Monday, January 31, 2011

French Macarons

Do you all know, love and cherish this little french confection as much as I do? Or have you never heard of them before? And no, I'm not talking about "macaroons" made with coconut, those are good too though. These are those delightful, beautifully colored sugary treats that are big in Paris (umm, hello? Pierre Herme and Laduree??? in my best gossip girl voice, haha).

Here's a fancy pic of Ladurée macarons (not my pic)

If you do love them as I do - then you know, they're gluten free - although, be sure to double check before buying!!) -- they're made with egg whites & almond meal (among other things) to get that delicate crunchy - meringue-like texture.

We went to Paris in 2009 (remember that? full post here) and I was so excited to eat macarons, every day...

Anyway.... there is a guy I work with who is dating a fabulous woman who makes french macarons (and amazing chocolates) for a little chocolate shop here in Beacon Hill. I am lucky enough to sit near him, so that when she has "extras" or macarons that aren't exactly perfect - he brings in the leftovers to work and he has me as a best friend that day.

My birthday was last week and I thought, I should ask if she sell directly to me a big pile of macarons for me to indulge in all to myself, and sure enough - she did! I can't tell you wonderful these are. These actually taste as good (if not better) than the macarons we had in Paris. She has a magic touch, here's my assortment of cassis and hazelnut flavors that I arranged on my pretty cake plate:

OMG. So good. If you can find them, I highly recommend them. OR - maybe try making them yourself? One day I will do this. The ones that I had from Pierre Herme in Paris were rose flavored, divine, and their recipe is here. Or, I'm sure you've read Tartlette right? If not - check her out. The most gorgeous food photography, and she talks about macarons all the time.

OK - can you tell I'm obsessed?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Everyday Health GF Recipe Contest

I just found a link to this Gluten Free recipe contest through Twitter.... I figured I'd post my all-time favorite GF Blueberry Muffin recipe and give it a go -- Winner wins a 32 gb iPad!!

Click here to comment on my recipe to tally a vote for me ;)

Sooo..... sign up & enter yourselves --- or PLEASE comment on my recipe so that I can win... Let me know if you post & I'll check your recipe out!

GF Cinnamon Rolls, homemade...

I have been wanting to make cinnamon rolls at home for a while, and with the 3 day weekend we just had, I found a little time to give this recipe a go! I actually looked all over the internet to find a recipe, and then remembered reading about Better Batter's Pillsbury Cinnamon Roll Clone.

I went for this one because it seemed pretty easy, and there weren't too many ingredients (I don't keep a variety of GF flours on hand to make blends). I thought I had a full box of Better Batter, but I was almost out, so I had to use the rest of what I had, and then mix in King Arthur All Purpose Mix as well (I'm not sure if this affected the results, but maybe?).

Anyway - I made the dough, rolled it out in two, and sprinkled the filling on top:

I sort of just winged the filling, and didn't follow exactly to suit my tastes. Then I rolled it up, and cut little 1 inch pieces.
After rolling them up, you let them sit in the pan for about 40 minutes, then pop them in the oven to bake at 400 for 15 minutes. I actually let mine cook longer, about 20-25 minutes because the top wasn't browning, but I think I probably cooked them a little too long.

After you take them out, voila:

YUM CITY. Dont' they look great? At the very top you can see a pic with the sugar glaze poured over the top - these were fresh out of the oven and smelling HEAVENLY.

I didn't do the topping recipe that called for cream cheese and butter --- I am doing Biggest Loser at work after all (ha!) -- so I just did a simple sugar glaze mixing confectioners sugar, milk and a drop of vanilla.

These were great! They aren't exactly the texture that I was picturing, they were a little more doughy -- but I think they're yummy, and I probably over-cooked them, AND I use the correct

Friday, January 14, 2011

Estrella Damm Daura

I just read a comprehensive review about Estrella Damm Daura on SureFoods Living's Blog and I wanted to see if I could find it & give it a try. The thing about this GF beer --- it's actually made from barley, not sorghum, and they remove it down to an "acceptable level" for celiacs -- under 6 ppm. Apparently products with a gluten content below 20 ppm are suitable for people with celiac disease.

I wasn't that wary of trying something that was originally made with gluten, but it was a little weird. I figured I'd try it since I had read some people thought it was great - and I was thinking, if it wasn't made with sorghum maybe it would taste close to the real thing.

My sweet husband found it for me & when he picked me up from the train he had it, so we got home, opened them up, and tasted.

The verdict: it tastes to me a little like Redbridge. Actually -- I think I may prefer Redbridge for the taste, and for the fact that there is NO gluten in it at all, and because it's cheaper. Only 4 bottles of this was $8, vs $8 - $9 for 6 bottles of Redbridge.

Still totally worth it to try though -- and I love to try new GF things, because you never know.

Anyway - check out the SureFood's Living blog if you want more info -- and she also mentions another beer called Saxon at the bottom of the article, that if I find, I will try.

