Sunday, July 15, 2012

Granola bars you'll actually WANT to eat!

Well here I am. I promised! And I'm about to roll out one of the original Celiac Sisterhood recipes...tried and tested time after time, until it was finally ready to share with all of you. 

You may remember the first time I posted about these granola bars. My messy, sticky, gooey, complete-and-total-mess granola bars. It was way back in August 2011. If you missed it and care to see it, you can find it here. If you don't care to, then don't! Fine! No one's making you! 


Gluten-free granola bars are hard to find. The frustrating thing is, granola bars may APPEAR gluten-free on the ingredient lists; but if the oats used in the bars are not 100% "clean" gluten-free oats, then you're out of luck. And you'll end up spending the rest of your day in the bathroom crying for relief from the pain and cursing out Nature Valley. (I'm not speaking from experience or anything...)

These granola bars have it all...sweet & salty, crunchy & moist...chocolate, cranberries, almonds and honey. So good! So, after much tweaking, and many pans of granola bars, we have perfected this recipe. Read on, and are going to love these!

Granoli Bars

3 1/3 cups gluten-free oats (I buy mine at Trader Joe's: $3.99 for 2lbs of clean GF oats!)
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup Jules all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup dried cranberries (Craisins are best)
1 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I use Nestle chunks!)
1 cup almonds (chopped)
1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
1/2 cup almond butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease the sides and bottom of a 13" by 9" pan with Pam cooking spray. Set aside.
Combine all dry ingredients - oats, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, cranberries, chocolate, and walnuts - in a large mixing bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, almond butter, vanilla & honey thoroughly until combined. Pour butter mixture over dry mix and stir to thoroughly combine.
Pour into prepared pan.
Spray a large piece of wax paper with Pam cooking spray and place over granola mixture. Press down firmly into pan, making an even, firm bar.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until sides and top of granola bars are browned slightly.
Cool COMPLETELY before attempting to cut them. Be patient, it will pay off! Otherwise they will fall apart since they are inherently gooey and sticky. They MUST cool. I refrigerate mine before cutting them and it works very well.

So. Darn. Yummy.

They keep very well in the fridge. Store them in zip sandwich baggies for easy on-the-go snacks you can stick in your purse! Or man-purse, if the case may be. :) 

Sweet & Salty goodness!



An Explanation, a Miracle, and the Empty Blog...

Hello dears. Erica here!

It has been months since I sat at this computer for the sole purpose of blogging! Several months. ten months, to be exact. TEN! That makes me feel quite ill, considering how passionate I am about food, cooking, and baking gluten-free, and how much I love helping other Celiacs find food and life again. 

The time that I was absent from this blog - September 30, 2011 to now - were very busy months for me and my family. The other half of the Celiac Sisterhood (Cait) finally had her liver transplant on October 11, 2011. Her dear friend, Janelle, donated 60% of her healthy liver to Cait. The liver did not take, and we almost lost Cait about 4 days after the first transplant, but her life was saved thanks to Jesus' hand and the incredible skilled doctors at MGH. She was then put back on the waiting list for another liver. We were broken. But God gave us another miracle...Cait received a whole, healthy liver after being on the list for just 8 hours.

8 hours. People spend the rest of their lives on these lists. And she waited 8 hours.

A young man in Massachusetts died in a car crash that day. And because of his selfless decision to donate life when his own life ended, Cait got a 2nd transplant. And this one took.

And she lived. She's alive, healthy, whole, and thriving. To say we are thankful would be an understatement. We will always hold that young man who chose to be an organ donor close to our hearts. He saved all of us. I can't wait to wrap my arms around him someday and say thank you when it's time for me to go Home, too. God is so good to us. Since then, we have been urging friends and family to register to be an organ donor. For more information on becoming an organ donor in your state, please click here.

From October-December, we all laid low as Cait and Janelle both healed from their surgeries - with quite a bit of wedding planning interspersed, as Cait and her fiance Jon's wedding was set for March 3rd! In January, we began wedding planning in earnest, and when the wedding day came on March 3rd, it FLEW by. But what a beautiful day. What a celebration of love and life and blessings - for all of us!

