Cherry Ginger Oatmeal Cookies….No Flour…No Fuss

Yummy gf cookies are indeed do-able. Looking for gluten free and flour free cookies? Is that actually possible in one recipe?  Yes, yes yes! I have a favorite gf cookie and it is my ginger cherry oatmeal drop cookies.  They are made with oats (gluten free certified ones,) almond butter, brown and granulated sugar, vanilla, candied ginger, dried cherries and a couple eggs.  Not much else.  Crunchy, thin, spicy and crazy delicious!

The dough goes together easily.  Everyone has loved it unless they are a ginger hater.  Boo hoo hoo on those folks!  Ginger is good for your tummy and zingy in your mouth! Chop it fine or you will get a crazy zing once in a while.  What is extra nice is that it is naturally gf.  There are no weird off flour flavors; just oats and almond butter.

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Ginger Cherry Oatmeal Cookies

¼ cup butter, room temp

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup almond butter

1 ¼ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. salt

3 cups oatmeal

½ cup crystallized ginger chopped fine

2/3 cup chopped dried cherries (you can use half golden raisins if you like)

Directions:

Beat together butter and two sugars until fluffy; I used my stand mixer.  Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and almond butter.  Beat well.  Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and mix into the wet in the big mixer bowl.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray.  Drop glopping tablespoons of batter onto baking sheet.  Bake 13 to 15 minutes. Don’t let them get too brown or burn! Let cool 2 minutes on sheet before removing with metal spatula turner to a cooling rack.  Eat!  I freeze most of them; they taste pretty good straight out of the freezer.  Freezing tip for cookies; pair them smooth side to each other when placing in freezer bag; less likelihood of breaking. And you can get more into a gallon freezer bag that way.

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Some of them got really big and crispy thin this time. Love them that way and thicker chewy too!

I actually tested out my new sil-pat baking sheet; flexible, no spray, no stick, no mess and all good.  Love it!  The cookies didn’t spread any differently or taste off, no smell of anything odd while baking with it.  All the naysayers are way off base; gotta get a second one!

I have made it with cherries a few times and once with half and half cherries and golden raisins as I was low on cherries.  Wondering if it would be good with chocolate chips!  Recipe adapted from “Weeknight gluten free” by Kristine Kidd

Strawberry Shortcake – Show Stopper

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I just have to share this strawberry shortcake recipe with you.  We had it on Father’s Day, gluten free shortcake of course.  I am not sure where I got the shortcake recipe; maybe my old Bette Hagman Gourmet Cookbook. It was a big hit with everyone just like in past years.  I used to make it a lot when I could still use all purpose flour but my new gf biscuit version is pretty tasty I have to say. But there is one thing, you gotta make it with the best freaking strawberries you can find.  None of those firm ones with whitish cores that are shipped in from far away.  You need juicy ripe scented local red berries that can be chopped coarsely and mixed with sugar and served over shortbread.  Gluten free short bread.  Yes, it can be done and it will taste fantastic!

My mom always made a gorgeous version of strawberry shortcake. When I was a kid she would serve it as an entire meal.  I have done that and it is kinda cool.  I generally made a huge oval biscuit with a smaller topping biscuit that I split off and buttered the split area before topping with berries and the smaller biscuit.  And more ripe berries.  Then a topping of softly whipped heavy cream.  Oh berry perfection.! Now I do it in two separate pans but the construction of the final dessert product is the same otherwise.

I cannot stress enough the importance of the best ripest berries.  I got some ripe ones from Lehigh Valley Produce on Main Street in Hellertown.  They told me the berries came from Lancaster; Amish country and were not sprayed; smaller and darker than grocery store berries but I must say that the flavor was very good; authentic and so juicy.  Perfect for this dessert.  Their price per quart was pretty good especially considering the superior quality of their berries.  This is not a recipe to make in the fall or winter, it depends on the seasonal ripe local berries for the best flavor.  There is nothing much to this but berries and the shortbread biscuit so you darn well better use great fruit or you will not get a good result.

I forgot to take pictures making the shortcake and forgot my camera; my daughter took pictures while I put it together at my mom’s assisted living room so forgive the slightly less than professional look of some of them.

