Friday, December 3, 2010

Recipes: Chocolate Chip Cookie Sweet Rolls

Sheesh!  I feel like I've been waiting to share this recipe with y'all forever!  Finals are seriously cramping my style right now and I've got a back log of at least three recipes and reviews I need to blog.  Anywho, ever since I saw Pioneer Woman's recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Sweet Rolls, I could not stop thinking about making them.  If you've never read her blog I highly recommend it.  I adore drooling over reading it every morning.

These are NOT a gluten free conversion of her recipe but they were inspired by her recipe, because of course I've never even heard of Chocolate Chip Cookie Sweet Rolls before reading her recipe.  This recipe is an adaptation of the Cinnabon Clone Cinnamon Roll recipe from Better Batter meshed with Pioneer Woman's fabulous creation.

{image via Better Batter}

This was also my first time using Better Batter Gluten Free Flour and not mixing my own blend.  I'm so sorry to say that Better Batter is not available in the 713, but you can order it online from their website.  I stumbled on to Better Batter when I was doing research into how I would make a yeast dough without gluten.  I found a lot of yummy looking cinnamon and sweet roll recipes gluten free, but I needed these to have that soft chewy quality you can only get from a yeast dough.

Better Batter claims that their flour can be used as a cup for cup substitute for wheat flour in almost any recipe.  It already has xantham gum mixed in.  Like any gluten free flour it was not cheap, but considering that it contains the xantham gum, the price was not bad and there's certainly something to be said for being able to just scoop your flour and go.  They have a lot of great recipes on their site, so even if you don't order the flour, I highly suggest checking it out.

Although I used the Better Batter flour here, I'm not convinced you couldn't use another blend of gluten free flours with success.  Let me know if you try!  So, without further ado, the recipe:

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Sweet Rolls
Adapted from Pioneer Woman and Better Batter

For the Dough 
  • 2 cups warm milk (110 degrees F)
  • 2 eggs room temperature (you don't want them cooling down the dough)
  • 2/3 cup butter melted
  • 4 and 1/2 cups gluten free flour*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
Mix dough ingredients in your mixer on high speed for three minutes,
or until well combined. Set aside, covered in plastic wrap, in a warm
place for 30-45 minutes, or until doubled. (I put a wet towel in the microwave and heat it for a couple of minutes and then stick the bowl inside.  You could also heat your oven to 100 degrees and turn it off.)

For the Filling

  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Lay out two sheets of plastic wrap to make a 16×24 inch surface. Flour
them lightly. Turn dough onto the plastic wrap and sprinkle flour on
the surface. Roll dough into a 16×21 inch rectangle (eh or as close as you can get).  Mix the butter and vanilla and pour it all over the surface of the dough.  Mix the two sugars and the salt and sprinkle all over the top of the butter.  Use your hands if necessary to even it out.  Sprinkle the whole thing with chocolate chips and pecans...  omg omg OMG!  Starting at one of the long sides, carefully roll up the dough and pinch the ends to seal.  Using a knife, score the top of the dough into about 16 rolls.  Then, using the knife or dental floss (see pictures here), cut along the lines to make individual rolls.  Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13
inch baking pan. (I ended up with too many rolls for a 9x13 and made the rest in a smaller pan I had.)  Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake until golden brown or about 15-16 minutes.

Into the oven we go!

For the Icing
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1/2 stick butter softened
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
While the rolls are baking, beat the cream cheese and butter together until well blended.  Add the milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix until creamy.  If it is stiffer than you like add more milk.  Too thin?  Add more sugar.  As soon as the rolls come out of the oven, pour the icing over the top of the rolls making sure to cover every little crevice!  I recommend enjoying one right away but they saved beautifully covered in plastic wrap for the next two days.  I ate some at room temperature and they were still soft and yummy, but a few seconds in the microwave made them even better!

Fresh from the oven, preparing to be drenched and devoured.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Top Secret Pie

{the picture of perfection. image via Southern Living}

It's always interesting to ask people what foods they associate with Thanksgiving.  I mean of course there is turkey and cranberry sauce, and probably pumpkin pie.  But I was surprised once to hear from a friend that baked beans were a staple on their Thanksgiving table.  Really, baked beans?

