Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm baaaaaack!

I had a great week in Indianapolis at a fire fighter training conference. It feels great to be home. I know some of you would love to be surrounded by 30 thousand firefighters, but after a week of talking about nothing but firefighting and hanging out with a bunch of dudes, I'm spent.

Just in case you ever wanted to know what a football stadium full of fire trucks looks like, here you go.

On to real business; food.

For this weeks What's for dinner? Wednesday, I made Garlic Chicken Pizza.
Other than the crust, I don't follow a recipe for this pizza.

To make the crust, I simply follow my gluten free french bread recipe with one exception. I use half the water needed to make the bread, everything else is the same. Once the dough is made, I roll it out on a rice flour dusted counter. I then lay my pizza pan on top of the dough and cut around it to make a nice circular crust. Next, I take the left over dough and roll it like a bread stick and mold it to the edge of the crust. Finally, I bake the plain crust in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes.
For the sauce, I use Classico Alfredo pasta sauce for the base. For the pizza topping, I grill 2 chicken breasts on my BBQ and cube them up. I roast 2-3 cloves of garlic, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, in a 325 degree F oven for 15-20 minutes until soft. I dice about 1/4 cup each of red and green bell pepper and red onion. Add all the ingredients on top of the sauce, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top and bake. I love to grill my pizza for a crisp and smoky flavor.

Bake or grill at about 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Go figure

The Portland area has been on and off for decent weather lately. So I was excited to hear that warm weather was headed our way for the weekend. Bright sunny blue skies, mid to high 70's, not bad for this time of year in the Northwest. Then it hit me, I'm leaving on Sunday to travel to Indianapolis for a week long fire department training conference. No problem, I've never been to Indianapolis, let's check out the weather forecast for the day I arrive.

Portland, Oregon's Forecast

Indianapolis, Indiana's Forecast

Oh well, I guess I can wait until June for another chance at warm weather in my neighborhood.

I will be gone all of this upcoming week due to my travels, I hope everyone has a great week and I'll be back to the blogosphere soon. Take care.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Gluten Free Bliss

Check out some great dinner ideas at the Gluten Free Homemaker's, What's for dinner? Wednesday. When you're ready for dessert, I've got you covered. I know, I know, you're all still reeling from Easter. You say you've had your fair share of treats lately; chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs, PEEPS, and jelly beans. I say that's great for the kiddos, but where are the adult treats? Where's the dessert that will have us bouncing off the ceiling like a 3 year old on Easter morning? Look no further, I've found it for you. If there is one thing I lack, besides a sense of fashion, is the ability to control myself when presented with a combination of chocolate and peanut butter. It calls to me. So I present you with:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Inspired by the Smitten Kitchen and modified to be gluten free
2 cups gluten free flour mix
2-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
1 cup sour cream
1-1/2 cups water
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
Peanut Butter Frosting:
10 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
4-5 cups powder sugar (sifted)
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze:
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3 Tbs creamy peanut butter
2 Tbs light corn syrup
1/2 cup half & half
Makes a three layer eight inch cake
Bake cakes at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes

For the cake: Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl or stand mixer bowl. Stir in oil and sour cream. Gradually beat in the water. Mix in vinegar and vanilla. Finally, whisk in the eggs and beat until thoroughly mixed. I mixed the batter by hand. In retrospect, I would have used my stand mixer for less of a work out.

Grease three 8 inch cake pans with butter. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Divide the batter equally between the three pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Mine baked for a full 35 minutes.

While the cake is in the oven, it's a good time to make the frosting. Beat the butter and cream cheese together. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and mix slowly at first to avoid sending sugar all throughout your house. Taste the frosting for sweetness after about the third cup of sugar. I used about 4-1/2 cups in mine. Sweeten to your liking. Finally, mix in the peanut butter until thoroughly combined.

When the cake is done baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack or a large cookie sheet. I would suggest lining the wire rack or cookie sheet with parchment prior to inverting the cakes to avoid the cake sticking to the rack or pan.

Once the cakes have cooled completely, the frosting can begin. I would recommend checking out the smitten kitchen for some great tips and techniques for frosting the cake. Begin with one layer, use about 2/3 cup frosting to frost the layer. Add the next layer and repeat. Add the third layer and (you guessed it) repeat. Frost the sides of the cake. You may have some frosting left over. Place the cake in the freezer for about 15 minutes which will allow the glaze to solidify as it is poured over the top.

