Monday, August 26, 2013


Our friends introduced us to the awesomeness that is raclette. After trying this Swiss grill at their house we decided to splurge on our own. It has little mini pans that slide out from underneath, and you put any combination of meat or veggies on the grill, then toast bread, eggs, veggies, and raclette cheese in the trays underneath. We had sundried tomatoes, roasted garlic, truffle oil, and stone ground mustard on hand to spice things up. Our neighbors came over and helped us break it in and get completely stuffed on cheesy goodness...totally worth the food coma!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Gluten Free Cheesecakes

I am determined to find a way to enjoy dessert even if I don't eat wheat. We had guests coming for dinner, so I made mini cheesecakes!

The crust was the tricky part, but I'm happy with how it came together. It's crushed gluten free chocolate chip cookies, powdered sugar, melted butter, a sprinkle of salt and chocolate flakes (from a hot chocolate mix, just because).

I mashed it into four mini ramekins and then got to work on the cake itself.

After whipping up the cake batter in the Kitchen Aid I scooped it with an ice cream scooper and popped 'em in the oven.

Last step was decorating them with a little melted dark chocolate and a corner of GF cookie. They deflated a bit after going in the fridge and looked more like a typical cheesecake. You would never guess it's gluten free and they tasted and looked great!

    1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (or GF cookies, pulsed in a food processor)
    1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
    1/3 cup (5 2/3 tablespoons) melted butter
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    2 cups (2 packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
    2 large eggs
    2/3 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1) Select a pie pan whose inside top dimension is at least 9", and whose height is at least 1 1/4" (I used ramekins). Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2) Make the crust by stirring together all of the crust ingredients, mixing till thoroughly combined.

3) Press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan.

4) Make the filling by mixing together all of the filling ingredients till smooth. Use a mixer set at low-medium speed. If your cream cheese is at room temperature, this will go fairly smoothly (pun intended). If the cream cheese is cold, it'll take much more mixing to create a smooth filling.

5) Set the pie pan onto a baking sheet, if desired; this makes it easier to transport in and out of the oven, and also protects the bottom of the crust from any potential scorching. Pour the filling into the crust.

6) Place the cheesecake in the oven. Bake it for 20 minutes, then shield the crust with strips of aluminum foil (I sprayed the foil). Bake for an additional 10 minutes (for a total of about 30 minutes). An instant-read thermometer inserted into the crust 1" from the edge should read between 165°F and 170°F; the filling won't look entirely set in the center.

7) Remove the cheesecake from the oven, and set it on a rack to cool. After about 20 minutes, transfer them to the fridge until ready to eat.

There are lots of yummy toppings you could add--anything from fruit and whipped cream to chocolate chips or Reese's cups. Go nuts!

Yields one 9" cheesecake or four ramekins.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour:

Goat Cheese S'ghetti

I got this recipe from Eddie over at Paradise Catering, and it's always been a hit. It's normally made with whole wheat spaghetti noodles. The catch was this time it was on Shirataki noodles, which are very low calorie and gluten free (in the tofu section). They have a slightly weird, eggy texture but they are fast and an okay substitute. I still want to try to make pasta from scratch with gluten-free flour and see how that turns out. The broccoli was sauteed with garlic herb butter and I could have eaten a whole head of it by myself.

Saute about a cup of sliced cherry tomatoes in a little olive oil, then add one package of sundried tomato pesto (Earth Fare sells a good one). After it's warm, add in the pasta and a big handful of scallions. Top with goat cheese and you're good to go!


There is a local chain called Ladles that makes great soup and sandwiches. A few weeks ago I had their Caprese sandwich and it was out of this world. A big part of that was the soft but crisp baguette that it was served on. So I was sad when I went back and realized I'd have to pass on the sandwich this time. I got the Caprese salad instead.

It was surprisingly satisfying, and came with the same balsamic vinegar dressing as the sandwich so it tasted very similar. I almost didn't miss the bread. Almost.

Fancy Dinner at Lucca's

My friend Laura and I decided earlier this summer to put our bake sale earnings towards a double date night at Lucca with our respective boys. It's an amazing Italian restaurant right across the street from their house and it has a (slightly less pricy) family style dinner on Mondays. John and I pre-decided that we would probably have to eat wheat in the form of pasta or bread and that since this was a splurge we would be okay with that.

