Product Review: Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps + Recipe Bonus

Whitney's Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps

Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps

Product: Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps – $4.00+

‘Twas the month of December and I was starting to contrive
Brand new recipes for when my Cuisine Cube was due to arrive…

Yes!  The December cube is here!  It arrived on Monday and I happily dug right in, wondering what sort of goodness lay under the flaps of cardboard and paper.  What I was met with was a delightful array of items.  It was like Christmas had come early as I sorted through the breakfast, baking, lunch/snack, dessert dinner, and other dessert options.  I was ready to dive right in and have a little of everything.  But, self-control does still in handy at times.

First of all, let’s discuss Cuisine Cube.  I’ve blogged on items I’ve received since signing up in May.  Cuisine Cube is a gluten-free delivery service put together by a team of enthusiastic eaters, food professionals, and allergy suffers from New York City.  They have scoured the country looking for lesser known brands made by small artisan producers that taste better than the highly processed and subpar items you can find at virtually every grocery store.  This was a way to help support small businesses.  These products are meticulously selected and then delivered right to your door.  So, you get to try a new brand or item you may never have discovered otherwise.  It’s a great, efficient, and fantastic service.  One that I always look forward to each month.

So, this month, I selected Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps to lead off my month of delicious eating.  I thought they looked a lot like the Glutino Bagel Chips that you can find in most grocery stores these days.  But, I didn’t just want to eat these straight out of the package…or just throw them on top of a salad.  I wanted to do something a little different with them.  And I did.

But…not without trying one first.  I can’t just re-purpose a product without trying it out as it is first…

There you have it…I opened up the package and popped one of the crisps into my mouth.  And I was immediately greeted with the crunchy texture.  I love that for these kinds of crisps.  They are called crisps for a reason…they should be crispy.  But, even more importantly…the flavor!  Before I had to go gluten-free…and before I started to really pay attention to what I ate, I was a Cheeze-It connoisseur.  And the cheddar flavor in these crisps…reminded me of those.  But better.  WAY better.  I was almost sad to repurpose these for my recipe…because they were amazing on their own.

But my creative chef mind was calling…

So…the rest of these amazing and delicious crisps went into my food processor and got pulverized.

Now, before I share this recipe with you, let’s talk about the Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps.  As far as ingredients go, these are made from sorghum flour, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour, xanthan gum, Vermont Farmstead’s Farmstead Cheddar, milk, white vinegar, brown sugar, baking soda, kosher salt, dry mustard and cayenne pepper.  These are produced in a designated gluten-free facility.

Nutritionally speaking, a serving is 1 ounce of these crisps…and the package holds 4 servings.  One serving will provide you with 120 calories and 3 grams of fat.  You will be consuming 10 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, and 2 grams of sugar.  In addition, these have 1 gram of fiber and 3 grams of protein.

So, what came of these crisps?

Well, back before I became a vegetarian, and definitely back before I was diagnosed as a Celiac…one of my favorite things to order at Red Lobster was the Fried Calamari appetizer.  My roommate would eat the calamari…I wanted the fried broccoli and red peppers that were served with it.  Honestly, one of my favorite foods (and definitely not good for you by any means…but it was so good)…which I hadn’t even thought about in years…

But I happened to have a red bell pepper and some broccoli from my CSA bin in my fridge…and now…a breading.  I do not fry anything.  I just don’t.  So, I set out to recreate the infamous Red Lobster vegetables…by baking them.  And thanks to Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps…I now had the perfect gluten-free breading.

Recipe: Crispy Broccoli and Red Peppers

Crispy Broccoli and Red Peppers (made with Whitney's Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps)

Crispy Broccoli and Red Peppers (made with Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps)

Servings: 2-4
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1-2 egg whites (beaten)
  • 4 ounces gluten-free breading (I used a package of Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large plastic bag, place in the broccoli florets and red pepper slices.  Add the egg white(s).  Close the bag and shake to coat.  Add the gluten-free breading.  Reseal the bag and shake again.  Spread the vegetables onto a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until crispy.

~*~*~

Guess what?  This was so close to how I remember the original tasting.  I love the flavors that baking something in the oven can really coax out of things like vegetables.  And the Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps made the perfect coating for these vegetables.  It gave it a nice cheese flavor on top of turning a beautiful golden color in the oven and really making the apartment smell fantastic.  I was smelling a great cheddar aroma after these were in the oven for only 5 minutes.  Way beyond impressed.  I sort of want these in my pantry for always.

So, if you are curious about the Whitney’s Castleton Gluten Free Cheddar Crisps, head over to their site and read more about their products and order some for yourself.  Or order from Cuisine Cube’s stock up site!

