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:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Getting a Handle On: Greens & Beans

This is another view of that awesome full moon last weekend.  It was hard to take a decent picture with my little camera....but this one looks a bit like Saturn.

I have been cooking up those greens.  Usually it's by heating up a little olive oil, or even a flavored olive oil, in the bottom of my 12" skillet.  I might then add some onion and/or pepper, chopped.  I then add the greens, usually broccoli rabe, chopped.  I let it sit until it's wilted.  Then I add a can of rinsed and drained, black, black-eyed peas....whatever.  Once I added a splash of balsamic vinegar and called it a "salad."  I brought it to work for lunch, and it was great. 

Today I took my leftover broccoli rabe & bean concoction, microwaved it with some tomato sauce, and used it to top a single serve portion of pasta.  A bit of parmesan on top and it was a pretty good meal.  It inspired me to be thankful for lots of things.....healthy food, good friends, books....all that kind of stuff.

Yeah, it's Lent all right.  I get all introspective and tap into feelings of gratitude. 

(I like Lent!)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Off the Handle: Healthy but Yummy Cole Slaw

This is a photo of the bright full moon on Saturday evening, taken across the street from my home.

On Sunday evening, I wanted to make a low-sodium, low-fat dinner.  Basically, it needed to be healthy.  We grilled some turkey burgers, and served them with baked beans, red pepper strips, my healthy cole slaw, and some cooked up apples with craisins and raisins for dessert. 

My brother really liked my cole slaw!  I took the leftovers to work the next day.....I mixed the leftover cole slaw with a half can of rinsed and drained black beans.  It made a satisfying lunch!

Healthy but Yummy Cole Slaw
Serves 6

Take one 16-oz. bag of cole slaw.

Put it in a plastic bowl with an airtight lid (like Tupperware or Rubbermaid).

Add 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar,
1 Tbs olive oil,
2 Tbs sugar,
1 tsp instant minced onion, and
1/2 tsp celery seed.

Unfortunately, I didn't have celery seed. 
I substituted Italian herbs.
It was fine, but I decided to purchase celery seed for next time.

My original recipe called for 1/2 tsp of salt, but I left it out.
It was fine!

Put the lid on your bowl.
Shake it up.
Put it in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Cole Slaw by Itself

Cole Slaw with Beans

Friday, March 18, 2011

Off the Handle: Mini Cherry Cheese Charmers

My crocuses are blooming!  Spring is here!

I love the first crocuses of Spring.  I have been known to be jumping up and down while admiring them.  I love the way I can plant the bulbs in the Fall, and in early Spring they come up all by themselves, as if by magic (unless the moles eat them first).  When I see them, I know warmer days are a certainty.

These mini cheese tarts look almost as pretty as crocuses. 
My family loved the nut crust!

Mini Cherry Cheese Charmers
(Makes 12)

Preheat the oven to 375.

Put muffin papers into 12 muffin cups.

Mix 1 cup of hazelnuts (or other treasured nuts)
with 2 Tbs melted butter, and
3 Tbs sugar
in a food processor. 
Stop when the nuts are looking like coarse sand.
(You don't want to make nut butter!!!)

Divide this mixture into your papered cups.  Using wet fingers, press the mixture into the bottom and a little up the sides of each cup.

Take an 8-oz. pkg. of cream cheese, and
blend it with one egg,
1 tsp. vanilla, and
1/4 cup sugar.
(I used a hand mixer.)

Divide this mixture into your papered cups, on top of the nut crust. 
Use wet fingers to smooth the tops evenly.

Bake 14 minutes.


Place a tablespoon of Solo Cherry Cake and Pastry Filling on top of each.

Refrigerate and serve cold. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Off the Handle: Cherry Pie!

My first crocus of Spring 2011!

I have been working hard at developing a cherry pie with a pie crust that will please everyone, and that does not contain corn.  This has been a challenge.  I tried two pies, some tarts, and little cherry cheesecakes in the process.  (The little cheesecakes were good!  Will post them soon....)

This is what I ended up with.  Very good!

