The Fix for Gluten-Free Macaroni Salad!


You might think that making macaroni salad gluten-free or Low-FODMAP is as simple as swapping out the wheat noodles for one of the many readily available rice, corn, or quinoa-based options out there? Alas, it’s not quite that simple, since the non-wheat pastas tend to be very “thirsty” and slurp up all the moisture from the delectable dressing while it sits in the fridge. Sure, it’s okay right after you make it, but give it a single night and you have some dry distant cousin of pasta salad.

In the past I’ve opted to add more dressing to the leftovers or warm up the pasta salad in the microwave (sprinkle a little water on it, like you would rice or any other noodles). It’s okay, but it’s not the same as tucking into leftover macaroni salad the day after the cookout. No where close.

So this past Memorial Day I decided to try something different, thinking back to my days at the plantation and making tea sandwiches.

When you make a tea sandwich, it’s customary to spread a bit of butter on the “inside” of the slices of bread. This prevents the bread from becoming soggy as it sits on the tea tray (or in the fridge if you’re making them in advance). So I figured that, instead of the scant amount of oil I might toss the cooked pasta with to prevent it from sticking, I’d add a generous pour or three of olive oil to the pasta in the collander and let it get good and slick before combining it with the rest of the ingredients. Maybe, just maybe, that coating of oil would act as just enough of a barrier to keep the macaroni salad dressing from disappearing?

I’m happy to report that it worked like a charm! And not just for a single day, but for an entire week! (I made a lot of salad. I always seem to over-prepare for holiday meals, even when it’s just the two of us.)

You can see how the cookout came together on this week’s View from the Countertop video:

Direct link for the feed readers: Let the Cookout Season Begin!

As for the recipe… I threw a lot of things together, namely several partial bags of different pastas in the pantry, but below is my best guess for proportions and procedure.

I could have just eaten the pasta salad and been perfectly happy...

I could have just eaten the pasta salad and been perfectly happy…

Gluten Free Macaroni Salad

About 16 servings

16 oz gluten-free pasta
2-3 bell peppers, diced*
4 carrots, peeled and sliced
1-2 cups frozen green peas*
Olive oil
1/2 bunch green onions, greens sliced
3 celery ribs, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 hard boiled eggs, diced (optional)
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 Tbsp horseradish-mustard
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
1-2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, sprinkle in salt and add pasta, followed by peppers, carrots, and green peas. Cook until pasta is al dente (usually around 10 minutes). Drain pasta and vegetables and rinse with cold water to halt the cooking process and cool them down. Toss with a generous amount of olive oil, enough to evenly coat everything, and allow the excess to drain.

In a large bowl, combine the dressing ingredients (mayo through salt and pepper) and mix until smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste by adding more mustard and vinegar if you like a more tangy dressing or a bit more sugar if you prefer it just on the sweet side.

Add the pasta mixture and the rest of the vegetables (and the chopped eggs, if you’re using them) to the dressing and stir to combine. Check once again that the seasoning is correct before serving, chilled.

Keeps for one week, in the fridge, if it lasts that long.

*To make this lower in FODMAPs, avoid green bell peppers and limit or omit the green peas. The amount is definitely fine for maintenance-level, like I do, especially since the quantities per serving end up pretty small, but always use your best judgement and consider your own tolerance levels. 

It did keep for a week–I ate the last of it on Sunday afternoon, though I will say one of the pastas I used (my bet is on the corn variety over the brown rice ones) started to get pretty stiff on Friday. (I took a small container with me to work each day as my breakfast, purely for research’s sake, of course.) But the dressing didn’t get soaked up or dry out, so my mission was definitely accomplished in a very tasty manner.

What did the rest of our menu look like?

This week's menu!

This week’s menu!

Monday (Memorial Day): Grilled Sausages and Hot Dogs, Corn on the Cob, Macaroni Salad
It was all so goo, and we both over-prepared. Todd offered to pick up the sausages, etc. and he came home with 3 types of Johnsonville brats (Cheddar, Chili Cheese, and New Orleans/Andouille) along with a massive pack of all-beef franks. We grilled about half of them and put the rest in the freezer for another day. The only negative was that the beef hotdogs were really salty compared to everything else–maybe if I’d eaten mine on a bun it would have tempered it a bit, who knows?

Tuesday: Leftovers!
Monday’s mean was so good and so plentiful, and I was so tired by the time Todd got home from work, that we opted for a leftover night.

