Archive for February, 2009

Rosie’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

February 24, 2009

I stopped by 7-11 the other day to pick up some milk on my way home from work (hey, it can’t all be Shenandoah Creamery all day every day!). Dawdling down the aisles, contemplating buying some M&Ms for the inevitable chocolate craving later that night, I spied something that got my heart racing. Reminiscent of my high school days, dripping in nostalgia that tasted like Slush Puppies, tater tots and greasy soft pretzels at the Snack Shack, I spied Grandma’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.


This is a major test of my resolve, store aisles like this. Although I’ve always baked on a regular basis, sometimes on those busy week days it was easy to pick up a quick treat on my way home. Nowadays not so much. Still, seeing that familiar purple foil package and passing it up was a challenge. I remember how soft and chewy those cookies were. I haven’t had a soft cookie since going gluten free! And super soft oatmeal raisin has always been in my top three favorites (chocolate chip and molassas are my other two, if you were interested).
The only real way to fix this was to try out a gluten free version of the humble oatmeal raisin cookie. Repeating my mantra of “you can do this. you can do this” I started googling. This is the recipe that I ended up with. It’s a hybrid of several that I found, but I concocted the flour blend myself.

These cookies are a great treat! They came out thinner than a regular cookie but still chewy and moist. Nothing I hate worse than a dry crispy cookie, so this was a total victory in that department. Light and addictive, these are hard to put down. Bakers, beware! I will say that next time I make these, I will be adding an additional egg for body, since these were so thin. I may also cut down the sugar, mostly because I tend to prefer a less sweet cookie.

This is going to be a long week and the best cure for a long week is a quick homemade cookie. There’s always time for that, right?

Rosie’s Gluten-Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

½ cup butter

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg + 1 egg white

½ teaspoon vanilla paste*

1 cup GF flour blend (recipe below)

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 ½ cups gluten-free oats

½ cup raisins
1) Cream butter and both sugars until fluffy. Add egg white and yolk, combining completely between additions. Add vanilla paste last.

2) Combine dry ingredients except oats and raisins in seperate bowl.

3) Add dry to wet slowly and combine completely.

4) Add oats and raisins until *just* incorporated. Don’t overwork the dough.
5) Cover and chill dough for 2 hours.

6) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll teaspoons of dough into balls and drop onto parchment approximately 2 inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

*I use vanilla paste because I feel that it has a more intense vanilla flavor compared to the extracts I’ve used in the past. You can substitute vanilla extract for the paste measure for measure.
*****NOTE: Not all those with Celiac or gluten sensitivities can eat oats, even gluten free ones. Make sure before you bake!******

GF Flour blend:

1/2 c. sweet rice flour
1/2 c. brown rice flour
1/2 c. quinoa flour
1/2 c. potato starch
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. tapioca starch
4 tsp. xanthan gum


My Little Kumquat

February 20, 2009
Picture courtesy of Wikipedia

I couldn’t resist that little clear box of kumquats. Between the cartons of mundane blueberries, raspberries, strawberries lay the little orange attention getters, a splash of summery sunshine in the grocery store. “Show offs,” I thought to myself, smiling.

I took them home, carefully nestled between a carton of eggs and some hazelnut crackers. I stared at them the whole trip on the train, wondering if I would like them.

Pouring them into a silver colander in my kitchen, they rolled around like jewelweed-colored eggs. Almost completely ripe, each had a tip that was ever so slightly lime green.

I’d read about kumquats in cookbooks, on other blogs, in magazines, but nothing I read could have prepared me for the flavors those little fruits have. I think the best word I’ve heard to describe the taste is “haunting.” I’ve thought about and analyzed that flavor for days now, trying to think of what I could liken it to for those who have never experienced it. The best I can come up with is a cross between an orange, tangerine, and lime. The sweet and sour is inverted in this fruit, the flesh a sour burst inside a sweet rind. The combination made my teeth ache and my tastebuds question my judgement. I’m officially in love.

