Monthly Archives: October 2011

Gluten-Free Caramel & Sea Salt Popcorn Balls

Happy Gluten-Free Halloween, ya’ll! I’ve seen about a million sites that tell us what candy is and is not gluten-free for the big day, so I’ll leave that one to the very diligent candy police. Instead, I’m going to go on and on about these gluten-free caramel and sea salt popcorn balls I made to celebrate the holiday. Also, to take a break from my dairy-free, sugar-free diet. WORTH IT.

When I was a kid people used to give out popcorn balls where I trick or treated, until everyone started freaking out about homemade goods on Halloween. What a bummer, seeing as how popcorn balls were my favorite treat and some lady always managed to make up a sugary sweet batch in our neighborhood. Karo syrup is kind of a kitchen staple where I grew up, so any excuse to bust it out was a good one as far as we were all concerned. So I’m carrying on my childhood tradition by bringing out the Whirleypop -

. . . and the Karo, and creating my very own gluten-free caramel.

Yes, one could melt a bunch of caramel candies and have a similar end result, but caramel color is known to be one of those sneaky gluten things, so to be safe you should melt up your own. As long as you have a candy thermometer, you’re in business.

And just to go all foodie on the old timey tradition, I sprinkled fine sea salt over the popcorn prior to coating it with the delicious caramel goodness. Because who doesn’t love salty-sweet? Parents who are afraid of the new people who moved in and are suddenly giving out homemade treats, that’s who. Wusses.

Happy Halloween everybody! Make up your own sweet treats for trick or treaters this way: Continue reading

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Fun & Torture With Quinoa, Lentils & Rice! (Recipes)

Well hello there world, it’s Day 6 of my super duper cleanse and I feel GREAT. Which is totally a lie. I feel okay. I feel like I need some cheese in my life, and I wouldn’t kick a gluten-free cookie out of my bed. Pair that cookie with a margarita and it’s go time.

But I digress.

Unlike my husband (ahem, granola) I’ve been totally compliant up in our quest to eat dairy-free, sugar-free, alcohol-free, and of course, gluten-free; and have enjoyed some great meals as a result. I am getting used to this style of healthy eating, and truly realizing that this should be how I usually eat, with some of the less healthy stuff thrown in a few times a week. I’d been doing it the other way like, “Look at me! It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time for quinoa and kale!” So this is a good thing. I would, however, love a Flying Dutchman from In ‘N’ Out. Just throwing it out there.

In addition to roasting a chicken with pine nut and rice stuffing, grilling some delicious brussels sprouts, and eating all the almonds my body can handle (seriously, are these things poisonous in large doses? I need to know), I’ve enjoyed these three dishes you see in triptych. The rip off of Cafe Gratitude in the first pic I’ve written about before. We substituted garbanzo beans this time which gave it a nice new texture. The lentil soup (recipe below) was paired with polenta and sweet potato crostini, and my final fave dish was the very simple rice and beans with avocado. Yum, all of it.

I especially love the lentil soup and polenta crostini meal, as it is adapted from Frankies 457, where the hubs and I used to dine all the time — including for our rehearsal dinner — and I thought all that pasta would mean I would never enjoy a Frankies-esque meal after being diagnosed with celiac. These two dishes bring me right back to Brooklyn under the F train. Which is a good thing, in case that is not clear. I mean, not everyone wants to be dining near the F train. In fact, probably most of you don’t. I, however, miss the crap out of that place.

So one more week! With the aforementioned Halloween/sister-in-law birthday/random kid party exceptions thrown in. Which I’m so totally counting on.

Here’s how to make some good dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free food.

Continue reading


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The Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free, Fun-Free Diet

My New BFFs

God help me, my husband and I are going on a sort of cleanse inspired by Beth over at Tasty Yummies. Her recipes are so amazing they have (kind of) convinced me that deprivation is delicious. And so bam, here we are discussing the removal of sugar, dairy, gluten (duh), red meat, or fatty meat, and alcohol from our diet for two weeks.

Granted our initial discussion of this proposition went something like this: Him: “Hey, we should try some kind of cleanse like she’s doing.” Me:  “I can’t eat gluten, bitch, what else are you trying to take away from me??!!” Then I realized that he had a point. I’m not getting any thinner now that I’m actually absorbing all the food I eat and my propensity for whipping up gluten-free treats as “research” has gotten out of hand, yet still awesome.

This means we’re on a two-week health kick, in hopes that it will inspire us (he means me) to be more conscious about eating food that is good for us (me), rather than food that tastes freaking amazing, yet could give me a heart attack.

