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December 30, 2010

Out with the old...

Hello, friends! First of all, this here has become a regular sight for me in the kitchen as I cook. It's quite fun, although I get nervous that at some point he will attempt to jump on my head!

We are back from our holiday, where we actually had a lot of really fantastic time with our families up in Massachusetts. We planned ahead for 5 or 6 days at home with Chex cereal, Udi's sandwich bread, Boar's Head cold cuts and cheese, and dinner planning in advance, and it was a stress-free few days away with the help of our families in making dinner selections that were GF-friendly. My mother-in-law was also kind enough to make a batch of cookies, brownies, and muffins, using the King Arthur mixes (which are FANTASTIC, if I do say so), which lasted us the whole visit - a bonus for breakfast and dessert each day! I even whipped up Christmas Eve dinner for 11 at my parents' house. I love cooking for large groups of people. Nothing makes me happier than putting a meal together for people I love to enjoy. We feasted on ham (made with brown sugar glaze), mashed taters, stuffing, green beans, and rolls.

Sunday evening, as winds whipped and snow fell down over New England, Mr. GF and I settled in and watched Julie and Julia, "the movie that started it all". It was after watching that movie last winter that inspired me to start this blog, to write what I know. My first year has been far from perfect; I don't blog frequently enough, and I need more variety. I try, though, and I hope you've enjoyed what I've posted to date, and at the very least, found it helpful and informative!

You know the line from the movie Juno, "Whoa! Dream big!"? It's said with sarcasm, but that's how I feel about 2011, minus the sarcasm. I have great plans. I rub my palms together with glee in anticipation for things to come! I want to make this blog a bit more user-friendly, so don't be surprised if you see some new things very soon, including:
  • Printable recipes - links to printer-friendly versions of recipes I post
  • Video blog posts - This will be *very* experimental, but I've been dying to try one!
  • A recipe archive for easier perusing
  • Lots more pictures!
Lastly, I have to thank you for reading. I've had numerous friends and family members tell me they've passed this blog on to people they know who have Celiac or have gone gluten-free, and I am so grateful for your support. I don't write this blog for myself. I know the gluten-free world can be daunting. It's getting easier, but it is still very new to a lot of people. And I know you are out there, looking for advice, recipes, and someone who understands. Since this is for you, I'd like to know what you'd like to see here. So please don't be shy - comment or email me, anytime!

I look forward to an amazing 2011, so cheers and blessings to you and yours in the year ahead!

December 13, 2010

Holiday Entertaining Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa

I love entertaining friends and family. LOVE it. Especially during the holidays. Everyone is a bit more cheerful, the house is warm and full of the sound of laughter and friends reconnecting. It's definitely a time of reuniting and enjoying the company of those you may not get to see all that often.

This past Friday, we opened our home for the 3rd year in a row to our friends for an evening full of food, drink, and fun. I wanted the majority of the food to all be gluten free this year. With the exception of a tray of crackers and cookies (on separate trays from the GF cracker and cookies), it was a gluten free party! A challenge was coming up with some main dishes that I could make to feed anywhere from 20-30 adults, and I relied on a couple of my "signature" dishes (which will be featured shortly) as well as this new one. If you love hosting as much as I do, these dishes are a piece of cake!

Sweet and Spicy Kielbasa in the Crock

Ingredients

3-5lb. Polish kielbasa
1 1/2c brown sugar
3 tbsp spicy mustard

Directions

Slice kielbasa into 1/2 inch pieces, and place in crock pot (5lbs easily fit in my smaller crock pot). Add brown sugar and spicy mustard and turn on low. Allow to cook for approx. 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

The kielbasa should be pre-cooked, so the crock pot is really forming the glaze of the brown sugar and spicy mustard. The brown sugar may look like wet clumps for the first hour or so, but give it a stir every 30-45 minutes and it'll blend together.

Serve hot and enjoy!

Coming soon...Crockpot Meatballs and Baked Mac 'n Cheese 'n Chicken!

I apologize for not having any pictures for these recipes. As a photographer, this pains me. But as a hostess who got out home at 6 with guests arriving at 7:30, I just didn't have time! Eek!

November 21, 2010

Recipe: Gluten Free Gravy

Photo Credit: Foodnetwork.com
This is another one of those Thanksgiving specialties that took a lot of trial and error to get right. A gluten free Thanksgiving with all your favorites might take a bit more effort than opening a packet of pre-made mixes, but I promise, you can enjoy it all, and take pride in knowing you can make from scratch.

Ingredients

1/8c drippings from turkey pan
2 tbsp corn starch
2 1/8c water

Directions

Set aside drippings in a small saucepan. In a small mixing bowl, whisk corn starch with 1/8c water to form a paste. Turn heat under sauce pan to low and whisk cornstarch paste into drippings. Slowly add water, 1/2 cup at a time, whisking each time so gravy mixes and thickens. Simmer on low until heated thoroughly.

Form a volcano of mashed potatoes, pour, and enjoy!

November 20, 2010

Recipe: Gluten Free Stuffing

Our first gluten-free Thanksgiving was scary. I had no idea how to make stuffing from scratch, let alone without cubed bread as an option. Since stuffing is my favorite dish, I set out to re-create it as best I could. I think I combined celery, gluten free granola, and crumbled sausage in a dish and baked it with some seasoning. Needless to say - blech.

Since then, I found a recipe that works wonderfully, I even make it when we go home to our parent's houses for holidays because it's such a crowd pleaser. And I will never use granola for stuffing again.

Ingredients

Aleia's A World Without Gluten stuffing (savory or plain) Click here to find in your local grocery store.
Fresh celery, 3 large stalks, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cups of gluten free chicken broth
1 stick (1/2cup) of butter
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground sage
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp oregano

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In a sauteeing pan on the stovetop, combine garlic, onion, celery and carrots with butter over medium heat. Stir until butter melts and vegetables begin to soften. Add chicken stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes.Remove from heat

2. In a mixing bowl, combine the heated mixture with stuffing. Mix in herbs, salt and pepper, stirring until well blended. Place mixture into a bread pan or casserole dish, pressing down with a wooden spoon so it congeals.

3. Cover dish  or pan (with cover or tin foil) and bake for 20 minutes covered. Remove cover and bake another 15-20 minutes. Remove and serve hot.

Warning: This will make your house smell AMAZING.

A note on bread for stuffing: If Aleia's or another stuffing brand is not available in your stores, simply substitute with a loaf of your favorite gluten free bread (Udi's or Kinnickinick is ideal). It's a bit more work, but either toast each slice and then cut into cubes, or cube bread, place on a baking sheet, and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes at 350 (or until break gets crispy). It will become saturated with the butter/veggie/stock mixture, so it doesn't necessarily need to be a dried or toasted bread mix that you use. I did this 2 years ago and it worked like a charm!

November 18, 2010

Recipe: Cranberry Sauce

Photo Credit: SimplyRecipes.com
Cranberry sauce is one of those goodies that Mr. GF would eat by the can if he could. I don't know if it's the tangy taste or the slorping sound it makes when it slides out of the can into a bowl, but he just loves it! And thankfully, the canned stuff is gluten-free (just double check to make sure, but we always get the store brand).

If you're like me and prefer to make it from scratch and not have a chunk of jelly on your plate, it's one of the easiest dishes to make, and you can freeze it or use it as a spread on all those turkey and stuffing sandwiches you make for 6 days straight! This recipe is from Simply Recipes, and it's so incredibly easy, anyone can make it, and it's easy to remember!

Ingredients

1c granulated sugar (white or raw, whatever you prefer)
1c water
4c fresh or frozen cranberries (I prefer fresh)
Optional: orange zest, nutmeg, cinnamon (Simply Recipes has other suggestions, but these 3 are my preferred extras)

Wash cranberries and discard any bad ones. Bring water and sugar to a boil in saucepan, stirring and dissolving sugar. Add cranberries and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minutes or until cranberries burst.

