December 1, 2010

Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? GIVEAWAY GALORE!!

"Mommy, what is celiac disease?"

How many parents had to answer that question? How do you explain everything that celiac disease entails to a young child? There are dozens of books that list symptoms, foods that are safe and those that should be avoided, recipes, tips for traveling, etc., but can you think of any that are geared towards children? Drawing a blank?

Luckily new author, Katie Chalmers, fills that void with her new children's book, Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? The story of a little girl and her mother playing at the park while talking about celiac answers the common questions that kids may have when they first learn they've been diagnosed with the disease. Which snacks are OK, can they still eat cake and ice cream at birthday parties, and what about sandwiches and fried foods? They all get answered.

The scientific aspects of gluten also get discussed. What gluten is, how it effects your body, and how to follow a gluten free diet are all mentioned. The book ends with a resource page and Chalmers' favorite gluten free go-to products.

I thought this book was adorable. Not only is the quizzical little girl darling, but the story explains celiac disease in the simplest of ways. While reading I thought to myself, "This book would be great for adults too!" I've had several encounters with people that just didn't get it. Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? breaks it down, making it understandable for anyone.

Now for the moment you've all been waiting for! As promised, I've teamed up with some really wonderful gluten free bloggers to bring you the "Gluten Free Holiday Giveaway Galore"!

Enter here and at any of the other blogs to win 1 of 10 holiday gift bags with a signed copy of Mommy, What is Celiac Disease? You can only win once no matter how many times you enter, but the more blogs you visit and enter, the greater your chances are of winning!

• A signed copy of Mommy, What is Celiac Disease?
Schar 123 Milly PlayMais- dice game & biodegradable natural toy activity brick set
Schar products: Cheese Bites, Chocolate -or- Vanilla Sandwich Creme Cookies, Hazelnut Wafers
• Pamela’s Products: Single Serve Pancake Mix, Single Serve Brownie Mix, Dark Chocolate
Chocolate Chunk Cookie two-pack, Tablespoon/teaspoon measuring spoon, kids sized t-shirt- color will vary
• Nature’s Path: Peanut Butter Panda Puffs & crispy rice bars- flavors will vary, $1 off coupons
• Mary’s Gone Crackers: one of the following: box of cookies -or- crackers -or- Sticks & Twigs
• Snyder’s of Hanover: bag of gluten-free pretzel sticks
Chebe: pizza crust mix -or- all purpose bread mix
• Bob’s Sweet Stripes: one bag of soft peppermint candy sticks
• Stuffed teddy bear: colors will vary
• Holiday pencils, eraser, holiday notepad, plastic snowman cereal bowl & star decoration
• Large holiday gift bag, small holiday gift bag & tissue paper- will need to be assembled to give as gift
* Contents may vary slightly as described above.

To enter
Mandatory entry - Please tell me why you'd like to win this book and gift bag. You MUST include your email address, twitter handle, or any means of contact. If you don't, I will not be able to notify you if you've won!

Additional entries
If you enter these ways you must come back and tell me what you did!
Enter at the other Blogs
To increase your chances of winning, visit these other great gluten free blogs and enter their giveaway!

Accustomed Chaos | hosted by Devan

Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom | hosted by Heidi

Be Free For Me | hosted by Kathleen

Celiac Family | hosted by Heather

Gluten Free Easily (gfe) | hosted by Shirley

Gluten Free is Life | hosted by Kim

Gluten Free Philly | hosted by Michael

Gluten Free Taste of Home | hosted by Cinde

Simply Sugar & Gluten Free | hosted by Amy

Rules & The Fine Print
• All 10 of these contests are open to residents of the USA. Only the Accustomed Chaos and Gluten Free Easily contests are also open to Canadian residents.
• All 10 contests begin on Wed. Dec. 1, 2010 and will end on Wed. Dec. 15, 2010 at 10pm EST.
• Entrant requirements will vary between bloggers. Please follow their directions to enter.
• Entrants can only win once total within all 10 giveaways. If anyone is chosen more than once as a winner, another winner will be chosen so everyone only wins once.
• One winner per household.
• Winners with valid entries will be selected at random. The winners will be announced and notified via email and must reply within 24 hours to claim. Otherwise, another eligible entry will be chosen, in order that all prizes will arrive before Christmas. So please remember to check your email on Dec.16th.
• If any of the 10 prizes do not arrive before Christmas because of any unforeseen holiday mail rush problems, the USPS, Katie Chalmers and hosting bloggers will not be held accountable.

