Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving all! I hope you are able to enjoy all that you are thankful for!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New England Poppy Seed Cake

Are there any dishes that you love, but will only eat if homemade? For me, one of those is Poppy Seed Cake. No matter how many I try, I have never found a store bought poppy seed cake that I actually like. Too many are dry, or over-frosted, or too lemon-y. Lets not even get into store bought gluten-free poppy seed cake.

The recipe my mom makes is many years old, and pictured below. It clearly was written on by a child at some point, and is from the "Country Home Collection." It is an almond flavored cake, unlike the common lemon flavored varieties which makes it uniquely enjoyable. The batter is also one of my favorites! For this batch I split the batter between a bundt pan and a traditional loaf pan, but I think I prefer the loaf pan. The top of this bread is really aesthetically pleasing after baking, especially with the glaze. For an alternate taste for the glaze, replace milk with orange juice.

New England Poppy Seed Cake
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2 1/4 c sugar
1 1/2 c vegetable oil
1 1/2 c milk
3 cups flour (gluten-free flour blend if applicable)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tsp almond extract

1/4 c milk
3/4 c confectionary sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inch loaf pans.
Beat eggs, sugar, oil, and milk in one bowl.
Combine flour, baking powder, and salt on a sheet of wax paper. Beat into egg mixture gradually.
Stir in poppy seeds and almond extract.
Divide batter between two pans.
Bake for one hour or until wooden pick comes out clean.

While baking prepare glaze. Combine milk, confectionary sugar, vanilla, and almond extract.

Cool breads in pan for a few minutes. Put on wire cooling sheet and spread glaze over slowly, letting soak in. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sweetened Condensed Milk Substitute

This Thanksgiving we will be hosting a dairy-free guest. For this reason, I've been investigating good dairy-free milk substitutes. I've found a decent replacement for sweetened condensed milk so far that seems to have worked in all of my recipes.

For one can of sweetened condensed milk (usually 12 oz) take two cups of almond milk and bring to a simmer in a small saucepan. Depending on your tastebuds, add a teaspoon or so of agave syrup and let reduce until a cup and a half remains. Cool this mixture in the fridge and use as you would use normal sweetened condensed milk.

So far, this has worked in pumpkin pie, and my 7 layer bar recipe.

I am also experimenting with coconut milk and will let you know how that goes!

Sweetened Condensed Milk Dairy-Free Substitute

2 c almond milk
1 tsp or so agave syrup (optional)

Bring to simmer in a small saucepan. Let reduce for 15 minutes or so or until it is at the desired amount. Let cool throughly before using.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Pies for Thanksgiving (and other times, too!)

Everyone has a favorite Thanksgiving dish that mentally defines the holiday; the turkey, or cranberry sauce, or mashed potatoes. Mine use to be green bean casserole with the crunchy onions on top. Well in recent days thinking about the Thanksgiving meal coming up, I realized that mine isn't any of the above - it's pie. All kinds of pie, too. Apple, pumpkin, chocolate cream, sweet potato & pecan - I don't discriminate.

Being gluten-free sets me up for a particular challenge being that I can't eat any of these in their traditional state. While there are many, many, many different recipes for gluten-free crust (of which I have attempted several) sometimes you just want to be able to pour a can of pumpkin, some eggs, and spices into a pie shell and call it a day. Well, thanks to Kinnikinnick this is now possible.

They have started selling frozen pie shells at Whole Foods! They just need to be defrosted and prepped in an oven for a few minutes. Crazy simple. It also comes with two shells in one package for those pie fiends among us. Ahem. I tried these with a gluten-free pumpkin pie recently and it was excellent. The crusts are dairy free, too! These are best used with pies with no top since it's just the bottom shell. To read more about these shells visit here: Kinnikinnick Pie Shells.

If you're still looking to make a pie with a more home-made flair, I would suggest giving the Gluten-Free Pantry mix by Glutino a try as well. The crust is very light and flaky and requires just enough effort to call home-made. It is a perfect accompaniment to my chocolate cream pie. To look into this crust see their website here: Perfect Pie Crust.

