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Cook the Books: GF on a Shoestring Quick & Easy

gf on a shoestring review

I buy a bunch of new cookbooks and cooking magazines. I read them, cook from them and let you know if they are worth your purchase or not. Read on for my review of  Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy (author’s affiliate link).

You probably know the blog, Gluten Free on a Shoestring. And if you don’t I encourage you to go check it out. Blogger Nicole Hunn is funny and accessible with recipes that are photographed at multiple points in the process. She has tackled all the kinds of pastry and baked goods that you could possibly want.

She recently released her second cookbook, Gluten Free on a Shoestring: Quick and Easy Meals (this is a link to the author’s Amazon store). And I have to say, in my book it is a hit. (It is one of my favorites from the past year).

This cookbook is full of easy meal ideas, fancy breakfast treats, yeasty pizza crusts and easy to make home baking mixes. (I know I often talk about how I dislike baking mixes, but I do see the benefit of them.) The recipes include a calculation of about what it will cost to make the recipe plus a comparison of what an equivalent store-bought product would cost and frequently it is quite shocking to see the amount you can save.

My only criticism of the book is that there aren’t enough pictures for me. But I work in a creative field where it is very much all about the looks, so I might be a wee bit biased… The layout is easy to follow and the type is big enough to read from a little distance. Making up for the limited number of pictures is the paper. The paper is the kind you can write on. I might be the only person who does this, but I annotate my cookbooks with substitutions I have tried and notes to myself about recipes. This doesn’t work well in fancier, photo-laden books.

This book has a great variety of meals and treats – and they are all presented in easy to follow language with lots of encouragement from the author.

The interview

Nicole gladly agreed to an interview about the book via email, and here are her responses.

Why did you decide to write this book?

I realized at some point that I hadn’t given enough thought in my first book to how long the recipes took to complete, and just because I was willing and able to put in the time to cook and bake gluten-free, not everyone else was. And the whole point of everything I do, on my blog and in cookbooks, is to make gluten-free food accessible to everyone who needs or wants it. I want to break down barriers to entry, and in a gluten-free world where preparing food is still portrayed by many as way more precious than it needs to be, quick & easy seemed like the way to go next.

Since I don’t yet have tiny humans of my own, what is one piece of advice you can give my readers about feeding a gluten-free child?

Feeding a very young gluten-free child isn’t any different than feeding any very young child. And feeding a very young child, to me, is what I imagine it would be like to feed a churlish dictator. 3 meals, 2 snacks a day, eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full!

What was the hardest part about learning to bake gluten-free?

Oh, the flours. The gluten-free flours! When I started out doing this in the antediluvian days, there weren’t all of the amazing all-purpose blends on the market, so I was stuck with bean flours—and blending my own bean flours even! That is a large part of the reason that all of my recipes begin with a high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour. I cried real tears when I started out. Why should anyone else suffer the same early fate?

What is your favorite recipe from the book?

The yeast-free English muffins, on page 55. They come together so fast, and make a better burger bun than any burger bun I’ve ever had. Don’t tell the other recipes, though. They’re jealous mistresses.

Did you learn anything about gluten-free cooking/baking while writing this book and what was it?

I learned … that it’s possible (even advisable!) to incorporate good quality packaged gluten-free products into your repertoire without sacrificing your whole paycheck and without sacrificing the integrity of your meal.

Are there plans for more cookbooks?

Of course! Mostly because I have nothing better to do. I am writing a gluten-free bread book, slated for December 2013 publication. No bread machine, no special skills required. No sad, weepy mounds of gluten-free bread dough. No joke.

Did you have to put a doughnut on the cover of the cookbook? It is just mean that it is sitting next to me staring me in the face and making me hungry…

I did, because I’m not a very nice person. You heard it here first.

The Rating

Author: Nicole Hunn
Format: soft-cover, full color center photo section

Stars: 4.5/5*
Buy it or Forget it: Buy it (and keep the tiny humans happy, the adults satified and gluten-lovers fooled)
Must try recipes: Pumpkin Granola Breakfast Cookies, Chocolate Clafoutis, The whole chapter on make your own mixes.

*Read more about my cookbook review criteria.

I purchased my own copy of this book prior to reaching out to the author & publisher. The giveaway copy of this cookbook is being furnished by Lifelong Books, and has no bearing on my review.

