Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy Joe's and other excitement!

Holiday time....naturally the holidays tend to kind of revolve around FOOD....which, for a gluten-intolerant person, can be a challenge (and even accompanied by sadness).

My family is becoming increasingly more and more cognizant of my gluten-free lifestyle. I love them for it! Obviously I love them for many more, and more important reasons as well...but their understanding of my need to live a gluten-free life is really a huge blessing to my life.

This was my THIRD gluten-free Christmas...I can hardly believe the time has flown by so quickly! It seems like just yesterday was that October 2008 day when I made up my mind to "quit" gluten "cold turkey"!!

Yesterday (1-1-11!) we had the annual Christmas get-together for my Mom's side of the family. My mom told me that she had seen that Happy Joe's (a yummy pizza place in the Quad City area) now carries gluten free pizza crust!

This is amazing to me for a number of reasons....if you've read much of my blog you know that my biggest gluten-free "sadness" is the lack of pizza. Oh, I love pizza! :) So, knowing of another gluten-free pizza amazing!

Secondly, Happy Joe's brings back good childhood memories for me :). I am fully aware that their pizza may not be the best ever or anything really hugely unique or exciting to some people. However, it is truly nostalgic for me. We didn't go out for pizza much when I was growing up...but when we did, it was typically for Happy Joe's!

I can't wait to check out their ingredients to see what I can eat there! I am hoping for their Canadian would be amazing if that was gluten free. That was definitely one of my favorites :).

I felt so loved/taken care of by my mom and sister yesterday...they each had prepared me a little single-serving gluten-free version of dishes that they brought to share at the Christmas party! Megan brought a baked pineapple dish (that was amazing, by the way!). The regular recipe called for a cracker crumble-topping, as well as flour in the dish. She omitted the topping and substituted corn starch for flour in my little single-serving dish. Yum! My mom made a delicious sweet potato casserole (one of my favorites!) and also swapped the flour for corn starch. The entire large dish was gluten free...but she scooped out a little dish for me ahead of time so that it wouldn't get cross-contaminated at the big buffet table! WOW! In addition, she made me a little single-serving dish of a strawberry jello dish that typically has a graham cracker crust (crustless for me). Mmmm! :)

Thanks, family, you are such a gift to me! :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Another Gluten-Free Holiday :)

Merry Christmas Eve, all!

Yeah...I'm a slacker-blogger :).

Thought I'd drop a quick post about my new favorite GF item...Progresso Soup! Many of their varieties are now gluten awesome is that!  Be careful, not ALL of their soups are gluten free.  The ones that are, are clearly labeled on the can.

The most exciting to me thus far is the cream of mushroom soup....this is, in my opinion, a bit of a breakthrough in the gluten-free-cooking world.  Many casseroles call for a creamy soup...and creamy soups are typically rather hard to find (in my experience, anyway).  Now, though, a cream-based GF soup is easy to find at common grocery stores....and inexpensive to boot!

I used my first can of Progresso cream of mushroom soup today in a cheesy potato casserole dish that i made and brought to my in-laws' tonight for our Christmas Eve dinner.

The recipe called for 2 lbs of shredded frozen hash browns (I used Ore-Ida...GF), 2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup of melted butter, 1 can of cream soup, salt/pepper to taste, and 1 cup of sour cream....I mixed all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and then spread in a 9x13 pan.

Before adding the cream of mushroom soup, i actually strained out the rather large chunks of mushrooms.  While I tend to enjoy husband definitely doesn't.  So, the chunks had to go!

I baked the casserole at 350 for a little over an hour....and, since it sure wasn't fatty enough already ;), I sprinkled a bit of shredded cheddar on top before it was finished.

So, there you have it....a yummy, easy GF side dish that is sure to please the cheesy-potato lovers in your family :).

Merry Christmas!

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Saturday, November 6, 2010


So I am hosting a baby shower today with two of my good friends, Jamie and Shannon! Our friend, Jillian, is expecting a baby with her husband Lynden in late December! We couldn't be more excited for them :).

We've been planning this for weeks...and it will all come together (hopefully!! :)) today! I had volunteered to make a dessert (GF of course, for myself and another guest who is GF...our friend Maggie). Yesterday I decided it would be cupcakes.

FILLED cupcakes.

I've never attempted such a feat, but decided...why not?! Really, there's not a whole lot that excites me more than a new baking adventure. Ok...maybe I like running a bit more ;)....but I do really like creating new things, including in the kitchen.

I think it was at least somewhat successful :).

What was the method to my madness you ask?

Well, I started with Betty Crocker's awesome GF cake mixes. I made 14 chocolate cupcakes and 15 yellow cupcakes (why the strange numbers??...just how the batter ended up working out in the cupcake liners. Ha!).

I simply followed the instructions on the packages and let the cupcakes cool.

As they cooled on the counter...I made the filling.

