February 28, 2010

4 Yummy Ways to Eat Pretzels

Towards the end of last year, Glutino had a pretzel recipe contest. The winning recipe would win a year supply of Glutino's pretzels. Sounds amazing, right? I love their pretzels and at $6-8 a bag, a free year's supply would have been a godsend (maybe I could have even moved out of my parents' house...haha...).

Anyways, I entered four recipes and none of them were chosen. The winning recipe was a Squash Casserole. When I was creating my recipes I was trying to think of the best flavors that complement pretzels. Most people eat them with cheese, mustard, or chocolate, so I based my recipes around those things. I think what turned out were incredibly tasty and wanted to share them with. Without further ado, here they are...

First up was good ol' fashioned Mac 'n Cheese. When I eat mac 'n cheese, I usually just make something from a box (I know, I know...), so I never had any fancy schmancy baked macaroni and cheese with bread crumb topping. I thought a crunchy pretzel topping would be perfect for the top of my first ever attempt at homemade Mac & Cheese...and it was!

Macaroni and Cheese with a Pretzel Crust

2 cups gluten free pasta (shells, elbows, spirals, whichever shape you prefer)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp gluten free all purpose flour (Jules, Bob's Red Mill, etc)
1 ½ cup milk
2 ¼ cup freshly grated cheese (cheddar or my favorite, a mix of cheddar, gouda, and bleu)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ cup finely crushed Glutino Pretzels

Preheat broiler.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, in a sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until cooked (should turn golden, about 2 minutes). Add milk slowly while continuing to whisk. Whisk constantly until mixture has thickened, about 2 minutes. Add cheese to mixture and stir until melted.

Drain pasta (do not rinse). Return pasta to pot and pour in cheese mixture. Stir until pasta is well coated. Add onion and garlic powder and mix.

Pour mac and cheese into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle pretzel crumbs on top. Broil about 1 to 2 minutes until pretzels are crisp, careful that they do not burn. Serve immediately.

Next, I worked that mustard flavor and created a crusted chicken.

Chicken with a Honey Mustard Pretzel Crust

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp pure honey
2 tbsp whole grain mustard
¼ cup milk
1 ½ cups of crushed Glutino pretzels
1 tsp ground mustard

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Wash, trim, and pound chicken breasts.

In a plastic bag (or food processor) crush pretzels into crumbs. Pour pretzel crumbs into a bowl. Sprinkle in ground mustard and stir to evenly distribute among pretzels.

In a separate shallow bowl, combine honey, mustard, and milk. Combine well.

Dip chicken breast in honey mustard mixture and coat thoroughly. Remove and dip chicken into pretzel crumbs, coating well. Place into greased baking pan. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.

Bake chicken 45-55 minutes at 400 degrees. Enjoy as is, or serve with honey mustard dipping sauce or BBQ sauce.

Next up were a couple of desserts. When I was a kid, we made "truffles" allll the time. A giant bar of Hershey's Chocolate and Cool Whip and we were set. We rolled them in graham cracker crumbs, but hey, why not pretzel crumbs?

Pretzel Truffles

1 "Giant" Milk Chocolate Hershey Bar (7oz)
1 tub Cool Whip
1 ½ cups finely crushed Glutino Pretzels crumbs
mini baking cups

Melt chocolate bar over medium heat. In a large bowl, mix cool whip and melted chocolate until well combined. Refrigerate half an hour until mixture stiffens.

Place crushed pretzels in a bowl. With a tablespoon, scoop and drop chocolate into the pretzel crumbs and roll around until well coated. Place truffle into mini baking cup. Enjoy!

Last, but not least was mine and Babs' favorite! The ultimate of all things delicious. (Well, that's not really true, but it's up there!) Salted caramel is all the rage now, so I whipped up what I dubbed a "Salted Caramel Crunchie"

Salted Caramel Crunchies

1-14oz bag of wrapped plain caramels
1 TBSP water
1 cup broken Glutino pretzel pieces
sea salt
greased wax paper

Unwrap caramels and place in sauce pan with water. Melt caramels over medium heat.

Once completely melted, remove from heat and stir in pretzel pieces.

Drop caramel/pretzel mixture onto greased wax paper with tablespoon. Sprinkle with sea salt. Allow to cool completely before enjoying.

For chocolate lovers, these caramels can become chocolate covered salted caramel crunchies! Freeze for about 2 hours prior to dipping. Melt chocolate of choice and dip caramel crunchie in chocolate. Place on wax paper covered plate and allow to cool completely in refrigerator.

February 26, 2010

"A Balanced Diet is a (gluten free) Cookie in Each Hand"

Now if only we had three hands, because last week the folks at Liz Lovely announced three new flavors to their gluten free cookie lineup: Oatmeal Raisin, Triple Chocolate Mint, and Coconut Lemon. I was super excited because I loooove mint and lemon...oh, and I happen to love cookies too! (Maybe a little bit too much...)
Not only that, but they are also having a SALE! They're offering 15% off through this Sunday, Feb. 28th, at midnight. Enter the code: SNOWSHOES at the checkout and save up.

