Monday, December 31, 2012

Officially Saying Goodbye to Raleigh

If you follow my blog, you probably noticed that I have been silent for awhile.  Unfortunately, that silence was not due to me having too much fun over the holidays – more like the opposite.  Instead of celebrating Christmas this year, we spent our time off work packing up for the final big move down to Florida – Hubs now officially lives here with me too!

It was much harder than I remember from all the moves I did throughout my college years – it’s amazing how much we managed to accumulate.  We had already made one trip down here with a small truck, and we managed to fill a 26-foot behemoth with the remainder of our household.

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To put the truck size in perspective, here’s my 6-foot husband standing behind it.  I’m so thankful he did the driving!

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After all that packing and filling, of course you then have to empty and unpack at the other end.  We split things between our apartment and a storage unit, as we have to sell our NC house before we can get a house here (so if you happen to be looking for a house in the Raleigh area, shoot me an email, it goes on the market in a few days!)

We’ve still got a fair amount of work ahead tomorrow, so our New Year’s Day will likely be about as celebratory as our Christmas Day was this year.  But at least we are in the home stretch!  We finally returned the truck today and proceeded immediately to Mulligan’s in Vero Beach for well-deserved cocktails and lunch on the water. 

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Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone!  I plan to get back to regular blogging later this week and have a few reviews and recipes I’m excited to share Smile

Friday, December 21, 2012

Gluten-Free Friday: Vanilla Cranberry Pecan Cookies

Long before gluten free, Hubs and I stumbled across a cookie recipe on the Kraft website that quickly became our favorite-ever cookies.  We made them every Christmas as part of our annual holiday baking and they were unanimously the favorite among our friends and family, too.  They are such a signature cookie for us now that I even made them as favors at our wedding!

Last year was my first Christmas on the gluten-free diet, and I was very nervous about modifying the recipe.  Turns out I had nothing to worry about, thanks to my favorite Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix!  All I did was substitute the flour, baking soda and salt with the Pamela’s mix, and they came out great.  So good, in fact, that most people don’t believe they are actually gluten free.

If you’re looking for a great cookie to share with your friends and family, you can’t miss with this one!

Gluten-Free Vanilla Cranberry Pecan Cookies

(modified from this Kraft recipe)

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Makes about 3 dozen large cookies

Ingredients

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Blend in the eggs and vanilla.  Add Pamela’s Baking Mix and mix well.  Stir in the white morsels, Craisins and nuts.

Using a medium ice cream scoop, portion out cookies onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  You will have more batter than 2 pans will hold, so you’ll need to bake them in batches – rinse the cookie sheets in cold water between batches to ensure a consistent cooking time.

Bake for about 10 minutes, until lightly browned.  Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Meal PlanIt’s the week before Christmas, we’re doing our final move to get Hubs down here to Florida with me next week, plus my parents are coming to visit this weekend - so that means more easy meals the next few days!

Monday

  • Leftovers from the weekend

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Leftovers from Wednesday night

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gluten Free in Sebastian: Mo Bay Grill

I have to admit that while the Treasure Coast is certainly a beautiful place to live, they don’t have much in the way of gluten-free friendly places.  When I spotted the Mo Bay Grill on my Find Me Gluten Free app and saw that they had a GF menu, I immediately knew we had to check it out.

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Mo Bay Grill is a Jamaican restaurant in Sebastian, FL that you’d probably overlook if you didn’t know it was there – it’s in a strip mall, and it’s a pretty small place.  But the minute you walk in, the smell hits you and you know you’re about to eat some yummy food!

First off, the menu has clearly labeled gluten-free items denoted by a G with a circle around it – there was a huge variety to choose from too.

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The staff clearly knows their stuff, too – when I asked whether the fried plantains were done in a shared fryer, she immediately assured me that they had a separate fryer for the gluten-free items.  She also verbally confirmed as she noted on the order that I was gluten free.

We started with the fried plantains – wow!  If you haven’t had plantains before, they’re very similar to bananas, just a bit more starchy. 

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For my entrée, I went with the Chicken Run Down, which was chicken breast medallions sauteed with peppers and onions and smothered in a creamy coconut sauce. 

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Maybe not so pretty to look at (plus it’s hard to photograph cream sauce well) but very tasty!  Coconutty, but not too sweet, and the chicken was juicy and perfectly cooked. 

If you’re in the Sebastian area, you should definitely check this place out, gluten free or not.  We will definitely be back so I can start working my way through that menu!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gluten-Free Friday: Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal

After finishing up the box of Erewhon’s Buckwheat & Hemp cereal that I reviewed a few weeks ago, I was ready to move on to the second box that Attune Foods kindly sent me to try – Gluten-Free Crispy Brown Rice Cereal!

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Like the buckwheat cereal, the Crispy Brown Rice is a very simple, healthy cereal that is minimally processed and only very lightly sweetened to keep the sugar content down.

My impression?  I really like it!  Wonderfully crispy and light.  Not quite as healthy tasting as the other one – you could definitely get your kids to eat this one, no problem. 

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I’ve been on a total Greek yogurt kick lately, so I’ve been adding a portion to my yogurt and fruit as an afternoon snack.  It gives it a nice texture and crunch, and I just love listening to the snap, crackle and pop!

Now, I know that Rice Krispies also offers a gluten-free brown rice version of their own.  The nutrition facts are similar, but the ingredient list on the Erewhon cereal is definitely a lot more appealing.

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BHT, long name butylated hydroxytoluene, is a chemical preservative that is used in quite a few foods but is also an antiviral medicine used to treat herpes.  Yum.  I’ll go for the Erewhon, thank you very much!

You can find Erewhon cereals at a wide variety of stores, plus they have an online store with the entire line.  

Thursday, December 13, 2012

No-Bake Brown Butter Quinoa Granola

After my recent foray into making quinoa in my rice cooker, I had quite a bit of leftover – one little cup made so much that I ate it as a side with several meals and still didn’t make much of a dent. 

I had wanted to make something sweet, so when I was perusing my Evernote and came across this recipe for No-Bake Brown Butter Quinoa Bars that How Sweet Eats posted back in October, I knew it was perfect.  Unfortunately, like my experience with Pam’s no-bake granola bars, mine didn’t actually stick into bar form – but I ended up with a fabulous batch of granola!

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This was my first-ever attempt at making brown butter, and I am kicking myself for not having made it before – it’s so easy and the results are so tasty!

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All you have to do is melt the butter over medium heat while whisking it – How Sweet Eats has a great tutorial on how to do it.  I am proud to say that I at least had one successful first attempt in my kitchen adventures.

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Once I had my brown butter, it went into the mix of quinoa, oats, flax, and almonds, along with some honey and vanilla. 

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I’m guessing that this step is where I went wrong, and didn’t use enough honey.  Or perhaps I didn’t press it down well enough…not quite sure.  It certainly looked good before it went into the fridge!

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I left it chilling overnight and this morning when I went to cut the bars it all just crumbled, so I scooped up a serving into a tupperware and ate it with a spoon as a snack at work – so tasty! 

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I’m definitely very eager to try this one again and see if I can get them to hold into bars – I have a feeling these will be a great way to get Hubs into quinoa Smile 

To get the recipe and see what it’s supposed to look like, head on over to How Sweet Eats’ blog and check it out.  Just make sure to use GF oats and chocolate chips if you need it to be gluten free!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Chicken with Apple & Onion Sauce

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for ways to make boneless skinless chicken breasts more interesting.  They're so versatile, but I often fall back on just grilling or baking them and serving them up with a starch and a veg.  When I saw this recipe for Chicken with Apple, Onion & Cider Sauce in the Food Network Magazine, I immediately knew it would be a perfect chicken dish for fall, when apple season is in high gear.

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It was fairly simple to put together - I was in and out of the kitchen in about 45 minutes, and some of that was down time while I waited on my chicken to finish cooking.  I started off by prepping everything, because once I get cooking it's easier for me to have everything ready to go into the pan instead of trying to chop it as I go.

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I did make some modifications to the original recipe to make it gluten free and work with what I had on hand.

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I dredged my chicken breasts in Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice Flour - this was the first time I'd used brown rice flour for browning meat and I was incredibly pleased with the results!

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Once the chicken was browned, into the oven it went.  Recipe says 8 minutes, but mine took more like 15 because my chicken was pretty thick.  While the chicken was baking, I browned up the apples and onions.

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Next I added the vinegar and cooked it down, then the chicken stock, until I had a nice bubbly sauce.  

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At the very end I took it off the heat and added the butter - it finished off the sauce perfectly, giving it a nice sheen and an incredibly rich flavor.

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I served up my chicken dish with roasted red potatoes and green beans, and enjoyed every last bite.  It heated up really well the next couple of days too!  The sauce gets a fairly solidified when it cools, but it melted right back down in the microwave.  I highly recommend giving this one a try. 

Chicken with Apple & Onion Sauce 

(adapted from Food Network Magazine)

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Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, for browning
  • 1/4 cup Brown rice flour, for dredging
  • 1 small sweet onion, cut into chunks
  • 1 Fuji apple, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup gluten-free chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a nonstick skillet with the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken breasts with salt & pepper, then dredge in the brown rice flour.  Add the chicken to the skillet and cook until browned on both sides, approx 5 mins per side.  Transfer chicken to a baking dish and put in the oven to finish cooking (for large chicken breasts, this took about 15 minutes - chicken should be 165 degrees).

Add the apples and onions to the skillet (adding more oil if necessary) and cook until onions are soft and apple is lightly browned.  Add the apple cider vinegar and cook down for one minute, then add the chicken stock.  Cook until the liquid reduces by half, then turn off the heat and add the butter and a little more salt and pepper.

Spoon sauce over the chicken breasts and serve immediately.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Meal PlanI tried to work in a lot of leftovers this week - this entire past weekend and the next are devoted to trying to find our next home, so I've got a lot to fit in during the work week!

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Leftovers - Sesame Chicken

Thursday

  • Leftovers - Sesame Chicken

Friday

  • Dinner Out - Office Christmas Party (not sure how GF-friendly it will be, so I will likely eat a hefty snack before going)

Saturday

Sunday

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gluten-Free Tour of Target

If you’re gluten free, I’m sure you’re very well versed in sh0pping at natural foods stores, and hopefully you’re lucky enough to have a Whole Foods nearby for all your favorite goodies.  When I lived in Raleigh, I had so many great options for gluten-free shopping.  However, here in Vero Beach the pickings are much more meager – even the Fresh Market here is pretty small and doesn’t have much available, and what I’ve found is exorbitantly expensive. 

So, what’s a gluten-free girl to do?  Shop at Target, of course!  It’s not as good as Whole Foods, but they’ve definitely got a quite a few of my favorites, and all at really reasonable prices too. 

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Perdue Simply Smart Frozen Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders, $5.99

This was so surprising to me – the gluten-free tenders were actually priced the exact same as the regular ones!

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Van’s Gluten Free Frozen Waffles, $2.99

They carry the plain and blueberry varieties at my store.

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GoPicnic Shelf-Stable Gluten Free Meals, $3.99

Note that not all GoPicnic meals are gluten free, so be sure to check!

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Annie’s Rice Shells & Creamy White Cheddar, on sale for $1.52

They have the regular cheesy rice pasta with yellow cheddar too.  Fantastic sale price, but even very reasonable full price at about $2.40/box

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Annie’s Gluten-Free Bunny Cookies, $3.79

Warning – these are highly addictive!

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Maple Grove Farms Gluten-Free Pancake & Waffle Mix, $3.59

I haven’t actually had this mix yet, so I’m not sure how good it is, but I spotted it on the shelf so I wanted to include it in this post.

So there you have it!  Quite a few things to be found, even in a regular Target with a small grocery.  I’ve found even more options at other Targets in the past, particularly the larger stores. 

Are there any regular stores you shop at with great gluten-free sections?  Please share in the comments!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quinoa in the Rice Cooker

Confession – the first time I made quinoa, I hated it.  I’m not quite sure what it was – maybe I cooked it wrong, or maybe I was biased by Hubs’ complaints over to my left.
But I read about quinoa all the time.  It’s everywhere these days, especially in the gluten-free world.  It is a super healthy protein source, plus high in iron and calcium and fiber all kinds of other nutrients and antioxidants.  I see it in both sweet and savory dishes, as breakfast, a side dish, or a salad.  So I decided I had to give it another shot.
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Am I glad I did!  I cooked up a batch last night and it was super simple to make and very enjoyable to eat.  It doesn’t have quite the same mouth feel/substance as rice, but it’s still a very tasty grain. 
Part of the reason that it was so simple was that I did it in my fuzzy logic rice cooker, so it was literally a set it and forget it.  I used the cup that came with my rice cooker and measured it out by cup – one part quinoa, two parts liquid (I used half water and half chicken stock).  Then I set it to the quick cooking cycle and let it do its thing.
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I ate it today as a side with my leftover chicken sausage and green beans for lunch, but I’m eager to try it in other applications, especially sweet ones.  I’ve seen it as an oatmeal substitute for breakfast and in cookies and bars, so I think I’m going to go there next!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Meal PlanStill keeping it very simple this week – I seem to be a huge fan of chicken sausages lately, they are so quick and easy to brown up, plus they heat up really well for leftovers.  I’ve also got a couple nights out planned for this weekend instead of cooking – Hubs is coming to visit!

Monday

  • French Bread Pizzas (so nice I had to do it twice!  Plus I had the other half of the baguette anyway…)
  • Green Salad

Tuesday

  • Beef Tacos
  • Green Salad

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Leftover Beef Tacos
  • Green Salad

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

  • Baked Chicken Breasts
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes
  • Green Beans

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gluten-Free French Bread Pizza

Tonight I tried out a new gluten-free product from Schar, with delicious results…

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When I posted a picture of my recent Glutenfreely order, the first thing I heard was “those baguettes are so good!” – so immediately I knew I wanted to make french bread pizzas with them, as I hadn’t had a french bread pizza since going gluten free.

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They did not disappoint!  Simple to put together, and super quick - they actually took even less time than the frozen version I used to eat, because they didn’t need to bake as long.

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I kept it simple – tomato sauce, shredded Italian cheese, and my secret weapon – Italian Herb Garlic Gold

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I have the entire line of Garlic Gold flavors in my cabinet, they are amazing.  It’s basically just crunchy garlic – they chop it up and toast it in organic extra-virgin olive oil.  It’s a little pricey, but well worth it!  I bought mine online in a deal awhile back, but I’ve also seen it at Whole Foods.

Anyway, back to the pizza.  I sliced a half baguette lengthwise and topped it with cheese, then baked it in my toaster oven at 400 for 15 minutes until golden and delicious.

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Thanks, Schar, for making such an awesome product! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gluten-Free Friday: Lundberg’s Brown Rice Couscous

Couscous was a frequent side dish back in my gluten days.  There were so many delicious flavors in the grocery store, and it was ready in less than 10 minutes – hard to beat that!  Thanks to Lundberg’s, couscous can still be a part of a gluten-free diet. 

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Added bonus that it’s a lot more nutritious than regular couscous, which is generally made from white flour pasta.  Brown rice definitely has a lot more going for it!  It still has that great couscous texture, it’s just a bit heartier and a lot more filling.

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One little box makes a whole lot of couscous – once cooked up it filled my 1 quart saucepot!  All in just about 15 minutes, significantly less time than it would take to boil up some brown rice.

It comes in 4 flavors, but so far I’ve only found the plain and roasted garlic with olive oil.  The garlic flavor is my favorite, but I’ll often get the plain kind so that I can make it in smaller batches and not worry about divvying up the seasoning packet properly. 

I’ve found Lundberg’s brown rice couscous at both my regular grocery stores and Whole Foods, priced at around $3-$4/box.  To find a store near you that carries Lundberg’s check out their store locator.

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