Posted in Drinks, Gluten Free Recipes

Skittles Vodka Party Favors

My note: Skittles are gluten-free (Yesss!) check your bag, it should say gluten-free right after the ingredients. Also, most of your basic alcohols (vodka, rum, brandy, gin, tequila) are all gluten-free because of the distillation. If you are not sure, check the brand’s website.  Yes, even those that are made from wheat!  Enjoy, but don’t forget to drink responsibly!

Ingredients and Equipment:
1 lb bag of skittles
30 mini bottles of vodka
Coffee Filters
5 empty containers with lids (water bottles, Tupperware, cups with plastic wrap on top)
Funnel (or crazy good pouring skills)

Prep time: 45 minutes

Inactive time: 1 day

Cooking Instructions:
Separate all the skittles by color. Pour 6 of the mini bottles of vodka into one of the empty containers. Save the mini bottles. Add 120-150 red skittles. Repeat this with all the colors. You should have 5 containers with skittles of different colors in vodka at the end. Stir each container. Cover each container and set aside for at least 24 hours or until the skittles are dissolved. Shaking or stirring occasionally helps.

Once dissolved, get out about 4 coffee filters and pour a portion of one color through the filters into an empty cup. Once the flow rate slows down, squeeze the liquid through like how your supposed to squeeze a toothpaste bottle (back to tip). If there is still white gelatin floating, filter again. Continue this until there is minimal gelatin floating in the vodka. If your friends are like mine, they won’t care about a little bit left. I found that the white gelatin stands out most in the green and purple so I filter these twice. Repeat this until you have filtered all of one color. Use the funnel or your pouring skills to pour the vodka back into the mini bottles. Repeat this for each color. Depending on how many filters you used and how many times you filtered, you may not end up with as many mini bottles full as you started. You can fill the mini bottles that are only part full using more vodka if you want or just have extra mini bottles for other uses. You should end up with about 5 or 6 bottles of each color. Use as party favors for New Year’s or any other adult party. Enjoy!

Holly’s update:  Mix the orange skittles vodka with cranberry juice.   It’s magical.  And when you’re done with that, mix the yellow skittles vodka with lime margarita mix.  Delicious.

Thank you Holly at http://www.hollyshelpings.com for such an awesome recipe!

Posted in Gluten Free Recipes

Birthday Cake Martini

1.5 oz Vanilla Vodka
1.5 oz Cranberry Juice
1.5 oz Champagne
Icing
Sprinkles
Maraschino Cherries

Rim glasses by dipping them in icing then in sprinkles.

Combine vodka and cranberry juice in an ice shaker, half filled with ice. Shake well and strain into glass. Top with Champagne and drop in a cherry.

NOTES:  As with all of my recipes, MAKE sure your ingredients are gluten-free.  FYI – Funfetti Pink Vanilla Frosting from Pillsbury is gluten-free.  As far as the sprinkles go, most you see in the store should be gluten-free.  The cherries are gluten-free as well and will probably indicate that on the side of the jar.

A big THANK YOU to Pamasaurus at http://omnomalicious.wordpress.com for this great recipe!!

Posted in The Basics

OK, So I know I Can’t Have Regular Flour….What Should I Use?

This is where things get a little tricky and people are still determining what works best. As I mentioned in another post, the gluten in wheat flour is what gives the bread that soft and fluffy texture. Many are working on ways to get decent gluten-free bread where the texture is at least similar to its wheat counterpart.

I am not a big fan of the texture I’ve found in a lot of gluten-free breads – so I have eaten less bread. This works out great as I am on a mission to lose weight anyway!

But, in the mean time here is some good info:

When just starting gluten-free, go ahead and buy the gluten-free all purpose flour blends you find in the store closest to you. I use them all the time and have great results.

Some brands I’ve tried (in order of my preference) and will be reviewing in later posts:

Pamela’s Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix
Bob’s Red Mill
Gluten Free Pantry
Bisquick

Will be trying soon:
Chebe
Namaste Foods
King Arthur Flour

When making my own recipes, say for example banana bread, I use an even substitution – if my recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, I use 2 cups of the gluten-free all purpose flour.

If I am baking something that needs a little “fluff” like a muffin or a cake, I have recently started to add a 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum, per cup of gluten-free flour. Xanthan gum gives the dough or batter a “stickiness” that gluten usually gives. In theory, this combined with the fat you use should make the final product “lighter” but be careful of adding too much…….you could have a sticky mess on your hands!

You will probably need to experiment with this. Some mixes might contain xanthan gum or guar gum, so you might not need additional umpf. Some say you need as much as 1 teaspoon per cup of gluten-free flour. This is what I suggest: try it without adding any extras at first. See if you like the texture……then make adjustments the next time you make it.  Be sure to write down what you did though so you don’t forget!!

Using my banana bread as an example, if I am making actual loafs of banana bread I do not add any xanthan gum. I like for the loaf to be a bit heavier to hold up to butter or jelly. BUT if I am making banana bread muffins (same recipe, just in muffin form) I add it!

