Friday, December 16, 2011

Bringing the Sandwich Back

Justin Timberlake brought sexy back, and Jason's Deli has brought the sandwich back -- for me at least. 

I haven't really missed sandwiches since I went gluten free.  Really, the only time I ate them was for a quick weekend lunch.  But, lately, I've been wanting a sandwich. I haven't had much luck with the gluten free bread I've bought in the stores.  I can make some pretty good quick breads, but it's not quite what I'm looking for in a sandwich.  Today, while trying to decide what to have for lunch (I usually bring leftovers for lunch, but didn't have any today), I was looking at the online menu for Jason's Deli and discovered that they now have gluten free bread!  I placed an order online (super easy!) and picked it up 20 minutes later.  It was prepared exactly as I ordered it.

I had a roast beef sandwich with cheddar cheese on gluten free bread.  They even heated the sandwich for me, so the roast beef was hot and the cheese was melty.  YUM!

Thanks, Jason's Deli, for bringing the sandwich back to me.  I didn't realize how excited I would be to be able to eat meat and cheese between a couple slices of bread, but I'm glad I found it.

** The GF menu on the Jason's Deli website has a disclaimer stating: "Please be advised that all of our foods are prepared in a common kitchen...we cannot recommend this for persons with Celiac disease."  I have a gluten intolerance, not CD, and was fine.  If you have a more serious condition, please take caution before ordering from any restaurant that cannot guarantee there will be no cross contamination. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mickey Wants Me to Eat Gluten Free!

I spent this past weekend in Walt Disney World, celebrating my niece’s fifth birthday.  I was a bit concerned that I might have trouble finding foods to eat, but was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to eat gluten free at Disney.
When we arrived at the Magic Kingdom on Saturday (at lunchtime) we were all hungry, and stopped at the first place that had food to satisfy a five year old – Casey’s Corner.  This quick service restaurant was a hot dog place.  Convinced I was going to have to eat a plain hot dog with no bun, I was surprised to learn that they had tapioca buns for the GF visitors.  Now, I ended up eating the dog sans bun because it was hard and not that tasty, but I totally appreciate and applaud their efforts!  Dinner that night was a salad from another quick service restaurant.
On Sunday we went to Animal Kingdom.  We stayed on in a Disney resort – Fort Wilderness – and had a cabin with a full service kitchen.  So, we ate breakfast before leaving for the park.  For lunch I had another salad from a quick service restaurant in DinoLand.
Dinner was such a treat that night, however!  We wanted to take our niece to a special birthday dinner, so we headed to Downtown Disney.  We stopped at the first restaurant we came to – T-Rex.  It’s very similar to the Rainforest CafĂ© (if you’ve ever been there), only with a dinosaur theme.  Our niece loved it, and said it was a “cool place” (except during the meteoroid showers – those were a little scary because it gets dark and noisy, and the animals move).  When I told our server I had a gluten allergy, she let me know that the chef would come to speak with me and go over my options.  He was at our table within 2 minutes, and gave me a thorough description of the entrees I could eat.  He assured me his name would be on the ticket and he would personally see to it that my food would be safe from cross contamination.  I ordered the rotisserie chicken with vegetables and mashed potatoes.  Everything was delicious!  The veggies were fresh, potatoes tasted like they were homemade, and the chicken was tender and juicy, with a crisp, flavorful skin.  I was definitely impressed with this restaurant. 
I was so stuffed after dinner; I was too full for dessert.  But, I had read that Babycakes NYC had opened up in Downtown Disney, so I wanted to buy something to take with me.  This bakery is all gluten free, soy free, egg free, and dairy free – totally vegan.  I was overwhelmed by choices – cupcakes, cookies, donuts, etc…  I ended up buying several to take home with me.  I ate a donut on our two-and-a-half hour ride home and it was great!  I think I’ll be stopping into Babycakes NYC whenever I find myself near Orlando. 
Since we’re Florida residents, it was cheaper for us to buy a 3 day pass than to pay for the 2 days we were there.  That means that sometime in the next six months we’ll be going back for our third day and I can’t wait to see what other gluten free options I can find at Disney World!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Who Doesn't Love a Kabob?

Easy, everyone loves kabobs.  And I love these because they're simple and quick, and everything in them is natural.

