February 7, 2012

Gluten Free Cracker Crust "Fried" Chicken Fingers

This weekend I found myself out to brunch with a friend again. This time we stayed in the neighborhood to hit up a church rummage sale beforehand where I found the perfect little bell jar. Only I dropped it and watched it shatter into a million pieces along with my heart. I felt badly so I offered to pay for it anyways (25¢).

Despite that, I also found some interesting old books.

Parties and how to give them and Office Practices, super old (we're talkin' 1940 and 1917 respectively). I figured they'd either a) have some hilarious ideas or "practices" or b) might rake in some money a la Antiques Roadshow or Storage Wars style. (Oddly enough, when I moved back home a few years ago I threw everything in storage. I go there every so often to swap out holiday/seasonal stuff or give away/take in appliances/furniture people need/offer me. Every time I go there, as I open the door I imagine the SW guys all poking around with their flashlights and estimating how much my locker is worth...)  Here's just a few pages of what sold me on these books:

How could you not pass those up?!  Exactly.

After those great finds, we made our way over to the Original Pancake House which was always a favorite restaurant of mine back in the day. I would always order an omelet while my sister had a beautiful pile of pancakes placed in front of her. This time, however, there was gluten free pancakes on the menu and I got the beautiful pile of pancakes placed in front of me.

Gluten Free "Patriotic Pancakes"
They were mighty good.  Not the best gluten free pancakes I've ever had, but I think I was just so thrilled to be eating gluten free pancakes at the Pancake House with all the delicious fresh toppings they offer.  I especially enjoyed the strawberry puree. Tasty! 

When I returned home I was fueled for the rest of the day. I cleaned like a maniac, did 4 loads of laundry, AND watched a Hallmark Hall of Fame Movie. Later in the evening I threw together a quick dinner from a few random things in the kitchen: an egg, a couple chicken breasts, and some crackers. Presenting:

Gluten Free Cracker Crust "Fried" Chicken Fingers

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts sliced into 1" strips
1 egg
1/2 cup gluten free crackers
1/4 cup gluten free Seneca Crisp Onions
salt and pepper
1 tsp coconut or olive oil 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a blender or food processor, blend crackers, onions, salt and pepper to a crumb consistency.  Pour into a shallow bowl.

Scramble egg in a separate shallow bowl to make an egg wash.

Preheat a skillet and coat with 1 tsp oil. Coat chicken strips with egg and dredge in the crumbs, coating them completely.

Pan fry chicken for a 5 minutes on each side and then remove from skillet and place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 - 15 minutes.

Serve with your favorite gluten free dipping sauces and enjoy!

Yum, yum, yum!

February 5, 2012

Healthy, Hearty, Gluten Free Chili

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! At the time I write this it's a little under 3 hours from kickoff.  I just made a huge vat of chili for a party I'm going to later and was so impressed with it (totally smells delicious!), I had to jump on here really quick to share the recipe with you in case you are looking for something yummy to whip up.

Let me start by first stating that I know nothing about football.  And I'm not joking. I have no idea how it's played, who the players are, scoring, etc. The only game of the season I watch is the Super Bowl and I wouldn't really consider that "watching". More like hanging out with friends, eating, laughing, watching commercials and the half time show, and checking my square to see if I won anything.

I have a great group of friends and the Super Bowl is actually a"friendiversary" with a couple of them since I met them at this party about four years ago. Sweet, eh?  I told everyone I would bring chili this year since I figured I should venture out from the buffalo chicken dip I usually bring.

Super Bowl '09. (Had to dig deep into the archives for this one!)
All week the host/my co-worker wondered how to go about doing this. Should I make it at home and bring it there? Should I just make it there? I joked that I'd just pick up like 10 chilis from the Wendy's drive-thru. At the last minute today I decided to make it here and just bring it up.

I found a great recipe for a turkey chili on the Weight Watchers site and altered it a bit to make it my own. Here's what I came up with:

Hearty Beefy Chili
adapted from Weight Watchers

Chili is simmering!
1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb of ground sirloin
3 carrots, sliced in thin rounds
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp cumin
1 can (14oz) of diced tomatoes (I like this kind)
1 can (8oz) of tomato sauce (This one is good
1 cup of gluten free beef broth
1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Topping of your choice: cheese, sour cream, onions, hot sauce, gluten free crackers, corn bread, Fritos, tortilla chips, etc.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. When hot (if you flick water in there and it sizzles, it's ready) add the oil and onions. Caramelize the onions for about 5 minutes or until browned.

Add garlic and carrots and let soften, about 5 minutes. Add the ground sirloin and let brown. Break beef around into smaller chunks and stir everything together.

Add the green pepper, chili powder, paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, and kidney beans and mix everything together well.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes.

Top with your favorite fixin's and go Madonna! I cannot wait to see what she performs!


This post is part of Allergy-Free Wednesdays!

February 1, 2012

Eat. Drink. Correct People.

Here's what has been happening in my world the past couple of weeks:

I finally got to eat from Protein Bar last week.  For the past few years I walked by their location across from the Sears Tower (I refuse to call it by its "new" name) twice a day.  It was still a bit far from my office to grab lunch so I put it out of my mind. Luckily for me, they recently opened a few more locations with one of those only a couple of blocks from my office. Naturally I ordered a Quinoa Bowl and when I noticed the soup of the day was gluten free lentil, I had to add that on as well.

The Spinach & Pesto Bowl was decent.  The quinoa was a little bit dry for my liking, but the soup was out of this world.  It wasn't just any old lentil soup, it was filled with lentils, apples, onions, and slivered almonds.  I practically inhaled it.  I actually went back there yesterday and just ordered a giant lentil soup.  I have a feeling I could quite possibly eat that every day.

Ever since I started the Detox Diet in the beginning of the year, I eliminated coffee from my diet.  I replaced my morning cup of coffee with peppermint tea or water.  Lately I busted out some of the tea I bought over the holidays, Bigelow's Eggnoggin'n and Apple Cider.

I know eggnog tea sounds absolutely disgusting, but I'm a total eggnog lover, so I'll try anything with "eggnog" in the title.  Turns out, it's delicious! It's got a little zip to it that faintly reminds me of the calorie laden eggnog, but without all of the heaviness.  I love the Apple Cider flavor because it has all of the wonder flavor of apple cider, but without all of the sugar.  The perfect alternative! And oh look, it's gluten free!

Correct People.
It drives me bananas when I am shopping at a chain grocery store and will be in the gluten free section (usually the teeny-tiniest shelf space) and there will be gluten filled items.  Clearly it's tricky to distinguish between "organic", "natural", or "healthy" with gluten free.

Sometimes it's little mix-ups like a tag that says "This item is gluten free!" under the Van's Organic Waffles.  Sure, Van's makes gluten free AND organic waffles, but for newbies to the gluten free diet that don't know that or those who will take the stock boy's sticker for granted without reading the ingredients label, that's huge.  When I see that, I rip off those tags from the shelf.  (You're welcome, Dominick's!)

In incidences when a Cherrybrook Kitchen's peanut free cake mix is in the gluten free section, I kindly fill out the survey on my receipt and tell them of their mistake and the dangers of the mix-up. (Amazingly, I heard back from the store manager asking which product was mistakenly shelved so they could remove it right away! Way to go, Jewel-Osco!)

What really blew me away when I was shopping over the weekend was a case of Bob's Red Mill Vital Wheat GLUTEN on the shelf in the gluten free display at Dominick's. (If you couldn't tell, my Dominick's store is notorious for just throwing whatever looks like hippie food on the gluten free table.)  To that, I could only respond with this: