Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Your guide to gluten-free cupcakes in Atlanta

I must admit, as excited as I am about my new city, I really miss a few places in Chicago, so badly, that I want to drive up there just for that one thing, like Swirlz Cupcakes (pictured above). These cupcakes were so incredible that I would plan an afternoon around making sure I got there in time to get certain flavors before they were gone. And they did run out by the late afternoon. The great thing about Swirlz is that they made a great selection of gluten-free cupcakes, not just your standard chocolate and vanilla, though vanilla was actually my absolute favorite flavor of theirs. They make their regular cupcake flavors as gluten-free versions as well - like red velvet, banana Nutella or even egg nog!

Their web site lists their daily cupcakes, but I found there were usually some surprises when I went in to the store. Perhaps left over from a special order, but whatever the reason, I was addicted. And now I miss them.

Really, I should be making my own cupcakes and save some $$, but there is just something so fun about going somewhere and just picking it out and having it handed to you all pretty with beautiful frosting and decorations.

But, back to topic, this is about my new city and looking forward. After doing some research, I came up with a list of local cupcake bakeries that offer gluten-free cupcakes. There are definitely many more bakeries than that are on this list, but they do not offer gluten-free cupcakes, which is a shame, but hopefully more will jump on the bandwagon as the need for gluten-free grows. I also noticed many of them only offer chocolate and vanilla, with a couple of exceptions. Hopefully this list grows as well.

American Gra-Frutti - Available in store, and Atlanta-area Whole Foods. 1355 Roswell Road, Suite 152, Marietta, 30062. 404-304-9255.

The Cake Hag - Available in store and by special order. 233 Mitchell Street SW, Atlanta 30303. 678-760-6300.

Cake in the Box - Available in store and by special order. 2730 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Suite 204, Duluth, 30097. 678-417-5855.

Carolyn's Cupcakes - Vanilla and chocolate on a daily basis and by special order. 2745 LaVista Road, Decatur, 30033. 404-343.1964.

Doctor Bombay's Underwater Tea Party - Sometimes available in store, and special order. 1645 McLendon Avenue NE, Atlanta, 30307. 404-474-1402.

The Free Cookie - Available by special order, and Return to Eden. 404-536-6170.

Gigi's Cupcakes - Available in store on Wednesdays, or by special order. Vanilla, chocolate and spice cake with cream cheese frosting. 3655 Roswell Road, Atlanta 30342. 404-846-4400.

Lenox Cupcakes - Available by special order with 24-hour notice, any of their flavors. Phipps Plaza, 3500 Peachtree Road, Atlanta 30326. 404-949-0409.

Little Cake Bakery - Available by special order only, chocolate or vanilla with any of their frostings. 3792 Roswell Road, Atlanta 30342. 404-841-8856.

Magnolia Manor Sweets - Available by special order, and Peachtree City Farmers Market (seasonal). 631-793-9715.

Metrotainment Bakery - Available by special order with 48-hour notice, yellow and chocolate cupcakes. 1119 Logan Circle, Atlanta 30318. 404-873-6307.

Sugar Shack - Available in store and by special order. Double chocolate fudge flavor only. 4058 Peachtree Road, Atlanta 30319. 404-816-6161. (owned by Metrotainment)

Whole Foods - Available in the gluten-free freezer section with their Gluten-Free Bakehouse products. Atlanta-area stores.

At the time of this post, Sweet Pockets was testing out gluten-free recipes and hopes to offer them in the future, but no date has been set.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pure Taqueria now has gluten-free chips!

I love all of the taquerias in Atlanta, and how easy it is to eat gluten-free at them...except for the chips. It seems that many of them fry their chips with something else wheat-based. In these cases, I usually end up bringing my own chips and try to be all sly about it, because I don't want to feel like an outcast sitting there with my "special" chips. And then of course I need my own salsa, so others at the table don't dip their gluten-filled chips into the same bowl of salsa, contaminating me in the end.

Pure Taqueria has always had gluten-free chips...but they are not the ones that get passed to the tables for free, they were chips you had to order (and pay) separately.

Lucky for us, Pure Taqueria's chips, which were once fried with wheat-containing products are now gluten-free and fried at the beginning of the day before anything else is fried and therefore uncontaminated. I was a bit skeptical, but I am super sensitive and inhaled a basked on my own and felt great afterwards....other than a bit full with my basket of chips and dinner.

And, psst.......they have a coupon on Scoutmob now, so you can go enjoy 50% off you meal!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Post-Thanksgiving Day roll call

Being that I absolutely love cooking for others (& myself), I love hosting a holiday dinner. And being gluten-free, we all know it makes it so much easier and more relaxed when I know all the food came from my kitchen and my ingredients. I always ask guests to bring drinks and I will take care of the food. The last thing I want is for my kitchen and food to somehow get contaminated with something someone else brings. I would rather spend the extra money and do the food myself and be able to relax. Of course I miss the days when people would bring dishes to share, but I just don't want to risk a holiday dinner in bed with a tummy ache.

I always have to decide on my menu a week in advance, chart out my shopping list by grocery stores, and then make a schedule of exactly when I need to start each dish the day of the dinner. Compulsive? maybe. Organized? usually.

