Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gluten Free Country Store in Gilbert, AZ -- Review!!!

I came. I saw. I freaked out. I shopped till I dropped.





As I mentioned before, Gluten Free Country Store is now open in Gilbert, AZ. The gluties of the world rejoice!!

I went out to Gluten Free Country Store about a week ago and it did not disappoint! In fact, it FAR surpassed my hopes and dreams and aspirations for a gluten free store in our area!


They have a HUGE selection of Mixes From The Heartland (read me singing their praises here). It is amazing. I wandered around just wondering HOW I was going to get out of there without buying their ENTIRE inventory!

They also sell a lot of my favorite products by Kinnickinnick and Glutino, as well as other fantastic GF products! I was also chatting with the owners about even more products they are looking to sell in their store. I was pretty much bursting (BURSTING!) at the seams with excitement! All my favorite foods! Under one roof!


But, my absolute favorite part of this new store? The staff. Fantastic, wonderful, friendly, informative people. The entire store is family owned and operated. They all eat gluten free and have tried an extensive amount of the products they carry. Ask them for suggestions, and they can tell you, from experience, what they think is best. They understand the gluten free diet and how frustrating (!) and liberating it can be all at the same time. In short...they get you.
If you live in Arizona, you have got to check this out!
Have you been there? What do you think?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gluten Free Country Store in Gilbert, AZ -- Official Opening Date!

As promised, I have the newest information on the opening of Gluten Free Country Store in Gilbert, AZ!! And this time, it's GOOD NEWS!!

The official opening date is next Tuesday, December 8th!!! Let me know what you think after you go!! It's on the top of my priority list to check out!

Here's all their information:

Gluten Free Country Store
3345 S Val Vista Dr, Suite 101 (202 Santan freeway and Val Vista)
Gilbert, AZ 85297

480-889-9932
Email: glutenfreecountrystore@yahoo.com

Don't forget to help spread the word!!

***Updated 1/4 to add:
Their hours are:

Sunday - Closed
Monday - Closed
Tuesday - 10 to 6
Wednesday - 10 to 6
Thursday - 10 to 8
Friday - 10 to 6
Saturday - 10 to 6

Friday, November 27, 2009

Milky Way Candy Bars --NOT Gluten Free!

Did you know this???

I'm really second guessing myself here -- I could swear up and down and sideways that I have read the ingredients label of a Milky Way bar on more than more occasion, and within the last few months. So, while I want to say that they have reformulated their candy bars, I'm not going to. But, I do want to share this story with you.

Milky Way candy bars have always been one of my go-to candy bars. On Tuesday, my husband and I were at the grocery store picking up some last minute ingredients for our pre-Thanksgiving extravaganza. While at the register, I last minute tossed a Milky Way on the conveyor belt because I am incapable of resisting temptation. I ate half of the candy bar in the car on the way home.

I had a very serious, very quick reaction while still in the car. I'm pretty sure my intestines were thowing dishes at the wall, talking smack about my Mom (sorry Mom), and packing their bags to get the heck out of dodge. We had no idea why. (I say we because Brandon is my little gluten wrangler). We thought it was because I absent-mindly ate a piece of steak that fell out of Brandon's burrito at Chipotle earlier (yeah, I know, I know. Somebody slap me around, please).

It wasn't until last night when I went to indulge in the other half of the candy bar that something, out of pure luck, caught my eye. Right there, on the back of the wrapper, staring at me and waving it's gluten-y arms around, was MALTED BARLEY.

I'm pretty sure I blurted out a choice obscenity that is not appropriate to repeat as this is a family friendly blog.

Whoops.

So people, the moral of the story is, don't be as stupid as me. Please read the labels EVERY TIME. And do not buy Milky Ways.

(P.S. Can someone please put me out of my misery and tell me if you've ever read the ingredient label on a Milky Way and deemed it safe? Did they reformulate? Have I really missed this all this time?)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pomegranate Orange Banana Smoothie

I've been meaning to post this for a while, but was waiting to get some pictures of this delicious smoothie. Unfortunately, my poor little blender has taken a turn for the worse, and I fear, is now on it's last breath (RIP little buddy).

The fantastic folks at Pom Wonderful offered to send me some of their pomegranate juice to try. Everyone knows that pomegranates are delicious, but who knew they were so good for you?

POM Wonderful is the only company that provides 100% real pomegranate fruit juice! There are no other juices added as filler and no added sugars. Not only that, but POM wonderful is the only pomegranate juice used in scientific research studies that seek to understand all the benefits of pomegranates. Besides having antioxidants out the wah-zoo, pomegranates have been shown to benefit cardiovascular, prostate, and erectile health when consumed daily!

