Monday, March 30, 2015

Product Reviews Are Back!

I’ve come to the conclusion that some gluten free food makers feel that people who eat gluten free have no taste buds, that would be the only explanation why they would name an item something people would be excited over. They get them to buy it, (money in their pocket) and try it… And realize it falls way short of being anything that they would ever buy again. Sadly this happens A lot with gluten free products.They need more Non-GF taste testers to ask them if they'd eat these products to support their loved ones. Then I think we'd get a big fat, No this is awful for a lot of stuff!! 

Mikey’s Muffins would be one of them. These are hardly English Muffins. I’d call them way too sweet almond flour cakes. That would be a lot more accurate. I couldn’t add enough cream cheese to make them taste good. These go on the Never buying again list. Now I need to figure out who to pawn the last 3 of these off on, cause if someone gave them to me, I’d wonder what I did to piss them off!!

L’Eggo my Eggo, actually go ahead and keep it! These seem to have a funky after taste, and I’ll be honest, I don’t know what it is. I’ve tried these twice now, for certain, more syrup the better for hiding the taste. But overall I’ll stick with my Van’s waffles. Those tasted like waffles, with no funny after taste. The unfortunate part is Eggo even had 8 waffles in the box, not just 6 like Van’s. 

FruityDyno bites and Coco Dyno bites. These are a generic version of Fruity and Cocoa pebbles that can be found even at the Dollar Tree. I have to say these were quite Tasty sweet, but good. They were very satisfying for a quick breakfast before leaving the house. Now I've seen them at the grocery store as a generic to Fruity Pebbles as well. I'll be honest I never paid much attention to the regular cereal aisle until recently. I do find some irony in the parent company being Malt O Meal....

MindfulDelights – Found some products by this company one day at the Natural Foods store. I wasn’t sure what to think, and held off getting any. But I found an Apple Pie on Pi Day so I had to get it. What a nice surprise how awesome it was!! It said you didn’t need to heat it, but I love warm apple pie. So I heated it up, and my boyfriend and I shared it. I was sad I shared – I wanted more!! Plus they are a local to Chicagoland company out of Sycamore, IL!!

GeeFree – Spanikopita – Can I just say these rock. I can’t wait to try their puff pastry sheets after trying the spanakopita. They were light and fluffy like they should have been, and they didn't have a staunch after taste. They honestly were good. Even my not GF boyfriend was giving me the nod of approval while he stuffed his face. There 12 in a box which was filling enough for our munchies.

Glutino's has been serving the gluten free community for over 30 years. They have been providing hard to find items and bringing new items out to help stay front of mind as new competition has come around. If you ask me; their caramel pretzels are a great way to do that in the ever expanding pretzel options out there!

One last review for today - Udi's breakfast burritos, I like Udi's bread, I like Udi's Muffins, I even like Udi's Cinnamon Rolls. I did not like their breakfast Burrito's. Why not? Well the tortilla was gummy, and there wasn't enough filling to make it worth it. I hate throwing away food, so I mustered through it with extra cheese on top. But won't be buying these again.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Aurelio's pizza is a southside chain of pizza places. It seems once you go south of the city of Chicago Aurelio's are everywhere. Their gluten free menu isn't huge, or the pizza they offer, but it's tasty. We have enjoyed their pizza for a while now, their pizza sauce is a bit sweeter, and not like most typical Chicago pizzas. It makes it different, and a nice change when we are in the area as somewhere different to order from. I have had their salads in addition to their pizza. The first couple times we went I had the salad, because I was leery of how well their kitchen would handle allergies, since pizza places can be dicey.. You are in an environment with a lot of flour, a shared preparation space, and a lot of times shared ingredients.

There is no guarantee that the ladle that scooped and spread sauce on a glutenous pizza was cleaned before it was dipped and spread sauce on the next pizza, causing a contaminated container of sauce. You definitely have to be extra cautious when it comes to pizza's which stinks, cause pizza can be such a great comfort food!

We stopped at the Aurelio's pizza on Jefferson St. in Joliet, Saturday after spending the day at Chicagoland Speedway for the Nationwide NASCAR race. There aren't many gluten free options at the track, and Saturday, it was a party, the only options were pre-made burgers and hotdogs on buns.

We were pretty tired by the time we got to dinner, and a pizza sounded good. The pizza is only 7 inches. 

The service was lacking in general part of our group ordered salad and appetizers and they never showed up. The pizza was tasty the crust was a bit dense, but wasn't the worst I had tried, I actually ate the entire pizza. Again it was only 7 inches, I've had pasta dishes larger!

