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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole

I am discovering every day that eating gluten free doesn't have to be boring, and you don't have to sacrifice your favorite foods. A little thought and creativity can go a long way to help you enjoy the foods you love. In the case of this green bean casserole, the recipe I put together resulted in the best green bean casserole I've ever eaten. Seriously.

I was pretty bummed at first about Thanksgiving, and the thought that I wouldn't be able to eat many of my favorite foods. I decided to let stuffing go this year, although next year I'm going to make gluten free cornbread, and use that for my stuffing recipe. I was determined, though, that green bean casserole stay in the menu plan, and that it be something I could eat.

I started pondering the ingredients in the traditional green bean casserole that are now off limits for me. Canned cream o mushroom soup and the bagged french fried onions. There are gluten free canned soups out there, but I haven't seen them in my stores, and I've tried to avoid things like that anyway because of the sodium.

I like to use a little sour cream along with the soup, so I figured I could keep that, and maybe use some half n half to create a cream sauce with fresh mushrooms. Okay, done. Now, what about those onions? Why couldn't I just bread my own? It was time to play in the kitchen.

1 large sweet vidalia onion
1 cup of skim milk
2 cups of your favorite gluten free flour
1t kosher salt
1t paprika
1t garlic powder
1/2t pepper
1 cup oil (I used extra light olive oil, but canola or sunflower would both work nicely)
2T butter
8oz button mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2T fresh chopped parsley or 1t dried
1t gluten free flour
1/2 cup vegetable broth (or if you have an open bottle of white wine, use it. I used a 1/4 cup of each)
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sour cream
additional salt and pepper to season during sauteeing, if desired
1lb of your preferred green beans- fresh, frozen or canned (if fresh or frozen, you will want to steam them before combining with the sauce. I am ashamed to say that I just love low sodium canned green beans, and prefer that texture in my g.b. casserole. I know some foodies consider that to be a major sin, and to them, I apologize, but I can't help it :) I used 2 cans of drained green beans in this recipe)

The first thing I needed to do was make the fried onions. I cut the onion in half and cut into slices, separating the pieces out as I went. I put the milk in a bowl, and dropped the onions in the milk for about 10 minutes. Then I grabbed a large bag and placed my flour, salt, paprika, garlic and pepper in the flour, shaking to mix.

I heated the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Working in small batches, I dropped the milk soaked onions into the flour, and shook to coat.
After shaking the excess flour off the onions, I dropped into the oil and cooked until nice and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, using my tongs to turn them so they would could evenly
When they were done, I placed them on paper towels to drain. Of course, we needed to taste test them to see if they were edible.
I am actually amazed there were any left to make the casserole. Amazing restraint was required to not munch on them as I went.
After I finished the onions, I disposed of the oil, washed and dried the skillet and put it back on the stove over medium heat. I melted the butter, then added the mushrooms and garlic, along with the parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper, and sauteed, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, until the mushrooms were tender. I sprinkled the flour across the mushrooms, and let the mixture cook for another 2 minutes before stirring again. I stirred, then started adding my liquids- broth, wine and half and half.
After bringing the mixture to a nice simmer, I removed from the heat, and stirred in the sour cream. Now I was ready to combine with the green beans in my baking dish.
I then took half the onions, stirred them into the green beans, and topped the casserole with the other half of the onions. I baked in a 350 oven for 30 minutes.
The whole family gobbled these up. Truly divine. I missed nothing, and in fact, found a better recipe to use from now on. I can hardly wait to prepare these for unsuspecting friends and family :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Heavenly Buttercream Frosting

If you intend to bake anything requiring frosting this holiday season, might I suggest you try this recipe? I have used this basic recipe for years, as it is easy, quick, and I've never goofed it up. :) Wonderful treats like this have become even more special to me now on the GF diet. I'm having to learn how to modify so many recipes. This one needs no adjustments.

I generally use half of this recipe if I'm just frosting a cake in a pan, or a batch of cupcakes, but if you are doing a full layer cake, or you have children that might sneak off with the bowl, make the full recipe.

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
3 cups of powdered sugar (you could need more if you need the frosting stiffer, so keep it at the ready)
1T vanilla extract
pinch of salt (yes...trust me on this one)
2-3T cream

Using stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes. Add vanilla, salt and cream, and continue to mix for another 3-4 minutes. Add more sugar if you need the frosting to be stiffer, 2-3T at a time. If you need the frosting to be thinner, add 1T cream at a time.

The food purchase I'm most excited about this week...

