Stuffed Peppers (gluten-free)

Baked Stuffed PeppersLooking for something do to with your leftovers? Grab a bell pepper, cut it open and stuff it! Stuffed peppers are a nutritious option for those who are going gluten free, dairy free, or interested in Paleo.

This recipe was created with help from the littlest Kitchen Diva in Training- she’s been begging for these for weeks. Sweet bell peppers are listed as one of the ‘dirty dozen’ foods, so we typically wait until organic peppers go on sale. Even better, wait until summer and purchase them from your local organic farmer!

Use the proportions and ingredients as suggestions to make your own stuffed versions. Have leftover green beans? Throw them in. Have a chicken breast sitting around from the other night? Use that instead of beef. Don’t have rice? Use quinoa or polenta… This is the type of recipe that really is anything goes. Dairy intolerant? Leave off the cheese on top- or use an alternative you enjoy.

Colorful Bell PeppersYour goal is to create a mix filled with veggies, protein, and a little starch- heck you could used pureed butternut squash and forego the starch entirely. It’s really up to you!

If you’re having a go on your own, we do recommend adding a diced onion, or other aromatic like garlic, leeks, or shallots- even celery. Be sure you season to your taste with salt, pepper, and another herb or herb blend of your choice. Oregano would be good, as would rosemary or thyme. We used Herbes de Provence.

Be sure to post pictures and any recipe changes over on our Facebook Page– we want to see what delicious adventures are happening in your kitchen!

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Brownie Cookies

Bake Your Love
Bake Your Love

Brownie Cookies… Did you know that you can actually make brownie cookies? Brownie bites, but more elegant.

And did you know The Adventuresome Kitchen’s Chocolate Lover’s TDF (to die for) Brownie Mix makes great cut-out (brownie) cookies? It does indeed!

We design our mixes to be as versatile as possible- because some days you want something a little more elegant than a simple brownie…something a bit more lovey-dovey.

Our Brownie Cookies recipe is also a perfect way to stretch the Adventuresome Kitchen’s gluten free brownie mix to accommodate a classroom full of sugar fiends ready to let out for a long weekend. There’s a reason the Valentine’s parties are at the end of the day!

See the recipe below for how to make these delicious bites, and if you need a last minute sweet for your sweet- click here and use code AWESOME6 until midnight tonight (2/12/15) for a crazy discount…

Why? Because I Love You!!

Baking Chocolate Cookies

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Gluten Free French Toast

Cornbread French ToastContinuing with our breakfast theme this week, I’d like to discuss gluten free french toast. French toast is super easy to make gluten free- all you need is gluten free bread, or in this case, leftover cornbread (Thank you to fabulous photographer Rebekah West for the brilliant idea!)

In this case, we actually used leftover Polenta Cake compliments of David Lebovitz. If you don’t subscribe to his blog, and you love French food, I highly recommend it. I find many of his recipes easy to convert without losing the essence of what’s he’s working to create. Polenta cake is a great combination of polenta, almond flour, and a tiny bit of regular flour ( to sub, we used 3 tbs corn starch, 3 tbs sorghum, and 1/2 tsp xanthan gum) the result is a flavorful, not to sweet cake that’s perfect in french toast for breakfast the next day. *Hint- do NOT leave out the lemon zest- it’s key.

polenta cake french toastFor a slightly less sweet breakfast, leftover cornbread is perfect. It has more flavor and texture than sandwich bread, and although it’s somewhat unusual- why not? We loved the result.

We also recommend adding additional butter to the pan once the toasts have been cooked on one side- even throwing some butter on top of the cooked side and letting it melt in. By adding the butter at this point, instead of at the table, the butter is allowed to seep in the flavor permeates the toast. We especially like salted butter for this, as the contrast between the tiny bit of sharpness you get from the salt compliments the sweet of the egg mixture and the maple syrup.

Lastly, I have to brag on my budding photgraphers. The Kitchen Divas in training are responsible for all the pictures in this post- both of them! I confess, it’s much easier to cook while you have a ‘staff’ of people willing to document!

gluten free french toast

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Gluten Free Ham and Cheese Waffles

gluten free ham and cheese wafflesSometimes you just need breakfast food for dinner. Or dinner food for breakfast. These gluten free ham and cheese waffles make the case for either. Cheesy, savory, and fluffy- they make a delicious change from traditional waffles any time of day.

And if you’re into the whole sweet & savory contrast, be sure to slather them in some flavorful Grade B Maple Syrup. I always use Grade B because it’s darker and has more imperfections- which leads to complexity of flavor. It’s also a bit cheaper than the lighter sweeter stuff.

When approaching waffles this way, you could make them with any meat- corned beef, bacon, turkey etc.. and any kind of cheese, mozzarella, comte, jack, etc.. and even add additional ingredients like green chile, kale, fruit… really your possibilities are endless. Keep in mind this flour combination was designed for savory flavors, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t make something like bacon, ricotta and peach waffles for instance! Sounds like I need to go back to the kitchen!

The recipe below is gluten-free. To make a delicious gluten-ful equivalent, keep the cornmeal and substitute traditional flour for the cornstarch, almond, and sorghum flours.