So it's tasty and good for you....can't say that about too many things, can you? Lol :)

I find that the juice on it's own is very tart so I wanted to mix it with some sweet ingredients to mellow it out. I came up with this breakfast smoothie. Again, sorry no pictures. I couldn't recreate it for a photo shoot due to the unfortunate incident with my late blender.

Pomegranate Orange Banana Breakfast Smoothie
(measurements are approximate. Just throw it all in the blender and decide what looks good)

1 cup ice
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup POM Wonderful pomegranate juice
1 banana
1/2 c to 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt

Place all ingredients in a blender and liquify until smooth.

This made about 2 smoothies!

I'm going to be trying a few more things with the pomegranate juice, so I'll post if anything turns out well. (I tried to make frozen yogurt, but unfortunately it didn't come out right because I don't have an ice cream maker).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Fruit Snack and Prize Pack Giveaway Winner!

Alright, so we have a winner! I did them in the order in which they were received and used Random.org to pick the winning number! The winning number was #3...

TRACI!!

Traci, email me your address at gfsteph@gmail.com to claim your prize!!

Thanks to those who entered!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gluten Free Country Store Opening in Gilbert, AZ -- UPDATE

I have the latest, up-to-the-minute news for you on the opening on Gluten Free Country Store in Gilbert, AZ.

I have been informed as of tonight that, unfortunately, the store will not be able to open its doors to the public on November 17th as previously stated. I'm sure you all can understand what goes into the opening of a store like this, and all the channels and approvals you must go through before you can start delighting the masses with your plethora of gluten free goodies.

As of right now, I do not have an open date. But, just as I've jumped on my computer tonight to tell you this information, you can bet that I will be updating you with the opening information within minutes of hearing it. I know you all are just as excited as I am to get your foot in the door at Gluten Free Country Store! I can assure you that your interest and excitement is very much appreciated by the owners of the store; they are equally as anxious to open and meet everyone!

For all you Glass-Is-Half-Full folks (because I always like to balance the negative with the positive), the good news is this: You have more time to clean out your trunk to make room for all the stocking up on delicious gluten free food you'll be doing as soon as this store does open! (For those of you that have seen my car, you know what a dire situation my trunk is in. I need to get crackin').

In case you missed it, here is all their information:

Gluten Free Country Store
3345 S Val Vista Dr, Suite 101 (202 Santan Freeway and Val Vista)
Gilbert, AZ 85297
480-889-9932
Email: glutenfreecountrystore@yahoo.com

In the meantime, while you're waiting, don't forget to tell all your friends and family about this great new store coming to our community!


(P.S. Have you entered my giveaway yet?? Betty Crocker GF Fruit snacks and prize pack! Last day to enter is Tuesday, November 17th!)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Betty Crocker Fruit Snacks Are Now Gluten Free! AND -- A GIVEAWAY!!

When Betty Crocker emailed me and offered to send me some of their fruit snacks, I was so excited!

No, not only to get free fruit snacks, but because I had NO idea these were gluten free! I’m not sure if these have always been gluten free, or if they are newly reformulated to be gluten free. I always avoided them just because I assumed they weren’t.

IMG_1591


But LOOK:

IMG_1587


Right on the front!! Labeled gluten free!

Let me tell you, Betty Crocker is single handedly changing my life. :)

The sample package included Fruit-by-the-foot, Fruit Roll Ups, and Gushers, and they also sent a box of Create-A-Bug fruit snacks. My personal favorite are the Fruit-by-the-foot…I forgot how delicious they were! Next grocery store shop is going to include a box or two of those!! :)

I love that all these major companies and getting on board and becoming Celiac-friendly. It sure is making my life a lot easier!


UPDATED TO ADD: GIVEAWAY!!!

The fantastic people at Betty Crocker have offered another prize pack for me to GIVEAWAY to you!!

Here is what the prize pack includes:


All you have to do to enter to win is:

Leave a comment on my blog -- What is your favorite Betty Crocker gluten free product?

OR

@ reply or direct message me on Twitter (@GF_Steph) and tell me your favorite Betty Crocker gluten free product!

Last day to enter will be in one week -- November 17th! I'll announce the winner afterward!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mixes From The Heartland Gluten Free Pasta Veggie Soup Mix

 

Mixes From The Heartland is a company that sells certified gluten free, all natural, preservative free ready-made mixes. They sent me an email and offered to send me some samples, and, since I’ve never seen their products in ANY of my local stores, I jumped at the chance!

Upon looking at their website, I have to say, I was very impressed with their product line. They offer any mix you can think of, and others that you wouldn’t think of, but would want to try! They offer mixes for soups, stews, biscuits, breads, cakes, etc, and even offer mixes to make your own homemade noodles! It’s amazing!

What I love is the variety that you can get. Garlic roasted pepper biscuit mix? No problem. Apple cinnamon muffin mix? Yep, sign me up for that too. Taco Rice Skillet Meal? Oh mama, get in my belly.

