Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

The other day, I wanted to make something I used to make all the time a few years ago. It was a honey lime grilled chicken recipe and it was so good done on skewers on the grill … but I couldn’t find the exact recipe I used to use. I started looking on the Internet and came across a honey lime chicken enchilada, and boy am I glad I found it.  As usual I had to convert it to gluten free and find an enchilada sauce that I had the ingredients for (so many recipes out there), so it’s pulled from several recipes and melded into mine. That’s how most of my recipes work. Sometimes it turns out great and sometimes not so much.

An instance where it doesn’t turn out so well happened last week when I pulled two really good pear cake recipes together the other day from some of my favorite blogs to read; the cake from Simply … Gluten Free and the topping from Tartellete. It was a good idea, and actually tasted really good, but was way too moist … like it’s going to get moldy in a few days moist (I think I put too many pears in it) and the sauce just disappeared into the almond cake. So at least it wasn’t a total flop, but it needs work.

But the enchilada recipe, that one worked right away and was soooo good. I wanted to make it again the next day, and the day after that, but I didn’t.  I can, however, share it with you, so that you can make it over and over again.

Honey Lime Chicken Enchilada’s


2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Light Olive Oil
1 - 7 ounce can of Tomato Paste
2 cups of Water
½ teaspoon Cumin
½ teaspoon Carob Powder
½ teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
2 tablespoons Chili Powder
¼ teaspoon Cinnamon


4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut in large chunks
4 tablespoons Lime Juice
5 tablespoons Honey
1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder
6-8 Rice Wraps
Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, place pre-cooked chicken breast chunks, honey, limejuice and chili. Pulse until shredded and mixed well.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt butter and add oil. Then add tomato paste and water and mix. Add remaining spices (cumin, brown sugar, garlic, chili and cinnamon) and stir well.

Next pour some of the enchilada sauce in a 9x13” baking dish. Then fill rice wraps with shredded chicken mixture and wrap. Place them in the baking dish until it’s full. Pour remaining sauce over top and cover with shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vanilla Cardamom Pear Butter

Pears. They are soft juicy and have such a distinct flavor to them, their taste so light yet flavourful is almost indescribable. Yann Martel devotes the beginnings of his new book Beatrice and Virgil to a lengthy description of a pear completely summarizing the experience of a pear with this statement “The taste of a good pear is such that when you eat one, when your teeth sink into the bliss of one, it becomes a wholly engrossing activity. You want to do nothing else but eat your pear. You would rather sit than stand. You would rather be alone than in company. You would rather have silence than music. All your senses but taste fall inactive. You see nothing, you hear nothing, you feel nothing—or only as it helps you to appreciate the divine taste of
 your pear.”

Simply put pears are delightful. There was a case of them on sale at The Root Cellar in Victoria, as they are in season and it’s there time to shine. The deal was too good to pass up, but what would I do with a case? I can barely keep four of them from going bad in my kitchen as I take them to work with me and forget them and then they become piles of rotting mush because they’re delicate skin has been bumped around too much in my back pack. If I can’t keep a few of them fresh and firm how am I going to handle a case?

Well I guess it’s time I learned to preserve/can! So this week I have spent my evenings making my first batches of canned goods. On Tuesday night I made plain canned pears, except I can’t make anything plain even on the first go, so these are set in syrup flavoured with vanilla bean and cardamom seeds. Then on Wednesday I started the process of making Pear Butter. I did run into a slight hiccup having no food mill or kitchen aid attachment to separate the skins from my pear mush so I had to put them in the fridge until the following day. That is when I bought a food mill after work and then proceeded to finish my pear butter, also flavoured with vanilla and cardamom and a little bit or Riesling White Wine. The pear butter turned out beautifully and is delicious on gluten free toast. I haven’t tried the whole canned pears yet.  The whole process is quite time intensive, especially if you are lacking in all the creature comforts of fruit peelers, food mills, and other various kitchen aids. However, it is also very satisfying. It provides you with inexpensive food for the winter and can fill up an evening … either as a fun project for yourself or as something to involve the kiddlets with therefore saving you from being stuck in front of the TV all night. Plus, if you canned it, you know its gluten free!

