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:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hot Apple Mini-Skillet Dessert

Well, it's Autumn, although the weather today is warm and humid, and we are finally getting some rain. 

Autumn means chrysanthemums and falling leaves and apples.  Here is a picture of chrysanthemums that my better half picked up for me.  You can see leaves on the ground behind it.  Below is a recipe for an apple treat!

I hope to have more apple treats to come!

Hot Apple Mini-Skillet Dessert
(Serves two.)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Grease a 6" skillet, or spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine:

2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced,
2 Tbs. sugar,
2 Tbs. gluten free baking mix (I used Pamela's),
1/2 tsp. cinnamon,
1/4 cup raisins,
1/4 cup dried cranberries, and
1/4 cup water (or better yet, some apple cider!).

Mix it up. 

Spoon into the skillet.  Cover with foil.
Bake 30 min.  Remove foil.
Bake 10-20 min. more, until apples are tender when poked with a fork.

Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Scoop into dessert bowls and top with a dollop of whipped cream.

(Peter really enjoyed this!!!)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Banana Brownies

This is my guitar.

I used to take group guitar lessons at a local community college.  It was a lot of fun, and perfect for my life at the time.  But one important thing also happened while I refined my skills:  I met friends there, and 10 years or so later, we are still jammin'!  Every so often, five women (me included) get together, lugging our guitars and some food, often at my house.  It's a blast.

We range in age from 49 to 61.  We are liberal and conservative.  We are Jewish, Catholic and Lutheran.  We hardly pick up a guitar until it's jam time.  We talk......and talk.....and then remember we are there to play some music.  We play chords and sing together, not especially caring how good or bad we are. 

We are a powerful group.  We have cheered each other on through divorce, cancer, special anniversaries, birthdays, and accomplishments.  We truly enjoy each other. 

To think I would have never met them except for the guitar classes.....

I made these brownies for our last jam, which happened to be last weekend. 
Everyone loved them!

Banana Brownies

Preheat the oven to 325.

Grease a 9x13 inch oblong pan.

In a large bowl, mix together:

7/8 cup Jules Gluten Free Flour,
7/8 cup rice flour,
1 1/2 cups sugar,
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder,
1/2 tsp. baking soda,
1 tsp. salt, and
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum.

In another bowl, use a hand blender to mix together:

2 bananas,
3/4 cup oil,
1 egg, and
1 4-oz jar baby food prunes.

(Yes, baby food prunes!)

Stir the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until well blended.  Spread in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips.  (Look for gluten free on the chocolate chip label; I used Nestle brand.)  Bake 30 minutes, until they look pretty dry on top.  Cool completely, and cut into 32 squares. 

I put half of the brownies in another room to keep them from cross-contamination with all the other foods there.  The next day they were delivered to John at his college.  He loved them, too!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Celebrate Autumn Soup

A short while ago, I was getting into my car at a parking lot in my town when this bright red maple leaf landed right in front of me.  I took it home to photograph it. 

Autumn officially begins tomorrow.  The weather today started out relatively cold, but turned out beautiful, with a nice breeze and plenty of sun.  Tuesdays can be a bit hectic so I made this soup.  It combines the cast iron skillet with the crock pot, which is perfect for cooler days.  I browned ground beef and combined it with easy ingredients to make a hearty dinner. 

I once tried using ground beef in the crock pot without browning it first.  Boy, that was a mistake!

Celebrate Autumn Soup

Brown 1 lb. of ground beef in the 10-inch cast iron skillet.

Put in a crock pot with:

1 Qt. gluten free beef broth.  Be careful labels!  I once glutened John before understanding that broth can have gluten.  Go figure....


1 onion, chopped,
2 potatoes, cubed,
1 8-oz can tomato sauce (I used Hunt's),
1 16-oz bag of frozen veggies (I used Birds' Eye Sugar Snap Stir Fry!)
3 cloves garlic, run through a garlic press,
1 tsp Italian seasoning, and
1 gluten free beef bouillon cube (Again, be careful and read labels!  I used HerbOx.)