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Mom’s Strawberry Shortcake, G-F 2.0

Biscuit dough

1 cup white rice flour

2/3 cup potato starch flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tbsp. sugar

½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. xanthan gum

6 tbsp cold butter

1 medium egg

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. sugar (optional)

2 tsp. soft butter

Other ingredients:

2 quarts ripe strawberries

½ cup sugar

2-3 tbsp. Karo light syrup

1 cup heavy whipping cream

½ tsp. real vanilla

2-4 tbs. powdered sugar (if you like your cream sweet)

Directions
Heat oven t0 400 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Cut in the cold butter until it is small pebbles.  Add the egg and most of the buttermilk.  Mix with a spoon; add rest of buttermilk if you need it.  It should be a bit sticky, don’t over mix; just until dry is blended in.  Spray the inside of a nine inch cake pan and a 6 inch cake pan with cooking spray.  If you don’t have a small pan just use two 9 inch ones.  Pat ¾ of the dough into the 9 inch; make it about ¾ to 1 inch thick and try to smooth the top and side edges a bit.  Put the rest of the dough in the smaller pan and do the same smoothing.  Make that one ½ to ¾ inch thick.  Optional: take a tablespoon of granulated sugar and sprinkle it over top of them. Bake them about 20 to 25 min; the smaller one should be done in 20 minutes; a golden light brown. Set on a cooling rack for a few minutes.

While it bakes, get the berries ready.  Hull 2 quarts of fresh ripe berries.  Place them in a glass mixing bowl, chop through them a few strokes with a sharp knife.  Add ½ cup sugar and about 2-3 tbsp. Karo light corn syrup to the berries.  Stir well and refrigerate until the shortcake is baked.  You could do this berry preparation up to two hours in advance.  No more or they will start to disintegrate.

Place the fairly hot bigger layer on a large platter, one big enough to hold the shortbread and still have room for a generous overflow of strawberries. Butter lightly.  Top with several big spoonfuls of berries.  Don’t worry if there is juice in the berry bowl; should be; melted down sugar and Karo syrup with berry juice will give you a berry liquid.  Top with the second smaller biscuit and then more berries.   Cut into chunks.  Top with freshly whipped cream; beat a cup of heavy whipping cream until it is softly whipped.  Add ½ tsp. vanilla and ¼ cup sugar if you wish it sweet.  Be sure to pour the berry juice over your shortcake; it soaks in and adds to the strawberry experience.  My dad liked to pour unbeaten cream over his shortcake. My mom usually set out the whipped cream, a jug of cream and some whole milk so you could chose how to finish off your personal shortcake.  I might add that I grew up on a farm so this was raw milk from grass pastured cows; fantastic cream equaling a freaking perfect shortcake topper.  We also grew our own berries; no chemical sprayed on them ever.

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If there is any left over it makes a great breakfast the next morning!

Baked Potato Salad with Vinaigrette Dressing

Summer meals are all about easy, casual and tasty.  Not about hot kitchens and elaborate preparations.  I don’t know about your family and friends but mine seem to crave things like potato salad, grilled proteins and baked fixed up beans.  I make a lot of that all summer long.  Personally, my standard potato salad is tasty but I get tired of it, all that mayo…. It is not as good either after a day or two. Plus I have a few friends who dislike mayonnaise so this is a great alternate salad to the standard version.

So when I was trying to plan a tasty meal to take to the beach the standard potato salad just didn’t appeal.  I thought of a few past potato salads that were made with a simple vinaigrette and decided to go that route. This recipe is a riff on one I found on foodnetwork.com; by Alex Guarnaschelli, I made it a bit simpler as I was going to feed people who I thought wouldn’t want the gherkins and shallots. Plus I was out of fresh parsley; oh the shame of that!  I think you could add or subtract the fresh herbs you have on hand to make it as you like.  I used champagne vinegar as I was out of red wine vinegar; gave a nice pale color with no pink as the red wine is apt to do.

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This is made with baked potatoes.  Alex uses golden Yukon. I used some russets – both are great choices.  I baked them while making some oven fried chicken so the oven was already going full steam. Therefore I was not heating up the stove top with a big pot of potatoes boiling.  The baked potatoes are also a tad drier which is nice texturally.  I recommend them especially if you can combine with baking something else!

If you never had a vinaigrette potato salad you are in for a revelation of how different it will be.  All the herbs make it so fresh tasting and light compared to mayo based salad. Here’s hoping you enjoy some soon for your next picnic or barbecue.

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Baked potato salad served with an oven fried chicken thigh

Vinaigrette Herbed Baked Potato Salad

6 russet potatoes or 12 golden Yukon potatoes (roughly 2 to 2.5 lbs)

1 tbsp. capers

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 -3 sprigs fresh oregano

2-3 stalks garlic or regular chives

3-4 stalks fresh dill

Dressing:

5 to 6 tbsp. white or red wine or champagne vinegar, divided

1 tbsp. whole grain mustard or  Dijon mustard

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ cup extra virgin olive oil, can use part lighter olive oil

Set aside 2 tbsp of vinegar to put right on the hot potatoes.  Mix the rest and shake it up really well.

