Dad is a lemon fanatic. I mean, I like lemon, but he LOVES it. I find it more of a summer flavor, but I guess we needed some sunshine as we wait for the weather to warm up. These were so easy to make, with a small number of ingredients. I don't always want to mix 10 different kinds of flours. When I make these again, I'll probably put some lemon in the crust as well. They weren't quite tart enough for my liking.

Crust Ingredients:
1 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter

Lemon curd ingredients:
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. rice flour
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1/4 cup lemon juice

Powdered sugar for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Cut cold butter into the dry crust ingredients. You could use a food processor, but I hate to lug mine out all the time. I just used a pastry cutter, but a fork would work alright too.
3. Press crust into a greased 13x9 baking pan; bake for 17-19 minutes. Allow the crust to cool for about 10 minutes or so.
4. Combine lemon curd ingredients with a whisk. Beat until smooth. Pour immediately over crust.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until filling is set and there is a crispy crust on top. Dust with powdered sugar. I do this step with my mesh strainer. Just shake it around over the bars. Allow the bars to cool before cutting.

That's all for this week. -courtney

My true passion is baking. Nothing melts my stresses away like an afternoon in front of the oven making sweets, except maybe eating those sweets. I recently found out that I will have the amazing opportunity to bake a wedding cake this summer. I'm really looking forward to it, but I know I need to step up my baking and decorating skills. In the coming weeks, I will be focusing more on my baking work.

I must apologize for my tardiness in posting this week. I started a new job on Saturday (my normal posting day), at this great new restaurant on the east side. More on that later.

Cake Ingredients
1 1/2 cups white rice flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners.
2. Sift together the white rice flour, tapioca flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and xanthan gum together and set aside.
3. Mix the eggs, sugar, and mayonnaise until fluffy. The mayo part might sound kind of gross, but it really keeps the cakes moist.
4. Add the flour mixture, milk and vanilla and mix well. Pour batter into the prepared pans.
5. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Cakes are done when they spring back when lightly touched or when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cool completely then frost.

Frosting ingredients
1/2 cup butter

1 1/3 cups packed brown sugar
4 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. coarse salt

1. In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar, stirring with a whisk (believe me, the whisk makes a difference in getting the butter and sugar to combine). Add the milk and heat to boiling while stirring constantly; butter and sugar burn easily so keep an eye on it.
2. Remove the butter/sugar goo from the heat and allow to cool for about 30 minutes. Do not eat all the contents of the pan. You will need them.
3. Stir in the vanilla.
4. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar. (I did it about 1/2 cup at a time to keep from making a big mess.) Add more milk if it gets too thick, more sugar if it's too thin to spread.
5. Apply the frosting to the cupcakes. I used my pastry decorator to practice my "fancy skills," but a plain ol' knife will work just fine.
6. Sprinkle the salt over the frosting immediately. If you wait, the frosting will begin to set and you will have a bad time getting the salt to stick. You might even want to frost half the cupcakes, salt them, then finish the other half, depending on how quickly you frost.

I love love LOVE Mexican food. I'm a big fan of anything spicy (not just "Minnesota spicy," real spicy). The great thing about making Mexican food at home is how easy it is to swap out ingredients for gluten free counterparts. Corn tortillas require a little different attention than flour tortillas, but it is an easy adjustment to make. As always, make sure to check labels, but most of the ingredient you need are naturally gluten free. My family made this recipe before going gluten free, and we found that it transitioned very easily to fit my dietary needs.

10-12 corn tortillas
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose gluten free flour
8 oz. sour cream
2 cups chicken broth (check for gluten!)
1-2 jalapenos, canned or fresh
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken (about 1 full breast)
Optional topping ideas: sour cream, salsa, lettuce, diced tomatoes, green onions, black olives

1. Preheat oven to 350 F

2. For the sauce, sautee onion, garlic, coriander and black pepper in your butter (you could use margarine, but why?) until the onions are tender and translucent. This should take about five minutes or so.

3. Meanwhile, stir the flour (whatever you have on hand should do fine) into the sour cream. Add this to your onion pan and stir until everything is combined.

4. Stir in the chicken broth and the jalapenos all at once. You can adjust the spiciness level by removing some or all of the seeds in the peppers. Stir the sauce frequently until it is thick and bubbly, which should only take a few minutes.

5. Remove from the heat and add about half of the cheese. If you like more cheese, add more. (I've added up to 4 cups of cheese). If you like less cheese, you can add as little as 1/2 cup to the sauce and 1/2 cup for topping.

