Udi’s Gluten Free Eat, Drink, Be Merry!

Over the years, I have worked with Udi’s to promote many of their products and even though the sponsor many of the posts I do for them, I do truly buy their products! They offer such a wide range of products for families including bread items, oatmeal, cookies, tortillas, frozen entrees, and more. This year Udi’s wants to celebrate with not only myself and other bloggers but you as well! Their #EatDrinkBeMerry promotion is a HUGE giveaway with incredible prizes! Look at what I received for being part of this event and helping spread the word:

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Our freezer is full of these awesome products! Bryan and I were torn on what to try first because many of these items were new to us. So We each heated up one of the non-breakfast burritos and then split them. Yummm. Such good flavor and spice in these. We were both impressed. Next up was the baguette – I brought these up to my dad’s house for an early Christmas celebration and made homemade meatballs subs on them (with some delicious Cabot Cheese) – just heat them up in the oven while still frozen and they held up great with the meatballs and sauce (not something you get very often with gluten-free products).

 

Don’t forget to enter HERE for your chance to win a #EatDrinkBeMerry prize pack from Udi’s!

Here are my favorite ways to EAT, DRINK, and BE MERRY:

EAT – Savory items over sweet! Cheese, olives, prosciutto, and warm bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

DRINK – A glass of really good Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, OR

BE MERRY – Taking time to relax and enjoy those around me

What are your favorite ways to EAT, DRINK, and BE MERRY?

Click HERE to enter for your chance to win some awesome prizes from Udi’s Gluten Free! You don’t want to miss out on this!

 

Stuffed Carnival Squash

I picked up a grapefruit sized carnival squash yesterday while at Trader Joe’s. I’ve never cooked or even had a carnival squash before but, it is a winter squash and similar shape and size to acorn squash so I figured it would be similar in texture and taste as well…and it is. I’m already crazy Thanksgiving food and knew I wanted to bake and stuff this little carnival squash (it was about the size of a very large grapefruit) so I picked up some ground turkey, dried cranberries, and a big bag of kale to go with ingredients I already had back at the Annex.

This is a really simple recipe that can be adapted to whatever your diet restriction might be – dairy free, gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian, low sodium, etc. It is very customizable, you just have to be creative in your stuffing fillings. My stuffing was pretty simple, but so delicious. There was no added salt to this either (except what small amount is in the spice blend I used). The flavors are that of Thanksgiving and perfect to make with leftovers, or if you are just craving a little bit of Thanksgiving throughout the year.

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Stuffed Carnival Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 medium carnival squash – cut in half and seeds removed/discarded (you can roast these as well!)
  • 1/2 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 cup chicken stock (low sodium, or no sodium added)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup diced baby portabella mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons Spiceologist Greek Freak Seasoning, divided
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped kale
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cabot Cheese – Alpine Cheddar

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Place cut and cleaned squash face down in a baking dish, add about 1/4 inch of water and cover with aluminum foil
  3. Roast squash for 30-45 minutes until fork tender, remove from oven and drain water
  4. In a small pot, bring brown rice and chicken stock to a boil, and cook according to rice specifications
  5. In a saute pan, add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil, add kale and cover for five minutes until kale is tender.
  6. Drain water, and place kale on a paper towel to drain (you want to remove as much excess water that you can)
  7. In the same saute pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and heat pan to medium heat
  8. Add mushrooms, green onions, and 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mixture, saute until mushrooms are lightly browned and tender
  9. Add mushrooms and green onions to the kale that has been set aside
  10. In the same saute pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat pan to medium heat
  11. Add ground turkey and remaining 1 tablespoon of seasoning mixture
  12. Brown turkey and add in pine nuts to toast during the last few minutes of cooking
  13. Once the turkey is cooked throughout, add in the cooked brown rice, dried cranberries, kale, mushrooms, and green onions, stir to combine
  14. Remove from heat and stuff cooked squash halves (you may have a little extra filling, but you can use that for another meal or snack)
  15. Top stuffed squash halves with shredded cheese and return to the oven to bake for 10-15 minutes
  16. Remove from oven, and enjoy!

 

Bread Stuffing {Gluten, Dairy, & Onion Free} & Giveaway from Rudi’s!

IMG_3193One of my favorite holidays is quickly approaching and I am already starting to plan the menu. Last year it was Just Bryan, Penny, and I and I tried my hardest to scale down a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner, but who doesn’t love Thanksgiving leftovers? I did cut out some of the extra items, and many of the desserts but there are a few things that I just can’t scale down, or not make at all; turkey, my grandmother’s homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potato souffle, green beans, and of course stuffing!

I have always loved stuffing…but not so much when it is in the bird. Stuffing made in a baking dish has both the crunchy and soft textures that I love. Since going gluten-free I have struggled a bit in the stuffing department. I have used pre-packaged mixes and even attempted my own, but mastering the spices, herbs, and meeting both mine and Bryan’s dietary needs is always tricky. Bryan has a whole list of intolerance and allergies in addition to my Celiac, but two of the biggest ones are lactose intolerance and onion allergy. Onion is found is more items than you may think it is. We have recently learned that he can not tolerate honey, high fructose corn syrup, agave, and a few other items as well. These are all in addition to his oral allergy syndrome!

When people learn of all these restrictions the first question that is asked is, “what do you eat?”, and often followed by “oh I could never do that!”. When it comes to either being healthy or being ill all the time, we choose being healthy. Yes, things don’t always go as planned and he will get sick, but thankfully it is not life or death, it is more bloating and uncomfortable. As for what do we eat…a lot. A lot of real foods: meats, vegetables, fruits, grains, etc. We have learned to limit more processed foods to the best of our abilities and make adjustments when needed. Granted it is much easier for him to avoid these items when I am around and able to cook but he does what he can when I am here in NYC.

When I was asked by Rudi’s Gluten Free last week if I would like to be part of a recipe creation project with them using their new Gluten-Free Ciabatta Rolls, I immediately said yes. Rudi’s has yet to disappoint us with their products and they are both gluten & dairy free, and to top it off…ONION Free. I knew right then and there that I would try to make stuffing out of them for Thanksgiving. I did think of making an appetizer with them, but slicing the rolls about 1/4 inch toasting them up and then topping them with a delicious treat but, stuffing kept coming back to me.

The stuffing is pretty simple to make. You can do the first few steps the night before and then assemble and bake the stuffing the next day. It is a traditional bread stuffing (or gravy, however you wish to call it), with carrots and celery in place of the onions, and loaded with flavor!

As I mentioned above, I have made gluten-free stuffing from scratch before, but the ciabatta rolls have hands down the best texture to them for making stuffing. Both Bryan and I agreed on this. He is not 100% gluten-free because he doesn’t have to be, so I value his opinion greatly and take his feedback to heart. For someone who isn’t gluten-free to say that something that is gluten-free is delicious means a lot to me.

The ciabatta rolls are delicious on their on and ready for your family dinner table in about 8-10 minutes, these crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside rolls are a great side dish to any entrée or holiday meal. They are available in two flavors, Plain and in Rosemary Olive Oil, these bake – at – home rolls will make your kitchen smell awesome!

Keep reading below the recipe for your chance to win the same package Rudi’s Sent me and more chances to win on Rudi’s Gluten Free’s Facebook Page!!

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Onion-Free Traditional Bread Stuffing

IMG_3201(*please see note to include onions)

  • 1 package of Rudi’s Gluten Free Plain Ciabatta Rolls (sliced and cut into 1/4 inch cubes)
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Oregano
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Bells Seasoning
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons Earth Balance Spread (I used the stick version)
  • 1 Cup sliced Celery
  • 1 Cup Diced Carrots
  • 1 – 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock (Homemade if preparing this onion free)
  • Non-Stick Cooking Spray

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 375°
  2. Line a large baking sheet with either aluminum foil pr parchment paper
  3. In a large bowl combine the bread crumbs, olive oil, parsley, oregano, bells seasoning, salt, and pepper, toss well to combine.
  4. Transfer seasoned bread crumbs to the baking sheet and bake for about 10 – 15 minutes checking often, and tossing as needed. Make sure that these cubes do not burn. You want them to be nice and crunchy like a crouton though.
  5. Remove from oven, let cool and transfer to a large bowl.
  6. Reduce oven temp to 350°
  7. In a large skillet over medium heat, add the earth balance, celery and carrots – season as needed with salt and pepper.
  8. Cook vegetables for 5-8 minutes until soft.
  9. Transfer cooked vegetables to bowl with seasoned bread cubes.
  10. Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
  11. Starting with 1 cup of the stock, slowly add it to the bowl of seasoned bread cubes and stir until seasoned bread cubes or moistened.
  12. Transfer stuffing mixture to the prepared baking dish. Baked covered for 30 minutes, remove cover and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

*Note: if you wish to make this with onions, simply add 1/2 cup small diced onion to the celery and carrot mixture and use store bought or homemade stock with onion. IMG_3200GIVEAWAY!

