Helpful links to gluten free resources

Here’s a list of helpful links to websites and other resources I have found immensely helpful, especially when starting out going gluten/grain free. I have not been paid or endorsed by any of these websites, these are tools I use in my daily gluten free life and I wanted to share them with you! I will be adding to the list regularly. If you have any sites/links you have found helpful and would like to share them, leave a comment and I will add them to the list!

This is a wonderful and easy to read gluten free flour volume-weight conversion chart from Real Food Made Easy, also included is a brief description of each flour, I love this page and have used it so many times I’ve taped it to the side of my fridge, no joke!. Click here for a link to the link to the PDF.

Brittany Angell has a wonderful website with a membership option (I currently subscribe, the member recipes are AMAZING!!!). I could go ON AND ON about how wonderful this site is, but you should really click here and check it out yourself! Oh, and make a recipe from her site tonight, you won’t be disappointed!

Lynn from Lynn’s Kitchen Adventure developed a great homemade gluten free Bisquick style baking mix that can be used in so many different ways, I use it weekly at our house! She offers the recipe to the mix for free, you can get it here (along with a few recipes using the mix), and also a kindle or PDF book you can buy here (right now it’s only $2.99!) with tons of recipes using the mix (the browning are AWESOME!)! I’ve developed my own biscuit recipe using the mix and I’m sharing it with you! Use the ratio of 1 cup of baking mix to 1/3 cup of water or milk (I usually do 3-4 cups of mix at a time) and mix well, and either drop onto a baking sheet for drop biscuits or, just line a small baking pan with parchment paper and bake in one large, thin “loaf” and cut apart afterwards (my favorite way, even though the biscuits are square)! Bake the biscuits at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes for drop biscuits and about 25 minutes for the whole pan. SO EASY!

Go check out Recreating Happiness. Wonderful gluten free website that has an AMAZING stuff-your-face-full-of-cinnamon-goodness cinnamon roll recipe, ’nuff said!

© 2014-2016 Bowls Full of Yummy. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bowls Full of Yummy with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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Guar gum vs. xanthan gum

So, whats up with these gums, huh? I have no idea, nor do I really care, I just like that they make my baked goods better! BUT I have questions, like which-one-for-what-recipe? and are-they-interchangeable? and what’s-the-difference??? Well, I’m going to do my not-actually-researched-at-all “best” to answer these questions.

I could really care less about the science of these gums and where they come from and why they work (shame, shame). What I do care about is that they work when I bake with them. If you want to get to know the scientific side of these gummy wonders, I suggest a google search. The results will be overwhelming, trust me, which is why I’m sticking to the when-do-they-work side of the story here. I really like dashes today dash-dash-dash!

ANYWAY, a little story. When I first started baking gluten free I used xanthan (yes it’s spelled x-a-n-t-h-a-N) gum cause it’s the only thing I had heard of and all of the recipes I’d seen called for it. Then I started hearing about guar gum (and other gums but xanthan and guar are the only two I use), and seeing recipes calling for it. So I picked some up. I did a tiny bit if research and concluded (along with other bloggers I was reading at the time) that they were each for different applications and behaved differently. Then I started seeing the dreaded it’s-BAD-for-you posts about xanthan gum………so I stopped using it. And stopped baking recipes using it. But I missed my tasties. So I did some more research and came to believe (along with other, different, bloggers I was reading at the time) that xanthan and guar gum could be used interchangeably (YAY) so I made all of my old recipes again. Guess what? FLOP after FLOP after FLOP. So sad. Okay, so I guess they can’t be used interchangeably then. Bummer. Then I started reading more about how there’s nothing wrong with xanthan gum………..wait, what?!? And then, on top of all that jazz, there’s the matter of price, guar gum is SO much cheaper than xanthan gum…….what to do?!?!? SO confusing.

My conclusion: I still don’t care know about xanthan gum and if I’m killing my family with it or something but it’s never bothered anyone I’ve fed it to before so I’mma keep using it. Might-be-GMO-something-or-other aside, I love the stuff. Guar gum has it’s place as well. I have plenty of recipes using it that I love and that would not be the same with xanthan gum (trust me, I’ve tried. Even though I prefer xanthan gum, some recipes just NEED guar gum).

SO, basically, use whatever gum the damn recipe calls for! Why do you………wait, I mean why do I keep trying to mess with the recipes?!?!? I’ve learned my yucky-flop-baked goods lesson trying to interchange them and I do not recommend it. In any recipe I come across that specifically indicates that it’s okay to use either one, I ALWAYS go for the xanthan gum. It seems to hold up a bit stronger and I just like the end results better in most cases.  My advice? Have both in your cupboard and use them according to recipe. Easy-peasy! If you HAVE to use only guar gum for reasons of cost, allergies, GMO, or whatever, use MORE. I’d estimate 1 1/2 times what the original xanthan gum amount is. It seemed like my baked goods would be a little better when I used more. But really, what do I know?

