December 28, 2009

Gluten Free Apple Sausage Casserole

It's almost time to head to Syracuse to celebrate New Year's Eve! Mindy and I have made it a tradition for the past 5 years or so, to spend New Year's Eve with our two great friends David and Cheryl Vermilya, listening to music, drinking good wine, eating great food..  They live on a river, and the front of their home is mostly window.  I can spend hours watching the birds at the feeders, or the deer wandering through the forest on the opposite bank of the river. Another part of the tradition is to either x-country ski, or hike at Beaver Lake on the morning of New Year's Day. I love starting the year that way. So much better than nursing a pounding hangover. Usually it's just a mild one:)

On to the food.

The following may sound like a completely bizzaro taste combination, but I swear...  It's awesome!  I used sweet turkey sausage (making sure to inspect for "G" ingredients), but feel free to use any kind of sweet sausage you like.  You want to have drippings to drizzle on everything just before going into the oven, so if you use turkey, or any other kind of non-greasy meat, you'll want to cook the sausage in two tblsp. of butter and two tblsp. of olive oil.  The butter and oil will draw out a lot of flavor, which is exactly what you want.



  • 1 1/2 pounds of sausage (cut into chunks)
  • 4 medium apples (your favorite kind), peeled, cored and sliced
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, halved and sliced (I love yams!!)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tblsp. gluten free flour (I like Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Mix)
  • 2 tblsp. sugar

  1. Fry your non-greasy sausage in butter and olive oil until cooked through and lightly browned. If you're using pork, drippings a plenty for sure!
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray (most are GF, but check the ingredients)
  4. Mix together the salt, gluten free flour and sugar in a small bowl. 
  5. Layer the cooked sausage, apple and sweet potato slices in the casserole dish, sprinkling with flour mixture between layers. Top it off by drizzling your drippings over the whole shabang
  6. Cover the casserole dish with heavy duty aluminum foil and throw it in the oven for 1 hour, or until the sweet potato slices are soft.
  7. Chow down immediately!

December 19, 2009

Gluten Free Fruitcake

A few days ago we received a x-mas package from my gramps, my mom and Viola.  Inside it, among other goodies, were 6 carefully wrapped mini-bundt fruitcakes.  On the outside was written "Gluten Free!."  Now normally, receiving a fruitcake in the mail might put a half-disgusted smile on my face, complete with a furrowed brow... but knowing well that my mom and Viola are amazing cooks, I knew I was in for a treat!  I wasn't wrong.  For the last two days I've been unable to control myself. I keep sneaking into the kitchen to cut off another slice. I've even pulled out the spoon and began eating the crumbs like cereal late at night.

Not only are these fruitcakes delicious, they're loaded with enough rum to warm the belly of even the coldest snowperson!  Or yetti. Or Abomidable Snow Beast. Or whom or what-ever arrives at your doorstep seeking shelter from the storm.  And a key component of what makes these fruitcakes awesome, is the missing ingredient.  You will not find one green fruit thing chunk in these cakes! One of the reasons I've avoided holiday fruit cake was the artificial taste of those green chunks.  Whatever they are...

Today I called my mom to get the recipe.  The process is impressive!  Listening to my mom explain the steps necessary to produce amazingly delectable GF fruitcake was almost exhausting. I've never baked anything that involved so many steps, but knowing the end-product, I think it's about time for that to change.

Feel free to use any kind of GF baking flour you like, but my favorite is Bob's Red Mill.
Also, if you happen to love those green fruity chunky things. Add them. I won't be eating it:)

*Thanks Viola for the recipe. And thank you too Mom for making them with her:)  Your fruitcakes are AWESOME!*


  • 4 sticks margarine or butter (softened)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp vanilla 
  • 2 cups GF Flour (Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 8 eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 1/2 cups craizins (dried cranberries)
  • 5 cups pecans (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 lb. candied cherries
  • 1 1/2 lb. candied pineapple 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Using a mixer, cream the margarine and sugar together in large mixing bowl
  3. Then add the eggs one at a time, using a ladle or large spoon, continuing to mix until fully incorporated, mix in the vanilla then turn off
  4. Sift the dried ingredients together and then add slowly to liquid mixture until fully mixed
  5. In another bowl, mix together the chopped candied cherries and pineapple, the craizins and pecans
  6. Add the nuts-n-fruit to dough mixture slowly until fully incorporated
  7. Unless your mixing bowl is oven proof, transfer the entire mixture to a large oven safe crock or bowl. Make sure there is no dough along the edges of the bowl, to avoid burning, and pack down tight with the back of a large spoon.
  8. Place in oven for 15 minutes. Take out and mix together, pack down
  9. Put back into oven for another 15 minutes. Take out and mix together, pack down
  10. Put back in oven for another 15 minutes. Take out an mix together, pack down
  11. Remember to scrape the sides!
  12. And one more time for good measure...
  13. Then transfer into cooking sprayed, or olive oil coated bundt molds, loaf pans, etc. and dust with GF flour.
  14. Pack the mostly cooked dough mixture into the molds and pat down tightly again.  Return to the oven and bake for another 30 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean)
  15. Remove from oven. Allow to cool, and then using double layer squares of heavy duty aluminum foil, place each fruit cake into center and then drizzle spiced/dark rum over the top and immediately wrap tight with aluminum foil
  16. Set them aside to age for a day or so
  17. Get ready for something special - because you're going to love em'! 

