Gluten-Free Meatloaf Cupcake Recipe

meatloaf cupcake

Meatloaf, like Brussels sprouts and kale, has enjoyed a culinary renaissance in the past years. Meatloaf cupcakes are one such incarnation.  They’re cute and trendy, and have the perfect amount of sauce coating topped with fancy mashed potatoes.  Serve them at dinner parties where you will wow your guests and eliminate the hassle of cutting individual portions, or make them for your family and store the conveniently sized lunch leftovers.  Either way, they are delicious.

Whether you make meatloaf as cupcakes or in a large loaf, my meatloaf is moist and delicious. The recipe is based on a recipe given to me years ago by my former boss and her sister.

First, get mashed potatoes going.  I’m not going to go into a recipe for this, as I assume you all have a recipe for mashed potatoes, and you all think your recipe is better than any other recipe. No matter your chosen method, it will be best, at least for this recipe, if you first peel your potatoes and you make them as unlumpy as possible.

Now on to the main event.

meatloaf milk and bread

Start by getting the oven going and cubing four pieces of gluten-free bread (or three pieces of regular bread).  I used Udi’s Whole Grain bread here.  Gluten-free bread is significantly smaller, which is why you add more.

Add milk and let the mixture sit together until the bread is mushy.  This liquid-infused binder is the key to the moist meatloaf.

cheese, carrots, onions

While the bread and milk are doing their thing (or thang as we say it in Texas), it’s time to prep. Shred a bunch of cheddar cheese and carrots (or be lazy like me and use matchstick carrots), and thinly slice the white and green parts of some green onions.  Yes people, this meatloaf has flavor.

milk and bread

After just a few minutes, the bread looks like this.  I used a fork to mush up the bigger pieces.
mixtureMix together the bread, two pounds of lean ground beef, two eggs, some salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce.  You want to mix this by hand because it can easily become over-mixed in a stand mixer.  That would result in thick, solid, and brick-like (read: sad) meatloaf.  And that’s not what we’re going for here.  So roll up your sleeves, wash your hands, and dig in.

After the base is mixed, add the veggies and cheese and mix just until everything is incorporated. I didn’t photograph this part, as my hands were a bit icky.

gluten-free meatloaf cupcakes | www.accidentalokie.com

Now your hands are clean and beautiful once more.  Lightly oil a regular-sized muffin pan.  I use a spray oil.  (Gluten-free beginners: spray oils can sometimes contain gluten, so make sure to read the label).

meat loaf cupcakesAdd meatloaf to the muffin pan.  Make sure to pack the meat in tight and make a domed top to give the appearance of a cupcake.  Remember, meat does not rise.

This recipes yields 12 cupcakes.

meatloaf sauce

While the meatloaf is cooking, make the topping.  This is an unholy union of brown sugar, ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire sauce.

meat loaf cupcakes out of the ovenAfter about 25 minutes, pull them out.  This is where you might say, “Oh look, my meatloaf cupcakes are gross and ruined.”  Have no fear!  They’re not.  The fat has cooked out of the meatloaf.  I used 93/7 meat, which is quite lean and still the cupcakes looked like this.  They’ve also shrunk.  Don’t worry.

meatloaf

Spoon each cupcake out and put on a cookie sheet.  The cupcakes still have five minutes to cook until they should reach their internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, so do this step quickly – you don’t want the meat to begin cooling down, and carefully – you don’t want to burn yourself.

Liberally spoon the ketchup mixture on the cupcakes.  Imagine a bundt cake with lemon frosting perfectly oozing down the sides of the cake.  That’s the look you’re going for here.  Back in the oven they go for about five minutes.  When you remove them, they should be at temperature.

meat loaf

Now they look like this, which is pretty close to perfection.  But in the words of my infomercial friends…but wait, there’s more!

meat loaf frostingOh yes.  Potato frosting.  Fill a frosting bag or frosting gun with the non-lumpy mashed potatoes and using a large tip, frost the cupcakes.  When they’re all frosted and lovely, put them back in the broiler until the tips of the potato are slightly golden.

meatloaf cupcakeServe with extra potatoes and salad and look like a domestic goddess.  You’re welcome.

