Monday, November 24, 2014

CC's Gluten Free Holiday Gift Guide 2014

It's that time of year again, the holidays are upon us (as is the incessant holiday music). So, it's time for some gift giving ideas for that gluten free or otherwise food restricted person in your life. Hell, even a foodie might love these ideas. REMEMBER: Speaking from experience I say try your best not to default to food items specifically, try to think outside the gluten free pasta box and think of ideas that will make their life more fun and easy! For more ideas check out my lists from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 for some further ideas.


Books 

Flavor Bible- I LOVE this book. The book looks at every ingredient or cuisine imaginable and tells you what goes best with it, as recommended from chef's around the country. It also tells you the season, tasting notes, and other information. It's perfect for the home cook, especially someone who is beginning to rely more on home cooked meals and is looking to add some experimenting to their list. (~25$)

-Thug Kitchen- This book is a bit vulgar, but is certainly something to consider if you need a little crass humor. Learn to cook without any frills, and with a bit of curse words. From what I've seen so far most of the recipes can be modified to be gluten free. (~15$)

- The Lagasse Girls- Yes those Lagasse Girls, the daughters of famous chef Emeril. After learning they needed to elimate gluten Emeril's daughters created this book by taking some american favorites and made them perfectly gluten free for the home cook. (~20)

- Gluten Freedom- Written by one of the top Celiac Disease researchersAlessio Fasano, this was one of my favorite reads of the year, and I'm happy to put it on this list. This is a great find for someone on the 'newer' spectrum of the gluten free life style or anyone considering a gluten free diet. It is full of up to date research, facts, recipes, and tips for leaving the best gluten free life. (~20) 

2015 Gluten Free Buyers Guide - This guide rounds up the best gluten free products on the market based on the Gluten Free Awards from GFreek. The best of categories range from brews to bagels to munchies! (~10$)

Kitchen Gadgets


-Tim3 Machin3- First off let me say that this is a time sensitive purchase expiring in 15 days (December 10th)! This is basically a rice cooker on steroids capable of doing so much more than just cooking rice. There's a button for quinoa, homemade yogurt, oatmeal, steaming, and so much more. (Price varies depending on your pledge level)

- Popcorn Machine- Air popped popcorn is a healthy snack, and a flavorful one if you add your own seasonings. My air popped popcorn maker is one of my most used kitchen gadget, I use it at least once a week to make popcorn in flavors such as curry, garlic and Parmesan, and cajun. Pair it with some gluten free popcorn kernals and you've got a goodie bag. I use this popper. (price varies)

- Tardis Tea Infuser- Tea is another one of my go to gluten free comfort foods, if you can find a gluten free brand. This infuser both meets my need for tea AND my need for geeking out over Doctor Who. I'm sure you know a Doctor Who fan, but if you don't there are a variety of fun tea infusers out there! (~20$) 

Canning Set- Canning is a GREAT way to ensure your food is gluten free, since you know exactly what's going into it. It's also a fun things to do, and is a perfect way to save food that might otherwise go to waste. I've been loving it this year, so if you know someone who enjoys cooking and wants to dabble in some more extensive experimenting. (~ 130$)

Gluten Free Cosmetics and Accessories


- Red Apple Lipstick Products- Finding safe cosmetics is HARD! But, this line of cosmetics (lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, lip gloss, exfoliates and other beauty items) is free of typical harmful toxins found in cosmetics as well as gluten, soy, corn, and dairy. (price varies)

- Celiac Disease Bracelet- Looking for a gift that gives back? Try one of these Bracelets from Eden Stones. They make nine handmade 'Celiac Sister Sets', each of which is made of semi precious stone beads and a silver wing pendant. A percentage of each purchase go towards the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. (~40-45$)

- Celiac and The Beast Swag- For some perfect gluten free themed t-shirts, sweat shirts, and other swag consider checking out Celiac and the Beast's line of goodies. She's fantastic, and so are her items with their skull and wheat design (oh an cupcakes!). Her book that came out last year is also worth checking out for it's honesty and humor! (price varies, ~15-50$)

Subscriptions

Cuisine Cube- For an interesting twist on the staple gluten free food gift consider purchasing a Cuisine Cube subscription for your gift receiver. Several safe products will be sent each month for either one month, three months, or six months. It's a great way to get to know some new gluten free products. (~30-35$)

