Archive for August, 2009

Cooking with Pesto: Part II

Posted in recipe on August 31st, 2009 by Betsy – 1 Comment

Here are the other three dinners I created last week using the fresh pesto I made.

Night 2: (My personal favorite!) Roasted rack of lamb with pesto crust

Put rack of lamb in roasting pan, fat side up and rub with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Cook at 450 for 10 minutes. Take the lamb out of the oven and rub the top of the lamb with pesto. Place back in the oven and roast at 450 for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minute under aluminum foil.

I served the lamb with parmesan risotto and sugar snap peas.

Night 3: Pesto Pizza

For this meal, I used the same chickpea pizza crust recipe I used last week. Once I made the crust, I just added a thin layer of pesto and a layer of parmesan cheese and put on high heat in the oven for a couple of minutes.

Since the chickpea recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas, I also made one tomato sauce, Hormel pepperoni and mozzarella cheese.

Night 4: Pork chops, Yukon gold roasted potatoes, and sautéed spinach (This was the last night of the pesto so we just dipped both pork chops and potatoes in the pesto…delicious!)

Yukon Gold Roasted Potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400. Cut 1 ½ pounds of Yukon gold potatoes (not peeled) lengthwise and into wedges. Place potatoes on baking sheet and mix with ¼ cup olive oil, 2 T. melted butter, 4 minced garlic cloves, 2 T. fresh chopped rosemary, S & P.

Spread out potatoes flat on sheet and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Season with S & P.

Pork Chops:
I cooked the bone-in pork chops, very simply in a skillet, rubbing them with olive oil and Bosari Seasoned Salt. (We love this seasoning salt and use it often when cooking.)

Put olive oil in skillet and heat on high heat. Preheat oven to 400. Add pork chops to skillet and cook on stove top, about 4 minutes on each side. (You want to get a nice crust.) Then place skillet and pork chops in the heated oven for about 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: Cooking with bone-in pork chops takes a lot longer than boneless chops. David and I have found that bone-in provides much more tender meat so we usually prefer going with bone-in. You can easily make boneless pork chops in the skillet, you’ll just cook for a shorter time. The meat needs to be about 145 degrees.

Labor Day Lunch Eat Ins: Slow Food Atlanta

Posted in Atlanta, event on August 30th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

If you’re looking for something to do on Labor Day, pack yourself a gluten free picnic and support a great cause! Join in one of the Eat Ins in the Atlanta area advocating for better food in schools. I’ll be at the Piedmont Park location, but they’ll also be in Decatur, East Cobb County, Gwinnett and Buckhead. Click on the links below for more information.

Slow Food Atlanta – Eat-In

September 7, 2009
Piedmont Park – Atlanta, GA
Organizer: Judith Winfrey

Let’s get REAL FOOD in schools. Let’s join over 200 picnics nationwide to support vegetables for kids. Let’s enjoy our city, a great meal, our favorite park, and a great group of folks. Let’s get more money for school lunch programs. Let’s support local farms. Let’s eat!

Here’s the deal. You bring a picnic to Piedmont. You eat it. By showing up, you support better lunches for kids in schools. Easy breezy, right?

Information for Atlanta Slow Food Picnic

Slow Food Atlanta Website

Cooking with Summer Squash

Posted in recipe on August 28th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

One of my favorite summer foods is squash. You can find squash easily and in great quantities during the summer in the southeast. Last summer I shared a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with my sister-in-law, Alden, and we were blessed with all of the squash and zucchini we could imagine.

If you love fresh vegetables and fruit, a CSA is a great idea for the summer. You get a delivery each week from the same farm of whatever vegetables are growing on that farm at that moment. It forced me to cook and experiment with unfamiliar produce such as bok choy but I also learned to make my own pesto (due to the unlimited basil we received for a few weeks) and gluten free zucchini bread. I would recommend sharing a CSA with a good friend because then you don’t feel as if you’re wasting food when you’re out of town on vacation and it’s a fun excuse to cook together!

When joining a CSA or going to a local farmer’s market, you’re guaranteed to encounter plenty of squash. There are many ways to cook squash but today I wanted to share two delicious squash dishes that are family favorites. Both of these dishes are great for entertaining because they don’t require much hands on attention once the cooking process begins.

Simple Roasted Summer Squash: This dish is very simple, easy and flavorful and you can make it in small or large quantities (sometimes a CSA will only give you one piece of squash which can be difficult to find a recipe and use for just one).

