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Just an average guys thoughts

Gluten Free Lasagna

At the request of a close friend, I am publishing my recipe for gluten-free lasagna. This is a very simple recipe and uses ingredients that are readily available. As always, check the labels of any products to make sure they are gluten-free. If you are not sure, call the manufacturer.

I will start out with the fact that this recipe is supposed to be easy. You can make the sauce from scratch and there are thousands of recipes for that available, but that is not the intent of this recipe. Speaking of the sauce, the sauce is the heart of this dish. Without the sauce, it is just mac and cheese! Although a very tasty mac and cheese, it isn’t what we are looking for.

The first ingredient is the sauce. I prefer Prego as it is gluten-free and also, in my opinion, the best “base” sauce. By base sauce, I mean that it is good to start with but almost everything can be improved upon!

As you can see, the sauce is in the pan over low heat, jut to get it warm. This is where you add spices. Oregano, Basil, Salt, Pepper, and Garlic are added. Below is the chopped garlic. Only use half of the chopped garlic for the sauce.  After a few bubbles develop, turn the heat down to simmer.

Now comes the meat. I used roughly 1 1/2 pounds of ground chuck and 3/4 of a pound of ground sirloin.

Brown the meat over medium heat. You are not trying to blacken the meat, just brown it.

After five minutes or so, drain the grease off and continue browning the meat. At this time, add the other half of the chopped garlic, salt and pepper to the meat. Cook for three to four minutes and then, drain the meat and add to the sauce.

You will notice in the picture above, that the sauce has been transferred to a larger pot. I forgot that this recipe is for two trays of lasagna and since I am only making one, we are going to have sauce left over for either spaghetti or baked ziti later during the week.

This next part is optional. Sausage. I take two mild Italian sausages, cut them out of their case and brown them. Then, using my trusty chopper, I chop  them up into fine cubes. Then they are added to the sauce.

I allow the sauce to cook for at least two hours on very low heat, tasting periodically and adding spices to taste.

Now, that the sauce is ready, time for assembly.

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.

 Start the assembly.

Using a glass dish, add a layer of sauce, then one row of noodles. These gluten-free noodles do not have to be boiled and this saves a lot of time as well as noodles!

The next layer is mozzarella cheese. You can use whole milk, part skim, sliced, as pictured above, or shredded. It is a matter of taste and personal preference. Below, I used sliced whole milk mozzarella cheese.

I then add a layer of sauce before adding the next layer of noodles. I have found that in several instances where I have ordered lasagna out, it was dry. This prevents that from occurring.

Time for the next layer of noodles. You will notice that the noodles are opposite from the first layer. This “interlocks” the entire dish and after it is served, keeps everything from falling apart.

The next layer is the Ricotta cheese mixture. I mix in a large bowl, one container of whole milk ricotta cheese, one egg,and 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Then I “trowel” it out on top of the noodles.

Then, a little more sauce.

Now, the final layer of noodles, sauce, mozzarella cheese and a liberal sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Then, it is into the oven for 1 1/2 hours.

Take the lasagna out and let cool for at least 15 minutes.

Some quick tips.

Use one jar of sauce for one tray of lasagna, or do what I did if you want extra sauce for later, use two jars.

Make sure you place the lasagna on the middle rack of your oven. Recently, I made this for a friends baby shower. Unfortunately, as we had Thanksgiving turkey the week before, I forgot to raise the rack to its normal position. After an hour of cooking I smelled that horrid smell of something burning. When I took the two lower trays of lasagna out, the bottoms were burnt. I was very sad but as usual, I can fix almost anything! I waited until the lasagna had cooled in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning. I loosened up all the sides, using my barbecue spatula, broke everything loose from the bottom of the dish, and then, placed a cookie sheet on top of the dish and flipped everything over. The dish came right off and then, I scraped all of the burnt sauce and meat particles away. Then, I cleaned the dish, added some leftover sauce to the bottom of the dish and put everything back together.

As the lasagna had to be reheated anyway, everything should be fine. It was and no one knew what had happened. In fact, this post is a direct request from my friend because the lasagna was so good!

I hope everyone enjoys this as it is one of my favorite dishes. If there are any comments or suggestions, please feel free to add them and enjoy!

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January 3, 2012 Posted by | Food, Gluten-Free Foods and Diet | , , , | Leave a comment

Gluten-Free Bloomin Onion!

As we did not make it to the Outback last night, I decided to make a bloomin onion for lunch today.

The ingredients and procedure can be found here. Outback Steakhouse Bloomin Onion – Recipelink.