And if you want to give Cuisine Cube a try, head over to their Web site and check out their subscription options…joining for a monthly, three month, or six month subscription.  This Cube (box of goodies) will arrive at your door within the first week of each month and you will have at least 5 full-size gluten-free items inside.  I encourage you to give it a try…

…because I never would have heard of these crisps without the aid of Cuisine Cube.

And yeah…they were really fantastic…on their own and in my dish.

Recipe: Gluten Free Melted Snowman Cookies

It’s my favorite time of year!  I love the Christmas holidays.  Why?  Because I get to make people some of my baked goodies.  And I absolutely love doing this and then handing them over.  I do this for the people at my bank…the gas station…my neighbors…my adoptive family…and my apartment office.  I do it for friends and family.  I just love, love, love, love to create something in my kitchen and then bring a little joy and sweetness to the people in my life.

Well, as my roommate and I have made friends with our new downstairs neighbors…we wanted to make some Christmas cookies for them.  After asking if their young son had any food allergies (he doesn’t)…I went ahead with my plan to make these adorable Melted Snowman Cookies.  I was just crossing my fingers the entire time that they would work out.  They did.  They require a little work when it comes to the faces…but totally worth it.

Recipe: Gluten Free Melted Snowman Cookies

Gluten Free Melting Snowman Cookies

Gluten Free Melting Snowman Cookies

Servings: 20-28 cookies
Time: Prep 50 minutes; Bake 9-11 minutes

Ingredients:

  •  1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used Cup 4 Cup)
  • 1 pound vanilla-flavored candy coating, coarsely chopped
  • 20-28 bite-size chocolate-covered peanut butter cups, unwrapped
  • Mini M&Ms for the face (which I separated ahead of time while the cookies cooled so they were ready to go!)1/4 teaspoon salt1 egg
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, beat shortening and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg, milk, and vanilla until combined. Beat in the cocoa powder and as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour.

Shape dough into twenty 1-3/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until edges are just firm. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Place cooled cookies on prepared baking sheet. In a medium microwave-safe bowl microwave candy coating on 50% power for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring every 30 seconds. Spoon melted coating over each cookie to cover cookie and resemble melted snow. While coating is still tacky, add a peanut butter cup for a top hat and decorate with mini M&Ms or other candies to resemble snowman faces.

Let stand until set.

~*~*~

These cookies are not only adorable but they are amazing too!  Lots of flavor.  And they are so easy to make, but it looks like you spent hours in the kitchen making them.  The difficult part is letting that candy coating cool so you can package them up.  HA!  If you are looking for a cute Christmas cookie idea…I highly recommend these!

Happy gluten-free baking, sweeties!

An exciting partnership…

Cuisine Cube

Cuisine Cube

Hey fellow readers!

Many of you are aware that I am over the moon in love with my monthly delivery of gluten-free products from Cuisine Cube.  Well, I recently entered into a partnership with them and will be reviewing at least one product from each cube for the next three months.  Each review will include a recipe.  And…no pun intended…I hope to create some great recipes that are outside of the box.  HA!

I encourage all of you to look into signing up for Cuisine Cube.  I am so glad I did.  I have been introduced to amazing products I never would have known about otherwise.

So, watch this space each month for an exciting post and new recipe!

Product Review: Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch Cereal

Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch Cereal

Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch Cereal

Product: Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch Cereal – $4.99+

So, recently, Envirokidz (owned by Nature’s Path) put out two brand new gluten-free cereals in the Envirokidz line of cold cereals.  And yes, I have no shame in eating a “kids” cereal.  I mean, come on, my parents send me Freedom Foods Tropico’s in the mail so I can get my “Froot Loop” fix.  Yeah…kids cereals are often more delicious than the grown up versions anyway.  And who puts an age limit on which cereals you eat?  My dad could polish off a box of Coco Puffs on his own…and did on numerous times…even though the cereal was bought for the three kids in my family.

Go figure.

Let it be said that when I saw that one that had the word “cinnamon” attached to it…I immediately knew that I needed to try it.  Honestly.  I mean, my favorite cookie is a snickerdoodle…cinnamon and I are, like, BFFs…or something.  Sure, the other one was chocolate…but my eye was drawn to the box with the happy elephant on the cover.  Cinnamon Jungle Munch.

I first spotted this cereal while out of town…and not in a place where I could just bring it home with me.  So, when it turned up soon after at one of my local natural food stores, I added some wiggle room to the food budget and picked it up.  It’s been a couple of weeks, but I needed to get caught up on blogs before opening a new cereal.

That happened…Monday.

My anticipation was high as I popped open the box and tore into the little plastic bag thingie that keeps everything fresh.  I measured out a serving, dumped on some almond milk, and took a bite.

