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:

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.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Getting a Handle On: Fresh pumpkin!

Yesterday I stopped at a farm stand for flowers.  To the right of the door were pumpkins marked, "Field Pumpkins."  To the left were smaller pumpkins with a sign, "Sugar Pumpkins."  Those are the ones for cooking.....hmm.....

One of the cool things about blogging is that it forces me to get creative, to think ahead....and then I wind up having way too much fun in the process.  I did have other work to do, like putting vocabulary and comprehension questions onto the computer for student use tomorrow, but that got done while pumpkin-y delights were in the oven.  It tends to all work out in the end, especially since I'm fairly organized and do things in steps. 
Here is the pumpkin I brought home.  It was about three pounds.

I washed it, and sliced it in half....

I scraped out all the seeds and stringy stuff with a spoon.  I found out afterwards that an ice cream scoop works well with this.  That sounds like a good idea; will try it next time.

The pumpkin halves were placed cut-side-down in a lightly greased baking dish.  I baked them at 375 for an hour.  They came out looking a little funky:

I let them cool a bit, so that I could handle them and scrape out the insides.  The one on the above right is slightly scraped out.  I wound up with 3 cups of pumpkin!

Now what to do....?

I suddenly realized that I had the perfect recipe, based on one from the Moosewood Cookbook.  Gosh, that book was my standard in the early 80's. 

We called it, "Pumpkin Pie, Unwrapped."  Here's what I did:

I put the following into a large bowl:

My 3 cups of cooked pumpkin,
2/3 cup honey,
2 Tbs molasses,
1/4 tsp ground clove,
2 tsp cinnamon,
1/2 tsp salt,
4 eggs, and
1 12-oz can evaporated milk.

I used my hand blender to puree the whole thing. 

I poured most of it into a large pie pan, lightly greased.  The rest went into my 6-inch cast iron skillet, which was also lightly greased.  I had already preheated the oven to 450, but turned it down to 350 when I placed the two pans into the oven. 

The 6-inch pan took about 45 minutes to be done (test with a knife near the center, it should come out clean).

The pie pan took 60 minutes. 

They looked like this:

The little one was nice as a little snack, but it didn't look as pretty once I pulled it out of the pan.  (Don't store food in your cast iron skillet!)  As for flavor, however, these are much more tasty than the pumpkin dessert I made on October 11th.  Perhaps it's the honey; perhaps it's the fresh pumpkin... 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Flying off the Handle: Corned Beef and Cabbage

We SLPs that work in the schools deal with quite a number of teachers and staff.  Every so often some of these people have babies.  I made the above baby hat for the baby of a special education teacher I have been collaborating with.  The hat below is for the soon-to-be-born baby of a woman who works with special needs students in vocational activities. 

Cute, huh?

This week I have developed a cold.  I need a little babying myself.....

Comfort foods are nice this time of year.  Even though many of us think of corned beef only in March, at St. Patrick's Day, my local market has a sale on it in the Fall, as well.  I think their corned beef is the best anywhere.  I have a recipe that my family has loved through the years.  So comforting....

HH's Corned Beef and Cabbage

Get yourself a 2-4 pound corned beef brisket.  "Flat Cut" is what I get.  I severely trim the meat of excess fat.  That's what I get for being health conscious.  (As if this fatty, salty meat is healthy.....)

Put in a large crock pot:

1 1-lb bag of carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks;
2-3 potatoes, washed and cut into chunks  (Peel if you want.);
2-3 onions, quartered  (This time I decided to put in a bagful of frozen pearl onions, instead.);
Optional:  a few parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks;
1 cup water; and
Your corned beef, fatty side up.

Cook 5-6 hours on high or 10-12 hours on low.

Take a small head of cabbage.  Cut it into wedges, usually 8 of them (depending on the size of the cabbage).  Put them in a skillet with a cover.  For me, that's usually my stainless steel skillet....habit, I guess!

Remove about a cup of broth from the crock pot, using a ladle, pouring it over the cabbage.

Cover and cook 20-30 minutes on medium or medium low heat.  You want it to bubble but not boil over.


FYI:  The cooked weight of corned beef is about half that of raw.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apple Upside-Down Cake

This is a beautiful time of year here in the Northeast.  It is also an extremely busy time of year!  To give you an idea of how busy this week was for me, the above photo was taken in Woodstock, Vermont.  The photo below was taken in Rhinebeck, New York.  All this week!

Connecticut looks at least as nice as this, but it's hard to snap photos as you are running to and from work.  (When I wasn't off in another state I was busy with that.....)

