Friday, April 24, 2009

Gluten Free Bride to Be

 

Can you tell the difference between these two pictures of flowers?

gorgeous carnations_up close 

paper flowers 007

The second photo are not actually real flowers! They’re carnations that I made out of tissue paper this morning!

Paper flowers are recyclable, reusable, and can’t wilt! Plus they’re only about 3 cents a flower! Both Parrish and I work in the non-profit sector, so I’m looking for any aspect of our wedding to be DIY. At first I thought that we could grow our own flowers. BUT I don’t have much luck growing flowers. So I looked around for paper flowers…and if you buy them pre-made, they’re pretty expensive! ($25 for 3) Luckily, you can find directions to make just about any craft online, and after a few tries I had a bouquet of carnations! My first flower I made was good, but I made it pretty large. My second flower was medium, but my last three were just right.

I’m actually excited to be planning our wedding myself. I LOVE planning parties, and I’ve always (secretly) wanted to be a wedding planner. Hopefully you guys won’t mind a little* (read a lot) of wedding info over the next year. I love ideas and input! So far Parrish and I have chosen our theme: Southern Hospitality; our location: Wilmington, NC- on a farm (where we met and fell in love); our colors: black, white, & spring green; our wedding favors: tomato plants/tomato seeds/tomato relish; reception food: pulled pork BBQ; reception activity: Cornhole;

But I LOVE new ideas!! I can’t wait to rummage yard sales and thrift stores over the next few months for more milk glass and mason jars to use at the reception.

My aunt pointed out that when I shared my pics from the engagement that I didn’t show you guys a close up of the ring. Last night when I was picking apart the roses from that night to preserve, I did a pretty dorky photo shoot with my ring. I thought I would share. (Ok, ok, a super dorky photo shoot BUT I love my ring!)

engagement ring 004

engagement ring 011

Sapphire is Parrish’s birth stone :) He built the ring himself! I gave him absolutely NO info. He did a great job!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Holding Patterns and Potatoes

 

channel

This week, I feel like I’m in a series of holding patterns. Since Parrish and I moved, I had to leave my position at Tidal Creek. My last day was March 31st, and I start my new job as Assistant Director at a local non-profit on Monday. I’m nervous, excited, and waiting.

My Grandmother is being moved to a hospice house today. Her kidneys have failed, and her fragile body is tired. I am hopeful and happy for her soul to be free of the weight her body has given. She has been suffering from dementia for many years, though she was always happy. So now my family and I sit, talk, and wait.

Anytime I feel anxious, I cook or clean. There’s something about moving the body that can calm the mind. I’m going to make some gluten free chocolate chip cookies to take to the hospice house tomorrow. Two of my aunts and my uncle have Celiac Disease, so I hope they will offer some comfort. Tonight for supper I made Parrish and I some comfort food with a healthy twist. Roasted Red Potato Salad. It turned out really tasty.

red potatoes main pic

You’ll need:

10-12 small red potatoes

1/2 cup 0% fat plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 cup diced spring onion

3 garlic cloves, diced

Scrub the skins of the potatoes and dry. With a paring knife, slice a small circle off each potato. Toss the potatoes with olive oil and the diced garlic.

red potatoes ready for the oven

Spread into a shallow baking pan and cook for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Once cooled, cut the potatoes into quarters and mix with the yogurt, cheese, and onions. Enjoy!

potato salad

potato salad 2

Crisp, crumbled bacon would be a great addition, but I’m not keeping it in the house these days. I figure if I don’t keep my vices at arm’s reach, I’ll hopefully be able to avoid eating them daily! :)

Product Review: NEW Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets

 

chicken nuggets 001

Applegate Farms is an awesome company that I have loved for many years. Before my Celiac diagnosis, I loved their Chicken Pot Pies. Since my diagnosis, I haven’t been able to enjoy those anymore, but they do offer a wide range of products that are GF Friendly. You may remember from previous posts, that Applegate Farms makes the MOST delicious bacon! It’s certified humane and contains no nitrates. Yeah…I’m pretty much their biggest fan. So when they emailed me to let me know about their new GF chicken nuggets, I emailed back instantly. They’re not yet widely available in stores (I’ll let you know the minute they arrive), but Applegate Farms was kind enough to send me a box to try!

new applegate farms

So good! Chicken nuggets are something that are very easy to mess up. If they’re not made with the best chicken, they can really turn out inedible. Then add in the complexity of a gluten free batter…it can be tough. But these were AHHHmazing!! I’ve tried other brands of GF chicken nuggets, and I did not like those at all. I will definitely buy these again! And I’m crossing my fingers that they come out with a Gluten Free Chicken Sandwich!