GF & Corn Free Cherry Pie

For the crust:

Turn on your oven to 400.

Take 1 1/2 cups of gluten free baking mix (I used Pamela's), and
6 Tbs of butter
(I happened to use 4 Tbs butter and 2 Tbs of Earth Balance of 6 Tbs.)

Use a pastry blender to get the butter into little crumbs distributed throughout the mixture.

Add about 1/4 cup (4 Tbs) cold water. 

Mix it into a ball.

Grease a 9-inch pie pan. 
(I used regular cooking spray.  Don't use the "baker's" type of spray if you want to be gluten free!)

Press 2/3 of your dough into the pan to make a crust. 
Use wet fingers!

Bake 8 minutes.

Press the other 1/3 of the crust onto a plate. 
Cut it into tiny squares to use later.

Make your filling:

Combine in a 2-qt. saucepan:
2 14.5-oz. cans tart cherries,
1 cup of sugar, and
1/4 cup of quick tapioca, slightly rounded.

Cook and stir occasionally, bringing the mixture to a full boil.
Turn off your heat.
Add 1 tsp. almond extract.

Pour your hot mixture into the hot pie crust. 
I had too much filling, so I put some into a smaller ovenproof container to bake alongside the pie.

Top the pie with the little pie crust bits, arranging them artistically.
You can sprinkle it with a little sugar at this point.  (I didn't.)

I kept the oven at 400, but next time I think I should turn it down at this point to 375.

Put your pie on a cookie sheet or special sheet to cook pies on. 
If this spills over, you don't want all the smoke detectors in your house to start blaring!

Bake about 20 min., or until it's browned and bubbly.

Let cool.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Getting a Handle On: Eating Your Veggies!

I am always happy to see Lent arrive.  It gives me an excellent excuse and motivation to make better choices in my life. 

It seems that, for me, anyway, I eat much more "healthy" in the summer, with its preponderance of fresh produce, like blueberries and tomatoes. 

Then late autumn comes, and then the holidays hit.  My home becomes filled with cookies and other goodies....both the kind with gluten (that others may give to me) and the gluten free kind, which I love to bake so that my GF family member can enjoy similar dishes. 

It's just too darn easy to eat these types of sugary/starchy/high fat foods.  It isn't hard to get them or keep them around to nibble on, and the cold weather keeps me inside, where they call to me.

Enter Lent.  YaY for Lent!  I can make some new resolutions that I am more apt to follow just because it's Lent.  This year I am avoiding snacks and really trying to increase my vegetable intake.

Leafy green vegetables are supposed to be the king of all vegetables. 
They are powerhouses of nutrition. 

I am going to buy something dark and green and leafy every week. 
I figure my skillets will get a good workout, too.

This week I purchased a bunch of broccoli rabe
I washed it and sliced it up.
I heated a little bit of olive oil in my 10" skillet,
added 2 cloves of garlic
        (that I minced up with the little dish grater that I got at the flower show),
and added the greens to the pan.
After they wilted but still looked bright green, I sprinkled on a little bit of salt.
(It doesn't make any sense to overdo it on salt when I'm trying to be healthy!)

They do have a "bite" to them, but my health books assure me that I will learn to like it.
And I think I will....

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Easy Skillet Dinner for One (using leftovers)

Above is just another photo from the flower show....spring is coming!

Recently I came home from my Zumba class and needed to whip up something for myself for dinner.  I'm amazed at how easily one can use leftovers from the refrigerator to make a dinner in a cast iron skillet.  I previously made an omelette for one person with the 6" skillet (see post of 12/19/2010), and the other night I made this for myself in the 8" skillet:

Easy Skillet Dinner for One (using leftovers)

I heated up a tablespoon of lemon-pepper flavored olive oil,
added 1/3 of a red onion, chopped,
3/4 cup of cooked green beans, and
2 slices of deli ham, torn into pieces. 

I sauteed that together a bit, then
put on a sprinkling of garlic-pepper seasoning
(but I probably didn't need it due to the flavored oil I used...).

I beat up one egg with a Tbs of water
and put that in to cook.
It didn't make an omelette, it just coated the mixture somewhat.
(No, I wasn't looking for an omelette's effect....)