Summer squash, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
Onion, sliced
Olive oil
parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Slice squash into 1/2 inch round pieces. (If it’s a larger squash/zucchini, I then cut the rounds in half.)
3. Slice up an onion.
4. Place onion and squash on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on top. Mix up onions and squash in olive oil. Lay onions and squash flat on cookie sheet.
5. Cook for 15 minutes then using a spatula, flip onions and squash and cook for another 15 minutes.
6. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and bake for another 2 minutes.
(Note: I like the squash to be nice a browned before taking them out of the oven, but they also taste good when not browned.)

Dot’s Squash Casserole: This recipe is my grandmother, Dot’s, old recipe. My mom made it last week and I’m going to make it today using squash from my in-law’s garden in Linden, VA that is overflowing with summer vegetables right now!

3 pounds summer squash, chunked
3 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup water
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
(the original recipe also calls for crumbled crackers on top but we just skip that step now to make it GF! I think it tastes better without it anyways)

1. Cook squash & onions with water, sugar, salt and pepper until mashable (about 45 minutes).
2. Beat two eggs lightly.
3. Add milk to eggs and mix well with squash. Add butter and mix.
4. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes.
This recipe freezes well also!

Enjoy the abundance of squash during the last month of summer! Feel free to add your own squash recipes.

Making Fresh Pesto

Posted in GF product, recipe on August 27th, 2009 by Betsy – 1 Comment

Last week I stumbled upon some beautifully fresh basil and decided to make pesto. David and I love pesto and fortunately, we don’t get sick of it because I’ve incorporated it into four dinners in the past week. I went with the classic, no frills pesto and it was absolutely delicious and super easy to make.

I followed this recipe from Simply Recipes

• 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
• 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Special equipment needed: A food processor Method

1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

What I made:

Night 1: Chicken pesto pasta

1. Cook GF spaghetti ( Bionaturae Brand: follow instructions on container, but I would suggest not using as much salt as they recommend)

2. Cook chopped boneless chicken breasts on stove with olive oil for about 8 minutes on medium heat.

3. Once chicken is cooked, add cherry tomatoes to pan and cook on low temp to soften tomatoes…I used all different color tomatoes from the Decatur Farmers’ Market to add more color to the plate.

4. When pasta and chicken are ready, drain pasta and put in a serving bowl with chicken and toss in pesto.

I also roasted some fresh okra (400 degrees for 10 min, olive oil, S and P) for the meal as well. Enjoy!

*More details on Pesto Nights 2, 3, and 4 still to come!

Gluten Freedom’s Search for Thai Food

Posted in advice, Atlanta, Thai on August 26th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Thai food should be gluten free. Rice noodles, rice, spices, it should all be gluten free, right? (Just hold the soy sauce.) David and I love to make GF Thai food at home, but it’s always great to find a Thai place accommodates the GF customer. After a week in Atlanta, I figured why not try searching for my go to Thai place in Atlanta?

Last night we went to Amaryn’s Thai Bowl and Sushi in Decatur. While there was definitely some confusion as to what gluten was, I will say that the management and waiters at Amaryn’s were very nice and willing to work with me. They also knew that soy sauce has wheat in it. When I inquired about the menu, they told me I should be able to get any of their Thai Bowl combos, without soy sauce. Of course you need to have rice noodles, not egg noodles (they contain wheat in addition to the egg).

I ordered the chicken panang which they assured me had no soy sauce in it and they even checked the ingredients on the fish sauce for me. They thought rice had wheat in it but I assured them rice is fine.

When the waiter brought me my meal, there were two balls of fried something in my meal. I was pretty sure those were not gluten free. I explained to the waitress that I couldn’t eat it and that I needed a new meal entirely (they couldn’t just take off the fried dough balls). She very nicely agreed and brought me an entirely new meal. It was definitely an entirely new entrée, which I very much appreciated.

So was I nervous about eating the meal? Definitely…But, I was totally fine afterwards. No contamination! Always a victory when eating out at a new restaurant in a new city. I don’t know if I would give Amaryn’s my highest recommendation to the gluten free diner, but there should be plenty of options at Amaryn’s and other Thai places.

A couple of tips for dining out:
- I find it’s always good to call places ahead and try to speak with a manager. It’s even better to call at a time when you know they won’t be busy.

- There’s an IPhone App called “GF Card” where you can get explanations of Celiac Disease in about 50 different languages, from Bulgarian to Thai to Urdu. This App is great for travel and dining. Just show it to your waiter and they can even take it back to the chef (Of course I left my ITouch at home last night!)