- Living Without's Gluten Free & More Magazine- This is a great gift for anyone living a food restrictive life. It focuses on the strength and positive aspects of living an allergen free life and offers recipes, positive stories, helpful substitution tips, product reviews, and much more. There is also a recipe index that tells guides you through which recipes are free of what allergens. You can also purchase back orders and special editions. (~6-42$)

Gluten Free Works Health Recovery- This online guide is a one stop reference guide for gluten free research, lifestyle tips, professional recommendations for health and wellbeing (going indepth on gluten related disorders), and other life style tips. A subscription allows you full access to all the materials, including printable items. (~20$ per year)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pour The Core Year Two: A Review

Back in October, I attended this year's Pour the Core event at Peconic Bay Winery for the second year in a row. Last year's event added several new ciders to my repertoire, so I was thrilled to again attend this year's gluten free friendly event. As with last year each ticket holder who wasn't a DD received a tasting cup with a 2oz pour line, and was welcome to taste any of the ciders available from over 30 companies. Unlike last year, I got to be a server for several minutes while one of the vendors rushed to give something to someone! It was entertaining!

While many of the good old reliable brands were present (WoodChuck, Angry Orchard, Scrumpy, etc.) what thrilled me most of all about this year's vendors was the number of smaller cideries represented, especially those that were local. Apparently Long Island is becoming a bit of a cider making mecha, with many individual cideries popping up and wineries taking on the challenge of making cider. So for my review, rather than share everything that was there, I'm going to share the Long Island Local ciders as well as my top three new favorite ciders and three least favorite. I hope this helps you find a great new cider to add to your list for imbibing!

Long Island Local


Defining something as local has always been a tricky thing for me, since I live on an island (albeit a relatively connected island thanks to bridges). So, I usually go with the 'locovore' definition of local, that is anything made or grown within 100 miles. Here were some of the local cideries featured at this event:

Woodside Orchards- Located out east on the Island this company makes four styles of cider, as well as a limited edition fall cider that is pumpkin spiced flavored.

Standard Cider Company- This company is a genuine local company. They grow their apples in the Hudson Valley, and mill their ciders on Long Island. In 'mom and pop' style their were offering their tastings right out of their truck! No Website available. 

Leib Cellar's Rumor Mill- This local winery, like many others, is making a move into the cider business. So far they only make one cider, which comes in a larger bottle worth sharing.

Bad Seed Cider- This company is just out of the 100 mile range (111 miles) but is still worth mentioning.

I'll also add that while they weren't present at this event Wolffer Estates winery makes GREAT cider, their  being my favorite. I love everything about this one from the taste to the packaging! Hopefully they'll attend next year's event.

The Top Three New Favorites



New is the key word here, as I want to Highlight some of the new to me flavors, and not my favorite stand bys. I will say my favorites are still Ciderboys, Strongbow, Angry Orchard, and Wood Chuck Ciders but these newbies are certainly contending for the role:

Pure Cider- Produced by Possmann in Germany, this was hands down the favorite cider of my entire group. They offered a tasting of their traditional cider and mulled cider. There was no messing around here... at all... The ciders had no hint of excessive flavoring or sugar that other brands have, or awkward after tastes. The mulled cider was our favorite of the two. Spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves it tasted exactly like an apple pie even when chilled so I cannot imagine how great it tastes when warmed as suggested. It would be great for baking I am sure!   

Downeast Cider House- This company out of Massachusetts had three ciders available: Honey, original, and cranberry. These flavors were bold and bright, without leaving a lingering flavor on your tongue. Specifically, I loved the honey cider because it tasted exactly like mead (something I've missed since the local mead company closed). Overall they were clean tasting ciders with full bodies without the nagging after tastes.

Standard Cider Company-
A local company, this vendor offered 3 flavors straight out of the back of their SUV which included: True Beliver (Sparking), True Companion (Ginger), and True Thirst (Dry). The ciders came in larger share-worthy bottles and the servers were doing a bit of mix and matching at their station. The best pairing had to be their dry cider missed with spiced wine. It was a unique flavor that was very holiday friendly. The ginger was also good, having a bit of a kick to it of natural tasting ginger. It would be a prefect cider to pair with some Asian food. No website was available.