Lime-Marinated Kabobs
1 lb beef (sirloin, stew meat, whatever you've got handy), cut into equal sized cubes
Juice and zest of 2 limes
Veggies of your choice (I use bell peppers, red onion, and mushrooms), cut into equal sized pieces
Salt and pepper

If you're using wooden skewers, make sure you soak them in water before you use them, otherwise they might catch on fire on the grill.

In a large bowl combine the meat, veggies, lime zest and juice, and salt and pepper.  Cover and place in the refridgerator for at least an hour. 

Heat your grill to medium heat while you arrange your kabobs.  Put the meat and veggies on the skewer; I like to alternate between meat and veggie, meat and veggie.  You might like more meat, less veggie, or more veggie, less meat.  It's up to you.  I use one of those mesh grilling pans, so I assemble the kabobs in the kitchen on the grilling pan, and then take the whole thing to the grill for cooking.

Grill over medium heat for about 3 minutes before flipping and then grill another 3 minutes, or until desired degree of doneness. 

These go great with corn on the cob or a tomato salad for a late summer dinner. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Savannah, GA -- Gluten Free Style

One of the hardest parts of not eating gluten is eating out.  It's hard enough in my own backyard, but when I travel, it's even more difficult.  At least at home I know the restaurants that are good, and those that are bad.  In other cities, it's a guessing game.  My husband and I drove the two hours up I-95 this past weekend to spend a couple of days in Savannah.  We have both been to Savannah without each other before, and once when we were dating we went for St. Patrick's Day.  St. Patty's in Savannah is totally wild and crazy!  I've been twice and had a great time both times, but it's really not the best for seeing the city and enjoying all that Savannah has to offer (unless you're interested in beer, parades, beer and more beer).  So, we took advantage of the long Labor Day weekend, and finally went back. 

Fort Pulaski, on the way to Tybee Island

When traveling I usually ask people for restaurant recommendations.  If the locals eat at a restaurant, you know it's good and not too touristy.  So, when we arrived on Saturday afternoon, that's what we did.  We were encouraged to go to The Distillery on Liberty St.  I was hoping that they would have a GF beer for me, since they boast a large collection of craft beers.  Unfortunately, they were all out of beer for me.  The menu was pretty limited for me too; salads were all that the server could point out for gluten free foods.  I ended up with some peel and eat shrimp, which were good, but the basket was small (only 8 shrimp) and they brought it out with fries instead of potato chips, so I had to send it back to get remade without the fries (cooked in the same fryer as everything else).  I was still hungry after that meal.

For dinner I got onto and looked for gluten free restaurants in Savannah.  The best looking place was Kasey's Gourmet Grille, which is in midtown, not in the historic district, but worth the drive.  It was totally dead on Saturday night, but I bet it's full on the weekdays, with people from the neighborhood.  We started with blue cheese chips.  They had red bell pepper and green onions on them, which added an unexpected sweetness.  For my entree I had a 4 oz filet (the cutest little steak ever!) with a demi glace and blue cheese on top.  My steak came with fries (I LOVE when I can order fries in a restaurant), which didn't disappoint.  They had thyme and rosemary sprinkled on them, and I am going to try that next time I make homemade fries. I'm glad that we drove out to midtown to try this place, it was good, and the server was very helpful in reviewing the menu for gluten free options.

Tybee Island is a great little island just a short drive from Savannah.  We spent Sunday afternoon there, visiting the Tybee Island lighthouse, Fort Pulaski, and Fort Screven.  When we got hungry we were told to check out The Crab Shack for a fun place to eat.  I have been there before and was eager to go back.  I was hoping that at 2:30 in the afternoon our wait wouldn't be too long.  I was wrong.  And starving.  So, instead of waiting for over an hour, we found AJ's Dockside nearby.  At AJ's we found a spot at the bar right away, and ordered lunch.  They have a pretty limited menu for the gluten free, but I really enjoyed my lunch of salad (yummy balsamic dressing) and a half-pound of peel and eat shrimp.  Much better than the day before. 