Try this Pear Butter and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Vanilla Cardamom Pear Butter

4-6 lbs of Pears (~15-20 pears)
½ cup Riesling Wine
1 Lemon, juiced

1 1/2 cups of Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons of Ground Cardamom

First thing I learned … if you don’t have a food mill, go buy one or peel all of your pears first.  So once you’ve figured that part out … Cut all of your pears in half and remove the stems and seeds (core). Then cut them up into cubes (about 1 inch) and throw them in a pot with your wine and the juice of one lemon. Add enough water to cover the pears and boil until soft (about 20 minutes).  Once softened, drain the excess liquid and mash the pears. Then remove the skin by passing the pear mush throw a food mill returning the pears to a large pot. If you pre-peeled your pears throw them in a food processor to make a smoother consistency, but don’t liquefy. If you are using a food mill you won’t need to worry about this. Add one vanilla bean cut open and the ground cardamom. If you only have whole cardamom, throw them in but you’ll have to pass it through a food mill to weed out the seeds again. Bring to a gentle boil and let simmer on low (1-3) for about 2 hours, stirring frequently (or throw in a slow cooker on low for up to 5 hours) to reduce the mixture until it is thickened.  While the butter is reducing, sterilize your jars in a hot (boiling) water bath for 25 minutes.  Once the pear butter has reduced so that it is thick enough to spread on toast, fill jars to about ¼ inch from the top, place lids on  (do not tighten too much) and return to boiling water for 15 minutes. Remove and place on a towel to cool and dry and listen for the pops. The jars should pop when they’ve sealed. If you aren’t sure, press down the center of the lid (once they’ve cooled) and if it stays down you are good. If it doesn’t, it didn’t seal properly so that jar should be eaten right away and can be kept refrigerated for about two weeks. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cinnamon Buns

Oh cinnamon buns, glorious glorious cinnamon buns, how I miss you so. One of my favorite things to eat used to be cinnamon buns. When visiting my friend Abel in Edmonton, I would stop by a cina-bun store in West Edmonton Mall and buy a whole box of the ooey gooey perfectly soft and cinnamony buns with its glorious cream cheese icing and mow down. I wouldn’t eat them all at once, but they would disappear pretty quickly. They were a special breakfast treat or a yummy dessert.  Then of course the world ended and I couldn’t eat them anymore. I found some made by Kinnikinnik that usually has pretty good and pretty tasty products, but these were monstrous. The dough was too obviously different (and by different I mean wrong) and I couldn’t bring myself to eat them. They still make me cringe when I see them in stores.

I get cravings for the sweet sticky buns once in a while, but it’s always seemed like such an undertaking to try and make a gluten free version of them. Gluten Free Girl did a post on some but she always uses a lot of different flours and I find it difficult to find all of these flours that are actually gluten free. Most of the flours around here are in bulk or say that they have good manufacturing practices in place to prevent cross contamination but they don’t seem to be good enough for me.  Although her cinnamon roles looked amazing they still looked to daunting.  So I combined her recipe with a standard gluten filled recipe (UBC Cinnamon Buns) and replaced random things to make my gluten free cinnamon buns below. 

I will admit I’m not a fan of any recipe that requires raising dough. I am usually impatient enough not to let the product cool properly at the end of the recipe, never mind give hour long breaks in the middle of one, but if you have the time and it’s rainy and miserable outside (kind of like today) AND you have a giant bag of expired gluten free flour that you got on sale (because it was expired) to use up, well then these are the perfect things to make!

I didn’t make these with any icing as we had a guest over who was lactose intolerant and I thought cream cheese icing might kill him, but they would probably be amazing with some icing on top too.

Cinnamon Buns

1 ½ cups Vanilla Almond Milk
3 tablespoon Margarine
3 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
½ cup Warm Water
2 ½ teaspoons Active Dry Yeast (El Peto)
2 eggs
6 cups of Bob Red Mill’s gluten free all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Xantham Gum

½ cup melted Margarine
1 cup Brown Sugar
4 tablespoons Cinnamon
½ cup chopped Walnuts
½ cup Golden Raisons

4 tablespoons more melted Margarine

Place warm water in a cup or small bowl and add active yeast, stir. Set aside for 10 minutes and then stir again.

In a small sauce pan heat up scald almond milk. Remove from heat and add margarine, sugar and salt. Whisk together then set aside to cool.

Next add yeast mixture, along with eggs to milk. Whisk until well combined. Pour this into a mixer bowl filled with 4 cups of flour and xantham gum. Turn mixer on and then add remaining flour.  Cover mixer bowl with a clean towel and set aside in a warm place* for 45-60 minutes to rise to double it’s size.

While your dough is rising you can prepare your filling. In a small bowl mix melted butter with brown sugar, cinnamon, walnuts and raisons. Set aside.