* A word about cornstarch: We are increasingly moving to cornstarch over tapioca in our recipes. Cornstarch doesn’t gum up the way tapioca does in some instances. So if at all possible, use cornstarch in this recipe, not tapioca. We believe the results are just a bit better.

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Bacon Broccoli w/ Dijon Vinaigrette

Bacon BroccoliThere’s a reason to keep bacon on hand. It enlivens pretty much everything…Sundaes? Add bacon. Chocolate Chip Cookies? Add bacon. Kale, Broccoli, or any other good for you veggie? Oh yeah…definitely add the bacon.

Many of you have indicated you’re working towards incorporating more veggies into your diet, but that you can’t get past the idea you grew up with that veggies don’t taste that great. Inevitably, you reach for them last, not first, and they become the hurried afterthought, not the delicious dinner companion they could be.

Broccoli is a superfood that should be a mainstay in your weekly diet. It’s high in lutein (meaning it’s good for your eyes) and rich in antioxidants that may help prevent certain kinds of cancer.

We just think it tastes good- especially when paired with a little bacon, sundried tomato & shallots.. Not that we think you’ll have leftovers, but if you do, leftover bacon broccoli is perfect the next day in scrambled eggs. We often make extra large portions so that we can include vegetables in our breakfast the next morning. Any vegetable that works with scrambled eggs and cheese is a winner with the Kitchen Divas in Training.

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Game Day Snacks Part 2: Crab Bites with Easy Cocktail Sauce

Gluten Free Crab Bites w/ Cocktail SauceeGame Day Snacks Part 2: Crab Bites w/ Easy Cocktail sauce. In homage to the Seafood culture of this year’s two Superbowl cities, here’s another easy recipe sure to be a game day hit.

I’m lucky- I’ve lived in Seattle twice. Once as a kid, and again as an undergrad (go Dawgs!!) Every time I get back to the PNW there are a few musts on my list: A ferry ride across Puget Sound (this used to be preceded by a stop at Ivar’s for clams and chips, but not since my celiac status), a meander through Pike Market, Oysters at Elliott’s on the bay (temporarily closed until 6/30/15 due to seawall construction), a stroll across the UW Quad through Central Plaza and left to Drumheller Fountain to gaze out at Lake Washington and hopefully catch a glimpse of Mt. Ranier. And if it’s Dungeness Crab season, finagling an invite to a crab boil.

The first time I ever experienced a crab boil I was 19 or 20. Some friends had been out crab fishing all day- which in reality means dropping anchor, then a crab pot, and then drinking beers (and in their case, I am sure getting high) for several hours. Once the crabs were hauled in, a big backyard bonfire was lit and a huge pot of water set in the fire to heat. In went the crabs, and the rest they say is history- or dinner.

There is really nothing quite like sitting out under the stars with friends on a chilly night, next to a roaring fire, tearing apart crab that 4 hours earlier was swimming at the bottom of Puget Sound.

Crab Bites with Cocktail SauceShort of magic bonfire experiences, these cute little crab bites or mini crab cakes are perfect with a homemade cocktail sauce that’s liberally seasoned with fresh horseradish.

And on a sauce note, I’ve quit buying condiments like cocktail sauce and horseradish mustard. Most of them are filled with funky ingredients like cottonseed oil – yuk, cotton is the most heavily sprayed/fertilized crop in the US- maybe the world, averaging 5 lbs of petrochemicals for every 1 lb of yield…Why on earth would you put those seeds in your body? Or it’s soybean oil which isn’t much better… No thanks…not when fresh cocktail sauce takes about 6 seconds and 5 easily pronounceable ingredients to make…

Don’t have time to roll the mixture in bread crumbs? Leave out the egg and breadcrumbs and you have a delicious, nutritious crab salad- perfect for your next luncheon or brunch.

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Game Day Recipes Part 1: Cheesy Shrimp Puffs with Chimichurri Sauce

Cheesy Shrimp Puffs with Chimichurri SauceGame Day Recipes should be more than nachos and beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with nachos and beer, but they’re predictable and who wants to be that? This year, in homage to Boston & Seattle (two of my fave cities in the US, and whose food cultures often center around seafood) we’ve created some tasty finger food accompanied by sauces that will tackle your tastebuds like a defensive lineman.

Today’s recipe can be considered a tribute to Boston- while I would have preferred to call these Lobster Puffs- and if you have the funds, that would taste *amazing*, shrimp is a much more budget conscious alternative.

If you’re planning on visiting Boston, make sure you plan to eat a meal or at least a bite at Legal Seafoods on the Harbor. If you love anything that swims or scoots on the ocean floor, this is the best place to get it in Boston. Plus, you have the added benefit of being able to watch all the waterfront activity.

Cheesy Shrimp Puffs with ChimichurriNow, chimichurri sauce may not seem like a typical New England accompaniment, but we like the garlicky, vinegary kick that chimichurri provides, and the balance it creates in contrast to the richness of seafood. There’s a reason fish ‘n chips always come to the table with vinegar!

If you’ve never heard of chimichurri, it’s basically the South American version of pesto. Made with a combination of Parsley, Oregano, Cilantro, Garlic, and Olive Oil, it’s great on everything from fried eggs to steak, to seafood. We’ve given you the recipe to make a few cups- perfect for game day dipping.

Oh, and for the junior chefs out there- this is a recipe you can easily make on your own. The tiniest Kitchen Diva in Training told me rolling the mixture into balls was just like playing with play-dough!

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Creamy Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Brussels BlanchedBrussels are so underappreciated.  They’re like the dentist of vegetables. Everybody needs them, nobody likes them, which is too bad because they’re a superfood and should be a staple in the vegetable rotation.

Part of the problem is that brussels are often overcooked. When this happens, they turn to mush and taste rather cabbagey…. Too bad really, because when they’re properly prepared, they’re soft, maybe even a little al dente, and sweet. Yes, sweet!

I confess, until several years ago, I was a hater.  But Mr. Kitchen Diva convinced me otherwise one evening when we were out on a date. I tried some of his- perfectly roasted, carmelized with cranberries & bacon, and I fell in love. We eat them regularly now, especially in the winter months when they’re in abundant supply here.

Tired of the same ‘ole, same ‘ole I started working on something new. Thanks to a perfect confluence of ideas from The Flavor Bible (if you don’t have a copy, get one!) and a segment I was reading in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which is incidentally now available as an ebook) magic happened and we ate the whole bowl for dinner. The recipe relies on techniques outlined in the Legumes (vegetable) section of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but the implementation I’ve come up with is my own. I’ve created the recipe using ratios because some of you may want just a few brussels as an accompaniment to a protein, or you may want to go whole hog like we did and make a big bowl. I used 3 lbs of brussels. We’re brussels fans, and will eat that much with dinner, but for most people, that would be a great amount if you were bringing these to a potluck or hosting a dinner party of 6-8. The ratios are really easy to double and triple, so make whatever portion works for you.

Brussels with Cream and Bacon

One of the secrets of this recipe is taking the time to blanche the brussels prior to the main cooking. Several weeks ago we had a fabulous meal at a local restaurant here, and the roasted brussels came out brilliant green. Dying to know what they did, I begged our server to find out. She came back to report the chef said it’s all in the blanching.  Even though it adds a few more minutes to cooking, it’s worth it for the stunning visual effect- Bright green is so much nicer to eat that brownish-green.

Don’t be intimidated by this recipe- it is well worth the few extra minutes of time.

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Savory Ham and Cheese Muffins (gluten free)

Savory Ham and Cheese MuffinsThese savory ham and cheese muffins are the perfect grab and go breakfast. They’re loaded with protein, and besides, I’m not much of a sweet person. Don’t get me wrong- I love a good macaron or a tiny truffle from my local chocolate shop, but I have a hard time eating bunches of sweets. However, treats that are salty, less sweet? I don’t have much control..especially when it came to putting these out for a brunch we hosted recently..I didn’t stop at just one…

 

 

 

Savory Muffin IngredientsThe flavors in these savory ham and cheese muffins are reminiscent of an omelet- a little ham, a little cheese, a few herbs.. All served up in a beautifully textured muffin that pairs perfectly with coffee or mimosas! I don’t think you can eat just one. Nobody at our party could.

While this recipe has been designed for gluten-free bakers, if you like the flavors, simply use 2 1/2 cups of flour and follow the rest of the recipe. They’re worth a try regardless of your gluten status!

 

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Breakfast Bread Pudding – A New Year’s Tradition

le petite arbre de NoelHappy New Year!! Do you have traditions for welcoming the New Year? Apparently we do, and it’s called Breakfast Bread Pudding. I’ve never been big on family traditions- mostly out of necessity, choosing the adventurous route of new activities and experiences based on our schedule and location… Somehow though, one snuck up on us.

I didn’t even realize it until the other day, when we were making our New Year’s plans with the Kitchen Divas in Training. Suddenly my oldest, who is at the age where she lives in an adult body but is still very much a young girl, burst into tears.

“NO! She emphatically cried. We ALWAYS have Breakfast Bread Pudding and watch the Rose Parade. We HAVE to do that!” I was a little surprised at her outburst of emotion, but mostly I was touched by how important this simple routine is to her. So just like that we have a tradition. Never again will I suggest New Year’s activities that don’t include Breakfast Bread Pudding and the Rose Parade.

Gluten Free Breakfast Bread PuddingThankfully, this is incredibly easy to make- less than 15 minutes of prep. You just need enough room in your fridge to let it sit overnight- ready to pop into the oven when you’re ready. Like many of our Adventuresome Kitchen recipes- our Breakfast Bread Pudding is designed to be played with. Change up the fruit or the bread, use eggnog instead of heavy cream (very tasty), or add some pumpkin.. See what magic you can make in your kitchen.

We’ll post our Breakfast Bread Pudding recipe below, but you can see the original blog post here– there’s an interesting commentary about settling for crappy food because we think we have no choice…still an issue 4 years after the original post.

However you welcome the New Year in your home, we wish you much laughter and many culinary adventures in 2015- in the kitchen and beyond!

Cheers & Happy Adventuring

Have you ‘Liked’ our Facebook Page? Post a picture of your Breakfast Bread Pudding and any changes you made!

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Turkey Curry with Yummy Yammy Sweet Potato Salsa

YummyYammy_postcardSo my friend Lisa has this awesome company that sells sweet potato salsa- Yummy Yammy. Yeah- you read that right- sweet potato salsa. And it’s freaking delicious!!

In addition to running a boutique food company, Lisa- like me, has two amazing daughters, and divides her time between growing a company, her girls, and managing all the ins and outs of parenthood, homeownership, and spousehood. Plus she’s super cool, and she makes time to mentor other folks- like me. Ingredients for a super-hero as far as I’m concerned.

Yummy Yammy has been on my radar for well over a year. I LOVE salsa, but like many, I have to be careful about how much tomato I consume. These salsas have no tomato, but all the flavor you could want. They’re great on chips,  heated up over rice, with a fried egg (yeah we did that this morning!) or out of the container with just a spoon.

Added benefit? It’s good for you! They give you a huge dose of beta-carotene anti-oxidant love. Did I mention you won’t be able to stop eating it?

Yummy Yammy is in over 100 stores from Wisconsin to Florida- many of them Whole Foods! For those of you outside of that area, you can get them on Amazon.com though- and if you go to the Yummy Yammy Website and sign up to become a YAMBASSADOR (who doesn’t love that?!?) you can get a coupon for free shipping to try them. I recommend you try them all- they are that good! Also- any orders over $50 naturally come with free shipping. Guess what I’ll be doing for stocking stuffers this year?

YummyYammy Turkey Curry SauceNow about that Turkey…..

I’ve seen the facebook posts over the last few days- you all are sick of your turkey and ham. May I suggest an easy way to get rid of the rest of it that is so delicious you’ll stop eating long after your stomach screams it’s full?

I like curry, but I really like saying “turkey curry” because that reminds me of Bridget Jones- one of my favorite movies. One year I even had a turkey curry buffet birthday party (my birthday is close to Christmas). Of course, the curry was pork as I didn’t have turkey on hand, but who cares? And like the movie- I shamelessly orchestrated an introduction of two friends that culminated in their marriage last year 🙂 I wish all my matchmaking attempts turned out so well.

Onto the recipe! This is pretty fast to put together, and like many Adventuresome Kitchen recipes, there is plenty of room for creativity and modification. If you make some changes, let us know what you did in the comments below- we’d love to hear! And be sure to visit the Yummy Yammy website and check out all the fun things Lisa has going on over there!

Cheers & Happy Eating!

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Best Cream of Chicken Soup Ever- Gluten Free

Cream of Chicken Soup GFI am a convert. I’ve never been much of a fan of ‘cream of’ soups. But then I came up with this because I was working on a recipe that called for 2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup. (Yes, occasionally I do follow a recipe!)

Celiacs and other Gluten-Freers know that most creamy soups are thickened with flour. That means bye-bye clam chowder, lobster bisque, cream of mushroom (the key ingredient in Green Bean Casserole) cream of chicken soup, etc…

Well, after a bit of research I realized that this is not rocket science, and away we went. The result? A creamy, chickeny, rich and tasty soup that literally comes together in less than 20 minutes. The prep time took longer than the actual cooking! And, if you’re really in a hurry, purchase pre-cut veggies and use canned chicken. (You might be compromising on flavor if you use canned chicken, but it’s definitely fast!) This is also a great starter recipe for the Junior Chefs in your life.

The secret to thick and creamy soup? Sorghum flour. Sorghum is a staple flour in our kitchen, and my go-to for things like making a roux. It’s finer than rice flour which means it doesn’t leave a grainy texture like some gluten free flours can. It’s got a pretty neutral flavor which in my opinion makes it better than potato flour. And it’s not a starch. Starches like tapioca, potato and corn can thicken, but in my experience they are not good for making a roux. Roues, in addition to thickening soups, also add a key flavor component. The flour absorbs the fat of the butter (you don’t want to make a roux with oil) and as the roux is cooking the sugars in the flour and butter caramelize and add depth of flavor.

See the recipe below for additional variations we came up with (Like using leftover Thanksgiving Turkey) Seriously- this soup is so yummy it’s now part of our weekly winter soup rotation.

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Gluten Free Pumpkin Pear Crisp

Pumpkin Pear Crisp- Not Just for the Holidays!
Pumpkin Pear Crisp- Not Just for the Holidays!

So I saw this cubed pumpkin in the store the other day and my imagination ran wild. Why not do a take on apple crisp but with pumpkin? Well here you are…pumpkin pear crisp!

We tried this first with apples and pears- which you can do, but ultimately settled on the pumpkin-pear combination. To complete the holiday spin on this dish- although it’s so good, you really should consider it anytime you can get pumpkin- we added dried cranberries and pecans.

Crisps are so easy and are a perfect canvas to experiment with flavor combinations- You have apples on hand and don’t want to go to the store? Use them, or a combination of apples & pears. Don’t like cranberries? Add figs, or candied orange peels. Hate nutmeg? Add ginger.. Add fresh ginger, or cloves, or, coconut…. you get the idea- make our recipe as is, or use it as a jumping off point and come up with your own cool twist on our recipe. The important thing is to go play in your kitchen. And if you can, make it a group event- grab someone to cook with you!