  • Giveaway is open from 8:00 am EST Tuesday November 4th and ends at 11:59 pm EST on Friday November 14th, 2014.
  • Leave a separate comment for each entry to receive the max entries.
  • Giveaway and prize pack open to US residents 18 years and older.
  • Winner will be chosen using random.org
  • Winner will be notified via e-mail and will have 24 hours to respond. If no response is received, a new winner will be chosen.

As mentioned above Rudi’s has offered to give one lucky reader the same gift pack that they sent me which includes the following items:

  • One bag of Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Rosemary Olive Oil Ciabatta Roll
  • One bag of Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Plain Ciabatta Rolls
  • Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Apron
  • John Boos 18-by-12-Inch Reversible Maple Cutting Board
  • Spectrum Organic Mediterranean Olive Oil
  • Spectrum Organic Balsamic Vinegar
  • Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery Oven Mitt

Ways to Enter – enter by just doing one, or by doing them all, but make sure to leave a separate comment for each one:

Want other ways to win prizes from Rudi’s Gluten Free??

From November 4th-10th, Rudi’s will be celebrating the launch of their new Gluten-Free Ciabatta Rolls through a giveaway on their Facebook page, in which they will be giving away 100 oven mitts every day! To enter visit: http://www.rudisbakery.com/ciabatta-promo/

 

Rudi’s provided me with product to create a recipe using their new cibatta rolls. The recipe and opinions are 100% my own.

GFAF Expo: Official Blogger {Ticket Giveaway: Secaucus, NJ 9/6 & 9/7}

 

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I am very excited and honored to be part of this years Gluten-Free, Allergen-Free Expo (GFAF Expo) Blogger Team in Secaucus, NJ September 6 & 7th. I was selected last year as one of their Official Bloggers and loved every minute of the expo. The GFAF Expo is a two-day event that is held in several cities around the US. Getting to meet the other bloggers and to meet so many of the gluten-free and allergen-free vendors that I have worked with over the years was amazing. I loved finally getting the chance to put a face names and e-mail addresses.

blogger badgeEach of the two days is filled with classes and presenters on various topics of Celiac Disease, Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, and Food Allergies. Last year I sat in on several classes and gained so much information from them. Last year was the first time that GFAF Expo made an appearance on the East Coast, and I am so happy that not only are they back again but have included more cities! This year the GFAF Expo will be in the following cities: Secaucus, NJ (9/6 & 9/7), Springfield, MA (10/25 & 10/26), and Dallas, TX (11/15 & 11/16).

The GFAF Expos are the largest expos that emphasizing on special diets. Over 150 vendors participate in these expos across the country providing attendees with information, coupons, samples, demos, and more. Each attendee will receive a free reusable to carry all of the great goodies that you will receive. In addition to companies there will also be authors and of course, bloggers like myself!

Tickets are limited for each day so be sure to snag one early by clicking the image below and receiving 20% off your ticket!! In addition to this great discount, thanks to the lovely folks over at GFAF Expo I am also giving four lucky winners one (1) ticket to either Saturday or Sunday of the Expo in Secaucus, NJ!! Read how to enter below.

Check out the Class Schedule ♦ Learn about the Presenters ♦ Vendors, Vendors, and More Vendors!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-gluten-allergen-free-expo-96-97-2014-9am-3pm-tickets-9364733169?discount=EXPONJ20GIVEAWAY

  • Giveaway will begin on Monday August 11, 2014 and end on Friday August 22, 2014 at 11:59pm.
  • Please leave a separate comment for each entry – this will allow you to receive the maximum number of entries.
  • Four (4) winners will be chosen using Random.org.
  • Winners will be notified via e-mail and will have 48 hours to respond with required information.
  • Good luck to all who enter and remember if you are not chosen, please take full advantage of the 20% off deal by clicking the image above!

2014SECExpo_TixGA-FB

  1. Why do you want to attend? Have you recently been diagnosed or know someone who has? Share below
  2. Click the Class Schedule link above and let me know which class(es) you would like to attend…remember there are two days
  3. Which day would you attend?
  4. Share this post on your social media sites and be sure to come back here to leave the link. Don’t forget to mention @Creatively_GF (twitter), Creative Cooking Gluten Free (Facebook), @GFAFExpo (twitter), and use the hash-tag #GFAFEXPO —–> This can be done daily!
  5. Who would you take with you?

Veggetti {Review & Giveaway}

VeggettiI know veggie noodles are all the rage right now…trust me I am 100% on board with this food trend. There are many gadgets that you can use to make veggie noodles, some more expensive than others, but they all pretty much achieve the same final product…veggie noodles! When I was contacted by Veggetti® to do a review, I jumped right on that.

Veggetti® is a handheld device that makes for a quick and easy way to turn your veggies into veggie noodles/pasta. Veggie noodles offers a healthier, lower-carb alternative to regular pasta. All you have to do is choose which veggie(s) you want to have and twist away. Some that I love are zucchini, summer squash, carrots, cucumbers, and sweet potatoes! You simply cut off the end of your chosen veg, insert it into either the thick or thin strand side of the Veggetti® and twist away to create strands of delicious veggie pasta or noodles. There are so many delicious recipes for you to make with veggie noodles…you could toss your noodles in a marinara sauce, bolognese sauce, some light salad dressing, or make your own vinaigrette. All you need is to be creative! As I mentioned veggie noodles are a great alternative to regular pasta, especially for those that are gluten-free and/or diabetic!

In addition to the Veggetti® I was also sent a $25 VISA gift card to buy ingredients to be used in the creation of a dish. I decided to create a Greek Salad, using cucumbers, zucchini, carrots, and summer squash. I really wanted to make an extremely colorful dish, as my food mantra is “eat the rainbow”. Below is my recipe and I hope you enjoy it!

This is a great little kitchen gadget to have…the size is perfect, it fits into your kitchen drawer without a problem, and you can easily take it with you (vacation, camping, etc.). I actually took mine with me to my younger cousin’s graduation party and made my own meal, everyone was a bit jealous and looking for more of it. Had I known that people would be so into it, I would have made a big dish of it.  The Veggetti® is sturdy and has two ends that you can choose from: thick and thin.

You can find the Veggetti® on Amazon or at many fine retailers nationwide including Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Walgreens, CVS, and more.

Keep reading for your chance to win a Veggetti® and a $25 VISA Gift Card!

Veggetti® Greek Salad

photoServes:  2 as an entrée or 4 as a side dish

Salad Ingredients

  • Cucumber                                      1 small
  • Zucchini                                         1 small
  • Carrot                                            1 large
  • Summer Squash                             1 small
  • Cherry Tomatoes, quartered             1/2 cup
  • Red Onion                                      1/2 cup (1 small onion)
  • Olives, Kalamata, halved                  1/4 cup
  • Feta Cheese                                   2 tablespoons

Dressing Ingredients

  • Lemon Juice, fresh                          1/4 cup
  • Vinegar, white                                 1/4 cup
  • Garlic, grated                                  2 cloves
  • Basil, fresh                                     1/2 tablespoon
  • Mint, fresh                                      1/2 tablespoon
  • Oregano, fresh                                1/2 tablespoon
  • Black Pepper, fresh                         1/4 teaspoon
  • Feta Cheese                                   2 tablespoons
  • Olive Oil                                         3 1/2 tablespoons

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash all vegetables well
  2. One at a time, twist each vegetable at time into a bowl
  3. Quarter the tomatoes and set aside
  4. Thinly slice the red onions and set aside
  5. Halve the kalamata olives and set aside
  6. In a food processor or blender add all of the dressing ingredients blend until smooth
  7. Taste dressing for seasoning and adjust accordingly
  8. Add 3/4 of the dressing to the bowl of veggie noodles, and toss to coat
  9. Top the salad with the cherry tomatoes, onions, and olives, toss well
  10. Sprinkle with feta cheese
  11. Serve with remaining dressing on the side

*Optional – top with grilled chicken breast if serving as an entrée.

