Rotini and Cheese – Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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As a child, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was the epitome of my dinner hopes and dreams. Before we hit teenager-dom, every time Mum would ask what my sister and I wanted for dinner, we would scream out macaroni and cheese. We were easy children to please.

Of course, this changed as our taste buds did and the last time I had the Kraft mac and cheese from the tin, at maybe 14 years old, I thought it was disgusting. What was my child-self thinking? When it came time to make macaroni and cheese in our Home Ec. class at school, I wasn’t looking forward to it. I only associated the stuff with fake cheese sauce… little did I know that you can make the sauce yourself! Haha.

Times have changed since secondary school and cooking is now something I have to do more than once a week for a semester, although luckily I don’t get graded on it. Well, I sort of do. But at least I don’t have to complete a write up afterwards! Wait, isn’t that what this is? Gah!

I have no idea where on Earth that Home Ec. recipe is – probably in Mum’s kitchen somewhere – and in all honesty, I don’t remember being in love with it. But last week, when I had finished making four jars of a fructose friendly General Tso’s sauce (recipe coming) and sealed them, Evgeny decided that he didn’t want a stir fry that night. Double GAH! Well, I wasn’t going to make anything gourmet after I’d just spent so much time on the sauce, so my mind switched to easy mode. We had made a lasagne on the weekend and instead of a traditional bechamel sauce we used cream cheese as a base – considering that we had more cream cheese to get rid of (we’re currently trying to eat through out fridge and pantry) I decided it was time to make macaroni and cheese again and worked off that sauce.

Before I go any further, don’t shoot me, I didn’t have macaroni. I (successfully, woot!) trialled spelt pasta and the only shape it came in was rotini. Let’s not go calling this “rot and cheese,” though, because quite frankly it sounds like something that’s gone off.

Notes:

  1. This meal is not lactose free.
  2. Substitute macaroni back in if you’d like, of course.
  3. Corn is low FODMAPs and gluten free, although it does contain other allergens.
  4. Cayenne pepper is generally well tolerated, just make sure the powder doesn’t contain onion or garlic.

Rotini and Cheese

Serves 3-4.

  • 2 1/4 cups uncooked pasta of your choice – I wouldn’t recommend spaghetti or fettuccine for this
  • 2 cups grated cheese – I used 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Parmesan)
  • 1 cup/225 g/8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup natural sour cream
  • 1/3 cup crushed corn cereal/GF bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper – believe me, it makes a difference.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

Bring a pot with at least 1.0 L (4 cups) of water to the boil and add a good pinch of salt. Stir in pasta and cook at a gentle boil until al dente, following the packet  guidelines.

Meanwhile, melt the cream cheese and sour cream together over a low-medium heat until combined. Gradually add in the grated cheese, 1/2 cup at a time and stir with a whisk until completely smooth. Add in the salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper and leave on a low heat until the pasta is done. Cover it with a lid to prevent a skin from forming but this shouldn’t have to sit for too long until the pasta is done.

Cream cheese and sour cream

Cream cheese and sour cream

The completed sauce mixture has thickened with the added grated cheese

The completed sauce mixture has thickened with the added grated cheese

Something smells good!

Something smells good!

Strain the pasta and add it into the saucepan with the cheese sauce. Stir through thoroughly and then pour the contents into a baking dish, no greasing required. Top with the crumbs of your choice and sprinkle with extra cayenne pepper. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

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Pre-baking

Post baking

Post baking

Let it sit for 5 minutes before cutting into it and enjoy it with a fresh side salad.

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A Birthday Cake Fit For Bailey – Low Fructose & Gluten Free, if that matters…

So this post is a little belated an really just an excuse for some fun. I have a couple of drafts ready to go up soon; I’m sorry for the long break!

Pork and beef mince cake with bacon weave topping

Our eldest dog turned 6 in July – he’s officially a 42 year old man – and we decided to celebrate. Yes, there are only 5 candles, these photos are from last year. The cake looked better and we didn’t have any candles this year.

To make this extravagant birthday cake for one (or more) spoilt doggies, you will need:

  • 1.5 lb mince beef/pork etc
  • 1 packet bacon strips
  • 1 cup chopped veggies if you’d like to make it a little more nutritious

Line a rectangular baking dish with baking paper and put aside. Mix the veggies and mince meat together and press down into the lined baking dish.