**UPDATE** --- I came home last night and opened up one of these, and I must admit - I liked it better than the first bottle.... I found the taste to be richer, and I realize the smell is much closer to real beer. The first bottle went down fast actually. And it was really good. I think I may give this beer another shot. Maybe I'll do a taste test comparison with Redbridge to really see how it matches up!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snowed in

We got a little bit of snow here in New England yesterday - 2 FEET actually. It was crazy, it didn't stop snowing all day long - we stayed in all day & worked from home and I actually got a ton done.

For Matt's birthday, by the way, we ended up taking the day off work and heading north to go skiing for the day! Waterville Valley had a deal on Tuesday for $7 lift tickets, and we really couldn't pass it up. It was a really fun day - and afterwards we hit up The Common Man in Plymouth, NH (remember I just wrote about Common Man Windham) -- and got some Redbridge and snacks and sat by the fire.

Yesterday being snowed in I worked with what I had and made a quick & easy Turkey Chili. We make this pretty often because it's yummy & so easy.

Take a package of ground turkey, cook with an onion, and a gluten free, low-sodium taco packet, add canned zesty diced tomatoes, maybe some peppers, frozen corn, rinsed black beans and voila - dinner.

I also made some brown rice, cup up an avocado, and added some shredded cheddar and sour cream. This dinner was ready to eat in about 15 minutes - love that!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Husband's Birthday....

Tomorrow is 1/11/11 - and also my husband's birthday!

He wants me to make him dinner & I'm struggling to figure out what to make! I have to work the entire day, so that limits cooking time. Unless I pop something in the slow cooker in the morning, although I don't love leaving the slow cooker on when I'm not there (I know that's what their purpose is, but I usually use it on Sunday).... Liz suggested Smitten Kitchen's short ribs, which is a great call actually - he loves those! But I will definitely need to leave work early to get dinner ready by 7:30 or 8....

Or I could do an old favorite - Pork Tenderloin. This dish never disappoints - I do a simple marinade of soy sauce (gf of course) fresh ginger, evoo, salt, pepper, and sometimes a dash of Worcestershire....

OR I could do a turkey meatloaf, which really doesn't sound that exciting - but he was just talking about the Barefoot version that I make that is really yummy.

Hmmmm..... i'm thinkin' those ribs might be it.

on another note - I started Biggest Loser at work, and I vowed this weekend to make healthier meals & buy better snacks for a while, but tomorrow will be a pass ;) No skimping on a birthday!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Let's just order a pizza...

...Words I haven't said in a LONG time. "Let's just order a pizza". Those gluten-free eaters out there know what I'm talkin' about. I mean, GF pizza is out there, but it's usually a drive away, or something special to go out of your way for, or something you just whip up at home. But get delivered?! SOOOO nice.

My husband recently did some googling and found out that Gregory's in Reading, MA has gluten free pizza with crust courtesy of Strawberry Moon!

We got back from our vacation and had almost no food in the house, and just called up & ordered a pizza for dinner. So great! Their sauce is excellent, and we got ours half pepperoni and extra cheese. The crust has a great taste, and a good crunch on the outside (although a tad chewy, but still really good). Yuuummmm:

Look at that pizza grease! haha... anyway. I love that more & more places are popping up with gluten free options. I usually just make pizza at home when my husband orders one with my fave Udi's pizza crusts -- but he actually likes this so much that we can just split it!

I like to get my own though because this makes EXCELLENT cold pizza the next day!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Twenty Eleven

Hello all and a happy belated new year.... I hope everyone's holidays were wonderful and relaxing. Mine was! Sadly, I was snowed out of MY family christmas, so we'll be doing that this weekend, but we had a great time with my husbands family and got away to Mont Tremblant in Canada for the New Year which was fantastic!

A few highlights in pictures:

It's become a tradition to have eggs benedict on Christmas morning and I LOVE IT. I make the hollandaise sauce in either my blender or in my food processor – it's so easy, and so indulgent. I put extra lemon...Perfect for a holiday morning - it's also a big mess.

As a lighter treat we also had little bowls of fresh berries.

We hung around the house & watched A Christmas Story and had a really relaxing break. Then, it was off to Canada! Mont Tremblant is a beautiful ski town with a cute little village at the base of the mountain with shops and restaurants, and lots of activities. We stayed right in the village so we could hit the slopes early, and our room had a kitchen which was excellent, so we made quite a few meals in our room which saved $, and were definitely GF. The weather was weird, it was super cold, then warmed up & a lot of fog rolled in which was pretty rough skiing, but our second morning it was SO gorgeous because the peak of the mountain was in the sun above the clouds, check it out:

Amazing right!!! It was so fun.

We also had a small "Poutinere" across from our hotel, and had to check it out one day, look at all the different varietes of poutine:

For those who don't know - Poutine is basically fries with gravy and cheese or cheese curds & various toppings. I used to LOVE this treat, at the diner at home we just called it 'gravy cheese fries' - but Poutine is so much nicer.... Sadly, I didn't have any (no gravy for me!) - but I did have some excellent fries plain at another place with white vinegar - yum.

New Years was pretty cool, the had some fun skiing demonstrations, then some awesome fireworks at midnight:
I didn't take that picture - I was over at the base of the mountain, but this pic is awesome.

I have a pretty big back-log of posts I need to get up - so hopefully I'll be posting more often!