Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Today I spent the afternoon hanging out with my cousin Lauren, her hubby Matt and her little man Sean and helped her to prepare for tonight's New Years Eve celebration. I have been celebrating New Years with Lauren for as long as I can remember! We've had some wild times, but as we get older, the parties get tamer and tamer. Most everyone is married now and starting families. How did we get here??

As usual, I've prepared a couple of things to bring to the party that I will be able to enjoy. There is at least one other gluten & dairy free person coming so it's nice to know I won't be the only one! I already stocked Lauren's fridge with my Redbridge. I've made a gluten and dairy free taco dip and King Arthur brownies. I'll be sure to post about those sometime next week. I'll be curious to see what everyone thinks about the dip, it was an experiment for me and I'm not sure what I think of it myself.

I'm also packing on the pounds this weekend before we start our Biggest Loser challenge at work on Monday! I'm really not doing myself any favors, just making myself feel like crap with all the sugar. I never buy Kinnikinnick donuts or Udi's muffins but I just felt compelled to do so this weekend since the challenge is starting.

Tonight will be a fun night and tomorrow starts a new year, a new decade and for me, it's kind of the start of a new chapter in my life. I'm really excited for it!!

Have a save, happy and gluten free New Year my friends!!!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dairy Free Hot Cocoa

Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

Hot cocoa is one of those things that I've always loved but it has certainly never loved me back. The last time I had some, it was Swiss Miss with a little Bailey's and Dr. McGillicuddy's. Tasted amazing. Felt horrible. Recently I saw a recipe for dairy free hot cocoa somewhere and it's been stuck in my head since. Tonight I was chilly and craving something sweet and I have a box of coconut milk in the fridge that needs to be used up. I searched around the internet for recipes and most of them were basically the same so I just randomly picked one and followed it with my own modifications. I didn't let it heat up enough because I was afraid of scorching it, I'll do it better next time, but the taste was rich and delicious!

Dairy (and Gluten) Free Hot Cocoa
Single Serving

1 Tbs Unsweetened Cocoa
3 Tbs Sugar
1 to 2 Tbs Boiling Water
3/4 to 1 C Milk of your choice, I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut
The tiniest pinch of salt*
A little smidge of vanilla extract*
*Less than an 1/8 teaspoon

I heated the water in a hot shot first, then in a small saucepan combined the hot water, cocoa, sugar and salt.
Stir this mixture together until it's nice and hot but be careful not to let it burn.
Add the milk and stir until very hot, but not boiling.
Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla.
Enjoy!


Next week begins our Biggest Loser at work challenge, so obviously I'm overloading on junk this week. I will probably try to make biscuits before the weekend is over. Maybe a creamy chicken recipe? YES. Definitely. Stay tuned!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gluten Free Steamed Chicken or Pork Dumplings

One of my favorite takeout dishes used to be steamed Chinese pork dumplings. I have seen this recipe re-created on a few gluten free blogs and I have been dying to make them myself. I knew it would be time consuming and challenging so I kept putting it off. Due to the blizzard I had a "snow day" from work. I work in the medical field and we really can't just shut down for a day but the company allows us to work from home in severe weather conditions. Since I've only been there less than a year, I don't have full access to my customers from my home computer so I didn't really have to do much work today. I was stuck inside all day yesterday due to the storm so today I was really itching to do something fun. What a perfect day to tackle the dumpling recipe! I didn't have all the ingredients on hand so I ventured out to the store this morning. They didn't have any ground pork so I grabbed ground chicken instead. When I got home I set to work. First I put together the filling:

Prep

This was the easy part. I bought myself a microplane when I was Christmas shopping so grating the ginger and garlic was so easy. Thanks Rachel Ray for that tip! Next up, time to prepare the wrappers. I am not good with dough, I do not have a lot of experience with making homemade dough and I am too impatient to take my time and do it right. This time I tried to be better about all of that. I mixed up the dough and then rolled out 8 wrappers as best I could.

Roll out the wrappers

Then I filled and sealed the dumplings and put them in the pot of already boiling water with a steamer basket. This was also a Christmas gift to myself in a round about way. I bought it as part of my Yankee Swap gift and I ended up taking my own gift home. I may or may not have planned it that way, or at least hoped it would go that way!

In the steamer

I let them steam for 20 minutes, checking a couple of times to make sure the water didn't completely evaporate. While they were cooking I put together the dipping sauce. And then, it was time...