I really do get excited by the little things in life. We finally got Trader Joe's here week before last. Hurrah! I have always visited TJ's in St. Louis whenever we go home so I could grab pantry staples we use and some of the snacks the boys like. I was always so sad to pass by all of the wonderful frozen food items, though. So exciting to be able to finally stock up on those! The first thing I bought when they opened was a few bags of the frozen artichoke hearts. Those just rock. I find their organic frozen veggies to be cheaper than at other stores in the area. In fact, many of the pantry items I like to stock up on are cheaper. And they have a GF French Vanilla creamer. Like I said. The little things that bring me the most joy. :)

I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this. I love citrus based vinaigrettes, but don't often keep orange juice in the house. Having a fresh orange can also be sporadic, depending on what was on sale that week.

I am now dreaming of a romaine salad with avocado slices, mandarin oranges and red onion slices, tossed in a dressing made with this. Maybe a few sliced almonds if I'm feeling wacky? :)

Menu Plan Monday Week of 11/22

Well here we go...it's the first big family holiday meal that I have to spin gluten free. Since it's just the 4 of us, I'm actually scaling back and simplifying a little bit this year. I've (gasp) purchased pumpkin pie for Jonathan and the boys, and a flourless chocolate cake from Trader Joe's so that I can have a little dessert action as well. The rest of the week I'm keeping relatively simple as well so I can put my energies toward Thursday. I'm really looking forward to a 4 day weekend!!

We feed 2 adults and 2 elementary aged boys, price breakdowns are included- this is the price I've paid with coupons, etc. Your price may vary. My 7 dinners, including Thankgiving, comes in under $45.

smoked pulled pork with Vaunted vinegar sauce on the side- $3.50
super sweet white corn- .75
roasted potatoes w/ rosemary- .75
salad w/ homemade French dressing .75

totchos (nachos on tater tots...requested by Ry for weeks)

pulled pork sammies- $2.00
(no bread for me)
french fries- .75
spinach salad $1.50

Thursday- Happy Thanksgiving!

Breakfast- gluten free pancakes, bacon and fruit smoothies
snacks- potato chips with french onion dip, fresh fruit and veggies, spinach dip with king's hawaiian bread for hubby and boys.
turkey ($4.00 for the whole thing, plus about $1 for stuff to prep it)
mashed potatoes and gravy $1.75
sweet potato casserole- $1.50
GF green bean casserole- ( I am totally playing with this and will post the recipe after Turkey day with photos) $2.00
cranberry blueberry sauce-$3.00
pumpkin pie with cool whip- $3.00
flour-less chocolate cake-$5.00
olives, pickles- $1.00


pork chops $3.00
roasted brussels sprouts $2.00
potato pancakes $.75 (using leftovers)

spaghetti over rice pasta $4.00
salad .75

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan Week of 11/8

Wow. Thanksgiving is just over 2 weeks away. I truly cannot believe how quickly the weeks have been flying by recently. That means just over 2 weeks until I have to figure out what to do with all the turkey leftovers. :)

I wasn't really inspired to follow the menu plan all week. I moved a few things and changed a couple meals based on grocery sales, and just because I ended up with a taste for something else, I guess. I have moved some of those meals to this week, so pardon the repeats. :)

I did have some fun this week in the kitchen, though! I prepped and froze a whole lot of fresh asparagus and fresh broccoli I'd gotten for bargain prices this week. I also got creative. Check out this beautiful tray of lasagna I prepped. And no noodles. I used zucchini and summer squash slices as the "noodles". The whole family enjoyed it! Check back later this week for the recipe. It was really easy!

I also got a whim to try a gluten free cake. I'm not quite confident yet to do something of that scale from scratch, so I tried a mix.

Add my homemade buttercream frosting and again, a treat the entire family has been enjoying- including me! I will post my buttercream recipe this week as well. This was the first time I made the frosting in my Kitchenaid stand mixer, and I have to say it was the best batch ever because I was just able to let it go. My arm always got too tired before!

Okay, enough about last week...on to this week's menu plan! I feed 2 adults and 2 children.
mini meatloaves $3.00
steamed asparagus spears $1.00
baked sweet potatoes $1.00
boys will have sandwiches before Dad takes them to swim practice. I have an event to attend so I'll have to eat later in the evening. I will be making this tomato and roasted red pepper soup tonight to stash in the fridge for tomorrow. I will top with some blue cheese and serve with a salad. Yum!

spaghetti and meatballs $4.00
green beans .40
salad .75
chicken and rice casserole $4.00
baked acorn squash $5.00
tacos $3.00
corn .50
guacamole (got avocados for .29 each at aldi this week!) $1.00
Lemon Shrimp over Angel Hair- $5.00
salad- .75
broccoli- .75
italian beef sandwiches (lettuce wraps for me!) $4.00
coleslaw $1.00
hand cut baked steak fries- $1.00

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My trip for GF items today...

