Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches

These sandwiches are so good! I used Udi bread and I was very happy with the outcome.
This recipe is easy and makes enough for about 4 sandwiches. They come together really fast and is a nice way to not have to stand over a stove all day. I think the basil-lemon mayo gives the veggies a great flavor and the leftovers will taste great with any sandwich.
I served with Squash Soup, my favorite soup of all time.

Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches

1 red pepper
1/2 med. red onion
1 zucchini
1 T. olive oil
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
3 T. mayonnaise
1/2 T. minced fresh basil
1/2 T. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Sliced Cheddar cheese
Toasted bread
Cut the red pepper into strips; cut onions and zucchini into 1/2 inch slices. Brush vegetables with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables covered over medium heat or 4-5 mins on each side or until crisp-tender. Cool.
Combine the mayo, basil, lemon juice, and garlic; spread over toasted bread. Layer with cheese and grilled vegetables.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Strawberries & Cream Pie

I've been a little obsessed with making pie.
I love pie.
I love the crust and the fruity middle, the flavors that melt in your mouth.
Here's another pie recipe.
Paul said he liked this one better than the Blueberry Dream made a few weeks ago. I think I might have to agree.
This is so easy, a no-bake pie and is so good. If you don't want to make a graham cracker crust you can also use the Chex cereal crust, Pamela's shortbread cookies in place of the grahams, or there's a chocolate shell on the bottom that I think could take the place of a crust.

Strawberries & Cream Pie

1 cup (6oz) semisweet chocolate chips, divided
3 t. shortening, divided
1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 t. vanilla
1 8oz carton Cool Whip
2 cups fresh strawberries, halved
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam

In the microwave, melt 3/4 cup chocolate chips and 2 t. shortening; stir until smooth. Brush over crust. Refrigerate until firm.
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla until smooth. Fold in Cool Whip. Spoon into crust. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Arrange strawberries over pie. In the microwave, heat jam until melted; brush over the top. Melt remaining chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Drizzle over pie. Refrigerate until chilled.

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

I found this recipe on and just substituted in GF graham crackers made by Kinnicnick. It turned out pretty good, for me it was a little salty, but everyone else really liked it.

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

1 1/4 cup graham crackers, crushed
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
6 T. butter, melted

Mix together and press into a 9in pie pan. Chill 1 hour before filling or bake at 375 for 7 mins. for a more crunchy crust.
Cool before filling.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Eight Years...

I've wanted to do a post about this for a while now.
I can't believe it's been this long, but eight years ago I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
It's an auto-immune disease where the body can't tolerate the gluten protein found in wheat, barley and rye. The body produces antibodies that fight the gluten thinking it's a "virus" or a foreign body. The symptoms are intestinal problems, vitamin deficiencies, and all the problems caused by malabsorption of nutrients. (ex. osteoporosis due to lack of calcium). The only "cure" is to live a gluten-free diet. I'm sure you have seen the labels on products at the store. It becomes a lifestyle, not just a diet that will end in a few months.

I guess I just wanted to get my story out there, a lot of people have Celiac Disease, about 3 million Americans, and you could be one of them. I started this blog so that we can all live gluten-free and not starve!

For years I remember having an upset stomach and intestinal issues. It didn't seem to matter what I ate, or when I ate it, I always seemed to be running to the bathroom, getting head and body aches, fatigue, and just an overall sick feeling. Of course, you have to just keep living a normal life, everyone probably got tired of me complaining everyday that I just "didn't feel good". It didn't make any sense why eating normal and healthy foods, like whole wheat bread, cereals, and pastas made me feel so awful. I thought I was taking good care of myself.

My senior year of high school, we decided to look more into what really was going on, and after a series of test, we still weren't getting any answers. My mom remembered a man who went to our church who was living a strict diet. She talked to him and after listening to the symptoms, she decided to put me on a 3 day gluten-free trial. She was inspired, really. After day 2 when I started feeling better, we knew it was time to get a blood test.

