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Author Archives: myglutenfreelifestyle

Amazing Experience At California Pizza Kitchen

Each day has turned into a minor quest to find a home.  Searching online, touring on the weekends and weeknights, and attending open houses has enabled us to learn what each area we explore has to offer.  It’s fun and exciting, and nerve-wrecking at times. We’ve been quite fortunate, too, as our realtor has been incredible.  She’s listened to what we’re looking for and has been able to give us invaluable insight with each neighborhood and the market fluctuations.

Yesterday, we continued our search and though we haven’t found a place just yet, our realtor hit a home run with our lunch spot.  Did I mention that she’s great with people and understands their needs?  Knowing my gluten allergy she took us to a restaurant that would be accommodating and delicious.  California Pizza Kitchen recently updated their menu, and they highlighted the specific dishes that are gluten-free (just look for the “GF” symbol). Our waitress, Lauren, was extremely pleasant while going through the new menu, and when questioned about ingredients in specific dishes she knew why a dish was unsafe and the times she didn’t know she discussed it with the chef.  I was so appreciative of the extra effort she put in to ensure my meal was safe, and she never rushed through even though it was lunch hour and every table was filled with a line out the door.  Currently, the main dishes that are gluten-free are their salads, and I’m not talking about your typical Greek or Garden, I’m talking off-the-wall types like their Moroccan-Spiced Chicken salad.  You get a salad that is such a unique blend of fresh ingredients.  I’ve never been a huge fan of mixing fruits and veggies, but the cranberries and dates were a great compliment to the beets and butternut squash, and the roasted almonds added a great crunch.  Even the champagne vinaigrette dressing was a sweet and savory blend. The spice part of the meal came through with the chicken.  Simple yet packs a flavorful punch.

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They also give two options, a half or full size.  Of course I opted for the full size. I certainly plan on going back, and right now they’re offering a special ‘Thank You’ promotion where they give you an envelope and the next time you visit your waiter opens it to see what your gift is.  I would go back even without the promotion, but it is a nice little bonus!

NOT GF – But Wow!

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a happy hour with my colleagues.  We had reached a big team goal and met up at Havana Bar and Restaurant in New Hope to celebrate.  Normally I would tell you about the gluten-free finds at some restaurant, but this is not a typical post. My experience was one where I had a great time mingling with my teammates and in the process I was just amazed at the size of these gigantic onion rings that were covered in bread crumbs, and deep-fried in gluten laden oil.  Not gluten-free but I just had to share a picture of these simply for their size and the huge bowl of cheese for dipping.

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Too Tired to Cook

Ever find yourself driving home after a long week, no idea what to make for dinner, and all you want to do is just sit on the sofa, snap your fingers and “POOF!” dinner is in front of you?  Coming back after a long Saturday at work that is exactly what I wanted – the night off (and that included cooking).

With limited dinner options at home I went to Wegmans and found myself wandering the gluten-free isle.  I was tired and hungry, and had no idea what I felt like eating. Make something from scratch? Semi-homemade? Prepared? Moseying through the products I found myself staring at the pizza crusts and realized pizza was quick and easy. Then I started looking at the personal pan gluten-free pizzas and decided I should try one.  I couldn’t remember the last time I made a pizza, and I certainly have never paid the money for a small prepared one as they can be costly.  As a treat to myself the prepared pizza was the winner, and I picked a good one too.

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Conte’s Margherita Pizza with Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil was absolutely delicious.  Compared to other brands I’ve tried, this one was pretty good.  While it’s tough to replace your local pizza shop pie, Conte’s does satisfy the pizza craving.  The best part about the pizza was the packaging – you could buy it right off the shelf and put it in the oven! When I buy this again I would probably let it cook a little longer or for the last few minutes I would remove it from the tray just so I could have the crust crisp up a little more.

Valentine’s Day – Love or Hate it?

I’m not a mushy, lovey-dovey type person, so to see all the hearts, candy, flowers, cards and jewelry for this particular day can turn me off a bit.  It feels like once again the meaning is lost in this commercialized holiday.

However, given my pessimistic view that I’ve expressed thus far, the meaning I attribute to Valentines Day is something I should carry forward everyday.  There are far too many important people in my life to list, and all too often I get caught up in work, daily life chores etc., and I know I don’t express my gratitude to those that deserve it.  I don’t care if you have 1 person or 10, or even a pet, make time at least for today to spend it with that person.  No need to spend tons of money on fancy things, putting in the time effort and being sincere in your gesture has a greater impact.

So tonight, I’m lucky enough to be spending time with someone who is important in my life, and of course I’m cooking a simple but delicious gluten-free meal.  I’ll be posting it later on, but just note dessert is included 🙂

Monday, Blah

“The most intense conflicts, if overcome, leave behind a sense of security & calm that is not easily disturbed.”

-Carl Jung (1875-1961), Swiss psychotherapist and psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology. I Read this today and thought I’d share.  Doesn’t matter if you’re newly diagnosed, in maintenance mode or just trying to stick to that New Year’s resolution, some tasks can be hard.  If it matters, don’t give up!

Bitter Cold in PA!

It’s beyond cold outside and all I can think about is being warm.  My mindset is to make and eat anything that is hot.  In the mornings I’m making Bob’s Mighty tasty Gluten-Free Hot Cereal (and it gives a nice fiber punch!) with tea, and you bet I’m eating soup or stews for lunch and dinner.  Last night after a great run I made a hearty split pea soup, which warmed me up nicely after my body started to cool down from the run.