Oh yeah- one more thing… I don’t know about you, but I am *way* too busy these days to spend hours peeling fruit.  So I just don’t do it. If you prefer skinless fruit- good on you- and your dish will be finer for it. Just don’t feel like you have to peel it to make this recipe sing.

We’ll be bringing this to our neighborhood’s progressive dinner. And I guarantee you- no one’s going to know it’s gluten free!

Cheers & Happy Eating!

Have you ‘Liked’ our Facebook Page? Please do so, and if you make this recipe, post a pic of your pumpkin pear crisp, and any modifications you made! We’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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The Best Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes..ever..

The Best Gluten Free Chocolate CupcakesIt’s National Cupcake Day!! Get yourself to the kitchen and make yourself a batch of the best gluten free chocolate cupcakes ever!

The history of the cupcake goes back to at least 1913. It differentiated itself from the pound cake recipe (a lb of sugar, butter, flour, eggs) with the following formula: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour, 4 eggs, a heaping tablespoon of baking powder and a cup of milk… Cupcake vs. Poundcake…so simple, when you think about it..

Our recipe was originally conceived several years ago for the elder Kitchen Diva In Training’s 9th birthday. But, it’s so good we decided to repost today- we keep coming back to this recipe- sometimes making modifications like adding a teaspoon or two of chipotle powder, or a tablespoon of cinnamon, or even a bit of espresso powder.

We like this recipe because it has the following qualities: A slightly crispy top, a spongy but not too dry middle, light and fluffy, and of course….very chocolate-y…. making these the best gluten free chocolate cupcakes- ever!

The Ultimate Gluten-Free Chocolate CupcakesGluten-Free Chocolate Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key to this recipe is the buttermilk. Buttermilk, when reacting with baking soda and the acid from chocolate, undergoes this nice chemical reaction that adds air bubbles to the batter. I’ve also found that setting a hot (400 degrees) oven for the first five minutes, then turning it down for the rest of the baking helps too. The high heat helps encourage the lift and sets the structure so that the cupcakes don’t collapse.

Really, I don’t think you need to wait for a birthday to make these- think of something to celebrate and enjoy these tonight! Oh yeah- and give these to your gluten-full friends and see what they think! I guarantee they’ll be stunned…and happy!

* Have you ‘Liked’ our Facebook Page? Post a picture of your gluten free chocolate (or otherwise) concoctions there and we’ll share your pics!

 

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Rickoli Brewery: Brewing DELICIOUS Gluten-Reduced Beer

Brewery Rickoli On TapWhen was the last time you enjoyed a really GREAT beer? In fact, when was the last time you had YOUR CHOICE of several great beers??? Ever? Since before you were diagnosed with Celiac, or gluten-intolerance, or a gluten-allergy? For me it’s been 16 years…. Yes, 16 years of being in a gluten-free beer desert.

Now there have been tiny oases over the years…Harvester Brewing in Portland OR, comes to mind- they are brewing quite possibly the best gluten free (meaning brewed with gluten free grains) beer in the country. (They ship outside of Portland, and if you want a treat- I highly recommend their St. Denny Dubbel) Then there’s New Planet Beer in Boulder- also using gluten free grains and I can buy them at my neighborhood liquor store. They sell a fantastic Raspberry that’s perfect for our hot, humid summers, and a Brown that is out of this world. They rock the Brown..

Brewery Rickoli What's On TapThen there’s Brewery Rickoli, a nano-brewery located in Wheatridge, Colorado, which has been on my radar for about a year. My friend Elke sent me a link to their website exited that they were brewing ALL their beers with the gluten-reducing enzyme Clarex (Clarity Ferm). Originally used to stabilize beers and prevent chill-haze, it turns out the secondary application is denaturing the gluten molecule in a way that the beers are consumable by many celiacs and test- with current testing methods- at less than 20ppm. However, this process is not without controversy. Very heated controversy.

Check out the links above here and read about it yourself if you don’t believe me. In a nutshell the ‘gluten-free grain’ brewers claim their products are better and safer for celiacs than the ‘gluten-reduced’ brewers. The ‘gluten-reduced’ brewers respond that you just don’t get great beer flavor without barley. I think they’re both right. I mean- where’s the ‘gluten-free grain’ Guinness equivalent? Or the whiskey barrel aged stout? The Vanilla Porter? Right now the ‘gluten-free grain brewers’ haven’t figured it out. And thankfully, there are more traditional brewers who are realizing every day that adding an enzyme to bust up a gluten molecule doesn’t hurt the quality of the beer, and gains them entry into a previously closed market.

I do appreciate that for now the FDA and Alcohol and Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB) are very clear on differentiating between ‘gluten-free’ and ‘gluten-reduced’. I want to know exactly what’s going in my body. Anecdotally, some folks have had no problems with ‘gluten-reduced’ and others have. If it’s labeled clearly, then you get to decide. Ultimately, I think the market will support good taste- for the same reason craft beer sales have been skyrocketing and Budweiser sales have been slipping. Everyone loves a good story, and everyone loves a good locally produced hand-crafted beer. Which brings me back to Rickoli..

