Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Nando Peri Peri

Maybe it's the area around Chicagoland, that we have a lot of Mediterranean restaurants to choose from, and many can accommodate gluten free, some even with gluten free pitas! The new trend we're seeing is Peri Peri restaurants. Notable similarity, they're accommodating to gluten free! My husband first tried Nando Peri Peri with his coworkers. He came home raving about it and told me he was trying to navigate the menu for gluten, and it looked really safe. A couple of his coworkers agreed with him on that. (So they talked about gluten free dinning and I wasn't even there!).

We went and checked it out, they give you a copy of the nutrition guide to determine allergen options. Most of their items that contain gluten are obvious, breads, pitas, wraps & baked goods. The confusing one is there are several salads marked as Containing Gluten. Though with the help of the nutrition guide, you can put together a pretty tasty meal. The staff at the register is pretty good with knowing ingredients and can help you order. I've gotten the wings plain (Sauces are bottled at a condiment bar), and add the garlic or herb sauces. One thing to keep in mind, they're spicy! So a side of mashed potatoes is awesome to try and cool down my mouth that feels like it's on fire after each bite. 

All of their basting sauces and condiment sauces are gluten free. Though I still opt to do mine plain cause I don't know how well I'll like the basting flavors since several are "citrus" flavored and the others hot. The sauces come in bottles with pour spouts making them harder to contaminate luckily. On our last visit I inquired on the French Fries, I was ensured that they are fried in a dedicated fryer, and can be ordered with or without the seasoning. I went without the seasoning cause I wasn't sure what the spice level would be with the seasoning! 
Wings and French Fries!

I give them 5 dragonflies on my listing. Their food is tasty and a great spice to it, I love that the sauces come on the side and you can customize your flavor as you'd like. I love that French Fries are on the safe list, so that always bumps up my rating.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Dempsey's Arkansas Dedicated GF!

Can I say this is amazing - Traveled to Arkansas for the first time to visit my best-friend. Little Rock, though a "larger" town for Arkansas, is still small in my world, living outside Chicago my whole life. So I wasn't sure how gluten free friendly it would be. I started looking things up, and found out they have a gluten free bakery! Dempsey's, It's the cutest little place too. The front reminded me of a re-purposed auto shop turned bakery. They had some fancy pretty cakes on display, some samples of products and your run of the mill cookies, cupcakes.

I tried some of their Cheese Bites, I was sold! They were so good. They had both individual packs of them for instant eating pleasure, and a mix. I got the bites themselves. I told my friend, she might need to ship me more of these when I need a fix. It's a cute, retro looking "diner" that has gluten free goodies! If you're in the Little Rock area, you've got to check them out. They won't disappoint. 

Recently I met my best friend in New Orleans for a trip, I texted her the week before, that she better be going to Dempsey's and getting me some Cheese bites. She even got me a bag of mix, so I can try my hand at satisfying my cravings for these any time I want. I might add a bit less cayanne pepper than they have in it, but they're soooo good! 

They definitely get 5 dragonflies, cause they were a nice random find and dedicated gluten free! Some slightly longer hours would be nice, cause traveling it can be hard to fit in everything, but we made it work! 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Restaurants are only as good as their service

I don’t know what it is, but I feel like “Service” is really fleeting as of late. I remember going to a restaurant and having GOOD service, you would actually talk about how good the service was. Now I feel you’re lucky if your server cares you’re there, let alone getting your order right! We have a couple places we go “regularly” because they do offer a good selection of Gluten Free options and they’re pretty good at making sure things are correct. The one we laugh that if we get a server more than twice they might actually stick around for more than a month. The other we laughed that we’ve never had a repeat server, but based on the last few visits there, it’s not shocking anymore!

My husband was telling his friend about our dinner out with his family from the other day. When I started laughing I had to explain that his breakdown of the issues was everything I outlined to write in this post as my red flags to know this meal was going to go downhill fast.
1st The server was so overly social and wanted to chat it up with us on everything but our meal. I wanted to tell him to stop hitting on my sister-in-law, that she is married but her husband was busy, that’s why he’s not there, stop chatting her up, and worry about our order. (The last time a server gluten'd me she was obsessed with my nail art and kept talking about my makeup. - Again totally distracted)
2nd The server stood at the far end of a longer table, by the kids (Ages 4 & 7) to take our orders. All the adults who were ordering food were at the other end, at least walk half way around the table to talk to us! So we had to shout our orders over our table; annoying and rude. 
3rd My husband didn’t order his food gluten free. Sounds dumb, but we get 75% better results if we order 2 gluten free meals, versus just one. Though it makes him that person I hate, He’ll order a regular beer, or eat the table bread, but order his meal gluten free. But he’ll tell the server “I’m ordering gluten free so she can try my meal too”. That they seem to understand, but honestly my food comes out correctly more often then.
4th He kept repeating the order back to us, cause it was confusing. When really he was too busy enamoring the fact that a 4 & 7 year old like shrimp. On the 4th repetition of us telling him our order, he said he had it. He didn’t.
5th He got our drink order wrong, cause he couldn’t hear what I ordered from the other end of the table. You’d have thought that would have prompted him to come closer when asking for the food order. A minor detail, but it should have been our tell on how the rest of the meal would go downhill.

