The Pillsbury Doughboy goes Gluten Free

Finally gluten free is going mainstream..for really real! Finding decent gluten free food that is ready to make is often a challenge, historically the available options included small companies that are big on price and low in taste..that was until…I found myself in my local Walmart Super Store on Thursday.

I am admitting here that my relationship with Walmart is very love/hate. I hate going to Walmart.  The store is big, bright, a pain to get to and they never have enough people working the cash registers so the wait time to check out really makes me think I am crazy for subjecting myself to this torture over and over because nothing changes ..ever.  However there are times like Thursday when I find something new in the store I have not seen elsewhere and the end totally justifies the means. So as I grabbed paper towels, cleaning supplies, snacks for school and a few other staples I wandered over to the aisle with yogurt and the cookie doughs and what caught my eye was a small tub that said Gluten Free. I looked over and it was actually a container that said Pillsbury, I nearly wet my pants with excitement. The Pillsbury Doughboy is GLUTEN FREE!!! WOOHOO!!! So of course me being me, I bought every item available to give it a whirl without even looking at the price. However the love part of Walmart kicked in when I looked and the price was $3.99 for a tub of chocolate chip cookie dough..finally reasonably priced gluten free, it was enough to restore my faith in why I venture to Walmart every now and again.

Of course, once again me being me..I got home and instantly started doubting my purchase. After all, I have managed through much trial and error to come up with a method of making gluten free chocolate chip cookies that not only look good, but they also taste really good so if this dough is good, my ego was getting a swift kick. I decided yesterday to give the cookie dough a shot and baked a small batch.  Just like regular pop n fresh dough all you do is take the container out of the fridge, preheat the oven to the recommended temperature (in this case 350 F) and spoon the dough onto a cookie sheet. I used a melon baller like I usually do to get a smaller cookie that is nice and rounded and the cookies are evenly sized. IMG_0776IMG_0773

 

Yeah I hate to admit this..but these were probably some of the best gluten free chocolate chip cookies I have ever tasted. They even passed the fussy girl’s taste test so I will be buying these again in the future.  So now that we have tried these I have a tub of their gluten free pizza crust and pie dough waiting for me to give them a whirl.  I am going to make a calzone and some pop tarts in a bit..I will let you know how they turn out in a post very soon.  In the meantime..get yourself some of these cookies..even if it means going to walmart..I kid

 

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Thinking about Donuts…MMM DONUTS

Mother Nature either has a twisted sense of humor or she figures we here in the Northeast had it a little too easy and it is high time for a reality check. It is freaking snowing again..seriously?  This weekend I am not quite so prepared for snowmageddon and did not buy out Whole Foods and my local chain…

So seeing that we have the potential for another nasty storm here tomorrow..and I find being snowed in exhausting! So the question is what to make? Tonight I tried a honey mustard pretzel chicken recipe that I originally saw on pinterest (I am admitting that I am a pinterest addict..I love the food porn people post) and then I followed the link to a site called cinnamon spice and everything nice. My chicken did not come out quite so pretty..maybe it has something to do with the gluten free pretzels not playing nice with the food processor….Imageso this was my attempt at the honey mustard chicken recipe..it actually tastes much better than it looks. The chicken is lathered in honey mustard sauce before it dipped in the pretzels and then the remaining honey mustard goes on top…next time I think a ziploc bag and a rolling pin will crumble the pretzels much better than my food processor and I will play with the honey mustard seasoning as well..this is definitely a recipe that has potential…

