Enjoy Gluten-free Sugar Cookies During the Holidays!

Gluten-Free Natural Cookie Blend
Gluten-Free Naturals Cookie Blend Mix

Even though turkey day has not arrived yet, before you know it holiday music will be streaming from the radio and the full-on holiday rush will be upon us. Holiday music is already playing on one station in our area and all the stores are decorated for the holidays.

Making sugar cookies with kids is a holiday tradition for many people. However, when someone can’t eat gluten, this is easier said than done. There are various recipes for gluten-free sugar cookies online. Check these recipes out if you don’t want to use a mix –

For people who prefer to using baking mixes, rather than making cookies from scratch, there are some mixes that yield excellent gluten free sugar cookies. The Gluten-Free Naturals Cookie Blend flour works wonderfully for both chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever served cookies made from this mix without being asked for the recipe. Most of the time the request is from glutenoids so that proves it’s an exceptional cookie flour! To use the Gluten-Free Naturals mix in your own sugar cookie recipe, follow the instructions on the bag for doing so. It’s super simple and oh so delicious!

Always one to take shortcuts in the kitchen when possible, I have to share that the absolute easiest (and quickest) way to make wonderful gluten-free sugar cookies is to buy the frozen pre-formed cookies from Glutenfreeda. The Chip Chip Hooray and Sugar Kookies from this line get rave reviews from everyone I know who has tried them. The stated cooking time is a little longer than you would want if you like soft cookies. Also, since the cookies are quite large, they can be quartered. When cut into quarters, the cookies take approximately ten minutes to bake. Left over cookies can be stored in an airtight container for several days on the counter.

No matter what sugar cookies you make, they can be decorated with  colored sugars, sprinkles or icings. Remember to check the ingredients of any cookie trimming supplies before purchasing them, to make sure they are gluten-free. Kids love decorating their own cookies and if they can’t eat gluten, this activity will be an extra special experience for them. Some ‘bigger kids’ might even want to get creative with their sugar cookies during the holidays. I’ve never been a big fan of sugar cookies but I’m addicted to the Chip Chip Hooray cookies from Glutenfreeda. Those incredible cookies changed my gluten-free life!

Enjoy the holidays by taking some time to honor your family holiday traditions this year. What’s important is not what you can or can’t eat, but who you’re eating with!

Triumph’s Thanksgiving Tips: Part 4, Gluten-Free Stuffing

For my family, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t really about the turkey, it’s about all the dressings! In the final installment of our Thanksgiving Tip series, we’ll talk about how to make a gluten-free stuffing in 4 steps that everyone – even your gluten-loving family and friends – will love.

1. Choose your Bread Type
Of course, the key to stuffing is gluten-free bread. So, first, you need to decide what kind of bread you want to use. White bread and cornbread are most traditional. I’ve used bread from mixes, pre-packaged bread, and homemade bread. They all come out delicious. So pick your favorite.

2. Cube It
After you’ve chosen what kind of bread you want to work with, cut them into 1-inch cubes. If you’re making the bread at home, let it dry for an hour or so after you take it out of the oven, before you cube it. This way the bread won’t fall apart when you try to cut it. And, the cubes will come out a lot cleaner.

3. Dry It
Once you’ve cubed the bread, let it dry so that it’ll soak up all that wonderful celery-broth-oniony flavor you’re going to mix it with later. Spread the cubed bread out on a cookie sheet and let it dry overnight. Spread things out in a single layer and don’t overcrowd the cookie sheet. You want there to be plenty of air circulating between each cube so that they dry sufficiently. TIP: I like to let my cubed bread dry in the oven (keep it turned off), to keep the pets away.

Don’t worry if you forget to dry the cubes overnight. I’ve done this too. Just pop the cubes into an oven at 200 degrees. Toss them every 15 minutes until they’re dry, which will take about 30 minutes.

4. Add Your Own Personal Touch
The bread cubes are the hardest part. The next step is just the same as with any other stuffing – gluten-free or not. So use your family recipe and just sub in the gluten-free bread crumbs one for one with the “regular” ones. Or, if you want to try something new, here are some recipes:

  • Where I’m from in the South, we use eggs in our stuffing (not just stock). Gluten-Free Girl has a stuffing that calls for an egg yolk.
  • If you have a Whole Food nearby, they have a recipe that calls for their ready-made bread cubes.
  • This one from Chef Jason Graham that uses sausage.
  • The CSA’s maverick recipe calls for sour cream!

And here’s the recipe we use at our house.

