Pumpkin Tiramisu

The holiday season seems to be in full swing, judging by the 24 hour Christmas music on the radio in my car and the Christmas wreaths for sale outside the grocery store. How is it already Thanksgiving week?! I feel like I say this every year, but this year it seems to have come up faster than usual!

For the first time in many years, I am not hosting, just bringing dessert. Trying to keep the holidays as simple as possible this year. I am making this version of Tiramisu and maybe brownies, made from a box mix. Simple and stress free 😊

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Feeds 4 to 6 people

Ingredients

About 1 Cup of Simple Syrup, plus 2 cinnamon sticks

1 package of Schar gluten-free ladyfingers

4 ounces of mascarpone (you can omit this and double the amount of cream cheese)

4 ounces of softened cream cheese  (very important it is soft! Keep on counter for at least 2 hours)

½ cup of canned pumpkin

1 – 14 ounce of can of condensed milk

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon fresh nutmeg

½  cup of heavy cream

Fresh whipped cream, see recipe below

Directions

Make simple syrup and let cool while you make the pumpkin mixture.

Whip together mascarpone and cream cheese or just cream cheese. Add in the pumpkin, condensed milk, cinnamon, nutmeg and heavy cream. Whip all the ingredients together for about 5 minutes with an electric mixer or standing mixer, starting on low and once there is no risk of splatter, turn on high.

Dip a ladyfinger into the simple syrup and place in a small rectangular dish, like this 6 cup Pyrex. Make a layer of syrup soaked lady fingers and then top with about half of the pumpkin mixture. Top the pumpkin mixture with half of the whipped cream. Repeat.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon on top if you like. Chill for at least 3 hours. Serve. This can be made the day before and kept in the fridge.

Fresh whipping cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 Tablespoons of powdered sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

Check out some of my other holiday dessert ideas: Raspberry Lemon Thyme Tiramisu, Boston Cream Pie Cake, Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Mousse Pie and Apple Crisp! For a great hostess gift, make some chocolate bark. What is your favorite holiday dessert?

 

Gluten-free croutons make the perfect GF stuffing

I’ll admit gluten-free bread has been the hardest item for me to get used to. The kids love most brands when toasted. Since it is more expensive than its gluten filled counterpart, I like to keep all the ends of the gluten-free loaves of bread in the freezer until I have enough to make something, like these croutons, which are perfect to be used for making stuffing for Thanksgiving.

Gluten Free Croutons

Ingredients

6 cups of gluten free bread, cubed

3 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of chopped fresh rosemary

½ teaspoon of chopped fresh thyme

¼ teaspoon of chopped fresh sage

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to cookie sheet. Toast for 10 minutes, then mix and toast for another 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. You can use these as croutons or make the stuffing recipe below.

Gluten-free Stuffing

Ingredients

1 batch of gluten-free Croutons (see recipe above)

3 ounces of sausage (omit if making vegetarian or vegan)

1 small onion finely chopped

1 large clove of garlic, minced

4 Tablespoons of butter (use smart balance if making vegan)

Couple sprigs each of fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary and sage), chopped finely

2 cups of stock (veggie, chicken, turkey or beef)

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in cast iron skillet and cook sausage in it. Then add onions, garlic and herbs. Sauté for about 5 to 7 minutes. Add croutons, mix and then stir stock into mixture.  Cover and cook in oven for about 35 minutes.  Remove cover and finish cooking for 10 to 15 minutes uncovered.

Stuffing is one of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving and with this recipe, I definitely do not miss the gluten. It is delicious. What is your favorite side dish? Try my polenta, acorn squash or slow cooker mashed potatoes.

New England Clam Chowder

Fall is a time for new beginnings and a breath of fresh air. The cool, crisp air finally seems to have reached Massachusetts. I love making soup any time of year, but there is something about fall in New England that makes me crave clam chowder. This is a family favorite.

The key to making this recipe is preparing all the ingredients and cookware before you start. Organization really helps when you make any recipe and the bonus is that you can pretend you have your own cooking show…or wait, that’s just me 😉. Preparation also is key to getting kids in the kitchen. If they are not old enough to chop, they can add ingredients and stir. Be their sous chef for the day and do the chopping before you try to involve them.

Gluten- Free New England Clam Chowder

Ingredients

About 4 pounds of large Quahog or Cherrystone clams, cleaned

Water

7 sprigs of fresh thyme

6 slices of bacon, diced

2 Tablespoons of butter

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

4 cups of liquid/stock (usually about 3 cups of cooking liquid from the clams and make up the rest with seafood stock).

