Monthly Archives: May 2012

Baked Mozzarella Sticks Using Rice Chex Bread Crumbs

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Today I was deciding which recipe I should make next. I saw mozzarella sticks on my Recipe Index, and knew that would have to be it. I apologize, because that was probably one of the first recipes I have wanted to make, and it has been on my to-do list for far too long.

Quick back story: I decided to try these after making a favorite dish of mine, chicken parmesan, which uses my Rice Chex bread crumbs. After my discovery of these simple gluten free bread crumbs, I thought of all the recipes I could make gluten free. My mouth simply started watering when I thought of gluten free mozzarella sticks. I have only had mozzarella sticks one other time, and those were in Mexico before my gluten free days. In other words, I had a lot to live up to. I went about making these like I would the parmesan chicken, except I omitted the parmesan, of course. The only additional ingredient was the flour to ensure everything would stick better, because I didn’t want the cheese leaking all over the place! For the egg mixture, I just made that like I would a breakfast egg: 1 egg to 1 tbsp milk.

My excitement at making these delicious gluten free treats was temporarily short-lived when I discovered that I had no cheese sticks. However, I did have a giant block of mozzarella cheese staring me in the face. Why no? I cut some strips from the block and evened them out to the proper size. You can make however many of these you want, as long as you have room. The amount in the ingredients is half the amount of mozzarella sticks you will have. 16 was a good amount for me. I take that back…my family LOVED these way too much–I should have made more! Even though they weren’t perfect, they were delicious! And I think if I make these again, I will use my cut-cheese-sticks-from-a-block method, because that worked just fine and it’s cheaper.

Like I said, these were delicious! They turned out beautifully…sort of. Some of them did leak, but others were perfect. I sort of cheated and only left the precooked mozzarella sticks in the freezer for 20 minutes, and I don’t think that was long enough. The mozzarella sticks didn’t leak a ton, but that was partially due to me taking them out of the oven at only 5 minutes, so the rice chex bread crumbs didn’t brown as much as they could have. I do think that the 5 extra minutes would’ve been enough, but 30 might be the magic number. They were close…notice in the picture above how the top row is perfect, the middle row is pretty darn good, and the major leakage is in the bottom. I don’t know if this is coincidence, or if it has to do with the position in the freezer. And even though the rice chex bread crumbs weren’t as toasted as they could have been, they were definitely cooked and the cheese sticks were SO melty! I tried to get a photo of how much the cheese stretched, but none of them turned out.

I definitely hope to make these again! They are great little appetizers, but make sure to make a LOT because they will be gone in seconds!

Ingredients:

  • 8 pieces string cheese, mozzarella
  • 3-4 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1/2-1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 1/2 cups Rice Chex, NOT crushed

Instructions:

  • Cut string cheese pieces in half (for 16 pieces).
  • Place flour in a small bowl and mix/whisk eggs and milk in a separate, small bowl.
  • Crush rice chex thoroughly for rice chex bread crumbs (as fine as you can make it) and combine with basil in a third bowl (I used a deep plate so it would be easier to roll the cheese sticks).
  • Lastly, cover a baking sheet with tin foil and lightly grease with oil or Pam.
  • Individually, roll each mozzarella stick in flour, dip in egg mixture, and carefully and completely roll in Rice Chex crumbs.
  • Carefully put each mozzarella stick on the greased baking sheet. Continue until all mozzarella sticks are prepared and on the pan.
  • Put tray in freezer (make sure it’s flat!) for about 25 minutes (do NOT skip this step)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • After about 25 minutes of freezer time, place pan in oven (no higher than middle rack) and cook for about 5-8 minutes.
  • Serve immediately.

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Portabella Cheese Omelette

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Breakfast recipes are so delicious and fun to mes around with. You can do so much with say, a simple omelette. Sometimes, if I’m in a lazy mood, I will just make a cheese omelette, but usually that just turns into cheesy scrambled eggs (so delicious!). This morning, I made one of my most delicious omelets yet: cheese, portabella mushrooms, red peppers, and chicken (omit for vegetarian). You can add and omit any toppings you choose–there are so many things to complete a wonderful omelette. Some other fillings I love are sausage and bacon (not too much), turkey, other peppers (yellow, green), and a variety of herbs.

Omelets take no time at all to make and are a food that almost everyone will enjoy! They are also great for brunch and some fruit or toast. I wasn’t terribly hungry this morning, so I just stuck to the omelette (plus I used a lot of fillings). Omelets always put me in a positive, happy mood. Don’t ask me why, they just do. They are a fun food to make, especially with other people. Two things I love to have when I’m cooking: people and music. I think with omelets, you are required to move around more, tending to the different parts, and that just makes me upbeat.

