Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chicken and Biscuits

Who doesn't need a little comfort food from time to time? I certainly do and I know my family does! This creamy stew with chicken and vegetables and topped with warm biscuits surely hits the spot.
I adapted this recipe from one I found in a Barefoot Contessa cookbook. (Don't you just love her?!)
Start by roasting a few chicken breasts
Bring chicken broth to a boil and add carrots and onions
Make a roux of butter and gluten free flour
Once carrots are tender, add broth to roux, then add peas, milk, and chicken

It already looks so yummy at this point. It gets better with biscuits!!

Chicken and Biscuits

For the Stew
About 5 chicken breasts (I used boneless, skinless)
Olive oil
5 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced potatoes, optional
1 1/2 sticks of butter
1 cup of gfree flour (I used white rice)
2 cups frozen green peas
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoning salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk

For the Biscuits
2 cups gfree flour 
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 stick of cold butter, diced
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 egg beaten with a little water (for egg wash)

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Place chicken breasts on a sheet pan, brush olive oil on them. Season with salt and pepper. Roast them for 30 minutes or until done.  Set them aside to cool, then dice.

In a medium - large pot, heat the chicken broth to a boil.  Add in the carrots and onions.( if using potatoes, add them here too) Reduce heat and let cook until carrots are tender.

In a separate large pot, melt butter and whisk in flour. Whisk constantly. Add the broth mixture to the flour mixture, keep stirring. Add the seasoning salt and pepper.

Next add the milk. Continue whisking. Then stir in the frozen peas.  If mixture seems too thick, add a little water until desired consistency is reached. (I had a few leftover boiled potatoes the last time I made this. I diced them and added them in with the peas. Again, potatoes are completely optional)

Stir in the diced chicken.

Pour into a large greased casserole dish.

Bake for 15 minutes.

While it's baking, make the biscuits.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and xanthan gum in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas.  Add in the buttermilk and combine. Gently mix in the parsley.

Dump dough on well floured surface. Roll out to 3/8 inch thick. Cut 12 circles with a round biscuit cutter.

Remove casserole from oven and place the biscuits on top of the chicken mixture. Brush them with the egg wash and return casserole to the oven. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until the biscuits are done and stew is bubbly.

I hope you find this as delicious as my family does!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Guest Room Makeover

*Warning--- lots of pictures!*

I have already blogged about our guest room once before. I was looking for ideas then to spruce up that room. That was a few years ago and this is basically what the room looked liked up until a couple of weeks ago.

We actually had been dealing with a leak for a few years. After several "repairs" and numerous contractors over those few years, we were finally able to determine that the cause of the leak was coming from the window in that room. So naturally we had to have the window replaced. Well, it sounded like a great opportunity to make-over that room----again!

This time I really wanted to make the room brighter and more calming. I want my guests to feel relaxed and well rested. In order to brighten the room, the navy roman shades need to go and the furniture needed a face lift. That chest of drawers was my husband's grandmother's. I had to really convince him to let me paint it. 

The bed did not have a headboard and we could never find one that we loved. Then we came across an old bi-fold door that I knew would work perfectly.  All it needed was some paint. I had been holding onto a can of Annie Sloan Duck Egg Blue chalk paint for months..just waiting for the perfect piece to use it on. 

This is  the door before I painted it. 

 And here it is after, used as a headboard.
See that chest of drawers...I love it painted in Duck Egg blue! Painting just that piece brightened the room so much.
I took out the old nightstands and added these vintage suitcases. They make pretty cool bedside tables. 
Old books
Found an older fan in the perfect color for this room.
Chocolate for my guests :)
Sweet corner to rock and read.
This picture used to hang above the bed. I found it at a thrift store years ago and still like it a lot. I just moved it to another wall. 
Looking into the redesigned guestroom.
A better look at the painted chest of drawers.
Crisp and bright.

There are still a few more things left do. We want to rip up the carpet and install laminate wood flooring. We also need to touch up the paint in a couple of spots. I might even hang some white plates on the wall above the suitcases. We really like how the room turned out. Hope you did too!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cutting Mats or Place Mats?

I learned about these plastic cutting mats on a TV cooking show. They were showing how to use two of them to flatten meat. It is a lot less mess than sandwiching your piece of chicken between plastic wrap. I thought it was such a great idea so I went right out and picked up a pack of three.

Well after I got home and opened them up, I thought they would be GREAT to use as place mats. Especially for outdoor dining. They can wipe right off easily, they are the perfect size, and they come in three bright colors. So...the next time I was at the store, I purchased two additional packs. I store them separately from the ones I do use as cutting mats. (the knife marks are quite visible)

 It did not take us long to set the table outside with some fun color.
 Blue mason jars are always a fun addition to any table.

Just thought I'd throw in a picture of a yummy salad :-)

Another shot of the table with the sun shining down.

So go out and grab some plastic cutting mats....they make terrific place mats!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Porch Sitting

We have a pretty partial wrap around porch on the front of our house that we just don't use often enough. Why---I don't really know!  The sides of the porch are wider than along the front which allows for a little more variety. I had been wanting to create a cozy outdoor sitting area for a long time. A place where  we could use for school, just relaxing, or entertaining our friends with a cup of coffee or glass of tea. I really did not spend a lot of money either. I love that I was able to repurpose a few items I already had on hand.