Turn off heat and mix in orange zest (1/8-1/4c) and a healthy pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir, allow to cool, and then chill in refrigerator. Sauce will thicken as it chills. Serve and enjoy!

This recipe will yield about 2 1/4 cups of sauce.

November 17, 2010

Thanksgiving Desserts

Oh my friends...my good, faithful, putting-up-with-my-not-posting-nonsense friends...Are you still there? I miss you.

Between Mr. GF working overnights the past 6 weeks (only 6 more to go!) and work and photography and weekend trips home...it's been a doozy. I apologize. I have much to share, good things, GREAT things. I will try to spare you the boring details of my life and cut to the chase:

Thanksgiving is next week. 

Holy cabooses, are you kidding me? When did this happen? How did this happen? Don't get me wrong, it is my most favorite holiday of all, but it just kind of snuck up on me and jumped up and shouted "HI THERE" this morning, with the arrival of an email from Betty Crocker proclaiming Betty's Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide.  And tucked nicely into the bottom right corner of this email was a section called "Gluten-free Thanksgiving desserts".

First GF Thanksgiving, 2007
It nearly brings tears to my eyes. 3 years ago, Mr. GF and I were preparing for our first gluten-free Thanksgiving together, wide eyed and clueless and hoping the stuffing I was planning on making from granola and celery would taste remotely "ok". Now there are emails with not one or two, but 12 recipes for gluten-free dessert alone. Thank the good Lord above.

Stay tuned this week for my recipe for

 As it turns out, we'll be spending Thanksgiving together at home instead of traveling to Massachusetts to see family. The way work schedules came up, it's easier to put the brakes on driving for the weekend and just enjoy the time home and together, thankful that we both have jobs, families who are understanding that we cannot be home for every holiday and love us anyways, and for Betty Crocker's gleaming email of GF desserty goodness. This is not going to be the Thanksgiving of years past. There will be pie! Or truffle brownies! Or...chocolate-marshmallow pillows? Wow.

So stay tuned, I will be sharing my GF stuffing recipe, turkey tips, and stories of GF Thanksgivings past. If this is your first gluten-free Thanksgiving, hang in there! You can enjoy it fully with a few easy adjustments!

September 28, 2010

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Fall! This is my favorite time of year. The air starts to cool, my sweaters come out from hiding, and pumpkin is found in everything from coffee to beer to pie to cookies.

On Saturday, Mr. GF and I attended an Oktoberfest gathering, where there was beer, brats, and more beer. I wanted to bring something that most people would enjoy, but more importantly, that Mr. GF could eat. I decided to take a chance with baking (not always a good idea for me). What is more comforting when the weather turns cool than a warm chocolate chip cookies? And given that it's now fall, I had to try to include pumpkin.



I tried this recipe 2 times over the weekend, each time with a different cookie mix. For Oktoberfest, I used Gluten Free Pantry's chocolate chip cookie mix, and substituted the butter that was called for with pumpkin. The result were cookies that looked like cookies, smelled like cookies, and tasted great, but had a bit of a cakey texture. Also, the chocolate chips in the mix were the smaller kind, so you didn't get quite as much of a balance of pumpkin and chocolate.



The next day, we had a small gathering over for football, so I tried again, this time with Betty Crocker's gluten free mix. BC's mix uses "normal" sized chips, so again, I decided to sub pumpkin for butter, this time adding 2 pinches each of nutmeg and cinnamon for a little bit of that spicy fall flavoring.

Jackpot.

So the formula is:
Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
Libby's Pumpkin (same amt. as called for in butter, I think 1/2c)
Eggs (as called for)
Vanilla (as called for)
2 pinches of nutmeg
2 pinches of cinnamon

Mix and bake as directed. I used parchment paper and am in love with the result. Cleaner baking sheets, more uniform cookies. I think it was the pumpkin that caused them to keep the lumpy shape, but don't be fooled, they're freaking delicious. Enjoy!

September 3, 2010

Gluten Free Recipe: Balsamic Mushroom Salad

This salad is really easy and filling, great for a night when you want something quick and healthy, and not the same ol' chicken and rice and green beans. I adapted the idea from a local pizza joint, as this is my favorite thing to order for lunch from them. I was really happy with the results and flavor!

Balsamic Mushroom Salad

2 large portabella mushroom caps, Trader Joe's
Annie's Naturals Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
1 bag of arugula greens
1 cucumber, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup of grape tomatoes, halved
goat cheese (or feta, your preference)
salt and pepper
olive oil spray

Instructions: Cut the "gills" (the creepy brown underthings) out of the mushroom. I just gave them a clean slice across the cap and discarded the underparts. Slice caps diagonally to produce 1/2" thick slices. Spray a stovetop skillet lightly with olive oil spray and turn heat to medium. Place mushrooms in pan and season with salt and pepper, lightly. Flip and drizzle with balsamic. Stir every couple minutes with spoon, flip so they cook on both sides, about 10 minutes (the time it takes me to cut up my veggies).

Combine all ingredients except mushrooms and goat cheese in a large bowl. Toss and divide into serving bowls. Top salad with mushrooms and little clumps of goat cheese (or feta crumbles). You may add more dressing if you like a lot of dressing, but I find the flavor of the balsamic, mushrooms, and cheese to be enough for the salad, and you don't want to overdo it on the sodium. Plus, the arugula has quite a peppery taste to it, so there is plenty of naturally occurring flavor here.

I really like this recipe since the mushrooms are nice and meaty, it's an easy substitution if you don't feel like grilling chicken, if you're vegetarian, or just want to try something new! Keep the salad in a sealed container and enjoy the next day for lunch or dinner again (maybe with a new topping)!

September 2, 2010

A Bit of a Rant

Image Credit: webmd.com
My apologies in advance...

Ok folks, I've had it. I'm all sorts of fired up. I'm teeming over with anger. I'm so angry, in fact, that I'm laughing. But I'm going to use this energy to hopefully make a turn for something good and useful.

It's become apparent in the past week or so through various articles from New York Times and now women's fashion magazines that a gluten free diet is trendy and "cool". Everybody's doing it, right? Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, has a gluten free food stand. Chelsea Clinton served a 500lb gluten-free cake at her wedding, Madonna's serving gluten free brownies at her child's birthday party. It's everywhere! That's great, right?

Maybe not.

Thought causing me anger: 'Gluten free is all the rage! Go gluten free and you'll lose weight and be viewed as cool and hip!'

Learning opportunity: The Wall Street Journal has many good points. People should not be viewing a gluten free diet as a weight loss method. That will not happen. If you want to lose weight, eat a clean diet full or fruits, vegetables lean proteins and whole grains. Stocking up on brown rice pasta and Chex cereal will not burn off that extra bit of fat you might be carrying around. Many of the flour blends used in gluten free products and recipes are starchier and actually worse for you. So stop thinking right now that if you "go gluten free", you'll lose weight. Instead, clean up your diet, drink water and go outside for a walk. 

...Ok, wait for Earl to pass and the air to cool down a bit and then go for a walk.

However, gluten free does not just mean giving up carbs. Gluten is found in many products, including but not limited to gummy and hard candies, gum, some medications, sauces and marinades, and even things that sounds healthy, like "whole grain" or "oats". If you're going to go gluten free, you need to do your research, learn what to look for on ingredient labels, make Google your best friend, and have respect for the people that must follow this diet not by choice, but by necessity.

I am so thankful that it has become a topic of interest and that restaurants and major brands are making efforts to produce gluten free options. I just hope they don't think it's just for now. It's not.

What pushed me over the edge (and this is where I really get ranty) is a recent article in the September issue of W Magazine that makes me want to never put a dollar towards the joke of a fashion magazine industry ever again. For the magazines that print intelligent and thoughtful articles from time to time (not always, but they do sometimes), this one just slaps you in the face. In the way that the movie Mean Girls placed stereotypes in a way that was smart and even funny, this one is just flat out offensive.

http://www.wmagazine.com/fashion/2010/09/fashion_cliques

In a nutshell: Here are some lifestyle and fashion stereotypes and real life examples you can keep an eye on if you want to be cool this fall!

