Friday, October 25, 2013

Our Gluten Free, and Allergy Adapted Traditional Thanksgiving Feast with Recipes

Some meals are steeped in tradition in most families. For us Thanksgiving is one of those. The meal never changes from year to year, but each year we like to think that this Thanksgiving meal was the best ever.
This year I found ways to make our meal just as traditional with only a few simple changes to allow for Celiac Disease and food allergies, that I have recently been diagnosed with. The components are all there, they have only been changed in simple ways to embrace the flavours of a traditional thanksgiving meal. My changes would be easy for most people to work around and find ways to adapt with whatever allergies they may have. 

We chose to serve dinner buffet style as not everyone that was present could manage passing the dishes around family style. This way it kept the table clutter to a minimum and everyone could see what they were getting before they seated themselves at a dim candlelit table. We did however put the Cranberry Sauce and Extra Gravy on the table for top ups. As you can see I have a very tiny kitchen so being organised is essential. 

I must thank my family for participating in the preparation of this meal, as each of us undertook a component and cooked and prepped a dish or too. I was host so I did the turkey, stuffing and gravy. My Mom, who is amazing, made glazed carrots and a mixed vegetable, cranberry sauce and an apple crisp. My daughter Trina and her beau made the families favourite of brussel sprouts with bacon. Amanda and her boyfriend made the mashed potatoes. (They brought enough potatoes for twenty more). And my sister who has much more knowledge of such things brought the wine. By doing the meal this way, no one had a huge lot of work, and it made for a much more relaxed preparation for all. Everyone was so good about working around my food list too. This is a very long post, but I thought it was important that all of our meal is included. I will also post the individual recipes for easier printing.

It was so good and I could eat almost everything. The only exceptions were the Apple Crisp and the Whipped Cream, but that was alright as I had gluten free pumpkin pie and Ice cream and you can only eat so much dessert. There is no need for the others to go without things they like as long as there are choices that are good for everyone.

Gluten Free Unstuffed Roasted Turkey with an herb and garlic rub

By inserting my herb mixture under the skin of the turkey you get more flavour throughout the bird. As eating turkey skin is not good for you, this adds the flavour directly to the meat, rather than on the surface of the skin.

I like to transfer the turkey to a new serving plate for dishing up. It is not always too appetising to look at the turkey carcass when you are serving yourself.

The turkey was roasted unstuffed so that there was no cross contamination to the bird for anyone with extra allergy concerns. After washing and cleaning the bird, I made an herb rub to go under the skin. The rub was made of a ½ cup of gluten free soy free margarine spread, ½ cup of chopped fresh parsley, ¼ cup of chopped fresh rosemary, a ½ cup of fresh chopped basil and two cloves of crushed garlic. I then added 1 tsp. of rock salt and black pepper. With your hand loosen the skin of the turkey, along the breast and the legs. I used my hands to rub the herb mixture under the skin of the turkey until I was happy with the distribution of the herb mixture. Just make sure you wash yourself up with lots of soap and water after handling the bird. I then seasoned inside the turkey with salt and pepper. I peeled two whole onions and put them in the cavity of the turkey just for extra flavour. The outside skin of the turkey, I rubbed with a little olive oil. I peeled four carrots and put them in the roasting pan, under the turkey as if they are a rack. This keeps the bird off the bottom of the pan, and later it gives your gravy tons of extra flavour. I always use the turkey cooking calculator on the web site If you have never roasted a turkey they have full instructions on the butterball site too.

This is by far the most accurate way I have found to cook a perfect turkey. Just read the weight of your turkey from the packaging and enter it into the calculator and choose your cooking method (stuffed or unstuffed) and it gives you an exact cooking time. It could not be easier. I always allow about a half hour of resting time for my turkey before carving and serving, which gives you time to prepare your other dishes as well.

