KickAss Cupcakes (Review)

Yesterday we went to Boston for the day.  I love Boston, probably more than any other city in the U.S. That might just be because I grew up going to Boston often.  Sadly thought I haven’t really been to Boston much since being diagnosed so I had NO clue what my options were for gluten-free, except of course P.F. Chang’s (see review here).  On Tuesday I posted on Twitter if anyone had suggestions for a gluten-free bakery or cupcakery (I saw this term in DC and loved it! Thankfully I got a response and it was the one that I came across while searching online – Kickass Cupcakes – Boston’s Best All Natural Sweet Cupcakes.

After our very tasty dinner at P. F. Chang’s we got on the red line and headed to Davis Square in Somerville (.  Finally a cupcakery that isn’t either pink, white and brown or blue, white and brown.  This place was different…red and black!  We walked into the little shop and found three different gluten-free options: Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting, Vanilla Cupcake with Vanilla Frosting and a Mojito Cupcake.

Kickass Cupcakes is mostly regular cupcakes with a large variety of flavors and limited edition cupcakes.  For example yesterday we saw a root beer float cupcake and a green monster themed cupcake (chocolate cupcake with green frosting!). I think fairly recently they started to offer gluten-free options. I’m sure the regular cupcakes really do KickAss, however the gluten-free cupcake didn’t exactly KickAss…don’t get me wrong it was very tasty and the sweet frosting was a perfect balance with the cupcake, but I wasn’t “wow’ed” by them.

I chose the vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting with sprinkles. The cupcake its self seemed to be a little over cooked but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  I have definitely had better cupcakes and even made more moist cupcakes but I would try them again in the future for sure.  I know gluten-free baked goods can be a bit tricky especially with getting the right texture and making sure they aren’t even the slightest bit over cooked.

Give KickAss Cupcakes a try – Gluten-Free or Regular, I think it’s worth it.

KickAss Cupcakes

Davis Square 378 Highland Ave

Somerville, MA 02144

Take the Red Line to Davis Square, exit at the College Ave exit and go left two blocks.


P.F. Chang’s: A Gluten-Free Experience (Review)

When P.F. Chang’s first released their Gluten-Free menu it was a bit limited, but who was about to complain – those suffering from Celiac Disease actually had options!  I got all excited the first time I went, I could actually look at an entrée instead of a salad with oil and vinegar dressing. If you know me at all I love food but my all time weakness is Chinese food!  I love it so much that when I moved back to the U.S. from living in China one of my first meals was, that’s right…Chinese food!! Now their menu has about 28 items!!! These items range from appetizers, main dishes, sides and even dessert.  And the verity of options is outstanding, chicken, vegetarian, beef, seafood…a little bit of everything.

I think of all the foods that I have had to “give up” Chinese food is the hardest.  Don’t get me wrong being Italian I love my bread products, I’m a carb girl but in my mind Chinese food-to get those deep, authentic flavors are much harder than Italian food. I try making a few dishes but nothing seems to compare to living in China or even going out to a local Chinese restaurant.  When living in Monterey I found the best family run Chinese restaurant named Full Moon.  These ladies became part of my extended family, I literally at there at least once a week and when they found out I had Celiac they said if I bring in my own soy sauce they cook all my food with that and even go to the extent of making sure the pans they use for my food are cleaned first.  Oh how I miss those wonderful ladies.

Now that I don’t live there and can’t eat at Full Moon whenever I want the next best thing is P.F. Chang’s but sadly they are about 25 minutes away from us.  I know it’s not really that far and maybe its a good thing that they are in Providence and not in Portsmouth that way we don’t eat there too much.  Bryan and I love P.F. Chang’s gluten-free menu…he even orders off of it so we can share the dishes…now that is true love.  Plus he says you can’t even taste the difference from the regular options. When we go we normally get the same three things (our favorites):

Gluten Free Shanghai Cucumbers (for our appetizer) – “Sliced, cold cucumbers sprinkled in gluten-free soy sauce and sesame seeds.”

We loved these and get a large order every time.  These are cool, crisp and very refreshing.  The sauce tastes like a mixture of gluten-free soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar and of course has some black and white sesame seeds on them…so good, give them a try next time!

Gluten Free Beef A La Sichuan (Bryan’s favorite) – “Crispy beef strips with julienne celery and carrots. Our spiciest beef dish.”