Gluten-Free Meatloaf Cupcake Recipe
Yields 12
Print
Meatloaf
  1. 1 cup milk*
  2. 4 slices gluten-free bread (I used Udi's Whole Grain Bread)*
  3. 2/3 c. finely chopped green onions, white and green parts
  4. 2/3 c. shredded (or matchstick) carrots
  5. 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  6. 2 lbs. lean ground beef
  7. 2 large eggs
  8. 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  9. 2 tsp salt
  10. 1/4 tsp pepper
  11. * If you're not using gluten-free bread: 3 slices of bread and 2/3 c. milk
Topping
  1. 3/4 c. brown sugar
  2. 3/4 c. ketchup
  3. 1 tbsp yellow mustard
  4. 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and lightly oil a regular-sized muffin tin that makes 12 muffins.
  2. Make a batch of mashed potatoes, opting for peeled potatoes. When mashing the potatoes, make them as unlumpy as possible.
  3. Slice bread into approximate inch-by-inch squares, place in a bowl and cover with milk. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until the bread is soaked through and mushy.
  4. Shred the carrots and cheese, slice the onions.
  5. Once the bread is soaked through, in a large bowl, mix the meat, bread and milk mixture, eggs, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Just mix with your hands, so as to not over work the meat. Add the vegetables and cheese and mix just until combined.
  6. Fill each cupcake cup with meat so that it is packed in the cup and mounded on top to look like a cupcake.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center of the meatloaf is nearing 160 degrees. While the meatloaf is baking, make the topping. You can microwave it for a few seconds if the brown sugar is not mixing in well.
  8. Remove cupcakes from the oven and carefully transfer each cupcake to a cookie sheet. Quickly spoon a liberal amount of sauce over each cupcake and return to the oven for about five minutes.
  9. Place mashed potatoes into an icing bag with a large tip. Remove the meatloaf cupcakes from the oven and "ice" with potatoes. Place under broiler until the potatoes are slightly golden on the edges. Serve.
Notes
  1. You can also make this as a loaf. To do that, line a large rimmed baking dish with foil. Put the meatloaf on the pan, forming into a loaf shape. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Top with sauce and bake for 15 minutes more. When making as a loaf, the topping measurements are: 1 c. brown sugar, 1 c. ketchup, 4 tsp. yellow mustard and 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce. No potato topping.
  2. Cooking on a large pan and forming the meat into a loaf (as opposed to a loaf pan) allows the grease to move to the sides of the pan. Remove the loaf and serve on a fresh platter for a beautiful dinner.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

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
Print
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/

Asian Sesame Clementine Salad {Winter Salad Dressing}

finished

Meet our most frequent winter meal.  As soon as winter descends and produce sections brim with clementines, our house is never without the crucial ingredients – ginger, garlic, clementines.   It’s a fresh and flavorful salad that breaks up the monotony of hearty winter meals.  As my sister, who is living with us for the next few months will attest, we eat this meal at least once a week, usually pairing it with a baked potato or gluten-free roll.

This dressing recipe started from Ree Drummond’s Ginger Steak Salad.  It’s been tweaked and modified, and has taken on a life of its own at our house.

And I love it.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladIf you want meat on your salad, start cooking that first.  To be budget friendly and because I knew I’d be serving the meat off the bone anyways, I bought a pack of chicken quarters for $3.50 and cooked them in my cast iron skillet with a little salt and pepper.

Next make the salad dressing.  It’s easy and amazing.  I like to make my salad dressings in a container with a tight-fitting lid.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladStart with a quarter cup of sugar.  Don’t worry, it’s not gross sweet.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladA quarter cup of soy sauce.  I use San-J gluten free soy sauce.  It’s ah-mazing!

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladA quarter cup of olive oil.  Olive oil in an Asian recipe, you say?  Oh yes.  It works.  It’s good.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladOne-eighth a cup of lime or lemon juice.  You can even use the bottled stuff.  Sorry Barefoot Contessa.  I know you frown on bottled juices, but they’re part of my arsenal.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladTwo tablespoons of minced ginger.

