Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.com

Hello!  Sorry for disappearing last week.  After almost three weeks, The Professor is still recovering from the bug that sent him to the hospital a few days after Christmas.  I’ve been busy taking care of him and snuggling with him every evening.  As much as I love talking to all you nice people, The Professor wins for my time, especially when he’s as pitiful as he’s been.

After a week of him being sick, getting a little better, doing the smallest bit of activity (going out to dinner with friends…strenuous stuff), he had another relapse and was back almost to square one.  I didn’t know what to do.  He had medicine and rest and food-derived vitamins.  Something was missing.  There had to be something else I could do for him to really help him get better.  Then I realized there was one weapon left in my arsenal.  Chicken soup.

I’m not a big fan of broth-based soups like chicken noodle soup and vegetable soup, but deep in the recesses of my mind is a memory of a perfect chicken noodle soup eaten at a little cafe in an Arizona ghost town on a family road trip from California to Texas.  I still remember how flavorful the broth was.  And the noodles – big, thick, fresh egg noodles.  Not spaghetti noodles like the canned chicken noodle soup I’d come to despise.  (This was long before I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance).  It was like nothing I’ve ever eaten before or after.

I wanted to make that soup.  And I succeeded.

First I made really good broth.  Because the store’s whole fryer chickens were small, I used a whole fryer chicken and three chicken quarters – inexpensive cuts of the thigh, leg and part of the back.  Chicken pieces with the most bones make the most nutritious and flavorful broth.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.com

Next, get your veggies ready.  These won’t make it to the soup, but will just be boiled with the chicken to add flavor and nutrients to the broth.  There’s no need to cut them fancy.  A quartered onion, two ribs of celery cut into two-inch slices and a few peeled and cut carrots will do the trick.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.com

The broth also needs spices.  I added a handful of whole garlic cloves, a teaspoon of spicy chili flakes, and a few tablespoons of rosemary and thyme.  Oh and my mom got me a bunch of spices for Christmas including dried onion, so I added some of that too.

You could also add a bay leaf here.  I didn’t because my bay leaves came from my mother-in-law’s friend in the Caribbean and are incredibly pungent.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comI wanted my broth to be extra brothy, so I added a tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon, my favorite chicken broth mix.  This got my broth super rich and saved me time because I didn’t have to cook it down after I removed the chicken.

Bouillon is salty, so add a little less salt than normal.  I added about two teaspoons.  Grind some pepper too, about a teaspoon.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comThis is very important.  Are you listening?  When boiling chicken, always start with cold water.  I know if you put the chicken in hot water, it would cook faster, but it won’t be as tender or juicy.

Bring to a boil and then simmer until the chicken’s juices run clear.  Mine took about 40 minutes.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comMeanwhile, you can make your egg noodles!  I made the noodle recipe from this post on Celiac.com.  It uses one of my favorite flours, Better Batter.

If you’ve never used Better Batter, I recommend it for recipes like gluten-free noodles and quick breads (like my gluten-free banana bread recipe).  Better Batter has a nice consistency and already contains xanthan gum, so it is great for beginners.

My favorite thing about this company is their financial aid program. They offer gluten-free families on food stamps products at a significantly reduced cost.  Being gluten free is expensive, but could you imagine the financial burden if your family was below the poverty line?

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comMeasure out two cups of flour into a large bowl.  Make a well in the middle of the flour, just like the little old Italian ladies do it.  I also recommend singing Italian music.  Or the song from Lady and the Tramp when they’re eating the pasta.  That counts.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comIn a smaller bowl, mix together three eggs, an egg yolk, a little water and a little salt.  If you’re using a flour mix that already contains salt, skip the salt in this step.  It’s very easy to over-salt gluten-free baked goods – or dishes where flour is the main ingredient, so always be on the lookout for salt in flour mixes so you can adjust your dishes accordingly.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comInto the well the egg mixture goes.  Mix it up with a fork or a wooden spoon.  It will be dry and pebbly, and you’ll be sure you did it wrong.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comDon’t worry.  You didn’t.  It’s just the nature of gluten-free flour.  Smush and roll it together so it clumps up to form a ball.  You sort of knead it, although it doesn’t really kneed in the traditional way you would imagine wheat dough kneading.  Basically you want it to be a big cohesive ball.

If you feel like your dough is too stiff and it needs more water, simply wet your hands so the water is incorporated while you knead.  In my experience, this is enough water.  You don’t want to add water, realize you added too much water, add flour, realize you added too much flour.  Just a touch of water will do the trick and keep you off the vicious cycle of over adding.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comIt begins to get more solid as you start rolling it out on a rolling pin.  Make sure to flour your work surface so the dough doesn’t stick.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comSoon it looks like this.  Get the dough nice and thin.  The recipe I based this on said a sixteenth of an inch, but that even may have been a touch too thick.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comMy noodles measured about half-an-inch wide by two-inches long.

I like homemade things to look homemade and imperfect (except sugar cookies.  I want my sugar cookies to look like they came from Neiman Marcus, but they never do and I always feel like a failure with my gingerbread men who look like stick figures).  Moral of the tangent: I wasn’t too worried about making my noodles exact.

Keep rolling out the extra dough and unused edges and cutting out noodles until the dough is gone.  I only had a dime-size piece of dough left, which I consider one of my greatest life achievements.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.com

Beautiful, homemade, hearty gluten-free noodles.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.com

By now the chicken should be done.  Remove it and let it cool.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.com

Drain the broth.  Look at how dark it turned out.  That broth is ready to take on the flu and win.

Taste the broth to make sure the flavors are right.  The broth will cook down even more when the noodles boil in it, so if it’s too salty now, add some water to dilute it.  Put the drained broth back in the stock pot and keep it warm.

Now’s a good time to chop carrots, celery, onions and garlic for the soup.  Keep the garlic separate.  These will be in the final soup, so make them bite sized and pretty.