October 28, 2010

2010 Gluten Free Halloween Candy List

Make sure you and the kiddos are eating gluten free candy this year. Since manufacturers may change their ingredients from time to time, it's always best to read labels and do a little research.

The National Foundation of Celiac Awareness compiled an updated list of safe Halloween candy. Make sure you print yourself a copy and read it over before you dig in.

If you are avoiding other allergens, check out Sure Food Living's candy list.

A Few Tips for Gluten Avoiders

Avoid anything with malt or barley such as:
- Milky Way (Milky Way Dark Midnight and Milky Way Caramels are gluten free)
- Zero Candy Bars
- 100 Grand
- Whoppers
- Caramel Creme (Bulls-Eyes or Cowtails)

Avoid anything with cookie crisps such as:
- Kit Kat
- Butterfinger Crisps, Sticks, or Snackerz (Regular Butterfingers are gluten free)
- Twix
- Whatchamacallit
- Hershey's Cookies & Cream Bar

Avoid anything with pretzels such as:
- Take 5
- M&Ms with pretzel (new product in blue bags)
- Pretzel Flipz

Avoid the gummy candy with wheat flour such as:
- Twizzlers
- Good & Plenty
- Sour Punch Products (Sour Punch Straws, Bites, and Twists)
- Airheads Extremes (apparently the traditional Airheads are gluten free, must have changed the recipe since I started being gluten free, they used to contain wheat flour.)

Check non-candy items carefully such as:
- 100 Calorie packs (many contain gluten)
- Mini bags of chips (flavorings could contain gluten, but there are also mini Halloween pretzel bags or Goldfish Halloween bags to watch out for)

Hopefully they'll be some stickers, free bowling coupons, spider rings, and other non food fun items. Although I did see these at the store the other day...

Scary Baby that's a healthy Halloween Treat!

September 29, 2010

New products from Glutino

If you haven't heard the news already, Glutino introduced gluten free chocolate covered and yogurt covered pretzels! Yum...I was finally able to get my hands on some last week and they were divine! Some of the non-celiacs in my family chowed down as well, saying they couldn't tell these chocolate covered pretzels were gluten free.

Another discovery - Glutino's Table Crackers. If you loved/miss Saltines or similar thin, crispy crackers, these are them!

Yet another newbie on Glutino's product list is Gluten Free Pepperoni Pizza. I couldn't find it online to buy, but I'm sure it will be popping up soon.

They didn't stop there. They introduced 3 new breakfast cereals. Their Sensible Beginnings are a corn rice flake cereal that comes in Original, Frosted, and Berry. I haven't had a chance to try these yet, but if you have, what did you think?

I've always been a fan of Glutino's, so I'm always happy when they roll out something new. What new products would you like to see from Glutino?

September 19, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes

Last week I had a hankering for pancakes. I love making chocolate chip pancakes on the weekends. My favorite gluten free mix for pancakes is Pamela's Baking and Pancake Mix. It's simply the best!

I kind of deviated from the recipe printed on the side of the bag, that is usually followed to the T. I added a bit of vanilla yogurt and a scoop of peanut butter instead of oil. I tossed in some bananas and chocolate chips and it was a flavor explosion. Topped off with a little maple syrup and breakfast was served!

What's your favorite weekend breakfast?

September 9, 2010

Gluten Free Pizza Party!

About a million years ago I used to make pizza crust with a package of cream cheese, a couple of eggs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. I hadn't had pizza in years and when I came across the recipe in a Suzanne Somer's cookbook and saw that flour was not used, I was too excited. First bite was heaven.

I made that pizza a few years later for a party I had and one of my friends said it was "disgusting". Granted, he was not gluten free, so it was a traumatic pizza experience for him. A few more years passed and I decided to throw a pizza party. I remember being in a TGIF mood and wanting to relive childhood memories of watching Full House and Family Matters while eating a frozen pizza in my best friend's basement. So I made about 8 different gluten free pizzas and invited some friends over.

