Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gluten free Tiramisu

One of my favorite desserts is Tiramisu, next to Ice cream, or fruit and pound cake in chocolate fondue.
While checking out a different grocery store in the area today I spotted the Schar gluten free lady finger cookies. I was looking over the package trying to figure out if I had a Tiramisu recipe at home that I could make later this week, when I turned the package over, and it was right on the side! Schar had the recipe sized to their package of cookies right on the side!

After reading the ingredients the only thing I didn't already have at home was mascarpone cheese, so we went and found that so we are now having tiramisu for dessert tonight! I'm always apprehensive when a recipe calls for whipping egg white until stiff peaks form, but it worked for me this time. (Trying to make meringue cookies once, didn't turn out so pretty.)I was shocked how many cookies actually came in the container! Maybe I'm Gluten free jaded, but it always seems like there are so few cookies in any box, but this had about 16 cookies, so we even had a couple extra to taste once the tiramisu was in the fridge to hold me over until dessert time.

The cookies alone were a bit chalky and dry, but sweet. Dunked in coffee for breakfast they would probably be fabulous. The lady fingers seemed to absorb the coffee quickly but didn't become to mushy to handle. I did pour a little extra rum over the lady fingers as they soaked up the coffee. You can never have too much rum in my book!!

Here is what the final product that I put in the fridge to set looked like! The package said to let it sit at least 6 hours. I recommend following that, mine only sat for a little over 5 hours, and it was runny and a bit messy when I served it. I think it needed to sit just a little longer for the presentation once cut and served. Thank goodness my family is informal, and we're no stranger to "mush" cakes, the first pieces never come out well and really, it all tastes the same in the end!

It has a mild coffee flavor, not too strong, if you like stronger, add some extra coffee beans when you brew your cup of coffee to soak the lady fingers. Or you can add some coffee liquor, I've always experienced those having a strong coffee flavor. 

Over all family rating, I should make this again for dessert!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Flur Bakery!

Flur Bakery is located in Riverside, a southwest suburb of Chicago. It's a cute area, rich in Chicago history, right by Brookfield Zoo. The mastermind behind Flur is Adriana, who is a French trained chef who found out she had a gluten intollerance, and wanted better tasting baked goods. Working as a chef she understood how hard it was to safely prepare gluten free food in restaurants, and that many end up relying on prepackaged frozen gluten free items that aren't always that tasty. She spent a year mixing flours and trying to come up with a good blend that was versitle and tasted amazing.

When you walk into Flur I guarentee you'll be amazed, the cakes in the window are amazing looking, and are gluten free! Actually all the products in the display case are gluten free, but it's not labeled as such, so that it's friendlier to get everyone to come and try the products. All ingredients are listed above the products so you can see what goes into each item, and you will see they are gluten free. This is definatly a new way to highlight gluten free, since we are so trained to look for Large Letters saying Gluten Free. She has embraced gluten free, but made it enticing to the rest of the community. Gluten free is sneaking in everywhere!

The highlighted item in the main case are French Macarons. They offer a variety of flavors that look so good!
Other items included biscotti, brownies, muffins, and cookies. Tea and other beverages are available to drink. They have plenty of seating both inside and out. It's a nice place to come grab a drink and snack and visit with friends.

Their hope is to expand out to offer their products in restaurants and grocery stores in the area. I look forward to finding their products a bit closer to home, their location is a bit far for me to go an visit regularly but when we are in the area, we can make a detour to stop and get some yummy treats!

I give Flur my highest rating of 5 dragonflies for their dedicated gluten free kitchen, as well as their amazing products.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Random Soapbox rant

I know this blog focuses on gluten free products and restaurants. Something that is near and dear to my heart, since I was diagnosed with Celiac disease almost 3 years ago. I hate that they call it a disease. It’s an intolerance, I don’t know why they couldn’t name it Celiac intolerance, or just Celiacs. Like Diabetes, no one refers to it as Diabetes disease. I’ll digress. I have a lot of opinions on things, like most of us do. I also have a degree in Marketing, and have spent the last 10 years working in Marketing so I know how important image and reputation are. I would never make a defamatory statement against a person, company or product; that would be rude. But I am allowed to blog, post to Facebook, or any other review site if I receive bad service, or generally don’t like something. The nature of business today, to stay in business you have to make customers happy, because things go viral very quickly and it can be the end of you. No two people are identical and we are all going to have different things we like, or don’t like, or just don’t care. I feel it’s important to lay out as many details as possible to allow others to make an informed decision based on the facts presented.