Brewery Rickoli SamplesThese guys make some seriously good beer. And so much of it, that I was informed if I ordered a tasting portion of everything they had on tap that I would be consuming over 93oz of beer!! (That’s well over a 6pack for those of you interested in the math) However, Brewmaster Rick Abitbol was happy to pour me tiny sips so that I could at least taste most of what was on tap when we visited.

In some ways, I was like a kid in a candy shop. When you have that much selection, you don’t know where to start. Like wine tasting, I decided to start at the light end and work my way up. Really it’s all great, and if there’s a specific style of beer you love, Rickoli is sure to either have it on tap or be brewing it soon. Their line-up is constantly changing- all the more reason to make this a regular hang-out if you live in the Denver Metro Area. Plus, Rick is just so darned cool and knowledgeable!

Of special note the day we were there was the Double Cream Ale- a rich, creamy ale with a whopping 8.6%ABV, The Social Lubricant Scotch Ale 8%ABV..it’s so good even the shyest among you will start chatting with your neighbor! The Elke Brown- named after my good friend Elke, and while I loved so many, this was the one I purchased a growler of to take on the road.

A Taste of HeavenAnd now- let’s talk Stout..

To me this is the Holy Grail of Gluten-Free/Reduced beers. For 16 years I have been crying for a stout that wouldn’t wreck my insides. When the time finally came to try the stouts I was actually a little…nervous…  Like going to a High School Reunion (which I have successfully avoided for 20-something years) nervous. Or meeting your college sweetheart years later…Would I still like stout? What if I’d been waiting for this magic experience for 16 years and it turned out I didn’t even like stout anymore? I was worried my tastebuds had changed…

So what was it like? Unexpected. Rich. Different…Delicious.

We were lucky enough to be at the brewery the weekend they were tapping 3 versions of their Monolith- an American Imperial Stout. On tap that day was the traditional Monolith, Monolith aged in locally produced merlot barrels, and Monolith aged in bourbon barrels.

Brewery Rickoli MonolithThe Merlot Monolith was unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. One doesn’t usually consider two-fisting dark beer and red wine. First off, you could really taste the merlot in the beer. Second- it rounded out and added a mildly fruity note to the beer. It was creative, definitely unexpected, and really good!

My favorite had to be the bourbon barrel aged Monolith. For years, I have inhaled the tantalizing aroma of Mr. Kitchen Diva’s bourbon barrel stouts from places like Goose Island & Stone Brewing. The idea of getting to drink one made me positively giddy. Did it live up to my expectations? Well, yes. What was interesting to me was that my overall impression was that it was delicious, and far richer than I had remembered. I think my tastebuds have definitely suffered during the 16 year drought. I didn’t have much because I felt like I could easily overwhelm my body. I recommend enjoying it in small amounts if it’s been awhile since you’ve had a thick, rich, beer.

Infinitus PieSince Rickoli is so small, they don’t have much food on hand to accompany their beers. They have hummus & veggie cups for the gluten free, and a few gluten-bombs for those who prefer. However..they do allow you to bring in your own food, and there just happens to be a pizza joint (Infinitus Piewith quite possibly some of the cleverest graphic design I’ve seen for a pizza company)around the corner that makes a really good gluten free pizza crust. And they deliver.. Did I mention they were delicious??

Lastly, Rick mentioned that Rickoli is hoping to get bottling capacity soon… and while I recognize it may still be some time before those bottles make their way to Kansas City, one can always hope!

Gluten Free Chocolate Maple Bourbon Balls

Boozey Bourbon BallsPicture this: You get a last minute invite to a party- like *seriously* last  minute… “Hey, we’re having a party…in an hour…can you come?? And bring something??”  Or, your mother’s long-lost second cousin fourteen-times-removed calls you because she’s ‘just passing through’ and wants to stop by- in 25 minutes… Or, you’re Christmassed out, and are supposed to bring something- anything– to the Christmas dinner feast, and you’re out of time and ideas…

Have no fear!!! These delicious chocolate maple bourbon balls are just thing. They are lightning fast to put together- seriously- my friend Elke posted a pic of her version of these last night, and less than 20 minutes later I was in confection heaven. The original recipe as shared with me called for rum not bourbon, white karo not maple syrup, and traditional (ie gluten-bomb) ‘nilla wafers.

I just happened to have one half cup of bourbon left in the bottle, and prefer using maple syrup to karo most days. Instead of ‘nilla wafers, I used 3 boxes of Schär gluten free vanilla wafers- these are the skinny rectangles with the waffle tops and frosting in between…LOVED them as a kid- SO happy to have GF versions available now…

The best thing about this recipe? You get to play with your food and lick your fingers!! We thought about calling them Booze Balls, or Boozey Bourbon Balls, but really, as long as you call them delicious I’m okay! ;0

Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays and Much Good Food!

Happy Eating!

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Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie & Cranberry Pear Salad – 2 Easy Make Ahead Thanksgiving Recipes

Easy Make-Ahead Thanksgiving RecipesFor those of you who are working right up until the Holidays- I sympathize. For those of you who work retail, hospital shifts, night jobs, or more than one job- I really sympathize.