5 medium sized butter potatoes, peeled and diced

5 sprigs of thyme

¼ teaspoon of black pepper

Pinch of white pepper

1 cup heavy cream

Juice of ½ a lemon

Directions

Add clams to a soup pot over medium high heat and pour in enough water to cover the clams. Place thyme sprigs in water and put the lid on the pot. Bring to a low boil and cook about 10 minutes until all the clams open. Drain and save cooking liquid. Set clams aside to cool, rinse out pot. Place pot back on the stove and add bacon, onion, garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add cooking liquid, potatoes, thyme, black pepper and white pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes until potatoes are soft. Mash potatoes to thicken the soup. Add the heavy cream and lemon juice. Stir, simmer for about 5 minutes and serve!

I haven’t yet found an oyster cracker that is gluten free, so I serve this with gluten-free Schar Table Crackers, Glutino Premium Rounds or with a gluten-free corn bread.

 

What is your family’s favorite soup? Follow this link for my favorites from 2016.

Polenta, an easy holiday side dish

Instead of serving mashed potatoes at your holiday meal, why not try polenta? They are a creamy and delicious accompaniment to ham, turkey, roast beef or roast vegetables.  The two different ways I make it, are much easier and less hands on than mashed potatoes. I make them in the slow cooker, using this recipe from About.com and it comes out perfect, every single time. It takes about 2-3 hours in the slow cooker, but is basically completely hands off.

Most often I make polenta by taking a huge shortcut, buying the already made tubes at Trader Joe’s. Here is my recipe to transform those tubes into an amazingly smooth and cheesy polenta.

Quick Polenta

Ingredients

2-18 ounce tubes of Trader Joe’s Polenta

3 Tablespoons of butter

1 cup of milk (I use either 2% or whole)

1/4 cup of mascarpone or cream cheese

3 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped – optional

Directions

Take the polenta out of the tube and dice. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add butter and the diced polenta. Cover for about 2 minutes, then stir. Cook covered for another 3-6 minutes until the polenta is soft. Use a potato masher and mash the polenta. Add milk, mascarpone and herbs if using them.  Mash everything together and stir until smooth. You can then keep it warm in your crock pot or if you have a warming burner, you can put it there covered and serve within an hour or so.

You can use this polenta as part of an easy meal this week. I like to serve it with sausage and peppers.

Keep your menu simple and hopefully you will have a less stressful holiday!

Here are some other holiday side dish ideas:

Twice Baked Potatoes, a perfect holiday side dish

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My favorite! Acorn Squash

Quinoa Risotto

I guess Thanksgiving is coming soon?!

What can I do with Thanksgiving leftovers?

If you and your family do not eat leftovers, send the rest home with someone else because there are people like me, who can eat Thanksgiving leftovers every day. Seriously. Every single day, every meal, I can eat turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash and cranberry sauce for the week following Thanksgiving. But for many (MOST) that gets boring. So, here are some ideas to hide it so your family doesn’t even know its leftovers! And as always, it’s good food that happens to be gluten free.

leftover-turkey-sandwich

Changing the flavor profile is the easiest way to disguise the leftovers. You can shred some of the turkey and mix it with your favorite barbecue sauce and serve on leftover rolls or with cornbread stuffing. Add the turkey to jarred Tikka Masala sauce and serve with rice. You can make Asian rice noodles, Italian pasta, Quesadillas or Chili. Using the leftover turkey, squash or vegetables from the veggie tray you can make any of the dishes in my recent Super Easy Pasta Night3 Easy 10 Minute Meal , Taco Tuesday – Step Outside the Taco Shell and Crowd Pleasing Chili posts.

There are so many options! With the ideas and recipe links above you can make your own takeout! Save the money for the holidays 🙂

Happy planning, cooking and try not to stress. Send me your questions for Thanksgiving or for what to do with leftovers! or tell us your leftover ideas! Comment here or send me an email to mammascooking@gmail.com.

 

 

Butter, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme: How to make a compound butter

Yes, I am spending an entire post writing about butter. Butter is an essential part of Thanksgiving. You rub it all over the turkey, spread it on warm rolls just out of the oven, put butter in the stuffing, melt it on top of roasted squash, cream together in the mashed potatoes and use it to finish off the gravy. I could keep going! I hope Julia Child would be proud.

butter

Because butter is such a big part of the meal, I like to make it more flavorful. It is very easy to do. Make a compound butter. That is a fancy name for a butter that you add flavor to. I usually make it a day or two before Thanksgiving. You can even make it today!