I served them with a side of Roasted Brussel Sprouts tossed in olive oil and sprinkled with garlic powder and minced onion.

brussel sprouts roasted

I actually couldn’t wait for the sprouts to finish roasting before I finished off my nuggets. So I had a two course lunch!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

It’s been one of those days…

 

…one of those dreamy days. Parrish and I moved a week ago today, and the excitement is still buzzing around our new house. (In addition to the cardboard boxes and crumpled newspaper)

This morning we woke up and took a short drive to Durham. We met one of Parrish’s brothers, his wife, and their children around 9:30 at the Durham Farmer’s Market.

streetsign

This market was packed! Our new home in Chapel Hill is in the center of literally 11 Farmer’s Markets’; I had been researching locations and vendors all week, and still couldn’t decide where to go! So I was relieved when they asked us to join them!

We had such a fun time! The weather was perfect and each vendor was brimming with their local goods. We ended up with a bunch of spring onions, four green tomatoes, cheese, asparagus, and plants. I was SUPER excited about the asparagus. Local asparagus is truly special…but more on that tomorrow.

local asparagus

For now, I want to tell you about the cheese. Artisan, gourmet cheeses are usually worth the price. But, when you know where the cows live and drive past their pasture on the way to work, it becomes priceless. Not to mention totally delicious.

farmers cheese

Please let me introduce you to my new favorite cheese: Chapel Hill Creamery Farmer’s Cheese. My best friend Alex has bought this cheese before and loved it! I couldn’t resist! I could hardly stand waiting until we got home to taste a wedge. It’s creamy, salty, and tart…plus, how cute is that logo?! (Yes, I am easily wooed by gorgeous packaging)

farmers cheese closeup

It’s great alone or spread onto a warm strawberry!

After the farmer’s market, Parrish and I prepared a quick lunch and then took Max for a long walk on a local trail.

mid April 045

He was so excited he had his “puppy ears” on. (that’s when Max has his ears straight forward)

mid April 055

It was a great trail! Lots of hills and greenery.

mid April 051

It evens runs parallel to a creek! (yeah I’m geekin’ a little over our new town)

I hope that someday soon I’ll be able to afford a heart rate monitor. I’m not really sure how many calories I burned today, but I did reward myself with a small bowl of dark chocolate ice cream before I started this post! I really want the Garmin…I know, I know, laughable but a girl can dream!

Want a really good laugh?

As some of you may remember, before I moved I worked at a food Co-op in Wilmington called Tidal Creek Cooperative Food Market. Tidal Creek is a member of the NCGA (National Cooperative Grocers Association). The NCGA is a group of 100s of co-ops across the country, and last month they sponsored a contest. Each co-op could submit videos on why their co-op “rocks”. The winner won’t be announced until May, but I thought you guys might get a kick out of our entry:

http://www.mycooprocks.coop/play.php?vid=1127

I hope you’re having a good weekend!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Almond Cupcakes

almond cupcake first

The first time I made cream cheese icing was last Thanksgiving. It was my first gluten free Thanksgiving, and I was amazed by how deliciously simple it was to whip up. Then this past week I was shopping at the Whole Foods Market. My sister and brother-in-law were SO SWEET and gave me a gift card for my birthday! Seriously, what could be better than a gift card to Whole Foods? (aka gluten free heaven) So I bought a few “gourmet” items that I had been eyeing for a while. One of which, being Almond Extract. My fellow Aries Krista celebrated her birthday Monday, and I wanted to make her a special treat. So I combined the basic cream cheese icing recipe with almond extract. The result: sweet, creamy, slightly nutty cupcakes with a whipped icing to die for!

