This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.
So maybe you’re thinking that Top 10 posts are soooo “last year.” After all, it’s 2011 now, right? In fact, Jeanne (Art of Gluten-Free Baking) and I tweeted on this topic the other night. But I stated the other day that we’ll be kicking off this year talking about the basics of living gluten free easily—gfe. I believe that nothing says it better than these Top 10 posts. These are pretty much the Top 10 of the past two years here at gfe, not just 2010. They are ones that my readers have chosen as their favorites and commented on time and time again. Plus, following the lead of one of my blogging friends , Kalyn (Kalyn’s Kitchen), I’m also including some honorable mentions. This post is long, but feel free to skim until something catches your eye. But before the lists, let’s start out with a hypothetical conversation between you and, we’ll say, a friend, family member, or co-worker.
You: Would you like one of these cookies (or other food item/dish) that I just made?
Other person (answers excitedly and reaches for your food): Oh, thanks! (Takes a bite and tries to control reaction and facial expression. You sense an internal struggle going on in the person.)
You (still hopeful, and perhaps in denial): Well, what do think?
Other person: It’s ooo-kay. (Or insert other less than enthusiastic response here—e.g., “not bad,” “uh, fine,” “like cardboard,” “awful”) (Other person hurriedly walks away, most likely heading to the restroom and/or hoping to find a garbage can nearby to discreetly spit out the food.)
Have you had this happen to you? Have you had a similar conversation with someone with whom you’ve shared gluten-free food? It could be recently or long ago when you first went gluten free. In any regard, it’s not a good thing, right? It’s definitely not a comfortable situation. Such situations are embarrassing for one thing. They make you feel like a second-class citizen for another … a second-class, gluten-free citizen I might add.
A member of the celiac listserv just shared that this experience had happened to her numerous times. She is asking listserv members for input on how to handle the situation. It’s clear that her feelings are hurt and she’s feeling at a loss. Nobody wants or needs to feel like a second-class, gluten-free citizen. Here’s my solution. Make these Top 10 recipes and get in the gfe mindset and you won’t ever have such a conversation again. Seriously. Why am I being so bold in my statement (and some might say arrogant)? It’s not about me. It’s truly not about me, folks. It’s about the fact that the gfe recipes are made primarily from real food ingredients with little if any specialty ingredients (i.e., ingredients that often taste odd) and because of that these recipes taste wonderful. Don’t we all deserve to eat great tasting food that tastes delicious and “normal”? Gluten free or not? I know some of us who are gluten free hate that term “normal,” because doing so implies that we are not normal. However, the word “normal” does mean something to us when it comes to food and recipes. It is a barometer of sorts. We all know what we mean when we say a gluten-free dish tastes normal.
Stop settling for “pretty good and “okay.” In case you didn’t know, “pretty good” is also pretty much uttered as a lie most of the time. The latter—“okay”—is only good when indicating that you survived some negative and possibly traumatic experience, and you’re trying to spare the other person the nitty gritty details. Perhaps something that happened in the past tense, like a visit to the dentist office for a root canal or a visit from your dysfunctional relatives … the ones that strongly resemble Clark Griswold’s cousin in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. (You know … the one in the RV—and that’s too nice a name for that hungry rig—parked outside Clark’s house.) So you say, “ooo-kay,” but the listener knows you mean anything but that.
When you share your goodies, you hope for a sincerely grateful recipient. Ideally, you’d like them to lay on every positive adjective (all those ones that are not supposed to be used in food blogs)—delicious, wonderful, delightful, fantastic, fabulous, heavenly … and the list goes on. Oh, and you want them to be smiling and gushing when they are saying all those words to you, too. Finally, if they already know that you eat and cook gluten free (or your significant other beams and says, “It’s gluten free, too!”), you wouldn’t mind at all if the recipient asked (even repeatedly), “Is that gluten free? Really? You’re kidding me … it’s really gluten free?” Yes, that’s the reaction you always want your recipes to garner and that’s what you’ll get when you make and share these top 10 gfe recipes and honorable mentions. Oh, and in case you didn’t already know, these recipes not only use real food ingredients (and perhaps some easily found mainstream gluten-free ingredients and some do include the super simple gluten-free flour mix that I use), but they also don’t break the bank. Some are healthier, too. (When they are more on the indulgent side, you can just make the rest of the meal super healthy to help compensate.) As proof of success with these recipes, I’ve shared a few reader testimonials to go along with the descriptions. If you click on the links, of course, you can read all of the readers’ comments for each recipe. Okay, that’s a lot of “lead in,” but I’m purposely belaboring the point here. Here’s the Top 10 listing, starting with the most popular gfe recipe. (Incidentally, the gfe’s most popular posts are always shown on my sidebar for easy reference; the listing is not since the beginning of my blog, so it’s not completely accurate, but it’s close.) Honorable mention recipes are of my choosing and are in no particular order.