So moving on to tomorrow..let me start by telling you that I am not a huge fan of donuts. I worked for a few years at a local coffee shop near my house and we served about as many donuts as we did coffee. Those were the days when each store employed a baker who came in during the middle of the night and made the donuts and the worker bees like me often came in early and “finished” the donuts before the morning rush. We filled jelly, frosting, custard, lemon, and apple..put frosting, sugar, powdered sugar and glaze on others then put them in paper lined baskets into their designated spots out front. The smell of grease and frosting permeated my hair and clothes while I worked there and yeah I was no longer a fan. That was until we traveled (many years later I might add) down below the Mason-Dixon line and I had my first Krispy Kreme glazed donut right out of the oven…it was so good it was sinful. My poor kid was sitting there looking at me like JERK, you are eating that yummy look thing and I am sitting here with a juice box and an apple. SO last week on Pinterest I came across a pin of Krispy Kreme looking donuts and more importantly …a recipe here is a link to a picture of these gorgeous looking donuts

http://www.leannebakes.com/2010/05/glazed-and-cinnamon-sugar-coated-donuts.html

I am thinking these donuts are my Sunday Gluten free project…I am thinking if I am snowed in, we might as well enjoy it

Crackers

ImageYou know things in life we take for granted? Oh come on you know what I am talking about…simple things like family, home and yeah food. There are things we have all eaten or had that we cherish or just do not enjoy, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for example. We have all had a PBJ on white bread with the crusts cut off and most people think of it as a fond childhood memory..me not so much since I am not a fan of peanut butter, never have been probably never will be..but I have downed my fair share of PBJ, with grape jelly or better yet with Fluff. Well if I happened to have a peanut allergy that PBJ would be something I never experienced…well same thing goes for kids who are Gluten Free. My younger daughter has never really experienced a diet with gluten since she was diagnosed very young.  There are a lot of things my daughter has missed out on as a result of her celiac disease…things I have taken for granted as part of my diet (many in limited quantities) from my earliest memories..things like Oreos and Pepperidge Farms Goldfish. I am a huge fan of goldfish, those little crackers can make me happy in small quantities , are an easy snack to toss in the lunch box..ok let’s face it they are just yummy in any flavor. My daughter, she has never had them and until recently it never occurred to me that maybe some soul out there created a recipe for someone like me.

I scoped out the gluten free blogs and found a few new ones. There is one called gluten free on a shoestring that really looked promising. In order to get the recipe for the author’s gluten free version of goldfish crackers I got suckered into buying her cookbook. That is $9.99 I really did not want to waste…so I got the recipe, and with my food processor and silicone baking mat set out to make goldfish..or something small enough to be a cheese cracker. Let me just say that using velveeta and salt in a recipe together is not something I recommend..WAY too salty. Going to admit the first batch was nothing shy of nasty..I even used the flour blend the site author uses and the result was not great…so back tot he drawing board I went..I found a recipe for homemade goldfish crackers that uses traditional flour and decided to combine the gluten free recipe and this one. This time I used real shredded cheddar cheese and butter vs shortening and velveeta  as well as Cup4CUp flour, and the first batch tasted way better..but they were not exactly crispy in the middle. This was actually the same issue I had with the first batch. So what to do to remedy this?

Real cheese and butter helped to improve the taste, I am not 100% positive that the true CUP4CUP flour was a factor, but I am not sure it hurt the recipe either. The key was to refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes and to roll it out as thinly as possible before cutting the shapes out. as soon as I get the recipe absolutely perfect I will post it here. I do not have a little goldfish cookie cutter so I used little stars that are actually fondant cutters and baked until nice and crisp about 14 minutes.

I have a way to go with my recipe, every batch is getting better and my daughter and her friends are willing victims..i mean taste testers..

Gluten Free Grocery Shopping

OK so let’s talk about the first things you must do when you or someone you feed is on a GF diet…clean out the kitchen. Sounds simple enough but it is a pain especially when you lack space in your kitchen.I live in a house so small that it is actually a shoebox masquerading as a house (i am serious here) and hence I have zero pantry space. I quickly became best friends with a fairly inexpensive label maker and a great lady who works at The Container Store (www.containerstore.com). I also have found alternative ways to handle my kitchen storage like buying fairly inexpensive wire racks at a local box store or Target. If you have a lack of storage space then something like one of these racks placed in a garage, a basement or spare room is going to help considerably. I do not have a garage or a pantry and my racks are in the basement holding all those kitchen gadgets that I do not use every day but when I need them..I need them. This frees up space on my counters and in my cabinets for our Gluten Free foods and products.