December 14, 2009

Gluten Free Amish Molasses Cookies

Wow the holiday season is sooo busy! It's like everyone has parties on the same days.. we're working harder, spending more, getting less sleep and eating a TON of awesome food! It's crazy, but I love it! On Saturday my friend Claudia and I spent the day exploring Amish country around Lancaster. It was a beautiful day for it! We stopped in a ton of little shops; antique places, quilt places, candy stores, bakeries, and old-fashioned country style restaurants. It was nice:)

After saying goodbye to Claudia, I settled into my kitchen and browsed through the Amish Cookie Book I picked up earlier in the day. These Molasses cookies were chosen for their ease and classic holiday flavor. I used Bob's GF Baking mix for these and they came out great! Make sure they're cooked through though. The first small batch I baked came out a bit doughy:( Also, feel free to throw in a little ginger and/or walnuts to spice it up. That's what I'm going to do the next time with these;)

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (make sure it's GF)
  • 1/4 pound light brown sugar
  • 2 cups dark molasses
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 cups gluten free baking flour
  • 1/2 tblsp baking soda

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cream the vegetable shortening and brown sugar.
  3. Mix in the molasses and buttermilk
  4. Stir in the flour and baking soda until fully incorporated
  5. Using a 1-inch ice-cream scooper (or a spoon), drop dollops onto greased or non-stick cookie sheet about an inch or so apart.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  7. Transfer to cooling racks and get your cup of milk ready!

December 7, 2009

Gluten Free Restaurant Review: CASONA in Collingswood NJ

If you have any kind of issue with gluten, and you happen to live less than an hour from Collingswood, New Jersey (about 10 minutes from Philadelphia), you absolutely MUST make a GF pilgrimage to Casona! Casona is a stylish little BYOB located on the main thoroughfare in Collingswood, NJ. Collingswood is actually a cool place to visit with loads of specialty shops, coffee houses, and restaurants serving a wide array of diverse ethnic and domestic cuisines.

My friend Brianna and I were starving when we arrived at the tail end of their lunch menu hours. We may have been the only ones in the place. The service was exceptional! Our waiter was amazing, and once we mentioned our "condition", it was obvious by the way he responded that he was fully informed about gluten issues.

Now before I talk about what we ordered, I must pay homage to the fact that Casona labels all their gluten free options with a "GF" beside the title of the dish. They also take great care to avoid cross-contamination. This is such an important characteristic of any restaurant looking to increase their GF customer base. It's such a load off of one's shoulders to not have to ask a million questions about the food one is to order. I just wish all restaurants were as aware and accommodating!

On to the food! The first thing we ordered for our appetizer was a plate of YUCA FRIES. Yuca fries are made from Yuca root. They come with a side of guacamole and a light horseradishy dipping sauce that packed a bit of a spicy kick. Brianna and I loved them! Yuca fries are a lot like regular potato fries, except that they are a bit more dense.

For the main dish I ordered the Habana Maduro, which was a ripened fried whole plantain filled with choice of seasoned chicken, ropa vieja or lechon topped with chihuahua cheese, sour cream sauce and chayote salad for $9.95. I chose the pulled flank steak (aka ropa vieja). Talk about a taste explosion!! Holy cow! I fell in love after the first bite:)

Brianna, also a vegetarian, ordered the Huevos Rancheros, which was corn tortilla with black beans, mixed cheese, avacado, pico de gallo, and two eggs any style with sour cream, avacado sauce and ranchero sauce for $10.95. She gave her dish rave reviews, and I would have tried it out for myself if I hadn't been so uncomfortably full from eating only half of my dish!

So if you're ever in the area, I urge you to check out Casona. You'll leave with a full belly and a smile on your face:)

Casona of Collingswood
563 Haddon
Collingswood, NJ 08108
(856) 854-5555

November 26, 2009

DC Flashback: Hello Cupcake!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm sitting among family in Chicago. The TV has football playing. People are lounging around, playing hand-held video games, passing around the newest edition to the family, Vincent, who is only two months old. Soon the feast will begin, but it's now the calm before the gastronomic storm.

I thought... what better a time to write about my most recent trip to Washington DC?! Mindy attended an International Affairs Conference two weeks ago. Being that it was only a few hours drive away, I decided to tag along. We stayed in Georgetown, which is full of great coffee shops, restaurants, sites to see, and things to do.

While she attended workshops I wandered our area, scoping out our evening-time options. Whenever I came across a sweet coffee shop, I stopped in and did some of my school work. It was like a little work-vacation. I actually got a lot of work done, plus I was able to satiate my wanderlust and get some partying in:) Mindy and I found a great piano bar, and the Piano Man even dedicated a song to us! It was a little embarrassing, but completely awesome at the same time.

One night we had dinner at a place called Zed's. Zed's serves Ethiopian cuisine, most of which comes wrapped in glutenous bread. However, the staff knew about Celiac Disease and served my dishes with rice and beans instead. The food, overall, was delicious, but the lentils were out of this world!

But the absolute #1 foody find of the weekend was HELLO CUPCAKE. Hello Cupcake is a little bakery dedicated to scrumptious mini-cakes topped with a mountain of icing. And the best part of all... they serve Gluten Free Cupcakes!!! At $3.00 a cupcake, it's a bit expensive, but after just one bite I was in love! The best GF baked goods I've had thus far!

From what I've read on the internet, the GF cupcakes sell out fast, so if you are in an area with a Hello Cupcake, get in there early and treat yourself. You'll be glad you did:)

Well, I think the bird is about done. I'm off to feast!!!