Read it, don't read it, but know that I'm fired up. I'm fired up that they're saying curvy girls can feel good this fall because curves are "in". Did you know that the beautiful Christina Hendricks is a size 14 and was not given a dress to wear for the Emmy's (her show, Mad Men, won Best Drama, by the way)? She was told that most designers only lend dresses to size 0 and 2. She is an extraordinary actress who plays a major role in an Emmy nominated show, and no one would give her a dress. That's just foolish! While I have SO many issues with that, I have more issues with the fact that so much emphasis is put on her figure and not on her brilliant acting and personality. This is a woman who modeled in Italy, 15 lbs heavier than she is now, and said she felt her most beautiful and womanly. She's confident, and her confidence is sexy. Not her curves. She's comfortable in her own skin. It's a beautiful thing. I'm a size 14, and I hope people are liking me for my wicked awesome personality "this fall", not for the fact that I have some meat on my bones.

Dear world, please stop telling girls they have to starve to be accepted and beautiful. And I don't care how many millions of dollars your magazine makes a year, it is NOT ok to poke fun at another serious problem - eating disorders. Pushing every curvy girl into the mindset of girls who eat their feelings? Shame on them. How about we start building people up? Teach people the right way to eat and take care of themselves.Why don't these magazines start using their power and influence that they have over their readers for some good, instead of feasting on the insecurities of America's youth.

And my last and final point regarding their "Virgin Suicides Girl" who is a great weight loss supplement - "hang out with her you'll learn all about gluten-free vegan muffins."

*inhale* *exhale* *repeat*

I will say it one last time.

Gluten free is not a trend, it's a lifestyle that thousands of people live by due to allergies and gluten intolerance. "Going gluten free" can be a healthy adjustment to your diet if and only if you eat a clean diet, which is not necessarily gluten free, but really just healthy. A trend is shoulder pads, collecting Beanie Babies from the McDonald's Happy Meal or the Thighmaster. These are things that come and go and don't make much of a real difference in people lives long term.

Don't hang here because you think what I write about is trendy. It's a very real aspect of our lives. I hope you find it informative, and I hope you are encouraged to educate and be educated.

You are now free to go about your lives.

I feel better.

September 1, 2010

Happy September!

"Where did the summer go?"

The most frequently asked question I've heard around the office today. It feels like just yesterday I was toying with the idea of starting this blog, getting my first hits, my first comments. It's been about 5 months since The Gluten Free Wife began, and I've experienced some great things, tried new foods and recipes, and have been in touch with some really cool readers and food bloggers.

Labor Day always feels like New Years for me. Maybe it's the whole going to school thing that was ingrained for so long, but more than January 1, September 1 has always felt like my fresh start each year. I am planning a massive cleanout of our house this weekend, and am in the midst of planning for this blog and my own business, to start taking things to the next level.

With that in mind, here are my goals for 2010/2011:

1. Blog more. There have been weeks at a time where life just got in the way, so my goal is to post at least once a week so there's always fresh content.

2. Develop the pages. This is a gradual process, but I plan on really digging into the pages to add more resources, fellow gluten free bloggers, develop a navigable product guide, and restaurant guide. I also plan on adding a recipe page to consolidate a quick-link guide to recipes I have posted here, and recipes I have bookmarked throughout the web.

3. Get Mr. GF to contribute. He is the one with Celiac disease, so I'm sure you'd love to hear more of his perspective. As much as we live the lifestyle together, only he can give you a true view into what he experiences.

4. Giveaways! Everyone loves free stuff! I know a lot of blogs frequently host giveaways to products and services, so I plan on having some really fun giveaways in the future so a few lucky readers can sample some of the products we've come to love.

5. ... This is up to you. Without you readers, I am nothing. Whenever I hear that someone reads my blog or passes it on to someone they know with Celiac or a family member or friend, my heart grows about 10x. To know that I am reaching people, raising awareness, and even helping people is just mind-boggling. I do this for you, so I want to know: What do you want?

If there's one thing I've learned in my 26 years, it's that it takes a village. I'm just one person, but together we're a community who's voice is getting louder and louder as of late. Let's keep it going. Tell me what you want to know. Let's do this together. If you've never commented, now's the time. I want to know where you're from. I want to know your stories. Do you have Celiac? How did you find theglutenfreewife.com? What can I do to make your experience on this site better, easier, and more fun?

I look forward to getting to know you all. Feel free to email me anytime at shannon@theglutenfreewife.com, converse with me on Twitter (@glutenfreewife), and don't forget to leave comments!

Cheers!

August 24, 2010

Easy Icing

I will be the first person to tell you that when it comes to baking, I am no expert. This is why I use boxed mixes instead of trying anything from scratch, because most of the time, the finished product is a bit of a disaster. My dear friend Mollie pointed out to me this past weekend that perhaps this is because my cooking style is based on taste, not measurements. I like adding a little of this, a little of that, to get things just right, where baking is a very structured and calculated art.

I love trying new things, and recently I discovered a frosting recipe that is both easy and delicious! You can mix up a batch in a matter of 5 minutes, and it can frost 2 dozen cupcakes or a 2 layer round cake, easily. I feel empowered by little things like that which I can put my signature touch on something as simple as cupcakes (and make use of my decorating kit!) and not feel ashamed of the box they came from.

Courtesy of Glorious Treats' blog.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick of butter (not margarine or that Smart Balance stuff)
1 8oz package of cream cheese
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
1 tbsp of heavy whipping cream

Directions
Blend butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl with a hand mixer. Add powdered sugar, blending 1 cup at a time (this prevents sugar from flying out of the bowl and coating every inch of you and your countertop- some things you learn the hard way). Next add vanilla and whipping cream and blend on high for another minute or so.

At this point, depending on whether you are planning on decorating your cupcakes or simply frosting them and chowing down, you may want to put the bowl of frosting in the fridge for 15-20 minutes to set a bit. If your cupcakes have just come out of the oven and are still cooling, this is a wise decision or you'll have an ooey gooey mess.

Coloring Your Frosting
The natural color of this frosting is a light, creamy ivory, thanks to the vanilla and butter. To color, simply add a fraction of a drop of food coloring at a time, prior to adding the heavy whipping cream, until you reach your desired color. To make multiple colors, divide your batch into separate bowls after adding vanilla. It's important to do the coloring step before adding the cream because the added liquid of the food coloring will determine if you add a teaspoon, half a teaspoon, or a tablespoon of the cream to reach your desired consistency. I like a thicker frosting, so I go very light on the cream.

Enjoy!
I love this frosting with Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Chocolate Cake mix. The chocolate/cream cheese combo is amazing, it's hard to eat just one! And you can take pride in knowing that you concocted such a tasty treat, only half of which came from a box!

August 11, 2010

Roasted Sweet Turkey Sausage with Vegetables

I have been a big fan of "1 pot" meals lately. With time constraints and Mr. GF working evenings, I have been trying to make dinners that are easy, healthy, and will be just as good the next night for Mr. GF to take to work. I can't be bothered to wash a sink full of dishes and utensils after dinner, so I have been experimenting with meals that can be made in 1 pot, dish or pan.

Roasted Sweet Turkey Sausage with Vegetables

1 package (6 links) of sweet turkey sausage, cut into quarters
2 green peppers, cut into 1 inch chunks
2 shallots, diced
1/2 bag of Trader Joe's Teeny Tiny Potatoes
2 cloves garlic
sea salt (about 1/2 tsp or to taste)
red pepper flakes (1 tsp or to taste)
1 tsp dried or fresh rosemary
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
feta cheese crumbles (optional)

Directions: Combine all ingredients except feta cheese in a glass baking dish. Roast on low for 45 minutes, mixing every 10 minutes or so. Serve hot with feta cheese sprinkled on top.

