Perfect (&gluten free) Meatballs!

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I’ve been quite busy lately. Big changes are coming to my little corner of the internet! These changes are, for the moment, mostly behind-the-scenes. There have been some pretty big changes in my life recently, and they are greatly influencing the direction this website will be taking in the (very) near future. Positive and authentic changes, I hope! Possibly including fun stuff from my new life out on the ranch! Stay tuned :)

Meanwhile…back to the food.

Meatballs.

My youngest son ADORES meatballs. Consequently, I’ve made many many meatballs in the past few years. From giant-sized ones to mini appetizer ones. From simple recipes to recipes that utilized a time-consuming and seasoned panade. Fried, baked, slow-cooker ones. Italian seasoned, sweet meatballs, spicy meatballs, classic meatballs, cumin meatballs, meatball sandwiches, meatball soups, meatballs and spaghetti, overcooked meatballs, and falling-apart meatballs.

And then came these ones. The recipe is basically a fusion of many of my tests and trials and successes. I was trying to pluck what I liked out of all the ones I had ever made, while making them gluten free of course.

Note: This recipe contains certified gluten free oats. Even though some oats are certified gluten free, some would-be meatball-eaters with gluten allergies and sensitivities cannot tolerate the grain. Oats do not technically have gluten, but often contain it due to contamination while in the fields, or via transporting and processing. Also, some simply cannot tolerate even the gf kind. If this applies to you, you can try other alternatives. For instance, adding cooked rice to meatballs is great – and often called porcupine meatballs. They’re good! I think other grains would work as well – such as chia, or amaranth perhaps, but I haven’t experimented with those here. You can always leave the grain out, also.

My son calls these meatballs perfect. And so they must be.

First, the meatball-making photos.

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Now, the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

For Meatballs:
1 C gluten free oats
1/2 C milk
1/3 C ketchup
1 egg
1/3 lb sausage, raw and broken into small pieces
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1 1/2 – 2 lbs ground beef

For Frying:
2/3 C gluten free flour
2 T oil for frying

For Sauce:
1 1/2 pasta sauce (1/2 of a large jar)
1/4 C brown sugar

Directions:

Heat oven to 350F. Combine first 5 ingredients. Let rest for 10 minutes. I did this once, completely by accident (Thanks, kids…). I’ve done it on purpose ever since. I’m not sure if the oats just love to soak up the wet ingredients, or what – but this step is vital, in my opinion. It makes magical things happen (Thanks, kids!).
Stir the salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic into the mixture.
Crumble beef over mixture and mix gently just until combined. Don’t over mix. It’s kinda like meatloaf: overmixing -> dryness -> being mad at me. Please don’t do it.
Roll into small balls.
Place flour on a large plate. Dredge rolled meatballs in flour. Shake off excess.
Heat oil over medium heat.
Fry floured meatballs in small batches, browning sides.
The meatballs will not be cooked through at this point. They will have a nice crust though!
While they are browning, you can whip together the simple sauce. Combine the pasta sauce with the brown sugar. Mix well, and set aside.
Place browned meatballs in an 11×7 sized casserole dish. Slowly pour mixed sauce over the top of the meatballs.
Bake uncovered on the middle rack at 350F for about 30 minutes.

These are great to make up in bulk, and save in the freezer for a speedy meal. In the top photo, I served these Perfect Meatballs with delicious Spicy Black-Eyed Peas. I used baby flat leaf parsley for garnish. Can’t wait til the baby plants are full-grown!

Enjoy!
Glutenvygirl xoxo

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Gluten free creativity?

I try to be creative in the kitchen. Well, to be more accurate, I don’t try…I just do. It just happens, and I go with it. I have fun, and I love what I do. I enjoy myself.

My family is quite used to this. They’re also very honest when it comes to discussing a new experiment’s success points or drawbacks. I don’t always enjoy the honesty at the time ;) but overall it’s a good thing.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of spring rolls. I love them – naturally gluten free, chock full of veggies, and fun to make. So when I had two leftover rice wraps after prepping dinner one night, I decided to turn them into dessert. I added two slices of leftover French toast, chopped into 1-inch cubes. I drizzled the cubes with some sweetened condensed milk, and then rolled that all up in the spring rolls. I had NO CLUE how they’d work out. Half a dessert spring roll per person. I served them with hot syrup and some cherries. Everyone loved them. So this was good. Yay for experimenting!