I read a number of recipe blogs online to get the inspiration, but ended up completely making up the filling I used....I was personally craving strawberry, so I knew I wanted something strawberry-and-creme-y

I made a box of stove-top vanilla pudding (it called for 3 cups of milk, I used 2 1/4 cups of milk to ensure the pudding would be really thick). I simply followed the instructions on the box.

To the completed pudding, I added half of a brick of cream cheese (I ended up using the 1/3 less fat variety), 2 cups of powdered sugar, and a half a cup of strawberry jam (I use the "simply fruit" kind with no added sugar...not that it really matters in this case, with all of the sugar in the cupcakes! HA!). I mixed this with a hand mixer until it was super smooth and creamy. I then stuck it in the freezer to cool for a while (it was still pretty hot from cooking the pudding).

When I was satisfied that the filling was sufficiently cooled, I spooned it into a pastry bag fitted with a long narrow tip (for Bismark filling). I thrust the tip into the center of the top of the first cupcake...and squeezed some filling down into the cupcake!

It was really a guessing game...clearly you can't really see the filling going into the cupcake, so I was guessing by "feel". Sometimes the top of the cupcake began to raise up a bit as I squeezed the filling in, so I knew I should probably stop to ensure I didn't make the poor thing explode.

Some of the filling oozed out the top hole of the I gently wiped off the excess if there was a lot.

After all of the filling was inserted, I frosted those bad boys!

I just whipped up some easy frosting (with lots of powdered sugar to ensure it would be stiff enough to hold its shape) and added a few drops of blue food coloring to make pastel blue frosting. I glopped the stuff into a different pastry bag fitted with a round tip and piped spiral-ly tops onto the cupcakes.

Our friends Paul and Lisa were over during this escapade watching a movie with Jeremy downstairs. I brought them each one when they were complete...and they did voice approval of the treats...but I am not sure if they were just being polite ;). The true test will be this afternoon's shower! :)

Regardless of outcome, they were a really fun first attempt at a filled cupcake...and I would love to experiment more! I just need more people to be my taste-testers so I don't end up gaining 50 lbs! :)

Happy Baking!

Carnitas Soup

So, I enjoy adapting favorite recipes and making them "my own". Monday night I needed to prepare some soup for a potluck lunch at work the next day. I decided to adapt one of my favorite recipes, Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup...

Basically, I pulled out my crockpot...plugged it in (on LOW heat)...and started layering the following items inside:

1. 1 bottle of gluten free beer...I used Redbridge
2. Pour in one package of GF taco seasoning (I used McCormick's reduced sodium)
3. Add veggies/beans....adapt however you want! I used all canned, but you can use fresh things as well! I put in:
~ two cans of tomatos/chillies (one happened to be Rotel brand, the other was something else I can't remember...but usually I use all Rotel),
~two cans of diced tomatoes,
~one large can of black beans (drained, rinsed),
~two cans of hominy (drained, rinsed),
~two cans of dark red kidney beans (drained, rinsed)
3. Add meat...I used 2.5 lbs of pork loin...just plopped it into the middle of the mess of beans/veggies and covered it up by spooning veggies/beans on top.
4. The soup looked kinda thick so I added 3 cups of water...could also use some kind of stock (when I've made chicken taco soup this way, I use chicken stock for a bit more liquid)
5. Add some more seasoning if you want...I sprinkled some cumin, salt, and fresh-ground pepper on top.
6. Cover and let your crock pot work it's magic! I cooked it over night for 7 hours on low, then brought it to work and cooked for 3 more hours on low. Clearly it would very...but this turned out pretty dang deliciously!
7. Shred your meat (pork here). When I woke up in the morning (which happened to be 4:30am since I was going to a spinning class prior to work!), I pulled out the pork (which was falling-apart-tender) and shredded it quickly on a cutting board, and then put it back into the soup and gave it a good stir.
8. Serve with any appropriate accompaniments...tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, bread...whatever! :)

The crock pot was scraped to the very bottom at the I think that was a good sign :).

Here's a picture of some of the "leftover" (I reserved some of it to keep at home. Actually, it's going to be our dinner tonight!).


(aside...someday I'll get a "real" camera and learn how to take "real" photos :))

Raspberry Muffins

Last weekend we had some "surprise" overnight weekend guests....well a surprise to me, anyhow. My wonderful husband had planned a surprise birthday party for me. Two of the out of town guests, Brooke and Jamie, had arranged with Jeremy to stay overnight at our house after the party on Saturday night. Naturally I was SUPER excited...Brooke is one of my dearest friends, however I was also a bit stressed...if you know me, you know I like to have control and order in my life, and this would include having an as-close-to-possible immaculate home if I have guests ;). Ok, immaculate is probably a bit strong ;). CLEAN, at least ;).

