Monday, November 19, 2012

Delicious Gluten Free Yellow Cake Recipe


If you eat gluten-free like I do, you'd know that a lot of gluten-free baked goods out on the market are either barely passable, or just downright depressing.

There is that infamous gluten-free yellow cake recipe on AllRecipes.com, but I just could not bring myself to use it, as it calls for mayonnaise to be used in the batter. I just couldn't.

Anyhow, I came across this recipe from King Arthur's Flour, and used it today, except that instead of using the gluten-free multipurpose flour from that brand, I used Bob's Red Mill version instead because it was all that I had on hand. Also, I used guar gum because it was less costly than xanthan gum. 

It is so delicious and tastes like how a homemade yellow cake is supposed to; it doesn't taste gluten-free at all. It doesn't taste good for a gluten-free cake; it tastes good, period.


The recipe is available here: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2011/07/06/gluten-free-yellow-cake-as-good-as-no-comparisons-necessary/


It is very important that you follow every step, to a T. Don't cut any corners; just follow the instruction exactly, and your cake will turn into a cake.


Instead of frosting my delicious yellow cake with chocolate frosting, I used a fluffy white frosting instead, which tasted like marshmallow.






Tammy

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pumpkin Funeral Potatoes, or Pumpkin Potato Casserole


Funeral Potatoes is a Mormon potato casserole, usually served as a comfort food for families who had lost their loved ones. Of course, the casserole is not served only at funerals; it's also served at pretty much all other get-togethers. As delicious and comforting as it is, I knew that I had to do something about the high-fat recipe if I wanted to eat the dish more often. Also, I wanted to add my own spin on the classic recipe, in order to make it my family recipe. So, last night, Sean and I came up with something called Tammy's Pumpkin Funeral Potatoes, or Tammy's Pumpkin Potato Casserole, and we really would like to share our recipe with you.

Our Pumpkin Funeral Potatoes is extremely delicious, creamy without being high in fat, tasty and comforting without being high in salt or sugar. Also, did we mention that this recipe can easily be made gluten-free?


Servings: 4 - 6

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Ingredients:

8 oz of lean turkey bacon or lean cuts of cured ham
1 bag of shredded hash browns, thawed
1 can of cream of mushroom soup (a gluten-free version is available here, but you may also search online for different brands)
1/2 smaller can of Libby's Pumpkin Puree
1 cup of crushed cornflakes
1/4 cups of fat-free milk
1/3 stick of melted butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Melt the butter in a mug, pour in the cornflakes and mix evenly. Set aside. This is the topping mix.

2. Cut the meat up into small squares, and brown over a pan set on low-medium heat. There is no need to use oil because you will be cooking the meat in its own fat. Doing this will keep the fat content down.

3. Mix the meat and all of the ingredients, except the topping mix, together.

4. Pour and spread evenly into a casserole or baking dish. Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may need to use two.

5. Spread the topping mix on top.

6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. After that, lower the temperature down to 200 degrees F and cook for another 15 minutes.

The casserole should be rich and creamy, and the potato should taste like how cooked potato is supposed to. Your oven may be different from ours, so do use your best judgment and check on your casserole every so often.

Enjoy!

Tammy and Sean

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stuffed Tomatoes


When I was still living at home, my dad used to make this Mediterranean-inspired dish of stuffed tomato, and it was definitely one of my favorite things to eat. Last night, I made it for Sean, and served it with a caramelized tomato-mushroom glaze over jasmine rice, that was slightly stir fried in garlic, onion, and other spices.

Did I mention that this dish is completely gluten-free? If you have gluten intolerance problems like I do, then you'd understand that not only is having to eat gluten-free difficult enough, it's made even worse when a lot of gluten-free foods out there are just unpleasant, if not downright disgusting. Talk about adding insult to injury!




Servings: 2. Simply double up the ingredients for 4 servings.

Ingredients:

*Have 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice ready. We like to use jasmine rice for its nutty aroma.