To be tested for Celiac Disease, the first step is to get a blood test to see if your body has the antibodies that fight the gluten. (There are way more scientific terms) Then, they usually have you get an intestinal biopsy. My antibody numbers were off the chart so there was our answer!

Honestly, since I have made the switch to the gluten-free lifestyle it hasn't be too bad. It was really hard at first when I could remember what everything tasted like. It was hard to watch people eat pizza, donuts, and enjoy cupcakes at birthdays. I remember being with friends and explaining, 'no I'm not picky, I'm just can't eat that', 'yes, even a little bit will hurt', and so on. Now that it's been awhile, I can't remember what the gluten-full version tasted like and there are so many good substitutions out there, I no longer feel deprived. When I am at home, in my own kitchen, it's easy. I know what to make and how to make it. The hardest part still is social eating, since I don't always know exactly what's in the food being served.

Not only am I feeling better, I've learned a lot these last eight years. I have learned how to cook and how to substitute ingredients. It's made me plan ahead and be organized about meals, food and grocery shopping. It's made me read food labels and helps make healthy food choices. (Sometimes the things we put into our bodies is scary...) I've learned that eating, even though restricted, can be enjoyable and fun and with just a few tweaks here and there, it's not as hard as I once thought to be gluten free, and not starving.

I just want to end by saying thank you to my parents who helped me figure out what the issue was, and still helping and supporting me through this lifestyle. And thanks to my friends who always make sure at various events there is something that I can have as well, it truly means a lot to me. Thanks for all that have helped me!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana Soup

I was told this is the Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana soup recipe.
Authentic or not, wow, it was good!
Be sure to use mild sausage and if you don't want it too spicy, half the amount of crushed red pepper. This soup has some zing to it!
Also I halved the recipe, it makes a lot.
Excellent with bread sticks!
(I just make a pizza crust, bake it with a little drizzle of olive oil and Parmesan cheese and cut into thin strips.)

Buon appetito!

Olive Garden® Zuppa Toscana

Makes: 6-8 servings

1 lb ground Italian sausage
1½ tsp crushed red peppers
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbsp bacon pieces
2 tsp garlic puree
10 cups water
5 cubes of chicken bouillon
1 cup heavy cream
1 lb sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
¼ of a bunch of kale

Sauté Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a large pot. Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.
In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic for approximately 15 mins. or until the onions are soft.
Mix together the chicken bouillon and water, then add it to the onions, bacon and garlic. Cook until boiling.
Add potatoes and cook until soft, about half an hour.
Add heavy cream and cook until thoroughly heated.
Stir in the sausage.
Add kale just before serving. Delicious!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blueberry Dream Pie

Blueberry Dream Pie tastes as good as a dream.
But it's real.
It's delicious.
It's fruity.
And it's very cute:
I'm sorry to be posting this recipe at the end of blueberry season, hopefully you can still find some fresh ones, but if not, I'm sure frozen ones will taste just as good.
I thought there would be more of a creamy layer, but the cream cheese mixes into the blueberries making a delicious filling.
I used a cookie cutter to make the cute flower designs. The recipe suggests using stars for 4th of July, hearts on Valentine's Day, and leaves for the fall...the options are endless.
Blueberry Dream Pie

GF Pie Crust Recipe

Cheese Filling:
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1 egg yolk
Blueberry Filling:
1/2 cup plus 1 T. sugar, divided
2 T. GF mix
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
6 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, divided
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. minced fresh mint or 1 t. dried mint
1 egg white, beaten

Line a 9-in. pie plate with bottom crust. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge of plate; flute edges. Line unpricked pastry shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 450 for 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce heat to 375.
In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk until blended. Spread into crust.
In a large saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar, flour and cornstarch; stir in water until smooth. Stir in 2 cups berries. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Cool slightly. Gently stir in the lemon juice, mint and remaining berries. Pour over cheese filling.
Cut decorative cutouts in remaining pastry; arrange over the filling, leaving the center uncovered. Brush pastry with egg white; sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake at 375 for 35-40 min. or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cover edges with foil during the last 15 min. to prevent overbrowning, if necessary. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bacon Feta Cheese Stuffed Burgers

