Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Beef - Cheese & Potato Casserole

I was in the mood for something different the other day.. wasn't sure what exactly but I wanted comfort food. this reminded me of a knock off Hamburger Helper dish that my mom would make regularly back in my Not Gluten Free Days. It was pretty easy, the time consuming part was slicing the potatoes, cause I don't have a mandolin. But I do have one on my wedding registry now! 

1.5 lbs Lean Ground Beef
6-8 Slices of Bacon
1/2 Cup Chopped Onion
1 tsp Minced Garlic
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
4 Large Baking Potatoes Sliced Very Thin
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup (I used Progresso)
1/2 Cup Beef stock
2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese


Set the oven to 350 degrees and grease your 13x13 baking dish.
Brown the ground beef and cook with the onions, garlic and pepper.
Mix in the 1/2 cup of beef stock and set the mixture aside.
You can use the same pan from the beef to fry up the bacon until crispy. 
Once fried, crumble the bacon in to small pieces and set aside. 
Slice the potatoes super thin. (If you have a mandolin that will be the best option, if not slice thin and watch your fingers!!).
Layer half the potatoes at the bottom of the dish covering the entire bottom. 
Pour half the soup (not cooked) over the top of the potatoes.
Next layer half the beef mixture over the potatoes, and top with 3/4ths cup of cheese.
Repeat this process with another layer of potatoes, soup, beef this time include the crumbled bacon and 1 cup of cheese.

Cover the top of your baking dish with tin foil and place in the oven for 80 minutes.  
After the 80 minutes pull the dish out of the oven and sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese. 

I sliced and served similar to lasagna and served with a side of veggies.
This was a good dish for 2 meals for us, and one I'll do again for a nice different comfort food meal!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Moretti's Gluten Free If You Must

I've been a long time fan of Moretti's. We've frequented the location in Edison Park, many time. I love their outside patio, it's a nice place to have a drink and hang out on a nice evening. I was excited when a location moved into the old Famous Freddy's location in Mount Prospect. Over all they have a small but decent menu for gluten free options. They are certified by an local doctor to be safe, but with the usual warning that it's made in a shared kitchen. 

I have to say it must be the location, service and food were both majorly lacking. We arrived at 6:00 on a Friday looking for a table for 5. You'd have thought we asked for a table of 10. They kept debating how to find a spot for us and put us in a corner in the back of the restaurant. Walking past an almost empty dinning room! We let that go, the others at our table placed an order for appetizers and our food. Appetizers came, and about 15 minutes later the waitress asked if we were ready to order.... Yup we did, 15 minutes ago. So we kept waiting and waiting. Our food came out you could tell it had been sitting under the warmer cause it was dry and burnt. It was rather underwhelming overall. The smaller menu combined with the poor service it brought the night down. Luckily we were dinning with amazing friends so the whole night wasn't a bust. But I'd go to another location, and not this one! I've had the pizza at the Mount Prospect location and the pasta at Edison Park and they were good. My Shrimp Pasta here, was very underwhelming.

There is a great place down the road, Village Vintner, again small menu but great tasting food, and they make their own wine! I'd rather go there next time! 

I give them 3 dragonflies, poor service, limited menu and not great food, plus the gluten free portion was not that large to compared to the regular options. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Burning Brothers

Burning Brothers Brewery is a gluten free craft brew lover paradise! This was the first stop we made in Minnesota. I was hoping our trip would time out correctly that we'd make it here the first night. That first night of our trip was also my mom's 75th birthday, so treating her to a few brews on her birthday I knew she'd be happy.Their beer had some hints of gluten free notes to them. Sorghum for me has a very distinguishable taste, but it's one I'm getting use to. I could not believe how many beers there were to choose from!

 The menu of what beers were available that night. 