Ginger is really fibrous, so it needs to be cut into small pieces.  You can even bruise it a little with the flat edge of your knife.  Also, about half an inch of average-width ginger is a tablespoon.  After making this salad every winter for a few years, I can accurately gauge the ginger about ninety percent of the time.

I know.  You’re equal parts amazed and jealous.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladFour cloves of minced garlic (or four teaspoons of bottled minced garlic).  Vampires beware.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladSesame oil is amazing.  It has a subtle toasted sesame flavor and is best in small doses.  Just a teaspoon or so will add a rich flavor.

You can buy a little bottle for five or so bucks at the fancy grocery store or a bottle this size for about a dollar at the Asian grocery store.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladSriracha sauce is a spicy Thai sauce made from smoked chilies, sugar and vinegar.  And in my world, it’s a kitchen staple.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladStart with half a teaspoon.  Sriracha is spicy!

Seal up your container with a tight lid and give it a good shake.  Taste and add more Sriracha if you want it spicier.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladAfter the meat has cooled, add some to the top of your lettuce.  Use whatever kind of lettuce you want.  I’m preferential to hearts of romaine.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine SaladFinally, top with clementine slices, green onions (not pictured because I forgot them…major bummer), and sesame seeds.  Spoon on the dressing to get an even distribution of the garlic and ginger.  Behold the perfect winter salad.

www.accidentalokie.com | Asian Clementine Salad

 

Asian Sesame Clementine Salad
Serves 4
Print
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
15 min
Dressing
  1. 1/4 cup sugar
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 1/4 cup soy sauce
  4. 1/8 cup lemon or lime juice
  5. 2 tbsp ginger, minced
  6. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  7. 1-2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  8. 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce, more to taste
Salad
  1. Lettuce
  2. 1 clementine per salad, pealed and wedged
  3. 1 green onion, sliced per salad
  4. 1 tbsp sesame seeds per salad
  5. chicken or beef, grilled or pan fried
Instructions
  1. Make the salad dressing in a shakeable container. Assemble the salad and add the dressing. Enjoy!
  2. Yields 4 small salads or 2 dinner salads.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

 

Cheese Ball Recipe

I made a cheese ball.  It was amazing.

My coworker Rebecca introduced me to this recipe, and it may be the best thing I’ve ever eaten.  I think it’s pretty standard, as far as cheese balls go.  I found similar recipes across the interwebs, but know that this specific recipe is Accidental Okie approved.  And when I say approved, I mean that I might have eaten the leftovers for breakfast.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheeseball

It’s really easy, too.  Two blocks of cream cheese.  I used neufchatel cheese – the low-fat version of cream cheese.

In my head, it’s pronounced new-fan-chang-el.  I have a suspicion that might not be correct.

About three-fourths cup of mayo.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

The green and white parts of three green onions, thinly sliced..

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

One heaping teaspoon of dried dill.  Mmmmm.

And Bacon.  How did I forget to take a picture of the bacon?  It’s a disaster!!!!

Add about five slices of cooked and chopped bacon, or about a cup of smoked bacon pieces.  But really, add however much you want.  Because when has anyone ever said, “Oh no!  I added too much bacon to that recipe!”  Never – that’s when.

I had a bag of smoked bacon pieces from Costco similar to these in my fridge, so I used them.  They’re not bacon bits – but real smoked bacon.

If you don’t add bacon, add salt to taste.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

Roughly chop about a cup-and-a-half of pecans.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

Mound into a half sphere on your serving plate and coat with pecans.

www.accidentalokie.com | cheese ball recipe

And you’re finished.  Make sure to wipe off the rim of the plate of any rogue cheese smears and chill for at least 30 minutes.  You can make it the day before.

Serve with crackers or veggies (if you’re healthy like that).  I served mine with Glutino Snack Crackers.  They are these amazing new gluten-free crackers.  I used both the Sea Salt and Rosemary & Olive Oil flavors.  All the gluten-free people and non gluten-free people thought they were delish.