And hated it.  I mean, seriously hated it.  Not enough to spit it out or not polish off the rest of the box (although it’s really hard to convince myself to eat it now).  I don’t know…it’s lacking a bit of sweetness.  The cinnamon just sort of overwhelms everything.  It’s more spicy than sweet.  The little corn puffs are coated in this and it just doesn’t work for me.  It just tastes…off. And I am, sadly, not a fan.  I love the crunch, but the flavor is just…eh…not right.  Too much cinnamon, not enough to balance it out.  So…I’m stuck with cereal for at least a week that I dislike.  Yay.

The Nature’s Path Web site describes Envirokidz Jungle Munch as a cereal with the “delicate sweetness of cinnamon.”  They also claim kids will love it.  Maybe kids will.  But this adult is giving it a hefty and loud…NO!

Let’s talk about ingredients!  Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch Cereal is made from organic whole grain corn meal, organic corn meal, organic brown sugar, organic molasses, organic cinnamon and sea salt.  That’s it.  It is gluten-free, cholesterol free, vegan, non-GMO, and made with whole grains.

As far as nutrition goes…a serving of Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch Cereal is 3/4 cup.  In this serving, you are taking in 120 calories and less than 1 gram of fat.  A serving also gives you 80 mg sodium and 9 grams of sugar.  I admit, that’s good for sugars in a cold cereal.  And you will be consuming 2 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein.  So, you won’t feel full, but you won’t feel like you haven’t eaten either.

Cereals are not a one-size-fits-all sort of thing.  What I dislike, others may think is the greatest thing.  But this cereal really failed to impress me.  Which is too bad, because I was practically bouncing off the walls wanting to try it, once I was aware that it existed.  So, if you like cinnamon, you may or may not like it.  This cinnamon lover…definitely didn’t like it.  Maybe next time I’ll stick with the chocolate one.

Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, IN (November 27, 2014)

Me after finishing the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast - New Albany, Indiana

Me after finishing the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, Indiana

Race: Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast

Place: New Albany, Indiana

Date: November 27, 2014

Time: 38:15

One does not simply Turkey Trot in New Albany, Indiana.  Oh no.  Not here.  In New Albany…we have what is known as a “Foot Feast.”  What, pray tell, is the difference?  Nothing.  But, why trot for turkey or dash for drumsticks when you can simply feast on everything!

I love the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast.  Regardless of the weather being atrociously cold most Thanksgiving mornings around here, when all is said and done…I adore this race.  It is, literally, right outside my door.  Held at the 4-H Fairgrounds right across the street from my apartment complex.  It doesn’t get any more convenient than that.  It remains the least stressful race that I run…every year.

So, leave it to me and my Type A, Virgo mind to stress me out.

First of all, the night before Thanksgiving is always…I repeat…always super busy for me.  This year, I was preparing desserts to take to dinner.  But first, I needed to pick up my packet at the 4-H Fairgrounds (which I did on my lunch break), then, after work, traverse traffic over to Frankfort Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky to pick up my special holiday order from Annie May’s Sweet Café.  Gluten-free stuffing and gluten-free croissant rolls awaited.  There was no holding me back.  And…it was the eve of a race.  And while Cathy and I almost went to Jason’s Deli for soup that evening, we instead ended up across the parking lot at Blaze Pizza.  Keeping with tradition…gluten-free pizza the night before a race.  I think, in the end, it made me feel a little more at ease noshing on a thin-crust gluten-free and vegan pizza.

Afterwards, we were winging back to the apartment so that I could start baking my gluten-free and vegan marbled pumpkin cheesecake and start putting together pink salad…for desserts the following day.  It took up the rest of the night and I found myself shifting things in the fridge much later than I would have liked, but getting both the cheesecake and the pink salad inside.  Tight fit…but they were in and chilling.  That was the important thing.

Tea…then sleep.

I slept really well, waking up around 6 a.m. with the coffee brewing.  As I didn’t really need to be in any big rush I just sort of ducked into my closet and started pulling out what I was going to wear.  Capri pants, my thermal top with the turtle neck, and compression sleeves.  Done.  I dressed.  I glanced out the window to see if I could see the finish line set-up going on.  What greeted me next, however, was SNOW.  S-N-O-W.

“Awww…hell!” I said.

I think I kept hoping that it was an illusion or a dream…but each time I checked…the white stuff was still there.  I ate breakfast when my roomie staggered out…which consisted of cereal.  Then, after puttering around for a little while (which I should have been stretching), my roomie went to go and prepare herself for spectating.  She came back out and walked over to the front door, pulling it open.

In rushed this cold, wintery gust of air that literally blew right through me.  I sat up from the rug I was just lounging on.  “Oh. My. God.  Do I need another layer?”

She shrugged and went back into her room.  And I was left to ponder the age-old…how to dress for this race problem.

Joy.

After a lot of back and forth, while Cathy suited up in 5 layers to stay warm…I decided to suck it up (gluten-free) cupcake and just wear the top I had on.  I could keep my fleece on until go time.  And with Cathy bundled up and me really not wanting to step outside…the time had come to make our way down to the 4-H Fairgrounds.  Just a short walk across the parking lot of our apartment building.  But in the cold air…not as much fun.