This is what the porch area looked like before.

And here is the completed after photo.

It turned out so cozy and pretty. We have really enjoyed this new space.  It has been nice to sit out here for homeschool or just taking a break and reading a book. Many mornings I've come out here for my quiet time to read the Bible and devotions. My daughter has even mentioned having her birthday party out here..complete with a sleep over on the porch!

Tree stump my husband cut for me. 
Another tree stump--used as a side table. The lamp is an old  one I had hiding in a closet. So glad I kept it! 
This is an old army cot my in-laws had stored away. A few pillows and a blanket make it a great napping place. These pretty yellow pillows are from Angela of Button Bird Designs.  If you have not checked out her blog and Etsy shop, do so now!  She has awesome ideas and she is a sweet heart too. The rug was being used inside. Glad to repurpose it for the porch. 
What porch is complete without the latest issue of Southern Living?
And old window gives an otherwise boring corner a little character. I took a wooden apple crate I've had for years and spray painted it. Now it holds magazines at the bottom and a plant on top. 
I found these curtains on the clearance aisle at Walmart. Less than $5 each! My husband made a curtain rod and now we welcome the warm, gentle breezes.

And that's the porch tour. It was a lot of fun putting this space together and I love how the whole family enjoys it too!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pumpkin Muffins

I never like to see summer come to an end, but it does and I just have to accept that fact and keep plugging along. Fall is quickly approaching and naturally we associate pumpkins with the fall season. What better way to welcome the cooler temps and crisp air than with a batch of warm pumpkin muffins. And of course, these are gluten free.

Pumpkin Muffins (Gluten Free)

3 large eggs
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 (15 oz) can of pumpkin
1 3/4 cup gluten free flour (I used white rice)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 full teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 stick softened butter

*chocolate chips if desired*

Preheat oven to 375° and grease or line a 12 cup muffin pan.

Whisk eggs, molasses, and pumpkin together in a small bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugars, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and spice.  With a mixer, add the softened butter to the flour mixture.  Once mixed, add in the egg mixture and mix until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips if using.

Fill muffin cups and bake for 23-25 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Coconut Yogurt Cream Pie {Gluten Free}

Have you heard of a coconut pie made with yogurt? I sure had not, but I was excited to try to make one. My husband brought home a loot of Chobani yogurt and among the variety of flavors he had purchased, coconut  was the one that caught my eye. I love coconut. He.does.not.  The kids do not like it either. So, I knew that when I created this pie, I was going to have to share with others outside of my immediate family. No parents like coconut, but the question was, "Were they going to like coconut pie with twangy yogurt?".  Daddy doesn't like twang. Mama loves twangy and super sweet. The choice I made was to just not tell them what I put in this pie until after they ate it. Of course, my daddy knew right away that something was a bit different. Mama liked it a lot. She could tell a difference, but it didn't stop her. Apparently, it didn't stop Daddy either, because I called them later and she said he ate all of his slice.

I wanted this pie to not be overly sweet but also have a creamy twang to it. I think I got just that. To me, it was delicious.

I was making my own gluten free pie crusts, until I found these at Whole Foods. They are so good. They are not crumbly and dry, but resemble a homemade crust very well. I will pay the extra to save a little bit of time and frustration of making my own. 

Use two of these 6oz containers of coconut flavored yogurt. It equals about 1 cup total.

This is where the yogurt is folded into the rest of the custard ingredients.

You can't have a coconut cream pie without homemade whipped cream on top! Mix a pint of heavy whipping cream with 1/4 cup of sugar and about a teaspoon of vanilla. I like to chill my bowl and whisk/beaters in the freezer first. Then whip until soft peaks form.

Coconut Yogurt Cream Pie {Gluten Free}

1 gluten free pie shell. Baked according to package directions
1 cup of sweetened flaked coconut, toasted. (on top of stove or bake on cookie sheet @ 350 until toasted)

For the Custard

2 cups of half and half
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup of sugar *see note at bottom*
4 Tablespoons of cornstarch
1 Tablespoon of butter
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 cup of sweetened flaked coconut
2 six ounce containers of coconut flavored greek yogurt

For the Whipped Topping

1 pint of heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla

What next.....

Have your pie shell baked and your (first cup) of coconut toasted.

Whisk half and half and egg yolks together. Set aside.

Heat sugar and cornstarch over medium-low heat in a sauce pan. Whisk the egg mixture a bit, then slowly add it to the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk together constantly.

Bring the custard to a boil. At this point you will probably need to ditch the whisk and use a spoon to continue stirring over heat for another minute. Remove from heat, add in the butter, salt, vanilla, and coconut. Gently fold in the greek yogurt until well combined. The yogurt makes the custard even creamier.

Spread custard into the pie shell.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until set.  This should be 30 minutes or so.

While the custard is setting, make the whipped topping. Once pie is set, spread the whipped topping on top and then sprinkle with the one cup of toasted coconut.  Store in the refrigerator.


