Sunday, August 29, 2010

Homemade Ginger Ale

There are several things I love about this recipie: I can tinker with the sweetness, I can tinker with the ginger strength and there is NO high fructose corn syrup!! Yeah!! I've adapted it from Mark Bittman's Best Recipies in the World cookbook. I love his cookbooks. They have lots of delicious easy to make recipies with many variations that appeal to my experimental nature. Anyway, back to the ginger ale. Here is the original recipie:

2c water
3/4c sliced ginger (skin on is fine)
1c sugar

Combine in saucepan and boil for ten minutes. Let cool and strain. Can be stored in fridge for up to 2 weeks (I've gone longer).

To Use:
Mix 2T with a glass of fizzy water. Adjust mixture to taste.

Personally I use less sugar and use organic Sucanat instead of white sugar. It is dried sugar cane juice. The particular brand I buy is green; self sustaining processing plant, fair trade, sustainable farms. It is a one to one substitute for sugar.

You could easily substitute honey, agave nectar or stevia into the syrup. The substitution ratios are as follows:
While honey is roughly a one to one substitiution, I hesitate to recomend it for several reasons. It can NOT be given to infants. Honey often contains botulism spores (these are like bacteria seeds that haven't blossomed yet). Infants' digestive systems can not kill the spores so they can develope botulism poisoning which is potentially fatal. While honey is touted for its health benefits, there is evidence that our stomachs and digestive tracts are compromised when we have CFIDS. I have no idea if our systems can kill these spores even though we are adults. Personally I am no longer using honey just to be on the safe side.

Agave Nectar is slightly sweeter than sugar so use 2/3c of agave instead of 1c of sugar.

Stevia can be up to 300x sweeter than sugar so follow substitution directions for the particular brand that you purchase. I have to post another warning here. While stevia is touted for its health benefits there has been some controversy as to whether it is genotoxic or not. At present the FDA has it in the catagory of 'generally regarded as safe'. A catagory I myself don't have much faith in. Since my body isn't reacting to anything normally I am avoiding stevia as well.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Grilled Asparagus

This is an excellent side dish to the turkey burgers. All you need is asparagus and Newman's Own Dressing or Marinade. I've used a variety of these all with excellent results. I think my favorites are Roasted Parmesan and Garlic and Balsamic Vinegar which comes in organic.

The directions are simple. Snap off the tough ends of the asparagus. Drench in dressing. Grill over low or no heat until slightly charred. Beware which way you place them on the grill they are easy to loose between the grate. Tongs are best for handling them without too many getting dropped.

Turkey Burgers

This is one of my couple's dinners. I do the prep work and husband runs the grill. These are easy to make and really tasty. For buns I like Glutino's English Muffins, Udi's Wheat Bread or Against the Grain Plain Rolls.

Use roughly a quarter pound of meat per person. If you mix in some thigh meat there is a bit more fat in the burgers and therefore a bit more juicy. However, they taste fine with all white meat.

As always try to find organic ingredients or at least all natural. The fewer chemicals in the food the better. I have also found these taste better if the meat has never been frozen. I find that freezing meat dries it out and makes it tougher once cooked.

1/4lb per person ground turkey
Annie's Original BBQ sauce
cheddar or Swiss cheese slices 1 per burger
regular of gf buns

Dump about 1T of sauce per burger out on a plate. Slather on hands. Pick up the meat for the burger and start forming into a patty. Make it evenly thick with no gaps at the edges. Slather the outside with sauce. Grill until the center is no longer pink about 7 minutes per side. The juices will run clear when fully cooked. Add cheese slice. While burgers are cooking toast buns particularly if GF. Serve on buns with favorite organic condiments.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Not Your Kids' Mac & Cheese

This is something I've invented. Make all the substitutions you like. Mostly I use frozen vegetables and dried herbs in this one since I tend to only make it when I am in a rush or too tired to deal.

Serves 1 or 2 depending how hungry you are you can stretch it to three if used as a side dish

1 box Annie's Rice Mac & Cheese
1-2 cups assorted frozen vegetables my preference is peas, carrots and corn mix
2t Mrs Dash original flavor
Fresh ground pepper
1T dried onion
pinches of herbs such as basil, marjoram, dill, parsley
2 slices cheddar or Swiss cheese
1/4c milk
2T butter

Bring a medium pan of water to full boil. Add vegetables and bring to second boil. Add pasta, herbs and spices and cook according to box directions.

While that is cooking take cheese packet and mix up in a microwave safe dish according to package directions with milk and butter. Stir thoroughly. Tear up cheese slices and add to cheese mix. Put in microwave for one minute. Take out, stir and put back in for another minute. Rinse and repeat until until cheese is fully melted and incorporated into the mixture.

When pasta is done, drain and stir in cheese mix.

I have used this as a side dish with Bell and Evans GF chicken nuggets. Yummy!

Friday, August 20, 2010

GF Cookie Review

I discovered about five years ago that I have a wheat allergy. I tested negative for celiac so I'm not a fanatic about being totally gluten free. I miss cookies. When I first went wheat free there were few prepackaged items on the market. You had to bake everything from scratch to the point of having to mix up your own flour combinations before you even start cooking and even then they did't taste like the "real" thing. Thank goodness last year Betty Crocker came out with preboxed mixes. They are all fantastic and taste delicious, like the real thing. Unfortunately even these are now beyond my limited capability. But the goddess has smiled down upon us and there are now lots of packaged goodies to tempt us. Don't get me wrong I went through a lot of packaged cookies only to have most of them end up in the trash. Rice flour gets a gritty mouth feel about two days after baking so most packaged products have no shelf life. However, I've managed to find a few worth the extra dollars and calories for a nice treat.

I discovered nairn's oat cookies (biscuits) when I was on a trip to England (long before I got my illness). While they are wheat free they do not claim to be GF so celiacs beware. The things I like about these cookies are that they aren't too sweet,have no transfats, are made from wholegrain oats, have a low GI (glycemic index) and remind me of home (I'm English). My favorite ones are the mixed berries but they also come in plain and ginger.

I love two of their products. The cocoa waffers and hazlenut chocolate covered waffers. Both of these are a bit more decadant. No whole grain here just rice flour and chocolate. These are waffer cookies with great dark chocolate layers. Still not too sweet. The hazelnut chocolate covered one is reminicent of my hands down fav the Break Bar (discontinued due to a lawsuit from KitKat: Boo!!! It isn't like any of us can eat your stupid candy!).

This is a new discovery. I was craving almonds, found these in the store and fell in love. I do warn you that these are really sweet. I would love these even more if there was a little less sugar in them but the mouth feel is fantastic. There are only four ingrediants: almond paste, organic cane sugar, almonds and egg whites. They are soft and yummy and almondy.

Mrs. Crimbles
Almost forgot this one. This is another discovery I made in England and only recently found over here. The chocolate dipped macaroons are to die for. Yummy!