Don't know what to pair these crusts with? How about one of my favorites!

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Cream Pie
2 boxes of cook and serve chocolate pudding
4 cups of milk *
1 Prepared pie shell*

Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream*
1 heaping tablespoon confectionary sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare pudding per box's instructions. Pour into shell and let sit in refrigerator overnight or until set.

When ready to eat pie, mix whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Scoop on to slices of pie.

*To make dairy-free use Kinnickinnick Pie Shell and your favorite milk substitute, I like almond milk or coconut milk for this pie. To make whipped topping dairy-free topping see how here: Coconut Whipped "Cream."

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pumpkin Pie
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs
1 can pure pumpkin
1 1/2 cups of milk substitute *see below

Mix dry ingredients together. In separate bowl, beat your eggs then add in pumpkin. Add in your dry ingredients. Slowly mix your milk substitute until totally incorporated. Pour into prepped shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. It will be done when you jiggle the pan and it doesn't all move. (I know very scientific)

Let cool and serve with whipped topping of your choice!

*To make dairy-free I take about two cups of almond milk in a small sauce pan and heat it up to reduce a little. You can also add a little confectionery sugar to increase the sweetness. Let this cool in the refrigerator. You can then use this in place of the condensed milk. You may also use a can of full fat coconut milk that is not separated. Your pie may be a little less set than traditional, but just as delicious!

This is not a sponsored post, neither Kinnickinnick nor Glutino know who I am or!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quote of the Day

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
--J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eating Gluten-Free in Orlando, Florida

Last week I took a short trip down to sunny Florida. We decided to make our last stop Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in the City Walk part of Universal Studios. I had been to Margaritaville before I was gluten-free and LOVED it. I had heard that they had a gluten-free menu so I needed to go back.

So they do in fact have some great gluten-free options, but no paper menu!? If you do go there be sure to let your server know that you are gluten-free and they can walk you through your options. I got the Cheeseburger in Paradise with a gluten-free bun. It was delish! Their french fries are also gluten-free so I was psyched. Surprisingly few places offer gluten-free fries. We also had a shrimp appetizer that was really good! It normally comes over slices of baguettes but they served those on the side.

Unfortunately it was too early to get a margarita (the restaurant can't serve alcohol before a certain time on Sundays) or else I'd tell you how that was too. The Last Mango in Paris looked right up my alley. I can't wait to go there again, and it helps that Universal Studios is SO much fun. I'm dying to go to the Harry Potter themed park!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Gluten-Free Sausage and Spinach Soup

One of the only soups that I've found gluten-free in restaurants is some variation of Italian wedding soup. We made our own version this weekend with Italian sausage and frozen spinach. The slightly spicy sausage and warm soup was the perfect accompaniment to the rainy weather. 

This recipe is very loose and can really be adapted to whatever you have on hand, or whatever you prefer. The spinach can be substituted with kale if you like. Gluten-free pasta has a tendency to get mushy if left in soup so I like to cook it separately and add it in at the end but you can cook it in the soup as well. 

Italian Sausage and Spinach Soup
4 Italian sausage links, cut into small chunks
1 cup of chopped baby carrots
1 cup of frozen spinach or 2 cups fresh
4 cups of gluten-free chicken broth 
1/2 small onion diced 
One cup gluten-free pasta, cooked
Shredded Parmesan to taste

In a Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan sautee onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil until translucent. 
Add sausage chunks and sautee until nearly cooked through. 
Pour in broth and bring to simmer.
Either add uncooked pasta now and cook till done. 
Add spinach and heat thoroughly. 
Or serve over cooked pasta. 

Serve with Parmesan on top to taste. 


Friday, November 15, 2013

A Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a tough time for those who watch what they eat. Whether it be a food allergy, intolerance, or diet everyone is tested in some way. If this Thanksgiving is your first time eating gluten-free, or preparing a meal for someone who is gluten-free, don't be too alarmed, cooking gluten-free is completely manageable and I promise - just as delicious.

