December 29, 2009

An Apple a Day...

Well now that I totally did myself in with all of the desserts during the Christmas season, I'm going to dedicate a little bit of my blog of some healthy stuff. Everyone seems to make the new year's resolution to lose weight or get healthy. I admit, that was my resolution year after year too, up until a couple years ago when I changed my habits and my lifestyle became 95% healthy and active. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about the cookies and junk food every once in a while, but not like before. This old girl, she ain't what she used to be!

So I'm on the quest to find healthy, convenient, and delicious gluten free snacks. I've already discovered several, if I could only blog as fast as I eat them!

I'm excited to spread the word about Pastor Chuck's Orchards! I recently read in the National Foundation of Celiac Awareness's newsletter that Pastor Chuck's Orchards is part of the NFCA's GREAT Association. Companies in the GREAT Association "work to enhance and improve the gluten‐free business climate by promoting quality, tested gluten‐free products to the general public, protecting the needs of gluten‐free customers, and assisting businesses to improve their sales and profits."

When I contacted Pastor Chuck's Orchards to see if any stores in my area carried their products, I was a bit disappointed to learn that there weren't any yet; however, they offered to send me some samples to review. (Writing product reviews are my favorite!)

Pastor Chuck's Orchards has a handful of products, applesauce in both natural and no sugar varieties, apple butter in natural and no sugar varieties, and apple salsa. All are organic and natural. And all are unbelievably delicious. I know about the importance of eating organic, and trust me, I try to buy organic as often as I can. I never thought organic applesauce to be a must have organic product, but after one taste of Pastor Chuck's applesauce, butter, and salsa, it's definitely a must! I guess it should have been a no-brainer as apples are one of the most contaminated fruits on the "dirty dozen" list.

The first product I tried was the apple salsa. I really love fruit salsas, the combination of sweet and spicy is as Alexandra would say, "magical". Paired with a salty chip and you're in taste bud heaven. The apple salsa was the perfect blend of sweet and spicy. It wasn't sugary sweet like some fruit salsas can be, nor was it incredibly spicy. It was a muted heat, semi-reminding me of the flavor of mole sauce - rich and flavorful, but not mouth burning spicy. I dipped my FoodShouldTasteGood Sweet Potato chips in there and the apple/sweet potato combo was fantastic! I also put some on a cheese and chicken quesadilla, again phenomenal!



As soon as I took a bite of the apple butter, I believe the words out of my mouth were "Oh my God, what is in here?!" I'd never tasted an apple butter as good as this. I was expecting a tart spread, but instead this apple butter tasted like I was drinking apple cider. I looked at the back of the bottle and the ingredients were organic apples, sugar, sweet apple cider and spices. Um...yum! So spicy and smooth. Perfect when having some toast and tea. I can also see this working well with pork tenderloin. Hmmmm.....


There was a giant hole in my piece of Udi's Bread!

And the applesauce? To call it gourmet is to say the least. The flavors of the apple and spices jumped out immediately. It was thick and chunky, not watery and runny like other applesauces. Again, the spices gave it a mild and smooth taste. I ate it plain and made cinnamon applesauce ornaments with it. I can't wait to try it in my 5 minute brownie recipe!


If Pastor Chuck's Orchard products are in your area, I strongly advise you check them out! If not, they are still running a holiday promotion on their site. You can get 10% OFF Holiday Boxes. Use coupon code at checkout: PT4121CP.

December 25, 2009

Gluten Free Christmas Cookies Part Deux

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday with loved ones and eating lots of the gluten free goodies that have (hopefully) been whipped up. I really loved reading all of the blog posts inspired by the holidays these past several weeks. From ornaments to cookies, that little glimpse into your family holiday traditions has been sweet.

Speaking of sweet, I was baking my little heart out yesterday trying to crank out some gluten free Christmas cookies. This year the holiday season was incredibly busy and while I made cookies, they were all for work events and none for my family and me! I couldn't let this year be the year without homemade cookies on Christmas!

Instead of our traditional cut-out cookies (I did make several batches sans photos), I decided to adventure out a bit. I know, I know...I said I was going to make all of the cookies in my mom's holiday favorites book, but that just didn't happen. Here's what DID happen:

I love that little miss Recipegirl.com. She had a totally mouthwatering cookie that popped up in one of my random browsing excursions one day, Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies. I know, right? Aren't they gorgeous?! I had to have them. And obviously I had to have them gluten free. No problem. I got this....