I felt fine, all was good, my pizza had sausage, olives and garlic. The larger, Non-gluten free pizza next to it, that the boys ordered was sausage, olives, and mushrooms. We were good until midnight... And I felt like I might explode in stomach and back pain. I honestly don't know the last time I was in so much pain, and couldn't tell which end things might explode from... I briefly thought it could be food poisoning, but I assume the sausage on the guys pizza was the same sausage on mine, and they were watching TV in the other room, all peachy keen drinking beer. Sadly I was glutened. I was out of it most of the next day. It was only the 2nd time I'd been glutened that my reaction was getting extremely violently ill. It's days like this I wish there was an easy solution, a pill or something to make the reaction less violent and horrible. On my rating scale, I give them 2 dragonflies, because there was definite cross contamination on the pizza. From now on I'll stick to salads here, since we end up in this area a lot, and there aren't a lot of good dining choices that offer safe options.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Benvenuto's Italian in Wisconsin

While on a road trip with my boyfriend and my parents we stopped at the EAA AirVenture Museum in OshKosh, Wisconsin. It was a crazy rainy day. Though we got to see so many cool airplanes, watched some videos and got a great history, we worked up an appetite. The next leg of our road trip was taking us to Door County so we stopped in OshKosh before heading on for dinner. We found a cute Italian place called Benvenuto's Italian. They have several locations in the Wisconsin area. We weren't looking for a long drawn out meal, though we kind of got one anyways we were all happy with the food.

The gluten free menu was quite overwhelming for me. I was a bit in a debate on what I wanted. I went with the Cheese Ravioli and a side salad.

The side salad was a bit underwhelming, though it was pretty. At first I was disappointed in the plating of the ravioli, but honestly it filled me up! 

It didn't seem like a lot, but it really did fill me up in the long run. I'm not a huge fan of a lot of sauce so I was happy this didn't have alot. Though I really wanted some garlic bread to go with it... I wonder if any place with a GF Italian menu ever thought of serving their regular menu without garlic bread... I wonder how the customers would respond...... Over all I give them 4 dragonflies. While traveling this was a nice find.The staff was understanding and respectful and the food was super tasty. I will go back next time I'm traveling this way!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

OJ Ice Cream Shake

One of the lovely kitchen gadgets a friend gave me was a blender. Now I did have a blender on my list of things to buy on Black Friday, but I wasn't looking to spend a lot, and this one is definitely worth more than I would have purchased, so I was thrilled. I wanted the ability to make some smoothies and maybe start experimenting in making soups. Before I get too crazy here on experimenting I thought of making a dreamsicle drink.  

This couldn't be any easier.  

2 cups Orange Juice
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

You just throw all the ingredients into a blender, and blend until you get the consistency you want! Personally I like my smoothies thicker, so I didn't blend too long. Since it went well, now we're looking into stocking up on some fruits and start making some more dessert shakes and smoothies!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Prairie Moon All American Dining.

The city of Evanston has some pretty stellar options for dining out gluten free. Partly I think because they are so the heart of Northwestern University, my dad's alma matter. But it's a hip happening place, without a shortage of places to check out. This weekend we went to a party at Prairie Moon All American Dinning.

The location is off the beaten path and behind most of the popular dinning and shopping. But there is parking on the street in front of the restaurant, and there is a lot across the street. This place is much bigger than it looks with extra rooms that can be opened up, pool tables, dart boards, and a nice outside patio, which was Way to cold to check out at this time. The cool lights and swanky drink selection make this place seem really fun. They had several gluten free ciders on display and not the run of the mill selection. 

I asked if they had a gluten free menu, the waiter knew they had a menu but had to find where it was. After some deliberation and fussing about the waiter came back with recommendations per the chef because they couldn't find the menu. Looking at the menu it seemed like there should have been more options that were naturally gluten free, or could be easily modified. But I didn't press the issue, there were a lot of good looking, "loaded" salads that I went with one of those. Some of the small plates were tasty looking so I took down the info to make them at home. 

I give them 3 dragonflies over all, I feel there was more to their gluten free menu, but it wasn't posted online, nor was there any mention of gluten free options. So the lack of a physical menu was annoying, and made me a bit nervous to be too adventerous in trying more. I would like to go back and give it another try; there are lots of options for any type of food so it shouldn't be too hard to find someone who wants to check it out with me.

Friday, March 13, 2015


Hom Woodfired Grill, pronounced Home is a new addition to the Bayshore mall area in Milwaukee, WI. Originally designated to be a different banner of their brand, until they opted to depart from their partnership with Ryan Braun, right fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Hom is a farm to plate grill that brings the heart of Wisconsin to the dinner table. Sourcing meat and produce from the local Hidden Creek Farms in New London from one of the co-owners of SURG the company that owns HOM.

Having been up in Milwaukee quite a bit for work, and traveling up to Silver Springs, we drive past Hom on every trip we finally gave in and decided we needed to check it out. The mall itself is a lifestyle center that is well, more frustrating than lifestyle centers back in Chicago.Whoever designs these malls with no parking, needs to be strung out to dry. We live in a climate that gets cold, We don't want to walk a mile to get to somewhere indoors!!

Walking through the doors it smelled so good. I did a quick peak at the menu and gluten free items were marked right there with an asterisk. so we asked to be seated. Cute atmosphere, very country and home like. It made you feel like you were away on a farm/ranch.

There were a lot of options that were different, I have to say it impressed me. I mentioned to the waitress that I was gluten free for an allergy. She told me that wouldn't be an issue. I didn't want to get too much food, but still enought. The shrimp and grits and shrimp seasar salad were kinda calling my name. So I went for it.