Split Pea Soup - Dinner!

Split Pea Soup – Dinner!

I decided to make this since I had leftover ham steaks that were on sale.  This dish won’t be ready in an instant as the split peas require some cooking time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb green split peas (rinsed)
  • 2 T oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 onions diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 3 large carrots diced
  • 2 ham steaks (or a ham bone if you have one)
  • 8 cups water (you may need more depending on the amount of veggies you include)
  • 1 Herb-ox gluten free chicken bouillon cube (optional)
  • Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In large pot heat oil and saute garlic and onions until translucent
  2. Add in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil
  3. Once boiling reduce heat, cover and simmer stirring occasionally
  4. Cook for about 2 hours

 

Wawa to the Rescue

It’s 8am, and as we head out for the day’s adventure I find out we are picking up sandwiches instead of stopping somewhere later in the day.  Of course I have my snacks on me (I’ve been known to carry a grocery bag in my car or snacks in my purse at all times), but a bag of nuts and dried fruit only hold you over for so long.  Now what?  Queue Wawa.

Wawa is the perfect spot to stop in the morning hours to help you prep your day.  Coffee, breakfast sandwiches, and of course the ever reliable hoagie. Until recently I didn’t think a Wawa hoagie could be an option, but it is!!  In the last two months on 3 separate occasions I have been pleasantly surprised by the staff, and their willingness to accommodate the gluten-free diet*.  They still require you to enter your order in the kiosk, and then you give them the number so they can take precaution against cross-contamination. They change their gloves, use a clean work area, and put the contents of the hoagie order in a nice resealable container minus the roll.  They even package the mayo or mustard in a convenient little container too.  All you need to do is provide the roll.

Maybe they will even have a gluten-free roll as an option one day soon??

Thanks Wawa for allowing me to have the closest thing to a hoagie 🙂

*Always make sure you explain your needs to that you have a safe meal.

Pasta Fagioli

I’ve been known to catch a cold or two during the winter months, and I find myself relying on soup most days.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong advocate for chicken noodle soup, but I thought I’d share my take on pasta fagioli. I also made a big batch as it was meant to be shared and still have leftovers!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 T dried parsley
  • 1 T dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T crushed red pepper
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 2  14.5 oz cans of gluten-free chicken broth
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 16 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 15 oz cans of cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 lb of gluten-free pasta
  • 2 stalks green scallions

Directions:

  1. In a big saucepan heat up olive oil and saute garlic
  2. Add in onion, celery, parsley, oregano, bay leaves, crushed red pepper and black pepper
  3. Cook for about 5-10 minutes or until onion is  cooked
  4. Add in chicken broth, tomatoes and tomato sauce and let simmer for 20 -30 minutes.
  5. While soup is cooking, boil water for pasta and cook according to directions*
  6. Add beans to soup, let cook 5 more minutes
  7. Add pasta to soup and serve
  8. Garnish with green scallions – optional

*To prevent pasta from being overcooked, I cooked the gluten-free pasta separately.  Next time I will try cooking with the soup to see how it turns out.

Break Your New Year’s Resolution

That’s right I said it – break the resolution!  Being on a gluten-free diet is enough of a resolution if you ask me, and that is why I’m posting this anti-resolution recipe.  It’s easy and delicious so go ahead and make one last treat for yourself.  Trust me these caramel peanut balls dipped in chocolate are enough of a reason to.

Caramel Peanut Balls dipped in Chocolate

Caramel Peanut Balls dipped in Chocolate

Per Eagle Brand the recipe is simple with only 4 ingredients:

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Combine peanuts, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla in a heavy saucepan
  2. Cook and stir over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until mixture forms ball around spoon and pulls away for side of pan.
  3. Cool 10 minutes then shape into 1-in balls
  4. Melt chocolate morsels in a small heavy saucepan over low heat.
  5. With a wooden toothpick, dip each ball into melted chocolate, covering half of ball.
  6. Place on wax paper and let cool until firm

Happy New Year!

Gluten-Free Pizzelles

During this festive time of the year you tend to seek nostalgic foods.  For me that would include biscotti and pizzelles or pretty much anything that has anise in it.  To my delight my mom has perfected the gluten-free biscotti, which I was able to enjoy over Christmas dinner (if I can get the recipe I’ll share!).  I haven’t had a biscotti in a long time, and the first recognizable feature was a delectable CRUNCH followed by the anise flavor, and an overall delightful cookie experience.  Going gluten-free has meant certain foods can lack flavor or texture, and it has taken time to incorporate certain dishes into the gluten-free lifestyle.  With homemade meals, you can tweak your recipe here and there to recreate the meal you want.  That isn’t always the case with store-bought meals.

As always, when shopping I try to venture out and try a new brand or product.  I didn’t have much time to bake this season, and since I”m on my anise kick these days I opted to try Bella Lucia Italian Pizzelles. Store bought gluten-free pizzelles seemed risky, but I was willing to give them a try.  Thankfully I did!  They aren’t the exact replica from the days when my grandfather and I used his cast-iron skillet that cooked one pizzelle at a time, but they are delicious.  They have a hearty bite to them, and wonderful flavoring.  Best of all they didn’t crumble.  If you are short on time or want to try a new product I would recommend these.  They can be a little pricey, at $5.99 for 10 pizzelles (per Wegmans), but they’re worth it for a special occasion or a treat.