And that leaves April-July. So...what about my blogging absence from April-July? All I can say is I have been recovering from life! I have been in college continually, and working two jobs, and living life. I realize all of those things may sound like cop-outs, but they are also all quite true. :) 

But I'm back now. And I have a PILE of new recipes, products, and tips to share with you all. While life may have been crazy, topsy-turvy and upside-down, one thing in my life stayed the same. My kitchen, my haven, my little happy place. My love of cooking and finding delicious gluten-free food. I may have stopped blogging, but I never stopped cooking. :)

So thanks for sticking with us! :)  

Later tonight, I will be posting one of my all-time favorite recipes. It's finally perfected and ready for all you lovely people! We wanted to make sure it was just right! 

Stay tuned! It's going to be one recipe you will make over and over again...mainly because people will eat it so fast you'll have to make it over and over again. 


Friday, September 30, 2011

Because sometimes, you just get hungry...

If you read our blog even semi-regularly, you know that we bake, and cook, a LOT. Nearly 4 times a week, we would say. Now, we make the time for it because we love it and it is a passion, but we're not ignorant enough to think that every Celiac and Gluten-Intolerant individual has the ability to cook and bake gluten-free as often as we do. With the busy lives we all lead, sometimes taking an afternoon and baking homemade
granola bars and gluten-free cheese crackers to eat as snacks all week just isn’t possible. No way.

That said, we have compiled a list of the Celiac Sister’s “Top Ten” foods to grab on-the-go, and many of these are healthy enough and filling enough to eat as a breakfast or lunch replacement. These foods aren’t only available at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, oh noooo. They are all available in our local grocery stores…imagine that. There’s nothing better than INEXPENSIVE buy-it-and-eat-it foods when you’re a Celiac. It’s something of a luxury when you eat this way, when you have this lifestyle. We hope you enjoy these wonderful products as much as we do!

Chobani Yogurts. A whopping 13 grams of protein per cup, and
it is SO creamy and delicious. Our favorite is the 2% Pineapple. Delish.
Cracker Barrel cheese sticks, sharp and extra sharp. We love to get these when
we're out shopping and can't afford to stop and get something to eat...mmm!
Who doesn't love a chocolate chip cookie? An idiot, that's who! (I'm just
kidding)...but these ones are pretty darn tasty, chewy and sweet. 

These are one of our guilty little pleasures. Certified gluten-free
and they make us feel like we're little kiddos again. We love them!

You can still get candy at the checkout. Relax.
Junior Mints are processed in a peanut, tree nut, and gluten-free facility.
Thank you Tootsie Roll for thinking of our little tired villi.
Okay, let's be honest. These chips are so salty...and
sometimes, a girl just wants SALT, am I right?!

Lemon Larabars. Full of raw food - fruits, nuts. YUM. And good for you...we
all want to eat more whole foods, and  this is a great way to get them.

So I like to channel my inner child. This is Erica here. I love chocolate
milk and I don't mind telling you. Delicious and certified gluten-free. 

Sweet, salty, and so satisfyingly crunchy.
You have to try them for yourself. Yummy.

We saved one of the BEST for last...ohh, these chips are so delicious.
These are literally the best chips on the planet. They actually taste like sweet potatoes.
They can be used as a cracker, too...they are thick and crunchy and sweet and perfect.
Just buy them.
Such a great munchie for the car!

Enjoy, loves. Happy munching, snacking, and eating on-the-run.


The Celiac Sisters

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bagels? Real bagels? No WAY.

As a Celiac, there are some things I had given up ever eating again. Pizza is one sad casualty of Celiac disease...honestly, I have yet to find a pizza dough that mimics my old "wheaty" favorite...if any of you find one, please comment or email me. :) I'd LOVE to find one.

Another thing I never felt I would eat, and really enjoy ever again was bagels. I love bagels, they are doughy, chewy, crunchy on the outside when you toast them, slather it with cream cheese. Yum.