Cheese Ball Recipe
Print
Ingredients
  1. 2 8-ounce blocks of cream cheese or neufchatel cheese, softened
  2. 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  3. 3 green onions, green and white parts thinly sliced
  4. 5 slices bacon, cooked and chopped - or - about 1 cup chopped bacon
  5. 1 tsp dried dill
  6. 1.5 cups pecans, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Mix the softened cheese and mayo in a stand mixer or hand blender until they're combined. Add the onions, bacon and dill. Mix until combined. Form into a half sphere on a plate and coat with pecans.
  2. Chill for 30 minutes before serving.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/

Gluten Free Crepe Recipe

Crepes are one of my new food loves.  Sadly, I didn’t attempt making them until this year.  Crepes seemed intimidating with all that pan twirling.  And didn’t I need a special crepe pan?  And gluten-free crepes, those can’t be good or easy, right?  Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

Unlike pancakes which are very bready, crepes are more milk and eggs than flour.  This means they don’t give me that overly sweet headache I get after eating pancakes.   I’ve become very sensitive to overly-sweet things in my old age.  A crepe is basically solidified, not-too-sweet, pan-fried custard.  Serve with a little powdered sugar and a big glass of milk, and you’ve got yourself a great breakfast…or dinner.  I love them.  And I hope you will love them too.

Crepes are also very easy to modify to be gluten-free.  I found a recipe I like here, and have made a few modifications of my own.

Start with some good gluten-free flour.  I used King Arthur Multi-Purpose Flour.  If you make your own flour mix, use that.  If you buy a mix, make sure it doesn’t contain any xantham or guar gum.  No thickeners are needed in this recipe.

Full disclosure: King Arthur Flour sent me this flour to review, but don’t worry, you can’t buy my love.  My reviews are unbiased because my goal is to be helpful, especially if you’re new to the gluten-free diet.  Also, all that stuff about ethics.

I like King Arthur Multi-Purpose Flour mix for several reasons:

  1. Their flour mix is very close to the mix I make.  It’s a good mix with great texture, no funky smells and no graininess.
  2. The mix contains no salt, xanthum or guar gum.  It is a blank palette.
  3. It is “multi-purpose mix.”  I like that they call it that.  There is no such thing as all-purpose gluten-free flour.  The quicker you get the idea of all-purpose gluten-free flour out of your head, the quicker you’ll stop having a broken heart and ruined recipes.  Like the name implies, multi-purpose flour doesn’t work for everything.  I wouldn’t make a roux with it.  I wouldn’t use it to make pâte à choux.  I would use it for crepes and pancakes and cookies and cakes and banana bread though.  (Anything except crepes and pancakes need to have xantham or guar gum added).

Mixes are always more expensive, so make your own flour mix if you’re a pro.  If you’re a gluten-free beginner, mixes are a great way to get your sea legs.

Back to the crepes: get a cup of gluten-free flour.

Mix together the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients: baking powder and sugar and a bit of salt.  Stir the dry ingredients together so they’re nice and mixed together.

Remember one of the cardinal rules of gluten-free baking: if you modify a regular recipe to a gluten-free recipe, always half the salt and use unsalted butter.

Gluten-free flours have a neutral taste compared to strong-tasting (and evil) wheat flour, and therefore can’t take the full amount of salt.  But there is a silver lining: that same neutral tasting gluten-free flour puts the spotlight on other flavors – cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg – they are all more vibrant in gluten-free baked goodies.

You haven’t lived, I tell ya, until you’ve had a gluten-free spice cake.  And that’s a fact, Jack.

Put two tablespoons of butter in the microwave to melt.

Measure out one and a quarter cups of milk.

Using only your palest and most unmanicured hand, crack two eggs into the milk and stir them up real good.  See, I told you crepes were more about the milk and eggs and less about the flour.

Stir in the butter.  This is why you want the eggs to be mixed in really well.  You wouldn’t want splotches of scrambled eggs in your crepes.  That would be gross.

Don’t toss the butter bowl into the sink just yet.  You’ll use it again in a second.

I owe a lifetime of gratitude to Ree Drummond for introducing me to vanilla bean paste.  It’s basically the scraped out bits of the vanilla bean in a convenient jar.  Oh so good.  It’s much cheaper than vanilla beans, and costs about the same as high-quality vanilla extract.  One bottle usually lasts me a year.

