Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Franz 7 Grains Gluten Free Bread

If you've had to go Gluten Free, chances are you've sampled many different sub-par gluten free breads.  Let's face it: most of them are just not all that great.  Yes, if you toast them they taste fine, but they're too dry to make a sandwich that won't turn your mouth as dry as a desert.
But that has changed.  My friend clued me in to this new bread from Franz.  It's fresh, not frozen.  It's soft, not hard.  It doesn't crumble apart if you look at it wrong.  What we have here, is BREAD.

Notice this little bit on the side of the package.  "Gluten Free Facility".  I like this very much.  It means a lot to know that Franz understands cross contamination and has taken the time to dedicate a facility to making their gluten free bread.
Here are two slices of bread out of the package.  I wish you could reach through your screen to touch these pieces of bread.  They're moist.  They're springy.  They act like "real bread".  They smell like "real bread".  They even taste like "real bread".  Oh my!  So now, let's put this bread to the test.  I feel like having a grilled cheese sandwich!
Add the butter.  Yum!
Add the cheese between the bread, and throw it on a hot griddle.  Look at how nicely it cooked.  Look at that golden brown goodness.  Mmmm!
And here is the final sandwich.  I guarantee that it tastes as good as it looks.  This IS real bread.  My friend who turned me on to this bread says it makes great french toast as well.  I wonder if it makes a good Apple Pan Betty?  I'll have to try that next.  :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Cake

When you have to go Gluten Free, there is always a certain special treat (or two or three LOL) that you wish you could have, but it's either not possible, or a lot of work, or too expensive.  One of my favorite treats was a cinnamon roll, warm from the oven and drizzled in icing.  Yum!  Unfortunately, due to the nature of gluten free doughs, it's really difficult to make a decent cinnamon roll.  And though we have a FANTASTIC Gluten Free bakery near by, the rolls are a bit expensive and it is a bit of a drive for a single cinnamon roll.  This is probably a good thing for my waistline LOL.

But then I stumbled across this recipe for Cinnamon Roll Cake:

And the drool began flowing.  The memories of eating cinnamon rolls surfaced.  My eyes glazed over.  And then it hit me...  Even though this isn't a Gluten Free recipe, could I make it work if I just used Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour instead of the wheat flour?  It was time to find out!

First, I gathered all my ingredients.  Well, not ALL my ingredients, I forgot to include in the picture the HUGE container of cinnamon from Costco and the brown sugar, both used in the cinnamon "filling".  Oops!

Before making the cake batter, I made the cinnamon "filling" that will be swirled into the top of the cake.

I combined all the dry ingredients for the cake in the bowl of my stand mixer and stirred to combine.  Note that I tried this recipe without using Xanthan Gum or Guar Gum, which most GF recipes use to mimic the missing gluten.  I find that my body doesn't tolerate these very well so I left them out.  Fingers crossed that it works!

Next I added the wet ingredients and used the paddle attachment on my stand mixer to mix the batter well, stopping once to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure everything was well combined.  At first it seemed very wet, but after scraping down the sides of the bowl and giving the flours time to hydrate, it thickened up like it was supposed to.  There, that's looking great!

As soon as the batter was ready, I spread it in my prepared 9x13 baking dish.  Then I dotted the top with the cinnamon "filling".

Using a butter knife, I swirled the "filling" along the top of the cake.  I think I should have mixed the two layers together more, honestly... you'll see why in a moment.

I baked the cake as directed in the recipe, and boy did it look good when it came out of the oven!

But after it cooled, sections of it deflated quite a bit.  I wonder if that's because I didn't swirl the "filling" with the cake batter enough?  Or maybe it's because of the high content of butter in the "filling"?  I may try it again with less butter and more swirling action and see how it turns out.

The icing mixed up easily and filled in all those nooks and crannies... Hmmmm, maybe that's what was suppoed to happen?  LOL!

I can honestly say that this was a good dessert.  The crumb of the cake reminded me a LOT of coffee cake, so I can see making this as a breakfast treat as well as a dessert for after dinner.  And maybe if it were made in a smaller baking dish, it wouldn't deflate quite as far as it cools.  I guess this means I'll have to try it again.  Not that I'm complaining, mind you.  :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicken & Sausage Stew

Now that the weather is turning colder, I've been wanting to make good stick-to-your-bones food.  The kind that fills you up with good flavor and nutrition, and warms you from the inside.

As I was browsing on Pinterest, I came across this recipe for Hunger Games Hob Stew:

I will admit, I'm behind the times and have neither read the book nor watched the movie.  But my oldest daughter has done both.  She was really keen to try the recipe that was inspired by the movie, so it's what's for dinner tonight.

Here are my ingredients.  One change that I made right from the start was to not use quite so much broth.  The original recipe calls for 12 cups of chicken broth... that's three quarts!  I used only two quarts (8 cups) and that seemed to be sufficient.  Also, I would have run out of room in my pot had I used all 12 cups!

I poured my broth into my Dutch Oven and brought it to a boil.  Once the broth was boiling, I added the Italian sausages.

And then the veggies, which have been chopped, are added.  The recipe called for two green bell peppers, however green bell peppers are not a favorite in this house.  I used one red bell pepper instead.  Now I let that cook for about 30 minutes, or until the sausages are cooked through.  When the sausages are cooked, I removed them from the pot and added the package of beans. Return to a simmer and let cook for 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Now that the beans are in the pot, I transfered the sausages to a pan to brown them up a bit.  Once they're browned, I removed the sausages to cool a bit and cooked my chicken breasts.  Of course, you can use leftover chicken if you have some to use up.

Once the sausages and chicken breasts are cooled, I cut them into bite sized pieces.  I left the sausages in round pieces, I liked the shape.  Place the cut sausages and chicken in a bowl and refrigerate until later.

After 2 hours of simmering, the beans should be nice and soft, so I added the cooked chicken and sausage to the Dutch Oven.  At this point, I added half a cup of water to get the consistency that I wanted; the stew had cooked down a bit more than I had wanted.  Let this simmer for 15-20 more minutes, or until warmed through.

Yum!  This is so tasty and hearty, and healthy too.  And best of all, my daughters ate it up.  Sweet!

However, I would make a couple of additional changes to the recipe.  As written, this recipe makes a LOT of food!  Next time I think I'll halve the recipe and it will still make plenty for dinner and leave leftovers for the next day's lunch.  Maybe even a few lunches!  :)

Also, I would not put the carrots in at the beginning of the cooking process.  They end up being cooked for 3 hours, and by the time I served up dinner the carrots were mush.  Next time, I will wait to add the carrots until later, 30-45 minutes before serving.  Either that, or I'll soak the beans before cooking so the dish won't have to cook for so long.