5 Gluten Free New Years Eve Appetizers-Menu Monday

I can’t believe that Christmas is over and we are winding down the last few days of 2009.  New Year’s Eve will be here before you know it.  So for todays Menu Monday I thought I would give you some gluten free appetizer recipes that you can use for your New Year’s Eve Party or to take with you to a party that you’ve been invited to.  Continue reading →

Dinner in a Hurry?

If you have Celiac Disease, you know that the days of dinner in a hurry pretty much came crashing to a halt with your diagnosis.  Gone were the days of coming home and slapping a frozen pizza in the oven or calling the pizza delivery man or if you had half an hour, Hamburger Helper.

However, last week I found a product that has changed all that.  I was in a grocery store that I don’t usually frequent and came across an end-cap that had all Gluten Free products on it.  There was a chocolate cake mix, brownie mix, pasta, cookies and crackers.  All products that I’ve seen before. 

As I looked over the products to see if there was anything new, I came across Hamburger Helper look alike boxes.  Mrs. Leeper’s Gluten Free Dinners. 

Since I don’t have the luxury of being a full time work at home woman, “yet”, I was extremely interested in trying these.  However, since my husband is not a celiac, and not completely gluten free, I asked him if he wanted to try them.

My husband has been so supportive throughout my whole celiac ordeal, so of course he said yes.

We took home the Beef Stroganoff, and the Creamy Tuna (the tuna was my husband’s choice).  We tried the beef stroganoff that night.  It was very good for a boxed dinner.  I’ve become very spoiled in that I really like to cook and bake, so I’m very critical of boxed foods, but these were good. 

We tried the Creamy Tuna a few days later.  I was not too excited to try this because I didn’t think a boxed tuna dinner could taste very good. 🙁  But since we didn’t get home from work until late, this would be a quick dinner.

I was pleasantly surprised.  It was very creamy and flavorful.  Since my husband has high cholesterol, we used ground turkey breast instead of ground beef for the stroganoff and tuna packed in water instead of oil for a more healthful meal.  I will definately buy these again and try all the other flavors.

Mrs Leeper’s makes 6 different varieties of dinners:    

  • Beef Stroganoff
  • Creamy Tuna
  • Cheeseburger Mac
  • Chicken Alfredo
  • Beef Lasagna
  • Mac & Cheese       

There are also topping suggestions on the side of the box, that are appropriate for the dinner being made.                    

I would suggest you try these.

Mary Blackburn

Living Gluten Free

Gluten Free Beef Burgandy Recipe

A couple of days ago I was talking about Christmas Eve at my house and that I serve Beef Burgandy for dinner.  So I decided to share this recipe with all of you who read my blog.

This recipe is my mother-in-law’s recipe.  She would serve this when my sister-in-law and her family would come to visit for the weekend from Gettysburg and we were all there to eat.  She was a fantastic cook and an immaculate housekeeper until she developed Azheimers disease.  Just about anything she made was delicious, and I learned a lot about cooking, and canning from her.

She and my father-in-law moved in with us in 2001 and lived with us until Dad passed away in 2002.  He was Mom’s thread to reality and after he was gone, she went away from us (mentally) very quickly.  She is now 88 years old and lives in a very nice nursing home for Alzheimer’s patients just about 5 miles away from us.  We go visit her every week but more for our sake than for hers, because she doesn’t know us.

Sorry for my rambling, I just wanted to give a little background about this recipe.  Anyway, here it is:

                                          Ruth’s Beef Burgandy

  • 2 pounds beef cubed (about 1 inch cubes)
  • 8 small onions peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups Burgandy wine  (make sure it is a gluten free variety)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can sliced mushrooms (I don’t like mushrooms so I leave them out)
  • reserve the liquid from the mushrooms (if you use them)
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of Garlic crushed or put through a press

Brown Beef cubes and onions in margarine.  Add wine, water, mushrooms, mushroom liquid, salt, pepper, sugar, bay leaves, and garlic.  Simmer covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender.  Stirring occationally.*

Before serving, thicken with your favorite gluten free thickener.  I use my all purpose rice flour mixture and water.

*If you want to use a slow cooker or crockpot: 

Brown the beef cubes and onions in margarine in a skillet, then transfer to the crockpot and add all the rest of the ingredients and cook on low 8 to 10 hours.

This recipe as is serves 6, but can be easily doubled for larger families.

Serve over either rice or gluten free noodles.

In my opinion, this recipe is better the longer it cooks.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.  Happy Holidays.

Mary Blackburn

Living Gluten Free

10 Tips to a Great Gluten Free Party-Menu Monday

December is all about the holidays.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or something else, there are always parties to attend or host.

At my house we celebrate Christmas, and it’s all about the true meaning of Christmas, family and good food.  Christmas eve is a really good meal then off to Christmas Eve services.

Dinner is a nice Beef Burgandy.  What makes it easy is I make it in the crock pot.  That way it takes minimal watching and I can concentrate on other last minute preparations.

Now, how do you make sure the food is something you can eat?  If the celebration is at your house, you need to decide, is everyone eating Gluten Free or is there going to be gluten filled food? 

