Monday, August 27, 2012

My Favorite Corn Salsa

Looking for a delicious, summery, and super easy snack to bring to that Labor Day cookout? This corn salsa is my absolute favorite. It's light and flavorful and actually healthy!


Take 6 ears of (uncooked) corn and carefully slice off the kernels into a large bowl.

Chop up an avocado into tiny peices. Don't know how to chop one? See here.

Dice up one small red onion.


Dice up 2-3 plum tomatoes. I prefer plum because they have the least goop inside, still scoop out the seeds anyway!

Squeeze 2-3 limes over everything and mix well.

The original recipe calls for a bunch of finely chopped cilantro too but a. I forgot it and b. my sister hates the stuff so it isn't essential.

Stir very well and serve on corn chips! I prefer the blue variety.


For alternative uses, bake on top a piece of salmon, or add chunks of grilled chicken and corn chips for a delicious cobby salad.

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Corn Salsa
6 ears of corn
2-3 plum tomatoes
1 small red onion
1 avocado
2-3 limes
1 bunch of cilantro
-Cut the kernels off of the ears of corn
-Finely dice all other ingredients, except for the limes, and mix well
-Squeeze limes over top, mix, and serve!



How to Cut and Peel an Avocado

The other day I came across this thing in the store called an Avocado Peeler. It was the strangest looking thing and I'm not even sure how one would go about using it. Now don't get me wrong, I love a good cooking utensil but some things I just find unnecessary! If you are one of those people who feel a need for an avocado tool, here is an alternative!

First a note on the ripeness of avocados: You can tell an avocado is ripe if the flesh gives a tiny bit when you press it. The riper an avocado is the easier it is to peel. When they are not ripe they are very hard and both the skin and the pit are difficult to remove.


Take your avocado and slice it in half length-wise. Don't do it like this! You'll cut yourself most likely. I only have two hands, however, and needed one to take the picture. This is just to visually show you how to cut it. 

Continue cutting, knowing that an avocado has a large pit in the middle, until you have cut around the entire thing. 

 Twist your two halves of the avocado until they come apart.

Take your knife and carefully chop into the pit. Then take your avocado half and hold it in your hand. With your other hand on the knife twist the two into opposite directions until the pit dislodges itself.

My avocado was not very ripe and the pit was less than willing to leave its avocado. I had to make another slice turning my half into a quarter of an avocado.

I was then able to just pull it out of the quarter.

If your avocado is sufficiently ripe then the skin will literally just pull away from the quarters at this point and you can chop it into any size you see fit. If your avocado is not super ripe cut your quarters into smaller slices, turn them on their sides, and following the shape of the slice cut the flesh from the skin.

Unsure about what to do with your peeled and chopped avocado? How about add it to a delicious corn salsa like the one I've made here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Turning a Placemat Into an Apron

I was recently in the market for something colorful to add to a bridal shower gift and was disappointed at the amount (or lack there of) of colorful kitchen utensils. After looking around a few stores I came across this adorable lime-greeny and gray placemat. It was the last one of its kind so I bought it with the intention of turning it into an apron. Using the tutorial supplied by Dana of Made I constructed this little number.


I put two pleats into the front of it to give it a shape that would be conducive to wearing and using a piece of material I constructed a waist band. It was about 4 inches thick so I folded it over the top to hide the stitches from the pleating. 


Unfortunately I didn't have one piece of material long enough for a sash so I had to sew two pieces together. I then had to hide the seam along the edge of the apron making the bow kind of a side bow thing, see the last picture.


Lastly I added my little tag right in the corner. The best part about using a placemat is not having to hem the edges! I wanted to add a little pocket but I ran out of time!



Sorry for the quality of the pictures! Again with the iPhone.



Monday, August 20, 2012

Gluten-Free Margherita Skillet Pizza

Yeasties.

Basil from my garden.

Bob's Red Mill Pizza Crust.

Local tomatoes and mozzarella.

The best invention ever: a lettuce spinner!

Heat up your pan with some olive oil.

Cook your dough on one side.

Flip your pizza crust carefully and put your sauce and toppings on.

Let it cook until brownish.


In an oven safe pan cook for 12-14 minutes or until brown and crispy.


Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gluten-Free Road-tripping: Tips and Tricks

Over the past couple of years I have really come to appreciate a good road trip. When I was little the farthest we ever drove was two hours up to New Hampshire, so once I came to the realization that not everyone's life exists within a 20 minute radius, an entirely new world was opened up to me.

There is something very refreshing about discovering small towns and small family-owned shops that you would never see flying over or while sitting on a train. I love off-highway driving the most, driving through neighborhoods and town squares offers real insight into the culture of the area.

For the gluten-free, however, road trips create an entirely different challenge. Imagine driving from Boston to Disney World in Orlando for example. You know the trip is going to take at least 24 hours to complete and you know within the time span you will want to eat 3 full meals and plenty of snacks. So you can make the decision to either pack those meals for your self or to chart out exactly when and where to stop, hoping that they will be open and offering something that you can and want to eat. If you are a mom or dad you also need said establishment to offer a kid friendly menu and (fingers crossed) hopefully all of this is at an affordable price. Let's just say good luck to you and the Red Sox.

Now the second option sounds much more practical, albeit more time and space intensive. This is the option that I usually take. Packing a cooler full of delicious, nutritious food that is going to fill me up and also provide the right kind of fuel for a long trip requires planning: both for a shopping list and making time to make the food and time to pack it and also to keep it cold enough throughout your trip.

Both options do have their downsides though. Once on my way to upstate New York I discovered that the rest stops on the MassPike have Boston Markets and they have an extensive gluten-free menu! I was so psyched because I love their food. On my way home though I was very disappointed to realize that the MassPike only has Boston Markets in their west-bound rest stops! Once again I was forced to go off the highway to find somewhere to eat, spending more time and getting frustrated. Thank goodness I have a smart phone and can find places I know offer gluten-free, otherwise I would have to go on a wild goose chase.

Packing your own food has it's potential problems as well, too. It's hard to find the time to make meals that will stay fresh in a cooler and that you'll want to eat for several meals. You also have to ensure that you will be able to keep your food cold and well-sealed. Too many of my snacks have become water logged or gotten warm from poor cooler planning. Also you have to be sure your car will have room for a moderately sized cooler and bags of dry foods.

All-in-all both of these options take practice and planning to get it right and keep you gluten-freers well fed on the road. Now for some tips and tricks I've found useful.

In the past I've made different kinds of pasta salads that incorporate a protein and veggies. This is necessary to keep you full and save you from a sugar crash or "stomach rot" that generally results from fatty and heavy "convenience" foods. They also keep well in a cooler if you make a dish without perishables like mayonnaise. I dislike sandwiches, even of the gluten-free variety, because they get soggy and warm sandwich meats freak me out.

Pesto Pasta Salad with Chicken
1 box gluten-free penne or rotini
1-2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
1 container grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup of pesto, more or less taste dependent

While pasta is warm mix all ingredients together. If pesto is super thick, add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Serve warm or chilled.

Baby Shrimp Pasta Salad
1 box gluten-free elbow pasta
2-3 stalks of celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 can of baby shrimp, rinsed and drained
Mayo or miracle, amount taste dependent
Salt and pepper

Mix all of the ingredients with the mayo or miracle whip until just bound. Salt and pepper liberally. You will need to add more mayo the following day as the pasta will absorb a lot of it overnight.

All-In-One Pasta Salad
Aka Pasta Salad with Tuna, Hard-Boiled Eggs and Veggies
1 box gluten-free pasta, rotini
1 can of tuna, drained, rinsed, and flaked
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 small onion, diced
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
2-3 stalks of celery, diced
Mayo or miracle whip to bind
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients with mayo until well-coated. Salt and pepper liberally.

Additionally, be sure to keep your food cold but don't let your cooler fill with water or else it will leak into your snacks!

I also like to have a box of cereal with me for emergency hunger situations. And most importantly I always have multiple waters because staying well-hydrated is the key, for me at least, to not getting headaches and keeping me feeling as well as possible.




Monday, August 6, 2012

She Is..


I love Kate Spade! When you order something from her you get the most adorable prints!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cream Toast: Its History and Several Recipes

I have always had an incredible interest in history, not of world history or British history but of family history. One thing that has always given me a strong link to the past is food and recipes that have been passed along the generations. This recipe, called Cream Toast, is something that my mom has been making us forever, and her mom made her forever and so on and so forth.

