Friday, November 28, 2008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: My First Gluten Free Thanksgiving

My first Gluten Free Thanksgiving. I was so daunted by this idea when I submitted my proposal to Food buzz. I had never cooked a Thanksgiving meal...especially a gluten free Thanksgiving meal. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in this past Spring, so this was going to be my first real holiday gluten free. I was so excited when my proposal was selected! I was so looking forward to the challenge of creating this meal! PLUS, I invited everyone who has been so supportive to me in the past few months since my diagnosis. I was excited to prepare a meal for my friends and family to say Thanks.

The Gluten Free Menu:

Turkey with gravy
Savory Stuffing
Asparagus Popover
Mashed Potatoes
Cranberry Fritters
Pumpkin Cake with Fresh Cream Cheese Icing

The night before I planned out the entire day. I read each recipe 3 times and thought about my timing. After planning out the next day, I started to brine my turkey. Brining is great for a turkey, it makes it moist and tender. Plus, you don't have to baste and the turkey will cook in less time. To make the brine you'll need:

1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 gallon gluten free vegetable stock
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1/2 tbsp. allspice berries
1/2 tbsp. candied ginger
1 gallon iced water

Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot except for the ice water and bring to a boil. Stir and cook for 10 minutes at medium heat. Then remove the pot from heat and let it cool until it reaches room temperature. Then refrigerate until completely chilled.

The allspice berries and peppercorns will not dissolve. ( I kept boiling my brine and waiting for them to dissolve!!) Combine the brine with the ice water in either a clean 5 gallon bucket, large container, or brining bag. I found a brining bag at my local Harris Teeter that was perfect!

Add your thawed turkey and securly fasten. Refrigerate your turkey in the brining bag or the bucket. If there isn't room in the fridge, then place the turkey in a cool place. If you don't have room in your fridge, I would add a little bit of extra ice.

I sat my brining bag inside of my roasting pan to keep it compact in my fridge.Max likes the brining turkey.

I brined my turkey overnight and into the Thanksgiving Day. 9 hours total. After the turkey is finished brining, remove it from the bag and pat dry. Place in your roasting pan on a rack so that the bottom of the turkey isn't resting on the bottom of the pan. I just inserted a cookie drying rack into the bottom of my roasting pan. Rub your bird with a light coating of olive oil, being sure to get underneath the wings. Next you'll need your aromatics:

2 red apples, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
5 sprigs thyme
6 leaves sage

You stuff these aromatics into the cavity of your turkey. It gives the meat an amazing flavor, plus your kitchen will smell insanely good! Chop your apple and onion into chunks. Toss in to a bowl with the cup of water and cinnamon sticks. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. This steeps the mixture and add to the flavor. Stuff the steaped mixture and the fresh herbs into the cavity.

Start Cooking!

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Bake the turkey at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Cooking at a high temperature at the beginning, gives your turkey a crisp golden skin and makes it picture perfect! Then pull your bird out and lower the oven temperature to 350. Insert your meat themometer into the largest part of the turkey breast (without touching the bone) and cover the turkey breast with aluminom foil. This way the breast meat will not overcook and dry out. Continue to cook for 2 1/2 hours or until your turkey has reached 161 degrees. Pull from the oven and loosely cover with aluminum foil.

Second, the pumpkin cake!

The ingredients
*You only need 4 eggs (not 2 cartons!) I was using up the last of an older pack!

This cake is super easy to make. Use the recipe card for step by step directions. It's a great dessert to make for a big meal, because you servce it cooled. That way you don't have to worry about it being fresh from the oven. I made this cake before I even put the turkey in the oven. That way it had all day to cool before I made the fresh icing.

Incorporate the dry ingredients before mixing into the wet.

The batter is super smooth, but you'll need to use the spatula to spread it evenly in the pan.

To make the icing you'll need:

8 ounce package Organic cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Organic butter, softened
2 cups Confectioner's Sugar
1 tsp. Fair Trade Vanilla Extract

Beat together the cream cheese and butter until smooth in a mixer on medium speed. Mix in the sugar slowly until combined. Add the vanilla extract last. I like to whip my frosting at a high speed for a few seconds right before I ice my cake.
I printed out leaves and cut out stencils to decorate my cake. I sprinkled cinnamon on top to shade in the stencil.

Up next on the list, the stuffing!

I was lucky enough to find a really good gluten free bread. My local Great Harvest Bread Company has started making gluten free breads. They're making a plain, herb, and cinnamon. I thought the Herb gluten free bread would go great in a stuffing. I bought the bread a week and a half before Thanksgiving and left it in the fridge to dry out. Luckily, gluten free bread is already pretty dry, so it doesn't take long to stale. I did alot of the prep work for the stuffing Thanksgiving morning. I cubed the bread and measured it out in advance.