GIVEAWAY!

Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Cutter        

The Veggetti®, gift card, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Ontel – Thank you for this opportunity!

Entry is really simple…

Leave a comment below telling me what you would make first if you won this.

That’s it…one simple entry, is required but if you would like additional entries please leave a separate comment for each of the following:

  1. Like Creative Cooking Gluten Free on Facebook
  2. Share this post and giveaway on social media and be sure to share the link below (you can do this daily)!

Entry is open to US residents only…no P.O. boxes. Giveaway ends on Wednesday August 20th, 201 at 11:59pm EST. Good luck to all who enter!

Jennifer’s Way {Book Review}

You won’t find many non-cookbook book reviews here on Creative Cooking Gluten free, however when a good book comes along I am more than happy to write about it and share with all of you.

photo 1(this is not the actual cover – it has changed since I received my review copy)

Jennifer’s Way is written by none other than Jennifer Esposito, acclaimed actress (who just so happens to have celiac disease) turned celiac/gluten-free advocate and bakery owner! Jennifer,like many of us, myself included, went years being misdiagnosed, a huge problem for those with celiac disease. With celiac disease having over 300 symptoms it can be difficult for doctors to know to test for this, especially if the individual is showing signs and symptoms that are less well known.Celiac disease is not a pretty disease, especially if you are misdiagnosed for many years.

Jennifer’s Way is a brutally honest summary of her journey to being diagnosed with celiac disease and her path to health and wellness in all areas of her life. Additionally in her book she shares some of her delicious recipes and you can find even more on her website. Once I cracked the cover on this book, I couldn’t put it down. So many parts of this story, I myself could have written. I would take some quick pictures with my cell phone and send them to Bryan of different sections and just say “this was me!!” and he would agree. Like Jennifer, I am also Italian (although not fully, I have more characteristics and qualities of that side of my family), I was always in love with food…it represents so much to me, and amongst other things I was diagnosed later (age 26) with many years and visits to the doctors, only to be told that it was only in my head or my favorite one…”she is just looking for attention”. Let me just say, IF I was looking for attention, going to a doctor’s office would probably be my last choice!

I was constantly sick growing up, I am short in stature (many of my family is as well, but my dad is 6’1″, I’m 4’11!!), my weight was always low,and every time I had blood work, my doctor would say that he sees something (which he called a virus), but couldn’t quite figure it out. Granted when I was younger, celiac disease was not on anyone’s radar like it is today. I actually had to bring it to my doctor’s attention to test me for it because I was so sick of being sick.

I laughed and cried while reading Jennifer’s Way. It was refreshing and heartbreaking to read the words penned by Jennifer, knowing that I and millions of others are not alone in this struggle, because it was a struggle,and some days it sill is. It is also frustrating to constantly have to defend this disease…trust me I did not ask for this, I mean who would want a DISEASE? This is not a fad for those who truly need it. The only treatment (note: not cure!) for celiac disease is a 100% gluten-free diet. There are no cheat days, yes, there is the occasional sadness of “I miss Italian bread” or “I miss tiramisu” but you learn to adapt and be creative when reformulating your favorite recipes.

Jennifer, thank you so very much for writing and sharing your beautifully honest journey with all of us, I can imagine it was not easy to do. I am so appreciative of your determination to get answers, stand up for yourself, and find the health and happiness that you so deserve, and fighting for awareness for others in similar situations. You are amazing, talented, and I can’t wait to move to NYC next month and finally visit your bakery! My mouth waters every time I see a picture you post.

(images of an article in Simply Gluten Free Magazine July/August Issue)

Watch Jennifer’s interview with John Stewart of The Daily Show: http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/h8l3h4/jennifer-esposito

Becoming a Consious Shopper

photo(14)I have claimed this year to be MY YEAR. The year that I take back my health, wellness, and fitness, to shed those unwanted pounds, and practice what I preach! There are several things that I am utilizing to achieve these goals which include portion control eating (post will follow shortly on that!), daily exercise (another post to follow, so stay tuned), and choosing the right foods to eat.

This sounds like a simple concept, and frankly it is, however, if you are anything like me sometimes you get overwhelmed or distracted and buy items that you don’t need. Below are some simple tips to keep in mind when heading to the grocery store…

1. Outer Limits: AKA stay on the perimeter of the store! This is where you will find many of the healthy food items that you should be adding to your shopping cart or basket. Thank about what is in the outer limits: vegetables, meats, seafood, and dairy. Now, NOT all items in the middle of the store is off limits…there are plenty of great options such as legumes, canned beans, whole grains, and vegetables (no salt added, rinse very well). However, the majority of the center aisles are filled with processed foods, chips, candy, and if you look at many of these items you will find ingredient lists that would rival a great novel!

When buying your fresh produce – remember the old skittles saying, “eat the rainbow”…think of that! Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables daily!

2. Buy Fresh: Buying fresh and making treats at home will help reduce the amount of additives and preservatives in your food. It is nice to know exactly what goes into your food and your body.

3. Do Not Shop When Hungry: Hunger can be your biggest enemy because that is where you tend to pick up the foods that you do not normally purchase or shouldn’t be purchasing. You will end up spending more money than you anticipated by putting these impulse items into your shopping cart or basket. Think with your brain…not your stomach!

4. Ripe vs. Unripe: Ripe is best, right? Not always…if you plan to use that ingredient that day then Yes! However, if you make a weekly meal plan and shopping list and you shop on Monday but won’t be making guacamole until Wednesday, purchase avocados that are not quite ripe (you can ripen them by putting them in a brown paper bag), but if you buy ripe avocados on Monday, come Wednesday they won’t be looking so pretty. You will end up spending money and then just throwing away these items…not worth it.

5. Plan Ahead: Each week try to create a rough weekly menu and then create a shopping list off of that. I say rough, because you may think that you want a specific dish on a certain day but when that day rolls around, you want anything but what you have listed. I like to create a general menu that cross-utilizes ingredients so if one night I am craving another item on the menu, I can simply make that and not waste ingredients. Be flexible, but have a plan. When you shop with a list, this helps you stay on track and not purchase foods you do not need.

When writing your weekly menu and shopping list, take a look at what you already have on hand…check those cabinets, refrigerator, and freezer. Start by working with ingredients that you already have on hand and go from there. Again, this is another tip that will help you save money, time, and sanity during your busy week.

6. Step Away: Avoid the snack aisle – this will help you avoid purchasing items you do not need. Find healthier alternatives to these items or make them at home with healthier ingredients!

7. Spice It Up: Spices and herbs are your best friend. They help add tons of flavor to your dishes without adding unhealthy ingredients. Look for single ingredient spices and create your own blends to avoid an additives/preservatives that are not needed. If you do find a blend that you like, check to see the sodium level in it…is this something that you can recreate and reduce the amount of sodium? Probably! Get creative and experiment with different homemade blends.

Fresh herbs are also wonderful ingredients to use and can last a while if stored properly. You can also plant little window plants with herbs that you use often like cilantro, chives, rosemary, basil, etc. Both spices and herbs can take any old boring dish to something extremely delicious that your family and friends will want to eat!

8. Certified: If something claims to be organic, all natural, etc…look for the USDA certification! Do not believe everything you read.

9. Labels: Read these carefully – if you pick up a bag of pasta for example and there are 10+ ingredients in it, I would probably put it back and look for something else. I mean let’s be real, pasta should only consist of 3-4 ingredients!

10. Claims: Be on the look out for these – if something says “as much protein as…” and it is something claiming to have as much protein as an egg, why not just eat the egg? Understandable if you have an egg allergy etc., but for the masses…just eat the egg.

11. Samples: Trying new products can be awesome! Trust me I have the privilege to do this quite often, but I have become particular of the items I sample and review. Do not be sidetracked by trying something that is not good for you or something you just do not need.

