Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Easy Philly CheeseSteak Stuffed Peppers

I have to start of by saying I LOVE Steak-umms. I'm so glad I found out they are gluten free!! What's great about using Steak-umm's is how easy this meal was to make! It was pretty much a 30 minute meal, from start to finish.

2 Large peppers
1 Cup shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese
3 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion, chopped (Optional)
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 package of Steak’Umms
2Tbs olive oil OR
2 Tbs of unsalted butter
Dash of salt to taste
Dash of black pepper to taste 
Dash of Onion Powder 

 Set the Oven to 425 degrees. 

1 - Heat a frying pan with add the Olive Oil or butter, and minced garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the garlic is aromatic.
2 - Add the Mushrooms and Onions to saute for 10-12 minutes. 
3 - While the mushrooms are saute'ing cut off the top of your peppers and clear out the seed. If you're not as hungry, you could cut the peppers in half and make half portions of peppers.
4 - Once the Mushrooms are nice and soft add the Steak'Umm slices one by one, breaking them up into pieces as they get hot.
5 - Once the mixture is the amount of meat to mushroom consistency you want, turn off the burner.
6 - Sprinkle a layer of cheese in the bottom of the peppers, then layer 2 spoons of the mix on top, alternating between cheese and meat on each layer. 
7 - Finish the top layer with cheese and pop into your baking dish, and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Since the mixture is mostly cooked you'll only have to cook 15 minutes to soften the peppers and help melt the cheese mixture.
8 - Enjoy!

A look on the inside of doing a whole pepper. I feel like I could have added more steak, but this was still Very Filling, and so good. Any pepper will do the trick. The second time I made these I used Enjoya peppers. They are tasty and complimented the filling perfectly.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Le Peep Cafe Mount Prospect

Le Peep Cafe has been in Mount Prospect for a number of years. The last time I ate there was prior to my Celiac Diagnosis. Breakfast is always the hardest meal for me to find when eating out. There is such worry about shared grills, and pancake batter in the eggs, that I ultimately just stick to the places I know or make my own breakfast on the weekends. My dad pointed out Le Peep had a gluten free menu so we thought we'd check it out.

I was pleased to see they had a stand alone menu with a lot of options. They even called out on the menu that they had a dedicated gluten free waffle iron, which was impressive. I will say service is slow. We sat there quite a while before someone came over and asked us if we wanted a drink, and we weren't there during breakfast rush, we were certainly after the main rush.

Looking over the menu I was intrigued by several options. I ended up going with the egg sandwich since they actually had gluten free toast as an option. The sandwich turned out to be pretty tasty. I was pleased. I do want to go back and check out what else they have to offer. I wanted to know what the HomeSpun cakes were, but our waitresses lack of attention I opted not to ask any questions when she came back, and just order so we could get our meal!

I give them 3 Dragonflies based on poor service. Even after our waitress came over to get our drink order it seemed like forever before she came back again. I guess this is a good place when you don't have anything else on your agenda for the day. They did have a broad variety of breakfast options, and really fill a location void from my other normal breakfast restaurants. I am willing to go back, and make sure it's when I have a lot of time to sit and chat and hang out while dinning.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Country House Restaurant

Country House Restaurant - This was an accidental find of a restaurant I’ve “technically” been to. We were driving by their Lisle Location and my mom went “Isn’t that a cute place. Do you think it’s expensive? Do you think they can do gluten free??” So I started to look them up. While at it I remembered that I’d eaten there, well a different location for the same restaurant. Prices were reasonable we went in and asked if they could accommodate gluten free, and the hostess said yes, so we gave it a try. Country House Restaurant has several locations in the South Western burbs of Chicago. I’d eaten at the Clarendon Hills location and really enjoyed the food. 

