Monthly Archives: January 2011

Shortbread, breakfast cookies, or what?

Remember these?

I remember as a teenager, I lived on these. I would eat them with coffee or tea in the morning, and snack on them when I got home from school. My mom worked and I would come home alone, snack on these and do my homework. It was the mid 70s in South Florida and I watched the alligators and boats in the inlet behind our home as I drank tea and snacked. The slight almond flavor rocked my world. They were slightly dry, flaky, crispy, yummy and filling.

Well, it’s been way too many years since I’ve had anything like them until yesterday. I found Aunt Gussie’s sugar-free, gluten-free Vanilla Spritz cookies. And as I sat in the parking lot at the local AJ’s Supermarket, I was magically transported to our back yard in Florida, watching the ducks float on the water behind our house, feeling my hair frizz from the humidity and snacking once again on the same almond, crispy goodness. They may not look like the original, but the taste is so very close. (Yes, I was sitting in my car. When I find something this promising, I can’t resist. Gluten free? Sugar free? Why wait? Rip it open and dive in, that’s my motto.)

These are yummy little bites that must be eaten with coffee or tea. Serve them to guests and they’ll thank you, and they won’t realize they are gluten free or sugar free until you tell them. I had never heard of them before and although they are a bit pricey ($7), I will save them for special occasions, or when I’m longing for a walk down memory lane. Now, if I could only fit into the shorts I was wearing back then…

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Yummy GF pizza in Tucson… Eclectic Pizza for the win!

 

I spent a lovely day in Tucson with friends this weekend. We traveled down (a 2-hour drive) to see Wicked, the Musical. Wow, what a performance and what fun. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. But…on to the pizza, which was the real star of the day.

We stopped at Eclectic Pizza before the show for their GF pizza. The owner, Renee Kraeger, had mentioned on my Facebook page, Gluten Free in AZ, that we should come down and try it out. No need to tell me twice. The restaurant has a dedicated GF menu with salads, pizza, appetizers and desserts.

We found the restaurant, a lovely, clean storefront, in a typical strip mall. The bright colors on the wall and beautiful mosaics and lighting inside make it a peaceful and comfortable place to park yourself for a bit. We started out with salads that were enough to share but not enough to fill, just what a salad should be before the meal. Although there are two sizes to the salads, we chose the smaller. I ordered the roasted red pepper salad with organic baby spinach and was pleasantly surprised to find ribbons of fresh basil, along with a lovely balsamic dressing that was perfect for the light salad. My companion had a Caesar salad, and apart from her aversion to tomatoes in a Caesar salad, said it was quite lovely, that it had just the right amount of pepper and cheese, and finished it off. The salads came with a wonderful, crunchy cheese cracker made of Parmesan. Daughter grabbed that quickly, but not before I got a quick bite of it’s salty, crunchy goodness.

The Old Town Classic

We ordered two GF pizzas, which only come in one size, 10 inch. Although at first we thought that would be much too small for the four of us, we shared the two pizzas between us and still had leftovers. My companions chose pepperoni (thereby ensuring these vegetarians would not share) and we chose the Old Town Classic, a simple pizza with tomato, mozzarella, fresh basil.

Wow, what a pleasant surprise. It was light with a great flavor. The pizza crust was even good on its own, without sauce or cheese, which is unusual in most GF pizza crusts. There was plenty of cheese (we love lots of cheese) fresh basil and lots of fresh tomatoes. I especially loved the crispy, chewy texture of the crust. Of course, we decided that the final test would be eating the leftovers cold later that night when we got home from the long drive after the show. The verdict? Awesome! I had one and Daughter had the other piece, right out of the box and cold. The crust was still chewy and crisp, the cheese was wonderful. Not many GF pizzas can hold up to that test.

The pizza crust was from Dad’s Gluten Free, a place I had never heard of. I can’t see anywhere on the site where it can be bought in the state, but it is available to order online. I’m still addicted to my GF Creations crust, but this is a great alternative to a crust that is the closest to real as I’ve found. Runs a close second to Picazzo’s. Check the Web site for a great deal. New customers get free shipping on One Crust! ($7.99) so you can give it a try without breaking the bank. Orders of 10 crusts get free shipping also, according to the site. That’s a little steep for me, but you might want to give them a try if you’ve got the cash.

Although the restaurant has GF desserts, including chocolate cake and brownies, we were so full we just couldn’t do it. This only means we’ll have to head down again.

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This is how it’s done!

I just got this video from Naked Pizza in response to my post on not trusting GF pizza sometimes. I haven’t tried them yet, but since they are opening a store in the Phoenix area soon, Please take a moment to watch it and see how things should be done, and send it to any pizza place you think should have these types of precautions in place. I can’t wait to try it.

If only all pizza makers had this type of control over cross-contamination, we would all be so much happier. Thanks to Naked Pizza for sending this over.

Enjoy!

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My kind of cookbook!

A new GF cookbook for me!

Now, this is my kind of cookbook. Since I’m not much of a baker, I prefer to take a mix and tweak it. Now, there’s a gluten-free cookbook out there that does just that! It’s called The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free and it’s all about taking cake mixes and making awesome cakes, cupcakes, and even bundt cakes using these mixes. Yahoo!

I’ve ordered it on Amazon after checking it out in the preview and it looks great. Can’t wait to start cooking. Even though I’ve been tweaking these mixes for a long time, it’s nice to get new ideas sometimes. Let me know what you think if you’ve used this one.

Enjoy!

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Review of Schar’s gluten-free products

While browsing Sprout’s gluten-free section the other day, I found a section with Schar’s products. These are German products, although they have a US-based headquarters in New Jersey. I had heard of them years ago, but it’s just been a few years that they were readily available and the first time I have seen them in the store. I don’t usually order food online so I was waiting for it to make it to the stores.

First up, Table Crackers. The photo on the package looks fabulous, making me imagine biting into a crispy Saltine cracker just like the old days. They are a little bigger, but break it in half and it’s about the size of a Saltine. Unfortunately, that’s as close as it comes to tasting like a Saltine. As far as crackers go, this one doesn’t have too much of a strong taste and that’s not always a bad thing. Saltines don’t have much taste either if you think about it. That helps with whatever you top it off with. These are better than Ener-G crackers, thicker, crispier and a little tastier, but not as good as a Saltine. I love the crispy crunch of these and they are strong enough to hold up to cheese and other toppings. I’ll buy these again since I won’t be eating a Saltine soon, but I prefer Glutino crackers. (review to follow)

Next up, the Vanilla Wafer cookies. Now, I’m already a big fan of Glutino’s Lemon Wafer Cookies. They are always in my fridge for a sweet treat. I assumed these would be just as good, but vanilla. Not really…they have a funny aftertaste that lingers after the cookie is gone. It is nice and crispy and light, just like a wafer should be, but it’s not even close to Glutino’s precious lemon wafers. I won’t be buying these again.

Finally, Schar’s has a Ladyfingers. These are quite large and the photo on the package is what attracted me. They are perfect for tiramisu, or so the package states. The picture looked so good, I had to try them.

This cookie was a pleasant surprise and is light, fluffy, airy and surprisingly not too sweet. It pairs perfectly with a cup of tea since is not overpowering or too sweet. I haven’t tried the tiramisu yet, but the package has a lot in there so I still have some left to give it a try. I will definitely buy this again since I love having 1/2 of one at night with my tea. It doesn’t feel like cheating or eating too much…just right.

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Filed under cookies, crackers, gluten free, review

Bringing in the New Year!

Life is beautiful, just look around…

Although we make many resolutions each year, that doesn’t mean we follow them, right? I posted on my writing blog about the things I will NOT be doing this year. On this blog, I will post the things I WILL be doing.

1. I will cook more at home. It’s so easy to get into the rut of picking up something on the way home, or eating out because it’s easier. But for people with food issues, that can be dangerous. We know that we are most safe when we prepare our own, so what is the problem?

2. I will experiment more, try new food and actually attempt to bake something besides cookies. I never was much of a baker before, but these days it’s important to find something I love.

3. I will eat right and that means fewer grains and more protein. I have learned to read my body and I know that more protein and less grains are what make my body happy. It likes to feel “clean” and this is how it’s done. This is how I lost 25 pounds, this is how I have more energy, and this is how I stay happy.

4. I will post more often on this blog and publicize it as much as possible. A good friend of mine has offered to help me set up my own site and I think that will be my new project.

5. I will spend more time with family and friends. The Internet is a time-suck, no way around it. And so I will be spending less time wasting time online and more time with people who make me laugh.

Hope you all have a happy, safe New Year celebration and I hope to talk more with all of you next year. Please make suggestions for things you would like to read or try on this blog. I’m happy to test anything, just throw it out! And if you have a recipe you’d like to share, let me know! Join the Facebook Page and become part of the Gluten Free in AZ crowd!

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