Gluten Free Thanksgiving: Drunken Rum Carrots

Ok, so this is basically a stolen recipe from The Pioneer Woman. She posted a recipe for Whiskey Glazed Carrots last year, and I HAD to make them. Except that I didn’t at the time have any whiskey (and now I don’t get to drink whiskey, thanks to the Gluten Free).

Instead, I make the recipe, following her exact instructions, with Blackstrap Rum instead of Whiskey.

This makes the carrots sweeter, which I don’t mind even a little bit. I’ve thought about adding some finely minced onion and garlic to the sauce as well, since I think that’d be good. And you could probably add some spicy too. Either way though, it’s not hard to do, and Pioneer Woman has the best pictures of her instructions ever!

Drunken Rum Carrots

You will need:

  • 1 stick Butter, Divided
  • 2 pounds (to 3 Pounds) Carrots, Peeled And Cut Into Thick Circles
  • ½ cups Jack Daniels Or Other Whiskey
  • ¾ cups (to 1 Cup) Brown Sugar
  • ½ teaspoons (to 1 Teaspoon) Salt
  • Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add carrots in two batches, cooking for 60-90 seconds each batch. Remove from skillet. (This would be where I would add the finely diced onion and garlic, and cook them until they were golden brown and had let off most of their liquid.)

Pour in whiskey and allow to evaporate 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium, and add remaining butter.

When butter melts, sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Stir together, then add carrots to skillet. Cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Remove lid and add salt and pepper. Continue cooking until carrots are done and glaze is thick, about 5 more minutes.

Pour onto a platter and serve immediately. Sprinkle with chopped chives if desired.

Gluten Free Thanksgiving: Orange Cranberry Relish

This is probably the simplest, most delicious cranberry stuff I’ve ever had. I do a little bit of fussing with the orange, but that’s my personal preference.

You need:

  • 1 bag of cranberries (I think 12 or 16 oz?)
  • 1 large orange
  • sugar

You also need:

  • A bowl
  • A food processor

Place the cranberries in the food processor. Cut the orange up into chunks, remove any seeds, and put the whole thing in there too. Push go, and let the processor run until you have a finely chunked, red and orange bowl of amazing. You’re going for seed-bead sized chunks, not puree (but it’s not an exact science). Stir in some sugar – I usually end up wanting about 3/4 cup, but I’ve seen recipes for this that call for anywhere from 1/2 to 1 and 1/2 cups of sugar. 3/4 cup is usually just about right for the sweet/tangy balance for me.

Refrigerate until serving.

The Orange Trick: The white pith of an orange can be kind of bitter, so I do the following to my orange:

  1. Using a paring knife, cut the zest – just the orange part, not any of the white part – off the orange in big strips.
  2. Using a serrated knife, slice away the rest of the rind, get all the white pithy part off.
  3. Cut the orange open and remove any seeds
  4. Toss the zest and the orange pulp into the food processor in chunks
  5. Proceed with the rest of the instructions

This gets the bitter pithy part out of the relish, and leaves a prettier result (no white stuff). I’m fussy like that!

Planning a Gluten Free Thanksgiving

I’ve found over the last three months that living Gluten Free hasn’t been as hard as I’d thought most of the time. Since I do so much cooking, it’s been pretty easy to make delicious yummy food that just isn’t made with wheat, barley, or un-tested oats. All that said, though, in two weeks (yikes) I’m going to have my mother and father, mother and father in law, and brother and sister in law all here at my house for Thanksgiving again.

Which is really very fun – it’s a big potluck kind of Thanksgiving.

But the gluten free thing is kind of a challenge, more so because my mother in law is completely unfamiliar with what it means to not eat gluten, not helped by the fact that she lives in a tiny farm town that doesn’t have anything remotely resembling “specialty” food (at one point, before I was GF, we had a conversation where she said that the area she lived in was too poor to have people that couldn’t eat gluten).

Fortunately the turkey is easy. My father in law always brines and smokes a turkey for us, so not only do I not need to cook it, I don’t need to worry about it – I know what’s in his turkey brine, and it’s perfectly OK for me to eat.

Also, it’s the best turkey any of us have ever eaten. Ever.