Finished

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh boy. These were SO good. They didn't need all 20 minutes in the steamer but other than that, they were delicious. The dipping sauce was perfect too. Just like the Chinese restaurant! Ok, well maybe not exactly the same, but close enough for me. Here's the recipe!

Gluten Free Chicken Dumplings
Makes approx 16 dumplings

Filling:
1 lb ground chicken or pork
1/2 Tbs minced ginger
3 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbs thinly chopped green onion
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs sesame oil
1 egg beaten

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Set aside

Wrappers:
1 Cup GF Flour Mix (Better Batter)
1 Egg
4 Tbs water

Combine the above ingredients, adding more water if needed until dough comes together. Use plenty of extra flour on your work surface and your rolling pin! I split the dough into four sections, and then each of those sections broke down by four more sections. Roll out each section to the size and shape of your liking. Layer the wrappers between damp paper towels to keep moist until you are ready to fill.

Once the wrappers are ready to go, spoon a little more than a tablespoon of the filling onto the center of the wrapper. Put a little bit of water on the edge of one half of the wrapper to act as a glue to seal the wrapper shut when you fold it over. Press the edges together to seal, you can do this by hand or use a fork to gently press the edges together.

Place the finished dumplings into your steaming apparatus such as a bamboo steamer or a basket steamer as shown above, which already has the water boiling in the bottom. Cover the pan and let steam for 15-20 minutes. While the dumplings are steaming, put together your sauce.

Dipping Sauce:
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Sesame Oil
Chopped Green Onion and Grated Ginger to taste as you like

When the time is up, check to be sure the dumplings are cooked through. Then, dive in head first and enjoy!! I ended up only making half the recipe to start, plus that was all that would fit in the steamer. My plan is to prepare the rest of the dumplings and freeze them for another day.

Snow Day!!


I am sitting in my living room with no cable, but luckily I have internet. Which is funny because today I'd rather have cable and no internet! Having access to the internet means I have to monitor my work emails. That's ok, I'm still in my sweatpants. I did get up and shower first thing. I really should've gone to the grocery store before this storm hit because now I have hardly anything in the house to eat. Aside from a tub full of chocolate chip cookies that I baked last night. Unfortunately chocolate, sugar and I aren't getting along right now and those cookies aren't doing me any favors. The worst part about all of this? Apparently I donated my winter boots over the summer when I decided that I wanted new ones. Too bad I forgot all about that until the blizzard hit and now I'm bootless. At some point today I have to go out there and dig my car out and hopefully hit the grocery store, but for now I'm just going to sit tight! Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Resolution Time Baby!

365-3

I'm hunkered down in my apartment today waiting for a big New England storm to dump inches upon inches of snow upon us. We already have about an inch but the brunt of it is supposed to hit later today into tonight. Snow day from work tomorrow? Doubtful, but a girl can hope.

The day after Christmas is always the time when I start to take a good look at the past year and reflect on how it went, and how I want the next year to go. I really don't like to call them New Year's Resolutions because honestly, who really sticks to those?

This blog has never really been a place where I've shared my personal story beyond the Crohn's disease. There is so much more to me than a damaged small intestine. This year I turned 30 and it has really been a major turning point in my life. I started a new job after six years working in the family business. I maintained my health without medication. I made new friends. I worked on my dating life... I could write a completely separate blog about that! I watched in amazement as my niece grew and changed through her first year of life. I shared my story for a documentary. I played in a bowling league. I danced. I laughed. I loved. I learned a lot about what's important.

My twenties were difficult and I faced a lot of challenges. I could have let those experiences break me, but instead I looked at everything I went through as a chance to make myself better. The most important thing I learned is that if there's something about your life that you don't like, change it. You have a lot more power and control than you may think. Life is too short to waste it being unhappy.

I know that 2011 is going to be the best yet and I'm really excited about it. I plan to write more, to cook and eat more, to exercise more, to volunteer, to advocate, to make more of an effort to keep stronger bonds with my friends as we grow older and in different directions. I will work hard, play harder, take more photos of people, not just food. I will accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can, and be wise enough to know the difference.

Grayscale Fate 2

Friday, December 24, 2010

Review: Rudi's Multigrain Gluten-Free Bread

Rudis

The true test of bread for me is how it tastes toasted with butter served with some runny eggs over-easy. Since going GF I have longed for the taste of wheat bread. I am talking about the basic wheat bread from the supermarket. The smell, taste and texture of wheat bread is something I have had a very hard time finding in a gluten free version. I came close with Schar Multigrain Bread but it was still small and the texture was not exactly right. Udi's was definitely a good option as well, but still, just not quite what I was looking for.

