This is the arrangement that we had out by the pool, where we served before dinner drinks and appetizers.
We moved indoors for our formal dinner, and this is a peek at what the florist put together. Beautiful, huh? Hope it inspires you!
Some of my favorite fish dishes that I used to eat before being diagnosed with celiac disease were pecan or almond crusted. Now I normally cannot have these when we dine out because they are coated in flour. I had some chicken in my freezer that I wanted to cook, so I decided to try an almond coated chicken. I modified a Southern Living recipe that I had seen online, and it was delicious. For those of you that still have children at home, I think they would love it as well!
First, I placed chicken breasts between pieces of saran wrap and pounded them with a meat mallet until they were about 1/2-1 inch thick. I like to do this with any chicken recipe because they are often way too thick to cook thoroughly otherwise. (It's also good stress relief). Next, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour. I used gluten free flour, but regular all purpose flour will work fine.
In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk and honey mustard.
Put the buttermilk mixture in a shallow bowl or pan, put the almonds in another.
Dip the floured chicken in the buttermilk and honey mustard mixture.
Dredge the buttermilk coated pieces in the almonds until they are thoroughly coated on both sides.
Cook the chicken in an oven safe skillet on medium-high to high heat for one minute on each side or until the almonds are nicely browned.
Place the pan in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Simple, quick, and amazingly delicious. I guarantee that this will become a regular in your kitchen!
Please comment and let me know what you think! I love to hear from you.
Almond Coated Chicken
4 boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup flour (I used Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons honey mustard
3/4-1 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken breasts between two pieces of saran wrap and pound with either a meat mallet or the skillet you are going to cook them in until they are about 1/2-1" thick. Salt and pepper both sides. Put the flour in a shallow pan or a ziploc bag and coat the chicken evenly. Mix the buttermilk and honey mustard and put in a shallow pan or bowl. Dip the chicken in this mixture and thoroughly coat on both sides. Place the almonds in another shallow pan or bowl and coat both sides in them as well. Put the oil in an oven-safe skillet; when hot, place the chicken in it and cook for one minute on each side on medium-high to high. Transfer the pan to the preheated oven and cook for 10 minutes.
I discovered this recipe for gluten-free buttermilk biscuits today and decided to make it with dinner tonight. I followed the recipe as written. I used Jules All Purpose Gluten Free Flour for the flour blend, and I used shortening where there was a choice of leaf lard or shortening. I also added a tablespoon or two of buttermilk because the dough seemed too crumbly. The only other thing I did differently was I brushed the tops of the biscuits with melted butter when they had about five minutes left to bake instead of brushing the tops with egg yolk/milk mixture.
I didn't take pictures of the process because I wasn't thinking I would blog about these, but it was simple. Just be sure to use cold butter and shortening, cut them into the flour mixture until pea size clumps form, and only mix the buttermilk in until the dough holds together. And by the way, I used Jules flour mix instead of tapioca flour where the recipe calls for it to coat the rolling surface, rolling pin and biscuit cutter.
Once I got the biscuits out of the oven I couldn't get my iPhone quickly enough to snap a picture of these beauties.
Lovely, huh? Bet your mouth is watering.....but just wait....
I cannot say enough how good these biscuits are. My non-gluten free husband agreed. Bake them and let me know what you think! Thank you, Jeanne from Art of Gluten-Free Baking!
So what did I do? I trusted Google, of course. And the recipe I found was definitely a keeper. It is an Ina Garten recipe (of Food Network fame) called Beatty's Chocolate Cake. Hubby loved it! And so did my daughter. Since I'm celiac and couldn't eat it, I had to trust their review. I tried the icing, but didn't love it, even though they said it was delicious. I'm more a fan of cooked fudge icing for chocolate cake. I'll include the recipe for both in this post so you can choose which to use.
In the past I have steered away from baking layer cakes because they always seem to come out uneven and never look pretty. But not this cake--it came out perfectly!