Thanksgiving 2010 menu:

Baked brie with cranberries and crackers - yum!

Roasted pumpkin seeds - yum!

Wine - enough said.
Honey Baked turkey - felt kind of blah about this. I only bought the turkey so that my guests wouldn't feel cheated of turkey and I didn't want to mess with bones, raw poultry and gluten, so I went with the safe bet...but I was not a fan. I should have picked up that pre-cooked half-turkey I saw at Trader Joes.

Garlic and ginger salmon - I made this myself, and just baked salmon on a bed of fresh spinach, slathered with a quick sauce of olive oil, fresh ginger and garlic.

Mashed potatoes - my usual super sinful mashed potatoes, always a hit, and a day's worth of calories.

Balsamic roasted root vegetables - I took this recipe from this month's Southern Living. It is made in the crockpot with sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and dried cranberries. Came out great and loved the ease of doing it in the crockpot and just leaving it alone. I think I will repeat for xmas.

Cream corn - again, this is sinful in fat and calories and quickly eaten.

Roasted brussels sprouts - simple and tasty. Green was definitely needed to round out this meal of yellow and orange.

Cornbread stuffing - I kind of made this up as I went along. I made the cornbread the night before (using Bob's Red Mill gluten-free cornbread mix), cut it into cubes and let it dry overnight, then added cooked carrots, boy choy, onions, sage and veggie broth...turned out surprisingly good.

Gravy - I made gravy using the Gluten-Free Girl's method, but used veggie broth, and added chopped parsley right at the end, before serving.

Cranberries - I use the recipe on the package and it always turns out good and simple. I love using leftovers on my eggnog pancakes, and this morning's eggnog French toast.
Dessert -
Pumpkin pie - I make this mostly from scratch with a real pumpkin (roasted seeds for a starter) and a crust from Whole Foods, served with a side of freshly whipped cream - yummy!!

Mascarpone and sweet cream cheesecake - I decided on this just days before, after I saw this recipe from the Gluten Free Traveler. I made a crust using graham crackers from the Grainless Baker...super fabulous!!!

What were some of your hits and misses this Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ringing in the holiday season with eggnog French toast

With Thanksgiving over and done, it is now officially the start of the holiday season, and what better way to start than with a post-Thanksgiving day breakfast of eggnog French toast, and it couldn't get any easier.

Now that I discovered I can easily find Udi's bread at my local Trader Joe's, I don't feel like I have to hoard it as much until I make a special trip out again for more. I felt like I could use my bread stock more freely. Funny, the things we do when we are gluten-free. I also happened to be well-stocked with eggnog, and had leftovers cranberries which go perfect with french toast or pancakes.

Eggnog French Toast

2 eggs
1 1/2 cup of eggnog
1 t. of cinnamon
10 slices of gluten-free bread (I used Udi's)

butter, or oil for greasing pan

Melt butter (or oil) in a pan or skillet over medium heat, and warm the oven to 200';

Meanwhile, mix the eggs, eggnog and cinnamon in a bowl;

Dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture for 5 seconds to allow to soak and place in the warmed heated pan/skillet, or a plate until you have room on your pan for the next batch;

Cook and flip until each side is slightly browned and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet or large baking pan to keep warm until you are finished with the 10 slices.

You can avoid that last step if you plan on eating them straight out of the pan.
For my french toast, I served it with a side of leftover cranberries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, but they would also be tasty with maple syrup, a side of fresh, sliced fruit, or just on their own.

For another delicious eggnog breakfast, try my eggnog oatmeal pancakes.

Happy breakfast!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winner of General Mills giveaway!

The winner of the General Mills care package giveaway is Briana!


I spy Udi's at........

Trader Joe's!!

How be walking by the fresh bread section, which I usually ignore and see shelves full of Udi's gluten-free bagels and bread. That made me one happy girl!

So nice that I can now just stop by TJs and not make a special trip to other stores where it is even more expensive...yeah for Udi's!! It is so nice to find all I need in one place.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Reindeer Chow

Peanut butter, chocolate, sugar.......who can resist that combination? Not me! Reindeer Chow is super easy, naturally gluten-free, quick to prepare and a delicious snack that will make it impossible to stop yourself from taking more. What could be better?

My friend, Jennie, is the one who introduced me to this sinful snack. Jennie has a great blog, Tuffet, with an amazing list and pictures of her recipes. Please note, she is not gluten-free, but with some tweaking we can make some of her recipes work. But this recipe is naturally gluten-free, so it makes it even easier!

Reindeer chow can also be found as being called Puppy Chow and Muddy Buddies by Betty Crocker and Chex cereal. Though many of these recipes call for butter, and instead of butter I just double the peanut butter.

This makes a great after school snack or a festive bowl of munchies for holiday get-togethers.

Reindeer Chow

1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 bag of milk chocolate chips
7 cups of Chex cereal (I used Corn, but Rice or Honey Nut would be great too)
2 cups of powdered sugar

Melt the peanut butter and chocolate in a large glass bowl in the microwave for about a minute, stir and another 30-45 seconds, until smooth;

Add the Chex cereal and combine;

If you had a lid for your bowl, add powdered sugar to your bowl, if not place the cereal mixture and sugar into a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag, and shake to coat;

Place on wax paper to cool, and if you can control yourself from eating it right away, store in the fridge in a sealed container.
'Tis the season....almost!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I guess this means I am an official Atlantan!