Once raised, get out a large cookie sheet. Place plastic wrap on the bottom and sprinkle with flour. Generously coat your hands and the dough in flour (it’s sticky stuff) and place on prepared cookie sheet. Cover with more plastic wrap and roll the dough out to the size of the sheet. Remove the top layer of plastic wrap and coat dough with your filling.  Now start at one end of your cookie sheet and slowly roll the dough over itself, tucking it in gently (like rolling a sleeping bag) while removing the bottom layer of plastic wrap as you go. Once you have the roll of dough, cut it into 2 inch slices. Place those slices in a 9x13 pan that is coated with melted margarine on the bottom (about 4 tablespoons). Cover again with a clean towel and place in a warm place to rise another 45-60 minutes. Gluten free dough doesn’t raise as much as regular dough, but it will rise a little bit.

After the second rise, bake in a 350 degree F oven for 35-35 minutes.

*If you don’t have a warm place to raise dough, surround your mixer with hot water bottles, place dough ball bowl in a larger bowl that is filled with hot water or try rising it in the oven by pre-heating it to the lowest temperature and then turning it off (most ovens run too hot and kills the yeast if you leave it on).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Making your kitchen (and home) gluten free

Freeing your home of gluten can be a difficult thing. I know that when I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease I went through my cupboards and emptied them of everything that definitely contained gluten and maybe had gluten depending on what I had read about gluten up to that point. Little did I know that it wasn’t all about the food and that I should be looking at my medicine and cosmetics as well, and then considering cross contamination and throwing out half of my kitchenware!

It is crazy how much there is to learn about where gluten hides and to this day I’m still discovering things I should be looking at, and I’ve been gluten free for over 3 years now.

I recently discovered that my next-door neighbour is also a Celiac but she is new to being gluten free and runs a super chaotic life, so is struggling with what to eat. She mentioned making lasagna (regular) for her husband and hadn’t made anything for herself for dinner. She is why I’m writing this particular post. She reminded me of how hard it can be to go gluten free, especially when you are the only one in your household who has to.

Technically I was lucky. I was diagnosed during a time in my life where I was single and living on my own (no roommates). So when I went home to clean out my kitchen, I didn’t have to think about keeping gluten around for anyone. It’s a lot easier to do it this way, but it’s not impossible to share a mixed kitchen (gluten free and not), it’s just way easier.

So if you can convince your spouse to never bring a stick or crumb of gluten into your house ever again, you’ve solved half the battle. I haven’t been able to convince my boyfriend of this yet. But if I ever get married and if my partner ever wants to have kids then they might have to sacrifice gluten in the home, as gluten can lead to miscarriages and infertility in Celiacs … and if I wanted to have a child, I wouldn’t be taking any chances … especially with how frequently I get contaminated these days.

So back to what you do when your partner hasn’t caved to no gluten and your trying to feed your family. First things first, deep clean your kitchen, and I mean deep. Empty all of your cupboards and drawers and wash them out. Most places say hot soapy water is good enough, but I like to think you need a little acidity in there to really clean, so try a mixture of vinegar and baking soda or use straight up hydrogen peroxide. Just Google natural cleaners and you will see what I’m talking about.  Vacuum out any drawers incase the previous owner stored bread or other gluten related items in them. Wash every pot, pan, dish and utensil you own. Wash your utensil holder … those things are always filled with crumbs. Basically pretend you are moving in and clean every nook and cranny first.

Before starting to put stuff back designate part of your kitchen as either the gluten free part or the gluten part. My kitchen is mostly gluten free with one corner designated to my boyfriend where he can make his sandwiches in peace and make all the mess he wants. I loathe that corner. So many things get put on that counter and then placed elsewhere and contaminate other parts of my kitchen. So this is when I recommend duplicating things.  You will need to have separate condiments in your fridge so that when your partner double dips in the butter after making toast, you don’t get sick. Have your own: butter, jam, peanut butter, honey, ketchup, mustard, relish, mayonnaise, and cheese. I think I might go overboard and get my boyfriend his own salt and pepper when I have the chance as I’m always finding them on the crumb counter and they are the kind that sit upside down, so not so good for me. When you are putting the dishes away, please note that plastic and wooden utensils trap gluten easily and are difficult to decontaminate. This makes them ideal to give to your partner for when they crave Kraft Dinner and need a spoon to stir it with. Buy yourself new metal and glass dishware (when you have the time and money) that is easier to clean if it does accidently get contaminated. Buy new cutting boards and make sure you designate one solely for your partner’s bread. Try to buy a large one that can capture most of the crumbs. Another dish item that is difficult to clean is a strainer. Make sure to buy a new metal strainer/colander for yourself and pick up a different colour one or a plastic one strictly for the gluten lover.  Check your appliances! You are going to need a new toaster, as toaster hide crumbs from years ago at the bottom of their trays. If you want toast you’ll have to make some in the oven (if you haven’t gotten yourself your very own new toaster) or you can buy toaster bags that help prevent cross contamination.

