Monday, February 28, 2011

A New Favorite Restaurant

I love going out to eat, trying new restaurants, and exploring new menu items.  Now that I'm gluten free I don't have a lot of options and the ones I do have are usually chains.  While I appreciate gluten free menus like the ones at Chili's and Outback sometimes I want to eat somewhere local!  Right now my main options are both in Fayetteville, WV.  Pies and Pints is my go to for pizza.  I've blogged about it several times in the past and it's been a long time favorite...but you can't eat pizza all the time.  I think we all know the main thing missing from gluten free diets are delicious sandwiches!  They are such a convenient many delicious!  Well thanks to the Secret Sandwich Society I can now enjoy an awesome sandwich just like everyone else!

These are the best sandwiches I have ever had gluten free or not!  My entire family agrees!  The combinations are unique and always delicious!  Everything is so fresh plus it's local and organic when possible!  You don't see a lot of that in WV!
I started my meal with a fabulous spinach bisque.  So creamy and the seasonings were spot on! 

I opted for the daily special.  Roast pork, tomato chutney, fresh mozarella, and garlic aoli.  Wow...I can't even find words to describe how delicious this was!  The chutney had hints of cinnamon that really made the sandwich!  Served with potato chips and a pickle.  Both fabulous and made in house!

This may honestly be the best lunch I've ever eaten. I would eat here every single day if I could!  You don't have to get gluten free bread but if you did you probably wouldn't even notice the difference.  The bread is that good!  In addition to this sandwich I have also tried the Kennedy, the Ulysses, and the Hanibal.  All were absolutely spectacular! It's so nice when local restaurants take the time and effort to accomodate a gluten free diet!  I certainly appreciate it!  It's worth the 40 minute drive!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentine Goodies

Valentine's Day is a favorite in our home and for good reason!  It just so happens to be my daughter's birthday!  This year she turned 16.  Wow I feel old typing that! So instead of my husband and I doing the romantic fancy dinner, chocolates, and flowers routine we have a big family dinner.  I cook my daughter's favorite foods and a make a delicious cake.  I will save the dinner entree for a later post and just discuss the good stuff here.  Dessert!  I was perusing the blog world for ideas when I came across a recipe for a sweetheart cake roll on Eat, Live, Run. It looks so gorgeous and honestly what about chocolate cake topped with chocolate ganache doesn't sound delicious?  I wasn't sure how well it would work gluten free since it is being rolled up and gluten free treats are known for being crumbly and not staying together.  I decided to go out on a limb and take a chance.  I am so glad I did.  I followed the cake directions exactly and used Gluten Free Pantry's All Purpose Flour mix.  For the frosting I decided to make my own cream cheese frosting as I think buttercream is a tad too sweet in rich desserts.  Plus I could eat my weight in cream cheese icing happily. 
Not the prettiest picture due to the wax paper but I promise it tasted fantastic.  You 100% could not tell it was gluten free.  My family kept asking if I was positive I was able to eat it!  Always a sign of successful gluten free baking! :)

After the success of the roll-up cake I decided to tackle another project I had been interested in forever.  Cake pops!  I was going to use the Betty Crocker gluten free cake mix that I thought I had...but it turned out I didn't have one.  Now I remember using it to make cupcakes on my birthday.  Ooops!  No fear...I just made a cake mix out of what I had on hand.  Worked out well because I didn't really need a 13x9 pan worth of cake.  Here is my mix for an easy cake.

Easy Vanilla Cake Mix

1/2 stick of butter softened
3/4 cup of sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of Pamela's Gluten Free Baking Mix
1 Egg
1/2 cup milk

*This makes an 8 in. cake.  Double to make a two layer cake or a sheet cake. 

Mix butter and sugar.  Add vanilla and egg.  Stir in baking mix alternating with milk.  Mix well.  Pour into pan and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Longer for a bigger cake. 

To make the cake balls I added a touch of pink food coloring.  I crumbled this cake and mixed it with homemade cream cheese icing also tinted pink.  I rolled the cake into balls and inserted the lollypop sticks.  Froze the cake balls for about 30 minutes and then dipped in melted semisweet chocolate.  Roll in sprinkles and place in the fridge to harden.  I made some with sticks and some without.  A few I rolled in pink candy melts because I ran out of chocolate.  These were so good and so easy to make.  I think I will be looking for excuses to make these in the future.  They are ridiculously delicious. 

Just in case you have never made cream cheese icing here is a quick recipe.  It's the easiest thing in the world and tastes 100 times better than store bought.

1 block of Neufchatel or full fat cream cheese
1/4 to 1/2 cup of powdered sugar (depends on how sweet you like it)
2 TB milk
1 tsp of vanilla or other flavoring
1 drop of food coloring if desired

Mix all ingredients with an hand mixer until smooth and spreadable.  Add more sugar and milk if you need it sweeter or it's too thick or thin.  Easy as that! 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Eggs: They are what's for dinner!

All this week the only thing I've been wanting for dinner has been eggs!  I love eggs so much!  I managed to talk my husband into eating eggs three evenings this week! 
I may have thrown a little beef in there to sweeten the deal! I sometimes eat at a nearby diner and get this bunless burger with an egg, three kinds of cheese, and bacon. Sounds healthy, eh?  Well I wanted something a little leaner this week.  Lean beef, a slice of reduced fat cheddar, and a fried egg.  So delicious!  Served with a salad so I can get my veggies in! :)

This terrible picture is my favorite egg sandwich.  Toasted Udi's with a fried egg, reduced fat cheddar, and jam.  The jam sounds weird but truly it's delicious.  It's a perfect dinner and it takes about 5 minutes to make!  Win-win!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dealing with Chipotle Withdrawl

It's no secret that I am in LOVE with Chipotle.  Sadly I am also four hours away from the nearest.  Anytime I travel I make it my mission to get a carnitas burrito bowl.  When I'm not traveling I try to make my own at home.  I use a base of brown rice and pinto or black beans. Then I top with shredded pork roast, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole.  Heaven in a bowl.  This pork roast is one of my favorite meals.  So easy too! I make this in a six quart crockpot.

