December 26, 2010

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Blossoms

The snow is falling outside. People are sliding all over the roads attempting to get to wherever they're going.  Lawn chairs are being fished out of storage for the impending parking space wars to come. I'm relaxing with my family and enjoying the atmosphere of content inactivity. Last night we had a few friends over for annual x-mas dinner party. Ping pong, guitar hero, x-mas movies, gifts exchanged, and lots of food and drink to overindulge in.  I baked two batches of cookies. The recipe for the first, the GF Peanut Butter Blossoms, is listed below. The other batch I'll post later. Both Awesome!!

These cookies were sooooo goood!  A few minutes out of the oven, when you take a big bite, and the chocolate kiss on top melts in your mouth and warms your throat... it's a little bit of heaven...  Valhalla.... or wherever you hope to go when you die, wherever that it, you are there. if only for a few seconds. a few perfect seconds. Yum!

It's simple, just basic GF Peanut Butter Cookies with chocolate kisses buried in the top.

  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 cups peanut butter (natural/no sugar added)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • a bag of chocolate kisses

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 deg. F.
  2. Unwrap around 36 chocolate kisses from their foil. You may need more, you may need less.
  3. Coat your cookie sheets with cooking spray (check the ingredients), or line the baking sheets with foil. 
  4. Whisk up the eggs in a large bowl. 
  5. In another bowl, mix up the sugar, baking soda and xanthan gum. 
  6. Add the peanut butter to the eggs and incorporate. Then add the sugar/baking soda/xanthan gum and mix thoroughly.
  7. Using a spoon or 1 inch ice-cream scooper, drop dough onto cookies sheets roughly 3 inches apart. Take a flat bottomed glass and smush down the cookies. *I used a glass measuring cup and hammered them all down.
  8. Using a fork, make some hatch marks on the top of each cookie.
  9. Bake each batch for 14 minutes, remove from oven and press one chocolate kiss into the top of each cookie. Return to the oven for two more minutes. Remove and let cool for five minutes. Afterward, transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack.

November 1, 2010

Gluten Free Flashback: Galway Ireland

As I'm writing this, I'm sitting on a neon beanie bag seat in the Netherlands home of my good friend Maaike. Mindy is on her computer going through photos she's recently taken, our morning cups of instant latte are half gone, and life feels refreshingly relaxed.

About a week ago we arrived at our first destination, Galway, Ireland.  I've never been to Ireland and have always dreamed of it.  Galway is a small seaside, fisherman's city.  It's filled with quaint, warming pubs where everything is made out of wood, Guinness flows like rivers, and Jameson Whiskey bottles decorate a good proportion of bar-side liquor shelves.  Unfortunately, I was unable to locate any gluten free beer, but their local hard cider, Bulmers, was just fine by me, and was absolutely everywhere.

At the very first meal we had, within our hotel "The House", the waiter knew everything about celiac disease, and could easily identify what was safe for me on the menu.  I went for a plate of sliced meats, olives, artichoke, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and a spicy wasabi mayo. The bread served with it - warmed and gluten free!  That set the tone for what would be the easiest and most enjoyable gluten free eating adventure I've ever been on overseas.

It felt sooo comforting to know that 9 times out of 10, any place you went to eat at, would either have gluten free options on the menu, or they would know exactly what celiac was about, including cross-contamination issues.

At a dinner-meeting with a woman from the National University of Galway, I happily ordered the lamb chops with mint glaze and potato wedges.  It was cooked medium, a bit pink in the middle, and melt-in your-mouth delicious. The eatery we were at, The Cook House, was three floors of winding wooden bannisters and railings, decorated to the T with everything from antique paintings, bronzes, to vintage Halloween decorations and mood lighting.  Awesome place!!

Other notable meals included a salmon and caper sandwich at our hotel restaurant, and a totally amazing traditional Irish stew at one of the coolest pubs I've ever been to: The Quay.  It was a lamb stew, with huge chunks of soft, slow-cooked lamb, potatoes, cabbage, spices, and tomatoes. It included sides of mashed potatoes, cabbage and a julienne of onions, red and green peppers. The Quay was, like most restaurants and pubs in the area, woody, tortuous, and soul warming. Unlike many, The Quay even had a glowing fire-place right next to the upstairs bar.  That was my last and best meal in Ireland.

I loved Galway. I loved the feeling I got as I was walking around the cobblestone streets, or along the sea-side paths.  First time in Ireland... but absolutely won't be the last:)

October 18, 2010

Gluten Free Harvest-Time Chili

I've been all about stews and chili's lately.  The fall colors are starting to arrive, early morning air is crisp with hints of the winter ahead, and I have a growing urge to fatten up and get ready for hibernation.

