December 10, 2013 --- Leave a Comment
Kids, especially teenagers, love snacks. In the best of all possible worlds would I prefer that my kids ate only healthy snacks? You bet! A healthy snack, by definition, is nutritionally balanced: low in fat and sugar, high in fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates (complex carbs means whole grains or fruits and vegetables). Do my kids always choose healthy snacks? Only in my dreams. They will eat fresh fruits and vegetable crudités. But, like all kids, they crave crunchy, salty, and sweet.
Because we are a gluten-free household, there is a limit to the kinds and varieties of readymade snacks I can buy. So, gradually, I have begun to develop some satisfying homemade gluten-free versions. Two of the most popular I call Kid Kibble, inspired by the original Chex Party ® Mix. I created a both a savory and a sweet version using gluten-free Chex. Today I’m sharing the savory version, but stay tuned later in the week for the sweet version.
Kid Kibble is great for parties, keeps well stored in airtight containers (although it doesn’t last long), and it is tops for packing in school lunches or to take along when Sarah has school athletic events.
The savory version is definitely more nutritionally sound, lower in calories, higher in fiber.
Both kibbles are made in the microwave, so here are a few tips. If you have a 6-quart, microwave safe ceramic bowl (I do) use it. If you don’t, for the large-volume, 9-cup recipe for Savory Kid Kibble, turn off the turntable in the microwave, divide the recipe into two batches and microwave in a standard 9 by 13-inch microwave-safe glass baking dish.
When you add the seasonings to the melted nondairy butter alternative, be sure to stir well and when adding to the dry mix, scrape the bowl or cup using a silicone spatula to get all the seasonings out and into the mix.
Lastly, be sure to let the mix cool completely before storing it in airtight containers. It needs at least 30 minutes. Any residual heat will make it soggy.
If you are sensitive to tree nuts, simply omit the almonds and the pecans and enjoy!
Yield: 18 (1/2-cup) servings
- 4½ cups Gluten-Free Corn Chex® Cereal
- 4½ cups Gluten-Free Rice Chex® Cereal
- 1 rounded cup gluten-free pretzel sticks
- 1 rounded cup gluten-free garlic-Parmesan bagel chips
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 8 tablespoons butter or nondairy solid alternative, preferably Earth Balance
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free Worcestershire Sauce, preferably Lea & Perrins
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari (soy sauce)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- In a 6-quart bowl, place cereals. Place pretzel sticks in a self-sealing plastic bag and break with a rolling pin or meat mallet into small pieces (1 inch or less). Add to cereal in bowl.
- Repeat with bagel chips, adding pieces to bowl.
- In a microwave safe bowl or cup completely melt butter on high. Stir in seasonings. Mix well. Add to cereal mixture, scraping bowl well.
- Toss cereal with silicone spatulas until evenly coated with butter mixture.
- Microwave in microwave-safe bowl on high for 6 minutes, mixing well every 2 minutes. Alternatively, divide mixture into 2 batches. Place 1 batch in a microwave safe 9 x 13-inch glass dish, turn off the turntable, and microwave according to directions. Repeat with the second batch.
- Spread mixture onto 2 (9 by 13-inch) parchment paper sheets and let cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
- Store in airtight containers.
December 2, 2013 --- Leave a Comment
When I was attending the Culinary Institute of America, learning the chef’s trade, one of my favorite lessons was how to make pate â choux, French for cream puff paste. It is a magical dough that can be made sweet (large cream puffs filled with sweetened whipped cream, pastry cream or ice cream), or savory (small puffs spit and filled with savory fillings or, my all-time favorite, with cheese added to the dough before being baked and served plain).
Cheese puffs are easy to make because the dough is cooked in one pot on top of the stove. The dough is spooned into a pastry bag (I use a self-sealing plastic bag with one corner cut off).
Then the dough is piped onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, baked in a hot oven and comes out in the form of dozens of golden brown, crisp, flaky cheesy puffs. They make fabulous appetizers or snacks.