Amaryn’s Thai Bowl & Sushi
265 Ponce De Leon Pl
Decatur, GA 30030-3259
(404) 373-2788‎

Amaryn's Thai Bowl & Sushi on Urbanspoon

Things I Love: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Oats

Posted in GF product, recipe on August 25th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

I love oats and Bob’s Red Mill now produces oats that are certified gluten free. (Make sure you purchase the GF oats…it’s clearly labeled on the bag.)

What I use them for:
- Making homemade granola (recipe still to come…mines not as good as my mother-in-laws)
- Making Monster Cookies
- To add to a topping for a fruit cobbler

- A hearty breakfast in the winter

Why I love it: While oats have been controversial in the past in regard to their gluten content, Bob’s are certified and good to go. Oats were one of the foods I missed the most when first diagnosed and now I don’t have to miss out on them anymore. When following a recipe using oats, you don’t have to change it at all. They cook the same as any other oats.

- More expensive than non-certified gluten free oats, but unfortunately that’s not unusual in the GF world.
- Sometimes can be difficult to find in stores. Good news! Kroger on Howell Mill Road carries them as does the Buckhead Whole Foods.

A Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Egg Free, Nut Free Feast!

Posted in GF product, recipe on August 24th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

This weekend we hosted two of our friends over for dinner. One of our guests, Chris, is allergic to eggs, lactose, nuts and fish so we made a meal that worked for both him and me and it was delicious! (And not too difficult.)

The Menu:

Green Mountain Gringo Tortilla Chips
Whole Foods Roasted Pepper Salsa
Refried Bean Dip (purchased at the Decatur Farmers’ Market)


Beer Can Chicken on the Grill (Made with a can of Diet Coke instead of beer…it tastes exactly the same.)

Spinach and mixed green salad with blueberries, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes (again, Decatur farmers’ market), red pepper and Ginger Pear Salad Dressing made by Maple Grove Farms of Vermonth. I love this brand because they clearly label gluten free products and they taste great too.

Chickpea Flatbread: See below for recipe…I found it in the July 2009 Bon Appetit

Sorbet (Strawberry & Passionfruit) and Lucy’s Cinnamon Thin Cookies. I was determined to find a dessert that fit all of our dietary needs. I fell in love with Lucy’s Cookies about a month ago when a friend brought them to me and it turns out that they’re gluten, nut, egg and dairy free. I don’t know how she does it, but they’re so tasty. (Even non-allergy people like them.)

Chickpea Pizza Recipe (From July 2009 Bon Appetit)

Posted in recipe on August 24th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

While called a ‘pizza’ in the recipe, I see this more as a flatbread that is a great side dish. I envision it as a replacement for Naan when making Indian food. It’s super easy and very economical. No mixer required and very minimal ingredients. I found Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo bean flour at Whole Foods for less than $2.50.

1 1/3 cups chickpea flour (same as garbanzo bean flour)
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups water, divided
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
6 Tablespoons e-v olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
6 Tablespoons parmesan cheese (I left the cheese off of Chris’ pizza)


1. Sift chickpea flour and salt into a large bowl
2. Gradually add 2/3 cup water, whisking until smooth
3. Whisk in the remaining 1 1/3 cups of water and rosemary
4. Let sit for 30 minutes
5. Preaheat broiler. Spray large nonstick broilerproof skillet with nonstick spray. Add 1 T. oil.
6. Heat skillet on stove over medium high heat. Whisk batter and pour half of mix into skillet.
7. Drizzle with 2 T oil. Cook until top is almost set (about 4 min.), piercing bubbles with a knife.
8. Sprinkle with 3 T. cheese and pepper. (Leave cheese off of dairy free pizza)
9. Broil pizza 4 to 5 minutes, until golden. Slide onto platter.
10. Repeat to make second pizza

Tonight I’m going to reheat the leftovers and add pesto and tomatoes. Serve it with a great salad and it’s dinner!

Gluten Freedom’s SouthEast Road Trip: Part I

Posted in travel on August 24th, 2009 by Betsy – Be the first to comment

Through some lucky circumstances, David and I were fortunate enough to have a mini vacation last week to Sea Island, Georgia and Pinehurst, North Carolina. I had never been to either of these resort towns before and I was excited for our post-Bar, pre-Atlanta trip.

Being gluten free makes traveling and vacations tougher than in my earlier gluten filled days, but the change in diet is clearly worth it. One thing I always make sure to do when I travel is have plenty of snacks with me, just in case my gluten free options are limited. The ‘travel with food’ rule applies basically any time I leave the house. You don’t want to get caught hungry. Almonds, Dark Chocolate M&Ms, and Apple Pie Lara Bars are a few of my staples when on the road.