November 20, 2009

Gluten Free Restaurant Review: Pho & Cafe Saigon

Whooooo Hoooooo! This is my 100th posting!!! I can't believe I've written a hundred entries for this website already. And I'm sure I'll feel the same way when I reach 200:) Besides hooking people up with easy gluten free recipes, links to great resources, and tips to living a GF lifestyle, I write this blog to document my own journey into a life of reading labels, questioning the ingredients for all the food put in front of me, and of course... to have a written and visual history of my culinary adventures.

The people who read this are often faceless, often voiceless, but nevertheless, when I see the number on my site-visit counter it makes me smile:) I do this just because I enjoy it. Thank all of you who visit and follow me. Knowing there are others alongside me on my journey gives me a warm feeling.

Speaking of warm feelings, this entry is all about my absolute favorite Vietnamese Pho restaurant, located on the west side of Philly near U-Penn. It's called Pho & Cafe Saigon, and is located at the corner of Spruce and South 43rd street. I've been going there solely for their Pho for over three years, and to tell you the truth, I've never known the name of the place. LOL! Just yesterday I took a friend/colleague to share in the enjoyment of sitting in front of a large, steaming, deliciously smelling, completely comforting bowl of noodle soup. I'm pretty sure she was digging it. I was! As I always do:) Sometimes I even have a few taste-bud orgasms before the end of my meal. It's that good... not kidding at all.

I ordered the chicken pho, and Brianna ordered the vegetarian pho. It comes out at lightening speed, and is accompanied by a plate of fresh basil, lime wedges and bean sprouts. Hot green tea is also included for free. The noodles are made of 100% rice flour, and the stock is homemade (so no hidden gluten). The hot-sauce on every table is gluten free, but the plum sauce is questionable. Since first walking foot into the establishment over three years ago, I've pretty much tried every variety of pho they have; even ones that include chunks of cow stomach, intestines and gizzard. All AWESOME!!! Although the pieces of cow throat have a texture which takes some time to get used to.

If you are ever in the area, I highly suggest trying the place out. The staff isn't the most friendly or social, but who cares! Their Pho is out of this world!!!

Pho & Cafe Saigon
4248 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(Average cost of a bowl of Pho = $5.95-$6.95)

November 10, 2009

Gluten Free Pumpkin Apricot Stew

Halloween is over, but I'm still daydreaming about the stew that we served at our Halloween costume party. It was absolutely amazing! And eating it out of a pumpkin was just downright cool! Plus, I'm a huge fan of yams, and this dish is loaded with delicious yam chunks!

I'm not sure if you can find pumpkins anymore, but even without the pumpkin shell, this is sure to be a hit with anyone you're feeding:) My apologies for the poor photo, I planned on taking nice photos of this stew the next day, but it was all eaten up!

To keep things GF, I used an organic beef broth that stated "gluten-free" on the carton. I've also used the product "Better Than Bouillon" numerous times with no ill effect. The ingredients do not list anything evidently glutenous, but proceed with caution if you happen to have a very sensitive system.

  • 2 lb beef stew meat, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tblsp oil
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 3 white potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 sweet potatoes (yams), peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • butter
  • 1 16oz. can whole kernal corn, drained
  • 1 medium pumpkin

Cooking Directions
  1. Cook beef, onion and garlic together in oil until browned. Add the tomatoes, pepper, salt, pepper, sugar, apricots, potatoes and broth. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, cut off the pumpkin top. Scoop out the seeds and membrane. Brush the inside of the pumpkin walls with melted butter and then salt and pepper the inside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. Once the pumpkin is prepped, add the corn to the stew and stir together. Ladle the hot stew into the pumpkin shell.
  5. Place shell in a shallow pan and bake, uncovered, for about an hour or until the pumpkin meat is tender.
  6. Serve by scraping up the sides of the pumpkin before ladling into bowls. Make sure you get a nice amount of pumpkin flesh into each serving.
  7. Place lid of pumpkin back on for aesthetic appeal:) You're going to love this!!!

November 1, 2009

Gluten Free Pumpkin Spice Cookies

I just had my last weekend class for the semester, and boy is my mind exhausted. Spending 8+ hours with very smart people, making sure to be on top of your game, is always a challenge, and always tiring. I loved it though! I guess I'm just a big nerd, but I love group learning:)

Since it was Halloween weekend, and we were all stuck in class with each other, we were encouraged to bring in treats to share. I brought these cookies and a gallon of apple cider. The cookies, which my partner whipped up with a recipe I found while I set up the outdoor Halloween decorations in hopes of terrifying the local kids, came out FREAKING AWESOME!! Thank you Mindy;) I absolutely loved em, as did everyone else who tried em! These would be the perfect cookies to bring for Thanksgiving.

To get the icing to coat the tops just right, you need to wait for the cookies to completely cool first. I know that this may be difficult to do, especially with the scent of warm cookies in the air, and your mouth watering, but trust me... these actually are better chilled. Once cooled and drizzled, I'd advise layering the iced cookies between parchment paper to keep it all sticking together.

Mindy smartly decided to add walnuts to my recipe, but feel free to omit them if you wish. However, they do give these cookies a nice chunky character. Either way, I'm sure you'll dig these!

Here's a recipe for the Gluten Free flour baking mix I whipped up.

