My favorite comfort food

I think everyone has “that food”- the one that brings about incredible memories and overwhelms the senses, not just the scent and taste of the food, but the emotional sense as well. Just the smell reminds one of a special day, a special place, or being surrounded by special company.

My favorite comfort food is chruscikis. As a child, they were a treat only to be savored on Christmas Eve. And rightfully so. They weren’t easy to make; in fact, I never knew how to make them exactly, and I’d wait patiently outside the kitchen of my best friend’s grandmother’s house for them to be shared. Granted, I was six or seven, and deep frying dough was a little advanced for me. But nonetheless, it felt like midnight by the time the chruscikis made their way to the table. The treat was always the most memorable part of the evening for me. Their shape alone was fascinating; somehow, someone (my best friend’s grandma, of course) weaved the thin dough in and out of itself to create this wing-shaped treat (not surprisingly, chrusciki means “angel wings” in Polish). The crisp dough, fried to a golden brown, had bubbles that would cave in on themselves if I took a bite on top of one. The treat was covered in white, fluffy powdered sugar, and the dough would break off by just pressing my lips ever-so-slightly together. It was so fragile; so delicate. The sugar and the bread would fill my mouth with sweet and salty flavors, and I’d sneak a few angel wings before my mom would bat my hand away, worried I’d go into a sugar craze like seven-year-olds do.

I haven’t had chruscikis in years, mostly because Christmas Eve has not been celebrated in the same way as it was when I was pre-high school. And now that I follow a gluten-free diet, it was one of those treats that I buried and tried to forget about (like packzis and pierogies). But my boyfriend’s mom found a gluten free bakery that makes angel wings, and all the emotion I have tied to this magical food came flooding back. I knew that I needed to find a way to make these myself, so that once again, they could become a part of my new holiday traditions.

I took a basic, not-gluten free recipe from online and modified it as best I could with what I had available.

Gluten-Free Chruscikis

  • 5 egg yolks (at room temp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 5 tablespoons cream
  • powdered sugar
  • Canola oil

Mix together the flours and baking powder to make the flour blend.  Make extra mixture for flouring surfaces.

Beat the egg yolks in a stand mixer on medium speed until thick and then add the salt. Continue beating and add sugar and vanilla. Once mixed well, reduce speed of mixer to low and add in alternating ~1/2 c flour mix and 1tbsp cream until both are used up. Ball dough onto floured counter and let stand, covered with a towel, for 10min. Roll out with a rolling pin to very thin dough. Cut 1 to 2in wide strips about six inches long and then make a slit length-wise. Carefully weave one end of the strip through the slit to make the twist. Fry in canola oil (deeper than the thickness of the dough) until brown on both sides. Let cool on cooling rack for about 3 min, and then cover in powdered sugar.

I think in my next rendition, I will add Expandex to help with the working of the dough. I could roll it out once, but after that the dough would get very crumbly and not workable. Drats, gluten free dough. But otherwise, these angel wings are tasty and delicious, and fill my soul with wonderful memories…

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Oh, the possibilities…

It’s the 2nd of December. I feel like it should still be September. One of the unfortunate things about doing awesome things and having a great time is that time seriously flies by. In the last week, while exploring a new city, getting started at a new job, and living for the first time completely on my own, I’ve barely had time to reflect on what has been going on around me.

Things are now starting to settle down, and I’m finally beginning to reflect on what this year has brought me and what 2011 has in store. Just in time, too, since the new year is just around the corner. Trust me, it will be here before we know it.

But I’m not your traditional girl-who-gets-excited-about-the-new-year. I don’t necessarily consider the 1st of January any different than any other day. When it rolls around, I will go about my business, maybe head out for a run. I might sleep in a little, but that is the extent of my celebrations.

Even still, January 1st symbolizes a general awareness of time. It gives people a reason to reboot, to reflect, and to resolve.

For me personally, 2010 was a year of possibilities. I learned that I can test my strengths and weaknesses, not just in sport, but in academics and life, too. I learned that it really is worth testing the waters; putting yourself out there for all to see. I learned this year that it’s not possible to see your true potential unless you are aware that you very well just might fall flat on your face. But the reward will be worth it. I did things this year that I might never have thought I could do, things I might never have thought I was able to do. I have been fortunate to have been afforded opportunities that I have not always felt worthy to be receiving.