More good news: If you don’t have your own recipes for pizza crust, muffin, bread, pancake, scone etc. most of these companies have their own specific mixes!

If you have the time and the energy, you have MANY gluten-free substitution options for wheat flour and can make your own mixes. Successful mixes usually are made from several different flours for best results as some of them are better for thickening, some don’t mix well with dairy, some have better minerals and fiber etc.

But here is an idea of other gluten-free flours available: Arrowroot, almond, amaranth, buckwheat, chestnut, chickpea, coconut, corn, fava bean, filbert, flaxseed, millet, peanut, potato, quinoa, rice, sorghum, soy, sweet potato, tapioca, teff, walnut and more.

For me……….I work a full time job that requires a little travel, so I do not have a lot of time to make up these mixes myself. For now, I am happy with buying the gluten-free all purpose flour mixes. When I start to make mixes myself I will happily share the results. 🙂

Now………get to baking!

Posted in Product Reviews, Snacks

Glutino – Gluten-free Pretzel Twists

http://www.glutino.com/our-products/snacks/pretzels/pretzels-twists-8oz-us/

This brand was the first brand of gluten-free pretzel that I found.  Because I was a huge pretzel fan I was really happy to have an alternative but there were several unusual things about this pretzel that I wish I could change.  My product review is for their plain pretzels.  Recently these have come in flavors – sesame,  chocolate covered and yogurt covered – I have not tried these.

I am rating it ♥♥ with a score of 12 out of 20.  In all fairness, if I could take the price scores out of this, it would end up being 3 hearts but because this product is so expensive, it reduced its overall rating.

Appearance/size:  These pretzels come in two different sizes, sticks and mini-twists.  They look good although the mini-twists seems to be smaller in size than a regular mini-twist pretzel.  They also look a bit lighter and at a glance appear to be soft.

Flavor:  These pretzels have an odd flavor at first with a definite aftertaste.  They took me quite a while to get used to.  I was never able to pass these pretzels off at a gathering as “regular” pretzels.  A year and a half ago, there was only one other pretzel option that I could find by me (Ener-G)  so instead of going without I “got used to” the flavor of these.

Texture: While they are firm, they are not really crunchy or crisp.  They hold up very well to any dip you wanted to use them for.  But tended to be a bit chewy.   Again for me, something I got used to because I did not have options.

Price:  These pretzels are EXPENSIVE.  For the longest time the only size that was available (in my area) was the family size (about 14 oz I think) and I paid between $6.99 and $8.99 for them.  Wowsa.  Cut back on my pretzel addiction really quick!

Over all, this would be my second choice in pretzels.  The taste will take some getting used to and in my opinion do not look or taste like the ones I was “used to”.  For the price, for me, I often chose chips instead of these particular pretzels.  😦  My suggestion to you would be to check out my review for my favorite pretzel – Snyders of Hanover – Gluten Free Pretzels and see if you can find them instead.

Live and LOVE gluten-free!

 

 

 

Posted in Product Reviews, Snacks

Snyders of Hanover – Gluten-Free Pretzels

http://www.snydersofhanover.com/Products/Cid/1/Prid/331/

Pretzels………..something near and dear to my heart that I REALLY missed!  I have tried several different kinds of gluten-free pretzels and will post my ratings on the others later, but wanted to start with what I feel to be the best gluten-free pretzel I have found.

These pretzels are so good, that my family asked that I continue to buy these pretzels for them instead of the others I used to buy.

I am giving this product my highest rating ♥♥♥♥  with a scoring of 18 out of 20 possible points.

Appearance/size:  These pretzels come in two shapes, sticks and mini-pretzel.  They are the same size as their gluten filled counterparts.  I have been able to serve these at many a party with NO one noticing any difference.

Flavor:  At first taste, its hard to pick out the subtle difference in this pretzel.  Trying to put into words is even more difficult.  It is as if it is a “cleaner/clear” version of a pretzel?!  I hope that makes sense. LOL!  Several different flavors followed by that salty punch.  They do not seem to have an aftertaste or a chemical taste like some gluten-free snacks do.

Texture:  This pretzel is EXACTLY what you expect a pretzel to be.  Crispy, crunchy – exactly like their other Snyder’s brand that I had enjoyed for so many years prior.  It stands up to any dip I’ve used it in and are great snacking by themselves.  I have even chocolate dipped them and YUMMMOoo!

Price:  The price is right!!  At my local Woodman’s store ( 100% Employee Owned Independent Grocer) I paid $3.19 for this 8 oz bag.  While more expensive than the cheap wheat filled brands, it is MUCH less than the other popular brands of gluten-free pretzels like Glutino….AND 10 times better in flavor and texture.

Trust me on this one – IF you love pretzels – check these out.  You WILL NOT be disappointed!

Live and Love gluten-free!!

Posted in Books and Websites

WHERE can I find Gluten free products?

Once you’ve figured out that you can’t have gluten, the next step is trying to find products you can use!  Luckily, there are more and more gluten-free products available now.