A giveaway

The publisher has kindly agreed to send a copy of this cookbook to one of my readers in the US or Canada! All you need to do is comment here to win by January 12, 2013 at midnight Central Time. Get up to 3 additional entries for sharing this post on social media (Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter – making sure that you tag FrannyCakes in your post) and then leaving a new comment here for each share. A winner will be chosen via random number generator on January 13, 2013, and the cookbook will be sent directly to you from the publisher. You must be a resident of the United States or Canada to win.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Recipe Type: Cookie
Author: Nicole Hunn
Prep time: 5 mins
Total time: 5 mins
Serves: 24
From the book Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy by Nicole Hunn. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2012.
  • 2 1/4 cups (315 g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free four
  • 1 teaspoon xantham gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
  • 1 teasponn baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (164 g) packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Place all of the ingredients, except the chips, in a large bowl and whisk well, being sure to get out as many of the lumps of brown sugar as possible. Add the chips and mix well. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
GF Chocolate Chip Cookies from Nicole Hunn’s Mix

Author: Nicole Hunn
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 24
From the book Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Quick & Easy by Nicole Hunn. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Lifelong, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright (c) 2012.
  • 1 batch make your own chocolate chip cookie mix
  • 8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 extra large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line rimmed baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set them aside.
  2. Place tge dry cookie mix in a large bowl and whisk well. Add the butter, eggs and vanilla, and mix well. Refrigerate until firm or freeze briefly.
  3. Drop balls of dough about 1 1/4 inches in diameter about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Place the baking sheets in the freezer until the dough is firm, about 10 minutes.
  4. Once the dough has chilled, place the rimmed baking sheets in the preheated oven one at a time and bake until the cookies are just beginning to brown on the underside, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool until firm on the baking sheets.



  1. Jen says:

    I love the idea of having a pricing estimate for the recipes! I love love love to bake gluten-free goods but sometimes find myself overwhelmed when I decide on a recipe and realize that I need different flours or gums or ingredients that I don’t have. I hadn’t actually seen the blog either before this post but can’t wait to follow along for gluten-free ideas! Thanks for the suggestion.

  2. nicole says:

    I’ve been eyeing both Nicole’s cookbooks for months. I’d LOVE to win this one! Love her blog and it’s great for my needs (a newbie to gluten free with a 1.5 and 3 yr old).

  3. kara says:

    I love all the recipes in gluten free on a shoestring! I wanted the book for Christmas but didn’t get it. It would be an awesome gift!

  4. Laurie Lightfoot says:

    I have been trying to find great GF recipes since July of last year. I would love to win this one!! and will share on facebook.

  5. Lisa says:

    My Daughter now 14 was newly diagnosed with celiac disease in May she also was diagnosed with high and low thyroid to add to her type 1 diabetic since 4yrs. she had to start
    the gfree diet in the hospital after 8 biopsies to confirm her three month head aches and stomach aches and couldn’t get out of bed. threw off her Blood sugars also. So after we left from hospital it was me trying to understand all that had gluten for she can’t have any at all they said it was attacking her small intestine and it shut it down. So now are first blood test done since may and I am proud to say her numbers came back perfect what a gift to her and me, Dr. said if she continues her total gfree diet her small intestine should start to work again 😉 We are so happy to find your gfree chocolate chip recipe THANKS FOR SHARING !!! We would LOVE to win these books and let nicole give them a try .. we even have her friends asking me to make some of her treats we found 😉 Happy New Year

  6. Jen says:

    Love the first book (love cookbooks in general) but hadn’t yet been brave enough to try anything until this holiday. Just made the popovers – DELICIOUSLY easy!!! Will most likely be working my way from cover to cover of the first book but have been wanting to buy the second one because it seems like it will be less time intensive. Would love to win!

  7. Mary says:

    Oh, I just love GF on a shoe-string! Nicole is so funny and down to earth, she says what we all are thinking. I would absolutely love this cookbook. I’ve been coveting it since it came out!

  8. Denise Fedor says:

    I love gluten free on a shoestring and have made many of her recipes. Would love to win as I ;have no income, so can’t buy the book.

  9. Gaile says:

    Love her site and recipes. She is the reason I use Better Batter flour and love it in all the recipes I have nade. Would love her book.

  10. Mel says:

    I admit, I have not heard of this book or website, but my forays into real cooking are new. I love that these are meals, because that is what I am trying to figure out how to do, make a meal that is more than just “something on the foreman and a veggie”. The fact that price comparisons are included make this a “must have” in my book.

  11. Karen says:

    I’d love to win this book! I just received her first book for Christmas and made the most delicious cream puffs for New Years. I’d love to try this book too!

  12. Great giveaway — have had my eye on this book for a while! (lil’ nephew will need those doughnuts!) I write in my books too. 🙂 Used to think we needed to keep them perfect and on the shelf, tidy and clean… but now they get messy. Just like life. And we have a good time doing it!

  13. PJ Marszalek says:

    I would love to win this book! Eating gluten free is not a trial diet or fad for me. It is a required lifestyle and I am always in need of new recipes. I am thankful that Nicole created Gluten Free on Shoestring! =)

  14. Diana says:

    The cookie recipe looks simple, I like simple, and I’m sure it’s tasty. I had a bad day at work one of the days after I was diagnosed with Celiac, and my old remedy was to bake. I decided chocolate chip cookies would do the trick, I was more stressed out and flipping out because there were NO simple recipes for cookies. I gave up, and made peanut butter ones! (Cheers to being from Chicago too!)

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