I'm not a fan of cooking in the oven in the summer because it heats up the house, but one or two nights a week it's not too bad, and it's been cooler in the evening the past week or so. This would be a great dish in the fall, as the rosemary, garlic and sausage give the house that homecookin' goodness smell. This is also an easy meal to make bigger or smaller portions, and it's not expensive, which is another important factor in my meal-making decisions.

If you're looking to mix it up a bit, try summer squash and zucchini (which are now in season and delicious) instead of green peppers, or sub out the potatoes and serve with a side of quinoa or brown rice.

Enjoy!

August 5, 2010

A Gluten Free Wedding

Conversation has begun revolving around Chelsea Clinton's vegan and gluten free wedding menu, and how special food requests due to diet, restrictions and allergies are becoming more mainstream. This article on MSNBC even goes as far to say that Clinton's wedding could be empowering to those who are unsure of the ability for such requests to not only be met, but to be done well and deliciously. I hope readers understand that this isn't some glamourous  trend, it's a very real part of people's every day lives.

You really can't throw a stone without hitting someone with dietary restrictions nowadays. Even 3 years ago, when Mr. GF was being diagnosed, this whole "gluten free thing" was pretty unheard of. Three years later, we were married in the Catholic church and Mr. GF was able to receive communion with gluten free wafers we had special ordered. Sure, they tasted like Fritos, but being able to receive the Body of Christ was something he had not been able to do for 3 years.

A deal breaker for our venue of choice was their willingness and ability to provide Mr. GF with a gluten free menu and cake, as well as being able to cater to the few vegetarian and vegan guests we would be hosting. You hear stories of people eating nothing but the salad course because they're not given a choice for a meal that fits their needs, and that appalls me. You wouldn't invite a friend who is vegetarian over for a steak dinner, so why would a wedding celebration be any different? It's much larger scale, yes, but extra effort can and should be put in to make your guests as comfortable as possible. And anyways, I'd hate to see someone hit the open bar with just a salad in their stomach.

A simple way to keep track of food restrictions was to request that our guests make note of such restrictions on the back of their RSVP card. That way we could directly write down next to our table assignments and food choices if there were any special needs for our guests. We had gluten free, vegetarian, shellfish, seafood, dairy, and nut allergies that our venue, The Barker Tavern in Scituate, MA, handled perfectly and without complaint or extra charge. Our main wedding cake was not gluten free, but Konditor Meister Bakery of Braintree, MA provided Mr. GF with a personal sized gluten free Chocolate Decadence cake.

So when planning your wedding or next event, do your research. Shop around. Talk to your vendors. In this day in age there is no reason why you can't have a wedding or event that caters to your dietary needs.

July 25, 2010

Brick Alley Pub & Restaurant, Newport RI

Mr. GF and I had a great adventure yesterday. We took off bright and early and arrived in Newport, Rhode Island, around 10am to do a kayaking tour of the harbor. It was a gorgeous morning, the perfect day to be on the water. We toured around the harbor for about 4 hours, breaking for lunch halfway. Mr. GF packed a picnic since the tour was run by EMS, we weren't sure what would be provided. It's always good to be prepared in these situations!

After our kayaking tour, we took a leisurely drive along Ocean Drive and the road where all the mansions are, stopping for a tour at the Breakers, one of the most famous Newport mansions. We knew we wanted to get dinner in town before heading home, so we drove back into town, googled gluten-free restaurants in the area, and ended up deciding on Brick Alley Pub and Restaurant. We found parking and with ominous clouds closing in, we made a dash for the restaurant. We made it inside just as the skies opened up. You could tell a lot of people had the same idea, as at 5pm we were the last ones seated without having to wait for a table.

The gluten free menu was limited, but had potential. We noticed they made note to ask for dishes without white wine, so we asked our server if she could check on that because there is no gluten in white wine.

When in Newport...I ordered the lobster mac 'n cheese ("Chunks of 100% claw and knuckle Maine lobster meat are suspended in a creamy blend of parmesan, Swiss and cheddar cheese, with a hint of Sherry wine. Topped with a buttery parmesan bread crumb crust."), which was not gluten free but quite delicious. It came with soup, salad and bread, as well as a side, so I opted for garlic roasted broccoli. Mr. GF opted for Baked Native Sea Scallops (baked in wine with a butter crumb topping - no crumb on the gf version) with garlic smashed potatoes.

We chose the award-winning Portugese Littleneck Clams (Steamed littlenecks with white wine, green peppers, onions, garlic, olive oil, and chourico. The 50th Anniversary issue of “Bon Appetit” named Brick Alley’s Portuguese clams one of the 13 best recipes in the history of the magazine.) as a starter, and I'll be damned if I can't figure this recipe out at home. It was AMAZING! We got a heaping bowl of littlenecks stuffed with green peppers, onions, chourico, dripping in buttery white wine.

The service was great, they were responsive to all of Mr. GF's questions and requests. They even serve Redbridge beer, which is always nice. The pricing was typical for Newport. A starter, 3 beers, and two complete dinners came out to about $100 (tip included). I recommend Brick Alley if you're looking for a cozy place where you can eat in shorts and flip flops, get an insanely filling meal, and get a true taste of Newport's most delicious seafood.

Cheers!

July 23, 2010

Today's Boston Groupon Deal: Elephant Walk

Today's Groupon deal may be of interest to you. Purchase the Groupon for $20 and get $40 worth of food at Elephant Walk.

Elephant Walk is a Boston-based restaurant serving Cambodian and French cuisine, with gluten-free menus for brunch, lunch, and dinner! They also have vegetarian and vegan offerings, if that's your thing. I have not eaten here, but it has been recommended to us on several occasions. Locations are in Waltham, Boston proper, and Cambridge. If you purchase today's Groupon, it is good for 1 year.

About Groupon: Groupon is a "deal a day" website offering discounts on anything and everything from restaurants to clothing to services and products. The website is set up regionally so you can get deal specific to the area where you live. This deal that I'm posting is specific to the Boston region. The way it works is a certain number of people need to purchase the coupon in order for the deal to "tip" and become active. For instance, today's Elephant Walk deal needed at least 300 purchases to become active so you get the deal. The deal "tipped" at 300 at 6:33am and is now at 2, 245 purchases! The offers are usually good for a month, a year, even 2 years.

So this could be a good opportunity to try a gluten-free cuisine and restaurant that you might not normally try, at a really good price! Think about it, you're saving 50%! When is gluten-free food ever discounted?

July 22, 2010

New Look!

Fresh off our family cruise in the Mediterranean, I decided this blog needed a makeover of sorts. Well, glory to Blogspot, they finally gave us some more options and freedom in the way of layout and design!

So things aren't too different as far as layout, but I am loving the new colors (I am mildly obsessed with yellow right now), the new header, and I'm really looking forward to getting back into posting frequently. As soon as I can get my pictures together, first up will be Gluten Free Flying, where I will review our experience with Alitalia and Lufthansa Airlines, followed by some of our favorite meals while in Croatia and Greece, and a review of Royal Caribbean Cruiselines.

Cheers!

June 16, 2010

Recipe: Homemade Chicken Soup

Hello, friends! It's been a while, for which I apologize. There's been a lot of good things happening in our lives lately which are keeping us busy. I promise to get back in to a good gluten free blog-posting groove! Which brings us here and now...

Last week, Mr. GF came down with a terrible chest cold. The poor thing was pretty miserable, a self-proclaimed "plague-monkey". I came down with a little bit of a sore throat, so on Monday he asked me if I could make some chicken soup for dinner. I said sure! Little did he know, I'd never made chicken soup before.

I googled some recipes and found this one to be the easiest to follow. I think next time I will attempt this in the crock pot on a Sunday, because by the time it was done, we were eating dinner at 9pm.

Homemade Chicken Soup

Ingredients
2 cornish hens (or 2-3lb of chicken tenders cut into 1" pieces)
1 qt. gluten free chicken broth
1 qt. water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, medium dice
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp. salt 
fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 c fresh parsley
2 tbsp cornstarch


Heat olive oil on high in sturdy soup pot. Place 1/2 of diced onion and 2 cornish hens (with or without skin - skin add flavor but also adds fat) in pot and saute. When chicken is no longer pink, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes or until meat releases it's juices. Add chicken broth, water, and bay leaves to pot. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove hens from broth onto cutting board or bowl to cool.


