Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ready for Thanksgiving?

We are!

Thanksgiving means a lot of planning for me, and this year, I'm bound and determined to get some of my favorites. Combine my uncertainty with the fact that my husband won't get to come with me for Thanksgiving at all, and we were inspired to have a practice session on Sunday.

I made a little bit of baked ham with maple glaze for the hubs, but I wasn't interested. What I wanted was the casseroles. I'm a huge nut for my grandmother's potato casserole. I call it hers, because she's been making it since I was a little girl. But it's really just the recipe on the bag of Ore-Ids Hash Browns. She switches the green onions out for a little bit of finely diced white onion, and trust me, this stuff is delicious.

I also really want to be able to eat my mom's broccoli casserole, straight from the pages of every Southern girl's favorite cookbook, Bell's Best (recipe below). For both of these recipes, most of the ingredients are totally fine for me. Sour cream, cheddar cheese, butter, onions, broccoli, all gluten free of course. Two suspects, the Ore Ida hash browns and the Cheez Whiz, were also thankfully GF. Ore Ida actually has a list of all gluten free products on their website, here. Corn Flakes aren't gluten free, but I could just use some Glutino crackers as a topping instead.

I had one problem with both recipes. Cream soup. Check and can of Campbell's Cream soup and you'll find wheat flour listed as an ingredient, so I needed to find an alternative. I had looked for GF cream soups before, with no luck. But on my latest trip to Whole Foods, I did a happy dance, called my grandma excitedly, and told her we were in the clear. They had GF Cream of Mushroom Soup! I bought like 6 cans to take for our huge Thanksgiving. I thought we had found our solution.

Then Sunday, when I opened the first can for my potato casserole? Craaaaaaaaaaap. It wasn't condensed. It wasn't condensed! Which would make my casserole way too liquidy. Without thinking, I went ahead and dumped both cans in the bowl. Oops!

I had a soupy mess on my hands. Hmmmmmmmm. So I added a few tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken (which probably didn't really help, honestly). And I added tons of extra cheese to help bind it together. When it felt like almost the right texture, I dumped the whole thing in my largest casserole dish, topped it with crushed, buttered gluten free crackers, and popped it in the oven.


* 1 Bag Ore Ida Country Style Hash Browns
* 2 Can(s) Gluten Free Cream of Mushroom Soup (modified)
* 2 Cup(s) SOUR CREAM
* 1/2 Teaspoon(s) SALT
* 4 Cup(s) CHEDDAR CHEESE shredded (modified)
* 1/2 Cup(s) White ONIONS sliced (modified)
* 1/2 Teaspoon(s) BLACK PEPPER ground (modified)
* 1 box plain Glutino crackers, crushed (modified)
* 1/4 Cup(s) BUTTER melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 4 1/2 quart casserole dish with butter or spray (or don't, it's not super necessary. Side note: the original recipe calls for a 13x9. B.S. No way will it fit. You need a honking casserole for this sucker)

2. In a large bowl, whisk together soup, sour cream, salt and pepper. Stir in cheese, onion and Hash Browns until well mixed. Spoon evenly into baking dish.

3. In a large ziploc bowl, shake together crackers and butter. Sprinkle evenly on top of Hash Brown mixture.

4. Bake uncovered for about 1 hour (modified from original!), or until hot and bubbly. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Eat your heart out.

Next, I tackled the broccoli casserole. I was better prepared for the soup shocker, so I planned ahead a little. Instead of the two cans the recipe called for, I used only one. And instead of using the entire can, I spooned out the thicker globs and left the thin, watery stuff out.

Pre-cooking, the consistency of this casserole was much closer to how I thought it should be. But the lack of thickening agents from the soup just made it never come together. I cooked it. And cooked it. And cooked it. I kept the rest of our lunch warm while I baked it an extra 25 minutes. Then I let it bake while we ate our lunch. Then I let it bake a little longer. We finally took it out just shy of two hours, bubbly and brown on top but still jiggly as ever. It did set a little as it cooled, but it never got as thick as it needed to. It tasted just fine (not as good as my mom's of course, but nothing ever will), but it was more soupy than casserole-y.

But I've found a new solution for next Thursday, and I think it will work much better for casseroles! I'm going to use the condensed soup recipes from Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom. I think this texture will turn out much better.

Here's the Broccoli Casserole Recipe, p. 338 in Bell's Best.

1 large onion
1 stalk celery
1/2 c. mushrooms
1 jar Cheez Whiz (the big jar)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup (I used 3/4 of a can of non-condensed, didn't turn out so hot though. I'll make two batches of the recipe linked above next time)
1 c. cooked rice (we used brown, but either white or brown is fine)
1 box chopped broccoli, cooked.

Saute onion, celery, mushrooms in 2 Tbsp butter. (Honestly, I skipped this. I just melted a little butter and mixed the onion, celery and mushrooms in it in a bowl. I don't think I've ever seen my mom do this either) Add soup, Cheez Whiz, rice, and drained broccoli. Place in a casserole dish and cook at 350 for 10-15 minutes (lies! Even following this recipe to the exact letter, it has never taken less than 45 minutes to get done. Cook it at whatever temperature you have other things going, until the top is brown and delicious looking, and the middle is barely jiggly)

Honestly, these recipes may not look like much. Cheez whiz? Hash browns topped with crackers? But they're home to me. I'll also be helping to make the turkeys (smoke, fried, and baked, thank you), ham, and vegetables. Plus I'm preparing the sweet potato casserole, from scratch, with a too good for words pecan topping. I'll also be making a little pan of gluten free stuffing, some GF rolls, and a GF pecan pie. So I won't be going hungry. But the two recipes here are the two that mean Thanksgiving for me. They bring back years of holiday meals and family gatherings. And I'm so happy that I'll get to eat them this year.

If you want a chance to win several fabulous prizes, including a new kitchen-aid mixer, you can make a gluten free dish and blog about it, and post a link on this post at Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. It's way easier than you think, I promise!