Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Peanut Thai Dish

My brother recently was up in Milwaukee and found a gluten free store near his hotel. He went and looked at the selection of products, and found items he'd never seen before, to bring back for me to try. One of them was Chow Mein Noodles, so I had to make Chinese food for dinner! My boyfriend always tells me how he loves peanut sauce, so I thought I'd try and make a dish with rice noodles, some veggies and peanut sauce.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite smooth peanut butter (I used Trader Joe's)
  • 2-3 teaspoons lime, juiced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce, and some extra for cooking the veggies
  • 2 teaspoon honey or agave
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 chicken breasts cooked and chopped up
  • 2 cups of each/any of your favorite Stir-fry veggies.

I took all the ingredients at the top and mixed them all together with my electric mixer. I played with the water amount to determine how thick I wanted the sauce, for thinner sauces add more water and soy sauce. I threw in about half a cup of the chopped peanuts.

I started the chicken cooking, while I sautéed the veggies in a frying pan, with some oil and the gluten free soy sauce. Once the chicken was done, I chopped it into small pieces and added to the veggies.
I put the pasta on to cook while finishing the veggies, and chicken. Once they were done I threw them into a big bowl and mixed the pasta in. I poured about half the sauce in, and mixed everything up. I left the rest of the sauce, the chopped peanuts, and chow mein noodles on the table for everyone to add more as they would like.

The meal turned out amazing! It was so tasty. My boyfriend said it turned out to be more of Thai meal, and that it passed his peanut sauce taste test. Yay! my family said they wouldn't mind if I added this into our meal rotation, and even came up with some more veggies options they'd like to add. I love when meals come together and everyone likes them! While doing all of this, I was also whipping up a batch of King Arthur brownies, which made the kitchen smell amazing, peanut butter, and chocolate, can't go wrong!

I forgot to take a picture the day we made this the first time, so here is a photo when we made lettuce wraps, using the peanut sauce, as well as having it for a side dish with the rice noodles.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Charcoal Grill and Rotisserie

I'll admit I have some unusual summer hobbies for living in Chicagoland. 1st I love NASCAR! We take 2-3 NASCAR related trips in the summer time. My first year going was the year before I got diagnosed. I say we have the oddest/healthiest tailgate of anyone around us. 2nd I love the Renaissance Faire. Just over the Wisconsin border is the Bristol Renaissance Faire. We go multiple times in the summer, and dress up in Renaissance outfits. It's a ton of fun, but most of the food is deep fried. There are some non-fried veggie options that are good, but they really only hold me over until dinner time. So we always end up going out to eat before we head back Chicago way. 

Using the Find Me Gluten Free App we found Charcoal Grill and Rotisserie in Kenosha last year. They seem to be a fancy sports bar, which has NASCAR decor in the hallway to the washroom. They are a local small, South Eastern Wisconsin chain, with their first location in East Racine, 20 years ago.

They have a separate menu for gluten free options. I do like that have written right on the menu that fries and tortillas are gluten free, BUT are fried in shared friers, causing a cross contamination.


I tried their chili for a starter, it's very thick, it comes with cheese, onions, and tortilla's on top. I got it with just cheese, since the tortilla's are fried with other breaded items, and I just don't like onions!
I ordered a the Buffalo Burger, without a bun, and a side of vegetables. They have a Toppings Bar that allows you to help yourself to your desired toppings for your burger. 

 
On a previous trip I had tried their ribs, and found them pretty tasty. The Door County BB Sauce they used was good, and accented the dish well. I don't know what it is, but their veggies are always so tasty.


I will go back here when we are up at the Renaissance Faire in the summer time. It's nothing fancy, but gets a decent meal and polite services, they get 3 dragonflies in my rating scale.



Monday, June 29, 2015

Fiesta Chicken Bake

Here is a quick and easy meal that will easily feed 5-7 people in one sitting.
We like jazzing up recipes to make sure they have more vegetables when possible.

What I like about this meal is once you prep the items, it's really easy to make. Just layer the ingredients and bake! Easy and cheesy!

