Sunday, March 31, 2013

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday: Leftovers from Easter  (Lamb Stew, Chicken, etc.) 

Tuesday: Fish Cakes with Coleslaw 

Wednesday:  Lentil Soup  & Gluten Free Crostini

Thursday: Pea & Gluten Free Pasta Soup

Friday: Beef & Vegetable Stew 



Friday, March 29, 2013

A Gluten Free Easter Menu

In case you're like me and hosting Easter this year but don't know what to serve, I thought it might help to have some idea of what to make.  I've included some simple instructions, not full fledged recipes because I'm going to be making this stuff from scratch, and until I do I won't know exact proportions.  Hope it gives you some inspiration if you're stuck.  I'm serving 5 adults and two kids, so adjust proportions accordingly.

My Easter Menu

Appetizer:  Strawberry and Goat Cheese Crostini
How To: Slice a GF Baguette into rounds, brush with oil and toast under the broiler until crisp. Simpler version: buy GF Bagel chips.  Slice strawberries thinly and toss with a light oil (Canola or Extra Virgin Olive Oil), salt and pepper.  Place strawberry slice on crostini, top with some goat cheese and a sprig of mint, if desired.  Drizzle a bit of oil on top.  Serve as is or heat under broiler until cheese melts.

Starter: Lentil Soup
I will probably make a simpler lentil soup than the one in my recipe in the link above. 
1 box broth (with another on hand), 1 cup lentils (green or red) rinsed, 1 onion diced, 2 cloves garlic minced, salt and pepper, olive oil
-fry onion, garlic and lentil in oil approx. five minutes.
-add broth, bring to a boil, lower to simmer.
-simmer until lentils are soft, approx. 30 min.  Add water or more broth if needed & season.
-Serve as is or blend until smooth with hand blender.

Meal: Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast, Lamb Stew, Roasted Asparagus, Glazed Carrots, Roasted Mini Potatoes & Salad

Chicken: Cut each chicken breast almost in half.  In a frying pan, cook 1 bag baby spinach until wilted in a bit of oil.  When cooked, toss with shredded cheese (mozzarella, asiago, goat cheese, whatever you like.  Approx. 250g).  Stuff chicken and bake in a 375F oven until done.  If you don't eat dairy, stuff it with some spinach and bacon, or bacon wrap it instead.

Lamb: I'm making lamb stew in the slow cooker, but lamb chops are easy to do in the oven or pan fried.  My dad always serves lamb with mint sauce that you can buy at the supermarket.

Potatoes & Asparagus: Toss with olive oil, salt & pepper & bake until cooked through.  Asparagus doesn't take long, so don't bake until everything else is almost done (last 5 minutes or so.)

Carrots: Peel & cut into desired size, or use baby carrots.  Fry in butter (or substitute) or a few minutes, then add some ginger, honey, salt and pepper, and some white wine if desired.  Cook until thickened and carrots are cooked through.

Dessert: Oven Roasted Peach Halves with Melted Chocolate Centres
Cut peaches in half and remove stone.  Grill peaches or place under broiler until soft.  While cooking, melt some chocolate in a bowl.  Remove peaches from over and pour chocolate in the spot where the pit should be.  Serve immediately.

My plan of attack:

Lamb Stew will be made overnight Saturday in the crock pot.  Carrots & Salad to be made Saturday.  Strawberries will be cleaned and cut Saturday, and lentil soup will be made Saturday too.  Sunday, Chicken & Potatoes will go in the oven together and then I'll serve Crostini while they're cooking.  Last 10 minutes I'll reheat carrots and stick asparagus in the oven. 

 I'll put the peaches in after cleaning up while coffee is being made.  It's my husband's birthday this weekend so we'll be having cake too, but otherwise the peaches would be it for dessert.  Maybe with some ice cream, but not this time since there's cake. 

