“Gluten free” is a term widely bandied about for which I had no clear understanding of its meaning.  When I asked Sous Chef he answered laconically:  “For women it means wearing a thong; for men it means going sans-underwear.”

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Obviously,  either intentionally or otherwise Sous Chef had confused “glutes” and “gluten.”  So I contacted the Mayo Clinic website and learned the term has very serious  meaning for those who suffer from celiac disease (an immune reaction to eating gluten that causes intestinal inflammation and worse) or respond with similar symptoms from eating gluten.  Per the National Foundation for Celiac awareness, about 2.5 million persons in the United States have the disease, the vast majority of whom don’t realize it.  There is no pharmaceutical treatment for celiac disease today; the only existing treatment is a 100% gluten free diet.  I also learned that for countless others, a gluten free diet is simply part of their healthy regimen.

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I will admit that being the Culinary Diva requires many sacrifices when it comes to a healthy diet, but Sous Chef’s recent bout with heart problems has dramatically changed our thinking.  Now we are forced to consider a more healthy approach to dining and drinking.  Suddenly the sodium and caffeine content of foods and beverages matters, as does the amount of one’s alcoholic consumption (which always mattered, but it was time to move away from a steady routine of cocktails and wine with each meal).

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So I was thrilled when invited by  Krusteaz to be part of their Gluten Free Bake-Off this year.  It has been a recent goal to learn more about gluten free foods and their uses in baking and other culinary applications.  Krusteaz made this process very easy by sending two boxes  each of their Gluten Free Mixes (Double Chocolate Brownie, Buttermilk Pancake, Honey Cornbread, and Blueberry Muffin) and an invitation to “seize the ‘What If’ moment” in recipe creation.

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My “What If” moments inspired two new gluten free recipes using the Krusteaz Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Mix and Krusteaz Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Mix.  Southwest flavors are a part of our Southern California food culture, and this provided the impetus to amp things up a bit with the Cornbread Mix and create what I will call “So-Joes” (aka Southern California or Southwestern Not So Sloppy Joes).  I added fire-roasted Hatch Chiles, lime zest, sour cream, and Monterey Jack cheese to the cornbread mix to infuse some heat, creaminess, and bright citrus tones.  Then, because this is Southern California, I used lean ground turkey rather than the traditional ground beef as the foundation for the So-Joe mix.  I sweated green onions, garlic, carrots, and celery in a little olive oil and when softened added  the ground turkey along with cumin seeds, smoky paprika and hot paprika, Aleppo pepper, lime juice, no-sodium tomato sauce, and fire-roasted Hatch Chiles to create a flavorful and slightly hot meat mixture to accompany the cornbread.  The end result was a perfectly balanced So-Joe.  Each bite had the brightness of the lime, a spicy heat from the Hatch Chiles, and a touch of sweetness from the cornbread.  It makes a terrific Sunday lunch for watching the long-awaited end of the football season or tasty leftovers as the cornbread and  meat mixture each held up well in texture and taste the next day.  I would not have known the cornbread was gluten free if I had not seen the box.  In color, texture, and taste, the cornbread was indistinguishable from its non-gluten free cousin.  This dish is definitely something that will be making a regular appearance at our table.  Sous Chef didn’t even complain when it was served the next day.

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You can’t have spicy without sweet, so for my next project I decided to make a Blueberry-Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake from the Krusteaz Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Mix.  Upside Down Cakes are so much fun to make and the presentation is always a crowd pleaser.  I made a brown sugar glaze for the bottom of the cake pan, on which I placed slices of Meyer lemons and a few fresh blueberries.  To the Krusteaz Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Mix I added cinnamon (it helps bring out the flavor of blueberries), zest from the Meyer lemons, vanilla, and cream cheese.  The end result was a festive cake that was not too sweet, light in texture, and laced with blueberries.  The Krusteaz mix performed admirably and without any discernible difference from the non-gluten free kind of cake mix.  Oh, and did I mention that Sous Chef gave the Upside Down Cake rave reviews?