Yummmy! Since they added this to their gluten-free menu Bryan orders it every time.  It has such a great flavor and the perfect amount of spice which goes great with the cool crisp julienne celery and carrots.

Gluten Free Chang’s Spicy Chicken (My favorite) – “Lightly dusted and stir-fried in a sweet Sichuan sauce.  Our version of General Tso’s and always a favorite.”

Normally we order this but like I said above I mixed it up a bit.  It is really hard for me to order something else know that this dish is so good.  I love the spice in the Chang’s Spicy Chicken.  The chicken is very tender and very lightly coated.  I have never been disappointed with this choice.

(Sorry there is no picture for my favorite dish…but next time for sure!)

But this time around I decided to mix it up a bit and order a different chicken dish (Bryan was not about to give up that Sichuan Beef).  So I ordered the following dish.

Gluten Free Ginger Chicken With Broccoli – “Served Cantonese style on a bed of fresh steamed broccoli.”

Wow…I was impressed with the flavors of this one.  The chicken is beyond tender and good-sized pieces, surrounded by steamed and still lightly crunchy broccoli florets.  The ginger definitely stands out in this dish and we both said it would make a great sauce over other steamed veggies for a vegetarian dish.  And I have to say my favorite part of the dish was the sauce and broccoli.

They also offer you two different options for rice, either steamed white rice or brown rice.  I know brown rice is great and supposed to be better for you, however I personally feel that Asian food in general should be enjoyed with some white rice, so I always order that with my meal.

If you have a P. F. Chang’s near you go and try it out and check out their gluten-free menu!!

Tacos w/ McCormick’s Seasoning

After living in California for the past five years I have become a little spoiled with Mexican food…good Mexican food that is.  None of this taco bell junk.  Now living in Rhode Island I am beyond limited for gluten-free options not just in grocery stores but also in restaurants!  Granted this is because we don’t live in Providence but still it can be frustrating some days, but a blessing because it makes me cook and bake at home more.  Every once in a while I just don’t want to cook or bake I want to just go out and grab something (I would LOVE some Chinese food!!).

We found a “Mexican” place not far from us so we decided to try some tacos…how bad can tacos be, seriously?? The place is called Tito’s Cantina Mexican Grill, and this is what their website says “In the summer of 1989, Two Amigos with big dreams put their sombreros together to bring you the authentic taste of Old Mexico. From that, Tito’s was born!”  Okay I know I’m not from Mexico and I’m not Mexican…not even a drop but these were the worst tasting tacos ever.  The taco bell (Yes I know I just called it junk earlier) would have been better than these.  I opted for the shredded beef tacos instead of the ground beef…I was trying to go for that “authentic Mexican” they were talking about.  I’m surprised I got them down…even Bryan agreed with me, these tasted like beef stew.  I am not joking, it was seriously like eating beef stew in a taco shell, ummm grossness in my mouth.  Bryan’s ground beef tacos were out of this world compared to my shredded beef.  I don’t think we’ll be back there.  So to make up for that horrible mess of a lunch I decided that ground beef tacos at home are way better 🙂

The other day I spent about ten or fifteen minutes reading labels in the grocery store.  Labels on vanilla extract, hot dogs and taco seasonings.  I know I could make my own but that would require me to buy several different seasonings instead of just a small packet.  After being a little frustrated both Bryan and I took out our phones and started searching that way we found out that McCormick’s had both gluten-free seasoning and vanilla extract.  Actually this is what it says on their website

Do your products contain gluten?

None of our single ingredient spices and herbs contain gluten. In addition, all of our extracts, including Pure Vanilla, are gluten-free. Some of our products do contain gluten. When WHEAT is the source, it will always be called out within the ingredient statement, and listed in bold.

We do not maintain a list of gluten-free products, as our formulas change from time to time

After finding this information we re-read the back of the package and sure enough it was gluten-free!  We also found some great crunch corn taco shells by Ortega that say gluten-free right on the front of the box! Sadly we couldn’t tell in the store or even now if their seasoning mix was gluten-free or not, so we decided to go with what we knew was safe to consume. We tried the Spicy Taco seasoning and loved it…jut the right amount of spice!  The taco shells were awesome, they actually had some great flavor to them and held up well to the stuffed tacos!

Grilled Hot Dogs On A Hot Summer Day (Review)

We are loving the weather here…not to hot or humid and there is always an amazing breeze!  We truly can’t complain much about the weather here and the fact that we get to eat outside most nights.  We were fortunate enough to have been left a patio set, so we’ve been putting it to use as much as possible. My dad even gave us a small grill which will be put to use very very soon.  Had I cleaned it today, we would have cooked our dinner on it tonight but sadly I didn’t so I used my grill pan instead.