February 18, 2010

Crazy for Cupcakes!

Last week was filled with cupcakes. Starting on Tuesday at the Safe & Sound dinner at the Landmark Grille, Swirlz Cupcakes provided the dessert, Vegan German Chocolate Cupcakes. They were perfect ending to an amazing dinner! There were a few extras, so guess what my breakfast was Wednesday morning...

They say, "life is uncertain, eat dessert first!", right?

For Valentine's Day, I decided I was going to make Marlow's Strawberry Shortcake cupcakes. I was so excited to make these, because they looked so yummy in her pics! I had gotten a Bob's Red Mill vanilla cake mix in my Safe & Sound goodie bag, and I already had some strawberry Jell-O on hand. I never had Bob's Red Mill cake mixes before, and OMG....they are the BEST!!!! I followed the directions exactly and they turned out marvelous! Incredibly light and fluffy and super moist. Thanks, Marlow, for this awesome recipe! I definitely can't wait to make these again.

I used the Betty Crocker "Fluffy White" frosting

As if those weren't enough, I just had to have a heart (and a cupcake) for the nurses at Children's Memorial Hospital. Alexandra and I headed over to Swirlz on Sunday to pick up some vegan, gluten free Red Velvet cupcakes. Jealous? You should be...they were fantastic! My favorite part was definitely the frosting...yum!

Vegan Red Velvet!

Needless to say, as delicious as all of these were, I'm laying off the cupcakes for a little bit. Pass the health food, please! :)

February 13, 2010

Groove is in the heart (shaped cookies)

Last weekend I found some really cute cookie cutters in hearts and X's and O's. I decided I had to have them, so I bought them and made cookies. This time I tried a new gluten free all purpose flour, Meister's.


This stuff is great!! Remember my mom's Christmas cookie book I talked about before? Well I used her recipe for butter cookies and after the first bite it was like I was 10 years old again. They tasted identical to the original cookie I grew up on. I was blown away. Normally I can make recipes come close to what I remember them tasting in my pre-gluten free days, but these were a perfect match.

Here's how the magic happened:

Barb's Butter Cookies (à la Betsy)

¾ c sugar
½ c. butter
4 oz. cream cheese
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1½ c. Meister's Gluten Free Flour
2½ tsp baking powder (this is where I messed up, it should have only been 1½ but apparently I can't do math...as I said, the cookies turned out phenomenal so maybe this was the secret?)

  • Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Add egg and vanilla extract. Beat until smooth.
  • Add flour and baking powder. Beat until well blended.
  • Chill dough for 1-2 hours. (I chilled it for 3 days, the longer the better I say...if you can wait that long.)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Roll dough out on a gluten free floured surface and cut with cookie cutters dipped in GF flour.
  • Bake on foil or parchment lined cookie sheets for 8-10 minutes.
Let cool and then frost those babies up! I used Devin Alexander's recipe for cream cheese frosting. It's found in her book, The Most Decadent Diet Ever! or online here.

I shared them with the fam and my sister agreed that they tasted just like the gluten cookies. They were so light and fluffy, she couldn't tell the difference. Needless to say, they were a huge hit at my house...the entire batch was gone the next day.

February 12, 2010

Swirlz Cupcakes + you = happy Children’s Memorial Hospital nurses!

One of my favorite places to get gluten free goodies is Swirlz Cupcakes. They make gluten free cupcakes that are to DIE for! I just had a special vegan German Chocolate cupcake at the Landmark Grille and Lounge Safe & Sound Dinner. It was too good to be true!

With Valentine's day quickly approaching, Swirlz is whipping up some fancy flavors, Red Velvet and Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. Yum! They best part is, they are having a heart and showing the love for the Children's Memorial Hospital nurses. Here are the details:

♥ red velvet valentine ♥
Here’s a great way to show your love and appreciation for Children’s Memorial Hospital nurses on Valentine’s Day.
Purchase a Valentine card at Swirlz Cupcakes®, for a Children’s Memorial Hospital nurse and 100% of your donation will go to Children’s Memorial Hospital, Department of Nursing.
On Sunday, February 14, Swirlz Cupcakes® will personally deliver your Valentines, your donations and mini Red Velvet cupcakes, to the entire nursing staff at Children's Memorial Hospital.
In addition you will receive a card from Swirlz Cupcakes® good for $1.00 off your next Red Velvet purchase; valid February 15, 2010-December 31, 2010

Swirlz Cupcakes® red velvet valentine promotion runs during Valentine’s week, from Monday, February 8th through Sunday, February 14th.
Be a Swirlz Cupcakes® partner and make a nurse happy.