This is where I took a ten-minute break.  The rest of the recipe comes together rather quickly, and you want to de-bone your chicken when it’s cool enough to handle.  You don’t have to take a break here, but exercise caution to not burn yourself on molten chicken.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.com

Okay, I took my break!

Bring the broth to a boil and carefully add the noodles.  Gently stir them to ensure they don’t stick together.  They will cook for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until tender.  Stir every few minutes.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.com

In a separate pan, sauté the carrots, celery and onions with butter and olive oil until they’re a little soft and have a bit of caramel color on them, about five minutes.  Four minutes into the sauté time, add the garlic.  It will burn easily, and you wouldn’t want all your hard work to be ruined by the unmistakable taste and smell of tart, burned garlic.

Sautéing the vegetables will bring out the flavors that are lost when sticking them straight into the soup.  This is where you can also add spices like thyme, a bit of salt and pepper.  I added my super pungent bay leaf here.

After the vegetables are slightly sautéed, add them into the broth to boil for ten minutes with the noodles.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.comJust a minute or two before the noodles are done, add the chicken to the sauté pan and heat on high to warm up and mop up any yummy flavors left by the sauteed vegetables.

Once the noodles are tender, add the chicken.  Taste the broth again and adjust flavors as needed.

chicken noodle soup recipe | www.accidentalokie.com

Serve to the sick, the weary or the cold, and let the hearty noodles, rich broth and juicy chicken do their magic.  I served my soup with Udi’s dinner rolls.

Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup with Homemade Egg Noodles Recipe
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Chicken and Broth
  1. 1 fryer chicken, more chicken if you want
  2. 1 onion, quartered
  3. 2-3 carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
  4. 2-3 celery stalks, thickly sliced
  5. 1 tablespoon of Chicken flavored Better Than Bouillon
  6. 1 - 2 tsp kosher salt
  7. 1 tsp (or to taste) pepper
  8. 5 garlic cloves
  9. 1 tsp chili flakes
  10. 1 tbsp dried tyme
  11. 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  12. 1-2 tbsp onion flakes (optional)
  13. 1 bay leaf
  14. 4 quarts cold water (or enough to completely submerge the chicken)
Egg Noodles
  1. 2 cups Better Batter Flour
  2. 3 eggs
  3. 1 egg yolk
  4. 1 tbsp water
  5. 3/4 tsp salt
Soup
  1. 1 tbsp butter
  2. 1 tbsp olive oil
  3. 1 onion, diced
  4. 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  5. 2 celery stalks, diced
  6. 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  7. 1 tsp dried thyme
  8. salt and pepper to taste
  9. de-boned chicken
Instructions
  1. Rinse the chicken and put in a large stock pot with water and the rest of the stalk vegetables and broth spices. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the chicken is cooked. The juices will run clear when the meat is pierced. Remove the chicken and cool. Drain the broth with a fine mesh strainer.
  2. Chop the vegetables for the soup.
  3. To make the noodles, put the flour in a bowl, making a well in the center of the flour. In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, salt and water. Put the egg mixture in the bowl and mix until well combined and stiff. Put the dough on the counter and knead a few times, adding water to your hands if the dough is too dry. Roll out to just 1/16 of an inch and cut into 1/2-inch by 2-inch strips. Keep re-rolling the excess dough and making strips until the dough is used up.
  4. Bring the broth to a boil and add the noodles, stirring occasionally to ensure the noodles do not stick to each other.
  5. In a sauté pan, melt butter with olive oil, and on medium-high heat sauté the onions, carrots and celery for five minutes, until they are softened and slightly dark, adding the garlic at the four-minute mark. Add the vegetables to the soup where they will finish cooking with the noodles.
  6. De-bone the chicken, shredding the larger pieces of meat.
  7. In the last minutes before the noodles are finished cooking, heat the chicken in the sauté pan and add it to the soup.
  8. Serve!
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Gluten-Free Holiday Cooking Tips

Thanksgiving Painting

While originally written for Thanksgiving, this cooking guide works for any holiday or gathering – Christmas, New Year’s parties, Easter – where you are hosting a bunch of people!

I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in spring of 2006.  Fall 2007 was my first Thanksgiving, and I was scared.  Feeling sorry for me, my dad bought me an early Christmas present – my navy blue KitchenAid mixer.  I still use it today.  I also took a cooking class by Claudia Pillow, co-author of this book, which was incredibly helpful.  The next years have been an exercise in trial and error.  There have been successes and failures.  Lessons have been learned along the way.

Because so many Thanksgiving standards contain gluten, I would bring my versions to our family’s big Thanksgiving celebration.  That’s a lot of food to bring – stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, desserts.  Over the years, I learned what I was willing to do on Thanksgiving – the modified standards that were a must-have – and those I could do without.

My family got the hang of it too.  My grandmother now makes her candied sweet potatoes with gluten-free flour and thickens her gravy with corn starch.

While I don’t have the grocery budget or the time to cook Thanksgiving standards for all of you (sorry), I still wanted to give you tips for having a successful gluten-free Thanksgiving, especially if this is your first gluten-free holiday, or if you’re having a gluten-free guest over to your house this year.