The most wonderful thing about a kumquat is that the flavor lingers on your lips and tongue much longer than any other fruit I’ve ever tasted. Into the night, I lay in my bed licking my lips and thinking about this singular sensory experience.

I’m in the process of looking for some recipes to use the rest of mine in, but for now I am just enjoying popping them in my mouth whole and spitting out the seeds. This beats any candy I’ve ever tasted.

Homemaker Chicken Pot Pie

February 16, 2009

I woke up yesterday, the day after Valentine’s Day, feeling seriously domestic. I spent yesterday feeling incredibly spoiled by Keith. He knows how to make me feel adored and this reminded me how lucky I am to have found someone who loves me so completely for who I am. Even when I’m cranky or have had a bad day, he always knows just what to say to make me laugh. He knows I take myself seriously occasionally and he cheerfully takes on the task of making me cheer up. I am a lucky woman to be so loved and understood.

To repay my darling man for a wonderful day, I thought I would make him something warm and comforting for dinner tonight. Something that I can never order out in restaurants and something that I would probably have never made entirely from scratch before finding out I had a wheat allergy: Chicken Pot Pie.

I know it’s a humble dish, but it’s something that I desperately crave on chilly days. It reminds me of my mom and how the windows in our kitchen would fog up as she took the dish out of the oven, her glasses simultaneously fogging up as she smiled over the steaming dish. Pot pie always seems so 50’s housewife to me for some reason, reminiscent of TV dinners in foil trays and red checked tablecloths a la Betty Crocker. Maybe it’s because many of my childhood recipes came out of a vintage Betty Crocker cookbook, dusted with flour and butter spots.

As I mentioned, this is the first time that I’ve ever made something like this COMPLETELY from scratch. Back in my pre-GF days, I might have used a biscuit mix for convenience and possibly a cream of chicken soup for the filling. Gone are the days where I simply eat crap for the sake of convenience. If anything, getting the news that I’m allergic to wheat has been the biggest blessing for my health in so many ways.

This, my version of one of my favorite comfort foods, is a truly wonderful gluten free adaptation. I didn’t bother with a pie crust, as I find that even with a traditional wheat crust the bottom will get soggy as it bakes. Instead I topped it with Gluten Free Girl’s Buttermilk Biscuits, which were absolutely amazing and a wonderful compliment to the filling. They taste somewhat like a whole wheat biscuit to me, which according to keith, is due to the sorghum. Deeeeelicious!

Homemaker’s Chicken Pot Pie


1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, sliced
1 can green beans
1/2 c. green peas
1/2 c. corn
1 c. chopped cooked chicken

For sauce:

2 c. 1% or skim milk
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. crushed chicken boullian
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Layer meat and veggies in a glass baking dish. Put to the side while the sauce is cooking.
Melt butter in a saucepan. When it is sizzling, add the cornstarch and stir until smooth. Add milk and simmer mixture over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes until mixture has thickened. Add salt, boullian, pepper and thyme and stir. Pour sauce over meat and veggies.

Now it’s time to make the biscuit dough. I’m including Shauna’s original instructions because she said it best 🙂 The one edit that I will include to her instructions is that the butter should be COLD when you add it to the flour, or else you will not get the texture you want. Grating the butter with a cheese grater may also help you acheive the correct texture.

Gluten-Free Girl’s Buttermilk Biscuits

1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sweet rice flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 egg white
3/4 cup buttermilk (give or take a bit)

To make the biscuits:

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Combine all the flours, the baking powder, and the salt. Stir them up well so they are one. Sift them into a large bowl.

Cut the butter into small pieces and drop them into the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender (also known as a pastry cutter), or two forks if you don’t own the fancier tool, cut the butter into the flours. You should have a good blend, with the butter the size of small peas, by the end.

Froth up the egg white with a fork or small whisk. You are not looking to make meringue here. Simply whip some air and volume into the egg white.