I am sorry I don’t have more pictures…I didn’t really think about getting pictures of my omelette before I folded it over, so the above photo is the best I have. It also appears that all my peppers have snuck to the back!

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms, diced
  • 3 tbsp chicken, cut up, precooked
  • 1 tbsp red pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup cheese

Instructions:

  • Grease a frying pan with about a tbsp of olive oil and turn heat up to medium high.
  • Toss mushrooms and peppers into the pan (and chicken if you need/want to heat it up). Sprinkle salt over food.
  • Wait a minute while the pan heats up and until you hear the food sizzling, and mix the egg and milk in a small bowl while you wait, along with 1-2 tbsp cheese.
  • Once the contents of the pan begin to sizzle, use a spatula to mix contents/flip them around. They will take about 2-3 minutes to cook.
  • Once finished, slide mushroom, pepper, and chicken onto a plate and turn heat down to medium low.
  • Pour egg mixture into the pan and swirl to make sure it is evenly distributed. Let sit until the edges and bottom begins to cook (you should see the egg whites turn white, as opposed to their clear-like color).
  • Begin to swirl egg mixture around every 20-30 seconds or so until all of the egg is cooked (swirl more often as the omelette gets closer to being done) and remove from heat.
  • Put all of the fillings on one half of the omelette and about 2/3 of the cheese. Carefully use a spatula to fold the omelette over, and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
  • Carefully transfer omelette to a plate (can use the one the fillings were on) and enjoy!

What do you make in your omelets? Feel free to comment below!

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

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I have thought about making cottage cheese pancakes in the past, and I finally have. Recently, I have started eating cottage cheese more, as a quick snack or as a lunch or dinner side. Cottage cheese pancakes are healthier than regular pancakes and are made with cheese…how can they NOT be delicious? How can I not love them? Well I wanted to try them once and for all.

This recipe makes 4-5 four-inch pancakes, and the entire batch is only a total of 145 calories, so you can eat them ALL without feeling guilty or gross. What?! Yes, you heard correct. EAT THEM ALL. These cottage cheese pancakes are also so so SO delicious! They have a great texture and taste. I was skeptical at first about the cottage cheese making lumpy pancakes, but that was not the case at all. I know people who hate cottage cheese because of its appearance and texture, but none of those things are apparent at all. The cottage cheese pancakes look exactly like normal ones…you would never know the difference unless you looked at them very closely. Anyway, great texture and taste. They are cheesy, obviously, and they taste sort of like something I have had before, but I could not figure out what it was. It’s driving me crazy! Oh well. They are soft and hold together well, while nearly melting in your mouth. They break apart seamlessly, almost like liquid, but only if you tear them intentionally. Otherwise they stay bound together beautifully. The texture is not lumpy or chunky or anything like that at all. They literally cheesy pancakes. End of story.

I made these for brunch, along with some blueberries and raspberries, as you can see above. Please also note that my earlier statement about not being able to tell the difference between regular gluten free pancakes and cottage cheese pancakes is very much ratified in the above picture. Would you ever guess that was made of cottage cheese?

Two notes on the cooking instructions: Because cottage cheese is a little lumpy, you may want to blend it. I thought about using my family’s magic bullet, but as you know, I prefer to use less in my cooking. So I decided to see how the pancakes would turn out if just mixed all the ingredients longer and vigorously. As you can see they turned out remarkably. The lumps were very small and not noticeable at all after the pancakes were cooked. Also, cottage cheese pancakes do not require much heat after the first one…they cooked in no more than 20-30 seconds on medium low heat after the first one (on medium high). Trust me, do not go higher than medium low. I was shocked at how fast they cooked and almost burned my second one.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 1 eggs

Instructions:

  • Mix eggs and cheese slightly in a small bowl, and then add the flour. Vigorously mix all three ingredients for about 2 minutes.
  • (Optional: Put mixture into a blender or magic bullet and blend until mixture is smooth and there are few lumps. Let batter sit for a minute or two while you prepare a frying pan.)
  • Lightly grease pan and turn stove top heat up to medium high.
  • Pour 2-3 tbsp of batter and flip once steam begins rising from pancake edges. The first one will take slightly longer to cook than the others.
  • For the remaining batter, turn heat down to medium low and cook.
  • Serve warm.