For some ideas from previous years, click on the post links below:

Gluten & Dairy Free Easter Egg Hunt
Easter 2011

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gluten Free Pastel Pretzels

These pretzels are a fun little treat to make that always remind me of Spring.  I was inspired to make these as a little treat for Easter, and picked bright colours.  I'm sure someone with much more patience than I could have made perfect drizzles, but I'm blaming their perfect imperfection on my four year old, who helped every step of the way.  I dipped the pretzels in white candy melt, but you can buy them pre-dipped and shorten the entire process. 

The quantity of candy melt is assuming you are going to dip the whole bag.  If you just want to try  few, buy a smaller amount of candy melts and just do as many as you can.

1 bag Glutino gluten free pretzels (they're the only brand I'm familiar with, and I love them)
*** I buy regular ones, but if you don't want to dip, buy the dipped ones)
1 scoop white candy melts or white chocolate (approx. 200 g)
1/4 scoop of different coloured candy melts (approx. 50g each)


1- Melt the white candy melts in a glass bowl in the microwave.  I melt on high, in 30 second increments, stirring each time.

2- Lay out a piece of waxed paper large enough to hold the pretzels.

3- Using a spoon (or let's be honest, with a 4 year old, your hands) dip each pretzel in the melted chocolate.  Let the excess drip before placing on the wax paper to dry. 

4- When the coating has hardened, melt the coloured melts the same way.  Using the tines of a fork or a spoon, drizzle the coloured melts over the pretzels.  Let harden and serve, or store in the refrigerator.

So cute, and you can customize the colours the way you want.  A great sweet & salty snack to make the day just a little brighter.

Wordless Wednesday

7 months.  No, that's not a wig. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Recipe: Stuffed Eggplants (Gluten & Dairy Free)

My husband used to tell me he didn't like eggplant.  He didn't like raisins either.  Then I made him this dish, and he no longer complains about either.  There are more complicated  versions of this recipe out there, but I like to keep things simple, so this is how I usually make them.   The flavour is a little bit sweet from the raisins, making it kid friendly, and it's a great way to introduce them to a vegetable that is usually a hard sell.  If you prefer, add some hot pepper or some cumin to deepen the flavour, or a squeeze of lemon juice.

(Serves 4, one eggplant half per person)

2 large eggplants
1 (19 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic,minced
1/2 cup raisins (large Sultana raisins are best, check to make sure they are gluten free)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

(Oven 350F)

1-Slice eggplants in half lengthwise, and lay on paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt on cut parts, and let sit for 15 minutes.  The salt will draw out the bitterness.  Rinse eggplants and dry. 

2- Place eggplants cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for approx. 20 minutes, or until the inside flesh is cooked and soft, and can be scooped out.  Let cool until easy to handle, and scoop flesh out into a large frying pan with olive oil.  Break into small, bite sized pieces.   Leave skins aside for stuffing.

3- Add tomatoes, garlic, onion, cinnamon and raisins.  Cook over medium heat until onion is cooked and mixture has thickened, approx. 5-10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper. 

4- Fill eggplant skins with mixture and serve. 

If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate.  Heat in a 350F oven until warmed through to serve.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Recipe: Gluten Free Stuffed Zucchini

Traditionally this recipe is made with flour and regular breadcrumbs, as well as cheese, but I make them gluten and dairy free for my son.  They have good flavour and look like they were a lot of work to make, but really they're simple.  They work well as a side dish.

Gluten Free Stuffed Zucchini

(Serves 4, 1/2 zucchini per person)

2 large zucchini
150 g sliced mushrooms (approx. 1/2 pack sliced mushrooms), diced into small pieces
1/2 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
1 onion, diced
1 handful parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional: shredded mozzarella or grated Parmesan

Feel free to stuff your zucchini with anything you like.  Bell peppers, spinach, mashed chickpeas, all would make great stuffing.

Oven at 350F

1- Wash zucchini and slice in half lengthwise.  Place cut side down on  baking sheet and cook for approx. 15 minutes, or until inside is cooked and easily scooped out.  While zucchini is cooking, finely chop mushrooms, onions, and parsley, and mince garlic. 