A few nights ago, I was heating up some coconut oil in my big heavy enameled cast iron pot. I was going to fry chicken, with my fantastic gf flour mix. My family thinks it tastes better than KFC’s (the ones who remember the taste of it, anyways).

I couldn’t find my relatively new meat thermometer, to keep check on the temps, so I decided to use my candy thermometer to keep a steady temp on the coconut oil. I clipped it onto the cast iron. Creative, right? Yeah…I thought so…

I wound up frying the whole darn thermometer. It popped off the clip and slid into the hot oil, which then started bubbling and foaming. The plastic top melted into bright yellow goo, staining the oil with it’s cheerful sunny color. Yuck. Threw the whole mess away.

I ended up baking the chicken. Guess I need to buy a couple more thermometers now.

My kitchen creativity is definitely showing on the negative side lately. I need to knock a few out of the park soon to balance the scale!

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Gluten free? Start a garden!

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Gluten free? Start a garden.
Not gluten free? Start a garden.

Can you tell where my thoughts are, deep into January, the ponds all frozen and the winds still biting? Cold cold January – my favorite month to start dreaming about gardening. Seed catalogues arrive, and are soon dog-eared and marked up. Websites are visited. Seeds from last year are sorted through (and, lets be honest, seeds from the year before that, and before that, and before that…I’m a seed hoarder). My garden this year is going to be the biggest one yet! So exited!

Vegetables, fruits, and many grains are gluten free. Grains and the like that we are experimenting with this year include amaranth (last year’s crop didn’t do well), quinoa, chia, and sesame. We are even going to try a type of rice that doesn’t need the typical flooding…not sure how that will go, but I like to try things out. We will also be growing corn again, and potatoes.

One of my favorite things to do is to garden. To grow things. To plan it out, purchase and organize for it, plant it, care for it, harvest it, preserve it. It’s a thoroughly complete cycle for me, and allows me to provide for myself and my family – with the knowledge of what precisely went into the food. It’s been fantastic for my kids as well – a son who didn’t care much for green beans can never get enough Dragon Tongue beans (going to grow more of them this year). It allows us to try unusual produce that we would never otherwise have access to, at the absolute freshest it can be. Saving what we love for use later in the cold months. My kids learn a lot every year, about different plants, pests, and life.

Plus, it’s just plain fun.

Growing your own allows you to KNOW more about your food. I am all for that. It also is inspiring, in the sense that it is almost like a kitchen antagonist, spurring you to create inventive meals with what you have on hand. For example, making pad thai ~ Throw in halved cherry tomatoes and fresh snow peas, chopped green onions and maybe some fresh corn. The options are endless, and delicious. Need suggestions? My favorite seed company is the one I wrote about here.

Do you have garden plans already?

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Easy Icing for sandwich cookies, using coconut oil

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This is my favorite go-to icing to make cookie sandwiches. It’s gluten free, and can easily be made milk free as well, by using plain soymilk or almond milk in lieu of the milk.

I use coconut oil in place of what is often used – shortening. Coconut oil is fantastic as a substitute, but if you cannot find it feel free to use shortening.

Directions & Ingredients:
Using a mixer, cream together 1/2 cup of coconut oil, 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of cold milk/soymilk.
Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and mix thoroughly.
Place icing in the refrigerator for ten minutes or so, to firm up. It’s much easier to work with!

Use this to ice cookies, make cookie sandwiches, top your favorite gf sugar cookies or use to decorate cupcakes.

Enjoy!
xoxo

INGREDIENT LIST
1/2 C coconut oil
2 tsp vanilla
2 T cold milk/soymilk
3 C powdered sugar

Notes about coconut oil: coconut oil is solid at 75F and below. It melts to the touch and at a higher temp. This makes it very well suited to lotion bars as well! But for cooking purposes, it’s why I recommend the refrigeration time after mixing. The cookies you make using this icing should be fine at room temps – unless your fireplace is cracking high and it is over 75, in which case you should keep it in the refrigerator.

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Thanksgiving Italian Soup – Allergy friendly

A leftover – based soup! I make some form of this soup multiple times each year. It’s a great way to use leftover turkey (or chicken) in a way that is pretty distinct from the typical “Thanksgiving Day leftovers” taste. I love throwing it all in a slow cooker, but it works just as well in a pot simmering on the stovetop. Its fantastic when you’re on a gluten free diet – and you know the ingredients going into this are gf (or free from whatever allergens you are sensitive to). This is my youngest’s favorite soup! The strong flavors of the fennel and fennel seed, coupled with the olives and turkey, really knock it out of the park for him.

