Gluten-free Appetizer Recipes for New Years Eve

FRITOS_SCOOPS___Corn_ChipsOK – we’ve made it through most of the holiday season, but there is one more celebration to navigate gluten-free style in 2009. New Years Eve is an exciting evening for many people but for those of us who have to avoid gluten, the celebration can become a game of dodging gluten land mines. Here are some tips to help you survive the last holiday extravaganza of the year.

If you’re attending a party where you know the host well, it should be fairly simple for you to find out if anything they are serving is safe for you to eat. If you don’t know them well, you might be more comfortable eating a little something before the party and taking several gluten-free things to nosh on during the evening. Keep in mind that celebrating with good friends should be the focus of the evening. As long as you bring great food for yourself, you won’t miss eating what other guests are enjoying.

New Years Eve party food tends to be heavy on the appetizers but many of them are likely to contain gluten. Take some tasty apps of your own and share them if you like. If you do take a dish to share, consider separating some of your own treats from the main serving dish so that no gluten serving utensils can contaminate your otherwise safe food. It’s unfortunate that a misplaced spoon can actually ruin the night for party guests with food intolerances.

Below is my favorite simple appetizer recipe to take to parties. One of the best things about it is that you can buy all the ingredients in a regular grocery store. It’s super easy to make and people always ask for the recipe – whether they eat gluten or not!

Cheesy Corn Dip

  • 2 cans Del Monte Mexi-Corn (drained)
  • 2 cups Mexican style shredded cheese (reserve 1 cup for topping)
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Chopped jalapenos (to taste) *I use about 2 tablespoons

Instructions:

  • Mix all ingredients well – except 1 cup of Mexican style cheese.
  • Put mixture into a lightly greased baking dish.
  • Top with e reserved cheese.
  • Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Serve with Fritos Scoops corn chips and/or celery sticks.

Here are some other great gluten-free recipes from the gluten-free blogosphere, including one for vegan, gluten-free eggnog!

Enjoy New Years Eve whether you stay in or go out. And remember to enjoy some great gluten-free food no matter where you celebrate!

Special thanks to my friend Melisa for this amazing recipe that everyone loves!

Recipe: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

100_1398It took me over two years to convert my husband’s family recipe for pumpkin bread to be gluten-free. I tried several different flour blends and finally by adding a little applesauce, the gluten-free version was at least as good as the old gluten favorite. When a gluten-free food avoider we know asked for the recipe (he thought it contained gluten), I knew my job was complete!

If you have your own gluten-free flour blend, feel free to use it in this recipe. I’ve found two products that make this bread amazing. One of them is Beth’s All Purpose Flour from Gluten Free Pantry. That flour blend is widely available in health food stores, Whole Foods and some mainstream grocery stores. The other flour, Jules Gluten Free, is less available but sold online and in some stores. It is simply amazing flour that works incredibly well in most any gluten recipe!

Janes Family Pumpkin Bread Recipe (gluten and dairy free!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 15 oz. can of pureed pumpkin
  • 3 ½ cups gluten-free flour blend
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2/3 cups water
  • ½ cup unsweetened natural applesauce

Instructions:

  • Combine eggs, sugar and oil.
  • Add pumpkin and mix well.
  • Sift (or whisk) together all the dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mixture.
  • Add water and applesauce and mix well.
  • Pour in two lightly greased loaf pans.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for approximately one hour.
  • Bread is ready when toothpick (or long wooden skewer) inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Variations:  If using the Jules Gluten Free flour, add and extra ¼ tsp. of baking powder. Add raisins and / or nuts to the recipe if you like. Fold in any additions gently right before pouring the mixture into the loaf pans. In the beginning I used about 1/2 tsp. of xanthan gum in this recipe but one time I didn’t have any on hand and the bread still turned out perfectly. After that I left it out on purpose. It’s expensive stuff so I might as well save it for when it’s needed.

The recipe can be cut in half for one loaf and the bread freezes very well. We usually heat this bread up in the toaster oven and dab a little butter on it but it is perfectly delightful without being heated at all. Like most good pumpkin breads, it goes nicely with spreadable cream cheese as well. One of my chocoholic friends puts tiny chocolate chips on a slice of the bread and heats it in the microwave until the chocolate melts. No matter which way you serve it, this bread is wonderful and no glutenoids in your life will ever miss the gluten!

Easy Gluten-free Brunch Casserole

IMG_0101It’s super easy to make a delicious gluten-free casserole for breakfast or brunch. This is particularly handy to make when you have company or are a guest at the in-laws house during the holidays. Instead of worrying about making a gluten-free crust for quiche, call your crustless quiche a casserole and no one will miss anything!

To make an egg casserole, you need some eggs, milk and cheese. Everything else is optional and should suit your own personal taste. Scallions, mushrooms and spinach work great as the veggies and for meat loves, turkey or pork sausage and bacon add extra protein. Make sure you choose gluten-free meats, though more of them seem to be gluten-free than not these days. There are plenty of safe brands listed in our Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide.