1 pork shoulder roast (your could probably use a loin roast but this one shreds better)
2 TB of minced garlic
1 TB cumin
1/2 lime
2 cups of water

Place roast in crockpot.  Spread garlic on top and sprinkle evenly with cumin.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Squeeze lime half over top of roast.  Pour the water around, but not over pork.  Throw the juiced lime half into the water and cook on low for 8 hours.  Shred and serve. 

Saturday I went on a shopping trip with my daughter and my best friend and her daughter. Our daughters were celebrating their February birthdays so they wanted to eat at the Olive Garden.  We stopped in for lunch and I played it safe having only a crouton-less Caesar salad.  It wasn't the best lunch ever but I wanted the girls to have a special meal.  Lucky for me on the way home I saw a little strip mall Mexican place and decided to stop in on a whim.  They had carnita soft tacos on corn tortillas.  Soooo delicious. I sprinkled them with lime juice and rolled them up with a touch of guacamole.  I can't get them off my mind, but luckily they are only an hour away! :)

In other news it's freezing cold and snowing here....again.  I am so ready for winter to end!  I think Cocoa is too!  Thanks for ignoring the random socks in this picture.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Things that you don't see everyday...

Went out for sushi,

And saw this...
What, you've never seen someone take a life-size Princess Leia cut out into a sushi restaurant? 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The best laid plans....

...Are doomed to fail.  Tonight we had a party to go to.  I was so excited that it was going to be at Chick-fila because I know I can get a safe gluten free meal there.  My go-to order is a chargrilled chicken sandwich with no bun, add provolone cheese with a side salad and a fruit cup for dessert.  However due to the fact that we are in the midst of a blizzard the restaurant decided to close early.  So the party was relocated to Pizza Hut.  Could there be a worse choice for a gluten free meal?  The worst part?  I had no time to find a suitable dinner before the party started and it seems that someone snacked on my emergency stash of Larabars!  So I had to make a cup of coffee to bring along.  Coffee helps kill my appetite for a brief spell.  It got me through the party at least!  It was worth it to see my adorable nephew so happy!

After the party I rushed home (well as much as you can rush with half a foot of snow) and made my favorite quick meal.  Scrambled eggs with bacon and cheddar.  I love breakfast food for dinner!  Luckily I had a slice of leftover bacon in the fridge so I didn't have to wait for it to fry. 
To serve with it I had a coffee protein shake.  I used the Starbucks Via in vanilla.  It has an interesting marshmallow like flavor. I find you really need to mix it with more water than called for or it is soooo bitter.  I mixed it with ice, natural vanilla protein powder, and 1/4 cup of low fat milk.  It was so foamy on top.  Really good.  I do love my coffee. 

Anyhow this goes to show that in a pinch you can make a quick, relatively healthy meal in no drive thru required!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Year, New Dishes!

Well 2010 flew past!  The older I get the faster time goes. I don't really do resolution for New Year's.  It seems like anything I say I'm going to do doesn't happen.  I think there are more important motivations to be healthy than the date on the calendar! I will say that now the holidays have passed I will be changing my diet.  I have been going out to eat, going to family dinners, and having pot lucks at work and as a result I think I've been getting a lot of gluten contamination. Pepto is making an all to frequent appearance in my life and I have just been feeling achy, rundown, and blah.  There will be a lot more whole foods being eaten at home!  Frequent dining out is just getting to be too risky.  Sad but true.  So to make meals at home more exciting I got new dishes!

My mom has used Corelle dishes my whole life and they have been dropped a thousand times and never break.  My old dishes on the other hand have suffered many casualties.  One bowl, two salad plates, and a coffee mug.  Most of the survivors are chipped.  It was definately time for new ones so I went with the most break resistant I could find.  I did have to get square plates.  I love a square plate, not sure why.  Anyhow the box says they are stylish! ;P
For the first dinner on the new dishes we are having lentil soup.  I love lentils!  I made lentils as a side dish for some Tikka Masala the other night.  I made enough so we'd have leftovers for the soup.  Here is my recipe for lentils...this would be better with a different type of lentil, but my store only has brown so that is what I use. 


1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
2 cups of lentils
3 cups water
1 TB tumeric
2 tsp Better than Bouillon (chicken)
2 TB garam masala

 In pan heat garlic and ginger in a bit of nonstick cooking spray.  Add lentils, water, and tumeric bring to a boil.  Add bouillon.  Reduce to simmer at medium heat and cover.  Watch and add more water if lentils are looking too dry.  Cook about 20-30 minutes.  Add garam masala and heat about 5 minutes more.  Serve.  Use leftovers in soup.

Lentil Soup

2 cups leftover lentils from above
1 box of natural chicken broth
1 cup of cooked brown basmati rice
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 cup of frozen or fresh spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to pot and simmer for about 20 minutes or until ready to serve.  The lentils are pretty heavily seasoned so you don't really need to add much to flavor the soup. 

I hope everyone is having a healthy and happy New Year!  I am going to try to blog more this year since I'm a bit of a blogging slacker.