This recipe benefits from a “long soak” in order to make the whole grains more digestible and more nourishing. The long soak is not a difficult step, it just requires either a bit of advanced planning or a bit of patience. Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten-free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal is perfect for this hearty, delicious muffin, but you may find gluten-free grains at your local health food store that you would prefer to crack yourself in a good coffee grinder or grain mill. Examples of acceptable grains would include brown rice, corn, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, and sorghum. This has definitely become my favorite breakfast muffin!

  • 1 ½ C gluten-free cracked grains (Bob’s Red Mill GF Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal)
  • 1 C sorghum flour
  • 1 ½ C kefir, yogurt or buttermilk
  • ½ C tapioca flour
  • ½ C cornstarch
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 T baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • ½ C melted unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 C pumpkin puree
  • 1 C sugar
  • raisins, nuts, chopped dark chocolate

In a large mixing bowl, add the cracked grains, the sorghum flour and 1 ½ C of kefir, yogurt or buttermilk. Mix thoroughly and let the mixture soak at room temperature (or in the oven with the pilot light on) for 12 to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the remaining dry ingredients (tapioca flour through baking soda) in a bowl. Add the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, pumpkin puree and sugar to the soaked grain/flour mix, then sift in the dry mixture and mix thoroughly. Add handfuls of raisins, some chopped nuts, and some chopped dark chocolate. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool and enjoy!

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How the Church tells time

October 12, 2010

Our nomadic existence this past couple of years has caused my affection to grow for traditions that facilitate a rhythm of worship for our family and that help us feel connected to the Church no matter where we are in the world. I am delighted to celebrate our unity with believers everywhere, and in so doing, to testify to the immeasurable depths of grace, reconciliation and love we experience through Jesus. In moments of loneliness and disorientation during our sojourns, I am especially thankful for tangible, visual reminders of our adoption into God’s large family.

There is a fabulous wooden puzzle introduced in Stewart and Berryman’s book “Young Children and Worship” (that can be purchased at Worship Woodworks) meant to teach children about the seasons and special days in the Christian calendar that can guide our worship throughout the year. It is called “How the Church tells time.” I wanted something a little more portable, a little less pricey, and, honestly, I was also looking for ways to use up our big stack of construction paper before our next move. So we created a church calendar with paper beads and string.

To make the calendar you need:

  • some pencils that you don’t mind getting a little yucky
  • 1 part glue and 1 part water mixed together in a bowl
  • a surface to dry your beads on
  • some red, white, green, blue and purple construction paper (you can use just purple or a purplish blue instead of both blue and purple as I did…or whatever you have on hand!)
  • 1 length of twine to string your beads on
  • A gold marker
  • A large safety pin and a button, or a piece of string, or anything that you can attach between beads to mark the current week

Cut 3/4 to 1 inch wide strips of construction paper in the following quantities:

  • 1 red strip for Pentecost (you might want to make a couple extra while you are at it just in case something goes wrong)
  • 8 white strips, 1 for Christmas and 7 for Easter
  • 4 blue strips for Advent
  • 6 purple strips for Lent ( I just cut 10 purplish-blue strips for both Advent and Lent, but someday I will make real purple strips for Lent)
  • 33 green strips for Ordinary Time

Of course you can vary the colors according to how your church celebrates that various seasons. If you want to learn more about the seasons and find ideas about how to structure your family devotions accordingly, you can visit CRI/Voice’s page for a detailed explanation.

Dip the strips of paper in the glue/water mixture, thoroughly saturating the strip and squeezing off the excess glue with your fingers. You are going to get a little messy. Wrap the strips of paper around your pencil to form a bead (I was able to fit about five or six per pencil). Let the beads dry until they are solid enough to slip off the pencil, but you might want to take them off before they are completely dry to avoid having them stick to the pencil. Let them dry thoroughly off the pencil.