In just one week my partner and I will embark on an amazing overseas adventure.  For three weeks we'll be exploring and experiencing new and familiar cultures, while Mindy visits all the study-abroad programs affiliated with the university she works for.  While she's taking care of business, I'll continue to work on my dissertation and the presentation I'll be giving at Moravian College when I return.  I can't wait! Especially for the 8-10 hour drive we'll be making from Switzerland to Rome, Italy!!  A dream come true:)

I digress...  back to the food! I whipped this chili up last night and it was killer!  It's cheap, easy,  produces lots of yummy leftovers... perfect for the student on the go.  The only ingredients not in a can are the onions, green pepper and chili powder.  Try this one out as soon as possible. You'll love it!

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup green pepper (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 2 cans Pinto Beans (un-drained)
  • 1 can ( 14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (un-drained)
  • 1 can (11 oz.) sweet corn (drained)
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tblsp chili powder
  • Salt (to taste)

Cooking Directions
  1. In a large pot, cook the beef, onion and green pepper until the beef is browned.  Drain.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Add salt to taste. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.

October 7, 2010

Gluten Free Leek, Potato and Bean Stew

We just had a string of cold, wet and dreary days here in Philadelphia.  For me it was a little taste of home... Home as in Syracuse, NY that is, where sunny days only come about about 60 times a year.  For me, although it's a bit strange, there is something comforting about miserable weather.  I think it's because when the weather is at its worst, I tend to appreciate the little pleasures in life even more.  Like cuddling with a partner or a loved one... enjoying a hot mug of cocoa. Or, a steaming bowl of stew.  It was on one of these atypically dreary days in Philadelphia that I decided to whip up a big batch of this stew.  It's inexpensive, and super easy!

The spices make this stew pop for sure, but the combination of leek, potatoes, onions and beans always create a sense of homecoming for me.  There's nothing like the power of food to warm not just one's palate, but one's soul as well.  Everyone who tried this stew absolutely loved it, and I'm sure you will too:)

Total prep and cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
Feeds: About 4 - Want more?, double it up!


  • 1 can cannellini or navy beans (drained)
  • 1lb potatoes, skinned, rinsed and diced up
  • 3 tblsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 2 leeks (sliced)
  • 8 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tblsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups gluten free vegetable broth
  • 3 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tblsp fresh cilantro (rinsed and chopped)
  • Salt and Pepper as desired

Cooking Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pot (or dutch oven).  Add the potatoes, onion and leeks and cook for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are pale golden (stirring occasionally).
  2. Stir in the garlic, cumin and paprika and cook for a couple more minutes.
  3. Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and broth and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the beans, cover, and lower the heat to simmer for about 1 hour.
  5. Before serving, stir in the cilantro and as much salt and pepper as desired.
  6. Be prepared to be comforted and enjoy!

September 30, 2010

Gluten Free Pizza at Carmen's!

About a week ago a fellow graduate assistant, Maria, told me about a small pizza place around the corner from me that sold Gluten Fee Pizza.  I asked her if it was any good, and she gave rave reviews.  Since I usually have to drive into Philadelphia to order gluten free pizza, the discovery of a local venue was exciting. Less than a week later I took my partner Mindy on a pizza date.

Carmen's is a nice little BYOB tucked between Ridley Park and Chester on Macdade Blvd. We ordered a gluten free pepperoni  pizza.  It cost about $10, and was 10 inches round. Both Mindy and I were very impressed, not only by how good it was, but also by the kindness and attentiveness of the staff.  The pizza crust was both crispy around the edges and soft beneath the cheese... just how I like it!

Here's a direct quote from Carmen's website: "Carmen's now offers a 10" gluten free pizza, available in red, white, or tomato pie. Since we make our own dough fresh every morning, we could never guarantee our equipment to be sufficiently flour free to make our own gluten free products. Therefore we purchase this dough from and outside vendor, and it contains both dairy and egg. We use separate and sterile smallwares for baking and slicing the gluten free pizzas. Please don't order meatballs as a topping, since we use our own breadcrumbs when we bake our meatballs and they are not gluten free."

Biting into a hot slice of gluten free pizza, located just minutes from where I live was a blissful experience I didn't think would be possible anytime in the near future.  Another good day in the life of a celiac sufferer:)

Carmen's is located at the corner of Mac Dade Blvd. and Milmont Ave. in Milmont Park, PA, a Delaware county suburb just ten minutes southwest of the Philadelphia International Airport. They are centrally located on Mac Dade Blvd. between Rte 476 (the Blue Rte) and Rte 420, within easy reach of I-95, Chester Pike (Rte 13, the Industrial Highway (Rte 291) and Baltimore Pike.

September 22, 2010

Gluten Free Sandwiches and Beer at the Foodery, Philadelphia!