Mashed potatoes are also easy, as is some kind of green bean dish (I may actually make a homemade traditional casserole, which just avoids the flour in canned soups and means I make my own, which is yummier anyway). Everyone loves my artichoke gratin, and I can just as easily make that with GF breadcrumbs (or pulverized GF pretzels). I can thicken the gravy with cornstarch instead of flour, there’s no gluten in my orange and cranberry relish or in the drunken rum carrots, and I’ve caved in and agreed to have some baked (frozen) yeast rolls for everyone else, since I know that my brother and father in law are of the opinion that it’s not a meal without bread, and can go through an entire bag of rolls just between themselves.

Which leaves me with two fussy problems.

Stuffing and pie.

The pies I will just make myself.

My mom and dad will be here to help with our side of the cooking, and I’ve made gluten free pie crusts before. They’re not all that easy to make, because the flour doesn’t have the sticky stretchiness that regular wheat flour does, but piecing the crust together in the pan works just fine as long as you don’t need a top crust. Which means pumpkin and my bourbon chocolate pecan pies.

I think everyone will be happy with that, and if they’re not, they can buy their own damn pie from the grocery.

Stuffing I’ve kind of caved in on, but I’m not overly upset about it. When I set out to do this whole Thanksgiving thing, I decided I didn’t want anything on the table that I couldn’t eat. I was willing to negotiate on rolls, but I’m more worried about that than the stuffing, because I love bread. LOVE bread. So maybe I’ll buy some GF bread to serve instead.

Stuffing, however, my mother in law always makes, with a mixture of white bread and cornbread.

When I asked her if she would be willing to make it only with cornbread (and with cornbread ONLY made with corn and not with white flour) she balked. Her husband and sons both LOVE the stuffing she always makes. Making it without white bread just wouldn’t be the same.

So she’s making the stuffing she always makes, but using a gluten free cornbread, and will put some aside for me that doesn’t have white bread in it.

It’s not the ideal situation, but I think it’ll work out without having to ask anyone to buy gluten free bread that might not be any good for $10 a loaf.

Anna’s (mostly) Gluten Free Thanksgiving Menu:

  • Smoked Turkey
  • Assorted Stuffings (GF and not)
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Gravy
  • Drunken Rum Carrots
  • Green Bean Casserole (homemade, GF)
  • Artichoke Gratin
  • Orange Cranberry Relish
  • Frozen wheat rolls (not GF)
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie

If anyone wants recipes, let me know in comments and I’ll do what I can to have them posted soon!

Easy Baked Apples

It’s apple season! Yay! I love apples, and I especially love apples that are fresh, crisp, and on sale. This means you can probably make this dessert for 4 people for around $5, depending on the price of butter. Cheap apples or not, though, this is delicious and very very easy.

You need:

  • 4 medium sized apples – any firm apple will work
  • butter
  • brown sugar or honey
  • cinnamon
  • a square glass baking dish
  • some water

So, the trickiest part of this process is coring the apples while leaving the majority of the apple intact. If you have an apple corer, great! Just make sure you only pull out about 3/4 of the core, leaving the blossom end still attached.

The goal is to take the middle parts out of the apple (as apple seeds are not good eats) but still leave the bottom intact to create a container for deliciousness that we will add later. If you don’t have an apple corer, take a sharp knife and cut around the stem down about 3/4 of the way through the apple and then use a sharp edged spoon (a metal teaspoon or half teaspoon works well) and scoop out the stemmy seedy bits.

When you’re done, you should have an apple “cup” – most of the apple intact with a little plug taken out of the middle.

Set the apples in the baking dish.

Put about half a tablespoon of butter in each apple, followed by a generous shaking of cinnamon. Do not be shy with the cinnamon. Then, top with a spoonful or two of honey or brown sugar, and pour enough water around the apples to fill the pan about 1/2 inch.

Bake at 375F for half an hour to 45 minutes, until the apples are soft. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream or both. You can eat the skins (I do) or just appreciate them as apple containment devices and pitch them in the compost afterward.

As an aside, if you cook them too long, the apples will burst their skins and turn into baked applesmush. This is, while less pretty, still pretty delicious and can be served regardless.