I used 9" round cake pans, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It was a very easy recipe that I would recommend to anyone. Layer cakes are awesome because they allow you to use more icing.....yum!
As you can see, I didn't take the time to make the icing perfect. Bob was on his way home from work unexpectedly early, so by the time the cake cooled I didn't have much time to get it iced and decorated.
I opted for simple piping around the top with vanilla buttercream, and of course the traditional birthday greeting on top!
And here's the birthday boy, very excited to blow out the candles and dig into this homemade treat on his day, which he always says should be a national holiday (he loves his birthday!). And I must say, it wouldn't be a bad idea--he is one great hubby and daddy!
- Butter, for greasing the pans
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee
Chop the chocolate and place it in a double-boiler or a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium high speed until fluffy, about three minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating about three more minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioner's sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Beat until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee in two tablespoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the mixture until blended, but do not whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.
And last but CERTAINLY not least, this is the chocolate icing I would want on a gluten-free version of this cake if it were my birthday. Don't let the fact that this icing is cooked scare you--if you follow the simple directions, it is easy as pie (or in this instance, cake!).
Never Fail Cooked Chocolate Icing:
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Mix the sugar, milk, cocoa and butter together in a medium pan. Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly. Time it exactly from the time it begins to boil! Remove from heat and allow to cool a little, then add vanilla extract. Set in a pan of cold water and beat until it is a spreading consistency. (I usually do this by stirring with a wooden spoon).
First, the places:
In April, Sarah (the aforementioned youngest) and I tagged along with my hubby to Washington D.C. when he had a meeting there. We had an awesome time and saw so much! We were honored that our eighteen year old wanted to go with us. After touring long and hard all day (art museums, monuments, government buildings including the White House), we found some really great restaurants and ate well.
This is us in front of the United States Supreme Court building:
And this is Sarah in the tunnel between the National Gallery of Art buildings:
Our favorite restaurant in D.C. was a tapas place called Jaleo. Sarah loved it, and so did I. They had a fantastic gluten-free menu.
Next was New York City. When each of our children has graduated from high school we have given them a trip with one parent--the boys went with their dad, the girls with me. Everyone chose NYC except one son, who chose a hunting trip out west. Needless to say I was glad a daughter was graduating so I got to go! We had a blast! So many memories, lots of blisters on our feet, and tons of museums, plays, and again, great food. Our favorite was Nizza (amazing gluten-free food!). And we saw tons of celebrities! We saw someone every day of our trip.
And Sarah with Amber Riley (Mercedes) of Glee:
Next we were off for our annual family beach trip to Sea Island, Georgia. Always my most favorite time because all of my kids and their spouses/significant others are there for an entire week of fun, sun, relaxation and a lot of reading on the beach, cooking together in the kitchen, and just enjoying each other.
Then, in July we were off to Lake Oconee for a long weekend. Lots of fun relaxing, catching up with each other, and tubing.
In between all of this travel, there were also trips to Asheville, North Carolina with a trip to the Biltmore House and some of the best gluten-free eating ever at Posano Cafe; St. Simons Island for another meeting with my husband, and a trip to Auburn to see and celebrate the graduation of our son Matthew.
One final REALLY fun thing that we did was spent a night in Atlanta so my husband could take advantage of his birthday gift from me--a cooking class with Atlanta chef Kevin Rathbun! The class was on grilling, smoking and all the fixings, and when the class was over I got to go have dinner with him. It was a really fantastic experience.
Okay, that was a lot of info, and even more photos, of my summer and why I've been absent. I am looking forward to posting some yummy recipes soon. In the meantime, I hope you are as excited about fall and college football being here as I am!
Twitter has been such a helpful resource when it comes to learning about gluten free products. Recently someone tweeted about free shipping for products from The Pound Cake Lady's website. I immediately ordered a Very Vanilla Bean poundcake. One of the downsides of many gluten free products is that they are not widely available and therefore must be ordered online, and the shipping costs can be prohibitively expensive. I was thrilled to be able to try a new product without paying the shipping!