The fist step is to make the sauce. As I was missing a few ingredients, I substituted wasabi paste for the horseradish, and chili powder for the Cayenne pepper. It came out tasting exactly the same. For the dry ingredients, I used gluten-free flour and eliminated the cumin, as some Celiacs have an issue with cumin, I am one of those.

Now to slice the onion. The wife, a few years back got me this nifty onion slicer, which supposedly, makes things easier. Go to the footnotes to see if it really helped!

Now, that the onion is breaded, time to fry! You will notice that the onion in the next picture doesn’t look like the one above. There is a reason for that, which can be found at the bottom of this post.

The directions say to fry for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Using the gluten-free flour, a little less time and temperature are necessary. I cooked this one for 9 minutes at 325 degrees.I can assure, that the onion isn’t burnt. It came out toasty brown.And after exactly 4 minutes and 20 seconds….The onion was delicious and crisp. It tastes virtually identical  to the one at the Outback.

Footnotes:

Now…some cooks would leave the above post as is and say that first time out, everything came out perfect. In this instance, that won’t be the case!

As I have never done this before, I wisely purchased three onions. The picture of the plated onion would be number three. What happened to numbers 1 & 2, you may ask? Let’s just say, you have to break some eggs before you can make a omlet, so I will now tell you what happened.

Onion number 1:

As I purchased this new 10 inch frying pan and basket, I was dying to use it. This would be where onion number one met its demise. Apparently, the thin aluminum pans are not the best at heat control. I placed the onion in the oil and went to wash off the plate. Upon my return, the oil reached a temperature of over 500 degrees basically, incinerating onion number one. Burnt on the outside, raw on the inside. In the trash it went! 😦

Onion Number 2:

Onion number 2 was doomed from the start. The handy-dandy onion slicer cut the onion right through the base, which left most of the onion in pieces. After shutting off the oil, I placed the onion, or what was left of it, in the oil and it promptly fell apart. This also allowed all of the breading to fall off and subsequently burn. Now, the gallon of oil I used was ruined! Luckily, I bought a spare gallon! 🙂

Onion number 3:

With onion number three, I nearly made the same mistake with the slicer that I did with onion number 2. So, I cut the onion half way with the slicer, then used my trusty knife to cut the remaining portion of the onion. As the oil was ruined during onion number twos demise, I brought out our 20+ year tried and true, steel pot and french fry basket, along with fresh oil!

Using the steel pot on the stove instead of the gas burner outside, stabilized the temperature and the onion came out nearly perfect.

I will fry up some chicken wings next week and hopefully get the hang of using the aluminum fry pot and then attempt this again.

All and all, a reasonable success. As it didn’t last very long, I can only assume it was good, as the wife promptly went to take a nap!

February 12, 2011 Posted by | Food, Gluten-Free Foods and Diet | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review of the Ducane 4400

As promised, here is my review of my new grill.

I purchased this grill from Grillsdirect (Hayneedle) and after all was said and done, the price paid was $495.00 including shipping.

Arrival:
The grill arrived at 3:00 pm Friday. As others have noted, it came on a pallet. The bottom of one side of the box was damaged and I feared the worst. After going through the shipping issues, I would really have been upset if the grill arrived damaged. I ripped the box apart before the delivery person could leave to make sure there was no damage. Fortunately, there was none!

Assembly:
It took roughly one hour to assemble the grill. The instructions are nothing more than a bunch of pictures. A few pointers for those who purchase either the 3400 or the 4400.
There are 16 black bolts in one bag and 4 black bolts in another bag. All of the bolts in the 16 bolt bag are for the base/wheel installation. The 4 longer bolts are for the top of the grill.
Speaking of which, do not tighten any of the bolts for the frame until the doors are in. Also, when securing the top to the frame, place one bolt in and put the nut on just a couple of turns. Then put the other side bolt/nut in. After they are both in, then tighten them so the top is centered in the frame.
Another assembly tip, unscrew the bezel that holds the ignitor in place. Then, remove the ignitor and install the wires. Then, reinstall the ignitor. It is much easier to take it out and put it back than to try and attach those wires in a small space.

Firing up:
As I was putting the side trays on, I heard a loud bang from my garage. It appears as though the main spring for my garage door broke. I had to cut the broken piece off, re-thread the remainder of the old spring on to the new cone, and readjust the spring. This took about a half hour. Just enough time to burn in the new grill!
The grill fired right up (burners) and got to over 600 degrees in about 10 minutes. Heat doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Cooking the first meal:
The first meal was a few strip steaks. The grill cooked evenly and seared the outside and as you can see from the pictures, was cooked to perfection. My son seemed to enjoy it as it was the first thing he ate on his plate!