St. Paul Heaven for sure. So we got a couple paddles of beer to try and got some popcorn out of the popcorn machine. We were a little overwhelmed with the options, and how many people where there! We had to sit in the overflow room cause the main taproom was filled. When we got there it was later an the food truck was leaving, so I recommend getting there earlier and you can have a brew with your food! We got a couple growlers of the ones we liked best. The Fused and the Raspberry. We were able to find the Pyro at a local liquor/wine store by the hotel we were staying at. I'm hoping soon, they're going to find their way to Illinois for distribution cause I'll be here ready and waiting! 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sprecher Restaurant Gluten Free Wisconsin

Sprecher's Restaurant and Pub Wisconsin Dells. I've seen their location in Milwaukee every time we drive that way, but we've never stopped, but a local gluten free friend said this was a place we had to try. So we did. We liked it so much we stopped here twice while traveling to and from Minnesota. You'll notice one thing in common with both meals. I had to have the Hash browns! 

I've had their root beer, and was hoping they'd have their gluten free beers available here, they did not, but that was fine, I took over driving the rest of the way shortly after stopping here. Since it was the off season when we stopped here it was dead. That was awesome cause the waiter was able to give us his full attention. I'm sure during peak season this place is packed! Off season it was also one of the few places even open! 

You'll notice one thing in common with both meals. I had to have the Hash browns! There were a decent amount of options to choose from, some came with alterations from the original menu so it was important to pay attention to those too. Each time the staff was friendly and helpful. Food over all was good, and my non-GF family members highly recommend going and checking it out, even if you can have gluten.

We debated our options coming back and figured this was a safe bet, since we liked the food and service was good we went back. Their bottled pops come in a variety of fun flavors and were all gluten free also. The menu points out the risks very easily and the options are plentiful, so they get 5 Dragonflies in my book! I would try another location of theirs when up in Wisconsin. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Rafters Restaurant, Gluten Free in Lena

We decided to go for a random drive out to Dubuque, IA for the day. Funny part, we never made it over the Mississippi, we found more stuff to do in Western Illinois than we expected. Our first stop was in Lena. Garmina, our Garmen loves taking us on the most interesting adventures. We've driven this way several times, and never passed this place before. It looked like a cute barn, next to a brewery we'd never heard of. My fiance asked if this place happen to be on Find Me Gluten Free. I was able to get enough of a signal to find out that YES they were. We found a place to turn around and went back.

What a great little place, The Rafters. The beer in the brewery was not gluten free, but they had several gluten free cider options and quite the gluten free menu! They did caveat that some sides weren't available until dinner, and we were there about noon. But were able to make an exception to have veggies ready for my lunch. I went with the "Spin-art Chicken, which essentially was a grilled chicken with spinach artichoke dip on top. It was very tasty and really enjoyable. My meal came with a side salad, the menu offered a wedge salad with homemade blue cheese. So of course I asked for blue cheese with my salad. Very nice touch, not too potent but tasty. My fiance went with a bourbon bacon burger, and was very pleased. He got a lot of food and was pleasantly full when we left.

We were going to stop and eat in Galena, but this was better over all, none of the places in Galena are amazing, this was pretty close to it. One review on Find Me Gluten Free stated, this the best place you're going to find in this area. I agree. Great food, our waitress was super chatty and told us about how they moved the barn we were eating to it's current location 15 or so years back from up the hill, using logs to roll it down. She took a lot of pride in all the things to do in the area, and kept telling us more reasons to come visit more often. I would totally come back here when we're heading west this away again. Next time we might find less interesting things and actually make our way to Dubuque! 4 dragonflies here, for great service, food, options and a nice stop in the middle of no where!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Papa John's Joins the Jerk Trend

Papa John's can you hear me rolling my eyes?? Please explain to me why you feel the need to join Domino’s and Pizza Hut and appease the millennial generation? I have a better idea, offer a pizza that may appease the millennial generation but is safe for those who have to avoid gluten, you know what, it will bring you more money in the long run, cause we like to eat carry out pizza too! We love an option to pick up a pizza on the way home from running errands or a busy day. We love the option of safe food for our families so we don't have to miss out. God forbid we have a child who is also Celiac, I guarantee you they don't want to sit here with us eating salad while everyone else eats pizza, or else we'd have just ordered a bunch of salads for dinner to begin with!! Plus some of those millennial's are the ones rolling their eyes cause they too have Celiac Disease and can't eat your trendy pizza.  
Blurb from today's news from The Street.