I've seen Rudi's bread in my local health food store for quite some time now, but have been loyal to Udi's and recently have been eating a lot of All Can Eat multigrain bread. (That post is coming soon!) Recently I was contacted by Rudi's and they offered to send me a complimentary loaf of bread for my review. I of course jumped at the chance. I've heard mixed reviews in the blogosphere, many people saying they stick to Udi's, which is why I had not tried this bread. I wish I hadn't waited so long.

Rudi's Multigrain Bread is it. The wheat bread of my dreams. Slices the size, texture and taste of the wheat bread I remember. I'm in love, I'm in love and I don't care who knows it!!! Not only is this bread delicious, but it's made with organic ingredients, and of course it's dairy free as well. Now I'm dying to get to the store and pick up the white bread version. I have visions of french toast dancing in my head.

I'm off to finish up my wrapping and pack up the car, heading down to Mom and Dad's for Christmas. I almost enjoy Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day. This year is extra special since my niece just turned ONE. She may not understand Christmas or Santa yet, but she certainly understands toys and I can't wait to watch her open all her presents tomorrow!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!!


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Maggie Rocking Chair

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Gluten and Dairy Free Buffalo Chicken and "Bleu Cheese" Dipping Sauce

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You already know the story, Thursdays at work is buffalo chicken day. I know, I keep talking about it. I didn't even used to like buffalo chicken, but then one day, many years ago, a restaurant accidentally served me a buffalo chicken sandwich. Instead of refusing it and waiting for the right sandwich, I just ate it. (Pre GF Days) I fell in love. Then there was the buffalo chicken dip at another restaurant. It was all down hill from there. I was so excited to discover that Frank's Buffalo Sauce is GF/DF!

I have to admit, I've been cheating on the chicken tenders, buying Bell & Evans and cooking them in the oven then dipping them in the buffalo sauce. It works, but it's much better if you make the tenders yourself. The photo above is hand-breaded tenders. It's so easy! Heat a little oil in a pan. Set up your assembly line, I use buttermilk in this case = 1 C of rice milk + 1 Tbs of vinegar. Let the buttermilk sit for 5 minutes, then let the chicken sit in the buttermilk for 5 minutes. Roll the chicken in GF Bread Crumbs (I use Gillian's) and fry in the oil. A few minutes on each side. Let the fried chicken rest on paper towels to get rid of some of the excess oil before dipping into the buffalo cause. YUM!

Buffalo chicken is HOT and what better to cut the heat then bleu cheese dressing? Well, I can't just go out and buy a bottle, and bleu cheese is out of the question for me anyway, so I had to come up with a compromise. I searched bleu cheese dressing recipes and made up my own fake version. I haven't perfected it yet, but it works pretty well. In a bowl I combine some mayo and some dairy free sour cream. Add a small splash of cider vinegar or regular vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Sprinkle in some garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix it all up. Adjust to taste. Viola! It's definitely NOT bleu cheese, but it sure does the trick. I prefer my buffalo chicken served on a wrap (Food for Life) with lettuce and tomato and dipping sauce on the side. I just might have this for dinner again tonight! The sandwich in the photo above was made with a schar sub roll, but it was too much bread. A wrap works much better.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Survival Guide: Starting the Gluten Free Diet

You just found out that you have to give up Gluten. Your first reaction is to weep for all the pizza and beer you can't have anymore. It's ok, let it out. It's important to grieve, then you can start to heal. Literally. Everyone has a different opinion on the best way to handle going gluten free. Some say it's best to cut your diet down to very basic foods, fresh fruits and veggies and lean meats, potatoes, rice. Keep it simple. But let's be realistic here, you are dying inside because you feel like you're never going to be able to walk into Dunkin Donuts and grab a bacon egg and cheese bagel sandwich anymore. For me, the easiest way to transition to the Gluten Free Diet was to find alternatives to my favorite foods so I didn't feel deprived. When I started out, over 3 years ago, the quality of products was not even close to what's out there now. I'll never forget my first gluten free bread. It looked like normal bread, I put it in the toaster and it came out the same as it went in. White and cardboard like. No toaster marks, no crumbs, and the taste? Simply awful.

I tried all kinds of breads and bagels and wraps trying to find bread that would take the place of the real stuff and it was very frustrating. Now that gluten intolerance has become such a major issue, there are a ton of new products out there and many of them are really great. But I'll be honest with you, be prepared, it's not going to be exactly the same as what you ate before. The good news is you will feel SO much better.