2- Remove cooked zucchini from oven and scoop out flesh when they are cool enough to handle.  Reserve skins for stuffing.  Place flesh of zucchini in a large frying pan with mushrooms, onion, garlic, and parsley.  Add breadcrumbs and enough oil to moisten mixture (1-2 tablespoons to start, add more if needed later.)  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until mushrooms and onions are cooked and mixture begins to stick together. 

3- Remove from heat and stuff mixture into zucchini skins.  If using cheese, sprinkle on top.  Sprinkle zucchini with a light layer of breadcrumbs and drizzle lightly with olive oil.  Place in the oven until breadcrumbs are golden.  Serve immediately.

For more recipes, check out the Recipes Tab.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday: Red Lentil Soup & Stuffed Zucchini 

Tuesday: Stuffed Eggplant with Tomatoes & Raisins with a Side of Steamed Rice

Wednesday: Gluten Free Pasta with Meatballs 

Thursday: Stuffed Poblano Peppers & Spanish Rice

Friday: Chickpea & Spinach Stir Fry over Quinoa

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Struggle for Balance Continues

Every time I think we've gotten our son's diet under control, new things pop up.  I know that this is common, that people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity often have problems with other foods, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.  The past few weeks, my son has been breaking out in rashes, and his appetite has gone through the roof again.  He also has several inflamed glands, which is a source of concern for us. 

He used to be completely dairy free, but over time we introduced goat milk, and that went well.  Then, we introduced some cow's milk, a bit at a time, to see how his body would react.  It went well for a while, but now I'm not so sure.  On top of that, last week his mouth broke out in a rash after eating peanut butter.  Some days he gets a rash when he hasn't had either milk or peanuts, so now we're kind of stumped. 

So here's what we're going to do. 

An elimination diet.  We've done this before, but I know that food sensitivities can change at any time, so we're going to do it again.  This is never fun, but it's important that we figure out what's going on with his body.  He's started eating adult sized portions again, which usually only happens after he's been glutened.  The other day he ate:  1 bowl of cereal with milk, a peach, a bowl of cantaloupe, 4 slices of gluten free bread with jam, 2 bowls of soup, 2 cucumbers, 2 fruit cups, 1 bowl of chili, 2 slices of cheese, 1 bowl of yogurt, 2 tortillas, 3 eggs, and 4 slices of roast beef.  He was still so hungry he was begging for more food.  Actually whining and begging and pleading for more because he was so hungry.  He's four years old.   

Four years old and in the 40th percentile for height and weight, despite how much he eats.  I worry that he's not absorbing enough nutrients.  So on top of the elimination diet to see what foods make him break out, we're also adding a probiotic to his daily vitamin.  We don't feed him a lot of processed food, but we're going to increase his intake of fruits and vegetables, lentils and beans.  We're also going to be keeping a detailed food journal and fill in a chart that will demonstrate whether he's getting an adequate amount of vitamins and nutrients every day. 

Our doctor has scheduled a follow up ultrasound for his glands, and we're going to get allergy testing done again, even though we know he's young and the tests aren't always accurate at this age. 

Spring has arrived, and this year the spring cleaning has everything to do with cleaning up his diet.  It's pretty good right now, but there's always room for improvement.   Wish us luck!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gluten Free Gnocchi in a Gorgonzola Cream Sauce

This is quite honestly the simplest thing you will probably ever make, yet the flavour is incredible and the texture rivals any good cream sauce.  I use this sauce as a pasta sauce, but it could easily be used for chicken or even pork.  I used to make a really complicated sauce from scratch, with milk and gluten free flour and spices, but now I rarely bother.  This is just easier.  It is too much dairy for my son, so it's something I usually make for my husband and we serve our son some pasta with tomato sauce.

There is some discussion around whether blue cheeses are gluten free.  Some types were once made by molding on bread, but most are no longer produced this way.  Make sure the brand you purchase is indeed gluten free.

(Makes enough sauce for 2 packages of gnocchi, or one 450g bag of regular pasta.)