8 Tips to Having a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving in a Gluten-Full World

1. Ask Questions: If you're going to eat something someone else made be sure to ask questions! How did you make that? What ingredients did you use? Are there any cross contamination risks? If they can't tell you exactly what is in it - you're better off passing.

2. Do Your Research: Did you know some turkeys aren't gluten-free? I certainly didn't until I looked it up. A lot of stocks or bouillons aren't gluten-free either and people love to use these in place of liquids in things like mashed potatoes or vegetables. See my post Sneaky Places Gluten Hides at Thanksgiving.

3. Bring Your Favorite Dish: Is your favorite dish something that is traditionally gluten-full? My first gluten-free Thanksgiving I made a green bean casserole a la Campbell's traditional recipe with gluten-free ingredients. Was it hard? Yes. Time consuming? Yes. But was I SO happy I could eat it? Yes!

4. Consult Your Host: Should the host of Thanksgiving dinner be aware of your food allergies/intolerance? Absolutely. Most hosts want to be accommodating to their guests, to help spread the word and make others aware. There might be another person attending with similar restrictions

5. Band Together: Is someone else you know gluten-free? Include them in your meal plans! There is strength in numbers and will make your job much easier and your day less stressful.

6. Educate Others: If you don't tell people something could make you sick, they will never know. You might have to be blunt to get the point across. Saying you could get a stomach ache is vague and unlikely to get your point across. If someone asks you what happens if you eat gluten, tell them what could happen! Depending on your severity of sensitivity, they're more likely to remember.

7. Separate the Food: Picture this - its dinner time on Thanksgiving. You've done everything possible to have a gluten-free dinner. You did your research, brought your own safe dishes, and you consulted with the host. Everything is lined up and ready to eat. The first person to go takes a large portion of regular (gluten-full) stuffing and proceeds to take servings of every other dish with the same spoon effectively ruining all of your hard work. So - keep your dishes separate!! Even in another room if necessary. Signs are also super helpful in this situation.

8. Deep Breathe: This is manageable. Millions of other people are in it with you. Try and enjoy!

For my Thanksgiving meal this year I'll also be incorporating a dairy-free eater into the mix. I know what you're probably thinking - I don't want to be at your Thanksgiving dinner - but in reality so much of what we would have made needs only small tweaks to be safe to eat. Everything below is a link to a recipe!

Side Dishes

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes - Martha Stewart

Cider Glazed Carrots

Garlic-y Spaghetti Squash

Roasted Acorn Squash

Gluten-Free Green Bean Casserole - to make dairy-free, just replace with your favorite milk substitute!
Bacon-y Green Beans

Gluten-Free Gravy - This is so delicious and easy to make its a sin to use the pre-packaged mix.


Gluten-Free Diary Free Pumpkin Pie

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Chocolate Cream Pie

Gluten-Free Apple Pie

Gluten-Free Apple Crisp

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread

Gluten-Free Sweet Potato & Pecan Pie

Dairy-Free Whipped "Cream"

Sneaky Places Gluten Hides at Thanksgiving (And Other Times, Too!)

Gluten is a teeny-tiny protein and can hide just about anywhere in the kitchen or meal. For those with Celiac Disease the tiniest bit can make a person sick for days so being careful is very important!

Sneaky Places Gluten Hides at Thanksgiving

The Turkey: Not all turkeys are prepared the same. Some companies inject their turkeys with liquid that may contain gluten to keep them extra moist while baking. Some recommend sprinkling the turkey with flour to keep it from sticking to anything. Check this list to see if your turkey is on there: Gluten-Free Turkeys.

Gravy: Most gravy mixes are not gluten-free. I've had a few and they're so-so. I'd suggest trying one before the big day, or make your own using corn starch or rice flour. You'll be happy you did!

Stocks and Bouillon: Most stocks and bouillon cubes are not gluten-free. This is an issue because people use stock in a variety of dishes that should in theory be gluten-free. Some types of Swanson are so that is usually my go-to. Do a Google search and find one you like!