Can you see all the vanilla beans (technical name: vanilla caviar) in the thick, gooey paste.  Yum.

If you want to make savory crepes, skip the sugar and vanilla.

But that leads me to an important question.  Why would you want to make savory crepes?  The powdered sugar is the best part?  I guess you could fill it with chicken and spinach and all those other crepe-y things.  If you must.

Dump the wet and the dry mixes together and whisk until the batter is nice and smooth.

Side note: I love my flat whisk.  It’s a whisk.  It’s a spatula.  It senses my needs.

Remember that butter bowl (or ramekin in this case) I told you not to toss in the sink?  It’s time for its second act.

Melt a tablespoon or so of butter in it.  Once it’s melted, add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil.  Don’t stress out about the measurements – just get it about half and half.  You’ll use this to butter the pan each time.  The butter gives the crepes great flavor, keeps them from sticking to the pan, and creates the signature bubbly marks on the crepes’ surface.  The added oil keeps the butter from burning on the pan.

Now heat up your pan over medium-high heat and assemble your tools: a spatula, a cooking brush, a quarter-cup measure and a whisk.  Get ready to do the crepe dance.

The crepe dance goes something like this (to the tune of Gangnam Style).

  1. Butter – Butter pan with cooking brush.  I just use my regular old 10-inch non-stick frying pan.  It works great.
  2. Whisk – Give the batter a quick whisk.  The batter is so light that the flour sinks down to the bottom.  Do this step every time.
  3. Pour – Scoop a quarter cup of batter on to the hot pan.  The batter will immediately start to sizzle.  Grab the skillet’s handle and swirl the skillet around gently until the batter is evenly distributed.  (Adjust the amount of your scoop based on the size of your pan).
  4. Flip – Allow to cook until the bottom is golden brown (you can slide your spatula under to take a peek).  It’s about 45 seconds to a minute.  Flip with your spatula and let it cook for another 30 seconds to a minute.
  5. Repeat – Until all your beautiful crepes are cooked.

Fold them in fours and put them on a plate.  Top with a little butter and powdered sugar.

Aren’t they beautiful, and you can make them too!

Gluten Free Crepes
Yields 8
Print
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup gluten-free flour mix without xanthan gum
  2. 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  3. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 teaspoon sugar
  5. 1 1/4 cups milk
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  8. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  9. 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  10. 1 tablespoon canola oil
Instructions
  1. Mix the dry ingredients - flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
  2. Melt two tablespoons of butter in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, mix the milk and eggs and then drizzle in the butter, constantly stirring the milk. Whisk in the vanilla. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  3. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. After it's melted, add the tablespoon of oil. Stir to combine.
  4. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the butter/oil mixture on the skillet, rewhisk the batter and scoop a quarter of a cup of batter on the skillet. Quickly grab the handle of the skillet and twirl the pan around until the crepe is spread thinly around the pan. After about a minute, flip the crepe and let it cook for 30 seconds to a minute on the other side. Complete this step for every crepe.
  5. Serve with any of the following: butter and powdered sugar, fruit compote, Nutella, or maple syrup.
The Accidental Okie http://theaccidentalokie.com/
 

Thanksgiving Superlatives

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Who else is still wearing (or longing to be wearing) stretchy pants?  Because I am.

Thanksgiving day was good and busy.  The Professor and I drove down to Dallas to my parents’ house who hosted Thanksgiving.  It was a small group – my parents, The Professor and me, one of my best friends Alex and her mom, and my grandparents, Grandmommy and Grandaddy.  My sister Jackie was in Massachusetts visiting her boyfriend.

Here’s all the girls.  On a related note, I’ve decided to grow out my bangs.  They never stay where I want them to.

Thanksgiving used to always be at Grandmommy’s, but a few months ago she declared she was too old to host Thanksgiving and Christmas.  There was weeping and gnashing of teeth from my cousins and me, but we will get through it together.

