Friday, October 31, 2008

Roasted Butternut Squash


Seasonal Squash...I love them! Especially Butternut. This is a really simple recipe with dried cranberries, YUMMMMMM! You can substitute with cherries, but I like cranberries. Cherries are a bit too tart!

Roasted butternut squash

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
salt & pepper
2 medium onions
2 tbsp chopped sage
4 tbsp dried cranberries or cherries

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.

Peel squash and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and discard. Cut squash into large chunks. Coat with 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Season with salt & pepper to taste and arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes or until well caramelized.

Peel onions and cut into large chunks. Coat with remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season and spread on a second lined baking sheet. bake for about 20 minutes, or until well caramelized. When squash and onions are done, toss with sage and cranberries.

I hope everyone is having a Happy Halloween Morning!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sustainable Sushi Advocate!


I received my FREE Sushi Advocate kit from Monterey Bay Aquarium!! Monterey Bay is AWESOME! I first learned about them from my boss who had picked up their seafood watch pocket guide when she visited California. She thought it would be a good thing to give to our customers at the Co-op, not only because we're in a coastal town, but also because the conservation of our ocean's resources seemed like a good fit for our shoppers. The Aquarium shipped 1,000 guides to us for FREE and our shoppers loved them!

Since then, I've been getting an e-newsletter from them. Last month I noticed they were starting a new Sushi Pocket Guide. I went to their website and checked it out. While perusing I noticed that they were signing folks up to be 'advocates'. I of course signed up right away!! I remembered giving my t-shirt size, but it didn't really click they were sending me anything special. What a nice surprise this was:
(*No matter how many times I loaded the above picture, it still loaded sideways! :X The squid is saying Wasabi and the fish is saying Fo'sho)

The kit included five sushi pocket guides, three chef feedback cards to hand out at restaurants, t-shirt, and eco-friendly chopsticks.
The chopsticks are by a company called Wheatware. They're reusable, biodegradable chopsticks made from US wheat surplus. Yep! They're made from wheat....so of course I can't use them, but they're a great idea! I gave them to my best friend Alex. I guess I now know how folks with corn allergens feel when they get offered a "green" reusable, biodegradable cup made out of corn.

Plus I learned that my favorite sushi ingredient...K-rab, is on the safe list! I can't wait to wear my tee tomorrow!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oktoberfest...Boo

JR & Jess

My Co-op was hosting an Oktoberfest themed sampling yesterday from 3-7pm. JR, our wine buyer was putting it all together and my boss Jessica was helping. I checked it out around 3 to see if I could help and was asked to take pictures before everything was ravaged.

The event looked amazing...and glutenous. There was not one sample I could taste, which in the end, is probably a good thing! For all you gluten-free folks out there, shield your eyes.

JR chose a few beers to sample. An old favorite, the Post Road Pumpkin Ale. I used to love this beer!
Our deli also made JR some wonderful foods. A beer cheese potato soup, some vegan brats and some local brats. Ooh! A beer cheese log:And of course, the show stopper, a giant platter of Guinness Chocolate Cake with Whipped Creme Icing.

It was fun taking all the photos...even if I couldn't sneak a bite. I'm just thankful they weren't sampling mozzarella sticks! Tonight I am determined to cook something beautiful, tasty...and hopefully chocolatey to satisfy my craving for this cake! I'm not sure how a Redbridge Chocolate Cake would taste but I might try it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My First Brussels


Tonight was my first night trying Brussels sprouts. Jenna cooks Brussels a lot and each week they seem to look better and better. I've also been trying to clean through all my saved magazines, so Monday I clipped all the recipes that sounded good and recycled the leftovers. I clipped a few Brussels sprout recipes and thought "now or never". (Plus if they're gross then I'll toss them out. )

I chose a recipe that called for bacon and onions. I figured it had two more chances of being better with those ingredients. I changed the recipe around a bit, I used:

1 pound Organic Brussels Sprouts
8 pieces Applegate Farms Sunday Bacon
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Organic Onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper

First you give the sprouts a bath. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and toss in the sprouts for 5 minutes.

