Creatively and Frugally Gluten Free

We’ve all been hit hard with the economy the way that it is and if you are like myself, you’ve been hit a bit harder because I am still out of work.  I wasn’t laid off or anything, I willing left my job and life in California to move back East to be with Bryan.  I don’t regret my decision by any means – I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. If I didn’t move in the summer who knows if or when it would have happened.  There were other factors (like our families) into moving when I did but he was the main reason.  Seeing as I left my job, I do not collect unemployment and have no income or health insurance. I spend my days searching and applying for jobs – which is usually about 20 jobs!  I’m not being picky and only applying for certain jobs, I am applying to anything and everything that I remotely qualify, however the call backs are scarce. sparse.  Honestly as depressing and defeating as it is, I keep doing it every day.  I know something will come along, I just hope it happens soon. It is funny because the few responses I have received back say I am over qualified and that is one thing I have never been told in my life, usually it is the opposite because even though I have about 10 years of administrative work under my belt (mostly in Higher Education admissions) I am under qualified because I don’t have a Bachelor’s degree (actually any degree for that matter).

I would love to someday have the ability to donate my time with an organization or be a part time food blogger and work part-time, but right now we need me to be working.  I enjoy working (and earning a pay check) actually I miss working.  People keep telling me that once I get a job I’ll be wishing for this time again, and I’m sure I will at some point but I think it might take a while for me to feel that way.

So with being out of work for a total of four months we have learned to not only live the gluten-free life creatively but also frugally!  I am a coupon clipper and at first Bryan would make fun of me for it but I think now he is pretty thankful for my OCD with coupons.  Each week when we get the grocery ads I scour them looking for the good sales.  We normally don’t buy anything that isn’t on sale.  I’m a big fan of the buy one get one items.  We buy more fresh items vs. processed items.

I also try to make as many gluten-free things that I possibly can instead of buying them at the stores such as granola, bread, salad dressings, cookies, ice tea, mochas, cakes and pies.  Sadly however, I am running low on all of my gluten-free flours and my xanthan gum! So I have to be careful until I can afford to order some new ones.  Today I was trying to think of other things I can make at home with the ingredients I have on hand instead of buying.  One thing that came to mind is taco seasoning.  We eat tacos fairly often because it is a quick and easy meal that we both enjoy.  So I did some searching around online to find out what people really put in taco seasoning because the packages are a bit vague listing “spices” – well that is obvious but which ones? Here is what I came up with, and should probably note we really enjoy spicy foods in our house so you might want to adjust this recipe to your level of spice preference.  We tried this tonight and it was really good, if I do say so myself!

CCGF’s Taco Seasoning (GF/OF/DF)

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch (I noticed some people used Potato Starch or Corn Flour)

1 Teaspoon Chili Powder (make sure it is gluten-free!)

1 Teaspoon Paprika

3/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Cumin

1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (You might want to use only 1/4 teaspoon if you don’t like much spice)

1/2 Teaspoon Chipolte Pepper (You can omit this or use 1/4 teaspoon)

1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/4 Teaspoon Sugar

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl or plastic bag, mix well.  Store in an airtight container.

Tacos:

1lb – 1 1/2lb ground beef or turkey

Taco Seasoning (see above)

2/3 Cup water

Corn tortilla shells -hard or soft

Shredded lettuce (optional)

Shredded cheese (optional)

Sour cream (optional)

Avocado (optional)

In a large skillet on medium heat, brown beef and drain off any fat, about 8-10 minutes.  Add taco seasoning stir until well combined then add water.  Simmer over medium heat until sauce has thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Serve in taco shells with your favorite toppings.  You can even make nachos with this instead!

Here is to living the gluten-free life creatively and frugally!


Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

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I’m always searching for and creating new recipes.  I’m not the best at creating recipes when it comes to bread products and baking.  I haven’t quite mastered how all these different flours work together.  So many times when it comes to baking recipes I search for them on other people’s GF blogs.

I found this blog called “I Am Gluten Free” the other day and found a recipe for Cinnamon Rolls.  These rolls are AMAZING!!  No lie…fantastic.  I made them the other day when my family was in town (all who aren’t gluten free) LOVED them.  This is definitely a recipe I will make again and again.

I agree with the blogger of this recipe – these are so friggin’ good.  These are as good (if not better) than the ones you get at the mall….oh you know which ones I’m talking about and yes I am saying they are as good if not better than them!!!   The original recipe was a little too sweet soooo I cut back on the filling a bit.   The original recipe is listed below with a link to the blog I found it on.    You have to give these a try…super easy recipe with awesome results….trust me you won’t be disappointed, I promise!

Cinammon Rolls
Serves 8 or 9

INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons shortening (I used butter)
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup of milk, room temperature
1 packet yeast (about 1 tablespoon) (*see Ellen’s note at end of post)
1 egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup potato starch
1 cup corn starch (someone subbed arrowroot successfully)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons xantham gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

TO SPRINKLE ON BOARD COVERED WITH PLASTIC WRAP
1 – 2 tablespoons sugar

FILLING (*see Ellen’s note at end of post)
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped nuts – optional

GLAZE
¾ cup powdered or confectionery sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk to thicken (I used soy milk)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In medium bowl, combine shortening and sugar. Mix well. Measure warm milk and add yeast to milk. Whisk well to fully dissolve (**see Ellen’s note).

Add milk/yeast to sugar mixture. Add remaining ingredients. Mix very well, being sure to remove all lumps. Dough will be quite soft (***see Ellen’s note).

Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it out so it covers a 13 1/2″ x 13 1/2″ square. Sprinkle sugar on the wrap. Lay ball of dough on top of that. Then pull out another sheet of wrap and gently lay over the dough. Pat the dough down into a roughly squarish pancake. Lift the top wrap up and then reposition it. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough in between the two layers of wrap. Occasionally you’ll have to lift and reposition the wrap because it gets “stuck” under the edges. You might have to occasionally flip the whole thing over. Make sure that when you’re done you’ve got ABOUT a 13 1/2″ x 13 1/2″ square of dough.

Remove top piece of wrap. Combine filling ingredients. Spread evenly across dough’s surface. (Original recipe poster suggested leaving about a 1 1/2″ sugar free edge because when you roll the dough all the sugar shifts and fills this in; otherwise all the sugar spills out).Use the bottom piece of wrap to lift the edge of the dough and start to roll it up forming a long cylinder. Start with the sugary edge, which will be the center of your roll and roll toward the sugarless edge. Cut off or trim up the irregular ends of your “log”. Then cut into 8 or 9 slices of similar size, about 1 1/2″ wide. Place rolls into a greased round glass pie pan.

Bake approximately 20 minutes, until tops are lightly browned.

Combine powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk to make glaze. The amount of milk you use will depend on how thick you want the glaze to be. Stir until all lumps are dissolved. Drizzle over warm rolls if desired.

Notes:
*I thought the rolls were a bit too sweet, so the next time I make them I will cut the amount of filling ingredients to about 2/3 of what the recipe calls for.
**It seems odd that the recipe doesn’t call for proofing the yeast. I decided to cover the milk and yeast mixture with plastic wrap and allow it to at least begin proofing.
***The mixture is very, very soft – I was convinced that I’d made a mistake, but it ended up being fine.

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