They had a cute patio out back, but in the direct blinding sun, we opted to eat inside. The waitress wasn’t the quickest, but she was polite and the service was good, when she remembered us. They weren’t super busy so that might have been part of the problem. When I ate at their other location they were super busy. I got a burger with the gluten free bun. The buns were from Sweet Ali’s in Hinsdale, IL, very close to where we were having dinner. 

I will say one thing I never buy at Sweet Ali’s is their buns, because they don’t include how to heat them after they are frozen. I’ve tried Toasting, Baking, Microwaving, even just leaving them on the counter and they always turn out gross! But usually when a restaurant uses them they seem to have the magic touch to make them turn out great. Not so much this time.

The bun for my burger was as hard as a rock. I tried cutting through it, it took some extra effort I was determined to try and eat the bun since it had a $2 up charge! I would have complained but our waitress went on an extended missing journey I gave up, and mulled my way through my now Bun’less burger to finish my meal. The burger itself was good, but nothing to rave about for sure. Sides were limited to Veggies or a side salad.

Their Menu says they’ve had Great burgers for 35 years, I can tell after this meal that it’s not based on their gluten free product! I give them 3 Dragonflies, but nothing more than that. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Cassava Chicago

Cassava Chicago - A Completely GF restaurant that makes Empanadas! :) They also make Smoothies. Their menu has a variety of both savory and sweet Empanadas. Their menu is limited to these items, but they are tasty and worth a trip there. 

We went for a mix of breakfast and lunch style Empanadas, and Breakfast style, since we were there about lunch time. As well as we had to get smoothies. We're kinda nuts for smoothies. The dough was to die for! It's not a traditional Empanada dough like you would find in the grocery store. But it is tasty and a nice texture. It's very similar to a tapioca roll dough. They also sell their Empanadas and rolls frozen to go, which I am so picking up the next time I'm there. 

I generally like places with a lot of variety, but Cassava has 2 items technically and they do them really well. The lack of variety makes them perfect at the the items they do serve. Plus it keeps them from getting any Cross Contamination from making other items. They also sell their products around Chicagoland at Whole Foods and Sunset foods, if you don't want to travel to their store.

I can't wait to go back. I do give them 5 dragonflies for a great product, that you can eat in or carry out to make at home later. I do hope they can start to sell their products in more stores and maybe branch out of the Chicago area so that they can provide their products to more people who miss Empanadas! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Gluten Free Hard Root Beer Options

Hard Soda is the latest Drink Craze. If you don't know what hard soda is, it's an alcoholic beverage, made to mimic drinking different flavored soft drinks. So you would think the easy way to make these is to use the soda as the base, and add booze. The thing is most of these "root beers" are actually just flavored beer. Sadly that means they are NOT gluten free. Brands like Henry's Soda will respond to inquiries on Facebook to tell you NO it's not gluten free. Or Not Your Father's Rootbeer says they brew their Beverages with the best Malt you can find. But Neither say this on the bottle, which can be confusing to the typical gluten free consumer, because food products label if they contain gluten. Alcohol doesn't fall under the same labeling laws and do not have to disclose ingredients on the label. 

The same applies to Their other flavored options, Hard Ginger Ale, Hard Orange Soda, they are all malted beers with other spices and flavoring added. This drink craze is bringing more and more brands to join in to capitalize on the 'non-beer drinking' market who like the fluffier drinks that don't taste like beer. When actually they are drinking beer. The newest one I've seen in stores is Coney Island Hard Root Beer, this too is not Gluten Free.

That being said I've found a few options for Hard Rootbeer and Hard Ginger Ale that are Gluten Free and taste good too. 

Root Sellers has both a Root beer and Hard Ginger Ale/ Ginger Beer option in Gluten Free. The Root beer has a harsh taste at first more like sassafras than root beer, but I've come to like the taste. Their Ginger Beer really reminds me of Ginger Ale and goes down very smoothly. Grabbing a bottle of Tito's Handmade Vodka, this would be a great option for making a Moscow Mule!