Three Least Favorite


The below ciders just didn't cut it for me, whether it was the entire selection those brands had to offer or a specific cider in their line.

Harpoon- This cider is made by the well know brewing company Harpoon Brewing, and they had a tasting of their plain cider available at this event. From the first sip to the after taste I was just turned off. The cider tasted like beer, a gluten filled beer. One would assume that this might bedue to cross contamination, but the company claims the product has been tested to be under the 20ppm threshold. This isn't on I would be buying again.

Ace Pineapple-
Ace's had a variety of their ciders available for sampling, including my least favorite of the entire event: Their Pineapple cider. Now, I am sure I didn't like this due to my own personal tastes. I do not enjoy fake pineapple flavoring, and usually not pineapple itself. To be a bit generic I found this cider too 'tropical'. It just didn't sit well with me as a cider.

Maeloc-
Maeloc is an organic cider from Spain which recently became available in the USA. Being organic and made with no added sugar I was looking forward to this, but was truly disappointed. Samples of their strawberry and sweet organic ciders were available, and I found both to fall flat. They were limited in taste and sweet, each having a unsatisfying and lingering after taste.


Overall, I loved the variety that was offered at this year's event! It grew from last year, and offered a diverse variety of products from local to foreign. It was also great to see the strong presence of local brewers, and of course have a variety of seasonal tastes that rock your socks.

Best of all though I am happy to see the creativity of these cider companies. The mixing and matching of different ciders as well as ciders with wine, Champagne, and other beverages really takes cider to the next level and shows it's versatility. I have several mixed drinks in mind for the holiday season thanks to this event, and I can't wait to attend next years! 



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Potluck Dinner Club: Autumn Harvest Potluck (with bonus Pumpkin PieCheesecake Dip)

October's Potluck was in honor of the harvest season, that time of year when there's so much to eat you couldn't imagine eating it all. When you stock up on hearty food for your own winter fuel, and stuff your pantry with canned goods (if your lucky). AND IT'S ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL!

The dishes were heavy in the apple and pumpkin arena, but is that really all that bad? Here's the menu of what our friend's thought screamed autumn:


Appetizers/Main Dishes/Drinks: vegetarian chili, pumpkin black bean soup,  mulled cider, caramel apple sangria, pumpkin dip with apples and food should taste good chips, yams with marshmallows, butternut squash and black bean toquitos, rice, and black beans cooked with sausage.  



Dessert: caramel and chocolate covered apples dipped in sprinkles/nuts/coconut, gluten free chocolate cake with sprinkles, gluten free apple pie, gluten free pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese icing, and baked apples.

The top dish of the night without question had to be the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake dip. Originally from The Glowing Fridge this recipe is both gluten free and vegan. I've pasted it below: 

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Dip
INGREDIENTS
1 cup raw cashews
1 can puréed pumpkin
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon almond milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar (or any sugar)
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

In a food processor, pulse the cashews until they become finely chopped. Transfer to a blender and the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a small bowl and serve with apples, graham crackers, chocolate, cookies, or even celery. You could also use this dip as a topping to your favorite ice cream. The possibilities are endless.

Recipe from: http://www.theglowingfridge.com/pumpkin-pie-cheesecake-dip/ 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Potluck Dinner Club: Garlicy Potluck (with bonus Garlicy Goat Cheese Beets)

September's potluck ingredient of choice was garlic, one of my favorite ingredients! Garlic or garlic salt goes on basically everything I make, but I had my eyes set on one particularly missed food as my contribution to the potluck: Garlic Knots. Having not had a garlic knot since 2010 I didn't have high hopes for these, but I definitely underestimated things. 

Using Gluten Free Mama's Pizza Crust Mix I took two recipes, the first from the Heavy Weight Runner and the second from Silvana's Kitchen, and combined them to make my knots. I mainly used ingredients from both and the recipe from the second, and the outcome was fantastic. They went faster than I was able to get seconds! 