I have now been in the dirty South for three months and we love it! I must admit, I was a bit nervous moving down here...after living in Chicago for ten years and feeling at home there, it was a bit nerve-wracking thinking about how we would feel once we got here. So, why did we pick up and move when we lived in a fabulous city with an amazing lakefront and skyline? The bottom line is that I missed my family and the Arctic winters were getting old.

And we love it more than we ever imagined we would. We ended up in the most perfect neighborhood and it gets better everyday. Z's school is great, the scenery is beautiful and eating gluten-free is pretty fun and easy. We live right intown and while it seems we live in a nice green, quite pocket of the city, we are also very close distance to anything we want or need. I love that right at this very moment, I am looking out my window into the fall-colored woods that surround our house, and watching two squirrels chase each other around a tree. The squirrels rule our yard!

That is not say I don't miss Chicago, I do! I miss my friends, I miss the beautiful architecture, I miss the city streets, I miss my favorite gluten-free cupcakes...but we are ready for this new adventure, with our wonderful memories of Chicago intact.

As a result of this big life-changing move, it only seems right to transfer my Examiner writing gig from Chicago to Atlanta. My Chicago articles will remain as they are, but now I will be writing about all the fun things I find in Atlanta. My focus will be intown Atlanta and Decatur, as well as interviewing local Atlantans about living gluten-free. I would love to hear any feedback and suggestions.

There is a permanent link to my Examiner site on the right of this blog, but you can also follow this link. Along with writing for Examiner, I will also continue to write for and my own blog.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, November 15, 2010

General Mills giveaway!

It is contest time again. I love these!

General Mills offers over 300 gluten-free products and you will get a chance to win some of the fun ones through a giveaway with MyBlogSpark and Live Gluten Freely is an online community created by General Mills which discusses gluten-free living and eating.

This time it is for a whole care package of gluten-free goodies from General Mills, which includes everything you see below, including the serving spoon:

In order to enter the giveaway, please:

1. Leave a comment to this post about what product you would like to see gluten-free;

2. "Like" Gluten-Free Musings on Facebook;

3. Follow me on Twitter;

4. Post a tweet announcing this giveaway including the tag @gfreemusings, with a link to this post.

I will randomly choose a winner on Monday, November 22nd at midnight, and announce the winner on Tuesday, November 23rd.

The contest is only open to US residents.

Good luck!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hooray for Willy's!!

One of my favorite places in Atlanta to grab a quick and cheap meal was Willy's. Before moving here in August, I last lived in Atlanta 10 years ago, and back then I had no clue what gluten was and ate it all the time. Once I returned to Atlanta, I kept hearing that it wasn't safe to eat gluten-free at Willy's.

I thought I would find out myself, and emailed Willy's this summer, only to get this in response:

Willy’s prepares all food items in the restaurant. Provided below is a list of items to avoid

Rice, Black Beans, and Pinto Beans are made with a vegetable base that contains:

Ingredients: Vegetables (celery, onions, and carrots) hydrolyzed corn protein, salt, sugar, onion powder, autolyzed yeast extract, natural flavorings, corn starch, corn syrup solids, carrot powder, modified food starch, tomato paste, garlic powder, spices. turmeric

Tortillas and Chips: are not made in the restaurant


Corn Tortillas: ground corn, calcium propionate and carboxymethyl cellulose

Flour Tortillas: wheat flour,( Enriched, bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid),water, margarine, (liquid soybean oil partially hydrogenated soybean oil water, salt, vegetable mono and diglyocrides, soy lecithin, potassium sorbateand citric acid (as preservatives), artificial flavor, beta carotene (color), vitamin A palmitate added) shortening (fully refined palm oil and BHT, BHA, and TBHO (to preserve freshness) contains less then 2%of salt, baking powder (sodium bicarbonate, corn phosphate) rice flour, guar gum, dextrose, cellulose gum, , potato starch, mono diglycrides, fumaric acid, calcium propionate (to maintain freshness), and sodium metab sulfite (dough conditioner).

Avoid fried food: oils may contain hydrolyzed plant or vegetable protein chips, and tofu are fried at Willy’s

Salsa and canned goods: Willy’s uses canned product in most of the salsas.

Canned Items: Salsa tomatoes, tomatillo, black olive, pickled jalapeño, roasted red pepper, and chipotle peppers. Avoid Chili d‘Arbo

Willy’s marinades: our marinades are made with fresh ingredients orange juice and pine nuts. Avoid the Adobe or spicy marinade is made with a chili powder.

As you can see this is totally says on the top what to avoid, but then lists items that would seem safe....this really needs to be reworded. I was determined to get to the bottom of it, so after several back and forth communications with their marketing coordinator, I received this final word on what is safe and what is not at Willy's

Hi Anne,

I apologize once again for making this such a confusing issue. Since there were some conflicting opinions within Willy’s, we went to the manufacturers to verify. We do have an issue with our chili d’arbol sauce because the spices are made with a wheat based thickener. We are now working to have that switched to a non gluten spice and hope to have it rolled out within the next 1-2 months.

