September 27, 2011

Playing with Flour

       If you can't eat gluten, skip this post!  Tomorrow is William's birthday, and I'm breaking my rules and cooking with flour.  Although he really doesn't like sweets, William does love my apple nut cake.  William was so excited this morning because he found Buckycubes--these really cool magnets--online and bought them.  He was confused why I was so upset by this announcement.  I bought these for his birthday months ago, and they've been hiding in my closet!!! The best laid plans of mice and men, am I right?  So now I'm making apple nut muffins to go with his now millions of birthday magnets. 
     My neighbors are never going to want to be friends with me after today.  To keep little particles of flour in the air out of my mouth, I've been wearing a scarf tied around my face all morning.  Yes, sadly this is necessary.  It was also embarrassing when my neighbors walked past my windows and saw me baking while wearing what seemed to be a cowboy outfit.  I couldn't exactly run after them yelling, "No, no, it's okay!  I'm just trying to keep airborne flour particles out of my mouth!"  Nonetheless, the muffins are cooked and, I must say, look and smell delicious!

Apple Nut Muffins
  • 1 1/4 cup white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, well packed
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
 Mix all of the ingredients together.  It's going to be VERY thick!  But that's a good thing.  Then fold in:
  • 2 cups diced granny smith apples (about 2 medium sized apples)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Fill muffin tins 3/4 of the way full, and bake for 40 minutes at 325C.  Makes 24 delicious muffins.

September 26, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

Tonight I made the simplest and most delicious soup ever.  Ever.  I'm not a big soup person, but as a child I became addicted to my mom's Italian wedding soup.  It's flavorful and rich and the perfect comfort food when it's starting to get cold outside.  I tweaked the recipe a little bit to make it celiac friendly (obviously I can't have the noodles!), but now the recipe is healthier than ever.

Italian Wedding Soup
  • 2 Italian bratwurst (make sure they're not made with beer)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground dried thyme
  • 1 tsp.  ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup caramelized onions (recipe below)
  • 1 15 oz. can cannellini beans
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 big hand-fulls of fresh baby spinach (I hear you can't use frozen, but I don't believe it.)
 Remove the casings from the bratwurst, and add the sausage to a large pot.  Cook thoroughly and add thyme, cayenne pepper, garlic, caramelized onions, and beans.  Cook for 1-2 more minutes before adding the chicken stock and water.  Bring the soup up to a simmer, add the spinach, and let it just wilt before serving.  Makes 6 servings (perfect for freezing).

Caramelized Onions
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
Slice the onion into long strips (not too thin or they will dry out).  Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat.  Once the oil is shimmering, add the onion and turn the heat down to medium.  Cook the onions for 30 minutes, stirring only every few minutes.  This was the hardest part for me.  I am an infamous pot stirrer.  It doesn't matter if it's my pot, William's, or my next door neighbor's, I will be there to stir it.  William says that someday this will get me shot.  I'm not sure what he means by that, but I'm taking his word for it and working on this addiction.  This is the perfect recipe to teach me not to stir, because if you do stir your onions too often, you won't get any of the lovely color.  If you notice that your onions are drying out, add a tablespoon or two of water.  Cook them down until they are soft, almost sticky, and have a full, deep color.

September 20, 2011

The Double

Tonight I’m not starving for dinner, but I do need to make something to eat during my double I have to work tomorrow.  The goal here is to make something very, very filling since it’s really the only meal I’ll be able to eat during my twelve-hour shift.  I’ve decided on brown rice with spicy chicken and asparagus. 

Brown Rice:
·      ½ cup brown rice
·      1 cup water

Bring the rice and water to a rolling boil in an uncovered pot, then cover and turn the heat to its lowest setting.  Allow it to cook like this for an hour.  Don’t peek!  The cooking is dependent on the steam at this point.  After an hour, remove it from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork.  For some reason this is my favorite part—William always gets me to do it, even if he’s the one cooking dinner.

      Chicken and Asparagus
·      1 tsp. canola oil
·      5 asparagus stems, cut into 1 inch pieces
·      ½ chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
·      pinch of salt
·      sprinkle of cayenne pepper

Add the oil and asparagus to a pan and allow them to cook for a couple of minutes over medium high heat.  Then add the chicken, salt, and cayenne and allow the mix to cook until the chicken is just cooked through.