Start simple. Go get yourself a loaf of Udi's bread. They have white or multi-grain and both are great. Most GF breads must be kept frozen and then toasted. Udi's products can be left on the counter and eaten without toasting first. It's a little more dry than traditional bread, but it's by far the best GF bread on the market. Other great GF breads are Canyon Bakehouse and Rudi's

Roast Beef Sandwich

If you're a bagel fan, pick up some Udi's bagels as well. These are big and fluffy and delicious. I use these for burger buns as well!



If you love to bake and are finding tons of GF recipes with crazy lists of random flours, sorghum, white rice, brown rice, teff, amaranth, almond... so overwhelming! Order yourself a box of Better Batter. It's the best 1:1 gluten free flour mix. Use it as a substitute for all purpose flour in any recipe. It might not work perfectly every time, but for the most part, it does!

If you prefer boxed mixes, Betty Crocker and King Arthur have full lines of gluten free mixes that are awesome. I've not tried all the King Arthur mixes but I hear they are great. I find these right in my regular grocery store baking isle.

Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookies:
BC Cookies 004

Don't forget that there are lots of items other than obvious flour/bread products that are not gluten free. Be sure to check labels of everything, salad dressings, soy sauce, marinades, seasonings, sauces. Gluten hides in many places! I know it's overwhelming, but it will get easier. I promise. Just stick with it!

I was going to add a list here of all of my favorite products, but then I looked at my Product Reviews page and discovered that most of these products are great. Take a look at that list for some great product recommendations! It will take a while to find products that you love and become a regular part of your diet, there will be good days and there will be bad, bad days. Don't worry, it will get better and you will feel great. Eventually it will become second nature. Good luck in your gluten free journey!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What's the best way to determine if you have Celiac?

This video by Dr. Vikki Petersen is very helpful in clearing up the confusion about the accuracy of Celiac testing. The truth is, many people do have Celiac or Gluten Intolerance and are being told they don't. I have had the blood tests and the genetic tests. I have never had a biopsy. The genetic test currently only tests for two genes when they are discovering that there are many more. My bloodwork showed elevated levels but was not within the range of Celiac diagnosis. The only way for me to confirm that I am intolerant to gluten in some form, be it Celiac or Gluten Intolerance, was to remove it from my diet. I am glad they are making advances, but I wish it would happen more quickly. Too many people are suffering!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dropping the ball!

Well here I am with all these new readers and I keep forgetting to upload my photos so that I can write new posts!! The other night I ate the rest of the meatballs in a meatball sub, thanks once again to Schar sub rolls. Last night I made homemade buffalo chicken tenders and dairy free dipping sauce. It was awesome. Every Thursday is buffalo chicken tenders day at work and all of my lunch companions yesterday took advantage. I ate my same old salad and was jealous so I decided to make it for dinner. I'm so glad I did! Did you know that Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce is gluten and dairy free?? Last time I made buffalo sauce from scratch but when shopping for hot sauce last night I saw the Frank's sauce and googled it on my phone to be sure before purchasing. This made my night so much easier!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Back to the important stuff: FOOD!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

First of all, I wanted to say Welcome to all you new readers!! Thanks so much for your feedback from yesterday's post, I am so glad to be making a difference! And it's nice to know I'm not the only one out there with these issues. Now, back to the FOOD!

I'm working my way through my shipment of products from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats. One of the items was a pound of ground beef. This is what I was looking forward to the most! I couldn't decide what to make with this beef but I knew that I wanted to do something that would showcase the meat by itself, so of course, I had to make a burger. My second favorite beef dish is meatballs, as you can see above. I cooked the burger and the meatballs at the same time and then ate the burger for dinner and saved the meatballs for later in the week. The burger was absolutely delicious. The beef tasted so good. What a huge difference from standard grocery store beef! There was so much flavor. All it had on it was lettuce, tomato and mayo and served on a Schar sub roll. Perfect. I took a photo but I don't love it so I'm not posting it, but you can see it here.

Last night I cooked up some Tinkyada spaghetti and some Prego Traditional Sauce and heated up the meatballs which I made using Carol Fenster's recipe. I have not had spaghetti and meatballs in such a long time and it was soooooo good. I tend to avoid spaghetti and choose ziti or rotini or cavatappi but when it comes to meatballs, you have to go with spaghetti. I wish I had a Schar baguette to make some garlic bread! This dinner was as good as it looks in that photo up there. I can't wait to have this again tonight. I think I will stop at the store on the way home for that baguette!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why the Gluten Free Diet is not working.