12. Code Words: Know the code words for certain ingredients like sugar. If you have a food allergies or Celiac Disease or Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity know where gluten is hidden, know the other names of these allergens. Educate yourself!

The two images in this post are what typical grocery shopping trips look like for me…loaded with fresh fruits and veggies, proteins, dairy, with whole grains. Each week I create a menu and shopping list and check the items off as I add them to my cart. If it is not on the list, I do not buy it – being on such a tight budget this has been extremely helpful. I have found alternatives to “sweet treats” like buying a large thing of plain Greek yogurt, and freezing a small amount of it with a bit of honey swirled in, then when it is partially frozen I mix in some fresh fruit and have that instead of ice cream!

photo(15)

 

Spices & Seasons (Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors) {Cookbook Review}

SpicesandSeasonsIf you are looking to experiment with Indian flavors, this is your book. The author, Rinku Bhattacharya provides the general population with delicious and easy to prepare dishes packed with flavor and sustainable ingredients. In Spices & Seasons each recipe is carefully labeled as vegan/vegetarian and/or gluten-free. The index in the back of the book is also separated as such; gluten-free index, vegan/vegetarian index, vegetarian index, and recipe index! I found this to be extremely helpful when trying to pick my dish to make.

It was very difficult to pick a recipe to make, due to the large selection of recipes included in the book and how many of them were gluten-free. I finally decided on the Saffron Pistachio Rice Pudding on page 333. With a few minor changes/substitutions. I am in the process of packing up my life and putting most of my belongings in storage for a year and I start my next adventure in NYC, so I wanted to use what I had on hand instead of going out to buy things. Bread pudding can be a fairly simple recipe, but this one was packed with flavor! Oh my goodness…it is delicious and I promise you, you will want to make this. Here are my substitutions: instead of half and half, I used unsweetened coconut milk, for the white rice I used short grain brown rice, and I did not have pistachios around (trust me those do not last long around me), so instead I diced up some granny smith apple instead (it added such a delicious, fresh crispness to it), and yes…I do have saffron lying around:)

I’ve seen rice pudding be super creamy and I’ve also seen it where there is some creamy liquid remaining…which is how I prefer to enjoy it (as you can see by the picture below…), but if you like more of the liquid, then just cook it a bit less time or simply add additional liquid.

37-Cooks-Saffron-Rice-Pudding-Spices-and-Seasons-Challenge-Jenny-ManseauSaffron and Cardamom Rice Pudding

Adapted from Spices & Seasons Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors by Rinku Bhattacharya page 333

Method of Preparation

  1. In a medium pot add coconut milk, whole cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, rice, and sugar and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer, uncovered, and stir frequently until it begins to thicken, about 35 minutes.
  3. Remove and discard the whole cardamom pods and cinnamon stick.
  4. Stir in the saffron threads and granny smith apples, cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  5. Serve with sliced of granny smith apple on top – enjoy!

This is a great cookbook to have in your collection, especially if you or someone you know is either gluten-free, vegetarian, and/or vegan! So many delicious recipes and flavors to experiment with.

The cookbook was provided to me from the publisher for this review. All comments and opinions are 100% my own.

 

 

Gluten-Free Buyers Guide {Review & Giveaway}

indexWhen I was first diagnosed in 2008 I felt completely lost, frustrated, and overwhelmed by trying to find decent products, restaurants, and information in general. Thankfully though, over the years more and more information is available (sadly, not always correct), more products (that thankfully taste much better), and resources in general (both in print and online). Additionally there are some lovely people who will do a lot of the work for you now-a-days…like Josh Schieffer of The Annual Gluten-Free Awards! Every year for the last 4 going on 5 years, Josh, has put together the Annual Gluten-Free Awards to bring you the best of the best  in over 40 categories that sum up this ever-growing gluten-free world. The winners are then compiled into The Gluten-Free Buyers Guide; a compact book that is convenient to take to any store with you! It is not bulky, but straight to the point with all the information you need from The Best Gluten-Free Bagels to the Best Gluten-Free Vacation Destinations! Please understand however, that this guide is not filled with every single gluten-free item, blog, website, magazine, etc. on the planet, as it was not designed for that. It does contain what over 2,500 people voted for their favorites in these categories in the 2014 edition!

Josh, a fellow National Foundation for Celiac Awareness Hero, was kind enough to send me a copy of the 2014 Gluten-Free Buyers guide to review. He was also kind enough to offer two of my readers a chance to win a copy of this great resource. Thank you Josh for taking the time to create such a great resource, especially for those who are newly diagnosed.

GIVEAWAY!!

How to enter:

  • Please leave a separate comment for each entry – this will give you the maximum number of chances to win!
  • Giveaway will run from Friday July 25th – Friday August 8, 2014 (11:59 EST)
  • Two winners will be chosen using Random.Org and will be given 48 hours to respond. If no response is received, a new winner will be chosen
  1. Like “GFREEK.com” on Facebook
  2. Follow “GFREEKcom” on Twitter
  3. Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite Gluten-Free Product is
  4. Follow “GFREEKcom” on Pinterest
  5. Tweet about the giveaway – you must include @Creatively_GF and @GFREEKcom

Grilled Fruit Salad {Fresh Fruit Bowl – Review & Giveaway}

photo 1(1)This giveaway is now closed…thank you to all who entered. Our lucky winner is Birdiebee!

Summer has officially hit! I’m not a huge fan of heat and humidity but I love the natural Vitamin D, fresh summer fruits, and of course grilling. So why not combine all three of these into one? This is a quick and delicious fruit salad that you can easily adapt to your liking and perfect for your summer cookouts (or BBQ’s as my California friends say). Each Sunday I make a meal plan for the 21 Day Fix program that I am doing and then head to the grocery store. I have two servings of fruit ever day and I love doing mixed fruit with a bit of plain Greek yogurt with a drizzle of honey…just the right amount of sweetness. This week I picked up some champagne mangos (the little yellow ones…my favorites next to the green mangos found in the Philippines), pineapple, watermelon, and nectarines. Fruit is so naturally sweet to begin with, but when you grill them a whole new flavor profile comes out. The Greek yogurt dipping sauce is just lightly sweetened with honey, so it adds a tangyness to the sweet grilled fruit. This is sure to be a summer favorite!

The Fresh Fruit Bowl (available from Bed Bath and Beyond) is awesome for any salad…fruit or not!. It is a three-piece set (bowl, strainer bowl, and cover) which helps to keep the juices away from the fruit so they keep fresh longer. This bowl is HUGE. It is 7 quarts, so make sure you’ve got some room in that fridge of yours and load it up with lots of fresh fruit. It also offers an easy pour spout to help drain the juices that have collected at the bottom of the bowl.

Be sure to check out below how to enter for your chance to win one of these Fresh Fruit Bowls!

Grilled Fruit Salad with Greek Yogurt Dip

photo 2(1)

Ingredients

  • 1                                 Medium Pineapple
  • 1                                 Small Watermelon
  • 2                                Champagne Mangos
  • 2                                Nectarines
  • 1/2 cup                     Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp.                 Raw Honey
  • 1/8 tsp.                    Ground Cinnamon

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat Grill to medium-high heat
  2. Remove the rind from the watermelon and slice into “steaks”, place into fresh fruit bowl
  3. Remove the rind from the pineapple and slice to remove the core, and slice into long “steaks”, place into fresh fruit bowl
  4. Keeping the skin on the mangos, slice along either side of the pit, and place the halves into the fresh fruit bowl and discard the pit
  5. Cut nectarines in half, remove and discard the pit, and place halves into the fresh fruit bowl
  6. In a small bowl combine the plain Greek yogurt, honey, and cinnamon, mix well. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to use
  7. Place the fruit on the preheated grill and grill until desired doneness
  8. Remove from grill and place back into the fresh fruit bowl
  9. Serve the fruit pieces whole or cut up and top with yogurt dip and fresh mint leaf

 Want to win a Fresh Fruit Bowl?

Entry is simple…There are several different options, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry so you can be entered in the appropriate number of times!

One (1) winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Winner must live within the continental United States. Winner will also be given 48 hours after notification to respond or another winner will be chosen. Giveaway begins on June 23rd and will end on July 30th at 11:59pm EST.

