Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pioneer Woman's Lasagna *Gluten-Free*

I first discovered The Pioneer Woman's Website a little over a year ago. Since then I have used it as a resource for photography questions, entertainment, and as a great source for recipes! Before going gluten-free I use to make lasagna once in a while, but it was never my favorite, maybe it was the dryness of the cheese or the fact that I regularly burned it. Anyway I found gluten-free lasagna noodles at Whole Foods and was determined to try making it again.

I found the recipe I used on the Pioneer Woman's website and it came out fantastic! I never ever use to like meat lasagna but I loved this one! It only has three layers and uses cottage cheese in place of ricotta so it doesn't dry out the same way others do. If you use regular noodles that you pre cook it only bakes for a short time, but the gluten-free noodles I used weren't supposed to be pre cooked so it took a little longer.

If you're looking for a lasagna recipe that will please everyone I would highly recommend trying this one!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Eating Gluten-Free at The Chart House in Melbourne, FL

We went to a few restaurants over the course of spring break, but The Chart House was the loveliest of them all. I had a salad from their famous salad bar, pan fried tilapia with ginger coconut rice and green beans and a Crème Brûlée with mix berries for dessert! It was all phenomenal. I have become a huge fan of Crème Brûlée lately because it is naturally gluten-free. My Aunt Jeanne first exposed me too it and I am eternally grateful! 

I always forget to take pictures of my food before I eat it so excuse the bite taken out of the side! Evan got the lava cake which looked simply to die for! I asked if they could make it without flour but they said they couldn't. I'm sure that it could be done but restaurants are generally not as flexible as they could be when allergies are involved so I'll have to try it at home. My Mom has a great recipe from the last cruise they went  on and I'm betting it would be a pretty easy substitution! 

Anyway dessert was obviusly my favorite part of the meal, per usual, but everything else was delicious and the waitstaff was very accommodating. My fish was naturally gluten-free and so was the sides of green beans and ginger coconut rice. We informed them about being gluten-free when we made the reservation and again when we got to the restaurant so there were no problems! Overall the experience was wonderful and I definitely hope we go back again!

The Brevard Zoo's Treetop Challenge

I have always been a fan of a good zoo. I loved the Dublin Zoo, Franklin Park, Roger Williams and so on. Over spring break though, I went to the best zoo ever: The Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida. We didn't technically go into the actual zoo, but we went over it.

They have this activity called "The Treetop Challenge." It is a ropes course combined with zip lines that take you around, through and over the actual zoo exhibits. We were close enough to the monkeys to reach out and touch them. We even zipped over the alligator exhibit!

It was a fairly challenging course and a little scary as we were at least 40 feet off the ground at any given point and connected by a harness, two carabiners, and a safety line. We had an "orientation"before we started that showed us how to safely connect to each line and how to attach the zip line contraption. The entire course took us about three, maybe three and a half hours. It involved walking across rolling logs, on wires, climbing up ladders, ropes and zip lining anywhere from 200 feet to 750 feet.

All in all it was one the most fun thing I've ever done at a zoo! I totally would have gone back a second time and if we go back to the zoo in the future, it will definitely be on my to do list.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Eating Gluten-Free in Melbourne, FL

I was lucky enough to spend my last college spring break in Melbourne Beach, Florida. The weather was wonderful, very sunny and in the low 80's. I even managed to get a hint of a tan!

I was only a little bit worried about finding gluten-free restaurants but in the end, every restaurant we went to either had a gluten-free menu or menu options that could be made gluten-free.

Since I was in Florida I got fish everywhere we went! Redfish, tilapia and mahi-mahi. We went to a different restaurant almost every day and here are some of the notable ones: Squid Lips, The Chart House, and Meg O'Malleys.

This week I'll post on each restaurant and what I got there, hopefully anyone else who is looking for (gluten-free or not) restaurants in the Melbourne area will try one of these places!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

An Irish Bread Recipe to Covet

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! This time last year I was in Dublin and loving life. I hope you're all enjoying the high holiday with some Guinness and corned beef!

In the spirit of the holiday I made some Irish Soda Bread to go along with an Irish dinner. This bread isn't your typical soda bread as it's a little sweeter than most soda bread from the extra sugar and raisins but I like it as a desert/breakfast bread more than something with dinner. It's also known as "Spotted Dog" because it has the additional sugar and raisins. Unfortunately it was not gluten-free so I could not indulge but I figured I would share the recipe anyway! I've been making this for a few years now and it has always been a hit.

A short explanation of the 'X' on Irish bread: It is said that the X in the bread allows the fairies that might get caught up in it during baking to escape. It also conveniently allows the middle to get completely baked and as an easy breaking point.

"Spotted Dog" Irish Soda Bread
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ cups raisins
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp sugar
½ cup butter cold
1 cup buttermilk

-Soak raisins till plump in boiling water (for 5-15 min, see note)
-Mix in all dry ingredients
-Cut in butter until in tiny clumps
-Strain raisins and stir into mix
-Add buttermilk ¼ cup at a time
-Mix together, it will be a very wet dough so don't be concerned
-Scrape dough into greased pie dish and shape using a spatula.
-Cut an ‘X’ into dough for all sorts of reasons
-Bake for 15 min at 400 degrees then for 30 min at 375 degrees

 Let cool a little and cut. Serve with Irish butter!

If I don't have actual buttermilk I will make my own using 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 cup of milk but it is preferable to have the real stuff. 
The dough is a very wet dough, wet to the touch. Much more like a cookie dough than a bread dough and that's a good thing because it guarantees you good color. But, if it really worries you, you can add a little more flour to make it a little less sticky.
I prefer to use a glass or ceramic pie dish to an aluminum one because it gives a better rise, see the pictures for an example.
I use to soak my raisins in just boiling water but now I like to use a couple of tea bags and some Irish whiskey to add a little more flavor!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cabot's Restaurant & Ice Cream

Today we were looking for a breakfast restaurant in Newton and were pointed to Cabot's Restaurant and Ice Cream. It's a full restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner and fantastic ice cream.

We ordered breakfast that was delicious and decided that we wanted ice cream, too! Which wasn't a surprise to me because ice cream is my favorite food ever.

This place has three different hot fudges: hot chocolate butter fudge, milk chocolate hot fudge and bittersweet hot fudge. I opted for the bittersweet because I love semi- sweet chocolate. I ordered a small sundae and it was very sizable! The coffee ice cream was great and It was hands down the best hot fudge I've ever had. I am totally planning on going back!