November 26, 2009

Betsy's "Not from a Can" Pumpkin Pie

My chocolate turkey place setting and a photo of my great-grandmother basting a turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful and delicious meal with their loved ones. I sure did. My side dishes turned out beautifully. The green bean casserole I mentioned in my last post was perfect. Everyone around the table raved about it. (Thanks, Jules, for the great recipe!)

I also made a F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S gluten free stuffing that was out of this world! The Breadsmith in my area makes gluten free items every Wednesday. Last week I placed an order for their Cranberry Orange gluten free bread. I found a really great recipe on the Weight Watcher's site for Stuffing with Sage and Chives. I followed that for the most part, but instead of the whole wheat bread, I used my cranberry orange bread (obviously), and I also added some Bilinski Apple Chardonnay Chicken Sausage. Yum!

My favorite thing I made was the pumpkin pie! I was inspired by Christopher and Tia's post about baking au naturel. I signed up to make this year's pie with nothing that came out of a can. How'd it turn out? Well...

I wasn't really sure where to start. How do you roast a pumpkin? How do you make pumpkin pie without evaporated milk? I hit the web to do a little research. I found my answer over at 101 Cookbooks. Heidi made a Spice-Kissed Pumpkin Pie that was just what I was looking for. From how to roast a pumpkin to blending your own pumpkin pie spice, everything was natural. I knew I wasn't going to follow her recipe that was inspired by Kathy FitzHenry exactly. I wasn't really sold on the hazelnut, but I loved her recipe for the pumpkin. I roasted my pumpkin this past Sunday so it'd be all set to go.

Now I just needed to figure out my crust. I could go with a traditional crust or something else...

I was once again inspired. This time by the Bleeding Heart Bakery's holiday menu. My eyes went straight to the "Pumpkin Pie in Chocolate Crust". Bleeding Heart Bakery makes a few flavors of gluten free cupcakes (they are good, my friends bought me some a couple years ago), but that is the extent of their gluten free menu. I decided that they weren't the only ones making a pumpkin pie in chocolate crust.

With a little help from the Magic Bullet, I ground up some OrgraN Mini Outback Animals chocolate cookies. I mixed the ground up cookies with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and butter and pressed it into my pie pan.

I then made my pumpkin pie spice blend. I ground up my cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. It smelled amazing. I whisked it together with brown sugar, added my pumpkin, vanilla, eggs, and coconut milk. My sister and I have fallen in love with So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut milk creamer. I hoped that the creamer would do a good job as a fill in for evaporated milk. I poured the mixture in my pie shell and off it went into the oven.

An hour later I had my fresh pie. It didn't look very orange, but I read on Iceberg to Arugula that when roasting your own pumpkin the puree will be lighter.

After the scrumptious feast tonight, it was time to put it to the test. Did it turn out? You betcha!

The chocolate crust was divine. Crispy with just the right amount of chocolate. Not too thick, it complimented the pumpkin perfectly. The filling was so full of flavor with the fresh pumpkin and spices. I think the coconut milk made it a little lighter in density too. With a pie this good, I can't imagine ever going back to the canned stuff. Thanks for the challenge, Tia!

And yep, real whipped cream.

November 24, 2009

Turkey Cookies and Rainbow Smores

Not too long ago, I took advantage of the Jules Gluten Free flour Thanksgiving sale. I downloaded the Thanksgiving eBook and bought a 5 pound bag of all purpose flour and a 1.5ish pound bag of my favorite Graham Cracker/Gingersnap flour.

About a week ago, I saw a really cute recipe on the Betty Crocker website for Turkey Cookie Treats. Obviously I can't eat them the way Betty Crocker made them, but I could eat them with Jules' help. I finally broke out the bag of graham cracker mix and got to work.

This past Sunday, I invited my nephew over (he's 4) to help decorate, but in the meantime I made the cookies so they were all set to be decorated. Waiting around is never fun for a 4 year old. They were super easy to make and even easier to roll out and cut. Gluten free cookie dough usually never rolls out. I think the trick is to refrigerate it for a couple of hours, which Jules suggests in the directions.

Don't worry, that's Jules All Purpose Flour there!

Once they were done, we made them into turkeys using candy corn, Reese's Pieces, M&Ms, frosting and decorating gel. They were simply delicious. See how much fun we had!

The bag of flour made a ton of cookies, so I froze some for later. Later only lasted two days, because tonight I had a craving for some smores and headed straight to the freezer. Without chocolate squares, I had to improvise with some M&Ms. Not bad!

Tonight, I also started prepping for the big Thanksgiving feast. I made the Green Bean Casserole from Jules Thanksgiving eBook (complete with her recipe for french fried onions) and OMG, I can't wait to eat it up Thursday! I'm so excited to be making the "sides" this year at my house. In addition to the green bean casserole, I'll also be making the gluten free stuffing for my mom and me. What I'm most excited about though is Christopher and Tia's "Bake Your Pumpkin Pie From Scratch" blogging-recipe-palooza! I already roasted my pumpkin Sunday afternoon (yep, I was a busy little baker Sunday.) I'm not going to make it until Thursday, but I'll post it after my turkey-induced food coma.