Dinner started off gluten free, with some cauliflower in anchovy sauce, a butterbean/olive/tomato salad, and a green salad with shaved Parmesan. There was also a good bottle of wine, and I managed to pass on the bread basket (even though it looked delicious).

There was a spinach risotto, and a pasta course. I was already being a pain in the ass by not eating meat, so I ate a small serving of the pasta with house made marinara sauce. Dessert was a cheesecake tiramisu (which I enjoyed much more than real tiramisu since it tasted like a yummy caramel cheesecake instead of coffee), which had a crust of some kind. I picked around the crust but still ate some of it. On the way home I already had a's amazing how quickly your body responds to it once you've been off it. I also felt unpleasantly full even though I didn't eat as much as I normally would have. The food was really good, and next time I think we'd probably order off the menu just to make sure we got something wheat free. I'm glad we finally got to try it out, I love Italian!

Kick Ass Frittata

I'm so glad I learned how to make fritattas. Because they are AWESOME. This one was nom, nom, nom good and full of tasty veggies and herbs.

I used up some sliced cherry tomatoes, diced zucchini, yellow pepper, and broccoli. Sauteed those bad boys up in the aforementioned herbed garlic butter (are you noticing a trend here?) until they were tender.

Added six farm fresh eggs, a splash of heavy cream, sea salt, shredded Gruyere cheese, and a big handful of fresh chopped basil. Cooked on the stove top, gently lifting the cooked eggs so the uncooked part could slide to the bottom. Popped it in the oven and broiled it a few minutes until the whole thing was done. Just like that, BAM!

Bark Fail

Our friend Lisa had us over for dinner some time ago and made super good dark chocolate bark with peanuts. So simple and so good. I had some dark melting chips at home and some peanuts and thought I would be resourceful and melt/chill the chocolate in a glass pie dish. Fail.

The chocolate was delicious, of course, but damn near impossible to get out of the dish. Even after I hacked it up with a sharp steak knife. So lesson learned--next time I will use wax paper and a cookie sheet, and probably different chocolate that is meant for candy and not coating. I hate to see good chocolate go to waste!

Learning to Like Brussel Sprouts

As a kid I had nothing nice to say about brussel sprouts. I thought they were bitter and gross, like the baby cabbages that they were. As an adult I have come to tolerate them, but only if they're cooked really well (like Wild Olive's, where they are deep fried!). I'm trying really hard to like them more. My favorite way to eat them is roasted, so I tossed some chopped brussel sprouts in a bath of olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, red pepper flakes, and my new friend, garlic herb butter.

The only thing I'd change next time is maybe separating them more so the flavors really get inside of them. They probably could have roasted a little longer also, but overall really good.

I had them with a portabella mushroom that I stuffed with leftover Greek yogurt spinach dip and topped with some Asiago cheese. It baked for about 20 minutes on 375. Pretty darn good.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Delicious Asian Noodle Bowl

As soon as I figured out that bean thread noodles were gluten/wheat free, I had a mad hankering for an Asian noodle bowl. I've never made one before, but I have to say that it was a total success. Messy but sooooo good!

- Carton of vegetable broth
- Container of bean thread noodles (soaked in water for 10 minutes)
- 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 cup of shredded cole slaw mix (cabbage)
- 1 carrot, shredded
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 1 head of broccoli, chopped in to small florets
- 1 can bean sprouts, drained
- 1/2 small yellow onion
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- Soy sauce (GF kind!)
- Siracha hot sauce
- Chopped cilantro
- Chopped peanuts

1. Saute garlic and onion in sesame oil for about 3 minutes. Stir in cabbage, a few shakes of soy sauce, and a little broth. Once that starts softening, stir in the broccoli and carrots and get it cooking.
2. Pour in the remainder of the broth (I used a big stir fry wok), bean sprouts, shrimp, scallions, and noodles. Simmer until shrimp are cooked, adding another few teaspoons of soy sauce and hot sauce to taste.
3. Top with cilantro and peanuts and dig in!


We've been getting lots of peaches in the CSA and I've made pies, tarts, smoothies, you name it. Figured it was time to actually eat some plain! Tonight they were served with whipped heavy cream mixed with powdered sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkled with walnuts.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Enchiladas and Street Corn Salad

I've decided if I'm not doing wheat I'm also not doing boring. Tonight was enchiladas verde (pork and pinto bean for my husband, spinach and pinto bean for me), which were corn tortillas stuffed and topped with cojito cheese, shredded cheddar, verde sauce, tomatoes, and cilantro. So, so good.