Make Your Own Polenta!

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I love polenta, but the last time I went to the grocery store, they were out. I wondered if I could make it myself. Being the amateur chef I am, I didn’t realize that all I needed was salt, water, and cornmeal! Polenta is great because you can enjoy it as a delicious, warm breakfast, a lunch side, or an appetizer at dinner. I went through a few sites until I had discerned the most common way to prepare polenta. In the end, I chose this website as my guide to making homemade polenta. After looking at about 5 websites, it became clear that you need a 4 parts water to 1 part cornmeal. I modified this recipe, using only 1 cup of water and 1/4 cup of cornmeal, just to try it out. I really only used the website linked above for the instructions, which were also a mutual thing among most of the websites I saw. I will definitely make this polenta as soon as possible, because I am simply dying to try it out.

Another website I stumbled across that I thought was interesting uses the same ingredients, but instructs you how to make microwave polenta! I tried this polenta recipe out first to see if it worked, because I don’t know about you, but I would love to have some delicious polenta in just a couple of minutes as opposed to 30 or so. But I also made this quick recipe first because I was craving a warm breakfast, and something new. I had been anxious to try some homemade polenta, so I did! I must say, I did not use any olive oil (an optional ingredient) and was totally satisfied. I also cooked the polenta for 30 extra seconds. After it was finished cooking, I tried my homemade polenta and LOVED it! I used 1/4 cup cornmeal, so my polenta breakfast was only 110 calories (plus a few extras from some delectable blackberries I had on the side), but it still made a LOT – a sufficient breakfast. Polenta is pretty similar to grits, but I think polenta has more flavor and a better texture – more creamy and thick.

Polenta at its base ingredients (just water, cornmeal, and salt) is delicious and not bland or boring, but about halfway through, I wondered if I could make it better by adding a little cheese, or maybe a splash of milk, as the website suggests. I decided to at least try it, since I was coming to think of this as a polenta experiment. I ended up adding about 2 tablespoons of milk and 1 large handful (I have fairly small hands) of cheese. The polenta was PERFECT. I will add a tiny bit of milk and some cheese every time from now on!

Cucumber Sandwich

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Today I simply did not feel like cooking – I just wasn’t in the mood. On top of that, I did not exactly have a stocked fridge or pantry. All I wanted was a nice, simple sandwich. No cooking. Not even a grilled cheese, because that would have involved cooking the sandwich. I was about to settle for my typical, common lazy lunch of a cheese sandwich and cucumbers (yes, I actually make a yummy cheese sandwich quite often as a quick and easy lunch). I had cut my cucumbers when I wondered…what would cucumbers on bread taste like? Don’t ask why that thought crossed my mind, I have no idea myself. I just saw the two foods sitting side by side. Naturally I took a cucumber and tried a bite.

It was delicious.

I put the cheese away almost immediately (after cutting a quick slice to munch on) and instead made a cucumber sandwich. Healthier and about the same on my delicious scale (I love cheese sandwiches). All this “recipe” requires is two slices of bread and some cucumbers to cover the bread. Done. Eat. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Cucumber and COTTAGE CHEESE sandwich…nom. Or, as a quick snack, literally a cucumber sandiwch: 2 cucumbers with some cottage cheese in the middle!

Homemade Pasta

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This recipe was inspired by Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom homemade pasta recipe. I did not have all the ingredients I needed, so I made a couple of modifications. However, Heidi’s recipe is also egg free, and so I want to try her gluten free, egg free pasta recipe as well sometime.

My recipe is an egg pasta recipe. I didn’t think 1 egg was enough, and three was definitely too many, so I decided to try using 2. I stuck with 1 cup of flour–the usual. I thought about reducing the amount of xanthan gum, but the pasta photo on Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom looked so perfect, I decided against it. Note in the ingredients, tapioca flour is the same thing as tapioca starch. This recipe was so fun and enjoyable to make. It started like any other recipe: mixing the ingredients together. I don’t like to use lots of extra equipment or ingredients, but I thought that for a pasta recipe, my hand mixer was necessary. Pasta is a food that needs to be especially well blended and smooth. After the ingredients were mixed, I rolled the pasta dough out. I knew the pasta would need to be thin, so I took this step seriously. Then I cut it. This is the great part about homemade pasta. You can make any kind you want! Cut it into squares for lasagna, or mini squares for ravioli, thin noodles, thick noodles, you name it. I cannot tell you the names of all these pasta types, because I am no expert.