While you are decontaminating your kitchen you will have to go through your food. Even if you are mixing environments with gluten lovers, you can still get rid of most gluten stuff (you will figure it out in time) but for now, just designate a cupboard or two for foods you can’t eat (or pass it on to friends and family). Some things are obvious, like regular pasta, bread, cookies, etc. Some aren’t as much. If you see ‘natural or artificial flavours’ or ‘spices’ you will have to contact the manufacturer to find out what’s in it. I have mostly given up on this as a lot of places give me the run around these days, so if it says it, I don’t eat it. Don’t forget to check your beverages as well. Some coffees, hot chocolates, rice milks and teas contain wheat or barley. Some places that hide gluten are pre-sliced and pre-shredded cheeses. Many products out there use flour to keep things from sticking together and that includes cheese, candies and several spices. Try to switch to a spice company that can prove they are gluten free … two good names here are McCormick and Frontier.  But don’t take my word for it; things change daily in the world of food manufacturing so check with them yourselves before switching all of your spices. If you live in Canada you don’t have to worry about caramel colouring (or so says the Canadian Celiac Association) but you might if you are in the United States. Don’t forget to chuck any old baking products you had as they are highly likely to be contaminated. Throw out your flour (duh), sugar, baking power, baking soda and any other type of product that may have come in contact with flour when baking. Then buy new stuff (making sure your baking powder and soda are gluten free).

Now that your kitchen is clean and set up here is what you’re going to do … put yourself first! Your family can eat gluten free dinners without a problem. Rice and corn pasta (including lasagna noodles) can be found at almost every grocery store out there these days and are an easy switch. No one ever notices the difference when I make it. Well that’s a lie, sometimes it can be a bit slippery and sometimes the spaghetti noodles clump, but there are ways around that (stir pot regularly breaking up clumps and rinse with cold water to remove slippery effect) and the taste is pretty much identical. Almost all dinners or entrees are naturally gluten free anyways and those that aren’t almost always have a quick fix to it.  Roast beef and potatoes, salmon and vegetables, chicken, etc are all safe to eat. My boyfriend eats gluten free dinners and is not lacking. When I go out to a class or travelling he treats himself to beer and pizza, but he does eat well when I’m around.  We eat burgers (I wrap mine in lettuce and purchase our patties from Costco because they don’t add bread crumbs or make our own), steak with cattleboyz gluten free bbq sauce (also found at Costco), stir-fries made with gluten free tamari, chicken with MontrĂ©al steak spice, roast beef with gravy thickened by arrowroot powder or tapioca starch or corn starch, rice or corn pasta and sauce, roast turkey, gluten free lasagna curries galore, quesadillas made with rice wraps, tacos with corn wraps, maple glazed salmon, quiches made with almond flour and so on. So as you can see your family can eat well and not feel ripped off in any way.

Breakfasts and lunches can be fend for yourself (if you aren’t making food for children that is) during the week and gluten free on weekends. That’s what we do here. During the week I eat glutino breakfast bars or breakfast smoothies or glutenfreeda oatmeal and on the weekends I will make eggs and bacon with gluten free sausages or Pamela’s gluten free pancakes/muffins or my boyfriend will make use cheese omelets.  Don’t ask me what my boyfriend eats for breakfast during the week … I think he just drinks coffee. For lunches, leftovers are the easiest. I also love corn thins (similar to rice cakes, but thinner and made of corn … you know kind of like their name). I use these instead of gluten free bread, as it can be so hard to deal with crumbly bread at work and on the road. Corn thins make full sandwiches with Frebe deli meats or I spread nut butters and fruit on them. Salads and homemade soups always work for lunches; so do corn chips and salsa, veggies and dip (hummus, dilly dip), rice crackers and cheese, boiled eggs, Frebe pepperoni sticks or European wieners, nuts and fruit. My boyfriend makes himself sandwich wraps with granola bars and the rare piece of fruit for his lunches.

 So as you can see you can make going gluten free work, even if you have to share a kitchen. Once you’ve eliminated all of these sources of gluten and contamination you should start feeling better soon. It also helps to put yourself first and feed yourself first because you will start to discover that dinners are easy to make gluten free and if you can’t, just feed yourself and make your partner order pizza or go to any of those fast food chains that you can’t go to. One night of fending for them selves won’t kill them and will eventually turn into a nice treat every now and then. 

p.s. don’t forget to double check your medicine and go through your bathroom products for gluten. You wouldn’t believe how many conditioners use wheat in them! And yes, I know you don’t eat conditioner, but it does run down your face in the shower and it might get on your mouth … which in turn means it might get in your mouth and in your belly. Same goes for moisturizes and make-up.