Gluten Free Flour Mix
  • 3 cups white rice flour
  • 1 cup potato flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum

Cookie Ingredients
  • 5 cups Gluten Free Flour (I made my own, but feel free to use any brand you choose)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups walnut chunks

Glaze Ingredients
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar (aka powdered sugar)
  • 6 tblsp milk
  • 2 tblsp melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together a cup of softened butter and the sugar.
  4. Add the pumpkin , eggs and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat until creamy (either with an electric mixer, or some serious arm power).
  5. Incorporate the dry flour mixture into the wet pumpkin mixture and then stir in the walnuts.
  6. Drop by spoonfuls onto a non-stick baking sheet, slightly flattening them as you go, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly toasted.
  7. Remove from oven and let each batch cool completely on a cooling rack before drizzling with the icing. To make the icing, simply whip together all the ingredients until nice and creamy. Use a fork to drizzle.
  8. Wait till the icing dries and layer cookies between parchment paper sheets in a large bowl or pan.
  9. This recipe makes a TON of cookies, so be prepared to share. Enjoy!!

October 27, 2009

Gluten Free Turkey Chocolate Chili

When I read a recipe for chili that called for an ounce of chocolate, I just had to whip up my own interpretation! It makes sense though. Cocoa and Chili are like some immortal, South American married couple. Although we always think SWEET when we talk chocolate, Cocoa wonderfully complements the HOT spices!  After a string of amazing days, perfect for taking in the vibrant colors of Autumn, it's back to the drizzle.  Philly, in general, has pretty nice weather, in comparison to one of the dreariest places to live: Syracuse... my home town:)  Because of my frame of reference, I never seem to catch the hum-drum, half-empty glass mentality that locals often adorn after but a few days of rain.

Rainy weather is Chili weather.  So I figured what better time to share one of my most favorite recipes of late - Turkey Chocolate Chili!!  This chili's broth is light and spicy, almost like a stew, and absolutely warm your insides with spicy deliciousness!  Feel free to cut back on the chili powder, or add more chocolate depending on your tastes, but don't omit the chocolate! Trust me, you'll barely know it's there, but it gives this dish a subtle, wonderful aftertaste.  For the chicken broth, I used "Better Than Bouillon" but you can use whatever GF vegetable or chicken broth you like. 

  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 medium red bell peppers (chopped)
  • 6 garlic cloves (finely diced)
  • 4 tblsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 can of pinto beans (drained)
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes w/juice
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth (Make Sure It's GF!)
  • 2 ounces of semisweet chocolate (chopped)
  • Cooking Spray (Make Sure It's GF!)

  1. Coat the bottom of a heavy pot with cooking spray.
  2. Add onions, bell pepper and garlic. Saute over high heat until vegetables begin to soften (about 6-8 minutes).
  3. Add turkey and saute until no longer pink, breaking it up while it cooks (about 5 minutes).
  4. Mix in the chili powder, cumin and oregano, stirring for about a minute.
  5. Add the beans, tomatoes with juice, broth and chopped chocolate.
  6. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to medium. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about an hour. 
  7. Add a little S&P and chow down! You're going to love it!!!

October 17, 2009

Gluten Free Chicken Potato Bean-sprout Stew

The Northeast has been experiencing a wet and cold week.  This Sunday we scheduled a trip to Linvilla Orchards to pick apples, eat cider-doughnuts, and go on a hay-ride followed by a bonfire to roast marshmallows.  I've got my fingers crossed, but it could very well be a wash-out.  We have 80 people signed up, so I'm hoping for a break around the time our wagons are scheduled to depart. Either way, rain or not, I'll be there warming up with hot spiced cider and the company of good friends:)

Right now, as I'm writing this, a large pot of turkey chocolate chili is reducing on the stove.  It smells AWESOME!!!  This rainy, dreary, cold and gray weather is the perfect time for chili, soup and stew.  The chicken stew recipe below is something I whipped up with what I had on hand.  I was nervous about the bean-sprouts, but they ended up being an amazing alternative to noodles. They still held their texture, and since I didn't chop them up, were nice and stringy like al dente pasta.  

A hot, steaming bowl of chicken stew on a cold and damp day is a bit of heaven! I shared this with some friends and they shared with me that this stew is amazing. Make it! You'll love it!

  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2 cups bean sprouts (rinsed)
  • 2 lb chicken breast (chopped)
  • 6 cups scrubbed and chopped red potatoes (with skins on)
  • 8 green onions/scallions chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 cups GF chicken broth (I used "better than bouillon")
  • 1 tsp concentrated lemon juice
  • 3 tblsp vegetable oil
  • Salt, Black Pepper and Garlic Pepper

  1. The first thing you're going to do is cook up the chicken. Heat the oil in a large pot on med-high till hot and throw in the chopped chicken breast. As it's cooking, keep stirring and adding shakes of salt, pepper and garlic pepper until you feel that it's spicy enough for you. Once the chicken is cooked through, using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken and set aside.
  2. Add the chopped carrots, onions and bean sprouts to the chicken oil. Stir constantly for about 3 minutes.  Add the bay leaves, potatoes and lemon juice and stir together for a couple more minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock until everything is covered with about 1 inch of liquid. Cover an bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and uncover.
  4. Let the soup simmer for about 3o minutes, tasting about 1/2 way through and adding more salt, pepper and garlic pepper to your specific taste.
  5. Serve hot and steamy on a wet, cold day. Enjoy!!!

September 20, 2009

Gluten Free Restaurant Review: Everything Jamaican

I live right outside philadelphia in a little township called Folcroft.  As far as local eateries are concerned, the pickings are slim.  We have a little diner called Miller's Cafe, a couple pizza places, a few sub joints, and of course... inexpensive Chinese take-out.  These options are fine, that is if you don't have to worry about gluten.  The only place I can safely eat is Miller's Cafe, since they have a variety of simple breakfast foods, and know of my neurotic insistence to keep toasted bread as far away from my plate as possible. However, about a month ago a small Jamaican cuisine restaurant opened up called Everything Jamaican.  After strolling in and sparking up a conversation with the owner, a friendly Jamaican transplant, I was informed that just about everything on their menu is gluten free. She told me that relatives of hers have the same condition and that she's very familiar with what we need to avoid eating.