While we were still living in New Jersey, Bryan’s mom found a little store near them that had a huge and I mean huge selection of gluten-free items.  I grabbed a basket and pretty much filled it up, not even thinking about prices.  One thing I was very excited to throw into my basket was some Tapioca Hot Dog Buns from Ener-G Foods.  I’ve been holding on to them until we moved instead of trying them in New Jersey and bringing the remaining buns with us.

Tonight we went to BJ’s to pick up a few things and we found some Kayem Hot Dogs (Which are GLUTEN-FREE!!) in natural casing, which are Bryan’s favorite because they make that “crunch” sound when you bite into them.  Now I finally had my chance to try these Tapioca Hot Dog Buns that I have been holding on to.  I grilled the hot dogs on my grill pan and grabbed two hot dog buns for myself (Bryan got to have real ones) and cut a slice in the side for the hot dog, they smelled good but felt a bit dense/dry. I thought maybe grilling them a little bit might help…it didn’t.  I have to say these were not very good at all.  They weren’t soft, way too hard to close it enough to actually get your mouth around it.  I have no idea how kids would be able to these.  They were so dry I even tried to put on some extra ketchup and spicy mustard, which didn’t help at all.  On the first hot dog I had to keep ripping parts of the bun off just so I could eat it…the second bun was a goner, didn’t even make it one bite before completely falling apart, so I went back to my old stand by, eating my hot dog sands the bun and I honestly I would much rather of had it that way to begin with.

I was very disappointing in these…has anyone else had a better experience?  Are there any suggestions on there for other hot dog buns?

D.C. Getaway, Hello Cupcake! and Austin Grill (REVIEWS)

Bryan and I spent last week exploring D.C.  We’ve got a lot going on right now with me moving across the country, us packing up his things so that way we can move to Rhode Island for his law school.  On top of that we’ve got about a million other things going on that have been wearing us down a bit.  We thought a little break might do us so good before we move this weekend and he starts school in two weeks.  This was probably our last opportunity to do something like this for at least a year – if not more.

We tried to see as much as we could in our four and a half days there and we think we did a pretty darn good job.  We went to the Capital Building, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, George Washington Masonic Memorial, WWII Memorial, National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool, White House, Scottish Rite Temple, and as many Smithsonian Museums as we possibly could.  I even got to see Julia Child’s kitchen (you should all go!).   One day was all museums because it was just so dang hot outside we couldn’t stand it any longer.  I think when we left last Friday it was well into the 100’s.  Not my ideal thing especially since I came from 60 degree weather only a week before.  Put the heat aside, we had an awesome time.  I think if we do a trip like that again, it would happen in the fall!!

We were fortunate enough to get an amazing hotel room with a kitchen in it outside of the city and only a mile from the metro stop.  We cooked a few meals at the hotel just to save money and to have the ease of knowing there wouldn’t be any cross contamination issues.  However for lunch and a few dinners we ate out and found some great places and some that we had been to already and really enjoy like Chipolte (everything but the flour tortillas are gluten-free) and Five Guys Burgers (where everything but the buns are gluten-free).

I of course was determined to find a cupcake place in DC that had some gluten-free options…sadly I only found one place in all of my searching.  I emailed a few places but they either didn’t get back to me, had nothing on their website or responded and said “sorry, we don’t offer specialty cupcakes”.  I wish that I could have found at least one more place to try, because sadly the one I found was a bit of a let down.  Please read below.

Hello Cupcake! (Review)

Hello Cupcake! is just a block or so away from the Dupont Circle Metro Stop, which is very convenient and we found it with no problems.  Cute little place but I feel like I have seen it before…many of the cupcake places around now are starting to look the same with the pink and white chandeliers, either having a pink/brown/white or light blue/brown/white combination.  I hope the next one I find is a bit more different.

We went inside, looked at the display of yummy looking cupcakes and realized that sadly there was only one gluten-free option, which just so happened to be the same and only option for vegans.  My only choice was a lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting.  It sounded light and fluffy and delicious so I ordered my cupcake to eat there, paid my three dollars and was handed my cupcake on a paper doily.  I found that a bit odd…no plate??  I brought it to the table, grabbed a knife to cut it in half so I could see how fluffy it really was.  When I cut it,  fell over on to the table and I lost half of the frosting-extremely messy.  The cupcake was moist but not as fluffy as I was expecting, with a good lemon flavor.  The frosting was way to much…too much lemon, too sweet and too much frosting in general.  The frosting over powered the cupcake completely. I could see this cupcake being served as a cake for a baby shower with a frosting that was a bit less sweet and a little less lemon.

Needless to say it wasn’t a great visit.  I think if they were to offer at least two gluten-free options and serve their cupcakes on plates instead of paper doilies it would have been a better review.  I had really high hopes for Hello Cupcake! and I am sad to say I was very let down.  I think I talked about it on and off for about two days with Bryan.  Poor guy puts up with so much with me and my cupcakes.

Austin Grill (Review)

On this trip I made sure to bring my Triumph Dining Book and there were quite a few great sounding places, but we wanted to try to save some money so we looked at the options that served lunch and dinner instead of just dinner and had either one to two $’s instead of three $’s.  I found this one place called Austin Grill a tex-mex place not far from the Gallery PI-Chinatown Metro stop.  Let’s just say, we liked this place so much…we went back the next day for lunch again!  They offer a complete gluten-free menu that you can find on their website.

Both days we had fantastic servers, Juan Carols and Erich B. Very knowledgeable about the menus, gluten-free options and even double checked with the chef about onions being in certain things for Bryan.  The service was quick even during the busy lunch hour.  When you are seated they bring over a large basket of warm corn chips with just the right about of salt along with the best salsa I have ever had!! (no lie, its amazing!)

The first day we went I ordered the Tacos al Carbon – this is probably some of the best steak tacos I have ever had.  Extremely flavorful, moist, juicy and tender.   There are two tacos served with white rice, black beans and sour cream on the side with a little bit of shredded lettuce.  I couldn’t even finish my plate.  On the second day I decided to try some different tacos (even though I didn’t want to, the steak ones were that good).  I ordered the Grilled Chicken Tacos and they were just as tasty.  Nice and moist chicken with great flavor again, served with rice and beans.  The serving sizes are a very decent/generous size for $10.00 and their sweet tea was the perfect sweetness.  We couldn’t get enough of the tea. Bryan loved his gluten-containing items as well! It was really great to see such a large gluten-free menu.  I am craving those tacos al carbon and salsa!

With a very friendly staff, great portions, amazing flavors, the best salsa, reasonable prices, I would say this place is a must go if there is one around you!  It’s fantastic! Next time we are in DC we’ll be heading there for sure.  Thanks again to Juan Carlos and a very big thank you to Erich B!

Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery (REVIEW)

Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery is located at 338 East 11th Street (between 1st and 2nd ave) in NYC.  Tu-Lu’s is a cute little shop with a few seats and cute decor to sit and enjoy your tasty treats. We ventured in to the city on Thursday to give it a try.  My main interest in going there was to try their very delicious sounding cupcakes.  While looking at their website a bit I noticed that they also some panini’s on the menu.  Most items on the menu had prices associated with them, however the panini’s didn’t, so we weren’t 100% sure if we were going to actually have lunch there or not.  Once arriving and seeing the selections and prices we decided to do so instead of having dessert first.  Once I read that they use Udi’s bread I got really excited because I haven’t tried any of their products yet and have been wanting to.

I ended up ordering the “Sliced Roasted Turkey with Provolone & Herb Mayo” panini and Bryan ordered the “Ham and Melted Muenster with Whole Grain Mustard” panini.  Both came with a side of lightly dressed mixed greens and were very delicious.  The bread is amazing-it held up extremely well.  This has been a big thing for me lately when trying new gluten-free bread products is “how well do they hold up in a sandwich” and some of them fail miserably!  But between the Canyon Bakehouse Breads and Udi’s I have been pleasantly surprised.  Both hold up extremely well especially in a panini.

Next up was what we came for…the cupcake!  I love them (and very picky about them). I ordered the Vanilla Cupcake with  Strawberry Cream Cheese icing and Bryan ordered the Chocolate Cupcake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Icing.  They were very tasty with a good texture.  Not as fluffy as I was expecting, more of a denser cupcake but over all great flavor.