On the side was Mexican street corn salad (you could also leave it on the cob), and I had too much sauce and not enough corn, so I added some zucchini to beef it up. Delicious!

Here is the original recipe:

    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
    1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija or feta cheese, plus more for serving
    1/2 teaspoon ancho or guajillo chili powder, plus more for serving
    1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
    1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
    4 ears shucked corn
    1 lime, cut into wedges

Basically cook the corn in a skillet with the garlic until done, and mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine. You can also roast or broil corn on the cob and cover it in the mixture...either way, it's good!

Smoothie Time

So I'm not religious about smoothies but I do enjoy them and try to make one about once a week with spinach, banana, coconut water/milk, chia seeds and frozen pineapple/mango/peaches/berries. I always feel better after and they keep me pretty full. Cheers!

Hola Amigo

My friend Slade's band was in town, and he and his girlfriend Ashley stayed with us. We stayed out too late and pretended we were young and hip while they jammed out at Tin Roof. I hope they're able to come back to Charleston regularly! Check out Amigo at

Gluten Free Pizza

I made this before the trip but didn't have time to post. My biggest fear in not eating wheat is that I will be denying myself things that I love and crave, like pizza. So to comfort myself, I bought a gluten-free/wheat-free pizza crust mix and added some CSA peppers, tomatoes, onions, and basil. The texture is slightly different, but overall it was very good.

I also made one for the hubby with chorizo sausage and cheddar, which he enjoyed.

For a side dish, I put together a take on succotash based on a side dish I had at Rarebit downtown.

It's basically butter beans, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, fresh corn, feta, and red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Easy and really tasty!

Back on the Wagon

Back home from vacation and it's time to get rid of the wheat. Since we had no groceries, I had to wing it the first day with some eggs for breakfast and a 1/4 cup of quinoa with canned salmon and green tea. I was full all day!

Miami - Day 3

For our last day in South Beach, we booked a walking food tour which met at Books & Books Cafe (where we ate the day before, but it's probably the best food we had while we were there) for appetizers, then strolled through the farmer's market and took in the scenery.

After stopping for (strong) Cuban coffee and pastries, we walked down to Espanola Way for some fritter type things that were basically cheese and corn that had been breaded and fried (horrible for you but tasty). Then we walked to a Peruvian restaurant near the ocean for more ceviche, a potato dish, and a steak/tomato/french fry dish. Again, not bad, but not that flavorful and not necessarily something I would go out of my way to eat again. I know I sound like a total food snob, but coming from Charleston, where the culinary scene is exploding (and you can get a crazy good meal for under $15), the bar is set pretty high. Food in Miami was really expensive and I think that set my expectations high also.

Fortunately the tour also took us through some areas we hadn't been yet, and we got to see some more art deco architecture and walk under a really neat hotel pool.

We finished up back at the farmer's market, where we took in all of the beautiful exotic fruit up for grabs.

Our trip wound up with a quick visit with my friend BC, who I have not seen in probably 10 years. He moved to Miami Beach a few years ago, saw we were there on Facebook, and the rest is history. He took us to a great Thai restaurant and then gave us a 'local' tour and took us to the airport.

Adios Miami, it's been fun!

Miami - Day 2

Our second day in South Beach started off with breakfast at Manolos, then some serious pool time. The hotel pool was out of this world. Perfect temperature, great chairs to lounge in, not too crowded. Read my book, took a swim, and just relaxed all morning. Ahhhhh....heaven.

Then we headed back by Espanola Way and tried some Cuban food. This is the point where I started to realize that I'm kind of indifferent to Latin American food. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't very flavorful either. Maybe we were eating the 'tourist' version? John got a paella type dish with chicken and plantains and I got a shrimp appetizer with black beans and rice. The shrimp was clearly frozen and the rice had ham in it, so I made up for it by getting some killer gelato later (that's one thing Miami definitely does right!).

Next, we ventured back over to Lincoln Road for some light shopping and to kill some time before we picked up the Duck Tour.

The Duck Tour was awesome. I've always secretly wanted to do one and it was so much fun. It's the big bus that drives into the water and becomes a boat. So we got a driving tour of South Beach, followed by a boat ride where we saw celebrity homes and the view from the harbor.