One of the main ingredients, however, is wheat flour. So for our gluten-free household that meant a moratorium on cheese puffs. This holiday season I decided to experiment with a gluten-free version and, as the French would say, voilà! A slam-dunk on the first try. It turns out that the 1,2,3, Gluten-Free Flour works just as well as wheat flour, perhaps better.
Some tips for the first-time you make cream puff paste: Do follow the recipe exactly. Do not be afraid to dump the whole cup of gluten-free flour into the pan.
Stir well and it will become smooth. Don’t hesitate to break the first egg into the dough; just stir vigorously and it will be absorbed. The same holds true for all the other eggs.
And when you pipe the dough onto the parchment paper-lined pan, try to end up with a tip; it makes for a better shape. If you can’t master the perfect tip, no problem. The cheese puffs will still taste wonderful.
Be sure to pierce the baked puffs with the tip of a knife. This lets steam escape and insures the puff stays crisp.
Yield: About 50 (1½-inch) puffs
- 1 cup water
- 6 tablespoons butter or nondairy solid substitute, preferably Earth Balance
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon finely ground nutmeg, optional OR
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder, optional
- 1 cup 1,2,3, Gluten-Free Flour, fluffed and leveled
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup shredded (not finely grated) Parmesan
- In a 1½-quart heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, add water and bring to a boil. Add butter, salt and spices if using. Stir until butter melts.
- Remove pot from heat and add flour all at once. Using a large, sturdy spoon, stir briskly until a smooth dough forms. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add one egg. Stir briskly until egg is completely absorbed. Repeat with remaining eggs, one at a time. Stir in Parmesan.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Transfer dough into a self-sealing plastic bag. Press to remove air and seal. Push dough to one corner. Cut off ¼ inch from one corner.
- Pipe dough 2 inches apart into 1½-inch circles, ending with a tip, onto parchment paper lined half sheet pans. Bake pans one at a time for 20 minutes, until puffs are golden brown and crisp.
- Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, and pierce each puff with the tip of a knife. Repeat until all the dough is baked.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
Variations: Substitute shredded Swiss cheese for Parmesan. Split cooled puffs in half using a sharp serrated knife. Fill bottom with egg salad, tuna salad, onion dip, or spinach dip (recipes are in Cooking for Your Gluten Free Teen). Replace the top and serve immediately.
December 10, 2013 --- Leave a Comment
Kids, especially teenagers, love snacks. In the best of all possible worlds would I prefer that my kids ate only healthy snacks? You bet! A healthy snack, by definition, is nutritionally balanced: low in fat and sugar, high in fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates (complex carbs means whole grains or fruits and vegetables). Do my […]
December 2, 2013 --- Leave a Comment
When I was attending the Culinary Institute of America, learning the chef’s trade, one of my favorite lessons was how to make pate â choux, French for cream puff paste. It is a magical dough that can be made sweet (large cream puffs filled with sweetened whipped cream, pastry cream or ice cream), or savory […]
November 27, 2013 --- Leave a Comment
Earlier in the week I shared one of my favorite vegetable soups, Roasted Red Bell Pepper-Tomato Soup. I always like to prepare a few light and nutritious soups that are both dairy free and vegetarian for my family to share while recovering from Thanksgiving. Our other favorite soup this time of year is Butternut Squash-Apple […]
November 26, 2013 --- Leave a Comment
Thanksgiving dinner, no matter how I strive for a nutritional balance, winds up being a meal of excess. We all eat too much, even the good things. So afterward, in addition to homemade turkey soup, I like to have at least a few days of soup-and-salad suppers to restore our equilibrium. Chunky vegetable soups are […]
November 18, 2013 --- Leave a Comment
My husband Jim’s birthday falls around Thanksgiving and it is probably his favorite food holiday. I always cook Thanksgiving dinner at home, and we usually have company, but my menu can be fancy (lots of courses) or simple (the basics and just one dessert), depending on how busy I am at the restaurant. Fancy or […]