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Cheezy Crisps & Grammy Crisps

Are you always on the hunt for the perfect gluten-free cracker?  Finding them too bland, tasting like cardboard, or flimsy?  Well, I definitely am!  Every time I go to the grocery store, I’m always scanning the cracker aisle, looking for a suitable gluten-free cracker to replace all those buttery, flaky, gluten ones, and yet, I’ve been hard pressed to find a replacement . . . until today!

So, you can imagine my surprise when I ventured to try Crunchmaster’s certified gluten-free Cheezy Crisps and Grammy Crisps and was wowed to the max!

To read more, click here . . .

This article can also be found on the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness’s Gluten-Free Hot Products Page

A special thanks goes out to Stephanie Gill, Pam Vassilikos, and of course my daughter who were instrumental in the reviewing of the crackers!

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The Finished Ball

One day, not long after I had gone gluten-free, my grandma, Honey, called me, to tell me of a recipe she made that just so happens to also be gluten-free.  I couldn’t have been more thrilled to think of a dessert with peanut butter and chocolate all in one that had NO GLUTEN!!  And takes about 10 minutes to make and 10 to bake!

After a lot of playing with the basic recipe my Honey had given me, I perfected a relatively low sugar dessert.  The secret is the chocolate chips stashed in the middle of the ball.

The peanut butter we use just has roasted peanuts and nothing else added.  I have often found that certain peanut butters make me sick and then I wonder if they’ve been crossed processed.  In Philadelphia you can get Crazy Richards, which was actually made by a local Philadelphian who ground his own peanuts.  Roomer has it from a parent I know that Richard use to run a small in-home daycare in the city, all the while, making his own peanut butter.

If we’re looking for an organic one, we have found Santa Cruz makes an excellent one.

Gluten-Free Inside-Out Peanut Butter Balls

Serving Size: about 20 1″ balls

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

20130522-202617.jpgIngredients:

  • 1 cup of peanut butter – we use peanut butter that just has roasted peanuts and nothing else added
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • about 1/2 cup of chocolate chips – we use Enjoy Life

Supplies:

  • large mixing bowl
  • spatula
  • cookie sheet
  • parchment paper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325*F.
  2. In a bowl, mix egg, sugar, and peanut butter all together until there is a smooth consistency.
  3. Take a pinch in your hand and roll it into a 1″ ball.

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    Rolling Batter into a Ball

  4. Use your thumb to place a small whole in the middle of it.
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    Small Well in Center of Ball

     

  5. Fill well with a handful of chocolate chips.
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    Filling Well with Chocolate Chips

     

  6. Fold over edges of dough around chips.
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    Folding Dough Edges around Chips

     

  7. Roll dough back into a ball.
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    Dough Rolled Back into Ball with Chips inside

     

  8. Bake at 325*F for about 10-12 minutes.  I like mine soft, but if you prefer them crisper, then bake for longer.

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    Ready to Bake

  9. Eat!

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Polenta topped with Ragout

I decided it was time to use a different grain tonight.  I was thinking of rice, but then I realized we should try something else.  Polenta is considered the Italian version of grits.  It’s a super fast cooking grain.  I even took a quicker fix than just using the grain and making a paste with water, I used the tube!!

This dish makes an excellent side dish or hors d’oeuvre for a dinner party.