Tybee Island

I have to let you in on a secret.  Ok, it's not really a secret.  I really like pirates.  Real pirates, not Johnny Deep pirates.  In Key West I made my group of friends tour the pirate museum; I enjoy Gasparilla in Tampa simply because of the pirates.  So when I saw that Savannah had a restaurant called The Pirates' House, I investigated.  This place is the real deal.  Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about this place in Kidnapped.  In the mid-eighteenth century pirates would go to the Pirates' House to spend the night and drink.  People disappeared from this place.  I had to eat there.  Our waiter was really helpful in my menu choices.  After turning down the offer of peel and eat shrimp, I settled on grilled pork chops.  I'm not crazy about pork chops.  I rarely cook them, and can't recall a time I've ever ordered them in a restaurant.  But, these were great. They were moist and tender, full of flavor, and went really well with the delicious asparagus I had.  The food was good, the history of the place was better.  Plus, my husband ordered a drink that came in this mug:

Guess what I'll be drinking my coffee out of on Saturday mornings?

Our last meal in Savannah was breakfast.  Being Labor Day, a lot of places were closed.  We happened upon J. Christopher's (which I didn't realize was a franchise until I looked up the link!) on Liberty Street.  I had an omelet (the Popeye) with fruit.  My omelet had spinach, mushrooms, cream cheese and bacon. It was perfect!  I couldn't finish it all, but it was so good that I truly tried.  The coffee was good, and the fruit was ripe.  I had the perfect breakfast to end my trip here. 

I had a couple misses, but most of my meals were really good.  Stay tuned for more adventures in eating Gluten Free while traveling, because I'm headed to Washington, DC and Virginia tomorrow for the weekend.  I'll be sure to share my successes on that trip too!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Gluten Free Sour Cream Coffee Cake

When I first stopped eating gluten, I wondered how can I do this?  How can I not eat all of the foods that I love?  Then, I discovered that there is not reason not to eat the foods I love, I just have to reinvent them so that I can eat them.  This sour cream cake was literally the very first food I thought about never being able to eat again.  I'm not sure where my mom got the recipe, but she makes it, I make it, and both of my sisters make it.  In fact, my sister served it recently at my nephew's baptism.  It's present at many of our family functions, so I set out to find a way to make it so I could eat it, not just watch everyone in envy.

Gluten Free Sour Cream Coffee Cake

280 grams gluten free flour mix*
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten together
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

*See my Lemon Cake for my flour mixture, or use one of your own

Preheat the oven to 350.  Grease and lightly dust a bundt pan with gluten free flour.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. 

Cream together butter, sugar and eggs.  Add vanilla extract and sour cream.  In half-cup increments, add the flour mixture, pausing between each addition to mix well. 

Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and 2 Tbsp of sugar.  Top with chopped pecans. 

Pour in the rest of the batter.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on the cake before serving.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rosemary Chicken Thighs with Cannellini Beans and Tomatoes

This is one of my quick weeknight go-to meals.  I use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, which crisp up nicely.  The cannellini beans work really well with tomatoes. 

Rosemary Chicken Thighs with Cannellini Beans and Tomatoes

2 sprigs rosemary, one chopped
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced tomatoes
4 Chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground pepper

Combine, in a sauce pot, 1 whole sprig of rosemary, the cannellini beans, and the tomatoes.  Simmer on medium-low heat while you prepare the chicken.

To prepare the chicken sprinkle both sides of each thigh with the chopped rosemary, salt and pepper.  Heat a pan over medium heat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Once the oil is heated, add the chicken, skin side down. 
Cook chicken on skin side until it is crispy; Flip the chicken and continue cooking until it is cooked through. 

Serve skin-side up, on top of a large spoonful of the bean and tomato mixture (after you remove the rosemary sprig from the pot). 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lemon Cake

This cake came from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.  I swapped out some of the ingredients, though.  And, my flour mix is a little different.

I've tried several different flour recipes, and this one is the best I've made.  It leads to light and fluffy baked goods, that crumble like foods with gluten do.  Really, I don't even miss the gluten when I make foods with this mix. 

Gluten Free Flour Mix

1 1/4 cups white rice flour
3/4 cups sorghum flour
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/4 Tablespoon tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Store in an airtight container.

Lemon Cake

280 grams flour mix
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375.  Grease the bottom and sides of springform pan with cooking spray.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In your stand mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Slowly add the beaten eggs while the mixer is running.  Continue to mix while you add the lemon zest, vanilla and lemon juice.

With your mixer running, add the flour and then the milk (alternating) in 1/4 cup increments, allowing the flour or milk to become fully incorporated before adding the next batch (you should begin and end with flour).  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix for 1-2 minutes;  the batter will be light and fluffy.

Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan, using a spatula to even out the top.  Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Allow the cake to cook before releasing it from the pan. Top with powdered sugar or whipped cream.