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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.



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!

Another Gluten-Free Chex Added to the Family!

RecentlyGeneral Mills introduced another gluten-free Chex – Apple Cinnamon.  I am an avid Chex eater and this news is quite exciting; it’s great to have another option available .  There are 6 gluten-free cereals to choose from, and who says you can only have this at breakfast?  I find a bowl of cereal is a great snack whenever you  need a sweet treat or something quick to eat.  Click here to read more.

Apple Butter Banana Walnut Bread

Apple Butter Banana Walnut Bread

I love bread.  Plain and simple.  Nothing is better than your first bite once the bread is removed from the oven, with the knife releasing the locked-in steam and the warm sweetness passing your lips. 

Gluten-free grains have come a long way, and I have found many homemade gluten-free types of bread that will satisfy any carb craving.  My most recent endeavor has been to find the right mix of ingredients to have a fresh-baked loaf (either for sandwiches or as a dessert type) that isn’t too dense.  This magical blend of flour should include rice, potato and tapioca.  I am still considering making my own ‘white bread’ mix, but to support my simplicity goal I have ventured to pre-made mixes.  I love using Bob’s Red Mill products, but I noticed that their all-purpose flour has garbanzo bean flour which makes the bread too dense.  This recipe will be using Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Flour which encompasses the three main grains of rice, potato, and tapioca.

Apple Butter Banana Walnut Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •  1 1/2 tsp. baking powder (aluminum free)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 slightly beaten eggs
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (~2 small)
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • Walnuts (optional or use any nut you prefer)
  • Raisins (optional or use any dried fruit you prefer)

Step 1:  Spray a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan with cooking spray or use grease and flour.

Step 2:  In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamom, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  Make a well in the center and set aside.

Step 3:  In a medium bowl combine eggs, sugar, banana, apple butter, and oil. 

Step 4:  Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture.  Stire until moistened – the batter will be lumpy.  Spoon mixture into pan.

Step 5:  Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes or until toothpick is clean once inserted.  Cool 10 minutes then remove from pan.

Yes, the bread will rise this much!!

Crock Pot Recipe – Pulled Pork

With the weather getting warmer and no grill, how can you make delicious meals without turning on the oven?  I find the crock pot to be the perfect substitute.  A grilled burger or hot dog will not an option, but you will get slow-cooked meats that fall apart when you come home from work starving.

One dinner that is sure to be a crowd pleaser is pulled pork.  Some like to have it as a sandwich, and others may serve it with a side of mashed potatoes.  Here is my take on this recipe, and don’t worry it doesn’t include creating your own seasoning mix – I thank McCormick for that!  When able I use prepared mixes, and McCormick offers various gluten-free seasonings.  Below you will find the recipe per McCormick’s pulled pork seasoning packet:


Trim the pork and place in the crock pot.  Mix the ingredients in a bowl, and pour over the meat.  I had to cook this on low for 10 hours, so I added another 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup of water to the mix to make sure there was enough liquid for the additional 2 hours.

Now that I copied my meat recipe, I do have some personalized side dishes.  Please note it is difficult for me to give specific measurements.  I like to use what I have on hand, and measuring usually includes ‘some of this…’.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 medium-sized Russet baking potatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Parmesan cheese – enough to taste
  • Salt – enough to taste
  • Pepper – enough to taste

The trick with the garlic is to put the whole clove in the pot and let it cook with the potatoes.  Once the potatoes are soft, drain and add in the butter.  Mash the potatoes, garlic and butter. Then add in the sour cream and milk.  If you would like thinner potatoes add in more milk to your desired taste.  Lastly, mix in the parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

Steamed Broccoli

No meal is complete without this wonderful vegetable.  Steam fresh or frozen broccoli and if you prefer you can toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Jennies Gluten-Free Bakery

You try a new dessert.  To you it’s amazing; it meets the criteria of satisfying your taste buds, and fulfilling the texture and consistency component.  But have you ever wondered what a non-celiac would think?  Sharing meals and desserts with others enhances any food by tenfold, and when you find something you truly enjoy you have to let others partake in that bliss.

I realize I have talked about these delicious macaroons by Jennies Gluten-Free Bakery before, so I would like to present the voices of those who I have shared them with:

  • “The macaroons were delicious. They were moist and sweet, and the chocolate drizzle was perfect. My kids, ages 6 and 9 loved them as well, and they begged me to buy more. I keep kosher, and it can be hard to find kosher desserts that are really good. I recommend them to anyone, whether you are gluten-free or not!”   – Adina
  • “I just wanted to let you know how much I loved these macaroons! Chocolate and coconut are two of my favorite dessert ingredients, and these cookies are so moist and take more than one bite to eat. Their size alone really let’s you enjoy a fabulous cookie. You feel like you are eating something better than everyone else, and you are. I could eat these everyday.”  – Maria
  • “I do not eat gluten-free, but my wife is celiac and I like to eat everything she does. These macaroons will be hidden from her, I can’t resist them.”   –  Ed

If you like coconut you will surely enjoy these.  Just listen to those you have tried them!