But the goodness didn't stop there. Other dishes included: garlic hummus with chips, chicken thighs with garlic and lemon, kale with garlic and tomatoes, garlicy goat cheese beets, Brussels sprouts with garlic aioli dipping sauce, spinach artichoke dip with chips and bread, two types of garlic bread, garlic ice cream, chocolate dipped garlic pasta with garlic cauliflower Alfredo, sautéed mushrooms and garlic. Just look at these full plates (yes plates, I started with having second on stand by):



So freaking good, and worth the bad breath! My friends and I decided that the garlicy goat cheese beets were the perfect recipe to share due to their "flavor versus effort ratio". Check out the recipe below!

Garlicy Goat Cheese Beets
(Personal recipe shared by my friend Vicki!)

Ingredients:

 1 bunch beets
6 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 oz goat cheese (plain)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cut the beets from their greens and wrap each beet individually in tin foil. Place beets on a baking sheet and roast for 1 to 1.5 hours. 
2. Once beets are roasted set aside to cool. Meanwhile, mince the garlic cloves. 
3. When beets are cool rub them in their tinfoil to remove the skins. This prevents the usual stain to your hands (for the most part).
4. Next, chop the beets and place in a bowl. 
5. Add garlic, goat cheese, olive oil, and balsamic. Mix thoroughly until well combined.
6. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. Enjoy!  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Product Review: Glutino's Gluten Free Pretzel Chips

 To savor the last bit of warmth up here in the Northeast some of my family scheduled a get together yesterday in Connecticut. We planned to stuff ourselves silly while sitting on my Uncle's deck, and Mike and  I were in charge of bringing garlic knots and some homemade hummus with dippers. I figured this was the perfect time to get some non gluten free opinion on this month's Glutino Product: Gluten Free Pretzel Chips.

My family consists of many lovers of salty and crunchy food, so pretzels have always been a hit, and these were no exception. Crisp and thin these pretzel chips are the perfect vessel for hummus, and they aren't too dry or overly salty. In a span of less than half an hour we devoured the entire bag, and had very little hummus left for the veggies. Although I hate the statement "this can't be gluten free, it's so good!", it is nice to get that sort of reaction some time and this was a product that got such a response!

**Please Note: This product was provided to me by Glutino as part of their Very Important Gluten-Free Blogging Community (VIGFB) Campaign. However, the review reflects my own thoughts and tastes and was in no way influenced by this partnership.**


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Food Should Taste Good Giveaway Winners

My Labor Day Food Should Taste Good Giveaway wrapped up this morning, and the winner and runner up have been picked! There was a grand total of 324 entries!

The Grand Prize Winner is Jeffrey L., 

and the Runner Up is Kailey.


Congratulations again! I've emailed you both for your contact details. Thanks again to everyone who entered and shared their favorite flavor combinations. I'm so happy so many follow along with my blog and love what I have to offer! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Potluck Dinner Club: Vegan Adventure Potluck (With Bonus Apple CurrySoup!)

After a year of successful potlucks which catered to needs of myself and other dietary restricted friends we decided to throw a curve ball into our potlucks and make things a bit more interesting by hosting an entirely vegan potluck. Luckily many of our friends were up for the challenge, and I would honestly say that it was one of our most successful potlucks yet, and one of the tastiest. Here's a sneak peak of some of the dishes:



The Menu included: garlic hummus with crackers and veggies; massaged kale with tomatoes, corn and avocado; Mexican quinoa, mashed potatoes; bruschetta; pasta with sauce and vegetable; mango and jalapeño salad; black quinoa with nuts and blackberries; eggplant Parmesan; potato samosas; curried apple soup; rice balls; and vegan cookies.

Everything was fantastic, and eating so many natural foods left me feeling refreshed and full rather than weighed down and exhausted. Just look at these happy faces!



For the recipe to share with you my friends suggested one of the simpler dishes, Curried Apple Soup. Please enjoy the recipe below which was modified by a friend from a recipe which included chicken.

CURRIED APPLE SOUP

Ingredients:

2 apples (peeled cored and cut into cubes)
1 onion, cubed
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Vegetable Stock, approximately 32 oz
2 Tbsps. gluten free flour
1 tsp. curry powder


Directions:

1. In a 2 qt. pot sauté onions in olive oil until golden brown. 
2. Add apples and continue until the apples are lightly softened. 
3. Add stock and bring to a boil.
4. When stock is at a low boil add flour and curry powder. Blend thoroughly. 
5.When apples are soft remove from heat and serve.
6. Eat soup and Sign contentedly
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