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Made from Scratch Gluten Free Turkey Gravy

I made my own scratch gravy using the pan drippings. If you have not done this before, you just remove the turkey from the pan to your serving and carving platter. As I had used whole carrots as a roasting rack, I put these into the blender with some of the turkey drippings and some extra chicken stock (gluten free of course). Blend the carrots and drippings until they are pureed and very smooth. Do not use all of the pan drippings as you need some in the pan to help develop the flavour and colour of the gravy. Put your turkey roaster or another stove safe pan with the drippings on the stove at Medium High and get it really hot. Stir your drippings and scrape the bottom of the pan with your spoon until your drippings become a little caramelized, but not burned. You will then stir in water or chicken (or turkey) broth to the caramelized drippings and bring it to a boil. In our family we like to drain our potatoes and use the potato water in our gravy. The potato water helps add flavour and the potato starch that is already infused in the water helps to thicken your gravy. We usually simmer the turkey neck and organs with a little onion, celery and a bay leaf for a few hours too and use this broth in the gravy. We have a few family members who eat the neck and gizzards but you do not want to use them in the gravy. Just set them aside for those who like them. In our family we like lots of gravy, so I usually add a full four or five cups of broth to the drippings. To thicken my gravy I use ½ cup of cold water and mix in 1/3 cup of potato starch. For years this has been done with wheat flour but the potato flour works great. I also add back the pureed carrots with broth. You want to use a whisk for the best results when adding the potato flour mixture to your broth and stir constantly until the gravy is thickened. Just pour the starch mixture in slowly and if your gravy gets too thick, stop pouring or add more broth. 

We like lots of gravy, so there is a spouted serving dish on the buffet and we also put smaller gravy dishes on the table for extra top ups.

The secret is once your gravy is thickened to let it boil, without burning for about a minute so that your starch is all dissolved and blended. The last step is to season your gravy with salt & pepper to taste. I used to use bouillon cubes in my gravy, but it is hard to find gluten free, soy free bouillon, so now I find adding the carrot puree adds the needed colour and flavour. It is a great way of getting your family to eat more vegetables too, and unless they see you add them they usually do not know they are there.

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Gluten Free Traditional Mashed Potatoes

Our mashed potatoes used to be made with milk and butter for mashing, but no one seems to miss these ingredients. I now use gluten free chicken broth and vegan margarine (I use Earth Balance Soy Free buttery spread) in my mashed potatoes. I am allergic to dairy and soy so these changes work for me. You can use whatever fat you choose and you can substitute milk or alternative milk for the broth too. We have used almond milk and had great results too. They are equally fluffy and delicious. A few tips for mashed potatoes are as follows:

·         Be sure to cook your potatoes until they are fork soft but not mushy
·         For the best results start with cold water when boiling your potatoes, it helps them cook more evenly
·         Save your potato cooking water for your gravy
·         Always mash your potatoes when they are hot, otherwise they get lumpy
·         Mash your potatoes until the lumps are gone before you add the margarine & broth to prevent lumps
·         Since I have arthritis in my hands and shoulders I use my stand mixer to mash my potatoes, but a good old potato masher works fine if you do not have a mixer
·         Serve with gravy or butter or margarine (we like to float our plates with gravy)

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Corn Bread and Corn Bread Stuffing with Anaheim Chilies and Garlic

It took me a few days to make my Cornbread Stuffing and yet it was very simple to make. I am allergic to corn so I do not have anything corn too often, but corn is better than wheat for me and being that I am very allergic to rice I do not have too many alternatives to make stuffing. This was so good this recipe it was worth taking an antihistamine for. The first step was to make a batch of corn bread. I doubled the recipe and used 1 ½ pans in my stuffing. The other half we had with dinner the day I made it. The cornbread needs to dry for a few days before you make it into stuffing. It is very easy to make as it is just simple casserole bread. 

I kept the cubed corn bread on a cookie sheet covered with a clean dish towel for two days before Thanksgiving to help it dry out and get crispy.

Gluten Free Corn Bread

1 cup almond milk 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup cornmeal, preferably medium grind
1 cup gluten free all-purpose flour blend (I like to use a mix by XO Baking Company it is gluten, rice and soy free and works great)
1/4 cup of agave syrup
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temp, lightly beaten
1/4 cup melted coconut oil (it helps to brown baking in a wonderful way and it is so much healthier)

Preheat oven to 350º
Grease a square baking pan 9 x 9 baking pan.

In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, agave, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the milk mixture, eggs and oil until just blended. Pour the batter in to your greased pan. 

Bake until golden, and a toothpick comes out clean, which will be about 35 minutes.  Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.  For stuffing cut your cornbread into ½ inch cubes and spread it onto a cookie sheet to dry out. Cover the pan with a clean towel. This takes a few days. As far as preparation goes it only took about five minutes to mix the cornbread from scratch. Super easy and simple for something so good.