Gluten-Free Broiled Polenta with Spinach and

Mushroom Ragout

Serving Size: about 20 polenta rounds

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp evol (used for polenta)
  • 1 tube of polenta precooked
  • 2 tbsp evol (used for sautéing)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 package mushrooms, chopped
  • 2-3 cups of fresh spinach
  • generous amount of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp of crushed dried rosemary
  • 4 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2-1 cup water
  • *optional – parmesan cheese (do not use if vegan)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to broil and arrange the top rack about 4″ from the top.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Slice the tube of polenta into 1/4″ thick rounds and lay them out on the baking sheet.
  4. Using the TBSP of olive oil, lightly brush the tops of each round and then broil them until the begin to brown about 10-15 minutes.
  5. While they are cooking, put olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  6. When the oil is warm, put in the diced onions and as they begin to brown, add the garlic, sauteing for another 30 seconds or so.
  7. To the onion mixture, add the mushrooms and cook on a high heat (or medium-high) until they release their juices.
  8. Continue stirring for another few minutes until all the juices have been reabsorbed.  Then all the handfuls of spinach and toss until wilted.
  9. Add salt, pepper, and rosemary.  Cook for another 30 seconds.
  10. Then add in the tomato paste and 1/2 cup of the water.  (I actually used 4 previously frozen ice cubes of tomato paste.)  Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.  Continue adding water little by little if the mixture is drying out.
  11. Once water is absorbed (about 10 minutes), remove from heat and add the balsamic vinegar.

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    Mushroom Spinach Ragout

  12. Top the broiled polenta with the mushroom mixture and if desired, sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
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    The Simplicity of Polenta

     

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Delicious Pesto Sauce

My family LOVES pesto sauce.  My daughter prefers to eat it over marinara.  So, I try to keep some in the fridge, but the truth be told is that I never make enough.  The best thing to do is make tons of sauce, and freeze it in ice cube trays to be used later.

Our favorite uses of pesto:

  1. On pasta
  2. On Pizza
  3. Baked on Chicken

What are your favorite ways to use pesto?

Gluten-Free Pesto Pasta

Disclaimer: I did not invent this recipe, but have no idea where I got it from.

Serving Size: 4-6 people, about 1 pint

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Bag of Hydroponic Basil

Ingredients for Pesto:

  • 2 cups basil leaves (I used 2 bags of hydroponic basil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts (I like Trader Joe’s because there’s no cross-contamination)
  • 2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (any olive oil will do)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (I also use Trader Joe’s grated parm and stash it in the freezer)
  • Salt/pepper

Ingredients for Pasta:

  • 1 bag of gluten-free pasta – favorite brand is Tinkyada
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 TBSP of olive oil
  • *optional – extra parmesan as topping
  • *optional – handful of pine nuts as topping

Directions:

  1. Get pot of boiling water going for pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, put all ingredients, except the oil in the food processor, and process until blended.
  3. Slowly pour in the oil.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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    Makes about 1 Pint of Pesto Sauce

  5. When pasta water is boiling, put the pasta in the water and follow directions of pasta bag.
  6. 2 minutes before the pasta is done cooking, throw in some chopped broccoli.

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    Broccoli Added to Pasta

  7. When pasta is done cooking and broccoli is done to liking, pour into colander and rinse with cold water.
  8. Coat pasta with the 1 TBSP of olive oil to keep it from sticking together if not serving right away, otherwise, follow step #9.
  9. Toss pasta with pesto sauce.

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    Pasta Coated with Pesto

  10. Bon Appetite!

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My Daughter with her New Glow-in-the-Dark Necklace

Glow-in-the-dark Necklace

made from the $.25 Machine

inspired by a project in the magazine Family Fun

Tools:

  • an awl or nail to piece a hole
  • 2 feet of kite string or some other type of yarn
  • at least 4 glow-in-the-dark beads, to make it glow-in-the-dark, but any kind of bead or button will do.  We used perler beads
  • $.25 machine plastic container

Directions:

  1. Take purchase a little toy for $.25 at the grocery store, but make sure it comes in one of those little plastic containers.
  2. Remove the toy.
  3. Using an awl or some other sharp tool like a nail, pierce a whole through the top of the container.
  4. Cut a piece of string about 2 feet long.  You can always trim it when you’re done.
  5. Thread a bead or a button into the middle of the string.  Knot the string several times just above the bead.
  6. Put one end of the string next to the otherand thread it through the underside of the hole.  This way, the bead will keep the string in place.