After a long day, we called it a night pretty early, grabbing some Colombian food near the hotel (which was better than the Cuban, but still really starchy/meaty) and enjoyed our hotel cable and wrote some postcards. John also had champagne and chocolate cake delivered to the room for my birthday! He truly thought of everything. One more day!

Miami - Day 1

My darling hubby surprised me with a birthday weekend in Miami, a place we had talked about going before but had never visited. After a pretty easy flight (catching up on trashy magazines), we found the hotel (the Anglers Resort, which was amazing), and walked to the corner to grab some lunch at Manolos, a Latin diner of sorts.

I decided this was my farewell to carbs weekend, so I kicked it off with a big bowl of pasta. Not the best I've ever had, not the worst. But I was hungry so no complaints.

Then we walked two blocks to the ocean. After dipping our toes in the water we rented bikes and rode up and down Ocean Drive (where all the cool old Art Deco hotels are), then relaxed for a bit at the hotel before heading out.

Next it was on to Lincoln Road, the main shopping/dining/entertainment district for South Beach. The sheer number of people and activity was overwhelming but fun. We got dinner at an overpriced but good sushi place (the beer was $17....I will spare you how much the entrees were), where I had a quinoa hand roll for the first time (yum!).

After walking to the movie theater and seeing "Elysium," we walked back to our hotel and passed through Espanola Way, a small alley full of restaurants, gelato, and more. It was close to midnight and crowds were just getting started.

Then a good night's sleep so we could get ready for day 2!

Goodbye to Wheat

Now that I've decided to give this wheat free thing a try, it's pretty easy to look back and see that maybe, just maybe, I had a slight problem with wheat. Apparently wheat can be addictive in that you crave it more when you eat it, and it makes your blood sugar spike and then drop, causing you to be hungry about two hours after eating it (sound familiar?). This happens to me all the time. As a long-time vegetarian/pescatarian, I've relied on grains to round out my meals and satiate my sweet tooth. I was going through fairly recent pictures to add to the blog and noticed a trend.




Lots of bread!

But basically, wheat. Everywhere. I had no idea how much of it I was eating and the impact it could potentially have on my health. I'm excited to see how I feel over the next few weeks and if my cravings really go away like they say. After a few days without it though, I'm already feeling more mental clarity and less hunger. So long, wheat!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wheat Belly

I'm always on the hunt for nutritional knowledge and new ways to feel better and healthier. Some theories are difficult to implement, others don't make sense to me. One thing I've been fairly successful at recently is cutting way down on diet soda. I now have one every few days and used to be a 3x a day gal, easily. I've known for a while that carbs are not great for you (or sugar), but let's face it, as a vegetarian those are two easy things to eat a lot of. Then came "Wheat Belly." Even the name made me giggle a little.

The basic theory is that everyone (celiac disease or not) has some wheat allergy or sensitivity, whether they recognize it or not. I, of course, recognized many of the 'symptoms' it lists, such as brain fog, fatigue, chronic allergies/sinus grossness, and aches/pains/head aches. The soda cutback has helped with the headaches considerably. There is a whole host of reasons, which quite frankly I don't care that much about, followed by a tremendous number of testimonials (in comments, in the book, on the blog, online) of people who have dropped obscene amounts of weight quickly by cutting the wheat. Generally they drop their other ailments in the process. This was a very appealing combination, I mean who wouldn't like to have more energy and breathe better and lose weight?

But I love wheat. I love pasta. I love bread. I love desserts. I could go on and on and on. The idea of not eating wheat every day flat out terrifies me. But unlike paleo and other restrictive diets, it does encourage you to eat dairy, cheese, beans, and even rice and other non-wheat carbs. So you have more to work with. As an experiment, I went one day without wheat--a 3 egg omelet with veggies and cheese for breakfast, a black bean burger in a bowl (with goat cheese, tomato, zucchini, and portabella mushrooms) from Sesame with butternut squash soup, and wheat free pizza with veggies for dinner. Maybe it was the placebo affect, but I felt more focused and like I had more energy, and I really wasn't very hungry. That's what I'm most skeptical of, the people who post about all their cravings going away and not wanting brownies any more or saying they were never hungry and had to remember to eat. I can't ever picture that day. I think about food a lot.

So while it's restrictive, I think it might be worth a try. If it works, the outcomes would far outweigh the sacrifices. I'm going on a birthday vacation and when I get back, I think I'm going to be ready to give it a serious go. Fingers crossed!