Thankfully, things weren't TOO bad around here ;). Just my "hoarding room" aka, the office, was REALLY bad...and I needed to last-minute scramble to clean up my bathroom (the bathroom they'd be using) to make it at least somewhat clean and presentable! :)

Sunday morning I got up before the three of them had gotten up and searched my kitchen for something acceptable to make for breakfast. I happened upon some delicious organic raspberries (had been on sale at our local Meijer that week) in my fridge and paired them up with a recipe in Carol Fenster's 1000 Gluten Free Recipes (which had been a gift from my sister about two years ago and is still my favorite gluten-free cookbook...go grab one if you don't already own this treasure!!). I basically used the recipe/adapted it a bit (I tend to take liberty with all recipes and adapt them to make them my own. This is a "skill" I learned from my mother, the great Sally ;)).

The muffins received rave reviews from my guests and Jeremy. Jamie ate three. The rest of us had one :). I also made some cheesy scrambled eggs to go along with the muffins (I think Brooke and I were the only ones who ate the eggs, though :). We are biiiig cheese aficionados ;).)

Here's what I did:

(based off of Carol's Raspberry Muffins with Streusel Topping on page 29 of the cookbook)

2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk (I used organic Horizon 2%, a staple in our home...but you may substitute with any kind of milk...rice, almond, etc.)
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract (make sure it's GF!)
(Carol also called for grated lemon zest, which I don't care I omitted)

1 1/2 cups flour blend (I tried out my new GF Bisquick! Carol called for her Sorghum Blend)
1/4 cup sweet rice flour (Carol called for Expandex modified tapioca starch)
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon (more than she called for)
1 teaspoon salt
1 6 ounce container fresh raspberries, gently washed and patted dry

3/4 cup Streusal Topping
(She has a recipe for this on page 566 of her cookbook...but I made up my own. I put 1/2 cup brown sugar in a bowl, along with 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, a large handful of crushed up corn Chex cereal, and 3 tablespoons of butter chopped up into little pieces. I mixed this all up with a fork)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with papers.

2. Beat eggs with an electric mixer on low speed until light yellow and frothy, about 30 seconds. Add milk, oil, vanilla...beat on low speed until the batter is smooth and slightly thickened.

3. In a different bowl, mix together all dry ingredients except raspberries. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients until the batter is smooth and slightly thickened. Gently stir in the fresh raspberries.

4. Spoon batter into muffin cups and sprinkle some Streusal Topping on each muffin, gently pressing down the topping into the batter slightly.

4. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the muffin tops are firm and the edges start to pull away from the pan.

5. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool on wire rack or plate for approximately five more minutes...serve warm!


Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rudi's Gluten Free Bread

So we have potluck lunches every so often at work (usually my idea ;). I head up the "Fun Committee" at work...a very boring, very vanilla name for a group of co-workers who tries to come up with fun ways of promoting a more exciting workplace and making relationship-building a priority)...

Obviously potlucks are really no place for gluten allergies, or food allergies of any kind for that matter. Usually I can eat what I bring...and maybe 1-2 other things, if that. Really, it doesn't bother me much...if at all. 2 years ago when I started this "journey"...I usually got annoyed. Once I even skipped a work lunch because pizza was being served and I really didn't want to deal with sitting there and being the only one who wasn't eating pizza. It probably sounds completely lame...but it was really hard for me to be the "odd man out."

So, yesterday we had a potluck. My co-worker, Debra, signed up to bring bread (the "main dishes" at this particular potluck were a variety of soups). In addition to a loaf of "normal" ;) bread...she brought a loaf of multi-grain gluten free bread made by Rudi's...a company I'd never heard of until that moment!


If you've ever tried gluten free know that most gluten free breads leave more than a few things to be desired. Taste. Texture. UGH...gluten free bread is usually pretty nasty and similar to cardboard or styrofoam.

Rudi's though....delicious! Really! I ate two slices dipped in my carnitas taco soup (made by me ;)).

Check out the website: Rudi's Gluten Free Bakery

I am not sure where Deb found the bread...but I looked on the website, and they do carry it at Naturally Yours here in Bloomington! WOO HOO! :) You can search on the site under the "where to buy" option and search for locations near you where you can buy this yummy bread! Apparently they are a few different varieties...the one I tried was the multigrain, and again...I'd completely recommend it! :) Two thumbs WAY up! AND...FYI, it's dairy free as well! :)

I am already looking forward to my toast in the morning...complete with homemade cherry jam from my friend Jami! :)

Olive Garden!

Ok, this may not be really "new" news in the Gluten Free world...but it is news to me! My friend Jillian just let me know that Olive Garden has a gluten free menu! I knew they had a gluten free menu already...and I thanked her for the knowledge but said I already knew that. She went on to say, however, that they now have a gluten free pasta! Previously when I had checked their website, I think they only had steak/chicken/salmon options! (But, again, I hadn't checked their website in a while)
Now, indeed, they do have a gluten free penne pasta with marinara option. Also, I noted that their yummy salad (without crutons, of course ;) ) is gluten free! I do love their house Italian dressing, so that was awesome to see :).
So, all of you GF lovers, go check out your local Olive Garden for some yummy GF eats! It's always fantastic to have another GF restaurant option :).
Click here for the GF menu :).


(as with any Gluten responsible and check with your server/a manager to ensure that measures have been taken to prevent cross-contamination.)

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