I’m sure I’ve answered absolutely NONE of your questions nor properly addressed any of the issues surrounding gums in the GF community but oh well I guess. Happy Baking! (I hope you aren’t tearing your hair out and/or hating on me by now!)

© 2014-2015 Bowls Full of Yummy. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bowls Full of Yummy with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

PORK BELLY!

Are you excited? Well, you should be! Pork belly is fabulous when cooked the right way. I’ve never been able to cook it the right way. Bummer. I’ve tried and failed at least 4-5 times. But chin up, I’m trying again. I found a wonderful and EASY recipe on a lovely woman named Bee’s website, Rasa Malaysia. I love her website. Go check her website out for the recipe, and TONS of other awesome recipes, I’ve never been disappointed by her recipes (I even have her book).

Here are some pictures of the belly in the works

So pretty. See the spice on the side?

So pretty. See the spice on the side?

That's a lot of salt for one little belly!

That’s a lot of salt for one little belly!

All ready to go. My oven element looks like purple neon. Cool!

All ready. My oven element looks like purple neon.

So I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I didn’t use the garlic. I just wanted my belly to taste like pork. Nothing against garlic of course (I love the stuff, can’t get enough of it….well except in pork belly I guess), but I like my pork belly simple. I did use the Chinese 5-spice though, that stuff is magic!

Looking good, only 40 min to go!

Looking good, only 40 min to go!

The salt crust after I took it off

The salt crust after I took it off

Succulent, gorgeous pork.

Succulent, gorgeous pork.

 

So, what do you think? Pretty – no, beautiful. Tasty too!

GF Rice-A-Rooni Beef Stroganoff Copycat

Did any of you ever have Beef Stroganoff Rice-A-Rooni? It’s pretty old school, I think they discontinued it sometime in the 90’s. So sad. My mom used to make it and it was one of my favorite meals as a kid. She made it with ground beef, it was the recipe on the side panel. Well, in honor of Beef Stroganoff R-A-R, I’m making a knock off! Try it! If you remember it from when you were a kid I hope you like it, but if you’ve never heard of this rice-stroganoff business it might be a bit strange. Try it anyway.

GF Rice-A-Rooni Beef Stroganoff Copycat

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup cremini mushrooms, minced (or any variety of mushroom, or 1 tablespoon mushroom powder)
  • 1 cup long grain rice (I like Jasmine)
  • 2/3 cup GF vermicelli (or broken spaghetti), browned (or regular pasta if you don’t need GF, see Recipe Notes below for instructions on how to brown pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or oil of choice
  • 3 teaspoons beef base (or enough to make 3 cups of broth, or homemade beef stock, if homemade stock is used a bit of salt may need to be added)
  • 1 tablespoon minced dried onions (or add 1/4 cup minced yellow onion to ground beef, I prefer the dried for a more authentic flavor)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • A few grinds of pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt, 1/2 a cup of each, I like a mixture of the two)

In a large, deep skillet brown the ground beef and mushrooms until you see crispy browned pieces of meat, a while after the meat simply turns brown. Melt butter in skillet with ground beef, add rice and vermicelli, cook over medium high heat for several minutes, stirring often and watching closely, until rice and vermicelli start to brown and turn translucent.

rice2

 

Browned hamburger with rice and vermicelli

Browned hamburger with rice and vermicelli

Add all other ingredients except sour cream, and stir well until combined. Bring to a boil and cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Slowly stir in sour cream until well incorporated. Now it’s ready to be enjoyed! You’re welcome for the memory flashback. When I made it (and tasted it for the first time in probably 15-20 years) I was very happy and thought it tasted exactly as I remembered. My daughter on the other hand thought it was weird, but she’s a sour cream hater so that may be why.

 

Recipe Notes: to make the browned vermicelli just take a pound (or whatever) of GF spaghetti noodles and break them into about 1 inch pieces. Scatter on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about……I have no idea, maybe 10 minutes??? Sorry, when I made mine I forgot about them and my husband was like “Did you forget about those noodles in the oven”, proceeded by me running to the oven and opening it with a sigh of relief because they were’t burnt, they were perfect. You are looking for a golden brown color, darker than the original color of the pasta.

© 2014 Bowls Full of Yummy. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bowls Full of Yummy with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Making Freezer Meals

A small foil pan of lasagna

A small foil pan of lasagna

So, I’ve been up to quite a bit since my first post. Apparently I’ve already forgotten that I started a blog and want to post things on it, because I didn’t take a single picture of all of the stuff I’ve made. Do not fret, for I will share a recipe and show you pictures of my full-to-the-brim chest freezer.