Rosemary, Sage, Thyme and Lemon Compound Butter

compound-butter-mixture

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of unsalted butter (3 sticks), softened/room temperature

1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh sage

1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme

zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon of salt

A pinch of pepper

Directions

compound-butter

With a fork, mash together all of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Take 3-4 tablespoons of the butter and place on a small rectangle of parchment paper and make it into a roll. Place in fridge to cool, until Thanksgiving morning. Take it out, unroll it onto a plate and it will be ready for your table! This can be for your table for your guests to melt on warm rolls. The remainder of the butter should be covered and placed into the refrigerator until Wednesday night. Leave it on the counter so that it is spreadable on Thursday when you start to cook.

compound-butter-roll

If your stuffing mix or stuffing already has seasoning, use plain butter. Otherwise you can use this on any other part of the main meal.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions about your Thanksgiving meal!

Other helpful Thanksgiving posts:

Appetizer ideas for Thanksgiving

Cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My Favorite! Acorn Squash

I guess Thanksgiving is coming soon!  – Great make ahead mashed potato recipe!

Happy Cooking!

Appetizer Ideas for Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-apps

I spend so much of my energy on the main meal, by the time I get to the appetizers I try to keep it as simple and hands off as possible. It’s also a great thing to offer for someone else to bring if they ask and you know they’ll be on time 🙂

I know, I know, if you have someone in your family with celiac disease or an allergy, the thought of allowing others to bring food into your house can be daunting. I usually only ask people who offer to bring something and who know to bring something safe that is packaged or bring the ingredients and make it at my house (like a fruit plate or veggie platter).

turkey-cheeseball

My children could fill up on appetizers alone and usually do, so I have to make sure I put more than enough out and wait until guests arrive before taking the cover off. Some years it is as simple as 2-3 different blocks of cheese with some crackers (I LOVE Van’s GF Everything Crackers!), a package of prosciutto from Trader Joe’s and some baby carrots with hummus. Other years I have put in a little more effort and made a cheese ball shaped like a turkey or even spinach and artichoke dip to keep warm in a mini Little Dipper CrockPot.

NOTE: I do not get money from any of these companies I’ve linked to in this post. I only recommend items my family uses. I will let you know in the post if I ever do get money or an advantage, but the recommendation will always be for something I use and love!

My plan for Thursday, which may change depending on how much time I have, is:

A  Pumpkin Cheese Ball (I will make the day before) based on this recipe I found from my.recipes.  They serve it with apples, but I think I’ll add some crackers to the dish too.

Hummus with vegetables I use store bought hummus. Our family favorite gluten-free options are Tribe or Wegman’s store brand. Just drop it on a plate with the vegetables! Easy.

Tortilla chips and homemade salsa (if I have time or can get my daughter to make the salsa!) Our family favorite gluten-free tortilla chips are Xochitl or Tostitos Natural. Here is a link to my newest salsa recipe! .

Shrimp cocktail (if I have time) I have Wegman’s already cooked frozen shrimp in the freezer, which I buy whenever it’s on sale, so I have it on hand for either an easy meal or easy appetizer. I do like to make my own cocktail sauce. It is simple, quick and tastes amazing! I use Ina Garten’s cocktail sauce recipe except I don’t usually have chili sauce on hand, so I make it entirely with ketchup and it is still AMAZING!

That is what we like to eat in our house. These are all items where you definitely do not miss the gluten because they are almost all naturally gluten free. What do you like to serve for appetizers?

Here are some appetizer ideas from past blogs (as always the disclaimer that they may not be gluten free if from before April 2014 when my son was diagnosed with celiac disease – contact me if you need help to adapt it to be gluten free! mammascooking@gmail.com)

Dinner of Appetizers: Thursday night or a special party (July 2011)

Entertaining with Appetizers and what to do with leftovers (Feb 2012)

Comfort Food and a Cookbook (Oct 2016)

Happy planning and may your trip to the grocery store be filled with happy people and full shelves, not stressed, grumpy people fighting over the last sweet potato. If you know of someone who would like this blog, please share far and wide. Click on one of the many social media buttons available. Thanks!

Cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey

I decided to post a bonus blog today, since Thanksgiving is next week and I have barely even mentioned the star of the show: the turkey! Everyone has their opinions on the best way to cook a turkey, so here is mine 🙂 First of all, if you are buying a frozen turkey, get it today or tomorrow, so that it has time to defrost safely or buy a fresh one on Monday. I started brining my turkey a few years ago and it makes such a huge difference in flavor. Don’t be scared, its easy!

Step One: Buy Turkey

Can turkeys have gluten? Yes they can. Many times poultry is injected with broth before you buy it. Make sure the brand you are buying or have ordered is gluten free. Butterball and Shady Brook Farms both say on their website that they are gluten free. Most of the time when you order a fresh one from a farm, they have not been injected with anything, just ask.