Ingredients:
  • 1 can of Rotel
  • 1 block of Velvetta cheese (the smaller block is enough)
  • 3-4 chicken breasts chopped up and cooked
  • 12-13 corn tortilla's chopped up in 2 inch squares
  • 1 green pepper diced
  • 1/2 a package of mushrooms diced
  • 1 can of corn
  • 2 cans of gluten free creamy chicken soup
  • cassarole dish 8x12
  • Preheat oven to 350
Once you have cooked the chicken place it aside.

Mix together the veggies, rotel, and chicken soup. set aside. 

You will layer each of the ingredents (except the cheese) starting with the chopped up corn tortilla's to make a single layer of tortilla's. Next you will layer in chicken, and then a layer of the soup mixture.


Then you will repeat these steps to make the next layer, tortilla's, chicken, and soup. You will top all of this with the velvetta. I chopped mine into small cubes to layer over the top.  Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. This will be plenty of time for this to cook. When it's done it will look something like this.


This is one of the few recipes that I don't add any other spices to. The Rotel does enough on it's own!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Going Wilde - Gluten Free

OK - I had to have a little play on words here. Wilde Bar and Restaurant is a sister restaurant to one of my favorite places in the city; Lady Gregory's. Lady Gregory's has an amazing menu for gluten free, and non-gluten free. There are many items on there my parents look forward to when we're in the city. I have to say they satisfy my bad for you food cravings. The menu at Wilde is very similar to Lady Gregory's; and uses the same "Gluten Freedom" of marking Gluten free dishes with a little flag so you have some more assurance that the correct meal is being brought out to you. 



That's huge in my book, it shows they care. they also have several different gluten free beer/cider options, and have a dedicated fryer for the sweet potato fries. (YUM!!). They offer Udi's buns so you can get a burger on a bun, and feel like you're having a normal meal. I like that they have a wide variety of items and I've never had anything that wasn't delicious.



We got an appetizer of the cheddar artichoke dip with toast points. They brought out toasted Udi's bread on the side and it was so good. The menu is similar, and the neighborhood is just as bumping as their sister restaurant. So either is a great choice when on the North Side.  



I give them 5 dragonflies, our server was attentive, she knew right away which GF beers were in stock, what my options where and asked if I had an allergy. I will go back and I recommend anyone else trying it out. I mean They have bacon mac and cheese, how can you go wrong with that!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dia De Los Tamales Pilsen

Dia De Los Tamales is a quirky fun place in the Pilsen Neighborhood of Chicago. This young restaurant who just passed two years in business, has an American twist on Mexican foods. Really the only thing they serve is Tamales, but their not ordinary Tamales. My boyfriend was a fan of them when they were starting out at the Pilsen Farmers Market, so he was so happy they got a store front. What's great is that despite not having a singly note gluten free menu, they know their stuff. Plus on their regular menu there is only 1 tamale that isn't safe, and that's the Apple Cobler.

Randomly they have special other flavors available which are listed on their flat screen menu board when you walk in. I love how different the flavors are, Buffalo Chicken, Italian Beef, Juicy Lucy, Atomic Pork and Chocolate Peanut Butter, so even though you're going for tamales, it's not the same as going for traditional Mexican food. Each tamale has a matching sauce or topper that helps make them even more interesting, and you can get a "nacomale" Which is fresh made chips topped with a tamale cheese and jalapenos! How can you go wrong?! Another interesting side they have for beans; you can get black beans or garbanzo beans. The garbanzo beans are pretty awesome. The one thing I wish they would work on was making their rice tastier. It's rather bland, which is shocking since their tamales have so much flavor in them. I guess next time I can try one of the many Chicago made hot sauces they have on the register and for sale to try and spice things up. 


For those that live in the area, they do deliver, which might be best as they only have 4 seats for dinning in year round. In the summer they do have a couple tables outside, so we generally get our tamales to go.  But they do deliver, which is awesome. The staff rocks and are so out of the box fun it's great to just stop in and say hi when ordering tamales, also when you ask about gluten free they are very upfront and understanding. If they are ever unsure a topping has gluten for one of their tamales (pumpkin spice in the fall) they will add the sauce and leave the rest of the topping off. I give them 5 dragonflies, they make their products fresh, and they are full of flavor. The staff makes the place even more inviting and never lets you down for flavor.




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Kabob's and mushrooms

With the 4th of July coming up quickly! Here's another quick and easy meal, well part of the quick and easy comes from getting skewers pre-made at the grocery store. The mushrooms were made with a couple items I always keep in the fridge, cheese and garlic, as well as a jalapeno I picked up at the store. Prep time, minimal, cooking time, as long as it takes for the meat to be cooked to your liking! 