*note: if  you think you want it sweeter, go ahead and use 3/4 cup of sugar. A whole cup might be too sweet and cover the special twang from the yogurt*

Friday, August 16, 2013

Mountains, Conferences, and the End of Summer

I love the coast. I love the heat. I love the ocean...and even the sand. I am a beach gal. That being said, it is very odd that I have traveled to the mountains for various trips three different times in the last few months. I am not a mountain girl! I will say; however, that each trip was enjoyable (although I secretly wished those events were located on the coast).  We did not take our usual family beach vacation this summer for a few different reasons. We attended several conferences/conventions--mainly homeschool and blogging related.

This past weekend, we spent our time near Asheville, NC at Ridgecrest Conference Center where I attended the Becoming Conference.  This great conference is put on by Jen and Jenny and encourages and inspires women to become more purposeful, creative, and frugal. I was so blessed to attend sessions from some pretty creative and crafty ladies, such as Angela (Button Bird Designs), Edie (Life in Grace), Ruth (Living Well Spending Less), Annie (Maison Blanche Paint), and Marian aka Miss Mustard Seed.  I had really been looking forward to meeting and chatting with Christy Jordan of Southern Plate, but she had an unfortunate accident and could not attend.  One day, Christy, we will meet, and chat, and laugh, and cook!
If you have not heard of this conference, I recommend that you check it out and consider attending next year for some great down time, fun time, learning, and dessert and coffee time!

This was our last little trip of the summer before our homeschool year began. We started back to school a couple of days ago. Now we are readjusting to schedules and assignments, while looking forward to next summer...and hopefully a beach trip.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Ginger Chicken over Puffed Rice Noodles

I've seen puffed rice noodles in cookbooks and thought they would be fun to make. Just the idea of watching a straight noodle transform into a curly, crispy noodle in hot oil sounded pretty cool to me.  I don't get to eat Chinese food because of my gluten intolerance unless I make it myself. It was time. This chicken was so delicious.  I found a similar recipe in The Gluten Free Bible and just decided I would adapt it to suit the tastes of my family.

Ginger Chicken over Puffed Rice Noodles

Vegetable oil for frying
4 ounces of thin rice noodles, broken into small pieces
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 10 or so chicken tenders, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Additional oil (roughly 2 tbsp) for cooking chicken
6 oz fresh snow peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
Cilantro to taste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce (add more if you like)

Heat about 3 inches of oil in a Dutch oven until oil registers at 375 degrees on a deep fry thermometer.  Fry noodles in small batches only about 20 seconds or until they are puffy. Hold down the noodles with a slotted spoon or tongs. Drain on paper towels.

This was an 8 oz box of noodles. I decided to fry them all. Just for, again, the fun of it. Let me tell you-- it made A LOT! So yes, for a meal, all you really need is half the box, unless you're feeding an army.
Combine chicken, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, red pepper, and black pepper in a medium bowl.  Blend water and cornstarch in another bowl and set aside. 
Discard all but about 2 tablespoons of oil from the dutch oven. Or you can start with fresh oil. Add the chicken mixture to the hot oil and stir fry that until the chicken is done.  Add the snow peas and the corn and cook that for a couple more minutes.  Stir the cornstarch mixture (it will settle) and add that to the chicken mixture.  Cook until thickened.  Add the cilantro, brown sugar, and soy sauce.  Cook for just a minute until heated through.  Serve over the puffed rice noodles.
We did not have any leftovers. It really was delicious. Now, I do have a big bag of left over fried noodles. I'm thinking beef and broccoli tonight to go over those ;-).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Gluten Free Chocolate Layer Cake

I don't bake very often anymore, but when I do, I sometimes go all out. I usually want more than a brownie or a cookie. I also love to try new and fun desserts. My favorite dessert is chocolate cake. I just love it! Because we try to limit our sugar intake, this was a very special treat for us.  

This cake is not a fluffy cake like a Devil's Food would be, but rather dense, yet moist. Next time I experiment, I will be trying to develop one that is fluffier, but honestly, this hit the spot. It was delicious. I just used a familiar chocolate buttercream frosting to ice between the layers and on the top and sides. You just can't go wrong with buttercream frosting! My only problem is that I always misjudge and I end up not putting enough frosting between the layers. There is always plenty on top so that allows for a lot of spreading :). 

Cake recipe:

2 1/2 Cups white rice flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
3/4 cup cocoa

Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside.

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oil
1 cup fresh coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla

Whisk all the wet ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

2 cups of sugar
4 large eggs

Beat the sugar and eggs in an electric mixer bowl. Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the sugar/eggs alternately and gradually.  Be sure to mix well..stopping the mixer and scraping down the sides and through the bottom often. Once mixed thoroughly, pour the batter evenly into 2 round cake pans that have been greased and floured.  Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Test the center for doneness.  Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

For the frosting, choose your favorite one to use. Again, chocolate buttercream is perfect for this cake.
See how dense the cake is? It really was so delicious and we, a family of four, ate it all in three days! Another reason I don't bake often!!

So try this gluten free dessert and let me know what you think.