I made GF (gluten free) Meat Lasagne (cool, old fashioned spelling, huh?), which I will share the recipe for, and pork chops and mushroom sauce. I love having meals in the freezer for when I don’t feel like cooking or guests come over (I’m ready for you, come over people!!!). I made a whole mess of lasagna ingredients and ended up with 8 small foil pans chock full of lasagna. I love the little dollar store foil pans that come in a 3-pack with lids and everything. I use them all the time. Okay, on the the recipe, the looooong recipe:

Large Recipe Freezer Lasagna

2 boxes GF Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagna (the only GF brand I recommend for this recipe at the moment; or you could use regular no-boil lasagna noodles if you don’t need GF)
5-6 jars/cans of spaghetti sauce (or homemade sauce; I think I used a few cans/jars, some tomato paste and water too, and had about 1 1/2 gallons of sauce total, after I added the ground beef and onions. Just have a LOT of sauce!)
1 sauce jar/can of water
3 pounds ground beef
2-3 large onions (or more if you love onions), diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups (24 ounces) ricotta cheese (I used homemade “ricotta” [paneer] cheese)
2-3 pounds mozzarella cheese (I used a little over 2 pounds), shredded and divided
12 ounces shredded (Asiago, Parmesan, Romano, Provolone, etc., or blend your own!)
3-4 tablespoons Italian seasoning, divided (or just add your own parsley, oregano, basic, etc.)
salt and pepper, to taste.

Brown your ground beef (and I mean brown as in cook the chunks of meat until they actually have browned pieces on them, not just until the meat turns brown, ew. We want the Maillard reaction to occur here people!) in a very large pan or stockpot over medium high heat (you could even use a large metal  baking pan over the burner if that’s all you have that will fit 3 pounds of meat…..be sure to use hot pads!). Remove the ground beef from the pan, drain most of the fat (leave 1-2 tablespoons).

Open your jars/cans of spaghetti sauce and combine with the jar of water in a huge bowl, stock pot, or kiddie pool (just kidding). Stir in the ground beef, 2-3 tablespoons of Italian seasoning and a bit of salt and pepper, to taste. Please taste the sauce; if it needs something you can add it now instead of having  a bunch of pans of bland lasagna! I like my sauce on the slightly salty and herb-y side…..the lasagna noodles are bland so I figure I’m just adding seasoning for them!

Cook the onions on medium/medium high (not too hot, don’t let them burn) in the ground beef pan with the fat until translucent and just starting to brown, add garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Divide onions into 3 parts and add 2 parts to the spaghetti sauce and stir well, and put the other part in a big bowl.

Set aside about 1/2-3/4 pound of the mozzarella cheese for sprinkling on top of the finished lasagnas. In the big bowl with the onions, add the ricotta cheese, the rest of the mozzarella, all of the other cheeses, and the rest of the Italian seasoning. Stir together until everything is distributed evenly; it will kind of be a big blob of cheese that holds together, don’t worry, it’s fine.

Alright, now we’re ready to assemble our lasagna! Get our your pans and line them up. I used 8 small rectangular disposable foil pans, but you can use pretty much any oven safe bake ware you have: those (awesome) paper disposable baking pans, metal or glass 9″x13″ baking pans, etc. (remember, these are going in the freezer). Have your sauce, cheese mix, and lasagna noodles in close proximity as well. We’re going to do this assembly line style, meaning we’ll do step 1 for all of the pans, then move on to step 2, and so on.

Step 1: place some sauce in the bottom of each pan. I used a ladle to spoon it in the pan and to spread it around. It’s hard to say how much you will need but you want the bottom totally covered, not too thick, not too thin (though go too thick if you were going to go one way or the other, the sauce on the bottom is absolutely necessary and helps make sure the noodles soften and don’t burn). My sauce had really big chunks of ground beef (I picked the really huge ones out and put them back in the sauce) in it so it was a bit uneven, just do whatever you have to to make sure the bottom is completely covered by sauce.

Step 2: add a layer of lasagna noodles over the sauce. DO NOT COOK THE NOODLES, please, it will completely ruin the lasagna. I had to break mine into pieces to get them to fit. If you have a few small empty spaces that’s fine.

Step 3: more sauce! You can make this layer of sauce a bit thicker this time, but I’d keep in under an inch (1/2 an inch will probably do it…..I don’t know. Just what you want to hear while reading a recipe, right? It’s hard to measure sauce by the inch!).

