Thursday, October 30, 2008

Holiday Guests on Special Diets

With food sensitivities on the rise, chances are at least one of your holiday guests will have some sort of food or ingredient restriction. A couple of years ago, we had a guest for holiday dinner who had casein (dairy) sensitivity. This prompted me to seek out alternative recipes for traditional favorites. From dairy free to diabetic, your food sensitive guests will appreciate your effort and you can feel good knowing your holiday table includes something for everyone.

Casein Free Apricot and Toasted Almond Stuffing

1 cup brandy
1/2 cup dried apricots, diced (10 apricot halves)

2 tsp vegetable oil

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

5 cups stuffing cubes, (cubed dried white bread)

1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup toasted almonds, sliced

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 egg, beaten

1/2 tsp thyme

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F
Place the brandy and apricots in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling. Remove from heat and set aside. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add celery, onion and garlic, sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add brandy and apricots, and cook until half of the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat and cool.
In a large bowl, combine apricot mixture, stuffing cubes, broth, almonds, cranberries, egg, thyme and pepper; tossing gently.
Spoon the bread mixture into a 2-quart casserole that has been sprayed with vegetable oil spray.
Cover with lid, and bake for 45 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
From Nature’s Bounty Health Notes

Gluten Free Rolls

4 tablespoons shortening
3 tablespoons honey

2 eggs

1 packet yeast (about 1T)

1 cup sour cream

½ cup potato starch

1 cup cornstarch

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

¾ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine all ingredients. Mix well to remove all lumps. The dough will be quite wet. Wet hands to handle dough. (Re-wet hands as needed.) OR use a portioning scoop and just “plop” into muffin cups
Take about 1/4 cup of dough and shape into a ball. Drop into greased muffin tin. Repeat until all dough is used.
Bake 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle tests clean.
From Recipe Zaar #42322

Diabetic Friendly Pumpkin Custard

4 eggs' worth of egg-substitute/eggwhites (1 carton Eggbeaters or store-brand equivalent)
1-2/3 cups Splenda

1-1/2 tsp ground cinammon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

A pinch of ground cloves

1 tsp salt

2 15-oz cans solid pack pumpkin (Libby's is good)

2 cups low-carb soy milk (I use Silk brand or the H-E-B store brand)

Using an electric mixer, combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Start with the eggs, work in the Splenda and spices and salt, then the pumpkin and the soy milk (slowly) last.
Pour it into a 2-quart glass pan. Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 15 minutes, then 60 minutes on 350, or until a knife comes out clean.
Cool on a rack, then either serve warm, or refrigerate. Makes six fairly generous servings.
Adapted from S.John Ross at

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Go to where you can register, check out all the teams, and then join a team. Registering does NOT commit you to baking, you must JOIN a team if you'd like to participate.

Once you register, you will receive an email from the moderator to notify you of your registration. After that, please go back to to join a team!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Portion Distortion

Sponsoring the Estrella's Biggest Loser event and leading a nutrition and cooking class has got me doing research into the common reasons people have been gradually gaining weight for the last twenty years.

Americans waistlines are growing and a big part of that is the gradually increasing portions being eaten. Be it convenience foods or restaurant meals, the quantities of food being served has multiplied. I think this can be attributed equally to 1)Consumers not realizing the portions have gradually gotten larger, and 2)Consumers not being aware of proper portion sizes.

Check out these examples of portions 20 years ago versus today.

It is difficult for the best of us to estimate proper portion sizes. Here are some visuals that can help you Eat Healthy! Courtesy of

Handful = 1-2 oz.
1 oz. nuts = 1 handful or 2 oz. pretzels = 2 handfuls
Fist = 1cup
Example: Two servings of pasta or oatmeal

Palm = 3 oz. Example: a cooked serving of meat.
(NOT including your fingers or thumb)

Thumb = 1 oz.
Example: piece of cheese
1 fruit serving= ½ cup canned or 1 medium fruit
(about the size of a tennis ball)
1 meat, poultry or fish serving= 3 oz
(about the size of a deck of cards)
1 grain= 1 slice bread, presliced
(about the size of a cassette tape) or
1/2 cup pasta
(about the size of an adult woman's palm, stacked 1" high)
1 dairy serving=8 ounces
(the size of a container of individual yogurt)
1 vegetable serving = 1/2 cup cooked or canned vegetables (about ½ a baseball)
1 fat serving= 1 teaspoon
(about the size of 4 stacked dimes

Operation Baking Gals - Round 4

October brings Round 4 of Operation Baking Gals and Your Place Gourmet is hosting another team. This team will be shipping to two soldiers, one in Iraq and one in Qatar.

Here is some info on each of them:

Our soldier in Iraq is Crystal Sheffield. Crystal is a Weapons Director assigned to the 607th Air Control Squadron. She is in Iraq, serving with another unit, because that unit did not have enough soldiers. The unit Crystal is serving with will be in Iraq through the holidays. Crystal is based out of Luke Air Force Base and is married to a fellow soldier.

