Category Archives: dinner party

Kinnikinnick to the rescue with a gluten-free pie crust

Pie. It’s just something I never thought I’d miss when giving up wheat. I was never a big pie eater to begin with. But when someone says you can’t have something anymore, you want it. Am I right? I have tried making my own pie crust before and it’s turned out pretty well, although I’m not a fan of taking all that time to make one. I was thrilled when I happened upon Kinnikinnick’s frozen gluten-free pie crusts at Whole Foods, and they were on sale. But at a regular price of about $4.99 for two 8-inch crusts, that’s not bad for the GF market.


I decided to make a Quiche first and give the crust a test. I made a simple spinach Quiche and it was a hit. The crust was flaky, tasty and not too strong. It really has a mild flavor for a crust, which to me is just what I want with a crust. A slight buttery flavor is good, as is a crust that doesn’t fall apart too quickly. It’s got to hold up to the filling, and it’s about the filling, right? The Quiche  consisted of one sautéed onion, Havarti and Jarlsberg cheese, frozen and thawed spinach, 2 eggs and 4 egg whites. That’s it. Just a bit of salt/pepper/nutmeg/thyme and garlic. I baked the crust first for about 10 minutes, then layered onions, spinach, cheese and poured in the egg mixture. Bake for 35 minutes at 375 and viola! Finally a Quiche with a crust.

And since that worked so well, I decided to try a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I used the recipe on the can of pumpkin (pumpkin, condensed milk, egg, sugar) and it was, once again, wonderful. Just a note, the recipe on the can of Libby’s pumpkin will make enough for two of these pie shells. Luckily, there are two in each box. Perfect.

Since you can never have enough pie, I also bought a fabulous cherry pie by Angel Cakes Bakery here in Phoenix. Angela makes the most wonderful pie crust of all, from scratch, and it’s gluten-free. Now, if I had my way that’s the only pie crust I would ever eat. But then I’d be calling her every week for more and I’d have to get a second job to pay for it. This was a treat and I highly recommend her cakes and pies. I’ve talked about her creativity and food before and I’ll continue to do so as long as she keeps baking. So, the dessert for the day was all set. What else do you need? Dinner, what dinner? What’s for dessert?

 

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Filed under allergies, baking, butter, celiac, cheese, cooking, crust, dessert, dinner party, gluten free, pie, quick meal, rice flour, spinach, Thanksgiving, vegetarian

Veggie-stuffed peppers

This is a quick and yummy meal that I thought up at the last minute. I was watching the Food Channel and saw someone making a traditional stuffed-pepper meal, meaning hamburger and bread crumbs. Uhm, not gonna work. But I remember loving my Mom’s stuffed peppers when I was a kid. So, with my daughter by my side, we came up with an even better, gluten-free, vegetarian version.

Quick and easy veggie-stuffed peppers

Veggie-stuffed Peppers

3 large peppers (I prefer red or orange since they are a little sweeter)

1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms

1/2 chopped zucchini

1 large sweet onion, diced

olive oil/salt/pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bag Trader Joe’s frozen Jasmine rice (about 2 cups)

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Oregano, basil (dried)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place olive oil, onions and garlic in saute pan and cook till tender. Add salt and pepper.

3. While onions are cooking, slice the top off the peppers. (when choosing peppers, try to pick out ones that will stand on their own.) Clean out the peppers and leave whole, placing them in a glass baking dish or pie pan so they stand on their own, then dice up the tops and reserve those for the filling.

4. Add peppers to the pan and saute till tender, then mushrooms to the pan and saute till brown.

5. Add zucchini last and cook for a few minutes until just tender.

6. Finally, add the rice, a bit more olive oil, oregano, basil, salt & pepper to taste. Cook until the mixture is warm and mixed well.

7. Fill each pepper halfway, then add a pinch of cheese (a little less than 1/4 cup) in each one.

8. Finish filling peppers and mound it on top.

9. Top off each pepper with another pinch of cheese.

10. Bake for about 30 minutes, then let sit for about 10 minutes. (These are piping hot inside and so good you’ll burn your mouth for sure.)

These can also be made with brown rice (which I didn’t have at the time) and any veggies you have hanging around in the fridge. It’s a great way to use up any leftover veggies, just saute with some rice and stuff a pepper. Enjoy!