Purchase a red velvet valentine card at Swirlz in denominations of $1., $5. or $10.
Sign with your name, your company’s name or be a secret Valentine with the word happy
as your signature.
The Valentine cards will be taped to the store wall at Swirlz Cupcakes® and displayed the entire week.
Stop by Swirlz anytime from February 8th-14th. If you like, we’ll video you answering the question, “Why do you love Red Velvet cupcakes?”
We’ll be posting some of your Red Velvet video moments on our Facebook and Twitter pages all week. (PG rated please!!)
Join us in this red velvet valentine celebration of Children’s Memorial Hospital Nurses!

Every customer who buys a red velvet valentine card at Swirlz for a nurse receives a
Valentine card in return from Swirlz Cupcakes®.
That card is good for $1.00 off your next Red Velvet cupcake purchase; valid February 15, 2010-December 31, 2010

Swirlz will be open Monday through Saturday 10-7 PM and Sunday, February 14th from
12-5:00 PM.

February 7, 2010

Oh when the Saints go marching in...

...I'll most likely be shoveling Buffalo Chicken Dip into my face. As I previously mentioned, I don't know much about football, I just like Superbowl parties for the friends and food. In addition to the Reuben Dip, I whipped up some Buffalo Chicken Dip last night.

This is the famous dip that was so good, it was smeared on everything from veggies to pizza. That story really quick...I held a St. Patrick's Day party one year. The south side of Chicago is predominately of Irish decent and widely known for their Irish Parade held a week before St. Patrick's Day. I lived not to far from the parade route and would gather everyone at my place for the "after party". I made this dip and other little snacks, and my friends decided to order a pizza. After we waited forever for it to arrive, a friend of a friend and her boyfriend showed up. Now her boyfriend is a beast of a man. I want to say he is 6'9" or something. He sat down and proceeded to eat their entire pizza. Talking nonstop, dipping the slices in the Buffalo Chicken dip, and stuffing them into his mouth, we all sat there silent, staring at him in disbelief while piece after piece disappeared. After he ate all of our food, they left. We all turned to each other, eyes wide, and said, "WHAT was that?!"

Good times.

I got this recipe from another co-worker. (Can you tell we liked to eat?) The Chicago Bears were in the Superbowl ('06, although that would be awesome if this was back in '85) and we had a Superbowl party in the office the Friday before the big game. One of my office besties brought in this bowl of awesomeness and it was gone within a matter of minutes. You better believe I asked for the recipe. (And it was only a short month later when the pizza incident occurred.)

Without much further ado, here is Erin's Famous Buffalo Chicken Dip! (Not sure where she got the recipe, but to me, it will forever be known as hers)

2 Bricks of Cream Cheese
1 Cooked Breast of Chicken (finely chopped) - or a can of chicken, but I like fresh better :)
1 Cup of Shredded Cheddar Cheese
5-8oz Hot Sauce (She recommends Frank's...I use whatever I have on hand)
*Bleu Cheese optional

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Microwave for one to one and half minutes or until the cheeses are melted and dip is creamy. Stir to combine everything and serve with Fritos, celery, or if you're feeling adventurous, pizza. Enjoy! And Go Saints! (I'm rooting for the underdogs...)

February 4, 2010

Are ya ready for some FOOTBALL?! Gluten Free Superbowl Snacks

So the "Big Game" is in a few days, and if you're like me and know nothing about football, Superbowl parties are about the food. Well...and the commercials. Seriously, I just saw a preview clip this morning of the Betty White Snicker's ad...hilarious!

Superbowl buffet tables are usually filled with chili, hot wings, chips, pizza, etc. I'm always sure to show up with something I can eat, and the host usually has naturally gluten free stuff set out, so I'm well fed either way. What am I bringing this year? Dip.

I love dips because you can pretty much do anything with them. Put it on a cracker, chip, veggie, bread, and in one strange case I've seen, pizza. (That's for a different post, friends, promise!)
Getting slightly off topic here, I recently bought a package of Genuine Bavarian bread at Lil's. It's similar to those little snack breads you see at the deli. Perfect for a hearty dip, like spinach. I also thought they'd be perfect for baby reubens. I love reubens and always order them if a restaurant has them on the menu. Sans bread, of course! I figured these little breads would be just the right thing for bite-sized sandwiches.

The bread comes in a large piece, so I cut it into four, poured a little Smith & Wollensky Thousand Island salad dressing on the bottom, and layered with chopped corned beef, sauerkraut, and freshly grated swiss cheese. I then baked them in the oven for about 12 minutes, and voila!

They were delicious!

Back to the dips though! While I was getting everything ready to make reubens, I noticed a recipe for Reuben Dip on the back of the Frank's Kraut can. Reubens in dip form? Heck yeah, I'm making that! With the leftover kraut, I whipped up a batch of the savory dip. I used some of the slices of bavarian bread to spread it on, but it would be amazing with any gluten free bread or cracker.

It's a toss up between this dip or another for what I'll bring to the party on Sunday. Maybe I'll bring both! What's your favorite game day snack?