The cake mix is the super simple Whole Foods Gluten Free White Cake mix. Easy to make and bake.

To make the cream cheese icing you’ll need:

2 blocks of softened cream cheese (I used Organic Valley Neufchatel)

6 tbsp. softened Organic butter

1 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. almond extract

Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well mixed. Add in the vanilla and almond extract and beat for 30 seconds. Decrease the speed to low and add in the confectioner’s sugar one spoonful at a time. Mix until completely combined.

almond cupcake powder sugar

Now it’s finished and ready to use! I spooned my frosting into a Ziploc freezer bag and cut out a tiny corner. I really need to get some professional icing tools, but for today it worked just fine!

almond cupcake bite

Hopefully Krista will like them as much as I did!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Red, White, and Green

 

This has been a whirlwind week! Parrish and I are now engaged. With the help of friends we packed up our house in Wilmington and with the help of more family and friends, we unpacked in our new house in Chapel Hill. All within a week! It goes without saying that eating gluten free is tough, but when all your foods are packed in boxes that are…where?, eating anything besides potato chips and chocolate can be a challenge.

I spent all day yesterday unpacking our kitchen. And when I woke up this morning I felt like I could really use some color. Oats and pancakes are beige. My Rice Chex are beige, which I eat with Silk Soymilk (also beige). I was thinking of making a colorful omelet, but then I remembered The Green Monster.

green monster full cup

Bloggers everywhere have been trying the Green Monster, but I first read about it over at Oh She Glows, one of my favorite blogs. The mixtures are different, but this smoothie was so good!

green monster first

1 cup Vanilla Soymilk

1 cup Orange Juice

One dollop of Oikos Vanilla Yogurt

3 handfuls of Spinach

2 strawberries halved

Colors: Red, Green, Orange

The orange juice with the vanilla gives it a dreamsicle twist! I will def make this again, but I think I’ll add a little hemp powder for fiber.

green monster last

Mmm frothy. Sweet and satisfying.

Congrats to Katrina for winning the Oikos coupons and vouchers! I guess your luck has changed! :)

Alright, off to do more unpacking!! Thank you guys so much for your comments and emails congratulating Parrish and I. I’m a gluten free bride to be!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Birthday Surprise



Parrish proposed!

My birthday is also our anniversary, and this year was our 3 year. He unfortunately was out of town on business, but he made a special trip back and surprised me!

I went to dinner with my best friend Alex and then she and I went for a walk on the riverfront. When we rounded the corner, there was Parrish in his full suit! He was sitting on the water fountain at the Wilmington Federal Building. It overlooks the Cape Fear River. He had been waiting there for 2 hours!! Alex snapped pictures and I tried to keep my eyes in my head!!

I of course said yes!! I'll share more pics soon (we're moving this Saturday!!!), but I just wanted to share the news! Don't forget to enter the giveaway for the Oikos below.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Peanut Butter Pancakes and Presents…for you!

 

peanut butter pancakes mix it up

One of my first attempts at eating gluten free, was mixing up a batch of gf pancakes. Over the past 10 months, I have found some pancake recipes that I love and some that I don’t. But, this morning I had the best batch ever!!

a smear

Peanut Butter Pancakes!!

My friends Amy and Mack were talking about peanut butter pancakes this weekend, and I knew I had to make them soon! So this morning I whipped up a batch of Namaste Gluten Free Pancakes and smeared a thin layer of Maranatha All Natural Peanut Butter on each. Served with a tiny dollop of Lite Syrup.

So good! My friend Amy told me that even she was skeptical at first, but these were by far the BEST pancakes I have ever eaten! I can’t imagine ever eating pancakes without peanut butter!

peanut butter pancakes slice of heaven

peanut butter pancakes

And now your presents! Because it’s my Birthday Eve, it only makes sense to have presents! So I have two giveaways just for you! The first giveaway is from Stonyfield Farm and me!

for you to win

Coupons for Stonyfield Farms products and Vouchers for FREE Oikos Greek yogurt!!!!