After looking over the menu, which included dishes like Ox-Tail Soup, Jerk Chicken and Goat, Fried Plantains and Bean & Rice dishes, I decided to try the Curried Goat.  With the memories of Curried Mutton I ate in Ocho Rios playing through my head, I looked forward to seeing if what Everything Jamaican served up matched the tastes in my memory.  I wasn't disappointed! The curried mutton I was served tasted exactly like I remembered.  And just like in Jamaica it was served bones and all, which of course adds to the flavor.  It came with a side of rice & beans, and I ordered a Jamaican Ginger Beer.  I left full, and very happy. Next time I'm trying the Ox-Tail Soup!

If you are ever out this way I highly recommend stopping into Everything Jamaican and filling up your guts with some delicious, authentic Jamaican Cuisine.  Everything Jamaican is located at 10 Glenolden Avenue, at the corner of Chester Pike & Glenolden Ave.  Their phone number is 484-540-8342. Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am - 7pm, Fri - 11am - 8pm, and Sat - 12pm - 8pm.

Here's a glimpse at their menu:

Jerk Chicken (L) $10......(s) $8
Oxtail with Butter Beans (L) $10......(s) $8.50
Raggae Chicken (L) $10......(s) $8
Curry Chicken (L) $10......(s) $8
Curried Goat (L) $10......(s) $8
Ackee (salted cod with garlic, onions and other seasonings) $8

When you arrive just let her know that you can't have any gluten and she'll take care of you. No problem!

September 10, 2009

Gluten Free Rum Boulders

I brought these goodies to my friend's birthday party (along with some rum nuggets) and they were a hit! Mindy and I had a bottle of Appleton Rum that we brought back from Jamaica, so I figured what better way to put it to good use. I was pretty heavy-handed with the rum, so feel free to use less.  I wrote about Rice Chex going gluten free a while ago, and now there are a number of GF Chex cereals.  I love the Honey Nut, Cinnamon Chex and Chocolate Chex cereals, but Corn Chex is great as well.  It's so great going to a normal grocery store and being able to pick up mainstream GF products. What a difference a few years can make!

I used half a box of Chocolate Chex to make these Rum Boulders, but feel free to experiment with any of the Chex cereals.  Also, I used ground walnuts, but these would be great with ground or crushed almonds as well.  These keep well when wrapped up and put in the fridge, and can be a great alternative to a drink after work:)  And if you want, you could always spread the mixture out in a shallow pan and have yourself some GF Rum Bars to bring on the hiking trails.  Enjoy!

  • 14oz can of condensed milk
  • 1/2 box of Chocolate Chex Cereal (crushed)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (crushed or ground)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins 
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 1/3 cup cocoa 
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut 

  1. Place golden raisins and rum in a bowl and set aside to soak.
  2. Mix the crushed Chex with the walnuts, condensed milk, cocoa, coconut, rum and raisins together. If mixture is too sloppy or gooey, add more cocoa and coconut.
  3. Using a couple of spoons, shape the mixture into double bite-size mini-boulders and place on wax paper or in paper cupcake holders. (I used the mini ones)
  4. Place in fridge to set for about an hour. 
  5. Transfer to airtight container.
  6. Dig in and enjoy!  Don't eat too many of these though, I did and ended up with a slight hangover.

August 30, 2009

Gluten Free Sunshine Colcannon

After the last post I went to the store and purchased Betty Crocker's GF Brownie Mix.  Just like the chocolate chip cookies, the brownies were great!  I can't wait to try all of their new GF products:)

It's almost the beginning of the semester. This is my last year taking classes; only three more to go before dissertation.  This week was my last at Social Work Counseling Services. It was sad emptying out my office and closing out my cases, but I'm looking forward to what's ahead. It should be a busy year, but I can't wait to get it going!

As usual I've been cooking and baking up a storm.  This dish was really easy to put together.  I call it "Sunshine Colcannon" because the eggs look like little suns:) It tasted wonderful and was super filling.  I just love these traditional Irish meals... such great comfort food.  Feel free to use whatever cheese you prefer, and if you have an allergy to eggs, just leave them out.  

  • 2 pounds potatoes (chopped up)
  • 1/2 pound crisp green cabbage - any variety (shredded)
  • 2 green onions (chopped)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 oz. mature cheese (grated)
  • butter or margarine (according to taste)
  • nutmeg (according to taste) - I used about 1/4 tsp.
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper (according to taste)

  1. Boil the potatoes until just tender - drain them and smash em up!
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. Lightly cook the cabbage until just tender but still crisp. I cooked it in some olive oil and water, covering to steam a little.
  4. Drain the cabbage and mix them with the potatoes.  Add the onions, butter, nutmeg and S&P and mix together well.
  5. Transfer the mixture into a shallow ovenproof dish and make four potholes in the mixture. Crack an egg into each hole and season well.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the eggs are just set.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese.
  7. Grab a bottle of Redbridge, some family or friends, and chow down!!

August 21, 2009

Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I am so pumped about Betty Crocker's New Gluten Free line of products!  They're even showing up at my local Acme, which rarely carries anything GF. I decided to start the taste-testing with their chocolate chip cookies. After adding all the ingredients and mixing it up, it did seem a little too crumbly. However, the directions on the box said it would look that way.  After about 10 minutes of baking the smell permeated our home.  I just LOVE the smell of cookies in the oven. It makes me want to snuggle up on the couch and watch cartoons.

