I have met many MANY folks lately who are new to the whole gluten free thing. Your first gluten free holiday is very scary. Like lying awake for nights on end, please leave the nightlight on scary! So hopefully, this peek into our home will soothe those fears and give you a bit of confidence in the kitchen this Christmas. For those of you who aren't gluten free, these ideas may be helpful for you in the future should GF guests be heading your way.
One thing that helped me the most when Hubby faced the GF Forever monster is this simple fact: meats, fruits, and vegies in their natural state are all GF. Really. Those first few days, we ate a LOT of rice, chicken and broccoli. It's a good thing my kids like broccoli as much as I do. They ate enough to choke a barnful of elephants! So if you're not sure even where to begin, start here. Pass GO. Collect $200. Well, not really.
So that's where we start our menu planning. We make sure to get a GF ham from our CSA farmers. I use this recipe (I use a teaspoon or 2 of dry mustard instead of the bottled liquid stuff), and put Piggy in the crockpot. He'll stay warm and comfortable all day and turn out DEEEE-licious! About an hour before he is ready to make his tableside debut, I make the glaze and pour it over him in the crockpot. And what do you normally serve with a ham? Potatoes, of course. Potatoes are naturally GF. This year, Princess is contributing Creamy Ranch Potatoes from Stephanie O'Dea's More Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. We are also doing Vegan Potato Curry. I took a LIBERAL amount of help from the store for both of these - Simply Potatoes (brand) has potatoes that are diced into nice little cubes. They come prepackaged with onions. We will be using those to make our two potato dishes. Since both dishes require the potatoes to be preboiled, the leftover water will be used to make GF potato rolls with a Gluten Free Pantry Sandwich Bread mix. Use the potato water instead of the liquid called for on the box, and put roughly equal amounts of bread dough into the cups of a muffin tin.We are making Rachael Ray's Apple and Onion Stuffin Muffins using Udi's bread that's been cut up into cubes and dried in the oven (bake for a few hours at lowest setting on your oven - mine is 170). On the side, we will have salad from a bag and some steamed California mix vegies, and I'm also taking help from the store by picking up some quinoa salad at the deli counter at Whole Foods.
Now it wouldn't be Christmas without all those wonderful treats, would it?! The kiddos and I will be making some you've already seen here and a few that will be coming up soon. If you want INSANE pumpkin pie, pick up gluten free crusts at Whole Foods and use this recipe for the filling. Use a whole baked sweet potato instead of the ones in the can. Definitely safer this way, and better for you, too. The recipe says it makes one pie, but it will fill 2 of the GF crusts. And both whipped cream in a can and Cool-Whip (brand) are GF.
Sure it sounds like a lot, but do yourself a favor, and start with a cooking timeline on a piece of paper. On the far right side, write down the time you want to serve everything, and work backwards from there to the left. Bake what can be baked ahead of time, take help from the store for your peeling and chopping if you can. Use your crockpot. Use your teenagers and whoever else has hands that can help. If someone offers, let them help!
Now that you've seen our menu, and I told you all my secrets for pulling this off, here's a snapshot of my timeline:
Crockpot - ham, Princess' potatoes
Whole house tidy
Baking - pies, rolls
Cook potatoes for curry, Princess' potatoes - SAVE WATER for rolls
Decorate cookies (recipe tomorrow!!!!)
Baking - cookies, chex mix, garbanzo beans
Chocolate dipped graham crackers (Use Smorables brand)
Finish any upstairs cleaning
Downstairs tidy up
I'll let ya go now - hopefully feeling encouraged and with a "can-do" attitude and some really great recipes. I know it's hard, but hang in there. Don't expect perfection, and give yourself room to make mistakes. It's ok. Your family loves you anyway. And so do I. Just breathe. It'll be ok. No, it will be AWESOME and AMAZING and BETTER THAN YOU EXPECT!