For now, the following items are not gluten free:

Chili d’Arbol sauce

Habanero salsa

Chipotle salsa

Cheese Dip

Flour tortillas

The other items listed have chili d sauce in them too. Once we are able to make this change, we will be completely gluten free except for flour tortillas. I will be glad to let you know or check back with us to confirm.

With this new confirmation, I went right out and had my first Willy's in 10 years and it was super yummy. I enjoyed a burrito bowl with tofu, and chips. I was bummed that I could not have the salsas (except for the tomatillo salsa) and cheese dip, but I will follow up to see when they change the wheat-based thickener to a gluten-free one.

Now, if only I could find out it is safe to eat at La Fonda....another one of my Atlanta favorites! If any of you successfully eat at La Fonda, please let me know.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Watch out for them eggs!

I recently had an a-ha moment about ordering eggs in restaurants during a field trip with my daughter's girl scout troop. How does this happen you ask?

One of my absolute favorite places to have brunch is Flying Biscuit, right in my neighborhood, around the corner from us. My favorite thing to order is their love cakes (black bean cakes made with corn flour), served with eggs over easy and roasted tomatillo sauce, and a side of mouth-watering cheese grits. However, since I order it all the time, I thought I should venture out, and about a month ago I ordered a smoked salmon scramble. After an hour or so, my stomach felt not so great. I attributed it to the fact that they were scrambled and remembered I have had stomach aches in the past when I have ordered scrambled eggs or omelets, but funny enough I never seem to have a stomach ache with eggs over easy, or fried eggs.

So, the other week when I was on a tour of Flying Biscuit with my daughter's girl scout troop (and trying to stay away from the buckets of flour they use for the biscuits that I miss so much), I saw the menu guides they keep in kitchen, on the wall, for the cooks to put the meals together uniformly every time. Well, what I also noticed was that for scrambled eggs, they use liquid eggs...a-ha!!! I have been getting a stomach ache because there must be something in the liquid eggs causing it. Gluten? I am not sure, but what else would give me a stomach ache, so I tend to think yes. I did not see a package so I cannot say with 100% certainty, but I am glad I now know to think about that before I order eggs and to stick with eggs over easy if I am ever in doubt.

I still love Flying biscuit as much as ever, but now I know what to stay away from.

I know, I have heard that some places use pancake batter in their omelets, but I never thought of a using liquid egg instead of read eggs...well until now.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sweet potato chili on a chilly Monday night

It is November 2nd, and it is still pretty warm here in the deep South. Halloween was great with temps in the 70s and no need to bundle up under our costumes, what more could we ask for? Perhaps a pot of chili waiting at home for us to return from trick-o-treating? Hindsight is always 20/20. So being that I missed out on a chili after-party, for our family of three on Halloween night, I decided to make up for it the following day which was a bit cooler, with this vegetarian, super hearty chili. It's lack of meat will not be missed, and you will not walk away from this meal feeling hungry. The best part, this is a quick meal to prepare and can be made in under an hour.

I like serving my chili on rice, but M prefers his on spaghetti, so I served it on Farmo (our family's favorite) spaghetti. I also like it better with music in the background, so I set my iPod to Belle & Sebastian's new album Write About Love, and got to work.

I bet this would work amazingly in a crock pot too, just add the cilantro and lime juice before serving.

Sweet potato chili

3 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 t chili powder
2 cups broth (I use Celifibr bouillon cubes, which is vegan "chicken" and gluten-free)
2 sweet potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 15-oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10-oz can of Rotel, mild diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 28-oz can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (I use Muir Glen)

4 T chopped cilantro
1 lime

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot or dutch oven, stir in onions and sauté until translucent;

Add the chili powder and combine well;

Add the diced sweet potatoes and broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes;

Add the beans and tomatoes, continue to simmer, uncovered for about 20 minutes, and the potatoes are tender;

Add the cilantro and juice of one lime.
Serve on its own, or on top of brown rice or spaghetti with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese if you desire (which I always do!). Buttermilk cornbread on the side is always a winner too!

Enjoy and keep warm!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bisquick giveaway winner!

I choose a winner at random this morning, and the winner of the gluten-free Bisquick prize pack is Jackie.

Thank you everyone for submitting your ideas, I now have a long list of items to try with the new Bisquick. I am definitely going to try dumplings...since I don't cook meat, I have to make a veggie soup with dumplings. I have never even made a dumpling before, but I love matzo balls and it sounds good, so let's hope this is similar. Strawberry shortcake is another one on my definite list.

Jackie, I will be emailing you so that I can get your Bisquick goodies out to you!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gluten-free Bisquick giveaway!

As many of you are well aware by now, Bisquick has introduced a gluten-free version of their classic and dependable baking mix that has been around since 1931. And while many of us like to make things from scratch with our own special blend of flours, sometimes it is just nice and needed to have something quick and easy on hand that you know will provide dependable results. A couple of weeks ago, Bisquick, through MyBlogSpark, was kind enough to send me a care package of their gluten-free Bisquick mix as well as cast iron Swedish pancake pan, and a pancake pen, so we can make fun shapes and letters with our pancakes. In addition, Bisquick and myself will be giving away the same exact care package in a giveaway to one of my blog readers!