The packaging was beautiful and made me excited to open it. I had a birthday coming up, so since I am the only gluten free person in my house, I wanted to put this in the freezer. I felt like I was getting to open an early birthday present!
Even the inside packaging was lovely--this would be a very special gift to send someone you know who is gluten intolerant or has celiac disease. I couldn't wait for my birthday to get here so I could enjoy it!
As you can see from the ingredient label, the ingredients are pretty much like a normal pound cake except for the flours used--I was amazed when I began educating myself about gluten free diets. There are so many flours out there!
I thoroughly wrapped the cake in plastic wrap and placed it in the freezer for two weeks until my birthday. Oh, the excitement when I finally got to take it out to thaw! I made sure I had fresh strawberries on hand to serve with this beautiful cake. A small part of me was afraid that I might be disappointed--so many GF products that I have tried are not at all worth the purchase price. At $24, I knew this would have to be delicious to be worth it.
Well, I wasn't disappointed! It was so close to the magnificent pound cake that I remember from my pre-celiac days. Such a wonderful summer treat! I highly recommend this cake to anyone.
Thank you, Pound Cake Lady! You have made me very happy!
Now, if you haven't ever been to The Pioneer Woman's website you must change that now. Ree Drummond is like Martha Stewart meets cowgirl combined with a little Lucille Ball. She really makes me laugh. But one of my favorite parts of her site is Tasty Kitchen. It is a separate site where her followers who share her love for cooking can share recipes. What a treasure trove! This is often my go-to source when I am looking for a new recipe or to be inspired by some really good cooks. I recommend that you try it!
These tarts are very easy to prepare, and the finished product is very impressive, not only by the way it tastes but also by how it looks!
Begin with mini fillo shells in the freezer section of your grocery store. They come in packages of 15. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the shells on a baking sheet--I sprayed mine with a little Pam just to make sure they didn't stick. Put 1/2 cup hazelnuts in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. (I didn't have hazelnuts, so I used almonds. I think they worked just as well!). Next, place three dark chocolate chips in the bottom of each shell, then top with 1/4 teaspoon chopped nuts. Bake shells for five minutes. Remove the shells from the oven. Using a toothpick, combine the melted chocolate and nuts and spread to cover the bottom of the shells. Place in the freezer to cool for five minutes or refrigerator for 20 minutes.Meanwhile, mix together in mixing bowl four ounces softened cream cheese and 1/2 cup of sugar. Add two tablespoons Nutella and mix well. Gently fold in four ounces Cool Whip until well combined (do not overmix).Using the same method that I used for the batter of the key lime cupcakes, put this mixture in a gallon sized ziploc bag and snip a small portion off the bottom corner of the bag. Pipe the mixture into the cooled shells. The original recipe called for this amount of filling for one box of shells, but I was able to fill three boxes (40 shells). Lastly, top the mousse filling with another 1/4 teaspoon or so of chopped nuts. Next, I topped mine with a strawberry garnish. Lovely!And while we're on the subject of baby showers, I have another idea to share. I have done this for a couple of parties, and it has turned out great both times! Effective decoration with little cost or effort.
First, I purchased 12 glass baby bottles and a simple white crib sheet with multi colored dots at Wal-Mart. Then the day before the shower I purchased twelve gerber daisies from my local florist--both times I have used six red gerbers and six yellow because that's what looked best in the room it was going in and also that is what looked best with the crib sheet. Then I found two small to medium boxes to place under the crib sheet on the table the decoration was going to be on. This is to give it a multi-dimensional look. Then I arranged the baby bottles on the sheet--some on the table itself and some on the boxes that were under the sheet. Hard to describe, but this is the finished look: What fun to be in on the excitement of celebrating the blessing of a new baby with precious friends!