1/3 pound of lean ground turkey (we use the 99% fat-free kind)
3 tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped mushroom, set aside in a bowl
1 Tablespoon olive oil for the stuffing; 1 Tablespoon of olive oil for a small pot, used to make caramelized glaze; 2 Tablespoons olive oil for the frying pan.
1.5 teaspoons brown sugar for the stuffing; 2 teaspoons of brown sugar for the glaze
1 teaspoon sea salt for the stuffing; 1 teaspoon of sea salt for the glaze
1/2 teaspoon of dry minced garlic for the stuffing
1/2 teaspoon of dry minced onion
1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper for the stuffing; a few sprinkles of ground black pepper for the glaze.

Directions:

1. Cut each tomato into two, lengthwise, and scoop out the cores. Store the tomato cores in the same bowl as the mushroom. Set aside. This will be used to make the glaze.

2. Mix the meat, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, brown sugar, sea salt, minced garlic, minced onion, and ground black pepper together.

3. Stuff the meat into the tomato halves, overflowing the tomatoes, for a more aesthetically pleasant appearance.

4. Put the two Tablespoons of olive oil into a frying pan, and put over low heat. Place the stuffed tomatoes, meat side down, on it, cover the pan with a lid (if one is available), and leave it alone.

5. In the mean time, put the last 1/2 cup of water, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, tomato cores, chopped mushroom, brown sugar, sea salt, and ground black pepper into the pot. Turn on medium heat, and stir until you get a glaze. Place the lid over the pot and off the heat.

6. At this point, the meat sides of your stuffed tomatoes should be golden brown by now. Carefully flip them over, and replace the lid. If you feel you need to add a little more olive oil, feel free to. Let this cook for another 15 minutes. Check on the meat by cutting one piece in half. At this point, it should be cooked through but still juicy. You don't want to overcook the meat because it will be too dry. If it's not cook through yet, cook and check again in 5 minutes.

7. Once the stuffed tomatoes are cooked, place them on a plate, meat side up.

8. In the same pan, add one teaspoon of olive oil, a few sprinkles of dry minced garlic, dry minced onion, sea salt, brown sugar, and ground black pepper. Mix evenly and turn on medium heat. Once the minced onion and garlic are slightly browned, add the cooked rice and stir to mix evenly.

9. Serve everything as pictured.

Enjoy!

Sean and Tammy






The Worst Job Ever

***Last name of the person involved has been omitted, because I do have some compassion left in me.

The worst job that I've ever had was one as a Sales Associate for Athleta, a company owned by GAP, Inc. I worked at their Newport Beach, CA location from August 2011 until late October of the same year.

When I was going through corporate training, I was starry-eyed. Wow, finally a company that respected women! A company that cared about women!

I loved the manager and the team leads that I met. I loved the team of Sales Associates that were hired. Everybody seemed so friendly, the atmosphere was warm and inviting, and I wanted nothing more than to spend as much time working in that store as possible.

The store was set up like this: 1 manager; 3 team leads. Each lead was responsible for a task (scheduling, inventory processing, and the floater who stayed mostly on the sales floor).

Anyhow, the lead in charge of scheduling, a woman named Jenelle, repeatedly gave me only 4 hours a week, while everybody else got a minimum of 20 hours, even though they did not have open schedules (most were college students or had a 2nd job), and they kept on asking me to fill in for them every week, which I didn't mind because I really needed those hours. Did I mention that I had a fully open schedule? 4 hours a week = not much in earnings before taxes, by the way.

I asked the scheduling lead about this, and explained to her that while I understood that it was a part-time position (everybody worked part-time, except for the manager and leads), I needed more than 4 hours. She totally ignored me and consistently scheduled me at only 4 hours a week, which was the bare minimum that she was supposed to give to someone.

Then I began to notice that nobody asked me to fill in for them anymore. In fact, I noticed that they would rather not show up for work at all than call me. One girl told me, "Tammy, I am so sorry but Jenelle told me not to ask you to fill in for me anymore."