General tips:

  • Are you brand new to the gluten-free world?  Here’s my gluten-free starter guide.
  • Read all the labels.  Here are just a few foods you’d never guess have (or might have) gluten: canned chicken broth, ice cream, soup mixes, salad dressings, marshmallows, chewy candy like Twizzlers.  Information on deciphering labels is on my starter guide.
  • Whether you are the gluten-free guest for a large Thanksgiving gathering or you are cooking for a gluten-free guest on Thanksgiving, do not expect to have every dish gluten-free. The meat, a few sides and at least one dessert will be sufficient.  If you’re hosting and cooking the food, then it’s easy to make everything gluten-free.
  • Be thoughtful to make small changes that will easily make a dish gluten-free.  Use tapioca starch in gravy or gluten-free marshmallows in candied yams, for example.  If you’re cooking a turkey with a browning bag, use gluten-free flour in the bag – any gluten-free flour without xanthan or guar gum will do.  I usually use brown rice flour.
  • Hosts: never ever think “Oh, it’s just a little flour.”  Just 1/8th of a teaspoon is enough for me and many of my fellow celiacs to have a full-scale reaction.
  • Buy gluten-free rolls.  Udi’s and Schar both make great rolls.  Against the Grain makes a great baguette.
  • Let the gluten-free guest serve him or herself first.  Give them their own butter dish that is not contaminated by bread crumbs.  Remind your guests to keep each serving utensil with its appropriate dish.
  • Feeling crunched for time or intimidated about your first gluten-free attempt being on Thanksgiving?  There is no shame in utilizing mixes and other shortcuts!  My favorite gluten-free mixes these days are King Arthur flour, which are now carried at Target.  You can read my reviews of King Arthur gluten-free chocolate chip cookie mix and yellow cake mix here.  Also, dress up gluten free store-bought cookies, like I did here.
  • Speaking of shortcuts – gluten-free pie crusts are available at most health food stores.  I love Whole Food’s gluten-free pie crust.

Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe

Nothing says Thanksgiving like stuffing.  Unfortunately, nothing says gluten like stuffing.  Have no fear, you can modify your favorite homemade stuffing recipe into your new gluten-free standard.  There are a few simple tips:

  1. Make a flourless cornbread recipe.  You’ll find about a thousand variations online.  They just use corn meal.  Make two batches a day before you prepare the stuffing.  Make sure your corn meal says gluten-free on the box, and don’t use white corn meal.  (White corn has a small amount of natural gluten and some people including yours truly react to it).
  2. One of my favorite memories of Thanksgiving is Grandmommy drying cubed bread for her stuffing.  She dries it overnight so it is dry and crisp and ready to be included in the stuffing.  You do the same with gluten-free bread, but it takes substantially longer to dry out.  Dry it out for a day, turning occasionally, but still be prepared to stick it in a hot oven while the bread crumbs truly dry out.
  3. A key to making great stuffing is starting out with a moist stuffing mixture.  To get the gluten-free mix to the proper moistness, prepare to use two or three or four times more liquid than normal.  This means keeping a very close eye on the level of saltiness.  I usually dilute low-sodium chicken broth.  Be prepared to use a lot more broth!

Here is my stuffing recipe.  It’s really good, but you can also use the tips above to modify your favorite stuffing recipe!

Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 1 batch gluten-free corn bread, two round nine-inch pans, baked, crumbled and dried out
  2. 1 loaf gluten-free bread (12 ounces), cut into cubes. I use Udi's White Bread
  3. 1 pound pork sausage, crumbled and pan fried - you can use sage, normal pork breakfast sausage, spicy Italian...really whatever kind of sausage you want.
  4. 4 tbs butter
  5. 1 large onion, diced
  6. 1 pint sliced mushrooms
  7. 2 c. sliced celery
  8. ½ tsp. salt
  9. ½ tsp rubbed sage
  10. 1 tsp thyme
  11. 1 c. pecans or hazelnuts
  12. 1 c. Craisins
  13. 4 - 6 c. low sodium, gluten-free chicken broth – enough to get it VERY moist
  14. * adjust the extra veggies, dried cranberries and nuts as you wish. I think I always end up putting more of everything. I like my toppings.
Instructions
  1. Cube bread and dry in a 350-400 degree oven until they're dry and toasted, about 30 minutes, flipping occasionally. Crumble cornbread, let dry overnight.
  2. The day of: Cook sausage and crumble. Set aside. Use a tablespoon or so of the sausage drippings and butter to sweat (sautee, but so they're still crunchy) the onions, mushrooms and celery, adding in the spices and salt. Quickly toast the nuts in a dry frying pan.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the crumbled corn bread, bread cubes, sausage, sautéed veggies, nuts and craisins. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until it is thoroughly moistened. Think soggy. If you don't add enough broth, the stuffing will be dry and mealy. Be careful with chicken broth. Canned chicken broth many times has gluten. Check the label.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 400 for 1 hour. This is a wonderful recipe. My favorite part are the Craisins! They add a sweetness and color.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Autumn Salad

Make a big naturally gluten-free salad!  My fall salad with pomegranate hazelnut vinaigrette, lettuce, pomegranate seeds, green onions, pumpkin seeds and Parmesan cheese will have no one missing the gluten!

Gluten-Free Gravy

Make a roux just like you normally would, but use tapioca starch flour or sweet white rice flour.

Green Bean Casserole

Green Bean Casserole, oh how I miss you.  I usually skip this side because it is a lot of work.  I made it the first Thanksgiving after my sister was diagnosed with gluten intolerance because I wanted that Thanksgiving to be full of good memories for her.  (Best big sister award, or what?!)

Here’s the recipe I use.  It’s pretty good.  It takes forever.

This dish is something that over the years I decided wasn’t a priority for me.  I now prefer a simpler green bean dish with steamed beans and bacon.  Because what’s better than bacon?

Candied Yams

Candied yams or candied sweet potatoes are a classic, and easily modified to be gluten free.

Namaste Spice Cake Mix

Quick Pumpkin Bread

Make this quick pumpkin bread!

One pack of gluten-free spice cake mix – I use Namaste
1 egg
1 15-ounce can of pumpkin
Up to 1.5 cups of pecans and golden raisins, your preference.

Bake per the cake’s instructions.

Pecan Pie

Gluten Free Baking Classics by Analise Robers contains the world’s greatest pecan pie recipe ever.  Buy it.  Bake it.  Love it.

Banana Bread

Make my gluten-free banana bread.  It’s a perfect breakfast on Thanksgiving morning.  And it makes a great on-the-go breakfast for Black Friday, too!