Wednesday: Hawaiian Chicken Thighs and Hawaiian Luau Rice
At some point last week we got to talking about the chicken legs from Todd’s birthday party and I decided to make them again. The marinade (from The Girl Who Ate Everything) is super-simple and then you just toss them on the grill until done. The rice was a recipe (from Bam’s Kitchen) I’d pinned while planning the party but opted not to make, and I’m kinda glad I didn’t. What with the ham and pineapple and coconut and macadamia nuts, you’d think this would be a fabulous side dish. Sadly, it was lackluster at best. It called for absolutely no salt (I guess the ham and chicken bullion were supposed to cover that base, but they fell far short) and needed a lot of doctoring. A couple days later I had some with one of the chicken thighs chopped up in it and added a dose of soy sauce to the bowl and that perked it right up. So be forewarned and try it with a little extra sauce.

Thursday: Roast Beef Wraps and Carrot Soup
A cooler take on the soup and sandwich dinner, both of these recipes came from The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook that I reviewed a couple years ago. The wraps were fairly straightforward (I might have added some cheese, if anything) but got a flavor boost from an Asian-inspired sauce while the cold carrot soup was a bit of a sweet and spicy surprise. Todd isn’t quite as much of a fan of the cold soups as I am, but with the temperature (and humidity) already soaring, I think there’s a good chance more of the no-cook recipes will be used this summer. I’m keeping it handy, at any rate.

Beef, chicken, and pork pan pizza with extra cheese. A worthy splurge, indeed!

Beef, chicken, and pork pan pizza with extra cheese. A worthy splurge, indeed!

Friday: Pizza
So sad that the day I’m home I cop out and we get pizza, right? I know, I know, but I was feeling kinda off all day, almost hungover even though it’d been several days since having any booze, and then the thunder started mid-afternoon and I realized the change in barometric pressure was wreaking havoc on my sinuses. Mystery solved! While we usually will opt for Domino’s, since they have a decent gluten-free crust and deliver, I really didn’t want it that night. I was craving the crispy, chewy, classic pan pizza from Pizza Hut so that’s what we got. Did I pay for it later? A little bit, but it was worth it.

Saturday: Zoodles with Meat Sauce and Goat Cheese
Friday was always meant to be a pizza night, I’d just been planning to make the zucchini-crust pizza that’s making the facebook rounds right now. Since I didn’t, though, I had these zucchini needing to be used, so zoodles it was. The goat cheese was also from that recipe, and if you haven’t melted a little goat cheese into your tomato sauce, please do. It’s so worth it and really amps up the flavor. I also made some quickie cheese toast using leftover hot dog buns.

Sunday: Cheese-Stuffed BBQ Meatloaf, Green Beans, Sweet Potatoes
Classic Sunday dinner of meatloaf and potatoes, courtesy of the freezer. I really do love this meatloaf with its layer of cheese in the center and barbecue sauce on top. This recipe is from The Virtuous Wife, though I sub rolled oats for the bread crumbs and don’t bother with the plastic wrap layer–I just put the frozen packet in the loaf pan to defrost and open up the top of the foil before baking. If I’m careful enough, the loaf pan stays clean!

And that was our week!

In addition to the macaroni salad video I linked above, I also put up a simple video about the Low-FODMAP diet and why I make some of the choices that I do. You can find it here: Low-Food-Wha?! on YouTube

Convenience Comes at a Small Price


While we were finding amazing deals on dining room furniture, we also came across a couple of bread makers for $8 each.

Now, making bread from scratch isn’t hard. It isn’t even all that time-consuming. Which is why I could never justify the $70 or more for one in the past, even though my gadget-loving self has wanted one for quite some time. Finding one for a handful of singles was just too much temptation without very much in the way of risk.

I don’t make an inordinate amount of bread at home–not for lack of love, I just generally buy it when the occasion arises. After going Low-FODMAP, those occasions had become fewer and farther between. Unfortunately, finding a commercially-available bread that is Low-FODMAP tends to leave a lot to be desired. Making good gluten-free bread has not been the most successful kitchen experiments, though my rigged proof box did help quite a bit in that arena. Still, maybe an all-in-one machine would do the trick.