After you clean out a dedicated space think about a few staples that are important to have in the kitchen. These can include condiments like mayonnaise, peanut butter, applesauce etc..and then look a little deeper. You quite possibly need to replace cereal, chicken stock, soups and definitely any and all bread products. once you go shopping look for some staples to add to you kitchen. Besides adding fruit and vegetables and other natural and healthy  Here are some that I recommend

Corn tortillas..these are excellent for tacos, for making ham and cheese roll ups,  quesadillas and a host of other items with bread

Frozen/fresh Pizza Crusts..In my family the kids love kinnickkinnick foods brand frozen pizza crusts. These pizza crusts are excellent when cooked according to package directions, but my kids like to toast the crusts before adding their favorite toppings and then broil the cheese it makes them look and taste like they come from a pizza shop.

http://consumer.kinnikinnick.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/products.home/productcategoryid/34

All Purpose Gluten Free Flour..So far King Arthur has a good flour mix but the best thus far is a new one I found this week Cup4Cup flour available at Williams Sonoma…this is a great staple so you can make items like pancakes, muffins or use in making bread or just for adding butter and flour a pan when baking

Xanthum Gum…Gluten is what gives flour its elasticity xanthum gum is what helps gluten-free flour

Frozen Dinners/Soups..Amy’s has a very good frozen macaroni and cheese, if you can get it foods by George has a good GF pizza..Udi’s has great bagels available in the freezer at many stores including Whole Foods Market..Van’s frozen waffles are good…Kettle Cuisine has some very good GF soups, Bell and Evans makes GF chicken nuggets and patties, these are excellent for making an easy GF chicken Parmesan or crispy chicken salad or just to eat alone

Bread…A tough category…Udi’s makes bread and bagels, my kids love their plain as well as their cinnamon raisin bagels, Udi’s also makes hamburger buns and other ready-made bread products…Schar makes several bread products that we have tried including par baked ciabata bread and baguette both are VERY good, they have par baked pizza crusts and sandwich bread all very good…and if you can find it there is a small bakery that makes a fabulous italian bread called Joan’s…it is so good I have served it to non GF friends of my kids who really enjoyed…especially right out of the oven

Baking Mixes…King Arthur has some good mixes available to make cookies, chocolate cake, pancakes and bread..Betty Crocker has a very good line of GF mixes to make cakes, cookies and brownies, these are great bases and can have ingredients added to make creative baked goods. If you go to their website they have recipes available for you…Pamela’s has a great all-purpose baking mix, the really great food company also has a lot very good mixes available…Now my new discovery has been the mixes available at Williams Sonoma. I have  plans to make the chocolate layer cake mix this weekend (if it cools down a little) the plan is to make part of the batter into whoopie pies and the part into cupcakes with a salted caramel butter cream frosting, this ambitious project may have to wait until next weekend because it is warm and muggy here and I do not have central A/C)

Pasta…I am not going to lie Gf pasta is nothing like the real thing but there are great alternatives that are GF. After many, many samples of GF pasta we have come down to 3 brands that are consistently very good..the first is a brand called Tinkyada, the second is from Schar (Schar makes other

Finally Cereal and snacks…You can not go wrong with Chex cereal..Most flavors of Chex are GF and if eating cereal is not your thing you can make a GF Chex mix. Glutino makes really good bagel chips and pretzels and if you look hard there are GF cheese nips as well. Snyder’s makes the best GF pretzels and are available at walmart..Amy’s has pretty good GF bunny cookies too

This is just a sample of what is out there and some of the best we have tasted. Nothing beats some of the home made items that myself and others have learned to make ,,but this is a start

So until next time HAPPY EATING