To make the chocolate glaze, combine chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup in a double boiler. Whisk frequently until melted and combined. Remove from heat and whisk in half and half until smooth. Pour the chocolate glaze over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides.

Slice it up and enjoy!!!

Now, I know some of you out there are thinking; "Wow this looks great, I wish I had Celiac Disease so I can enjoy this wonderful cake." Not to worry, simply substitute all purpose flour instead of gluten free flour and omit the xanthan gum.

Please check out the Smitten Kitchen for great photos of their cake and some very helpful tips to make this come together.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Easter Aftermath

Another Easter in the books. I have a special Easter recipe for you:
Easter Chaos:
Take 1- 3 year old girl (preferably an only child, or an only grandchild on one side of the family)
Add tons of chocolate (make sure you start this as early as possible)
Stir in some grandparents and an aunt
Throw in 3 Easter baskets full of toys and candy (this may sound like a lot, but it's key to the success of this recipe)
Toss in an Easter egg hunt
Sprinkle with just a dash more sugar
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and then attempt to place chaos in bed. Pray that chaos falls asleep before midnight. Enjoy!!!

Do not adjust your computer screen. We hosted Easter brunch at our house today. My mother brought these colored deviled eggs. The egg whites were dyed using about 7 drops of food coloring and adding a 1/2 cup of near boiling water into a cup. Soak the whites in the dye, remove, and fill. The filling is simply egg yolk, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. The eggs were delicious but I have to admit it's a bit unsettling biting into a purple egg.

We had a great Easter with family this year. I hope everyone enjoyed the day as well.

Happy Easter!!!

It's been a crazy weekend of cleaning, cooking, and preparing for the Easter Bunny. I hope everyone has a great Easter.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's all about the sauce

Time for another What's for Dinner? Wednesday. Mexican food is a staple in our home. We love it for all the bold flavors and combinations of spices. In addition, most Mexican food is naturally or easily made gluten free. When my wife and I were first dating, we ate at Chevy's Mexican Restaurant frequently. I even bought a Chevy's cookbook they were selling at the restaurant. Chevy's makes a great jalapeno jelly that is served warm with some of their menu items. Jalapeno jelly is a great combination of sweet and spicy that can enhance Mexican dishes. Thanks to my handy cookbook, I can replicated it at home. So this week we had chicken and steak fajitas. I'm sure you can all figure out fajitas: saute onions and peppers-check, cook meat in Mexican spices-check, warm tortillas up-check, the real magic is in the jelly.

Sweet Hot Jalapeno Jelly:
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 of 1 seeded and diced jalapeno pepper (the sauce is very mild, if you want more heat try adding some canned diced jalapenos)
1-1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh squeezed lime juice
2 Tbs Certo liquid pectin
Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Dice peppers

In a sauce pan combine: peppers, jalapenos, sugar, vinegar, and lime juice. Heat until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and blend the mixture in a blender or food processor for about 5-10 seconds. Return mix to the sauce pan and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam on the surface. Once the mix comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the pectin, bring mix back to a boil. Once it boils again, remove from heat and let it cool.

The jelly will set as it cools. While it's warm it should have the consistency of honey. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or it can be sealed using canning/preserving methods. Give it a try, it's easy to make and it compliments many dishes. Enjoy!!!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

So many cupcakes, so little time.

I love finding traditional glutenous recipes and making them gluten free. My wife and I have made every effort to not be shackled by a gluten free lifestyle. In the early days of learning how to live gluten free, we felt so restricted and overwhelmed. Today, we are able to take turn just about any recipe into something our non gluten free friends could eat without ever knowing the difference. Last week I stumbled upon a cupcake blog. The Cupcake Bake Shop is no longer being updated. However, there are many archived decadent cupcake recipes available for viewing. I made chocolate cupcakes this week with vanilla cream cheese frosting (modified to be gluten free.) They are very very moist and delicious. I can't wait to try more from the Cupcake Bake Shop archives.
Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:
Makes 12 regular cupcakes
1/2 cup butter (1 stick softened)
1-1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-24 minutes

Cream butter and sugar together, add eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, xanthan gum, cocoa, and flour. Add vanilla to milk. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to the butter, egg, sugar mix. Add about 1/3 at a time, combine well. Scoop batter into cupcake liners, fill about 2/3's full. Bake.

4 Tbs butter (Softened)
2 ounces cream cheese (Softened)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 Tbs milk

With either a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla and 1 Tbs of milk. Add powdered sugar a little at a time until blended thoroughly. Add more milk to thin the frosting as needed. Mix well. Frost cooled cupcakes