I just couldn't understand what Jenelle had against me because I was always friendly; I didn't look so hideous that she couldn't have me on the sales floor (not that that would have been okay either), and I had years of experience in sales. For example, when I showed up for the mid-shift, a lead ran up to me and frantically said, "Okay, it is already 2 PM, and we are not even one-third of the way to our daily sales goal yet!"

There were already 4 other girls working since that morning, and they didn't even seem to care about the goal. Quite a few even told me flat out, "Why should I care? I'm not staying here forever."

Well, just one hour into my shift, and I alone earned for the store roughly $1,000 in sales, all just from assisting only 4 customers, tops.

Despite repeated top-notch performances, I never got more than 4 hours a week. It was disappointing and heartbreaking, because as a Sales Associate, I trusted and relied on my team leaders to do the right things. I told myself that as someone in the leadership position, the team lead in charge of scheduling must have had a good reason for giving me only 4 hours a week; maybe if I worked harder and performed even better, and let her see my accomplishments, she would see that I was an asset to the store. Well, she didn't care.

I was so disillusioned by the end of my employment there that I simply walked out on that job; the only job that I ever walked out on without a notice, because it was very uncomfortable to work in an environment where I knew I was not wanted. Job loyalty goes both ways: dehumanize your employees, and don't expect them to feel an ounce of loyalty toward you.


How about you? What was the worst job that you have ever had?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Welcome, November!


We hope that everybody had a wonderful Halloween! In our household, we prepared a big feast to celebrate the holiday. Well, at least it was big by our standards anyway, since there are only two of us.

We had dinner-in-a-pumpkin (our family recipe is below), butternut squash soup, grilled cheese sandwich that was made to look like a Jack-O-Lantern, and Mexican Coca Cola (made with real sugar, versus high fructose corn syrup). For dessert, we had pumpkin cheesecake parfait! :-)




One of our favorite foods to eat in the Fall is dinner-in-a-pumpkin. It is a great way to get a hearty meal that is also nutritious. There is not one definite recipe, as each family has a different recipe and approach to preparing the meal. The recipe below is ours, with gluten free options in blue, and we think that it's pretty nifty! :-)

Dinner-in-a-Pumpkin Recipe

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1 medium pumpkin
1 1/2 cups of cooked rice (we like jasmine rice for its aromatic scent and rich flavor)
1 teaspoon of dry minced onion
1/2 teaspoon of dry minced garlic
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound lean ground turkey (or lean ground beef, which was what we used because turkey meat was unavailable that day)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce (feel free to use less. Also, a gluten-free soy sauce is available here)
3 Tablespoons brown sugar (feel free to use less)
1 can (15 ounce) of cream of chicken soup (a gluten-free cream of chicken soup mix is available here)
A few sprinkles of ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Wash your pumpkin and cut off the top with the knife held at an angle (so the lid can be placed back and not fall in) instead of straight up and down, and clean out all of the seeds and as much of the pulp as you cam.

2. Saute the dry minced onion and garlic in a large pot with the vegetable oil, until they become a deep gold color, but not exactly brown.

3. Add in the ground meat of your choice and stir until thoroughly cooked. Drain the drippings from the pot, but if you are using lean meat, there probably won't be much to drain (if this is the case, don't bother to try to drain it).

4. Add all of the other ingredients, except the cooked rice, in to the pot and lower heat, let simmer for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.

5. Turn off the heat. Add in the cooked rice and mix evenly.

6. Spoon mixture into the pumpkin and replace the lid. 

7. Place pumpkin onto a baking sheet (we used a pizza pan) and bake in the oven for one hour.

8. Put pumpkin onto a place and serve. Since we used a pizza pan, we just placed the pan directly on to the table.

9. For your vegetable, just scoop out the pumpkin and serve. 

Tammy and Sean