The grocery ads hit on Wednesdays here, so I stopped at Hy-Vee on the way in to work this morning to pick up some things. I was lucky enough to find some coupons in the aisles of the Health Food area that saved me even more. $19.50 for everything in this picture. Not too bad, especially the gluten free baking mixes. With coupons I got those for $2.25 each.
I like to have things like that on hand, but the key to eating my healthiest, and to keep the weekly grocery costs down, is by making those treats, not meal staples. In fact, the Larabars made me feel like a "wild child"...but they were 4/$5, are a good source of Potassium and fiber, have a full serving of fruit, and are nice to keep at work for those moments when I'm starving but don't have an apple or something on hand.
By the way...please note the "extravagance" of the boxed stock. I am the poster child for making my own, but with my schedule, there are times that I'm out of my freezer stash and need stock. These are organic, have no junk in them, and I was able to get them for under $2 each with coupons. I am finding homemade soup to be a staple of my GF diet, so these will be nice to have on hand.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

At least they found a way to use up the old Easter candy....

One last Halloween photo to share. This is what happens when Hubby and the boys decide to carve pumpkins while Mom is away from the house. The trick-or-treaters loved it, though hehehe.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ask and you shall receive....

Not a close up, but you get what you get, right? At least that's what I always tell the boys :)


...our family spends too much time on the Wii??? :) It was an entire family theme, as I was Princess Peach, complete with long blonde wig. Mom 2 took a picture of the 4 of us, but it's on hubby's camera, so I'll post it after I get it from him. The highlight of the evening was when we had a gaggle of teenage girls run up to us and ask if we would pose with them for a photo. LOL!

Please note that the boys are sporting inflatable bellies. Hubby's is au naturel ;P

Gluten-Free Banana Bread French Toast

My MIL was here over the weekend visiting so she could be here with the boys for Halloween. When I picked her up from the airport Saturday morning and brought her home, she told me a story she thought I'd find "quite amusing".

It seems "Mom 2" has discovered several food blogs that she loves and visits on a regular basis. She uses these blogs to follow links and explore other food blogs. One day, while hopping from blog to blog, she made a discovery. She was at MY blog! I had mentioned that I had my own blog, but I'd never given her a link to the blog. Imagine her surpise when she realized she knew the author. :)

She spent quite a bit of time here, reading about the garden, the family, and browsing the recipes. Which saved me from having to tell her about my gluten-free diet- she already knew! She was asking me about what I had made, how alternative flours tasted, etc. I have slowly but surely built up a small GF pantry, and am getting a little braver each day in trying out new things. When I realized I had some ripe bananas, I thought I would let her taste for herself what something might taste like with GF substitutions. I made 2 loaves of banana bread using this recipe, except I subsituted 2 cups of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Mix for the flour, baking powder, etc., and I added 1/4 cup sour cream.

It turned out wonderfully, and we all enjoyed nice warm banana bread on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning, I got out the 2nd loaf of banana bread, thinking the boys would enjoy having it for breakfast. My 8 year old looked at the banana bread, then looked at me and declared that he wanted Banana Bread French Toast. I had never even thought of such a thing before, but okay. I'm game.

GF Banana Bread French Toast

8 slices of your favorite GF banana bread, or use recipe above
3 eggs
3/4 cup of milk
1t GF vanilla
1t cinnamon

Heat a skillet over medium heat and grease lightly. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon, and let banana bread soak in the mixture for 2-3 minutes, turning once to coat.

Cook in skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, flip, and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, or until egg mixture is cooked through and french toast is nicely browned. Serve with maple syrup.

I was very pleased with how this turned out. The egg mixture and pan-frying gave the banana bread a wonderful "melt in your mouth" texture. It felt very decadent, which was exciting, considering I haven't had anything along these lines since I stopped eating gluten.

I'm looking forward to my son's next request---hopefully it will generate another delicious creation!

Menu Plan Week of 11/1

Here's what the week looks like...

Monday 11/1

Mini Meatloaves ( I will use corn flakes instead of bread to make these GF) $3.00

roasted red potatoes .50

sauteed kale with garlic and bacon $1.50


Tuesday 11/2

chicken and mushroom risotto (using homemade stock) $4.75

baked sweet potatoes $1.00

salad .75


Wednesday 11/3

I am taking the boys to see Trans Siberian Orchestra with a friend and her kids, and we'll go out to eat after. I will be making extra meatloaves tonight and hiding them in the downstairs fridge so they will actually make it to Wednesday and hubby can have them for dinner.

Thursday 11/4

spaghetti and meatballs (K has been begging me for meatballs. I will eat these sans pasta) $4.00

sauteed kale with garlic $1.00

bread and butter .50


Friday 11/5

turkey tacos $3.00

corn .50

tomato avocado salad $1.50


Saturday 11/6

slowcooker pot roast (using a smaller roast) $5.00

salad .75

bread and butter for boys .50


Sunday 11/7

grilled pork chops $2.50

acorn squash $1.00

broccoli .75