There are quite a few ways to find gluten-free products online.  One way is to go directly to manufacturers websites.  Many of the larger companies will have a section for allergen information.  Take for instance Frito-Lay.  Check out their list of products that are gluten-free:  http://www.fritolay.com/your-health/us-products-not-containing-gluten-ingredients.html  Are you as surprised as I was to find out you could have so many snacks?  I mean really! I was beyond thrilled to find out that I could have regular Doritos!! Yessssss!  All is not lost!!

You will notice too on this site that it has been divided into two lists.  The first list is certified to contain less than 20 ppm of gluten. The FDA says for a product to be “gluten-free” it must have less that 20 ppm (parts per million) or .002%.

The second list, the products do not contain wheat, rye, barley or oat ingredients but some of them may be manufactured on the same lines as products that contain gluten.  They say “Although our lines are cleaned between production runs, Frito-Lay has not tested these products for gluten content and the ingredients in these products may have come into contact with gluten-containing products prior to manufacturing.  Individuals who are sensitive to gluten should take these factors into consideration in consuming these products.”

This is where the possibilities of cross-contamination can come into play.  Basically the item has no gluten, however it might get gluten on it from other things nearby.

How to handle this?  I cannot speak for anyone who is a Celiac, because that is a disease and not an intolerance.  But for ME (self-diagnosed gluten intolerant), I approach these items with care.  Sometimes these products do not bother me at all.  Some give me a grouchy stomach or make me a little bloated.  If I choose to have something that “could” be cross-contaminated, I make sure that everything else I eat at that time is gluten-free so that IF I do have a reaction I can attribute it to that particular item.  But for ME, I try to stay away from these items as there are usually other options available.  This is something you will need to figure out which path YOU want to take.

Other locations for great information are the Celiac websites.  Even though you may be gluten-intolerant and not a Celiac, always check these sites, publications etc… as they are a wealth of information and are specifically gluten-free!

Lastly, The Celiac Disease Foundation has started a wonderful on-line resource where you can find lists of gluten-free products!

http://cdfresourcedirectory.com/uid/4946c8e7-1ee7-4daf-9a0d-8ce558d83669

You will see it has the products in simple categories.  Then it will list products available that they are aware of.  It also includes that company’s contact info – address, website etc……..so that you can check further.  The websites will usually tell you if you can purchase it in your area or if you can get it online.  Often times they will have coupons too!

Let me know what you think about this resource!

Love Life!!

Posted in Gluten Free Recipes, Sweets

Chocolate-Strawberry Cheesecake

This recipe I created myself from a whole bunch of recipes.  I made this for Easter (2012) and it was a hit!  Yummm!  Sorry I didn’t take a picture……..it was very pretty!

1 Package of gluten free chocolate crème sandwich cookies
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups of sliced fresh strawberries
12 ounce container of cool whip
1 ½ cup sour cream
1 pkg of cream cheese
1 small box sugar-free instant chocolate pudding
2 ounces of gluten-free chocolate chips
1 teaspoon butter

Crust:  Crush the cookies in a food processor or blender.  If neither available, crush them as fine as you can with a zip bag and rolling pin.

Add the butter a little at a time until the texture will is crumbly, not like a paste. There is a possibility you will not use the entire amount of butter.

Press the crust into the bottom of a greased 8” or 10” spring-form pan.  Put in the fridge to chill while you work on the rest.

Cheesecake layer:  Mix the cool whip, sour cream and cream cheese well.  I used my standing mixer for this. Add the chocolate pudding, mix well again.

Assembly:  Spread half of the cheesecake mixture evenly onto the cooled crust.

Lay your strawberries over entire cheesecake, if it makes a thick layer that’s ok too!  Save 6-8 slices of strawberries  for the top garnish.

Spread the last half of the cheesecake mixture over the strawberries.  Arrange the leftover strawberries in the center, like a flower.

Glaze:  Melt 1 teaspoon of butter in the microwave.  Add the chocolate chips and stir.  If it is not quite melted enough, microwave in 10 second increments.  Do not microwave too long or it will get hard and icky.

When glaze is smooth and stirs nicely, drizzle over the top of cheesecake.  I drizzled mine in a flower-like loop pattern all around the cake.

Refrigerate overnight or at least several hours before serving.

Notes:  PLEASE CHECK ALL LABELS TO MAKE SURE ALL INGREDIENTS ARE GLUTEN FREE

If your strawberries are not sweet, feel free to cut them ahead of time and LIGHTLY sprinkle them with sugar or stevia.

I used the Glutino brand chocolate crème sandwich cookies, but I’ve had the K-toos and those are great too.

I used Jello brand instant pudding, Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips, Philadelphia brand cream cheese and Daisy brand sour cream.

Options – you can change up the flavors of this easily:

Add 1 tablespoon of some kind of liquor or coffee to the crust – say Bailey’s Irish Cream, Frangelico, Grand Marnier etc…..

Change the flavor of the pudding you add – pistachio, banana cream (with banana filling), Coconut Cream…..

Change up the fruit too – blueberries, raspberries or even a combination.