With the help of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Shortbread Cookie Mix, some cocoa powder, and a little red food coloring, I made it happen. I married the recipe from the back of the cookie mix bag with Recipe Girl's and it turned out marvelous. Mind you, following two recipes at once can be a little confusing and I forgot to add the food coloring while I was doing the melted butter and egg yolk bit. Whoops. I added it at the end when the mix was at the crumbly part, so my cookies turned out pink instead of the beautiful deep red. I chose to use semi-sweet chocolate to dip them in, instead of white chocolate. Whaddya think?



Obviously I needed choices, so I couldn't stop at just one cookie. A couple weekends ago, I went to a holiday festival in my neighborhood and bought some Holiday Jam at one of the stores. Orange liqueur, pears, cranberries, and raspberries went into this little jar of gourmet goodness. I thought a good old school kolacky would be delightful! I remember eating them at my grandma's when I was younger. Why not recreate those cozy memories?



I found a recipe in an old church ladies group cookbook. I substituted in Jules Gluten Free flour. It was ridiculously easy, and the kolackys (kolackies?) turned out ridiculously delicious. Light and buttery. (I seriously ate about 7 of them for breakfast this morning! Diet starts tomorrow, right?)

"Must Eat" Gluten Free Kolacky Recipe

Ingredients
  • 6 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 sticks of buttah or margarine (I used margarine to bring that 1960s grandma vibe back)
  • 2 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I used Jules, but pick your favorite!)
  • jam, jelly, nutella, nuts (however you like your kolacky)
  • powdered sugar
Directions
  • Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a large bowl.
  • Add flour and mix well.
  • Refrigerate for a bit (about an hour or two).
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • On floured (gf of course or cornstarch) wax paper, roll out dough (I put a sheet of wax paper on top too, much easier this way)
  • Use a round cookie cutter and cut out thin circles of dough.
  • Plop 'em on a foil lined (or parchment paper lined) cookie sheets.
  • Spread a layer of filling in the center of dough and roll the corners in to make them like a bow-tie. (Make sure you smoosh them together well or they will "unroll" in the oven like 99% of mine did.)
  • Bake for 15 minutes.
  • Once cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
  • Enjoy!

December 22, 2009

Boring and Bold: A Tale of Two Barks

I love making peppermint bark around Christmas time. The ingredients are super cheap, it makes for a great hostess gift, and tastes delicious! A few years ago at an office holiday party, one of my co-workers brought peppermint bark and the most amazing chocolate bark ever. I asked for the recipes and to this day I still have them in their original form - printed off my work email Wed, Dec 13, 2006 at 8:39 AM.

Today I read Christopher and Tia's post showcasing a mouthwatering 7 Layer Peppermint Bark. My puny two ingredient peppermint bark pales in comparison, but it's still yummy. So here's my boring bark.



Peppermint Bark

1 pkg of white chocolate chips
1 pkg of candy canes

Melt white chocolate in microwave (in 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth) or on stove.

Coarsely chop candy canes with cleaver or blender (or smash in a bag like me), then stir into white chocolate.

Cover cookie sheet with wax paper. Spread mixture on cookie sheet until 1/4 inch thick. Put cookie sheet in freezer for 1 hour.

Remove, break into pieces, and enjoy!



Holiday Peppermint Bark on Foodista

And now for the bold, exciting, scrumptious bark! This chocolate bark is far from boring.

Chocolate Bark

1 pkg of Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips
1 pkg of White Chocolate chips
10 gluten free chocolate sandwich cookies (KinniToos!)
2 Tbsp Creamy Peanut Butter

Melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips and white chocolate chips in two separate bowls in either the microwave or on the stove. Stir periodically until smooth.

Crush 5 cookies and stir into the semi-sweet chocolate.


Stir peanut butter into the white chocolate. Crush the remaining 5 cookies and add them to the white chocolate peanut butter mixture.



Cover a cookie sheet with a sheet of wax paper. Place spoonfuls of alternating chocolates in rows until the pan is covered. Using a rubber spatula or knife (or even one of the spoons), marble the chocolate. Put cookie sheet in freezer for 1 hour.