Getting a bath

At the same time, cook the bacon until crisp. Reserve 2 tbsp. of the bacon grease. In the same frying pan, saute the onion in 2 tbsp. olive oil. Cook until browned. Once cooked, set the onion aside. Then add the reserved bacon grease to the pan and 1 tbsp. olive oil. Toss in the Brussels Sprouts and cook until browned on the edges. Toss in the onions and bacon until warm.

Yum! So good! It tasted alot like broccoli! Funnily enough, I didn't plan anything else for dinner. Hmm, not quite sure what I was thinking. But then I remembered another recipe that I clipped for cheesey onion popovers. In the picture they look like adorable little muffins. I tried them out and I'm so glad I did! They really pulled it together as a meal and they were delish! They didn't exactly "pop" over, but I guess that's because they don't contain gluten. I used:

1/4 cup chopped, cooked Organic Onion
1 cup Local Milk
1 cup Beth's Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
3 Local Eggs
2 tbsp. Organic Butter
1/4 tsp. Salt
10 cubes Cheddar Cheese, 1/2 inch cubes

In a blender, combine all the above ingredients except the cheese. Pour the batter into a muffin pan. Fill each muffin cup 1/2 full. Then take a cheese cube and insert it into the center of each cup. As I always say, my oven is wonky. SO I cooked it for around 20 minutes at 450. I then checked them and could tell it was browning and crisp on the edges, so I broiled the top until golden brown. These were SO good. My friend Alex and I were saying that maybe next time I should add scallions.I can't wait to try these tomorrow for breakfast!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes...and a plan


I love sweet potatoes. (Not as much as white potatoes)..but I love them! Sweet, crisp edges and I usually don't feel to much guilt when I eat them. I am supposed to be avoiding starches..and sugars..and fat. Hmm, come to think of it, I don't think I've ever been honest with you guys about this! Maybe being honest on my blog will help me be more honest with myself and my eating habits.
In 2001 I started college at a size 0-1. I was tiny, although I thought I was bigger. From there I slowly but surely packed the weight on and by 2008 (this year) I was a size 12-14. Ooh, it is so hard to write 14. So when I went to my doctor with the bathroom, weight gain issue she ran a HUGE amount of tests. One which showed Celiac Disease in my DNA and others which showed I have high triglycerides, high bad cholesterol, low good cholesterol, and hypoglycemia. Yep. Metabolic Syndrome. Alot of which is my genes and alot of which is my own doing. In high school I was really active and kept that up for a few years. But for the past 2 years I have been dealing with post traumatic stress and the exercise just dropped away. So my doctor gave me some harsh realities that day.

Eat smaller meals more often.
Only potatoes once a week and fewer starches overall.
No sugar. She wants me to eat as if I'm already diabetic.
No fat for goodness sakes.
Exercise 3-4 times per week and really sweat...alot.

She said that if I don't start doing these things I will develop diabetes in the next 10 years. If I do start doing these things it may not be until I'm 60 or 70. She said my pancreas has a very limited warranty. But she did feel that my new gluten-free lifestyle will help.

And it did. I'm now down to a size 10, but I still have around 30 pounds to go. My eating habits are better, but they still need to improve. (fried green tomatoes...really?) But what really needs to happen is the exercise. I read blogs such as Kath Eats and Eat, Live, Run and See Bride Run and those really give me inspiration, but I really need a plan. Any one got some tips?

I can do this!

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Own Naked Chef...and CHALLENGE


The perfect bite.

The "naked chef-ing" it was a success! Parrish made an awesome dinner! The bite to the left is perfectly seasoned baked pork chop, apple sauteed in butter, with a tiny strip of Parmesan cheese. Yumm.

The pork chop and apples were served atop a simple gluten free spaghetti noodle with olive oil and Parmesan.