Pour the egg white and the buttermilk into the dry mixture. Stir them in slowly with a rubber spatula, taking care to not overwork the dough. When the liquids are incorporated into the flours, stop stirring. Bring it all together with your hands.

Drop small balls of the biscuit dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. (I prefer these biscuits small, about the size of a plum, to help the middles bake through.) Slide the tray into the oven.

Bake the biscuits for about 20 to 25 minutes. Test for your own version of doneness.

I formed 8 flattened balls of dough and placed them on top of the meat/veg mixture. Bake for 20 minutes and serve piping hot!

This is my favorite comfort food. What’s yours?

Stuck on you…and now you’re mine!

February 13, 2009

Ok ok, I know. Someday I’m going to have to get back to blogging about actual food. And I will, I swear. I just couldn’t resist another post about kitchen gear I’m lovin’ right now! Furnishing my apartment and especially my kitchen, is one of my favorite activities. I guess I’m exhibiting classic nesting behavior.

I’ve discovered that you can find some of the cutest things for the home at craft stores. Especially in this economy, I’m cutting corners but still want my place to look nice! I bought these magnets at Michaels, they were in the dollar bins near the registers. Good thing I found them too, because my ex-roommate took *ALL* of our magnets when she moved out last year. My fridge has been looking rather forlorn until now!.

Maybe I haven’t shared my obsession with jewelry on this blog. Maybe that’s because this is a food blog, not a “things I clutter my dresser with” blog. In any case, my new favorite place to look for basically anything these days is and there just happen to be a number of talented artists who make jewelry. One of my new favorites is Tickle Me Pink Boutique, which has a fabulous array of collage style pendants. This cupcake themed one is my absolute favorite, I’ve been drooling over it for days! Maybe it’s time to stimulate the economy a little….I can’t stress enough how fast you need to go take advantage of this “Try Me” sale on Le Creuset Stockpots at Chef Tools!! These enamel pots are durable, beautiful and completely functional. They’re also affordable…praise the kitchen gods. 39.99 for a 6-qt stockpot? Yes, please. Take advantage of this sale while it lasts! Plus, who wouldn’t want a stockpot that matches my new mortar and pestle? This set of bowls at Anthropologie is so sweet. It’s a little reminder that spring is right around the corner. Soon the air will be humming with birds and bees and butterflies and winter will just be a memory! I can’t wait, but until then, these bowls should make your tabletop a little sunnier.

Please enjoy and do let me know how I’m doing with the blog! I always love to get feedback from readers 🙂 Recipes to come this weekend, I’ve been working on some awesomely good and healthy nosh.

These are a few of my favorite things…

February 11, 2009

For the last few days I’ve been in a writing slump. I’ve eaten roasted thyme and olive oil red potatoes, broiled steak with buttered mushrooms, and toasted sesame green beans. I baked a gluten free orange poppy seed cake with a zesty orange glaze. Sounds good, right? I didn’t feel like writing about it.

I have realized that I feel overweight again. Nothing big, mind you, just enough to make my jeans feel tight. And it’s not from the meals that I’ve been including on this blog, either. The mint chip ice cream encounters at 11pm and the York peppermint patties for “lunch” are beginning to show themselves on my waistline, and I am finally in a place to recognize when I should run screaming to the gym. So, my dear readers, avast! Let us get healthy together!

Rather than share a recipe with you today, I thought I would share some of my favorite things (I wish there was a way to say that without sounding like Oprah) that I’ve found for the kitchen lately.

Le Creuset 10-Ounce Mortar and Pestle

I love Le Creuset. Their products are all ridiculously durable and beautiful at the same time. You just can’t beat them for quality. I love this color, it reminds me of tropical waters and white beaches. Aaaahhh. Sunshine. Also, it’s great for bashing up whole spices for a cup of Srini’s chai. Keep prepared concentrate in the fridge for up to a week and just mix with milk as you go.

