Monthly Archives: February 2012

Gluten-Free Foodie Tour-Full of Awesome Goodness

I was so lucky to be included in the Gluten-Free Foodie Tour this month, coordinated by Ken Scheer of Rock a Healthy Lifestyle fame. This month’s treat was Bombay Spice Grill & Wine in Paradise Valley. And what a treat it was. There were 50 gluten-free patrons and a meal fit for royalty. Four appetizers, all gluten free, dairy free, egg free and soy free. Three of these were vegetarian! Yippee. Imagine how excited Daughter and I were to find that we wouldn’t be passing on all the good stuff.

And for an incredibly busy restaurant, we were so pleased at the amazing service. Food just kept coming, refills on drinks were plenty and even $4 mimosas were served.

First off, a Mango Salad with baby greens, nuts, dried cranberries and a light mango dressing. A perfect way to start the meal. No photo of that, the bowl was on the table and everyone dove in before I could snap a photo. Trust me, if you go there, give it a try. The dressing was sweet and light, and the dried and fresh fruit made it a refreshing way to start any meal.

Lentil Cake Towers

Next up, Lentil Cake Towers. Beautiful little stacked goodies of warm lentil cakes topped with coconut milk yogurt, tamarind reduction (which tasted like a lovely, sweet balsamic reduction), crispy crumbled poppadum (crackers made with garbanzo) and a tomato/onion mixture. My only complaint would be that I’m not a fan of raw onion on many things. Next time, I’ll order them without the onion. But aside from that, Daughter and I ate a few of them. The cakes reminded me of felafel and I was dying for a pita to plop it in.

Chickpea Ceviche, oh yum!

Next, my favorite appetizer was the Chickpea Ceviche. A clever vegetarian twist of beautiful, cold chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, tamarind, coconut milk yogurt and once again those lovely crunchy poppadum crackers crumbled on top. I could have eaten the entire bowl of this sweet, crunchy goodness. The chickpeas were cooked perfectly and the dressing gave it a bit of a kick. I’ll be returning just to make a meal of this fabulous salad, but than again, I’m a fan of chickpeas in most everything. Once again, raw onion will be omitted, but that’s just me.

For meat eaters, there were Tandoori chicken wings that were being snatched up left and right. In fact I heard there were multiple orders. Not for me, but if you’re a meat eater you may want to check them out.

Luke Brady working his “Magic”
Bending forks!

In between the appetizers and the entrees, we were entertained by Luke Brady, a friendly and fun magician in town. He sat with the adults and kids in the room and wowed them with card tricks, bending forks and even crimping a few coins. It’s nice to be entertained and fed well all at once. Thanks Luke!

Back to the food, you say? Each person chose one of four entrees. Vegetable or Chicken Tika Masala (tomato-based sauce) and Vegetable or Chicken Curry. All entrees could be served over white rice, brown rice or quinoa. Nice, huh? I love having a choice.

Vegetable Tika Masala

Daughter chose the Vegetable Tika Masala over Jasmine rice. I loved it. The sauce was a bit sweet, but not too sweet. Light and tomatoey (is that a word?) with just a slight bite to it (we order mild). Lots of veggies that were nice and crisp, not overcooked at all.

Vegetable Curry

I ordered the Vegetable Curry over quinoa. I loved the quinoa, it adds such a wonderful flavor to most meals. I have to admit I was much more in love with Daughter’s dish than mine. The curry was good, but nothing I would drive out of my way for. I think if I were a huge curry fan, that would be different. In any case, a spicier version might have been better for the curry. But I’ll get the Tika Masal with quinoa for sure.

Mango Sorbet

Last, but certainly not least, came a lovely, sweet/tart bowl of mango sorbet with a mango coulis and chopped pistachios on top. I was already full from eating everything else, but I just couldn’t resist trying this fabulous end to an eventful lunch. It was like a frozen, silky bite of fresh mango with a hint of sweet and crunchy goodness. I wanted to eat the entire bowl but I didn’t have the room. I’ll save room next time!

Thanks again to Ken Scheer and his GF Foodie Tour. Check out the hashtag #gffoodietour on Twitter for a recount and check out his Web site if you’re interested in attending the next one. He’s also got a Facebook page here. Follow it and watch for the next one. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Disclaimer: All participants payed for their meal and I was not compensated for this review in any way. And I was glad to pay, it was wonderful!

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Filed under chickpeas, gluten free, lentils, lunch, Middle Eastern, quinoa, restaurants, rice, tandoori, vegetarian

Ahhhhh, Fluffernutter

You know, I try to eat healthy every day. There are tons of recipes on here for kale, veggies, salads, etc. But some days, we just wanna’ be bad, right? And when that feeling hits, go with it. Don’t suppress it, don’t deny it. It will only eat away at you.

And there are times when the kid in me comes out. I bake cookies, eat pizza, eat ice cream, etc. But the true kid in me emerges when I see a container of Fluff at Cost Plus World Market. If you’re from anywhere east of the Mississippi, you know what a Fluffernutter sandwich is. For those of you who don’t know, it consists of loads of peanut butter and marshmallow Fluff on white sandwich bread. Nothing else. Oh yeah.

Ahhh, the makings of a Fluffernutter assembled

Now don’t scoff, I hear you. Some of you eat meat and I don’t compain, do I? Give me a little slack. This is sweet and salty, somewhat like a chocolate-dipped pretzel or even a s’more. The Fluff is sweet and creamy and the peanut butter (which must be chunky) is salty and crunchy. A great combination for a fabulous treat. Eat it quickly, the Fluff has this beautiful way of oozing out of the sandwich slowly, creating a gooey waterfall of marshmallow. It takes me back to my childhood when my mother would give me one of these when I was especially good.