I know I've posted a lot about the Foodery, but their efforts at making my life as a celiac disease sufferer easier and more enjoyable deserve recognition:)  Not only does the Foodery offer a wide array of gluten free beers, but now they even offer gluten free bread for all their sandwiches!!  I couldn't believe my eyes when I first read the poster exclaiming the option of gluten free flatbread that could be substituted on any sandwich for an additional dollar.  It seemed too good to be true... but it was!  And I am so happy about it:)

I ordered the Roast Beef and Swiss on GF bread, which comes with romaine, cucumber, tomatoes and horseradish sauce.  The sandwich originally cost $6.00, so with GF bread it was $7.00.  I watched the deli-man make sure to cover his working area with paper before constructing the sandwich in order to avoid cross contamination.

As he was finishing up, I wandered over to the gluten free beer section and picked out something I had yet to try, the St. Peter's Sorgham Beer.  It was light, smooth, and the perfect companion to the spicy horseradish sauce in my sandwich.  Once again, I found myself in pure gluten free heaven:)

According to their website St. Peter's Sorghum beer, also known as "G-Free Beer" was launched in August of 2007. It's accurately described as a clean, crisp gluten free ale with a pilsner lager style finish and aromas of citrus and mandarin from American Amarillo hops.

The Foodery is located at 2nd and Poplar in Philadelphia.  If you're GF, and you live anywhere near Philadelphia, it's a must visit!  Yet another example of how much easier it's getting for us celiac sufferers.   Good stuff!

September 15, 2010

Gluten Free Spicy Shrimp in Chile Sauce

I've been experimenting a lot lately in the kitchen; using different kinds of GF noodles, and definitely spicing things up more than usual.  So far I've been super pumped with 3 out of the 4 new dishes I've created.  This dish uses fish sauce.  I've had a bad experience with fish sauce in the past, so I was hesitant at first adding the pungent, oddly colored substance. My bad fish sauce experience took place at a Thai restaurant. In order to assure that my pad thai didn't contain gluten, I provided my own gluten free soy sauce and fish sauce.  I don't know if they were offended or what, but my pad thai was so sickeningly fishy I almost passed out from nausea.

However this dish, which includes fish sauce, is ridiculously delicious!  It's a bit spicy but spice is good right?


  • 3 tblsp water
  • 2 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tblsp sugar
  • 1 small onion (red or white), cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 serrano chiles, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp chili sauce
  • 1 1/2 tblsp GF fish sauce (just check the ingredients)
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 scallions, cut into 2-3 inch lengths
  • 2 tblsp coconut milk mixed with 2 tblsp water
  • Steamed rice (for a side)

Cooking Instructions
  1. In a small skillet, mix the sugar with 1 tblsp of the water and cook over high heat, stirring until the mixture becomes a dark caramel color (roughly 2 to 3 minutes). Remove from heat and slowly stir in the remaining 2 tblsp of water. Transfer the caramel to a tiny glass bowl (or shot glass).
  2. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the vegetable oil and heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the sliced onion wedges and chopped garlic and stir fry until just softened (about 1 minute).
  3. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  4. Add the chopped serrano chiles, fish sauce, chili sauce, black pepper, scallion pieces and liquid caramel and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until the shrimp are pink (about 5 minutes).
  5. Stir in the diluted coconut milk, bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced (about 1 minute).
  6. Serve with sides of steamed rice.
  7. Chow down and enjoy! :)

September 5, 2010

Gluten Free Sweets at Blair Candy

I don't know about you, but ever since developing Celiac Disease, I eat a lot less candy.  Not that I don't love candy... I have a ruthless sweet-tooth...  It's just that I never know if the candy I want has had hidden gluten in it.  And constantly reading all that tiny print, mostly names of unknown artificial ingredients, can become tedious.  As a result, there has been much less candy in my diet.

However, just recently I was turned on to Blair Candy Co.  Blair Candy has taken the guess-work out of finding name-brand candy that doesn't contain gluten, and has created a separate order page just for people with gluten issues.  Just click on this link: Blair Candy Co. Gluten Free Page.

The candy is conveniently broken down into the subcategories: gluten free candy bars; gluten free gummy candy; gluten free gum; gluten free lollipops; gluten free novelty candy; and gluten free seasonal candy. I ordered some of my all-time favorites: Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Runts, Jelly Belly jelly beans, and some Orbit White gum.  The package arrived in just a few days, and I've been enjoying it (in moderation of course) ever since:)  Jelly Belly beans are awesome!!!

For you fellow GF sweet-tooths out there, Blair Candy Company has made things so much easier.   Check their site out!

August 21, 2010

Gluten Free Beer Review: Estrella Damm "Daura" and Sprecher "Mbege"

Wow!!! That's the first word in my mind after taking my first swig of Estrella Damm Daura, a gluten free beer from Barcelona Spain.  To this day, I've never tasted a gluten free beer as good as Daura. In fact, I'd have to say that Daura is one of the best tasting light beers I've ever had, gluten free or not!  I made our friend Mary, a true beer connoisseur, try it without telling her it was gluten free and she thought it tasted great as well.

