Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Muffins

I read this recipe a few days ago and have been craving the muffins ever since then!  I am not even a big muffin fan but the cinnamon and sugar and butter ... I needed them!  But of course it took me days to track down all the ingredients.  And even then I had to sub out tapioca starch for potato starch because I can't find anything but tapioca pearls in my stores.  I've started writing down common ingredients that I find in recipes because it looks like a big online order is necessary. 

I don't think my muffins are as pretty as Ginger Lemon Girl's.  I should have stirred the cinnamon mixture in more.  But that aside, they taste amazing!!  I ate one after supper and was a very happy little girl!  Gave one to my father, who has zero understanding of my new diet no matter how many times I've explained it all, and he said it was fantastic.  I am giving you the recipe as I made it tonight- just slightly different from the original.

Dry Ingredients:1/3 cup potato starch
2/3 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
3/4 cup almond milk (or any milk)
1/4 cup oil (*next time I might cut this and use more applesauce)

Cinnamon Swirl:
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter

* Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
* Whip egg whites to stiff peaks.  (I did this in the stand mixer while I prepared everything else)
* In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. 
* In medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredients, minus two egg whites.
* Whisk together wet into dry ingredients. 
* Fold egg whites into mixture gently.  It's OK if you still see a few white streaks.
* In small bowl, melt butter in microwave.  Add cinnamon and sugar and mix well.
* Spritz 12 muffin tin with non-stick spray.  Fill each muffin cup half full with mixture.
* Add 1/2 teaspoon-ish of the cinnamon butter to each muffin cup.  Stir a bit with a knife.
* Fill the muffin cups with the remaining mixture.  Top with remaining cinnamon butter.  Mix a bit with a knife so that you get the yummy cinnamon in each bite.
* Bake for 18-22 minutes.  Cool on wire rack. 

They are fantastic!!  Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

In Search Of

We just got our very first fancy pants grocery store in my area.  Do you hear the choirs of angels?  It was like Christmas for me.  And then I decided to go gluten free.  I thought that my new, magical grocery store, Fresh Market, would be my go-to solution for all things GF.  But do you know what?  I walked every aisle of my new, magical grocery store this weekend.  Twice.  A few three times.  And they have about 1/3 of the GF supplies that my regular not all that great Price Chopper offers.  Maybe less.  They seem to have a fair amount of products.  But they didn't have even one flour that I needed after review so many blog recipes.  Not one.  They did offer cake mixes but seeing as how I don't like cake, they did me no good.  Such a bummer.  I love the produce department and I am sure if I could get close enough to the prepared foods, I would love them too.  But as far as helping me bake a loaf of GF bread, they had bupkis. 

So I drove down the street to Price Chopper.  And they had some of what I needed.  But not all.  Do y'all live in big cities with tons of fancy pants markets or do you order things like millet flour and tapioca starch online?  It looks like online is my only option at this point.  Blah!  I don't like having to wait for things and paying for shipping. 

This learning to live gluten free thing is hard, y'all!  I used to go weeks without eating a slice of bread and now I am craving a whole loaf.  Simply because I made it off limits.  I love baking bread but can't find all of my newly necessary ingredients.  I'm pretty determined to make this work though so to the internet to order mystery ingredients I go...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Really Yummy Chicken Salad

Terrible photo but I didn't think of taking one until I was at the end of the bowl.  As in eating right out of said bowl.  Don't judge- you know you do it too!

This chicken salad is actually both gluten free and dairy free.  I didn't invent the wheel here.  I've been eating this or a version of it for years.  But as I am using this blog as my personal recipe organization system, it is becoming a post.  I'm pretty sure no one but my Bestie is reading this blog anyway.