Ways to Enter:

1. Leave a comment below telling me why you want to win this Fresh Fruit Bowl

2. Follow Good Cook on Facebook (leave a comment below with your FB name)

3. Follow Good Cook on Twitter (leave a comment below with your twitter handle)

4. Follow Creative Cooking Gluten Free on Facebook (leave a comment below with your FB name)

5. Follow Creative Cooking Gluten Free on Twitter (leave a comment below with your twitter handle)

6. Share this post on your social media sites – you must include  #freshfruitbowl and #BBBProduct (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and be sure to share the link to that post!

Good Cook Contest Rules:

  • One prize per household for each Good Cook event. For example, if someone wins on 2 or more blogs, they – or their family members – will only receive one prize from that event.
  • If a household has won a prize in a previous Good Cook event, they are not eligible win again for 6 months.
  • If a household has won more than one prize in a previous Good Cook event (prior to the one-win-in-six-months rule), they aren’t eligible win again for 12 months.
    Good Cook Bloggers and Good Cook Kitchen Experts are not eligible to win prizes in Good Cook sponsored events, whether or not they participated in the event or not.
  • Good Cook will confirm that winners are eligible and will disqualify anyone who has won more than once.
  • Prizes ship from Good Cook and can take 8-10 weeks after the contest ends, unless otherwise stated. You must be 18 or older to win. US shipping addresses only.
  • Good Cook reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal value if sufficient inventory is not available.

Check out what the other Good Cook Bloggers are up to with their Fresh Fruit Bowls:

An InLinkz Link-up

*I was provided the Fresh Fruit Bowl from Good Cook and Bed Bath and Beyond for the purpose of this post. All opinions are 100% my own.

Roasted Beet & Nectarine Salad {Cookbook Chat: Silk Road Vegetarian}

silk-road-vegetarian-9780804843379_lgCreative Cooking Gluten Free is now six years old! I can’t even believe it!! Over these last six years I have had the pleasure of sharing with all of you my creations, adaptations, giveaways, product and cookbook reviews. Thank you for allowing me to share with love of food with all of you. During this time it has been a privilege to work with so many great companies, organizations, and cookbook authors. Last year I was invited to join an online group called 37Cooks, you have heard me mention them a time or two on here for various cooking challenges I have participated in. However, recently a new type of challenge has been offered up to the 37Cooks called “Cookbook Chat”, where there are a limited number of certain cookbooks available to the bloggers and it is a first come first serve basis. The blogger receives a copy of the book and is asked to pick a recipe or two (depending on the challenge), then recreates the recipe, putting their own twist on it, and reviews it. The first cookbook offered up was one called “Silk Road Vegetarian: Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-free Recipes for the Mindful Cook” by Dahlia Abraham-Klein. Of course I signed up..it was gluten-free! Lately I have been eating quite a bit of plant-based dishes so this book seemed right up my alley.

The book is beautiful and filled with recipes from Central Asia, covering from China to India. It includes bases & condiments, appetizers, soups, salads, main dishes, side dishes, rice dishes, and desserts. In addition Abraham-Klein also includes a spice pantry section and information regarding basic preparation. As I flipped through this book I quickly realized it was going to be very difficult to pick one recipe to make. I finally decided on two recipes, a salad and a dessert. The salad I adapted per the 37Cooks Challenge and the dessert I followed the recipe exactly. I decided on two because I was having dinner with some dear friends and wanted to bring something to share. I chose the Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad, which is perfect for the summer. Both the beets and nectarines are available this time of year, and it required few ingredients. Then I decided to make the Peach Cobbler, one because peaches are in season and readily available at a good price, and I had never had a peach cobbler before. Actually I don’t really eat peaches because I can’t get past the fuzz on the outside…I always opt for nectarines instead. Again, like the roasted beet and nectarine salad, this recipe also called for few ingredients. I sadly didn’t take a picture of it because we pretty much just dove right in and served it with some vanilla bean ice cream…needless to say this dessert was a HUGE hit. It asked for very little sugar, but it has the perfect sweetness with the fresh peaches. I will make this again for sure. Now on to the salad…get ready its beautiful and delicious!

I’m a huge believe in the “you eat with your eyes first” theory…its true. My photo did not quite capture the beauty of this salad as I had hoped that it would but I promise you if you were to serve this to guests, it will be a conversation piece. We talked about this salad quite a bit last night for several reasons, one none of us thought to ever put nectarines and beets together, and two its just stunning to look at – it is so vibrant and equally delicious. I followed the recipe quite closely but changed a thing or two up from her cooking methods and then added a few toppings myself. Below is my adaptation of DahliaAbraham-Klein’s beautiful salad.

37-Cooks-Roasted-Beet-Nectarine-Salad-Silk-Road-Jenny-Manseau-337-Cooks-Roasted-Beet-Nectarine-Salad-Silk-Road-Jenny-Manseau_1(Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad – to serve top with toasted pine nuts and crumbled feta cheese)

Roasted Beet and Nectarine Salad

Adapted from: Silk Road Vegetarian {Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten Free Recipes for the Mindful Cook} by Dahlia Abraham-Klein page 99

Salad

  • Beets               2 Bunches with the greens attached (about 4-6 beets, depending on their size), Red, Gold, or a mixture of them
  • Nectarines     4, peeled, pitted and then sliced thin (about 1/8-1/4 inch)
  • Red Onion     1/4 cup, finely diced
  • Olive Oil         1 Tablespoon
  • Garlic              2 cloves, minced or grated
  • Pine Nuts       1/4 cup toasted
  • Nutmeg          1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt                  To taste, kosher
  • Pepper            To taste, black – freshly ground
  • Feta Cheese  1/4 cup, crumbled

Dressing

  • Oil                   3 Tablespoons. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Grapeseed Oil or other neutral flavored oil
  • Garlic             2 cloves grated
  • Lime              1 Juice and zest
  • Sugar            3/4 Tablespoon Organic, Unrefined
  • Salt                1/2 teaspoon, kosher
  • Pepper         1/4 teaspoon, black – freshly ground

Method of Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Rinse beets and beet greens very well to remove any dirt (you may need to do this several times, especially for the greens).
  3. Cut the beet greens from the stems and rinse in a colander, let drain
  4. Cut the stems from the beets and discard the stems.
  5. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and place directly onto the oven rack.
  6. Roast for 1 hour, remove from oven and let cool
  7. Peel, pit and slice nectarines, place in a medium bowl and set aside.
  8. Peel and dice onion, place into bowl with nectarine slices and toss, set aside.
  9. While the beets are cooling, chiffonade the beet greens by placing them neatly on top of each other, then rolling them up tightly (into a cigar shape), next using a sharp knife cut across the “cigar” into 1/4 inch slices (you can go larger or smaller, depending on your preference)
  10. In a medium sauteé pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and sauteé garlic for 30 seconds before adding the beet greens – these will cook down similar to spinach. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  11. Once the beet greens have wilted, let them cool. Once cooled toss them into the bowl with the nectarine slices and red onion, toss to combine.
  12. When the beets have cooled, unwrap them one at a time, and peel the outer layer from the beet (I recommend wearing some plastic gloves!) and discard the foil and outer layer of the beets.
  13. Slice each beet in half, and then into 8 slices.
  14. Toss the beets in to the bowl with the nectarines, red onions, and beet greens.
  15. Next, prepare the dressing: simply add all ingredients in the order listed above to a small bowl and whisk until evenly combined.
  16. Pour dressing over the salad and toss to evenly coat.
  17. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
  18. Prior to serving, in a small sauteé pan add the pine nuts, and nutmeg, and toast over medium heat until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
  19. To serve, place salad into a serving bowl, top with toasted pine nuts and crumbled feta cheese.
  20. Enjoy!

Last night we served this alongside some baked salmon that had delicious herbs on it, brown rice with crumbled dulse, and of course the delicious peach cobbler for dessert. A light and delicious meal perfect for the summer time.

37-Cooks-Roasted-Beet-Nectarine_Salad-Silk-Road-Jenny-Manseau-2

The cookbook was provided to me from the publisher for this review. All comments and opinions are 100% my own.