If frozen, let it thaw for 2 -3 days in a refrigerator or keep on ice in a cooler where the temperature doesn’t go above about 40 degrees.

Step Two: Butcher the Turkey (optional – you can still follow the other steps if you keep the turkey whole)

butchering-turkey

I have been doing this for years, after listening to some professional chefs talk about making the turkey this way. I separate the dark meat from the light meat but keep all the bones in. There are many YouTube videos on how to do this. If you do not want to do this, buy a fresh turkey and ask if the butcher will do it. Whole Foods has done it for me in the past, when I’ve asked ahead of time. My Dad did the honors last year as I was so sick I could barely stand! (I cooked the rest of the meal the next day with a surgical mask on).

Save the giblets, the stuff inside the bag! Keep reading and you see how it helps make the most delicious gravy.

Step Three: Brine the Turkey

brine-for-turkey

Get a large bucket. I use a bright orange one from Home Depot that serves as my brining bucket. I have found that using a oven bag designed for turkeys in the bucket, makes clean up easier.

Basic Brine Recipe (inspired by this one from Our Best Bites)

Ingredients

2 cups of salt

2 cups of brown sugar

1 cup of peppercorns

3 Tablespoons of coriander seeds

12 small sage leaves, roughly torn

8 sprigs of fresh thyme

4 stems of fresh rosemary

4 Tablespoons of onion powder

2 Tablespoons of cumin

8 cloves of garlic, smashed

20 cups of water (may need more water to cover turkey)

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large stock pot. I use a lobster pot. Cook on medium high until it boils. Take off the heat and let it cool.

Once the brine is cool, you can pour it over the turkey inside the bag in the bucket. Add more water or even ice to the brine if the 12 cups do not completely immerse your turkey. If your garage is cool enough or you have a refrigerator that can fit the bucket great. If not keep ice and ice packs around it and change every few hours so that the temperature stays under 40 degrees.

Brining for a couple of days or even one day will help enhance the flavor and juiciness of your turkey. I am also building in an extra day for the turkey to “dry” in my refrigerator outside the brine, as I heard that it will allow the skin to crisp up more. I’ll let you know if that works.

Step Four: Cooking the Turkey

turkey-in-oven-bag

If you did not butcher your turkey, put the whole turkey into an oven bag on top of a bed of onions, garlic, chopped carrots, celery and fresh herbs. I even throw in a couple of sliced lemons for the bed of the turkey. Remember to shake gluten free flour or cornstarch around inside the bag first!

Stuff some of the bed into the cavity of the turkey or if you did butcher it, you’ll have just the turkey breasts still on the bone. Rub butter or olive oil all over the turkey. I often make a compound butter (fancy name for mixing some of the herbs, salt, pepper and lemon zest in with some softened butter) and spread that all over. Close up the bag and cook accordingly with how many pounds of turkey you have. The breasts alone will cook faster. I roast it at 375 until the breast registers about 170 degrees. The dark meat (wings, etc should register about 180 degrees).

braising-turkey

If you braved the butchering, the dark meat is braised on the stove. A large heavy bottomed pot is what you will need. First brown the meat and then add onions, garlic, chopped carrots and celery with fresh sage, thyme and rosemary. Pour chicken or turkey stock about 1/2 up the meat. Add the giblets and make sure they are covered with stock. Braise for about 1.5 to 2 hours until the meat registers 180 degrees. Save the braising liquid to make the gravy!

Let the turkey rest for 30 to 45 minutes before carving!

cooked-turkey-breast

Step Five: The Gravy

Pour the braising liquid through a strainer and then pour it into a sauce pot on medium heat. Let it reduce a little and then taste it. Add 1 Tablespoon of corn starch and whisk.  Repeat adding 1/2 teaspoon at a time until it is the consistency you would like. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Just before serving, add a tablespoon of butter and whisk it in.

I serve gravy in insulated coffee mugs. That way it doesn’t get cold! Not fancy, but practical. I think everyone has come to expect the old Westlaw mug at the table 🙂

Ok. Breathe. That seems like a lot of work, but it is so worth it!  This is the star of the show. The actual cooking time is shorter when you cook the dark and light meat separate.

Please let me know if you have questions. There are buttons all over this page now that will put you in touch with me or make a comment and I’ll respond!