Right when I took my pasta out of the bowl to roll out, I know I had a problem. It was sticky. Way too sticky. I tried adding more flour, but that did nothing. Then I tried adding a little oil. Perfection. Oil is the key. So in the ingredients, the last item I put was simply oil. What I did was put a splash of olive oil in a bowl and used as needed.

This pasta was SO delicious, although quite a pain to make. Because of that second part, I doubt I will make this again, or soon. But the taste and texture were wonderful, and I’m glad I tried this recipe out. I might still try Heidi’s recipe, but I’m not sure.

My Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour (aka starch)
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Olive oil

Instructions:

  • Fill a medium pot with about 4 cups of water.
  • Blend flours, xanthan gum, and salt in a small mixing bowl until they are all totally mixed together.
  • Mix egg, oil, and water in a small, separate bowl.
  • Get a hand mixer (on lowest setting) ready and add wet ingredients to the dry ones. Immediately mix ingredients with mixer for a minute until dough forms into a ball. (if dough is too dry or comes apart, add a little water; if it is too wet, add a little rice flour)
  • At this point, turn your stove top on high and bring pot of water to boil.
  • Meanwhile, add a little oil to avoid sticky dough and roll dough out into a very thin, even layer (you can divide the dough into several parts to work with less at one time, also I just used my hands for this, finding it much easier than worrying about a rollling pin). Cut dough into strips of desired width (thin noodles, wide noodles, square noodles for lasagna, etc).
  • Once the water is boiled, add a dash of salt and all the pasta. Stir occasionally until the pasta is al dente, cooking about 2 minutes. Drain and serve with butter, sauce, or other desired toppings.

My Pizza Recipe wasn’t a total failure…

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I have been wanting to try out my own pizza recipe for a while, and tonight I finally did. I used my favorite flours and what seemed like sensible amount. I obviously didn’t think through the process enough because this pizza…well it wasn’t my best recipe. Let’s just say, if I make this again, I will definitely be making some adjustments. Luckily I think I know at least two of the problems. One. It was too thick and starchy. Next time, I will probably only use 1/4 cup tapioca flour. And I will probably lower the amount of cornstarch as well, to 1/4 cup as well, perhaps. Second, I didn’t have enough cheese. If I had had more, I think the pizza would have been better. I can say I know this for a fact because one half of the pizza had more cheese, and I definitely liked that half better. You know what, I did like this pizza with a lot of cheese. So next time, maybe I will just make this thinner and put more cheese on it. Yes…and then just reduce the tapioca flour.

This pizza was not totally a failure, because I liked it some, and I can tell that if a make some simple adjustments it could probably be great. I would not make this recipe the same way again, but I wouldn’t mind too much if I had to. It wasn’t horrible. It just wasn’t great. After this, I might just stick to simpler recipes until I get more acquainted with flour ratios and mixes. In fact, after this episode, I am more confident than ever in my delicious store of wonderful gluten-free pizzas that I have tried and loved. I think I will just stick to those. I have posted the recipe, but just be warned…I haven’t deemed it delicious.

Now, I actually do have some pictures (I found my camera!), but I will not be able to post them until tomorrow, because my camera just died and takes quite a while to charge.

(Actually, the slice of pizza above was almost delicious, because it was from the half with lots of cheese, so I liked it.)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp sauce
  • About 1 cup cheese of cheese
  • Any additional, desired toppings

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and generously grease a tin foil-covered baking sheet.
  • Blend all dry ingredients except salt in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk eggs, milk, salt, and oil separately and add to dry ingredients.
  • Mix all ingredients until smooth and well incorporated, and no flour clumps remain.
  • Spoon onto greased pan  and spread out to form about a half-inch crust
  • Bake crust for 15 minutes, then remove and add any desired toppings.
  • Bake an additional 6-7 minutes and then serve (sooner better than later).

SO. I realize this post may be a bit confusing, but if anything, I hope you come away with this: If you use a LOT of cheese, this pizza is pretty good, and almost delicious.

Spinach, Mushroom, Chicken Stir Fry and Rice

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This is a healthy, delicious, and super easy recipes I whipped together the other night, just to try something new. I will be honest, I don’t love spinach on its own. I even sort of dislike it in salads. But cooked with other delicious ingredients? Stir Fried? Yum. I will eat all the spinach! I discovered that it taste so delicious with some portabellas especially. It made me think about making a whole new recipe with spinach and mushrooms…maybe some cooked spinach on top of a large portabella mushroom cap, topped with mozzarella cheese? Now that is something I will look into! Another recipe idea that this recipe made me think of is a spinach casserole, or a breakfast spinach casserole (with spinach, eggs, cheese, and whatever else I decide when I make it) or quiche. These are two recipes that I am definitely interested in making!