I purchased it at the Foodery in Philadelphia on 2nd and Poplar.  Something I'm really excited about is the fact that the Foodery now serves sandwiches with freshly baked gluten free bread on a daily basis for just $1.50 extra.  Unfortunately the deli was closed when I visited Thursday night, but I plan to take a trip back soon to enjoy my first GF sandwich from a deli ever!  I can't wait!

Here's the website to: Estrella Damm Daura.   You have to try this beer! It's AWESOME!!

The second beer I want to talk about a bit is called MBEGE from Sprecher.  The description on the Sprecher Beer Website is: "Bananas are the main ingredient in mbege style beers popular in Eastern Africa. In keeping with tradition, this is brewed with real bananas and presented unfiltered. Light hints of banana remain present in the aroma and flavor of the unique offering."

I did a little research and I found that Mbege is one of the typical cauldron fired brews endemic to Tanzania in Eastern Africa, where it plays an vital role in rituals, business and pleasure.  Mbege is often found at weddings, funerals and other social gatherings, and is a cash product that supplements many family incomes.  At times, Mbege is used as another form of currency.

This beer is really tasty.  It does have a banana taste to it, but it's not too strong.  It's also a dark brew; something I favor, and goes down a bit too smoothly at times:)

Here's the website for Sprecher's Beers.

The gluten free beer options are increasing and improving all the time!  Thank goodness!!!  It's great that as time moves on, and awareness grows, this celiac thing feels much less like a curse than it used to.

August 11, 2010

Gluten Free POM and Balsamic-Glazed Chicken

I recently acquired a case of POM Wonderful juices.  Besides making amazing mixed drinks, my new favorite = Pomegranate/Blueberry and Hennessey, there are a lot of recipes incorporating these delicious, high in antioxidants juices. The first dish I decided to try out was the POM/Balsamic-Glazed Chicken.  The recipe came straight off the POM Wonderful Website.  There are a number of great recipes on their site that I plan on testing out soon.

This meal is really easy to make.  I added a little too much stock, which made the glaze a bit runny, but it was absolutely delicious!  This is a super healthy, fast and easy dish to whip up.  You'll love it!


  • 1 cup pomegranate juice (I used POM Wonderful Pomegranate Blueberry Juice)
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 3 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 cup GF chicken broth 
  • 1/4 cup GF balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Cooking Directions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on med-high heat, and brown the chicken breasts with the carrots and onions.  This should take about 5 minutes for each side of the chicken breasts.
  2. Remove the carrots and onions, set aside and keep warm in a covered container.
  3. Add the GF chicken broth to the chicken breasts in the skillet, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  4. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside in covered container to keep warm.  Save about 1/4 up of chicken cooking liquid in skillet.  
  5. Add and mix the pomegranate juice, vinegar, cornstarch, brown sugar and seasonings with the chicken cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes.
  6. Arrange the chicken breasts on plates (feel free to slice it up to soak in more glaze) with the carrots and onions and drizzle with the pomegranate glaze.
  7. Use the remaining glaze to dip bites of chicken into if desired, and chow down!

July 31, 2010

Gluten Free Toasted Ham and Swiss

Not so long ago my good friend Melanie surprised me with an amazing loaf of herbed gluten free bread. It was soft and moist, and unlike most GF breads on the market, it didn't even need to be heated to be edible. However, I couldn't help myself from rushing home to make a grilled ham and swiss cheese sandwich.  It was AWESOME!!  It was total gourmet!  I was in heaven.

The bread was from a mix by Gluten Free Pantry "French Bread"  To the box ingredients she added 5 tblsps dried Italian herbs. The loaf was baked in her, new and increasingly well-used bread machine.  I'm not fibbing when I tell you the grilled sandwiches I made from the bread made me forget how much I missed my once easy-access to fresh loaves of bread. Thanks Melanie!!

If you have gluten sensitivity issues, do yourself a favor and buy a good bread maker, some top shelf bread mixes, and get a bakin'  There's no excuse any more to deny ourselves the joys of fresh bread and grilled cheese sandwiches!

July 9, 2010

Gluten Free Beef and Fresh Herb Stew

I can't believe it's been this long since I've posted a new recipe!  You know what they say...  time flies when you're having fun.  I spent the whole month of May in China; traveling around, exploring, teaching, eating great food...  and I couldn't write about any of it because China has banned all social networking sites, including blogs.  However, I did take lots of pictures, and will be doing a "China Flashback" soon!

After I returned I had to hit the ground running in order to get Helping Hands Books back in order, and to start the dissertation process!  Now I finally feel like I'm back into the groove of things... catching up with friends, and catching up with all my side hobbies, like this one:)

The following stew recipe is one of those dishes that just sings out with the feeling of home-style comfort.  You can use pretty much any kind of herbs you have on hand.  I chopped up a smorgasbord of fresh organic herbs given to us by our friends Chip and Jackie Denoyers.  They are part of a farm co-op and had lots to share.  Fresh herbs are like currency to me.  When I get my hands on them, I just can't let them go to waste.  Besides this dish, I used them in omelets and scrambled eggs, pasta, and even to spice up my typical easy-meal soft tortilla wraps.