If anyone is looking for some great gluten free and allergy free Thanksgiving recipes, I seriously suggest you head over Lisa Cooks Allergen Free. She has posted the traditional menu items - ALL free of the big bad top 8 allergens!

November 23, 2009

Rise and Shine - Nature's Path Cereal

I don't know about you, but lately it's really hard to get up in the morning. It gets lighter later and darker earlier. Oh, the joys of fall and winter. Nature's Path Sunrise cereal proves that the sun does rise somewhere, even if it's only in your bowl of cereal. They recently introduced two new flavors to their line of gluten free cereals, Crunchy Maple Sunrise and Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise.

The very generous folks at Nature's Path sent me a couple boxes to sample. And I miiiiight have mentioned that Gorilla Munch was my favorite, so I was also surprised with a box of G-Munch and Leapin' Lemurs - which every time I see that box I think of little orphan Annie and can hear, "Leapin' Lizards!" in my head.

I loved the Crunchy Maple Sunrise cereal. It was just that, crunchy and mapley. I really liked the blend of grains - corn, rice, flax, quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth. The sweet maple complimented their flavors making this quite a tasty morning treat. I even added it to my mid morning yogurt snack, which was a nice fill-in for my usual granola or cinnamon and almonds.

The Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise on the other hand was right up there with its maple counterpart. Again, it was corn, rice, flax, quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth, but instead of a distinct vanilla flavor, it just tasted sweet. It was still very good, but I enjoyed the maple a little more.

I love Nature's Path cereals. As I said, I've been a big fan of the Gorilla Munch since back in the day. I love the Panda Puffs too. Besides making delicious food, they also "do good", trying to make the world a better place. I'm all for that. I will definitely be purchasing more Crunchy Maple Sunrise soon - after I eat up all the boxes of cereal I have on hand!

November 22, 2009

Liz Lovely - She Ain't Kiddin Around!

I posted last month about how I heard about Liz Lovely cookies from Marlow and that they were having a special sale for Celiac Awareness month. Well I ordered up a slew of cookies to celebrate my celiac awesomeness. Seriously, I ordered the sampler AND two packs of the mini cookies.

I was so excited when they came and dug into the German Chocolate Cake cookie right away. After the first bite I just stopped, closed my eyes, and savored the taste. It was so soft and moist, just like "real cake". The chocolate and coconut were divine. Needless to say, that 2-cookie pack didn't last long.

The sampler also included Chocolate Chip cookies, Chocolate Fudge cookies (drool), Peanut Butter cookies, Ginger Molasses cookies, and Snickerdoodles. They were all so tasty, but that Snickerdoodle?! SHUT UP! All of these cookies are hefty in the calorie department, so I was cutting each cookie into quarters. (Half a cookie is about 200 calories...yikes, but SO worth it!) With that snickerdoodle, I ate the whole entire cookie in one sitting. It was sooo good I couldn't stop! Nice work, Liz!

The mini cookies were ok. Crunchy like a store bought cookie, but more rich. I ordered the mint chocolate chip and the pecan sandies. I thought the pecan sandies had a dense, buttery flavor while another taste tester thought they tasted a little too doughy. Either way they weren't as delicious as the giant soft cookies. I actually put the little cookies in the freezer because I was going into cookie overload. I think I might grind them up and make them into pie crust. I can see a nice pudding pie sitting in the mint chocolate chip cookie shell and maybe an apple pie for the pecan sandies. Yum!

I see that the mini cookies aren't on the site anymore, so I'm not sure if they were discontinued or taking a little break. I did see that chocolate covered apricots, mangoes, and ginger have been added to the Liz Lovely gluten free selections. MmmMmMm....I love chocolate covered fruit, but that's a whole other post!

November 21, 2009

It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

The other day I took the day off for an appointment far, far away (not really, about 20 miles from home). I hung around in the area doing some random shopping and wandered into Trader Joe's. Isn't that sad that my closest Trader Joe's is 15 miles away?

Anyway I bought some bagels, edamame rice crackers, fresh cranberries, and teeny tiny potatoes. Random, huh? While I was in line waiting to check out, I spied a weird candy bar.

Excuse me? They had me at peanut butter and jelly, then ok, obviously chocolate, but "sprinkled with crushed potato chips"? Hold up, I gotta try this. Good thing it was gluten free!

One bite and oh WOW! It was delicious! Sweet, salty, crunchy, smooth. This bar had it all. I highly recommend it. Trader Joe, what will you think of next?!

November 20, 2009

Gluten Free Social Networking

Everyone is familiar with Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, but did you know that there are some social networking sites out there that are completely gluten free? Yep. It's true!

One of the first sites created is We Are Celiac, part of the corporation. The site is a community of people who have celiac disease. Similar to other networking sites, members can join for free and take part in discussions, upload photos, write journal entries, create a poll, start a chat, and read relevant articles.