6. To prepare the tortillas for rolling, wrap them in a damp paper towel and microwave them for about 30 seconds. This will steam them up and make them easier to work with.

7. Stir half of the sauce into your cooked chicken, and reserve the other half for topping. Place about 1/4 of the chicken-sauce mix in each tortilla, roll em up and place them seam side down in a baking dish. Then pour the rest of that tasty sauce on top. At this point, is acceptable to lick the spoon.

8. Cover the dish with foil and pop it in your 350F oven for about 35 minutes, then remove the foil, add the rest of your cheese and bake it until the cheese is all melty and gooey. (About 5 minutes, depending on the amount of cheese.)

9. This is the most challenging part: Let them sit for about 5-10 minutes or you'll have molten cheesy chicken burning the insides of your mouth. Top however you want (I like to keep mine pretty simple) and feast.

These also make great leftovers and keep for about a week in the fridge, if they last that long. They also stand up pretty well in the freezer.

Thanks for reading, see you next week. --courtney

I love cheese, and I love polenta. Together, they make a versatile side dish that can't be stopped. In Italy, it is sometimes served in lieu of pasta with the same sauces and toppings. It's kind of like grits, but finer ground and yellow. Since it's made of corn, you can be fairly sure that it's gluten free, but always check labels.

Searing the chicken should be pretty straightforward. Use whatever seasonings you like. I personally like to use some cayenne. The spicy is complimented very well by the creamy polenta. I think next time I'll try it with some shredded chicken or beef.

For the gravy, I use Orrington Farms. I'm pretty sure all of their mixes are g-free, which is awesome because a lot of gravy isn't.

Now for the fun part: the cheese polenta.
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (or other cheese that melts well)

Combine milk, water, salt and polenta. The trick to lump free polenta is to add the corn meal to the liquid before you boil it an continue stirring while you heat it. It won't take long to cook after it boils, so keep a close eye on it and KEEP STIRRING. Add more milk if needed to keep it creamy.
Remove it from the heat when the mix is thick and smooth. Add the pepper, and butter. Stir in the cheese slowly.

It is truly that easy! Serve it with the chicken and top it with the gravy. This dish is inspired by a dish I got at a local restaurant a while back. It is great for a quick dinner meal.

Any questions or suggestions, please comment below!
See you next

I never made noodles until I tried this recipe one night when we had no pasta in the house. I spent about 30 minutes in the kitchen and walked out with a bowl of hot noodles and wondered why I never had done it before. What I'm trying to say is that it was insanely easy. I've made them since then when I happened to have a different mix of flours, and they still turned out really well.

1/2 cup tapioca flour (I've used brown or white rice flour in place of tapioca with success)
1/2 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons potato starch
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (this ingredient is an essential in a gluten free kitchen. It acts as a binder, in place of wheat gluten)
3 large eggs (or 4 or 5 egg whites)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1.       In a medium bowl, combine flours, salt, and xanthan gum.

2.       In a separate bowl, beat the eggs lightly and add the oil.

3.       Pour the egg-oil liquid into the flour mixture and stir. This will feel much like pastry dough. Work the dough into a firm ball.

4.       Knead for 1 or two minutes. I've done this step both with a stand mixer and by hand. The result is about the same, but I love getting my hands into the dough.

5.       Place the ball of dough on a potato or corn starch-floured (rice flour turns noodles gray) breadboard and roll as**thin as possible**. I usually break the dough into 4 balls, and each ball rolls out to about 10"x15". This dough is tough and, when almost transparent, will still handle well.

6.       Cut into desired shape. For fettuccine and spaghetti, slice very thin strips. For a noodle casserole, make slightly wider noodles. If using for lasagne, cut into 1 1/2-by-4-inch rectangles. I don't worry about cutting them exactly straight so you can always tell they're homemade.

7.       To cook pasta: Cook in salted boiling water, to which 1 tablespoon of oil has been added, for about 10 to 12 minutes depending on the thickness and size of your pieces. (Or add them directly to your chicken noodle soup, beef and noodles, etc.) They will float and stiffen as they are cooking. Check that the noodles are done to your liking.

To save the noodles, I'm sure they could be either dried or frozen, but they never last that long around here. They do hold up well as leftovers.