Remove, break into pieces and enjoy!



December 21, 2009

Chop Chop, Crush, Break and Blend

WHERE did the time go? I feel like it was JUST Thanksgiving and now Christmas is in five days! It's been a very busy past few weeks. While I haven't been blogging as much as I would like, I've still been cooking and baking away.

Last week, Gluten Free Faces and Glutino held a recipe contest. Using Glutino pretzels to create an original recipe, the top 3 winners will win a year supply of Glutino pretzels. I loves me some Glutino pretzels, so you betcha I was baking away! I created a few delicious recipes, but all of them called for crushed pretzels and crushing pretzels for me involves a plastic bag and meat mallet.

While I have a Magic Bullet, I find it can be sometimes difficult chopping and mincing things in the little cups that come with it. It's great for smoothies and milk shakes (I made amazing Eggnog milkshakes this weekend!), but for the some jobs, I need something a bit bigger. I've been on the market for a larger food processor for quite some time and was pleasantly surprised when I was contacted by a promotional team representative at CSN stores last week.

The CSN team is promoting the new Paula Deen Cookware line and choosing bloggers to hold giveaways or write product reviews of the cookware.com products. I chose to review one of their food processors, because frankly that would save me a lot of time (and plastic baggies) and expand my culinary horizons. Do you know how many recipes I skip over due to lack of a food processor? Not anymore! Thanks to the kind folks at cookware.com, I'll be able to bring you more recipes with lots of chopped, ground, pureed, and blended ingredients!

In addition to Paula's line of cookware and the various other brands they carry, cookware.com has everything needed for the kitchen. From stemware to fun kitchen gadgets, they have a wide selection. And there's even still time to shop for the foodie on your Christmas list!

Review of the Black & Decker Ergo 3 Cup Chopper coming soon!

December 16, 2009

And the FoodShouldTasteGood Chip winner is....

#8, Nutrition to Kitchen!
Nutrition to Kitchen said...

I love anything cinnamon, and would probably pair them with a whipped up peanut butter dip made with raisins and cinnamon for a double whammy!


Sounds yummy! Please email me with your mailing address so the folks at FoodShouldTasteGood can send you a sampler pack. Thanks to all who entered. More giveaways coming soon!

December 15, 2009

Sugar 'n Spice...oh that's nice!



Every year I make a list of people I need to Christmas shop for. This year was no different. I made a list and checked it twice. Besides my family, I realized I had a lot of people I wanted to give a little somethin' to. My bosses and co-workers for instance. Last year I started my job the last day of September and I was still fairly new when Christmas rolled around. I didn't know how the whole gift giving deal went. Plus I still wasn't very chummy with any of my co-workers yet. I felt slightly embarrassed I showed up empty handed as my boss showered me with a Christmas card, gift card, and baked goods. I say "embarrassed" because I am notorious for being the world's best gift giver. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but people have honestly told me I give the best gifts, right down to the wrapping and ribbons.

So this year I'm bringing my "A" game back. I decided to make sugar scrubs. I took a botanical spa scrub workshop over the summer and made a mocha spice sugar scrub that I love. Every time I use it, my skin glows and is incredibly soft. I thought it would be the perfect gift, especially this time of year when skin gets dry, chapped, or just plain blah.

I made two scrubs. The mocha spice sugar scrub for my bosses and a candy cane sugar scrub I found on My Kitchen Addiction for a few co-workers. If you're looking for a great last minute gift, these are perfect!

Mocha Spice Sugar Scrub
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Sugar in the Raw
  • 2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 cup Oil (I used grapeseed, but you can use almond, olive, walnut or whichever you prefer for this scrub)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Tablespoons Honey
  • Dash of Cinnamon
  • Dash of Allspice
  • 5 drops of essential oil (Optional, I added orange oil to my scrub)
- Mix dry ingredients together well.
- Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl.
- Pour the entire bowl of wet ingredients over the dry mixture. It will seep down and start to bubble.
- Mix well, but not too much that it's thinned out. Add more sugar in the raw if needed.

Usage directions: Apply to moist skin (Arms, legs, hand, feet. This scrub is too harsh for faces.) Exfoliate skin and rinse. Be careful, your tub/shower may get slippery!


