Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Book Review: 365 Slow Cooker Suppers

A week ago I received an advance review copy of Stephanie O'Dea's new cookbook, 365 Slow Cooker Suppers. I have to say, I've been following her blog, A Year of Slow Cooking for a few years. I discovered her about a year before learning that I needed to go gluten free and I really hadn't noticed that her recipes were all gluten free, or easily could be as long as you check your ingredients, you know, use gluten free soy sauce, or gluten free breads, that sort of thing. So when I did have to make that change and started looking for gluten free resources online, I was happy to discover that one of my favorite blogs was just full of great, yummy recipes.
So when I had the chance to review her new cookbook, I was thrilled! This book is wonderful, the first time I glanced through it, I easily found a dozen recipes that we just have to try. This book is filled with great recipes and wonderful, bright pictures. The recipes are broken down into the following categories: soups and stews, beans, poultry, beef and lamb, pork, sandwiches, meatless main dishes, and fish and seafood.
The recipes we've tried have been wonderful. The first dish we had to try was the 5 ingredient stroganoff. We've tried making gluten free stoganoff before, generally the recipes called for gluten free cream of mushroom soup, and it really wasn't very good. This recipe, however, was divine. my non-gluten free hubby, first bite in, said "next time you make this..." That is high praise from him, especially after just one bite. It was so creamy and delicious. We are definately going to be making this on a regular basis. Hubby and I had 2 bowls and my step daughter really enjoyed it as well. I had some of the left overs for lunch today and it was still so very good.
I, of course, can't share the recipe here, but you should totally go pick up this book. If you know anyone who has recently had to go gluten free, this would be a great gift, or if you want to know you can prepare safe meals for them at your home, again, this would be a great book to add to your collection. And even if you aren't gluten free, this is still a great recipe book. The recipes are all easy, quick, and sure to please your entire family.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Review Time: Pasta Prima 5 cheese Ravioli

Ok, so here's a quick product review
I had been hearing for a while that Pasta Prima was going to be putting out a gluten free variety of their "fresh" ravioli. I had looked and looked but never found. This weekend I finally found them, so I just had to give them a try. I found them in our local Carr's (Safeway) store. Of course I picked them up and just had to give them a try.

They only had the 5 cheese variety, so that's what I went with. 8 oz package has 2 servings, so don't plan on feeding your family with this, but it makes a nice quick lunch or gives you and option for a solo dinner while the rest of your family has their "regular" pasta.

Taste and texture were pretty good. Being a cheese filling, it was a little "bland" by itself, but I added in a nice garlic tomato sauce and that was just yummy. I did have some leakage as at least one of the ravioli broke.

This probably won't be making a regular appearance in our menu around here, but overall I can give it a positive review. Since I had this for lunch, I wasn't able to share this with hubby to get the non-gluten free opinion on this, but I liked it.

** note: I am getting nothing in exchange for this review, just want to get my opinion out about products I've tried and either liked or didn't.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

So September has been a bit busy and crazy, this past week or so especially so. But there will be several posts coming up, as soon as I have time to sit down, organize and write them..
I've been busy canning and dehydrating food this past week and that will be going on next week and perhaps into the week after that as well. We've had our first freeze and snowfall of the season. And I've got some reviews coming up! There are some new gluten free food items out that I will be taking a look at, and there's a new cookbook out by one of my favorite gluten free bloggers and I had the chance to get my hands on advance copy of her latest cookbook. It's out now, but I just got my copy today, because, well, things.. anyway... I've had the chance to skim through it a bit today and I already have about a dozen or so recipes bookmarked for upcoming usage. (They will come in particularly handy while I'm spending my days bottling and processing potatoes the next week or so...)
So, not too much to post today, but things will be coming.. including a few quickly whipped together creations from this week's canning crazed mind, though pictures may not be as prevalent on some of them... Sorry, but I was busy and crazy and didn't think about it until it was too late. Ah well.
So, keep your eyes posted here.. lots of things will be coming soon! I promise!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Bacon Cheeseburger dip

