This weeks menu.

I'm having a hard time finding my creative self in my kitchen recently as I can no longer include tomatoes or pepper of any kind (other than peppercorns) in my diet. I believe they are the cause of my hives and with them excluded I've found great relief (not 100% but 90% better than I was). Keeping a menu plan helps me *see* that I can still eat very tasty foods even without some of my favorite condiments and sauces, not to mention fresh vegetables.

So if you're wondering what we're eating this week? Wonder no more, I'll let you know right now and if you'd like to see more gluten free menu plans for this week check out Celiac Family - she's hosting.

Monday: Garlic chicken thighs (oven broiled) with roasted veggies

Tuesday: Balsamic glazed salmon with brown rice pilaf and fresh green beans

Wednesday: Meatloaf and leftover pilaf

Thursday: Pork chops with apples and onions, sweet corn and glazed carrots.

Friday: Steaks on the bbq and fresh CSA salad with balsamic vinaigrette

A GLOW-ing Review.

So a little while back, while surfing the web for gluten free goodies I could order and try out I tripped across this website for Glow Gluten Free. I immediately got excited about these cookies, not only were the four varieties some of my favorites but they are of course gluten AND casein free (as well as being a preservative and trans fat free all natural cookie).

I continued to peruse the site, wondering where I may be able to pick some of these puppies up locally to try, which is when I got a little sad. You see Glow is currently only available on the east coast (or at least nowhere near my PNW location). I could almost taste these cookies as I surfed the website and so it drove me to do something I've never done before, e-mail the address on the contact us page. Not only did I get a fast response to my question of when they would be available to order/purchase locally, I also got a pleasant surprise. Jill e-mailed me herself and told me they were just starting to branch out and hopefully would have online purchases availiable soon. YAY. Then she also offered to send me some Glow Gluten Free cookies to try, my jaw dropped! I was so excited, yes of course I would.

I got this awesome little package in the mail and couldn't wait to dig in. Where to start was the question and so I opened the gingersnaps. Wow, all I can say is wow, great flavor and texture just what I would expect from a gingersnap. Boy did these guys give me the bite I would like in this kind of cookie. I was very pleased. Best gluten free gingersnap I've tried to date.

I tried the snickerdoodle cookie next, the first thing I noted was the smell which was just as I remembered my gluteny snickerdoodles of old. Unfortunately, I didn't find the snickerdoodle cookie to be my favorite, while good it was much to crunchy (in my opinion) for a snickerdoodle and it left an aftertaste that I wasn't fond of. Good points, while I was eating it I enjoyed the flavor and they were far from terrible, just not my favorite.

The chocolate chip cookie was a crisp cookie as well. It had great flavor and while these tended to crumble in my hand a bit I didn't mind because they tasted quite good and had just the right ratio of chocolate chips to cookie. In fact its a good thing there are only seven cookies in a box or I would have been in trouble with this one.

Double chocolate chip, what can I say other than it was my favorite out of the four. Probably because I really love chocolate. Again, a crunchy cookie (which I think suits this flavor well) with great chocolate flavor and plenty of chocolate chips. These held together well and had great texture, if only I'd had a couple more boxes of these!! hah.

All in all these were really good cookies and if you happen to have a chance to get your hands on some I would recommend you do. Thank you Glow for giving me the opportunity to taste your fabulous creations, I'm extremely grateful.

Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger - June

So for the month of June, Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger is being hosted on Terri's blog, Faking It Gluten Free Style. I decided to participate again this month because I really do enjoy trying the recipes my fellow gluten free bloggers post. My adoption choice was easy this time around as I've made a few of her recipes recently.

Diane of The W.H.O.L.E. Gang, here's to you!! A lovely person with great food ideas and know how. She's active in the gluten free community, blogging (she hosts Friday Foodie Fix which is so much fun to participate in,) tweeting and generally sharing; recipes, shopping tips, product reviews and great insight. Diane and her family are intolerant to more than just gluten so you may find just what you're looking for on her website.