Candy Cane Sugar Scrub


Recipe can be found here. The only thing I changed was the oil, I used olive. I also could not for the life of me find Vanilla Bean Paste - I called EVERYWHERE (Trader Joes, William Sonoma, Whole Foods, The Chopping Block, Beverly Pantry, and health food stores - phew!) so I just used vanilla extract.


I bought the jars off of the Oriental Trading site. I'm sure you can find similar ones in any Jo-Ann Fabrics, Michaels, or your favorite craft store.

December 14, 2009

Gluten Free Christmas Cookies - Part I

I am way behind! Everyone in blog world is going great guns with the Christmas cookie posts and I have YET to crank one out. Baking cookies at Christmas time is one of my favorite traditions. When I was a little girl, my mom would make the most beautiful cookies. Decorated with those little gold bead sprinkles and everything. We had a cookies press and even a "12 Days of Christmas" cookie cutter set which was totally awesome. How many "Lords of Leaping" or "Maids of Milking" cookies have you seen? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Years ago, Babs made a little accordion recipe book for her top five most popular Christmas cookies. I pulled it out last week and we were looking at it while making our holiday baking plans. She declared, "I'm going to make each and every one of these cookies." To that, I responded, "and I'm going to make them gluten free!"
Last night I started out with the Chocolate Mint Cookies. I remember these from before my gluten free days. They were amazing. Back then you could only get mint chocolate chips around the holidays, so they were a real treat. These days they sell Andes mint pieces for baking, which I used in this recipe.

I substituted with Jules All Purpose flour. The gluten eating crowd in my family loved them. In fact my brother wolfed down about 75% of the batch. It made close to 3 dozen cookies, and yes, they are all gone after close to 24 hours later. After one bite, my sister's response was, "Mmmm, they're so light and fluffy!" Without my further ado, I present Chocolate Mint Cookies.



If you can't read the teeny-tiny recipe card above, here's the large print version:

Ingredients
1 pkg Mint Chocolate chips, divided
1 3/4 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup margarine, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips over very low heat. Remove from heat and stir.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. In another bowl, beat margarine and sugars. Beat in egg, vanilla, and melted chocolate. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in remaining chocolate chips.

Drop onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are puffed. Cool; remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Enjoy!

This cookie recipe is part of Jennie's Kitchen's 12 Days of Sharing virtual cookie swap!

12DaysCookies_badge-1


Mint Chocolate Cookies on Foodista

December 11, 2009

FoodShouldTasteGood Chip Giveaway!

It's pretty obvious that the holidays are here and the celebrations are in full swing. From office parties to gatherings with friends, food and goodies are everywhere! Most parties have a plethora of hor d'oeuvres and I'm sure almost everybody has a bowl of chips and dip hanging out with those little cocktail wieners. Sure, chips & salsa or potato chips & french onion dip are good, but let's kick it up a notch!

Not too long ago, I discovered FoodShouldTasteGood chips. I was introduced to the Multigrain chips and then stopped dead in my tracks when I saw CHOCOLATE TORTILLA CHIPS on the store shelf. Delicious is an understatement, they are simply divine. I made a little ice cream sundae with them, but the possibilities of what to pair them with are endless.

Plus these chips are all natural. There's no preservatives or MSG, nor are they genetically modified in anyway. They are kosher, low sodium, trans fat free, gluten free, lactose free, cholesterol free, and a good source of dietary fiber. Wow-wee, huh?

I signed up for their fan club, because obviously I'm a fan. Being a proud fan club member, I receive emails from time to time with news (they have some new flavors), coupons, and recipes. Shortly before Thanksgiving, they sent out a recipe for Gingersnap Dip. I'd never heard anything like it, but it sounded delicious! They suggest pairing it with their chocolate, sweet potato, or cinnamon chips. Worked for me. I ran out and got myself some chips and served up a batch of gingersnap dip for our pre-Thanksgiving feast.

I loved it, my family loved it, our friends loved it. This dip is totally lovable, and super easy to make. See how good:


Gingersnap Dip with a Chocolate Tortilla Chip

In addition to making great chips, they are great people. I like to give props to companies that are striving to make the world a better place. They do this by supporting their local communities and donating their chips to food banks, sponsoring their employees in charity fund raising events, and being environmentally conscious in several ways from recycling to using energy efficient lights.