If you want to get someone riled up, ask them what kind of pies you should have at Thanksgiving.  Ask me and I'll tell you that you probably should have pumpkin, but I won't be coming unless there's pecan.  I love pecan pie soooo much.  While I can appreciate almost any pecan pie, I have always thought my grandmother's pecan pie was hands down - The Best.  I've had a lot of others from some really great bakers, but none has ever compared.  Maybe it's the love factor?

Anyway, I was thrilled to finally get my hands on her special recipe this year.  This is how the conversation went:

Me:  Nama, please please, I must have your pecan pie recipe!
Nama:  Well of course you can have it.  It's on the back of the Karo Syrup bottle.
Me:  Seriously?!?  Huh.

So naturally, I was a bit skeptical, but hubbs made it for me this week (isn't he just the best?) and it was perfect.  Exactly as I remembered.  What's more, he said it couldn't have been easier.  

Pecan Pie
From Karo

  • 1 cup Karo® Light OR Dark Corn Syrup
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) pecans (we used to 2 cups)
  • 1 (9-inch) unbaked or frozen** deep-dish pie crust (Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse makes an excellent one!)
    Preheat oven to 350°F. 
    Mix corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter and vanilla using a spoon. Stir in pecans. Pour filling into pie crust.  Place pie on a cookie sheet and bake on center rack for 60-70 minutes or when center is tapped lightly it springs back.  Cool at least 2 hours on a wire rack.  Serve with whipped cream.

    What are your Thanksgiving must have items?

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    {image via Country Living}

    I hope everyone has a wonderful and relaxing day filled with gluten free goodness.  I've been a bit out of pocket lately because I'm getting ready to take finals, but I have a couple of great recipes and a review to share... hopefully this weekend!

    Tuesday, November 16, 2010

    Recipes: Pigs in a Blanket

    I made these delicious pigs in a blanket a couple of weeks ago for the first time and they were so yummy that I made them again as an appetizer at our Pumpkin Patch Party.  When I made them for dinner, I used full-sized chicken and apple sausages.  They were great that way, but I think they were even better with the mini sausages I used for the party version.

    I made these using Chebe All Purpose mix.  If you've never tried any of the delicious and versatile mixes by Chebe, you are really missing out.  The original Chebe rolls are simply divine.  Hubbs and I have been known to make and devour an entire batch in one sitting :)

    Pigs in a Blanket
    Adapted from Chebe website.  Makes about 8 large or 20 small pigs in a blanket.

    • One bag Chebe All-Purpose Mix
    • two eggs
    •  1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional... well according to me.  according to Hubbs, not optional)
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • 2 tbs oil (canola, vegetable, whatev) 
    • 6 regular size, 16 breakfast links, or 20 mini sausages   

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In the bowl of your mixer, combine all ingredients and mix until just blended.  Dump out onto the counter and knead well for a few minutes until the dough is smooth.  Form dough into a rectangle and divide into enough pieces for all of your sausage (although... if you have some left over, you can make some pretty scrumptious little rolls too... just sayin).  Take the dough, one piece at a time, flatten it with the palm of your hand, lay a sausage on top of it, and roll to cover.  I think I ended up liking the mini sausages better because there was a higher bread to meat ratio, but that's just me.  Place the piggies on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (makes clean up easy breezy!).  Bake your piggies for 20-25 minutes.  Allow them to cool for a couple of minutes and enjoy! 

    GF Parties: Phillip's Pumpkin Patch

    I feel like I've been promising a rundown of the Peanut's party forever!  We had such a great time and the babies looked adorable of course.  Predictably, the Peanut refused to nap all morning so he wasn't in the best mood and ended up taking an hour long nap during the party, lol.

    We had a great GF menu including chex mix, cupcakes, and the most addictive pigs in a blanket (look out for a post with that recipe later today).  I also put together a little pumpkin patch in our side yard so the babies could have cute pictures.

    Aren't these two just the cutest??

    Phillip, ever the gracious host, treated each of his baby friends to a "Baby's First Halloween" plush rattle as a party favor.

    Party Details:
    • Stickers, cupcake toppers and wrappers from Chickabug.
    • Baby's 1st Rattles from Babies R Us.
    • Poms from FiestaPom on Etsy.
    • Food and other decor by me!