The recipe I decided to post about for this edition of Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger was something a little out of my comfort zone. You see, I participate in my local CSA, getting a box of veggies/fruits every week and for a few weeks I was getting a lot of spinach. The only way I eat spinach is in a salad, nothing wrong with that... just not very creative. Diane recently posted a delicious looking alternative that I just had to try. Spinach, Mushrooms and Bacon with White Wine. Wow. The picture she posted looked so good I knew it would taste that way too.

This is a side dish, although I ate it as a main dish for lunch the next day, tee hee. What can I say, it was very yummy. I love bacon and mushrooms, add spinach and wine and you're still talking good eats. If you're looking for a quick and tasty spinach preparation alternative please try out Diane's recipe.

Product Review - Gluten Free Cafe Asian Noodles.

Some nights I just don't have the energy nor the desire to get in the kitchen and really cook. These nights I am very thankful for convenience. When I happened upon Gluten Free Cafe in the freezer section at my local grocer I was excited. A new convenience product to try out. I'm always looking for new gluten free items to try. While it's a rare day/night that I don't put together a home cooked meal its nice to know I have a quick fix choice. Maybe these products have been around a while, I don't know. They are new to my area so I thought I'd review one of them for now. Maybe the other flavors later.

I purchased the Asian Noodles from Gluten Free Cafe on this particular outing and I think it took me a week to get around to trying them. They microwaved easily and just like most frozen meals we're ready in just a few minutes.

As I peeled the plastic back I was greeted by the warm smell of ginger... I stirred up the noodles and the sauce just as the directions said. Of course it ended up looking nothing like the box, but do these type of meals ever? No.

I let it cool a minute and took a bite, the first thought that came to mind was that this dish was misnamed, rather than having a definite asian flavor I was tasting curry, strongly. The rice noodles weren't mush however they were a little softer than I would have liked, the chicken pieces had no texture or flavor at all and honestly I think the dish would have been fine if they weren't included. The water chestnuts and peanut bits saved the dish for texture, adding a nice bit of crunch and the carrots still had a bit of firmness to them as well. The portion size was just right for a light meal.

While I wasn't WOWd with this particular microwaveable meal it rated a fair percentage higher than some of the other similar gluten free convenience foods I've tried. Would I buy it again... lower the price a little and I would. Paying almost $5 for this really isn't realistic, I could make a comparable meal at home that would taste much better and be cooked exactly to my liking for less than I can buy this pre-packaged meal at the moment.

Mmm Mmmm Berry Pie!!

This weeks Friday Foodie Fix is Blueberries. I love that Diane over at The W.H.O.L.E Gang puts this together every week. It's so fun to pick an ingredient and go with it. I try to make something I haven't before every week which is sometimes easier said than done.

This week I got strawberries in my CSA box, not a lot of strawberries, but a few. I just happened to have a lot of blueberries in the freezer as well as some pie dough... I didn't have to think very hard to decide what I wanted to make. Pie. I had just over 5 cups of fruit which is just perfect for a pie. Now, this is a first try... so not as pretty as I would like, however its more than tasty enough for me to share with you. The recipe is an easy one as well... most berry/fruit pies are pretty standard.

Blueberry/Strawberry Pie.

1 gluten free pie crust recipe (I use a vinegar pastry crust by Bette Hagman)
3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups strawberries quartered
1/2 cup granulated sugar (more or less depending on how sweet your berries are.)
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Zest of 1 lemon.

Pre-heat your oven to 375.

Prepare your pie crust in a 9" pan. (I always have a little extra which is what I used to make that lattice, if you don't than you can have two crusts ready)

Gently mix berries with sugar, cornstarch and lemon zest. If you've used frozen fruit let it thaw for 30 minutes or so.

Pour the fruit mix into the pie crust and top. You can make a lattice top like I did, or use a second pie crust and cover the pie. If you do this make sure to cut slits in the crust. You can also make a crumble topping which you can find the recipe for here.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until crust is browned slightly and filling is bubbly. Let cool and gobble.

Light and easy = Egg drop soup

Head over to the Gluten Free Homemaker for What's for Dinner Wednesday, a gluten free food blog carnival where you can find many great gluten free meal/dessert/food ideas.