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Filed under cheese, cooking, dinner, dinner parties, dinner party, egg-free, gluten free, mushrooms, quick meal, rice, squash, vegetarian, zucchini

Mini Raspberry Swirl Gluten-free Cheesecake Bites

Mini cheesecake bites with raspberry swirl

I know, two posts in one day…but I couldn’t help it. I offered to bring a dessert to a party today, but then couldn’t decide what I wanted to bring. I could have done the usual brownies (which are very good) or go with something new. Then it hit me, what would I want someone to bring? Mini cheesecakes, gluten free, a little fruit. Mmmmmm. Then, I set about making that happen. Of course, I didn’t decide this until 10 a.m. and the party was at 1, so I had to act fast. No problem…

Mini Raspberry Swirl Gluten-free Cheesecake
Crust:
1 bag of Pamela’s Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies
2 TBS butter, melted

Cheesecake:
3 8-oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup superfine sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry Syrup:
1 bag of frozen raspberries (couldn’t find fresh, use them if you can)
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 tsp orange extract

1. Pour raspberries and sugar into a sauce pan and let it simmer for about 20 minutes to reduce. Just let it simmer while you do everything else, but check it often to make sure it doesn’t burn or cook too fast. Low heat.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Crush the cookies finely either in a bag and smash them, or use a food processor, then mix in the butter.
4. Line mini cupcake tin with papers.
5. Put a small amount of the cookie mixture (about 1/3 of the cup) into each paper cup. I used the flat end of a wine cork (just the right size) to tamp down the cookie mixture.
 6. Using a mixer, blend the cheesecake ingredients until smooth.
7. Fill the cups to just about full.
8. Once the raspberry syrup is reduced, push it through a strainer to remove the seeds and put in the freezer for a few moments to cool it down. (just don’t forget about it)
9. Dot each cheesecake with the syrup, then swirl with a toothpick to make a pretty design.
10. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. They will puff up when they cook, then sink back down when you take them out. Don’t worry, that’s normal.

Let them cool for about 10 minutes, then refrigerate until you need them. Of course, I was in a hurry and put them in the freezer for 20 minutes, then in the fridge for a few hours at the party. Take them out about 20 minutes before you want to eat them so they aren’t too cold.

Yum! These are tasty bites of heaven and everyone raved at the party. The most tedious part of the process is tapping down all the cookie crusts and swirling the raspberry sauce. I recommend getting an eager teen to help you, it certainly makes it much quicker and much more fun. This recipe made about 65 of these little beauties, and they were all eaten in less than 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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Filed under bites, cheesecake, chocolate, cream cheese, dinner party, gluten free, raspberry, vegetarian

Dear Martha

Recently, there was an article printed in The Daily Mail, UK edition, with a few quotes from Martha and her newest book. She was discussing dinner guests using cell phones and those with allergies or food preferences. I’m posting my letter to her in the assumption that this reporting is correct. If it is not, then I apologize up front and you are welcome to come by and chat, Martha. But if it’s true, what I say below comes from the heart.

Dear Martha:
I’m sure you have many friends, and I’m sure your dinner parties are elegant, as we’ve seen on TV. But I also know the reputation you’ve gotten over the years and I was always there to try and soften it. “If she were a man,” I would say to those who bashed you, “would they be so hard on her? No.” Well, I think I’m going to have to take it all back based on your newest book and interview.

Now, I do agree with you on your stance about cell phones at dinner parties. Unless one has a babysitter or child at home who may need you, there is no need to carry a cell phone at a party. And if it rings (and it should be on silent with only a vibration) then a quick look to see if it’s the aforementioned babysitter/teen at home and put it on ignore if it’s not. There is no reason ever to text or take a call when you are at someone else’s home, especially if that someone worked hard all day cooking, cleaning, and decorating in order to spend time with you and others in her/his home.

But when it comes to allergies and food preferences, I’m in the other camp. “Oh my God! Don’t ask! My rule is do not ask about dietary restrictions,” she says, clearly averse to making an extra effort for certain guests. This quote from the article reveals how selfish you are being when holding these parties. Are they about spending time with friends or showing off your cooking skills? It should be both! Why can’t you accommodate the very people you are hoping to please in your home?

I have always tried to accommodate people with allergies or strong preference when they are in my home. For instance, I know my niece and husband do not like mushrooms. I am always aware and leave them out of my dishes when I know there is a dinner party and they will be eating the food. I would rather find another way to be creative than have them skip something just because I thought it was an inconvenience. It’s about spending time with people, not just showing off.

At the same time, I do not expect anyone to cater to my needs. I am perfectly happy to bring my own food (I’m sure you would hate that, Martha. I won’t even go there) or just have a salad or the side dish. But I would never, ever, assume that someone I personally invited to my home should go without a meal. “You have to be semi-prepared,” she says of picky eaters. “But don’t fret about it. Everybody can miss a meal.” Seriously? You would be fine with someone coming to your home and eating nothing because you weren’t prepared with even a small bite for them? I certainly don’t want to be catered to, but I would also be pretty darn insulted if they had absolutely nothing, not even lettuce or fruit.

And finally, the big question. Do you do all the cooking for your dinner parties? I think not. What would be so hard about just asking one of the chefs in your restaurant-style kitchen to whip up something for the celiac/diabetic/peanut allergy/etc. eater who was invited to your party? Why not show them what a thoughtful, caring hostess you are and put to bed all that talk about you being a you-know-what?

Merry Christmas, Martha. If you want any help in preparing meals with thought, compassion and creativity, feel free to give me a ring.

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Filed under allergies, celiac, cooking, dinner party, gluten free, Martha Stewart