Some where along the line I realized that this recipe isn't something that my other friends have heard of, never mind eaten it. Even my dad had never heard of it until my mom introduced him to it. Since going gluten-free, it was off limits as the cream is made with a rue of flour and served over bread. 

I've been wanting to make it for a long time now but I very rarely have gluten-free bread in the house as I'm not a fan of the store-bought brands. I, however, was over a relative's house recently and they had picked up a loaf of Rudi's bread. We made toast from it and I was stunned because it was so good! It was the most "normal" tasting gluten-free bread that I have tried so far. Anyway, I bought a loaf of this bread at the store so I decided to give gluten-free Cream Toast a try!


Curious if this recipe was some total family fluke I decided to give it a search in Google. Turns out it is!  The only mention of it I could find was on a bartlebys.com which is a site that catalogs old books. There is a recipe for Cream Toast by Fannie Merritt Farmer in The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, published in 1918, two years after the birth of my Nana. The actual name of what we make is Milk Toast because we use milk and not cream but the name has stuck.

Fanny Farmer has two recipes for Milk Toast listed. Our recipe, however, is a bit of a mix of the two.



Willard Family Cream Toast

To make our version of Cream Toast melt two tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan. Then gradually add two tablespoons of flour making a rue. Let the rue cook for a little while and then very gradually add the milk. It will clump up the rue but just keep whisking away and it will smooth out. Add a half teaspoon of salt and cook until desired consistancy. Pour over buttered toast and eat!







My apologies because this last picture probably looks disgusting. I was so excited to eat I started into it without taking a picture first! Also I might try the recipe for Milk Toast I though because it sounds a lot easier than making a rue! I always get so worried I'm ruining it when the rue curdles a little. 

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Interestingly enough, here is a recipe for "German Toast." Sounds a little bit like French Toast doesn't it?!

3 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
6 slices stale bread


Beat eggs slightly, add salt, sugar, and milk; strain into a shallow dish. Soak bread in mixture until soft. Cook on a hot, well-greased griddle; brown on one side, turn and brown other side. Serve for breakfast or luncheon, or with a sauce for dessert.



There are a bunch of other really interesting recipes in the book and if you are into those sort of things definitely check it out! Gems include a section on Helpful Hints for the Young Housekeeper and a section on Food Values and suggested daily caloric intakes! It also is the last Fannie Farmer cook book that was authored entirely by her!


Why Is A Ship Called She?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Hydrangea Love, Sundae School Ice Cream, & Gluten-Free Seafood



One thing I love about the cape is its sandy soil. Such soil is conducive to the growth of my favorite flowers, the hydrangea. These plants get their gorgeous color from the acidity of the soil. Very basic soil results in deep blues and violets and more acidic soil produces a bright pink.



These particular plants were at my all time favorite ice cream shop, Sundae School Ice Cream Parlor. I confirmed with an employee through email that their ice cream is gluten-free previously though email, which they responded too super quickly, too! They just reminded me to stay away from obviously not gluten-free ingredients like brownies and cookies.

"Don't skip Sundae School"

Kahlua Chip Hot Fudge Sundae! 


I got the Kahlua Chip ice cream in a signature sundae. These are my favorite sundaes because they make their own hot fudge and whipped cream, and their cherries are the real deal. We visited the Harwich store but there are several other locations across the cape as well!

Before this we made a stop at Chatham Fish and Lobster Company in Chatham. This is honestly the only reason we went to the cape on this occasion. Their fried seafood is unbelievable AND gluten-free! It's very cool because the entire fried menu is gluten-free so there is no risk of contamination. I got the fisherman's platter which included shrimp, scallops, clams, fish, french fries and onion rings. I tweeted a picture of this so if you want to take a look, check it out there. 

I would strongly recommend this place for anyone, regardless of their gluten situation. We also brought home three quarts of their clam chowder, sadly not gluten-free, for everyone else! Be careful if you do decide to visit though, at their main location in Chatham they have a mini restaurant and also a fish market but their second "location" is another fish market inside a supermarket in Dennis so no fried food there!