Sunday, December 23, 2018

Nu Crepes

Nu Crepes in Elmhurst is a quaint little place, that if you blink you're going to miss it. We found them on Find Me Gluten Free, and although my last experience with crepes was not so hot, (Darn shared surfaces for prep), I wanted to try it. I'd wanted to go there for a few months, but my Non-GF Hubby wasn't sold, he was leery, and I can't blame him. So we with the notion that if anything seemed off, we'd abort and head over to Egg Harbor Cafe instead. 

Looking at reviews on Find Me it said that there was a dedicated space, so we went in and got ready to ask questions. That was once we found the place. We drove down York Rd twice and couldn't see it. So finally I turned on "directions" and it told us to turn left, but there was no left turn. Then we realized it's down a breezeway between buildings. Even better, it's in the basement! So you're not going to see it from your car, you must walk down the breezeway to get there. It's worth the hunt to find it though. So we went in and talked to the staff. They have a separate prep area, ingredients and surface for the gluten free crepes. Most crepes can be made GF or modified gluten free. Anything with cookies or crunchy items, those items will be omitted to prepare it gluten free. 

All meals are made fresh when ordered, and you pick it up once ready. We decided to order our whole order gluten free, so we could share. 1 crepe doesn't seem to be enough so we each got 1 savory one and decided to split a sweet one. Wow - We were full! We've eaten here twice now, and enjoyed everything we got, and haven't had any issues getting sick. 
I give them 4 dragonflies. It'd be nice if the menu was clearly marked for Gluten Free options. You have to use some intuition to figure out what is safe, and then confirm when you place your order. But they have a dedicated space and work on making sure options are prepared correctly. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

Village Vintner Winery, Brewery Gluten Free

We found the Village Vintner Winery, Brewery one day when we were out near Algonquin and looking for something to eat. We wanted something other than Moretti's and nicer than Chipotle. It's a small place that on the weekends really gets packed, plus they're not open very late, so you have to plan for a meal here. 
Wine Flight
The menu is small for gluten free options, but there are appetizer and entree options and they have a bunch of fun wines to try! We've eaten here a couple times now, and I've tried a few options. The taco's (Which no longer are marked gf but the chef said could be made gf on corn tortillas). Were very tasty. This recent trip our server wasn't versed in gluten free at all, and when I asked questions on the items listed as gluten free, she told me they weren't gluten free. But she did offer up getting the chef to come talk to me. I was glad she did, he was very nice and helpful. I went with the steak medallions with toppings. There was only one topping that wasn't gluten free. I was glad the chef took the time to come out and talk to us. 

I give them 3 dragonflies. I wish they had some more entree options, and having staff that is better away of the gluten free options. Since it is a nicer place to dine, I was hoping for more awareness. It is a nice place, and the atmosphere is unique, so it's a nice place to try that is different and unique to take friends to.  Dinner was delightful, thought it would have been nice to have more dessert options, since we were there for a birthday celebration. But I had a class of wine and had some treats when we got home. 

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. - 

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. - 
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.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Honeymoon Travels Part 2

Monday – Day 4, we’re usually real good with finding hotels that include breakfast, this trip, Only one did! Granted we were booking hotels the same day, as we drove along, got tired and decided to stop, so we weren’t as picky on options. We got going on a nice foggy cloudy morning from Santa Maria we headed North with some Kind Bars for breakfast. We stopped in Pismo Beach after checking out some coastal areas south of there. We found Chip Wrecked for lunch. They had tasty handmade potato chips with so many options from Sweet to salty to savory. We were in heaven. The sandwich I got was huge, mostly because to make a “full” sandwich they used 4 pieces of GF bread! I got a lot of food and tasty chips to go with it. All their sauces are GF too so it was a treat. Though inside they had a whole 4 tables, they seem like a great place to grab food to take to the beach. We stopped and got some McConnell’s ice cream, because the night before in Santa Barbara the line for ice cream was 2 hours long! It was tasty, but a bit melty. We checked out the big rock in Morro Bay, we met some SUPER friendly squirrels who I think were on to us that we had Kind Bars in the car!

Checked out Hearst castle before taking the detour back to the 101 since the 1 was closed due to a mudslide in 2017 on the 1, south of Big Sur. We got into Monterey later at night, found a cute swanky place to rest our heads and find some food. The hotel restaurant was underwhelming so we headed to Carmel and went to the Carmel’s Bistro Giovanni. Not many places were still open at 9:00, but they were and the food was good. It was a bit pricey but well worth all 3 courses! Prosciutto wrapped melon, gluten free fettuccine and crème brulee as well as tasty wine. 

We got a great night’s sleep and headed on to Big Sur in the morning. It was still super foggy along our drive, luckily it cleared up some on our way back up the 1 by afternoon so we could view the Bixby bridge and see the coast. It was around 1:00 we decided we were hungry, so stopped at a little ‘grocery’ market shop, and got some meat and cheese. We had crackers in the car, and grabbed a dessert I’d never heard of, but said it was GF on the package. 

At this point I’d been fighting cell service for some time so grabbing food to eat in the car was easiest. We were running into small shops and B&B’s so not much in terms of places to eat. We kept going back North up the 1, back to Monterey and stopped to see the pier, there were GF options in the area, but nothing hitting our fancy, we’re not the biggest fish eaters, so we debated where to go and saw there was PF Changs, so we decided why not have Chinese food for dinner. Chinese food is the hardest thing to find GF so we hit up PF Changs while making a plan for the day. 
Changs Spicy Chicken Gluten Free
We checked out 17 mile drive, saw some seals and the lone cypress. We laughed at how bad (awful fish smell) Pebble Beach has and that we feel bad for anyone golfing there it’s so overwhelmingly strong!