Directions:

Bake potatoes at 375 or 400 degrees until a fork pieces them; 45 minutes to an hour.  Let them cool a few minutes before peeling.  Peel and slice while still warm into a bowl.  Sprinkle with the 2 tbsp. vinegar and then the fresh herbs which you have minced. I have this cool herb scissors I got for Christmas that does the job fast and easy.  If preferred, you could sub in some fresh basil and or parsley for some of those fresh herbs I used.

herb scissors Sprinkle on the capers. Use the small kind, not those big over-sized critters!  You can add the gherkins and shallots Alex likes if you want; see her recipe if you want that extra zing. Pour the dressing over; like two thirds of it; stir it gently and add more until it is as moist as you want.  Add salt and black pepper to taste; maybe ½ to 1 tsp. salt and a good sprinkle of pepper.

It was still wonderful the next day for lunch; not much leftover though. Great with grilled or fried chicken.

Summer Dinner Salad with Chicken and Green Beans

So there is a dish of leftover rotisserie chicken in my fridge.  Hot days mean I prefer no cooking whenever possible.  Something cool and refreshing like a salad would be nice; top with some chicken and you have a delightful meal.

Let me share a salad I made with the veggies in my fridge and some of that tender tasty chicken, my easy recipe is at https://myworldwithoutwheat.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/hot-day-slow-cooker-rotisserie-chicken-revolution/ or buy one if you prefer.  Use a salad dressing you enjoy but I want to give you my favorite recipe for vinaigrette; I keep a jar of it in the fridge and generally my company requests it for salad hands down over any bottled store gf dressing.

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Chunks of plump rotisserie breast meat ready to cut up into smaller pieces for salad.

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Angie’s Supper Salad (for one; double for two)

A big handful of fresh garden greens: I used loose leaf ones from the garden.  Use what you prefer but please, no ice burg!

2-4 radishes, cut into thin slices

Half an avocado, cut into it to create cubes and scoop out with a spoon

¼-1/2 cup slices of European cucumber; I like to cut them into half moons

1 stalk celery cut into thin half moons.

1/3 cup chick peas

½ cup diced rotisserie chicken

½ cup fresh green beans, steamed for 3-4 minutes until tender crisp; cooled

Directions:

I arrange the lettuce on a dinner plate.  Top with the radishes, cucumber, celery and then the avocado and chick peas.

Put the diced chicken on top and then the green beans; see picture!  Pour dressing lightly over the salad. Enjoy!

Notes: don’t cut the chicken into tiny or huge pieces; make them bite sized.  Don’t overcook the green beans. Swap out anything you despise for a veggie you prefer.   This is a good flavor combination though so if you like these vegetables you should adore this salad.

Vinaigrette Dressing:

Here is my basic vinaigrette recipe.  You can alter it to your tastes and leftovers keep for several weeks in the fridge.  I use one of those Good Seasoning’s jars but add my own ingredients. You can use any jar with a tight lid and measure in the ingredients.

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Fill it to the vinegar line with red wine vinegar, not cheap stuff (1/4 cup)

Add some filtered water to the water line (about 1/3 inch more or 2 tbsp)

½ tsp Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard

½ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp dried thyme or oregano

one garlic clove (peeled and mashed down a bit to release flavor)

1 tsp mayonnaise

¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

½ tsp sugar or 1 tsp. honey

Top off with some extra virgin olive oil, stop a bit before the oil line and finish it with lighter olive oil (total of ½ cup plus 1 tbsp.)

Shake it up really well.  It tastes best at room temperature. Try to remember to make it early so you can let it marinate for at least an hour before you use it.  Keep leftover dressing in the refrigerator. The mustard adds snap and the bit of mayonnaise helps the dressing stay emulsified (fully blended) longer than it would without the mayo.

Use the veggies you have and don’t sweat the proportions but don’t put too much of any one veggie in; you want them to be like treasures to be discovered in the nest of fresh greens all lightly coated with your tasty vinaigrette.  If you prefer another dressing choice I recommend trying to make your own green goddess dressing; lots of versions on various cooking websites like foodnetwork.com.  Make yours full of fresh herbs and it will be delightful with this salad.

Be creative and have fun making healthy and yummy dinner salads that will satisfy your appetite and keep you feeling great!

Kahlua Cream Cheese Icing on my Chocolate Cake Please!