Luckily for you, any new year’s resolutions of eating better and staying healthy can be made a little easier with a gift from LARABAR. They offered to send one of my readers a wonderful LARABAR prize, just in time for the holidays and New-Year’s-Resolution’ing. I call it the Be-Fit-Kit, and it includes: a 16-count box of Coconut Cream Pie LARABARS, a water bottle, a sweet t-shirt, and a bandana. Don’t worry, Mystery Winner, the shirt will come in your size.

How cool is that?

If you know me, you know how much I love these bars. They are a healthy, gluten free snack bar that satisfies. And as a bonus, they are always coming out with new, delicious flavors that make a gluten free girl like me reminisce about the ol’ days when I could eat applie pie and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches. But, the best part? These bars are so good that I don’t even miss the days before being gluten free. Seriously.

For one entry into this contest: Tell me about one of the possibilities that lies ahead for you. If there’s something you hope to accomplish in the coming year that you’ve never done before, I want to hear about it. Are you hoping to make a big change to your life? Let’s hear it! In order to be entered into the contest, you must comment on this post.

All this could be yours! Nom nom nom...

Want a second entry? Mention this contest on your personal blog, and the comment again with a link to your post.

And for good measure, you can get a bonus third entry by tweeting about this contest. Be sure to include my twitter handle (@megankillian) so I know to enter you again.

On December 13th, I’ll assign every entrant a number and then pick a winner by using a random number generator.

I’m excited to hear from you! Good luck!

Disclaimer: LARABAR is providing this wonderful kit for free to one of my readers. Make sure to check out their website and blog if you haven’t already. And because this prize contains food, it can only be shipped to folks in the US or US Territories. Sorry, Canada!

Frugal Gluten Free Girl: Oatmealed Acorn Squash

With my bi-weekly buy-in of community supported agriculture, I got a lot of squash. I love squash, but Baberaham isn’t such a fan. Nonetheless, I’ve found these delicious fruit easy to prepare. As a bonus, if you are to buy squash from a grocery store or farmer’s market, it’s pretty stinkin’ cheap.

Tonight, I scraped together experimented with stuff we had in our cupboards. I came across the following and made it into a meal:

2 small acorn squash
1 c steel-cut oats
1c milk
1c water
1/2c pecans, chopped
honey
sea salt, to taste

I halved the acorn squash, saved the seeds, set the squash on a cookie sheet insides up, and baked them at 375F for 30 minutes, and then an hour at 350F. After dropping the temp on the oven for the squash, I started cooking the oats with 1c water and 1c skim milk to make them a little creamy.

Once the oats and squash were done (I could tell the squash was done by the “fork test”- when the fork goes in easy, its done!), I laid the squash insides-up on a plate and covered the inside with chopped pecans (about 2tbsp for each half). Then, I drizzled about 1/2 tbsp of honey on the pecans.

After adding the pecans and honey, I filled the squash halves to the brim with hot oats. That’s it!

Eating it from the outside in is the best way to get all the flavors. Each bite should contain some squash, oats, and pecans. The slight sweetness of the honey blended with the sea salt makes this dish irresistable (at least, to me!).

For me tonight, this meal was practically free, because I was using up milk that was close to expiring, I was eating squash that has been sitting on our counter for weeks, and I found a bag of steel-cut oats behind the crackers in the cupboard. But! If you were to go to the store and buy all these things, it would work out something like this:

McCann’s Steel-Cut Oats– 1lb box that will last you a while- $3.59
2 acorn squash – $2
honey, 12oz – $2
1c milk – 50cents

I eat big, so this was enough for two meals in my eyes. But, if you want to divvy up the calories, it could feed four. Let me know if you try this dish!

Edit: OH YEAH! I forgot to add… I made pepitas out of the leftover seeds. Traditionally, pepitas are made from pumpkin seeds, but to be honest, acorn squash seeds taste just the same. There are fewer seeds, but why let ’em go to waste? I just peeled away the “gunk”, put them in a bowl, sprinkled them with sea salt, pepper, and 2 tbsp olive oil, and then baked them at 350F for ~5-10 minutes- while I was preparing the oatmealed squash. Once they started to brown and swell a very small amount, I knew they were done. Delish!