 

Rawtella “Cheesecake” Brownies {37Cooks}

37-Cooks-Rawtella-Cheesecake-Brownies-Surprise-Food-Exchange-Jenny-Manseau-1

I love being a part of 37Cooks – even with my beyond busy schedule this year and turning a few submissions in late (sorry guys!), challenges like this help keep me on my toes and my creativity flowing. This challenge wasn’t for a sponsor but instead a fun little “Surprise Food Exchange” between the bloggers. We were asked to some something(s) from our state…I was chosen to send items from RI (or close by) to Donna of Cookistry. Sadly however her first box is M.I.A. so I sent her a second one which I hope was equally as good. I received some awesome gluten-free goodies from Linda…seriously these items were perfect and right up my alley. I received two bottles of Ginger People Hot Ginger Jalapeno Sauce and a jar of Rawtella.

Hot Ginger Jalapeno Sauce

(Image: ]http://gingerpeople.com/gluten-free-products/hot-ginger-jalapeno-spicy-dip.html)                                                        (Image:https://www.facebook.com/Rawtella/photos_stream)

Our challenge was to come up with a recipe using at least one of the products we received. At first I was pretty torn on which one to use. I had made a delicious burger with a bit of the Hot Ginger Jalapeno Sauce mixed into the meat, and topped with a Hot Ginger Jalapeno Aoli and avocado, and don’t get me wrong…it was delicious, however I forgot to actually get a good picture of it. Seeing as money is, lets say…tight right now I couldn’t actually recreate the recipe just yet so I went through my pantry to see what I had on hand. Turns out I had everything to make some delicious brownies…using a box mix of course. I have a great recipe for homemade brownies but I had a box of the Stonewall Kitchen Gluten-Free Brownie Mix, which I LOVE. It has such a great flavor (which is thanks to the coffee that is in it!). I’m not a huge chocolate person…I like it a lot better when it is mixed with something else, like nuts. I knew that I was going to use the Rawtella (obviously!) in this recipe but I was trying to think of something to break up all the chocolate. When walking through the grocery store this morning I saw some beautiful brownies with cream cheese swirls running through them and a light bulb went off, “I have that at home too!!”.

I have to say these are pretty easy and quick to make, especially if you are using a box mix. However, you do not have to…use whatever your favorite recipe is and even though the Rawtell is vegan, this recipe is not. I couldn’t afford to buy the alternative ingredients to make it that way so if you want to make it vegan, simply follow your favorite vegan brownie recipe, use the Rawtella and then use a vegan cream cheese. If anyone tries this…please let me know how it turns out.

Thank you Linda for the awesome, delicious ingredients to play around with. Hope you all enjoy the recipe!

Rawtella “Cheesecake” Brownies

37-Cooks-Rawtella-Cheesecake-Brownies-Surprise-Food-Exchange-Jenny-Manseau-2

Brownies

  • 1 package of gluten-free brownie mix, prepared according to package or your favorite homemade gluten-free brownie recipe

Topping

  • 4 oz 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 large egg (separated)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1/4 cup Rawtella

Method of Preparation

  1. Pre-heat oven according to package or recipe
  2. Prepare brownie mix according to package or recipe
  3. Pour prepared brownie batter into an 8×8 baking dish that has been lined with parchment paper or to make individual brownies use the Good Cook Dessert Bar Pan
  4. In a small bowl add the softened 1/3 fat cream cheese and the yolk from the egg.
  5. Mix with a spoon until completely incorporated and there are no lumps.
  6. Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix well.
  7. In a second small bowl combine the Rawtella and egg white, mix until evenly incorporated.
  8. Place 1-2 teaspoons each of the cream cheese mixture and the Rawtella mixture of top of each brownie (if using the dessert pan) or evenly distribute globs of each on top of the brownie mixture in the 8×8 pan.
  9. With either a toothpick or knife, swirl the cream cheese and Rawtella mixtures together.
  10. Bake according to package or recipe.
  11. Cool completely, remove from pan and serve with fresh strawberries.

 

 

 

 

My Signature Dish {Good Cook Build Your Kitchen Drawer}

If you read Creative Cooking Gluten Free on a regular basis you could probably guess that my signature dish would include something Asian…and you have probably seen this dish on here before and possibly on TV! It is of course my Sweet and Spicy Chicken. It is simple, delicious, and easy enough for the beginner cook to make. It consists of few ingredients and takes only about 30 minutes to make (including prep time).

As part of the Good Cook Build Your Kitchen Drawer event bloggers were asked to choose 15 items to build their drawer. When picking the items I took the approach of “what would a beginner cook need” and went from there. My reasoning behind that idea was during this time of year students are graduating from high school and college and moving out on their own, so why not help them (or any other beginner cook) with suggestions on what they need to get started. There are so many awesome kitchen tools and gadgets out there (trust me I have quite a few), but there are essentials as well, and are often overlooked. Little did I know that I would be asked to use as many as these items as I could to create my signature dish…but I did it and used 9 out of the 15 items! At the end of the post you can read more on how YOU could win some amazing items from Good Cook, but for now, check out my signature dish…

Sweet and Spicy Chicken

ssc410

Chicken:

  • 2 chicken breast – boneless, skinless
  • 1/4 cup corn  or potato starch
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Garlic Powder (optional)
  • 4 tablespoon veggie oil

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup honey (You can also use Agave instead of honey, or half honey and half agave)
  • 3-4 Thai Chili peppers finely chopped (keep seeds in for even more heat…adjust the amount of peppers depending on your spice level) *Dried or fresh chili peppers work well in this recipe
  • 2 Tablespoons of Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Oil (optional)

Method of Preparation

  1. Mix honey, Thai chili peppers, water, and chili oil. Set aside.
  2. Cut up chicken in to 1 inch cubes.
  3. In a medium bowl add the corn/potato starch, salt, pepper, and garlic powder (optional), and mix well, then chicken.
  4. Coat well and shake off any excess corn/potato starch.
  5. In a large skillet or wok heat 1 tablespoons of oil, add half the chicken and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Place chicken on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with second half of chicken and additional tablespoon of oil.
  6. Heat the sauce in the microwave for 30 seconds and mix well. This helps it “loosen” up a bit and makes it easier to pour into the pan or wok
  7. In the same skillet add the honey – chili mixture and bring to a boil for two-four minutes until the sauce reduces, thickens slightly and turns a nice caramel color.
  8. Add chicken back to the pan and coat well. Simmer for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  9. Serve over white or brown rice.
  10. Its a bit sweet with a nice spicy finish.

Chef Note: For a vegan option, used firm tofu that has been drained and 1/2 cup of agave nectar in placement of chicken and honey.

Now for the drawer items…I named this drawer “The Beginners Guide to Kitchen Tools & Gadgets”. Again, I had the beginner cook in mind when picking these items. In 2012 I graduated from Jonson & Wales University with my associates degree in Culinary Arts and last week graduated with my bachelors degree in Culinary Nutrition. I began cooking at a very young age and haven’t stopped since. I love food and making people happy with it. I remember getting my fist place by myself, I was 17 years old and my grand mother and grandfather gave me my first set of pans and knives along with a few other essentials. So if I was to do the same for some one this is what I would give them to build their kitchen drawer…remember I had to pick 15 items (I could have picked more, but that was my requirement)…

The Beginners Guide to Kitchen Tools and Gadgets…what you need to get started:306(The image above shows both the 5 items provided to bloggers from Good Cook and then 15 items that I chose)

Measuring Cups, 5 Piece – The five piece set includes 1/4, 1/3, 1/2. 3/4, and 1 cup measuring cups, which is perfect for those recipes that call for an odd number measurement and all you have are even-numbered measuring cups. They are all connected on a ring and are color coordinated measurements.  These measuring cups are designed to be used for “dry” ingredients – flour, sugar, etc.

Measuring Spoons, 6 Piece – Like the measuring cups, these also have additional handy measurements that are often found in recipes including: 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, and 1 teaspoon along with 1/2 and 1 tablespoon. This helps take out a lot of the guess-work for the beginner cook or baker! Also connected on a ring and color coordinated measurements.

Measure From Above, 3 Piece – This set comes with a 1 cup, 2 cup, and 4 cup liquid measuring cups to be used for liquids such as water, oil, etc. You can read the measurement line by from the side and from above…makes life pretty easy to read it from above and not have to hunch down to make sure it’s correctly measured. Very sturdy and stack well inside each other for easy storage.