A year ago I posted on chocolate birthday cake.  So classic, so addictively sweet, you know your mouth is watering right now for a big bite of two layer lusciousness!  This year for my daughter’s birthday I went right to that classic cake recipe, it is the only two layer chocolate gf cake I ever make.  It came out perfect, well mostly; a small chunk came off one layer and a touch on the second.  Gotta love that wax paper circle under the batter for saving my butt…again!  Maybe parchment paper next birthday cake….

This time I updated my timeless and tasty cream cheese icing for adult tastes.  This coffee flavored icing is as easy as ever to whip up but now it is even yummier.  Kahlua icing was the star of the party, champagne colored and coffee flavored, it seduced that chocolate cake right into our mouths with that combination of coffee and dark fudgy cake.   The cake recipe is here at https://myworldwithoutwheat.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/chocolate-fudge-birthday-cake-perfection/ and all you need to do to change it for this spectacular icing is get out that bottle of Mexican Kahlua from the liquor cabinet. Leave out the vanilla in the icing and add a tbsp. of Kahlua and a tsp. of coffee powder.  Coffee powder is simple to make.  I use my electric herb grinder and put in a couple tablespoons of decent quality instant coffee.  Grind it a few pushes of the button until it is a powder.  There you have it; smooth and dark and perfect for adding coffee flavor to any recipe.

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It was hot as heck in my busy kitchen when I went to ice it; baking sweet potato oven fries, baked beans simmering in a cast iron fry pan and 6 people milling around yakking and hugging so I put a thin icing layer over the entire cake and set it in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up the icing.  Then I finished frosting to even things up a bit.  This trick is wonderful in the summer and your cake is none the worse for a little freezer time.  Heck, I wanted to climb in there for 20 minutes myself!

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The little hole in the icing is from a birthday candle! I guess I should have smoothed it over before the photographing!

Next birthday party try this cake; if I can make you can too!  I am terrible at birthday cakes; you will find that out when you read that cake post from November 2014. Birthday cakes are an effort of love, made for those who are so special you are willing to fire up the oven on a 90 degree afternoon just so they can dig their fork into a real cake, a safe for us celiacs cake and a cake so good no one misses the cakes I made years ago. Now, that is the must have cake for my birthday parties. Made with cocoa, melted chocolate, sugar, butter, gf flour mix and a whole lot of love!

PS: It keeps great in a sealed container in the fridge; minimum of a month; ate some I had longer than that and it was still terrific.  If it lasts that long in your house!

Hot Day -Slow Cooker Rotisserie Chicken Revolution!

Hot days of late, too hot to roast a fricken chicken.  No gluten free rotisserie chickens around here that I know of.  What to do if we crave roast chicken and don’t want to heat the house too?  It’s Super Slow Cooker to the rescue!  This is so easy, an eight year old could do it! You make a dry rub of spices, sprinkle all over the bird and stick some under the skin.  Plop it in the pot and let er rip for 4 plus hours.  How did it turn out? Great! Mildly spicy, flavorful, moist and tasty.  Best of all: no hot kitchen.  I ate it that night with some leftover potato salad and some veggies.  I think you could add more garlic, more spices or whatever you like to make different versions. Note to self; try a new version every time I make this bird and share my findings with you later this summer!

The next night I created a big salad of many veggie things with my homemade rotisserie chicken breast as the star ingredient.  Two nights later another salad with different veggies and more of the fabulous chicken topping it.  Then a day later I made a simple stir fry with pad Thai noodles, broccoli florets, fresh ginger in thin strips, zuke half moons, fresh pea pods from the garden, onion and a diagonally sliced carrot.  Oh and I used the rest of the chicken breast for the protein in it. The rest of the stir fry: I enjoyed a nummy good cold Thai salad for lunch the next day: I just added a bit of sesame oil and it was ready! Awesome!  No oven needed. Or wanted!

It is from my much thumbed through slow cooker cookbook by Carla Forbes. I know you will be pleased with how cool your kitchen stays and that it is safe for us gluten intolerant types.  For some reason most stores that sell rotisserie chicken add some gluten in the process.  I am guessing it is in the spice blend as is often the case with such flavor blends.  In any case, your homemade rotisserie chicken will be safe and succulent! And for anyone who doesn’t worry on gluten; well, this is a tasty dish you will love to have in your arsenal of hot weather entree choices.  I used a fat Wegman’s chicken and it sure has great flavor and texture for a decent price.

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Ready to eat and full of rotisserie flavor!

The bird is in the slow cooker and ready – has its olive oil drizzle! Here are some chunks of breast meat ready to be chopped up for the big supper salad.