We don’t know if he didn’t put my food order in, or if he didn’t tell them gluten free, but everyone got their food, but me. Then he stared at me stupidly. When he finally had my food, when everyone else was pretty much done he started to ramble how “They first made it without gluten, then had to make it with gluten, and that they didn’t do it right, so they redid it.Great you’re clueless!!

Our reservation was for 6:45, it was already 8:00 at this point, it had taken an hour to get food, the kids were getting cranky and we still had to run errands, so I ended up taking my food to go, and eating it the next day. He came over and offered to comp the meal, which was appreciated but not necessary, but the manger did not come over, no one else came to give us a legit explanation, just his rambling of not knowing why we were angry.

You may notice, I haven’t mentioned the name of the restaurant we dined at. Well that’s on purpose, cause the place we dined at is well known for their attentive, amazing gluten free options and support of the community. Again, only as good as the staff and the training they receive. We try to leave our small comfort zone and try new places, but then we deal with this, and this is from a place that touts how great they are for gluten free dining. So if a place that says they’re a great place to eat if you have food allergies, cannot train their staff how to handle allergies, how are we to trust any other place?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Toasted Meatball Sandwiches

Toasted Meatball Sandwiches - In the air fryer.

Tomato Sauce
Italian Cheese Blend

Every now and then I get a hankering for things I honestly really never ate before. But I think it’s cause I can’t eat it, that I want it. So scrolling thru Pinterest I saw a recipe for Toasted Meatball Sub Sandwiches, and they sounded tasty. I got meatballs, Udi’s Buns (Most common in our area), Sauce and Cheese. I decided to try the meatballs in my Air Fryer, to see if it helped reduce the greasiness of the meatballs. (It did!)

I got the Carando Meatballs, they’re in the butcher section of the grocery store. They’re fresh, not frozen so it helps expedite making dinner too. I’ve heard some people say they have issue with them, but I’ve not experienced any issues, they are labeled Gluten Free on the back. I will say, having made them in a pan, they’re greasy. Which can cause me stomach discomfort cause of my poor gall bladder. I was happy I found a smaller jar of spaghetti sauce, since I don’t like drowning my food in sauce, it was the right size for 3 meatball sandwiches!
I put them in the air fryer at 370 degrees for 16 minutes. With about 5 minutes left I took them out, cut them in half and put them back in for 10 minutes. They came out nicely cooked, and there was a pool of grease in the bottom of the air fryer.

I placed 3 Udi’s buns in a corning-ware dish, and put some sauce in the bottom of the buns, a pinch of mozzarella cheese and then placed the meatballs in the buns, covered with more sauce and a slice of cheese.

I baked for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
I could have baked longer to make the bread crispier, but they turned out so tasty!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Canyon Bakehouse Bagels

Some days you need to just savor the little things in life. I keep hearing how great Canyon Bakehouse Bagels are, and finding them near me is IMPOSSIBLE. I could buy directly from Canyon Bakehouse, but our tiny refrigerator, in our rented townhouse doesn't hold much for frozen food, and honestly it takes us a long time to use bread. I pretty much cut bread out after going gluten free. So ordering 1 pack of bagels and paying $11.00 in shipping is not logical to me. So when I went Halloween shopping with my brother and while walking up and down, aimlessly in Walmart and found Canyon Bakehouse Bagels on a random endcap, in the back of the store, I freaked out. 

After obsessing for 15 minutes how I wanted a bagel with cream cheese, I was told to go get the darn bagels and buy them, NOW! I kept trying to decide if 4 bagels were worth it for the cost, since gluten free is not cheap. But I decided to give in and do it, you only live once, right?? The next two days I toasted a bagel and took it to work and added cream cheese. It was heavenly. You forget how easy it is to miss something this simple. 