Want to make your husband/boyfriend/brother/father/etc. smile like this:
Then make him a Stuffed Burger:
(they taste better than they look)
I like to use the Kinnicnick brand of hamburger buns. Unfortunatly I was out, but they are good wrapped in lettuce. The mushrooms add really good flavor.
Bacon Feta Cheese Stuffed Burgers

1 lb ground beef
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup bacon bits
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. pepper
1 lb sliced fresh mushrooms
1 T. olive oil
1 T. water
1 T. Dijon mustard
4 buns

Shape beef into eight thin patties. {This is the key- nice and thin, otherwise the burgers are too meaty, and we'll have none of's the cheese you want more of!)
Combine the cream cheese, feta cheese, and bacon bits; spoon onto the center of four patties. Top with remaining patties and press edges firmly to seal. Combine salt, garlic powder and pepper; sprinkle over patties.
Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat or broil for 5-7 mins on each side or until meat thermometer reads 160 and juices run clear.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute mushrooms in oil until tender, Stir in water and mustard.
Serve burgers on buns with mayo, lettuce, tomato and mushrooms.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Fish Tacos

I went out on a limb on these...
but they turned out so good!
I think it would turn a non-fish eater into a fish-person!

Fish Tacos

1 medium mango, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup cubed avocado
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 T. chopped, seeded jalapeno pepper
1 T. minced fresh cilantro
3 t. olive oil, divided
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. honey
2-4 tilapia fillets (I would do 1 per person)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
Hot sauce (I love the Cholula brand)

In a small bowl, combine the mango, avocado, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, 2 t. oil, lemon juice, and honey; set aside. Brush fish with remaining oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill tilapia, covered over medium high heat for 4-5 min. on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Serve fish with salsa, lettuce, tortillas, and hot sauce.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Spiced Cran-Apple Roast

We had a really good roast tonight for dinner.
It had a fall flavor.
Paul gave it the "thumbs-up" sign.
It's a good change up from the usual Sunday roast, and so easy. You just dump everything in your crockpot and when you get home from church, dig in!

Spiced Cran-Apple Roast

1 roast, 2-3 lbs
1/2 cup apple butter (it's but the jam or the peanut butter, depending on which store)
1/4 cup apple juice
2 T. cider vinegar
1 t. ground pepper
1/2 t. salt
1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled and cubed
1 celery rib, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. cornstarch
3 T. cold water

Coat crockpot with cooking spray. Place roast in crock pot.
In a large bowl, combine the apple butter, juice, vinegar, pepper and salt. Stir in the apple, celery, onion, cranberries, and garlic. Pour over roast. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender.
Remove meat to a serving platter; keep warm. Transfer juices to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Gradually stir into pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Served with meat.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blueberry Cheesecake

This cheesecake is so good.
It's rich and dense and very fruity.
For the crust I like to use Pamela's butter shortbread cookies. I run the cookies and the pecans through the food processor for easier crumbling and chopping.

Blueberry Cheesecake

1 box Pamela's butter shortbread cookies, crushed
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 cups 4% cottage cheese
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups (16oz) sour cream
6 T. cornstarch
6 T. GF mix
4 eggs, lightly beaten
4 1/2 t. lemon juice
1 t. vanilla
Blueberry Glaze:
3 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, divided
1 cup sugar
2 T. cornstarch

In a bowl, combine the cookies, pecans and butter. Press onto the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of a greased springform pan. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 8 min. Cool on a wire rack. Reduce heat to 325.
Process cottage cheese in a blender or processor until smooth; pour into a large mixing bowl. Add cream cheese, butter and sugar; beat until smooth. Add sour cream, cornstarch and flour; beat well. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla just until combined. Pour over crust.
Return pan to baking sheet. Bake 70-80 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of pan to loosen; cool 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight.

