Monday, September 20, 2010

Dancing in the Kitchen with Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

If you have been gluten free for any amount of time and done any searching around the internet you have probably come across Gluten-Free Girl, Shauna Ahern. If you have been checking into her life recently, you'll find her family has grown to include her chef husband Danny and a little girl. About a month ago I got the amazing opportunity to preview 3 brand new recipes from the Ahern's new cookbook called "Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes". You can find this cookbook on Amazon

So onto the delicious food. The 3 recipes received were seared shrimp with garlic almond sauce, fresh pasta with anchovies, lemons, and olives and last but not least chocolate peanut butter brownies.

Let's start at the beginning with seared shrimp with garlic almond sauce. I'm not going to lie to you...almonds are not my favorite thing in the world. However, this recipe was amazing. The garlic made the almonds not quite so nutty and I enjoyed it very much.

So onto the fresh pasta with anchovies, lemons and olives. This one went slightly out of out of our comfort zone. We bought a lot of ingredients that we've never purchased before. The fresh pasta was amazingly easy and probably the best gluten free pasta I've ever eaten. I wish I had made more than one batch, so we could have some for later. The "sauce" we had over the fresh pasta consisted of anchovies, lemon, and olives just like the title said. It was really good even if it had ingredients we've never used before. The anchovies melted away and there were no traces of little fishy bits like I thought there would be. Here's a pic to show how it looks finished and how the fresh pasta looks.

Now for the crowning touch...chocolate peanut butter brownies. I made these for game night. 3 of the 8 people there are gluten free. The rest are gluten eaters. Everyone loved them! I forgot to take a picture until after we had devoured them, so you'll have to see them half eaten. The texture was amazing and the brownies were pretty simple to make. The way Shauna sets up her recipes she lays out little steps and they are not intimidating at all even if it looks like there are a lot of steps.
If you look closely you can see the peanut butter swirled in the middle of the brownies.

If you don't already follow Gluten-Free Girl and the chef then you should. She has many great recipes on her blog and links to many other wonderful recipes from her many blogger friends. You can follow her at Hope you check out her site and her brand new cookbook.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Maybe life is "Fair"

Having trouble finding something gluten-free to eat at the fair? There's no need to have ice cream for a meal, yet again. This year I found something yummy that actually satisfies and is a balanced meal.

Kathryn Rem, food writer for the State Journal-Register, posted a review of a pulled pork sandwich offered at the Cuban hut in the Ethnic Village. It was pictured with a side of beans, rice and corn. This looked promising, so I went to the hut and explained my situation. They threw all it together, minus the bread. Delicious! The pork was tender and spiced just right with some chipotle may drizzled on top. If you're worried about the spices, you may want to investigate further, but I had no problem with the whole meal.

I have found most of the vendors at the Illinois State Fair to be very understanding and accommodating when they can. Obviously, there are some stands to steer clear of, but never fear, there's always chocolate covered bacon....if your desperate.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Easy Lemon Cookies (Gluten Free of course)

Do you ever get a craving for something? This week I've had a craving for lemon cookies....and Food Fantasies doesn't carry my favorite kind anymore. So I did what I always do, searched the internet for a recipe. I couldn't find anything super easy that was gluten free so I took a "regular" recipe and modified it. I found a recipe on the Betty Crocker site. Here is what I came up with...

1 box Betty Crocker gluten free yellow cake mix
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 Tbsp lemon extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat all the ingredients in a bowl for about 2 minutes.
Scoop tablespoon fulls onto cookie sheets. Flatten slightly.
Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown around the edges. Let cool on the cookie sheet for at least 2 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

These are great as is, but I made a glaze to put on them to kick up the lemon flavor just a little.

2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp lemon rind

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined. Brush on cookies after they have cooled.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Citizens UNITE!

I recently took a trip to Madison WI. As every good gluten free traveller does, I hopped on Google and searched "gluten-free restaurants + Madison, WI". What came up was truly inspiring.
There is an organization called MAGIC, the Madison Area Gluten Intolerance Chapter. These very nice (and apparently very organized) folks have compiled a list of all restaurants in the area that can accommodate gluten-intolerant diners. Each entry has a blurb about what is offered and the best approach is to ordering. As I scrolled down, I was expecting to see only a few entries....but I kept scrolling and scrolling. This list is pretty long and also includes restaurants outside of Madison, in surrounding towns. I was so excited that I almost extended my trip so I could try all of these places out.
It got me thinking....wouldn't it be great to have SPAGIC? Okay, so the name needs a little work, but the idea is wonderful. If we can have access to lists of restaurants that use local products as the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign has so effectively done, why can't we also have some direction to those that are allergy-friendly? I know it can happen. It's widely accepted that the Madison area is a bit more progressive than central IL, but I don't see why we can't catch up. My dream is to no longer get confused looks when I ask about gluten-free items. Who's with me?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Fried Food Fest