All in all, it was a great day.  We ate a lot.  Cooked a lot.  Laughed a lot.  Watched a lot of football.  Did some Black Friday shopping.  The day was too busy to take step-by-step pictures of our recipes.  Instead, I present to you the inaugural Accidental Okie’s Thanksgiving Superlatives.

And just so you don’t think I’m infallible, we’ll start with this one:

Most Failed: Unset Pecan Pie

I’m not sure what happened.  Well, that’s not true.  I do.  I know exactly what happened.  I didn’t cook it long enough, and also had the broiler on for a few minutes to toast the Brussels sprouts, making the pie look deceptively done.  So we pulled it out.  It wasn’t set.  Like really not set.  So we scooped it with a spoon and ate it anyways.  We’re courageous like that.

Best New Side: Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Thanksgiving

Did you know Brussels sprouts were Julia Child’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish?  My parents bought some on the stalk, so we made them instead of green beans.  They were delightful, and made me realize what I dislike so much about Thanksgiving food: everything is sweet.  Sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, carb-centric stuffing and mashed potatoes, rolls and desserts.  Having the slightly bitter Brussels sprouts brought perfect balance to the meal.

We made a variation on the Barefoot Contessa’s roasted Brussels sprouts, only I broiled them hot and fast for about 15 minutes, flipping them a few times, and I cut every one of them in half, no matter how small the sprouts.  The inside of the sprouts get delightfully crisp and yummy.

Best Extra: Citrus Plate for Water and Tea

This was one of those things I did while things were baking and I had some down time.  If I had been in a hurry, they would have been dumped in a bowl, but doing them ahead allowed me to make them oh so pretty.  There were oranges for the iced tea and lemons and limes for the ice water.  Everyone loved them, and snacked on the oranges.   It was a win-win-win.

Most improved: My Stuffing Recipe

I changed my stuffing recipe up a bit this year, and I loved the results.  I halved the corn bread to just one batch, doubled the celery, used a whole pint of sliced mushrooms and a whole bag of Craisins.

Most Likely to Change Your Life: Pomegranate Hazelnut Fall Salad

I made my pomegranate hazelnut vinaigrette salad dressing.  It was so scrumptious atop a salad of romaine lettuce, pomegranate seeds, pepitas (peeled pumpkin seeds), and ribbons of shaved Parmesan cheese.  I ate more salad than anything during dinner.  On a related note, I had more room for cake.

Worst Timing: Um, Everything

Okay, someone enlighten me.  What is your strategy for getting oven things cooked while the bird hogs the oven for hours and hours?

Best Averted Disaster: Kitty Thanksgiving 

My mom and I were stuffing the bird while my dad worked on one of the other dishes.  The Professor was doing one of six loads of dishes of the day.  I look away from the turkey for a second because a strange movement catches my eye.  And what do I see?  Lyla, my sister’s cat, running from the dining room, through the kitchen and to the garage.  With a flopping bird in her mouth.

Everyone dropped what they were doing and we all descended on Lyla, shooing her outside the house.  She saw this and tried to make a break – very alive bird still in her mouth – to the stairs.  We caught her, got her in the garage, and she lost grip of the bird, who promptly flew away to safety.

We still don’t know the answer to the following questions:  When did Lyla bring the bird into the house?  To what rooms did she take the bird?  How did she sneak it by us in the first place?  And, did she want her own kitty Thanksgiving?  I guess we’ll never know, but we all think the averted disaster was our Thanksgiving miracle.

Most Important Meal of the Day: Breakfast

This year, I made Paula Deen’s French toast casserole recipe, using a loaf of Udi’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  It was delicious.  Actually sitting down and eating breakfast ended up being a good idea.  The casserole and a big glass of milk filled me up.  I didn’t snack while cooking, and was actually hungry when we sat down for lunch.  Breakfast is definitely staying next year.

Best Non Traditional Dessert: Carrot Cake

My mother had a brilliant idea.  Brilliant.  We made carrot cake for dessert.  Carrot cake is for Easter in our family, but the cake was a perfect complement to Thanksgiving’s rich and scrumptious flavors.  Plus, let’s be honest, who can say no to fresh cream cheese pecan frosting?  I know I can’t.