However, and I hate to write this, but not long after leaving we both had very intense stomach pains.  I’m not sure exactly what it was from but here is my guess.  It has been extremely hot around here and when we arrived and ordered our cupcakes the frosting was melting off.  I was almost hesitant to try it, but when you put a cupcake in front of me, I can’t really resist.  Not because they cupcakes were just out of the oven and not cooled completely but because it was so warm in there and I don’t think their little display case was cool enough or at all.  Many of the cupcakes you could see the frosting sliding off and if they are a cream based frosting…that doesn’t go very well with the heat.  We were both sick for a few hours which was very upsetting because I had very high hopes for this place.  I have ruled it out just yet of this one time so I think when its a bit cooler out, I’ll have to give it another shot.  If anyone else has tried it I would love to hear your review also.

Gluten Free Gloriously (REVIEW)

As mentioned in my previous post “Oh the places we’ll go” I kind of mapped out some of the Gluten Free places I wanted to try this summer on our little adventures and after being back east for only a week, we’ve gone to three of them.  The first place we went was Gluten Free Gloriously.  It is a small little place in Central New Jersey that offers gluten-free, wheat free and some dairy free baked goods.  Here is a little blurb from their “about section”

“I’m a very lucky woman. I am gluten intolerant. Yep, lucky.

With all the serious illness in the world that requires pills, shots or invasive procedures, all I have to do is eat the delicious foods I prepare to stay healthy.
Eight years ago I didn’t feel so fortunate when I was told I had Celiac Disease. All I could focus on was what I couldn’t eat, and the substitutes amounted to Styrofoam with an aftertaste. I grieved and cried and then I cooked. I cooked and cooked and cooked some more until I perfected my favorite foods gluten free.
My tastebuds weren’t the only thing loving my new diet, so were my legs and other muscles. I was able to put my cane aside and walk without, and actually exercise a little. Even after I found I did not carry the Celiac gene, I found gluten was like a toxin to my body hurting my digestive system, my muscles and my nerves so I remained on my delicious path of health. I shared my treats with friends and before I knew it our customer base outgrew our home and we opened our shop at 267 Main Ave in Stirling.
Our food is designed to taste wonderful to those who only worry about gluten. We use eggs, nuts and butter. We never use artficial sweeteners and rarely use soy. We have developed a few products that are dairy free and those may contain soy, but in general we try not to use it. We simply want people who can’t eat gluten to enjoy eating again! Friends and family who don’t need to eat gluten-free will happily eat with you. We see it time and again.
Our customers are literally dancing about the store after sampling our goodies and telling us this is the best pizza, bread, carrot cake, apple pie, and so on that they have ever tasted.
So please, come in, take a bite and join us in living your life “Gluten Free Gloriously!”


The drive was about twenty minutes, and I would have to say it was well worth it (not like twenty minutes is a long drive) and I’m sure we’ll be going back before we move.  I checked out their website when doing research on places to possibly visit.  It is a bit hard to judge the size of some of their products based on the website (which includes prices for their products!!) so I thought I would just go and see what they had in stock and purchase from there.

When we arrived we were greeted by their friendly staff and offered samples of different products…I tried the Italian bread and ended up walking out with a loaf!  It was the closest I have tasted to Italian bread so far.  The loaf was a decent size…think small/medium baguette for $6.00.  Normally I wouldn’t spend $6.00 on a loaf of bread, however when living gluten-free you have to come to terms and expect that you will pay more for these items.

I made two meals with this one loaf of bread.  The first was a hot Italian sausage sandwich with sauce and mozzarella cheese.  I followed the directions on the package of letting it thaw at room temp for one hour…then I lightly warmed it in the oven, added the sausage, sauce and cheese and it was mighty tasty!  The bread held up very well to the sauce, didn’t become too soggy.  The second half of the loaf was then made into garlic bread- this bread is perfect for garlic bread!!!

If you live in New Jersey I would suggest making your way to Gluten Free Gloriously in Stirling and trying it out for yourself.  I think next time we go another loaf of bread is defiantly coming home with us along with a few other things.  I’m wanting to try their pizza and also their ravioli!! yummm

A new take on chicken tenders and fries

A few weeks ago I filled out a form on Tropical Traditions website to be considered to review their coconut oil.  Not thinking that me and my little blog would get picked but I did! Yesterday I received my Coconut Oil in the mail and instantly began to think “what should I make first?”, “should I use one of their recipes or try and create my own?”, “what does it smell like?”, “will it have a strong coconut flavor?”.  Needless to say my brain was on 20 question mode, but I had a photo assignment last night and couldn’t experiment right away, so I did it tonight.  I was nervous and excited to experiment and swore that if my first try came out bad I wouldn’t blog about it.  Thankfully it came out pretty tasty!