First try--good, but small

First try–good, but small

For the first run I used a recipe from Celiac in the City and my usual flour blend. Because I’d read so many dire warnings in the bread machine’s manual about over-filling the pan, I did make some adjustments to the basic recipe to keep it at the ingredient quantities the manual gave as their preferred basic ratios. I needn’t have worried, though, as the finished “loaf” didn’t even fill up half the pan!

Lack of loft aside, the bread was very tasty. It was dense, of course, but definitely lacked the sawdust tendencies of some gf baking. I stored the finished, sliced loaf in the fridge (baked goods, esp. those without preservatives, don’t do well in this house once the temperature starts to climb) overnight but the next day at lunch the slices were still good and moist.

While some bread maker’s have gluten-free settings, this one does not but the tips I’d read suggested using the “rapid rise” option if the machine gave one, as it’s cuts down on a bit of the handling. Since gf doughs tend to be super-fragile anyway, I figured that was the safest course, and also chose the light crust setting just to be on the safe side.

A bit bigger this time, but still dense. Still tasty, though!

A bit bigger this time, but still dense. Still tasty, though!

For the second trial I decided to use the same recipe but this time not alter the quantities. I stuck with the rapid rise cycle, but used a slightly different flour blend since I was out of some of the components of my house mix. Not quite a controlled experiment, but this isn’t a laboratory, is it?

The thing to be aware of with bread machines is how the ingredients need to be loaded-in. In my case, all liquids go in first, then the flour op top in such a way that it creates a lid on the liquids. The yeast gets poured into a depression in the center of the flour-layer, and then any butter or shortening gets placed in the corners. Since my test recipe uses olive oil, the first batch I poured the oil into the 4 corners of the pan, but for the second go-round I decided to just mix it in with the water and eggs.

Obviously we weren’t in danger of overflowing the pan, but the danger with the slightly larger loaf is whether or not the full loaf will bake in the given time. This one was a bit on the edge of done after the programmed time but at least was a little larger. Still dense, still tasty, and thumps hollow on the bottom, but if you wanted a darker crust or needed to get it a little more baked through, popping it into the oven for a bit is supposed to do the trick. I didn’t find it necessary for this one, though.

Each loaf has featured a really shaggy top–something that can happen with the non-machine gluten-free breads and something I’ll need to work on. Could use just a bit more liquid or some other tweaking to work well, but I’m encouraged. I’ll be making croutons with the remains of the first loaf and using the second loaf for sandwiches later this week.

* * *

I also picked up a Glutino bread mix that, while not being completely Low-FODMAP (pea protein and whey are the potentially troublesome ingredients, but once you’re past the Elimination and Challenge phases, it might be worth trying) does have the benefit of being all-in-one. And, of course, since gluten isn’t a FODMAP, one could always add some vital wheat gluten into the mix to add texture and whatnot, but I haven’t gotten that far, yet.

I think the next loaf on the list will be an old favorite: chocolate orange bread. I haven’t made it in ages, especially not since ditching the wheat, but I’ve been craving it lately. Even if it turns out dense like these, it’ll be great for chocolate bread pudding!

Challenge Accepted: Mac & Cheese Doughnuts


The Internet is full of strange and wonderful things, my friends.

This isn’t exactly earth-shattering news, but there are a lot of people doing a lot of “interesting” things, and the ‘net allows us to catch a glimpse. Of course the vastness of the web is too much for even the most devoted digital subject, so it helps that our friends link us to various things, thus saving us the trouble of having to plumb the binary depths ourselves.

Such was the case when a friend linked me to some Mind-Blowing Mac & Cheese Donuts that I felt missed the mark. For one thing, there was no dough in those ‘nuts; they were simply thrice-cooked box mac & cheese, pressed into the customary shape. My feeling on the matter (which I expressed to said friend) is that if we’re going to propose something as questionable as mac & cheese doughnuts, it should live up to the promise of the name!

And that’s when she all-but dared me to do it.

While I originally contemplated a traditional ring-shaped doughnut with cheese-filled pasta in the dough and then topped with a cheese sauce (no, not powder from the box mixes), for the sake of ease, I scaled back for this first* try and decided a filled doughnut might actually work better and allow the filling to retain some of it’s dignity. After all, this is humble food we’re talking about, no need to go into deep deconstruction.

