Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The whole enchilada!!!


I was reading email at home the other night. My mother in law sent a message asking if my wife and I were still OK with bringing enchiladas to a potluck dinner party for 14 people at her house. Since I do most of the cooking, I quickly realized it meant I was going to be responsible for making enchiladas. I got up from the computer to go ask my wife when she was going to let me know I was cooking for all these people. She gave me a little smile and said (insert pitiful, sappy sweet voice) "oh didn't I tell you...I didn't think you would mind." Needless to say, here I am with an enchilada recipe. I love this recipe for enchiladas. While cooking the filling, the sauce is created at the same time. The filling would also be great for nachos or tacos.

Enchiladas: (Enough for a 9x13 baking dish full- about 12)
1-1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 medium onion (chopped fine- about 1 cup)
3 cloves of garlic (pressed)
3 Tbs chili powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
12 ounces of chicken (use any cut you like- I use about 3-4 cubed boneless, skinless breasts)
16 ounces tomato sauce
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 can or about 2 ounces of diced jalapenos
8 ounces of cheddar cheese (extra sharp is great in this)
10-12 corn tortillas
Bake in a 300 degree F oven for 20-25 minutes

Begin by heating oil in a pan, cook onion for about 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat. After onion is cooked, add garlic, chili powder, coriander, cumin, and salt. Coat the onion with spices and cook for about 1 minute. Next stir in chicken and coat thoroughly with onion and spice mixture, cook for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium.

Add tomato sauce and water. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat just enough to maintain a simmer. Cook uncovered until chicken is thoroughly cooked, about 10 minutes.

Once chicken is cooked, pour the mixture through a strainer. Press on the chicken mixture to extract as much sauce as you can. Place the chicken mix in a separate bowl.

You will end up with one bowl of chicken and onion mixture and another bowl with your sauce.

I let the chicken cool slightly. Next, I use the paddle attachment on my stand mixer to shred the chicken. Use a low to medium speed to break up the chicken. You could also shred by hand, but this is much easier.

To the now shredded chicken mixture, add the cheese, cilantro, and jalapenos. Just stir it in with a spoon. If you are dairy free, simply omit the cheese and I'm sure it will still taste great.

To prepare the tortillas for rolling, preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Lightly coat both sides of each tortilla with oil (I give each one a quick spray with PAM on each side.) Place on a cookie sheet and warm in the oven for 3-4 minutes. (This step prevents the tortillas from breaking when you roll them)

Next, spoon the filling into the warm tortilla and roll it up.
Use a 9x13 baking dish. Before putting the tortillas in the pan, pour in enough sauce to thinly cover the bottom of the baking dish. Roll all the enchiladas. Pour the remainder of the sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle on a little extra cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 300 degree F for 20-25 minutes.

Top with sour cream. Enjoy!!!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Whipped by the cream

I've been on a big whipped cream kick over the last couple weeks. When I went to the store a while back, they were all out of pints of whipped cream so I bought a quart. Big mistake. I have been forced to create one dessert after another to use up my supply of whipped cream. First it was used for hot fudge sundaes, then pumpkin pie, and now finally for one of my favorites;
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake with Mango and Macadamia Nuts:
4 Tbs butter (half stick)
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 Pineapple rings
1/3 cup diced mango
1/3 cup crushed Macadamia nuts
8 Tbs butter (1 stick-softened) + extra for coating pan
1/2 cup sugar + 2Tbs and extra for coating pan
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups Gluten free flour mix
2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs (separated)
1 cup milk
Bake in an 8x8 cooking pan at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, check, cover with foil and bake up to 15 minutes more. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Start by greasing an 8x8 baking dish with cold butter. Add sugar and move it around the pan until it is coated evenly. Discard extra sugar.

Prepare filling by dicing Mango and Macadamia nuts and setting aside Pineapple.

For the sauce: heat butter, brown sugar, and vinegar in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir frequently for about 5-6 minutes until sauce begins to thicken a little (sauce with thicken more as it cools.) Pour half the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish, place Pineapple rings over the sauce and sprinkle with Mango and Macadamia nuts.

Pour the remaining sauce over the top.

For the cake batter: cream butter, sugar, and salt together. In a separate bowl combine: flour and baking powder. Separate eggs. Add yolks one at a time to the creamed butter, sugar, and salt. Alternate adding flour mix and milk to batter until thoroughly mixed. Add 2 Tbs of sugar to egg whites, hand whip until very frothy. Fold egg whips into the batter. Pour batter into the pan.

Bake, cool, and serve with whipped cream. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where's Mom?