He wrapped a slice of Applegate Farms Sunday bacon around the pork chop, topped it with a green pepper and baked it at 350 for 25 minutes. Seasoned with salt, pepper, and a light grill rub. He sauteed the apple in butter until soft. He cooked the Tinkyada Spaghetti and then tossed it with light olive oil and then topped with Parmesan.

Parrish is a magnificent plater. He feels that items must be plated perfectly in a particular order to get the best taste. So for this dish: noodles (lightly tossed in olive oil), Parmesan, roasted pork wrapped in bacon, roasted green pepper, and sauteed apples on top. He did an amazing job! He is so good at having the most random ingredients in front of him, and making a masterpiece!
I'm really hoping we have some of this left over for lunch tomorrow! My mind is already racing with variations of this dish. Using mango instead of apples and sticky rice instead of noodles.


THE CHALLENGE
~I need a new Chef Name~

Anyone have a challenge? A laundry list of random cast aways, usually deemed 'We have nothing here to eat?' Let me know and I'll challenge my Naked Chef. However....I think I may give him a new name, 1) I'm pretty sure the other is trademarked 2) Naked just always makes me think of cooking naked, which is bad naked* . (*Seinfeld reference)

So two challenges, rename the chef and give him a challenge of ingredients! Gluten Free of course!

Quick Lunch


Quick, filling, yummy: these are a few of my favorite things! I was off of work today because I have to work on Saturday, so I was able to make lunch at home. Since my Celiac diagnosis, I would always rather eat at home. It's just easier. So I scoured our fridge for something quick because the caffeine from my morning coffee was starting to make me shaky.

I settled on a salad. I used Organic lettuce, chopped thin with shallots, and yellow tomato. Topped that with various cheeses from remaining blocks, a little bacon, and some Bilinski's Spinach and Garlic chicken. So good. AND so fast! Parrish and I finished off this entire big plate!

Tonight for dinner, Parrish said he is "naked chef-ing" it...I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, October 17, 2008

I 'heart' Chobani


On Tuesday, before I left to be with my sister, my shipment of FREE Chobani Samples came in the mail. It was like Christmas! I ripped the box open and lined up my score on the counter. (Sorry there are no pictures!) They sent me every flavor to try and I was so excited because I have not seen them at my co-op. A friend told me to try a local Lowe's Foods, and indeed I will!!

This morning I really wanted to try the peach, but thought I would first try the vanilla because that is the flavor of Oikos that I love so much. I first noticed that Chobani has 16g of protein (1 more than Oikos) and no fat! The taste was awesome! And the texture was everything that I love about greek yogurt. My eyes feel like this was a larger serving than the Oikos but I'm not sure on that. It's hard to believe that something with no fat can taste this good!

I'm saving my peach to have on my car ride back to Huntersville this afternoon to see Ella Kate, and I think I'm going to make some guacamole with the plain. The Chobani website has all these great recipes I now want to try! I especially want to try the Garlic Dijion Aioli. I love Aioli but I really don't like the smell of mayo!
The Aioli pic from the Chobani Recipe Box

Anyone have a recipe for tzatziki they have made and loved?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And the world sighed


She is beautiful and she is here. After a long night and three hours of fitful sleep, Ella Kate made her debut at 8am this morning. My sister was amazing. She puts women on A Baby Story to shame. Not one scream, a few whimpers, and two full hours of pushing.

Needless to say I'm feeling a little wonky today. Underfed, underslept, but surprisingly full and awake. This morning I had a Lara Bar. So good. I bought a case of the Peanut Butter Cookie flavor a few weeks ago and am so glad I did. They are my official new favorite flavor. Lunch was a boring small salad and 20 minutes of sleep sitting up. Tonight I'm going to try out a brand of gluten free frozen chicken tenders and put myself to bed around 7. I have a long drive back to my coastal town tomorrow morning and then back here again on Friday afternoon. I don't mind the driving, but I do mind leaving my sister's side.

More to come...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ella Kate is coming soon!!