If there is going to be a combination of gluten filled food and gluten free food make sure you prepare your gluten free food first to avoid cross contamination.  Think about making little signs to place on your buffet in front of gluten free food to keep your gluten free food, gluten free.

What if the party is at someone else’s house?  How can you be sure that there is food there safe for you to eat?

  1. Remember you’re the guest.  You want to have fun but you won’t have fun if you’re spending the whole time in the bathroom.
  2. Call the hostess.  If you’re not going to a close friend or relative’s house who knows your condition, call and talk with the hostess.  Offer to bring a dish.  If the affair is going to be catered, ask the hostess if she would mind you calling the caterer.  If the caterer can’t give you a list or label the dishes, arrive a few minutes early to speak with the caterer about ingredients in the dishes.
  3. Keep in mind the possibility of hidden glutenous ingredients.  Just because something looks safe, doesn’t mean it is.  If you’re not sure of ingredients, ask.  Better safe than sorry.
  4. If you don’t have a spouse or significant other, maybe ask a friend to help you keep informed of potential hazardous foods.  Extra eyes, and ears will help to keep you gluten free.
  5. Eat before the party.  If you arrive full instead of hungry, you won’t be tempted to eat something you might not eat, if you weren’t hungry.
  6. BYO Food.  Bring your own dish to share.  Let the hostess know that you would like to bring a dish.  Make sure it tastes good and will add to the buffet.
  7. Try to be first in line.  If food is being served buffet style be first, to avoid cross contamination.  If that’s not an option, ask your hostess if you can prepare a plate ahead of time.  Then eat your plate when everyone else does.
  8. Stick to food you know.  Eat foods that you know to be safe.  Avoid no no’s like bread, and pasta, and be aware of marinades, dips, sauces, casseroles, and desserts, unless you made them.
  9. Be Gracious.  Thank your hostess for being accomodating.
  10. Have Fun.  Remember this is a party.  Keep the above tips in mind and enjoy yourself.

Mary Blackburn

Living Gluten Free

How Ready are you for the Holidays?

I’m sitting here at my computer, listening to Christmas music, and looking at all the snow we got yesterday, a little over 7 inches.  I know, a small amount compared to what some of the further eastern areas received. DSC02924

My labrador retriever, Charlie, loves this weather.  He just wants to go outside and play in the snow.  Charlie isn’t 2 years old yet, so if you know anything about labs, you know that they don’t reach maturity until after the age of 2.DSC02932

My husband is wrapping presents for me, since I am so far behind.  I have had a cold for about 2 weeks now and I think it has developed into a sinus infection.  I’ve had a temperature ranging between 99.2 and 103.4 for the past 3 days, along with a screaming sinus headache.  So I haven’t gotten anything done as far as my baking, or present wrapping done that I was planning on doing yesterday.

So I was just wondering how ready the rest of you are for the holidays?  Is it just me or did they seem to come earlier this year?  Thankfully, this is my off year.  You see, we celebrate Christmas with my side of the family on Christmas Day and my husband, Jim’s side of the family on New Years. 

Every other year the celebrations are at our house.  So this is our off year, we will be travelling to Westmoreland County to my sister’s house Christmas day and then off to the eastern part of Pennsylvania to Gettysburg to my sister-in-law’s farm New Years Day, (weather permitting).

How do you celebrate the holidays at your house?  Tomorrow I’ll be back with some idea’s and tips on traveling and making sure you have some gluten free foods to eat at someone else’s house.

Mary Blackburn

Living Gluten Free

Gluten Free Product Review Thursday


The Virtual Cookie Exchange was a smashing success.  I have recipes squirting out of my ears. 🙂  Of course some of them will have to be re-worked to make them gluten free, so you will see them at a later date on this blog. 

So I am off today to bake Christmas cookies with my daughter and granddaughter.  My granddaughter is 2 1/2 and at the age where she loves to bake with Granny (that’s me) 😉

  • Eilidh helping to bake

This is a picture of Eilidh, helping me with a recipe for a  Gluten Free pumpkin roll that I was working on for my Holiday Cookbook, the day after Thanksgiving.  (Just in case you’re wondering, Eilidh was born in Scotland.  Her name is Scottish Gaelic and pronounced (Long A-Lee.)  I love cooking and baking, and doing both with my granddaughters just makes it more fun.  Today we are not making a gluten free cookie because these are for my daughters’ cookie exchange at work.

We tried a cookie from the cookie exchange.  They were Russian Tea Balls, from Kathie at The Creation of Possum Manor.  This was the first time I had ever made these kind of cookies.  They turned out really well and according to my daughter tasted really good.

As I mentioned in my blog on Monday, I want to make my blog fun as well as informative, so starting in January Thursdays will be Product Review Thursday.  Since I babbled away today about baking cookies with my girls, I will be reviewing a Gluten Free Hamburger Helper type product tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Mary Blackburn

Living Gluten Free

The Virtual Cookie Exchange

My friend, Susanne Myers, The Hillbilly Housewife, is hosting a virtual cookie exchange.  The following cookie recipe is my contribution.  I hope that you enjoy them.

