03 October, 2011

Buttercream Frosting

Gluten free cake, especially a classic white cake, often really needs some good frosting to cover up the cardboard taste.  This frosting will do the trick if you find yourself throwing together some gluten free cupcakes using a box mix (although, I recommend Pamela's Classic Vanilla Cake mix, it is the best tasting mix available).  I also use this frosting on my carrot cake.

4 ounces cream cheese, room temp
4 tablespoons butter, room temp
3/4 c powered sugar

1.  Cream together the cream cheese and butter.

2.  Mix in the powered sugar, about 1/8 to 1/4 cup at a time until all mixed.

3.  Refrigerate about an hour, then use to frost a sweet dessert.  A batch this size will frost about 12 cupcakes for me.

Variations: I do use low fat cream cheese if I'm feeling bad about my jeans fitting that day... which is most of the time, and I seriously don't think it affects the taste.

Ranch Dip & Dressing

After years of trial and error, I've come to the conclusion that all restaurant ranch dressing contains gluten, and that every store bought ranch tastes like crap.  I know, there may be an exception or two, but they are RARE.  So, I do all of my ranch dip and dressing eating at home.  This recipe works as both a thicker dip or a lighter dressing.

Seasoning base:
1/2 teaspoon dried chives
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

Dip base:
1 c low fat sour cream

Dressing base:
3/4 c low fat buttermilk
3/4 c low fat sour cream

1.  Combine all seasoning base ingredients in a sandwich bag.  Shake it all up to mix it.  I usually have my kids help with this part.

2.  Add seasoning base to either dressing or dip base, and stir together.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Variations: I'm often tempted to use fat free sour cream or buttermilk, DO NOT DO THIS, you will be disappointed.  I find that I cannot really tell between the full fat and low fat, so I always use low fat, but fat free is not good for this recipe.  In fact, it's gross.  I've been known to double the seasoning base and add in a cup for cottage cheese with the sour cream and use it as dip for eating with potato chips.  If you don't have buttermilk for the dressing base, you can use low fat milk instead, it isn't quite as rich as buttermilk, but who always has buttermilk just sitting around?!

Another note, I keep stock of the premixed seasoning base in a jar in my cabinet.  I just multiple the recipe by 8, which makes it easier to measure, then scoop out 2 1/2 teaspoons from the pre-made mix when I want to make up a batch.

Ziti with Gorgonzola, Spinach & Tomatoes

I found this recipe in Cooking Light several years backit was an immediate Team Howe favorite. Let me tell you - it was plate lickin' good (for real, ask Chris). I did make a few minor adjustments to make it a little healthier. I would pair with a field greens salad. Try it!

8 ounces uncooked ziti (I used Tinkyada sprials)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons cream
6 tablespoons skim milk
4 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese, crumbles
2 big handfuls fresh spinach

1.  Cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, mince garlic and halve tomatoes. 

2.  Heat olive oil in a large pan, add tomatoes, crushed pepper, salt, and garlic. Cook 1 minutes. Stir in milk, cream, and cheese, cook about 2 minutes (until it starts to thicken), add pasta and spinach, cook until the spinach wilts (about 2 minutes on medium heat). 

3.  As I plated the pasta, I spinkled a few crumbles of gorgonzola on each serving. This makes 4 servings. Took about 20 minutes to make.

Calories 335, fat 10.4g according to Cooking Light, however I used skim milk and cream instead of the half & half they called for and cut the total amount down from 12 tabblespoons. Also, I cut the cheese by a third, so my guess is made as above it is more like 280 calories and a lot less fat. The hardest part was leaving our 2 extra servings for lunch! http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1835257#

Banana Bread

This is a staple around my house.  We never seem to eat bananas fast enough, and I can't bear to toss them. Plus, I've been told by many glutemanics and non-glutemanics alike that this is the best banana bread they've ever had.  I think they may have been exaggerating so I'd make more, but it is damn good if I say so myself, and super easy to make.

3 very ripe bananas, mushed
2 eggs
1/4 c sugar
2-3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 3/4 c Pamela's baking & pancake mix
1 teaspoon vanilla
A pinch of salt

1. Beat the bananas, butter, sugar, and eggs together in a bowl on medium speed for about 1 minute.

2.  Add the Pamela's, vanilla, and salt, and mix together.

3.  Pour the dough into a greased bread pan and bake at 350 degrees F (177 C) for about 50-55 minutes.

Variations: I tend to go light on the butter and sugar if I am making the bread for just the family breakfast, I don't think you miss out on the taste too much and it makes the bread a bit healthier.  I've also been known to throw in an extra banana and chocolate chips if I'm feeling a little spunky.  Bottom line, is this is a recipe that you can play with a bit and it will still turn out yummy.

Fried Spring Rolls

Living in Asia has made me CRAVE fried rolls that I can eat without becoming the world's crabbiest person.  Unfortunately, even rolls made commercially with rice paper seem to always have hidden gluten.  So, I've resorted to making rolls at home to ease my craving.  These are actually pretty easy to do.

1/2 c mushrooms, finely chopped
1/4 c onion, finely chopped
2 small carrots, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 eggs
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
24 round rice paper wrappers
1 c vegetable oil
Sweet chili sauce

1. In a bowl mix together mushrooms, onions, carrots, garlic, 2 eggs, pork, fish sauce, salt, and pepper.  This will be your filling for the rolls -- don't worry, the pork and eggs will fully cook when you fry the rolls.

2.  Set-up a prep station.  You will need a bowl with some hot water (used soften the rice papers), your bowl of filling, a wet towel laid out as a work area to make the roll, a plate for completed rolls, and small bowl with that last egg beaten (this is an egg wash egg to seal the rolls closed.

3.  Get to work making your rolls.  Start out with a rice paper, soften it in the hot water then lay out on the towel.  Put a spoon full of filling on the paper and roll it up burrito style, like this is a technique I would imagine they teach at Taco Bell.  Use a little egg wash on the edge to seal up the wrapper and you're set.  Now just 23 more to make!

4.  Fry your rolls up!  I use a large skillet with about 1/2 inch (1 cm) of oil, heat it up, and fry the rolls, making sure to flip them at least once.  It will take about 8 mins.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve up with some chili sauce.  These can also be put in the freezer for a quick snack later.

Variations: You can use shrimp instead of pork, and a mix of different veggies for a vegetarian version.  I usually use whatever I have in my fridge.  You can also experiment with the dipping sauce based on your liking.