I also chopped my onion and cubed my brie in advance. Cubing the brie was pretty tough. It's such a sticky cheese, that my knife kept getting caught. It's a little time consuming, but worth it! Use the recipe card above for the step by step process of making this stuffing.

The stuffing mix ready for the pan

Up next the Asparagus Popover!

The popover is SUPER easy to make. I used the Gluten Free Pantry Beth's Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. Use the recipe card for the step by step for this recipe.

I also made some mashed potatoes for the meal. Nothing special there, just Organic yukon gold potatoes, fresh local butter, and local whole milk. Whipped until creamy. Yum!

I made the Cranberry Fritters last. They're best served warm and frying is the quickest cooking method.

First you have to cut the cranberry sauce in to half inch rounds. Freeze the rounds on a parchment lined baking sheet for at least 4 hours.

Before you start the battering process, heat the oil to 375 degrees. Then dredge the frozen round in the flour, then the batter, and then fry.

Cook in the oil for about 3 minutes or until golden brown. I didn't get the hand of the fritter until the 3rd one, so give yourself a few more rounds than you have guests so you can have a few mess ups. I also bought a pre-made Cranberry Relish from my co-op just in case the fritters didn't turn out. But they actually really worked! However, since they are deep fried, it is nice to offer an alternative for guests who are watching their calories!

I dusted them with powdered sugar once they had cooled.

The guests began to arrive around 6:30. I knew I wanted to give myself some wiggle room, so I set out a few appetizers. (But not too many because they needed to be hungry for supper!) I love serving Thanksgiving Supper. It's not the best for metabolism, but that way when you're sleepy after eating, you go to bed!

Olives stuffed with garlic & hummus with red peppers

It literally was an ENTIRE DAY of cooking! But it was surely worth it. I was so proud when I presented my very first gluten free turkey!

Hard work!

The table is set

My full plate


Everyone really enjoyed the meal! I don't think anyone would have even known the dishes were gluten free if I hadn't told them. The stuffing was my favorite...and the cake!

I am so thankful for all my friends and family. I am so lucky to have such amazing people in my life. And of course, I couldn't have done any of this without....

My tiny wonky stove

Happy Thanksgiving!

Want to see more? Visit and click on the 24,24,24 tab to see what other bloggers did to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for this opportunity!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Glutenous Holiday Tea

Each winter, Celestial Seasonings comes out with a delicious line of Holiday Teas. I practically lived off the Nutcracker Sweet last year. It's sweet all on it's own. This year my Co-op is carrying all the flavors BUT the Nutcracker Sweet. Which is okay, because I had been really wanting to try the Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride flavor. Jenna of Eat, Live, Run had blogged about it a few times and it sounded delicious!

The Sugar Cookie flavor is Caffeine Free, which is a plus. I love hot cocoa before bed, but it does not love my waist line. I was thinking this may be a great substitute. was a nice thought. And it would totally work....if I didn't have Celiac Disease. That's right. This holiday tea contains gluten.

I even bought the package without really inspecting it. You'd think I would have learned my lesson. However, I did inspect the ingredients before making a cup. Yep. Nice print just below the ingredients 'Contains gluten'. Nerds!

While I can't partake of this particular flavor, I do think they're an awesome company for printing it so nicely. Straight and to the point. After further inspection on their website, the Nutcracker Sweet flavor is Gluten Free (as is the Candy Cane Lane). So hopefully I will be able to find somewhere locally that sells it!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's Cold....Eat Soup!

Man oh man, it is COLD today. My friend Alex is standing beside me singing "Baby it's Cold Outside". :)

Last night I was laying out all my warm layers. I had to wake up at 6:30 this morning and head downtown to work at the Farmer's Market. Every other weekend I help out at a booth that sells fresh fish and goat cheeses (the other weekends Alex helps). The sweet man we help is the fisherman and his wife is the queen of the goat dairy. I love helping them out, plus it's a great part time job. However, the Market is OUTSIDE!!!! And the market is on the river.....Double Brrr! I'm shivering just remembering how cold it was.

I always lay out my clothes for the Farmer's Market ahead of time because my brain doesn't fully work super early in the morning. Max helped modeled some possible outfit choices. He's such a good sport. He posed for a few pics. Does anyone else have a dog that loves to ham it up for the camera? Max loves it!

The Market was cold. I was fully layered: tights, stretch pants, fluffy pants, two pairs of socks, boots, sports bra, tank top, long sleeve shirt, sweater, jacket, ear muffs, hat; I was still a little chilly. I decided I need a face mask to keep my cheeks warm, but they're SO creepy. Mr. Bill, did bring us those pocket heaters. So Warm.... Lot's folks still shopped, so we were pretty busy. Moving around helps keep you warm. Lots of shoppers also brought their dogs, and we always put out water for them to drink, but today it froze!