Triumph Family Stuffing Recipe
1 Gluten-Free Loaf of Bread
1 Slice Fatty Bacon
2 T Butter
1 medium onion, medium dice
Celery, medium dice
Chicken Stock
2 handfuls of Dried Cranberries

  1. Shave off the crust from the bread. Cut 8 one-inch slices. Then cut the slices into one-inch cubes.
  2. Dry overnight.
  3. Dice the bacon. (It’s helpful to stick the bacon in the freezer for 10 minutes prior; it’ll make it easier to chop.) Cook bacon with butter over medium-high until the bacon fat has rendered and the meat is crispy.
  4. Remove the bacon and set aside. Add in the onion and an equal amount of celery. Add salt, pepper, and sage to taste.
  5. Saute until the onions are soft and translucent.
  6. In a large buttered 9×13 inch pyrex dish, mix the bacon, onion/celery mixture, cranberries and dried bread together. Pour enough chicken stock over the mixture just to moisten.
  7. Cover with foil and bake in oven at 425 degrees for ½ hour. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the top is crusty.
  8. If at any point during baking, stuffing seems dry, add more chicken stock.
  9. Enjoy!

What to know which stocks, broths and spices are gluten-free? Check out the Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide. It’ll make Thanksgiving shopping for 2 or 20 a breeze!

New GFRAP Restaurants in NY and TX!

BellizziIt seems like every where you turn these days, you find out about another restaurant offering gluten-free menu options. As someone who dines out often, I find this to be an exciting trend in the restaurant world. Just a couple of years ago, it was not that easy to find places to accommodate our gluten-free dinner club, but these days we can’t take advantage of all the offers we get to host the group!

GoodeCoThe Gluten Free Restaurant Awareness Program (GFRAP for short) just announced four new additions to their gluten-free dining program. Each place that  participates in this GIG program has gone through a vetting process. The goal is that staff at said places understands gluten-free ingredients, safe food prep and how to get keep the meals gluten-free all the way to the table. While the participating restaurants can’t be guaranteed, most of the time you’ll find locations that are part of the GFRAP line up do better than places that have not gone through any gluten (or other allergen) service training.

Three of the four new GFRAP restaurants are actually part of a regional chain in Houston. The Italian place in in NY state.

  • Bellizzi
    1272 Boston Post Road
    Larchmont, NY 10538
  • Goode Company Texas BBQ
    5109 Kirby Drive
    Houston, TX 77098
  • Goode Company Texas BBQ
    8911 Katy Freeway
    Houston, TX 77024
  • Goode Company Texas BBQ
    20102 Northwest Freeway
    Houston, TX 77065

There doesn’t seem to be a gluten-free menu posted on the Goode Company Texas BBQ site, but the Bellizzi gluten-free menu looks simply amazing! It includes appetizers, soups, salads, house specialties, pasta and two sizes of gluten-free pizza. That is what I call an impressive gluten-free menu! Based on the website details, it appears the Larchmont location didn’t post the gluten-free menu yet. Please contact them directly before deciding to dine there. The Mt. Kisco has the gluten-free menu on their site.

If you  live near any of these new GFRAP restuarants, I hope you’ll give them a try. We all need to support places that are striving to accomodate our community. It is only through serving gluten-free patrons on a regular basis that service improves. Usually, places that do a good job of getting and keeping gluten-free patrons find out how loyal we are and they start to offer more gluten-free options as time goes by.

Most of us are never going to live near a 100% gluten-free restaurant so we need to give places trying to feed us safely a chance. Too many people write off eating out once they start following the gluten-free diet. It is not impossible to dine out gluten-free but some people seem to want you to believe that it is. Learn to eat out safely (our gluten free restaurant guide will help with that part) and enjoy eating out again!

Gluten-free Holiday Recipes from Whole Foods

flourless_chocolate_cakeThe Whole Foods website always has a huge selection of holiday recipes but this year, they have a huge selection of gluten-free holiday recipes too! I’m not talking about a handful of recipes but a nice selection for several categories including  Appetizers, Main Courses, Side Dishes, Desserts & Treats and Beverages. There is also an advanced search feature on the Whole Foods website. For example, you search for gluten-free, dairy-free recipes or nut-free, soy free, low sodium or vegan options.

Instead of dreading holiday events and meals, we can actually look forward to them. It just takes a little more planning and organizing on our part on our part to be able to enjoy holiday gatherings. Most any dish you can think of can be made gluten-free and many other people have done the work to figure out how to convert recipes for us. This means we don’t have to start from square one on everything we need make gluten-free during the holidays.