Second meal:
Rotisserie chicken. I put the chicken on the rotisserie, seasoned it, and let it spin for an hour and a half. The skin did not get a crispy as it did with the other grill, so, I decided to crisp it up a little by turning on the two bottom burners for 5 minutes. Do not repeat this mistake! There is no picture as the skin was burnt in a short period of time. Fortunately, the interior meat was still tender and juicy. I got lucky…again!
Third meal:
Hamburgers. I go to the meat market and get a bunch of ground chuck, add my seasonings and then place the meat in zip lock sandwich bags. One burger per bag, then freeze them. I usually have 10-15 burgers in the freezer at any given time. You never know who may show up!
I placed the frozen burgers on the grill and they cooked evenly on one side, flipped them over, cooked on the other side, flipped over again to get the “diamond pattern” on the burger, flipped over again.
Toasted the bun, and on they went. They were cooked perfectly, for me anyway, medium rare, just a pink line in the center of the burger, and were delicious.
Side burner:
Last night I made spaghetti with meatballs. As we got home a little late, and I took out too much meat for the normal number of meatballs, I had to cook two batches of meatballs. To boil the water for the pasta, I decided to use the side burner on the grill. It took about as long as it does on the stove to get the water to a boil, but, the grate on the burner is sturdy enough that when the 10 inch pot was put on it, it didn’t move around.

Cleaning:
After using the grill it was time for its first cleaning. Everything on the exterior cleaned up easily. The grates cleaned up fairly well. I may have to do a little more brushing.

Summary:
For grilling, this grill we do everything I want it to do. It is well designed (mostly, see below), easy to maintain, and after some modifications are made, will probably be the last grill for quite some time.

Issues:
The placement of the rotisserie burner ignitor.
Where the line comes out on the burner, it gets red hot when the burner is on and actually bends upward. I can see this failing in short order. As it is, the spark is very poor and I suspect that this is a wire issue as I switched the wire to several positions on the back of the ignitor. I’ll be calling Weber Monday regarding this issue.
The tube that feeds the rotisserie burner is exposed and all of the drippings land directly on it. This cannot be good in the long term. I plan on correcting this issue.

The side trays are an extra set of burners!
The side trays, as others have noted, get very hot. Too hot to touch! I have read about the heat sink modification, but, I am going to call Weber and see if they have a ready made solution for this.

Heat loss out the back.
Others have pointed this out and I plan on calling Weber to determine why they didn’t just extend the back metal piece up two inches to keep the heat in.

Planned modifications:
Depending on what Weber says, I will block off the rear panel to keep the heat in.
I will add some protection for the rotisserie burner tube.
I will add, again, depending on what Weber has to say, the heat sink modification for the side burners.
I like the way the lower portion of the grill, the drip area, is constructed and angled to the opening for the drip pan. I think that adding an inner liner of say one of those aluminum baking pans, to the bottom should keep that area from getting dirty.

As the paint has already splintered on the flavorizer bars, when I get a new set, I may convert this to a rack with lava rocks.

Favorite feature, a toss up between the drip pan and the “backstop” at the rear of the grill.

This grill is actually a little bit smaller than the Charmglow 4 burner. But, the cover still fits!

My one year review, which is overdue, will be coming out around the same time as the “Q” review.

February 10, 2011 Posted by | Food, The Ducane 4400 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Porterhouse Steak on the Q

Tonight, for dinner, it was a porterhouse steak. Publix finally got someone who doesn’t cut these things 1/2 inch thick, so I grabbed this one.

Medium rare:

After a five minute rest:

Marshall eating the best part:

And, Sophia gets some “scraps”!

Another perfectly cooked piece of meat on the Q! Tomorrow, I am going to see how it works as a tanning bed, as everything else that gets cooked on this grill comes out perfect! 🙂

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Beef, Food, The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Running…Day 12 Gluten Strikes!!!

After a day off to recover from the Tour de Bar, and actually to recover from the dietary issues is more to the point, it was time to hit the pavement running!

As I exited the front door, a chill of cold air hit me. Apparently, we must be in some sort of cold front! I did my usual stretching and began the run. As I suspected, there were no ill effects, physically, from the Tour de Bar. No cramping, soreness or anything else. Also, and what I was fearing, was the effect that ingestion of gluten has caused.