Our downstairs neighbor was unloading stuff from her car and she saw us and asked if I was running this morning.  I told her I was doing the 5 miler right across the street.  She wished me luck.  We continued down toward the road and a window of one of the vehicles parked in the drive of the apartment complex rolled down the window.  It was Art from my spin class.  He and his family were doing the run too.  We talked briefly and he introduced me to his wife who was really curious about my marathon running.  And then…he went to stay warm for a few more minutes and I went over to the base camp…the fairgrounds.

Runners were huddled together trying to keep warm.  I noted who the elite runners were.  This is evident by their lack of clothing on seriously cold days…the singlets with the short-shorts.  And walking around like it’s really 90 degrees out and we’re just all big babies.  These, friends, are people who win races.  I am NOT one of these people!  Remember, I debated an extra layer.  So, I stretched, because I forgot to do it in the warmth of my apartment, and not soon after, Freddie was having everyone fill up the street because this race starts at 9 a.m. SHARP.  I joined the masses and moved up toward the front of the line, without being in front.  There was still some traffic trying to come through, so we made room.  Some brave souls ran sprints through the cars.  I just stayed off to the side and tried to stay warm.  I had shed my fleece jacket at this point.  And with the wind, it was biting cold that morning.

Finally, the cars cleared and we spread out.  I moved more toward the other side of the road.  Fred let us know that he would give us the on your marks command and a whistle.  This year…he blew the whistle.

We were off.

I was not running this year for time. I couldn’t.  Not with the foot problem, the broken toe, and the lack of running (except for crazy distance races) since July.  Honestly…I took so much time off this year, I felt like a freakin’ tortoise as we started up the first hill to go over the overpass.  I usually incorporate this route in some way, shape, or form, in my training in the summer.  But as I wasn’t allowed to run all freakin’ summer…the route felt brand new to me.  You’d think my legs would remember it.  Well…maybe it was the icy cold morning, but…they felt like they had never run it before.

As we crossed over the interstate, there was a patch of ice on the overpass.  Everyone near me started yelling “ICE!,” so I did the logical thing and quickly moved away.  I sprained my ankle last year and required physical therapy after slipping on ice.  I’m done with injuries, okay?  Freakin’ done.  I’m still working on the recovery.  So…yeah…I moved.  Down the hill and to the light where we make our first turn.  One mile…done.

The rolling ups and downs of Mount Tabor road are what we are greeted with.  It feels good, now that my legs have warmed up that first mile.  I wish I could say the same for me.  I could no longer feel my face.  I wasn’t even sure it was still attached.  Pressing on, I took the hills as I usually do…with power.  I figure, I want to earn the downhill recovery, I’m going to best the hills.  And these weren’t bad.  Nope.  Mile 2…done after turning onto Grant Line Road.

Grant Line Road takes us to Sam Peden Community Park.  We duck inside near the fire department.  This is where the water stop is located.  I think most people decided it was too cold to deal with water as more people than usual just ran right past the group manning the table.  We head up an incline and it levels off (no downhill) to take us around the park.  At the path where the 2-mile walk cuts across…is Mile 3.  Two more to go.  And we now get to the most difficult part.

After Mile 3, you get this small, steady incline to take you to another leveled off spot.  Here, you round the corner and go through the gate at the other end of the park.  A lot of people who live in the apartments there came out to cheer.  One guy shouted, “All the kings horses and all the kings men…”  I don’t know what that means, but he was clapping and shouting, and it was needed.  Exit park on a nice downhill.  Then start your first of three hills.  Schell Lane is a beast.  A freakin’ BEAST!

I actually have always embraced the challenge of Schell Lane.  I don’t know why.  I hate running hills…and that’s all this road is.  Three uphills and two downhills with a nice downhill waiting as you turn the corner and hit Daisy Lane.  I ran Schell Lane like I always do – with intention.  And, I loved heading up that last hill and seeing these kids out in the yard screaming, “GO RUNNERS!” as we all worked our way up the steepest of the climbs, to earn our reward…a flat segment leading into the turn…then the nice downhill.

Running down Daisy Lane makes you feel so free and alive.  It feels so easy because it is one hell of a downhill.  It takes you right into that 4th mile.  I actually peeked at the clock as I ran past the mile marker.  I knew I was going to have a slower time this year.  But, I figured that going into it.  Time to just make that last mile count.