What is really nice about the huge selection of gluten-free recipes from  Whole Foods is that you don’t have to live near a Whole Foods store to use them. When recipes call for their brand of something, just substitute another gluten-free brand.

Check out the interesting appetizers below. It’s always a good idea to have something for people to nibble on in case the turkey isn’t ready quite on time.

Speaking of turkey, the Whole Foods website has tips for cooking the perfect turkey, carving it and making gluten-free gravy as well!

Here are some lovely holiday and Fall meat recipes. Many would be perfect to take to a potluck. And unless you tell the other guests, most will never guess the amazing food you brought is actually gluten-free!

For side dishes, check out these recipes that turn ordinary veggies into something impressive and tasty.

Don’t forget the cranberries! Here are some unique ways of using this traditional holiday fruit.

Use this cornbread in your own dressing recipe and serve the quick bread for a holiday brunch.

  • Gluten-Free Corn Bread (use in any cornbread stuffing)
  • Cranberry Banana Quinoa Bread
  • To round out our holiday meals, we all need a fabulous treat to enjoy and share with others. Whole Foods has you covered with delectable treats and you can make your favorite pies using one (or both) of their pie crust recipes!

    Last but not least, we need to know what to do with leftovers. Here are some dishes that will use up the last of your extra turkey.

    Especially at this time of year, it’s important to enjoy incredible food, just like everyone else does. There is no reason to go without or feel left out during the holidays. Look for gluten-free recipes or convert your old favorites yourself. Just be sure to take some time to treat yourself in this overly busy, some times stressful time of year. Have fun in the kitchen with friends and family this season. It’s easier than ever to enjoy the holidays gluten-free style these days. With so many great free gluten-free recipes online, we can have our gluten-free fruitcake and eat it too!

    Review of Rio's Brazilian Gluten-free Cheese Bread!

    Rios-RedPepper-CheeseBreadBrazilian cheese bread is naturally gluten-free if a traditional recipe is used to make it. Instead of wheat flour, manioc flour is called for. If you like cheese and bread, you will probably love these rolls. Previously, I’ve enjoyed two brands of cheese rolls and found them both delicious. So when someone from Rio’s Brazilian contacted me about trying theirs, I was thrilled for the opportunity!

    The Austin, TX based company does not have a dedicated gluten-free facility, but they do have cross contamination procedures in place. The owners of the company are very concerned with keeping the gluten-free rolls as safe as possible in a non gluten-free facility. Obviously, everyone should purchase foods that make them feel comfortable.

    Rio’s Brazilian cheese bread rolls come in three flavors – Original, Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto. They bake from frozen in approximately 20 minutes. The rolls are slightly larger than the brands I’ve had before. The cheese bread is gluten-free, sugar free and all natural. The first thing I noticed about the Roasted Red Pepper rolls as they were baking was the incredible smell. These rolls stayed soft on the inside and have a slightly crunchy crust – the perfect texture!

    The taste of the rolls was excellent, offering a robust flavor and a very cheesy texture inside. This product is definitely for cheese lovers, which I most certainly am. This is probably the cheesiest Brazilian cheese roll I’ve had to date – simply delicious! I can certainly see why this company has grown so much in such a short amount of time. Their passion about sharing great Brazilian foods with others is inspiring!

    Rio’s Brazilian products are sold at Whole Foods in Austin, as well as Spec’s Liquors, and smaller groceries like Royal Blue, Whip In and Thom’s Market. You can also order them online from Foodzie.com.  If you are in the Austin area, be sure to use the coupon on the  Rio’s Brazilian website to save $1 on these incredible rolls. The sauces from this product line are also all gluten-free!

    Now for the fun part! If you would like to try these cheese rolls yourself, enter a comment below for your chance to win a prize pack – one of each flavor! Please keep in mind that they will need to be frozen upon arrival so you would not want to have them shipped to a location where no one was present to accept them and pop them in the freezer. The winning prize pack can only ship to an address in the continental U.S. We’ll announce the winner on November 20th – good luck!

    UPDATE: We tried the pesto rolls and they were excellent as well! My husband decided his fave flavor is the red pepper but mine is now the pesto. I’m kind of have a pesto obsession!

    Congratulations to Rachel for being the winner of our Rio Brazilan cheese bread give-away!

    Special thanks to Rio’s Brazilian for my tasting samples and for sponsoring this contest for our readers!