When your beads are dry, draw a gold cross on one white Easter bead, and gold star on the white Christmas bead. Then string the beads on your twine in the following order: 24 green beads, 1 red bead, 6 plain white beads, the white bead with the golden cross, 6 purple beads, 9 green beads, the white bead with the golden star, and 4 blue/purple beads. Knot your beaded twine into a circle and tuck the ends of the string through the beads on each side of the knot. Choose a way to mark the current week – I used a big safety pin with a button attached to hang before the week that we are celebrating.  You can figure out what week we are at here.

Move the marker each Sunday during a devotional time or after a worship service. This has been so helpful to me on many levels, not only in infusing our family worship with a beautiful rhythm, but also in keeping the big seasons of Christmas and Easter from sneaking up on me! Enjoy.

Amaretti Tiramisu

June 25, 2010

I have eaten many delicious gluten-free desserts, but I never thought I would taste Tiramisu again. Then I spotted these tiny Italian cookies made almost entirely from ground almonds, egg whites and sugar. These amaretti cookies are the Italian version of macaroons, which are very popular here in France. They are quite similar in texture to ladyfingers and turn out to be a wonderful replacement for ladyfingers in your Tiramisu recipe!

If you can’t find any amaretti cookies among the imported foods at your grocery store, you can try making them yourself by following Mario Batali’s recipe or doing a quick search for a recipe on the Web. This Tiramisu will feed a crowd, so if you are serving a small dinner party, consider halving the recipe and doing two layers instead of three in a glass pan. Enjoy!

  • 18z amaretti cookies (gluten-free)
  • 500 g mascarpone cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 2 1/2 C heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 C powdered sugar
  • 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder, divided
  • 1 C strong coffee
  • ½ C dark rum, Kahlua or brandy based cream liqueur

In a large mixing bowl, add the mascarpone cheese, whipping cream and powdered sugar. Beat the mixture with until you get medium peaks (it should be easily spreadable, not stiff like butter).

In another bowl combine the coffee together with the rum. Soak 1/3 of the amaretti cookies in the coffee mixture for a few seconds, then place them in the bottom of a round trifle dish. Top the amaretti cookies with a third of the mascarpone mixture. Sprinkle 1 T of cocoa powder over the mascarpone layer. Repeat the process 2 more times, ending with a dusting of cocoa powder over the last mascarpone layer.

Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours before serving.

I much prefer a cup of hot cocoa in the morning to a cup of coffee. The problem with most commercial hot cocoa mixes isn’t gluten but, rather, hydrogenated oils and weak flavor. I choose a decent quality cocoa powder (avoid generic brands…Hershey’s makes a wonderful product for everyday use, in my opinion) and I add coconut cream powder for richness without the dangers of hydrogenated oils. I know some folks feel strongly about avoiding saturated fats completely, so you can read my post about coconut oil to find out a bit more about why I am a fan. Coconut cream powder is powdered coconut milk, not coconut flour or shredded coconut, and it can be found at most Asian markets or from Wilderness Family Naturals.

Vanilla sugar is also a wonderful addition, but you can use regular sugar and add a dash of vanilla extract with the hot milk as well. If you are in France, you can just add a couple packets of sucre vanillé to the mix and use regular granulated sugar.

We don’t have a microwave in our room currently, so I usually fill the cup about 3/4 full with very hot water from the electric tea kettle and then fill it the rest of the way with whole milk from the fridge, which brings my cocoa to just the right temperature for immediate sipping. Can you tell I take my cocoa pretty seriously? 😉 Enjoy!

  • 3 C dry milk
  • 2 C vanilla sugar
  • 1 ½ C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4z coconut cream powder
  • 1 tsp table salt

Mix ingredients together thoroughly and store in a covered container. Fill a mug about a quarter full of hot cocoa mix and add hot water or milk. Stir well and enjoy.

Spiced pear crisp

May 11, 2010

Pears are plentiful here in France these days. And the pears I am finding are perfect for a baked dessert, ripe but firm. You can substitute honey or simply sugar for the Port if you don’t happen to have any around, but the Port is a wonderful bridge between the delicate sweetness of the pears and the spiciness of the cloves and cinnamon. It gives the dessert some nice color as well. I also used a raw cane sugar (turbinado) in the topping  instead of brown sugar, simply because brown sugar is hard to find here. But, to my delight, the raw sugar added wonderful flavor and crunch, so you might like to give it a shot.