I am so super excited to find out about this product because it is so difficult for me to put together week night meals. I work full time and go to school, so I am left with very little time to put together a respectable meal. These packets come with everything you need, all you have to do is add a thing or two (most of which you have in your pantry anyway). Ahhh…I see significantly less “What to make for dinner in a time crunch” stress in my future.

The first product I tried was their Pasta Veggie Soup. Here’s what it looks like:

IMG_1579

It’s got all the noodles and spices right in the pouch!

On the back it tells you what you need to add:

IMG_1581

And yes, this soup could be made vegetarian or vegan very easily. We actually didn’t put any meat in ours, simply because I didn’t have any on hand.

This soup really could not have been any easier. Throw two cans of tomatoes, 6 cups of water, 2 cans of beef stock, and the contents of the pouch in large pot and cook for 25 minutes. I actually got other stuff done around the house while this was cooking! It’s a miracle!

This was our finished soup:

IMG_1585

Mmmm…the noodles cooked up nicely and barely broke their shape. This soup was very filling, even without the addition of meat. We both really liked this soup.

I know what you’re thinking: Steph, you’re going on and on about how you love this product, but what didn’t you like? Well, if I’m being completely honest, some of the dehydrated vegetables didn’t quite cook through all the way, so a few of them still had a slightly odd crunch to them. I’m a huge texture person, so that was the only downside. Those little crunchy pieces were so few and far between though that it didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the soup.

Products from Mixes From The Heartland can be ordered online at their website, or, if you’re lucky enough to live in Arizona, an extensive amount of their product line will be carried at Gluten Free Country Store in Gilbert, AZ.

I’m excited to try several more of their products, so keep an eye out for more reviews!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chorizo and Black Bean Soup

We made this soup last night, and let me tell you, it is so, so good. It has just the right amount of spice. I was excited to eat the leftovers for lunch today and am also looking forward to eating it for dinner tonight too!

Chorizo and Black Bean Soup

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

3 Chorizo sausages (about 12 oz), casings removed

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more if you like SPICY)

1 teaspoon cumin

2 garlic cloves, minced

4-5 cups gluten free chicken broth

3 cans unseasoned black beans, rinsed

1 can whole kernel corn, drained

salt and pepper, to taste

shredded pepper jack cheese, for garnish

sour cream, for garnish (this really isn’t necessary unless you are worried about it being too spicy and need to cool it down)

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil and add the chorizo. Break up the sausage with a spoon. Let cook for 3-4 minutes on medium or medium-high (depending on your stove), then add the onion and bell peppers. Allow to cook 6-7 minutes to soften a bit, then add the red pepper flakes and cumin. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add the chicken broth, 2 cans of rinsed black beans, and the can of drained corn. Add salt and pepper (go easy on the pepper, it doesn’t really need it). Allow to simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Ladle 2 or 3 spoonfuls of the soup into a blender and puree. Pour back into the soup pot and stir. Add the last can of black beans. Serve and enjoy!

We really like chunky soup, so we only used 4 cups of broth and pureed only 2-3 spoonfuls. If you like your soup with more liquid, add the extra broth and puree the soup to your liking. I would say this makes about 6 or 7 servings, depending on your appetite. :)

If you try this, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Gluten Free Country Store Opening in Gilbert, AZ Delayed

Hey guys!

I just wanted to let you that know I have been told that the opening of Gluten Free Country Store in Gilbert, AZ has been delayed. But don't fret! There's not much more of a wait!

The new opening date is November 17th (that's a Tuesday--mark your calendars!). I'll let you know if anything else changes.

In case you missed it, here's their information:

Gluten Free Country Store
3345 S Val Vista Dr, Suite 101 (202 Santan Freeway and Val Vista)
Gilbert, AZ 85297
480.889.9932
Email: glutenfreecountrystore@yahoo.com

I'd like to see everyone get out there and support this new dedicated gluten free store!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My Favorite Gluten Free Products

I've been thinking over the past few days that I've never created a list of my favorite gluten free products. There are certain brands and certain products that I will always choose because I have determined them to be the best (from my experience). I started this blog to help others to find gluten free products that actually taste good and help them determine which to spend their money on and which products to skip. So here is my list of go-to gluten free products:

Pantry Staples:

Pasta: Tinkyada. Hands down, my fave. I particularly love their spinach spaghetti noodles. I don't even bother with Debole's pasta anymore, unless I'm in a pinch. I always have spaghetti, shells, and penne in my pantry.

Bread: Gluten Free Creations Honey Oat Bread. Or their herb bagettes

Premade Flour Mix -- Whole Foods 365 brand or Gluten Free Pantry flour mix

Oats: Bobs Red Mill's Certified GF Oats

Mac N Cheese -- Annie's Rice Pasta & Cheddar

Breakfast:

Waffles: Van Gluten Free Waffles. (I LOVE the mini's!!)

Donuts: Kinnikinnick Chocolate Glazed Donuts. Me + these donuts = LUV 4-EVA! (I also love the vanilla glazed donuts and the cinnamon sugar donuts. But the chocolate are my boo. <3)

Bagels: Gluten Free Creations (plain for me but they have several flavors).

English muffins: Glutino.

Snacks:

Glutino pretzels, Kinnikinnick Kinni-toos

Crackers: Nut Thins or Glutino crackers

Baking Mixes:

Cookies: Betty Crocker GF chocolate chip cookies

Brownies: Tie between Betty Crocker GF brownies and Whole Foods 365 brownies

Cake Mix: My favorite chocolate cake is either Sof'ella or Gluten Free Pantry Decadent Chocolate Cake. My favorite yellow cake is Betty Crocker's. For a different kind of cake, I am a BIG fan of Gluten Free Pantry Coffee Cake mix.

And I remember when I first started looking into how to bake gluten free, I was overwhelmed (understatement) on the sheer quantity of flours that were needed. Well, here is what you have to have on hand:

Rice flour (white and brown)

Potato Starch

Corn Starch

Tapioca Starch

Xantham Gum

Guar gum

Start with these, they are the most common ingredients used. Odds are, you'll need at least one, or a combination of most of these in nearly everything you make. These flours are often combined to make one master blend.

Over time, you can start collecting other flours such as sorghum, teff, almond meal, garfava (mixture of garbanzo and fava), and millet. Make sure you store all of your flours in airtight containers.

Well, there you go, a basic list of my favorite gluten free products. I'll update it if I think of something else. What are your favorite products? Can you think of something I missed?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gluten Free Country Store in Gilbert, AZ

You guys, I am so excited for this, I couldn’t even wait to tell you!

On November 6th, Gluten Free Country Store is opening in Gilbert, AZ!!

For those of you that live in AZ or will be passing through, their information is:

Gluten Free Country Store

3345 S Val Vista Dr, Suite 101 (202 Santan Freeway and Val Vista)

Gilbert, AZ 85297

480.889.9932

You can contact them by email at glutenfreecountrystore@yahoo.com.

The are going to be carrying gluten free products as well as sugar free and low calorie products! You’ll be able to find all your favorite brands (Glutino, Pamela’s, Mrs. Leeper’s, etc) all in ONE PLACE!! This is going to make my life (and YOUR life) so much easier! Once thing I HATE about living gluten free is that I have to not only order my favorite products online, but I always have to drive between Whole Foods or Sprouts just to find what I want/need.

My husband and I plan on going for their grand opening so I will let you know more after that!!

I’m so excited, I love when our gluten free options expand!! :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Kinnikinnick Foods to launch 4 new products!!!

First and foremost, I am sorry for my absence.

But on to this GREAT news! I am so excited for this, I can't even tell you.

Yesterday on Twitter, Kinnikinnick announced that they are going to be launching these 4 new products in the upcoming months:

Chocolate KinniKritters
Graham Style KinniKritters
Fudge KinniTOOS
Panko Style Breadcrumbs

KinniKritters are pretty much one of my absolute favorite gluten free snacks (I'm eating some right now, actually), so to say that I am looking forward to two new flavors would be an understatement! I cannot wait to try these!

The fudge KinniTOOS are available now on the Kinnikinnick website and according to Kinnikinnick's official Twitter page the other products will be available for order online in a few weeks, and will be in stores in the next 2-4 months.

Which products are you most excited about?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Kinni-Kritters Animal Cookies

I am just going to come right out and say it. I’m not going to beat around the bush or give you some long winded story about how these have been sitting in my cabinet for probably a year or more--ignored because I was convinced they would be terrible. I had no basis for expecting these to be awful other than the fact that I’ve had bad experiences with other gluten free “cookies.”

Kinni-Kitters Animal Cookies. Perhaps you’ve seen them. They look like this:

IMG_1397

These are surprisingly FANTASTIC. They are my new favorite (way to go, Kinnikinnick, because your gluten free chocolate dipped donuts were my former favorite. Well played.)

End of story.

(By the way, I am using these as a crust for a cheese cake. I’ll let you know how that goes.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hidden Valley Ranch Crunchy Cheddar Chicken

I first found this recipe on the Hidden Valley Ranch website (see recipe here) and drooled on my keyboard. This is a favorite recipe in our house, and is very easily converted to gluten free. It is also a no-fail, which is an big win in my book!