By this time, gluten free pizza crust mixes were widely available and I was able to find those without a problem. I had all different varieties from Namaste to Whole Food's 365 Brand, which is sadly no more. As I was pulling the pizzas out of the oven, my buddy who dubbed my previous pizzas disgusting said, "those aren't gluten free, are they?" "Of course not!" I replied. I was the only person there that was gluten free and I know some people have the mindset of gluten free foods being yucky and will not even try them. I was not about to waste 8 pizzas.

After most of the pizzas were laid out, everyone started to dig in. I was still putting the finishing touches on my s'mores pizza (used Crushed Cocoa Pebbles, butter, and cinnamon for the crust), so I had not yet grabbed a piece. When I joined everyone and started eating a slice, my friend stared at me wide-eyed..."WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" "Hahaha...gotcha!" I replied.

In just a few short years my gluten free pizza evolved from "disgusting" to not even being able to tell the difference. Not bad. In case you were wondering the eight pizzas I made that night were cheese, meat lovers, veggies lovers, chicken/spinach/alfredo, reuben, BBQ chicken, S'mores, and "Dessert" (sugar cookie crust, butter cream frosting, mini M&Ms. This was waaaaaaay before my gluten free blogging days, but I did manage to find some pics in the archives...bringing ya back to October 2008. (You can tell I was still a rookie with the camera!)

If that didn't get you craving pizza, you'll be happy to hear that there is an UPCOMING GLUTEN FREE PIZZA PARTY! It's true...
It's TGIF all over again Friday, September 17th at OMG....It's Gluten Free from 6-8pm.

They are having a pizza party to celebrate Chef AJ as he returns home from Orlando, FL fresh from the American Pizza Championship! He was asked to participate by a major gluten-free flour company using the OMG's pizza recipe. If chosen, AJ will become a member of the U.S. Pizza Team and is invited to participate in future culinary competitions. Locations include Brazil, New York and Italy. Good luck, AJ!

They will be sampling OMG pizza and washing it down with gluten-free beer and wine. Freezers and shelves will be stocked so for every $10 you spend, you will recieve a raffle ticket for a chance to win their new OMG gift basket!

September 7, 2010

Gluten Free Banana Butterscotch Cupcakes

A few weeks ago Borders was having a massive tent sale with all items $1.99 and up. After having a marvelous meal at The Cheesecake Factory (The Incredible Grilled Eggplant sandwich sans toasted bun with a side salad), I headed over there with a friend to stock up on back to school reading. Unfortunately there wasn't much of a selection. Fortunately I did find this gem:
The Cupcake Deck.

Since I'm a bit of a cupcake fanatic, it was a definite sale. They weren't gluten free recipes, but I can turn any recipe into gluten free - easy peasy. One of the cards in the deck was for Banana Butterscotch Cupcakes, which sounded amazing! I love bananas AND butterscotch so throwing those two flavors into a cupcake is pure bliss.

Over the weekend, my brother and his bride threw a party to celebrate their recent marriage. (They were wed by Elvis in cool!) Since every party needs to have cupcakes, I did the honor by supplying them. And with Elvis being famous for his love of bananas, I thought why not? (I could go for a fried peanut butter, banana, bacon sandwich right about now...)

I obviously made them gluten free and boy, were they yummy!

Banana Butterscotch Cupcakes
adapted from Chronicle Books
Makes 12 regular cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:
1 ¼ cups gluten free all purpose flour (I used Jules)
1 tsp of baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (at room temp)
1 cup sugar
2 medium bananas mushed (use overripe 'naners)
2 large eggs
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup buttermilk
1 cup butterscotch chips (I used Hershey's, beware Nestle's Butterscotch chips have barley)

For the Frosting:
¼ cup half and half
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and start lining those cupcake tins with baking cups.

In a medium bowl, mix together gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a mixer until blended and creamy, roughly 2 minutes.

Add the banana, mixing until they are blended into the mixture. It's OK if you still see small pieces of banana.

Add one of the eggs, mixing until blended, add the second egg and blend well.

Add vanilla and beat for a minute.

On a low mixer setting, add half of the flour mixture, mixing just enough to incorporate it.

Mix in the buttermilk and the add the remaining flour until the mixture is smooth.

Stir in the butterscotch chips.

Fill the cups ¾ full and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

***While those cupcakes are baking, start mixing up the frosting***

Cool the cupcakes for 10 minutes before removing from tin. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Now to the frosting....