 So my husband saw this recipe posted on facebook the other day and asked me if it was one I could do. He said it looked like it would be gluten free an that meant I should have no problem making it. So we went and grabbed the one or two items we needed and we made this for our weekend splurge. (It's a holiday weekend and while everyone else is getting 3 or 4 days, he wound up with overtime all week and was asked to work Saturday and Monday and only got Sunday off, so we decided to make the best of his 1 day weekend and he pretty much just took the day to be lazy and eat junk food. It doesn't happen often, but we make the best of it when we do..)
Anyway, we made this, and oh yes, it is very yummy. We opted to serve this with potato chips (in place of potato buns, which is what he'd want for burgers..) but it would go very well with toast, or even as a sandwich, I would think.. 
Here's the recipe as I pulled it from the facebook post.

Bacon Cheeseburger Dip (careful~ this is addicting!)

1/2 pound ground beef
8 bacon strips (cut into chunks)
1/2 diced onion
1 clove garlic - chopped
4 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Pre-heat oven to 350ยบ. Cook ground beef; drain.

Cook bacon until crispy (drain; keep 1-1/2 T grease in pan).

Saute onion and garlic in grease. In a large bowl mix cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, worcestershire and ketchup. Add beef, bacon, onions and garlic to mixture above and stir until combined.

Pour into baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes.

We did like this. It is very filling. I tried it adding a smidge of dill pickle relish as well, just to see. That was a good addition as well. We're thinking next time we'll add jalapenos as well.  As you can see, to serve, I portioned out into individual ramekins,, topped with a little shredded cheese and chopped green onions.

I have no idea where this recipe originated, I'd give proper credit if I did. Hubby thinks next time he'd like to try it with less cream cheese and more sour cream, but this is very good, as is. I'm also thinking that I'd prefer to make my own mayo for it next time. I simply didn't feel like taking the time to do it this time. I'm also thinking this would be wonderful done in a small crock pot for holiday or buffet dips. (We even discussed the potential of using velveeta for this, if you wanted to go with a more melty cheese option.. Not the healthiest option, but then, this isn't a healthy dish by any means...) 

Friday, August 30, 2013

One of my Favorite bloggers!

Ok, so things have been a wee bit utterly insane around here lately.. (step daughter moving in, moving out, moving back in, an emergency foster placement and all sorts of other things..) and I haven't been able to blog as much as I'd like to. Cooking has been whatever I could get a barely 3 year old to eat.. and a very picky one who was use to primarily processed food, so that was interesting.
But, at present we are once again small child free and trying to eat better again. This week it has been mostly soup. I made a big pot of soup with some chicken stock I'd made a while back, an assortment of veggies, some bits of chicken and some gluten free pasta. It's been very good and nicely filling, but today is making the third night in a row of it, and we're all rather happy this will be the end of it. (I am making some gluten free bread to go with it tonight, which will be nice. Hubby has had his "regular" bread the last few nights, but I haven't had any, and I made fresh butter the other day as well, so I am looking forward very much to it..
Anyway, I've also been busy flash freezing produce and was getting ready to do some canning just before we got the kids, so that had to get put off. Maybe I can get back to that this next week.
It has been very cold and rainy, so soup has been nice, and might go onto chili next. I make some great, crazy chilis, so if I get the chance to make chili in the next few days, I will get that posted.
But, I started this post today to share one of my favorite gluten free bloggers. Stephanie O'Dea from A Year of Slow Cooking was one of the recipe bloggers I started following before I learned I needed to be gluten free, but, as luck would have it, every single one of her slow cooker recipes is gluten free (at least as long as you read your labels).
We've found so many recipes over there that we really love and have gotten much use from. Some of our favorite recipes are:
Crock pot ribs (we used boneless beef short ribs)
Pepperocini Beef (makes wonderful sandwiches)
horseradish scalloped potatoes (doesn't that just sound yummy?)
 Lemon and herb roasted chicken
Cinnamon Sugar Almonds
Apple dumplings

There are loads and loads of other recipes of all sorts over there, and she's got 2 cook books out (and  third one is coming out in September!)
You really should check her site out, try some of the recipes, maybe buy a book if you like her stuff.. :)