Here is what I changed from the original recipe:

First off, I use chicken breast tenders instead of chicken breasts. Personal preference. I like the flavor balance (flavor balance? Look at me getting all food blogger on you, lol) better with the tenders. The chicken doesn’t over power all the yummy goodness you put on it. Major plus side. It is also guaranteed to be cooked all the way through. I hate it when you get those chicken breasts that came from chickens that drank too much Muscle Milk and spent to much time at the Birdie Gym because I can never get them to cook all the way through! (I ALWAYS forget to pound them out, always. Never fails.)

Secondly, I obviously substitute gluten free corn flakes (mainstream corn flakes contain barley malt thus, not gluten free). These are what I used:

IMG_1381 

Thirdly (is that a word?), I don’t mess with all the measuring nonsense. I like to taste the cheese so I put lots of it. I like them a little spicy so I add about half of my grinder of pepper. I make it all look proportioned to the other ingredients on a plate. Looks good:

IMG_1385

Lastly, and the hubbo would say most importantly, I like to use “the good Ranch.” AKA not the store bought, pre-prepared Ranch in a bottle, but the Ranch you make with the seasoning packet. We’re Ranch snobs and that’s just the way we like it. This still tastes fantastic if you use the Ranch from the bottle.

So here’s how simple this all is. Combine crushed gluten free corn flakes, shredded white cheddar cheese, and salt & pepper (to taste) on a plate. On another plate, create a little Ranch swimming pool for all your chicken tender friends. Dunk the tenders in the Ranch, then put one side down in your crumb mixture, covering only one side. Place the tender crumb side up in a baking pan. After I have all the tenders coated and in the pan, I take whatever is left of the corn flake mixture and sprinkle over top, because I like mine crun-chay! It almost looks like an odd casserole when it’s done…

IMG_1388

They are individual tenders in there, swears. I had to cram them in there because I accidentally grabbed the smallest of my baking pans. But after I had half of the tenders in there I was committed to using it.

IMG_1392

Resist the urge to lick your fingers when you have all those cheesy corn flake crumbs all over your fingertips. You’ll have to trust me on this.

Put in in the oven at 350 degrees. Since the tenders are smaller than the breasts, I start checking them around 20 minutes for doneness. They typically take around 25 minutes.

Sorry, but I don’t have a picture of the finished product…it’s in my belly. :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Chocolate Dipped Donuts

The days of being deprived while being gluten free is O-V-E-R, folks.

I've had a running list in my head for as long as I've been gluten free of foods that I really, really miss. These are foods that I thought I'd never be able to enjoy again, mainly because I've never tried a substitution that I didn't spit out or throw out.

Within the last several months, I have found the gluten free version for ALL of them. Bread? Check. (Gluten Free Creations Honey Oat Bread.) Bagels? Check. (Gluten Free Creations. A-MA-ZING.) Cookies? Check. (Cookies From Home, and, more conveniently, Betty Crocker's new GF mix). Donuts?

I have been on the prowl for gluten free donuts. Donuts, like bagels, are something that I just refuse to make myself. Too difficult and tedious. And despite my LOVE for Gluten Free Creations (seriously love, love, LOVE them), I ordered their cinnamon sugar donuts and they were GROSS. It was like eating a churro-flavored kitchen sponge. It was nasty, and I threw them out.

I finally stumbled upon these little gems in my grocery store this weekend:



Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Chocolate Dipped Donuts. And, as you can see in the picture, they are also wheat free (obviously), dairy free, and soy free. My best friend Michelle (@ Gluten Free Gluttony) did a positive review on these a while back. Ever since then I've wanted to try them.

They were a pricey at $7.99 for the box of 6 small donuts. But I've been obsessing over donuts, so I gave in.

I made one this morning for breakfast, and for the record, they do not photograph well:


Straight from the freezer, you microwave them for less than a minute (took longer than the package stated) and then devour. They are dense, but not so bad that it ruins your donut experience. The flavor is good and the chocolated coating is very sweet! I sighed my relief and appreciation after the first bite. Finally. A good donut.

These donuts are delicious and will definitely satisfy any donut craving you might have. At the price, I probably will not keep these around all the time--just as a special treat. But you can bet that I'm not sharing the last five. :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

So I had originally planned a very different review of Betty Crocker's new gluten free chocolate chip cookies.

I was going to tell you that I was disappointed by this mix. I was going to tell you that I probably would not make these cookies again. I was going to tell you that I've never had good gluten free cookies and that these were only slightly better than the dozens of cookies that have met my garbage can.

So what changed?

Well, I guess I'll start from the beginning.

Since going gluten free, I have attempted chocolate chip cookies several times, every time ending in complete FAIL. Almost everytime, my cookies tasted like I dumped sand into the batter. The flavor, texture, everything was not right. Some just fell apart. Some spread out so thin on the baking sheet, that you could even remove them without your cookies becoming nothing but crumbs. Some stayed together but were inedible. Needless to say, I gave up on cookies and resigned myself to the fact that I would never enjoy home-baked cookies again. Was I sad? Maybe a little. But I had cakes and brownies to occupy my time..