Nigella Lawson’s Mezzaluna

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the best knife skills in the whole world. I love this mezzaluna because it makes chopping big leafy bunches of herbs, garlic, and anything else so much easier. I particularly like this one because it’s stainless and easy to clean. Props on a great tool, Ms. Lawson. She really IS the queen! You can find this beauty at Amazon.

Jamie Oliver’s Vintage Chic Dinnerware

Oh bless you, Jamie Oliver. Bless you for understanding my desire for a vintage feel to my place settings, minus the tacky mustard yellow, rust orange and avacado green flowers and paisley. Thank you for your tasteful colors and graceful designs and your inclusion of a bowl deep enough to eat cereal out of in this set.You are truly the man.

Whimsie Dots Upcycled Napkins

Whimsie Dots is a Chicago based Etsy
artist who upcycles vintage bed linens into beautiful reversible table napkins. I love the soft prints she has combined, especially the garden themed ones. Support the artisans on Etsy!

I hope you all have a wonderful remainder of your week. Check back for something delicious and nutritious in the next few days!

Happy as a Clam

February 5, 2009

Last night I was on the phone with my mom after getting home from work. This is how our conversation went:

Mom: So, what are you going to do tonight?
Me: Probably get ready for my interview, make a little dinner, fall into bed. The usual.
Mom: Oh yeah? What are you having for dinner?
Me: (looking at the half finished gluten free cherry pie in front of me) I don’t know, probably some vegetables or something.

So typical. She knew I was lying and made me promise to eat something healthy. I was really craving comfort food after a stressful few days at work but I didn’t really have much in the way of actual food around the joint. All of a sudden, it hit me that you only need about 5 main ingredients to make my favorite mom/gramma recipe of all time: Clam Sauce with Linguine.

Now, in my big fat Italian family, we don’t bother distinguishing between “white” and “red” clam sauce because we don’t bother with the red. As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one flavor and it’s the white one. Red sauce does not belong anywhere near my clams, thank you very much.

I only eat this dish when I’m desperately seeking warmth and solace and need to eat my feelings (also every year on my birthday). It’s not particularly bad for you but it is rich and soul satisfying in a way that only an olive oil based sauce can be. Oh, and cheese. Mm.

I used DeBoles Spaghetti style corn pasta for this, because I unfortunately couldn’t find the linguine shaped ones that I saw at the Tyson’s Corner Whole Foods. (Damn you, Tenleytown Whole Foods! Don’t you know I need linguine?!) It actually tasted wonderful, but linguine will pick up much more of the sauce, so if you can find it, use linguine.

I should also mention that this is an incredibly cherished and fiercely protected family recipe that I used to use to ensnare men on a 3rd or 4th date. I didn’t use it on Keith but he loves me anyway. 🙂 I’m sure my grandmother would be thrilled for me to share it with all those gluties that sincerely wish for delicious pasta dinners.

Gramma Pantaleo’s Clam Sauce and Linguine

canned chopped clams in juice (use 1 can per person, plus one extra)
1 clove of garlic per person, minced
olive oil
grated parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp cornstarch
GF linguine or spaghetti (I used corn pasta because I find that rice pasta tends to get too mushy in this sauce)

1) Heat olive oil a large saute pan over medium low heat. Saute garlic in oil until the garlic has flavored the oil. Be sure not to let the garlic brown.

2) Add chopped clams AND juice, basil, chili flakes and heat over medium heat for about 15 minutes uncovered. You are trying to reduce the liquid by about 1/3. Once it’s reduced, it will be incredibly rich and dense.

3) After the liquid has reduced, add the cornstarch and a generous shake of parmesan cheese. Stir to combine (use a whisk if that’s easier for ya).