When I graduated from high school, two of my friends gave me a book to assist me with life away from home as I went off to college. The book is called: Where's Mom Now That I Need Her? The book is meant to be a survival guide of sorts for a spoiled kid left to fend for him or herself out in the real world. I believe this is part of a whole series of books: Where's Dad?, Where's my Uncle?, etc. There are chapters covering everything from basic nutrition, how to shop for produce, how to do laundry, to basic first aid, and some general vehicle and bicycle maintenance. A good portion of the book is filled with basic, uncomplicated recipes that a teenager should be able to handle. At the end of each chapter there are blank pages for mom to fill out with her wisdom and advice. I still have this book today. As I look through it nearly twenty years later, I'm amazed at the wisdom and advice my mother had to share with her 18 year old son as he was leaving home for the first time. Recipes passed down through the generations from our Norwegian and French ancestors. Here are some examples: for chocolate chip cookies "Buy Nestle chocolate chips, follow recipe on package." Next to a morning nog recipe in the book calling for 2 eggs; "No-don't eat raw eggs, risk of Salmonella, I'm not kidding." Next to a scalloped tuna and potato recipe and several other recipes; "sounds good." Timeless wisdom passed onto me that someday I hope to share with my daughter when she leaves the nest. There is one recipe that my mother actually wrote down in the book that I use to this day. I have been too lazy to copy it down elsewhere and therefore, I have held onto my Where's Mom Now That I Need Her? book for all these years.

Mom's Lasagna: modified with GF noodles
1 pound ground beef (you could incorporate Italian sausage or ground turkey instead)
2-3 cloves of garlic (pressed)
1 Tbs basil (finely chopped if using fresh)
1 tsp salt
2 -1 pound cans of chopped tomatoes
12 ounces of tomato paste
10 ounces GF Lasagna noodles (I use Tinkyada Brown Rice Lasagna Noodles)
2 pounds Ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbls Italian parsley (finely chopped if using fresh)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 ounces Mozzarella cheese
Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes or make ahead and refrigerate. If refrigerated bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving

Brown ground beef, drain fat, then add garlic. Cook for 1 minute then add basil, salt, tomatoes, and tomato paste. I let it simmer while I get the rest of the ingredients prepared. Add a little water if it seems too thick but you don't want it very runny.

In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese, Parmesan, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper.

Boil noodles for about 2 minutes less than the package calls for. In a greased 9x13 baking dish, layer noodles, then half of the ricotta cheese mixture.

Sprinkle on half the mozzarella cheese.

Next spread on half of the meat sauce. If you are going to make this ahead and refrigerate, let the meat sauce cool to near room temperature before putting it on top of the cheese.

Repeat with the other half of noodles, ricotta mix, mozzarella, and meat sauce. I sprinkle a little extra mozzarella on top. You can also sneak in other vegetables in between layers for unsuspecting kids to enjoy. Bake and serve. Make up a loaf of GF French Bread and you're all set. Thanks Mom!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Not just for the holidays

I'm quickly realizing that I should have photographed and archived at least a months worth of meals before embarking on my blog. We just had a great dinner the other night but none of my pictures turned out. It's no problem, I'll gladly make it again and post it later. In the meantime, I made a pumpkin pie to share with you. As I took my first bite, waves of nostalgic holiday memories rushed over me. I realized that I can't remember ever eating pumpkin pie outside of the constraints of the Thanksgiving / Christmas season. Unless you count the time I was dared to eat an entire Costco pumpkin pie within an hour at the fire station. I failed miserably. And yes, firefighters do stupid things to pass the time at the station. Anyway, I had a frozen gluten free pie shell from Whole Foods in the freezer begging to be used. I simply use the recipe from the Libby's canned pumpkin.
Pumpkin Pie:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 large eggs
1 can (15 oz.) Libby's pumpkin
1 can (12 fl. oz.) evaporated milk
1 unbaked 9 inch pie shell

Start by whisking together all the dry ingredients
Thoroughly combine eggs, pumpkin, and spice mixture. Slowly, stir in evaporated milk. Pour into an unbaked gluten free pie shell

Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake for 40-50 minutes. Cool on wire rack for up to 2 hours or until you can't wait any longer to eat it. Top with whipped cream.
Note: Whipped cream amount depicted in photo is not representative of the volume of whipped cream added and consumed after the picture was taken.
Even without a crust on hand, this recipe makes a great custard.
Don't wait for the holidays. Making pumpkin pie is easy and you shouldn't have to wait to whip up a great dessert. Enjoy!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I'm excited that the most recent shipment of Benziger wine arrived yesterday from our wine club membership. Sadly, this is our last shipment as well. Like most people, we are trying to tighten our budget and some things must be sacrificed.

Every shipment of wine we've received reminds me of our trip to the Napa and Sonoma Valleys nearly two years ago. My wife and I made the trip for our fifth anniversary. This was the first real vacation since our daughter was born the year before. It was difficult to choose from so many wineries to visit in the few days we were there. We divided our time between the Napa Valley and the Sonoma Valley. We visited some beautiful wineries and enjoyed the time we had together. One of the last wineries we visited was Benziger Winery in the Sonoma Valley. We loved every wine they poured in the tasting room and decided to join their wine club. Since our return home we've enjoyed many great reminders of our trip. Except for a bottle of Port, delivered in a December shipment, collecting dust in our pantry that I have no idea what to do with.