Meanwhile, skim some fat off the top of the broth and into a sauteing pan. Add carrots, celery, other half of onion. Saute on med/low. Season to taste with fresh ground pepper and thyme.

Reserve 1 cup of hot broth into a small mixing bowl. Whisk cornstarch into reserved broth and then pour back into pot.


When hens have cooled a bit, use a fork to remove skin. Use a fork to shred and pull the meat off the bones, and add every bit of meat you can get to your pot. Once veggies have softened, add to pot. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes and serve hot.

Mr. GF also added some freshly baked bread to the meal, using Glutino/Gluten Free Pantry's French Bread and Pizza  Mix. If cooking stovetop, you should allow 1 1/2 hours of prep and cook time for this meal. It takes patience but the reward is great, especially for treating a cold. Make sure you have tissues handy, your nose will run!

We made a double batch of soup, so we reheated it the next night for dinner again. I must say, it was even better the second time around! The flavors really released and blended together having sat overnight in the fridge. I always worry about making soups from scratch for fear that they'll be bland, but I fear no more!
We had 1 slice of bread each from the loaf, so after dinner on Monday, Mr. GF sliced the rest of the loaf and froze it. We microwaved 2 more slices last night. We normally toast frozen gluten free bread, but microwaving is the way to go with homemade bread. The outsides stay crunchy and the inside stays soft. Spread a little Smart Balance on your bread (take care of your heart!) and you have a healthy homecooked meal that will clear out any nasty cold.






May 20, 2010

Sex, Lies, and Allergies

This morning my husband sent me this article from a blog he frequents which has had me thinking most of the day about the title of this post. The blog entry was, in short, about a guy seeing one of his favorite chefs "tweet" about how he can't stand people lying about allergies and the trouble it causes him in the kitchen (in a nutshell). The writer was offended, as he'd made reservations months in advance to eat at the chef's restaurant. His wife is allergic to gluten, and he took it personally, thinking the chef meant that people with food allergies are making it up, that it's in their head.

The perhaps more interesting part was the reader comments, the ones who say that the chef is probably more aggravated with people who go into restaurants and list of a number of ingredients that they can't have, saying they're "allergic". My mind shifted to an episode of Sex and the City where Carrie is on a date with Berger and orders something with "no parsley", saying she's allergic. Berger calls her out for claiming she's allergic (when she in fact isn't) and her retort is "I hate parsley. If I don't say I'm allergic, they'll put it on anyways."

And then they make Berger out to be the bad guy for calling her bluff!

Do you know anyone who does this? I have honestly never lied about being allergic to an ingredient, and I've never had a problem when asking for "no this" or "no that". If my plate arrives and it has olives when I asked for no olives, I simply put them on my napkin to the side.

I liken it to people who keep a handicap sign in their car so they can get the good parking spaces. If someone got caught in the act doing that and said "I just hate having to walk across the parking lot." it would not be received well. It's deceptive, and it's not fair to the people out there who have honest to goodness problems.

I didn't want to turn this into a rant, but it definitely had me thinking all day about people taking advantage of others. And despite Carrie Bradshaw's faux pas, I will still go and see Sex and the City 2 next weekend (or as Mr. GF calls it, Sex in the Desert), even if I'm alone, because my movie-going girlfriend will be sitting on a beach in Mexico drinking a sex on the beach.

But just think next time you're in a restaurant and considering telling the server you're allergic to parsley, or onions, or water without lemon, ok? Unless, of course, you are...

May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day! And some links!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! I wish I could be with mine, but she's enjoying a vacation where temperatures are much warmer, and drinks flow a bit more freely! Yay, Mom!

I apologize for my sporadic rate of posting lately, some work has occupied a lot of my time, which is definitely a good thing! I do hope to get into a better groove because I have gotten quite a lot of resources and recommendations from friends and family who are on the lookout for GF foods!

As promised in the WHEAT IS MURDER post, I have scanned and uploaded the list of places in Connecticut that offer gluten free pizza options. Look for it under "Dining", as well as some additions!

One exciting thing about the work I have been doing is meeting new people and seeing beautiful new places around New England! I had an event yesterday in the Hudson Valley area in New Windsor, NY, and the facility had a gluten free buffet! In chatting with the manager and some of the guests, a few of the young children in the party's family were recently diagnosed Celiacs, so the party was about 80% gluten free. How wonderful is that? There is nothing more sad than going to a big shindig and feeling like there's nothing you can eat. I even got to sample the food and it was very tasty!

So for anyone looking for a gluten-free friendly banquet facility for an event, party, wedding, consider Anthony's Pier 9 in New Windsor, NY! It is 10 minutes from I-84, just over the Hudson.

May 2, 2010

May Day! Time for a Gluten Free Barbecue!

One of our favorite things to do as soon as the weather gets warm is have friends over to barbecue and enjoy being outside. Since yesterday was gorgeous and actually hot, we did just that! The joy of having friends over is that our friends are always willing to bring snacks or dishes, so it really turns into a potluck of yummy things to eat. And nothing compare to the company of friends and family, especially when there's food involved!

I thought I'd pull together some cookout ideas in case you want to host your own cookout, or are going to a friend's house who has gluten intolerance. Imagine how delighted they'd be if you showed up with a food that's friendly to their diet!

Beer
Let's face it - it's an essential part of summertime and easy living. There's nothing like kicking back and enjoying a couple "brewskies" with friends. Our friend Andrew brough a six-pack of gluten free beer with him last night, and Mr. GF was delighted! Note: Please drink responsibly. Always have a designated driver or plan on spending the night.

The easiest gluten free beers to get your hands on are Redbridge and Bard's Tale. Redbridge (Anheuser Busch) is a great everyday beer, and their website tells you where you can find it in liquor stores and dining out. Bard's Tale is just as yummy, but a bit harder to find. If you can't find these in your local liquor store, strike up a conversation with the manager and let them know the benefits of having a gluten free beer option available in their store. Assure them that you'll be a loyal customer and will tell your friends as well!

Burgers
We get either fresh or frozen patties (I have yet to make my own, perhaps this summer!), and pair with Kinnikinnick english muffins, which when frozen and then toasted make a great burger bun substitute. Add your favorite toppings and you're in business! Cross contamination: If you are serving burgers on GF and regular burger buns, serve up the gluten free burgers first so you don't get regular bun crumbs on the spatula and GF buns. Or use separate spatulas.

Kabobs
This is an easy alternative if burgers aren't your thing. Grab some wooden or metal skewers, add chunks of chicken tenders, green and red bell peppers, onions, and whatever other veggies you like. You can simply season with salt and pepper, or marinate in a variety of gluten free dressings like Annie's Naturals.

Chicken Wings
One of my favorite easy things to grill is chicken wings soaked in Sweet Baby Rays barbecue sauce (this is also a good one for Superbowl parties!). Get a family size pack of chicken wings, season with sea salt and lemon pepper (Trader Joe's has a really great fresh grinder of lemon pepper), and then put in a large ziplock baggies with 1-2 cups of Sweet Baby Ray's. Mush it around till all wings are coated and let it marinate overnight in your fridge. Make sure you have plenty of napkins on hand - they get messy!

Roasted Summer Veggies
There are so many delicious summer vegetables that are great for roasting if you're tired of eating salads. Try combining sliced zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and corn with sliced garlic, salt and pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Broil on low for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

I will have some more ideas for you as the summer goes on, but I hope you get out there and enjoy the weather, friends, and food!  

April 27, 2010

100 Days!

I just wanted to make a quick post to say that yesterday marked our first 100 days as Mr. and Mrs. GF!  I will have a post soon regarding hosting a gluten-free friendly wedding!

Cheers, my love! I'm looking forward to many 100 more.