Do you have any more questions, suggestions or advice?  Put them in the comments section.

King Arthur Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix Review

gluten free king arthur cupcakes

A month ago, I wrote a review of King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix.  (Spoiler alert – it’s really good).

The nice people at King Arthur read my review (because I’m famous like that), and sent me some boxes of their other yummy gluten-free mixes.  I have been excited to try them so I can give you the scoop.

Even though King Arthur sent me the flours free of charge, which was very nice of them, I promise that my reviews are unbiased.  When I told this to the nice lady at King Arthur, she assured me that King Arthur wanted my review to be authentic, good or bad, so they can know how to improve their product.  I’m glad that’s their philosophy.

I decided to try the King Arthur Gluten-Free Yellow Cake Mix to make cupcakes for a girl’s night a few of us threw in honor of our friend who had a baby over the summer.  It was a busy summer, and a baby shower slipped by us, and so we figured that since she was no longer pregnant, wine should be involved.  Wine means girl’s night.  Girl’s night means cupcakes.  And cupcakes mean this great gluten-free cake mix by King Arthur!

First off, this mix makes a full batch – a full 9×13″ pan, two cake rounds, or about two dozen cupcakes.  It’s about $6.50, which is a bit pricy for a gluten-free mix.  However, many mixes are $4.50 – $5.00, but only make half a batch.  In the end, this price works.

All gluten-free mixes are going to be more expensive than baking a gluten-free cake from scratch IF you are already gluten-free and are willing to invest in the $30 or $40 of flour it takes to get a baking stash going.  If you’re new to being gluten-free or if you’re not gluten-free and baking for someone who is, grab a mix.

flour mix

The thing that I love about King Arthur mixes is they have specific instructions.  Follow them.  King Arthur’s instructions allow for a light and fluffy cupcake.  You mix in the butter and oil and half the flour mix.  Then eggs.  Then milk.  Then the rest of the mix.  I go into the reasons for this in more detail in my cookie mix review, so check it out if you want more info.  It’s all very sciencey.

My friend Gabby helped throw this girl’s night celebration.  She’s gluten-free/casein-free.  She can’t have wheat or dairy.  I wanted the cupcakes to be safe for her, so I used DariFree potato milk and Earth Balance margarine.  The substitution worked perfectly.

cupcakes

After everything is mixed, you have the most beautiful and smooth batter.  It’s dark yellow from all those egg yolks!

I used the squishy measuring cup from my aunt Brenda to pour the batter into each pan.  It was my least messy cupcake pouring experience.  That little dot of batter on the pan was my only spill.  So naturally I took a picture of it.  Just keeping it real.

cupcakesThe cupcakes were soft and barely sweet – perfect when paired with sugary frosting.

cupcakeI used my Cuisipro cupcake corer from Williams-Sonoma to cut out the inside of the cupcake.  I actually made a new frosting recipe,  but it failed.  Big time.  Luckily I had a container of Betty Crocker chocolate icing for my gluten-free, dairy free friend.  So I used that.

cupcake

Fill the cupcake.  Just use a spoon.  Don’t worry about it being perfect.  No one will know whether or not you filled your cupcake with an icing bag, what with all the icing slathered on the top.

sprinkles

And then dredge it in sprinkles.  Always check to make sure your sprinkles are gluten-free.  They’re one of those unsuspecting but common gluten-containing foods.

And voila – a super fancy cupcake made from a mix and store-bought icing.

This is a really great mix.  The cake is sweet, but not too sweet.  It holds up to frosting, but is still delicate.  I also like that on the King Arthur website, they give a few variations to make yummy bundt cakes.  You could make beautiful cupcakes or a cake for any occasion – a kid’s birthday party and holiday parties and showers.  And girl’s nights.

Speaking of girl’s night…

girls night

We had an awesome girl’s night.  It had all the best things: friends, edemame, baked brie with raspberry chipotle sauce, cupcakes, and wine.  Do you like my new wine charms?  I got them on clearance at Pier 1!

I give King Arthur Yellow Cake Mix two icing-covered thumbs up!

Quick and Fancy: Gluten-Free Store-Bought Cookies with Lemon Curd and Nutella

cookiesYou’re having a baby shower or a football watch party, and you know a few gluten-free attendees will show up.  Maybe you’re having a gluten-free friend over for dinner.  Or maybe, like me, you’re the gluten-free one and you’re having mid-week dinner guests and you’ve got no time to bake something.  What do you make for dessert?

I’ve got the answer for you.  It is simple and easy and yummy and pretty.  And those are all good things.  Can I get an amen!

Start by grabbing some gluten-free cookies from the store.  Gluten-free store bought products have gotten so good in the (nearly) seven years since I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance.  There are so many great options.

WithOutWheat Cookies

I chose WOW (With Out Wheat) Lemon Cookies.  They are soft and chewy with big clumps of sanding sugar on top that give the perfect crunch, and their lemon flavor is intense.  I love them.

Dr. Schar Cookies

And Schar Gluten-Free Shortbread cookies.  These are so good.  They’re not too sweet, have a perfect crunch and a subtle design that looks oh so fancy with the toppings soon to come.  Side note – these are the perfect replacement for Nilla Wafers in gluten-free banana pudding.

lemon butter

Next, assemble your toppings.  To go with the lemon cookies, I made my quick and easy lemon curd – or lemon butter, as they call it in New Zealand – a few hours before dessert.  You can also buy lemon curd.  Homemade is better though.  And cheaper.  This recipe is so simple and fool-proof.  It also is good and tart!

The recipe is at the bottom of this post.

Nutella

And for the shortbread cookies, I used Nutella.  You can’t get any easier than this, people!

lemon curd on gluten free cookie

Place the chilled lemon curd into an icing bag or plastic baggie.  I had some leftover disposable icing bags from a failed attempt at decorating sugar cookies past project, so I used those.  Cut off the tip of the bag and put big, pretty dollops of lemon curd on each lemon cookie.