In researching prior to our trip, I was disappointed not to find anything online regarding gluten free dining options in Sea Island or Pinehurst. I was optimistic, however, that in a nice resort town like Sea Island/St. Simons, places would be able to accommodate me throughout our trip and my hunch proved to be solidly valid.

Our first night on vacation we decided to eat dinner at Halyard’s on St. Simons, which a friend recommended. Before dinner, we met up with my cousin at the Lodge. What a beautiful setting! Every night a bagpiper plays and you can look out at the water, listen to the music and enjoy a beverage. Even though a torrential downpour disrupted the bagpiper, The Lodge was a great place to spend cocktail hour. David and I definitely went both nights of our trip!

We arrived at Halyard’s for our 8:30 reservations and I immediately wanted everything on the menu. They had a 3 course menu for $30 and David and I both decided to inquire about this option. Much to my delighted surprise there were plenty of options for me on the three course menu and I was able to get my first choice for every course. I went with the soup of the day, which was a broth based soup with peas, tomatoes, beans and bacon. Hearty but not too rich because of the broth. (It sounds like an odd combo but it worked well!)

My next course was the house salad with grilled peaches, goat cheese, candied pecans and balsamic vinaigrette. I love salads with fruit, cheese and nuts and this one did not disappoint. I definitely saved the best for last because my main course outdid the previous courses. I ordered the grilled hanger steak with mashed potatoes (my favorite side dish!), grilled broccoli with a Vidalia onion and tomato jam. My entire meal, entirely gluten free, needed no modifications from the regular menu!

Our Halyard’s waiter was willing to go back and talk to the chef each time I asked her about an item on the menu, never appearing annoyed or overly confident. Our meal was so good that we actually thought about going back for our second night as well, but we ultimately decided we need to branch out. Another plus about Halyard’s is that it’s prices are much more reasonable compared to the Lodge and the Cloister.

Gluten Freedom’s South East Road Trip: Part II

Posted in travel on August 21st, 2009 by Betsy – 1 Comment

The next day on Sea Island we had coffee and I ate breakfast in the room, Stonyfield yogurt with a Serenbe Farms peach. When I travel, I usually try to eat one meal with my own food because it’s one fewer opportunity to risk getting sick. It’s also a good way to save some money! After breakfast we went to the Beach Club at the Cloister and had a lazy morning by the pool. For lunch we went to Big George’s, the restaurant at the Beach Club. Due to its casual nature and mostly sandwich filled menu, I was nervous about this venue but we decided to try it.

Our trip was made by our waiter at Big George’s, Whitney! When I mentioned celiac to Whitney he knew exactly what we were talking about because his 12 year old daughter has been diagnosed with celiac for two years. A thoughtful and friendly waiter, I felt so comfortable with our dining experience at Big George’s. Whitney knew I couldn’t have grilled chicken because it was marinated in soy sauce, so I had a nice piece of grilled salmon on a salad. This was a perfect meal on a hot beach day. Whitney even brought out Glutino crackers before the meal came! (It’s no corn bread with bits of bacon like David got to eat, but very thoughtful of Whitney and gave a little more substance to my salad.)

For our final meal, we decided to go to dinner at the Oak Room at the Lodge. We really liked the ambiance at the Lodge and went with the Oak Room, which is more casual than Colt & Alison but still has very nice options on the menu. Of course we had a drink on the porch first, listening to the bagpiper! For dinner, I ordered the sweet tea brined pork chop. Of course the mac and cheese was not gluten free so I ordered their sweet corn grits which I enjoyed more than the mac and cheese anyway. (Sometimes it pays to have celiac because restaurants don’t mind if you swap sides!) The entrée also came with yummy stewed okra and tomato. (Side note: now that I’ve moved to Atlanta I’m in love with okra. I had some last night at my friend, Mary Stuart’s house and I just bought some okra at the Decatur Farmer’s Market on Wednesday…Let me know if you have any recipe suggestions for okra.) The Oak Room was a great choice for us and the waiter and manager were very attentive to us and my dietary needs. The manager checked on us multiple times throughout the meal to see how we were doing.

David and I had a great time at Sea Island and our dining experiences were all delicious, fun and memorable. I felt like I was able to enjoy the food that I wanted, and that I wasn’t limited by my celiac disease. Now we just need to figure out a way to go back!