Feel free to add as much salt and pepper as you'd like to this dish, or even a bit of cayenne pepper.  Unless you like subtle, earthy flavors, because that's what this stew is all about:)

Roland Gluten Free All Natural Chicken Soup Base, 23 Servings Per 4-Ounce Jars (Pack of 6)


  • 2 large onions (diced)
  • 1/2 pound minced beef
  • 3 tblsp oil
  • 1 1/2 tblsp ground tumeric
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas (or Dal)
  • 5 cups water or GF chicken/vegetable stock
  • 3 tblsp parsley or thyme (chopped)
  • 3 tblsp rosemary (chopped)
  • 3 tblsp chives (chopped)
  • 3 tblsp mint (chopped)
  • 3 saffron strands, dissolved in 1 tblsp boiling water
  • 1 tblsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Dice up one of the onions. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the chopped onion until golden brown. Add the tumeric, split peas (Dal) and water... bring to a boil then reduce the heat to simmer - simmer for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile... dice up the other onion and throw it into a bowl.  Add the minced beef, salt and pepper to the bowl and mix well.  
  3. Once the 20 minute timer goes off, form the beef/onion mixture into 1-inch sized balls and carefully place into the simmering liquid. Once all the little meatballs are in the pot, set the timer for another 10 minutes.
  4. After the timer rings, add the rice, parsley, rosemary, and chives. Simmer for 30 more minutes, or until rice is tender, stirring frequently. 
  5. Melt the butter in a small pan and fry up the chopped garlic.  Stir in the mint and the saffron.  Add the garlic butter mixture to the soup and stir well.  
  6. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with mint if you have any left. 
  7. ENJOY!

April 28, 2010

Gluten Free Pancakes and Pure Maple Syrup

Well folks, it just doesn't get any better than this!  Gluten free pancakes (Trader Joe's Brand) and maple syrup harvested by my Aunt Vicki and Uncle Paul from trees on their own land, boiled down in their own sugar shack, and bottled for my tasting pleasure.  Awesome!

Trader Joe's has the least expensive GF Pancake Mix (around $3), but Pamela's and Bob's Red Mill also offer great GF Pancake Mixes.  Although I've heard that "Caramel Color" is made from corn in the USA, I don't trust anything unless it specifically states No Gluten, No Wheat, No Barely, etc.  Every single non-maple syrup on the market contains Caramel Coloring; for that reason, I'll only use pure maple syrup despite the steep cost.

My boss just found out he has to eat GF.  Since switching up his diet, he's already feeling better.  Knowing him, and knowing that he's a beer lover, I don't think it's hit him yet how much of what he used to enjoy will be eliminated from his list of options.  I went through some serious "beer mourning" when I realized that I'd never again be able to sip on a tall, cold pint of Guinness Extra Stout.  It still makes me sad thinking about it now.  Granted, Green's makes some pretty amazing GF beers, but I be fibbing if I said they were as good as the average gluten filled micro-brew on the market.

Gluten free living is all about getting back to the basics and appreciating simple foods more than one has ever had to.  It means savoring every last bite of well-made GF baked goods, slowing down the pace when enjoying a bottle of GF beer, and appreciating the simple pleasure of hot, steamy GF pancakes with Pure Maple Syrup drizzled on top.


April 13, 2010

Gluten Free Cheesy Shrimp & Grits

After seeing a shrimp and grits dish whipped up on one of my favorite Food Network shows, I just had to see what the fuss was all about.  The recipe is easy, relatively quick to put together, and sooooo good! Feel free to double the amount of shrimp I used. The more shrimp the merrier!  I decided to mix everything up together, but you can opt to top the cheesy grits with the shrimp mixture and eat it that way. Either way I'm sure you won't be disappointed:)  You can use any GF corn grits you want, but I used Bob's Red Mill GF Grits.

  • 4 cups water (+ more to keep grits moist)
  • 1 cup grits (aka polenta)
  • 3 tblsp butter
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 6 slices bacon - pork or turkey (chopped)
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 tblsp parsley (chopped)
  • 1 cup scallions (thinly sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • Salt & Pepper

  1. Bring water to a boil. Add some salt and pepper and the grits. Cook for 20-25 minutes.  If grits start to look dry, keep adding splashes of water to keep it moist and creamy. 
  2. Meanwhile...  Rinse shrimp and pat dry. 
  3. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned; drain well and chop up. 
  4. In the bacon grease, cook the shrimp on medium heat until pink.  Add the lemon juice, chopped bacon, chopped parsley, scallions and garlic.  Saute for another 3 minutes.
  5. Remove grits from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese.  YUM!
  6. Either mix up everything together, or spoon grits into bowls and top with shrimp mixture. Serve immediately and chow down!
  7. Enjoy!

