Gluten-free Macaroni and Cheese

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Last week we tested a classic macaroni and cheese recipe, trying out different roux methods that work best for folks who have to or prefer to eat gluten-free (like us). And we didn't want the macaroni and cheese making method to change, so that an easy substitution could be made within any recipe — AP flour for non-traditional (gluten-free) flours.

Although our main test focused on a roux for thickening the cheese sauce, we couldn't rule out the slurry as a possible winner. A slurry is a mixture of starch (usually cornstarch) and liquid, that when added to a recipe and brought to boiling, thickens the liquid in the recipe (think Chinese takeout sauces).

While the slurry in our tests produced a thick cheese sauce, we weren't excited about the glossy appearance, which made the cheese look like plastic; not to mention the slippery, slimy texture it left in our mouths. We quickly abandoned the slurry and went back to our regularly scheduled roux tests, using a traditional method with non-traditional (gluten-free) flours.

A traditional roux begins with equal parts of fat and all-purpose flour; typically 2 tablespoons of flour and fat will thicken 1 cup of liquid. The fat is heated, aromatics are sauteed within the fat, and then the flour is whisked in. The flour and fat form a paste (a roux), which is briefly cooked to remove the "raw" flour taste. The longer the roux is cooked, the darker and more caramelized it becomes. Rouxs range from white (barely cooked) to black, or cajun (the dark roux for dishes like gumbo). Liquid is then added to the roux and brought to boiling to form a thick sauce. When milk is added, the roux is called a "white sauce" or "Bechamel;" when broth is added, it's a "veloute."

Using the basic roux technique, we tested straight up arrowroot and tapioca flours, which worked like a dream, but the 1:1 ratios changed due to their more powerful thickening abilities — we were looking for a perfect 1:1 substitution. Potato flour also worked well as a thickener, but it made the cheese sauce taste like can of stew missing the beef.

We then turned to our go-to gluten-free flour mix: King Arthur Multi-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour. With this brand, we were able to swap out exact measurements, using a traditional roux method to achieve perfectly creamy cheese sauce without an ounce of gluten, and without changing ratios in the ingredient list — it was a straight 1:1 substitution.

We like King Arthur because this particular GF flour blend doesn't contain soy or bean flours. If you have a favorite GF brand or ratio you mix yourself, tell us about it in the comments section below.

Gluten-Free Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Allergy info: soy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free; contains dairy

For the mac and cheese:
1 lb. GF elbow macaroni
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons King Arthur Multi-Purpose GF Flour
1/2 cup GF pale ale
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock 
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups grated sharp Cheddar
1/4 grated Parmesan
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

For the topping:
3 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 garlic clove, smashed
GF bread crumbs (we use yucca cheese bread – recipe coming soon!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
In a medium saucepan heat olive oil to over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion; cook, stirring until translucent, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat. Stir in garlic, thyme and butter. When butter has melted, stir in flour – this will create a paste (a roux) that will thicken the cheese sauce. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Whisk in ale and stock – this will loosen the roux. Add milk, bring to boiling. Remove from heat; add cheeses, stir until smooth. Stir in cream and nutmeg, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside, covered. Keep warm.

Preheat broiler. Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain well; add to cheese sauce and stir until well mixed. Transfer macaroni to a baking dish; set aside.

For the topping, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring occasionally until caramelized, about 4 minutes. Remove garlic clove. Add bread crumbs. Cook, stirring until toasted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs evenly over macaroni and cheese.

Place baking dish under the broiler 3 minutes or until the macaroni and cheese is golden brown. Remove dish from oven, let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Post by Dawn Viola : DawnViola.com

Halloween Paper Centerpiece

Post by Kristyn of lilluna.com
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SUPPLIES:
– Box/Vase/Cart to use as Centerpiece Base
-Floral Foam (Found at the Dollar Store)
-Spanish Moss (Found at the Dollar Store)
-Skewers
-Paint
-Foam Brush
-Scrapbook Paper
-Hot Glue
-Embellishments

INSTRUCTIONS:

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1. Begin by picking out your Halloween Paper (BEWARE: there are so many stinkin’ cute ones at the Scrapbook stores right now!!), and cut TWO 12 inch strips that are 1 inch – 2.5 inches wide (per accordion flower).