Turkey Basting Liquid: Some people with baste with stock, see above.

Mashed Potatoes: If your potatoes are cooked in a gluten-containing stock - you'll be out of luck!

Your Cutting Board: Do you use a wooden cutting board? Are you having gluten-free guests over? Swap it for a plastic board for the meantime. Gluten hides in the cracks and crevices of wood very easily!

Your Utensils: Keep your utensils separate during the meal! Also avoid wooden utensils for the same reasons why you want to avoid wooden cutting boards.

Can you think of any more places? Let me know and I'll add them to the list! For more gluten-free Thanksgiving tips, see my post: Tips for a Gluten-Free Thanksgiving.

Cider Glazed Carrots

One of my favorite side dishes is cider glazed carrots. The name itself is actually a little misleading, they should probably be called cider cooked carrots, or cider boiled carrots, but neither of those sound as appealing as cider glazed carrots.

Anyway, these are so easy to make and really tasty. They're one dish you can toss together and let sit while you're busy making pie crust, or basting the turkey. You can either use chunks of whole carrots, peeled of course, or to make it really a 5 minute side dish - use baby carrots. The size of the recipe can be customized for 2 people or 20.

Cider Glazed Carrots
Servings: 4

1 small bag baby carrots
2 cups apple cider

Place all of your baby carrots in a small sauce pan. Cover with apple cider. If you don't have enough apple cider feel free to put an additional 1/2 cup water into the pan. Bring to a slight boil. Turn down, and let simmer until carrots are soft and the cider has reduced a little. Serve in a bowl with remaining cider reduction. 

The reduction is delicious over roast pork as well! You may fit the portion size of carrots to your number of guests, just be sure to buy a little more cider. You can also use whole, peeled carrots that are cut in small enough chunks to cook easily.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Whole Food's Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bean Soup

This Fall us Bostonians have been spoiled by gorgeous temperate weather. It seems this week that Mother Nature has remembered its mid-November in Boston, and that usually means cold. We've had quite the cold snap this week, even getting snow on Tuesday! In honor of Fall and the cold I'm going to be making some of my Pumpkin Bean Soup that I love from a recipe from Whole Foods. It's warm, filling, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian! Interested in making some yourself? Check out the post I wrote about it last year!

Click here:  Pumpkin Bean Soup

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday

If you saw my post last week you will know that I have been loving listening to audio books lately. I have always been fascinated by crew and I love Edward Herman as a narrator, so I didn't think I could go wrong. I haven't finished the whole thing yet but so far it is a fascinating read that really draws the listener in. Like Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken it explores a lot of history that is going on concurrently and how that affects the main characters and story line. Again I've included a summary below for those of you that are interested. I highly recommend it!

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The emotional heart of the story lies with one rower, Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled  by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in each other that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone quite literally pulls together—a perfect melding of commitment, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate story of nine working-class boys from the American west who, in the depths of the Great Depression, showed the world what true grit really meant.
Pictures and summary from

A Thankful November Quote of the Day

This Fall has brought on a whole slew of challenges; a new job, a Master's program, adopting an out-of-state rescue pup. November in particular seems determined to completely kick my butt. So far I've traveled out of the state each weekend, have had a paper due each week, and work has been going at a break-neck pace.

Despite the incredible hurdles I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to tackle each and every one. It has been a struggle to realize this and be appreciative of the stress that comes with each opportunity.

"When things are so stressful that you think you can't take it anymore, 
just remember, there are a lot of people who wished they were in your 
place, and for some reason or another, aren't. Be thankful for where you 
are and for the challenge you've been given." - the best orientation advice

Are there any challenges that you are thankful to have had?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Quote of the Day

I am thankful for...
The taxes I pay because it means I am employed.
The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat.
My shadow who watches me because it means I am out in the sunshine.
A lawn that has to be mowed, windows that have to be washed, and gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
The spot I find at the far end of the parking lot because it means I am capable of walking.
All the complaining I hear about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
The lady behind me in church who sings off-key because it means that I can hear.
The huge piles of laundry and ironing because it means my loved ones are nearby.
The alarm that goes off in the early morning hours because it means that I'm alive.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day!