Topping

  • 1 1/3 C gluten-free oats
  • 2/3 C sorghum flour
  • 1 1/4 C brown sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 1 C (2 sticks) of salted butter

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and work the butter in with your fingers or a fork until everything is incorporated (or pulse in a food processor).  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Filling

  • 3 lbs pears, peeled, cored and sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 T Port
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves

Toss the sliced pears with the lemon juice, port and cinnamon  in a large round cake pan or a 9 x 13 pan. Scatter the three cloves among the pears. Take the topping out of the refrigerator and crumble it over the pears. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the topping is browned and the filling is bubbling at the sides of the pan. Serve warm.

Lemon chicken alfredo

April 27, 2010

Some dishes are renown for the hard work that goes into making them delicious. But there are plenty of dishes that are famously delicious simply thanks to their ingredients. Like Alfredo. So, do not be dismayed if you are on a gluten-free diet that you cannot open a jar of Alfredo sauce from the shelf and dump it on your (brown rice) pasta. This is not hard, and it’s better.

Alfredo sauce might be elementary, but good chicken is another story. Making boneless chicken that isn’t dried out and rubbery always presents a challenge. I have, thus, become a big fan of brining my chicken whenever I get the chance and cooking it “quickly” at high temperatures. This is not hard, either, but it does require some forethought. And it’s really not absolutely necessary, but I believe this extraordinary sauce deserves a worthy accompaniment.

Alfredo Sauce

  • zest of 1 lemon and the juice of half the lemon (reserve juice of other half for chicken)
  • 3 T salted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1 C grated Parmesan (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the cornstarch, the grated zest of 1 lemon and the minced garlic. Let the butter heat until foaming a bit, then add the cream. Simmer until the mixture has thickened, then stir in the Parmesan, sugar, nutmeg and juice of half a lemon. Take off the heat. Toss with brown rice pasta.

Chicken

  • 1 –  1 ½ lbs boneless chicken
  • ¼ C sugar
  • ¼ C salt
  • water to cover
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • juice of half a lemon
  • Fresh minced herbs, such as parsley and chives

In a large plastic resealable bag or a container with a cover, dissolve 1/4 C table salt and 1/4 C sugar in a couple cups of water. When it has dissolved, add the 1 to 1 1/2 lbs of boneless chicken breast and add more cold water, enough to completely submerge the chicken. Brine the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse thoroughly under running water. Pat the chicken dry and place in an oven pan. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle generously with fresh ground black pepper and garlic powder. Place the chicken in an oven preheated to 500 degrees. Cook the chicken for around 20 minutes, (depending on the thickness) or until the chicken starts to brown a bit. After removing the chicken from the oven, squirt on the juice of half a lemon and let it rest, loosely tented with foil, 5 to 10 minutes. Cut the chicken into slices and serve over pasta tossed with Alfredo sauce, reserving a bit of the sauce to spoon over the chicken. Garnish with fresh herbs.


One particularly difficult challenge for many people learning to eat and cook gluten-free for the first time is finding an alternative to the beloved can of cream-of-mushroom soup for sprucing up dinner. So this is for the cream-of-mushroom fans. It’s true that this will take a little longer to make than it would take to open the can, but it will be worth it. Spoon it over your roasted pork loin or add some peas and ground beef for a hamburger helper meal! You can dress it up or down. Add an extra tablespoon of cornstarch if you would like a very thick sauce.

  • 4 T butter
  • 8z sliced mushrooms
  • 2 diced shallots
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 2 C white wine
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp herbs de provence
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ C crème fraîche or sour cream

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots and saute until the mushrooms are soft and the liquid has evaporated from the pan (just before they start to brown). Sprinkle the cornstarch over the mushrooms and stir to combine well. Add the white wine and the Dijon mustard and turn up the heat to medium high, simmering until the sauce has reduced and thickened. When the sauce has reached your desired consistency, take it off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste, the herbs de provence and the crème fraiche or sour cream.