One of my favorite childhood dishes was the Impossible Brunch Pie with spinach, so this morning I made the Impossibly Easy Vegetable Pie with broccoli, and it was a hit with the family. Not only did it bring back memories from my mom's cooking, but it was a hit and was so quick and easy to make.

Some of the classic recipes are listed on the back of the Bisquick box, but many more can be found on their website. It is nice to have this quick and easy option on hand.

Bisquick and MyBlogSpark are also providing a $1 off coupon here.

In order to enter the giveaway, please:

1. Leave a comment to this post about what you would like to make with the new gluten-free Bisquick baking mix;

2. "Like" Gluten-Free Musings on Facebook;

3. Follow me on Twitter;

4. Post a tweet announcing this giveaway including @gfreemusings, with a link to this post.

I will randomly choose a winner on Monday, October 25th at midnight, and announce the winner on Tuesday, October 26th.

The contest is only open to US residents.

Good luck!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bringing pizza night back!

Fridays have been our weekly pizza night for a while now, but with moving, and a kitchen full of boxes, we had put it on hold until two nights ago. We finally brought pizza night back, and life is finally seeming a little back to "normal" whatever normal may be. We make our pizzas from scratch, with the three of us creating our own individual pizzas. We usually switch off between pizza crusts, from making our own, or using Udi's or Kinnikinnick, depedning on our mood.

Typically M makes a spicy Tuna and corn pizza with chilies....that crazy Brit. Z likes a plain tomato and cheese pizza. I like to change mine up, but my fallback is tomato, yellow pepper and green olives. Sometimes I like to add spinach, caramelized onions, feta, shredded zucchini and more.

When we first started making pizzas I would use tomato paste mixed with some onion, garlic and herbs which was quick and tasty, but lately, I came up with a new sauce that I can't get enough of! It will usually last for two Fridays, so I will freeze what I don't use for the following Friday, or even use it on pasta. It could even be used as a spread on good gluten-free bread, it is that good. It has a hearty savory flavor that is slightly sweet.

Musings pizza sauce

2 T. olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 - 28 oz. can of Muir Glen organic chunky tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes with basil
1 t. sugar
1 t. white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 T. flax seed meal

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the minced garlic. Sauté the garlic until slightly brown, be careful not to burn.

Add the crushed tomatoes, and the sugar. Stir.

Simmer over medium heat for 45 min to an hour, stirring occasionally, and covered with a splatter protector (otherwise you will have red sauce all over your stove).

About 40 min. into cooking, stir in the vinegar.

When sauce is reduced by about a third to a half, and the consistency of a thick sauce (that you can tell would work great on your pizza) you know you are close, add the flax seed meal.

Turn off heat and let sit for about 5 minutes.
It is difficult to give an exact cooking time, because I just do it by feel, but when it is thick enough, you will know. If it is too thin, you will have a watery pizza. You can see from the photo above how thick the consistency will become.

Once it is finished, spread some on your pizza crust, add your toppings and you are good to go... pizza night!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Glutino contest winners!

The winners of the Glutino chocolate and yogurt covered pretzel giveaway are:



Please send me an email with your mailing addresses so you can received your Glutino care packages, to anne at glutenfreemusings dot com.

Thanks for everyone for playing!

Monday, September 20, 2010

GFIW: gluten-free girl and the chef, Sept. 20

Ok, let's try to get back to our regularly scheduled programming. We moved...we moved across the country...and now we are in the midst of unpacking and getting settled into a new routine. As a result I neglected my blog, but I hope to put an end to that now.

So, for this week's gluten-free item, I am choosing the very new and shiny book gluten-free girl and the chef. This was written by the very talented couple Shauna James and Daniel Ahern, who write the beautifully put together blog, gluten-fee girl and the chef. I ordered the book Thursday on Amazon, and it arrived today.

The nicest thing about this book are the photos. I mean, who likes to get cook books with no photos, because part of the pleasure of creating food is the visual of it. And these photos make me want to dive into this book, make a grocery list and start cooking! And the best part, it is all gluten-free!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I need my mojo back!

I am really loving my new city and happy about our move, but I have to admit, I am in a major cooking funk. This is really unlike me, but when it comes time to think about cooking the next meal, I start feeling so lethargic and blah!

I usually get so excited about what I am going to cook for the week and test out recipes from other bloggers, or from my monthly subscriptions to Food & Wine and Vegetarian Times, and I am still seeing wonderful recipes, but I just don't feel the motivation to do it.

It doesn't help that we have now been in our new place for a month, yet the kitchen is not fully unpacked...about 75%. It doesn't help that we have ants. And it doesn't help that I am going from my gorgeous new kitchen that I designed to an 80s kitchen that I am now renting. In the kitchen I recently parted with, I felt like the counter tops and floors were so clean and new I could eat off of them. Not so much here. I know it is just a kitchen, and it is only temporary in the grand scheme of things, but it sure makes me miss my old gourmet stomping grounds. And I know it wasn't a kitchen that was about to featured on the cover of Architectural Digest or Dwell, but it was perfect for me.