If you’re a working foodie- this time of year can be really tough to channel your inner Kitchen Diva, work, be attentive to family and friends, and take care of yourself… I know. I’m right there in the trenches with you this year… Happily, sales of my GF Pie Crust are out of control…I’m excited…but that also leaves little time for much else..blogging? Recipe development? Photography? Housecleaning??!!!?? Thankfully (or not-so-thankfully, depending on how you look at it) a malfunctioning mixer and a delay in an ingredient order left me with time to catch up on some much needed kitchen activity.

I am not hosting dinner this year..But, I still intend to eat well with a few friends and play in someone else’s kitchen. What’s on our menu? Easy stuff. Stuff I’m making tomorrow with the Kitchen Divas in Training so I can sleep in on Turkey Day and loll about in my pajamas taking in the Macy’s Parade with the girls while sipping a mimosa and enjoying a gluten-free scone! So what’s on the dinner menu??

  • Duck Confit (already made, you can check out the pics on our Facebook Page)
  • Smoked Chicken Liver Pate w/ Gluten Free Baguettes
  • Baby potatoes roasted in duck fat and truffle salt (pop in the oven at 400 and cook stirring occasionally until done)
  • Fresh Cranberry Pear Salad (Recipe Below- only 20 min to make and seriously delicious)
  • Roasted Brussels (Check out our Adventuresome Kitchen Recipe with Mint Sauce)
  • Roast Duck or Goose (we’re channeling our Pilgrim roots and dispensing with the Turkey (but I’m not making that!!)
  • Gluten Free Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie (Easy, No Bake, and all the Pumpkin Pie Flavors you love- Recipe Below)

Now that might seem pretty ambitious to some of you- but here’s the deal: With the exception of the baguettes which are a little more involved, everything else listed above is 10-15 minutes of prep and into the oven, or can be completely made in 20 minutes or less… My kind of food these days.. All of it can be made now or on Thanksgiving and still taste great.  My point? Even if you’re crazy busy this year and the thought of cooking makes you want to take a nap…pick one or two fast, easy recipes and eat well. Your tastebuds will be the first to Thank you!!

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How to Make Any Soup Taste Great- Essential Ingredients

Curry Sausage SoupIt is said that the shoemaker’s children never have shoes. So it could be said for the chef’s children- they only eat (gluten free) toast! Thank heavens the Kitchen Divas in Training are no strangers to meal creation! Over the last month we’ve been working round the clock to bring our gluten free baking mixes to market. Since time has been at a premium and the weather has cooled off, we’ve relied on soups, stews, and the occasional take-out to stay well nourished.

Most soups can be on the table in 30 minutes and clean-up is easy. We’ve frequently found ourselves dumping our leftovers into the stock pot and coming up with a quick meal- preventing food waste and saving money. But- in order to do that and have the finished product taste delicious, we’ve learned there are a few essential ingredients that are needed to make any soup taste great. These are the basics- if you have these and nothing else, you’ll still have a great soup, but add these to any premade box soup, pile of fresh/frozen vegetables, or leftovers-  you’ll be smiling all the way through dinner!

 

How to make any soup taste great- essential ingredients:

Vegetable Soup with Green Chile SauceOnions- Onions are a staple base flavor- throw them in raw to a box of tomato soup, add a little kale and you’ve got a zesty, nutritious addition that will liven your ‘cuppa’ soup. Carmelize them first for a sweet addition, or use them as part of a classic “mirepoix”  (pronounced Meer-Ah-Pwah)which is the traditional french base for most soups and stews. Onions are also rich in quercetin- those same great immune boosters found in apples.

Carrots- reference the above for classic mirepoix. Carrots add a level of sweetness to any soup, and they’re rich in beta-carotene – an important anti-oxidant!

Leafy Green KaleCelery- the 3rd necessary ingredient for a mirepoix.

Kale- Most of us don’t get enough fresh green vegetables in the winter. Our secret? Chop up kale and put it in the bottom of each soup bowl. Pour the steaming liquid over it. The heat from the soup will wilt the kale perfectly, preserving its nutrients.

Sausage- most of the time a pound of sausage (link or bulk) is the perfect protein addition to any soup. We use this on the days when our vegetable soup needs to be heartier, or when we want a bolder flavor. Go for the strongly flavored sausages like hot italian sausage, chorizo (not exactly a sausage, but you get the idea). We also like sausages that have plenty of fennel. (You could also use any leftover meat in the fridge- we’ve made soup with chicken, pork, potroast, hamburger…whatever’s on hand)

White Bean, Kale, Sausage & Butternut SoupCelery Root- We don’t often have this on hand, but when this ugly root is peeled and diced it adds a depth and fullness to soups we really enjoy.

Starches- Could be a lonely forgotten potato, rice or quinoa, or even a handful of pasta. We use this when we need to fill out a thin soup.

Sea Salt or Chicken Stock- sometimes you want one- sometimes the other. If we’re adding sausage to a pot, the flavors might compete with chicken stock. If we’re using just vegetables, sometimes the chicken stock adds a richness.

Cream of Carrot and Leek SoupCanned Beans- we always have a variety of canned beans on hand- our favorites for soups (When we’re not making chile) are the white beans. Red Kidneys come in a close second. High in fiber and protein, beans are an excellent addition- especially if you want to avoid meat.