I can't say enough on either dish. Though I will give high marks to a place that knows how to make gravy without using flour!! The sausage mixed in with the shrimp and grits had a kick, and the grits were so good, it was amazing, I felt like I was down south. The Cesar dressing was fresh and didn't have a fishy taste, and the shrimp were fresh. 

Even though they only have 1 dessert item, it is a creme brulee, so I would be content coming here for dinner and having dessert. I give them 4 Dragonflies over all. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Zesty Italian Chicken

Here is another quick chicken dinner, this one takes a few more pans for washing but was so tasty.


2-3 Chicken breasts
1 cup of Rice
1 cup of Cherry tomatoes halved
1 cup of Artichokes sliced
1 teaspoon Garlic
1/2 teaspoon of basil
3/4 cup of Kraft Italian Dressing
1 tablespoon of chicken seasoning

you'll want to grill up the chicken, I added a bit of Mrs. Dash Chicken seasoning while my chicken grilled. In a pot I cooked the rice so it was just a bit aldente. I did about 1 cup of water to 1 cup of rice. Once the rice had soaked up the water I added it to my sauce pan where I was starting to cook the garlic, tomatoes and artichokes on low heat. Once the rice was mixed in I added the 3/4 cup of Kraft Dressing and sauteed the mixture until the rice felt softer and the chicken was done on the grill. Don't over cook the tomatoes, they should have a softer texture but not completely roasted. Adding the rice into the mix gives everything a nice even taste.

Add the chicken to the pan with the rice and vegetable mix and and sprinkle the basil on the top cook for another 5minutes on high heat. You can add a touch more dressing to the chicken if you'd like

Once that isdone, scoop the rice mix onto the plates, and place the chicken on top. Super Easy!

Chicken Bruschetta

This was easier than I expected, but again, I was no Master Chef when I started to cook for myself here. There are a lot of ingredients but they’re easy to use. 

Ingredients ~
2 chicken breasts
¼ cup EVOO
Pinch of Garlic Salt
Pinch of Black pepper
Bread crumbs
Grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups cherry tomatoes
1 Teaspoon of crushed garlic
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed basil
Shredded Parmesan cheese (as much as you'd like)
Mozzarella (as much as you'd like)

1st mix the EVOO with the garlic salt and black pepper in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the bread crumbs and the grated Parmesan cheese. Dunk the chickens into the oil, then cover with the bread crumb mix and lay in a baking dish. Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes depending how thick your chicken breasts are.

While the chicken is baking you’ll cut the cherry tomatoes in half or into fourths and place in a small container, when done, top with the garlic, balsamic vinegar, and basil, mix and set aside.

After 20-25 minutes of baking the chicken, check it to see how well done it is. At this point, if it seems pretty close to done, top the chicken with some shredded Parmesan cheese, the tomato mixture, and some sliced (or shredded) Mozzarella, and bake for about 10 more minutes. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Naf Naf Grill Gluten Free Options

Naf Naf = Yum yum in my book! Since I have this new found love for Mediterranean food I thought it was worth a try since 2 of my co-workers couldn't stop Raving about the food... So after reading up on them, checking reviews and prepping myself for how it would be, I asked another co-worker to go with me, so if it turned out they were morons there was less chance I'd cry when my order was wrong. 

Very similar to all the other fast food Mediterranean restaurants in the area or even Chipotle, you can watch them build your meal while you order. You can get your food in a bowl with rice, or on a bed of lettuce. Proteins are chicken, steak or falafel, the only way you can't get your meal served is in a pita. They do not offer gluten free pitas. Even without the pita they give a lot of food. All their toppings and sauces are GF safe. I usually go with the Tahini and Garlic sauces. I asked the other day how the Hot Sauce is, and the guy told me "it's hot"!

If you get your meal served as a plate, it's like building a bowl at Chipotle, but with Mediterranean ingredients. Now my main objection is they don't have feta or olives! I mean come on, that's what makes the meal Amazing! Do make sure to tell them No Pita. Though they do put the pita in it's own bag, and not placed on top of your dish. Every time I ask for no pita, I still end up with one on my tray, though being in it's own wrapping, I just give it to someone else.

I read a disturbing review from someone that telling them she needed her meal served Gluten Free, they charged her $2 for making sure the pita wasn't included. I've never experienced this, and I'm hoping it was an isolated incident, but it does make me worry a little. 

Like with Chipotle when someone orders a pita pocket they do put the hummus spoon into the pita, so there are crumbs. I get around this by ordering a rice bowl and asking for the hummus that's further down the aisle, if I even ask for hummus. I've discovered it's pretty good without it. 

They have fries (potato chips) and falafel too. Both are GF safe since they are the only 2 items that are placed in the fryer. I've discovered I tend to over eat when we go here, plus I inhale my food like I'm going to starve otherwise. But really the staff is nice, and get it when you ask for your food to be prepared extra cautiously. I give them 3 dragonflies, because while you can customize a bowl several different ways, the menu is limited, (I really wish they had more toppings, and potentially pita) and there is a chance of cross contamination due to the pita pockets they make. Over all, worth a try!