Unfortunately, fried foods and a gluten free diet just don’t mix. But wait….this relationship just might have a chance. Our matchmaker….UNCLE TYKIE!
Driving in my car one day I heard a radio ad for a place that states all fried foods are gluten-free. I almost didn’t believe it. You know how you have a memory of something so great you think it might almost be a dream…that’s how this was for me. Then….confirmation. My husband heard it too and immediately called me. Where was this place? We did some hunting and found it just up the road in Athens.
So, with our very supportive and hungry husbands with us, Amanda and I set out for a night of fried foods. After looking at the menu and not seeing anything about gluten-free items, we were a bit scared until Uncle Tykie himself told us that “anything” fried on the menu was gluten-free. Seriously? Yep. Come to find out that although he does have some relatives that have celiac disease, he just thinks fried foods taste better fried in a corn meal mix than in flour. The corn meal doesn’t absorb the oil like flour does, therefore the flavor of the food comes through. WE AGREE! To hear him talk about it, it seems so simple. Can more restaurants in the Springfield area do this? Please! We then commenced a celebration of sharing all-things-fried. Fried dill pickle spears, fried mushrooms, chicken tenders and fried walleye and catfish. Yum on all accounts. We are definitely going back, especially to try their gluten-free pizza.
It’s a great place for those who aren’t in need of gluten-free food to dine with those who do. No one has to make concessions. Thanks to Uncle Tykie’s Prairie Fire Grill & Pizzeria for making it look easy. Springfield restaurants please take note, 1) if you have gluten-free items, advertise them. Advertising works! ... and 2) offering gluten-free items doesn’t have to be difficult, just think outside the box a bit.

Monday, May 17, 2010

No Soup for You!

Let me start by saying, “this whole "eating local" bandwagon?...I’m on it”. I really think it’s the best way to go. Springfield has some wonderful restaurants, run by good, hard-working and honest people. We need to take care of our own by supporting local businesses. I truly believe that. So, that being said….what is wrong with us? I see a trend of chains offering healthier options with smaller portions. Oh, they still offer gargantuan too, but at least we have the choice. They also offer options for those with food allergies. It’s like the country has a reverse ripple going on. Instead of the drop in the middle, it seems the folks on either coast set the trend and then 10 years later we decide it might be a good idea.

So, what’s my point for this entry? I’m getting to it. I was supporting a local establishment that is a popular staple downtown for the lunch crowd. I was doing my part. This place, The Feed Store, offers seven soups and a multitude of sandwiches…. SEVEN SOUPS! Now, as a gluten-free eater, I know that ordering soup can be tricky. Cream-based soups usually have flour to thicken them. But, I reasoned that out of seven options, surely I could find one that I could eat. I geared up, preparing my taste buds for a beef vegetable or a nice tasty lentil. As I looked down the list I saw these choices

Mushroom Bisque

Tomato Bisque

French Potato

Cream of Spinach

Cream of Broccoli

Wisconsin Cheese


Beef Barley (yes, barley is on the list of no-no’s for gluten-free eaters)

Never wanting to assume, I asked if by chance they used corn starch in any of their soups instead of flour. Nope. Every last one was off limits.

Okay, so here is my point. I’ll try to eat local if local tries to feed me gluten free. We’re going to try and change their ways….stay tuned.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Gluten Free Game Night

So, you think you can't fool your friends into eating your "weird" food? Well you would be wrong. Last weekend we had game night at Amanda's house. Everything was gluten free. The crockpot pizza, the french bread, the rice chips and the dip. No one complained, no one even noticed and some gluten people even had seconds. To help you along I'll even give you the recipe for the crockpot pizza.

Crockpot pizza

1 bag gluten free noodles (I used Mrs. Leeper's vegetable twists-they didn't hold up very well but tasted good anyway)
1 lb turkey breakfast sausage
1 package Hormel Canadian bacon (slices cut in quarters)
1 package Hormel mini pepperoni
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 packages Boboli pizza sauce
1 package shredded cheese

Cook the noodles according to the package directions.
Brown the sausage.
Toss the cooked noodles, sausage, bacon, pepperoni, spaghetti sauce and pizza sauce in the crockpot. Stir.
Add 2/3 package of cheese and stir again.
Dump the rest of the cheese on top.
Cook about 4 hours on low.

We served this with french bread made from Gluten Free Pantry's french bread mix.