Gluten Free Mock Thin Mints

                                        Gluten Free Mock Thin Mints

1 Cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Unsweetened cocoa powder + some extra for dusting
1/4 teaspoon Rumsford Baking Powder
6 Tablespoons butter softened to room temperature
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Large Egg
1/2 teaspoon gluten free Vanilla extract

Sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.  In a separate bowl, cream the butter & sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer.  While still mixing add in the egg and vanilla.  Set mixer on low speed and slowly add flour mixture,  so as not to have it pouf out at you.  Mix on medium high speed until all ingredients are incorporated.

Dough will be very soft so cover bowl with plastic wrap and refriderate at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  With a teaspoon,  scoop up a teaspoon size piece of dough and roll in your hands to form a ball.  Place on the cookie sheets 2 inches apart.   

Dip the bottom of a glass into the extra cocoa powder and flatten dough balls into 1 1/2″ rounds (about 1/4″ thick).

Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until slightly firm to the touch, rotating cookie sheets half way through baking time.

Transfer cookies immediately to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Replace parchment paper on cookie sheets.

                                  Chocolate Coating for Cookies

One – 12 ounce bag semi sweet morsels
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 Tablespoon sweetened condensed milk
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a double boiler or a heat proof bowl,  set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, combine the chocolate morsels, peppermint extract, salt, and the sweetened condensed milk .  Heat,  stirring occasionally until smooth.

When cookies are completely cool, hold each cookie with a finger and thumb and frost with chocolate mixture.  I use the tines of a fork instead of a knife, so as not to get too much chocolate on each cookie.  Coat both top and bottom.  Place frosted cookie on parchment covered cookie sheet and repeat until all cookies are coated.

Place in refrigerator until chocolate has hardened, at least 1 hour.

Cookies can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an air tight container between layers of parchment paper.I hope you enjoy these cookies and all the others that you will find at the Virtual Cookie Exchange.

Mary Blackburn

Living Gluten Free

Gluten Free Menu Monday

I thought that I would start blogging more frequently, but I didn’t know just what I would be blogging about. 

Those of you that know me personally, know that I rarely run out of things to say, but I want my blog to be informative and fun.  So I decided that I would have a couple of theme days every week and encourage you to join in.

This will start in full after the holidays.  If you’re like me right now, the holidays aren’t just creeping up on you, they are flying at you with the speed of a freight train.  I can’t believe Christmas is just 10 days away.  I still have shopping to do.  

I have baking to do also.  Because we had a night of freezing rain Saturday night into Sunday morning, church services were cancelled, interstate 376, commonly called here in Pittsburgh, The Parkway, was closed.  That hasn’t happened since the snow storm of 1993. 

 So I thought it would be a perfect day to do some  baking. I made Gluten Free Mock Thin Mints.  If you have a Girl Scout in the family, then you know what Thin Mint cookies are.  I think that was one of the things I missed most after going gluten free.

I will be posting the recipe here later today.  The reason I will be posting later is because my friend Susanne Myers, The Hillbilly Housewife came up with a great idea. 

Since alot of us are work at home moms, she came up with the idea to have a Virtual Cookie Exchange.  So if you are looking for some great cookie recipes check out the Virtual Cookie Exchange.  I think this will be alot of fun.

Feel free to post your favorite cookie recipes in the comments section below.  I look forward to a lot of great recipes.

Also, if you would like some more information on Celiac Disease, be sure to check out my Squidoo Lens.

Mary Blackburn

Living Gluten Free

Keeping Your Gluten-Free Kitchen Gluten-Free

Cross Contamination is one of the things we, as celiacs, need to consider whether we are having the party or going to a party and taking food with us. Even just everyday living at home, needs some thought if you live with others that are not eating gluten free.

Consider this, you are intolerant to gluten, you live with a spouse, and two children, who are not gluten intolerant. Say the children are old enough to make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. If they use a knife to spread peanut butter on their slice of beautiful whole wheat bread then dip that knife back into the peanut butter and then the jelly, guess what?, those jars of peanut butter and jelly are now contaminated with gluten.

Area’s of cross contamination to consider are:  butter, margarine, peanut butter, jelly, all condiments, anything that a utensil that has come into contact with some type of gluten and then that same utensil being dipped back into any of the above. If it touched something with gluten, it’s contaminated. Now one way around this with the above items is to have 2 of everything, and have the ones that are gluten free clearly marked as such. Another is to have squeeze bottles for everything, from ketchup to jelly. I know it’s a pain, but it’s important.

Utensils are another area of concern. You will need 2 toasters, because you can’t plunk the toaster into the sink to wash it thoroughly. Some people have 2 sets of utensils, pots and pans and skillets and such. Personally, that is just way too many dishes to keep track of. I talked it over with my dietitian, who just happens to be a celiac as well, and he said that as long as the dishes, pans, cooking utensils are being thoroughly washed between uses and you’re not using the same pan to bake your gluten free pizza that you just baked your kids pizza on without washing it, you’re fine. Just thoroughly wash your dishes.