I did these outside on our little hibachi grill, but I've also done this on our inside stove top grill. To spice the meat up a bit I used SanJ's new Mongolian BBQ sauce.


I always wash off my fruits and veggies and let them dry a bit. Afterwards I laid some foil on the grill, rubbed the bottom of the mushrooms with olive oil and filled them with cheese, garlic and topped with a couple jalapenos. Cook these bad boys until the cheese is mostly melted, 10 minutes roughly.


The skewers I laid foil down so I could use the Mongolian sauce, I sprinkled a touch of salt and pepper before pouring the sauce on top of the meat. I rotated to each side about every 8-9 minutes until the meat was cooked through to the level I liked. Viola Dinner, quick and simple! While this was grilling I boiled some small round potatoes on the stove. They take very little maintenance and after about 30 minutes of simmering they were super soft.



It did help that I was able to get these pre-made up, so there was no prep time on cutting the veggies or the meat, but that's the kind of meal I like! Paired up with a Glutenberg Beer this meal was a total success.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Product Reviews Back at it!

New Products ~~Well it's that time again, new product reviews! I've got a bunch!! 

Tate’s Cookies – I like Tate’s Chocolate Chip cookies, the cookie itself is tasty. But I’m going to say the horribly unpopular statement, I just don’t like chocolate chips. Though neither do my parents, so I guess I do take after them! I was so stoked when I saw that they were going to make their Chipless chocolate chip cookies gluten free. I’d been eyeing those each time I’d see the gluten-full ones in the store, wishing they were gf. Mind you, we have enough cookies in our house to last us months if the zombie apocalypse happened, but I had to get these, and I know they won’t last the week. 

Hungry Jack Funfetti Pancakes, Yes they made a gluten free version of this. You may have to pinch me to make sure this isn't a dream. These are BY FAR the BEST pancakes I've had in years. I love them. they're fluffy, and don't have a gritty texture or a funny paper like after taste. Plus they have sprinkles in them so how can you go wrong. The only thing you need to add is water so you can't go to wrong. Plus the directions on the back are portioned well so that you don't end up with a ton of extra pancakes when making these for just two people.

Schars has some new products including a Hearty Grain bread. There is both a White and Whole Grain version of this bread. The white bread I'll admit was too dense for me. Tried it both with sandwiches for lunch and for making grilled cheese. For breads this was by far my least favorite on grilled cheeses, for sandwiches, wasn't loving it. The Whole Grain version Much better for sandwiches, it has a good flavor and doesn't taste GF at all! These are interesting because they are meant to be frozen not in their sealed packages on dry good GF shelves. What I like is I can take it out of the freezer in the morning before work, make my sandwich and it's properly thawed by noon.


Another interesting product we tried were cupcakes from Antonia's Artisan Bakery. They do sell regular non-gluten free products as well. The novel thing about them, they use mayonnaise as an ingredient. I've seen it before in a local favorite cake in Chicago, Portillo's makes an amazing gluten-ful chocolate cake that the key ingredient is mayonnaise. I've just never seen it used in gluten free baking. These were really good. Super moist and tasty. I was afraid they'd be overly sweet or too dense a taste, but these were good. they also make cakes and loaf breads/cakes, their gluten free items ARE made in a dedicated facility.


Meatballs! Coleman Natural, I got these on a whim we had some GF pasta so I though these were worth a try. The gluten free label is on the back of the package but it is present. I like that I just had to put them in a saute pan with some water and they were ready in a few minutes. The taste, fabulous, a bit of a kick but a lot of flavor. While searching their site I found out they also make gluten free breaded chicken tenders. I'll buy these again for sure quick pasta night these will be a go to. I got them at Fresh Thyme, but Costco also carries them.

Snack Factory pretzel chips, I've tried two versions of these, Caramel and plain. First thoughts on the caramel were Oh My Gosh are these Sweet!! But the sweetness doesn't last long on your tongue it does mellow out and become a sweet and salty blend. They're not too dense, pretty light actually, and they don't hurt your teeth. I like these, with some soft cheese spread they remind me of good pretzels with pub cheese.