In a medium saucepan, heat half and half and brown sugar over low heat, stirring often until the brown sugar melts. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Pour sugar mixture in a heat safe bowl and refrigerate for 45 minutes. (Aren't you glad you started this while the cupcakes were still baking?)

After 45 minutes, using a large bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar with a mixer on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Add vanilla and the brown sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

Frost each cupcake with about 1½ tablespoons of frosting.


Feel free to make yourself fun cupcake toppers for these fun cupcakes! :)

September 4, 2010

Annual FREE Celiac Screening - Registration is now open

It's the time of year again! Time for The University of Chicago's Annual Free Celiac Screening.

Annual Free Blood Screening and Ask the Experts Panel
October 9, 2010,
8:30 a.m. to Noon.
There is no charge to be screened, but pre-registration is MANDATORY!
Call 773-702-7593

You are eligible for the Blood Screening if:

  • You have a close family member that has celiac disease or Type-1 diabetes;
  • You have Down Syndrome;
  • You have a related autoimmune condition such as, rheumatoidarthritis or Addison's Disease;
  • You have digestive problems, chronic fatigue, osteopenia/osteoporosis;
  • You have other related symptoms or conditions. (visit for more information)

Open to the public!

Bring your questions for a Q&A session with our world-renowned experts in celiac disease. We will also host an exhibit area for our sponsors: samples and information will be available beginning at 8:30 am. The event will take place at the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine (DCAM) at 5758 South Maryland Avenue. Please click here for directions and parking information.

Advanced registration for the screening is required. Call 773-702-7593 Contact our office or visit for more information.

August 22, 2010

Saké to me!

After seeing a few of my alcohol themed posts, one of the Rock Saké brand representatives contacted me to see if I've ever had saké, a rice wine popular in Japanese culture that is becoming increasingly more popular among Americans. The truth is I haven't. I knew very little about saké, mainly that it was brewed like beer, so I always assumed it was off limits for me.

After doing a little research, I found that saké is naturally gluten free. But some manufacturers (read: cheapo brands) add barley in the form of a rice malt, therefore turning it into a glutenous beverage and very unsafe for us celiac or gluten intolerants.

Good news, I've found a brand of saké that is gluten free and has a memorable name, Rock Saké. (Whenever I say that, I hear the B-52's song "Rock Lobster", only they are singing "Rock Saké.) The brand rep informed me that Rock Saké is
"an ultra-premium saké that is made of all natural ingredients and is preservative free, sulfite free and most importantly gluten free!"

After receiving a bottle of each variety, Junmai Ginjo and Cloud, I got together with friends for some sushi and taste testing.

We even compared them with some of those other brands. Everyone agreed that Rock Saké was by far better than the others. The Rock brand was deemed "universally good". We all liked the straightforwardness of the saké. It had a clean, smooth taste. The contemporary bottling was appealing, especially to a younger crowd - Rock Saké definitely demystifies saké.

When comparing it, the other brands smelled differently (like perfume and "barnyard") and tasted funky. Hands down, Rock Saké won the taste test. The blue bottle, Cloud, was everyone's favorite.

Rock Saké is sold in most liquor stores nationwide, and if you're in Chicago you can find it at some great Sushi places such as Sushi Samba, Japonais, and Sunda.

August 19, 2010

Sick day and sandwiches

I'm sick! Ugh...I've finally caught the summer cold that I was fighting for the past couple of weeks. When I woke up this morning, it was full-blown awfulness, so I headed back to bed hoping to sleep it off. When I finally dragged myself out of bed, it was around lunchtime and hunger was setting in.
Currently my home resembles Old Mother Hubbard's, well not that bad, but we're out of a lot of things. I had a loaf of Cranberry Walnut bread, swiss cheese, and bacon. You guessed it, I made the most flavorful grilled cheese sammy ever. The sweetness of the cranberries, the nuttiness of the walnuts, the crisp-salty bacon, and the smooth swiss cheese - each flavor complimented the other to create a savory sandwich.
A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by a new gluten free online bakery, smart TREAT. They asked if I'd like to try some products, and after looking at what they had, I said yes, because frankly, everything looked too good to be true. One of the items in the giant box of goodies was a loaf of Cranberry Walnut Bread, which you see was grilled with cheese and bacon above. They have so many delicious products that I'll share with you a little later (and a giveaway...get ready!), but right now I'm going to head back to bed.
What's your favorite comfort food to eat when you're sick?