      Spicy Sauce
·      ¼ cup of soy sauce (the gluten free kind!  Preferably the kind that William’s uncle sent me that’s made by Japanese monks.  Only the best!)
·      ¼ cup of rice wine vinegar
·      2 tsp. grated ginger
·      1 large clove of garlic, grated
·      1 Tbsp. honey
·      ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
·      ¼ cup warm water with 1 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in it

Combine all of the ingredients except for the cornstarch and water in a small saucepan.  Let them get all hot and happy before adding the cornstarch mixture.  Allow the sauce to thicken slightly.

            Now all you have to do is combine the rice, chicken, and asparagus along with some of the sauce (you’ll definitely have leftovers of the sauce), and you’re ready to work from 10 to 10.  The brown rice is filling, and a new food science study shows that spicy foods curb your cravings for fatty foods, meaning that maybe I’ll be able to resist the delicious homemade potato chips we make at the restaurant.  Maybe.

September 18, 2011


The fog is rolling in on Boone.  The mountains outside my window are disappearing.  This is the time of year that locals pull out their SAD (seasonal affective disorder) lights, because the area stays in a constant state of gray all of fall and winter…and half of spring too.  However, tonight I’m saving myself a few hundred dollars and instead, having pizza night with William.  He is having Real pizza dough (yum!) full of that great gluten texture we all know and love and desperately miss.  But I will not let that put me down!  I am having Udi’s pizza crust with lots and lots of cheese.  I’m a happy girl.  Udi’s pizza crust is one of the few gluten-free baked products that I personally enjoy—it’s thin and crisp and doesn’t try to be too fancy.  We’re both topping our pizzas with roasted garlic, caramelized onions, and pepperoni and pairing our pizzas with Dexter and good cold beer.  My choice:  Red Bridge.  William’s choice:  Yeungling.   Time to settle in on the couch for a very relaxing and happy night in.

September 12, 2011

What's in the Fridge?

I’m not sure if any of you have noticed, but lettuce is pretty darn boring.  There’s just something about lettuce that makes me want to run the other way.  Salad however can be a very beautiful thing.  If you just add a few ingredients to lettuce, suddenly it can be really delicious.  Tonight I had a meeting that got out a little later than I had expected.  I got home only to realize that my refrigerator was almost completely empty—eggs, lettuce, ½ a gallon of milk.  I decided on a salad with a six-minute egg.  Although this is one of the simplest salads around, it is also one of my Favorite salads to make, one I don’t just eat because it’s good for me. 
Here’s what you need: 
·      romaine (my favorite for your everyday salad)
·      salad dressing (I made mine with apple cider vinegar, grated sweet onion, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper)
·      six-minute egg (Bring an egg in a small pan of water to a boil.  Once the water is boiling, time it for six minutes.  Then immediately shock the egg in cold water to stop the cooking.  Peel the egg and put the whole thing on top of your salad.)

The whites will be well cooked, while the yolk is still slightly runny—perfect!  Another way to make this or any salad a little more special is to mix fresh herbs into the lettuce.  Today I had some parsley in the fridge.  It adds such a great freshness and a whole new flavor profile to it.  Enjoy your very not boring salad!

September 6, 2011

Sick Day, Part Two

I was wrong.  This sick thing is terrible.  Day four of being sick.  I’ve been drinking a lot of tea and eating soup and just generally being as healthy as a sick person can be these past couple of days, but today, William has class from 10 to 5.  I have the whole day to myself, which means it has to be filled with pajamas and chick flicks and maybe even…Cheetos.  I have become seriously addicted to the new natural Cheetos, which surprisingly have pretty decent ingredients and are one of my last remaining guilty pleasures that I can still eat since my diagnosis.  You have to try these things.  Not to worry, I am actually planning on eating some real food today.  William and I are having a farmer’s market feast tonight with roasted sweet corn, herbed fingerling potatoes, and a fresh salad with shallot and Dijon vinaigrette.  Now, time to hide these cheese puffs before Bill gets here…

