Sunday, December 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Stew {Gluten-free}

No cookies in this post! But don't you worry, there will be just one more cookie post before the Christmas holiday.

Now I'm going to be honest when I usually make beef stew, I have always used the McCormick Slow Cookers Hearty Beef Stew seasoning packet. Yeah I know, but it was quick and the flavor was good. Surprise, it is not free of gluten so I needed to come up with something else. So here is my version of gluten-free slow cooker (SC) beef stew. (Make and freeze instructions below.)

Slow cooker Beef Stew

(6-8 quart Slow Cooker, may need to be adjusted if you are using a smaller one)

2 lbs. stew beef
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 bag baby carrots
4-5 russet potatoes, small/medium
1 lg. onion
1 lb. button mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups beef broth (I use GF bouillon, since my grocery store doesn't have GF liquid broth)
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup dry red wine (plus some for the cook)
1 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tsp. paprika
3 tbsp. GF flour (you can use regular if your not GF, or omit altogether)
1 cup peas
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large zip top plastic bag, add the beef, cornstarch and a little salt and pepper. Shake to coat the beef. Working in batches, brown the beef on medium high heat. (It doesn't need to be cooked through, since it will be cooked in the cooker.) Once browned, set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, dump the carrots in your SC. Peel and cube potatoes, dump in the SC. Cut the onion into wedges (I leave the pieces fairly large so a certain someone can easily pick them out). Add the beef.

Add the mushrooms and garlic to the hot pan that was used to cook the beef. Add 1 cup of broth and sherry, cook making sure to get all the little bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the rosemary and paprika. Slowly whisk in the flour. Add the remaining broth and red wine. Pour all of the broth and mushroom mixture into the SC. Season with salt and pepper.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the peas.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve with crusty bread or a couple slices of GF toast (I like Udi's White).

*You could do this all in a large Dutch oven, start on the stove and finish in the oven, cook until everything is good and tender.

Make ahead: Brown beef and let cool completely, put ALL ingredients into a large zip top bag (double the bag) and freeze.  When ready just dump the whole thing in the SC and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

 Recipe linked on Easy Green Mama!
Before 8 hours of cooking
After 8 hours of cooking

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More {Gluten-Free} Cookies

Since I've been experimenting with cookies, I've decided to tackle two types that are not a "traditional" cookie.

The first is Potato Candy, I never even heard of potato candy until I met my husband. His grandmother always made it when she made all her other Christmas cookies. It is really simple and would be a good way to use a little of leftover mashed potatoes. I had some natural peanut butter leftover from my peanut butter cookies and we have a lot of potatoes, so it made sense to give them a try. Now, if you want to use up a bunch of potatoes, this isn't the way to do it; unless you want A LOT of candy. A little potato goes a long way. (I used a little more peanut butter then I probably should have, other than the oozing peanut butter, no one complained.)

The second, Coconut Macaroons.  I had some coconut and just really like them, so I made them! The original recipe called for some regular all-purpose flour so I altered it to make it GF.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Salted Flourless Chocolate Cookies (and a Month Gluten-Free)

My kitchen helper
I am about a month in to not eating any gluten; it has been a pretty good adventure so far.  I will admit I have had a few setbacks, but for the most part it has been pretty smooth.  I feel like I have explained myself and my reasons many times, but most people seem to understand (after first assuming I am doing it for weight loss.) I am not going to lie; the weight loss is a plus but not the reason. 

I finally made it back to my doctor, I explained how I was getting fed up with nothing helping (I was on three different medications) I felt like I was losing a battle.  I told her how my mom brought up celiac and cutting out gluten, and that I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it.  I was concerned with what she would tell me, but it was all positive.  She explained how I still should take my one medication, since I was diagnosed with colitis, but I should keep up with the GF diet as well.  She went on to talk to me about other patients that suffer from both diseases and how they cope.  Since I haven’t been eating gluten, none of the tests would show a positive result for celiac.  But because of the family history I shared, she said there may be a chance I do suffer from it, and even if it isn’t full blown celiac, I definitely have an intolerance.  My choices would be to start eating gluten just for the test, an endoscopy, or hold off being tested but continue eating GF.  For now I am just going to continue on.  I feel better; I don’t need a test to tell me that, at least 
not right now.
Adding chocolate chips and nuts, so serious!

I made it through Thanksgiving and now we are in full swing into the Christmas season.  We plan on having Christmas dinner at our house this year, which I am excited about since I will be controlling the menu.  I don’t plan on making the whole meal GF; I can’t deprive my husband and son of rolls that would just be mean.  I have been looking around for some different ideas for the dinner menu, but I must admit my focus has been more on the cookies.  We are suckers for cookies in our house.  Plus we are doing a cookie exchange at work, so I need to figure out what I plan on making for that.

I already tried one batch of GF cookies, in my last post, now I am going to try to venture into more…I found a lot of recipes for GF Cookies on Foodgawker, I am planning to try out a few. 

iPhone picture

Salted Flourless Chocolate Cookies

(Inspired from Meaningful Eats

3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped pecans
Coarse Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the sugar, cocoa and salt.  Slowly add egg whites and vanilla. Once all combined, stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.  

On a greased, or lined cookie sheet, add batter a teaspoon at a time.  The cookies will spread, so unless you want large cookies, use small mounds.  Sprinkle with the coarse salt.  Bake for about 15 minutes. (I made about 36 cookies)

The flavor of these cookies were really good and chocolaty, they were chewy and crisp at the same time.  They were also very thin (they would make great ice cream sandwiches.) I am not sure if my egg whites weren't quite warm enough or what.  I may play around with them a bit to see if I can make them "fluffier".  I will make these again.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Cookies! (Gluten-Free and Peanut buttery)

This weekend was somewhat productive, I was able to finally get to the grocery store, cut my hair, hang out with friends and clean out my car. All were much needed. On a side note, before hanging out with our friends Friday evening, playing Quelf (which I highly recommend!) we ordered pizza from our favorite pizza place.  I am happy to say they now have a gluten free pizza which is pretty good, but not comparable to their regular pizza. With all that I was also was able to fit in Cookies!

Since not eating gluten I have been missing my something sweet after dinner. I am cheap frugal so I haven't been buying much in the way of pre-made / processed GF products. Therefore, no easy grab and go snacks or cookies. So, I decided to make my own! Here is a super easy peanut butter cookie with four ingredients (five if you add the chocolate chips) with ingredients that you probably already have. 

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter (I used GF natural)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp GF vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl or stand mixer, combine all the ingredients except the chocolate chips.  Carefully mix in the chips.  The dough will be slightly crumbly but that is okay.  Make tablespoon balls of the dough and roll in sugar.  Place the balls on a greased cookie sheet and gently flatten with a fork.  Bake for about 15 minutes, depending on your oven it may take more or less. Makes about 2 dozen.

I wasn't sure how these would turn out, but they had a really good flavor and texture.  If I knew the dough wouldn't spread, I probably would have flattened them a little more. But they were a hit with even the gluten eaters in the house.  I had to remind them that they can have some but remember that I can't eat theirs so make sure I get some of mine.  I plan on experimenting more with cookies since it is cookie season, I also really want to try making my own GF pasta, that may happen over my holiday break from work.