Chocolate Mousse Tartlets
1 to 3 packages Mini-Fillo Frozen Shells
1 package dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts or almonds
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons Nutella
4 ounces Cool Whip
Strawberries for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place mini shells on a baking sheet (spray with Pam) and place three chocolate chips inside each shell. Pulse nuts in a food processor or finely chop into coarse or fine pieces. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon nuts over chocolate chips in each shell and bake shells at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
Remove shells from the oven and use a toothpick to gently combine melted chocolate chips and nuts, spreading evenly along the inside of the shells. Place shells in the freezer to cool for 5 minutes, or in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Mix together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add the Nutella and mix well. Fold in Cool Whip and stir until the mixture is well-blended and fluffy (be careful not to over mix). Put mixture into gallon sized ziploc bag. Snip corner and pipe mixture into the cooled shells and top with remaining chopped hazelnuts. If desired, garnish with small pieces of strawberries. Store in the refrigerator or freezer if not serving immediately.
It always helps to start with a colorful cast of characters like this.
I happened to have some broccollini left in my refrigerator from late last week that I didn't use, and I added to that some red bell pepper, carrots, squash and onions. This is a good recipe to make when you have some leftover uncooked veggies in your refrigerator that you need to use. You can use anything that you like--some other good choices are broccoli, snow peas, zucchini and asparagus.
The first thing to do is chop all of your
vegetables. I usually try to get all of mine approximately the same size.
The amounts in the recipe are approximations. Have fun with this and add more or take away anything you want!
Go ahead and get a pot of rice going--white or brown, whatever you prefer. I usually make two cups of uncooked rice.
Next, I cut up one boneless chicken breast into bite sized pieces. If you prefer to have a vegetarian meal, of course you may leave this out. Or, you could substitute another kind of meat.
Now you have all of your prep work done and you are ready to fire up your wok!
Now don't worry--if you don't have a wok, you can do this in a saute pan. It just might get a little messy, so be careful. Heat up 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil on high until good and hot. Then put all your veggies into the oil.
Beautiful, huh? Stir all this then add 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce and cook until done, approximately 5 minutes. It's important to keep stirring during this cooking process because it is done over high heat. When done, I transfer them to a medium bowl. Next, I add one tablespoon vegetable oil and cook the chicken the same way.
You're probably wondering why I don't just cook it all together. I have found that I am able to control the amount of "doneness" more if I cook them separately. Sometimes the veggies get overcooked if I cook them with the chicken. Add one tablespoon soy sauce and a little freshly ground pepper on the chicken; cook until done (approximately five to seven minutes). Then I add the chicken to the bowl of veggies.
Next, I put the rice in the hot wok with one tablespoon oil and add three tablespoons of soy sauce. Stir it until thoroughly mixed and heated through (especially if the rice is cool). You can add one to two tablespoons butter at this point if you would like. A little butter always makes it taste better, right?
Now it's time to put it all together. Pour the vegetables and chicken back into the wok with the rice and stir it all together. Continue to stir for a minute or two until you are sure everything is very hot. Also, taste and add anything you think it needs--salt, pepper, additional soy sauce. Sometimes I add a little ground red pepper--my husband really likes it when I do that! Maybe 1/4 teaspoon or so.
Now, who wouldn't be excited to eat this in the middle of a hectic week?
Delicious and healthy, and a little out of the ordinary from the way you might usually serve chicken and vegetables. Have fun with it, and smile!
Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry
1 medium yellow squash
2 medium carrots
1/2 package broccollini
1/2 red bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 boneless chicken breast
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, divided
2 cups uncooked rice
3 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (or more if desired)
Chop all the vegetables and the chicken breast into bite sized pieces. Heat 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Add the chopped vegetables and 2 tablespoons soy sauce; stir and cook until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil and the chicken to the wok. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper to taste. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and stir until done, approximately five to eight minutes. Transfer the chicken to the bowl with the vegetables. Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok along with the rice and 3 tablespoons soy sauce. Stir well until heated through. Pour the chicken and vegetables into the wok on top of the rice and stir to combine. Add ground red pepper. Stir well.