If you have missed any of my recent Thanksgiving posts, here are some easy gluten-free side dish ideas:

My Favorite! Acorn Squash

Holiday Mashed Potatoes

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dish: My favorite! Acorn Squash

A question I frequently get from readers is whether my house is completely gluten free. Yes, it is. Except for my husband’s beer 🙂 It is a personal decision to make the entire house gluten free, but it is what works for us. I mixed the kids’ lunches up once while we lived in a shared household and after that decided to go gluten free. Too much work for me to keep it separate! Holidays at our house are also completely gluten free. I love the challenge to make traditional holiday meal items so that no one misses the gluten!

Most of the meal is naturally gluten free, except for the stuffing and the rolls. This year I am making my own stuffing. I am going to base it on this recipe, but use all the ends of the gluten-free bread that I have been saving in the freezer for the cubes. I will also substitute vegetable stock so that it is vegetarian for one of our guests.

I tested some recipes for rolls and decided that I am going to use the corn-based rolls recipe from Roben Ryberg’s book, You Won’t Believe It’s Gluten-Free! I will cook them just before we eat, so they come fresh out of the oven onto the table.

Here is my super easy Thanksgiving side dish recipe for acorn squash. The hard part is timing it for your oven space! This can be cooked while your turkey is resting and you are making gravy. Then keep it warm and covered while your rolls cook. Just prep it in the pan earlier in the day so that whenever you have time and space it’s ready to go into the oven.

acorn-squash

Chili rubbed Acorn Squash (feeds 4 so double or triple as needed)

Ingredients

1 Acorn Squash, sliced into half moons

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon chili powder

Directions

acorn-squash-cuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss squash with the rest of the ingredients in a baking sheet (you can probably fit 1 ½ acorn squashes on each baking sheet). Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Take out, flip each piece of squash and return baking sheet to oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

acorn-squash-half-moons

Don’t try to over complicate your meal. I have done that many, many, many times and only you suffer for it. Thanksgiving is not the time to experiment with fancy recipes. Keep it simple with just a couple of seasonings and the fewer the steps for you to take the better! The more you can prep in advance, the better and the more help you can take from the store, the better.

If you missed it, check out my Holiday Mashed Potato recipe and ideas for easy sides, how to simplify your Thanksgiving meal and about the star of the show, the turkey.

Send me a message or comment below if you have any questions about making your Thanksgiving meal gluten free.

 

Crowd Pleasing Chili

If you are having a crowd over for a big game or just hanging out with friends and family around the holidays and need a big satisfying meal, chili is always a great option. It is a blank canvas and does not require a lot of hands on work. It is also very easy to make gluten free, vegetarian or allergy friendly, which is great when you have a large crowd and don’t know what everyone’s food allergies or preferences are. I don’t think I have ever really made chili the same way twice, but I made this one recently to fuel up some friends before we enjoyed a long walk.

Quinoa Pumpkin Chili for a Crowd

Ingredients

1 to 2 pounds of your favorite beans or mixture of beans

½ of a large onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-24 ounce can crushed tomatoes

About ½ a 15 ounce can of pumpkin

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 Tablespoons of chili powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

3 Tablespoons of cider vinegar

¾ cup of chicken stock (or vegetable or beef stock)

1 ½ Tablespoons brown sugar

½ cup of quinoa

Optional, add 1 to 2 cups of leftover roasted vegetables and/or turkey, chicken or beef

Directions

Pour all the ingredients into your slow cooker and stir. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low 6-8 hours. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Serve with sour cream and sliced green onions.

This is yet another way to disguise Thanksgiving leftovers. To stretch the meal even further, you can serve it over mac-n-cheese, as I did for lunch the day after I made it.

quinoa-chili-for-a-crowd

When you are entertaining for the holidays, having easy meals that can stretch to feed a crowd are very useful. This is a healthy meal and a hearty meal that will give you the fuel to warm you up after hiking, skiing or keep you going during overtime of your favorite team’s game.

What are your favorite crowd pleasing meals? Stay tuned for an extra post this week with some gluten free holiday entertaining ideas and a recipe!

Here are some past crowd pleasing or tailgating recipes and ideas for using leftovers (Always the same disclaimer that they are from before our family started eating gluten free so make adaptations as needed or ask me how I do it! mammascooking@gmail.com

Fall Football and Tailgating

Lessons Learned from Thanksgiving and Cooking in the Aftermath

Pre and Post Thanksgiving Ideas with a Potluck Recipe thrown in

Happy Thanksgiving

Taco Tuesday – Step outside the Taco Shell (Gluten free!)

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Turkey time, a visit to a butcher shop and italian sausage mac-n-cheese (I think I’ll make this mac-n-cheese GF tonight!)

Thank you to Mamapedia for highlighting Mamma’s Cooking 3 Easy 10 Minute Meals on Mamapedia Voices on Friday!