Top 10 Recipes
The need for a crust is a myth. Don’t tell anyone the crust is missing and they won’t notice. Promise. What’s the secret on how this slice of pie sets up so beautifully without a crust? A very small amount of gluten-free flour.
“This looked so great when I saw it this morning that we had to stop at the store for evaporated milk on the way home from preschool. My husband and our 3 year old made it this afternoon while I was at work. We all loved it. What a wonderful treat to come home to and it was easy and noone will get sick!”
The crust is made of eggs, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella and baked and cooled. Then toppings are added. You will be completely skeptical until you make it. Read testimonials below to inspire you to do so.
Almost everyone loves oatmeal cookies, but this caramelized version is sure to please. Add chocolate chips, raisins, or dried cranberries if you wish. (Read more about certified gluten-free oats in this post, too. Mainstream oats are NOT safe for those who eat gluten free.)
“Just took these out of the oven…hubby and boys and I ate them up!”
Many a baker has been judged by the quality of his/her apple pie. Usually, much prep time and a roll-out crust is required. However, in this case, the crust is poured over the apple mixture, but one still gets an apple pie that’s lovely in taste and texture. I didn’t even like apple pie before I started making this recipe!
“This crustless apple pie is the best gf our family has tasted!! Thumbs up for this recipe! My 11 year old said it simple “It tastes good”!!!” … and
“I’m working my way through your archives, Shirley. Happy to report this comes out beautifully with Georgia peaches. Yum! Thank you!”
5. Flourless Peanut Butter (or other Nut Butter) Cookies
This recipe is heads and tails above the frequently shared version of flourless peanut butter cookies that contains just peanut butter, granulated sugar, and an egg. Brown sugar, baking soda, and vanilla extract totally change the texture and taste of these cookies. These cookies have made folks believe—and rightly so—that they can eat live gluten free.
“I cannot begin to tell you how awesome these cookies are and how happy they made me today! I was sitting here freaking out about the prices of the GF flours and trying to figure out how to bake without going broke. I bake all the time and was very disheartened when I imagined what the hike in cost would do to my “therapy” sessions in the kitchen. I made a batch of these today, my 13 yr old daughter loves them. I’m bake in business baby! Two weeks GF and feeling better already.”
These squares are a simple crowd-pleasing treat that also happen to be dairy free as well. They are quick and easy and only require a small amount of pumpkin puree (canned or fresh).
“They turned out delicious! They are very light and fluffy, delicate, even with the heavier flour mix [I used]. My kids LOVE them!! Thank you!” … and
“Shirley, I made them! Couldn’t resist and cannot believe how QUICK these are! This is a lovely recipe, the texture is wonderful. Light, as you said, but moist and luscious at the same time. My minor modifications included replacing some of the oil with applesauce and upping the spices and including ground ginger. I tripled the recipe (aren’t I something?) but will take lots to work with me later on today. I expect to be mighty popular today. Thank you, dear Shirley, for another winner.”
Yes, a lot of people want their death to be by chocolate if they have to “go”; this cake will get the job done. This flourless chocolate cake is unique in that it requires no specialty ingredients (no almond flour or other nut flour subbing in). Chances are you already have all the ingredients in your pantry. There’s also no folding in of egg whites with this recipe; long-time readers know I generally avoid that task.
“I meant to tell you earlier that I made this for New Years. I used full fat coconut milk and coconut oil to make it dairy free. I used the enjoy life chocolate chips to make it soy free. It was fantastic. I eat very little sweets so I had to eat it in small pieces because it was so rich.” … and
“It is ever so rich and ever so good. Love the dense texture. No complaints here about it being “too much.” I’m a tough Grrrl, I can TAKE IT. Lay it on thick! : )”
This cake is less decadent and healthier than the previous one because it uses cocoa, bananas, walnuts, and honey, but it still packs a great chocolate punch! Again, the ingredients are ones that most of us always have on hand.