Until a few days ago. I tried the new gluten free chocolate chip cookies from a local bakery in Tempe, AZ by the name of Cookies From Home. These cookies, literally, made both my husband and I stop and say, "Wait, are we sure these are gluten free?" You could NOT tell the difference. They were soft and chewy, tasted perfect, and had no trace of the tell-tale gluten free gritty, starchy texture. They were delightful and I ate a lot (two dozen-ish) in a matter of a few days (like...two. Okay, maybe three, but does that really make it any better?)

Now I am a cookie-aholic. The Betty Crocker GF cookie mix was, by far, the mix that I was the MOST excited about trying. I eagerly baked them up this weekend.

I felt positive about the results as I was mixing it up. How could Betty Crocker be wrong? The dough seemed dry and crumbly, but the box said it would. And it wasn't nearly as bad as some other doughs I've worked with. I followed the direction perfectly--I used a cool baking sheet for every batch and let the cookies cool for at least 2 minutes before removing them from the pan.



The cookies baked out to be very thin. So thin that if you held the cookie up to the light, you could see through it in some spots. They were also very delicate; a few fell apart. But, on the flip side, some held together perfectly.



Here's why I was going to give these a so-so review: these cookies just aren't the real thing. Shocking, I know. They taste gluten free. The texture is off and despite my best efforts, I couldn't ignore at first that underlying funky taste (what was that?). When you bit into a cookie, it almost felt to your month like you were eating a bunch of crumbs that were just haphazardly stuck together--if that makes sense. To be simple--these weren't even in the same ball park of awesomeness that Cookies From Home was.

So why the change of heart, you ask? Because I ate these cookies for breakfast for two days in a row. These cookies were demolished in our house before the weekend was over. They grew on me, and frankly, they weren't bad enough not to eat. I said I wouldn't make these again, but I would. Because when it comes down to it, I LOVE cookies. Just don't expect to take these to a company picnic and have people rave over them and go back for round two or three.

Odds are, you'll like these enough as well to make in your own home. I'm just warning you beforehand, make sure your expectations aren't too high. They aren't Mom's homemade Tollhouse deliciousness. Didn't stop me from devouring them though, or from going to pick up another box....

Monday, June 8, 2009

Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

If there is ever a reason to eat a slice of cake before dinner, it is Betty Crocker's gluten free yellow cake.

It is no secret to the gluten free community that Betty Crocker, as of June 1st, has unleashed it's new line of gluten free mixes. There are 4 total: yellow cake, devil's food cake, chocolate chip cookies, and brownies. I have scoured the shelves for what felt like ages (what do you mean, it's only been a week??) and last night we found them at Fry's!

My local store only carried the yellow cake and brownies. So, of course, I snatched them up. They sell for $4.49 each. Today, while on my lunch break, I found the chocolate chip cookies at the Fry's across the street. Apparently Fry's does not like devil's food cake, but 3 of the 4 mixes still makes me enthusiastically happy.

Never one to have a lot of patience, I baked up the gluten free yellow cake last night.

I couldn't even wait 15 minutes after it was done before I was slathering on the frosting! We chose lemon frosting.

Here is the slice that I am eating as we speak, thus spoiling my dinner (I don't care!) :





Straight from the oven, this cake is heavenly. It is light, fluffy, and moist, with no gritty texture. The edges of the cake are slightly dry, however. But trust me, it won't stop you from devouring every last crumb. The taste is better than you can even hope for. I've had some really bad gluten free yellow cake before, so bad that I've sworn off of even trying to bake any more. But, Betty Crocker's gluten free yellow cake mix did not leave me (or my husband) disappointed.


The next day, the cake is significantly more dense. But the density doesn't ruin the cake in the slightest. The flavor is fantastic (have I mentioned that?), and exactly how I remember yellow cake to taste. This cake paired with the lemon frosting is delicious; I highly recommend it.

I am so excited to have these new Betty Crocker gluten free mixes available. I know that whenever someone in my family wants to make a gluten free dessert that I can eat at family gatherings, seeing the familiar Betty Crocker name will greatly ease their worries. I can tell you that this yellow cake will be a staple in my pantry and my first choice for birthday cakes (or even whenever cakes). :)

Can't wait to hear what everyone else thinks! I'll update on the cookies and brownies as SOON as I make them--which probably won't be long from now!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Gluten Free Creations Honey Oat Bread

For those of you who have not heard of it, Gluten Free Creations is a 100% gluten free bakery in Phoenix, AZ. I frequently complain that people on the East Coast have access to WAAAYYY more gluten free goodies than us West Coast-ers, but here I am, a gluten free bakery within driving distance that I have known existed for at least a year, and this is my first time trying ANY of their products. LOL. I finally decided that I would probably never, ever remember to find the time to drive down there, so cravings for bagels and donuts led me to their website.