Vaca 08 296

I tried the Gluten Free diet and it didn't work. I felt good for a while but then I started to feel bad again. It's too hard to stick to it. I hate feeling like an outcast not being able to eat what everyone else is eating. It's too expensive. My Doctor said I don't have Celiac so why bother?

People will give excuse after excuse after excuse as to why the GF diet is NOT right for them, and the reality is, they are all just that - EXCUSES. I've used them all myself, or at least thought them to myself at one time or another. I started my gluten free journey back in 2007. I admit that it's been a rocky one. I've been on and off the diet many times, noting all of the "reasons" above. I can't believe it's been almost four years since I discovered Celiac disease in my search for answers as to why I've been sick for most of my life. I should be in tip top shape and feeling the best I've ever felt, right? Well, this has been the best year so far, so that's a plus. I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

Friends and family know that I haven't been 100% faithful to the diet over the years. I didn't talk too much about that on this blog because I didn't want to disappoint. Usually that meant I wasn't blogging much during those times because I didn't have anything to write about. I am happy to say that I have really stepped it up. I had to. I was getting sick again. I have officially been off medication for a year now. Wait, let me say that again. I HAVE OFFICIALLY BEEN OFF MEDICATION FOR A YEAR. Yaaaahoooooooooo!!

Early this year I was feeling so good and confident and then I started my new job. Which has a full service cafeteria. And new co-workers that didn't know anything about my issues. I slid down the slippery slope of a small cheat here and a tiny slip there... and then it happened. The rash. I have not had a rash since 2008. This was a major wake up call. My stomach was better than ever but still not perfect. I started to feel the brain fog, the headaches, the MAJOR fatigue. I was so tired that I could barely function and I'd immediately crawl into my PJs after work. The funny part is, I didn't realize how bad it had gotten because it was such a slow progression. Finally I woke up one day and realized that if I didn't stop it right then, I'd wake up someday in a recovery room after having a section of my intestines removed. Or worse.

What prompted this post, the title of this post, and the opening paragraph, is that even when I'm completely ON the diet, I've realized that I'm actually still not 100% clean. So when I get the rash or the headache or the brain fuzz and can't figure out why, I have to really look carefully at what I've been eating. An example of this - the other day I grabbed a fry off of someone else's plate at lunch. I have been eating the fries knowing that they are fried in a shared fryer. This is something I have always done and used the "Well I don't actually have Celiac" excuse. I'm not super sensitive to it so I can eat things that are fried in a shared fryer, right? Right? I never ever gave this a second thought until that one fry that I grabbed the other day. Shortly after eating the fry, another co-worker commented that the fries tasted like egg rolls. That particular day was Chinese Food day in the cafe and they had fried the egg rolls in the same fryers that the fries are cooked in. It was like someone poured a bucket of cold water over my head. HELLO! Wake up call from your intestines!

This little incident made me completely re-think my gluten free strategy. Sure when I'm gluten free I feel soooo much better but I think that I could feel even BETTER if I stopped ignoring those "little things" like crumbs in the toaster and shared fryers and foods that are manufactured on shared equipment. It also made me think twice about all of those people out there that cheat like me and then claim that the diet doesn't work.

You must stick to the diet 100% in order for it to truly work. Even if you don't have outward symptoms, the damage is being done and eventually you WILL feel it. If you are sticking to the diet 100% and feel that it is still not working, perhaps there's another intolerance at work. Many foods are not our friends! You just have to keep at it. Proper diet heals. I promise. I am living, breathing, un-constipated proof. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beef. It's what's for dinner!

Pastrami


Recently I received a package from Rocky Mountain Organic Meats that are 100% gluten free to sample. I was overwhelmed with all the options. Jerky, ground beef, sausage, hot dogs and pastrami. Ooooh Pastrami!! I haven't had this since pre-gf days because the only way to eat pastrami is on a soft yummy roll. Well since I discovered Schar sub rolls I knew exactly what to do. This pastrami is thicker than I'm used to, I'm used to the shredded, fatty kind that you find at the deli in the grocery store. This is thick and the edges have a nice crust of seasoning. I wasn't even sure how to cook this so I went with what I know and put it in a pot of water for a few. I kept it simple with the roll and yellow mustard, some BBQ Kettle Chips on the side. This was so delicious!! I also sampled a little of the jerky which was great too. I will definitely have more Rocky Mountain Organic Meats reviews coming up. Right now the ground beef is defrosting, but I can't decide if I want to do a burger or meatballs. I might do both. I really want to showcase the meat so a burger would be a great way to do this. But I've also been craving a meatball sub... we shall see!!