August 16, 2010

Gluten Free Jack and Coke Cupcakes... houseparty style

Jack and Coke cupcakes...this is new. To be honest, I never would have thought of making a whiskey cupcakes if it wasn't for the awesome people at Have any of you have done a houseparty before? If you haven't, you should. Go sign up. Seriously.

What they do is hook up big name companies looking to promote their products with normal, everyday people like you and me. By joining the site, you can apply for the different parties that are in the works. If you're chosen to be a host, you receive a party pack FILLED with lots of promotional goodies from the company sponsoring the party. It's all free to you, even to sign up, and it's a great way to give you and your friends the opportunity to try a new product that's about to hit the scene. Still curious, you can learn all about how it works on their site.

In the past I was lucky enough to host some really great parties, but I was THRILLED to be chosen to host a "Back Jack House Party"! Jack Daniel's Whiskey is campaigning to turn Jack Daniel's birthday into a national holiday. I think many people will toast to that! If you want to be part of that action, keep checking in on Jack Daniel's Facebook page for fun ways to celebrate. Jack's birthday is in September, and I'm not sure what's in store, but I have a feeling it will be great!

Edit: Someone just emailed me about whiskey. I failed to mention in the first draft of this post that Jack Daniels is gluten free. Whiskey is safe for celiacs and gluten intolerant people. Back in the day, is was believed to not be safe, but after studies it was confirmed that the distillation process removes all wheat. It is listed as gluten free on Jack Daniel's website in their FAQ section. Most grain alcohols are gluten free because of the intense distillation process. Here is a link that can explain it better than I can. Here is another great article on about gluten free alcohol. Sorry for any confusion!
One of the newer cocktails made with Jack Daniel's that is becoming quite popular is Jack and Ginger. Jack Daniel's whiskey and Ginger Ale with a lime wedge. Refreshing! You can even take it one step further by making it a frozen Jack and Ginger, which was what we were mixing up. This new drink is so new, it's not even on the Jack Daniel's website yet, just their Facebook page. Jack Daniel's whiskey, Ginger Ale, lime sherbet, and ice. It was so delicious!

Just a little bit of Frozen Jack and Ginger left, with a Jack Daniel's drink stirrer.

Since I'm a total sweets girl, I just had to make a dessert with Jack Daniel's. I started with the Jack's birthday cake, but with a slight variation - butterscotch chips instead of chocolate chips. I found a really great recipe for it when I was looking for Jack Daniel's images to decorate the house with.

Turned out great! Very strong!

But I couldn't stop there. I'm slightly obsessed with cupcakes if you haven't already noticed. So I decided on making Jack and Coke cupcakes. I found an awesome recipe from Alex at Baking for Neighbors. Her baking is not gluten free, so I set to it to gluten free them up! Guess what? No one knew the difference.

A close cupcake fail, where's that lovely round top?

Despite being flat on top, they turned out perfect. So moist and chocolaty! I had decorated them all pretty and then of course had to taste one to make sure they were okay. bite and my cheeks started burning. These cupcakes were equivalent to taking a shot of Jack Daniel's followed by a slice of chocolate cake. No joke. Since the whiskey is all in the frosting, I had to tone them down a bit to prevent any cupcake hangovers. I scraped off a lot of the frosting and put the cut-out tops back in the middle. They looked rather pathetic, so I made some little cupcake toppers to jazz them up a bit.

Jack and Coke cupcake toppers!

When I put them out to serve, my cousin's brother-in-law (my cousin-in-law?) said he stopped drinking to sober up and after one cupcake, he was tipsy again and that they were awesome. I told him I tried to scrape off the frosting since that was really strong and sweet, to which he replied, "No way! The frosting's the best part!!" So there you have it. You must make these cupcakes for your next 21 and over event. Everyone will love you. Just make sure there is a designated driver*!

Jack & Coke Cupcakes
adapted from Baking For Neighbors

For the Coca-Cola Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 cup Coca-Cola
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I used Meister's)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup sour cream at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350°F and line 24 cupcake cups with liners.

Bring 1 cup of Coca-Cola and 2 sticks butter to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend.