View from the tasting room deck at Miner Family Vineyards in Napa Valley

Atop Pritchard Hill leaving Chappellet Winery in Napa Valley- Great Winery Tour

A castle in Sonoma Valley -Ledson Winery- We purchased a couple of great bottles here. We're saving one for our tenth anniversary.

Buena Vista Winery in Sonoma Valley- California's oldest premium winery, established in 1857.

While each shipment of Benziger has made me recap a great experience, it's time to move on. My wife and I are not vast consumers of wine and a couple bottles periodically from our wine club have been enough to meet our needs. At the same time, we've found ourselves in a bit of a wine rut. Before the California trip and the wine club, we experimented more. We found cheap undiscovered gems and we bought wines from appellations around the world. I'm excited to get back into that adventure of great discoveries. To top it off, we have at least two wineries in our back yard (literally less than a couple miles from our house) that we have never been to. There are several more not much farther away producing incredible Pinot Noir's. So, it's been a great ride with Benziger, but it's time to broaden our horizons and stomp around in Oregon vineyards enjoying what others travel great distances to indulge in.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's for dinner? Wednesday

Tonight is another "What's for Dinner Wednesday?" recipe for the Gluten Free Homemaker. I came across this recipe on a local morning TV show a few years ago.

South of the Border Turkey Burgers with Chipotle Spread and Roasted Red Potatoes

Turkey Burgers:
2 pounds ground turkey
1/4 cup cilantro- finely chopped
2 cloves garlic -pressed
2 Tbs mild diced green chiles
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp ground Cumin
1/2 tsp salt

Prepare all ingredients in the bowl, add turkey and mix well

Cube and season red potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cover with foil and bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove foil, turn potatoes, and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes

Form turkey burgers and grill until cooked through

Chipotle Spread:
1 whole Chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce
2 Tbs mayonnaise
4 Tbs sour cream
blend in a food processor until thoroughly mixed
Spread on the bun in place of other condiments

My wife uses gluten free hamburger buns purchased online from Kinnikinnick.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Good Banana, Bad Banana

Here's my Good Banana in her Tiny Tot Hip Hop class

Good banana and I have spent a long weekend together while momma banana has been in Arizona attending a wedding.

In addition to taking care of a good banana, I had a few bad bananas lying around this weekend that I had to take care of as well. What to do, what to do? Why not turn bad bananas into good bananas by making:

Gluten Free Banana Bars with Browned Butter Pecan Frosting:
2 cups gluten free flour mix
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
12 Tbs (1-1/2 sticks of butter at room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2-3 bananas)
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbs butter (1/2 stick)
1-1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
6 ounces cream cheese (softened)
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup pecans (toasted)

Whisk together the first 4 ingredients. Set aside

Cream together butter and sugars first, then combine the remainder of the wet ingredients for the cake. Slowly add flour mixture and combine thoroughly.

Spread cake mixture into a greased (I usually line the pan with parchment paper) 10x15 baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and invert onto a large cutting board to cool.

For the frosting: melt 4 Tbs of butter in a sauce pan. Stir constantly over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes until the butter turns golden brown and gives off a nutty aroma.

Cool the browned butter to around room temperature. Combine browned butter with the remainder of the frosting ingredients (except pecans) until smooth and creamy. Toast chopped pecans in the oven. Spread frosting on cooled cake and sprinkle with pecans.

The best way to turn bad bananas into good ones. Enjoy !!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ready for the weekend

It's that time. You wake up Saturday morning, desperately thinking of what to fix for breakfast. You're tired of dried bits of gluten free cereal. Bacon and eggs, while never out of style, just isn't appealing. Why not try some coffee cake? Settle in, read the paper, and brew up a cup of black gold.
WARNING: If you have an aversion to large doses of butter and sugar, you may want to skip this breakfast option.
Best Ever (seriously,) Gluten Free Sour Cream Coffee Cake:
1 cup butter (2 sticks at room temperature, separate 2 Tbs out for the topping)
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream (we use low fat... not that it makes a difference in this recipe)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbs melted butter (use the 2 Tbs reserved from the 1 cup above)
Bake in a 9x13 baking dish at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes
I usually prepare the topping first. Melt the butter and combine with flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl until the mixture has a coarse texture. Set aside. Then whisk together the dry ingredients for the dough (2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/8 tsp salt) in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Next, cream the butter and sugar together

Add 1 cup of sour cream, 2 eggs, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla.. Mix well. Slowly mix in the flour, baking powder, salt mixture until thoroughly combined

Grease a 9x13 baking dish and spread half the batter in the pan with a spatula, top with half the brown sugar topping mixture. Repeat with the other half of batter and topping mixture. Note: the dough/batter is very sticky. Use patience and spread it slowly with a spatula. If you do it too fast the batter will stick to the spatula and be difficult to spread.
Bake at 350 F for 30-35 or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Brew up that coffee, send the kids away, grab the paper, and relax. Enjoy!!!