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    Strung Bottom Bead

  7. Place charms or other beads along each side of the string.
  8. When you’re ready, tie the two ends of the string together in a knot.
  9. Fill the container with whatever excites your child, i.e. glow-in-the-dark beads, bugs, snack, etc.  We filled our with glow-in-the-dark beads, so that the necklace will glow-in-the-dark!
  10. Place the necklace around your child’s neck.
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Our Glow-in-the-Dark Necklace

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I was fortunately to be invited to my dear friends’ house for Passover dinner while I was in Atlanta.  Rebecca is a fantastic cook, and they always serve the most wonderful food.   The best part about it was that it was all gluten-free (and soy-free), because neither of which you can have on Passover!!  And on top of that, two of their kids have Celiac Disease, which just means I can eat with them and always feel good!

This recipe has been adapted from both my mom’s version (which usually uses Ramen Noodles) and Rebecca’s version with candied nuts.  I had leftover chicken to through in, which just made it even better!  This is a great, fast dish to take to potlucks and parties.

On a side note, my husband who had refused to eat it upon hearing its name, decided it was delicious and really enjoyed the candied nut addition.

Oriental Cabbage Salad with Candied Nuts Recipe

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Oriental Cabbage Salad

Serving Size: If used as a side dish about 12 people

Storage Note:  I store the chicken, nuts, and dressing separate from the other salad ingredients to keep them from getting soggy and gross.

Ingredients for Cabbage Salad:

(feel free to leave off or add any ingredients as you see fit)

  • 1 cabbage, shredded or cut super thin
  • 4-5 carrots, grated
  • a bunch of scallions, chopped (but since I didn’t have any, I used about 1/2 an onion)
  • *Optional: pre-cooked chicken, chopped into small pieces (I used grilled chicken from the previous night)
  • candied nuts (click here for recipe) – (*If vegan, just toast nuts instead*)

Ingredients for Oriental Dressing:

  • 3/4 cup of  safflower oil (or some other non-tasting oil)
  • 1/4 cup of sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of honey (you can substitute this for sugar as well)
  • 1/4 cup of sugar

Directions for Cabbage Salad:

  1. Mix together cabbage, onions, carrots in a large bowl.
  2. When ready to serve, add chicken and candied nuts.
  3. Pour dressing on last, so the salad doesn’t get soggy.

Directions for Salad Dressing:

  1. In a large measuring cup, pour in the vinegar and sugar/honey and whisk it till well combined.
  2. Add in the cider vinegar a little at a time while continuing to whisk.
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Oriental Salad Ready to Eat!

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Candied Nuts

Candied Nuts

So I had eaten at my dear friends’ house over Passover and had the most amazing Oriental Cabbage Salad.  Rebecca’s secret ingredient was candied nuts.  I decided I was going to replicate her dish, but first I had to candy my nuts.  (I’ll post the oriental cabbage later).

There are two ways to candy nuts.  I did mine in the oven, but you can also just put sugar and nuts in a saute pan and saute them.  Once the sugar has melted and is well coated, you then spread the nut mixture on a baking sheet with parchment paper to cool and then break it into pieces.

However, this was the recipe I found years ago and adapted it slightly.  I have no idea where it came from, so I can’t take credit for it.  I love to mix different kinds of nuts together.  I think this recipe can double as the makings of a granola bar.  Let me know what you come up with!  I also like to just eat it as snack.  I have tried it substituting honey for sugar.  It’s just as tasty, but doesn’t quite have the crispness or the crunch I was looking for.  If you try different things, let me know what you enjoyed!

Candied Nuts Recipe

Serving Size: 1 pound

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 pound nuts, crushed or halved
  • 1 large egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300*F (150*C).
  2. Lay parchment paper over a baking sheet.
  3. *If using whole nuts, crush prior to using.  Place in ziplock bag and smash with mallet.*  I of course didn’t have anything else when I was having a craving, so it’s what I did.

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    Crushing Nuts

  4. In a bowl, mix together sugar, salt and cinnamon;set aside.
  5. Beat egg white and water together just until frothy, not stiff.
  6. Add nuts to egg whites and stir until well coated.

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    Nuts Added to Egg White Mixture

  7. Add sugar mixture, mixing nuts until well coated.
  8. Spread evenly onto a foil-lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and separate pecans as they cool.
  10. Store in tightly closed container.
Candied Nuts

Candied Nuts

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