Step 4: okay, moving on to the cheese mixture now. This is going to be the most difficult and messiest step, but still not that bad. Take a handful of the cheese and sprinkle/spread over the sauce. You will probably need 2 handfuls. Or more. And yes, I recommend using your hands…..spoons take too long and aren’t as precise. You want a fairly thick and even layer of the cheese, I’d say about a 1/2 -1 inch layer  (don’t obsess over it though, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just do your best and move on). I went a bit thick on this layer, because by now I had realized that I was only going to get one full round of layers into my short foil pans.

Step 5: add another layer of noodles. Keep breaking and mosaic-ing (not a word) those pieces to make sure you get as solid of a layer as possible. Use all of the noodles up if you can. Also, I recommend trying to press down the lasagna at this point, the noodles on top should keep your hands fairly clean and it helps so you can fit more into the pans.

Step 6: more sauce.

step 7: another layer of cheese! Use it all up if you can  Now, at this point if you have a bunch of leftover cheese mix and sauce (and another box of lasagna) and pans big enough to fit another layer, you could add one. I didn’t. I used up every drop of every ingredient making my 8 pans (I was very impressed with myself!)

Step 8: more sauce. Use it all up if you can.

Step 9: the last step! Sprinkle the reserved mozzarella cheese evenly over all of your pans. You know the drill, use it all up!

Step 10: I lied. This is the last step. Now you have to put the lids (or plastic wrap and foil) on your pans and freeze them! Be sure to label them with “LASAGNA” and the date (and, as you can see from my picture, you will have to do that I say and not what I do here people). You have no idea how many times I’ve pulled out a pan from the freezer and had to fully cook it before I could figure out what it was! Well, at the time I’m like “I’ll remember what’s in this pan for sure!” No, I will not remember. And you probably won’t either, so just get out your sharpie and scribe!

To bake: DO NOT defrost your lasagna (***UPDATE: defrosting your lasagna does NOT ruin it! In fact, I think it may even make it better. YAY!***). So you can defrost it overnight in the fridge if you want to. Now you can get to baking your covered lasagna (with the lid that came with the foil pans, or just foil, or the top to your baking dish, whatever) at 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on your oven, either will be fine though) for at least an hour. I really can’t tell you how long it’s going to take, especially since I have no idea what size pans you used or whether you defrosted it. It took mine about an hour and 10 minutes to bake….I think. You will be looking for lasagna that doesn’t look watery and registers at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit on a thermometer. No thermometer? Go get one, silly. Until you do, just test it somewhere near the middle with a fork to make sure the noodles are soft and that it’s nice and piping hot (not warm, ew) and doesn’t look watery. No one likes watery lasagna. The real test is the temperature though, so go by that if you can (keep it about 160-180 though, 200 degrees and you’ve got dried out lasagna). Once you bake one or two of them you’ll get a feel for it and will just be able to tell it’s done by looking at it. Don’t worry, you’ll have enough to practice on! Anyway, if you want the top cheese browned a bit you can remove the foil/lid the last 10-15 minutes of baking. Warning: some of the cheese will come off with the lid….it’s sad, I know, but just do your best to scrape it off and either eat it now or put it back on the lasagna. Eat it now. Let your lasagna rest on the counter for 10 minutes or so (do it) and then dig in!

Recipe Notes: please feel free to halve/quarter (or double!) this recipe to suit your needs and to add or subtract ingredients as you see fit. The basic lasagna noodles/sauce/cheese ratio should stay the same but you can change up pretty much everything else! I am a HUGE fan of substituting. Have fresh herbs? By all means use those. No fresh garlic or onions? Use dried onion flakes and garlic powder. Hate ricotta cheese? Use cottage cheese, or sour cream, or more mozzarella! Don’t have lasagna noodles? Use shells, or mix it all together with elbow mac or whatever (wait, why are you making lasagna without lasagna noodles?)! Anyway, there’s not much you can do to mess this lasagna up!

Sooooooo, that sums up this incredibly long post and if you are still with me I’d like to thank you for reading this post and visiting my new blog. I hope I’ve inspired you to go make some freezer lasagna. You’ll be glad you did when you come home from a long day at work or from running the kids all over town, or are just lazy and don’t want to cook, because you will have scrumptious, healthy, homemade lasagna in the freezer that you can be shoving in your face in about an hour. You’re welcome. If you have any questions please let me know!

I want to dedicate this recipe to an old friend that showed me how to make the best lasagna in the world. Without her, I would have banned lasagna from my house a long time ago. Sadly, we are no longer friends. However, my memories will be with me forever and I can have this lasagna and think of her often. I miss you B.

© 2014 Bowls Full of Yummy. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bowls Full of Yummy with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.