Sunday, January 18, 2015

Book Review & Giveaway: Gluten Free on a Budget (Plus Paula Deen Riding a Ham)


...yelled Paula Deen as she rode her honey-baked ham off into the sunset. (Don't use your imagination because there is no way it will come close to this picture.) 

I KNEW the Paula Deen Riding things meme would come in handy one day. I just didn't think it would be four years later while writing a post about my friend Chandice's new book.. Ok brain, I see how it is. You do you. 

Chandice and I first met (in real-life) in September when she came to NYC to host a 'Celebrate Celiac' event.   

Since then she's created a book, which she somehow managed while also creating a human (baby Lucyella!). And running the #1 gluten free giveaway site Gluten Free Frenzy, and hosting events through Gluten Free Calendar, and contributing to Delight Gluten Free Magazine.  

I can't even keep a succulent alive. <insert crying emoji>.

Gluten Free on a Budget was written by Chandice and her mom, Tana, to support others on their gluten free journey. They explain that eating gluten free doesn't have to break the bank, and share recipes that you just KNOW they've eaten as a family countless times. It really is a peek into their lives, and their kitchens. 

Also helps that Chandice and Tana are quite possibly the sweetest, most welcoming mother-daughter duo, which comes across in their storytelling. When I was reading it I felt actual hugs. (Though the 'hugs' may have been from the blanket I was cocooned since my mom keeps the heat at a balmy 65.)

Here's what you can expect:

  • A number of helpful sections in the beginning that cover everything from stocking your gluten free pantry, to buying in bulk to save money, to packing fun, bento-box-style lunches. (Hello where were these when I was in elementary school! And middle school.. and high school.)
  • Countless recipes for every part of a meal, including gluten free remakes of family classics like fluffy buttermilk pancakes, chicken pot pie, cheesy chive biscuits, and brown butter snickerdoodle cookies.
  • Tana's tips: most recipes include a tip from Tana about choosing better-for-you ingredients (e.g. buying nitrate free sausage), or cutting costs (e.g. make your own buttermilk).  
  • Pictures with almost every recipe. This is SO important to me when picking out a cookbook. You eat with your eyes! 
  • Recipe forwards from Chandice and Tana sharing their family history with each and every dish.  

And here's a quick peek inside:

Like what you see? Click here to order your copy on Amazon, or enter the giveaway below. Or both! Go crazy! See if I care! (Eeeeep sorry some snark just crept out. LOVE YA GUYZ.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
And just for good measure......

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Two 4-Ingredient, No-Cook New Year's Eve Appetizers, Take II

This time last year, I shared two four-ingredient appetizers that are perfect for New Year's Eve. You can find them here, if you'd like. (They're both my mom's recipes so all kudos to that fine woman. My family's been making these for ever and ever.)

This year, I wanted to do the same. I'm a big fan of small bites that are assembly only (i.e. no cooking), and that look pretty all lined up on a platter. Classy appetizers balance out plastic champagne flutes, I figure.... 

They DO NOT balance out losing your phone in your own apartment sometime after midnight. Maybe I'll find it when I move out? 

These two recipes totally fit the bill, and would you look at that? They're each four ingredients. -ish. 

They also both involve cheese, as all good things do. I skipped the crackers since I'm pretty sure you can navigate that one on your own. Plus, these one-biters are naturally gluten free, which takes the guess-work out of finding gluten free crackers that don't taste like cardboard or packing peanuts. (Though put some cheese on that cardboard, and... yep gone.)

How are you guys ringing in 2015? I'll be in a house with a broken oven, so if you have any more no-cook or stove-top recipes please share in the comments! (I'm thinking tacos for dinner - extra guac.) If you'll be somewhere with an oven, these lemon pepper chicken wings are out. of. this. world. I'm already jealous.

Catch ya next year, friends!

Appetizer Recipe 1: Caprese Bites with Balsamic Drizzle 

- Use cherry tomatoes, NOT grape tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are rounder (as opposed to oblong) so they'll stay upright on the platter, believe it or not. The Kitchn breaks down the difference between the two here.

Cherry tomatoes (see note)
Mozzarella cheese, cubed 
Fresh basil
Balsamic glaze (like this from Trader Joe's)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Core the cherry tomatoes by cutting around the stem-end with a paring knife; angle the tip of the knife towards the center of the tomato. Don't cut all the way through to the bottom!

