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!