I sprinkled it all with parmesan to serve.
(I obviously have some Italian roots....)

When hubby came home, I told him,
"You missed a great dinner!"
(even though I probably wouldn't have made it if I was cooking for both of us....).

Hmmm....although it would be easy to double a recipe like this and use a larger skillet....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fraiche Mushroom Pasta (with chicken)

When I was at the Flower Show last weekend, I picked up this little thing to use with garlic:

You moisten the plate, which has sharp-ish bumps.  Slide your clove of garlic into the blue silicone tube on the left and roll it around to remove the peel.  Take your peeled garlic and rub it around on the plate, discarding the stem end.  It's supposed to be far superior to using a garlic press.  I'm not sure of that, but it looked like fun, anyway.

I went grocery shopping last week after a difficult day at work.  A tough day often makes me justify some impulse purchasing.  I spotted a container of "creme fraiche" in the deli area.  I had never tasted creme fraiche before, but I had heard about it, and my hubby actually had it once at a social event that I didn't attend.

I bought the container, and checked online for ways to use it.  I developed the following recipe, crossing my fingers that the family would like it. 

John came home from college last night for spring break.  I wanted to have a nice dinner for him.  I put my creation together last night, said, "Well, let's see how it tastes!"  
Lo and behold, we all liked it! 

I was surprised when I tasted the creme fraiche.  I expected it to taste like sour cream, but it didn't at all.  It was much creamier, and almost sweet.  Very nice.

Fraiche Mushroom Pasta (with chicken)
(serves 6)

Start water to cook your GF pasta.  I cooked up 16 oz of "Notta Pasta" fettuccini.
(It's a rice pasta.)

Take your 12" cast iron skillet.

Saute two cloves garlic, minced (but I used the cool grater dish above), and
16 oz of sliced fresh mushrooms
in 2 Tbs olive oil.

When it looks about ready, sprinkle with Italian herbs.

Add one 9-oz package Perdue Short Cuts (grilled Italian style),
which is cooked chicken that has been sliced up nicely for quick and easy use.

Add ~5 oz of white wine.  I used a Chardonnay from a single serve bottle.

Let that simmer a minute.

Add 8 oz of creme fraiche and let it just heat through.

Turn off your heat. 

Pour this over your cooked and drained pasta, in a big bowl.

Serve with the ever-beloved parmesan to sprinkle on top!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chicken with LOTSA Garlic

I had an opportunity last weekend to go to the Hartford Flower Show.  I had never been to a flower show before, believe it or not!  I took LOTSA photos, spent LOTSA money, and had LOTSA fun.....even though I went all by myself.

I like this photo of butterflies courtesy of the "Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory & Gardens" in South Deerfield, Massachusetts.  I'm fascinated by the way the butterflies reflect on the glass in this photo.  The clear wings of the butterflies in the center are very interesting.

The following recipe, which I made last week, is nice as we await Springtime.  I browned the chicken in my cast iron skillet, and finished the dish in my crock pot.  Having LOTSA garlic lifts my spirits the way butterflies and flowers can.

Chicken with LOTSA Garlic
(Serves 6)

In your skillet,
lightly brown 6 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves in 2 Tbs olive oil.

Place 12 new potatoes (or cut up potatoes for 6 servings)
in the bottom of a crock pot.

Add 1 onion, cut up as desired,
1 Tbs oregano, and
a whole head of garlic, peeled and minced.

Put your browned chicken on top of that.
Spoon a little garlic up onto the chicken,
drizzle it with another Tbs of olive oil,
give it a few turns of the pepper grinder, and
sprinkle it with a little more oregano.
I sprinkled the chicken with 1/2 tsp. salt, too.

Cover.  Cook 5-6 hours on high,
or 9-10 hours on low.

**Be sure to spoon the tasty glaze (that sits in the bottom of the pot) over the chicken.  The meat benefits from the moisture, and the flavor is awesome!**

 Those carrots were roasted in the cast iron skillet, like other vegetables I have posted about.