Prep Bowls, 5 Piece Set – I love these little bowls – they stack inside one an other, and have measurements inside of them…the top is the larger measurement and part way down is the second measurement (ex. 1/4 and 1/8 cup) – even if you do not use them for measuring they are perfect little prep bowls and make your mise en place nice and neat! AND they are made from a BPA free plastic.

Peeler – This little guy is often overlooked, but can be a huge help, especially if someone does not have great knife skills to peel vegetables and fruits. Can be used for potatoes, apples, mangos, kiwis, zucchini, pears, and can even be used to peel the zest of citrus fruits or ginger! The tip of the peeler is great for removing the “eyes” of the potatoes as well.

Meat Thermometer – I never owned one of these until I went to culinary school, but this is a very important little gadget that everyone should have. This instant read thermometer comes with a case. Thermometers are used for precise cooking – for example poultry and leftovers  should be cooked to an internal temp of 165*F and beef , pork, roasts, seafood, lamb, and veal steaks should be cooked to an internal temp of 145*F and egg dishes and ground meats (beef, pork, lamb, and veal) should be cooked to an internal temp of 160*F (for more information visit this handy information sheet from JWU).

Fine Grater – Everyone needs a grater…or two! I chose the fine grater because I think it is pretty versatile. You can use this to grate hard cheese (like Parmesan) or citrus zest. This is a great product and I’ve been using it quite a bit since receiving it. It come with a protective cover so you don’t scrape you hand while reaching into your drawer looking for something. The cover can also be clipped to the back so when  you grate, it catches it!

Tongs – Stainless Steel and Silicone tips – great for non-stick pans, as it won’t damage them. They lock, which prevents them from flipping open in your drawer meaning you can fit more items in there.

Ladle – I again chose a lade that was both stainless steel and silicone based because it works so well in both stainless steel AND non-stick pans. This ladle is 12 inches, which means you can use it in your big stock pot and get everything out.

Silicone Whisk – This 10 inch whisk is great…can be used to bake and cook with. It is a silicone whisk which makes it great for non-stick pans, but also gets a great scrape when whisking in a bowl, its light, and feels good in your hand, and easy to clean (who doesn’t love that!). The head of the whisk is heat-resistant and can withstand heat up to 400*F.

Large Nylon Flex Turner – This turner is a great size and very sturdy. Perfect for if you have non-stick or stainless steel pans. Everyone needs at least one turner/spatula: flipping pancakes, making eggs, etc.

Silicone Spatula: 2 piece – Heat resistant silicone, the heads remove for even more detailed cleaning. Great for scraping bowls when baking. Great for many uses like using the smaller one for getting the last bits out of a jar!

And now there are three remaining items…I just want to take a second to talk about these as a whole. If you have noticed that so far I have been going in order of the picture above and the three remaining items all happen to be knives. I love knives and I have quite a few of them. However, what it really boils down to is when you are starting out (or in general) you REALLY only need to own two knives, you just have to work on your knife skills! So many get boggled down by buying these huge blocks of knives, but when they really stop and think about it there are two, maybe three knives that they ALWAYS use from that block and those are: a paring knife, a chef’s knife and possibly a bread knife. The two main ones are paring and chef knives…those are your two basics and you should become very familiar with them. I chose three knifes for this drawer, a paring knife, a 7″ chef knife, and a bread knife…

One additional note about knives – keep them sharp! A dull knife will do more damage than a sharp knife.

Paring Knife – This knife has a non-slip handle that feels great in your hand. A paring knife blade is usually between 2 1/2 – 4 inches in length. It can be used for peeling fruits, zesting citrus fruits, dicing garlic, ginger, or shallots can be used while holding the item instead of always having to use a cutting board (like you would with a chefs knife). Again, this is an underrated and underused item in most people’s homes, but I suggest getting to know it a bit better.

Santoku Knife (Chefs Knife): 7″ – I have several typical chefs knives and over the years I have fallen in love with the Santoku style of them. I love how they feel and cut and this one is no exception…actually it has made its way into my knife kit. Santoku knives have these little indents in them which make the remove of food easy. This knife has the same handle style as the paring knife and is a great starter side. There are many different lengths of these knives, but this is a good middle ground, especially if you are not used to handling a larger knife.

Bread Knife –  The Bread and Bagel knife is a serrated edge knife, which is ideal for cutting breads and delicate ingredients such as tomatoes as it helps the knife glide through without having to put a lot of pressure on the item and in turn squishing it. While you won’t use this as much as the other knives, it is still a very useful knife and tool to have on hand.

So there it is…my picks! I hope that this list helps those just getting started. I know there are a million and one other tools and gadgets out there but these are what I consider the basics to get you going to make some delicious dishes!

So what did I use? Check out the photo below…

New ImageI used the Silicone Whisk, Measuring Spoons, Measuring Cups, Santoku Knife, Paring Knife, Ladle, Silicone Spatulas, Liquid Measuring Cups, AND Silicone Tongs! Yes I used all of that to make one dish…I did not have to but I wanted to show you these items. They are awesome and I have really enjoyed working with them.

Build Your Kitchen Drawer Contest!

309This is what my drawer looks like (minus the liquid measuring cups and prep bowls!)

Starting on June 1, you will be able to build your kitchen drawer with 15 Good Cook tools and gadgets from goodcook.com, all you have to do is choose up to 15 items from the official list of products, and you might just win what you choose! If you are a bit suck on what to choose, you can always choose the same tools and gadgets that I did or any of the other participating bloggers…more info will be provided when the contest begins.

From June 2 – June 7th, Good Cook is hosting a 5-day product giveaway on their Facebook page, plus there will be instant winners. For each drawer that you build, you have a chance to be an instant winner and you can enter once daily for more chances!Read more:

Wondering which products are available? Look for the “ADD ME” icon below on the Good Cook website! Additionally, during this contest, all items on GoodCook.com are 25% off – there is no code needed…just head on over and start shopping. The “Build Your Kitchen Drawer” Contest will run from June 2nd – July 14th.

c1989-addmeBe sure to check out the other bloggers and their Kitchen Drawers!


This post was sponsored by Good Cook as part of the Blogger and Kitchen Experts programs.

#goodcookcom #kitchendrawercontest #goodcookblogger

Coconut Thai Shrimp w/ Mango Avocado Salsa and Spinach Lime Rice

IMG_0058This time of year is perfect for fresh seafood – especially in New England. Lately I have been consuming about a 75/35 diet…the 75 being vegetable/plant-based meals and the 35 being meat based meals. I am working towards consuming the recommended 8-12oz of fish/seafood per week according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, however my budget does not always allow it, especially when trying to consume wild caught fish/seafood. Living below the poverty line, trying to make ends meet, and living on a tight budget can make things a difficult and frustrating when trying to eat healthy and buy fresh ingredients all the time. I have been living this way for quite a while now, and for the next year, that tight budget of mine just got even tighter! So here are a few little tips and tricks that I have found helpful and put to use:

  • When I find a good deal on wild caught seafood, I buy a little extra and freeze it into appropriate portion sizes.
  • Search the frozen section – some times you can find wild caught pre-frozen shrimp, tuna, or salmon – pick up a piece or two and save it for a raining day.
  • Shop local – small independent grocery stores and farmers markets usually have some great deals.
  • Eat Seasonally – the best prices for items are when they are in season, that should be no surprise.
  • Coupon Clipping – I kid you not, this has helped me so much. I do not clip coupons for items that I can not eat or that I do not use, that would be a waste of money and time. Sign up for coupons from Mambo Sprouts – usually they have lots of great gluten-free related coupons.
  • Frozen Veggies and Canned Goods – I know it is not “gourmet” but you can make one heck of a meal with these items…if buying canned goods, buy them with no or low sodium, and be sure to rinse them well. I buy my beans canned because it is quick and easy and they are full of nutrients.
  • Think of side of the box – instead of spending loads of money on meat proteins, I use a lot of alternative proteins like tofu, tempeh, and beans
  • Whole grains – they fill you up and are very versatile.