So far I’ve been in it for 48 hours and I have some questions. Continue reading


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Gluten-Free Santa Barbara: La Super-Rica, Simply Pies & More Fanciness

If you’re posh and planning a trip to Santa Barbara, and also happen to be a celiac you are in massive luck. I just spent the weekend in beautiful Santa Barbara, not on a luxury vacation but visiting my mother-in-law. It’s one of a handful of trips I’ve made to SB since being diagnosed, and luckily, my MIL has done a lot of g-free research for me around Goleta and SB. So before I even arrived I was ahead of the game. Which is probably why Woody’s (my husband’s favorite BBQ restaurant in the whole world) was probably not the first place our family should have gone out to eat, but we did.

Like a lot of barbecue sauce, Woody’s has soy sauce as an ingredient. We know because they picked up the bucket and checked. That’s right, a bucket. My husband’s favorite barbecue comes from a bucket. So I went for the celiac special — a burger without a bun — and the rest of my family enjoyed a gluten-filled meal. Oh yeah, and this:

Which is why I included Woody’s in this round-up. Because that place is a blast, even if you totally can’t eat there. Which you can’t. So don’t go.

One place you will want to frequent, however, is Simply Pies. Almost every one of their pie options is also made gluten-free and honestly, it’s the most amazing pie crust I’ve ever tasted. My MIL brought me a lemon pie a few months ago, and I enjoyed this caramelized onion and mushroom quiche on this trip. That pie crust is truly inspiring. Look it: Continue reading


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Gluten-Free Stuffed French Toast From Heaven

Even though I said my bread machine would change my life, the reality is I just kind of stopped eating bread. So when this bag of beautiful parbaked bread came in the mail from Dr. Schär I kind of lost my mind a little bit. Instead of thinking, “We’ll have some nice rolls with dinner, that’s so lovely,” I went full-on, “I’m making gluten-free cream cheese stuffed french toast, everybody. Get outta’ my way!”

And this is why my husband is insisting we change our diet. Whatever. This toast is something wickedly good, and you’re going to want to make it too. So I grabbed the gluten-free baguette and decided on mini french toast stackers. Or at least, that’s what I call them. But they totally look like that, so it’s a brilliant idea — obviously. See?

This is a really simple recipe that my brother sort of threw together back in the 1990s before the foodie movement when we were all, “Oh my god, you’re a culinary genius!” And even though it’s possible to walk into IHOP now and get stuffed french toast (is it? I actually don’t know since I can’t go there anymore because they put pancake batter in their omelettes. Seriously, IHOP? You suck.), this recipe is still a stand-out for the egg, milk, nutmeg, vanilla combo that washes all over your bread.

I actually used my new favorite Vietnamese cinnamon instead of nutmeg. Mostly because I couldn’t find my nutmeg this morning, but also because there’s something super extra special about this cinnamon. Try it, you’ll be hooked.

So whether you cut a baguette into two-inch slices like so –

Or go traditional, stuff that toast and enjoy your weekend. Continue reading


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Celiacs, Gluten Intolerants & Crazies

My people!  NPR’s “Morning Edition” had a gluten-free segment so I was required by law to listen. In case you didn’t catch it, the reporter had interviews from a market in D.C. where booths advertised gluten-free goodies from breads to sea food. Now that’s my kind of market. But it’s not for everyone. Which was the point.

Unless you have celiac disease, you can eat gluten. Oh wait. Unless you have celiac disease, a gluten allergy or gluten intolerance. Of course those last two things aren’t a “real” diagnosis where you’re required to remove gluten from your diet. They are, however, 100% valid. Unlike the third category which I like to call, the crazies. You know, people who think going on a gluten-free diet is a healthy thing to do — even though they can digest gluten like kale.

Because, as the NPR reporter reiterated, going on a gluten-free “diet” is not going to make you healthy, or allow you to lose weight. After all there are, “Too many delicious gluten-free goodies out there.” Ummm, yes. I think anyone reading this blog can agree that eating gluten-free can make you hella’ fat.

Also, you’re giving up gluten??? And you don’t have to??? What the hell? Continue reading


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Gluten-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake

I honestly don’t wake up in the morning and think, “Hmmm, how can I make all of our cholesterol levels go dangerously high today?” Yet, it happens. Again, and again, and again. Which is why I knew when I picked up a can of organic pumpkin puree from Trader Joe’s something amazing and totally artery clogging was going to happen this weekend. And it did!

