Friday, November 25, 2011

Sleuth’s 20/20 Hindsight: Thanksgiving foods

Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His loving kindness is everlasting” (1 Chronicles 16:34).

First, I didn’t take a picture of our turkey. It looked just like your turkey. I used a fresh Honeysuckle White turnkey from Walmart. I bought two because the fresh turkeys were 98 cents a pound and the frozen were 1.49 a pound. I froze the second one for later. They don’t offer fresh turkeys all the time, and I am sure they had it cheaper to be able to sell the bazillion of them they had sitting in cold storage. My husband prepared it while I was working on other foods, and he noted as he was unwrapping it that it said “freeze or use by 11/22/11.” Way to go Walmart. I had been in the store on Monday and told the guy in the meat department that I thought I should wait until closer to Thursday to get it, and he told me that all the fresh turkeys they were getting were already at the store and that it wouldn’t be a problem anyway. No one got sick, so perhaps he knew what he was talking about, but the whole thing is a bit unsettling, even so.

All of these follow-up comments are on foods that I either gave recipes or links to the recipes in my post for 11/19/11.

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Next, I made my first gluten free stuffing in six years (five years gluten free plus the gut-wrenching, life-draining pain when I didn’t know what was wrong with me, along with my more recent No Dairy, No Egg, No Kidding problems). In the past few months, I have found that I seem to be able to tolerate eggs. I haven’t had one straight up yet, but I did make French toast for my husband and I a couple of months ago and had no trouble with it. Anyway, I used Udi’s Whole Grain bread to make my stuffing, and the only changes I made to the linked recipe in the 11/19 post were to the onions and the seasonings. I did not pre-cook the onions, and I really seasoned it well poultry seasoning and thyme. I didn’t have the fresh herbs. I also did not use the butter, as she recommended. I cooked the turkey neck in chicken broth (Pacific, as usual), and used that liquid, as well as some from the turkey itself, and it really turned out yummy. Everyone enjoyed it, and I am the only gluten dodger.

 


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Candied Yams. These were fantastic, not to mention entertaining for mom and I. Changes made: only one, I cut the yams up smaller than 1” cubes, probably 1/2” or less. I wanted to be sure they would be done in time. The entertaining part came with the marshmallows. My husband says it is because they were so fresh. I covered the yams with the marshmallows and stuck them back in the oven. I told mom, “We need to watch these carefully, we want them to toast, not melt.” Well, they were in for about 6 minutes (we had been keeping an eye on them) when I noted that their smell was sweetening the air, and I knew we were close. Right then, mom said, “The marshmallows are running over!” I’m like, what? It made no sense to me. The glass dish the were in had two or three inches of clearance above the mallows. Well, when I looked through the window on the oven door, it was suddenly clear. Those mallows had blown up like balloons! they were huge! It was fabulous and freaky at the same time. I thought, this is like some kind of well-kept gourmet secret. Then I grabbed a metal spatula and scooped the parts that were in danger of dropping to the oven floor back into the dish. Then I pulled it out of the oven, and like a cake startled by a bump, the mallows deflated to little more than creamy-white foam.  In spite of their sparseness, the yams were sensational. The one thing I did that wasn’t mentioned in the recipe was to baste them about half-way through since the maple syrup and oil didn’t cover them. The were moist and delicious. No butter needed.

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Cranberry jello. The chosen recipe came from Cooks.com.  Sorry for the blurry photo. This recipe was not what I was hoping for. It was waaaaaayyyy sweet and waaaaaayyyy tart. My face really didn’t know what to do when I tasted it. I am sure I was almost as entertaining as the mallows to watch. I won’t use this recipe again, but when the recipe said to cook the cranberries in water until they popped, that was fun. I thought the skins would split like tomatoes when they are dropped into boiling water to make the skins come off easily—but no—they popped. It was like a cross between popcorn and biting into a cherry tomato, only the juice that squirts out is hot.

 

 

 

 

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The salad. I made an Olive-Garden style salad, with the necessary tweaks for me. I used a combination of pre-packaged iceberg lettuce and romaine lettuce, black olives, pepperoncini, sliced red onions, and grated parmesan on the side for the rest of the peeps. The dressing was one I have been waiting to try, and it was an adventure in itself. I found the recipe at The Spunky Coconut, and it is amazing and delicious. It starts out very liquidy and gets quite thick when it is refrigerated but ends up a really nice dressing when it is tossed into the salad. The challenge was finding the raw cashews.*

I didn’t bother with croutons, and no one seemed to miss them. If my daughter had been home, they would have been a necessity.


 

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Dessert. The texture of the pie dough was amazing. The finished product beautiful. The taste…awful. I am not sure what the deal is. The lady who came up with the recipe for the pie dough really knows her stuff, and she said her non-allergy-challenged guests loved it, but mine did not. Nor did I. It had a strong, terrible taste to it. My son said it tasted like there was too much baking soda in it. I am not giving up on the recipe though. I am thinking I will try brown rice flour and use the strawberry-flavored So Delicious Cultured Coconut Milk instead of the plain in the hope that the flavor will improve. Really, really love the texture.