For glaze, puree 2 1/2 cups blueberries in a food processor; press through a fine mesh sieve, reserving 1 cup juice. Discard pulp and seeds. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and reserved blueberry juice until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Refrigerate until completely cooled. Remove sides of pan. Spread glaze over cheesecake. Sprinkle with remaining blueberries; garnish with edible pansies and mint if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tomato 'n' Corn Risotto

This is really good, especially with the fresh corn "off-the cob". It's a lot of work for the side dish that it's suppose to be, so I add in about 3/4 c-1c cooked shredded chicken. A great dish for the main course or a side!

Tomato 'n' Corn Risotto

2 1/2 cups water
2 cups milk
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. butter
3/4 cup uncooked arborio rice
1 1/3 cups fresh corn, cut off the cob. (About 4 ears)
1 medium roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

In a large sauce pan, heat the water, and milk. Keep warm.
In a large skillet, saute onion and garlic in butter until tender. Add rice; cook and stir for 2-3 minutes. Stir in 1 cup hot water mixture. Cook and stir until all liquid is absorbed.
Add remaining water mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Allow the liquid to absorb between additions. Cook until risotto is creamy and rice is almost tender. (Cooking time is about 20 minutes.) Stir in the remaining ingredients; heat through.

Add cooked chicken for a main dish or serve as a side.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Olive Garden

For a baby shower, some friends and I went to the Olive Garden.
And this is what I got:
Amazing, right?!?
A few years ago, the hostess at the Olive Garden had no idea what I was talking about, gluten-free, now they actually have a menu!
A small menu, but it's a menu nonetheless!

This is the Pennine Rigate with Marinara.
It was pretty good.
Now, I'll admit, it wasn't the best-est restaurant meal I've ever had, but it was really fun being there with everyone and ordering pasta!

A few months ago, we went to Olive Garden and I tried the Mixed Grill Kabobs, which I liked better, but it didn't have any pasta, only grilled steak, chicken and veggies, which is still delish, it just depends on your mood. There are other options that I'm excited to try as well.

The salad is also GF as long as you make sure they hold the croutons!

Enjoy your next trip to the Olive Garden!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chex Cereal Crust

This pie crust is awesome for a fruity pie or a cheesecake! So quick and easy to whip up- get ready for all the rave reviews....

Chex Cereal Crust

2 cups Rice Chex, crushed
3 T. butter, melted
3 T. sugar

Combine ingredients and press into a greased pie pan. Bake at 350 for 6-8 mins.

That's it- easy, peasy!
Tastes really great with Berry Pie!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This recipe is so easy, and pretty good.
It's from my ol' college cookbook and I pull this out when we don't or haven't had time to run to the grocery store. I serve with fried rice.

Also, if you haven't found a good GF soy sauce, I really like the San-J brand. It's a little more pricy but certified GF and less salty than other brands, which is a good thing!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Chicken Breasts (however many you want) cut into small cubes
1 egg, beaten
Coat chicken pieces with egg. Then in cornstarch, but not too heavy. Lightly fry in 2 T. of oil. Just brown on both sides. Put in casserole dish and salt and pepper.
Mix together:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 T. soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 c. ketchup
Pour over chicken and bake, uncovered for one hour at 325.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Toffee Poke Cake

I made this cake for my dad's birthday! It turned out moist and delicious, no one would have guessed it was gluten-free.
It does have to sit overnight, so it does involve some planning ahead, but well worth it.

Toffee Poke Cake

1 GF chocolate cake mix (your favorite)
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
1 small jar caramel ice cream topping
Cool Whip
Toffe Bits or crushed Heath/Skor candy bar

Make the cake according to package directions. When cake is done, poke holes all over the top with a large serving fork. (Poke alot of holes.) Pour the entire can of sweetened condensed milk over the top and let it soak in. Then pour the caramel over the top. Cool and refrigerate.
Top with Cool Whip and toffee bits.