Nutella on cookies

Do the same with the Nutella, placing it in the center of the cookie, so it’s surrounded by the pretty design.  Oh and use a fresh bag.  Nutella is good.  Lemon curd is good.  Lemon curd and Nutella?  Not so much.

powdered sugar

Sprinkle with a touch of powdered sugar for that extra special touch.  Don’t do this on the plate you’re planning to use to serve the cookies.

cookies

And voila!  Perfection.  Easy perfection.

I hope this post makes entertaining gluten-free friends easier for you!

Lemon Curd Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup lemon juice
  2. 5 1/2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  3. 1 1/4 c. sugar
  4. 2 tsp lemon zest
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 1/3 tsp kosher salt
Instructions
  1. Zest lemons with a zester or microplane, being careful to not get the white pith. Squeeze the lemons over a mesh strainer to catch the pulp and seeds.
  2. Melt butter. You want the butter to be fully melted, but not piping hot.
  3. In a heavy sauce pan, whisk together the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, sugar and salt. Add the eggs, continuing to whisk.
  4. Over a medium flame, cook the lemon curd, stirring the entire time. Once it starts to get hot and the slightest bit bubbly, cook it for about seven additional minutes. Never stop stirring - this ensures the curd at the bottom of the pan doesn't burn. When you're finished, it should be thick and glossy.
  5. Allow to cool down and then refrigerate before use. You can make this a day ahead.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Cookie Mix Review

Do you remember in My Best Friend’s Wedding when Julia Roberts is explaining to Cameron Diaz that she’s crème brûlée, not Jell-O?  Well in most things I’m crème brûlée.  I inadvertently pick out the most expensive thing in the store every time.  My favorite china is $500 a place setting.  As I explained to my friend Emily one day about my decorating style – I don’t like shabby chic.  I like chic!  But when it comes to dessert, I’m Jell-O, metaphorically speaking.  My favorite dessert – most absolute favorite – is a perfect chocolate chip cookie.  There is no gold-leaf studded chocolate mousse that can come close to a perfect chocolate chip cookie.

I have a gluten-free chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve mastered, but every once in a while I need a mix.  Mixes are quick and easy and not messy.  They usually only make half a batch, which let’s face it, many times is a good thing.  Gluten-free baking mixes are more expensive than baking from scratch, so I use them sparingly.  This one was about $6.  However, if you’re new to the gluten-free world, or if you’re not gluten-free but wanting to bake something for a friend (in which case I’d like to say thank you for your intentionality on behalf of all celiacs!!!), grab a mix.

When I learned that King Arthur was venturing into the gluten-free world, I was thrilled.  Pre gluten-free diagnosis seven years ago, I used King Arthur products and loved them.  They’re the gold standard of flour.  True to their reputation, the nice people at King Arthur did not disappoint.  Of all the gluten-free cookie mixes out there, the King Arthur Gluten-Free Cookie Mix has to be my favorite.

There’s a few things I like.  First, the cookies bake well and taste amazing.  The flour mix is not gritty.  There is no aftertaste, no saying “this is good for gluten-free.”  No, these are just plain good.

Second, the dough tastes good.  Bad tasting cookie dough usually means the flour mix contains a bean flour.  Bean flours have beautiful consistency, but they taste like, well, beans.  The bean flavor cooks off after the dough is completely baked.  I, however, like chewy cookies, and chewy cookies are not cooked long enough to cook out the bean taste.  I don’t know if you’ve ever had bean-flavored chocolate chip cookies.  I have, and it’s not pretty.

Third, there are no chocolate chips in the mix.  My first reaction to this was something like – What? I have to buy chocolate chips, too?  Then I thought about the freedom inherent in this mix philosophy.  I can use semi sweet or dark chocolate.  If I’m making cookies for one of my gluten-free, casein-free friends, I can use casein-free chocolate chips.  I can add nuts and adjust my chocolate chip measurement so that my cookies don’t have too many mix-ins.  The flour mix has a brown sugar base, so I can use this for any brown sugar-centric cookie recipe, adding anything from M&Ms to peanut butter chips.  Yes, this is a very flexible gluten-free cookie mix!

The box has very specific instructions, which I recommend you follow.  It starts with creaming together half the flour mix and the stick of butter.  I learned about this baking strategy at the Gluten Free Allergy Expo.  The idea is to get every grain of the dry ingredients coated with butter so that the butter acts as a buffer between the grains of flour.  This method prevents the cookies from becoming dense.  Next add an egg and some water.  I forgot to take a picture of this part, but I promised it happened.  Mix that in.  Then stir in the rest of the flour mix.

Next is where you get to use your imagination.  The box says to use one to two cups of add-ins.  I ended up using a little more than that – probably two and three-quarters total of semi-sweet chocolate chunks and pecan pieces.

Next, the recipe says to smush the cookies down so they’re not mounds.  Bake in a 350 degree oven 10 – 12 minutes.

And, tada!!!!  I kept them in for about 10 minutes and then let them sit on the hot pan outside the oven for another minute or so.  This makes the cookie crunchy on the bottom and chewy in the middle – also known as perfect.

Look at this!  The cookies actually look like the picture on the box.  I’ve made these several times.  They are consistently wonderful.

It’s good to be Jell-O when it comes to dessert because there is nothing better than a perfect chocolate chip cookie.  King Arthur – thanks for making such a great mix!  You get two thumbs up from The Accidental Okie!

Gluten Free Allergy Free Expo – In Review

Imagine going to a place where you can eat everything.  There are no labels to read, no grand inquisition before ingesting a morsel, no blank stares when you mention your gluten intolerance.  No nothing…except enjoying.

The Gluten-Free Allergy-Free Expo in Dallas was an amazing group of like-minded individuals whose own journeys with gluten intolerance led them to create gluten-free companies.  I almost didn’t go after a very busy few weeks, but my mom convinced me to come, and The Professor even drove me down to Texas.  I’m so glad I went.