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2. Put two strips together and fold back and forth until you are all the way through.               Then, hot glue the two ends together as well as the other ends so it makes a circle.

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3. Push edges of strips IN to make an accordion flower. Hot glue center and hold, and do the same on back. For another tutorial on these flowers, I used one HERE.

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4. Paint skewers desired color you’d like and let dry. I stuck mine into the floral foam to dry.

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5. I wanted to add a little something to the skewers, so I cut out .2 inch white strips of vinyl and twisted them along the skewer. My hubby is super smart and suggested I stick them in his drill, turn it on, and let the drill do the twisting. It takes seconds (isn’t he smart?).

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6. Add buttons or other embellishments to your flowers. I used some of these FREE vintage Halloween Prints from Matthew Mead found HERE.

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7. Hot glue skewers to backs of flowers. Set aside.

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8. Add floral foam and moss to your centerpiece base. I got my Halloween Box at Hobby Lobby for $7. Not too bad. :)

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9. Stick skewers through the moss and foam into your base and arrange as desired.

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So fun, huh? Plus, it’s easy to make, unique, and could be made very inexpensively! What more could you ask for? :)

Post by Kristyn of lilluna.com

Get Well Soon Care Package

A friend was recently hospitalized for a brief stay and put on bed rest for a number of weeks.  Instead of the traditional flowers, I decided I'd cheer her up with a care package.  Since she'll be stuck at home in bed, I decided to bring the entertainment to her with a few classic chick flicks, some kettle corn, gummy bears and chocolates.  For a friend with the flu, include retro bottles of ginger ale {I'm partial to Boylan}, saltine crackers and a thermos of chicken soup.

Getwellsoon

Post by Becca : www.cakeeventsblog.com

fabric + frames = friends

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Yesterday I shared a brief (and somewhat darkish) video on my Facebook Page of the kids room as it stands right now. I was cleaning their room Monday morning and as I shifted furniture around I was struck with the impulse to pull a quick rearrange before Ryan got home for lunch.

Oliver and Hazel loved getting to ride across the room on Oliver’s bed and, like most kids would be, were giddy to run around their room and it’s new spaces.

Anyway, all that time spent in their room reminded me that there was something in there that I’d been meaning to show y’all. Just a simple necessity-is-the-mother-of-invention idea that I thought might be nice to pass along.

I’ve been working over the past year or so to collect cool prints and frame favorite pictures for in their bedroom. Just a collection of things about them that make me glad. I wanted it to feel eclectic and sort of pulled together over time (which it was), and not have the uniform feeling that our stairway wall has.

So, There are lots of colors and different wood shades and various yard sale finds all nailed up on the wall.

And since I wanted large frames (but didn’t want them to be filled to the edges with photos),      I needed mats. But white mats would feel too uniform (and would also cost money!).               (Yes, this is all my crazy thought process…) I wanted color and texture and before I knew it,      I was digging through the baskets in my sewing room to find it.

Fabric! Why had I not thought of this before!

I started pulling out colors and patterns I loved – some of which were already repeated in other places in the room. And I was suddenly very pleased.

I even managed to take Oliver’s letters (which once sat on a shelf above his crib when he was a baby) and tack them into a yellow-painted shadow box with a favorite fabric as the background. So much more interesting that a solid color!

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And one frame was just the wrong size for the photo I wanted to put in it, so a little (now out of print) Cathedral in Dusk did the trick perfectly. (Secret: since I loved that fabric so much and didn’t want to part with 11″x14″ of it, I just cut two strips to fill the gaps down the sides. Don’t tell the framing police!)

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And that is my little solution to framing photos and adding color and interest.

See, I told you I could give you a fabric project that didn’t involve sewing! 

Post by Raechel : www.raechelmyers.com