Read the first word in the title again and then read the comments, like this one. Readers have even made lemon pound cakes by adapting this recipe. I don’t use the word perfect to describe recipes often, but this pound cake merits it.
“This pound cake is the real deal. I’ve been trying pound cake recipes since going GF and haven’t found one that comes close, let alone a dairy-free recipe. Who would have thought that olive oil and coconut milk are the secrets of wonderful GF pound cake?! You did, apparently. Thank you for a wonderful, wonderful recipe. The only downside is that I cannot stop eating it. The crust and texture are so impressive; this is my new cake of choice.” … and
“I made this pound cake today, YUMMY! I live at 6600ft and the only adjustment I made for the altitude was to bake it at 375 instead of 350. This helps set the structure.”
If you immediately thought of Red Lobster, you are correct. I adapted a knock-off recipe to create these tasty gems. One reader even makes them dairy free just by substituting non-dairy ingredients.
“I saw your post this morning, and had a dinner planned with friends this evening. Chili was the main course, and I was going to make your cornbread recipe, but since I had all the ingredients for these biscuits, I switched. So fabulous! The 6 women I had over ate every single one and raved about how delicious they were. And of course I didn’t bother mentioning that they are entirely gluten-free.”
Plus 11 Honorable Mentions (it’s 2011 … why not have 11?)
This post made Endless Simmer’s stuffing roundup and was also on the Huffington Post site, so it clearly has to be mentioned. If you have leftovers, you can even “recycle” them into croutons.
“Made the stuffing tonight for our Thanksgiving dinner and it was quite a hit! Everyone loved it (gluten free eaters and non-gf eaters, alike!) We will definitely be making this more often and adding this to our normal Thanksgiving day repertoire!”
Just thinking about this pot pie comforts me. Each time I make it, I’m surprised anew at how good it is. There are only two of us at home these days, but this pie doesn’t last long. Mr. GFE doesn’t eat seconds often (hence, his slimmer physique), but he can’t resist with this pot pie. The fact that it’s gluten free, dairy free, and can also be made vegan is no deterrent to at all to his carnivorous self.
“OMG, I made the vegan version of this last night and my entire family INHALED it! I think that next time I will double the crust recipe so as to not repeat the fight over who gets the last section of crust when the dish was empty.” … and
“Made it, ate it, LOVED IT! Awesome recipe, I will admit, I forgot to pick up the coconut milk at the store,so I made it with normal milk. I still want to try that way. So, good, we just about ate it all, but I have one small bowl left and that will be my lunch tomorrow!!!:)”
It’s hard to go back to traditional banana bread after you make this recipe. Some choose to call it cake. It’s one of those debates that you won’t mind having over and over again. Of course, taste testing will be required each time!
“Half my family can eat gluten, half cannot. This bridged the gap between the two halves, both halves loved it!” … and
“This is tasty! I used blackstrap molasses, so it’s not sweet at all. I put a little non-dairy cream cheese on my second slice – also yummy. My guy said he’d like to have some more, but with butter and jam. I love that there’s only 1/4 cup of fat and sugar in it!”
“Crustless Fudge pie was the biggest star [for the recipes I adopted of yours for Thanksgiving]. The family ate it all up and never suspected it was GF. This one worked just great at altitude (we are at 7,000ft). People decided it was more of a brownie than a pie, but they didn’t care what they called it as they ate it all up.”
Shared for Iris’ (The Daily Dietribe) Gluten-Free Fall Specials series, these squares are a chewy, gooey treat that have “stick to your ribs” appeal because of the oatmeal. Find the recipe here. These squares are especially nice when paired with gluten-free, dairy-free Coffee Ice Cream.
Without a doubt, this pie was the most beautiful one I made this year. The fact that it was super easy to make was a bonus. You don’t even need an oven to make it. The crust is raw and the filling is created on the stove top. It’s naturally gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free, and soy free. Oh, and if you use agave nectar instead of honey in the crust (or use another vegan crust), it will be vegan, too. Uh, don’t mean to call him out again, but Mr. GFE may have had more than seconds on this recipe, too. Topped with just a dollop of the gluten-free, dairy-free honey whipped cream, each piece seemed to evaporate into thin air!
