(And you may have thought we get mohair from mo's!!)

These goats were at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival a few weeks ago.  They are funky looking, in a cute sort of way!  Mohair is fun to knit with.  It is super-warm, and the finished project has a "halo effect" from the fuzziness of the fiber.

When I met with my knitting friends last week, we discussed ways we all get vegetables into our meals.  My friend, Monica, shared that she buys little bags of avocados at Whole Foods and makes salads from them.  My ears perked up.  Avocado?  I love avocado, but I am not sure what to do with it other than guacamole.  A few days later I bought my own bag of avocados.  The first salad is one I threw together; the second is from Monica. 

Monica is from Chile.  She says that lemon trees (and avocados) grow very well in most parts of Chile - hence the use of lemon juice as a dressing for her avocado salad.  Nice and easy to throw together as you are heating up other parts of a meal!  

Chunky Guacamole Salad
(Serves 2)

Toss together:

One avocado, chopped,
1/2 of a red onion, chopped,
1/2 of a 14.5-oz can chopped fire roasted tomatoes,
3/4 tsp. WOW seasoning,
a splash of lime juice, and
1 tsp. sugar.

Avocado and Chick Pea Salad
(Serves 2)

Toss together:

1 avocado, chopped,
1/2 of a 19-oz can of chick peas, rinsed,
1/2 Tbs. olive oil,
1 tsp lemon juice, and
1/2 tsp garlic pepper seasoning (with salt in it).

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Veggie Pasta Toss

Happy Halloween!!

I have been reading about the importance of fruits and vegetables in preventing osteoporosis.  Unlike ghosts, we humans need our bones!  Consequently, I have been pondering ways to increase the proportion of fruits and vegetables in my cooking.  I made two different pasta toss dishes, one with gluten free spaghetti and the other with gluten free penne.  We really enjoyed them both.

Veggie Pasta Toss #1
(serves 2)

Heat water to cook 1/3 lb gluten free spaghetti according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a 6-inch skillet, heat 1 Tbs. olive oil.
Add 1 small green pepper, chopped, and
1 small onion, chopped.
Cook until onion is translucent, then add 1 tsp "Gobs of Garlic" seasoning.

Cook the pasta; rinse.
Toss the pasta with the veggies
and 1/2 cup of leftover pasta sauce, heated gently in the microwave.

Pass the parmesan!

Veggie Pasta Toss #2
(serves 3)

Heat water to cook 1/3 lb. gluten free penne according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in an 8-inch skillet, heat 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil;
Add 1 small onion, chopped,
2 small frying peppers, chopped, and
10 oz sliced mushrooms.
Add 1 1/2 tsp. WOW! seasoning.

Cook the pasta; rinse.
Toss the pasta with the veggies
and 1/2 of a 14.5-oz can chopped fire roasted tomatoes.

Pass the parmesan again!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

HH's GF Macaroni and Cheese

John was home this past weekend to study for midterms.  Above you can see him hard at work, with roasted pumpkin seeds as brain food.  I would post the pumpkin seed recipe....after all, I did it in the cast iron skillet....but no one devours pumpkin seeds around here.  Therefore, it doesn't pass a critical test.  You don't want to see recipes that no one ate up, do you?

He had a special request before he headed back to the University:  Could I please make him some macaroni and cheese?  That's the one thing he can't get at school......

Okay.  I accepted the challenge.  But seriously....I had never made "real" macaroni and cheese!  While the kids were growing up, I would simply open a box of the stuff with the package of powder, and that was that.  I had tried a gluten free version of it when we first needed to cook gluten free, and I was not pleased.  There had to be a better way. 

I researched the web for standard mac and cheese recipes to adapt.  I liked part of one recipe.  I found baking directions from another recipe. I wanted a topping, and couldn't find what I was looking for, so I made my own.  Below is the result of a conglomeration of my findings. 

When I made it, John, Peter and I all sat down to critique it at lunch.  I was pleased to find that the texture of the pasta itself was perfect!  Could it be?

We also liked the crunchy crust and topping.  100% success!  Excellent!

"John," I began, "I don't think this will be as good reheated as it is now.  Don't you want some more?"

Well, he has never been one to stuff himself.  The answer was no, although he certainly loved it.

Today Peter and I ate leftovers for dinner.  I splashed water on the leftover mac and cheese, heated it in the microwave (covered), let it sit a few minutes, and.....

Good grief!!!  It tasted as good as before!!!  And NO ONE would believe this is gluten free pasta!!!

The upshot?  TRY THIS.  It's darn good!!!

HH's GF Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4.

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease your 10" skillet.

Cook 8 oz of Tinkyada Pasta Joy Shells in boiling water (uncovered) for 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse.

Mix together 1/2 cup of nonfat instant milk powder and 5 oz water

Place 1/4 of the pasta in the skillet.  Take 8 oz. of Hoffman Sharp Cheddar (or your favorite cheddar that isn't low-fat; it can be sliced or shredded).  Put 2 oz over the pasta.  Layer a few more times until you have used up the pasta and cheese.  Pour your milk mixture around the edges.
Mix in a bowl: 

1/2 cup gluten free breadcrumbs (I made mine from previously purchased GF breads, and stored it in the freezer),
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese,
1/2 tsp Italian herbs, and
1/2 tsp garlic powder.

Sprinkle this over your macaroni and cheese mixture.  Drizzle the top with 1 Tbs. olive oil. 

Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and the top is starting to brown.

Let it sit a few minutes and serve.