I was sad last week that I was unable to participate in the weekly What's for Dinner Wednesday blog carnival. I unfortunately was having a really great time in Disneyland. So there was no way I planned on missing this week. However, being away and having a great time celebrating my first 30 years left me with a lot of catching up to do on the home front.

This week I decided to do something quick and easy and that for some reason I've been craving a few times a week. Egg Drop Soup. There are many variations of this dish, but they are all pretty simple. The one I'm sharing with you is for a single serving (usually I'm making myself lunch after I put the little man down for his nap). It's perfect for those days when I'm not terribly hungry and I need something light. Not to mention having very few ingredients I can make this when I have virtually nothing in the fridge.

Egg Drop Soup

1 1/2 cups really good chicken broth (Its important to use a high quality good flavored broth as the majority of this soups flavor comes from it.)
2 Tablespoons finely chopped water chestnuts (optional)
Small handful of frozen peas
1 Tablespoon +/- sliced green onions
1 Egg, well beaten
A dash or two gluten free soy sauce or tamari
Pinch of parsley flakes (mostly for color, hehe.)

Bring chicken broth to a medium boil. Add onions, soy sauce, water chestnuts, and parsley. Slowly pour in beaten egg while stirring broth in one direction... say clockwise, slowly. Egg should cook pretty much on contact with the broth. Add frozen peas and remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste if needed. Serve

While I was away.

This last Monday, June 1st I headed up to my big sister's in Skagit County. You see she'd been working on a surprise birthday getaway for me as I'm turning 30 this year. All I knew was that we'd be going to Seattle and I'd need some good walking shoes, a swimsuit and a good book to read.

In my head I'd been flipping through all the possible things she could have planned: a day at the zoo, the food tour walk of Pike's Place, or just a nice relaxing couple of days hanging out by the pool enjoying the company of a good book and each other. How wrong I was.

Monday night when we got to her house after watching my very talented nephew play some basketball I got to open the big box waiting for me. I untied the string and pulled the bag away, out popped a big mickey mouse balloon... I didn't think much of it, I love Disney stuff so thought it was cute. Then I read the scroll she'd attached to it. Many heartfelt sentiments, the kind that bring tears to your eyes were written (I love my sister very much, she's my best friend) and the last line, "I decided we should celebrate your first magical 30 years at the Magic Kingdom!!!"

I was in shock and disbelief. No way would my sister surprise me with a trip to Disneyland, but sure enough she did. I haven't been since 2005 (which I know doesn't sound like long, but trust me it is) and didn't think I would be going for a while, you see my little man is a little bit short, he'll be six before he can get on most of the rides. I was so excited I couldn't even show it properly.

We got to the park early Tuesday morning, took the red eye you see. It was early afternoon before we were hungry and I realized, I didn't know if I could eat anything. So we went to a restaurant and I got a salad, my only safe bet, while my sister had roast, and potatoes and other yummies. As we ate I pulled out my iPhone to see what my gluten free options were in the Magic Kingdom. All signs pointed to City Hall, we ate and headed over there.

"I need to eat gluten free," I said to the lady at the counter, "I hear this is the place to get the scoop."

"You're right," she replied, "Let me get you our printout." She rifled through some drawers and cupboards, "I guess I'll have to print out a copy for you, just a minute please," and she headed through the back door.

A few minutes later I was holding a nice long list (6 pages or so I think front and back) that had the park broken up by Lands, then restaurants/hotels and then gluten free offerings at each one. I was amazed and overjoyed. My entire stay at the park was so easily gluten free, I talked to many of the chefs and they were all willing and able to work with me. The most amazing part was I didn't get one single blank stare when I uttered the words, "Gluten Free." All of my meals were flavorful gluten free versions of the originals, I didn't get any poor substitutes. It truly was the happiest place on earth as far as being the best surprise birthday present ever and my ability to eat gluten free with comfort and confidence.

If you're looking to travel as a family or just for fun, and need a positive gluten free experience, go Disney. If you happen to go to Disneyland make your first stop City Hall (front of the park) and have that list in hand from the start (also has a phone number in case you have additional questions.) Talk to your servers and the chefs, I promise you'll have a fun and flavorful gluten free vacation.