This weekend was also the "Apple Festival" in my home town.  I went there this morning with my friend, Laura.  I came home and decided it's time to buckle down and work on the blog.  I made the following apple upside-down cake, inspired by a recipe I spotted in my travels.  I pretty much completely revamped the recipe to make a gluten free version.  It was decidedly easy, and it came out moist, with no need for anything but an ever-delightful dab of whipped cream on top. 

At this time, half of this cake is wrapped up and ready to send off to John at college.  Enjoy, John!!!

Apple Upside-Down Cake

Preheat the oven to 350.

Peel and slice up two Cortland apples and set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet, combine 1/3 cup sugar and 3 Tbs water.  Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.  Let it bubble and thicken a bit.

Remove the skillet from the heat.  (I have a gas stove, so all I need to do is turn it off.)
Stir in 2 Tbs. butter.  Arrange the apple slices on this, overlapping them a little, and allowing some of them to go a little up the sides of the pan, as well.  Sprinkle the apple slices with cinnamon and nutmeg to taste.

Mix up a 16.4 oz box of Cherrybrook Kitchen Gluten Free Dreams Yellow Cake Mix according to package directions.  Smooth this over the apples in the pan.

Bake 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge.  Invert a plate onto the pan, and use hot pads to *carefully* turn the whole thing over.  Remove the pan.....and be amazed!

Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Crustless Pumpkin Pie

This beautiful arrangement was decorating the altar at Church this weekend. 

We spent the day yesterday at the "Cornucopiafest" at UConn.  The weather was perfect for this outdoor festival where people learn about health and agriculture by going from booth to booth.  I played a game where you fill in spaces for each booth you attend....perhaps the square is stamped because you played a game there or took a quiz, or perhaps you just find the answer to a question and write it in.  It gets the attendee involved, and makes it loads of fun.  When the spaces are at least 2/3 full, you turn it in for a free water bottle and a chance to win some prizes at the end.  I actually won a corn-shaped USB drive!  How cute! 

In the spirit of the season, I decided to make something pumpkin-ish on Saturday.  I put together a crustless pumpkin pie that was pretty good.  Without a lot of fuss, you can whip this up quickly.  You just then need time to let it refrigerate a little. 

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray a large pie pan with GF cooking spray.  (One that does not have any flour in it, like the kind that is specified "for baking."  Stay away from that stuff!)

In a large bowl, mix:

1 15-oz can of pumpkin,
1 12-oz can of evaporated milk,
2 eggs,
1 tsp GF vanilla,
1/2 cup brown sugar,
1/4 cup white sugar,
1/2 cup GF pancake mix,
1 tsp cinnamon,
1/2 tsp ginger,
1/2 tsp nutmeg, and
1/4 tsp salt. 

Use a whire whisk.  When it's smooth, pour it into the pie pan.

Bake 55 minutes, or until a knife inserted in he center of the pie comes out clean.

Cool and chill.  Easy, right?

Served topped with whipped cream.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Baked Apple Boulders

Last weekend we took a little cruise around the Thimble Islands off the coast of Connecticut.  They are a series of little islands where many have space for only one house.  The one above has a big boulder, deposited there by a glacier.  The islands are mostly rocks, but the houses are pretty impressive and built by wealthy individuals.  This one was nice, for example:

On our way home we stopped at a farm stand and bought a couple of big boulder-ish apples.  I made the following dessert a few days later:

Baked Apple Boulders
(Serves two)

Preheat oven to 375.

Take two large apples that are good for baking.  Wash, core, and peel top third to top half of apples.  Put them in a lightly greased 8-inch skillet.

Stuff with craisins, raisins and nuts, as desired.  I love them all together, but I focused on the raisins for Hubby. 

Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon per apple into centers of apples.

Drizzle honey into centers.

Add water to make it 1/4 inch deep in the bottom of the pan.  I recommend that you cover the pan with foil.  I didn't, but will next time.  Bake one hour or until soft.  (Actual time will vary depending on your apple variety and its size.)

Allow to cool a little before eating, or you will wind up not tasting anything!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hot Handle Bananas in Spiced Rum

This photo has a story:

This weekend we had our neighbors over.  It was a really nice evening!  For dessert, I concocted a non-flaming-but-hot sort-of-a-bananas-foster ice cream topping in my 10-inch skillet.  It was quietly and completely devoured by everyone.  I was really impressed.  So impressed that I decided to buy more rum and bananas.  But that's not the story of this ice cream bowl.