Our soldier in Qatar is Debbie Davis. Debbie is a nurse, working with many of our wounded warriors who would absolutely love to receive baked goodies - not to mention all the medical personnel who would love the goodies as well. Debbie has been in the military for 17 years, with the first 8 being active duty and the last 9 in the Air Force Reserve. This is her third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In her first two deployments, she worked as a critical care air transport nurse and transported the most critically injured soldiers by fixed wing aircraft. In this third deployment, she is working at a medical squadron at Al Udied Air Base, Qatar. She says, "I can't tell you how fulfilling it is to be able to help men and women who are fighting for our country. They are truly the best of the best."

All these soldiers are a long way from home and family. Knowing there are people who support their hard and sacrifice makes the deployments tolerable.

If you'd like to join Team Your Place Gourmet, please register on this site and email me with your username at ChefKim(at)YourPlaceGourmet(dot)com with "I want to be on your baking team," in the subject line. Once you are registered, you will receive an email from the site moderator. After receiving that email, please come back to the site to join a team.
Feel free to forward the information to your family and friends who may want to bake.

This is how it works: Ship anytime between October 30th - November 10th and use the USPS (Post Office) to ship your package. What can you bake? That's up to you! Just keep in mind that it will take about one week to get to Crystal and Debbie and will be subjected to temperatures over 100 degrees and lots of jostling around along the way.

Just because you baked in previous rounds does not automatically put you on a team. You MUST register for each round in which you want to participate.

*NEW EASIER WAY TO JOIN A BAKING TEAM* Go to where you can register, check out all the teams, and then join a team. Registering does NOT commit you to baking, you must JOIN a team if you'd like to participate.

If you or any of your baking friends want to join my team, please post a quick comment here and email me at chefkim (AT) yourplacegourmet (DOT) com and I'll send you more info and either Crystal's or Debbie's address.

The USPS has special APO/FPO flat-rate Priority Mail boxes. You can fill this box and mail it for only $10.95 ($10.50 for click-n-ship), regardless of how much it weighs. These boxes are available at your local post office and are free of charge.

Thank you for participating!
Your Place Gourmet - Personal Chef Service

Monday, October 13, 2008

Estrella's Biggest Loser Kick-Off

Tonight was the kickoff to the Estrella Biggest Loser event and the turnout was terrific! Each registered participant weighed in and had their official start weight recorded by Lisa of Easy Fitness Solutions, as well as "before" pictures taken by Michelle of Michelle Roles Photography.

Each week, contestants will weigh in and have the opportunity to participate in that week's class. The classes range from a group bike ride around the lakes to nutritional classes given by Chef Kim of Your Place Gourmet and Dr. John Monroe of Healthy Life Family Medicine.

Prizes will be awarded for the most weight loss by the mid-point of the competition at October 30th weigh-in, and then grand prizes for the final weigh-in, to take place on November 20th. The prize at the mid-point will be a one week personal chef service provided by Your Place Gourmet and the final prizes will be his and hers fitness bicycles provided by Estrella Mountain Cyclery.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Operation Baking Gals - Round 3 Photos!

Here are some of the favorite pictures sent by members of Team Your Place Gourmet during Round 3 of Operation Baking Gals!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie Fix

My son and I were spending a lazy Sunday hanging around the house, baking bread & buns for this week's lunches, when we spotted giant chocolate chip cookies on the television screen. It was an episode of Unwrapped on the Food Network and it was all about desserts. They covered commercially-made desserts of all sorts, from cheesecake to rice pudding. Everything looked good, but my son and I both perked up at the sight of the giant chocolate chip cookies - so we hopped up and made one ourselves.

Not in the mood to be all that creative, we grabbed the chocolate chips and made the recipe on the back of the bag. Instead of spooning the dough into individual cookies or into a rectangular jellyroll pan, we spread the dough into a round pizza pan. Twenty minutes later, we had our giant chocolate chip cookie. No decorations or message written in icing; just a down and dirty chocolate chip cookie. And it was delicious.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hey, Team - Thanks For All Your Hard Work!

As we are about to wrap up the official shipping week for Round 3 of Operation Baking Gals, I want to say thank you! Thank you to all the bakers on my team and all the other teams. Thank you to the non-bakers on my team who shopped for and sent other goodies and necessities. Thank you, everyone!

In about a week or so, our soldier and his company should start to receive packages. Can you imagine being deployed thousands of miles away and suddenly being bombarded by 30-60 care packages from home? I wish I could be there when these guys open the packages and get a whiff of the sweet smells of home; cinnamon, ginger, chocolate, and more.

We received some great photos from team members of themselves, their families, the packages they sent, and even a four-year-old team member, hard at work coloring a special picture to include in a care package. The plan is to have all the photos burned to disk and mailed to the guys who received the packages.

The outpouring of support has been overwhelming and I encourage everyone to participate in future rounds. Just this little effort on our part has brought a huge morale boost to so many who are far from home, protecting our freedoms. Don't forget to check out the Operation Baking Gals Blog to see the teams of past rounds and to get information on future rounds. To participate in future rounds, please contact BakingGals(at)Gmail(dot)com. Remember, the next couple of rounds will be during the holiday season.

See ya for Round 4!