You probably are wondering where this rant is going…. I tend to travel quite a bit, which requires hotel stays most of the time, which I pick based on previous customer reviews and pick out what’s important to me about the review. Money doesn’t grow on trees and, not to mention life is expensive, especially when you are gluten free. So I feel that if I can make a difference for someone to try or not try something, decide where they want to stay on their trip, I’m glad I can help make a difference.

I recently stayed at a La Quinta Inn, in Indianapolis South, near a WalMart, Super Target, Kmart, Meijer, and several decent dining establishments. (Carraba’s and Cheeseburger in Paradise to name a couple) I have to say, having stayed at the hotel previously our experience there was different this time, and not in a good way. When I posted my review of the hotel to TripAdvisor, I was requested by the hotel that they would refund my stay if I removed my review. I was flabbergasted they would do something like that since it’s against the TripAdvisor policy! Nothing in my review was defamatory, it stated clearly what issues we had with the hotel, and that they said it will be fixed by the next year, but I’m not sure it really will be, so I’m not sure I want to stay here. Come on, I found bugs in my room, my toilet broke Twice, when I called the 1st time, they weren’t sure they had a plunger to try and fix the issue. And when they Finally moved me, the new room they put me in the carpet was wet! Elevators weren’t working, our keys kept getting deactivated, the AC wouldn’t work, it was a horrible. For me knowing the truth can make the difference in where I spend my money. When we went to San Francisco, had we known our hotel was under construction, before we booked the room, we would have picked a different one.

To be honest finding a hotel that costs a bit more and is closer to the Indianapolis Speedway would be fine with me. Where we’ve been staying, the Walmart across the street has about as many Gluten free options as a hardware store.… The Meijer and Super Target were good, but usually I do well at those stores, so another one in a different area I’m sure will be fine. But asking someone to remove a review because it makes you look bad is deceptive to anyone else looking to spend their hard earned money on a good place to stay. Really if it bothers you, there is one simple answer, work on improving your hotel. Then you can honestly have good reviews to support your new revamped business. I'll digress and get to reviewing Carraba's and the other places I've eaten at in the last couple weeks!!

Saturday, August 3, 2013


There is definitely a country girl trapped somewhere deep inside me. That's the only way to explain my love for crafting, and going to NASCAR races, despite growing up in an urban setting. There is a great rush watching the cars on the track, and following the drama on and off the track. I look forward to the races we go to each year. None of them are Super close to where we live, so we always end up staying in the area of the track, which neither are anywhere near places that understand gluten free living!  The first race I went to was when I was going thru my diagnosis, and I couldn't figure out why everything was making me feel like I had the flu, and spicy food was my total enemy.

Looking at how we pack for a race, on top of the HUGE bag of food we take with, you'd expect us to be leaving for weeks, with a ton of people, when in reality we are going to the race, with a few friends.
As our group grew, so did our enjoyment for getting to the track early, hanging out and tail gating before the race, and sometimes afterwards if traffic is too much of a mess. If we are lucky the track will be serving Mikes Hard Lemonade, but we usually pack a few for me just in case, and a few mini bottles of Crown Royal, and a lot of snacks.

Here is a sampling of the treats we took down to Indy this past weekend for the Brickyard 400. I always have a Go-Picnic for my lunch and then see how many other treats I can get in my backpack to take in. I was delighted to learn that Go-picnic has increased their gluten free options, and that there are more meal oriented ones, I can't wait to find more of them to try!

We've never had good luck finding food near the track that we can easily carry in, but we always check. If we do find something it's a perk or and extra snack for the ride home. We have found some good dining options in Indy that we have made our restaurant choices part of our tradition, and always tell them "see you next year" because we know we have a good, safe option.

Though I keep hoping the race tracks will get with the other parks and stadiums that they will have one stand that offers gluten free food. When we go to Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, there are several authentic Mexican food vendors that seem like they have viable options... But I'm too nervous to try them, I don't want to spend the whole race in the ladies room! 

We have one more race adventure this year in September, Go-picnics are set, mini bottles of crown royal to mix with coca-cola, and some cans of Mikes light lemonade, I cant wait!