Weddings, a Time to Celebrate and Eat

Spring means showers and flowers, and it is also the unofficial start of wedding season. This past weekend I attended a fabulous wedding.  The rain stopped, the skies opened, and the sun shined down on a beautiful couple with hundreds of family and friends.  Whether you are in a wedding or simply attending, you have to plan your meal accordingly. Most guests can mindlessly sample the hors d’oeuvres while sipping the “Bride and Groom Martini” drink special of the night, but this behavior is not for everyone. So what is the best approach to this highly-celebratory social event?  Though the answer is up to each individual I will offer a few suggestions.

The cocktail hour starts the night. Endless trays are butlered around by the staff, and while most will happily nosh their way through each tray, you wonder what is in the dish, how it was prepared, and ultimately if it is ‘safe’ to eat. Then there is the sit-down portion of the evening. You are here to have an enjoyable time with friends and family, and that includes taking the guesswork out of dinner. A few strategies include:

–  Call the restaurant/venue prior to going

–  Talk to your waiter before they begin serving the main meal

–  Bring food with you

–  Have a snack/meal before you go

Today many places are aware of food allergies and the gluten-free diet. Wedding venues in particular strive to satisfy the wedding party, and offer vegetarian and gluten-free options. If you know the bride/ groom you can have a request put in, but it is just as effective if you notify the place directly prior to going. You can also inquire about the cocktail party dishes. Once there during the cocktail hour, if you aren’t sure, stick with the basics: vegetables, cheeses, and fruits. During the sit-down portion you can pull your waiter aside and explain your platter will be gluten-free.  In my experience they will be more than willing to work with you to keep your food free of sauces and seasonings, and will also notify the chef.

Though it has become easier to talk to waiters and managers about the gluten-free diet, as a precaution it is always advised to have food with you. This goes for your daily routine as you never know where the day can take you. Keep it simple, such as a bar (cereal or fruit/nut) that can fit nicely in your purse. If you prefer pack additional food, such as a premade peanut butter sandwich, and keep it in the car. This way in case you don’t feel comfortable eating there you have a back-up plan.

Lastly, have a snack or meal before you go. A wedding can last for the better part of the day, and you will need the energy especially when the dancing begins! If you eat before you go, you can spend your time socializing and sipping a drink instead of eyeing the platters with questions running through your mind during the cocktail hour. I would, however, still contact the venue to confirm your formal dinner platter to ensure you have a solid meal. These events are to be enjoyed by all. This includes you. Plan ahead and when the time comes, celebrate!

Bridget’s – Ambler, PA

After a long work week where do you typically find yourself?  Happy Hour of course!  This includes starting the night off with a refreshing drink to wash away the stress from work, and to enjoy the company of friends you haven’t seen in a while.   On this particular night I found myself with a dear friend at a local restaurant in Ambler, PA – Bridget’s Steak House.  What started out as drinks evolved into a welcomed dinner and more drinks (just look at their wine list, you would have done the same too).

Eating out should be a pleasant time, but for celiacs and celiacs alike, it usually poses some concern when ordering.  You always wonder if the staff understands what gluten free means, and not just the specific ingredients but the way it is prepared too.  Cross contamination is as much of a problem as the ingredients are, and it is difficult to convey this to busy waiters and staff.  This was not the case at Bridget’s Steak House.  Upon first learning that I required a special meal the manager was most helpful in discussing with the chef my diet restriction, and then he also directed one of the waitresses who understood the diet to speak with me.  They were more than willing to customize any dish I wanted.  

Quite confident in the service, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to eat a hot meal.  I chose their chicken dish that included goat cheese, prosciutto, asparagus and a substitution of the risotto for their mashed potatoes.  This sounds quite simple but don’t be fooled.  The dish had an artistic look, which captured my attention, as it was layered so that each bit embraced all the flavors and textures of each component.  The chicken was cooked and seasoned perfectly and was smoothered with a warm goat cheese, and topped off with the proscuitto.  This made for a salty and creamy combination of the cheese and ham, with the chicken being cooked so that the juices made your mouth water.  The mashed potatoes offered a smooth and creamy texture with a parmesan cheese mixed throughout, while the aspargus provided the crunch aspect of the meal.  To say I enjoyed the dish would be an understatement.   

Experiences such as this reminds me that there are times when I can order a full meal and not let worry prevent me from savoring it.  For all of you that are skeptical of ordering even a salad I hope the exceptional service provided by Bridget’s Steak House altered your perspective in working with the staff.  It is not easy to discuss your  diet contraints, but there are places that want to serve you and allow you to enjoy the finer foods.  Always use your discretion, but if you feel comfortable enough order something decadent as I did please, please, please seize the chance!!