Down to the traffic light and make the turn onto Green Valley Road.  You’ve come full circle almost.  Only half a mile away is the finish line, back at the 4-H Fairgrounds.  I run this stretch a lot.  I know where the rolling hills are.  And yet…at this point, my feet wanted to do little in regards to getting me to that finish line.  It was the cold weather.  My body hates cold weather.  My muscles just don’t fire the same.  But, I turned it on and gave it my best push and soon, I was rounding the corner to the drive of the 4-H Fairgrounds and pushing hard to the finish line, with Cathy screaming at me from the sidelines.  There were very few spectators out this year.  I think the cold weather kept them inside.

But…finish I did.  I dropped the bottom tag of my bib into the raffle box and went to grab some water.  Cathy met me on the other side of the main hall and we debated whether to stick around for awards or not.  Traditionally, we do.  And if you do place in your age division, Freddie says you have to be there to claim your award.  That’s just how he does it.  So…after debating on whether to go shower and get ready for the drive to Corydon for Thanksgiving or to stick around, I finally decided to stick around…at least for a little while.

This turned out to be…of little use this year.  There was a timing mat issue…which they were working on resolving.  So, they went ahead and gave out some of the raffle drawing awards.  And then they did the top three male and female finishers.  No new faces there.  Not this year.  The first male finisher, Ben Hubers, finished in 25:05.  The first female, Sarah Peace, finished in 28:14.  The times were slower this year and a lot of that was on account of the cold weather.

Me with Santa after the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast - New Albany, Indiana

Me with Santa after the Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast – New Albany, Indiana

Anyway…they finished up the raffle and then Fred announced that they were still sorting out age division awards, so they would have that posted on the Web site and if you won an age division award, you could pick up your award at Pacers & Racers on Grant Line Road for a week.  After that…they were gone.

So…as it turns out, I ran this years Fast Freddie Festive Five Mile Foot Feast almost 2 minutes slower than last year, finishing with a time of 38:15.  I was 152/928 finishers this year.  I was the 26th female to cross the finish line.  And lo and behold…I was 3rd in my age division.  Go figure.  So, the one year they aren’t able to do the awards at the race is the year I actually place.  And I did it running slower.  How does that even happen?!  Needless to say, I went over to Pacers & Racers that Sunday to pick up my award.  It was a mug.  AWESOME!

Anyway, I am already looking forward to next year’s Fast Freddie Five Mile Foot Feast and can’t wait to see what I can accomplish.  Maybe I can at least beat this year’s time.  HA!  Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!!

Product Review: Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing + Recipe Bonus

Olivia's Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing

Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing

Product: Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing – $6.50+

There are a lot of Thanksgiving foods that, as a gluten-free vegetarian, I no longer indulge in at the dinner table.  That being said, my Thanksgiving meal usually consists of a scoop of vegetables, some plain potatoes, and usually a fruit of some sort…or whatever I brought with me for the occasion.

This year for my contribution to the Thanksgiving meal, I brought desserts.  YAY!  I also, however, brought gluten-free stuffing.  From my local gluten-free bakery.  I actually pre-ordered it prior to receiving my November 2014 Cuisine Cube.  But…this just gave me the opportunity to have stuffing…all over again.

And this is a good thing.  Because I absolutely LOVE stuffing!  I never ate it much as a kid, because, prior to going vegetarian, my family’s go-to Thanksgiving meal was shrimp creole, not turkey, but sometimes, on Christmas, my mom would cook up a turkey and I would request stuffing.  And…it was usually Stove Top.  But, to me, it was amazing!

So, stuffing was one of my guilty pleasures that I rarely indulged in, but would devour every time I had the chance.

When my Cuisine Cube happened to have a box of a gluten-free stuffing in it, I might…might…have done a happy dance of joy with a few bounces and jumps and squeals of happiness.  This isn’t uncommon each month when I open up my Cuisine Cube…but we are talking GLUTEN FREE STUFFING!!  Did I make that clear yet?

Olivia's Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing

Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing

So, since I had my local allergen-free bakery make me some gluten-free stuffing for the big meal on Thursday, I got to have some fun and get a little creative with my box of Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing.  But, this still meant that I needed to cook it up properly.  And this stuffing is really easy to make!  I cut up some onion and celery per the instructions on the box, cooked it in my vegan butter, and then added some vegetable broth.  I transfered the liquid into a large mixing bowl and added in the Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing mix.  I gave it a stir and let it sit for about 8-10 minutes, until the cubes were moist and the liquid was completely absorbed.  After that, I put the mix into a baking dish and baked it for 30-40 minutes per the instructions on the box until it was beautifully golden and ready to eat.

I won’t lie…I had a small serving of it then.  I had to.  The smell as it was baking was phenomenal.  Really.  I was practically salivating the entire half hour it was cooking.  So, yeah…I wanted to try it so I could tell you, my readers, how it was before I had some fun with it.