We modified my mom’s recipe with Better Batter Gluten Free Flour, and it turned out perfectly.  There were no other modifications – just a one-to-one ratio of flour to Better Batter, oh and halving the salt.  Always half the salt when modifying a gluten-free baked item.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the finished product.  I was too busy eating it.

Best Black Friday deal: Modern Family Season One for $13

I love that show.  The first episode where Cam holds up the baby to Lion King music.  The ever-broken step.  The quotes.  Oh the quotes.

“I collect antique fountain pens. I’m quite adept at Japanese flower arrangements. Ikebana. And I was the starting offensive lineman at the University of Illinois. Surprise!”

“I design high-end electroacoustic transducers.  That’s just a fancy way of saying I get things to make noise.”

Best Friday Night: EVER

I had the greatest post-Thanksgiving Friday ever.  Shopping (mostly window shopping, although I did buy a berry bowl since Marcy told me to), a massage, cream cheese and jalapeno stuffed pork tenderloin, and a Duck Dynasty marathon.

It’s time to get The Professor to grow a long, sexy beard.  (sarcasm)

Best Thanksgiving Travelers: Charlie and Pippa

Charlie and Pippa have always gone to Dallas with us, so they’re great travelers.  Pippa always sits in the driver’s seat.  Charlie got relaxed enough to sleep on his back on my lap.  It was good times.  We love our kitties.

Best Texas moment:

Of course I’m the Accidental Okie, but I’m also an eight-generation Texan.  Every once in a while I see proof of this that blows me away.  Here was one of those moments.  This conversation really happened.

Sarah: Did you hear that Larry Hagman died?
Dad: (Calls his dad to pass on the news and then gets off the phone).
Sarah: Did Grandaddy know?
Dad: Yeah, he and Uncle Don had lunch with Larry’s brother last week, and he said that he wasn’t doing well.

Larry Hagman’s family is from the small town where eight generations of my family are buried.  Larry was in the same class as my great aunt Lou.

I hope your Thanksgiving was great, as well.  Tell me your superlatives!

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
Print
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!

Two Things: The Ill-Fated Cake Ball and A Christmas Announcement

Thing 1: The Tale of the Ill-Fated Cake Ball

A few weeks ago, my friends and I had a cake ball making night.  My friend Ashley hosted it.  She was showing me the cake balls which she had pre-rolled for us to decorate.  In a flurry of excitement, she told me about the gluten-free cake balls and the vanilla cake balls at the same time.  I got confused.  And I ate a whole cake ball.  A whole glutened cake ball.

Now let me explain something to you – I am really gluten intolerant.  It is not a lifestyle choice, a fad or a psychosomatic thing. Here are my reactions:

  • A few crumbs or cross-contamination – acne-like rash on face for about a month.
  • 1/8 a teaspoon of a gluten-containing ingredient – Vomiting for four hours.
  • Any more than that – A week of vomiting/other unfun stuff that I will not write about on this blog, ever.

This cake ball contained more gluten than I’ve ingested cumulatively in past six-and-a-half years.  Thankfully, I realized that I ate the wrong cake ball within just a few minutes.  When the discovery was made, my friends and I all looked at each other, all wondering what I should do, and all of us knowing what had to be done.

So I excused myself, went to the bathroom, turned on the loud vent fan, and gagged myself until I puked.  I did it twice, you know, just to be sure.

It felt just like the after-school special I once watched on bulimia. (The very after school special that taught me how to gag myself).  There I was, hunched over the toilet, turning on the fan to dull the noise, sticking my fingers down my throat.  Yes, I decided, I was a cautionary tale.  Only mine was about eating a cake ball, not a life-threatening eating disorder.

In my moment of desperation and melodrama, all I could hear in my head was the Jessie Spano I’m So Excited freak-out song she sings after becoming “addicted to caffeine pills”.  Yes, children of the 80’s, you all know what I’m talking about.  She screams “I’m so excited, I’m so excited.” And then falling to a heap of tears and early-90’s fashion, she’s caught by Zach Morris, and finally she lets out, “I’m so, I’m so SCARED.”