September 5, 2011

Sick Day

Today, I am sick.  My fever started two days ago, and yesterday I had to call the head chef of the restaurant where I’m currently working to let him know that I wouldn’t be in today.  I could hear his thoughts straight through the phone—Sure, the new girl’s “sick."  And on Labor Day!  The one nice thing about being sick is that William (the dairy free boyfriend) feels like he needs to really take care of me, aka wait on me hand and foot.  He particularly feels that way now, because he is in fact the one that brought this sickness upon me.  He was sick all last week.  And who do you think was the one waiting on hand and food then? 
He came over at ten thirty this morning and set me up on the couch to watch Lost while he made me lunch.  We had a big pot of chili and his specialty (and conveniently my favorite food) spicy cornbread.  It’s really just donned on us that we are broke, so we’re trying (fingers crossed) to keep our grocery budget way down.  Being both gluten free and dairy free, this is going to be hard for us, but this meal was one heck of a start!  The chili was made with ½ lb. of ground chuck which we got for free from EarthFare with a lovely coupon, ½ large yellow onion, a can each of black beans, pinto beans, and diced tomatoes, 1 cup of previously frozen chicken stock, and lots and lots of spices like cumin, cayenne, Spanish paprika, and dried chipotles.  We topped it off with habenero and cilantro and ate it alongside our delicious cornbread.  Unfortunately, William doesn’t really use recipes even when it comes to baking, but I can tell you that it involved a huge amount of caramelized onions, jalapenos, and fresh roasted corn.  Yum!  Now I’m lounging about in my pajamas (still on from last night) and getting ready to watch Dexter… Maybe this sick thing isn’t that bad after all…

September 2, 2011

August, The Restaurant

I’m afraid my first time to eat out after hearing that I had celiac jaded me for life.  My parents had to go to New Orleans for work, and they asked me to go with them and lured me away from my bathtub (the absolute best place for sulking and the place I had been hiding out for the previous two days) with the promise to eat at August that night.   August, one of legendary John Besh’s seven restaurants, takes you back in time a bit with its elegant dark wood paneling and old brick.  August serves contemporary French fare but has a down home Southern feel due to the focus on local, seasonal ingredients.

When my mom called to make a reservation, the hostess asked if anyone in the party had special food concerns.  Why, yes actually!  When we arrived, our waitress could not have been more helpful.  She knew everything on the menu that was gluten free or that could be altered to become gluten free.  When my parents ordered an appetizer that I couldn’t eat, she surprised me by bringing me an appetizer that I could eat so I wouldn’t feel left out of the party.  It was a slightly spicy strawberry gazpacho poured over quenelles of locally made goat cheese, baby herbs, and whole strawberries.  I plan on living on this soup as soon as I have the money to buy large quantities of these ingredients.  I’ll get back to you with a recipe as soon as that time comes.  Next, I had what turned out to be a pork sampling plate.  Braised pork shoulder on top of sweet, stewed tomatoes, sous vide pork tenderloin with caramelized onions and roasted corn, and finally, my favorite food of all time, slow cooked pork belly with fresh heirloom tomatoes.  As if this weren’t enough, I was even able to have dessert—goat cheesecake (or would it be goat cheese cheesecake?) made without a crust and sitting on crushed hazelnuts and honey ice cream. 
I left the restaurant with this new outlook—everyone must be watching out for those of us with food allergies!  This isn’t that bad after all!  Unfortunately, I soon found out that I was very, very mistaken.  But don’t worry!  There are so many delicious things we can eat, and I hope you’ll love my recipes to come soon!

September 1, 2011

The Diagnosis

Today I had a flashback to the moment I was told that I had celiac disease.  I was standing at the restaurant where I work, and long story short, everyone was having one of those days.  Working in a male dominated workplace like a kitchen, it can be hard for a girl to hold her own, and I pride myself for never having given into some girly things like, oh, crying when people are yelling at me.  Today though?  I had one of those “almost crying, unable to exhale, trying to pull myself together in public” kind of moments.  And that’s when I had my flashback.  
 The last time I had that feeling was four months ago.  I was sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, in line to get even more blood tests done.  I had been feeling sick for over a year.  What had started as low energy and dizzy spells grew into muscle spasms, blacking out, hypothermia, and extreme mental fuzziness.  All types of doctors tried all types of tests.  They had me worried about heart problems, a brain aneurysm, a brain tumor, and finally, when they thought they had ruled out everything else, hypochondria.  Thanks, Docs!  One doctor finally decided to test for celiac.  I wasn’t worried—I didn’t have any of the common symptoms.  That’s why the phone call caught me so off guard.  It was the most severe case my doctors had ever seen.   
Thirty minutes later I was back at home lying in my bathtub.  Even then it felt like one of those weird scenes from an indie movie where the main character loses her mind after a tragedy.  My face was covered in mascara, and I was laughing hysterically, reminding my mom how I had always dreamed of being a chef and had just graduated with food science degree five days before.  A few hours later (literally) I had made it out of the bath and into my bed where I stayed.  I realize the whole thing was pretty overly dramatic, but I’m sure that those of you with the same diagnosis have a similar sob story.  Fortunately (and ironically) for me, the best meal of my life was only two days away…