Using electric mixer, whisk eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add the sugar and whisk to combine.

With the mixer on, pour in the Coca-Cola-chocolate mixture and beat just to combine.

Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.

Divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them ¾ of the way. Be really careful about not overfilling them – this cake rises and will spill over.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Cool cupcakes on a rack completely.

While those are cooling, whip up some ganache for the filling:

For the Ganache Filling
  • 8 ½ ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons Jack Daniel's whiskey
In a medium/smallish bowl, pour in chocolate chips.

In a small saucepan, heat the whipping cream until simmering and pour over chocolate chips. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped. (I placed it in the freezer for about 20 minutes)

Meanwhile, using a 1-inch round cookie cutter, an apple corer, or a paring knife, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes.

Once cooled, put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Let's Make Frosting!
Whiskey Buttercream Frosting
  • 3 cups confections sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons Jack Daniel's
Whisk the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. It does make a difference. The frosting will be less grainy, and require less sugar to thicken them up.
When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the whiskey and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin, beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar.

Once frosting is thick enough to spread, go ahead and start decorating! If you want to add the cupcake tops that you cut out, feel free! Enjoy!

Cocoa-Cola Chocolate Cupcakes with Jack Daniel's Chocolate Ganache
and Jack Daniel's Buttercream Frosting

* and Jack Daniel's not only made sure everyone was over 21, but they also provided the party guests with taxi vouchers in case anyone had one too many drinks. Thanks, houseparty and Jack Daniel's!

July 27, 2010

Mad Men Retro Fun

I can't believe I only started watching Mad Men earlier this year. After hearing all of the rave reviews, I finally picked up Season 1 on DVD and quickly became addicted. Immediately renting my way up to the end of Season 3, I anxiously awaited the Season 4 premiere, which was this past Sunday.

Since 99% of my household shares my same Mad Men feelings, we decided to enjoy the evening with a retro dinner prior to tuning into our beloved TV drama. Yours truly created the menu - deviled eggs, tuna noodle pasta salad, rainbow jello, and a pineapple upside-down cake.

Everything was delicious! I'd never baked a pineapple upside-down cake before, so this cake was an extra fun to make and eat. :)

Gluten Free Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Better Homes and Garden New Cook Book

2 8oz. cans of sliced pineapple (you may not need the entire second can)
3 tablespoons of butter or margarine
½ cup of brown sugar
6 - 8 maraschino cherries, halved
cup of shortening (I used Spectrum)
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sifted gluten free all-purpose flour (I used Meister's)
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Drain pineapple, reserving juice from one can.

In the microwave, melt butter in an 8x8x2-inch baking pan. (You can also melt the butter on the stove top and then pour into pan.) Add brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of the reserved pineapple juice to the butter and spread to cover the bottom of the pan. Pour the rest of the juice into a measuring cup and add water to the ½ cup line.

Arrange pineapple in the pan, placing a cherry half in the center of each slice.

In a large bowl, cream together shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Sift together gluten free flour, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to the creamed mixture along with the ½ cup of pineapple/water juice. Mix well.

Spread batter over pineapple and bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes and invert on plate. Serve warm and enjoy!

What's your favorite "retro" dish?

July 16, 2010

Vegas Vacation!

Hello all! If you've noticed the lack of posting, it's because I was on vacation in Las Vegas. My cousin tied the knot, so my family and I headed out to the desert to be a part of her big day. This was a very exciting trip for me, not because of my cousin's wedding, but because it was the first "big" vacation I've be able to take since 2005!! (Which ironically was to visit the very same cousin in Scottsdale, AZ while she was in college.)

I did a lot of research for gluten free restaurants in the area. I know how to order a meal wherever I'm at, but that usually consists of a salad or plain grilled chicken or meat. I love when I come across a place with gluten free hamburger buns or gluten free pizza. During my vacation homework I was able to find a bunch of places that were gluten free friendly, many with the help of Jennifer Sullivan from the Las Vegas Celiac Disease Support Group.

I found three really great places I wanted to check out, first Sammy's Wood Fired Pizza for their much talked about gluten free pizza and other gluten free items. I mean, look at that menu, wood fired pizza with Brie cheese and truffle oil!! (Please open a location in Chicago, Sammy!)