To make up some time for time lost going around the mudslide area we brushed thru Santa Cruz and San Francisco. (We’ve been to San Fran, Sausalito and Napa before), though we did stop and enjoy a beautiful sunset of the beach before heading thru San Francisco, and since it was later at night, traffic was a breeze. Trying to stay on our coastal route we couldn’t find anything on the coast for a hotel last minute. We ended up in Santa Rosa, which is just West of wine country so hotels were expensive and the cheap ones were creepy! We ended up with a creepy one to stay on price point, it was an experience! Right by our hotel happened to be the Amy’s Drive Thru

Sad part, they were closing the same time we got there. They also opened After we’d left the next morning (booooo) But it was fast food haven there, so we took another visit to In-N-Out Burger before heading back to our interesting hotel. Not our best night’s sleep, we headed out early and on to Bodega Bay, back on the coast.

Day 5, Tuesday – Made a stop at the ‘pier’ in Bodega Bay. Nice quiet fishing town, Bodega Bay is the town the movie the Birds was filmed. (Who knew!) We checked out the menu at The Tide’s Restaurant, they mentioned gluten free and we wanted breakfast food, so we were in. Not the tastiest food, it was fine, very healthy! My eggs didn’t have any salt (or cheese) and my hash browns definitely needed salt! 
Omelet and Hasbrowns.
There was the cutest seal duo playing in the water outside the window that kept us amused while eating. At least it wasn’t foggy any more, but man it was COLD! We kept going on our twisty winding drive up the coast, saw more seals, lighthouses, coves, trees, Tide pools. Stopped at the Chandler Drive thru tree and got some ice cream from the ice cream freezer there. Another late dinner we stopped in Eureka for gas, and with signal finally again we found Stuf’t Potato. Nice little family run European restaurant with amazing huge stuffed potatoes. We both got a potato cause it sounded so good! It didn’t disappoint! 

We made it up to Crescent City to spend the night. Our goal was to be in Oregon by morning. Another cute place to stay. It reminded me of the House on The Rock Inn, in Wisconsin. Cute, they had the most simple breakfast buffet, cereal, gluten, hard boiled eggs, fruit and coffee. We got some food and headed to Oregon! We had a lunch date planned with some friends.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Honeymoon - 9 Days on the go, Gluten Free

Traveling Gluten free for 9 days, while staying at a different place each night makes for an interesting trip. You can’t always rely on Find Me Gluten Free, as I had no service for portions of the trip, even with 3 providers between the two of us we were in total cellular dead zones, so some preplanning is necessary when traveling. We did 9 days of mostly eating out and eating junk food with no stomach issues and only 1 dicey hotel stay! I’d say over all it was a successful trip. I couldn’t have imagined how pretty the coast of California is, and honestly we could have spent even more time on the coast in California but we wanted to get to Seattle. We had to omit Portland, sadly I didn’t get to Ground Breaker Brewery, but I know where to order their beer! We did however make it to Ghostfish which was pretty awesome.

The first 3 days were intertwined with my New Hubbies family since we were in Los Angeles for his cousins wedding. After flying in we went to his aunt’s house for dinner. We were pleasantly greeted with 2 frozen Saffron Road Entrees! 

We laughed, most people would be annoyed to go to someone’s house for dinner and be handed frozen entrees. I was thrilled cause I didn’t want to insult her that I was apprehensive to eat something not knowing how she prepped it. She was quite proud of her accomplishment to find me safe food. We hit up Target to get ourselves some snacks for the trip and hit the hay. It had been a long day of work, travel and family. We got up Saturday and looked thru the app and saw a place in Agoura Hills, Hugo’s. Looking at reviews there were so many options and everything is made from scratch and farm to table. The menu was overwhelming. There were so many options. I wanted to get the French toast but was worried about CC since my hubbie got the Green Tamales and eggs, which were marked (GF) but the server said it wasn’t Gf… I got the Desayuno Fuerte. – I learned I like Poached Eggs. We had turned off highways on the GPS so we took a wonderful drive thru some beautiful canyons and mountains. The wedding we were going to was a generic buffet so I was glad I brought some Kind Bars to hold me over while enjoying some cocktails and mingling and meeting more of his family. We did make a mandatory In-N-Out Burger run on the way back to the hotel. As we walked out we looked at each other and went “In-N-Out?” Love when he reads my mind! My Protein Style burger and cheese fries totally hit the spot! 

Sunday we hit up “The coffee Bean and Tea Leaf” for some morning coffee before heading to his cousins house for a surprise party. The same aunt who got the frozen entrees the first night in town made sure to drop off some frozen GF entrees for me again! (She’s too sweet!!) I’d brought some snacks, not sure what was being served. She was worried about us being away from home and not knowing where grocery stores were, I was set! We ducked out a bit early from the party to start our trip up the coast, but not before taking lots of family photos! We made it to Santa Barbara before sunset and looked up some options on FMGF. The Hoffman Brat House looked tasty so we ventured over there. The menu looked good and they had Gluten Free Fried Pickles, Gluten Free Corndog nuggets listed. Upon talking to the server they don’t have a dedicated fryer….. Ugh. I questioned it after we sat down and were waiting for him to come over cause a reviewer said she had opted to NOT get the fries when she found out the fryer had been cross used so it wasn’t safe that day. So I asked and he inquired and told us “no we don’t have any dedicated fryers.” Thanks FMGF, and crappy reviewers. At least there were still options on the menu since it was getting late, we’d already ordered drinks and man was it cold out that night! We got some bacon wrapped dates, (Not marked GF but verified gf) and a brat on a GF bun and a side of pickles. Cute town, good food, bustling despite the cold weather. That rounded out the first weekend for our trip.

Bacon Wrapped Dates, Sign me up!
Gluten Free Brat on a bun and pickles - Yum!