I’ve read so many great things about coconut oil, both for cooking/baking but also the health benefits of it.  Below are a few interesting facts that I have found in my research:

  • Coconut oil is very heat stable so it makes an excellent cooking and frying oil. It has a smoke point of about 360°F (180°C)
  • The oil is also used to give movie theater popcorn in the United States its distinctive flavor
  • Made from fresh coconuts, not dried copra
  • Has a fresh coconut fragrance
  • Apart from coconut oil, the only other source of lauric acid found in such high concentrations is in mother’s milk

I had been curious about coconut oil for a while now and been wanting to try it out for myself so I am very thankful to Tropical Traditions for sending me this amazing sample to experiment with and write about.

So back to my 20 questions:

“what should I make first?” – I decided to try and make a play on chicken nuggets and fries.  Instead I made coconut flour dusted chicken tenders and sweet potato fries.  They were fried in a little bit of coconut oil (recipe below).  It was very very tasty.  The chicken came out fantastic!!  So juicy and tender with a hint of coconut flavor (just a hint).  The fries came out great too, however I think I prefer my fries baked instead of fried.

“should I use one of their recipes or try and create my own?” – I went with making my own recipe this time, but Tropical Traditions has tons of great looking recipes that I look forward to trying!

“what does it smell like?”- It definitely smells like coconut but in a good way (not like suntan lotion).

“will it have a strong coconut flavor?” – A slight coconut flavor is there but its not over powering or anything like that.  I rather enjoyed it.

Chicken Tenders and Fries

1/4 cup of coconut flour

1/4 cup tapioca flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1 medium to large sweet potato – cut into “fries”

2 boneless/skinless chicken breast – cut into 1/2 inch strips

coconut oil – enough to lightly fry the fries and chicken – about 1/4 -1/2 cup

In a medium bowl mix the coconut flour, tapioca flour, salt and pepper until combined.  Dredge the sweet potato fries in the flour and shake of any excess flour before adding to the oil.  One the fries are finished cooking cool them on a wire rack.  Lightly sprinkle with salt (if you desire).  Next, add the chicken to the same flour mixture, coat lightly and shake of any excess flour before adding to the oil.  Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side until fully cooked. I dipped my chicken in a little bit of honey….oooh so good!!

Seeing as I was given this very generous sample to try I have decided that for the next month before packing everything up to ship across the country I will make one coconut oil recipe a week, so please stay tuned for more recipes and reviews. Now…what to make next, hmmmmm  Maybe I’ll try baking something next.

Please check out this video from Tropical Traditions about their Coconut Oil:

Sweet Baby Ray’s (review)

Back East we have “cook outs” where you cook outside on a grill, usually some steaks, BBQ chicken, veggies etc.  However, when I moved to California people call cook outs BBQ’s, which I found a little confusing.  I was invited to my first BBQ thinking “oh, nice we are going to have some BBQ pork or chicken”.  No, there was NO BBQ sauce to be found anywhere.  Cooking on a grill (or as they call it here, a BBQ) was what they were talking about all along.  Needless to say I was a bit disappointing and still haven’t gotten over the difference from one coast to another.  In my mind to have a BBQ – you must have BBQ sauce!! (I know I’m not alone on this, but people here think I’m crazy)

Since moving here and being to many BBQ’s with out BBQ sauce I realized a few months ago, that I haven’t had BBQ sauce in years!!  Bryan is always raving about this one brand, his all time favorite to be exact – Sweet Baby Ray’s.  I said well if its gluten free, lets try it. I read the back of the package and I didn’t see anything containing gluten/wheat so I went online and sure enough its gluten free!! Its a good thing that it is, because I don’t think he can live with out it, and he is very excited that I can eat it.  Here is what it says on their website:

Is the product gluten-free?

All products except for the meatballs with sauce are gluten free.  Always read labels closely for ingredients before consuming.

This stuff is AMAZING.  Such a great flavor, not too over powering but the perfect balance of tangy sweetness.  Its thick and has a little bit of a kick to it.  I’ve only tried the original one but they have several other flavors: Honey, Hickory & Brown Sugar, Ray’s Hot ‘N Spicy and Sweet Vidalia Onion. Probably one of the best sauces I have had.  You can pretty much find this everywhere so if you haven’t tried it yet you should.  It’s almost summer time lots of grills will be heating up waiting for some BBQ chicken!! I don’t we’ll ever have another kind of BBQ sauce in our house.