Turn on the crock pot and cook 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.

My skillet seemed to need a bit of seasoning today for whatever reason.  After cleaning it with hot water and salt, I spread on some Crisco shortening, heated it up a little on the stove, then wiped out the excess. 

Looking good!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Getting a Handle on: Pan Sizes

This is a photo of the boardwalk on Cape Cod that I was on this summer.  It looks easy enough, but it was low tide and there was quite a drop off the sides of this thing.  It is also longer than I figured.  Only a small section of it had handrails.  I got halfway across when I realized it was all a little disconcerting.  Way ahead of me....way behind me.....nothing to keep me from falling off the edge except myself.... 

With Peter encouraging me, I made it to the end, but decided to turn around and head right back again because I didn't want to be walking on it after sunset.  I also didn't want to lose my momentum or my nerve.  I took one step at a time straight down the middle of the walkway and got back.  Phew!

That's my life.  Making my way one step at a time. 

It occurred to me that I should write about how I think about adapting some recipes to the cast iron skillet.  I had done some math earlier.  Hopefully, I did the math correctly (yes, I do round my 10-1/4 inch skillet to 10 inches in diameter).....and I noted the following approximate areas:

6-inch round skillet:  28 sq. in.
8-inch round skillet:  50 sq. in.
9-inch round cake pan:  63.5 sq. in.
8-inch square pan:  64 sq. in.
10-inch round skillet:  78.5 sq. in.
9-inch square pan:  81 sq. in.
12-inch round skillet:  113 sq. in.
9x13 oblong pan:  117 sq. in.

So, I figure I can adapt a recipe that bakes in a 9x13 oblong pan to the 12-inch round skillet, and the 10-inch round skillet isn't too far off from a 9-inch square pan.  If I had a cake recipe that calls for a 9-inch round cake pan, perhaps I would try using my two 6-inch round skillets, adjusting the baking time accordingly. 

Well, it's just food for thought.  One little step in my thinking process.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hash Browns

This is another photo from the Connecticut Science Museum.  There is no one inside this space suit replica.

However, there is plenty of substance inside this recipe, which unfortunately I developed after John went back to college.  It is out of this world!  Will definitely do it again!

HH's GF Hash Brown Potatoes
(Serves 3)

Take two medium potatoes.  Clean and peel off any skin that might have yucky stuff underneath.  A little bit of skin adds to the charm, however. 

Shred your potatoes with a grater.  Be careful not to grate your fingers.  Rinse these potato shreds by placing them in a colander and pouring cold tap water on them until the water is clear.  Drain and squeeze dry.  You can use a clean towel to squeeze it dry.

Put the potato shreds in a bowl.  Add: 

1 onion, finely chopped,
1/4 cup white rice flour,
1 Tbs of WOW! seasoning (or other blend with a little salt in it), and
1 egg.

Heat 2 Tbs oil in a 10" skillet.  It will be ready when a single drop of water sizzles when you drop it on the pan.  Turn your heat to medium low.

Divide your potato mixture into about 6 globs.  Drop these globs into the skillet.  Cook about 8 minutes.  Flip with a spatula.  Cook about 8 minutes more. 

Any astronaut would be happy to have this after living on freeze dried food all week! 
It looks like this:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Mustard Marinade

I first used this recipe for my Dad's birthday party in August.  I used it again last weekend with the home run dessert and the veggie stuffed shrooms.  This is the last of the recipes from that dinner that I will post.  (It was a great dinner!)  Oh, and the pretty salt and pepper shakers are from Poland....a gift from our guests!

This marinade is great for boneless chicken breasts, but last weekend we used it with chicken tenderloins and that was especially tasty.  Even though I used a "hot" mustard, the chicken itself did not taste terribly spicy. 