I would say hey having more options can't hurt, I mean those trendy want to eat gluten free for the heck of it people have brought more products to market. But more and more it comes to light, those products are not safe for those of us with Celiac. That's what boggles my mind. So you found a way to make a more expensive pizza from ingredients not including wheat, rye and barley, but you let them become completely contaminated. Why Bother!!! 

Is my money not good enough from you? Is my business as a loyal customer unworthy? I mean I kind of want to know what is wrong with me? But yet to seek the attention and money of the millennial using mom and dad's credit card to buy pizza? At what point do we point out I'm one of those Millennial age customers who will not be buying your pizza.

It makes me even more annoyed cause it blurs the line to the people around us. Yes it's gluten free, but I STILL CANNOT EAT IT. So while you advertise that it's gluten free, its hard for other people to understand it's not safe, so while they thing they're doing good, ordering someone like me a pizza, it's going to go untouched, cause I can't risk being sick for days because the "gluten free" pizza is only partially gluten free. What I don't get is you join the ranks of the fad places, while other places like California Pizza Kitchen rocks at making sure you're meal is safe, and they score 5 stars in my book every time we eat there. Every time, that means more than once, that's when we want pizza, it's a safe option, that's money YOU could be pocketing if you made a safe option. But seeking approval of a group that eat kind of gluten free is more your thing. So don't acknowledge the 1% of the population you could gain as regular customer on top of those millennial if you just took the time to make this a safe option for them. But maybe you're "rolling in the dough" and don't need more business, if that's the case, kuddo's, just don't call this new crust gluten free. Go for something more accurate like "Begging for Attention Millennial crust"

Monday, July 24, 2017

Jimmy's Charhouse Elk Grove Village, Gluten Free

Jimmy’s Charhouse has 3 locations around Chicagoland, in the suburbs. We happen to live near one of their locations in Elk Grove Village. I had reached out to them via email, on their website to ask if they did gluten free. But got no response. I was pretty annoyed. Why have a contact us button on your site if you don’t respond to people who contact you???? But that aside, a friend was there and said he saw gluten free options on the menu. So we thought we’d give it a go. I mean when the weather is nice I could walk here! 

From my understanding they have new owners who recently took over. The inside is very nicely decorated, very fancy. The crowd was an older crowd. I did feel a bit young on a Sunday Evening there. 

They had a nice little gluten free listing, which had appetizers that could be modified to be gluten free, and menu listing for a variety of items including steak, chicken, and ribs. I went with a steak which the server right away said “oh gluten free, you’ll need the baked potato” Side dish listings were not on the gluten free menu. But our server was educated.

My dad said he wanted the ribs but didn’t want the mess. The server offered to cut them, by bone, so they were easier to eat! He said they were wonderful tasting. My steak was good, the only issue was my potato was a bit under-cooked, but the steak was good.

I wanted to give them 4 dragonflies, they have a nice bar area to hang out at. They had a handful of appetizer items and a variety of dishes to choose from. The staff is friendly and courteous so it was a very pleasant meal. Also if you’re there for a birthday the dessert is Ice cream!

One thing that was a turn off upon going there for lunch, which is when they're busiest, how slow the service was.  My burger arrived with french fries on the plate, Upon telling the manager that it was ordered gluten free, he apologized and brought out a new burger with a potato on the side, not french fries. That made me realize they're better for dinner cause it's less busy, but mistakes happen and I ended up taking my meal to go, because it took so long to come out a 2nd time. So overall it's 3 dragonflies for them.