I introduced my girls to this when they were young. Yes, they thought I was crazy at first, until they tried it. Now, it’s a treat about twice a year and oh, do we love it.

Gluten-free, Vegetarian Fluffernutters make me happy!

But I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Udi’s for making my Fluffernutter dreams come true once again. For so many years after my switch to gluten-free living, this was off limits. The gluten-free bread out there simply was no good unless it was toasted (you know what I mean, right? So many GF breads out there must be toasted just to make them tolerable). A Fluffernutter does not work with toasted bread, I repeat, it does not work.

Finally, Udi’s emerged with a gluten-free white sandwich bread that mimics the soft, sweet, and chewy consistency of the kind I remember as a kid. (It even tastes great with just butter, right out of the bag, but Shhhh on that one.) Yes, you can put your Fluffernutter on whole grain bread if you feel the need to put something of nutritional value in there (the peanut butter has protein…) but why bother?

So, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. And if you’re a fellow Easterner, go ahead and indulge. Nobody’s looking and besides, you’re a grown up and that means you can do what you want, when you want, which includes eating a Fluffernutter for dinner!

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Filed under dinner, gluten free, kids, lunch, marshmallow Fluff, peanut butter, sandwich, Udi's, vegetarian

Fresh Orange Cupcakes

I just love this time of year when the citrus trees are full of beautiful, fresh, sweet navel oranges. When we moved here 11 years ago, there were nine orange trees on the property. Now, there are three left that produce lovely fruit every year. Christmas morning, mimosas with fresh OJ are always on the menu.

But, what to do with all those oranges? Yes, I’m generous with them to everyone who visits, but I love cooking and baking, so I’m always looking to use them. Yesterday I had the urge to bake and decided on orange cupcakes with orange glaze on top. The fresh orange juice and grated orange peel makes it taste like a bite right out of an orange. If you don’t have oranges you can get right in your back yard, I supposed you could use frozen or store-bought OJ, but I don’t think it will be the same.

These were so good, I packed them into the basket on my bike this morning and rode over to a friend’s house for tea and cupcakes. What a beautiful way to start the week. Hope your week is grand.

Fresh Orange Cupcakes
1 package Gluten Free Pantry yellow cake mix
2/3 cup fresh OJ
Grated rind from two oranges
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 stick butter, room temperature

Glaze
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbs fresh orange juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix until smooth.
3. Line cupcake pan with cupcake papers.
4. Pour into cupcake pan, filling each about 3/4 full (this made 12 full-size cupcakes and about 9 minis)
5. Bake minis for about 10-12 minutes, full-sized cupcakes take about 5 more minutes.
6. Remove from oven and let cool completely while making the glaze.
7. To make the glaze, just add a little juice at a time to the sugar and mix until you have a thick, smooth consistency.
8. When cupcakes are cool, just drizzle the glaze over the top and add a little of the orange peel for color and a lovely tart bite, then let them set for a few minutes.

I dare you not to eat them in one night. They are so light and refreshing. But save some for tea in the morning, they are perfect.

Enjoy!

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Filed under breakfast, cake, cupcake, dessert, gluten free, orange, vegetarian

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Experiment #4

Pizza Crust No. 4 is a Winner

If you’ve been following the blog, you already know that I’m on a quest to find the easiest, tastiest pizza crust to make at home. Yes, I know I can buy a frozen one quite easily, but aside from the astronomical costs of these things (I took out a home equity loan for a GF pizza party), I think the flavors are just not right. Either they taste like cardboard or they are overly seasoned to cover up the bean-flour taste. There has to be something out there, right?

So, continuing the quest with #4, I decided to find out if a simple, quick crust can be made. This time I had no recipe (yes, I threw away the bag already) and just went with it. I had one cup of Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust mix in a bag from a previous attempt that was just begging to be used. (I know I used this mix in a previous test, but it was mixed with another flour and I wanted to try it on its own.) The rest was improv, and wow, it’s in the top 2. This crust is light and crispy around the edges, slightly chewy toward the middle and has a mild taste. Daughter said it tasted better than numbers 1 and 3 and I have to agree. I think this one is my favorite for two reasons: It is the easiest by far and it has the most basic pizza crust flavor. I can see adding all kinds of toppings and it would work with all of them. You could even bake it with cheese first, then top it off with whatever you like. This made a large 10-inch round pizza with eight nice-sized pieces. It could feed two to three hungry people easily. This makes it the most cost effective also since there are at least three-four cups of mix in each bag.

Quick, Easy Pizza Crust
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust Mix
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 TBS olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt/oregano/basil/pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until blended well. Use a fork, it will get very thick. Knead it a little with your hands to smooth it out a bit.
3. Turn out onto a greased cookie sheet and spread it out with your fingers.
4. Cover the dough with wax paper and roll out to a pizza-crust thickness (about 1/4 inch). Don’t forget to create a bit of a crust edge with your fingers.
5. Bake for 10 minutes.
6. Cover with marinara, cheese, etc. and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.

The big difference in this recipe is that I did not use the yeast packet that came with the mix and instead added the baking powder. I have used yeast in two of the four crusts and aside from the fact that neither one has risen much, I’m not sure it adds much to the mix and I don’t like the flavor. The recipe also calls for water but I had a little bit of milk left and decided to give it a go. That was also a good choice. Daughter asked me to make this one again for dinner so I’m checking this one off as a keeper.

Next time, I’ll do this one with added Parmesan in the crust for flavor and a bit more saltiness.

Enjoy!

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Filed under Bob's Red Mill, cheese, dinner, gluten free, pizza, vegetarian