This recipe was just me throwing a bunch of ingredients together that I thought would taste good together, and the measurements may not be totally exact. But you can honestly just add however much of the ingredients you want (Just have mostly spinach and mushrooms, closely followed by chicken, and the less pepper than the other ingredients). For the mushrooms, you can use baby portabellas or large ones, just make sure you cut them up. For the chicken, I use about 2 inch pieces, precooked, so I just have to heat it up with the rest of the ingredients. If you are using raw chicken, however, you probably need to precook it. As for the pepper, I use anywhere from 1/2 to 1 pepper.

Along with the stir fry, I cooked some rice as well, because it completes the whole stir fry meal. This is such a delicious meal! The gluten free stir fry makes 3-4 servings. You can serve it over rice, or with the rice as a side, as I like to do. Lastly, you may be looking at these pictures and think something is missing…well you are right. I was out of red pepper when I made this, but (this is the second time I have made this recipe) the last time I made this recipe I loved the pepper, and I was mad that I was out. Oh well, it was still delicious gluten free stir fry!

NOTE: This can be made vegetarian by ommiting the chicken. You can replace it with more mushrooms or a different variety of veggies. I really want to try adding some squash and/or zucchini next time I make this. Then it really will be vegetarian and gluten free stir fry.

(I apologize for the terrible photo quality – these were taken from my cell phone because my camera was missing…yikes!)

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (gluten free)
  • 10 ounces uncooked spinach
  • 1 container (about 4 cups) portabella mushrooms
  • 1 red pepper (or any color), sliced
  • 1 1/2-2 cups chicken

Instructions:

  • Prepare a large frying pan on the stove top by covering/greasing with 3-4 tbsp olive oil.
  • Turn stove on to medium-high heat and preheat pan (about 2-5 minutes)
  • Add mushrooms, pepper, and chicken and then the spinach on top. Add Worcestershire Sauce evenly and stir ingredients around a bit.
  • Cover and cook for about 7 minutes.
  • Turn down the heat to medium and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes.
  • Serve immediately for best results.

Coming Soon…

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Ah! I’m so sorry it has been so long since my last post. The past few days have been crazy busy for me, and I just haven’t had time to cook much. Anyway, while I don’t have a complete recipe to share in this post, I do plan on cooking a bunch this weekend and hopefully during this week.

So here is what to expect in the coming days…

  • Homemade Pasta
  • My own, original pizza recipe
  • Spinach, Mushroom, Chicken Stir Fry
  • Homemade bread (hopefully)

I hope to get to all these recipes and hopefully MORE, but I am going to be pretty busy again this weekend, so these might me the only ones I manage. The first recipe will either be the pasta or the stir fry. I can’t wait to get cooking!

Again, sorry for the recipe lapse. I hope to make it up with these (hopefully) delicious recipes which are, by the way, all ORIGINAL recipes. I am so excited to try them out! Thanks for your patience.

Breakfast and Flowers on Mother’s Day

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Happy Mother’s Day! For mother’s day, I usually pick some flowers for my mom and make her breakfast. And a card! I like to write my mom a poem each Mother’s Day. I love picking fresh flowers from our backyard because it is so much more meaningful.

But what do I make my mom for breakfast when…

I am out of her cereal…and oatmeal, and grits, and bread, and sausage, and any sort of her favorite, normal breakfast foods? I make pancakes! Today I made some of My Favorite Pancakes, so we could all have them, and I made sure to get some pictures this time as well! I also added some delectable blackberries on the side, which were so yummy and fresh! I love pancakes because they are delicious and easy, but also because you can make cool and fun shapes with them, as you can see below. I made a heart-shaped pancake for my mom. And if you can’t tell, that was supposed to be ‘gf’ as in gluten free. I also made shapes including my own initials and “abstract blobs,” which is the best I can do to describe some of my more interesting shapes, a.k.a. the shapes that just didn’t turn out like they were supposed to. But no matter how they look, these pancakes always taste amazing in the end!

 

I must add, you do not have to use Arrowhead Mills pancake mix for this. The recipe is general and any pancake mix will work. Also, if you only want to make a couple of gluten free pancakes, you can just cover your bowl of batter and stick it in the fridge for the next day! Or make some leftovers while everything is still out.