March 31, 2010

Gluten Free Bakery Review: Sweet Freedom Bakery

For all of you who complain about the lack of great GF baked goods out there, this entry is for you.  Philadelphia is fortunate to be the home to Sweet Freedom Bakery, the absolute BEST place to get gluten free and vegan baked goods.  It's located at 1424 South Street (between Broad and 15th) and is open 10am to 7pm Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 4pm on Sunday, and is closed Mondays.

I decided to try them out for the first time a few weeks ago.  I ordered the chocolate chip chocolate cookie sandwich.  It was AMAZING!  Super rich, super gooey and completely delicious.  The great thing about Sweet Freedom Bakery are the options.  Nowhere else in Philadelphia can you find such a mouth-watering array of gluten free baked goodies.  Support our local GF bakeries! Go there and treat yourself! You won't be disappointed:)

Here's their website:  SWEET FREEDOM BAKERY

March 23, 2010

Gluten Free Product Review: Bob's Red Mill Steel Cut Oats

I've been a big fan of Bob's Red Mill products since I found out I have Celiac Disease.  They were one of the first companies that offered a wide variety of products I could eat.  Now that GF has gone somewhat mainstream, there are GF food products galore! Some are good, a lot are pretty bad, but Bob's products have always been great and they continue to release new GF products for us all to enjoy.  Recently I acquired a bag of their new "Wheat Free, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Whole Grain Steel Cut Oats".  The bag states: "Dear Customer... Our premium gluten free oats start as pedigreed non-GMO seed planed in oats-only fields. At harvest, Elisa testing verifies their purity. Our dedicated gluten free facility and additional Elisa testing ensure their integrity."

Before trying this, I've never had Steel Cut Oats.  I've always been a huge fan of oatmeal and preferred the slow cooked Quaker Oats that are available in most supermarkets.  The problem is that Quaker Oats do not guarantee freedom from cross-contamination.  For the longest time I didn't even go near oats for fear of getting sick. Oats naturally do not contain the gluten proteins that make those with Celiac so sick, but often fields of oats are planted near wheat fields so the two crops end up mixing a bit resulting in cross-contamination of most oat-products.

I've got to tell you, after my first bite of these steel cut oats, I was in love!  I find the texture awesome and with a little brown sugar and maple syrup, it's the perfect breakfast food.  I highly suggest you try these out for yourself. That is, of course, if you're a big fan of oatmeal like I am:)

March 7, 2010

Aunt Betty's Gluten Free Broccoli Salad

I'm about to share with you the best raw broccoli salad I have ever eaten!  Actually, it's the only raw broccoli salad I have ever eaten, but that's besides the point. This recipe comes from my good friend Cheryl Vermilya. Cheryl and her husband David have been the co-directors of the Town Shop Youth Center for over 35 years!  I attended the center throughout my teen years, and my experiences there were instrumental in shaping who I've become as an adult.  Additionally, the cooking classes that Cheryl organized monthly, truly instilled within me, a love for culinary experimentation.

During our annual New Year's trek to Syracuse to stay with Dave and Cheryl, this dish was prepared as part of a huge, delicious parade of food creations prepared by Cheryl in commemoration of our visit.  Cheryl's aunt, Betty, is the originator of this recipe, so THANKS AUNT BETTY:)  This side dish is simple, fast and yummilicious!  Try not to like it! I dare you:)


  • 1 large bunch of broccoli flowerets (chopped)
  • 1 small onion (minced)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 4 slices crisp bacon,or facon if you're vegetarian (crumbled)
  • 1/2 cup Miraclewhip mayo
  • 3 tbslp sugar
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (or regular vinegar)

  1. Mix together the mayo, sugar and vinegar.
  2. Combine all the ingredients (except for the bacon) and mix in a large bowl.
  3. Add the bacon and gently mix.
  4. Serve. That's it! Simple huh?
  5. Enjoy:)

March 3, 2010

Gluten Free Potato, Leek and Arugula Soup

Just three weeks away from comps! Yikes!  The weather is still a bit cold and dreary, but signs of spring are popping up all over the place. Just a few days ago I was walking through the woods among yellow blooms and daffodil shoots making their slow pilgrimage to their sun god.  The birds are back in the trees, beginning their Spring songs, and the season's last snow mounds are melting away to reveal fresh growth in the grass beds below.  I love Spring in Philadelphia. Especially during April when all the trees blossom; it's truly a beautiful thing and I look forward to it every year:)

Being that it's still a bit chilly, I thought I'd share yet another yummy soup recipe.  I made this about a week ago and absolutely loved it!  Taste-bud orgasms galore!  Now you can keep this veggie and omit the crumbled bacon, but I highly suggest at least substituting it with some FACON, or something similar, just for the sake of having little crunchies throughout your soup to enjoy.  Also, feel free to add vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Regardless of whether you add crunchies or not, a steaming bowl of this soup is a wonderful thing on a cold, damp day.  Trust me, you'll love it!