Second, Atomic #7 for their gluten free waffle cones! Not just that, their ice cream is organic and vegan! They even have dairy free ice cream in the likes of soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk, and lactose free milk. I could definitely go for one of their Out of This World Ice Cream Flavor Combos!

Lastly, I was looking forward to breakfast at The Cracked Egg for some gluten free pancakes! Yum!

Sadly I did not make it to ANY of these restaurants. All were a cab ride away from the strip where I was staying and with all of the things we had planned (if you are in Vegas, you HAVE to see The Beatles: LOVE Cirque du Soleil show, A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!) we just didn't have time to visit venture out to Henderson.

Still, I DID safely enjoy some wonderful food. A huge round of applause to the Hard Rock cafe on the strip. Our server was a total rockstar and was able to answer all of my questions (Do the fries have any sort of flour or batter coating? Are they fried in the same oil as the breaded items?) After we placed the order, my sister and I ran to the ladies room to wash our hands. When we returned a man with a killer mullet was chillin' at our table talking to the rest of the family. When I sat down, I found out he was the manager and came to discuss "who's got the gluten allergy" He wanted to know how sensitive I was and that they are doing everything they can to prevent cross contamination in the kitchen. Wow...that was really nice. I order this piece of deliciousness:

A Grilled Granny Smith Apple with Provolone Burger. No bun, but bursting with lots of flavors, seasoned beef, tart granny smith apples, salty crunchy bacon, caramelized onions, and melted provolone cheese. And of course those yummy just potato fries. It was every bit of amazing as it sounds. After we finished and my brother polished off an Apple Cobbler dessert, the general manager stopped by to make sure everything was to our satisfaction and encouraged us to visit the rest of the cafe/museum. We headed up to the third floor were I came across MC Hammer's legendary hammer pants. They were definitely too legit.

For brunch the next day, some of the family hit the buffet, but my sister and I headed over to Serendipity 3 in Caesars Palace. I'd been the original New York location years ago (and I loooove the movie - John Cusack *swoon*) so I was super excited to see one in Vegas! We decided to split an appetizer and then go all out with the ice cream desserts. We ordered nachos with grilled chicken (they came with beef, black beans, cheese, guacamole, pico di gallo, and sour cream) and then used our coupon for a free frozen hot chocolate. So much food, we couldn't even make it through the nachos. Everything was phenomenal and we so desperately wanted to return for those sundaes we promised ourselves (didn't happen - next time!)

Prior to The Beatles: LOVE show, we dined at The Range in Harrah's. A typical steakhouse, luckily because they were not very knowledgeable on food allergies. I asked my questions and after being reassured that the au gratin potatoes were safe, they arrived topped with bread crumbs (well I thought maybe they'd be ok since they were an upscale restaurant). When asked if they came without breadcrumbs, I was told they were already prepared with them. Um...ok. I had grilled asparagus and garlic potato wedges instead. Tasty! Unfortunately some of the other members of my family didn't have the greatest experience either (under cooked fish that tasted very fishy...not fresh at all. Then again we were in the desert, couldn't exactly catch it that morning.)

The following morning, Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville at the Flamingo sounded about right after a long night out. Excellent choice indeed. Perfect hash browns and a SoCal omelet filled with fresh avocado, bacon, and jack cheese. I could have eaten it for every meal.

The wedding dinner followed later that day. No pics, but tons of amazing (and waaay too much) food at NOVE Italiano. My cousin winked at me as the food came around, she already took care of mine and my mom's meals. When I told the server I was gluten free and if anything could be prepared without the glutens, he already had the heads up. I was able to eat a lot of the items served family style, but a special salad came around sans croutons. Three different gelatos finished off the meal. Upstairs in the Palms celebrity suite, cupcakes filled the table. Gluten galore, but after a few cocktails I ate a Hershey kiss off the top of one and licked a tiny bit of frosting off. I bet they were good.

The last day of the trip we ate at Caesars Palace again, this time at Augustus Cafe. I had a wonderful Cobb Salad. Free of gluten, filled with flavor.

So there you have it. A gluten free Vegas success story. If you head out there, I highly recommend all of these places. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to hit up the three restaurants I mentioned at the beginning of the post. If you do, let me know how they were!

Did any of you guys vacation this summer? Where was your favorite gluten free meal?