So I was glutened, and then I was throwing up, and then I was laughing to myself about Saved By the Bell.  But somewhere in there, it worked.  I didn’t have even the smallest reaction.  I was very proud of my mental fortitude.

BTW – bulimia isn’t funny, and if it’s something you struggle with, please find someone to talk to.

Thing 2: Christmas Blog Series!

Get excited because my first guest blog series starts tomorrow!  During the month of November and a bit of December, I will be hosting guest blogs every Tuesday and Thursday.  I’ve asked friends from all stages of life, from all around the world, and with diverse tastes, to suggest ten Christmas present ideas.  My guest bloggers are men, women, young moms, hip grandmas.  Some are stay at home moms, some have Ph.D.s.  They hail from Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Massachusets, Australia and England.  Some shop at Pottery Barn and others make their own gifts.

As the guest posts have rolled in over the past week, I have been so inspired by everyone’s amazing gift ideas, and I know you will be too!  So tune in every Tuesday and Thursday.

Make sure to follow my blog by clicking the follow button on the right hand column so that you don’t miss a single Christmas list!

Pomegranate Hazelnut Vinaigrette Recipe

I love homemade salad dressing.

Salad dressing is easy to make, contains no mystery ingredients and tastes much better than most store bought-dressings.  Every season I have a salad dressing that becomes the usual.  This fall has been no different.

It took a bit of tweaking, but I created a salad dressing that complements all my favorite flavors of fall.

It has just a few ingredients, each unique and bursting with rich flavor.

Pomegranate molasses is ultra-concentrated pomegranate juice.  Every time I get out my bottle from the fridge, this loud 1950’s Charlton Heston-esque epic movie voice comes in my head and says: The juice from a thooooooooooousand pomegranates. 

Sorry – just keeping it real.

Pomegranate molasses is incredibly inexpensive.  I think my bottle – which I’ve had for two years – was $5.  It is sweet and tart and unmistakable.

Next is roasted hazelnut oil.  You could also use roasted walnut oil.  Either way, don’t use a refined version of either oil.  These roasted oils are rich and flavorful, and not meant for cooking.  They are made for salad dressings and drizzling on things.  This La Tourangelle oil is my new favorite thing.  It’s a bit pricey and should be stored in the refrigerator after opening.

And finally, the little black dress of vinegars – balsamic.  Sweet and tangy and scrumptious.

Pomegranate Molasses

Start with the pomegranate molasses.  Just one tablespoon will do. It is thick and decadent.  You’ll fall in love with it!

Next add a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

Swish the two together.

hazelnut oilNext add six tablespoons of hazelnut oil.  It is light in color and rich in flavor.  It smells like roasted hazelnuts and could be eaten by itself.

Just a bit of kosher salt will bring out all the flavors without making the vinaigrette salty.  A bit of brown sugar will cut the tartness of the pomegranate molasses and make the dressing the perfect complement to sweet, sliced apples or yummy pomegranate seeds – both essential ingredients to fall salads.

One mistake I made when testing this recipe was adding dijon mustard.  The molasses is tart enough on its own.

The final result is a light but flavorful complement to the perfect fall salad!  My favorite salad to accompany this vinaigrette is made of lettuce, sliced gala apples, sliced green onions, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and pecans.  It’s perfect with roasted chicken on a crisp fall evening.

This recipe makes about eight tablespoons of vinaigrette.  I make such a small batch because with the expensive oil, I don’t want any to go to waste.  This amount is enough for two or three large dinner-sized salads or four to six small side salads.

Pomegranate Hazelnut Vinaigrette Recipe
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Ingredients
  1. 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  2. 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  3. 6 tbsp roasted hazelnut oil
  4. 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  5. 1/2 tsp brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Mix the pomegranate molasses and vinegar. Next add the roasted hazelnut oil. Mix together. Add the salt and sugar. Taste and add more sugar if you'd like.
  2. Enjoy on your favorite fall salad. Other great topping suggestions: spinach, pomegranate seeds, persimmons, dried cranberries, hazelnuts, walnuts, feta, pears, figs, roasted and shelled pumpkin seeds. It's all the tastes of the season in one salad bowl!
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