I emailed the folks at FoodShouldTasteGood and told them how much I enjoy their chips, and really enjoyed their most recent fan club recipe. They were so sweet and sent me a sampler case of the most popular flavors. Good for me, right? But guess what? I told them about this lil ol' blog of mine and they wanted to give one of my readers a case too!

To enter the giveaway, visit FoodShouldTasteGood's website and pick a flavor you'd like to try. Then leave a comment below with your choice AND what you would pair it with. They offer loads of suggestions, but do you have a special recipe that would be awesome with their unique flavors?

I paired up the Cinnamon chips with eggnog ice cream. Yum! We have a great pineapple dip recipe (8oz cream cheese, 1 pkg instant french vanilla pudding, 20 oz can of crushed pineapple, tub of cool whip - sprinkle pudding on pineapple, let dissolve, blend in softened cream cheese, then mix in cool whip) that would probably be amazing with the chocolate chips. Unfortunately we ate them all before we could make the dip! Not to worry, we can always get more. Be creative! I can't wait to see whatcha got!

The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, December 16th. You may enter more than once. The winner gets a sampler case of FoodShouldTasteGood chips: Multigrain, Sweet Potato, Chocolate, and Cinnamon. Good luck!

December 8, 2009

GoMacro or Go Home!


Every now and then I will get the chance to sample products for companies that offer gluten free products. Recently I was contacted by GoMacro to try out some gluten free macrobiotic products. At first I was a little hesitant. Macrobiotic bars? The image of seaweed filled my brain. To be honest I didn't know much about macrobiotic diets, but the two little press releases in the email sparked my interest:

New GoMacro certified organic Gluten Free MacroTreat cookies are vegan and contain no gluten, dairy, eggs or animal products. MacroTreats are sweetened with organic agave nectar that is low-glycemic to help avoid blood sugar spikes associated with refined sugars, evaporated cane juice and dates. MacroTreats are baked with whole grains, pea fiber, flax sprouts, fruit, and nuts. The high fiber content and slow-burning complex carbs boost energy levels throughout the day.
and

Go Macro MacroBars come in beautiful eco friendly gift boxes. The enclosed gift card contains wild flower seeds – add dirt to the box, plant the card and watch the wildflowers grow. After enjoying the flowers indoors, you can plant the box directly in the ground. Three types of bars are available in gift boxes -- peanut protein, cashew butter, and granola coconut. Each box contains 15 bars and is priced at $48.95.
First, the ingredients were obviously right on. I like healthy, natural snacks. I'm constantly on the go, so healthy bars to throw in my purse are awesome. Second, how cool are those eco friendly gift boxes? I had to check them out.I loved their website. From the way the company was formed, to the company's mission, to recommendations for other green company products (those Sarah Cihat plates?!), they won me over and I agreed to give them a whirl.

I was pleasantly surprised at how delicious these bars were! I tried out the Granola with Coconut which was incredible. The bar was soft, full of flavor, and filled me up. I ate it during that 3pm lull and it gave me enough energy to get through the day without hitting up the office chocolate stash or coffee machine. Today I ate the Cashew Butter bar. Like the granola with coconut, it was equally delicious and filling. I loved that it didn't have an aftertaste and actually satisfied me! I still have a Cashew Mesquite bar to try out, but I have no doubt it won't be as amazing as the others.

I received a couple MacroTreats also, which were the cookies. They weren't bad. I think I would prefer a regular cookie more, but for a "treat" they hit the spot. I tried out the Granola and Chocolate flavor and think I set myself up for a more intense Chocolate flavor instead of the organic cacao. Not bad though. The Cashews with Vanilla cookie was pretty tasty, but again I thought it would have more of a rich vanilla flavor.


I loved the bars. I'm definitely going to purchase more soon! If there is a store that carries them near you, I advise you to check them out. If not, shop online and don't forget to use the coupon code to save! I would love to get some of these in my stocking (hint-hint, Santa, if you're reading this!)

December 7, 2009

Gluten Free cooking videos with Top Chef's Hosea Rosenberg and Stephanie Izard

This past weekend I had plans to trek out to Whole Foods in River Forest to see Lisa Cooks Allergen Free's holiday recipes and appetizers cooking demonstration. Unfortunately the event was canceled. Luckily Lisa posted all of her holiday recipes on her website.