Hopefully I will be able to get her new book shortly after it comes out and will be able to review that then.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Product review time! El's Kitchen Snaps and Medleys

A few weeks ago, I volunteered to write a review on Amazon for a new gluten free product in exchange for free samples. Yesterday, my samples arrived.
I've never been asked to write a review for a product before, so this was a bit of a first for me, but, happily, it turned out to be a product I have no problem supporting.  My samples came from a new company called El's Kitchen. They are running 2 new gluten free snack lines and I got a sample from each.
The first sample I got was from their Snaps line.  This is a line of bagel chips.  This line is free from gluten and wheat, eggs, nuts, peanuts, dairy and soy. It is also free of trans fats. It comes in a 4 oz bag and each 1 oz serving has just 90-100 calories.
They come in 3 different flavors, original, garlic and herb, and cinnamon sugar.
The sample I got was for the cinnamon sugar snaps. I have to say, they were very good bagel chips. It has been a while since I've had "traditional" wheaty bagel chips, but, from what I can remember of them, these were spot on. And it had some great flavor. Not too sweet, but a very good blend of cinnamon and sugar.
I had my non-gluten free husband try these as well and he really liked them as well. That is saying something as he often has flavor or texture issues with some of the gluten free products.

The second line of snacks they are offering are called Medleys. This snack contains a mixture of corn nuts, flax seed corn chips, pretzels, potato chips and bagel chips.
This line also has 3 flavor options: original, cheddar and the sour cream and onion. This line comes in a 5 oz bag and each 1 oz serving varies from 140 to 150 calories per serving.
I got the sour cream and onion flavor as my sample from this line and oh boy, did we like this. Hubby and I really, really liked this one. Really our only complaint was that we wanted more, which is a good thing for the company. :)
The flavors and textures of the various components blended very well together, and the flavor blend wasn't overpowering. It was just really very good.
This line contains no trans fats, no eggs, nuts or peanuts.

These products are currently available via and are retailing there for $5.12 per 4 to 5 ounce bag. That might seem a bit much (and really it is..) but, sadly, that's about typical for gluten free products, and is actually better then some prices I've seen.
This was a good enough product that I feel comfortable recommending it to anyone who is looking for a good, crunchy snack. It won't be joining our "regular" line up, but it is going to be watched and ordered once in a while.

** Note: The only "payment" I received for this was my free samples, in exchange for which, I agreed to write a review on I liked the product enough, and had wanted to start doing some reviews on my site, that I took it upon myself to write my review here as well. **

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Because we all need cookies from time to time:

1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter (or other nut/seed butter)
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I used the Enjoy Life brand.)

I've been thinking about making cookies for about a week or two, but just never quite seemed to get around to it. The last few weeks have been busy with everyone in and out and visiting for the summer and then the holiday.
Tonight, I had just put dinner in the oven (meatloaf...) when my husband called to let me know that he had a stop to make tonight and would be about a half hour later then usual, which meant dinner would be delayed, which meant I needed to pull the meatloaf back out.. But I had this nice, warm oven and some extra time, so, cookies!

These are very simple and quick cookies. I've seen several variations on the grain free peanut butter cookies online, but, well, I really like chocolate, so we needed to make some modifications..

I started by measuring my cup of sugar and a cup of peanut butter into my mixing bowl. I like chunky, and that's what I had, so that's what I used. Any peanut butter or other nut butter works well for this.
Then I decided to add 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder, my vanilla and the egg. I mixed these until they were well combined, then I added my chips and mixed those in as well.

Then I scooped them onto my baking stone. I used my 1 tablespoon measure and made rounded balls. Once they were all places, I gave them the traditional peanut butter cookie crosshatch.
And into the oven they went, while I peeled potatoes for mashing.

They baked for about 10-15 minutes at 350. They tend to run closer to 15 minutes for me, but some of the other pages I've seen this posted on calls for 10, so watch your first few batches and adjust the time to suit your oven and altitude.

Out to cool then try not to eat them all before dinner :)
Yield for me, today: 17 cookies