The cold weather today reminded me that I needed to post a dinner from this past week. Thursday night my friend Alex brought over a frozen quart of her homemade Chicken Posole soup. Yum! She reheated the soup, I made cheesy onion popovers again, and we diced some avocado. (I sprinkle a dash of salt and pepper on my avocado to enhance the flavor)
We all LOVED the soup. She made her own chicken broth for the base and the flavor is ten times better!!

You'll need:

1 4 ½- to 5-pound chicken (Alex used an Organic, Local chicken)
4 medium onions
1 celery stalk, cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
One can diced green chiles
4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 15-ounce cans hominy, drained
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground or dried oregano
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Create your own chicken stock:Place the chicken, 1 onion (peeled and quartered), and the celery, and pepper in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Add 12 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the broth, let cool, and remove the meat from the bones, shredding it into bite-size pieces; set aside. Strain the cooking liquid and discard the solids, then pour the liquid back into the pot.

Or, use premade chicken stock, but you will need shredded chicken.


Coarsely chop the remaining onions. Add the chopped onions, green chiles, and garlic. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, hominy, salt, chili powder, and oregano. Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for 30 minutes.

We ate ours with avocado, but you can also add fresh chopped cilantro, lime, or radishes.

When I made the cheesy onion popover this time, I did shred the cheese instead of inserting cubes. We all decided we like the shredded better.

This recipe clearly freezes very well and reheated in no time!! Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

I LOVE Bob's Red Mill!

Today is probably the BEST DAY of my gluten free life!! When I got home from work today I had a package waiting for me from Bob's Red Mill. I was expecting some free gluten-free oats from them; the last batch I bought had a quality issue and they were sweet enough to offer to send me a replacement pack!

Little did I know just how sweet they were!! Not only did they send me a case of Gluten Free Rolled Oats (yum!) BUT they sent me a case of......GLUTEN FREE STEEL CUT OATS!!!!! I literally screamed when I opened the box!! I didn't even know they made these!

I of course made a bowl right away!! I totally had a yummy dinner planned, but nothing could keep me away from steel cut oats. I missed steel cut oats more than mozzarella sticks, and I still hadn't gotten used to the fact that I was never going to have them again. And now I don't have to!!!
It was a delicious bowl!! Just like McCann's Irish Steel Cut Oats. I literally CAN'T WAIT to wake up tomorrow and have another bowl!! Now I just have to find room in my pantry!

Oh and Jenny, your care package just got a little bit heavier!! :)

Lasagna Night & Morning

This lasagna was a last minute thought on Sunday night. I was waiting...patiently...for Extreme Home Makeover to start, but it was only 7:15. I started looking through recipes, fantasizing for Thanksgiving, and then I thought about lunch this week. I've started trying to take my lunch to work, save some money and myself from getting glutened. I typically end up scrambling the next morning and just packing soup. So I decided to make the lasagna I've been planning for over a week and use it for lunches!

I've started mixing my ricotta cheese with a little bit of milk. This may be something everyone already does, but it was not something I had done. I really liked it! It helps the cheese not get too dry and it's much easier to spread! Lasagna ingredients:

  • On box Tinkyada Lasagna noodles (cooked, drained, and dry)
  • One container Organic Ricotta cheese mixed with 1/2 cup Organic milk (mine was local!)
  • Many, Many cups mozzarella cheese (2-4 cups depending on how naughty you want to be)
  • One to two cups veggies (I used sauteed yellow and red peppers, onions, and garlic)
  • One jar Muir Glen Organic Tomato and Basil Sauce
  • Hormel Pepperoni
Start by layering your baking dish with about 1/3 cup tomato sauce. This Muir Glen sauce is SO GOOD!! I recommend it! Then layer three noodles side by side. Then 1/3 of your ricotta, veggies, pepperoni, mozzarella. Then start again with sauce and repeat twice.

The red and yellow peppers really made this dish!

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes COVERED, then uncover and broil the top. I sprinkled more of my local feta cheese on top for some drama.

Yum!! I have eaten this for three meals this week! It re-heats so well! Plus Parrish ate 1/3 of the pan for lunch on Monday. Alex also had a bite and approved! I love the Tinkyada noodles. I think I would eat them even I didn't have Celiacs.

Italian Flank Steaks

Two nights ago for dinner, Parrish and I had an amazing meal. I picked up these Italian Flank Steaks from our local grocer. You create a pinwheel of steak, ham, cheese, and spinach. Tie with string and bake! To assemble, you just need a thin strip of flank steak, about 12-14 inches long and 2 inches wide. Same thing for the ham. For the ham, you piece together many 2 inch wide pieces for 12-14 inches needed. Any cheese that is a slow melter is good, such as Mozzarella or Gruyere. I used a Roasted Red Pepper dressing in the bottom of my pan and coated the pinwheels. You cook them on 350 for 30 minutes.