Whole Foods must have read my mind about wanting to see a cooking demo in their store, because today I received an email with videos of Top Chef's Hosea Rosenberg and Stephanie Izard with some great recipes and even a special gluten free video. They are definitely worth checking out. I got some great ideas and hope you can find some good recipes too!



This video features some delicious appetizers. Brie with Cardamom-Scented Clementine Chutney*, Pita Chips with Sweet Potato Mash and Smoked Almonds*, and Seafood Cucumber Stacks with Lemon Cream and Chives.

*Please note that these recipes call for gluten containing products. Substitute Glutino Crackers or Schar Table Crackers in the Brie with Cardamom-Scented Clementine Chutney recipe.

*Great pita-chip like gluten free crackers are Nicole's Divine Crackers. Those would work well for the Pita Chips with Sweet Potato Mash and Smoked Almonds recipe. If you can't find those, any gluten free cracker will work in place of the pita chip.




This video doesn't show any recipes, but Hosea gives some great ideas and suggestions for gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian diets. The gluten free and dairy free recipes he mentions can be found online at the Whole Foods website.



Top Chef's Stephanie Izard's Roasted Cauliflower


Chicago's Stephanie Izard also teamed up with Whole Foods to create a yummy gluten free side dish, roasted cauliflower. Looks tasty!

December 6, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside - Gluten Free Comfort Food Review

It's finally starting to feel like December in Chicago. The "windy city" is definitely living up to its name. With the blustery cold weather, I've been craving some seriously comfort food. For the past couple of weeks, I've been on a mission to find the perfect pasta meal. I know I should be making my own creamy pasta dishes, and steering clear of the powdered artificial stuff, but it's good to find a quick go-to brand too. Here's what I've tried so far...

Ian's Mac & No Cheese. Now I'm only gluten free and luckily can eat the other top allergens safely. This stuff is wheat, gluten, milk, casein, eggs, nuts and soy free. Geez, what's left?! You'd think it'd taste like nothing, but this brown rice pasta dish is full of flavor! The sauce doesn't taste cheesy; it's more like a cream sauce, but it complements the brown rice pasta quite nicely. I love that it's super quick to make. A couple minutes in the microwave and it's ready to eat. Plus it's the perfect size. I know Ian's Foods are targeted more towards kids, but as an "adult", I can say the little bowl of warm pasta hit the spot and was a satisfying meal.

Namaste Taco Shells Pasta. I've been meaning to try this pasta for awhile. I love Mexican food and "taco pasta" sounded pretty good to me! I love Namaste Foods. Their brownie mix is fantastic and I really enjoyed their Say Cheez pasta. The taco shells mix was brown rice pasta and a taco seasoning packet. All signs were pointing to a good meal, but I was a little disappointed. To be fair, it's partially my fault because when heating up the seasoning mixture, I stepped away and I think it burned a little bit. After I made the pasta and added the seasoning, I found it a little too spicy for me and not very taco-y tasting. I added some cheese, cuz let's face it, cheese makes everything taste better, but I don't think I would try this one again. I do really like the idea, and I might try to recreate a taco pasta dish with my own seasonings.



Mrs. Leeper's Mac & Cheese. Mrs. Leeper's Mac & Cheese is as close as the blue box of Mac & Cheese as you can get in my opinion. Granted, I haven't tried all of the gluten free mac and cheese products out there, but this stuff is pretty darn good. This time around, it was corn pasta and a powdered cheese packet. I added milk and butter and voilĂ , comfort food. It was incredibly cheesy and mighty delicious.



Contes Cheese Ravioli. I've only had ravioli twice in the ten years since I've been gluten free. Both have been in the past few months. The first was from Da Luciano's. They recently started a gluten free shop, and when I was there for the Safe & Sound dinner in September, I picked up a package of frozen ravioli. I nearly died, it was so good. Contes was just as good. 10 minutes total in the microwave was all it took for this little taste of Italy. The tomato sauce was savory and the pasta made from rice flour was delicious. The cheese? *drool* I really want to try the rest of their pastas.



What's your favorite gluten free comfort food or pasta dish?

December 4, 2009

Looking for Gluten Free Stocking Stuffers?