1 box Campbell's Stock First Cream Stock (Gluten Free, but always check labels)
1 piece (approx. 150-200 g) Gorgonzola cheese   ** I just buy a wedge at the local supermarket, and add until the sauce tastes the way I like.
2 pks. Gluten Free Gnocchi, or one 450g Bag GF Pasta


1- Pour Cream Stock into a sauce pot and heat over medium heat.
2- Cut Gorgonzola into cubes and add to pot a few cubes at a time, whisking until melted.  Taste after every few cheese cubes have melted, and stop adding when the desired flavour is achieved.  I  like mine strong, so I usually use the whole piece.
3- While the sauce is cooking, boil water for the pasta.  Drop in the gnocchi.  They only take about 2-3 minutes to cook.  When they float to the top, skim them out of the water with a slotted spoon and place them in a large bowl.  Do not rinse.
3- Pour sauce over cooked pasta and toss to coat.  Season if desired with some black pepper or chopped parsley.

This sauce looks and tastes decadent,  but is beyond simple to make. It's pretty much a non-recipe if I've ever seen one.  This is perfect for date night.

You're welcome.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday: Gluten Free Gnocchi in Homemade Tomato Sauce

Tuesday: Thai Curry Chicken Soup (from cookbook of the month)

Wednesday: Fish Cakes & Salad 

Thursday: Roast Chicken & Vegetables  

Friday: Cabbage Rolls (from the freezer) 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Winners Have Been Chosen

Thank you to everyone who participated in the BlueWater contest.  Three winners were selected at random from Rafflecopter, and I've sent an email out to the winners notifying them of their win.  Packages will be mailed out by Monday. 

The response to this giveaway was fantastic, and I want you to know how much I appreciate you taking the time to not only read Celiac Baby! but to also enter the contest.  For my readers outside of Canada, I'm working on holding an international giveaway in the near future. 

Thank you again, and congratulations to the three winners!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gluten Free Gnochhi

I'm often frustrated by the lack of gluten free pasta available in grocery stores.  There are usually only one or two varieties available, usually with the options of a spaghetti, a ravioli and a penne.  Sometimes some lasagna noodles. 

Then I went shopping at a store called Grande Cheese, and discovered that they carry a whole variety of gluten free pastas.  I discovered a brand imported from Italy called Dialdi, that makes some of the best pasta I've eaten.  It's a mixture of corn and rice, and the texture is almost identical to regular pasta.  Plus, it doesn't dry up and go hard when refrigerated like some brands, so you can actually have it for leftovers. 

I was there buying these this weekend when I saw something I've been looking for but haven't been able to find- Gluten Free Gnocchi!  Two kinds, one made with rice, and one with corn.  I bought both and can't wait to try them to see which I like better. 

Gnocchi is my favourite pasta, and we haven't had it since we went gluten free for my son.  I'll be making these with two different sauces, so if they taste good, I'll share the recipes here. 

I don't know if you can see the difference in colour between the rice and the corn pasta.  I'm curious to see the difference in taste and texture. 

Love having new options to choose from, let's hope the flavour measures up!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday: Pulled Pork Tacos (this is an old photo.  We'll be having them with soft corn tortillas.) 

Tuesday: Chicken Saltimbocca (form Cookbook of the month) w/ Arugula Salad (from cookbook of the month) 

Wednesday: Gluten Free Macaroni & Cheese

Thursday: Beef Nachos with Tortilla Chips

Friday: Arugula & Pine Nut Pizza (from cookbook of the month.  This I'll make later in the week.) 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review & Giveaway: BlueWater Seafood

I'm excited to be hosting Celiac Baby's first giveaway, and I think it's a good one!  BlueWater Seafood has offered me the opportunity to give away a free product coupon and a cute sling bag to use when shopping to three of my readers. 

BlueWater Seafood is a Canadian company located in Quebec that has been offering frozen seafood products for over 50 years.  Committed to sustainability, they participate in a Trusted Catch program that includes purchasing from sustainable fisheries and working to reduce the impact on the ecosystem. 