It was amazing.  No joke.  Freakin’ fantastic.  The chunks of bread got to that perfect golden crispness, while the vegetables and the absorbed liquid kept it moist and delicious.  The level of flavors was spot on.  Definitely perfect on its own.  I didn’t even need to add any additional salt and pepper.  Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing was better than any stuffing I have ever eaten in my life.  Way better.  That goes for the boxed stuff as well as the stuff made from scratch.  This was an total win.  I wish I had made it up for dinner at my roommate’s family’s home.  Perhaps next year.  They wouldn’t even begin to guess that it was gluten-free…except for I’d be eating it, so they would know!

Olivia's Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing (prepared)

Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing (prepared)

I am so in love with this stuffing.  My only complaint was there was only one box of it.  Good thing I can order more through Cuisine Cube and Olivia’s Gluten Free Web site.  Trust me…this will be happening!

Let’s talk about the ingredients in Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing.  This stuffing is made from gluten-free bread, certified non-GMO canola oil, granulated onion and garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme, celery seed, sea salt and pepper.  It is cholesterol free, gluten-free and made in a dedicated gluten free facility.

As far as nutritional information goes, Olivia’s Gluten Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing makes about 9 servings per container.  If you use it traditionally.  A serving size is 3/4 cup prepared.  This serving will provide you with 110 calories and 4 grams of fat.  You will also be taking in 200 mg sodium and 1 gram of sugar.  In addition, you will be consuming only 1 gram of fiber and 1 gram of protein.  On its own, this stuffing won’t make you feel stuffed, but you will love every single bite of it.  Trust me.

But…as I mentioned earlier…I had some fun with this stuffing.

Why eat it straight up when you can do something a little outside the box, right?  Well, on Black Friday, I picked up a new waffle maker (shaped like Mickey Mouse!) and I really wanted to test it out.  I’m like a child…I get something new and I want to try it out right away.  So, on Saturday night, I took the stuffing that I cooked up out of the fridge and put it into a big mixing bowl.  It was time to use the “leftovers” in a new way.  Prepare yourself…

Recipe: Gluten Free Leftover Stuffing Waffles

Gluten Free Leftover Stuffing Waffle (shaped like Mickey Mouse)

Gluten Free Leftover Stuffing Waffle (shaped like Mickey Mouse)

Servings: 4 large waffles
Time: Prep 5 minutes; Cook 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups crumbled leftover gluten free stuffing
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you’re not vegetarian)

 

Directions:

Preheat the waffle maker and grease it with cooking spray.

Gluten Free Leftover Stuffing Waffle with Vegan Homemade Vegan White Gravy and Cranberry Chutney

Gluten Free Leftover Stuffing Waffle with Vegan Homemade Vegan White Gravy and Cranberry Chutney

In a large bowl, stir together the leftover stuffing and eggs.  Add 1/4 cup of vegetable broth and mix until well combined.  Continue adding broth as needed until the mixture is well-moistened.

Scoop the stuffing mixture into the prepared waffle maker, spreading it evenly.  (The stuffing will not spread or expand like regular waffle batter as it bakes, so arrange it in an even, thin layer).   Close the lid and let the waffle bake until golden brown and the egg is cooked throughout.  Stuffing waffles take longer to cook than regular waffles, as the egg must be completely cooked throughout.  Don’t be afraid to let the waffle bake until it’s golden brown and crispy!

Transfer the waffle to a serving plate then repeat the filling and baking process with the remaining stuffing.

Serve.

~*~*~

I know what you’re wondering…you are pondering what I served these waffles with.  Simple.  I prepared a gluten-free white gravy and took some fresh cranberries from my CSA bin and made a cranberry chutney.  I poured a bit of the warm gravy over the waffle with a side of the cranberry relish and…BAM…dinner was served.

It tasted amazing.  Mine, being in a Mickey Mouse waffle maker, was shaped like Mickey Mouse…but it came to this perfect golden crispiness on the outside.  It paired great with gravy, making it a savory dinner.  And the cranberry chutney tied it all together.  A great way to use up some of those holiday leftovers for sure!

TRUST ME!

Thanks to Cuisine Cube for including a box of Oliva’s amazing Gluten-Free Rosemary & Sage Stuffing in my box for Thanksgiving.  I am forever thankful!

Being Thankful…

Thanksgiving!!

Thanksgiving!!

This past year, I spent a good portion of the prime running months sidelined with a very unhappy foot.  Throughout this time, I tried very hard to just be thankful that it wasn’t something worse.  I wasn’t very successful most of the time.  The runner brain kicked in and all I could focus on was the fact that I couldn’t run, that I couldn’t train, that I was going to lose fitness, etc.

But as the time went on, and the injury wasn’t getting any better, I found a shift in my attitude for the most part.  I started to be thankful for the mornings the foot wasn’t too sore to get in a slow, easy run.  I was thankful for the gym, for opening at 5 a.m. so I could at least go for a swim.  I was thankful for the people in my life, who would call to check on me, who would find ways to make me laugh and to get my focus to change from what I couldn’t do…to what I still could do.