  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 3 leeks, mostly the white parts but a little green too (chopped)
  • 2 medium size potatoes, of any variety (chopped)
  • 4 tblsp butter
  • 3 3/4 cups GF chicken/vegetable stock, or water
  • 2-3 cups arugula (roughly chopped)
  • 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • crumbled bacon, or facon (for topping)

  1. Melt the butter in a large soup pan, and add the onion, leeks and potatoes, stirring the whole mixture till everything is coated with melted butter.
  2. Heat until sizzling and then turn heat to low.
  3. Cover the vegetables and cook on low for 15 minutes.
  4. Pour the stock or water in and bring to a boil over high heat.  As soon as it's boiling, reduce the heat to low, and keeping it covered, simmer for 20 more minutes.
  5. Remove the cover, and using a large spoon or potato masher with a long handle, carefully mash up the vegetable chunks a bit.  You don't want the soup to be super creamy, but mashing it up a little will make it just creamy enough.
  6. Add the chopped arugula, stir well and cook on low for another 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in the heavy cream, season with S & P to taste, and continue to cook on low until the whole mixture is hot again.
  8. Ladle into bowls and top with a pinch or two of bacon.
  9. Grab your favorite soup spoon and get ready for a tastetastic experience!
Roland Gluten Free All Natural Chicken Soup Base, 23 Servings Per 4 Ounce Jar, 4 Ounce Jars (Pack of 6)Roland Gluten Free All Natural Vegetable Soup Base, 23 Servings Per 4 Ounce Jar, 4 Ounce Jars (Pack of 6)Roland Gluten Free All Natural Beef Soup Base, 23 Servings Per 4 Ounce Jar, 4 Ounce Jars (Pack of 4)

February 23, 2010

Gluten Free Pumpkin & Rice Soup

My comprehensive exams are coming up and I'm stressing it a little.  I know that all I have to do is pass them, but my pathological drive to always go the extra distance is pushing me to want to get the best scores possible.  Although I know that it really doesn't matter what score you get, a passing mark is a passing mark, I just can't help myself.  On top of comps I have a chapter I'm writing for a book on Civic Engagement that is due (in rough form at least) by Monday.  It'll be bloodshot eyes and sore wrists from typing by the end of this weekend for sure!

With the lack of free time, I've been keeping it simple in the kitchen.  The following recipe can be made with fresh pumpkin if you like, but for sake of cost and convenience, I went with canned pumpkin.  Also, although I didn't add any, feel free to add crumbled bacon or diced ham to this soup to give it a little tasty protein kick:)  Regardless of how you alter this soup, it's sure to warm your insides with a sense of comfort, and put a smile on your face.

Serves 2


  • 1 - 24-28 oz. canned pumpkin (I used pureed)
  • 1 1/2 - cups GF chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 - cups low-fat milk
  • 1 1/2 - tsp sugar
  • 1/2 - tsp ground cinnamon (to serve)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup cooked rice
  • Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

  1. Add all the ingredients, except the rice and cinnamon, in a soup pan and heat till boiling (stirring occasionally). 
  2. Reduce heat to low. Stir in most of the rice (leave a little to sprinkle on top of soup) and cook for another 5 minutes. This is the point where you'd add bacon or diced ham if you prefer.
  3. Adjust the S&P to taste before ladling into serving bowls.  Top off with a sprinkle of rice and cinnamon.
  4. That's it!  Like I said, simple and fast! Enjoy!

February 9, 2010

Gluten Free Restaurant Review: Tortilla Press Cantina

Collingswood, NJ has it going on for GF dining choices!  Not long ago I was asked by Lydia and Chef Mark from Tortilla Press Cantina to stop by for a complimentary dinner to discuss their new GF-friendly menu.  There were four of us Celiac sufferers present, including one other GF blogger, Michael, from Gluten Free Philly.  On top of being served some amazing food, we were allowed to communicate our opinions about what would make Tortilla Press Cantina as GF friendly as possible. Some of our suggestions were: Advertise the fact that they have a designated GF fryer; place a "GF" next to every gluten free item on their menu; advertise on the outside of their restaurant that it's a GF-Friendly establishment; and educate the waitstaff about gluten sensitivity issues.  They were more than happy to work on all of our suggestions:)

This is Chef Mark

Although I don't have any good pictures of the food I ate that night, I've got to tell you, their Coffee Rubbed Braised Baby Back Ribs "slow simmered in our famous rub and served with mango bbq sauce and maple glazed sweet potatoes" were out-of-this-world!  And although they contract out for the GF dessert (Boston Cream Pie) I picked out, it was absolutely mouth watering scrumplicious! I'm sooo happy they have that on their menu:)

Not only have they taken our suggestion to list all their gluten free menu items with a (GF), they even went so far as to create a special GF Valentines Day menu! How cool is that!  Below I've pasted their menus for you to check out.  If you're ever in the area, I highly suggest you take the 15 minute trip from Philadelphia to chow down at Tortilla Press Cantina.  The prices are fair, the food is delicious, and the GF-friendly atmosphere is like an Oasis in a desert of unsympathetic, GF-ignorant eateries!