Edited to add: I have been told that the pastrami is pre-cooked and can be eaten straight from the package. I thought it was good heated up too :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gluten Free Dairy Free FUDGE

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Sorry for the horrible iPhone photo...

Sticking with the theme this week of recipes from my childhood, here's another one. This is "Gram's Fudge" and has graced our holiday table for a very very long time. My Gram (aka Grammie), who passed away in 2003, is one of the most important people in my life. I miss her everyday even though I know she watches over me. My mom took over the tradition of making the fudge when I was younger and if she doesn't make it, people get upset! It's a family legacy. This recipe is naturally gluten free but contains butter and milk. I have never made this recipe even before going GF/DF but lately I've been so inspired to re-create the oldies that I just had to try this one.

This recipe is made using a double boiler and I don't have one. I wanted to make this fudge to bring to my secret santa party at work and of course waited until last night, thinking I could just stick a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water as a makeshift double boiler. Well I got home from work, ingredients in hand, and grabbed the glass bowl that in my mind would work in this scenario only to find out that, well, it wouldn't work. No way, no how. So off to Wal-Mart I went, with a $5 gift card to boot. But... apparently people don't use double boilers anymore? I couldn't find one anywhere. I wandered around the kitchen section forever, I couldn't even find a sufficient bowl!! FINALLY I found a nice big metal bowl that would work perfectly. And a few other things I didn't need, I swear the kitchen section is my kryptonite. Moved swiftly through the checkout line, got in the car and headed for home. With the $5 gift card still in my wallet. Darn.

Oh well. Moving on! I whipped up the fudge and let it chill overnight. Of course I tried a piece this morning for breakfast, had to make sure it was worthy of my coworkers! This turned out a little bit softer than my Mom's/Gram's but the taste was awesome. DELICIOUS!! My co-workers loved it! I hope my mom doesn't kill me for posting Gram's "secret" recipe, but Gram found most of her recipes on the back of packages so I'm sure this isn't as secret as we'd like to believe. I just can never EVER post the whoopie pie recipe. That would be the end of me for sure...

So here it is:

Gram's Fudge
the gluten and dairy free version

1lb Confectionary Sugar
1/2 C Unsweetened Cocoa
1/4 tsp Salt
6 Tbsp Butter (Earth Balance)
4 Tbsp Whole Milk (So Delicious Coconut Milk)
1 Tbsp Vanilla

This recipe is SO EASY. Put enough water in the pan to boil but not touch the bottom of the bowl that you nest on top. Or use a real double boiler if you have one. Put the butter in the bowl first and let it melt. Then dump the rest of the ingredients in the bowl and stir until there are no lumps left. Pour into an 8x8 greased dish or foil pan. Let chill in the fridge overnight. Plan to share with friends so you don't eat the whole pan of fudge by yourself!

**When I was little, I got a tape recorder for Christmas and my Gram recorded a little message for me. It said she hoped I got everything that I wanted for Christmas and I forget what else, and that she loves me. I have no idea where that tape has gone, but I will never ever forget it or her voice. My niece is named after her. Marjorie. ♥

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Review: Canyon Bakehouse

I have a confession to make... I've been eating gluten filled bread
Canyon Bakehouse GF Bread 2

.......

Ha Ha. FOOLED YOU!!

Canyon Bakehouse GF Bread

It's Canyon Bakehouse! But it looks like regular bread, doesn't it?? It feels like real bread too. The texture of this bread is more "normal" than any other gluten free bread that I've ever tried. So, how does it taste? Well, I hate to admit this, but I was disappointed. It smells and tastes like gluten free bread. I am not sure what flour/starch it is that causes this distinct smell but this bread definitely has it. Udi's does not. But seriously, a tiny tweak and this bread would be out of this world amazing. Have you tried it? What do you think??

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gluten Free Dairy Free Corn Chowder

corn chowder

This is a week full of all of my favorite foods from my childhood. Corn chowder was a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. Sweet corn, potatoes and onions. So simple, yet sooooo delicious. To this day, potatoes corn and onions are still some of my favorite foods. Especially potatoes! I have not had my Mom's corn chowder in at least 10 years. I'm sure more than that. I thought I had the recipe but when I looked last night I realized that I don't. I'm not even sure if my mom has a recipe anymore. I am pretty sure hers called for either evaporated milk or condensed. Either way, I needed to find an alternative.