But there were other things to be thankful for this year.  Here is a small list:

I am thankful for my family, who I don’t get to see often enough.  I wish I could come visit every weekend, because living so far away makes me feel like I am missing so much. I have seven nieces and nephews…and every time I see them, they’ve grown up more and have changed so much.  It’s so hard.  But through the distance and over the years, my family’s love and support and constant phone calls and texting have seen me through both good and bad times.  I am nothing without my family.

I am thankful for my secondary family…my roommate (Cathy), and her immediate family…Amanda, Judi, Janet, and Richie.  For dinner’s out, movies in, and always being up for an adventure.  Oh…and for letting me cook for you.

I am thankful for my job.  It may not be what I want to be doing, but I am really good at it and I get a lot done.  I know I can complain a lot about it, but it’s just because I’m a perfectionist and, as in life, the job isn’t always perfect.

I am thankful for my friends, those I can see on a regular basis, those I can see a few times a year, and those I rarely get to see…because without friendships…life is lonely.  And whether we see each other always or never, the fact that you are always there and a part of my life means the world to me.  Friendship is one of the single most important things in life.  If you find yourself lacking friends, go and rekindle some you thought you lost…or go make some new ones.

I am thankful for the ability to cook.  Because nothing makes me feel happier than being able to take a few fresh ingredients and turn it into something new and something, hopefully, delicious.  I used to set things on fire when I tried to cook…but when I moved here, it became something I needed to learn.  I caught on fast.

I am thankful for fresh foods, and good gluten-free products.  Being a gluten-free vegetarian is hard.  Add being an athlete to it, and it becomes even more of a challenge.  That being said…changing my diet has been a challenge, both budget-wise, and health-wise.  But it’s important and it had to be done.  I’ve gotten some help this year when I signed up for Cuisine Cube…and thankfully, fresh fruits and veggies are always gluten-free…and are two of my favorite things in life.

I am thankful for each year I can travel up to Minnesota and see my family there.  Moments with my grandpa are my most cherished.

I am thankful to be able to travel.  Sometimes it’s not far.  Sometimes it’s not even somewhere people would call fun or interesting…but nothing makes me happier than exploring somewhere new and stepping away from real life for a little while.

I am thankful to my friends who run…for inspiration, encouragement, and for just being awesome.  You all know who you are.

It’s Thanksgiving Day.  What are you thankful for?

Survey Says…

Can you answer a few questions for me...?

Can you answer a few questions for me…?

This was a fun little survey thing posted by The Dancing Runner on her blog.  I thought it would be something fun to fill out and share with my readers!!  Feel free to do it yourself.  And enjoy!

Four Names That People Call Me (Other Than My Real Name):
-KJ
-Wonder Woman
-Donkey
-Gael

Four Jobs I’ve Had:
-Starbucks Barista
-Assistant Manager of a CD store
-Loan Processor/Funder
-Assistant to the Alumni Director at a universityFour Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once (and can quote from memory):
-Pirates of the Caribbean
-The Princess Bride
-National Lampoons Christmas Vacation
-Lord of the Rings (the entire trilogy!)

Four Reads I Recommend / Can’t Live Without
-The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon (yes…the ENTIRE series)
-Runner’s World
-Mile Markers by Kristin Armstrong
-The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher

Four Places I Have Lived:
-Minneapolis, Minnesota
-Big Flats, New York
-Birmingham, Alabama
-New Albany, Indiana

Four Places I’ve Been:
-Ireland
-Scotland
-Germany
-England

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now:
-A beach
-Hawaii
-Ireland
-Australia

Four Things I Don’t Eat:
-Gluten
-Jello
-Anything fried
-Olives

Four of My Favorite Foods:
-Avocados
-Greek Yogurt
-Fruit!!!
-Peanut Butter (and I eat WAY more than I should!)

Four Shows That I Watch(ed):
-Dr. Who
-Master Chef
-The X-Files
-Face Off

Four Things I’m Always Saying:
-“Stop ending your sentence in a preposition!”
-“For real?!”
-“Here…taste this!”
-“Let’s do this thing!”

People I’m Tagging To Do This Next:

-I’m not tagging anyone…do it if you want.  If not…no pressure!

Five Random Facts:
-The only person who has ever heard it is my sister, Karla, but I can sing a wicked death metal version of Coldplay’s “Yellow.”
-If I’m having a bad day, one thing that always makes me smile is my sister’s impression of Dracula, because it is just that damn good.
-I was once in a commercial.
-When I was in high school, my artwork was displayed in a few art shows!  Did you know I was an artist?  Now you do!
-I have a blue belt in karate!  If I hadn’t moved away from New York, I’d probably still be practicing.