* 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
* 1 medium apple (Granny Smith is my favorite), chopped small
* 1/4 cup dried fruit.  (raisins, cranberries, chopped apricots, cherries, etc)
* 1/2 cup mayo
* 3 tbls applesauce
* 1 tbls maple syrup
* 1/2 tsp dried parsley
* 1 tsp curry powder, divided
* 1/4 tsp allspice or cinnamon
* salt and pepper to taste
* evoo spray


* Cut up chicken, removing any excess fat.  Saute in pan using EVOO spray.  Toss in salt, pepper, half the curry powder and towards the end of the cooking time, maple syrup. 
* Let chicken cool completely.
* In a bowl, mix mayo, applesauce, remaining herbs and spices, apples and dried fruit (pictured is half golden raisins and half cranberries).
* Add cooled chicken.  Toss to coat.  Double check for salt and pepper- add more if needed.
* Best if served after sitting in the fridge for at least an hour.

Why Gluten Free?

I was recently asked why I was dipping my big toe (painted pink of course!) in the GF swimming pool.  And that is a very fair question.  I've never been tested for celiac disease.  I am not certain I have it.  But I am not certain I do not have it either.  I have nearly all of the symptoms.  Some more severe than others.  I have had stomach issues my entire life but always brushed them off in the past.  I am 99% sure that I have an intolerance to oats though.  On the severe end of that issue.  Which stinks because I love hot oatmeal in the winter months.  But two hours later when I am doubled over in pain...notsomuch.

I am honestly more curious than anything else.  My goal is to be living gluten free by the first of the year (so January 2011).  I thought it was going to be terrible.  I've attempted this several times over the last three years.  And clearly failed.  Miserably.  So this time, I tried something different.  I told myself that I didn't have to eliminate anything.  Not one thing.  Instead, I was going to be diligent to add in gluten free foods to my lifestyle.  My theory is that I will gradually find equal or better replacements for everything gluten-full in my life.  But as I am not restricting anything either, it is easier for me to get on board with this new, self-imposed experiment. 

Did you catch that I said I have tried this several times over the last three years?  It's true.  The first time, I went to the grocery store and bought GF breadsticks.  I don't know why as I don't ever eat breadsticks of the gluten-full variety.  But for whatever reason, that seemed like a good choice to me.  Well they were horrible.  Dry and flavor-less.  I was eating gluten by the end of the day.  This has happened several time since then.  And while I am learning that there are in fact a lot of really great pre-made GF products out there (and by out there, I mostly mean out there on the internet and not in my limited Upstate NY regular grocery stores), I have had my eyes opened up by discovering some amazing bloggers.  Who make the most amazing meals.  Amazing to gluten full and gluten free, alike.

Funny enough, one of the first blogs I started reading waaay back in the day was Gluten Free Girl.  I read her blog before she even got married.  I had a friend who was diagnosed with celiac disease and was searching for resources to help her.  Found GFG and kept reading because she's just plain cool. 

But now I am really trying to make this change for myself.  For my health.  And the only way it will ever happen is if I am able to find equally delicious recipes along the way.  Food is pleasure to me.  I am on a mission to fall in love with new GF foods over the next few months.  I know there will be some flops.  And I promise to fill you in as they tend to be learning lessons. (plus this blog is mainly for me to keep a record of recipes)

Oh and I am also on a mission to lower my cow dairy intake.  Not eliminate.  I will never eliminate butter.  But I am doing a pretty good job so far of reducing my intake by at least 50%.  Probably more at this point.  Almond milk is my new best friend.  Soy milk is not.  Ew.

First Loaf

I first posted this here, on my other blog.  But I am trying to make sure this blog has all of my recipes.  Good, bad and otherwise.

I made my first attempt at baking gluten free bread.  And it went fairly well. No, it was a success, but it wasn't exactly what I hoped for.  My problem is that I used my very favorite bread recipe and tried to make it GF.  And I just guessed at which flours to use and how much xanthan gum to add.  Because every recipe I found online is different.  So that's where I went wrong.  First using an already loved recipe.  Even though I knew the GF bread would be different, I didn't imagine it would be quite this different. And then guessing on how to make something that I have never even tasted, let alone made, (which by the way is how I do most things in life).  I also don't think that I like the GF flour pictured below.  I think I can find stuff I like better.  But I already own it so I will try it one more time just to be sure.

I used this recipe.  It's my very favorite.  But instead of regular flour, I replaced it with half GF AP flour and half GF brown rice flour and added 2 tsp xanthan gum.