If you’re using veggies and meat, saute them in a tiny bit of canola oil until done and allow everything to cool while you whisk the egg mixture. How many eggs you use depends on how many people you need the dish to feed. We use five eggs for two of us which allows for left overs. Ten to twelve eggs works for a crowd. Add some heavy cream if you have it, or skim milk with a little sour cream if you don’t. The amount of milk is based on how many eggs are used. About ½ cup works for five eggs and a cup will do for double that.

Spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray. Place veggies and meats (if using) in bottom of dish. Whisk eggs and cream or milk/sour cream and then mix in shredded cheese. Pour mixture over veggies and meats. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes, depending on pan size and thickness of mixture. The casserole is ready when it pulls away from pan edges and it starts to lightly brown on top. Allow to cool at least five minutes before cutting.

Serve with fresh fruit and gluten-free muffins or toast for breakfast. When serving the dish for brunch, a nice side salad and hash browns work nicely. Kroger’s hash brown patties are now marked gluten-free. Ore-Ida’s gluten-free list includes some hash browns but none of the packages are labeled gluten-free in our area yet. Many hash brown patties contain wheat, which is clearly listed in the ingredients.

Another way to make this casserole is to use a muffin tin instead of a large baking dish. Spray the muffin tin well so the mini “egg muffins” don’t stick. Both those and the casserole freeze quite well. Thaw them in the refrigerator and heat in the microwave when ready to eat. The “egg muffins” are great if you’re traveling out of town by car and can take a cooler for food. When you get to your destination, you’ll have a ready made gluten-free breakfast in case your hosts serve a breakfast that’s heavy on the gluten.

The main thing to remember is that there are really no rules for making this kitchen sink type casserole. Use what you have and what you like. If you love seafood, consider using some bay shrimp with  artichoke hearts and parmesan cheese. For a casserole with a Mediterranean flare, use feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, black olives and some pesto chicken. Have fun with your creation and most of all, enjoy eating and sharing it with family and friends!

If you’re having turkey this week, make sure and check out our left-over turkey recipe post. Happy holidays everyone!

Figo Pasta in Atlanta Now Offers Gluten-Free Pasta!

IMG_0019Figo Pasta is a locally owned local Italian restaurant with eight locations in the Atlanta area. Several weeks ago, the restaurant started offering a gluten-free menu but when I confirmed that they were serving corn pasta, I incorrectly assumed it would not be worth trying. Just recently I posted about the amazing pasta Le Veneziane, a corn pasta made in Italy that someone talked me into trying. The Le Veneziane is out of this world delicious and their fettuccine is now a staple in our pantry!

After my excellent experiment with the other corn pasta made in Italy, I realized there might be a reason to check out the offerings at Figo Pasta. Finally, when a gluten eater I know said he thought the gluten-free pasta at Figo was excellent, my decision to give it a try was cemented. We made plans to see the wonderful DaVinci exhibit at the HIGH Museum with friends before having lunch at Figo Pasta.

On an unseasonably cold day in Atlanta, we trekked into the city to the HIGH and later headed to the Virginia Highlands location of Figo for lunch. There is parking for that location behind the building and there is a sign directing Figo patrons where to park. Once inside the warm inviting space, we found a rustically decorated Italian-type bistro. Guests place their orders and pay at the counter up front and then seat themselves. The food is delivered as it’s ready. Since all the sauces were marked gluten-free on the menu, it took me a while to decide on my order. Finally, I chose the 4 Formaggi (four cheese) pasta. My husband ordered gluten-free pasta with Ragu’ alla Bolognese sauce. We also got one large salad – Spinaci e Caprino – to split.

IMG_0017Our salad arrived quickly and we enjoyed the mixed greens with goat cheese and raisins. The dressing was one of the best I’ve had in a while but there was just a tad too much of it for our taste. My husband prefers no dressing and I prefer my dressing on the side so we’ll order that way in the future. I could tell by the flavor of the dressing that the olive oil they used to make it was not your run of the mill olive oil.

When our entrees arrived, they both looked lovely and the portion sizes were very nice as well. Of course, the look of the food means nothing if it doesn’t also taste great. The first bite of my delicious pasta dish left me feeling a bit uneasy, as if I’d been served gluten pasta by mistake. Then I remembered that as it was served, the manager confirmed that both my dish and my husband’s were gluten-free. Also, like most corn pasta, there was a slight yellow tone to the pasta.  My husband thought his pasta was great but would have preferred a heavier sauce with it. His sauce was a bit heavy for my taste. 