One of my favorite times of entertaining is having friends over for a comfortable, not formal, dinner. For such times I like to serve something a little nicer than I would serve to my family on a normal weeknight, but something that is still simple. Part of the enjoyment would be taken away if I prepared a meal that would stress me out too much. This recipe is one of those that is delicious but is a little different than something I would normally do.
The recipe came from my mother-in-law--I asked her where she got the recipe and she thinks she clipped it from a newspaper or magazine a few years ago. It is delicious served with rice, just be sure to put some of the sauce on the rice--yummy! I served it Easter weekend on Saturday night when my entire family was in town, and everyone loved it. I also did a simple salad with strawberries, bacon and pecans and grilled asparagus. Fantastic!
Sweet and Sour Chicken
8 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to be about 1/2" thick
1/2 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
20 oz. can sliced pineapple
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 chicken bouillon cube
Salt and pepper chicken, then coat chicken lightly with flour. Brown chicken in oil over medium heat. Place in baking dish. Drain the pineapple. Put syrup in 2 cup measuring cup. Add water to make 1 1/4 cup; pour in medium saucepan. Add sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and bouillon; whisk together over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let boil two minutes, continuing to stir. Pour over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then add one pineapple slice to the top of each chicken breast. Bake an additional 30 minutes.
Serve with lots of white rice; sauce is good over rice. Sometimes I double the sauce recipe to make sure we have plenty!
Hope you have friends over soon--let me know if you enjoy it!
Another thing that I am thankful for is that all of my children will be home for the weekend. We have some fun things planned--eating Mexican together on Friday night after everyone arrives, having a picnic Saturday for lunch, taking all the dogs (6 total) to the local dog park, cooking together Saturday afternoon for a yummy dinner that night, and last but not least going to church together to worship our risen Savior on Sunday. Then, we will come home and have lunch together. The menu will include: standing rib roast, new potatoes with ranch dressing and bacon (thanks to my friend Melia for sharing the recipe!), broccoli casserole, green beans, sauteed corn with red peppers, frozen fruit salad, rolls, and dessert. I plan to share several of these recipes in the coming days.
As you can see, much of our time is spent around the table together. I would think that is the case for your family as well. I had fun today putting together centerpieces for my dining room table where we will eat that big Easter Sunday lunch. For Valentine's Day I did something similar for a luncheon that I had and I thought it was cute, so I decided to go with the same idea only with an Easter theme.
I purchased 5" diameter round cylinder vases at Michael's (I think they were about $2-3 each). Then I found some round 3" vases the exact same height at WalMart for $1 each. My table seats 8, so I use three of these down the center. I placed the smaller vase inside the larger one (I put a piece of double stick tape on the bottom to make sure it stayed in place). For Valentine's Day I filled the space between the two vases with "red hot" candies, then filled the inner vase with red tulips. They were adorable.
For Easter, I bought bags of multi-colored jelly beans and poured a layer into the space approximately 2" high. Then I placed Peeps yellow bunnies in the remaining space.
After filling the entire space with Peeps, I carefully filled the inner vase with water (with a little flower food added). I purchased an assortment of flowers from my local wholesale florist (gerber daisies, iris, freesia, button mums, and tulips) and had fun filling the containers with them. Now, I am not a very good flower arranger, but that is not terribly important with a project like this. One of the most important things is to not leave the stems too long.
Here is the finished project......
And here are all three of them on my table.
I got this idea here.
My mom used to get a kick out of me when I was young because I always wanted to make the table pretty even when it wasn't a special occasion. I still enjoy doing that! It makes me happy to welcome my children home and to celebrate a special day together.
I hope you have a special day with your loved ones!