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Banana bread

April 2, 2010

Classic, and gluten-free! I based this recipe on the Joy of Baking recipe…and as many of you have probably already discovered, the Joy of Baking recipes are always delicious.

We made this bread last night for our Maundy Thursday observation with the boys. Jude repeated with wonder, “Jesus is the Bread of Life, broken for you and me” as we ate our first bite of banana bread. He retold the story of the Last Supper to himself as he finished his slice, repeating “Jesus broke the bread,” with each bite. It was a very special, wondrous time, and God spoke to our hearts as we shared this meal. We wish you a wonderful Holy Week.

  • 1 C sorghum flour, spooned into cup
  • ½ C tapioca starch, spooned into cup
  • ½ C cornstarch or potato starch, spooned into cup
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 3 large ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ C unsalted, melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¾ C sugar
  • 1 C toasted, chopped walnuts or chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, mash the bananas thoroughly. Beat in the eggs, then the melted butter, vanilla and sugar. Add the banana mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Fold in the walnuts or chocolate chips if desired. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for approximately 55 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the middle clean. Let the bread cool most of the way in pan, then remove the loaf from the pan onto a wire rack. Slice and enjoy!

Okay, here’s my excuse this time. Our computer totally broke (it was six years old). We had to wait for a new one to be shipped from the States. Enough said.

While I may not be able to enjoy many of the pastries and breads that are around every corner, I have discovered that the French have a wonderful take on chocolate cake that is very Celiac friendly. The emphasis in a French chocolate cake is on the chocolate, and not on the crumb structure. Flour is not always needed, and when it is, usually in small quantities.

When referring to a cake, “fondant” could be translated as “melt in your mouth.” This is a very rich dessert that majors on smooth chocolate, plain and simple. Enjoy!

  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8z bittersweet/semisweet chocolate squares or chips
  • 1 T milk
  • 1 C sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 C seedless raspberry jam
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 C cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter, chocolate and milk together in a saucepan over low heat. Once melted, pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and add the sugar, salt, vanilla and raspberry jam. Combine thoroughly and let it cool until it is warm but not hot. Add the eggs and beat thoroughly. Mix in the cornstarch thoroughly and pour the batter into a buttered cake pan. Place the fondant into the preheated oven and bake for about 25 minutes, give or take a few minutes. You know the cake is done when the top gets crackly.

Crepes

February 19, 2010

We enjoyed these crepes Tuesday evening for a special pancake dinner in order to mark our transition into the Lenten season. The crepes were a bit of a flop for my boys, who are decidedly bigger fans of the traditional American fluffy pancake. But my husband and I absolutely love these crepes, especially with some jam and some creme fraiche (sour cream) or some Nutella.  If you are not gluten-free, you can substitute the first four ingredients for 1 C of all-purpose flour. Enjoy!

  • ½ C sorghum flour
  • ¼ C tapioca starch
  • ¼ C potato starch
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ C sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 C milk
  • zest and juice of 1 navel orange (juice should measure about 1/3 C, add more milk if necessary)
  • 6 T unsalted butter, melted, plus ½ T more for the skillet
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Thoroughly combine the dry ingredients together in one bowl, and whisk the wet ingredients together in another. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there are no lumps left, (use an immersion blender if you like) and let the batter sit for 15 minutes or so. Melt ½ T butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, turning the pan so that the butter completely coats the bottom. When the butter is sizzling, pour 1/3 C crepe batter into the skillet and swirl the skillet so that the batter evenly distributes over the bottom of the pan in one thin layer. Make sure you whisk the batter a little each time you scoop some out, because the flour might settle a bit at the top of the batter. Cook the crepe about a minute or so on each side. You can turn up the heat a bit if you like your crepes nice and brown. Serve the crepes warm with filling(s) of your choice.