What else is on hand? Really, that answer is up to you and your imagination. We just finished reading “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder..As a child, I thought it was the most boring book of the series. As an adult- the most captivating. We’ve been inspired by the Ingalls’ resourcefulness to not waste so much food in our fridge.

Need some recipe inspiration? Try one of these delicious soups on the Adventuresome Kitchen Soup Page

Gluten Free Pasta for One: 30 Minute Meal & ICDS2013 Round-Up

I don’t usually write about Celiac Disease. I was 27 when I was diagnosed, although I’m fairly convinced I had Celiac even as a little girl- I was one sick kid. But Celiac Disease isn’t how I define myself- it’s just kind of there. I know I need to avoid gluten for the rest of my life, and that’s that.

As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather jump in enthusiastically to explore all the delicious foods and meals that are naturally Gluten Free, or can be easily made gluten free than get hung up on what I can’t eat. Sure, do miss croissants? Yeah- I guess- sometimes. But I’m happy and healthy without most carbs in my life. And in fact, on a recent recipe testing binge- I actually felt pretty gross after eating piles of gluten free biscuits for 2 days!

So, as a food writer and foodie, it was really interesting for me to attend the International Celiac Disease Symposium last week in Chicago.  The opening reception, hosted by some of Chicago’s best restaurants, did not disappoint. If you want to eat well as a Celiac- come to Chicago.

WildFireRestaurantOn the vendor side of things, there wasn’t much new to report. All the usual biggies were there- Udi’s, Rudi’s, Enjoy Life, etc. My favorite by far, was a company from Sweden called Fria. They are making what is quite possibly the best gluten free bread on the planet. Too bad they are only available in Europe!

Fria Gluten FreeThe clinical sessions were super fascinating for me. Some of the world’s premier doctors and researchers presented their findings- all of which have been published and peer-reviewed. This was a point that was hammered on over and over again.

Why?

Because there’s a lot of research going on right now that has been published in books (Namely “Wheat Belly”) that hasn’t been peer-reviewed or formulated into randomized double-blind tests.

My favorite session was the myth-busting session. This session was devoted to dispelling the pop-culture myths as to why more people are claiming to have trouble with gluten. Here’s what I learned:

ICDS2013 Clinical ForumMyth: Because of GMO, wheat has more gluten than ever before.

Reality: In a comparison of European traditional tall wheat, and American hybridized short hard wheat- a slide showing the gluten pattern of both grains was shown. There is *no significant difference in gluten between the two.

Now, it is true that different varieties of wheat have slightly different amounts of gluten, and that those wheats have been traditionally used for different applications- pasta vs pastry, for instance. But for the Celiac- the differences are minimal. For the non-celiac, use of one variety of wheat over another isn’t going to have an effect on your digestion.

Myth:  Our diet has more wheat in it now than at any time in history.

Reality: Our ancestors in 1900 ate  *significantly more wheat as we do now. We do eat more wheat now than in the 1950’s.  Now- our diet is higher in processed food and sugar than at any other time in history… hmmm.

Myth: Our obesity epidemic is linked to wheat consumption.

Reality: Italians eat about 5x as much wheat as Americans, yet do not have the obesity epidemic we do, and they live longer too!

Myth: Gluten is cross-reactive with coffee and corn. If you have gluten problems you should also avoid corn & coffee.

Reality: There is NO- 0- Zip Scientific evidence to support this. I’m living proof that this is flat out false.

Myth: Celiac symptoms can be alleviated by over the counter glutenaze-enzymes.

Reality: Nope. Don’t waste your money. Again- peer reviewed scientific evidence shows this isn’t the case at all.

Other cool facts I learned:

  • Preliminary studies show that probiotics can help alleviate Celiac symptoms, but do not change gut permeability.
  • 39% of products that claim to be Gluten Free, but also disclose they were manufactured in a facility containing wheat, were in fact *not Gluten Free, and tested well above the 20ppm threshold.  This is why the recent FDA regulations concerning labeling of Gluten Free are so important.
  • Lastly, the reason we have scientific evidence that 20ppm is a safe threshold for Celiacs is because of the bravery and willingness of Italian Celiacs to put their bodies on the line in a randomized double-blind study documenting the effects of gluten exposure on the body. Any Celiac who knowingly risks illness so that the scientific community can come up with definitive and measurable safe guidelines is a hero and deserves to be publicly thanked.

Chicago-ViewNow, in addition to eating some great food, I also got to spend a little time cooking on my own. It’s the first time I’ve cooked for only myself in who knows how long. I’m often asked about writing gluten free recipes for one, as the proportions I normally suggest are for a hungry family of 4. I’ve forgotten that as a solo eater a few leftovers can go a long way, and 1 bag of groceries is usually more than enough to last a few days. I enjoy cooking though- even if I’m the only beneficiary of it. So, while I sat and worked and enjoyed the nighttime view- I came up with this fun Pasta alla Carbonara-esque recipe that you’re sure to enjoy. It’s super-fast (a ‘must’ these days) and easy to scale up for a family of 4 if you like the flavors. I’ll try and post a few more of these solo recipes I invented while in Chicago- my tastebuds were happy!

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