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The bottom line is, if you are on a gluten free diet, or have friends and family that are, don’t hesitate to try the Krusteaz Gluten-Free Mixes and “seize the ‘What If’”moment for yourself.  To help get you started, Krusteaz is giving a Gluten Free Prize Pack to one of my readers.  This giveaway contains a Krusteaz Tote (perfect for the market), two packages of each of their gluten free Double Chocolate Brownie Mix, Buttermilk Pancake Mix, Honey Cornbread Mix, and Blueberry Muffin Mix, and a Krusteaz Spatula through a drawing (no purchase or bribing of the Culinary Diva is necessary).  To enter, just leave a comment below.  The winner will be drawn from all qualified entries and announced on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 (can you believe another year has ended?).  A comment will constitute an entry, although only one entry per person will be accepted for the drawing.  Krusteaz will ship the Prize Pack directly to the winner.

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Happy Gluten Free Baking!  For more Gluten Free baking ideas, please make sure to visit Krusteaz.

Note:  The above recipes constitute my entry to the Krusteaz Gluten Free Bake-Off.  By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest, the Krusteaz Gluten-Free Blogger Bake-Off, that is sponsored by Krusteaz.   I am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest, and received products to develop this recipe.  All comments on the Krusteaz products are strictly my own.

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5.0 from 2 reviews

Gluten Free So-Joes aka Southern California Not so Sloppy Joes
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Southwest, Gluten Free
Serves: 4-6

  • For the Gluten Free Cornbread:
  • 1 box Krusteaz Honey Cornbread
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup gluten free sour cream
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can fire roasted Hatch Green Chiles (4 oz. either whole or diced, if whole, dice for recipe)
  • Zest from one lime
  • ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
  • For the So-Joe’s Mix:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1½ pounds ground turkey
  • 2 medium carrots diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 8 green onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoky paprika
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 can fire roasted Hatch Green Chiles (4 oz. can either diced or whole, if whole, dice chiles)
  • 16 oz can of no-salt tomato sauce (can use salted tomato sauce if not on low sodium diet)
  • juice from zested lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sour cream (garnish)
  • cilantro (garnish)

  1. To make Cornbread:
  2. Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly grease 8X8X2 baking pan.
  3. Stir together the milk, oil, egg, and sour cream until well moistened with cornbread mix. Add lime zest, Hatch Chiles and Monterey Jack Cheese until combined.
  4. Pour cornbread mixture into baking pan and bake for approximately 29 minutes.
  5. To Make So-Joe’s Mix:
  6. Use a large skillet or wok, and heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the carrots, green onions, garlic cloves and celery to skillet and cook for about 3 minutes to soften over medium high heat. Add ground turkey to skillet and break up the meat. Add paprika, coriander seeds, Aleppo Pepper to turkey mixture. Cook about 5 minutes until meat mixture is crumbly and partially cooked. Add Hatch Chiles and cook for about 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed or desired.
  7. To assemble, place So Joe’s mixture at bottom of a bowl, top with a slice of cornbread. Add a little So Joe’s mixture to the top of the cornbread. Dollop with a spoonful of sour cream. Sprinkle cilantro over bowl and serve.

5.0 from 2 reviews

Gluten Free Blueberry Meyer Lemon Upside Down Cake
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Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8

  • 1 box Krusteaz Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Mix
  • ¼ cup of water
  • ⅓ cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup of butter
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 Meyer Lemon, zested & sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Drain Blueberries from Krusteaz Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Mix.
  3. Butter 8-inch cake pan.
  4. Melt butter and brown sugar in a pan until sugar dissolves.
  5. Pour brown sugar mixture in bottom of cake pan.
  6. Place Meyer Lemon slices around bottom of cake pan. Fill in edges with fresh blueberries.
  7. Stir together the water, oil, eggs and Krusteaz Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Mix.
  8. Stir in cream cheese and lemon zest until absorbed into mix.
  9. Add drained blueberries from Blueberry Muffin Mix.
  10. Pour mixture into cake pan and place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.
  11. Rest cake on wire rack for about 10 minutes. Place dish on open side of cake pan, while holding dish on cake pan, invert cake pan and place on dish. Remove cake pan.
  12. Serve as is or with a scoop of ice cream.