Thursday, February 24, 2011

Layers of love

I've been wanting some warm, layered, melty, delicious lasagna. On a recent trip to Sunrise Health Food Store, I picked up some DeBole's gluten free lasagna noodles, and collected my other ingredients on various grocery trips around town. When I make gluten free lasagna, I prefer to make miniature ones, individually sized just for me. If I make a full pan, then I have to cut and package it for the freezer in an extra step.

In the past I've used mini loaf pans for this job, but since I was stopping at GFS, I meandered through their foil pan section and found some really cute little ones which work out better. They have the fold down edge so you can add a cardboard lid, which makes for easier storage. Unfortunately, they didn't have an lids in the right size, but I bought the next size up then used the pans as a template to cut them down. The pans and the lids were 19¢ each, so I was inclined to make it work. The recipe I've shared below is merely a template, change and adapt it to meet your own tastes. Don't like eggplant and mushrooms? Use the ground meat of your choice. Prefer spinach to broccoli? Go for it. The best part of making any meal is making it your own.

  • a few teaspoons of olive oil
  • ½ of a large eggplant, chopped into small pieces (¼ inch or so)
  • 2 c broccoli florets, chopped
  • 10 or so average to large mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cans (28 o.z.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 2 c shredded mozzarella + 1c to sprinkle on top
  • 2 c ricotta cheese
  • ¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 boxes DeBole's gluten free lasagna noodles (or equal amount)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large pan, sauté the vegetables in olive oil until soft
  3. Add tomatoes and simmer about 10 minutes to reduce some of the liquid
  4. In the mean time, combine the cheeses and eggs in a bowl until well mixed
  5. Spoon some of the liquid portion of the tomato/vegetable mixture into the bottoms of your pans (or one large pan) so the noodles with not be in direct contact with the bottom
  6. Line the pan(s) with UNCOOKED noodles, breaking and fitting them in as needed
  7. On the noodles, spread a layer of the cheese mixture, then some tomato mixture
  8. Add a second layer of noodles and repeat, topping with a final layer of noodles
  9. Cover the noodles with some tomato mixture, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella
  10. Cover the pan(s) with foil and bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes (1 hour for a full pan).
My yield was 10 mini pans, yours will depend on the pan you use and how thick you make your layers. If you make a full pan, make sure you leave enough cheese for the second layer and enough tomato mixture to cover the top. If you do not put some of the tomato mixture (or other sauce if you choose) on the bottom of the pan and covering the top, the noodles will not cook properly. The bottom ones will burn a bit to the pan and the top ones will not soften where they are not covered. If you don't want to use the canned tomatoes, you can substitute a couple jars of pasta sauce and cut the simmering to five minutes.

Happy eating, Friends!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The most important meal of the day

Dear blogger friends,

I am terribly embarrassed by my lack of posts. Here we are in February 2011 and the last time I fed your appetite for information was August 2010! I will do my best to catch up with you, including posting a pizza sauce recipe that I made at the end of the summer with homegrown tomatoes. I took lots of pictures and as soon as I can pull them off the camera for you I'll get that out.

As for today...

This post finds me in the middle of my breakfast. I stopped by the new Food4Less on Western Avenue and Route 30 (worth checking out) and browsed for a while to get a sense of the place. My main curiosity involved whether or not they had a gluten free section, and if the prices were competitive. I took some looking, I but I found it, tucked in the area with seasonal items on one side and soy milk on the other.

I was pleasantly surprised that while the section was small, the prices were fairly good. I got a box of Glutenfreeda Apple Cinnamon with flax instant oatmeal for $3.88 while I usually see it at least $3.99, but usually over $4.00. On the way home, my stomach grumbled and I imagined what my first bite of oatmeal in a year and a half might be like. Would it be chalky like some instant oatmeal? Overly sweet with artificial flavors? Thick and paste-like or a nice blend of clumpy oats and creaminess? (At this point you might be asking why was at Food4Less so early today, if you've been paying attention to the timeline. As it happens, I took a friend to the airport at 3:30 this morning and made it back into the area around 5:30. Since they just opened, and we had no milk, I decided to wait for 6 to have a look)

Before making the oatmeal, I preheated the oven to 350°F and put in two slices of Udi's GF White Sandwich Bread to toast for a few minutes. While my bread toasted, I added the water to the oatmeal, following the packet directions, which call for ½ cup of boiling water for each packet. I had two, like I said, I've been waiting for breakfast since around 3:30 a.m..... I let the oatmeal fully absorb the water before adding 2T of half and half, spreading my toast with unsalted butter and gearing up for a delicious breakfast.

My somewhat anxious musing did not prepare me for the understated flavor and wonderful consistency of this quick and easy breakfast. While not something I'll eat on a daily basis as I can get make breakfast more cheaply each day, I will definitely buy more. (A quick check of's gluten free grocery section shows it to be fairly equal pricewise, so no sense in waiting for it to be shipped)

While we're talking breakfast, did you hear about Post Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles? They are now labeled gluten free! While there is some disagreement over whether their verification process is good enough, Post asserts they "followed a gluten free validation procedure that included certification from all ingredient suppliers, outside laboratory testing of all ingredients, testing the production line, and outside laboratory testing of the finished product. In addition, Post has instituted process controls to ensure there is no cross-contact with gluten containing products." (taken from an email cited in that last link).

Not being a scientist, medical doctor or nutritionist, I can only tell you what I have experienced. I have gone through two boxes of Fruity Pebbles since they went gluten free, and have had no apparent symptoms. Personally, I feel that a company like Post would not risk it's reputation if it had not covered all the bases, but use your own discretion when deciding whether to eat this cereal or feed it to your gf child.

Another great breakfast option which I regularly enjoy are Van's WF GF Waffles. You make them in the oven, so they take a little more prep time, but they come out just right and are well worth the wait. 400°F for 10 minutes give you golden, crispy waffles just like you'd get from Eggos or other toaster waffles. If you lack a waffle iron, patience for making homemade waffles or time to do it, this is definitely the next best thing.

I feel somewhat better about my long absence after filling you up with so much information today, while it was only product reviews, I hope it helps, and will be getting back to recipes and meal evaluations soon. Happy eating!

Peace, love and (gf)cupcakes,