This is the All purpose flour blend I have been using. So far everything I have made with the mixes for this company have been very good. I think some of them are actually better than baking made with wheat flour as the resulting products have been moist and flavourful. I came across this mix as it does not contain any rice or soy. The main base for the flour mix comes from cassava flour, potato starch, organic coconut flour and Xanthan Gum. It is very difficult finding gluten free products that are not made with a rice base and this one works very well. Having Celiac Disease and a rice allergy really limits the alternative products that I can use. I have been able to buy this product at two stores in our town, Save-on-Foods and Peoples Drug Mart.

Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing with Anaheim Chilies and Garlic

This was so good almost everyone went back for second helpings of stuffing and there were very few leftovers.

In a large bowl add your prepared and dried cornbread cubes (I dried mine two days as per the recipe above)
Add 1 tablespoon of salt and pepper or to taste
Mix in 1 cup of dried cranberries and two large Anaheim chilies which have been chopped to a ¼ inch size. Add one tablespoon of dried cumin.

In a fry pan add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté two chopped red onions, 6 cloves of crushed garlic and 6 stalks of diced celery. Sauté until just tender but do not burn your garlic as this will make it bitter. Add the onion mixture to your bowl of cornbread. Mix it in well. Add approximately ½ cup of chicken broth to your stuffing mix. Just enough to moisten the mix without making it too mushy and not too dry as it will dry out when it bakes.

Put the mixture into a nice oven to serving type of dish. Bake it for ½ hour at 325. I had just enough time to put it in the oven when the turkey came out and the turkey rested. I have to say this was awesome when I made it, but I was not crazy over the leftovers as they got pretty dry.

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Maple, Honey and Black Cherry Cranberry Sauce

1 package of fresh cranberries (washed and cleaned)
¼ cup Pure Black Cherry Juice
¾ cup cranberry juice
1 lemon, juiced
¼ cup 100% Pure Maple Syrup
½ cup liquid honey

Mix all of the above ingredients into a heavy saucepan. To clean your cranberries I like to use a colander. Place the berries in a colander and rinse them well. Go through them carefully looking for bad or wrinkled cranberries and check for leaves and stems. An interesting fact about cranberries is that fresh and healthy cranberries bounce. This is used in harvesting and packaging. The machines are set up so that the cranberries bounce on the conveyor which helps to separate the good from the bad. Cook your sauce over Medium heat stirring occasionally. When the mixture comes to a boil, stir frequently. You will let your sauce boil until the berries have popped and the sauce starts to thicken. The easiest way to test for thickness is to use a metal spoon. Dip the clean spoon into the sauce and hold it up. When it no longer drips it is ready. This takes no more than 10 to 15 minutes. Skim the foam off of the top of the sauce and discard. Pour your sauce into a nice serving dish and cool. Cover the sauce with a piece of plastic wrap as this will keep it from drying out. This can be made several days in advance and refrigerated. It is so much better than canned it is really worth the few minutes it takes to make.

The cranberry sauce was served from the table in smaller bowls.

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My mom outdid herself with this vegetable. The glaze brings out the natural sweetness of the carrots without being too sweet.

Honey Maple-Butter Glazed Carrots

1 to 2 pounds of peeled carrots (Mom served hers in 4 inch diagonal lengths)
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup Butter (
½ cup gluten free chicken stock
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
A Pinch of cinnamon & Nutmeg
¼ cup of chopped parsley or chives for garnish (optional)

Place your carrots in an oven safe, serving dish. If you use a dish that is oven proof and beautiful you can take the carrots out directly from the oven to serving and not make any extra dirty dishes. There are many of this type of casserole available. I try to keep mine in simple colours so that I can use them with any meal, no matter the colour scheme or occasion. I find white dishes the easiest to match with almost any tablescape.

In a separate bowl mix together the remaining ingredients. Mix well and then pour the glaze over your carrots, toss together to spread the glaze over all of the carrots. Bake your carrots in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes in a covered casserole, until they are fork soft. You can make this recipe earlier in the day and set it aside, then just pop it in the oven to rewarm it just before serving. Just make sure you do not overcook the carrots otherwise when you rewarm them they will get mushy.