There were also loaded, mashed potatoes (butter and cream cheese, I did not eat any), gravy made with the turkey broth, cornstarch, and seasonings (big hit), and a relish tray (dill and sweet pickles, marinated artichoke hearts, green and black olives, carrots, and broccoli) with Ranch Dressing for those who wanted it (those fresh veggies and the dressing were not even touched, the salad satisfied everyone), and vanilla ice cream for those who could eat it. There were many traditional dishes that were not on the table, but there wasn’t a hungry person in the house, and we have leftovers O’ plenty. I didn’t make the pumpkin trifle recipe because my mom made gluten-laden pumpkin pie, and I didn’t want to do a second pumpkin dessert. I still have the ingredients though, and I am hoping to make it before the weekend is through. All in all, I have to say it was a wonderful meal. It was such a sweet thing to eat foods I haven’t eaten for so long, stuff myself (somewhat), and walk away from it without pain. All this and spending time with my family to boot. I am thankful indeed!

Whoa! A friend posted this link to a recipe for four-ingredient fondant on Pinterest. A world of creative possibilities just opened up! I always use Kraft Marshmallows because Kraft is a trusted company, and they will say if there is any chance of gluten in their products. I also found this recipe for a quick pour chocolate fondant that also looks great. Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips, or another brand you trust should work fine. I do need to make sure about food colorings, but I know there are some out there that are safe.

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*
I have considered ordering certified gluten free raw cashews online, but though the price per pound is something I could handle occasionally ($10), when you add in another $10 for shipping, I figure it is really more than I am willing to pay to be able to make creamy salad dressing or soft cheese. I looked at the health food stores in town and couldn’t find any, so I finally went to Winco to the bulk section, bought raw cashew pieces and then washed them off a few at a time in my hands to make sure any particles of flour that they might have picked up from nearby bins being loaded were washed off. So far, I have no signs of cross-contamination, so I think this will work. I might even talk to them about buying them right from the bag before they are taking to the bulk area.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sleuth Thanks: Holiday Food Ideas

I made these little guys for Christmas gifts a few years ago.
Wait, where am I? Oh yes. I blog.

The holidays are upon us, and I am hoping for a mellow and relaxing Thanksgiving Day celebration. Our son will be home for a few days, and my mother and uncle will be with us, but that is all. I would be happy if our daughter could come as well, but she graduated from college last May and was recently hired as a copy editor for a newspaper, and she can only get away for a few days at Christmas. Those luxurious month-long school vacations are no more. I have been collecting recipes for a while now, and I am including a bunch of links, as well as my dinner plans for Thanksgiving.


Dinners (this cook reserves the right to make changes at the slightest whim)
Thanksgiving: I am planning to make turkey, potatoes (probably mashed, but I won't eat them), roasted candied yams (my plans below), maybe a turnip/beet/rutabaga vegetable medley, a green salad, a veggie tray, and cranberry jello (still deciding on recipe). I am considering making stuffing. I found this recipe from Nancy Newcomer which looks quite promising.

Christmas: I am fixing an Italian meal full of gluten: lasagna, salad, garlic bread with cheese (Buddy's style), probably a veggie tray. I have my own plans for a gluten/dairy free version of the lasagna for me (maybe even the garlic bread). Not sure about dessert yet, but I already have a few options (see below). My family loves my lasagna and since discovering that the noodles don't have to be precooked, I have been much more comfortable making it. In fact, it is the only gluten-laden food I cook for them.

Recipes and links
Roasted Candied Yams
I haven't made this before (except in my mind), but I have had enough experience with roasting veggies that I am fairly confident this will turn out well. Quantities will vary depending on how much is needed. Using the Aunt Lorena Method for measuring.
- Peel and cut up yams into about 1" cubes
- Toss in olive oil and maple syrup
- Bake in a 375 degree F oven about 20 minutes or until fork tender
- Remove from oven and cover with tiny Kraft marshmallows (safely gluten free)
- Return to oven and toast marshmallows (watch carefully, you don't want to melt them)

Dessert
I have been collecting ideas for food, and one thing in particular I am going to try (read: tweak), is this recipe for Pumpkin Praline Trifle (follow the link). My plan is to go all homemade, using almond milk instead of dairy to make the puddings. I don't have a pastry bag anymore, but my favorite trick is to cut a small hole in the corner of a ziplock bag and use it. Cheap, easy, and really easy cleanup (file 13 it).

I found a recipe for dairy/nut free toffee bits at the bottom of this recipe for Toffee Pecan Apple Streusel: Gluten-Free, Egg-Free and I may or may not use it in the praline part. I haven't used the Fleischmann’s Unsalted Margarine before, and I know it has a titch of dairy in it, so I need to think about this part. My digestive system is a bit of a mess right now, and I don't want to use oats. I can get away with them sometimes, but now is not sometimes. I am confident I can come up with a yummy praline using pecans, but I am still working that out.

A gluten-free version of the Two-Minute Microwave Brownie recipe

Here is a pumpkin pie recipe, but it uses Earth Balance, and sadly I cannot stand that stuff. But perhaps you can. I am interested mostly in the possibilities with the cashew cream recipe at the bottom.

Other delights
Frozen Banana Bites: look delicious and easy to make. No tweaks necessary.
Pumpkin Hummus: different dippers needed, but the hummus recipe is fine.
Stove Top Peanut Butter Breakfast Food Candy (my name for it): This one only needs different cereal.
Home made Gum Drops: You need to be sure to use gluten-free food coloring.
Pumpkin Pie Smoothie: This one is going to be used before Thursday; I promise you.
Banana Ice Cream: with a twist
Marshmallow Snowflakes: Any shape will do.
Cookie Dough Dip: You won't believe the base of this.