With more than 60 vendors, a few dozen cooking classes and many new friends, I think it would be information overload to go through everything.  So I present to you a list of my favorite moments, lessons and new friends.

Best Starstruck Moment

I met Naomi, the founder and owner of Better Batter, a flour blend I’ve reviewed.  It was inspiring to meet someone who became such a strong advocate for her son that she created her own company.  I love the Better Batter flour blend and their company philosophy.  And guess what, Naomi has read Accidental Okie!  What?!?

My favorite moment talking to Naomi was at the very end of the conference.  My mom and I looped around to the Better Batter table one last time to get a few boxes of flour.  Naomi was excited to see us and asked us to tell her all about the best new products we saw throughout the day.  Rather than seeing the other booths as competitors, she saw them as part of a community – part of her community.  I was proud to be a part of the gluten-free community at that moment.  Even though the different companies are vying for part of the market share, they’re also a group of companies founded by people with a personal connection to gluten intolerance.

As a testament to how much I like Naomi and BB, I even published this picture, which is horrible of me!

Best New Gluten Free Product

I found my new favorite thing.  Pistachio Lemon Biscotti.  It’s sweet.  It’s savory.  It’s perfect.  The base of the cookie has subtle hints of ginger.  Then there’s the spicy rosemary and black pepper, the crunch of the pistachio and finally the sweetness of the raisins.  I ate them plain, but they would be wonderful with sharp chèvre cheese or with a spicy chai latte.

The cookies are not baked in a gluten-free facility, so that will be a deal breaker for many people.  I am super sensitive and did not have a reaction.  You can order online at their website.

Best New Cookbook and Gluten-Free Friend

A few weeks ago, a girl named Karen replied to one of my tweets.  I checked out her website, Blackbird Bakery, saw a recipe for gluten-free cheese souffle, and I knew we were destined to become friends.

Not only does she make a gluten-free cheese souffle, but she feeds it regularly to her son.  I aspire to someday have offspring with such refined pallets.

Karen has written an amazing gluten-free baking book.  She is such an inspiration.  Most of the recipes I cook are savory recipes.  This is because I cook by taste, smell and feel more than from recipes.  Karen, on the other hand, is a super precise, mad scientist in the kitchen.  Since being diagnosed with gluten intolerance ten years ago, she estimates she’s done 100,000 recipe tests.

Her cookbook contains a photo for every recipe in the cookbook, and the recipes range from standards like cookies, to scones and biscuits, to an array of French pastries.

I went back and forth on buying the book.  I have a lot of gluten-free cookbooks, and I don’t bake a lot.  But then I saw the recipe for cottage cheese muffins with hickory smoked bacon and cheese, and I knew that the book must be mine.

I haven’t cooked anything from book yet, but I’m anxious to try!

Best Meeting

The first Thanksgiving I was diagnosed, I went to a gluten-free holiday cooking class taught by Claudia Pillow.  Claudia and her sister Annalise are the authors of the gluten-free cookbooks that are the basis of all my knowledge.  After going gluten-free to support her sister who is a celiac, Clauda became so interested in the impact of going gluten-free that she went back and got her Ph.D. in nutrition.  That first Thanksgiving, Claudia saved my life.  She was my gluten-free life boat who equipped me to make holiday standards like pecan pie, stuffing and gravy.  It was great to see her at the conference!

Along with her website, Claudia works with a company that makes raw, gluten-free foods called Hail Merry.  She sent me home with a package of chocolate macaroons to sample!  They were amazing.  She suggested that I smush them into a pie pan to use as a crust for a chocolate pudding pie.  That was the plan.  But then I ate them before I made a pie.  They are delectable and after I ate a few, I didn’t have a sugar rush.

By the way, if you want to learn how to bake that pecan pie, buy this book!

There were even more exciting meetings and booths at the GFAF Expo.  If you can go next year, I highly recommend it.  Along with resources, it was a reminder that we are part of a community that is banded together, advocating for each other and making huge strides in medical research, recipes and product accessibility.

After You’ve Been Diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance

I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance in 2006.

It was before there were multiple types of Udi bread – or any great gluten-free bread – readily available at multiple stores.  Before many restaurants had gluten-free menus.  Before you could buy gluten-free cupcakes at the neighborhood cupcake shop.  Before you said “gluten free” and anyone knew what it meant.  Before regular grocery stores had gluten-free pasta or Target carried gluten-free cookie mixes.

After nearly twelve years of stomach problems, chronic illness and social embarrassment, I finally had answers. But now there were new problems.

Would I be able to eat at a restaurant ever again?  What about the routine of eating during the busyness of real life – schedules, graduate school, work, last-minute get togethers with friends.  What about my favorite comfort foods, like the chicken and dumplings recipe that’s been in my family for five generations.  And then there were the things that graced our table on special occasions – green bean casserole, carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies, stuffing at Thanksgiving.  I thought about the future and the celebrations I hoped would come.  And then I sat on my sofa and cried, wondering if I would ever eat cake at my wedding.

That was six years ago.  Since that time, I’ve modified my family’s chicken and dumplings recipe, learned how to navigate daily life with relative ease and minimal pity parties, I’ve mastered gluten-free sauces, and all while I’ve felt better without the poison in my system.

If this is the boat you find yourself in, here are some tips to help you.  This is not an exclusive list, but it is what worked for me.

1. Know the basics

Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, barley and contaminated oats.

Those are the easy ones.  Then there’s all the ingredients in which gluten hides.  Modified food starch, food starch, cereal, wheat starch, malt flavoring, and wheat protein.  And that’s just scratching the surface.  Here’s a comprehensive list.