That's all for this week. See you next Saturday --courtney

First off, any tips for good food photography? Obviously, my skills are in need of some improvement.
Secondly, it is REALLY cold here in Saint Paul (5 degrees last I checked). Chicken and dumplings is one of those foods that warms your insides. I used this recipe from the Betty Crocker "Gluten-Free Cooking" book (http://goo.gl/U94kK)

2 1/2 cups chicken broth (Progresso is gluten free but, always check labels!)
1 1/2 cups cooked, cut up chicken (about 1 full chicken breast)
1 cup vegetables (can be frozen, canned, or fresh. I used a can of green beans because that's all we had)
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (You could also experiment with whatever spices you like. I love rosemary with this!)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons corn starch

3/4 cup all purpose gluten free baking mix (I depend on Bisquick, but whatever you use, make sure it's leavened)
1/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh parsley

1) Get out your big stock pot, and bring the broth, chicken, vegetables and seasonings to a boil.

2) In a separate bowl, whisk the milk and cornstarch. NEVER mix the cornstarch right into a boiling liquid, unless you like lumps in your gravy. Stir the milk-starch slurry into the chicken mix.

3) Stir together dumpling ingredients in a separate bowl until fully blended. A fork works well at this step.

4) Drop dumpling by 6-8 rounded spoonfuls onto the boiling chicken mixture.

5) Boil on low heat uncovered, for 10 minutes. When your mouth is watering from the smell, pop a lid on your pan and cook 15 more minutes.

By this time, your belly will be rumbling. I all but guarantee it. If your mom made chicken and dumplings, these would be the ones. When you've finished a bowl (or two or all of it), you will be warm to your toes and ready for a nap.

Stay warm out there, Minnesotans! See you next Saturday.   --courtney

Is there anything better than melty marshmallows wrapped up in chocolate? Whoever invented s'mores had the right idea. These little cakes have all the allure of a campfire dessert, without the smelly smoke on your clothes and in your hair.

1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
6 large marshmallows
Powdered sugar (optional) 1.       In a 3- to 4-quart pan over very low heat, stir chocolate chips and butter until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour.

2.       Fill six buttered, floured ramekins (I used a jumbo muffin pan) about halfway. Press a marshmallow into the center of the batter in each ramekin. Spoon remaining batter equally over marshmallows, completely covering.

3.       Bake in the center of a 350° oven until tops are puffed up and crackly, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes, then run a knife along inside of ramekins and invert to release cakes. Place right side up on plates. Sprinkle tops with powdered sugar, if desired. Serve warm.

Next time I think I might try adding a graham cracker crust on the bottom. Like I said, campfire dessert without the stink.

Pie crust has always presented a challenge for me, it never seemed to turn out right. For quite a while now, I've been purchasing pie dough from a local g-free bakery. I was pleasantly surprised when this recipe I adapted from Betty Crocker worked so well.

2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour mix
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold butter
4-5 tablespoons cold water
6 baking apples (about 3" dia.)
3 tablespoons raisins
3 tablespoons chopped nuts (I used pecans)
2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/3 cups water

1.       Heat the oven to 425°F. In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt. Cut in the butter, using a pastry blender or fork, until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle with the cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well with fork until all flour is moistened. Gather the dough together, and press it into a 6x4-inch rectangle.

2.       Lightly sprinkle flour over a cutting board or countertop. Cut off 1/3 of the dough with a knife; set aside. On the floured surface, place 2/3 of the dough. Flatten dough evenly, into a 14-inch square; cut into 4 squares. Flatten the remaining 1/3 of the dough into a 14x7-inch rectangle; cut into 2 squares. You will have 6 squares of dough. Waxed paper also works very well to roll out gluten free dough and makes it easier to lift and work with.

3.       Remove the stem end from each apple. Place the apple on a cutting board. Using a paring knife, cut around the core by pushing the knife straight down to the bottom of the apple and pull up. Move the knife and make the next cut. Repeat until you have cut around the apple core. Push the core from the apple. (Or remove the cores with an apple corer.) Peel the apples with a paring knife.

4.       Place 1 apple on the center of each square of dough. In a small bowl, mix the raisins and nuts. Fill the center of each apple with raisin mixture. (At this point I also added a little caramel topping to the center of the apple. About 2 teaspoons will do the trick.) Moisten the corners of each square with small amount of water; bring 2 opposite corners of dough up over apple and press corners together. Fold in sides of remaining corners; bring corners up over apple and press together. Place dumplings in a 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish.

5.       In a 2-quart saucepan, heat the brown sugar and 1 1/3 cups water to boiling over high heat, stirring frequently. Carefully pour the sugar syrup around the dumplings. (I skipped this step and instead used more caramel topping because I was out of brown sugar. They still turned out very delicious.)

6.       Bake about 40 minutes, spooning syrup over apples 2 or 3 times, until crust is browned and apples are tender when pierced with a fork.

I used Granny Smith apples and they turned out very tender- almost like applesauce. This recipe would be great for individual desserts at a party.



    adventures in gluten freedom