Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Adventures in Gluten Free cooking: Comfort Foods...

I experimented a bit this week with two foods that I love, but have a hard time leaving behind now that I am 100% Gluten Free.  Pizza & Spaghetti...  I still don't think that either of them compare to their gluten free versions, but they were very delicious options. 

First up on the menu was a Caramelized Sweet Onion BBQ Chicken Pizza that I messed with...  I thinly sliced some sweet onions, and sautéed them in a heated pan of a bit of olive oil to caramelize them.  It takes at least 15 minutes or more to do this, so I got that going first.  Then I proceeded with a GF Bisquick crust, following the instructions for GF pizza crust on the box, and pre-baking for 15 minutes.  While that was baking, I browned some chicken breast in a pan, how much chicken really depends on how much you would like, but I ended up with about 2 cups total once it was all cut into small chunks.  I mixed a gluten free pizza sauce with some Sweet Baby Ray's barbecue sauce in a one to one ratio.  Sauce is always taste dependent, but I made about 1 1/2 cups, spreading it on the baked crust until the crust doesn't show through completely, but not tooooo saucy ;-)  Layer the chicken on next, followed by your cheese of choice, roughly 2 cups.  Topped with my onions, and a bit of Sweet Baby Ray's dragged around for extra taste...  Baked for 10 - 15 minutes more and it was delicious.  It rewarmed well also, but I always recommend rewarming GF Bisquick anything in the toaster oven to take away from the mushy texture a bit.    

Gluten Free Sweet Onion BBQ Chicken Pizza:

Bisquick Gluten Free Pizza Crust {per the box}
1 1/3 cups Bisquick Gluten Free mix
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning or dried basil
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs beaten
Heat oven to 425F. Grease 12-inch pizza pan.  Stir Bisquick mix, Italian seasoning, water, oil, and eggs until well combined.  Spread in pan.  Bake 15 minutes.  Spread pizza sauce over crust, top with meat, cheese, onions.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes longer. 

1 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 1/2 to 2 cups pizza cheese blend
1 to 1 ratio of Gluten Free pizza sauce mixed with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce {1 to 2 cups, depends on the amount you would like}
1/2 sweet onion caramelized in a bit of EVOO

Next up was altering a recipe that I found Here.  I love their recipes, but GF cream of anything soups are pretty terrible, and the non GF versions are just plain terrible for you.  I am going to experiment with making my own soon, but haven't made any from scratch just yet.  So I set out to find a comparable substitution.  In doing so, I completely changed the recipe, but I think it turned out delicious.  My husband {who does not need to be GF} loved it also.  It smelled wonderful while it cooked, and tasted very full of flavor.  Remember though, I am focusing on a comfort food here, not necessarily a 'healthy' food.  I have a recipe with my Magic Bullet for fresh alfredo sauce, so I will also try that in this recipe...  Okay, here's how it went down:

Gluten Free Tomato Basil Chicken Spaghetti:
{adapted from Six Sisters Stuff who originally adapted it from The Pioneer Woman}:

Microwave 5 strips of bacon until crisp, cut into small pieces. 
2cups cooked chicken, cut up {I seasoned mine with Italian seasoning while it was cooking}
1 {1lb} package uncooked GLUTEN FREE spaghetti noodles.  {GF penne would also be good}
1 jar Cheesy Ragu Light Parmesan Alfredo sauce {this is a controversial GF product so be sure to read the ingredients prior to using, everyone's sensitivity levels vary}.
3 cups grated cheddar cheese, divided 2 cups, and 1 cup.
1 {14.5} oz can Organic diced tomatoes with garlic and basil.
2 TBS dried onion flakes {you could use 1/4 cup fresh}
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp dried basil
Dashes of cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
1 cup GLUTEN FREE chicken broth {I used mine to deglaze the pan after the chicken cooked in the spices to add a bit of flavor}
Optional additions:  1/4 cup vegetables like green bell pepper, zucchini, sautéed mushrooms, etc.

Cook noodles according to package directions, place in a large bowl.  Add chicken, alfredo sauce, onions, vegetables, canned tomatoes, 2 cups of cheese, seasoned salt, basil, cayenne and red pepper flakes, bacon, and mix together.  Slowly add in 1 cup of GF chicken broth, it will be slightly soupy.  Pour this mixture into a 9 x 13 pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Add remaining 1 cup of cheese to the top, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes.  The mixture will seem moist if served immediately.  The moisture will help the texture for reheating, as it reheats very well and doesn't dry out.  Cover any leftovers and refrigerate. 

Both of these meals turned out well, and will become part of my regular meal rotation.  However, only once in a while because the GF noodles and GF crusts are so high in carbs that I cannot afford to eat them very often {being Pre-diabetic}...  But everyone needs a little bit of comfort food once in a while, and these are my go to meals after weeks full of "some kind of meat and some kind of veggie" meals... lol...  Happy Gluten Free cooking everyone!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

A labor of love...

I try to serve as much as I can.  Try is the operative word here.  With my health discoveries and challenges this year, I have been unable to serve in the full capacity that I would like.  But one area that I am still able to serve in is sharing my crafty talent.  I was recruited to be part of a crafty duo to decorate tables and create centerpiece ideas for my church's women's group.  The theme this season was 'make a joyful noise".  In the process, I met a kindred crafty soul and we were able to bring our ideas together for a lovely display!  My friend wanted a very bright color scheme she saw on pinterest, and of course I am more of a neutral and rustic girl.  But our styles came together well, and I wouldn't change a thing about the final product...

We began by painting and distressing mason jars like we saw on pinterest....  only, there was no real tutorial for this sort of thing.  My friend really wanted a dark color to show through underneath the distressing, so the jars were painted with 2 coats of paint, and the insides roughly painted with black.  We then took sandpaper and randomly removed paint in a left to right motion all over the jars.  We loved the results!

We made a number of decoupaged egg crates like I made in a previous post, but changed it up to music notes instead of dictionary paper to match the theme.

My friend found these lovely wooden birds and painted them, and she was brave enough to cut and wash burlap to achieve a softer, more crumply effect.  Messy, but worth the effort!

We used last season's vintage crates and just turned them upside down to give some height to the display.  We punched cute hearts from the music paper, and I was on lolly duty for hours... but it was worth it - I love how cute they turned out...

It has been difficult to complete crafty time in the midst of my illness, and complete exhaustion.  But continuing to serve in this capacity gives me hope that I will be back to my old self again soon. It helps me feel more productive and not like a burden to those around me.  I have a million ideas of crafty goodness the for the upcoming months, which are naturally a crafter's favorite months of the year.  But I know that my productivity will be far less than in past years, and I just need to have patience with that.  I truly believe that the Lord wants me to learn patience from this whole experience.  He has also shown me the true compassion and patience of my dear husband.  My husband doesn't complain if the house isn't spit-spot, and he is always asking me how I feel, texting me while I am at my treatments.  He has stepped up with helping with dinner several times a week, and making the Costco trips all by himself.  Costco has been the hardest for me, so tiring to walk around that huge place.  All in all, he has proven that he is here for me in sickness and in health, and that is what I call a real man.  I can't believe that the Lord brought him to me, and that he is mine.  Everything is in place for me to just take the time to get better, I just need to be okay with the mental slow down to do just that.  Serving my family and my church are a true labor of love, but serving myself is a much bigger one.  One that I am learning to do the hard way, but learning none the less :-)

Happy Crafting and resting...