Abita brewing just released a Hard Root beer as well that is gluten Free. I like the taste on this one better than the row hard, it really tastes like Root Beer, goes down smooth and easy. I'm going to have to make a Hard Root beer float again!

So what I've figured out is if it is a "hard" soda or root beer, if it is Gluten Free It will say so. If it doesn't say Gluten Free, It probably is not!

Henry's Hard Soda, Orange, or Ginger Ale are NOT Gluten Free.
Coney Island Brewing Hard Root beer is NOT Gluten Free.
Not your Father's Root Beer is NOT Gluten Free Either.

Yes they sound delicious but they are NOT Safe.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Happy Elephant Thai

A few months back we received a flyer at our house for a Thai restaurant in the area, Happy Elephant Thai. At the bottom of the menu it stated "Ask about our gluten free options". We thought about it, but as my norm, I was skeptical. I'm always worried about places that tend to use soy sauce, and if they realize that is a source of gluten. Plus I worry if there is a language barrier in any way.

We were looking at our options for dinner and decided let's try it. Worse case if it didn't feel safe Marino's is next door and we've eaten at the other location tons of times. With our back up plan in place we wandered out. The place is cute, only a handful of seats, and a cute little kitchen. The person seating everyone spoke good English so we decided to ask the Gluten Free questions. 

He explained that there were no appetizers, except lettuce wraps with some variation to the sauce. All the curry dishes were safe, and that the dishes in the center of the menu could be modified to be gluten free. They would remove the soy sauce they use, and substitute it with a vinegar, sugar mixture to make the sauce. I was a bit worried how that would taste. My boyfriend asked how I felt, if I was OK with eating there, or if I wanted to go. I told him I'd try it. I'm not a bit fan of curry, it was never in my diet growing up, so I ventured towards the Pad Thai, a standby favorite of mine. He went with a curry dish, as he loves curry. 

Pad Thai with Shrimp

Curry Dish with Pineapple Chicken and Potatoes
I tried some of his dish, which was rather satisfying and pretty tasty. It wasn't a traditional curry, it did have some coconut milk in it, and was easy on the taste buds. My pad Thai was wonderful. Knowing that they don't do gluten free soy sauce, I know to bring my togo packets of San J Tamari with me, but honestly I couldn't have been happier with my dinner.  

While sitting there the delivery driver came back for his next run, we asked how far they deliver they said 5 miles. Even more exciting we can get them to deliver!! I give them 4 dragonflies. They have a decent selection and can work with you to make gluten free options. They understand gluten free, and the food is tasty. You don't notice you're "missing" anything what-so ever for gluten.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tap House Grill - Plainfield

Tap house has multiple locations around the Chicago suburbs which are all franchised. We were down by Joliet so we tried the Plainfield location. They were packed around 9:30 on a Saturday night. I was shocked how busy they were. They had a few gluten free call outs on the menu, including a gluten free burger bun. 

They have several locations, and with each each location also comes a different menu and different gluten free options. Their selection was different than the selection at Des Plaines, where I'd eaten before. The one thing in common, the gluten free side, was a salad. They did offer Two Brothers Prairie Path which is a gluten removed beer, brewed locally which is very good.

When we went I was not feeling good. A combination of a LONG day out and a cold were making me more than miserable, and very hungry. I spoke to the waitress about gluten free, I wish she'd stop standing across the table for 6 which we were seated at because I couldn't shout over all the music, so she had to keep asking "What? Can you repeat that...." I was worried when my meal showed up because the bun was so "normal" tasting I though they brought out the wrong bun. The manager was able to confirm that I had the gluten free bun. The food was fabulous! I had a chicken salad sandwich, which had a little gluten free marker next to it. 
I give them 3 dragonflies. Mostly for a selection of appetizers and sides. I would have gone with a small appetizer for my meal because I wasn't hungry and was more tired and sick. But no such luck. Also more than a salad would be awesome. But they did have Gluten Free Beer options so that helped me feel better.