More Bang for Your Buck

Last week I accompanied a girlfriend to a little food shop in the town where we work. It's the kind of place where you get a salad, a water and a bag of kettle cooked chips for lunch and it costs you $25. Don't ask me how or why, it just does. I avoid places like this like the plague, but once in a while, it's nice to splurge on a homemade soup.

As my friend browsed the lunch selections, I spotted a basket front and center in the shop, full of individually wrapped brownies and signage that screamed GLUTEN FREE! It looked like a new, locally made brand, and I'm always up for trying new gluten free things and supporting small businesses, so I brought it up to the counter to inquire the price and purchase. It rung up to $5.29. "Are you serious?" I asked the quiet guy working behind the counter. I was miffed.

I put on a grim smile, paid, and walked out of the store, full of angry thoughts. When I got home that day, I told Mr. GF about the brownie, which I hadn't yet eaten, and he said he'd gotten one once at a small organic grocery store near us for a similar price. He said it was "meh". Now, if I'm paying over $5 for a brownie, I expect it to be good. GOOD. Amazing, even! And I had to laugh, because Mr. GF and I had baked a tray of gluten free Betty Crocker brownies the night before (with peanut butter chips mixed in - yum!). And for a box of mix which yielded 12 brownies, plus the chips, Mr. GF paid about $8. We decided to have a brownie off. Eating the $5.29 brownie and then one that we had made at home, I had clearly made a bad choice. It was crumbly and dry tasting, lacking any kind of rich chocolatey flavor. It was just "meh".

I am a very forgiving person when it comes to food. I often joke that I'll try anything once (really, I will). And I am all for supporting small businesses that produce goods that are "special", like gluten free foods. It's great to have more availability out there. But slapping "gluten free" on a package and slapping a hefty price on that singular item just rubs me the wrong way. Yes, I know I paid the $5.29 and I didn't have to, but there are people out there who may not know better, and as long as we keep paying those ridiculous prices, they'll keep charging us $5.29 for a brownie.

So the lesson is, my friends, that 1) Just because a treat says "gluten free" does not mean you should buy it, and 2) The more knowledge you have about your diet and less expensive alternatives out there, the less you'll have to shell out your hard earned money for something that's less than wonderful.

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Brownie Mix - $5.99

April 15, 2010

May is Celiac Awareness Month

It's Tax Day, friends! It's hard to believe that we're halfway through April. It has been a beautiful month, with flowers blooming, leaves appearing on trees. Everything is growing and thriving. Let's talk growing and thriving, TGFW style.

You may have noticed that there's an addition to the sidebar of my blog. We are gearing up for Celiac Awareness Month, which is the month of May. If you click on the badge, you are brought to a site called TriumphDining.com. I am joining them in spreading awareness of Celiac Disease. For every site that adds this badge, they will donate $5 (up to $5000) at the end of May to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA). How awesome is that? If you have a website or blog, please consider adding this badge and spreading awareness. Knowledge is power!

The Gluten Free Challenge

Another very cool way to spread awareness is to take part in the Gluten Free Challenge. The weekend of May 22-23, challenge yourself to go 100% gluten free. Don't think you can do it? Try! Put down the whole wheat pasta and try brown rice pasta. Pass on bread when you go out to eat. If you think it sounds impossible, keep in mind that 1 in 133 people in America do this every day, not because they want to, but because they have to.  I strongly encourage you to give it a try. It'll change your way of thinking at the grocery store and in the kitchen. You'll take pause before you order that blueberry muffin on your morning Dunkin Donuts run. You might even find yourself feeling better and healthier!

If you think you might give it a try, please comment here and let me know. And then go and tell your friends and family and encourage them to do the challenge. Chances are you have someone in your life with gluten-intolerance. Imagine how happy they'd be to know you are better understanding their lifestyle by experiencing it first-hand. Take this as an opportunity to have them over for dinner, where you prepare a scrumptious gluten free meal! I guarantee your relationship with this person will grow and thrive. All it takes is one weekend.

Cheers!

April 9, 2010

I just had to laugh...

A coworker approached me this morning and handed me the Fairfield County Weekly circular, knowing I would find it of interest. The article is great, and I'll post more on it later, but a glance at the cover made me nearly snarf my coffee all over my laptop.

I don't know if it's just the awkwardness of the layout or the glaring WHEAT IS MURDER, but it just made my whole morning. It must be somewhat satire. I mean, I'll be the first person to speak up about the struggle Celiacs have in life, but come on. Just look at that guy's serene face. He just wants to give you a-pizza! 

There was some great information in the article, including a complete listing of locations in CT that offer gluten free pizza. So I will definitely be adding that to the Dining page this weekend for all you pizza lovers out there!

And now I want you to look at the circular cover again and quickly click on this video:


Have a great weekend, everyone!

April 8, 2010

Email me!

One of the major joys of writing this blog is getting messages and comments from friends and family that they enjoy reading it, or that they know people with gluten-intolerance who find it helpful. That is why I do this; I want to shed light on what it's like to really live a gluten-free lifestyle, and hopefully entertain you in the process. It's not anything exotic or trendy (*cough*atkins*cough*). It's a real struggle that over 2 million people in this country deal on a daily basis!

In an effort to grow this blogsite into a friendly resource that anyone can come to for useful information, I want you to feel free to contact me at any time. I know leaving comments isn't everyone's cup of tea (though they're always welcome), so I have set up email where you can get in touch with me directly.

Contact me at shannon@theglutenfreewife.com.

I'm looking forward to connecting with you more in the future, and thank you for reading!

April 7, 2010

King Arthur Flour Goes Gluten Free!

Great news! King Arthur Flour (http://www.kingarthurflour.com/) is going gluten-free with a whole line of baking mixes, joining the ranks of gluten-free friendly name brands like Betty Crocker and Bob's Red Mill.

In addition to the baking mixes, their website has an extensive list of baking recipes to try out. As anyone who has attempted baking gluten-free from scratch knows, it's not an easy task, and can take quite a bit trial and error to get it right. Just ask Mr. GF, who has witnessed some hilarious attempts by yours truly...

That was supposed to be chocolate chip cookies. It's otherwise known as The Epic Chocolate Chip Cookie Fail of 2009. Thank goodness Mr. GF still wanted to marry me!

For more on King Arthur going gluten-free, check out this article posted on Boston.com:
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/articles/2010/04/07/king_arthur_flour_co_launches_gluten_free_product_line/

I can't wait to try these recipes out. Hopefully you'll never see something like this again!

April 4, 2010

Recipe: Mustard Glazed Easter Ham

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your day. Whether or not you celebrate the holiday. today was just gorgeous and I was lucky enough to spend a lot of the day outside in the sun (I have a burn to prove it)! Since we weren't traveling home for the holiday, we agreed to dog-sit for a friend, so I knew I'd have my hands full all day. Mr. GF has been working a lot of overnights which means sleeping well into the day, so dinner had to be easy and delicious and done by 4:00pm so he could take it to work with him.

I picked up a 2 lb ham the other day and knew I wanted to make it in the crock pot. I found a very simple recipe online this morning and made a few tweaks so I could blog it here. I don't have a picture of it to show because I couldn't chow it down fast enough (and my camera battery was charging), but trust me when I say that if you're a ham fan, you'll really enjoy this. This recipe is for a 2lb ham, serves 4.

Gluten Free Easter Ham

Ingredients
2lb cooked ham, scored diagonally (most come that way already)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp spicy mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp nutmeg (original recipe calls for whole cloves stuck in the ham, I just subbed for nutmeg which I already had on hand)
2 tbsp orange juice
2 tsp corn starch

Place ham flat side down in crock pot. In a small bowl, whisk brown sugar, mustard, lemon juice and nutmeg. Spoon mixture over ham, making sure it is completely coated. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour. Switch over to low for another 3 hours.

In small bowl, whisk orange juice and corn starch together. Remove ham from crock pot onto a small plate. Stir orange juice mixture into the liquid in the crock pot and let it thicken. Put ham back in crock pot, spoon some liquid over it and cook for another 20 minutes. Serve hot.