Mustard Marinade

Mix in a small bowl:

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 Tbs mustard of choice (I used Koop's Arizona Heat)
2 Tbs gluten free Worstershire sauce
3 Tbs brown sugar

Pour over 4 lbs of chicken in an appropriate container.  Use a fork to stir and coat all pieces.  Also poke pieces with the fork while you are at it.  Cover and refrigerate 4-6 hours.  Grill until done.  (We usually use an instant read meat thermometer to be sure it's done properly.)  Do not mix uncooked marinade with already cooked pieces....just pull out the chicken and cook it, and discard any extra marinade!  (Hopefully you know that already.)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Veggie Stuffed Shrooms

Remember the three pinch pots I made and posted a photo of on July 22?  Well, I finally have them back, all fired up and finished.  There is one in particular that I thought would be perfect for a candle.  It cooperated by allowing a glass votive candle holder to fit perfectly inside.  We have been using it during dinner to provide a little ambience.  Here it is:

Something I am proud of, asymmetrical and imperfect by design.....

I am proud of my recent stuffed mushrooms, as well.  I was in the store to buy chicken for our cookout last weekend (with the drunken nectarines for dessert), standing in the produce department, and looking over the big portobellos.  They were just too big for our party of four.  What could I do with them? 

Then I noticed the huge white stuffing mushrooms next to them, and I suddenly saw the light.  I could make stuffed mushrooms in a cast iron skillet!  As I put it together at home, however, the stuffing appeared rather soupy.  It was getting late, and I didn't have a choice....I stuffed the mushrooms with it, regardless.  I tasted the leftover.  It tasted good, but I could just see the whole thing collapsing into the plates as we cut into them.  I doubted it would make it to my blog like this.

Obviously, I was wrong!

What did I learn?  I learned to heed the lesson of my wabi-sabi pinch pots!  As I embrace imperfection, I just may come up with something that is darned near perfect. 

Veggie Stuffed Shrooms
(Serves 5)

Clean the mushrooms from a 14-oz pkg. of big stuffing mushrooms (about 10). 
Remove the stems, saving them.  (Rocking them back and forth helps to remove them.)

Preheat the oven to 350.

Chop up finely (I used my electric chopper):

1/2 onion,
1/2 green pepper,
1/2 red pepper, and
the stems removed from your mushrooms.

In your 8" skillet, saute the chopped veggies in 1 Tbs. olive oil.
Add 1 tsp Worstershire sauce
and a few turns of the pepper grinder

Remove from heat. 
Stir in 1/4 cup cream cheese, and
1/4 cup of gluten free feta cheese (I used Alouette brand).
Quickly beat in 1 egg white.

Lightly grease your 10" skillet.
Arrange your shrooms in it.
Stuff your shrooms.
Sprinkle with 2 Tbs. parmesan cheese.

Bake 30 min. 
Admire the pretty flecks of color.
Eat slowly and savor.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: A Home Run Dessert

Yes, this is a photo of David Ortiz of the Red Sox.  We had a unique opportunity this summer when Peter was selected as "Blood Donor of the Game" at Fenway Park.  We attended pre-game ceremonies, and Peter's photo was taken with Wally, the green monster.  It was awesome to be on the field like that. 

David Ortiz had a continuous smile on his face as he waited to hand out certificates to honors students.  In retrospect, I wish I had encouraged Peter to go stand near him for a photo.  I am betting "Big Papi" would have done that....Mr. Ortiz appears to be a nice guy, from what I've seen. 

We had a wonderful cookout last night.  We have good friends from Poland who were back in Poland for a year, but have recently come back to Connecticut for good.  The weather was cool, with a slight breeze, so sitting outside on the porch was a pleasure.  I have a number of recipes from last night to share, but for today I will share a home run recipe, devised by Peter. 

Drunken Peaches or Nectarines


6 tree-ripened peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted, and cut into halves,
1/4 cup dried cherries,
3/4 cup red wine,
1/4 cup brandy,
1/4 cup Captain Morgan's spiced rum, and
2 Tbs. brown sugar.

Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.

Put mixture in a disposable pie plate.
Grill at medium high for about 20 minutes.  You are making a reduction of sorts. 

Serve with vanilla ice cream
(We had vanilla ice cream from the UConn Dairy Bar, and man was it *fabulous!*)