Hot Summer Rotisserie Chicken

1 four pound whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry

2 tbsp. olive oil

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Spice blend: mix in a small dish

1 ½ tsp sat

2 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. dried thyme

½ tsp. dried basil

½ tsp. white pepper

½ tsp. cayenne pepper or hot chili powder

½ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. garlic powder

Directions: Remove any giblets and dispose of them how ever you like.  Just not gonna use them in this recipe! Or any I provide.  Ick!  Rinse the bird and pat dry with a couple paper towels.  Rub the spice mix all over the bird, pull back some breast skin and sprinkle the mix in there.  Sprinkle any extra inside the bird.  Place bird breast up in your six quart oval (not so good in round one!) slow cooker.  Drizzle the olive oil on top of your bird; all over it.  Cover and cook 4-5 hours on low or 3.5 on high.  I did 4 on low and turned it up to high for 45 minutes at the end. My bird was close to 5 pounds so I felt it needed a bit more cooking.

My recipe said you could make gravy: remove the bird and add 1/3 cup brown rice mixture flour and stir well to blend it into the pan juices and naturally created chicken broth.  Add salt and pepper to taste; cook on high for 10-15 minutes. I didn’t do that; next time!

I ate some slices of hot breast meat with potato salad that night (so so tender and moist!) and put the rest of it into a big batter bowl that has a lid.  Once it was cooled somewhat the bird went into the refrigerator to keep fresh and flavorful.  The broth soaks in and adds even more flavor as it rests in the cold fridge.

I have no picture of the done bird whole and uncut.  I was so hungry the first night I dug in and totally forgot to take one; next time I made it I will snap a few and upload to this post.  It looks like your regular rotisserie chicken if not as dry or dark skinned.

Chocolate Chip Muffins – Easy and Utterly Delicious

My love for snacking muffins unfolds further…what new flavor shall I make?  Turning to my trusty basic muffin recipe I went for a sweet treat; chocolate chip muffins. They are a riff on my blueberry muffin recipe. If you are wondering why I am posting yet another muffin recipe: homemade muffins are lots cheaper than commercially made GF muffins plus they taste so fresh and oh so tasty. I walk right by all those pricey gf snack bars and cookies; knowing that in my freezer is a zip-lock bag full of luscious muffins that defrost to taste as though I made them that morning.

This batch of muffins was delightful: delicate texture yet with a great crunch and the lightly chocolate flavor from the mini chips.  I cut back on the chips a bit so they are not too heavy or too chocolaty. The walnuts also contribute to the crunch and add a subtle nutty taste.  I added a bit of cinnamon which pulls it all together.

The streusel topping gives a great look and adds texture and flavor.  I messed up my topping this batch; had to sprinkle melted butter over them after topping. Still yummy but they are slightly bald on top as a lot of the oats didn’t stick properly due to my error.  Next time they will be perfect. And there Must be a next time as these sweet treats are awesome!

I love how healthy these muffins are compared to commercial gf muffins, no preservatives, chemicals or weird ingredients I would never bake with.  Try them and see how eating gluten free can be so easy when you bake your own snacks. As always I freeze those I won’t eat in two days time; a zip lock freezer bag works great.

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Closeup of the streusel topping.

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)

2/3 cup granulated sugar  or granulated coconut palm sugar

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. xanthan gum

¼ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

2 large eggs

½ cup milk, 1 or 2 percent plus 2 tbsp more if you use the palm sugar

½ cup canola oil

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Topping: Mix the following in a bowl, add the butter last after you stir it up a bit: use a spoon to blend. Set aside while you make the muffin batter.

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3  cup brown sugar

2 tbsp. almond meal

¼ tsp. cinnamon

3 tbsp. butter, melted

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Muffin directions: Heat your oven to 350 degrees, placing the rack in middle of oven.  Spray muffin pans with cooking spray.  One batch makes 14-16 muffins.  I got 16 when I made them.

Mix all dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer or big bowl Add chips and walnuts; stir to coat them with dry mix.  Combine milk and oil.  Beat in eggs, add vanilla.  Add liquids to big bowl; stir just until blended.  It is a very thick batter.

Fill muffin pans 2/3 full.  I use a big serving spoon and fill it about half way to dump in each muffin space. Sprinkle the top with the topping. Press it in a bit so it won’t all flake off after baking. Bake 21-23 min until golden brown. Do not over bake or they will taste dry.  Remove within 2 minutes from the pans and cool on a rack.  They freeze well for a few weeks: if they last that long.  Keeps in an airtight cookie jar for 2-3 days.

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Brown Rice Flour Mix

(This mix is the same as King Arthur’s gf blend)
2 c brown rice flour

2/3 c potato starch

1/3 c tapioca flour