This week my new favorite discovery is So Delicious Coconut Milk. I've found that not only is it thick and creamy, it doesn't leave any coconut taste in the finished recipes. I decided to use a basic corn chowder recipe from All Recipes.com and use the coconut milk in place of regular milk. I also subbed Earth Balance for the butter. The finished product was a little less creamy than my mom's version plus I used red potatoes with the skin on in bigger chunks as opposed to peeled idaho potatoes in small chunks. Other than that, it was delicious. Next time, I think I will use a little less water and So Delicious Creamer instead of milk.

And the breadsticks? Schar of course! My favorite part of Mom's corn chowder was crushing up saltine crackers and letting them soak up the chowder. The Schar breadsticks were a great substitute for the saltines. Next time I will use Schar table crackers but the store I was at last night didn't carry them. I am loving this stroll down memory lane during this holiday season.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adventures in Gluten Free Chicken Pie

I absolutely love chicken pot pie. I grew up eating Mrs. Budd's and am on a mission to re-create it gluten and dairy free. A while back I posted my first attempt, which was not a huge success but not necessarily a failure either. On Friday night I decided to try again. This time I came so much closer on the filling! But it was Friday night and I was tired so I decided to make "biscuits" instead of a crust. Check out those white hockey pucks:

Chicken Pie

I have a biscuit recipe tagged from a friend of mine (I won't say who, I don't her to be associated with this utter failure). It was so easy, flour and water! Really? Awesome! So I mixed the flour and the water and baked those little balls of dough and I got... white hockey pucks. What went wrong? The recipe called for biscuit mix. Not plain flour. Oy.

After eating the delicious filling, I was mad that I had no bready type thing to go with it so I tried biscuits again. This time with more ingredients. I came close, but they were a little flat and a little too hard. Fresh out of the oven with butter though, not too bad.

Biscuit

I had some filling left over so I decided to try again. This time I used a pie crust recipe, Better Batter, Salt, Earth Balance, and water. Simple and easy. Chilled it, rolled it out, topped the leftovers, baked for 40 minutes.

Pot Pie

Flaky, buttery, awesome. A little gritty and gluten free tasting but for my first pie crust EVER (GF or not) I'm pretty happy with it. I might try it the traditional way with shortening next time to see the difference. This was definitely a triumph. Not quite Mrs. Budd's yet but getting there. I'm still going to hold off on the recipe until I perfect it. Stay tuned!


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Best Fluffy Gluten Free & Dairy Free Pancakes So Far!

Best GF Pancakes so far!

I don't make pancakes at home very often, but when I do, I want light and fluffy and delicious pancakes. I could just buy one of the pre-made mixes from any of the GF Flour mix makers out there but I don't want to have both a box of flour mix and a box of pancake mix. I've been working my way through a 5lb box of Better Batter so I'm determined to use it instead of using mixes for all of my baked goods. I have made some pretty good pancakes and some pretty bad pancakes since going GF but never quite hit the nail on the head. I'm so excited that this morning I FINALLY found a recipe that works.

You see, I kept google searching "pancakes" but this morning I searched "fluffy pancakes" and TA-DA! Presto, the first result turned out to be the winner. I have an All Recipes account and kept searching "pancakes" and could never find what I wanted. Lo and behold, add the word Fluffy and you find a winner. I used this recipe and substituted better batter, rice milk and earth balance. The faux butter milk (rice milk & vinegar) I think is the key to light and fluffy pancakes. The taste and texture of these is perfect. This is definitely the recipe I'll be using from now on!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Review: Enjoy Life Foods Chocolate Bars