Parrish ate his with stuffed buttons. His steak was ready way before mine because he likes his steak pretty pink. I ate my stuffed mushrooms while I was waiting for my steak to cook. The recipe for these is simple! 10-15 button mushrooms, stems off and wiped clean. I spray a bit of olive oil cooking oil on mine, just to give it some flavor. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup cream cheese with 2 tbsp. of Simply Organic Dill Dip mix. You'll need the cream cheese to be pretty soft. Then you stuff the mushrooms with the cream cheese mix. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, then broil the tops for 3-5 minutes. Simple! And tasty!! When I make these again, I may add some sauteed onions to the cream cheese and top the cream cheese with paremsan or bread crumbs for a crunch.

I had my steak unrolled, on top of mashed potatoes with a little tbsp. of the Simply Organic Dill Dip Mix. Yum! I topped the whole thing off with a bit of crumbled local feta.

This was a great meal, and as you can see the dogs were pretty tempted too! It's funny how Max gives you the direct pout.

Direct Pout

But Chola goes for the sideways "you could give me some only if you wanted to" glances.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I love the World Wide Web

Last night I attempted a dessert that I've been dreaming about all week. I wanted to make some sort of balsamic glaze candy. My idea last night was to layer it with dark chocolate. While what I made didn't quite make the cut (ie: no pictures), I do know what I'm going to attempt next time. Instead of making the amount of balsamic glaze and the amount of dark chocolate equal, I think that the glaze needs to just be a tiny filling.

So after all my kitchen time last night, I'm not really in the mood to cook today. For lunch Parrish and I just had a really simple roasted red pepper and tomato soup with local fresh feta. Since I can't share the "recipe" with you for this Pacific soup :) , I thought I would share with you my two new favorite websites.

The first is TasteSpotting. Click. Enough said.

The second is Puppy Cam. It's live almost all of the time. I love Shiba Inus!!!!

I hope everyone is having a great day! Clemson just beat Duke so I'm pretty excited!! Tomorrow I'm going to try out a recipe for Cranberry Fritters. I'll let you know how it goes!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

United Nations and Larabars

Phew! What a looooooong day. Tonight I was a speaker on a panel for our local United Nations chapter. I'm part of a group called the Southeastern North Carolina Food Systems Council, and I was presenting on global and regional food distribution. It was so much fun, I love speaking on panels, but it really rides my nerves. I'm always anxious the day of and when I'm anxious I lose my appetite. Lucky for me, I had a Larabar late in the afternoon and it totally held me over! (I had the Peanut Butter Cookie Bar of course!!)

This morning for breakfast I made Cherrybrook Kitchen gluten free pancakes. They are SO GOOD! They're not gritty and they sort of taste like funnel cakes. You have to be careful cooking them because they don't bubble like other pancake mixes. So you don't really have an indicator that it's time to flip, other than looking at the edges. I even made a plate of pancakes for my boyfriend (who is not gluten free) and he loved them!

I put the leftovers in the fridge for tomorrow morning, I'll let you know how well they reheat!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sweet Potato Fries and the Sweetest Day!

We ended up not making lasagna last night. I don't think Parrish was craving it as much as me. Instead, we made chicken poached in white wine with fresh salsa. Alex came over for dinner and she and Parrish were also having garlic bread...full of gluten. So as an after thought, I quickly made some roasted sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries are so simple. You just need a sweet potato, olive oil, salt and pepper. Slice the sweet potato to make fries, toss in olive oil and spices, and then broil the heck out of them. I turm mine alot because my oven is so wonky. Parrish made a balsamic glaze to go on the chicken and I lightly put some on my fries. So good! I've never had balsamic on sweet potatoes, but it seems like an obvious match.

I've blogged about glaze before because it's so good. You just mix equal parts balsamic with equal parts sugar and heat. Stir a ton, until it thickens. Overall the dinner was great, but no pics of the full meal sorry! (Poached chicken is not visually appealing)

This morning I received some awesome news!! Foodbuzz, my most favorite webpage, has chosen me as one of the bloggers for their "24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs"!! I literally screamed outloud when I read the email!! I submitted my proposal for 'My First Gluten Free Thanksgiving', but I never thought I would be selected. I am so excited! I'm inviting friends and family because they have all been SO supportive since my Celiac diagnosis and I can't wait to cook for them and show off some of my new kitchen skills!! I've already started planning the menu...but mum's the word on that. PLUS I'm really hoping I get a Foodbuzz apron :) I plan on posting how to videos on some of the harder recipes and tons of pics.

Hope everyone had a great Tuesday, Hooray for Hump Day tomorrow!

If you've never been to Foodbuzz you should check it out. I love Food Network, but this site is even better! It combines blog posts with recipes, tips, restaurant reviews, forums....basically anything you can do surrounding food.