Well look no further! Gluten free cookies make great gifts for your gluten free friends and family.

I recently signed up to be a "Liz's Little Helper" for one of my favorite bakeries, Liz Lovely. As I posted before, this little bakery in Vermont bakes up some of the most amazing gluten free cookies! As a Little Helper, my job is to spread the word about their cookies. The good part, I earn free cookies if you place an order. The even better part, you save 20%! Just enter the code: BETSYROCKS in the promo code section at the checkout and you save!

I highly recommend the gluten free Snickerdoodle! It's my favorite. I mean, just look at how scrumptious:

*Drool*

If you don't need to eat gluten free, I suggest you check out their vegan cookies. How cute are those cowboy and cowgirl cookies?

If you're still on the fence, consider this: Liz Lovely is an environmental friendly bakery. They are certified organic and GMO-Free. They use fair trade sources, supporting small farms in the US and abroad. To top that off, they pack their lovely products in green packaging, which benefits the environment and YOU. You certainly don't need any BPA in the packaging of your cookies!

So what are you waiting for?! Stock up! Don't forget to use the code: BETSYROCKS

December 3, 2009

Chicago Gluten Free December Events


Happy Holidays! I can't believe it's December already, where did the time go? Once again, I'm a little late in posting the December events. I already missed a support group that was held yesterday. My New Year's resolution is to get better at that. There are a lot of great holiday events this month, but for all you non-Chicago readers, there is a great gluten free event going on all month and you don't even have to leave your warm house. Gluten Free Frenzy is posting the 25 Days of Christmas Cookies, which I think is the greatest idea ever! Stop by and see what she's been baking, she has a lot of great recipes.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Windy City Celiacs Meetup - Gluten Free Holidays fast, fun and EASY!
Trader Joe's 44 E. Ontario
Chicago, IL 60611
312-951-6369
3:00 pm - 7:00 pm - Free!
Join "Windy City Celiacs" as we take the STRESS out of planning your Holiday dinners, parties and desserts! We will sample several Gluten-Free items being offered at Trader Joe's! You will learn quick, healthy and flavorful appetizers, side dishes as well as main courses. As well as tasty desserts....all designed to make your entertaining easier. In addition you will receive recipes that you can make at home to serve guest & friends!

Sunday, December 6, 2009
Lisa Cooks Allergen Free
Whole Foods
7245 Lake St
River Forest, IL
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm - Free!
Learn how to make holiday sides, hors d’oeuvres, drinks and desserts! All attendees will have a chance to win a gluten-free gift basket, jam packed with safe holiday goodies!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Lisa Cooks Allergen Free
Whole Foods Market - Halsted
3640 N Halsted St
Chicago, IL
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm - $5
New Year's Eve drink and appetizer ideas!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Festive Gluten Free Cookies and Desserts with Sueson Vess
Whole Foods
2607 W. 75th Street
Naperville, IL 60565
7:00 pm - $5 per adult, children free, no one turned away for inability to pay.
Please pay in the culinary center to Suesson Vess. No need to sign up.
Learn to make gluten, dairy, soy and corn free cookies and dessert to WOW friends and family.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Gluten Free Fried Chicken Night!
Ina’s
1235 W Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60607
Reservations a must – 312-266-8227

Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Gluten Intolerance Group
Sunset Foods
1127 Church Street
6:30 pm
The Northbrook Meeting is hosting a dessert exchange. Bring your favorite gluten free/dairy free dessert with 10 copies of the recipes. We will also have Rose from Rose's wheat-free bakery doing a baking demo.

Thursday, December 10, 2009
Gluten Intolerance Group
Rose's Wheat Free Bakery
2902 Central Street
Evanston, IL
6:30 pm
The Evanston meeting will feature Rose from Rose's Wheat Free Bakery doing a baking demo and you will be sampling many of their holiday products.

Monday, December 14, 2009
Gluten Intolerance Group
Free From Market
14482 S. LaGrange Road
6:00 pm
The Orland Park meeting will have Jen Cafferty doing a baking demo. We will take a tour of the Free From Market and learn about the "best" products and discuss Christmas for the gluten-free family.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Lisa Cooks Allergen Free - Gluten-Free Holiday Desserts
Whole Foods
201 63rd St
Willowbrook, IL 60527
7:00pm - $5.00 per person
Chef Lisa Williams from the great website www.lisacooksallergenfree.com joins us to talk about how she transformed her life once she managed her allergies (including sensitivities to wheat, gluten, sugar, and dairy). She will share her baking expertise as she whips up sugar cookies and other tasty treats of the season.