Here's the link:  Tortilla Press Cantina

February 3, 2010

Gluten Free Vegetarian Chili Yam Boats

Those who have been reading this blog know my affinity for the mighty yam.  Of course that's completely due to my insatiable sweet-tooth. Yams are sweet, but also very good for you... Which is why I love them so much.  I can eat them all day long and not feel a pinch of guilt.

The following dish was made especially for a vegetarian friend of mine who came to dinner.  I sided it with partially boiled Fennel topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese that had been placed under a broiler to brown and crisp.  The meal was absolutely deeeliiiish!  I had a lot of the veggie-chili leftover.  It was perfect all by itself, so I ate that for days.  The spices and the flavors of the vegetables was amazing.  I'll probably end up making this dish, minus the yams, sometime soon.  It was good enough to truly miss it:)


  • 3 small-medium yams
  • 1 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 - 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup GF vegetable stock
  • 1 large zucchini (cubed)
  • 1 - 10 oz can sweet corn kernels (drained)
  • 3 - 14 oz cans red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • sour cream (to top)
  • grated sharp cheddar (to top)

  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees F.
  2. Rinse the sweet potatoes and poke holes into them with a fork (so they don't explode)
  3. Place the yams on a baking tray and bake for 1-1/2 hours, or until you can easily push a fork into them.  You want them soft and mushy.
  4. While the yams are baking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until soft and golden (stirring occasionally). Add the garlic and spices, cooking and stirring for another minute or so.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, GF vegetable stock, and beans. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. Partially cover and cook for another 20 minutes.
  6. Uncover, increase the heat to medium-low for another 15 minutes to thicken the liquid.
  7. To serve, cut the yams in half lengthwise. Spoon the veggie chili mixture over the top of your yam-boats.  Add a dollop of sour cream and a few slices of sharp cheddar.
  8. Chow down and love the healthy yumminess of it all!

January 17, 2010

Gluten Free Restaurant Review: Outback Steakhouse

Last night, after a super tasty vegetarian/GF dinner, Brianna, Mindy and I all headed to Outback Steakhouse for dessert.  For those of you that don't know, Outback has quite a few GF options to choose from.  Just click HERE to see for yourself!  They only have one GF dessert option, but it is by far, the best dessert on their menu.  I'm talking about the Chocolate Thunder From Down Under!  It's a flour-less chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, drizzled with warm chocolate fudge, and topped with whipped cream.  It's a chocoholic's pathway to nirvana. From talking to the wait-staff there, a lot of people show up just to feast on the chocolate thunder from down under, celiac disease or not.  If you get a chance, I highly suggest you give it a try. It's like biting into a piece of heaven:)

January 13, 2010

Gluten Free Creamy Salmon & Corn Chowder

Another semester begins.  This time it's the last before I begin my dissertation.  I still have to pass comprehensive exams, and submit a proposal for my dissertation topic, but it all seems downhill from here. Maybe I'm just delusional, but after years of education, knowing that it's almost finally over feels really really good.

Not that I haven't been working in the "real world" all along, but knowing that soon I'll never have to take another long weekend class, or stay up late writing papers after a day of hard work, is a very good thing.  The "real world" is soooo much easier than the life of a grad-student.

I've been thinking about what I'm going to do with all my free time during my dissertation year, and figure what will make me happy will be to cook more, spend more time on my business, and give quality time to my good friends and family.  But knowing myself, I'll probably find some way to cram up all my time with work of some sort:)

However, I'm sure there will always be time for great food and friends.  And speaking of food... this chowder I made is dynomite! I served it at a get-together I had a while back and it was quickly engulfed.  It was so rich and creamy, completely delicious, and warmed up your insides with a sense of being home.  On top of that, it's breezy easy to make.

The only major equipment you'll need is a slow-cooker (crock-pot).


  • 2 cups GF chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups frozen sweet corn
  • 1 cup celery (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup onions (chopped)
  • 3/4 cup corn meal
  • 8 oz. package fat-free cream cheese (cut into cubes)
  • 16 oz. can salmon, drained, skin and bones removed, and coarsely flaked with a fork ( I know what you're thinking, "canned salmon?!", and yes, I thought the same thing, but trust me, it works just fine)
  • 1 tblsp. dill weed (chopped)

Cooking Directions
  1. Mix together the chicken broth, water, corn, celery, onions and corn meal in your slow cooker.
  2. Cover. Cook on low 8-10 hours, or on high 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  3. Turn cooker to high and add the cream cheese, stirring until completely melted.
  4. Stir in the salmon and the chopped dill.
  5. Cover and cook for 10 minutes longer.
  6. Dig in! (and try not to burn the top of your mouth!)


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!