    Sunday, November 14, 2010

    Product Reviews: GF Burger Bun Showdown!

    The other day I promised that I would tell y'all about the hamburger buns that I just luurve! Well, today I'm going to tell you about them along with a few other GF buns on the market I've tried and enjoyed.

    When I first started eating gluten free, I swore by the Kinnikinnick bread products. I still love the unique flavor they have and the great soft texture, especially when warmed.  They are also pretty light, which is nice in a burger bun, because too much bread really throws off the ratio of bread to meat.  They're not perfect though.  They get soggy easily and can get sort of flaky on top if they aren't thawed slowly (i.e. if you do it in the microwave).  They are available in the freezer section at my local Kroger though, so it's super convenient.

    {image via Kinnikinnick}

    The next bun I tried was the one made by the Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse.  While I love most of the WH Bakehouse products, this was probably my least favorite bun.  It has a great flavor, but is just much too dense (a problem from which a lot of GF products suffer).  I've been known to use these in a pinch, but there are certainly better options.

     {image via Gluten-Free Foodie}

    Probably my second favorite burger bun option is from Gillian's Foods.  I originally found these at Whole Foods when I lived in Chicago, but here in the 713, they're available in the gluten free freezer section at HEB Central Market.  These are a pretty light and yummy bun option - and one of the best things about them is that they are less than 200 calories!  Many GF bread products have a tendency to be really caloric, which is never a good thing.   If not thawed slowly on the counter top, they can suffer from the same flaking tendency that the Kinnikinnick buns have.

    {image via Gillian's Foods}

    So, drumroll please... what are my favorite gluten free buns you ask?  None other than the buns from Canyon Bakehouse.  These buns will change your life - I know they've changed mine.  They are light and fluffy much like a normal white bread hamburger bun, but they're actually made with all sorts of healthy GF grains (not just your standard rice, tapioca mix).  They hold up really well to burgers and never flake.  You can buy them in packs of four in the bakery section at Whole Foods on Kirby.  They're focaccia bread is pretty amazing too with pasta.  The one downfall would be that since they are fresh and have no preservatives, they can mold pretty quickly (within a couple of days).  I recommend freezing them and they thaw pretty well!  

    No excuses now not to enjoy a delicious burger, gluten free!  I hope you try the Canyon Bakehouse buns and love them as much as I do.  Let me know what you think!

    Restaurant Reviews: Korma Sutra

    {image via Korma Sutra}

    Two words:  GF Naan.  Ok, well I'm not sure that actually qualifies as two words, but let's ignore the technicalities and focus on what's really important here... gluten free naan.  I love Indian food and after going GF I was relieved to learn that most Indian food dishes are naturally gluten free.  However, to me, one of the quintessential parts of the Indian experience is sopping up all of those delicious sauces with your fresh warm naan bread.  Sure there are pappadums (little Indian crisps which are made with chickpea flour), but they're just not quite the same. 

    So where am I going with all this?  Well last night hubbs and I went out to dinner at a relatively new Indian restaurant called Korma Sutra.  After placing our order - we both opted for the chicken tikka masala and split some saag paneer - and informing the waiter that I did not want any bread on my plate because of an allergy, the executive chef came out to inform me that they could make me fresh gluten free naan!  She told us that they make it often (using millet flour) for their gluten free customers and can also accommodate those with lactose and other food sensitivities as well.

    Not only was the food safe to eat, it was delicious!  The sauces were smooth and delicately flavored with just the right amount of spice.  The entrees also came with rice and vegetables, which were really good.  The food was definitely a bit on the pricey side (entrees were about $20), but the restaurant is BYOB with no corking fee so we felt it was pretty affordable.

    The chef and her husband are the owners of the restaurant and came by to check on us multiple times.  We felt really welcome and thoroughly enjoyed our meal. I've encouraged them to advertise their knowledge of food allergies and their amazing gluten free naan on their website, but in the meantime I hope you all go and check it out.

    Since I wasn't planning on writing a review, I was only able to snap one picture using my blackberry, so you'll have to go check it out for yourselves! 

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    I'm giving up...

    I just have to.  What, you ask? The 30 day challenge.  I've sucked at it.  And frankly, I think I accomplished my real goals in doing it: 1) start posting more, 2) let you all know more about me.