Thursday, December 17, 2009
Gluten Free Support Group
Whole Foods
151 Rice Lake Square
Wheaton, IL 60189
7:00p.m - Free!
Holiday Baking: Learn to make gluten, dairy, soy and corn free cookies and deserts to wow your friends and family

Thursday December 17, 2009
Gluten Free Gathering with Chef Sunshine Best
Whole Foods
1331 North Rand Rd
Palatine, IL 60074-2922
7:00 - 8:30 pm - $5.00 per person
This holiday season be sure to join Chef Sunshine Best as we'll be creating some desserts perfect to have seconds of. Recipes include a Winter Wonderland Trifle, Chocolate-glazed Profiteroles and more. Samples and recipe tips provided. Sign up today by calling customer service at (847)776-8080.

November 26, 2009

Betsy's "Not from a Can" Pumpkin Pie

My chocolate turkey place setting and a photo of my great-grandmother basting a turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope everyone had a wonderful and delicious meal with their loved ones. I sure did. My side dishes turned out beautifully. The green bean casserole I mentioned in my last post was perfect. Everyone around the table raved about it. (Thanks, Jules, for the great recipe!)

I also made a F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S gluten free stuffing that was out of this world! The Breadsmith in my area makes gluten free items every Wednesday. Last week I placed an order for their Cranberry Orange gluten free bread. I found a really great recipe on the Weight Watcher's site for Stuffing with Sage and Chives. I followed that for the most part, but instead of the whole wheat bread, I used my cranberry orange bread (obviously), and I also added some Bilinski Apple Chardonnay Chicken Sausage. Yum!

My favorite thing I made was the pumpkin pie! I was inspired by Christopher and Tia's post about baking au naturel. I signed up to make this year's pie with nothing that came out of a can. How'd it turn out? Well...

I wasn't really sure where to start. How do you roast a pumpkin? How do you make pumpkin pie without evaporated milk? I hit the web to do a little research. I found my answer over at 101 Cookbooks. Heidi made a Spice-Kissed Pumpkin Pie that was just what I was looking for. From how to roast a pumpkin to blending your own pumpkin pie spice, everything was natural. I knew I wasn't going to follow her recipe that was inspired by Kathy FitzHenry exactly. I wasn't really sold on the hazelnut, but I loved her recipe for the pumpkin. I roasted my pumpkin this past Sunday so it'd be all set to go.


Now I just needed to figure out my crust. I could go with a traditional crust or something else...

I was once again inspired. This time by the Bleeding Heart Bakery's holiday menu. My eyes went straight to the "Pumpkin Pie in Chocolate Crust". Bleeding Heart Bakery makes a few flavors of gluten free cupcakes (they are good, my friends bought me some a couple years ago), but that is the extent of their gluten free menu. I decided that they weren't the only ones making a pumpkin pie in chocolate crust.

With a little help from the Magic Bullet, I ground up some OrgraN Mini Outback Animals chocolate cookies. I mixed the ground up cookies with 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and butter and pressed it into my pie pan.


I then made my pumpkin pie spice blend. I ground up my cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. It smelled amazing. I whisked it together with brown sugar, added my pumpkin, vanilla, eggs, and coconut milk. My sister and I have fallen in love with So Delicious French Vanilla Coconut milk creamer. I hoped that the creamer would do a good job as a fill in for evaporated milk. I poured the mixture in my pie shell and off it went into the oven.


An hour later I had my fresh pie. It didn't look very orange, but I read on Iceberg to Arugula that when roasting your own pumpkin the puree will be lighter.


After the scrumptious feast tonight, it was time to put it to the test. Did it turn out? You betcha!


The chocolate crust was divine. Crispy with just the right amount of chocolate. Not too thick, it complimented the pumpkin perfectly. The filling was so full of flavor with the fresh pumpkin and spices. I think the coconut milk made it a little lighter in density too. With a pie this good, I can't imagine ever going back to the canned stuff. Thanks for the challenge, Tia!


And yep, real whipped cream.