Use a small spoon or the back of a utensil to scrape the seeds and juices out of each cored tomato. (I usually do this right over a garbage can then shake the tomato upside down a few times.)

To assemble each bite, wrap one small basil leaf or half of a large basil leaf around one cube of mozzarella. Stuff the basil-wrapped mozzarella into one of the tomatoes. Repeat with all of the tomatoes, and arrange on a platter. 

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the assembled caprese bites. Drizzle with the balsamic glaze right before serving. 

Appetizer Recipe 2: Brie-Apple Bites with Pecans and Honey

Granny smith apples, sliced and tossed with lemon juice or apple juice to prevent browning
Brie cheese, sliced 
Pecans, roughly chopped and toasted 

To assemble, top each apple slice with a piece of brie, and a few toasted pecan pieces. Arrange on a platter, and drizzle with honey. (Try running your honey bottle under warm water or resting in a bowl of warm water so it pours easier.)

Possible Substitutions
- Instead of apple: sturdy pear slices
- Instead of brie: goat cheese, blue cheese, sharp cheddar
- Instead of pecans: walnuts, almonds, pistachios
- Instead of honey: warmed jam (maybe raspberry), balsamic glaze 
- Add prosciutto

Monday, December 22, 2014

Recipe: Rosemary Pomegranate Syrup // Champagne Cocktail

'Juice sacs.' Just what I wanted to see when I googled 'pomegranate' right before bed last night.

....and visions of juice sacs danced in their heads. 

Nooooo, Internet, no. Can we all agree to never use those two words together again? Maybe just banish the second word from the English language entirely? (With the exception that I may bust it out on Christmas just to skeeve out my cousins... 'tis the season!)

For the purposes of not ruining this beautiful cocktail with our filthy minds (ok my filthy mind), let's stick to arils. Or seeds. Whatever you'd like to call those glimmering little gems one finds inside a pomegranate. And then stained onto your fingertips. And on the collar of your white shirt. And smeared on the rug, which someone likely tracked in from the kitchen. And holy, what how did pomegranate juice get on the dog? WHO WIPED THEIR HANDS ON THE DOG.

Aahhh so there's a reason Trader Joe's sells containers of pomegranate seeds. I now see the light.

Truth be told though, I'm so excited to get you drunk share this recipe with you that I don't care how many obscure places I find pomegranate stains over the next three days. 

Ain't she perty?? The crimson syrup with the deep green rosemary is like the closest thing to drinking Christmas. 

This is also a great cocktail to allow guests to help themselves to, and to show off your DIY skillz. Bottle with spout plus twine plus tag equals most Pinteresting person at the party. Arrange all of the ingredients with a little instructions card, and voila - you're free to set up camp at the cheese plate. Which is where you'll find me too, so cheers to THAT!

I wouldn't want to leave you hanging with just booze right before Christmas, so here are a few appetizer recipes in case you're still looking for ideas:

And for good measure, a Cranberry Lemon Cake that Santa actually requested I include because it explodes with Christmas spirit like Buddy the Elf wouldn't even believe. 

Wishing you warm company, great food, and minimal stomach issues this holiday season. Enjoy, friends!

Recipe: Rosemary Pomegranate Champagne Cocktail

Ingredients (for syrup; makes just over 2 cups)
1 cup 100% pomegranate juice (like POM Wonderful)
1 cup water 
1 cup sugar
3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Ingredients (for cocktail)
Chilled champagne or prosecco 
Pomegranate arils (or seeds, or juice sacs.. AHH I can't stop.)
Rosemary sprigs, trimmed into small pieces 

Instructions (to make syrup)
Add pomegranate juice, water and sugar to a saucepan. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook for three minutes, uncovered, until all of the sugar is dissolved in the liquid. 

Remove from heat. Submerge rosemary sprigs in the liquid. Cover with a lid, and allow the rosemary to steep for 10 to 20 minutes.

Remove the rosemary sprigs, and allow the syrup to cool completely before using in cocktails. (You can speed this up by putting it in the fridge or freezer.)

Can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge.

Instructions (to make cocktail)
Pour about 2 tablespoons of the rosemary pomegranate syrup into a champagne flute. (3 tablespoons for a sweeter drink.) Fill the rest of the way with chilled champagne. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and a small sprig of rosemary. 

(Could also do the same with sparkling water instead of champagne for homemade soda!)
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