Land of the free because of the brave.

Happy Veteran's Day to all those who have served, are serving, or who are military families! I spent my weekend at the Navy SEAL-UDT Museum in Fort Pierce, FL. They have an annual Muster event that draws upwards of 12,000+ people. They have SEAL demonstrations, police k-9 exhibitions, and distinguished speakers. The museum itself is also fantastic! If you are in the area I highly suggest taking a trip to see it. I'll be posting more about this in the coming days.

I also wanted to take a moment to remember my Uncle Ralph who was a Warrant Officer in the Vietnam war. Here is a picture of him before he left for flight school. To learn more about him and the courageous men he served with, take a minute to visit my Aunt Nancy's website dedicated to him. It can be found here:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What I'm Reading Wednesday: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

I have always loved to read. When I was younger I was a voracious reader, I would read anything and everything that you put under my nose. Since I don't have nearly as much free time as I use to, my pleasure reading time has decreased, and my time spent reading text books has increased ten-fold.

Concurrently my time spent in my car as also increased ten-fold; commuting mostly, but I have also been traveling a great distance via car as well. This leaves me with a great deal of time alone, and without knowledge of local radio stations. On one of my trips to the library for a book I noticed that they had an unbelievable collection of audiobooks. Enter my fascination with listening to books in the car and my desire to let you know how wonderful some of them are.

Picking out an audio book isn't like picking our a normal book. There are no covers to judge by, minimalist descriptions, and even the way they are stacked doesn't lend itself to easy discovery. I was at the library maybe a month ago feeling a little frustrated. I couldn't find anything that I wanted to listen to before an impending 6 hour drive to Philadelphia. I grabbed a few off of the shelves, checked them out, and began to leave. As I was leaving one more caught my eye, it was part of a historical display, and it was titled,
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption.
It was written by Laura Hillenbrand. I had loved her novel about Seabiscuit so I decided to take Unbroken out, too. Well, I am so glad I did. The novel surrounds a Louis Zamperini and his life story. Hillenbrand's writing is so unbelievably real and her prose is heart-wrenching. At times I felt so immersed in the story that it was hard to shake what was happening. Zamperini is a hero and what he went through had the ability to kill a lesser man.

One of my favorite aspects of the novel is that Hillenbrand does extensive follow though on Zamperini's life. This is a huge pet peeve of mine of other books that climax and then don't tell you what happens after. Edward Herman is also the narrator and he adds a whole other dimension to the story itself. I listened to this novel twice through, and afterwards I was so sad it was over. I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone with or without an interest in history.

I've included the summary of the book below for those interested. This is also going to be made into a move directed by Angelina Jolie in 2014!


On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Quote of the Day


A Thankful November: Traditions

Every November, we as a nation, take the opportunity to get together with those that we love and appreciate. This November I want to spend a little time focusing on the things that I specifically appreciate in my life. For today, that will be traditions.

There are certain things that I remember more vividly than others from my childhood. One of those things that I have a very distinct memory of is our gingerbread people cookie sheets in which we always would make chocolate chip gingerbread people around Christmas time.

Over the years I have wondered what happened to our adorable cookie sheets. Well, when in doubt, check eBay. I scored two of the exact Nestle Tollhouse cookie sheets that we had when I was little. A point of pride for me was that we always made our chocolate chip cookies from scratch, but for the sake of time I opted to go the store-bought route.

The Immaculate Baker makes pre-packaged cookie dough that is both gluten-free and dairy free, and is delicious. Each pre-scoop of dough made one gingerbread man or woman. I'm so happy I was able to find these sheets and I plan on holding on to them for a long time.

Do you have any fun little traditions that you'd like to share? Post in the comments section!

Are you interested in getting a set of Nestle Toll House Cookie Kids cookie sheets? Check eBay.