Mmmmm Chocolate

Chocolate makes my world go round. Always has, probably always will. I used to be all about the milk chocolate and I hated the dark stuff. Cadbury Dairy Milk bar was my absolute favorite, but I also loved hershey's, milky way, snickers, twix, m&m's... When I went gluten free I had to kick out more than half of my favorites. The twix was the toughest. Then when I discovered that dairy had to go as well, I was devastated. How was I going to survive without chocolate???? For a while, I just didn't eat it at all. Then, I found Enjoy Life chocolate bars. A "milk" chocolate bar with no casein? Sold. I wrote about them here. If you read that post, you'll see what I mean:
"I am not a huge fan of dark chocolate and this tastes closer to that than regular milk chocolate but I still liked it. I saved the regular rice milk chocolate bar for today. They do also have a dark chocolate version if that's your sorta thing. I'm trying to stay away from chocolate in general but once in awhile you've just gotta have some!"
Eventually I started giving the dark stuff a shot since the dairy free "milk" chocolate never really did much for me. I find most of it just tastes like too much sugar. And you know what? I love it now. I prefer dark to milk. And all those antioxidants! Heh. Recently the folks at Enjoy Life contacted me about reviewing their chocolate bars and I was happy to accept a few complimentary treats. Of course I always give an honest review. What I love about Enjoy Life is that their foods are free of not only gluten, but the 8 most common allergens: wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish. They are also made without casein, potato, sesame and sulfites. Ingredients have ben additionally tested to ensure strict allergen control standards are met.

Enjoy Life offers three different types of chocolate bars, dairy free milk chocolate, dairy free milk chocolate with rice crunchies, and dark chocolate. I've happily eaten all of them. They are all very good. I love the one with the rice crunchies because I used to love Nestle's and this is the closest substitute I've found. Interestingly enough, my favorite is the dark chocolate! (pictured above) The dark chocolate contains simply evaporated cane juice, natural chocolate liquor and non-dairy cocoa butter. Perfect! These bars are also the only ones I've found that are the size of a normal candy bar. Most dark chocolate is sold in the larger size. These are great to just grab for a treat. I definitely recommend them!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Something Sweet without Wheat

cookies

Lately I've noticed some new gluten and dairy free baked treats popping up at my local natural food store. You all know that I avoid sweets.. pfft.. but I just couldn't resist these. A new company called Something Sweet Without Wheat is on the scene, made up of two sisters that grew up baking together. One of the sisters was diagnosed with wheat and diary sensitivities as an adult and then they found out that their children were sensitive too. And so the company was born!

I am ALL about supporting new and local GF companies. I actually already tried the double chocolate chip cookies a week or two ago but they were gone before I got a photo so I didn't write about them. This time I knew I had to slow it down a bit. No need to inhale the cookies the minute I get home from the store. Or in the car ride home from the store. Right.

cookies 1

The list of local shops that are carrying their goodies is growing, I'm so happy to see! These cookies are great, the taste is very good and the texture is awesome. They are light and chewy and not crumbly at all. I really enjoyed them. I look forward to trying their other products soon!

Top Chef All Stars

Did you watch the season 8 opener last night? I LOVE Top Chef, I think it's the best chef competition show on TV. I have watched most of the seasons but my favorite of all time is Season 6 - Las Vegas and my favorite contestants are the Voltaggio Brothers, specifically Bryan Voltaggio.

Michael (winner) and Bryan Voltaggio of Top Chef Season 6

I am very excited for this season of All Stars, the cast is awesome. I am not sure who I'm pulling for to win yet but I think I'm leaning towards Jennifer who came in 4th on Season 6. Who are your Top Chef favorites?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gluten Free Mustard Breaded Porkchops

Mustard Breaded Pork Chop

Edited to add: As it turns out, I DID get in. I don't know what happened, but this actually is an official submission to Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger! I'm leaving the post as I originally wrote it. Enjoy!

I was all excited to participate in my first Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event which Sea over at Book of Yum started back in 08. I've seen so many of these posts and I thought that it would be a great way to kick start my mission to cook more recipes. The rules are that more than one person cannot adopt the same blogger in a given month. I swear I checked the list of already chosen bloggers but somehow I missed that Jill Elise of Hey, That Tastes Good was already taken! So now, here I sit, ready to post my first ever entry and I checked back to the original post to make sure I'm following the rules and I didn't see my name in the list. I looked and looked and looked and guess what... Jill was the 3rd blogger listed, definitely before I picked her. Well, I can't say I'm surprised, her blog is awesome. I have 60 of her posts saved in my Bloglines reader to try. Her photos are mouth-watering and the recipes are simple but delicious. This particular recipe was something I wanted to try because it reminds me of Not Your Average Joe's mustard breaded porkchops that are soooooo gluteny delicious. I swear I haven't had them since before going GF....

I'm disappointed that this doesn't count as my first entry in AaGFB but I am happy that I made these. They are SO delicious. Taste just like the gluteny restaurant version. And so easy to make! I served them along with roasted red potatoes and brussels sprouts. This dinner was the best home cooked meal I've had in a long time, aside from Thanksgiving of course. This recipe will definitely become a part of my repertoire!