After letting them cool for about a minute, we all began to chow down.  They were awesome!  The cookies did get hard pretty fast, but nothing a cold glass of milk couldn't remedy.  They were also relatively cheap, only $4.99, which is pretty good compared to a lot of other gluten free mixes.  Next, I'm going to try out the brownies. I can't wait!

August 15, 2009

Gluten Free Eggplant and Pistachio Boats

Last night I had a good time hanging with my fellow Philly foodies at E's house! E writes FOODAPHILIA and hosted this round, showcasing her new apartment. I always enjoy hanging with E and Taylor (who writes MAC & CHEESE).  If all goes according to plan, next time, in October, it  will be at my crib. I plan to make an awesome pumpkin soup inside the pumpkin, and a few pumpkin-based sweets:) I'm a big fan of the orange squash :) But, the Fall is still months away and there's so much to be done before then.

I'm happy to say that in a few weeks I'll be submitting all the paperwork required to obtain my LLC license for my company, Helping Hands Books.  HHB has been my pet project for the past two years, and now that my little hobby is evolving into something much bigger. I'm experiencing a mix of positive excitement and nervous anxiety. But I've got faith it's going to work out.  I just know that soon, I'm going to need to start hiring people!

I decided to put all of my gluten free recipes together into an e-book titled "Trav's Gone Gluten Free's Kick-Butt Cookbook.

Now... I know that I posted an eggplant recipe a few posts ago, but I just had to share this one as well. I had a few more eggplants from Produce Junction, so I figured I'd experiment some more. This dish doesn't look too pretty, but it's seriously delicious. It also has a very meaty texture, so much in fact, that my brother was surprised that there wasn't any pork or beef in what he was eating. I mistakingly cut off the ends of the eggplant, making it harder to scoop out perfect bowls, but it turned out just fine:)  If you don't have pistachios on hand, you can use hazelnuts or cashews.  This meal is great! Enjoy!

  • 2/3 cup brown rice (cooked)
  • 1 large eggplant (cut in half)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 small sweet green pepper (chopped)
  • 1/4 pound of mushrooms (sliced)
  • 3 oz. Cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 3 tblsp. olive oil
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/2 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup raw pistachios (no shells of course)

  1. Cook your rice and set it aside to cool.
  2. Scoop out the flesh from the eggplant halves and chop. 
  3. Boil some water and blanch the hollowed-out eggplant boats for about 2 minutes, then drain upside down.
  4. Fry the chopped eggplant flesh, onion, garlic, green pepper and mushrooms in the oil for about 5 minutes.
  5. Mix in the rice, cheese, egg, marjoram, salt and pepper. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  7. Arrange the eggplant boats in an ovenproof dish. Spoon the filling inside. Sprinkle over the pistachios.
  8. Throw the eggplant boats into the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set and nuts are a bit golden.
  9. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
  10. Chow Down!!

August 6, 2009

Gluten Free Jerk Turkey Tacos

This is another example of a typical quick and easy meal I'd make any odd day of the week.  Lately I've been making things a bit more spicy than usual... and I've been loving it!  These soft tacos are loaded with Jerk Seasoning.  I used quite a bit... enough to make your nose run a little, but oh man were they good!  I picked up the Jerk Seasoning while in Ochos Rios - and when I took my first bite of soft taco, I was instantly transported back to the beach in my mind.  I love how your taste-buds can do that:)  Feel free to ease up on the Jerk Seasoning if your sensitive to hot spice, but not too much because then it just wouldn't be Jerk!

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 can ready to serve black beans
  • Corn tortillas (make sure GF!)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1-2 cups shredded greens (I used Romaine)
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 tblsp. Jerk Seasoning
  • 3 tblsp. olive oil
  • Cooking spray (make sure it's GF!)

  1. Empty the black beans in a small saucepan and add the garlic powder and diced onion. Heat on low, stirring occasionally.
  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the ground turkey.  Chop up the turkey as much as you can as it cooks, while adding your Jerk seasoning one tablespoon at a time. What your looking to do is add enough seasoning to color the oil a light orange. 
  3. Once your turkey is completely cooked, and your beans are warmed through, heat a large skillet on medium. Lightly spray each side of your tortillas and throw on the skillet. You only need to heat them till they soften up. Remove softened tortillas, set aside and add more to the skillet (repeat).
  4. Fill the tortillas with your turkey, the greens and your beans and go to town!

July 31, 2009

Gluten Free Eggplant & Ricotta Rolls

I've been cooking up a storm lately; sticking to vegetarian and more health-conscious meals.  I love it!  Cooking healthy gluten free food is actually very easy.  It's the calorie-laden GF baked goods that are a bit more challenging. Eating foods that energize and make you feel good inside is where it's at.  I still eat whatever I want when I'm out, but I think sticking to the healthy stuff at home is an easy way to keep my weight down.  Not that I'm worried too much about my weight, but it's good to think preventatively.