It looks pretty.  But it is sooo dense!  I divided it into two loaf pans and wonder if it would be sandwich size-ish if I just made one giant loaf.  The density is just so very different from the original recipe that I think I really need to just wise up and use an already tested GF recipe.  I am not ready to just "guess" my way through recipes yet when I am not fully understanding how each of these new-to-me ingredients work. 

So the conclusion is that it's good.  But not as dreamy as the original recipe with gluten full flour.  I am determined that there must be a better compromise though so I will keep on baking my way through the internet until I figure it out...

Apple Chicken Leek Soup

I originally posted this recipe on my main blog.  It's scrumptious!

I made up this recipe last night and was thrilled to bits with it.  Seriously delicious!  It's filling but not heavy.  And simple.  Though I will admit, if you are not a fast chopper, it takes time.  I am not a fast chopper.  But the flavors are so good that it's worth a little extra time to chop chop chop.  This recipe is completely gluten free, dairy free and soy free.  And it can certainly be made 100% organic.  Mine was only about 50% organic. 

Apple Chicken Leek Soup

* 1 medium onion, sliced thin
* 2 -3 tablespoons EVOO
* 2 leeks, washed well and chopped
* 4 large apples (or 8 small), peeled and cubed
* 2 chicken breasts, cubed
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 8 cups water
* 1/4 cup maple syrup
* 1/4 cup applesauce
* 1/2 a lemon, juiced
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
* 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1.  Saute sliced onion in EVOO. 

2. Chop the root end and the green top off the leeks.  Slice length-wise down the middle.  Chop the half moons into fairly thin slices.  Place in colander and wash very well.  Like, really really well.  They will be full of dirt and no one wants that in a soup.

3. Toss the cleaned and sliced leeks into the pot with the onions to saute.

4. Peel and chop apples.  I told you yesterday how much I dislike doing this so you should know that it is totally worth it if I put for the effort.  Small one inch cubes.  Toss them in the big pot too.

5. Cut up the chicken breasts, removing any fat.  Add it to the big pot. 

6.  Add the garlic.  I keep a jar of minced garlic in my fridge at all times but use whatever you have on hand.

7.  Salt and pepper your veggies and meat.  You might need to add more later but get them all seasoned a bit now.

8.  Add in water, maple syrup**, applesauce, nutmeg, ginger and lemon juice.

Do you grate your own nutmeg?  If not, you should!  There really is a world of difference in freshly grated nutmeg.  You can pick up a little mini grater thingy like this at any grocery or kitchen store.  I add nutmeg to all sorts of sweet and savory dishes.

9.  Now that everything is in the big pot, double check for salt and pepper.  You might need more.  Let it simmer on medium for at least an hour.  The flavors change and it gets a bit of thickness to it. 

Serve hot with a salad and fresh bread (which is clearly not GF- I will attempt to bake GF bread next week.).

** Maple syrup needs to be real maple syrup.  Not the "breakfast syrup" sold for use on pancakes.  That pancake stuff is made from high fructose corn syrup, fake flavors, fake colors, and chemicals.  Maple syrup is tree sap.  Nothing added.  Actually, water is boiled out.  If you don't have maple syrup on hand, try adding extra applesauce instead.

I cannot even express how surprisingly (because I made it up- one never knows just how well experiments will turn out) fantastic this soup is!  Very low fat and full of flavor.  Oh and your house will smell amazing.  Nothing says fall like a big pot of soup!


Welcome to How To Bake A Crocodile.  Where I will not discuss baking crocodiles.  Or alligators.  Or lizards.  This blog will be devoted to my journey on making my kitchen both gluten free and delicious.  I am determined to find a balance and even a delightfully tasty bliss in kicking gluten to the curb.  I can do it!  I think I can, I think I can...

So what's with the name? 

This is my main blog.  I love it.  I have met the most amazing friends there.  It will remain my primary blog.  And not too long ago, I noticed that someone in South Africa found my blog by googling "how to bake a crocodile."  It has had me giggling ever since!  A few weeks later I decided to create this separate, gluten free only blog and decided that just had to be the blog name.  It makes zero sense and perfect sense, simultaneously. 

So without further ado, let the gluten free games begin...