I don’t own a grill right now (and hopefully we’ll be able to get one when we move to Rhode Island) so tonight I’m baking some chicken drumsticks that have been brushed with Sweet Baby Ray’s and when they are just about finished I’ll pop them under the broiler for just a little bit to get that char on them.  Then of course I’ll be dipping the meat in the sauce 🙂 Tonight’s meal will be some steamed broccoli, Sweet Baby Rays Chicken and a tomato and cucumber salad.  Light and tasty.

Cupcakes – what’s not to love??

So last week I made two different brands of brownie mix and this week, you guessed it…cupcakes! Technically it’s cake mix that I am comparing this week just made into cupcake form. In my mind cupcakes are way better than cake 🙂 Little individual cups of yummy goodness.  Again, its Betty Crocker Chocolate Cake Mix compared to Arrowhead Mill’s Vanilla Cake Mix. I’ve made the Betty Crocker ones before and loved them and I’ll be making the Arrowhead Mill’s ones for the first time.  The Arrowhead Mill’s mix was in the batch of mixes one of my co-workers brought me a few weeks ago.

I love cupcakes, and I seek them out.  Over the Christmas I went to New Jersey, New York and Massachusetts to visit Bryan and our families.  On one of our little adventures to NYC we got the chance to go to BabyCakes!  Now those are some tasty cupcakes!! Wow.  I think I spent almost $40.00 on cupcakes, why?? Not because of the price (well sort of) but because I couldn’t decide which ones to buy.  Sooo Bryan and I picked a few and got two of each so we could both try them, because I don’t share cupcakes very well.  I think we ended up with the Vanilla, Chocolate and Brownie cupcakes.  All of which were AMAZING but I think the brownie ones were our favorite. – I can’t wait to go back there again!

When Bryan came to visit me in February we took a weekend trip up to San Francisco.  We kept seeing this van that says “Kara’s Cupcakes” on the side and I obviously kept trying to figure out where they were located.  On our last night there, we are heading to go pick up the car at our hotel and he saw there store and Bryan, being the amazing boyfriend that he is, went in just to see if they offered gluten free cupcakes.  To both of our surprise they did!  But, sadly they were sold out.  I was a little crushed until he told me that they had another store, and if I knew what flavor I wanted they would call over to see if they could hold two for us.  Thankfully the other store had some left, we got there right before they closed and the best part was, they were two blocks from out hotel! ha ha.  While at the store I started chatting with the girl behind the counter and to my surprise they started with Erin from BabyCakes NYC’s recipe and adapted it to make it their own…no wonder why they were so good and we loved them so much. We were patient enough to not eat them until we got home (about 2.5 hours) before digging into our little gems.  Again, the cupcakes were AMAZING!!

This summer when I move I am hoping to try some cupcakes from Tu-Lu’s Gluten Free Bakery (also in NYC).  If anyone has tried them, I would love to hear your thoughts 🙂

So here are the results of this weeks battle of the cupcakes (both sets of cupcakes will have the same frosting-yes its gluten free!!):

Betty Crocker Chocolate Cupcakes with Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Rainbow Chip Frosting


Arrowhead Mills Vanilla Cupcakes with Betty Crocker Rich and Creamy Rainbow Chip Frosting

Betty Crocker – I followed the directions on the back of the package and cooked it according to the time given.

Moist, tasty, chocolaty.  Taste and texture of a “real” cupcake.  As with the brownie mix from Betty Crocker you can’t tell the difference from the gluten containing cupcakes.

Arrowhead Mills – I followed the directions on the back of the package and cooked it according to the time given.

Moist, tasty vanillay.  The taste was pretty good, however the texture was a bit different.  They were a little grainy, almost like it has a little bit of a crunchy texture, more like cornmeal-ish texture to it.  Over all they were still very good, I really enjoyed them.

Now I have a little more than two dozen cupcakes and I am only one person so as with the majority of things I bake these will be coming to work with me tomorrow.  My co-workers have become my “test kitchen” over the past two years.

And the winner is….

I have to say that the winner of this one has got to be the Betty Crocker mix, but probably only because of the texture of the Arrowhead Mills.  You really can’t tell that these and the frosting are gluten free.  Betty Crocker has done very well with these mixes, I am highly impressed.

Now to wash these down with a nice big glass of soy milk!!