Recently, BlueWater launched a new line of gluten free products, and wants to get the word out!  They have taken steps to avoid cross-contamination and test their gluten free products to ensure they are indeed gluten free.  Visit their site to learn more:

Review: Classic Grill Tilapia

I chose the tilapia for my review because when we eat white fish at home, tilapia is a popular choice.  It has a naturally mild flavour and doesn't fall apart easily, so I thought it would be a good idea to compare their frozen version to my usual preparation.  There are two fillets in a box, and they come seasoned.  All you do is pop them out, bake them, and serve. No defrosting or seasoning or letting stand.  Just bake and serve. 

I was surprised at the size of the fillets when they are cooked.  The servings are quite large, which is not always the case with frozen foods.  The flavour was fresh, not artificial tasting, and the texture of the tilapia was light and flaky.  I was really impressed. 

Most surprising is the price.  The box I chose was $5.99.  I couldn't buy two fillets of tilapia the size of the ones I got from this product for that price, so it is certainly a good deal. 

Would you like to try it for FREE?


Three readers will receive a full value coupon for a free product of your choice, and a sling bag!  Contest runs from March 9- March 15, and winners will be notified by email on Saturday, March 16.  Entry is limited to Canadian residents only. 

How to enter
Fill out your information in box below.  For additional entries, tweet about the contest and follow @CeliacBaby on Twitter.  Winners are chosen at random from a computer program, so every entrant has a fair chance to win.  What are you waiting for?  Enter for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Recipe: Gluten Free Cranberry Walnut Granola

I saw a granola recipe in a cookbook that called for delicious ingredients like almonds and apricots, and it was all pretty and served warm and I thought: I can make that. 

Only I didn't have any apricots, or almonds, or sesame seeds, or cardamom.  Then I thought, screw it.  I can use what I've got and make something just as tasty. 

So I did. 

And then the 4 serving recipe of granola was suddenly all I wanted to eat all day.   I saved just enough for my husband to try it, and then vowed to make more.  This is good stuff. 

The recipe is gluten free, but calls for oats, so if you can't tolerate oats then it's not for you.  I use Bob's Red Mill certified gluten free rolled oats.  I would suggest only using a certified GF brand to avoid the potential for cross-contamination.

Warm Cranberry Vanilla Walnut Granola


1 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup dried  cranberries
1/4 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
2 tablespoons pepitas (or other seed)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup agave nectar (or honey or maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


1- In a pan over medium low heat, combine coconut oil, agave nectar, and vanilla extract and cook until coconut oil has melted.  While waiting, combine oats, walnuts, cranberries, coconut, pepitas, and cinnamon in a bowl and mix to combine.

2- When coconut oil has melted, add dry ingredients to the pan.  Mix well to combine and heat through until oats are golden and cranberries have softened, approx. 5 min.

Serve warm. Serve plain or topped with yogurt.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homemade Soft Corn Tortillas in Three Easy Steps

I used to think I didn't like corn tortillas.  That's because I was eating those store-bought ones that are so dry I could barely swallow without taking a glass of water.  Then I went to El Salvador with my husband (then boyfriend) and ate the homemade ones they eat all the time.  My opinion changed, and I couldn't get enough.

Fast forward a few years.  We figured out about my son's gluten issues when he was 18 months.  At 2 years, we took him to visit my husband's family in El Salvador.  He devoured tortillas like he hadn't eaten food in weeks.  Loved them.  So much so, that I figured I should learn how to make them. 

Hoped it wasn't complicated.  It's not.  3 ingredients.  No special equipment required, although a tortilla press makes them thinner.  I just got  a tortilla press as a gift this Christmas.  I've been making tortillas for two years without it, so trust me when I say it's not a necessity. 