The fact is I need to practice my gluten-free graham cracker crust for the holidays (Grandma’s Graham Cracker Pie recipe coming in time for Thanksgiving), so a brunch where a gluten-free dessert was requested was the perfect time to test it out. Also, who doesn’t love spreading the heart attack risk around more than one family? So I grabbed Kinnikinnick S’Moreables Graham Style Crackers and crushed ‘em up like so.

This particular recipe also called for two tablespoons of flour, so I used my new standby of King Arthur’s all-purpose gluten-free flour. It was a gluten-free match made in heaven. And this is what a pumpkin cheesecake looks like after you’ve mixed all the ingredients and poured it into your springform.

A word of warning when you go to the store. This recipe calls for three (3) 8 oz packages of cream cheese. Three!!! Oh my god, I don’t know if my people are going to make it to 2012 without a major heart-related illness.

Here’s how you can do the same thing in your house. Continue reading


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How to Find a Gluten-Free Waffle

Not too long after I moved to Los Angeles, yet before I was diagnosed with Celiac, I couldn’t help but notice a restaurant not too far from my house called, “The Waffle.” Not The Waffle House (whole other connotation there) but simply, The Waffle. The Waffle did not disappoint when I first slid into a booth and ordered up a flight of wee waffles with everything from herbs and goat cheese to lox and creme fraiche. Ohhh, how I loved The Waffle and all its waffly goodness.

So it was like a dagger through my heart every time I drove past The Waffle after I realized we were no more.

That is, until I discovered my new favorite LA blog, Gluten Freeways. This lady [correction: GFreeways is a dude!] changed my life when she announced that The Waffle offers up gluten-free waffles as well! Holy hell. Why didn’t I make a call? I just assumed she and I were through, and didn’t even give her an explanation for my sudden absence, nor did I give her an opportunity to convince me that it didn’t have to be this way.

The Waffle and I are back together and it looks like this: Continue reading


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Sushi, I’m Not Scared of You Anymore

I’m still all abuzz with my newfound freedom, so please excuse me if I sound disproportionately excited about eating fish and rice. Which, I will. You see soy sauce has gluten in it, which is just so crazy. I don’t understand these fermented things one little bit. This means Chinese food and Japanese food have been off my safe list, and Thai comes in a close second because honestly, I don’t know what’s going on there. (Give me a break, I grew up on a farm . . . in Oklahoma.) While I bust out the wheat-free tamari when I’m at home, I never feel safe waltzing into a restaurant and saying, “Garcon, please bring me your most fanciest gluten-free delights from Asia!” Until now.

Whooo-hoooo Katsu-Ya! I just had the most amazing experience at your strip mall sushi joint in Studio City. That’s right, a strip mall. In the valley. Which is apparently where magic happens. Continue reading


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Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bars With a Dash of Love

Maybe it was the Jewish New Year, or maybe it’s just been my lucky 10 days but I’ve been having a banner gluten-free dinner party time the last few weeks. I know! Outside of my own home. It’s amaze-balls! As my considerate cooker friend Rebecca would say.

First of all, I went to a big ol’ pot luck dinner party where not one, but two, people changed up recipes to make it g-free. Who does that? Awesome people, that’s who. So instead of bringing my own dish and sticking to the crudite I was able to chow down on gluten-free brisket and cake. Brisket and cake, you guys.

But that’s not all! Later in the week I enjoyed a super fun night chasing my toddler around someone else’s house and grabbing bites of gluten-free pizza in between scolding re-directing. I just met this lovely family, and already they provide gluten-free food for the sad Celiac at the party. Instead of just drowning my wheat-free sorrows in wine, I was able to have actual food.

And if you haven’t been able to take your eyes off of that hot lady with her cheesecake brownie bits up there, that’s Susan who made gluten-free chocolate peanut butter cheesecake bars and brought them to a party where I would be one of many in attendance. What the? Seriously, I’m beyond lucky to have such kind, thoughtful people around me who also happen to show up places with delicious food. I had two of these chewy yummy bars and I tried to see if I could sneak the rest out when she wasn’t looking.

It blows me away that people are so generous with their time and energy that they would make something gluten-free for a dinner party where I’m the only nutter in attendance who requires such consideration. So to all my gluten-eating friends out there, who go out of their way to find a restaurant, or gluten-free flour, or make something from scratch that’s unbelievably decadent (like these bars) but still g-free: You are the mother scratchin’ bomb(s). You should know I’m in awe of your coolness and realize I’m pretty much the luckiest girl in the whole g-free universe.

You’re lucky too because Susan sent me the recipe she adapted from the Naked Chef himself. Enjoy! Continue reading


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