M tells me I have to move on, that it is only stuff, and I know he is right, so why am I finding it so hard to start creating my favorites dishes? It is true, I miss my house, but I am loving our new city and neighborhood.

I have always been very particular about using fresh fruit and veg in every meal, and going to a farmers market at least once weekly, but I have not even been to one since I have moved here. I have been making meals that are monotonous in color that would make Gillian McKeith wince and probably tell me off with a table full of what I have been eating these last 30 days. Typically I use very minimal processed foods, but I have been relying on them way too heavily.

We all know that eating gluten-free doesn't necessarily mean eating healthy and these past 30 days I seem to really be trying to challenge that fact. Once in a while, I have created the occasional pasta dish or quiche, but for the most part, I have been failing as the chef of the house. I fear I will be fired.

Everyday I keep waking up and telling myself, this will be the day. This will be the day that I get the kitchen fully functioning and make a fabulous meal like I did just weeks ago. I used to make pancakes with fresh fruit weekly...pancakes have not been made yet. The grill has not been used, and half of my plates are still in boxes.

I am hoping that writing this entry will somehow be cathartic to me, and somehow give me the motivation to get to it in the morning.

I would love to hear any wise words or inspiration to give me a jump start.

Bon soir!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Glutino chocolate and yogurt covered pretzel giveaway!

Next month is Celiac Awareness month, and as if I don't talk about gluten-free living enough, now I have even more reason to celebrate my life without the pesky grains. More and more people are being diagnosed, with even greater numbers of people walking around, unknowingly, with the disease. This is why it is so important to have tasty options out there, so making the change can seem just a little less life-altering.

Glutino was kind enough to send me samples of their newest treats, the chocolate and yogurt covered pretzels. I have always been a huge fan of their regular gluten-free pretzels and could never stop myself at one handful, so I knew that these new varieties were going to be trouble, and was I ever right! When they arrived I didn't know which one to break into first...I was just so excited to eat one of my favorite snacks from before being gluten-free. I decided to go for the yogurt-covered pretzels first, and was in love...I could barely stop myself in order to open the chocolate-covered pretzels...and of course these were just as delicious!

I shared these tasty treats with my gluten-able family and we all agreed they were both wonderful, and tasted no different, and maybe even better than their gluten-filled counterparts. I will definitely be buying these in the future.

So in celebration of Celiac Awareness month, Glutino is giving away 2 snack care packages, which include these new amazing pretzels and new cereals.

In order to enter the giveaway, please:

1. Leave a comment to this post about what is your favorite gluten-free snack to take on the go;

2. "Like" Gluten-Free Musings on Facebook;

3. Follow me on Twitter;

4. Post a tweet announcing this giveaway, with a link to this post, and including @gfreemusings.

I will randomly choose two winners on Monday, September 27th at midnight, and announce those winners on Tuesday, September 28th.

The contest is only open to US residents.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

scarf o'rama

I caved, I couldn't help myself, and it was worth every delicious meaty bite!

My life in Atlanta has been hectic to say the least. To say that trying settle into a routine with Z in kindergarten and a having house full of boxes has been overwhelming is an understatement. But today I took a nice break and met with up with fellow writer, at, Tiffany Janes at Yeah! Burger here in Atlanta.

I was a bit skeptical at first being that I have not eaten much meat in years, but knowing they had grass-fed beef and bison made it seem more attractive, because if I am going to fall off the wagon, I am going to do it with some good, grass-fed, local meat. I checked out their menu beforehand, and saw they also serve a gluten-free bun, onion rings and fries. I was ready for this heart attack in a basket!

I decided on the beef burger with cheddar on a gluten-free bun with a side of half onion rings/half fries (be sure to specify you would like the gluten-free onion rings and fries or you will get gluten-filled versions). Their menu clearly states the buns are made in a dedicated facility and the onion rings and fries are made in a dedicated fryer.

I wasn't even sure how to handle my first bite of ground goodness after so much time. This is typically the last type of meat I would ever order, but I was looking forward to my first taste. And Yeah! baby it was good!

My fried sides were also pretty incredible, but the star of the plate was definitely the burger. Coupling this fabulous lunch with great conversation made for a lovely lunch date.

Unfortunately, I don't think the week's worth of calories is going to do me any favors at the beach this weekend...or trying to get into my bridesmaid dress for my sister's wedding. Doh!

Friday, August 27, 2010

More gluten-free deliciousness from Udi's!

I have it on good authority that Udi's is going to release more gluten-free deliciousness in the near future. As many people already know, Udi's is one of the top gluten-free brands out there. Their bread is outstanding, and even the pickiest gluten-able eater would inhale a peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese on Udi's gluten-free bread before they could refuse it. The day I discovered their bread, I never looked back and have been a faithful fan. You can take it right out of the package and eat it straight away with no heating. My daughter's daily school lunch sandwiches are made with Udi's and she can eat gluten!

Sometimes just for fun, when I have gluten-able friends over, I will just hand them a slice of bread out of the package to see their reaction, and they have all been amazed.