Foods on the high suspect list are: lunch meat, some already-cooked frozen chicken, bbq sauce, soy sauce, many brands of canned chicken broth, beer and malted alcohol, salad dressings, fake “krab,” ice cream, low-fat dairy like low-fat butter or low-fat sour cream, powder sauce/dressing mixes like taco seasoning or Alfredo sauce mix, fruit flavored candies like Twizzlers, pudding, and gravy.  Really, anything that comes in a package is suspicious.

In just a few months, you’ll be able to read a label in two seconds flat!

2. Clean Out Your Kitchen

Throw out your wood cutting boards, which harbor bits of bread crumbs in the boards’ grain and cuts.  Scrub the burned off bits on your cookie sheets (or just replace them).  Buy a new toaster.

If you have non-celiacs in the family, set up controls in your kitchen.  In my house, the only wheat is The Professor’s bread.  I make his sandwiches on paper towels and then throw the paper towel away.  We go through a lot of paper towels, but it’s a small price to pay.  We also have his and hers peanut butter, so that I don’t get peanut butter laced with bread crumbs.

Donate gluteny items to the food bank: cereal, bread crumbs, sauce mixes, spice mixes, enchilada sauce, bread, toasters, canned soup, pasta.  It’s all got to go.  If you go gluten-free by just forgoing bread, and still eat gluten in other forms, you’ll never get better and you’ll never see how you feel after your body is completely empty of gluten.  It’s all or nothing.  Some people may find that they are low on the gluten intolerance spectrum and can tolerate a little gluten, but before jumping to that conclusion, you’ve got to go completely off.

3. Restock Your Kitchen

I think I’ll do an entire blog post about this, but here are the basics:

  • Bread – Udi’s Flax & Fiber is my favorite, but there are a lot of great options out there.
  • Cereal – most Chex cereal is gluten free, so are Cocoa Pebbles.  They also have gluten free Rice Crispies.  If you head over to the health food store, you’ll find a plethora of choices.
  • Flour Mix – more on that soon
  • Gluten-Free chicken broth.  Yes, many brands of chicken broth contain gluten.
  • A few boxed baking mixes while you’re getting your gluten-free sea legs on
  • Gluten-free spaghetti, corn tortillas and other pantry staples
  • Gluten-free soy sauce
  • New butter, peanut butter and jelly – and anything else that could be harboring cross-contamination from double-dipped knives.

4. Gather Resources

Find books and websites you like.  Here are a few of my favorites

  • Gluten Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts – this is my go-to book for baking (Except for chocolate chip cookies.  I prefer my recipe, but my sister prefers Annalise’s recipe).
  • Gluten-Free Girl by Shauna James Ahern – this is my favorite of Shauna’s books because she so eloquently explains the attitude of acceptance and adaptation needed to successfully venture into this gluten-free world.  If food can make you sick, food can make you better.  Her book goes through the very real mourning process, and the renaissance she experienced with food.  Check out her website too!
  • Gluten-Free on a Shoestring – this is my favorite new blog

The best resources I found after diagnosis were people – friends who also have gluten intolerance.  They were the bearers of tips, givers of recipes, and incredible encouragers.  Find a local support group, make it known far and wide that you’ve been diagnosed.  You’ll be surprised how many friends of friends you meet.

5. Make Some Cookies…Immediately

www.accidentalokie.comThis is a photo from my local Target!  Can you believe it!  I think I counted nine different gluten-free brands!

Yes, go make cookies.  Now.  Or brownies.  Or cupcakes.  Now.  Hope is not lost.  In the emotional days after diagnosis – when you have no idea what to eat, how to cook, where to eat, what to tell your friends –  it’s an important reminder that life won’t be as different as you think.  Make some cookies.

I have a few favorite mixes that are great for a pinch, when in the midst of a pity party or when you’re new to all this:

I haven’t tried all the gluten-free mixes, so please give me your reviews in the comments section.

6. Change the Way You Grocery Shop

You have two choices: exist on expensive, high-fat, high-sugar gluten-free processed foods whose tastes vary from great to horrible, or change the way you shop and think about food in general.  That’s a tall order, I know, and I am not trying to minimize how difficult this is.

This change means shopping for ingredients, not convenience foods.  It means trading your favorite brand of taco seasoning mix for salt and cumin and chili powder.  It means shopping the perimeters of the grocery store.

It also means getting savvy of the gluten-free friendly brands.  Kraft, for example, labels any gluten item.  Even if an ingredient list says modified food starch, you can know that it is made from corn or potatoes or tapioca.  That means Kraft olive oil mayo is safe.  So is Jell-O pudding!  And Kraft brand ranch dressing.  Rather than researching the gluten content of every bottle of salad dressing, find a few safe standards and stick with them.  Develop your gluten-free grocery list.

7. Change the Way You Think

There’s thinking changes that need to occur.

First, change your definition.  When someone says gluten free, most people start racking their brains for gluten-free alternatives – gluten-free cookies, gluten-free pasta, gluten-free shortcrust, gluten-free cream of mushroom soup.  People forget that a lot of what they eat is already gluten free.  Chicken with olive oil and lemon pepper is gluten free.  Pork tenderloin with balsamic vinegar is gluten free.  Salmon with dill and butter is gluten-free.  Baked potatoes are gluten-free.  Rice (not rice mixes) is gluten free.  Keep it simple.

Second, change your expectations.  Everything will be different.  I remember Shauna James Ahern’s words in her book, Gluten Free Girl.  She said that foods might taste better or they might taste worse, but no matter what, they will taste different.  Release yourself from the expectation that through your superior gluten-free baking skills/voodoo magic, everything will be the same.  It won’t.  On the flip side, you won’t be sick either.

There was a long time that being gluten free was incredibly hard – where every day was an obstacle of where and what to eat.  Then one day, I woke up and it wasn’t about what I couldn’t eat.  It was about what I could eat.  The world opened up – fresh fruits and veggies, new grains like quinoa, every type of rice, fresh herbs, exotic spices, pomegranate syrup, homemade salad dressings, rich gluten-free soy sauce, the world’s best pie crust.