So, there you have it.  A fun little questionnaire.  Maybe you already knew this about me…and maybe you didn’t.  If you feel like doing it…copy and paste it to your own blog.  And if not, well, don’t worry about it.  It’s all up to you!!

Recipe: Fresh Corn with Avocado, Onion, and Spiced Vegan Scallops

I’m doing my best to make do without my CSA bin for the past month.  And that means I’ve been doing a lot with some products and foods that I have in my fridge and freezer.  My freezer happened to have an open box of Sophie’s Kitchen Gluten Free Vegan Breaded Scallops and this amazing corn that I cut off the cob and froze for later use.  My fruit bowl is holding one of my favorite things in life…avocados.  And yesterday, I purchased an onion for use in my previous recipe.

So, when I spotted a recipe on Health.com for a meal that involved fresh corn, avocado, scallions and scallops, I knew I could easily adapt the recipe to use ingredients I had on hand, and keep it vegan.  Of course, if you eat seafood, feel free to use regular scallops.

With the seasoning and the fresh vegetables, this was one fantastic meal.

Recipe: Fresh Corn with Avocado, Onion, and Spiced Vegan Scallops

Fresh Corn with Avocado, Onion, and Vegan Spiced Scallops

Fresh Corn with Avocado, Onion, and Vegan Spiced Scallops

Servings: 2
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium diced peeled avocado
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1-1/4 pounds sea scallops (I used Sophie’s Kitchen Gluten Free and Vegan Breaded Scallops)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice)

 

Directions:

In a small bowl, toss avocado and lime juice.

Sprinkle scallops with salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon cumin. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops; cook, turning once, until golden and cooked through (about 3 minutes).

Transfer scallops to a plate.

Add corn, scallion, white wine, and remaining cumin to skillet; cook corn until tender, stirring constantly (about 2 minutes).

Spoon corn mixture onto 4 serving plates, add avocado and top each with half of the scallops.

~*~*~

This was one fantastic meal.  I loved the healthy fat that came into the dish with the avocado.  The seasonal corn was an amazing ingredient on its own, but when seasoned and cooked with all the other ingredients, it became elevated.  The scallops, simply seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin made the perfect protein and topper for this dish.

Give it a try!  Vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian…you’ll really enjoy this meal.  I’ll definitely be making this again!

 

Recipe: Sweet Chili Vegetable Quinoa Bowl

On Friday, I was quickly scrolling through the blogs I follow on WordPress and came across a blog from Clean Eating Veggie Girl, who posted this amazing recipe for a quinoa bowl, inspired by her friend Molly.  I had virtually everything necessary to make this meal, save for an onion and some frozen stir-fry vegetables, which I could easily pick up at the store over the weekend and prepare this for dinner Sunday evening.

I actually spent most of my day helping my roomie’s sister paint some of her house…so grocery shopping actually didn’t get completed until much later, and it was past 6 p.m. by the time I back to my apartment to cook.  Thankfully, this is a super-easy and super-fast meal to create.

Oh…and super delicious too!

Recipe: Sweet Chili Vegetable Quinoa Bowl

Sweet Chili Vegetable Quinoa Bowl

Sweet Chili Vegetable Quinoa Bowl

Servings: 2
Time: Prep 10 minutes; Cook 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup dry + 1 cup water)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced (I used 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • 1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 16 oz bag frozen stir-fry vegetables
  • 1/8 cup Bragg’s liquid aminos (I used San-J Gluten Free Low Sodium Tamari)
  • 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
  • Sriracha sauce, optional
  • 2 to 3 large eggs, optional*

*Recipe is vegan without the eggs

 

Directions:

If you do not already have the quinoa cooked, prepare according to package directions.

Line a large skillet with a thin layer of water.  Heat over medium-high heat until very hot.  Once hot, lower the heat to medium and add garlic, ginger, and onions to the pan.  Cook for approximately 5 minutes, adding additional water as necessary.

Add frozen stir-fry vegetables to the skillet.  Cover with a lid and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

Once the vegetables are cooked through, turn the heat to low and stir in cooked quinoa.

Add liquid aminos/tamari sauce and sweet chili sauce to the skillet.  Stir until well-combined.  Cook an additional 3 to 5 minutes, or until your vegetable and quinoa mixture is hot.

If you are adding an egg to the bowls, cook each one to your liking during the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking time.  I poached mine, but fried or scrambled would work as well.

Scoop the vegetable and quinoa mixture into bowls and, if desired, drizzle with sriracha sauce and top with an egg.

~*~*~

This quinoa bowl is fantastic.  It’s a little bit sweet and a little bit spicy.  And if you love eggs, the runny yolk from a poached egg just really ties the entire meal together.  I was beyond impressed.  It was nice to create a healthy, protein-rich meal for dinner after such a busy day.  I also appreciated how quickly the entire meal came together.  Fantastic.