Not only does Udi's create fabulous gluten-free bread, but they also sell other equally amazing gluten-free products such as four different varieties of granola, blueberry muffins, lemon streusel muffins, double chocolate muffins, pizza crusts, bagels and cinnamon rolls.

And the best part, they are coming out with more! On their list, these are some of the new items we will see:
  • Hamburger buns, hot dog buns, dinner rolls
  • New muffins, including bran muffins
  • Cinnamon raisin and whole grain bagels
  • A new bread
To hear more about their new releases and Udi's as a company, check out this video by Gluten Free Angel, with Udi's founder, Etai Bar-on and marketing director, Heather Collins.

They have not announced a launch date, but I have a feeling it will be worth the wait!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Farmers market finds

One of my favorite weekly activities during the summer is going to the farmers market. Freshly picked local produce just tastes so much better than anything that could be found at the big grocery stores. And let's not forget local eggs and cheese. Buying a tomato at the store during the summer is just wrong. I am even starting to see more and more gluten-free baked goods being offered.

Usually I would be tending my own vegetable garden, with tomatoes started from seed, cared for since March, along with several other vegetables and herbs. But with the move this summer, I decided to let it go this year and it almost brings me to tears to see my veggie garden full of overgrown weeds. Gardening became my passion once we bought a house and had more space than we knew what to do with, but now....I guess we could all agree that gluten-free is my thing.

Tonight, armed with my farmers market (& gluten-free) finds I made a roasted beet salad with golden and red beets (above), and a caprese salad (below).

For the beets, I used golden and red beets. I cleaned and trimmed the beets, wrapped them in foil and cooked them for an hour at 375'. When they finished, I unwrapped them carefully and rubbed off the skins, chopped them in 1-inch chunks and let them chill in a bowl, in the fridge, for 30 minutes. I then tossed with olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and freshly ground salt and pepper. Easy and delicious. Z finished her plate, which coming from her is quite compliment. Or maybe she was just eager to see how the beets would effect her pee.

For the caprese, it is extremely simple....I chopped up various tomatoes (the black cherry ones were my favorite), tossed them with some olive oil, a splash of white balsamic, freshly ground salt and pepper and tossed with fresh mozzarella and fresh cut basil.

I love a fresh, local summer salad. Hopefully by moving to the South I can enjoy it for more of the year.

What is your favorite thing to make with your farmers market finds?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bust a move

It is time to make a confession, the reason I have been so absent from my blog is because we are moving. I haven't wanted to talk about it too much in case I jinxed things, and of course that could still happen. But at the same time, I am feeling so guilty about not keeping up with my blog, I decided it was time to give a reason why. We are leaving Chicago for the durty South, we are headed to Atlanta. I will so miss the amazing city of Chicago, the people, the architecture, the neighborhoods, the food, the walkability and Lake Michigan, but we are ready for this change, and going to embrace it.

We spent the last 3 1/2 weeks in Atlanta looking for a place to live, and wow that was not an easy feat. We have lived in our house for almost 4 years, so apparently I didn't remember what it was like to look for a new living space. Not only did we have to find a place that we enjoy, but we also had to find a place in the right school zone for our daughter, which was never a factor before. But after looking at over 40 places in the sweltering heat and dragging Z from place to place, we finally found a place we love. Here is a glimpse of our amazing new backyard:

We will be living intown in a wonderful neighborhood full of gorgeous old houses and tall trees, with lots of bike paths and trails right out our door. It is hard to believe it is in the middle of the city. And the best part, there are lots of restaurants close by that I can easily eat gluten-free.

The last several weeks we ate out a lot, I think more than we have the last 2 years put together. I guess that is what happens when you don't have your kitchen. And in those 3 1/2 weeks, I ate out successfully every time without getting glutened...Chinese, Mexican, Italian, even Waffle House! Unfortunately, I did get glutened once and that happened on the 4th of July from chips and salsa that I bought from Whole Foods. The chips looked safe enough, the same ingredients of all other corn tortilla chips I buy, and I bought some of the Whole Foods pineapple mango salsa, which also looked pretty innocent...all I know is one of them was the guilty culprit, but I have no idea which one. It didn't seem like a risky snack, but I guess I was wrong. And let me tell you, having a gluten attack while waiting in traffic for the fireworks traffic to move is excruciating!

I have a lot of catching up to do, and a list of posts and articles to write that I hope to get done before the actual move, in a month. I did have a chance to review a couple of restaurants that you can check out here: Fuego Mundo, FIGO pasta and Jason's Deli, with lots more to come.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Strawberry (oat)shortcake

With summer here and friends coming over for weekend BBQs, one of my absolute favorite, refreshing things is strawberry shortcake. I mean, is there anyone out there that does not like strawberry shortcake....well except for my sister, who oddly got sick after eating them when she was little and still stays away from them to this day some 20 years later.

June in the midwest is the time to go strawberry picking and what better way to celebrate this delicious berry than by making decadent biscuits to go with it. I used to make it all the time before being gluten-free, but realized there is no reason this would not work gluten-free, just as I still enjoy all of my other favorite desserts. But I decided to put a twist on it this time, I decided to use some oat flour and flax seed meal in it. I thought some fiber wouldn't be bad, and I love the flavor of oats. These biscuits tasted like oat shortcakes, and I couldn't get enough, and hopefully you can't either. And of course, you must top it with real homemade whipped cream for the ultimate finishing touch.