Their website requires a minimum order of $30.00, but luckily shipping was not expensive at all because I live in the same state. One of my major grievances is that I can't try gluten free food from East Coast based companies because I REFUSE to pay upwards of $40.00 to ship it to me (Ahem...JOAN'S). So, I ordered up a few extra goodies to try.

I decided to try a pre-made gluten free bread (which goes against almost all of my principles...they seem to always turn out terrible) for a couple of reasons:

1. I hate spending HOURS baking gluten free bread just so I can eat a damn sandwich. I thought sandwiches are supposed to be easy?!?

2. I can never ever cut my bread slices evenly. It's so bad. The top of the slice is like an inch and a half thick, while the bottom is paper thin. Makes for a lopsided (and thus, not so tasty) sandwich.

3. I have never once finished a loaf of bread that I have slaved away making. I don't slice ahead and freeze due to my lack of slicing skills, so it goes bad in the fridge within days. And then my heart cries when I throw it in the garbage.

I ordered their honey oat bread, which for a smaller-than-average-but-average-for-gluten-free loaf cost $8.55:


Along with being gluten free, this bread also contains no dairy, nuts, or soy ingredients. It says right on the front that the oats are certified gluten free.


Here is the loaf, to show you texture, because we all know that texture is make or break for gluten free bread.
In fact, I won't even buy/make a gluten free bread if I can't see the texture of the finished product beforehand. All those nooks and crannies are key!

Oh...you wanna know how it tasted? Hmm, let me think, it was...

FREAKIN' AMAZING!!

I have every intention of ordering loaf upon loaf of this bread and freezing it so I never ever ever have to bake bread again. This is light, fluffy, doesn't crumble at all, and has a lightly sweet flavor. Once toasted, it really doesn't taste that gluten free. I say it that way because to you or I, this is wins a gold freaking star for most amazing bread ever, but you could not substitute it to a "regular" person without them knowing something's up. However, I have no doubt that my (super amazing, incredible, uber supportive) husband would willingly eat this every day for the rest of his life if I really asked him too.

Here is my panini that I made using the bread last night:




Delicious bread without all the work! It doesn't get any better than that!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mixteca Mexican Food

If Brandon is ever in Glendale (which is fairly frequently), I don't even have to guess what he is getting for lunch. He swears by this Mexican food restaurant called Mixteca. I've heard him tell me countless times about their super soft corn tortillas and their shredded chicken meat that comprises their sinfully delicious chicken tacos.

Two days ago while in Glendale for work, Brandon inquired about whether or not their tacos were gluten free. The owner said that he could very easily make sure they were gluten free. All he had to do was really scrub down the grill, and if Brandon gave him some time, it would be no problem at all.

So that's what Brandon did. He returned to Mixteca after work to pick up 4 chicken tacos to bring home for dinner so I could try the now infamous Mixteca chicken tacos. And you know what this frugal wife loves? It only cost 10 bucks.

My first thought upon seeing these tacos was, Oh my gosh, that's a HUGE taco. They do not skimp on anything! I was so hungry that I literally INHALED my first (enormous) taco before even considering taking a photo! HA!


They are double wrapped in two of the softest corn tortillas that you will ever encounter. How do they do that? Because I would surely enjoy corn tortillas a LOT more if I could always get them that soft and pliable. It didn't even bother me that there were two of them...normally that would be corn tortilla overload for me, as I'm not that wild about them.

These pictures really don't do them justice. This was my second taco after I had already taken 2 bites out of it, lol. That's not easy to work around. :)

The chicken meat is SO GOOD. Its tender, with peppers mixed throughout. And my favorite ingredient? CINNAMON! It's not overwhelmed by cinnamon, but its just enough to grab your taste buds and make you say, wow! They also come with salsa on the side that is fantastic.

All in all, these tacos started a party in my mouth and I loved every second. I might even need to find an excuse to drive through Glendale (which is like, an hour and a half from my house) on a weekly basis...

They don't have a website that I can find, so here is their information. I definitely recommend checking them out if you are ever in the area!

Mixteca
6731 W Bell Rd
Glendale, AZ 85308
623-776-3511

I love it when we find somewhere that is more than willing to accomodate a gluten free diet! And finally, a place to eat Mexican food that ISN'T Chipotle! Hooray for having choices!

My Gluten Free Wedding! (Lots of pics!)

So, as you probably already know (because it's OLD NEWS by now...lol!), Brandon and I got married on April 4th!

It turned out EXACTLY like we wanted: small, simplistic, and FUN! Oh, and for the most part, it was gluten free!!