And yes, wedding cake.

Gluten-free friends, what are your tips?  Do you have any favorite mixes, recipes or resources?  Let us know in the comments!

Gluten-Free Banana Bread

I remember the first time I decided to make gluten-free banana bread.  It was fall.  I dreamed of the days when I’d eat a piece of buttered, hot banana bread and drink a cup of hot tea for breakfast.

Those were the days – back before I learned that gluten was the poison wrecking my body.  But those days were gone.  There was no way I would ever find a good gluten-free banana bread recipe, so I thought.  Boy was I wrong.

There’s something you need to know about me and gluten-free baking.  Often I take the path of least resistance.  I want it to be as simple as possible.  I’m not as cool as the Gluten-Free Girl, who bakes by weight.  I may try it someday, but for now I don’t bake enough to learn.  I do make my own flour mix, but beyond that, I’m lazy.  Sorry to disappoint you.

I remember searching the internet for gluten-free banana bread recipes.  They were horrible.  Obscure flours.  Random ingredients.  Pictures of dry, mealy banana bread.  I didn’t think I’d ever find a recipe.  And I was right.  I didn’t.  I made my own.

I took the banana bread recipe I’d used for years and made a few modifications.  It was perfect.  It was beyond perfect.  It was soft and chewy in the middle and crusty on the top.  And it reminded me that a gluten intolerant life was still a sweet life.

Years later, banana bread at the start of fall is still a reminder of the simple pleasures that do not end when a gluten-free diet begins.

Better Batter flour

This go around, I decided to experiment with Better Batter, a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix.  I wanted to experiment with it for several reasons:

1. I occasionally get calls from people needing advice on modifying a recipe because they’re cooking for a gluten-free friend.  I’m not going to recommend that they go buy $30 worth of ingredients needed to make a flour mixture.  It’s good to be able to recommend a quality all-purpose flour mix.

2. Better Batter is a company worth supporting.  On their website, they offer financial aid purchasing options for gluten-free families on food stamps or gluten-free families who have members undergoing expensive autism treatments (a gluten-free diet has been shown to help people with autism).  Being gluten-free is a financial burden on The Professor and me.  I can’t imagine what it is like for a family below the poverty line.

3. I’ve seen it used on Gluten Free on a Shoestring, one of my favorite gluten-free blogs.

4. Better Batter has xanthan gum already mixed in, so it’s perfect for novices.  Also, it doesn’t have salt.  It’s a big pet peeve of mine – salt in gluten-free mixes.  Gluten-free baked goods become too salty fast.  This is why using unsalted butter is imperative, and why I like adding my own salt.  Thank you very much.

Making banana bread starts with ugly bananas and preheating your oven to 325.  This recipe cooks for a long time, so if you have suspicions that your oven runs hot like mine, now is a good time to buy an oven thermometer.  You don’t want to burn your banana bread.  That would be tragic.

This is also a good time to grease and flour your pan.  Make sure to use gluten-free cooking spray and gluten-free flour.  I hate this step and always procrastinate it.  Don’t do that.

Cream the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy.  Add the bananas, eggs and vanilla.

I didn’t take a picture of the opened over-ripe bananas.  They looked like parasitic space worms from a Star Trek episode I watched a long time ago.  I didn’t want you to have to see that.  Enjoy this pretty picture of sugar instead.  Plus I’m confident that you all know what sugar and butter looks like.

My friend Elizabeth made this for me for Christmas two years ago.  Homemade vanilla.  It’s way good.

I was really pleased with the texture of the Better Batter flour.  It wasn’t the slightest bit grainy.

This is my banana bread secret ingredient, given to me by my bestie, Sarah, and her husband, Jon.  It is the best cinnamon ever.  In fact, the label says that you should use only a 1/3 of the called for amount because it is so strong.  Directions which I whole-hardheartedly ignore.

If you are not using a mix and instead using flour and xanthan gum, it’s especially important to mix the wet and dry ingredients separately so that the xanthan gum gets good and incorporated into the flour before it hits the liquid.  Liquid activates xanthan’s gluten-mimicking sticky goodness.

Did I mention that this is chocolate chip, pecan banana bread, also known as the path to world peace.

Add your chocolate chips or pecans (if you want those) after everything’s good and mixed.  Throw into your pan and bake for a looooooong time.  Until a knife comes out cleanish.  If it’s been cooking for more than an hour and fifteen minutes and your knife is still a little doughy, take the bread out.  You don’t want it to get dry, and it will continue to cook as it cools.  Mine usually cooks for an hour and fifteen minutes.

The result with the Better Batter was perfection!  If you’re gluten-free and looking for a quick dessert, or if you have a gluten-free friend you want to cook for, I recommend Better Batter for banana bread and other quick breads.

I also used Better Batter to make chocolate chip cookies and sweet corn fritters.  Those reviews and recipes will come soon.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread Recipe
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 full stick of unsalted butter (or casein-free margarine), softened to room temperature
  2. 4 large, ripe bananas, mashed
  3. 1 1/4 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  4. 2 large eggs
  5. 2 cups gluten-free flour mix and 3/4 teaspoon Xanthan Gum OR 2 cups Better Batter mix.
  6. 1 cup granulated sugar
  7. 1 cup of chopped nuts and chocolate chips (optional)
  8. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/2 teaspoon (or more) of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. 1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. 2. Grease and rice flour a 9-inch loaf pan.
  3. 3. Blend butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy.
  4. 4. Add vanilla, eggs and bananas.
  5. 5. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl; add slowly to banana and butter mixture.
  6. 6. Add nuts, if desired.
  7. 7. Blend batter until well mixed and then turn into loaf pan.
  8. 8. Bake for 70-90 minutes or until edges are browned and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean(ish).
  9. 9. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
  10. 10. Put it on a pretty plate. Make yourself a cup of tea and eat, feeling very fancy and special.
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