1 cup gluten-free flour mix (I use Whole Foods 365 GF All-Purpose Baking Mix)
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1 tablespoon flax seed meal (I use Bob's Red Mill)
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon cream or buttermilk for brushing the tops of the biscuits

2 pints of strawberries, hulled and cut in quarters (sometimes I like to add some blueberries as well, you can't have too much fruit here)
1 tablespoon strawberry preserves
1/2 tablespoon sugar

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat oven to 425'

Combine the fruit in a large bowl with the preserves and sugar, stir well and let sit, covered, in the fridge.

Meanwhile the biscuits, combine the dry ingredients (saving 1/2 tablespoon of the sugar until later) in a large mixing bowl.

Add the butter and combine using clean, dry hands until it becomes the consistency of coarse meal.

Slowly add the buttermilk and stir with a rubber scraper until a dough forms.

Using damp hands form 3" balls and place on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. Should make about 6 biscuits.

Brush the tops with the cream or buttermilk and then sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until done. You can check with a toothpick through the middle of a biscuit.

Biscuits can be made ahead of time, up to 24 hours and kept at room temperature and covered until ready to use. Keep the fruit in the fridge until ready to use.

Before serving, combine the heavy cream, vanilla and sugar in a mixing bowl and using a hand-mixer at high-speed, beat until stiff peaks form.

When ready to serve, pour the fruit over a biscuit cut in half, and add a heaping spoonful of whipped cream.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interview with drummer Andy Robertson and gluten-free life on the road

Recently, I had the chance to speak with British drummer Andy Roberston and talk about how he manages touring and the rock ‘n roll lifestyle being gluten-free. Andy has been in the music business for 20 years and has performed with such acts as Roachford, Jocelyn Brown, Hamish Stewart, Jim Mullen, Siobhan Donaghy, Alexander O'Neil, Morcheeba and Jackdaw4, who is releasing their new album, The Eternal Struggle for Justice, next week.

When were you first diagnosed with celiac and what was your reaction to the news?

About 10 years ago. I have not been formally diagnosed as celiac but through a process of elimination discovered that I was definitely allergic to gluten. I did research into what gluten allergies were and what I could and couldn't eat as a result.

Drumming is a very physical job; did you notice a difference in your performance before and after you were diagnosed?
I noticed an instant improvement in energy and stamina after cutting out gluten from my diet. Before, I would eat a big bowl of pasta and go off to a gig and nearly be asleep by the time I got to the end of the road, pasta as energy food had the opposite effect for me.

Have you turned your home and kitchen into a gluten free zone? If so, how does your family cope with it?
The kitchen is pretty much a gluten-free zone, my wife sometimes has normal bread when I'm away, but she's been really cool about eating gluten-free bread and our diet being gluten-free so not having to cook two different meals everyday. My parents are really cool with it and my mom gets gluten-free bread when we go to visit and does gluten-free meals for me. My mom has always been very switched on when it came to food and diet so she helped me, I was allergic to dairy as a kid so had to have goat’s milk.

How do you manage your diet when touring in foreign countries, what countries have you had the most success eating gluten-free?
Touring can be a hassle especially when you're in the middle of America at a truck stop and the only option I can eat is fries, the salads are not worth bothering with, and the coleslaw is usually pretty bad and probably has flour in it. If I'm capital/major cities I'm ok, it's more provincial places where I struggle.
The band I play with are really cool with my diet, the tour manager always lets catering know I can't eat wheat and every country we've been to has had some sort of alternative. I was in Italy last month and you'd think they would be the worst but they had a great selection and even cooked stuff just for me.
Spain is great for gluten-free food, Hungary is also good and Japan and China, anywhere really that has lots of rice dishes.
If we eat out the band always makes sure we go somewhere I can get a good feed. If we take ourselves out for food we always have a good wander around first so that everyone is happy.
The tour manager always makes sure the rider contains plenty of extra fruit, rarely is there nothing for me to eat.

Do you feel that the caterers on tour are well aware of a gluten-free diet, and how to avoid cross-contamination?
I don’t think caterers are aware of cross contamination, as we do have to explain, a lot, what we mean by gluten-free food. They are getting much better. I still do sometimes get the feeling that caterers think I’m being a showbiz diet ponce.

What are some go-to snacks that you carry with you when on tour?
I travel with loads of natural bars and peanuts, the biggest problem for me is flying. The options for gluten-free can be terrible, and if the agent hasn't informed the airline it's back to the snacks, but then sometimes I'm really not missing much!!

Have you toured or worked with other gluten-free people in the music business?
I've just started playing with a bass player who is gluten free, and his wife, the singer, is dairy-free, I worked with Dannii Minogue for a while, she is gluten-free but not celiac. I do get a lot of people say they think they're allergic but don't do anything about it.

What is the most interesting reaction you get when you tell people you can't eat gluten?
The most common funny reaction is, can I eat rice and potato, when I say yes they sometimes say ‘are you sure?’

Andy is currently touring through Europe with Morcheeba, before they come to the US for a few shows at the end of July.