Bake at 180 C/350 F for 40 minutes or so, until cooked through.

Meanwhile, create a bacon weave – this will be your “icing” – from the bacon strips (one over, one under – just like a basket) and bake in the oven, along with the “cake.” Turn once after 15 minutes and continue to cook for another 15; after this, monitor it until it looks fully cooked and slightly crispy.

Once they are both completely cooked, up-end the “cake” onto a serving dish and cover it with the bacon weave “icing.” Stick in the right number of candles and garnish with some colourful cooked veggies or some dog treats.

Tasty rawhide

Nellie enjoying a treat

The birthday boy!

The birthday boy

Simon has the monopoly on rawhide, and he’s happy about it!

Pretty Sugar

Asafoetida – A Replacement for Onion & Garlic (Low Fructose)

Yesterday I went into Pike Place Market to (and don’t laugh at me here) take Bailey to see the city we’ve moved to. I know he’s a dog and all but I figured that we had dragged him literally half-way around the world and he hadn’t seen Seattle yet. It’s been 2 years. Plus it was a gorgeous day and who needs more of an excuse than that to go into Seattle to the markets and Fisherman’s Wharf?

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As you can see, we visited the markets and a few shops besides; Bails and Nellie were not only allowed in basically all of the stores that didn’t serve food but they also were given a treat in each one. Spoilt things. Seattle really is very dog friendly. Except for Sound Transit (a bus company) – for some reason dogs have to be crated to go on their buses, whereas King County Metro (the other bus company) has no rules other than you have to pay for a dog that won’t fit on your lap and one big dog per bus… just so you know.

Anyway, back to the Asafoetida, also known as Hing. It is an interesting spice, to say the least.

We visited the World Spice Merchants store, which is just behind Pike Place Market – again, the dogs were allowed in and were given treats – and while browsing, the words “onion and garlic flavours hiding within” popped out at me. This was exciting! While I can eat cooked onion and garlic with no issues, I am always looking for replacements to either put with my recipes here or just in case my FM changes and onions and garlic end up on my no-go list.

*Note* After further research on asafoetida, the powder is usually cut with a tiny amount of rice or wheat flour to prevent clumping. I emailed World Spice Market and their current batch (as of May 2013) contains wheat. If you’ve just got FM, this might be ok for you as you only use a pinch in any recipe; if you have Coeliacs, make sure you find a powder with rice flour only.

Asafoetida is made from the sap excreted from the stem and roots of the giant fennel plant, Ferula Assafoetida, which is dried and then ground into a powder. It cannot be eaten raw, as it can cause severe gastrointestinal upset.

However the dried, powdered form in which it can be purchased in America has been shown to alleviate:

  • Gastrointestinal upset and flatulence
  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Yest infections
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hysteria/insanity
  • Pulmonary issues such as bronchitis
  • Some contraceptive effects

References here and here.

It is very popular as a spice in Indian cuisine as well as soups and stews, due to the onion/garlic/leek taste (as well as a truffle flavour) that it can bring to a dish. It apparently pairs well with cauliflower and legumes.

Asafoetida

There can be side effects to Asafoetida, though. Apparently, it is quite efficacious with regards to flavour, so not much is required – it has the nickname “Devil’s Dung” due to its pungent odour when uncooked. I don’t think it smells as bad as that – at least the version that I bought doesn’t; it’s a bit like a strong onion powder smell.

Due to its potential contraceptive effects, it is recommended that women who are aiming to become pregnant, are pregnant or breast-feeding do not consume this spice as it could cause a miscarriage. It should also not be consumed by young children.

On that scary note, I’m going to experiment with it as a flavour enhancer in a few dishes, without intending to use it medicinally.

Does anybody else out there have any experience cooking with Asafoetida? I’d love to get some recommendations.

Happy Sundog – Seattle Style

Thanks to Mia for this snap of Bailey… how does he always look so good in the morning? Is Seattle turning him into a scarf-wearing hipster? All he needs is a pair of specs.

I hope your Sunday is sunnier than ours is cracking up to be. Bloody Seattle.

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