I served with baby red potatoes, roasted with olive oil, S&P, garlic and rosemary, and steamed green beans.


Enjoy, and Happy Easter!

April 2, 2010

Have Celiac? There's an app for that!

I had a couple friends wonderfully reach out to me this week with little goodies that can assist the gluten-free traveler! How sweet is that? I'm so happy to share these with you, and if you ever have a helpful tool, article or recommendation, please send it along!

The first goodie is actually an app for iPhone called Gluten Freed. It's an application the detects your location by satellite and suggests places near you that offer gluten free food and dining options. It is based on user input, so you can add places that you know of to suggest to other app users. Pretty awesome if you're on the go and don't have time to plan ahead! Mr. GF and I are Blackberry users, so I am hoping to find a similar application. What a great little aid to have, thanks to the wonders of technology. Sometimes I am wary of the overload of "apps", I mean, do we really need an app to play Monopoly? Sit down with your family and play. It's no wonder we all have the attention span of a gnat. But I digress. If you're an iPhone user with Celiac or someone you know has Celiac, check it out!

The second treat is a link to Yelp, a website where people can review anything in any city. It's a great resource for real reviews, especially for restaurants. So when I received this link from two friends yesterday, I knew I had to pass it along to you! It's a little guide to gluten-free dining options in Boston. So whether it's your home stomping ground or you're having a little getaway (I'll be back soon, Boston!), here are some places that may be worth your while to visit:

Gluten-free in Beantown

March 29, 2010

Shipped Up To Boston

This past weekend, Mr. GF and I had the pleasure of spending time in Boston for a gaming convention. If you know me, you know that no place in the world compares to Boston in my book. It is the place I consider home for many reasons. I grew up in the suburbs, I went to college in Boston, and there is so much to love, I could write books on it.

We had been planning this weekend since Christmas, when I surprised Mr. GF with tickets to the convention. One thing we always have to keep in mind when planning any trip, no matter how long or short, is that we have to plan ahead; it's part of living a gluten-free life. If I could have one wish granted it would be to be able to go places spontaneously and decide where to eat on a whim, but as it is, planning is always a necessity. We knew we would be having breakfast at The Gluten-Free In-laws, and packing lunch to eat on the run. So dinner was the major meal we had to plan for 2 evenings.

We decided the first night to eat at Burton's Grill on Boylston Street, which is in a new building that I watched being constructed during my 4 years of college, living in the Fenway area. The service was wonderful, the food was delicious (I had the BEST chicken over risotto), and despite the chilly weather, my heart was warmed seeing Mr. GF chow down on his first gluten-free burger with a bun at a restaurant in 3 years. And french fries. This is big, people. If he wanted a burger at a restaurant before this, he had it sandwiched between two pieces of lettuce. And watching him enjoy that was worth the whole weekend.

Saturday was a bit more on a whim. We were going to eat at The Other Side Cafe, which we've had brunch at before, but there was a concert we really wanted to go to which meant getting in line at 6 to wait. We thought it better to stick to the Prudential Center "(even though The Other Side was only another 5 minutes away), and were happy to see PF Chang's was an option.

PF Chang's has many gluten free options, which we knew from ordering our New Year's Eve Chinese food there. The restaurant was crowded (try mixing 50,000 convention attendees into an already busy Saturday evening crowd in Boston), but the bar area downstairs was half empty, so we grabbed a pub table. Dinner came quickly and tasted even better than it looked. And it was so nice to look out over the reflecting pool at sunset where we did our engagement pictures nearly a year ago.

Despite having a headache the majority of the weekend, having time away in my favorite city with my love was wonderful. Our time together is precious, and we wanted to enjoy the weekend to the fullest. And we did just that, with a little planning ahead, in a city full of awesomeness.

March 23, 2010

New Pages!

So how about that rain? Just kidding. 

Very exciting things happening here at TGFW, including the addition of 3 new pages in the toolbar! In a continuing effort to provide as much information as possible to make your life easier, keep checking back as Mr. GF and I update these pages. 

  • Dining - A listing of dining options for greater New England. Whether you're looking for a place to eat, or you're entertaining a GF family member or friend, check here for a quick idea of where you can dine without worry!
  • GF Brands - Our favorite brands of gluten free foods, baking mixes, and cooking staples. I'll review brands as often as possible so you can enjoy the best of the best. If you have a recommendation, let me know and we'll try it!
  • Groceries - Believe it or not, sometimes the idea of grocery shopping may seem daunting. Here's a list of stores that provide substantial gluten free options. 
The pages aren't very developed yet, but the joy of gluten-free awareness is that we can constantly add new dining  and brand options as more are offered.

So keep checking in, leave comments, and enjoy the rest of your week!


March 18, 2010

Easy Caprese!

Pronounced "ee-zee ka-prEEzee"

Mr. GF is working tonight, so I was on my own for dinner. As much as I miss him when he works evenings, it gives me the opportunity to try something I've never made before (and to watch my guilty pleasure trashy tv - ha!), or something involving ingredients he doesn't like (tomatoes!). I had a delicious caprese salad for lunch yesterday at Rowayton Pizza (more on that soon) and I wanted to recreate the meal for something quick, easy, and delicious. And mildly healthy. Mildly. Do you like fresh mozzarella? I thought so.

Easy Caprese Salad

Ingredients
1 beefsteak tomato
4oz fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4"
fresh basil leaves
salt & pepper
1/2 tbsp olive oil

Beefsteak tomatoes are the best for this salad because of their size (the biggest variety of tomato) and meatiness. You really can have a meal from it that is filling! Slice it into 1/2" rounds and place on your plate.

Slice your mozzarella into 1/4" rounds and place on tomato slices. Lightly season with sea salt and ground pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Top with fresh basil leaves.

It's that easy! So take 5 minutes and fix yourself a plate, pour yourself a glass of pinot grigio and tune into that-show-you-watch-that-you-really-love-but-will-never-tell-anyone Real Housewives of New York....

Enjoy!

March 17, 2010

Recipe: Irish Stew

In honor of my husband's Irish heritage, we decided to wander from the typical corned beef and cabbage for this evening's meal. When he Googled "St. Patrick's Day Dinner", he found a recipe that I can only describe as....well, I have no words. But it sure tasted phenomenal.

As a sidenote, we've decided that once a week, Mr. GF will Google some random recipe or ingredient and we'll have an Adventures in Cooking night. Gotta keep it fun, folks!

Irish Stew - Adjusted for gluten-free

Ingredients
12oz lean, boneless lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups beef broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 bay leaf
3 med potatoes, peeled & cut in 1" cubes
2 med onions, cut in wedges
1 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1/2 tsp dried thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
1/2 cup cold gluten free beer or water (pick the beer!)
2 tbsp Bob's Red Mill All-pupose Gluten Free Baking Flour
1/3 cup dairy sour cream
2 tsp snipped fresh mint

1) In a large pot combine lamb, beef broth, salt, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim fat off mixture.

2) Add potatoes, onions, carrots, thyme, and basil. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf.

3) In a small bowl stir beer (or water if you're counting calories or crazy) with flour. Stir into pot until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 more minute.

4) Stir sour cream and mint together, serve stew hot with a dollop of sour cream and mint on top.

We used Bard's Tale gluten free beer in the recipe so it made sense that we enjoy the frosty beverage with our meal, with a drop of green food coloring in it, of course. Mr. GF also made Bob's Red Mill Cornbread following the instructions on the packaging. It was a hearty, filling meal, full of tender meat, soft potatoes, and plenty of herbs that will fill your kitchen with the kind of warm aroma that reminds you of trips to your grandparent's house for Sunday dinner. And seriously, only having one dirty pot at the end of the night is priceless. Enjoy!


***This recipe is gluten free, or you can use regular all purpose flour if you're not gluten sensitive. You can also pass on the sour cream if you're lactose intolerant, although Mr. GF really wanted the full effect, so he popped a couple Lactaids.