Homemade Mac & Cheese

Homemade Mac & Cheese

First, I included my homemade mac & cheese in that week’s dinner menu and purposefully made extra to hold over for the weekend. It’s a variation (no bacon in this one) of my Bacon and 3-Cheese Macaroni from What to Feed Your Raiding Party that depends on the basics of good pasta (in this case, brown rice pasta) topped with a multiple-cheese and egg-enriched bechamel (made with lactose-free milk to keep things relatively Low-FODMAP). It may not bear the neon orange of the commercial mixes, but such is our “sacrifice.”

For the doughnut I decided to try the Glazed Yeast-Raised Doughnut recipe from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring. By setting up my makeshift proof box I did achieve some lift to the dough but it was more out than up, so the finished product more resembled Fry Bread than anything else, but we made it work.

As the doughnuts came out of the oil, I topped them with a sprinkle of cheese (quattro-formagi blend, in this case) to allow it to melt a little before the doughnuts fully cooled.

While all that was going on, I took out a hunk of the chilled mac & cheese and sliced it up into smaller bits before reheating with a splash of milk. Since the doughnuts didn’t achieve the height I was looking for, I skipped the pastry bag with filling tip and just split the doughnuts and spooned the filling into them.

Mac & Cheese Doughnuts... because I could!

Mac & Cheese Doughnuts… because I could!

Todd was my initial taste-tester and he proclaimed them tasty enough to go back for seconds. The leftovers reheated perfectly with just a quick zap in the microwave (15 seconds was plenty) and made for a good mid-afternoon snack.

Does the world really need  a Mac & Cheese Doughnut? No more than we needed mac & cheese pizza or other doubled-carb dishes, but sometimes it’s nice to try something just because, you know?

*No telling if I’ll actually try this again, though I am still on the hunt for the perfect gluten-free doughnut recipe. 

Gluten-Free Fudge Cookies



This time, last year, I was just getting started down the Low-FODMAP road, trying to see how it might help (or not) my IBS. Considering it was the holidays, I was a little bummed about missing out on holiday goodies and picked up a copy of the Favorite Brand Name 3-in-1 Gluten-Free Cookbook at an overstock shop just to give some no-wheat baking a whirl.

That book has become far more useful than its $6.99 price tag suggested, and inside were these instant-hit cookies that none of my friends could tell were gluten-free–always a good sign when you’re substituting ingredients!

So when I signed up for the the 2013 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, I knew which cookies would be my best bet for swapping with my fellow gluten-free baking bloggers.


Gluten-Free Fudge Cookies


2 packages (12 oz each) semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into chunks
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp sugar
2/3 cup Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend
2 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp xanthum gum
1/4 tsp salt



1. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine 1 package chocolate chips and butter in large microwavable bowl. Microwave on High 30 seconds, stir. Repeat as necessary until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly.

3. Beat eggs and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until blended and frothy. Add sugar; beat until thick. Add chocolate mixture; beat until well blended. Add flour blend, cocoa, baking powder, xanthum gum and salt; beat until combined. Stir in remaining chocolate chips.

4. Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls 1 1/2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Bake 16 to 20 minutes or until cookies are firm. Cool on cookie sheets 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.


These cookies are so delectable that it’s tough to eat just one. Seeing as multiple reaches into the cookie jar are inevitable, I like to use my smaller cookie scoop and end up with around 6 dozen cookies from the above recipe. At this size they’re great for giving and still let you keep some behind for yourself.

The cookies I received in return

The cookies I received in return

I received equally delicious cookies from my fellow swappers. The first tin I received was super-generous: three different cookie types (Pecan Macaroons, Molasses Crinkles, and Oatmeal Lace Cookies) from Amy of Minimally Invasive. Next I received the pretty red box tied up with twine and filled with S’mores Cookies from Sara B (who didn’t include a blog link–if I can find her in the recipe round-up to come, I’ll update this with her link). My final swap tin just enveloped me with peppermint the moment I opened it: Jackie from La Casa de Sweets‘ Peppermint Mocha Crinkles were light and airy and truly hard to resist. I wouldn’t want to name favorites, but I will say the last ones to arrive were the first to be finished.

If you’re planning and cookie-gifting this year, keep in mind that a lot of people are avoiding wheat or gluten these days. If you’d like to make sure that more people can enjoy them, consider giving the Gluten-Free Fudge Cookies a chance.


Daring Bakers | Pastel de Tres Leches


Because I didn’t have enough going on, I decided to join up with the Daring Bakers challenges starting this month. Actually, the reason I joined up was that with the “alternative” baking I’ve been doing, it’s easier just not to and there’s so much out there to experiment with. I figure the challenges will help push me to test my theories of Low-FODMAP baking while getting back to a bit of my pastry chef-roots.

Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy… just plain delish!

Low-FODMAP Pastel de Tres Leches cake

Low-FODMAP Pastel de Tres Leches cake

I have eaten Tres Leches before but I’ve never made it myself. Nonetheless, making it for the first time in a Low-FODMAP way wasn’t all that daunting for 2 reasons:

  • The base is a sponge cake and sponge cake is more about technique than ingredients. I have successfully made sponge cake before.
  • While 3 milks (the translation of tres leches) may be asking a lot of someone who needs to avoid lactose, it’s different than needing to be actually dairy-free, so I had some wiggle room.
the steps

Top row: The golden brown sponge cake and the spongy texture inside.//Bottom row: Rather than a brush, I used the small ladle that came with my gravy boat to gently spoon the three milks syrup onto the split cake layers and my carefully arranged mandarin oranges in the center.

The Sponge Cake

The recipe we were given to use started with 5 separated eggs and used only 1 cup of flour. That’s why I think a sponge cake is a great type of cake for gluten-free or Low-FODMAP baking because the whipped eggs whites are providing both the leavening (lift) as well as the majority of the protein structure, so I was able to use my go-to 5-Flour Blend and 3/4 tsp of xanthum gum (though I probably could have left that bit out) with no problems.

The technique for a sponge cake involves whipping the egg whites to stiff peaks and then gently folding the rest of the ingredients without deflating the whites. That’s where the danger lies. If you’re too forceful with that mixing, the eggs will lose the air trapped inside, the air that holds the place until the threads of protein coagulate (that really is the technical term) and can hold up the cake, and your finished cake will be dense and heavy and super-chewy. On the flip side, if you don’t mix it enough, you’ll have a streaky mess on your hands that won’t look or taste appetizing.

The Three Milks

No matter how well-made, a sponge cake is so named because it does have a texture than reminds one of a sponge and is usually a bit on the dry side. Which is why you should beware any recipe that does not come with or suggest a syrup or some other liquid be applied when the cake is still somewhat warm.

For Tres Leches the syrup is comprised of three milks, usually evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and heavy cream, and our version suggested flavoring with cinnamon and rum. Since evaporated and condensed (evap + additional sugar) milks concentrate the High-FODMAP lactose levels, they were definitely not going to be in my version of this cake.

Instead, I opted to use 1 (13.5 oz) can of unsweetened coconut milk, 1 cup of lactose-free whole milk, and 6 oz of Velvet Cinn (a Horchata with rum and cinnamon made by Cruzan–reviewed on my cocktail blog). Now, the Velvet Cinn does contain milk, so there’s a little lactose in there (and rum is the only spirit not allowed on the Elimination phase of the diet, so can be problematic for some), but if you figure that a 9 inch cake yields 9 servings and there’s only 6 ounces of the liqueur in there, that’s under an ounce per serving and should be within tolerances for all but the most sensitive. Most of the alternatives I saw searching around included soy and almond milks, which aren’t really great from a Low-FODMAP standpoint. Rice milk is a good option, but you have to be careful which kind you get it to avoid High-FODMAP additives or sweeteners.

In the end, my syrup was thick and rich and soaked into the cake beautifully and I had no adverse reaction to the Velvet Cinn component.

A nice, respectable serving.

A nice, respectable serving.

The End Result

The Tres Leches cakes I’ve had in the past were not filled with anything and I don’t remember them being topped with anything other than maybe a swirl of whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. For our version, mandarin oranges were suggested and since citrus is one of the easiest options on a Low-FODMAP diet, I decided to run with it. For the topping I suppose I could have used non-dairy whipped topping but I really wasn’t wanting to go such an artificial route, I guess? So instead I mixed another can of coconut milk with some powdered sugar for sweetness, arrowroot to help thicken a bit, and a splash of vanilla. It wasn’t a thick topping, more of a glaze, really, but it worked.

After chilling for a few hours I cut a slice for a pretty picture and because I was curious to taste how it turned out! That first night there was still quite a lot of coconut presence which is really no surprise with the coconut milk x2 and even some coconut flour in the cake. The next day, however, when I brought it out for our gaming group, the Velvet Cinn’s influence had asserted itself and the flavor was much more mellow.

Overall it was a fabulous first-go with the Daring Bakers and I look forward to next month’s challenge!