One of the effects of gluten is a bloating sensation. I am not referring to a little bit of gas type bloating. I am referring to the “third trimester” type of bloating usually associated with pregnancy. The bloating itself isn’t really an issue, it just means you have to go up a notch or two on your belt. Unfortunately, what happens with the excessive bloating is that it expands everything and something has to give. The “something” in my case, would be my lungs. It becomes very difficult to breathe and as far as taking deep, controlled breaths, that is out of the question.

Todays run was one mile. The first lap went well until the 3/4 point, where I began to have trouble breathing. As I ran the second lap, the problem worsened and as a result, I had to stop to catch my breath.

Some may consider this a step backward, but since I know the cause and the fact that hopefully, by Wednesday or Thursday, this issue should be resolved, I have high hopes of getting to the 1 1/2 mile mark by Friday.

According to the test strips, I am still in deep ketosis and as proof of that, I weighed myself this morning and the scale read 228 pounds. I am hoping that by tomorrow or Thursday, I’ll be back to the Sunday morning weight of 225 pounds.

For those that have gluten issues, and for those that don’t understand it, the reaction to gluten takes approximately one week to recover from. Over time, it can take years to recover from as your system gets so damaged, it needs time to repair itself.

To read about my issues, go here: Gloom of Gluten

If you have any of the symptoms, it might be a good idea to get tested. 1 in 135 people have Celiac disease…and do not know it. Others have some sort of food allergy and are usually diagnosed with the catch-all, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Running | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chicken breasts on the Q

Today, the Q got a workout. Breakfast, lunch, and now dinner. Tonight’s dinner is barbecue  chicken breasts. First the breasts, with a little bit of McKoricks steak seasoning on them. I know, steak seasoning? The chicken breasts don’t know the difference..I asked! 🙂

After heating up the grill, I turned the burner control down to low, which produced a temperature of about 325 degrees in the grill.

After flipping the breasts every 10 minutes, it was time to check the internal temperature. Luckily, my assistant had the required thermometer!

The internal temperature was 155 degrees so it was time to add the sauce. I prefer Bullseye as it is a sweet sauce and also gluten-free. Again, my assistant was very helpful!

All of the cooking was expertly supervised by the ever-present Samantha, seen here, dipping her toes in the pool.

Almost done:

And, plated up almost ready to eat:

The dinner was served with creamer potatoes with garlic, butter, and parsley.

Everything was quite good! The “Q” does it again!

Off to bed for a good nights sleep, then pancakes on the “Q” followed by the “Tour de Bar”!

February 6, 2011 Posted by | Chicken, The Weber Q 200 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gluten-Free, Low Carb Taco Salad

At the request of Independent Beachbody Coach Mara , here is the recipe for a taco salad. The nutritional information is also posted and is as accurate as possible, and was taken directly from the labels when available. Enjoy! for whatever reason, the link will not go to Maras site, so here is the web address which you will have to copy and paste into your browser: http://teambeachbody.com/MaraAlexander

Ingredients:

  1. Ground beef (3 oz)
  2. Ortega Tacos (Gluten-Free) (1)
  3. Salsa (we get ours made fresh from the supermarket. (2 tablespoons)
  4. Lettuce, shredded (1/2 cup)
  5. Sour Cream (Daisy Sour Cream is gluten free) (2 Tablespoons)
  6. Shredded cheese from our supermarket (1/4 cup)
  7. McKormick Taco mix (believed to be gluten-free although it does contain cumin) (1 package 1.25 oz).

To prepare this you will actually use one pound of beef to mix the taco mix with. Follow the directions on the package (brown the meat, drain the grease, mix taco seasoning with 3/4 cup of water and add to meat. Simmer for 5 minutes). Put that aside.

Cut the lettuce and collect the other ingredients.

Place the lettuce down on the plate first, or you can just dump it in a bowl. Add the meat, salsa, sour cream and cheese. Add the taco shell. I broke one in half just for the picture.

Here is a picture of the shell crumbled up.

Here is a picture after everything is mixed up and ready to eat!

You can, if you are in a hurry, just put everything in a bowl and mix it up and eat from the bowl. If these are leftovers, put the plate in the microwave oven for one minute to melt the cheese and heat up the meat.

Here are the nutritional numbers:

Totals:

Carbs: 15g

Fiber: 16g

Calories: 447g

Fat: 36g

Sodium: 845mg

Substituting low-sodium cheese should drop the sodium levels. This recipe is specifically for Gluten intolerant individuals and is also low carb, which can be suitable for the Atkins diet. It is filling and for lunch, after a night of tacos, is a good use for the leftovers. 🙂

January 28, 2011 Posted by | Gluten-Free Foods and Diet | , , , , , | Leave a comment