“My Mother-in-law and I just made this with a little twist. Since … strawberries are in abundance at the Farmer’s Market, we made a strawberry version of this and used your almond flour and honey recipe for the crust (I buy Digestive Wellness Almond flour in bulk, so I use it for most of my pie crusts). That “whipped cream” turned out so yummy! You know, It is no wonder that I never have time to test my own recipes. Everyone else’s always sound so good that I always end up making those instead!!” … and
When Cheryl adopted me for Sea’s Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger event (adoptions for January now open here!), she made a very ”sweet” version of the Blueberry Honey Pie. (But, not sweet in a sugary way … take a peek.) Cheryl said: “Since I needed to bring it to work, I opted for little pie crust hearts on top rather than the whipped cream, since I wasn’t sure how stable the whipped cream would be at room temp. I made it for a co-workers’ birthday, and he loved it, as did everyone else. I also made a mini pie for my honey, who is a blueberry-avore. He adored it, too. The honey added a delightful dimension of brightness.”
7. Crab Claws
This punch is our favorite summer cocktail when serving guests. (With a slight tweak, this recipe becomes Reindeer Antlers punch for the holidays.) Adorable Tinsley (Celiebo) filmed a video making and enjoying Crab Claws with her girlfriends on her vlog.
This soup is the definition of comfort food and can be made so quickly. You can easily double or triple the amount to feed a crowd. There are leftovers when I make this for the two of us, but most families report that they happily eat the whole pot of soup in one evening. I recently made a dairy-free version of this soup, adding minced clams and clam broth, and turned it into Quick and Easy New England Clam Chowder.
“Thanks for the recipe Shirley! It was absolutely delicious! ” … and
“I printed the soup recipe and made it immediately! It was gone faster than it took to make it. It was a perfect dinner to a follow a day of sledding and shoveling. YUM!”
This recipe is an absolute favorite snack of mine and many. If your family is craving a snack and snooping around the kitchen pondering less than healthy options, roast some chickpeas and set them on the counter. Don’t be phobic about little (or big) fingers grabbing a couple and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the reaction to this snack. (See more chickpea “love” for snacking here.)
“Just wanted to let you know…had a hankering for an unusual but healthful snack yesterday, and I was organizing my pantry. Came across a can of chickpeas, so I clicked up your blog entry and roasted them up with some cayenne, curry, and pink salt. Lovely! I decided that I’d make them again some evening accompanied by a chilled, oaky Chardonnay.”
If anything will make you go vegetarian, it’s these black bean burgers. The blackened seasoning sprinkled on the outside makes for slightly spicy and heavenly burgers. Whenever I buy black beans, these burgers get made immediately. I love them for breakfast. They’re also dairy free, soy free, and can even be made egg free/vegan.
“I made these today and they are great! The spice blend is really tasty (even without garlic which I omitted since I must avoid it). Thanks for another alternative to “the same old thing” I eat for protein-turkey burgers. This will be a great snack/meal to pack for lunches. Thanks a lot for the recipe.”
With our biennial Valentine’s Day bash coming up, I’ll be making lots of these puffs (gluten-free choux pastry) and stuffing them with chicken salad for sure (and maybe shrimp salad or tuna salad). These puffs can also be filled with éclair-type filling to become a divine dessert or breakfast.
If none of these recipes suit your fancy, be sure to look on the Recipes page for more. If any of these are your favorites from gfe or you have another absolute favorite, please share in comments.
A Few Other Top 10 Recipe Lists—Note that some come from blogs that are not exclusively gluten free, so double check ingredients, adapt the recipes to be gluten free, or just use the recipes for inspiration if needed.
Jenn (Jenn Cuisine)
Karina (Gluten-Free Goddess)
Love Top 10 lists? You don’t have to wait a whole year. Aubree (Living Free) chooses her Top 10 listing from the blogs she reads and shares them every Tuesday. Aubree’s on travel right now and other bloggers are guest hosting, but you can find the latest list here.
I’ll share my Top 10 non-recipe posts next, as well as a few from some other bloggers that I’ve enjoyed.
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