This has to be the latest I have ever posted! It's 11:33pm and I am awake. This is a rare occassion for sure. Rare and special. Tonight I am at the hospital in Huntersville awaiting the arrival of my new neice, Ella Kate.

I received the call today ar 11:15am and I hopped in the car and drove straight here! I was so afraid I might miss something. 12 HOURS LATER I am still waiting. You know I was excited, because my Chobani samples came today and I just had enough time to stash them in the fridge. I can't wait to try my first one tomorrow afternoon when I get home!
My sister is amazing. She is truly my best friend in life. She is getting her epideral as I type (I moved over in to the waiting room). I'm hoping that it will help with the pain. I am so nervous and excited to meet my new neice. I'm not even an ounce sleepy!! Hopefully more to come soon!

For dinner tonight my parents and I went right across the street, so we could still be close if we were needed. My parents wanted to get burgers from a place that only serves burgers and hotdogs. No salads. So I went to a place just beside the burger joint called Just Fresh. It was pretty good. Below is a very low quality pic of my salad. The salad was HUGE. It was a chopped cobb with grilled chicken, tomato, avocado, bacon, cucumber, mixed greens, and cheese (on the side). The avocado was awesome and the bacon and chicken were freshly cooked!



It was great! Very filling. Now I just sit and wait for Ella....

Monday, October 13, 2008

Let them eat cake

A Gorgeous Cake by The Cake Girls

I stayed awake until almost 11pm last night watching this show on WE called Amazing Wedding Cakes. I pretty much enjoy watching any show about food, but I ADORE watching a show about cake decorating. The show focused on three different cake shops in three different cities. I was most impressed with The Cake Girls in Chicago. (It may help that I LOVE Chicago!) In this episode they were making a ring box cake for an engagement party. (I searched for a picture, but couldn't find one.) It was amazing.

I think I might look into taking a class at our local Community College. I love cake decorating SO MUCH and I really want to learn more. I fell asleep last night dreaming about opening my very own Gluten Free Bake Shop....

Friday, October 10, 2008

Busy Busy Busy


Tomorrow we are having a big event at my co-op, Fall Food Fair. My boss and I are the coordinators for the event, and after a few years, we both feel like pros.

I've spent the entire morning creating raffle baskets out of samples from companies. (We received a raffle basket full of goodies from Pamela's! It is so hard not to take it straight home with me!) Making raffle baskets is fun, but time consuming. I've been curling a lot of ribbon! Plus I know that this afternoon I have to organize over 50 boxes of tiny samples into baskets for folks to peruse tomorrow! While that is also fun, an afternoon of breaking down cardboard and consolidating packing peanuts is not that fun.

Most days I'm sitting right in front of the computer, creating signs and responding to emails. Some days I'm out and about in the community or at an elementary school, but twice a year, before Food Fairs, I am running our store like a mad woman. Which is why I'm glad I had a great breakfast this morning! I was sitting here thinking about how I'm in a much better mood than normal for the day before Food Fair, and I just figured out why.

Because I had Oikos Greek Yogurt this morning! I LOVE OIKOS GREEK YOGURT!!! The vanilla has NO FAT and 15 grams of protein!! And it's so creamy! I've never been a huge yogurt person...until now! I love it! (Did I mention how much I love it?) I even made it a frame! A bit much? Maybe. But try it and I guarantee you'll professing your love and setting it as your desktop wallpaper in no time!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Starving Sandwich


A few years ago my boyfriend, Parrish, introduced me to what I have come to know as the Starving Sandwich. It truly is a work of art. When you are starving, no ordinary sandwich will do. The flavors packed in between these two slices of gluten free bread will not only satisfy your taste buds but it will satiate your tummy too! The ingredients list may seem long, but trust me, it's worth it!