Other great popular gluten free site is Gluten Free Faces. Started by Chad Hines, this a global gluten free hot spot. It's free to join and the activity is endless. Members can post photos, videos, blogs, recipes, events, join groups, participate in forums, and find websites and other resources. They also have fun contests from time to time. I entered a recipe contest over the summer and won the iPhone app, "Is That Gluten Free?" Sweet deal, huh?

One of the new kids on the block is Gling. A gluten free living site with all the bells and whistles. Like all the others, it's free to join. Members can add recipes, locations, foods, blogs, photos, articles, and tweets. They can join tribes and forums too. Gling also has fun contests and giveaways for their members. When the site first launched they were giving away restaurant gift certificates, grocery store gift certificates, and an iPod nano for members who posted the most locations, recipes, and referrals. I was lucky enough to win the referral contest and won the iPod nano!

Since it's nearing Thanksgiving, I was delighted to see that Gling has an entire page dedicated to a gluten free Thanksgiving! From appetizers to desserts to drinks (they even have recipes for gluten free pumpkin coffee creamer!!) Whether this is your first gluten free Thanksgiving or your 20th, they have you covered so you don't miss a beat.

November 16, 2009

Oh November, you busy month, you!

As if I didn't have enough fun last month spreading the Celiac awareness, I've come to learn that November keeps the momentum going by being Gluten Free Diet Awareness Month. This is great because there are more reasons to follow a gluten free diet other than having celiac disease. Some people have a gluten allergy, but do not have celiac. A gluten free diet can help autistic children. Articles that I have read show that it can also help people with MS, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and much more. I'm no doctor, but if you feel better on a gluten free diet, then why not stick with it?

It's also National Pomegranate Month. Ironically I just ate a little pomegranate when I found that out. One of my friends and I are doing a "Fruits & Veggie Challenge" where we assign each other a list of fruits and vegetables to eat during the week. Helps get our 5-a-day in. I was given pomegranate as one of my fruits. Now, I had never eaten one as a whole fruit. I usually consumed my pomegranates in the form of a pomegranate flavored vodka or some POM juice. They're delicious!

Another good mention on that November list was Peanut Butter Lovers' Month. A whole month dedicated to us PB lovers?! Then it would seem fitting that I swung by the Chopping Block last week and picked up some PB Loco peanut butter. The "adult peanut butter" definitely lives up to its namesake. I was a little upset that they didn't have Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavor (yes, it was gluten free! All of their flavors are!!), so I settled for the Sumatra Cinnamon and Raisin. Good choice! My first taste with on a celery stick and, oh wow! This stuff is good. The guy at the store said that they just placed an order for more flavors (they only had the cinnamon raisin and the White Chocolate Raspberry) so I will be back there soon!

November 13, 2009

Where is Betsy?

As you may have noticed (or maybe you haven't), my blog posts are becoming few and far between. Yikes! I love sharing all my gluten free findings, but lately I've been so busy, finding time to blog has proven difficult. Here's what's up in my gluten free neck of the woods...

Today I fell in love. I finally visited Chicago's Downtown Farmstand on my lunch break. It's basically a farmer's market indoors. They carry local produce, foods from various Chicago bakeries and ethnic markets, and organic dairy products. They even have a full service coffee bar. I went there to hunt down some Nicole's Divine Crackers that I had recently read about. Sure enough, they had a couple varieties. I bought the "tomato, tomahto" flavor and lemme tell ya, I wish I had heard about these sooner. So crunchy and thick, it reminded me of pita chip, but better. Full of flavor, and absolutely worthy of their Chicago magazine's "Best Cracker" title. These crackers are definitely perfect for a savory dip. Nicole even has some dip recipes on her site. If the crackers were good enough, the customer service is outstanding. Since the only location near me is in the loop, I wasn't sure if the little store would carry the gluten free line. Nicole got back to me herself and told me just where to find them. Thanks, girl!

While at the Farmstand, I also found some treats. The folks at Misericordia's The Hearts & Flour Bakery had flourless chocolate pecan cookies for sale. I bought one and was blown away. I've had flourless chocolate cake before (obviously), and I've even made flourless cookies. Nothing compared to this goodie. Crisp, yet still soft and crumbly like a cookie. The chocolate wasn't overpowering, super rich, or powdery tasting - it was perfect. I loved it so much, I was compelled to email them and tell them how much their cookies rock. I got a response right away thanking me for supporting their cause, and that they plan on introducing more gluten free cookies very soon. I told them to keep me in the loop! These were so good, I cannot wait to try their other gluten free flavors.

Last but not least, I found some date rolls from Kamdar Plaza at the Farmstand. Made from just dates, coconut, almonds, pistachios, and walnuts, these are great sweets without all the added sugar or other preservatives and whatnot. I shared them with a few people and they too loved them! The other products on Kamdar Plaza's website look great. Just wish it wasn't so far away. I'll have to check next time I'm at the Farmstand to see if they carry any of Kamdar's other products.