There are a few different styles of tortillas, used in different ways.  The really thin, flat ones are used for things like tacos, fajitas or burritos.  Basically a vehicle for holding other ingredients.  Then there are the thicker ones, smaller and fatter, that are pretty much eaten like the equivalent of a slice of bread accompanying a meal.  It adds substance, soaks up juices, can be used to shovel food in.  Both kinds are made with the exact same ingredients, just with a slightly different technique.  I've included instructions for both below.

Approx. 16 tortillas

2 cups Masa (corn flour)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
1 1/2 cups water.


1- Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.  It should hold together when pressed.  If not, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.  Divide the dough into 16 balls.  Cover the bowl with a warm, wet towel to stop the dough from drying out.

2- For thin, flat, tortillas:  Take a ball and place it between two pieces of plastic wrap or parchment paper.  If using a tortilla press, push down on the handle, then release.  If not, use a frying pan of other hard, flat object to flatten the dough. 

**If you want your tortillas even thinner and a bit bigger, take a rolling pin and roll each one out, still between pieces of plastic/parchment.  You can also make fewer dough balls and have fewer tortillas, but bigger ones.

For thicker, fatter tortillas (that aren't bendable): Place the dough in the palm of one hand, and press down on it with the other.  Continue pressing and shaping until the desired size and thickness are achieved.

3- Cook each tortilla in a non-stick frying pan or pancake skillet.  No need to grease the pan.  Cook over medium high heat, approx. 2 min. per side, or until the surface is no longer moist.  Transfer tortillas to a plate or bowl and cover with a towel to keep moist. 

If you want to freeze some for later, store in freezer bags separated by a layer of wax or parchment paper.  Defrost in the fridge or on the counter and gently warm before eating. We pop ours in the toaster, but they can also be reheated in the microwave or oven.  They dry out quickly, so they are best eaten the day they are made, or after being frozen right away.

Tortilla Press
Tortilla Cooker (basically a non stick frying pan.  I got this for Christmas too.)

Thin tortilla taco
Breakfast with thicker tortillas

Monday, March 4, 2013

Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

There are many ways to make this classic dish, but for the most part it's ground meat and vegetables topped with mashed potatoes.  Simple.  My mom used to make this on a regular basis when we were kids.  My dad did most of the cooking at my house, but Shepherd's Pie belonged to my mom.  I make mine a little bit different than she makes hers, but I'll include both variations here. 

It really is a simple recipe, so if you've been intimidated to try it before, don't be anymore.  It's not supposed to be complicated and fancy.  It's comfort food.  It doesn't even have to look pretty, it just has to taste good.

Depending on how many people you need to feed, you can make this recipe in a large lasagna pan or casserole dish (about 2 quarts), or you can break it into two smaller  roasting pans and freeze one for later. 

Shepherd's Pie
(Serves 4-6)
Preheat Oven to 350F



1 kilo (2.2 lbs.) ground beef.  Use medium or lean, but not extra lean.  Moisture is important
2 cups mixed vegetables (peas, carrots & corn, or whatever you like)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 cup beef gravy (make sure it's GF.  I use Imagine Organic Gravy.)
1/4 cup ketchup
Salt and Pepper to taste


5-6 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters (I like a thick topping of potatoes)
1/4-1/2 cup milk (or dairy substitute)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)

***My mother doesn't put gravy in her pie.  I LOVE gravy in mine.  If you want to omit the gravy, increase the ketchup or add a bit of beef broth for moisture.  Much of the moisture will be absorbed during cooking. 


1- Put a large pot of water to boil.  While the water is heating, cook beef, onion and garlic over medium heat in a large frying pan until almost cooked through, approx. 15 min. Stir in the mixed vegetables and cook until beef is done. 

2- When water boils, add potatoes and cook until soft.  While potatoes are cooking, add ketchup and gravy (or other liquid) to the meat mixture. turn down heat to low and simmer, allowing the liquid to thicken a bit.  Season with salt and pepper.

3- Drain potatoes and return to pot.  Add 1/4 milk and nutmeg and mash, adding more milk if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper. 