What you'll need:
One organic tomato (local is best!)
A handful of sprouts (or a slice of lettuce)
Bacon (I used Applegate Farms Sunday Bacon)
Neufchatel or cream cheese (about 2 tbsp.)
Avocado (I like mine mushed so I get some in each bite but Parrish likes his in slices)
Havarti Cheese (One thick delicious slice)
Two slices of gluten free bread

Toast your gluten free bread, I used Sami's Millet and Flax. (and I used a smattering of butter on each side) While the bread is toasting, cook your bacon until crisp. Slice up your avocado and tomato. Place a slice of Havarti on one piece of bread and spread cream cheese on the other piece. Broil for one minute or until Havarti is melted. Assemble! I like it in this order: Havarti on the bottom, then avocado, bacon, tomato, sprouts, and the cream cheese bread on top.

Serve it hot or wrap it in foil for lunch.

Yum!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Roasted Chicken Purses


Made from scratch Wontons! I'm still a bit in awe that I was able to pull this off. I found this recipe from Food Network for Roasted Chicken Purses created by Giada. The recipe calls for wontons. I've never cooked with wontons, so I didn't realize that it was basically just flour, salt, and water. I couldn't find any gluten free wontons but I did remember that I have a case of my beloved Beth's Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. I found a pretty simple recipe for "regular" wontons so I just substituted Beth's. It turned out pretty well!

Gluten Free Wonton Recipe:
  • One egg
  • 2 cups Beth's Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 - 1 cup water
Lightly beat one egg with 3/4 tsp. salt. Add 1/4 cup water and mix. In a large bowl, sift 2 cups Beth's Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add in the water and egg mixture. Mix in with the flour. Continue adding water, 1/4 cup at a time to form the dough. I ended up adding 3/4 cup additional water and around 1/4 cup additional Beth's. Form the dough into a ball and then knead for 5 minutes, or until it forms a smooth dough. Cover the dough and let sit for 30 minutes. Next, on a floured surface, roll out the dough until very thin. (Think of how thin regular, store bought dough is) It is now ready to stuff!

Giada's Roasted Chicken Purses recipe was really just a launching off point. I changed a few things more to my taste, but I was still SUPER pleased with the results. The stuffing is pretty simple:

  • 1 1/2 cups roasted chicken, shredded
  • 1 bar Neufchatel Cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • One egg, whipped up for egg wash
  • 4 - 5 tbsp. butter
  • a bit of paremsan, shredded
While you make your filling, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place 1 1/2 cups roasted chicken in a bowl. (I bought a rotisserie chicken from my local Harris Teeter. It saved me time and had alot of flavor) Mix in 1 bar of Neufchatel Cream Cheese at room temperature. Also stir in 2 tbsp. organic lemon zest, 1 tbsp. fresh chopped thyme, and 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. That's your filling. You'll also need an egg wash, just one egg whipped up in a small bowl. In the center of each wonton piece, you'll scoop out about one tbsp. of filling. Wash the egg around the filling all way to the edges of the wonton. Then grab your four corners and make a purse. Unlike my Chicken Cresecents, you'll want to be sure that the wonton piece is completely sealed, since you're going to boil it. Once you have ten purses made, place them in the boiling water. Boil for around 5-6 minutes. Drain. While you're boiling the purses, melt 5 tbsp. of organic butter on medium heat. Once your purses are finished, toss them in the butter to coat, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Voila!
Parrish (the boyfriend) ate his with soy sauce and loved it! I was out of tamari :( , so I enjoyed my purses plain. We have some leftover purses that I think I'll have with pasta sauce for lunch tomorrow. Yum!