March 15, 2010

In case of emergency

...it's good to have options!

We were hit hard this weekend with a wind and rain storm that made me yearn to be back home watching waves crash over the sea walls! It was exciting and scary, and there are still many who do not have power, and quite a few public school systems in the area have been closed this week.

We did not escape this crazy weather unscathed, unfortunately. The transformer for our block blew at about 4pm on Saturday, just as Mr. GF was leaving to go to work. I was at a friend's birthday party three towns over, waiting for the birthday boy to show up so we could shout "Surprise!" when I got a phone call from Mr. GF. Something had blown into his window as he was pulling into Stop & Shop, and his drivers side window shattered into the car...in a torrential downpour...with wind gusts that were knocking trees down left and right. Needless to say, he was taking the night off from work.

I wished the birthday boy well and rushed from the party to rescue Mr. GF from the parking lot. We left his car with the AAA tow truck and agreed that no power at home meant no cooking dinner. We weren't going to drive 30 minutes back down the highway to the party, so we decided to stop by Giove's Pizza Kitchen http://giovespizzakitchen.com/ on the Post Road in Fairfield, conveniently less than 1/4 mile from the Stop & Shop where the window had smashed. Mr. GF had heard that they now served gluten free pizza, but we had yet to try them out.

We picked up a nice, hot pie, came home and lit a bunch of candles, and enjoyed the comfort that sometimes only pizza can bring. However, it was only 7pm, and the two of us tech-minded folk plus our friend who was stranded with us (what a trooper!) started going stir crazy. So we were off to spend 2 hours at the movie theater seeing Alice in Wonderland, which was interesting to say the least.

The lesson here is that in a pinch, when you may be caught in a nor'easter with smashed car windows and no power, it's wonderful to know that you have quick gluten free takeout options. And in the next few days I will be compiling a page listing local pizza, pasta, fast food, and dining options for Lower Fairfield County, so if you find yourself in a situation similar to ours, you know where to go!

If you have any additions, please leave them in the comments section!

March 8, 2010

If at first you don't succeed...

...indeed, you must try, try again.

After a disastrous first experience attempting homemade pizza on a pizza stone (the crust fused itself to the stone, took about 4 days worth of soaking and scrubbing to get off), we decided to try again. A friend advised to dust the stone with flour. Well, no can do. Another friend advised to brush the stone with olive oil after it's preheated. Sounded worth another shot!

Pair an oil brushed stone with Namaste pizza crust mix and leftover meatballs, and you really can't lose.

We have tried a few pizza crust mixes, and Namaste is by far our favorite. There are herbs mixed into the crust that gives off an aroma from the oven that will make you drool like a 6 month year old baby. No joke.  And it's easy to prepare! 1 1/2 cups of mix, a teaspoon of olive oil, and 1 1/4 cups of water, mix together to the consistency of cake batter. Spread evenly on your preheated, olive oil-brushed pizza stone, cook for 15 minutes, add your sauce, toppings and cheese, and cook for another 10 minutes....slice....and enjoy!

March 7, 2010

Gluten Free in NYC

Restaurant Review: Risotteria

Yesterday, Mr. GF and I had the pleasure of spending the day in NYC. As close as we live to the city, we really don't go in very often, so when we do, we really like to make a day of it. The day began with seeing Wicked at the Gershwin Theater, which if you ever get the chance, see it! The costumes are glorious, the music will give you chills. Mr. GF called it "a bit of a chick musical", but we both enjoy the soundtrack and love the book it's based off of, so I highly recommend seeing it! After the show, we meandered through Time Square, which is big and bright and actually one of my least favorite places in the city. The sidewalks are always crowded to the max with tourists and people trying to get you to go to their stand-up comedy shows. It's a fun place if you've never been to NYC before to experience, but really not my cup of tea.

We had planned ahead of time to visit this little eatery, Risotteria, which we had dined at about two years ago. It's settled right in the midst of the West Village on Bleeker Street, surrounded by more little shops and little eateries and cafes and bars. The West Village is one of my favorite places in the city. I think in part because the narrow, less rigid streets remind me a lot of Boston. Right near NYU, you'll see tons of college students pouring out of every bar, little music shops, jewelry shops, deli's, clothing boutiques, little dogs wearing couture, lovers, hipsters, musicians....It's wonderful!

So we made our way from the mayhem of Times Square down 7th Avenue to Bleeker Street, and there we saw the glorious beacon of hope and deliciousness: Risotteria. As with many great restaurants in the city, you have to put in your name and wait anywhere from 15 to 90 minutes, but trust me, it's worth the wait. There are about 10 tables lined up along this tiny corner restaurant, where you have to pull the table out to sit in your window seat. The menu simply consists of gluten free Italian dishes like risotto, pizza, soups, salads, paninis...Nothing fancy, simply a place you can go to eat what you love and not be afraid of getting "glutenized".

There are many things that set Risotteria apart from many other eating establishments. For a small place, you really feel like you're in your own little haven. You're sitting practically elbow to elbow with your neighbors, but the setting is inimate enough to have your date, stare into each others eyes, and eat mouthfuls of creamy risotto. Oldies music plays quietly (but not too quiet) overhead, and for such a tight space, the servers move quickly and efficiently to get you whatever you need.

Now on to the important part: the food. We decided while waiting for our table what we'd probably order, thanks to the menu displayed in the doorway, so it didn't take us long to get settled in with food in front of us. While we waited for our appetizer, we were treated to warm, salted breadsticks to munch on. We happily noshed until the waiter placed a dish with two meatballs the size of baseballs in front of us. Topped with the bolognese sauce, shredded mozzerella and fresh sprigs of parsley, we were in meatball heaven. Note to self: add minced onion to my homemade meatballs. I ordered a glass of house pinot grigio and Mr. GF ordered a bottle of St. Peter's Sorghum Beer, which came in the most epic bottle ever. For someone who has limited choices when it comes to beer, he was happy to try something new, and we both agreed it was the best gluten-free beer we'd both tasted to date. The downside? $10 a bottle. Sigh.

Before long, our app dishes were whisked away and our main dishes were presented to us. For Mr. GF, risotto cooked in chicken stock with shrimp, roasted red peppers and spinach. For me, risotto cooked in vegetable stock with feta cheese, roasted red pepper and spinach. The risotto was creamy, hot, and full of flavor. We both savored every bite, happy to be sitting in a warm, cozy place after a long day of walking. We engaged in some delightful conversation with our neighboring tables, including a couple who'd just celebrated their 50th anniversary, bless them!

And then it was time for dessert. We each ordered another drink and perused the dessert menu, which was glued to the side of an empty wine bottle. I chose the mini fudgie, which is two gluten free cookies sandwiched together with a chocolate mousse in the middle. Mr. GF ordered gluten-free carrot cake and I thought he was going to die of happiness. We shared our sweet finales and gazed into each others glazed over, blissful eyes. We ate slow and tasted every bit of gluten-free joy that we could. When the check was paid, we wished our happy friends much joy in their marriage and walked 20 blocks up to 23rd before catching the subway to Grand Central for home.

It was a wonderful day, full of theater, great food, and most important, time spent together, which is a bit of a rarity these days. We strolled hand in hand, remarking about how full we were. And wasn't it true! Full of food, full of joy and love. If there's one final thing I can say, it's that I wish there were more places like Risotteria in the world. It's dedicated to providing gluten-free food, without worry of cross-contamination, without the feeling of guilt that I see cross my husband's face when he is explaining his allergy to waitstaff and asking them to check with the chef on certain menu items. It's a safe environment. We could enjoy a meal together, eat with abandon, and focus on each other and the taste of the food, without worry. That, to me, is priceless.

Service - A+
Food - A+
Menu Choices - Italian, risotto (gluten free and vegetarian options), pizza, salads, soups, appetizers, desserts
Overall - A+ if you don't mind waiting and the small, intimate seating
Prices
Appetizers $8-$10
Entrees $10-$20
Desserts $3-$8
http://www.risotteria.com/