As I assembled all the ingredients to whip up this baby quickly and not take time away from my company, I realized dishes like the one pictured above would be perfect.  Yes, the dishes that I .....uh.....used to have.  I recalled that I had given them away to a local Goodwill Thrift Store.  They simply were taking up space in my cabinet, and I hadn't used them much. 

Well, we used my trusty little Pyrex glass bowls instead, but I was a little rushed with the ice cream melting under the hot bananas.  Add to that the low lighting so we could have "ambience" with my guests, and....well.....the photo below isn't the best to showcase this dessert.

Three days later, I was driving by this thrift shop and had to stop there anyhow to donate more stuff.  I decided to go in and look around.  Lo and behold, there were my bowls!  On sale! 

I had them all wrapped up and ready to go for two dollars.

Well, it was raining, and you must know what that's like.  I didn't want to get wet and attempted to get these in the car quickly. 

You probably know where this is going, right?

Did I say it was raining?

One fell out onto the pavement.  But no, wait, it was okay....

And it was raining....

And as I attempted to put the rest in the car another fell out.  And broke.

And it was raining....

There wasn't much to do except pick up all the pieces, not wanting to give anyone a flat tire.  I walked back to the store, in the rain, to dispose of it properly in a trash can.  I drove home and mourned the loss of my nice neat set of four that I almost had again. 

I only write this because I am guessing the reader can relate.

Anyhow, here is the recipe for my dessert.  It's better than it looks.  Way better.

Hot Handle Bananas in Spiced Rum
(Serves 4)

Place 2 Tbs butter in a 10-inch skillet on your cold stove.

Mix in a bowl:

1/2 cup dark brown sugar,
3 Tbs spiced rum (Captain Morgan is supposed to be okay, gluten-wise),
1 tsp vanilla,
1/2 tsp cinnamon, and
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used hazelnuts).

At serving time, turn on the stove and melt the butter.  Stir in your sugar mixture.  When it bubbles, add 3 bananas, peeled and sliced.

Reduce heat.  Cook 1-2 minutes, or until bananas are hot.  (You don't want to cook too much or the bananas will get mushy.) 
Cool slightly and serve over vanilla ice cream
Put on a dollop of whipped cream

Don't bother taking a photo.  Just eat.  The potassium is good for you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Flying Off the Handle: Peanut Butter Cookies

Okay, it is October and the time for Halloween decorations.

This scary looking creature was decorating the front of our house last Fall.  It is an "orb-weaver".  It is not toxic to humans. 

Orb-weavers are not aggressive and seldom bite.  (I checked!)  They live in garden areas and create large webs that can be six feet in diameter.  They hang upside down in the center of their webs while waiting for dinner to arrive.  Very cool, and perfect for this time of year!

The first time we had one of these visitors was two years ago.  It set up a web off of the back porch.  Since it wasn't near our eating area at all, and my research told me it's really an okay arachnid, we just let it be.  Friends thought I was nuts, but others assured me that they do not come inside the house.  They presumably like the outdoors, not closets.   

A year later, what I assume to be a descendant of the first spider set up a home over the garage, as shown above.

This year one spun a web in an inconvenient place on the back porch.  We had to break it up to be able to use the grill.  It made a new web across the stairs to the porch.  We had to knock that one down, too.  It must have given up after that!!!

So no spider this year, but isn't that a beautiful web?

I spun up some peanut butter cookies yesterday to send to John.  You can find recipes like this's been around a while.  The first time I ever tasted one of these cookies was when the art teacher at my school brought them in.  (This was even before "gluten free" was in my vocabulary.)  They were delicious.  I got the recipe from him, but didn't actually make them (and of course tweak the ingredients to my personal style) until I needed gluten free treats.  Here's what I did:

HH's Peanut Butter Cookies
(Makes 36-38 cookies.)

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix in a bowl:

1 15- or 16-oz jar creamy peanut butter,
1 cup white sugar,
3/4 cup brown sugar,
1/2 tsp vanilla, and
2 eggs.

Use a 1 Tbs measuring spoon to place little balls of this mixture onto parchment paper.

Roll the balls in granulated sugar. 

Flatten the balls slightly with a fork, making a traditional crisscross pattern.

Bake 10-11 minutes. 

Cool completely before removing from the parchment paper.

If you look carefully you will see that I forgot about the rolling in sugar step.  They still taste great.  Sorry about that error....

I did some calculations and these are about 106 calories per cookie.