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Gentle reminder: when combining leftovers for another meal, make sure all your leftovers meet your specific dietary requirements before you add them in.

I am not using exact measurements here- this is a pretty simple soup and wonderfully versatile to fit your tastes (and pantry), and very forgiving. Just add what you love!

Leftover turkey (or chicken)
Leftover vegetables and/or a few cans of vegetables (I use whole pitted black olives, mushrooms, stewed or diced tomatoes, corn, green beans, quartered artichoke hearts. The olives and chokies I typically make sure to add plenty of)
Fresh vegetables – celery, onion, and my favorite for this, a sliced fennel bulb
Broth (or water if you have no broth, but be sure to let it cook longer to really flavor the liquid)
Italian herbs (basil, oregano, and the signature herb for this, fennel seed)
A pinch or two of salt and pepper to taste

Throw in the slow cooker and heat on low for a few hours, or simmer on the stove.

Some option ideas: If you don’t like the strong flavors of fennel, then swap it out for other vegetables. Add some green chiles and cumin to spice it up and take it from Italian to more of a tex-mex flavor! You can also add cooked sausage for a different flavor – I think the fennel seed still works well for that.

This is a pretty flexible basic soup. I love to keep it hot and ready on holiday weekends, to warm up family coming inside from the cold or to welcome unexpected visitors. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
~glutenvygirl xo

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Memories of my grandmothers, and potato casserole

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I am obsessed with retro vintage sewing patterns. Obsessed. It is a relatively recent addition to the long list of my obsessions – and I blame this one squarely on the hard-working shoulders of my grandmothers. Every time I press my sewing machine into use (which is almost daily now), they both cross my mind.

My obsession was created (unveiled? unleashed from the secret corners of my soul?) earlier this year, when my maternal grandma passed away. My mother and I were sitting in Grandma’s sewing room. Grandma didn’t have many patterns; she was an amazing quilter, among her many other hobbies, including knitting and crochet, and those were her focus. One of my most prized possessions is a gorgeous purple log cabin quilt that she made me when I was 15. Her quilts were always incredible works of art, and much valued by those of us who were lucky enough to get our hands on one. Her hands were always busy, and her eyes bright and ready to laugh. I don’t really recall her sitting at her sewing machine; I recall her knitting, or hand-quilting. Ah I miss her.

Due to Grandma’s known prowess with quilting, Mom and I were a bit surprised to find a couple really old vintage clothing patterns tucked behind her quilting fabric stash.

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I was smitten.

How could I not be? These were absolute gems. I’d never seen anything like them. The styles, the cuts. The design.

I got home and dusted off my sewing machine that had previously only been used for the occasional costume or repair. It took some effort to remember what I was doing. I could hear both grandmas’ words of advice as I started each project. My Mother’s advice, also – she has been super supportive in my newfound obsession. Mom has, however, taken particular delight in my mess-ups, like the time I ironed interfacing TO my ironing board cover. I’m always happy to provide her with entertainment. ;)

Years ago, my paternal grandma and I used to talk sewing all the time. I’d have dreams about dresses, and she would tell me it was totally feasible to create. She was an incredibly talented seamstress. Gifted. She sewed matching clothing for her growing family; I’ve heard some neat stories about that. My wedding dress belonged to my mother (circa late 70s), and my grandma made it fit me – with my mother’s approval of course, after going with me to countless wedding apparel stores where I never could find that perfect dress – Gram took it in and transformed the high neck to an off-the-shoulder line. She left the delicate lacy bell sleeves. It is truly a work of art. The first shirt she taught me to sew was a hilarious comedy of errors, and a favorite memory…a story for another time.

But back to the point here! I totally knew I would go way off topic when discussing my Grams. I’m trying to stay on point, honest.

Okay. Focus! Patterns, vintage. Rediscovered. Sewing machine, dusted off and oiled and humming along. Tears, often…in that bittersweet form that comes with sweet memories coupled with the ache of missing. Sewing, for me, has become an emotional outlet. A rewarding, fulfilling one. One that brings me closer to my treasured memories and the ones who helped shape my creative growth.

I’ve pretty much been sewing ever since this spring pattern discovery. Tons of dresses. Jackets for my boys. Wall hanging pockets for field trips. Table runners. Bed catch-alls. Quilted pegboards. Curtains. Costumes. Currently I’m starting on some Barbie clothing, a surprise for my niece. Shhh! I’m knee-deep in fabric and I love it.

eBay has an amazing offering of vintage patterns. I’ve been scooping them up at fantastic prices. Storage is fast becoming an issue; I’m working on it though. If you have any suggestions, feel free to share :)

On to the food. Yay!