Close Call


This month, October, is Fair Trade Month and my co-op is celebrating. In honor of Fair Trade, I made a new purchase that I had never tried before. Alter Eco Purple Jasmine Rice. I've had other sticky rices, but never purple! The box says to rinse it thoroughly before cooking. My boyfriend rinsed it and then began cooking. I looked over and the water was completely purple! So I took it off and rinsed again. Started cooking, and it's still purple. SO it must be okay!
My boyfriend, Parrish, chopped up some shallot and garlic, which we added to the rice once the water had evaporated. This rice seemed much easier to me cooking wise than most rices. You don't have to cover it which is good, because even though I know I'm supposed to not lift the lid while rice is cooking, I always have to peek! While the rice was cooking I heated some Bilinski Apple Chardonnay Sausage on my George Foreman. Then I chopped them up and added them to the rice with the shallot and garlic. I then made a bed of grated cheese on a plate and piled the rice mix on top. Then I finished it off with a little bit of Mustardy BBQ sauce from my Auntie. (My Papa's secret recipe) This dinner was so good! My leftovers the next day were even better! The dish was filling, without having to stuff my face! **In the future I will cook the onion and garlic seperately in a bit of oil until softened and the sausage to that pan first. Then I will add it all to the rice just to meld a bit, but not cook completely.

I was so interested in this rice that I went to the Alter Eco website and found that Martha herself has been cooking with it lately! Click the picture to follow the link. I'm sure her recipe is ten times better than mine! She is Martha Stewart!
Then I found online where many web pages kept referring to it as "glutinous rice". My stomach cringed. My bowels have been off lately but I thought that was because I was back on caffeine. Had I inadvertently glutened myself again?!

Nope. I'm safe. Thank goodness for this Wikipedia article! The world needs to come up with a better word to describe a gluey, sticky rice that doesn't involve the root gluten. Phew!!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Only in the South!

If you live in the following states, you HAVE to try Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka! Products are currently available in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, Kentucky, Louisiana, and New York.

On the rocks this drink tastes just like homemade sweet tea! No alcohol aftertaste in the least. So yummy!

I'm not a big drinker, but when hanging out with friends, I do enjoy a yummy cocktail from time to time. (Or a Redbridge) Most bars do not carry a gluten free beer and I don't know of any in my little coastal town that offer one other than an apple cider. I am not a cider fan.

On my boyfriend's birthday a few weeks ago, we had a kickball tournament and then moved the party to our favorite bar downtown, The Goat and Compass. It's one of those neat places that isn't crowded but isn't dead. And they really offer cool things that appeal to customers. Such as "ski shots", where there are four shot glasses attached to a snow ski and you take the shots in a group. So fun. And they have a board where you can pre-buy drinks for friends at a later date and they write down your name, who it's for, and why. It's not in the heart of downtown on Front Street; it's off to the side in what they call "The Brooklyn Arts District". So it's relaxed.
So that night of his birthday I asked the bartender for a flavored vodka something and he said he knew just what I would like. He sat a drink down in front of me that looked like sweet tea, so I thought it was a whiskey drink. I let it sit there because I thought "No way is this mine!" Then he asked if I tried it, and I asked Oh was this mine? So I took a sip. HEAVEN. So good. My new staple! And it's local...even better!

Two pups enjoying the Goat

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's Friday

Inspired by The Good Eatah, I thought I would end this week with another friendly pup pic. This picture is from my birthday last year. We had just eaten dinner at The Little Dipper and were back at my house to get the group organized. My boyfriend Parrish had prepared a Birthday Pub Crawl for me which turned out to be SO much fun!! And my last pub crawl because there's no way I would be able to hang drinking liquor drinks all night and no bars in my coastal town serve Redbridge. Anyway! This is Max coming to our "rescue" from full fondue bellies and sleepy eyes! *Note the Red Bull

The funniest thing about this whole picture is that Max actually really LOVES his green jacket. His nickname is Professor Max-furs and I think he really looks smart in his green wool!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Peanut Buttery Oats

I was so excited when I found Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats. I loved Steel Cut Oats pre-diagnosis and have been craving them since. I hadn't been able to find a source that was not polluted, until I found these rolled oats at my Co-op.
However, not only was I not impressed, I was disappointed! I should say first, that I love peanut butter. But these oats tasted like peanut butter...but in a weird way. Anyone else had this experience with these oats? Or does anyone have a recipe that they love and I can try? My greek yogurt in the morning is great but it needs a partner! (And I am Van's Gluten Free Waffled Out!!)