You may remember from a past post, that I LOVE Oikos! So when the kind folks at Stonyfield asked me if I would like to giveaway some coupons to my readers, I jumped at the opportunity. The vanilla Oikos is my favorite flavor, but it also comes in plain, honey, and blueberry. And you can try them all!! Plus, they’re fat free!!

To enter this giveaway, just leave a comment on this post with your email. I’ll choose the winner Friday at noon.

The second giveaway is from The Food Service Warehouse and it is too good to be true!

A 19-piece Wear-Ever Lincoln Cookware Set :) Valued at $1,000!

To enter, you just simply complete the form found here.

You have until April 30th to enter, so enter today!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kick- baller

 

kickball base

Kickball is by far the best sport ever! You get to kick like soccer, but sprint like baseball. And you get to talk trash the entire lap around the bases. My friends and I have been getting together and playing kickball whenever we have a free weekend. Yesterday we played a celebratory game for my birthday and we had so much fun!

she's safe my friends

My team was losing, so we decided to reenact instead. This slide left a grass stain on my hand, but it was totally worth it!

The food was a basic grill potluck, but we did have something that you all have to try. Grilled pineapple with mascarpone cheese! It’s easy to make; just grill the pineapple until it has grill marks and serve with a dollop of mascarpone cheese. The pineapple is hot and sweet, but the cheese is smooth and creamy. Plus, it’s gluten free!

My best friend Alex also made a gluten free birthday cake for me! She used the 365 Organic (Whole Foods Brand) White Cake mix and it was so good! I had another small slice when I got home! (and for a snack today!?)

first time 048

We also had acoustic music at the party, courtesy of Mack and Zigmas.

mack guides zigmas leads 

I had an amazing birthday party. The combination of sun, good food, and the best friends was exactly what I needed to celebrate. PLUS my friends all got together and got me one AWESOME present:

canon-sd1100is

A cool blue Canon PowerShot Digital Elph!! It takes the most amazing photos!! My friends are so thoughtful and so sneaky!! They kept this gift a surprise for over a month!! I was so happy that I became embarrassed! (and nearly cried!!) I am so lucky to have my friends. They are golden.

So my recommendation for your next birthday: Have a kickball game!

I hope everyone had a great weekend!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Tea Time

 

tea time first

Two years ago I visited Austin, Texas for a work conference. Because I worked at a locally owned co-op, my work conferences are usually more fun than most.  When you work in marketing, one of the most important resources is as simple as shopping. Finding inspiration in what other businesses create is a well developed tool. You can get inspiration from even the smallest shop. A simple logo can inspire an entire display.

“Keep Austin Weird” is one of the most recognizable slogans, and so at our conference we were charged with visiting locally owned shops and discovering what it is that keeps them “weird”.

tea-embassy-house

My favorite shop that we visited was The Tea Embassy. It’s a sweet little shop in an unassuming historic home. Each room in the house is filled with gorgeous “wants” which ultimately become “needs”. Brightly colored ceramic tea pots and recycled glass mugs. Silver tins brimming with fresh teas and delicate linen napkins.

In the largest room there is a long granite counter top with a row small white tea pots steeping samples. In front of each tea pot is a small ramekin sprinkled with the tea leaves for you to smell. Much like wine, when you inhale the smell of tea leaves before taking a sip, the flavor is enhanced.

I was in this shop for over an hour. I learned how to properly brew a cup of tea and the obvious beauty of unprocessed tea. And I fell in love  with a blend of black tea from Ceylon, Southern India, and China aptly named Snow Flake. The tea leaves are blended with almond flakes, cinnamon, and coconut flakes. It is a light, amber colored tea with a sweet start and a smooth finish. Bitterness is nowhere to be found and sugar or honey is not needed.

tea time second

I left the Tea Embassy with a small black pouch of Snow Flake tea and a silver mesh tea infuser. It took a great deal of willpower not to buy every gem toned tea pot in the shop.

I steep each infuser multiple times and savor each cup. Two years later I have about 1/4 of a bag left. :)

Since this is my birthday weekend, I decided to treat myself to a warm cup this morning. It’s even better than a latte!

tea time last

I hope that everyone has a great weekend! We’re having a kickball cookout for my birthday tomorrow. I can’t wait!! :)