During out visit, I had the pleasure of meeting Sandro Romagnoli, the owner of Figo Pasta restaurants. He is from Italy and therefore he’s extremely concerned with the taste of anything he offers his guests. As he explained it, he would not offer a dish that he didn’t feel was good enough for him to enjoy. The way Sandro decided on which gluten-free pasta to use was by doing blind taste tests himself. When he could not figure out which pasta contained gluten and which one was gluten-free, he had his answer. He tried the most popular gluten-free pastas on the market and not surprisingly those didn’t make the grade.

If you know any Italians, you know they are serious about food. Just as in Italy, they prefer using real ingredients and the making dining experience pleasurable in all ways. Sandro lives up to his heritage and deserves to be proud of the food he’s serving to the gluten-free community. There are many companies jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon to make a quick buck. In the case of Figo Pasta, several long time customers found out they could no longer tolerate gluten. Wanting to keep his loyal customers happy, Sandro got to work on figuring out how to do that, while not compromising his principles about serving wonderful tasting food. The statement from the Figo Pasta website (below) says it all. 

Though we do not like rules, we have one simple one. If you do not LOVE the dish you have selected, please let us know and we will make you another one. And we will keep making new ones till you are in love with your meal.

 

 

Presently, Figo Pasta does not offer any gluten-free desserts and there is only one gluten-free appetizer. Many of the salads are safe and the dressings are made in house. If you are in or around the Atlanta area, treat yourself to a wonderful gluten-free meal at Figo Pasta. For about $10, you can enjoy a gluten-free pasta dish. The upcharge is only $1 for gluten-free pasta, also the lowest I’ve found in this area. In these trying economic times, it’s nice to be able to enjoy a  delicious gluten-free meal that offers such great value!

New Gluten-free Bakery in Atlanta!

sallysbakeryCookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally's Bakery

Recently, something very exciting happened in Atlanta. Our first gluten-free special order bakery opened! Sally’s Bakery opened its doors to rave reviews on December 14th in Sandy Springs, GA. Their facility is 100% gluten-free and the talented bakers at Sally’s make buns, English muffins, chocolate chip cookies, pizzas and various breads. Several items are also free of dairy, soy and eggs so those of you with multiple intolerences are not fogotten at Sally’s Bakery. One thing that is not missing from the goods at the bakery is great taste! 

Though I’ve not tried the take and bake pizzas or chocolate chip cookies from the bakery yet, my bet is that they are as tasty as the other items that owner Bonnie and her daughter Sally have created! The bakery uses high quality ingredients in their products and that is really reflected in the taste. There are several great gluten-free breads available, including but not limited to, pumpkin and banana quick breads. In the summer I can envision the bakery possibly making some other seasonal breads like zucchini and strawberry.

sallysbakeryTheWorksPizza
The Works Pizza from Sally's Bakery

My favorites from the bakery are the C.R.A.W. Bread, the Pumpkin Bread and the Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins. The Hamburger Buns from Sally’s Bakery were enjoyed by Atlanta Gluten-free Dinner Club members back when Bonnie, the owner, first started her baking business. Everyone raved about the buns and suggested that Cheeseburger in Paradise, where the event was being held, should offer Sally’s buns with their burgers!

The opening of this bakery is extremely timely since the holidays are upon us and not everyone has time to bake their own bread or treats. Hopefully everyone in the area will make a trip to Sally’s Bakery soon. We can no longer complain that we don’t have a gluten-free bakery in the ATL! Now the gluten-free community has to support this great effort by Sally and Bonnie and everyone else that made this venture possible. 
Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins from Sally's Bakery
Cinnamon Raisin English Muffins from Sally's Bakery

 

Presently, the bakery is a special order business. Customers can all ahead and place their orders and pick it up 24-48 hours later. Each day there will be some extra goods to sell to walk-in customers but when they’re gone – they’re gone. If you don’t place an order before dropping by the bakery, be sure to stop in early so you won’t miss them! During my visit I snagged an extra mini pumpkin loaf along with my pre-ordered English muffins. The sweet cinnamon flavor of the English Muffins is perfect with a smear of cream cheese! I’m excited to be able to have one of these treats during our visit to Tennessee this week!

Sally’s Bakery will begin accepting internet orders for shipping on January 4th, 2010. The bakery’s products freeze quite well if you want to stock up on them for future use. Just thaw them out when you’re ready to eat them and enjoy. The positive response by the Atlanta gluten-free community to Sally’s Bakery has been both exciting and heart warming to witness. If you’re in the Atlanta area, drop by Sally’s Bakery and check out their great gluten-free goodness! For those outside the area, remember that online ordering is available on January 4th, 2010!

Hours for Sally’s Bakery (holiday hours are posted on the website):

  • Monday – Friday / 10 am until 6 pm
  • Saturday / 10 am until 2 pm

Sally’s Bakery is located at 5920 Roswell Rd., Suite 108A, Sandy Springs, GA 30328. Phone : 404-847-0211