There were only like 60 people there, which was great. At first we were concerned that the wedding kept growing and growing, but in the end, the amount of people there was perfect. The weather was not as good as we had hoped, but it was better than every other day that week! Apparently in Arizona, we don't get rain in the Spring, just lots of wind and dust! The whole week (and particularly the day before the wedding--it was the worst) had winds of 35 mph with gusts up to 50! There was dust everywhere. Did I forget to mention that our entire wedding and reception was outdoors in a park? Yeah. Fortunately, the wind died down on our wedding day to about 10 mph and eventually stopped in the evening. It was only about 75 that day (it was 85-ish the rest of the week!) so it got COLD at night. Luckily the rental place (Affordable Rentals in Tempe) were AWESOME. We managed to get ahold of them, AFTER HOURS, and they rushed like 6 or 8 heaters out to us. It made a WORLD of difference, and everyone could get their dance on without shivering!

I made my grand entrance on our Arctic Cat, driven by my dad. It was definitely an original idea and reflected our life/personalities perfectly! It was even decorated by the groom himself with tulle (you'll see it in the pictures!) It was definitely a conversation piece!

We had John Ore, a Justice of the Peace from Chandler, as our officiant. Let me tell you, if you are in Arizona and are getting married, we HIGHLY recommend him! He brought a little humor to the ceremony, which all our guests loved (and so did we!).

And now, to the important stuff. Gluten free food!

As I mentioned before, we had our wedding cake done by Sugarlips Cakery. The cake was absolutely beautiful. It was 3 tiers, with the top tier being gluten free. It was a vanilla or white gluten free cake with strawberry and buttercream filling. It was so good. Then the bottom two tiers were regular vanilla cake and raspberry filling. The groom said it was amazing. AND the best part is, they separated the top tier from the others with TWO plate-thingys (I can't for the life of me think of what they're called right now, lol), one the exact size of the cake, and the other a little bigger to make sure none of it touched! HOORAY!

The catering was done by Crackers and Company Cafe. I will never, ever, EVER be able to sing enough praises for Crackers and Company. Seriously. They were absolutely AMAZING!! From the moment we contacted them, they were completely on board for preparing the meal gluten free. They were so helpful and so detailed in the menu. We ended up having:

Pork loin (which had some sort of apple glaze or something...incredible)
A carving station of turkey breast (with cranberry sauce on the side)
Roasted red potatoes (that had peppers in it..everyone LOVED them)
A vegetable medley
Salad topped with all kinds of goodies: mushrooms, peppers, etc (croutons and dressings on the side)

They had a bread display, away from everything. They had servers at the buffet table and totally understood the importance of making sure that spoons did not travel. These people blew my mind. We spoke with the owner directly (she was even at our wedding) and they went over EVERY single thing that was going into the food. They sent me a fax of photocopies of ingredient labels for everything, even the meats. They faxed me copies of emails they sent with their providers, ensuring everything's gluten free status. They even told me that if the meat was not gluten free they would go down to AJ's the day of the wedding and buy me my own pork loin! Oh, and I had originally wanted lemon herb chicken for the menu, but picky eaters created a problem (read: my DAD), so the chef offered to make my maid of honor and I our own lemon herb chicken breasts, aside from everything. They were so accomodating! The chef called me the day before the wedding to read me the ingredient label of something before he made the apple glaze. The owner went to back and grabbed the ranch dressing container they use at the restaurant and let Brandon read the label himself. And to top everything off, they said if it ended up raining on our wedding day, that we could move our reception to their restaurant (not even 5 minutes down the street) and have it all to ourselves at no cost!! OMG, right? I could not have wished, hoped, or DREAMED for a better wedding catering experience. They are incredible, friendly, helpful people at Crackers and Company, and seriously, if you are in Arizona, stop by their restaurant--they have a few locations. (And no I'm not getting paid to say all this, LOL! They just did a phenominal job and really went above and beyond; they deserve all the business they get! I've never been to a single restaurant where I've gotten such great service.)

And now...to the pictures. Our photography was done by Cayla Rynerson Photography...she did such a great job on these photos! She was also a lot of fun and VERY affordable!

These are in no particular order..they uploaded all funny. But there's too many to go back and rearrange :)





Our first kiss as husband and wife!


The gluten free cake! Neither of us trusting the other to not smash it in our face :)


The Arctic Cat!

I now pronounce you Mr and Mrs Brandon S.


The ceremony. It was beautiful! Everything we wanted!



My maid of honor, Michelle, and I!

I love this picture!

The wedding cake! Top tier was gluten free!

A friend of mine called this photo, "erotic." LOL!




My incredible sexy groom! My favorite pics of him.


The boys!
This is very close to being my favorite picture! It's hard to decide, but I LOVE it. Cayla Rynerson Photography...for real, she's awesome.

Husband and wife!

LOVE IT!
So there you go, now I'm a gluten free newlywed!