Well, I was wrong. Today, I made bagels...and they came out way better than I could have imagined. They were REAL, boiled and baked bagels. 

It was incredible. I nearly cried. 

No I didn't...not really. But I was smiling. And you deserve to smile here's the recipe. 

Do not be put off by the boiling...super easy, and it only took 15 minutes to finish all 12. It's not a big to-do.

The "Real Deal" GF Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

4 1/2 cups Jules "Nearly Normal" GF flour
3 Tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast
1 2/3 cups warm water
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I used Roasted Saigon Cinnamon...yum.)
3/4 cup raisins (TIP: I plumped mine in 1 cup boiling water before adding them. Made all the difference!)

Tip: I used my KitchenAid for this process. I think you could do the kneading by hand and it would be fine...but just so you know how I did it.)

Mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour with sugar, salt, yeast, and cinnamon. Add water and melted butter; the mixture will be the consistency of a batter. Gradually add the 3 remaining cups of flour until mixture forms a stiff dough. Fold in raisins by hand, kneading softly to incorporate. Cover and let rise for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 3-4 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add the 1 T. sugar and 1 t. salt to the water. Have a pair of tongs handy to flip the bagels while boiling. 

After dough has "risen" (it will not rise much, being such a dense dough), shape bagels by pinching off 12 balls and poking a hole in each ball, gently forming a ring, like so:

Poke a small hole in each ball of dough.

And work it into a ring from there.

And there you have it! A little raw bagel!
Next, when all the bagels are formed, it's time to boil!

Drop one bagel at a time into the boiling water.

Boil 3 minutes. FLIP. Boil another 2 minutes. Remove.
Boil 4 bagels at a time - boil for 3 minutes, FLIP the bagels, and boil for another 2 minutes. Remove, drip excess water off the bagels, and place on cookie sheet (that has been greased with cooking spray). Do this until all bagels are boiled.

Bake in 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until tops and bottoms are golden brown. I lo-broiled mine for 3 minutes to get that golden-brown look!

375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Until golden brown.
Cool on wire racks. Store 'em in ziploc bags in the fridge to keep them fresh longer. 

But they probably won't last very long in my house...I give 'em 3 days. TOPS.

Shmear 'em with cream cheese and eat 'em up, baby. 


Side view.

Store 'em! Refrigerator is best for GF baked goods.

Look at that beautiful golden brown!

Enjoy, loves.


Monday, September 19, 2011

I'm still alive...and I'm in love with these brownies.

Hey all. Erica here.

I just haven't blogged anything in nearly a month...don't mind me. This is precisely what I told myself I'd try not to do, but here I am, feeling rather sheepish.

In my defense, life has been busy and crazy. 1/2 of the Celiac Sisterhood, my dear sister Cait, finally had her liver transplant scheduled for October. That alone has kept us moving and our minds reeling.

But in the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the nerve-wracking anxiety, worry, and all the unknowns...I have my little kitchen. Through this trial, I think my kitchen has been a sort of lifeline for me. Why? The kitchen is the one place I feel in control. Completely. I know food...specifically, gluten-free food - like the back of my hand. It is my escape.

Softened butter, confectioners sugar, and vanilla make a velvety buttercream every time. Brown sugar, butter, flours and vanilla make cookies...any kind you please.
Flours, sugars, flavorings, baking chocolate, pumpkin...these things don't change. I mix cream cheese, pumpkin, sugar, and a few more staple ingredients, and before you know it you have a pumpkin cheesecake (like the one sitting in my fridge as I type this!)

Today, I needed an escape, I guess. Sometimes, I guess I don't even know why. I baked all afternoon after work. I tried two new things, I was feeling brave I suppose.

First, I made these.