4- Spoon meat mixture into baking dish and spread evenly.  Spread potato mixture over top and sprinkle with desired amount of grated cheese.  Put in the oven and cook until cheese is bubbly and potatoes are slightly browned, 20-30 min.  I check up on it every 15 min.  If you're freezing the pie, omit this step until reheating.

Let stand and serve with extra gravy or ketchup.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Monday:  Shepherd's Pie

Tuesday: Ropa Vieja (shredded beef strips with onions & peppers in a tomato based sauce) with Black Beans & Rice 

Wednesday: Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Thursday: Gluten Free Rice Noodle Stir Fry in a Thai Peanut Sauce

Friday: Turkey Chili

Friday, March 1, 2013

March's Cookbook: Fast & Simple Gluten Free

Fast and Simple Gluten-Free: 30 Minutes or Less to Fresh and Classic Favorites

Comforting Meals Everyone Will Love—Made in No Time!Getting a hot, delicious, gluten-free meal to the table every night can seem like a challenge when time and growling stomachs are demanding food now! But you can turn the tables from stressed to dressed in no time with Fast and Simple Gluten-Free, your one-stop solution to creating fast, family-friendly meals in a half hour or less.

Inside, you’ll find more than 100 truly inspiring recipes for everything from Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese Frosting to Green Chicken Enchiladas and Quinoa Tabbouleh, with many recipes requiring just 20 minutes or less from start to fork.

Author, mom, and g-free blogger Gretchen Brown will show you just how easy it is to create wholesome, wheat-free meals that you can feel good about—and that your family will love. Through streamlined ingredient lists and simple yet effective cooking techniques, you’ll learn how to pull together delicious dishes that taste as if you’ve spent hours slaving away in the kitchen, even though you haven’t!

(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Fair Winds Press
Publication Date: October 1, 2012

After last month's slow cooker recipes, I'm definitely ready for some fast & simple meals!  Since I could for the week in advance, most of my recipes are ones that can be made in 30 minutes or less, and this book promises just that. 

It's not a huge book, but it has recipes ranging from breakfast to dessert, so hopefully I'll find a few things in there to love.   The price was right at just under $20, and the photographs are already making my mouth water.  I'll try to make at least one recipe from each category over the course of the month, but I generally make the most dishes from the main course recipes and include them in the weekly menu plan.

If you would like to know more about how the cookbook of the month program works, or read reviews from earlier months, click on the Cookbooks tab to read more.

Purchase:      Amazon         Amazon Canada

February Cookbook Review: Gluten Free Slowcooking

Gluten Free Slow Cooking: Over 250 Recipes of Wheat-Free Wonders for the Electric Slow Cooker
by Ellen Brown

Celiac disease shouldn’t hold you back from the diversity of cooking! Whether you are strictly wheat-free, or just watching your diet, this book is the first of its kind, specializing in gluten-free slow cooking. Ellen Brown, the author of the highly acclaimed Complete Idiot’s Guide to Slow Cooker Cooking and Gluten Free Christmas Cookies, has created more than 150 new and original recipes for the first book to meet the needs of anyone suffering from gluten intolerance.

(Cover and Description from Indigo. Source.)
Publisher: Cider Mill Press
Publication Date: May 15, 2012

This month, I cooked several recipes from this cookbook.  I made:

Potage St. Germain:

This is a spit pea and lettuce soup.  This recipe is great for a slow cooker because the dried peas take a long time to cook.  The flavour was bright and fresh.  This would be a great spring or early summer soup, with some fresh peas added in at the end.

Potato Soup with Bacon and Cheddar

This is comfort food at its best.  Potatoes, bacon and cheese.  Thick and delicious.  Also very simple to put together.  The truth though?  It could probably be made much quicker in a regular soup pot.  Cook bacon, boil potatoes, add cheese, simmer, done.  All in one pot. 

Italian Cabbage Soup With Sausage

This recipe came into my life right after making a big batch of homemade Italian sausages, so it was perfect.  This is a soup I will make again.  Simple ingredients, full flavour and lots of chunky veggies make this a hearty soup, perfect for a cold winter's night.