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Mixed Microwave Steamed Broccoli, Broccoli Stems and Red Pepper

My Mom also made a dish of steamed broccoli with slices of red peppers. They were microwave steamed as a cooking method, which takes about 5 to 10 minutes. I have not included the recipe as it only involves cleaning your vegetables and cutting them into serving size pieces. They were cooked and served in a microwave safe bowl. My Mom also cleaned and sliced the broccoli stems and included these with the broccoli. They are so good when they are done well. You have to peel the outer skin off of the stems and then slice them and add with your other vegetables.

Oven Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Red Onion

One of our favorite side dishes in our family is Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Red Onion.  For some reason my children have always loved brussel sprouts. Even as little children they used to beg me to buy them. They would rather have these than candy and junk food. This is what my step daughter ate in the car on her way to the hospital in labour with my granddaughter. Over time we have played with the original recipe until we got it to this very simple but delicious recipe.

5 pounds of cleaned whole brussel sprouts
1 pound of Gluten Free Naturals Bacon uncooked cut in ½ inch pieces
1 red onion, chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (you do not need much salt as you already have bacon)

Clean your brussel sprouts and put them in an oven safe serving dish. Chop your bacon and onions and add them to the dish. Toss your brussel sprouts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper if desired. Set your oven to 350 degrees and bake until the brussel sprouts and bacon are cooked, but not too soft. Roasting gives this dish a beautiful caramelized flavour. This dish can be baked early in the day and then warmed before serving. They are so good, even brussel sprout haters like them.  I have included a link to information all about brussel sprouts, nutrition, selecting, storing and cleaning instructions too.  I like to keep mine whole for roasting as this helps to keep them from over cooking.

Our dinner was served with a pumpkin pie made from a recipe on the Gluten Free Goddess Blog. It is easy to make and well worth the effort.  I like to use this blog for recipes as anything I have ever made from Karina’s site has always turned out really good. I did not make too many changes as it is already adapted to Gluten Free and lots of allergies. It is not recommended for anyone with nut allergies. Unfortunately by the time dessert came around I forgot to take any pictures. 

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The only changes I made to the original recipe were as follows. I used agave in place of the light brown sugar in both the crust and the filling, as I do not eat sugar. When asked for lime juice or orange, I used lime as I am allergic to oranges. I used the maple syrup rather than brown rice syrup when making the Pumpkin Seed Praline for on top of the pie as I am also allergic to rice. I used regular pure vanilla in place of the bourbon vanilla due to availability. Some of our guests added fresh whipping cream with their pie. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly as posted. It was a wonderful replacement for a regular gluten crust pumpkin pie.

I also bought a prepared pumpkin pie to serve, as not everyone likes to try gluten free baking. I had lots of this pie leftover and not too much of the pumpkin pie with praline, which to me is the best feedback you can get on a recipe.

My Mom made one of her Apple Crisp’s. It was not gluten free so I have not included the recipe. She makes the best Apple Crisp I have ever had, unfortunately I can no longer have it, but it is a family favorite for those who do not like pumpkin. Hopefully I can talk my Mom into recording her recipe for a future post, even if it is not gluten free. (Thanks Mom)

I also had available a container of my home made Strawberry-Rhubarb Coconut Ice cream. It is so good and a perfect match to pie and apple crisp. I can not understand how strawberry-rhubarb icecream is not a flavour that is in the coolers of the world as it is such a great combination.

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I really think this year it really was one of our best dinners ever. It was so easy with everyone pitching in and bringing a dish. It made a big dinner into a small chore for everyone. I hope you enjoy our recipes and find your own Gluten Free Allergy recipes can be adapted to your traditional dinner. I happily share our families’ recipes with you. 

We used my quilted turkey napkin rings and napkins at each place setting which is part of our traditional dinner. You can find the pattern and tutorial here.

I used some arrangements I made with crystal vases and floating spa lights on the table. They added a very unique and colourful table accent. This tutorial will follow in a future blog. I have a basket to give away that contains all of the supplies needed to make two arrangements. This contest will follow in the next few days.

 A view of the quilted turkey napkin ring and napkins on the dinner table. I also used candle holders with fresh leaves. In the candle holder a second layer of glass separates the leaves away from the candles keeping them safe to burn. 

My tarnished silver candelabra looked beautiful in the table center. The candles were painted and glittered in Autumn colours. The post about this arrangement can be seen here.

Setting a table becomes very easy when you have a few arrangements around your home before the dinner. I added a few handfuls of glass rocks to the table just to add some sparkle. The candles bounce off the glass of the rocks. The rocks can be kept in a vase and used for decor the rest of the year.

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone.


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