I prepared them per the package directions, adding just 1/2 cup of milk chocolate chips. Then I made my espresso buttercream and topped them off with a thick layer of this velvety espresso love. Pure HEAVEN. This is the first brownie mix I have had since going gluten free back in February that is actually comparable to Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines wheat versions. Seriously fudgy and decadent.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wow, you could cut the tenseness in this house with a knife...I can't say the same for these granola bars... [a.k.a. my weekend]

Hi there. Erica here. I had a pretty busy obviously no blogging. But here I am, on a Tuesday. Shocking...Mondays and Tuesdays are usually the least-likely-to-blog-days...but not this week. I'm mixin' it up.

I went shopping all day on Saturday with my Mom. Things are a bit tense at our house these days with all we have going on...and trust me, there's a Lot. And as a result, unfortunately our outing wasn't as fun as ones we've had in the past. But one block of time where there was no tenseness or grumpiness was when we were eating lunch at Chipotle. It's like a Celiac's dream. EVERYTHING except for the flour tortillas is gluten-free. Beef, pork, chicken, guacamole, 4 salsas, sour cream, cheese, cilantro-lime rice, black & pinto beans...and the beat goes on. Yummm...I'm seriously drooling right now.

And another AWESOME perk? All you have to say is "I have Celiac, so I have to eat gluten-free..." and the people on the line pull off their gloves, wash their hands, and put on fresh, un-glutened gloves. I feel so special when I go there. 
"Really? For me? Just for my little tired villi, you changed your gloves?! How sweet!"
All this to say...if you are a Celiac and haven't tried Chipotle, do yourself a favor. Just go! :)

And then, on Sunday after church, I was feeling hungry for granola bars. Just in case you are still wondering...yes, the house was still tense - everyone was cranky about something and stressed to the point of cracking.

So I did what any stressed-out foodie would do. I ran to the kitchen...the place where I am in control. I armed myself with honey, agave nectar, gluten-free oats, craisins, chocolate chunks, and almond butter...and I set to work.

Now, this recipe isn't like my other recipes thus far. Honestly, this recipe is not blog-ready. Why? Well, because my execution clearly left something to be desired. The 8x8 pan I baked my granola bars in still has baked-on granola-bar "sticky" on it. And I had to literally PEEL the granola bars out of the pan. No easy cutting and bagging here...oh no. I actually had to scrape as much as I could salvage into a new wax-papered and greased pan, pressed them down - hard - again, and refrigerated again.
Then I cut them.
And they were messy.
But they were GOOD.

Epic fail? No!
Epic win? Definitely not.

But the taste...oh. Oh, the TASTE. Sweet chocolate and tart cranberries.
And the texture! Ahh...chunky fruits and chocolates, sticky honey and almond butter.

So while I deal with my roller-coaster life, my crazy family, and while my family deals with crazy me (poor them!)...I will perfect these granola bars.

Only then will I share the the your heart out with these pictures...after the battle they fought, they're looking good. Versatile, valiant little buggers, aren't they?

I chose chocolate chunks, cranberries, walnuts & almond butter to flavor these.
Maybe that's why they were so sticky...
I ate one today, and get this - I wasn't hungry for nearly 3 hours. For me, that's saying something,
considering I was sitting in an infinitely boring training at work that usually makes me eat nonstop to stay awake.
Good times.
Be back soon with the recipe...wish me luck. :) I'd really rather not have to scrape hardened and petrified sugar, honey, and agave crystals off my pyrex bakeware anymore.



Thursday, August 18, 2011

Naturally, Dah'ling!

"Love your skin; because what goes on, goes in." - Naturally Dah'ling!

I have discovered an excellent website this morning while browsing, and I'm so excited to share it!

Naturally Dah'ling uses all-natural ingredients like luscious mango butter in their concealers.
Looks good enough to eat, but I don't recommend it.

Now, this may pertain more to those of you with gluten intolerance/allergies more than the Celiacs - I personally don't have problems when I use beauty products containing wheat. But some of us do. And, in all honesty, it's probably better overall to stay away from "contaminated" products if you are a Celiac. Do as I say, not as I do...ahem. :)

Check out Naturally Dah'ling - it is literally a one stop shop for gluten free cosmetics, hair care, skin care, and nail care. They even have a special section specifically for Men's products!


The Celiac Sisterhood