I've had some pretty gross and greasy eggplant parmesan before so I don't usually cook with eggplant.  I wasn't sure how this dish would turn out.  It required a few more steps than I'm used to (I'm a pretty lazy cook), but the end product was AWESOME!  The following day when I had it for lunch at work - it tasted even better!  This dish seriously opened up my taste buds to the yumminess of cooked eggplant.  I know you're going to like this one;)

For the eggplant rolls
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • Olive or Sunflower Oil (enough to coat the bottom of a pan)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups white rice (cooked)
  • 1 tblsp. fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. fresh mint (chopped)
  • Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper
For The Sauce
  • 1 tblsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium size onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 garlic clove (crushed)
  • 14 oz. can of chopped tomatoes 
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or GF vegetable stock)
  • 1 tblsp. fresh parsley (chopped)

Cooking Instructions
  1. Get the rice cooking.
  2. Create the tomato sauce: heat the oil in a small pan and fry the garlic and onion for 2 to 3 minutes (or until softened).
  3. Add the tomatoes, wine (or stock), and parsley. Season well with salt & pepper.  Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes (stirring occasionally).
  4. Meanwhile: preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. 
  5. Slice the eggplants the long way. Discard the ends and outer slices.
  6. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the slices of eggplant until golden brown on each side (you'll need to do this in stages). Remove the browned slices and drain on paper towels.
  7. Mix the cooked rice, ricotta cheese, basil, mint, and some salt and pepper in a bowl.
  8. Lay the cooked slices of eggplant on a cutting board. Drop generous spoonfuls of rice mixture onto one end of each slice and roll them up.  Arrange the rolls side by side in a shallow ovenproof dish. 
  9. Cover the rolls with the hot tomato sauce and throw it in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Remove and chow down! This is serious good eats!

July 28, 2009

Gluten Free Arabian Spinach & Chick-Peas

The month before my wedding, I ate horribly.  Most of my meals consisted of burgers, hotdogs, sausage, and whatever else could be thrown onto the grill and cooked quickly.  While in Jamaica I had a chance to eat anything I wanted, and what I ended up enjoying the most, were simple, healthy foods.  Before I left I decided to do my best to make more vegetarian dishes, and try and limit my red meat intake.  Since being back I've begun to experiment and am loving it.  This is the first out-of-the-ordinary meal I made.  It's extremely simple, fast and delicious!  Most people would likely use this as a side dish for fish or meat, but I had it as the main course with basmati rice. I'll be making this again:)

  • 15 oz. can chick-peas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 14 oz. fresh spinach, washed and shredded
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tblsp. butter
  • 2 tblsp. olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions
  1. Using a large frying pan or wok, fry the onion in the olive oil for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Ad the cumin and garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Add the shredded spinach in small batches, stirring until the leaves begin to wilt.  It may not seem like it can all fit, but the spinach shrinks down a lot!
  3. Stir in the chick-peas, butter, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Reheat it until just bubbling and then serve.  
  4. That's it! Enjoy!

July 24, 2009

Our Final Days in Jamaica

The Honeymoon is over. Boooooo!  Mindy and I are back in body but not in spirit.  Granted, our work week was short, but after the amazing experience we had in Ochos Rios, Jamaica, we're having a hard time getting back into the grind.  After our Blue Mountain adventure, the next trip we made was to Dunn's River Falls.  We hopped aboard a "booze-cruise" and sailed along the coast to the mouth of the falls.  They made us all hold hands while we climbed, which was pretty ridiculous for us since we've spent countless summer days climbing the waterfalls of Ithaca, NY, but it was still fun.  I think they have everybody hold hands due to the high amount of inebriated tourists that descend on the spot throughout the day:)  It can be pretty slippery too. As soon as Mindy let go of my hand and began to pave her own trail, her feet flew out from under her and she took a spill.  She got right up though. She's tough like that.

The next adventure we took on was a trip to Bob Marley's grave. We ended up meeting a couple of Londoners that hooked us up with two great local tour guides.  We spent the entire day with them driving through mountain villages, meeting people, and taking in amazing views from lookout points.  The driver took us through the 9-miles of road that led to Bob Marley's house.  Mindy and I have always been big Bob Marley fans. In fact, our mutual love for Marley's music was one of the first things that drew us together back in 1996:)  Being there was kind of emotional.  It was an amazing experience for both of us, and we'll definitely go back the next time we visit Jamaica.

After leaving Bob's house our tour guides asked us what we wanted to do.  We said we wanted to visit a local restaurant popular with the locals.  They both said "no problem mon!" and brought us to a great place specializing in curried mutton and Jerk dishes.  I ordered the Curried Mutton, which came with rice and beans cooked in coconut milk, and some slaw. The meat had a good deal of bones throughout, but I didn't mind since the taste was amazing!

We spent our remaining days getting massages, laying out, swimming, snorkeling, and eating at all the resort's restaurants.  We also took advantage of the buffets and room service meals. It was awesome!  I wish we were there right now:(  Oh well, I'm sure the two of us will be on another amazing adventure sooner than we think... that's kind of how we roll:)

July 16, 2009

Biking Down Blue Mountains

The days are passing much too quickly.  I wish our honeymoon here in Jamaica could go on forever:)  We are both feeling so spoiled, and we're loving every minute of it!  Tuesday evening we ordered room service dinner again. This time I chose the "Saumon Fume": Smoked salmon served with caviar, sour cream and capers. I'm not very accustomed to caviar, but I have to say, it was pretty good.  It's definitely a textural experience.  The eggs tasted like condensed sea, and they popped like little water balloons on the roof of my mouth.  The salmon was excellent, especially when mixed with capers and a dab of sour cream. Very good meal!

Afterwards we wandered down to the chocolate bar, which had about 20 plates of chocolate goodies, and a chocolate volcano to coat fresh chunks of fruit. I kept to the solid chocolates and the chococano. We loaded up our plates, walked onto the beach, and enjoyed our chocolate while reclining on beach chairs watching for shooting stars.