On the afternoons when the machine is hot and zipping and my sharp fabric scissors are flying, I rely on tried-and-true favorites for meals. This is a family favorite, shortcut with convenience foods. It is often made with the cream-of soups; mine relies on a dried soup mix for flavor. It mixes up relatively easily, and is very comforting on those nights when I’m a bit drained and craving some comfort food. The recipe can be doubled for a larger group. One batch makes 9 servings; but I’ve found most people want extra helpings. It is great heated up the next day as well.

Potato Casserole

1 medium onion, chopped
1 stick (4oz) of butter
1 small box (4.2oz) dehydrated shredded potatoes
1/2 cup of seasoned dry potato soup mix
1 regular (16oz) container of sour cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Add hot water to the dehydrated potatoes. They need to stand for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large pan, cook onion over medium heat in all the butter until it is translucent and beginning to brown. Remove from heat. Add the sour cream and soup mix and stir thoroughly. By this time the potatoes should be ready; drain them and gently stir into the onion mixture. Pour this mixture into a greased 9×9 casserole dish. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until it starts to brown around the edges. Slice into 9 equal portions and serve.

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This is in no way shape or form healthy. You could possibly lighten it up with light sour cream, much less butter, and throw in steamed shredded carrots or broccoli. Another addition idea is to add cooked shredded chicken or cooked fajita chicken, add a fresh garden salad on the side, and make it a meal. Play with it; do whatever suits your fancy.

Enjoy!
~glutenvygirl xoxo

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Bacon-wrapped chicken & chokes

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I LOVE fair food. With a passion. Unfortunately, most fair food is not gluten free. Recently while on a girls’ trip to a fair, we discovered these tiny little yummy pieces of fair food perfection – and gluten free to boot!
**NOTE: most fair food, even if gf naturally, is fried in the same oil as gluten-loaded chicken sticks and breaded fried candy bars, and is best avoided.

I finally got the opportunity to make my own, and they were DELISH. I served them with sriracha ranch dip (recipe to follow).

2 6.5oz jars marinated artichoke hearts
1 skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
10 slices of bacon, halved

Preheat the oven to 425F.
Place a chicken piece and artichoke piece on each bacon and wrap. You can secure with toothpicks, but as long as you tuck the bacon ends underneath onto the pan, you should be golden.
Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the chicken internal temp reaches 170F. Remove and tent with foil while you make the super-complicated dip: Sriracha Ranch dip.

Take ranch dressing. Add in some sriracha hot pepper sauce to taste. Stir.

Serve and enjoy :)

xoxo
Glutenvygirl

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UPDATE

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Hey, all! We are almost all moved in, and the Internet finally arrives later this week. Can’t wait! I look forward to sharing more details of the recent mildly-tumultuous-but-mostly-a-blast events of our life, along with my recipes and such, very very soon! :)

xoxo
~glutenvygirl

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Try this.

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Just recently picked some of this (Fox Barrel Blackberry Pear Cider, 5% alc/vol.) up, and was pleasantly surprised. I am always on the look out for a new decent gluten free adult beverage to try…This one is great!

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Yummy! I recommend it.

xoxo
glutenvygirl

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Roasted Garlic Potatoes With Bacon

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I love roasted potatoes! Garlic is an obsession for me. And I love bacon, of course. So when my son recently suggested adding bacon to my side dish staple of roasted garlic red potatoes, I was all over that. He helped with the prep as well, sweet boy. I love hearing his creative ideas and working together to turn them into reality!

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We started by halving the small red potatoes and placing them into a baking dish. Then, in went a small sliced sweet onion. We added a full head of garlic with the outer paper skin removed and the top sliced off. Seasoning was simple – kosher salt, black pepper, and parsley. Then, two slices of uncooked bacon was added in bits and pieces, sprinkled over the dish. Kitchen shears made quick work of turning the slices into smaller bits. And then we baked it uncovered at 400F for about 50 minutes, stirring halfway through the bake time.

Ingredients:
Small red potatoes
Small onion
Head of garlic
Two slices uncooked bacon, cut into pieces
Salt & Pepper
Parsley

So so simple. So very delicious. The bacon infused the potatoes with that smoky bacon flavor and fat as it cooked. The roasted garlic was served by the clove or two on each plate.

Ready for the oven:
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And on the plate, with roasted garlic:

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Enjoy!
~glutenvygirl xoxo

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