Saturday I decided to make Bacon, Bagel, Egg & Cheese breakfast sandwiches. They were delicious. Even though I kinda burnt the bagels they were really good. I didn't believe my non-gf hubby how good they were until Sunday morning when he asked "Can we have more breakfast bagels this morning?" I told him No, we ate all the bagels! I'd have to go to Walmart and hope they have more! So what am I doing tonight? Going to Walmart to find Canyon Bakehouse Bagels so we can have more bagel, egg, bacon & cheese sandwiches this weekend! 

You don't realize how the littlest, simplest things are the easiest to take for granted. Fingers crossed I might find the Canyon Bakehouse English muffins too! Though I do enjoy the Glutino ones when I need a burger bun, or I have an English muffin craving. 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Getting Ready for the Holidays!

Holidays are stressful, there is no doubt about that. Trying to get everyone together and have a nice family meal isn't easy! Especially if you're blending families or traditions, people get passionate about grandma's recipe, or their tried and true way to make something. 
But the moment you introduce a food allergy it changes things - and not everyone is willing to work with that change. It's easier for those of us who cook gluten free every day to adapt, but not always easy for those who love us but don't cook gluten free to adapt or fully understand. 
Try to keep calm, address the situation early and let the host know that it might be easier for you to bring your own food, so don't be offended if I don't try your great grandmother's tried and true amazing stuffing, I can't. 

Another thing to keep in mind is people may sneak flour into dishes you traditionally wouldn't, so always double check! Growing up we always made gravy with cornstarch, so my mom was befuddled to know that people use flour now a days! Her mom only ever used cornstarch, so it never crossed her mind that traditional gravy would be off limits for me now. 

Here are some products to help streamline shopping and finding what you need to make your holiday a success! - Check their site for shipping or store availability in your area. Amazon and Gluten Free Mall may also be useful so you're not driving around for hours trying to find a store that carries these products. 

Gluten Free stuffing Brands –
Trader Joe’s – Check local store for details.
Aldi’s – Check local store for details.

Gluten Free French Onions –
Aldi’s – Check local store for details.
Sprouts & Wild Harvest – Check local stores for details.

Gluten Turkey Brands –
Keep in mind - Stuffing the bird with glutenFULL stuffing will contaminate the turkey! So if your family insists on stuffing the bird, bring some gluten free stuffing to do so! 

For all of these if you have questions reach out to the manufacturer - (The earlier the better) for questions on processing or anything else. 

Jennie-O - Do not use the gravy that comes with it. - https://www.jennieo.com/products/collection/3-gluten-free 

Since some of you probably also want some gravy for your turkey and heck probably for the stuffing too: 

Gluten Free Gravy - 
Swanson's Turkey Gravy - Does not list gluten - But is not labeled gluten free, due to processing and potential for Cross Contamination. - https://www.campbells.com/connect/faq/ 
Any gravy made from scratch can be adapted using corn starch in place of flour, or a gluten free flour, though some work better than others. 

Gluten Free Pie Crusts - 
Whole Foods Bakeshop - Check local store for details.

Pie Crust Mixes:

Hopefully some of these will help make your holiday meal prep easier and less stressful, so you can sit back and relax and enjoy some time outside the kitchen. 

Air Fryer Taquitos

I have to start by saying I LOVE Anything with Buffalo Sauce, so I had to make these with buffalo sauce. 
These were quicker and easier than I expected, and super tasty. Now only if my Air Fryer fit more than 5 of these at one time. Before starting spray the basket with cooking spray, before you place the tortilla rolls in.

As with any recipe, be sure to double check all ingredients for gluten. Most commercial blue cheese is gluten free, but be sure to check. Taquito's usually use flour tortillas, I used White Corn tortillas instead.

1 - 10oz can of Chicken
1/3rd Cup - Buffalo Sauce
1/4th Cup - Blue Cheese Crumbles
1 - 8oz Package Cream Cheese
1 - Package Corn Tortillas

  • Make sure the cream cheese is room temperature.
  • Make sure the chicken is more finely chopped, as well as the blue cheese crumbles.
  • Mix the Chicken, Buffalo Sauce, Blue Cheese, and Cream Cheese in a bowl until well combined and set aside.
  • Scoop a heaping spoon of the mix on one end of the tortilla and spread it the length of the tortilla.
  • Roll the tortilla and place seam down in the air fryer, and give a touch of oil on the top
  • Cook at 370 degrees for 12 minutes. 
Totally Awesome - Really wish my air fryer made more at once, though it not making more is probably better for my waist line! So good, and quick snack option.