Below is a simple, yet flavorful shrimp recipe that can be prepared inside or on the grill and is perfect for this beautiful weather. You can serve it with our without the rice, in taco shells, or however you choose.

I found the Coconut Thai Seasoning at The Spice and Tea Exchange in Newport…I have no idea how I never realized this little gem was so close to me, but it was probably a good thing for me (not them) that I didn’t! I walked into the shop and instantly was in heaven. It’s a small shop, packed with spices, teas, salts, etc. The staff was very helpful and friendly as well, especially when helping me with gluten-free blend options. I picked up a few different spice blends but had to try the Coconut Thai one first.

Coconut Thai Shrimp with Mango Avocado Salsa and Spinach Lime Rice

IMG_0061Coconut Thai Shrimp – Ingredients

  • Shrimp                                                         1/2 pound
  • Coconut Thai Seasoning                         2 teaspoons
  • Olive Oil                                                       1 teaspoon

Mango Salsa – Ingredients

  • Lime Juice                                                  2 tablespoons
  • Lime Zest                                                    1 teaspoon
  • Salt, Kosher                                               1/4 teaspoon
  • Cayenne Pepper                                       1/8 teaspoon
  • Mango                                                         1 – fine dice
  • Red Onion                                                  2-3 tablespoons, fine dice
  • Avocado                                                      1 – fine dice
  • Bell Pepper, Orange,Yellow, etc.            1/4 cup, fine dice

Spinach Lime Rice – Ingredients

  • Basmati or Jasmine Rice                        1 cup – uncooked
  • Water or stock                                             2 cups
  • Spinach, Baby                                             1 1/2 cups
  • Lime Zest                                                     1 teaspoon
  • Cilantro                                                         1 tablespoon, fine chop

Method of Preparation

  1. Peel and devein shrimp
  2. Mango Avocado Salsa – In a medium bowl add lime juice, lime zest, salt, and cayenne pepper – mix well.
  3. Add diced mango, red onion, avocado, and bell pepper, mix well.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes
  5. Coconut Thai Shrimp – In a medium bowl add, Coconut Thai Seasoning and Olive oil, mix well
  6. Add shrimp and toss to coat evenly, set aside in the refrigerator for 10 minutes
  7. Spinach Lime Rice – In a small stock pot bring two cups of water or stock to a boil and add rice. Stir and cook until done (usually about 15-20 minutes depending on rice)
  8. During the last two minutes of cooking, stir in spinach and stir to wilt the spinach leaves. Set aside.
  9. Right before serving add lime zest and freshly chopped cilantro into the spinach rice and toss to evenly incorporate.
  10. To cook the shrimp – either heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and cook 2-4 minutes per side or place on a hot grill for the same amount of time.
  11. Serve with spinach lime rice, and mango salsa – top with fresh cilantro and lime wedges if desired.

Enjoy!

 

 

One-Pot Meal: Spring Time Mushroom Risotto {Good Cook Kitchen Drawer Contest}

photo 3(5)

I have really enjoyed working with Good Cook and getting to participate in their challenges and using their products. If you are anything like me, you get rather excited about kitchen gadgets, and trust me, Good Cook has some great ones. Starting on June 1, you will be able to build your kitchen drawer with 15 Good Cook tools and gadgets from goodcook.com, all you have to do is choose up to 15 items from the official list of products, and you might just win what you choose! If you are a bit suck on what to choose, you can always choose the same tools and gadgets that I did or any of the other participating bloggers…more info will be provided when the contest begins.

From June 2 – June 7th, Good Cook is hosting a 5-day product giveaway on their Facebook page, plus there will be instant winners. For each drawer that you build, you have a chance to be an instant winner and you can enter once daily for more chances!Read more:

Wondering which products are available? Look for the “ADD ME” icon below on the Good Cook website! Additionally, during this contest, all items on GoodCook.com are 25% off – there is no code needed…just head on over and start shopping. The “Build Your Kitchen Drawer” Contest will run from June 2nd – July 14th.

To begin this awesome “Build Your Kitchen Drawer” event bloggers were given five tools/gadgets to work with and create a one-pot meal with. We had to use at least two of the five tools provided us and create a delicious dish…not too hard right? Ha, I beg to differ…I got stuck on “one-pot meal”, thinking to myself “I could make a soup”, “Nah, its spring time”, or “chili…that’s always a one-pot meal”, “No, I don’t really want chili right now either”. So my next thought was fried rice, because, you know me, I LOVE Asian food, but when walking through the grocery store I came across this mix of mushrooms; it had baby bellas, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms, and decided to make a spring risotto with mushrooms and green onions, and of course some white wine. There are so many “one-pot” meals, and this one can be used as an entrée or as a side dish…you can even bake it, or roll them into balls and make fried risotto balls – endless possibilities!

The five items that we were provided are  SMART Ice Cream Scoop, Flip Measuring Spoon, Safe-Cut Can Opener, Egg Separator, and the Pot Clip Holder. All of these products are great – I did not use all of them to make this dish but I did try to test them out at least once so I could share them with you. The only item I did not use for this recipe was the Safe-cut Can Opener, but let’s start with the items I used…

  • SMART Ice Cream Scoop – LOVE this ice cream scoop…it has a split back to help release the contents, and can be used for many different things such as scooping the risotto out of the pan into my bowl, mashed potatoes, and obviously ice cream, you can read more about the SMART Scoop here – (hand wash only).
  • Flip Measuring Spoon – this is perfect for people who do not want a cluttered drawer, or are just starting out, it is four measuring spoons in 1, it doesn’t get much better than that. I used this to measure out the red pepper flakes and salt for the recipe below, you can read more about it here.
  • Egg Separator – is a pretty handy tool especially if you need only to use the egg whites or yolks in a recipe – I did not NEED to use that for this recipe, but I tested it out anyway…it just makes life a little easier, read more about it here.
  • Pot Clip Holder – How I have lived with out this, I’m not sure just yet. This is the perfect little kitchen gadget that I think everyone should own, maybe even several of them. This helps keep your stove top and counters nice and clean. It clips on to the side of the pot and holds your spoon when you aren’t using it. Read more about it here.
  • Safe-cut Can Opener – The one and only item I did not use, only because I had no can to open, but this can opener, as its name states is a “safe-cut” which means it leaves no sharp edges to get injured on! So this tool is perfect for having your younger ones help out in the kitchen, you can read more about it here.

 

photo 1(9)Here is what I made…

Spring Time Mushroom Risotto

photo 2(8)

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil                                               1 tablespoon
  • Butter                                                   1 tablespoon
  • Scallions, sliced                               1/4 cup
  • Mushrooms, sliced                           1 cup
  • Red Pepper Flakes                          1/4-1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt, Kosher                                        1/4 teaspoon
  • Arborio Rice                                       1 cup
  • White Wine                                         1/2 cup
  • Chicken Stock, low sodium            4 cups
  • Egg, whole                                         1 large
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated            1/4 cup

Method of Preparation:

  1. Gather all ingredients and equipment.
  2. In a small stock pot add four cups of chicken stock and heat over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer
  3.  In a large, heavy bottom skillet, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat.
  4.  Add sliced scallions and saute for 1 minute.
  5. Add mushrooms, and cook for an addition 2 minutes.
  6. Add white wine and cook for an additional minute.
  7. Season with salt and pepper
  8. If the pan is a little dry add an additional teaspoon of either oil or butter, then add the rice and stir to evenly coat.
  9. Stir in 1 cup of stock – just enough to cover the rice.
  10. Stir well and continue to stir until the rice has almost completely absorbed the stock.
  11. Continue this process until all stock has been added to rice and absorbed. This should take about 20-30 minutes.
  12. Push the risotto to the outer edges of the pan and add the egg.
  13. Fry egg, and carefully flip over to not break the yolk – you want it to be runny over the risotto when plating.
  14. Gently remove the egg and set aside.
  15. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.
  16. To serve top with fried egg and sliced scallions.

Chef Notes:You can use any short grain rice instead of the arborio rice, as risotto is a style of cooking, not a type of rice.

 Be sure to check out more delicious recipes from the other Good Cook Bloggers and Kitchen Experts at the link below!


This post was sponsored by Good Cook as part of the Blogger and Kitchen Experts programs.

#goodcookcom #kitchendrawercontest #goodcookblogger