The next morning we woke up to room service knocking on our door to deliver our breakfast. It's awesome having your breakfast delivered every morning. We have an ocean-view room on the top floor of our building. Sitting with each other, having meals, completely private, the sounds of gently lapping waves in the background, the distant cries of gulls, and the wind blowing through the coconut trees; it's all very romantic. Like I said... I could get used to this:)

After breakfast we headed off to the Blue Mountains, to take part of a mountain biking adventure.  The ride was about 2 hours, so I was able to really get a good look at the countryside of Jamaica. Mindy said it was just like Tanzania, and I thought it was very similar to the less wealthy areas of China.  But it was beautiful everywhere. The Blue Mountains were gorgeous and tropical. The air was warm, humid, and sweet with the scent of flowers and vegetation.

The bike trip ended up being only one way; down hill.  They brought us up as far as they could go and then guided us down the narrow winding road we had just driven up.  We stopped whenever we wanted to, talked with the locals, took in the views, and looked completely ridiculous in the helmets and pad get-ups they forced us to wear. 

At half-way point, we stopped at a small restaurant/coffee roasting station for lunch.  They served us Jerk Chicken with spicy rice boiled in coconut milk. I asked them about the various gluten sources I needed to avoid, and they assured me none were used.  It was an awesome meal. My lips were left slightly tingly and my whole body was being warmed from the inside out. 

Our meal was finished off with a freshly roasted, ground, and brewed cup of Blue Mountain Coffee.  I drank it black. Not something I typically do; I'm a light and sweet guy. But I could see the oil droplets, filled with flavor, appearing at the surface of the coffee after every agitation, and I had to know its taste. It was great. Very earthy and rich. I didn't even mind that it was black. It tasted that good. And it was grown right there, right around where I was sitting. I could see coffee plants all around me, scattered along the steep slopes.  I had passed many on the side of the road while riding down the hill.  And what I was drinking right now was locally harvested by Jamaicans working for a Jamaican company.  I just love this stuff!

After our meal we finished off the biking tour with a dip in a pool under a waterfall.  I was the first to swim out and climb behind the waterfall, and I dove off of every rock I could find:)  It was a great way to end the trip! I took in everything again as we drove back to our resort, enjoying every scene, knowing that all too soon this amazing adventure would come to pass. Like every other journey before it.  Like every journey ahead. 

July 14, 2009

Arrived in Jamaica!

Wow, what a fast few weeks! The wedding is over and I'm in Ochos Rios, Jamaica at a Sandals resort with my new wife.  The Wedding was absolutely magical.  It was supposed to rain, but it didn't.  The ceremony was beautiful and flawless.  Our friends and family were wonderful. During the cocktail hour near a reflection pool surrounded by huge trees, the sound of an enormous bullfrog bellowing from the pond, flower petals caught by the wind lightly showered the guests. Everyone had a blast, getting goofy pictures taken in the photo-booth, eating, drinking and dancing their brains out. Mindy was unbelievably gorgeous! It was magic. It really was:)

Now it's Honeymoon time! Since we arrived in Jamaica all of our stresses, cares, concerns, worries, what have you - all of that is slowly seeping away into the sand, salty waters, waterfalls and pools. We have been eating a lot, drinking a lot, and relaxing a ton. It's nice. And it's only been a day and a half! I could definitely get used to this:)
Our room is completely stocked! It has a bar included, complete with mixers, wine, champagne, and four bottles of liquor where all you do is lift your glass up to the bottle and you get a perfect shot.  It has scotch, vodka, gin, and Appleton Special Jamaica Rum.  
Appleton is all over this resort, and is given out as contest prizes and bonus gifts when making "adventure tours." We're going to do a Blue Mountain Bike Tour tomorrow, and of course, we were given a complementary bottle of Appleton mon:)

The first night we were here they had a beach party with tons of food served out on the sand. It was pretty sweet. I gathered a smorgasbord of the offerings. The list included curried mutton, beet/date salad, local spiced greens steamed with carrot wedges, jerk chicken and pork, king prawns in chili sauce, and steamed clams.  Awesome!!  

Just in case, I took a couple of gluten-zyme tablets.  

When we returned to our room a plate with chocolates had been placed on our bed with a little note congratulating us on our marriage.  It was a nice touch:) 
This morning we ordered a room-service breakfast.  I ordered the "Jamaican" which was a mixture of spicy non-battered fish, eggs, plantains, red pepper, onions and a healthy portion of black pepper. It was served with potato wedges and two bread balls.  I gave those to Mindy:)  The coffee was from Blue Mountain, and it was great!  And the papaya was sweet and perfumey.  
We spent the whole day swimming in the ocean, laying out, sitting under the shade of palm trees, reading books, listening to music, drinking from pool bars and doing absolutely nothing productive.  About an hour ago we returned from a couples massage that was given to us by our friends Andy and Peggy.  Thank you Andy and Peggy! It was awesome.  Now we're waiting for our dinner to arrive. And later there's a chocolate bar!!  What is this place? Heaven?


Just So You Know...

The information presented in this blog is intended to educate and entertainment. However, I'm not a medical expert.  I also do not know absolutely everything about Celiac Disease.  What I do know has been learned through trial and error, research, and what has been taught to me by friends who also share my food-related affliction.  Please take the time to do your own research about Celiac Disease and gluten-related issues.  I have a list of links to useful resources along the left-side of this blog. Also, feel free to cross-check my statements. If you find contrary information, please let me know. Thanks so much for visiting Trav's Gone Gluten Free!