4) Spoon the sauce and clams over a bowl of cooked pasta. Top with a little more cheese if you’d like. Definitely don’t eat this with vegetables. Who are we kidding? Just eat your pasta and enjoy it without trying to be a health nut. 🙂

A Spot of Sunshine

February 3, 2009

That’s right. I put off blogging until February. January is a gray, twigs against the sky, holiday-less, snow boot kind of month. It’s the kind of month that I just put my head down and get through one day at a time. January, I decided, has no place in my blogging schedule. Plus, after the holidays, I was dying to take a month just to recharge and reorganize my life.

I grazed through leftovers in my fridge for weeks, making vegetarian chili, taco salad, burgers, occasionally eating carrots and cheese for dinner because I didn’t want to cook or have to clean the kitchen again. I spent the month staring at the same kinds of bread in my freezer, not even bothering to use my bread machine. I started looking at all the great ingredients I have accquired, and started feeling too lazy to cook much of anything. I am a poor excuse for a foodie these days.

I was finally motivated by some company. My friend Carissa and I decided to spend an afternoon craft store shopping and making Valentine’s Day cards, and as I got off the phone with her, my first thought was “Maybe I could get away with serving pre-made cookies and milk.” My second thought was “Wow…time to get outta the sweat pants and into the kitchen again.” So I did.

I had recently accquired several Meyer lemons from Whole Foods. I’d been dying to try some and, if I liked them, I was planning on finding a small tree to keep in my apartment! Coincidentally my mom had sent me a recipe for GF Lemon Bars before my month of malaise, and I was eager to try them. I will admit that this was an extremely nervewracking thing for me to plan, because I hadn’t truly baked from scratch since becoming gluten free. All those little bags of flour intimidated the crap out of me. Don’t ask me why, but I’ll bet most gluties have had similar initial reactions. You think you can make things from mixes forever, but eventually the cost is completely prohibitive. This was the day to break the cycle.

These Meyer Lemon Bars were an absolutely wonderful, tart, sweet, sunshiney way to begin February. They were sweeter than a traditional lemon bar, since Meyer lemons have a sweeter and richer taste that lacks the tart punch that a traditional lemon packs. I am now a Meyer lemon convert thanks to the many MANY recipes that I’ve seen on other blogs that got me interested in trying them.

The biggest compliments that I recieved for these were these, in order of awesomeness: 1) My amazing and wonderful boyfriend doesn’t like fruity desserts. He ate half a pan of these beauties and asked when I’d be making some more. He’s asking as I write this. 2) Our friend Chad said he couldn’t tell they were gluten free. I almost cried with joy.
Meyer Lemon Bars
Adapted from Living Without Magazine

Makes 16 to 20 Bars


1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups gluten-free flour blend of choice (I did end up using the one featured with the recipe. It was AWESOME! I highly reccommend it, but if you have another that makes a nice shortbread, that’s basically the consistency)
½ cup powdered sugar


4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest from two small lemons or finely grated lemon peel
¼ cup gluten-free flour blend of choice
1-2 teaspoons powdered sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13-inch baking dish with parchment paper for easy removal.

To make the crust, melt butter in the microwave in a medium glass bowl. Add the flour blend and powdered sugar. Blend with a fork. Press mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from oven.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

To make the filling, combine eggs, granulated sugar, lemon juice, zest and flour blend.
Pour this mixture over hot crust and bake at 325 degrees for 18 minutes. The lemon layer should not brown.
Remove bars from the oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cool completely.
To remove bars, hold on to the parchment paper and lift bars from the pan as one whole piece.
Cut into individual bars with a sharp knife, wiping the knife clean between cuts. Store bars in the refrigerator until eaten.

Note: For best results in this recipe, your gluten-free flour blend should contain xanthan gum. If it does not, add ½ teaspoon xanthan gum per cup of flour blend.

Gluten-Free Flour Blend

This recipe can be doubled or tripled to make as much as you need.
1 cup brown rice flour
1¼ cup white rice flour
¼ cup potato starch
2/3 cup tapioca starch/flour
¾ cup sweet rice flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 teaspoons xanthan gum
Mix all ingredients together. Store unused flour mix in the refrigerator.