    I just feel like I've done those things, and with what precious little time I have these days, I need to focus my blog posts on yummy gluten free things!  I promise to keep posting and bringing you the best of GF that Houston has to offer.  Thanks for understanding.

    Happy November!

    Hey Y'all!  What a crazy weekend we had... a baby Halloween party and our poor pup was in the hospital.  I'll be back to blogging soon with a couple of great recipes and pictures and details from the Pumpkin Patch Party.  See you soon...


    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Product Reviews: OMG

    I can't believe I didn't take a picture of this, but I wasn't even planning to write a review until I tasted it and then I quickly devoured it.

    In a word:  Amazing. 

    I received a sample of this new single serving microwave brownie mix from Pamela's free the other day and just finally got around to making it and I'm so glad I did!  I didn't have high hopes given my past efforts making Cake in a Cup.  To see what I'm talking about look at this.  It wasn't great. 

    In contrast, the Pamela's mix was so easy and so delicious!  You just add two tablespoons of water and two tablespoons of oil (I also added a handful of walnuts) and microwave it for about a minute.  In the meantime I whipped up a little cream... more on that later.  It was so good!  I just can't stop saying that.  For now, I know you can order these online, but I've been told that they will soon be available for purchase at Whole Foods for about $2.00. 

    I honestly can't tell if this is a good or a bad thing.

    Day 12: I Believe...

    I believe ...
    in the golden rule.

    a good hair day is a good day.

    there's nothing good that's not just a little bit better with whipped cream.

    if we put other people first, this would be a much better world.

    a great bag makes the outfit.

    knowledge is power.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Restaurant Reviews: Becks Prime

    Holy cr@p, Becks Prime has a gluten free menu!  The menu is not available at the restaurant, but can be accessed on their website.  While there is nothing crazy amazing on it, (Gasp... their buns are actually made of rice flour!!  NO!)  I really appreciate the effort.  They have several bunless plate options that are Gluten Free, as well as salads, milk shakes, chips and salsa and more.

    Lately, I've been bringing my own bun to Becks Prime and they've been more than happy to take the bun, and in a very safe manner, put my burger or chicken sandwich on it.  The fries are also out of this world, but use caution here if you're sensitive to fries done in oil with other products (I am not but I always ask for y'all!).

    I'm a sucker for take-out and meals from a drive-thru... call me crazy.  Since I discovered that they would use my bun, the hubbs and I have been enjoying burgers weekly.  While its a little pricey, we agree that BP has the best burgers in town. 

    P.S.  Stay tuned for next week when I'll be sharing a rundown of the various GF burger buns on the market and I'll reveal the one I am currently OBSESSED with.

    Day 11: My Favorite TV Shows

    I'm not gonna lie... I love TV.  I go through phases of watching more or less, and right now life is pretty busy so it's less.  There are a couple of shows that I have loyally watched for years:  The Simpsons (I've watched this show since I was the same age as Lisa and my brother was the same age as Bart - ya, I know... scary) and Law & Order (I've seen pretty much every episode ever).

    Lately, though, I'm into Family Guy,The Office, and Glee!!!

    Anything I should be watching??

    Day 10: Something I'm Afraid Of

    Yep, I'm afraid of stairs.   Not just stairs, but walking down stairs.  Every time I walk down a set of stairs I picture myself falling down.  I think to myself  "self, today is the day you're going to eat it on these stairs."  It's even worse now that I have to carry the Peanut down them.  It's okay, you can laugh at me... I'm kind of a freak, I know.

    P.S. I'm afraid of balconies too.


    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Day 9: A Picture of My Friends

    They're fabulous!

    Day 8: A Place I've Traveled To

    Ah vacation... I need one so badly. But between not having the money, the Peanut, and law school that probably won't be happening for a while. Anyway, the most recent place I traveled to was Cancun, Mexico for some much needed R&R after 1L year.

    There are some many places I would love to visit, but to be honest, as long as there's a beach (or even a pool), some great food, and a spa, it's a great trip in my book.

    The sad party about this trip was that it happened right after the swine flu scare and there was almost nobody there. We got some great deals, but I felt awful that the people were really struggling. Anyway, lets take a pictorial walk down memory lane: