Monday, October 29, 2012

Spoonful at a Time is On the Move!

So, I have some big news – I’m moving this week!  It’s been in the plans for awhile now, but we didn’t have a set date until this past Friday, when I accepted a job offer in the beautiful and sunny state of Florida.

It’s going to be a major change, as I’ve lived nearly all my life in North Carolina, aside from a few childhood years in Germany.  But I’m also really excited about the idea of a warmer climate and the beach lifestyle! 
Hubs was born and raised right by the water, and he’s been feeling landlocked ever since he moved here.  When we visited Vero Beach we both were immediately enamored with the town. 

It’s fairly small and laid back, and everyone we met was so friendly.  The geography is really cool, too – there’s a quaint little downtown area on the mainland, and then you can just cross one of the bridges to the barrier island and there is a funky beach town area.

My new job is starting very quickly – next Monday is my first day – so I’m currently in hyper mode trying to get everything packed and tie up the inevitable loose ends.  Hubs’ job is transferring him there too, but unfortunately they’re not quite ready for it yet so Kitsa and I will be starting off on our own (thankfully he’s taking time off to move me down there, though).  We’ve rented a small apartment short term, and will look into a more permanent residence soon.  It’s definitely going to be a crazy few months!

So, I’m sad to say goodbye to NC and all the wonderful friends I’ve made here, but I definitely will be continuing the blog in Vero Beach so I hope that you’ll continue to tune in to see what it’s like discovering all the great gluten-free places and adjusting to my new lifestyle! However, I will be going into radio silence for the rest of this week so I can focus on moving.  And not going crazy.

See you next week!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blogger Dinner at Bella Monica, Plus the Giveaway Winner!

Last night I finally ate at Bella Monica, a fantastic Italian restaurant here in Raleigh featuring an extensive gluten-free menu.  Best part is, I got to share my meal with one of my favorite local gluten-free bloggers, Pam from I’m a Celiac!  She is incredibly friendly and fun and I had a great time getting to know her.  Thanks, Pam, for inviting me!

She had already been to Bella Monica, so she was already familiar with how things work there and made sure to order us extra gluten-free focaccia bread before I even arrived – so glad she did, as it was easily the best bread I have had the pleasure of eating in two years. 

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It was warm, chewy and drenched in olive oil – my favorite way to eat focaccia.  I was so happy when the second square of bread arrived with our meals, just in time for dipping in Nana’s gravy!

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I ordered the chicken parmigiana, which was served with gluten-free penne pasta.  I swear, if I didn’t trust the restaurant and Pam so much I would have thought I was eating gluten, it was that good!  I shared my leftovers with my husband, a gluten eater, and he immediately said that they need to market that pasta because he couldn’t tell the difference.

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Bella Monica even has a variety of gluten-free desserts – I ordered the tiramisu, which was really tasty, particularly the mascarpone cream.  However the star dessert in my opinion was the crème brulee that Pam ordered.  She generously shared a bite with me, and it had an amazing texture and the perfect hint of lemon.

It was definitely blogger night at Bella Monica last night – Marlow from Gluten Hates Me was also eating there!  She stopped by our table after the meal and we ended up chatting for an hour.  I have never gotten to hang out with other bloggers before and it was such a cool experience, especially since I’m such a newbie to the blog world.
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Photo credit: I’m a Celiac

Thanks, ladies, for being so welcoming and friendly! 

Added bonus – Pam knew the manager, who stopped by and talked to us for awhile and even sent us each home with a very special eggplant dish.  It was very thinly sliced eggplant that was breaded and fried, then wrapped around cheese and topped with Nana’s gravy (I swear, I could eat buckets of that sauce).  Hubs and I dug in the moment I got home, and then enjoyed the leftovers for lunch today!  So incredibly good.

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If you don’t live in the area to visit Bella Monica, be sure to check your grocery store’s freezer section for their pizzas to get a little taste Smile  To find a location near you that carries them, check out their store locator.


Thanks to Pam, Marlow and everyone at Bella Monica for a wonderful gluten-free evening!

Now, on to the giveaway winner!  This week I’ve been running a giveaway that Carrie over at Ginger Lemon Girl generously offered to host for a signed copy of her new cookbook, the Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker cookbook.  And the big winner is…Lisa, a.k.a @zenharmony! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please email your address info to me at to collect your prize.  For those of you who are not the lucky winner, you still have a chance to win a copy from Pam at I’m a Celiac, so be sure to head over there and enter!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gluten-Free Friday: Sawasdee Thai Restaurant

Before I went gluten free, a friend of mine introduced me to Sawasdee, which she swore was the best Thai restaurant in Raleigh – and she wasn’t mistaken!  It quickly became a favorite.  After GF I figured it was off limits, but recently I stumbled across it on the awesome Find Me Gluten Free app and learned that they now have a pretty big GF menu.

There are 2 locations, one off of Capital and one right near Crabtree Valley Mall on Glenwood.  We had lunch recently at the Glenwood location, and they did an amazing job. 

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Ask for a GF menu when you walk in, they have them ready to go at the front.  I was able to enjoy an appetizer, entrée, and dessert – a rarity these days in restaurants!

Hubs and I shared the fresh shrimp summer rolls to start, which were filled with wonderful crisp veggies, and served  an amazing gluten-free dipping sauce alongside.

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For my entrée, I ordered the Pad Priew Wan, a.k.a. the sweet and sour stir fry.  I forgot to snap a picture of it when they brought it out, and by the time I remembered it was no longer photo worthy – so this is the best I can do!


The sauce was nice and tangy, and while I initially thought cucumbers and tomatoes in stir fry sounded a bit weird, it was actually really good.  Might even toss them in my next stir fry at home if I remember Smile

And finally, dessert!  We chose to share the sticky rice with Thai custard, which was unlike any dessert I have ever eaten, but really good.  The Thai custard was reminiscent of a flan, and I could not get enough of the sticky rice cake.  It was only very lightly sweet, too, and it was the perfect way to conclude such a big meal.

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If you’re a fan of Thai food, GF or not, I highly recommend you check out Sawasdee!

There’s still a couple of days left to enter to win a signed copy of Ginger Lemon Girl’s Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker cookbook!  Enter at the post here, I’ll be announcing the winner on Sunday.  Good luck, everyone!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Quick & Simple Hellmann’s Chicken

We were watching TV the other week and this commercial came on for Hellmann’s with a very yummy-looking chicken dish. 

I immediately pulled out my phone to Google the recipe and learned that it was just as easy as it looked in the commercial, so I knew we had to try it.  Mine didn’t get quite as golden and beautiful as on TV, but it did not disappoint!  I’m not even a mayo fan and I enjoyed every bite.

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The concept is very simple – mix mayonnaise with parmesan cheese and slather it on top of boneless skinless chicken breasts, then sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and bake until golden and crispy.  For exact details, check out the recipe on the Hellmann’s site.

My substitutions - I used light mayo instead of regular, and of course gluten-free breadcrumbs (I make my own in a food processor and store them in the freezer to extend the shelf life).

It took me about five minutes total to prep the chicken and get it in the oven, and it baked for 20 minutes.  I paired it with roasted potatoes (leftovers that I had frozen, used the same bake time/temp) and a frozen veggie blend. 

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Dinner was on the table in less than half an hour, with almost zero work on my part!  Will definitely be making this one again Smile

There’s still 4 days left in my giveaway to win a copy of Ginger Lemon Girl’s Everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker cookbook – entry form on the post here.  Pam over at I’m a Celiac also just launched a giveaway for the cookbook on her blog, so be sure to enter over there too!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Crispy Orange Beef & Broccoli

I have always been a huge fan of Asian-style dishes, with beef and broccoli being a particular favorite.  There are Asian restaurants that can accommodate the GF diet, most notably P.F. Chang’s, but the closest one is about half an hour away from me so I usually end up getting my Asian fix at home now.

This crispy orange beef & broccoli dish has been in my regular dinner rotation for awhile now.  It’s fairly simple to put together, and always really satisfying.  There are two things that I think make it really special – the fresh orange juice/zest and the extra step of coating the beef in cornstarch before frying for extra crispiness.  I highly recommend you give this one a try!

Crispy Orange Beef & Broccoli

(modified from Allrecipes)

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Serves 2


  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • Zest and juice of 1 large orange (approx 1/3 cup orange juice)
  • 1 tbsp Asian sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce (I use San-J brand)
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp garlic, grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
  • Cooked white or brown rice, for serving


Slice flank steak very thinly and lay slices out on a plate lined with paper towels.  Top with more paper towels and return to fridge to dry, 30 minutes.

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In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, rice vinegar, orange juice, sweet chili sauce and soy sauce.

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Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat.  Toss the dried beef strips in cornstarch to coat.

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Fry strips in the hot oil until crispy and browned (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your skillet).  Remove strips to a plate lined in paper towels and drain all but about 1 tbsp oil from the pan.

Add the orange zest, ginger and garlic to the oil, then immediately follow with the sauce.  Bring it to a boil, stirring frequently, and cook until thick and syrupy – about 5 minutes.  While the sauce is cooking, steam the broccoli in the microwave.

When the sauce is ready, toss the beef and broccoli into the skillet and stir until coated.  Serve over the rice.

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Giveaway for a signed copy of the Everything Gluten Free Slow Cooker cookbook is going on all week!  Enter at the post here – good luck Smile

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meal Plan Monday

Meal PlanHubs came along to the grocery store this past week and he picked out a couple of new skillet sauces, so I worked them into the menu this week.  We’re both big fans of ready-made sauces, especially for weeknight meals – it’s a great way to try out new flavors without going to a lot of effort or expense (bonus if you can get them on sale!)

There are a couple of repeats from last week – I ended up doing a couple of leftovers nights with all the food we had left from the slow-cooker meals so I put off a couple of the meals I had been planning.






  • Pizza
  • Green salad



  • Grilled NY Strip Steak
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Broccoli

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Latte Muffins

After a week of teasing you with the delicious results from my experiments with Ginger Lemon Girl’s Gluten-Free Slow Cooker cookbook, I’m finally going to share a recipe! 


I decided to go with the Maple Pumpkin Spice Lattes because it’s such a tasty and fall-appropriate recipe, plus I have to admit I’m pretty proud of the muffin recipe I made up to go with it, also shared below.

Maple Pumpkin Spice Lattes

by Ginger Lemon Girl, from the everything Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Cookbook  (shared with author permission)

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Serves 8


  • 2 cups very strong coffee or espresso
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup plain pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice


In a 4-quart slow cooker whisk together all ingredients.  Cover and cook on high for 1 1/2 hours or on low for 3 hours.  When serving, turn slow cooker to the warm setting for up to 2 hours.  Serve warm.

My notes – I did a half recipe in a 1.5 quart slow cooker, on low for 2 hours

Once you’ve made the lattes, you can try my muffin recipe! 

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Latte Muffins


Makes 8 muffins


  • 1 3/4 cup Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup maple pumpkin spice latte
  • 2 tbsp plain pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped


Whisk together the baking mix, sugar and pumpkin pie spice.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the latte, pumpkin puree, butter and vanilla, then add to the dry ingredients.  Stir until combined, then add the walnuts.

Bake at 350 for 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  For mini muffins, reduce baking time to 15 minutes. 

To reheat, just pop in the toaster oven – I enjoyed a nice hot muffin with my usual breakfast smoothie, great treat to start my Monday!


The cookbook giveaway is still going on – enter at the bottom of the post here!  I’m having so much fun reading all the comments.  As I expected, the balsamic almonds are also a popular one, with good reason.  I can only share the one recipe, but if you’re not the lucky winner you can still get your very own copy with hundreds of Carrie’s recipes for less than $10 Smile

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Slow-Cooker Maple Pumpkin Spice Lattes & Cookbook Giveaway

This morning I made my final recipe of the slow-cooker week featuring Ginger Lemon Girl’s Gluten-Free Slow Cooker cookbook – Maple Pumpkin Spice Lattes!  Unlike other bloggers, I haven’t jumped on the fall pumpkin craze, so I figured it was about time I got around to it.
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I decided this would be a good recipe to make in my mini slow cooker, a 1.5 quart size.  I have only used it once or twice, I don’t like it too much because there’s no timer setting on it, but it was the perfect size for a half recipe of the lattes.
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They were very simple to put together – just whisked together coffee, milk, pumpkin, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice in the slow cooker, then turned it on for a couple of hours to let it all meld. 
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The latte was tasty, light and sweet with a distinct pumpkin flavor that was perfect for the fall morning.  I’m normally a black coffee girl so it was a nice treat!  I saved the leftovers in a couple of carafes, even a half recipe made quite a bit.
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As I was drinking it, I was thinking about other ways to use the lattes, and I hit on the idea of muffins.  I started with a basic Pamela’s recipe with quite a few alterations, sort of just made it up as I went along, and I was actually pretty impressed with the results. 
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Check back tomorrow – I’m going to share both Carrie’s latte recipe and my muffin recipe! 

In the meantime, you can go ahead and enter to win your very own copy of Carrie’s cookbook, courtesy of Carrie herself Smile  Entry form below – I’ll be choosing the winner next Sunday!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Chicken

Last night was another slow-cooker success thanks to the Gluten-Free Slow Cooker cookbook!

For my final main course experiment, I went for the barbecue chicken.  I’ve made it in the past in the slow cooker, but I was intrigued to try Carrie’s simple homemade sauce recipe.  It was a ketchup-based sauce with some molasses, apple cider vinegar, liquid smoke and some seasonings. 

I stuck to her recipe except for one minor alteration – I didn’t have minced dried onion in my spice cabinet, so I used onion powder.  It took less than five minutes to mix up, and the flavor was a nice combination of smoky and sweet.  It thickened up beautifully in the slow cooker and smelled amazing!

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I started the chicken a bit later than planned, so I decided to back down on the cook time even more than I did with the salsa chicken and only cooked it for 2 1/2 hours on low – I was only using 3 chicken breasts and they were pretty thin, so I figured it would be OK, and I was right, they were perfectly cooked.

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I shredded up the chicken once again with a couple of forks, and served it on an Against the Grain gluten-free roll with Ore Ida extra crispy fast food fries and a green salad on the side.  Delicious! 

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I think the only thing I would do differently next time is make extra sauce to stir in after shredding – the chicken pretty much absorbed all the sauce.  It had great barbecue flavor, but I like my sandwiches saucy!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken

Last night’s recipe from Carrie’s Gluten-Free Slow Cooker cookbook was by far the easiest meal of the week – just two ingredients went in the slow cooker, salsa and chicken, and it came out great!

All I had to do was put the chicken in the cooker, top it with salsa (I used my own homemade salsa), and cook it on low for a few hours. 

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I ended up cutting the low end of the cooking time in the recipe in half instead of just reducing it by an hour, and this time I didn’t overcook it!  After it was done I shredded it up with two forks.

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So delicious!  It needed a bit of spice, as my salsa was very mild, but otherwise I didn’t add anything else to the chicken.

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We ate the shredded chicken in tacos, which were absolutely delicious, and there was plenty left over.  Quick, simple and tasty – my kind of dinner!

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So good I had to Instagram it Smile

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