Sunday, March 2, 2014

Manchego Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates

So I have an amazing little appetizer to share with you guys today!  I first started making these over the holiday season and they were a huge hit.  I mean, wrap just about anything in bacon and it will probably be a hit at a party...but still.  These are amazing.  And easy!

All you need are three ingredients - manchego cheese, pitted dates, and bacon.  I have discovered that if I don't buy the fancy Medjool kind that dates are actually very affordable, only $3 for a 16 oz container at my Publix, and they work great in this recipe.  Manchego cheese is the splurge ingredient for these, but I think it's important to stick to that type because it isn't overly melty so it doesn't leak all over the place, and has a nice mild nutty flavor.

Putting them together is very simple, and can be done ahead of time, so great for entertaining.  Start the prep by cutting the manchego into 1/2 inch chunks, putting slits in the dates, and cutting the bacon slices in half. 

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Then you assemble - stick the manchego inside the date, wrap it in a 1/2 slice of bacon, and secure with a toothpick.  Set aside.

When you're ready to cook them, preheat your broiler to 500 degrees and put the rack in the topmost position.  Line a baking sheet in foil, and if you have it available, a wire rack to elevate the bites (this will allow the bacon fat to drain and help it get more crisp).

Broil the bites for 7 minutes, then flip and broil for another 5-7 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked through and slightly crisp.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and serve.

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And watch them disappear!  I served these as our Valentines appetizer and Hubs and I devoured them in about five minutes flat.  SO good.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Meal Plan Monday

Meal Plan Monday is back!!  I've been making them and (mostly) sticking to them, just haven't been sharing them.  Kinda green bean heavy this week – accidentally overstocked on them.  Good thing I really love green beans!

Monday

  • Pasta & Meat Sauce
  • Green Salad

Tuesday

  • Grilled Pork Chops
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes
  • Green Beans
  • Roasted Cauliflower

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • Leftovers

Saturday

Sunday

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Restaurant Review: Lilli & Loo in NYC

Over the holiday season, Hubs and I took a trip up to New York to visit his family.  Normally we go straight out to Fire Island to their house, but this time around we ended up spending a night in New York City.  After we arrived, he asked if there was anywhere around that I could eat, so I pulled out my trusty Find Me Gluten Free app for a quick search.  I quickly zeroed in on a fantastic restaurant I'd seen posted on Instagram just a couple weeks before, Lilli & Loo, that happened to be only a couple blocks from our hotel! 

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Lilli & Loo is a Chinese restaurant on Lexington in the Upper East Side.  The website showed a huge GF menu and it was very highly reviewed on the app, so I was very excited when both Hubs and my mother-in-law were game for checking it out.  We were all pleasantly surprised to step in out of the freezing cold to a warm, welcoming restaurant with beautiful decor and a lovely jazz duo playing in the corner.  We were seated quickly, and I accepted my multi-page GF menu with delight.

My mother-in-law and Hubs are not GF, but they kindly let me order everything off the GF menu so that I could share it all with them - otherwise who knows how hard it would have been for me to decide!  I ended up opting for a lot of fried food, simply because I haven't had crispy fried Asian anything in 3 years, aside from some attempts in my home kitchen.  

We started with the fried spring rolls, which came with a sweet dipping sauce.  

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These were really good, although I will say it wasn't the feather-light crispy spring roll skin I remember from my gluten days, more like an eggroll thickness.  The filling was awesome though, and they were quickly devoured.

Next up, the main courses!  We chose the General Tso's chicken, the crispy sesame shrimp, and the pomegranate chicken (not pictured - I was too enamored with the fried stuff)

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                                  Sesame Shrimp                                                              General Tso’s Chicken

These were the real stars of the meal!  Perfectly crispy, not too heavy, and the sauces were just delightful.  The General Tso's was not as spicy as I had initially believed it would be, and that one ended up being my favorite, although the sesame shrimp came in a very close second - only thing I thought was strange about it was that they left the tails on, so they were a little awkward to eat.  But still very tasty!  The pomegranate chicken had nice flavor and was clearly the healthiest dish on the table as it was not battered or fried, but it was something I could probably have made fairly easily at home.

All in all, it was a fantastic meal – special thanks to my MIL for treating us!  It made me wish that we had places like this down here in Florida.  If you ever find yourself trying to eat gluten free in the Upper East Side in NYC, this place cannot be missed.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Gluten-Free Friday: Annie's Individual Gluten-Free Mac & Cheese Cups

I have been a fan of Annie's gluten-free mac and cheese for awhile now, and always keep a box or two stocked in the pantry.  It's easy and delicious, and it makes for a nice comforting side dish - plus it's really affordable, I can usually get it for around $2 a box at Target.  Affordable is always a bonus in the GF food market!

So when I recently got a coupon for the Annie's mac and cheese cups and realized that they included the gluten-free variety in their offerings, I knew I had to try them.  I used to eat Easy Mac back in college on occasion and was a fan, so I thought it would be nice to have something convenient like that on hand.  



The instructions are simple - add water, microwave, add cheese powder, and stir.  It was ready to eat in less than five minutes.



I was expecting it to taste like the regular gluten-free mac and cheese, which is tasty, but I was surprised to find that not only was it different, I actually liked it more!  It was much richer, had a bolder flavor, and was practically gooey with cheesy goodness.  The noodles also cooked evenly and still had a nice texture to them.  



I will definitely be keeping these around in my pantry along with the boxes of mac and cheese, and I have stashed a cup in my desk drawer at work too since I like to have some safe food on hand just in case I forget my lunch or get extra hungry one day.  These cups are also going to be great for traveling (provided there is access to a microwave of course), since all you need to add is water.  I definitely recommend you give them a shot!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Radio Silence

So, if you follow this blog, you've probably noticed I have petered out to very few posts then total radio silence for the last few weeks.  Do I have a really good reason?  Honestly, no.  I haven't moved, or had a baby, or anything interesting or life changing at all.  I've just let the details of life get in the way.  My job has been super busy, and I'm generally exhausted by the time I get home, and the last thing I wanted to do after staring at a computer screen all day at work was stare at a computer screen at home...so I just let it all fall to the wayside.

I still plan my meals and we still cook pretty much every single night, but we haven't done anything new or fresh.  The closest I've come to something different was last night when I busted out a jarred mango coconut sauce to toss in with the shrimp I was stir frying (which was delicious...but jarred sauce does not a recipe make).  I do have a few product and restaurant reviews in mind for posts, so I'll have something new and GF-food related coming soon even if it's not a recipe!

I let fitness slide too - I've been really unhappy with the weight gain I experienced after moving to Florida and starting my job, and all I was really managing to do was go running a few days a week.  I trained for then did a couple 5Ks at the end of last year, which helped me feel more fit, but not look more fit.  So this week I started P90X3 with my husband (day 3 and I'm already ridiculously sore...but still moving!).  I've eyed the P90X workout before and always found it too intimidating, but this new one is entirely 30-minute workouts, and since I have to get up before work to do them it's a lot more manageable in my mind.  Hoping that by having a regular schedule to follow and my husband's support I'll stick with it and get into fighting shape by day 90!  I don't want to let the running fall by the wayside though because I do like doing 5Ks, so will have to kick up my post-workday motivation to go in the evenings a few days a week too.  It's not particularly cold here, so that's not a deterrent, but I've been using the early sunsets as an excuse because I dislike running in the dark.  Days are slowly getting longer, though!

I also really want to get back into a regular yoga practice, which I am bad about doing, but when I do I always feel more centered, calm and mentally productive.  Getting that going this week too - heading to a yin yoga class at a new (to us) studio with a girlfriend tonight for 90 minutes of deep stretch and relaxation.  I've never done slow yoga before, I tend to stick to the flow style, so I'm pretty excited to try it!  I also really like the idea of making it a more social thing for motivation/accountability, so hopefully we will like this studio and will want to go once or twice a week.  

Looking forward to getting back in the swing of things!



Monday, December 16, 2013

Meal Plan Monday

 

MondayMeal Plan

  • Chicken Sausage
  • Brown Rice
  • Broccoli

Tuesday

  • Crockpot Brown Sugar Balsamic Glazed Pork Loin
  • Green Beans
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes

Wednesday

  • Baked Chicken Breasts
  • Baked Butternut Squash
  • Broccoli

Thursday

  • Steak Fajitas
  • Yellow Rice

Friday

  • Pizza

Saturday

  • Dinner Out – Christmas Party!

Sunday

  • Salmon Pad Thai

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Apple Bread

I have found my new favorite holiday quick bread - it combines two of my favorite fall flavors, pumpkin and apple, and is a wonderful treat that would also make a great gift!  I made it for a work party recently and no one even realized it was gluten free.  I like to make these in mini loaf pans, which I think is a great size for giving.  You can use disposable mini loaf pans (found at your local grocery store) for a more inexpensive gift, or splurge a little and bake/give them in reusable mini loaf pans - I got a set of these beautiful gold pans from Williams Sonoma as a wedding gift and absolutely love them.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Apple Bread

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Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups Pamela's gluten-free baking mix
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 cups peeled and finely chopped crisp apples (I recommend Honeycrisp)

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients - baking mix, sugar, and spices.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients - eggs, canned pumpkin, oil, and applesauce.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir just until combined.  Fold in the chopped apples.

Prepare your baking pans by greasing them - I used a light coat of Crisco, but butter is also a good option.  Fill the pans about 2/3 full and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes.

The recipe also works as a a full loaf (bake about 55 minutes), muffins (bake about 25 minutes),  or even mini muffins (bake about 20 minutes).  It also freezes well - a good thing for me since I have very little willpower when it comes to delicious baked gluten-free goodies and have been watching my sugar intake!  These are definitely a bit on the indulgent side, but it was a fantastic treat for dessert this past Thanksgiving and a lot simpler in my opinion than attempting a gluten-free pumpkin pie.  I served it up with some homemade cinnamon whipped cream on top and it was an amazing texture and flavor combination, but the bread is also really good on its own.  

Happy baking!

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