Moroccan Lamb Stew

The flavour in this recipe is incredible.  Taste-wise, easily one of my favourites from the book.  Again, my complaint is the number of steps that have to take place before the whole thing hits the crockpot.  Browning the meat under the broiler and then sautéing the vegetables, then using the slow cooker.  It could all be done in one pot, and then left to simmer.

Indonesian Chicken Curry

Nice flavour and Texture, not too difficult to put together.  This one would please those who are wary about curry.  The flavour isn't overwhelming, and it's balanced out with some sweetness.  Worth a try.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Another great comfort food dish, which I made during a snowstorm.  Rich and full of flavour, my husband really liked this one.  I enjoyed it, but I have a different recipe that I like more, although this one gives it a pretty good run for the money.

Compared to what I made  from last month's book, which was almost double the number of recipes, this is nothing.  So it shouldn't be a surprise when I say that I have mixed feelings about this book. 

Let me start with the positives. There are many good things about this book.  The recipes are good.  There wasn't one recipe that didn't taste good, and there were several other that looked really good, too, and that I will probably try in the future.  The book contains appetizer-type soups, hearty soups, meat and fish dishes, sides, and desserts.  A nice variety of recipes, inspired by several different cuisines, including Indian, Thai, Mexican, Italian, and more. 

I also loved the photographs.  I've mentioned before how much I like to see good quality photos of what I'm making so that I know what the meal should look like when it's done.  The book doesn't disappoint on the quality of the shots. 

The instructions were clear and easy to follow, and I had no trouble finding the ingredients, even for the more exotic dishes.  I wasn't worried about making a mistake, because everything was explained in clear, simple language.

Unfortunately, there were a few drawbacks that I just couldn't get past.  I understand that these are personal to me and my experience, so I'll try to lay them out as objectively as possible. 

My biggest issue is that most recipes called for some kind of cooking or sautéing of ingredients before putting them in the slow cooker.  I know that in some cases it's important for food safety reasons, and that didn't bother me.  But other times, when simply softening vegetables or mixing flavours, I'd prefer not to have to take that extra step. For me, this defeats the purpose of the convenience of the slow cooker.  If I were making the recipes in a soup pot, I would do all the steps in that pot, thereby only dirtying the one pot.  I didn't like having to get a frying pan and the slow cooker dirty for one recipe.  A personal pet peeve, but a big one. 

Second, although I thought the photos were beautiful, they weren't always exact representations of the recipes.  I noticed it when I was making the Boeuf Bourguignon.  The recipe calls for sliced mushrooms, but the photo shows whole button mushrooms.  A small thing, yes, but then I noticed it again.  When making the Indonesian Chicken Curry, the recipe calls for diced red bell pepper.  The photo in the book shows long strips.  While neither of these things would change the flavour of the recipes, they do change the presentation.  I think a photo, while obviously taken to show the recipe to its best advantage, should still always show the dish as it's called for in the recipe. 

Finally, and I know this is just me, but I found that most of the recipes could have been cooked just as  effectively in about 20-30 minutes in a soup pot.  Some of the larger meat dishes could not, and I will definitely try some of them in the slow cooker, but many of the soups and side dishes could more easily be cooked on the stove, in much less time.  I enjoyed just having the cooker on and not having to worry about it, but since almost each recipe called for a separate pan to be used at some stage, it actually added a step to use the slow cooker. 

Verdict:  I will continue to use this cookbook, but I probably won't use the slow cooker for all of the recipes.  I'll convert them. This book has good recipes with clear instructions, and I had success with each dish I tried.  It's a good introduction to slow cooker recipes, and it did inspire me to get the slow cooker out again.  However, I found the multiple steps inconvenient with what could essentially be one pot meals. 

It's a toss up.  I don't think you'll be disappointed with the recipes, but it didn't provide me with the ultimate convenience I was hoping for.  I recommend it for the good food, and the beautiful design, but not for the convenience factor.

Purchase:    [  Amazon ]     [ Amazon Canada ]