Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Labor Day Recipes & Giveaway!

As I reminiscence this afternoon about past summers as a kid, I swear I can feel the sticky watermelon juice trickling between my fingers while I waded ankle deep on the steps of my YiaYia’s pool. Oh wait, that is probably because I man-handled a giant slice of it sans napkin at lunch…

Nonetheless, Labor Day is approaching swiftly, signaling the end of another season while the smells of summer are fading with the cooler breezes blowing through in late dewy evenings. Tulsa seems to still be sprouting some scolding temperatures during the day but fall is fighting in and I am egging on his side of the ring. When I hear the first sounds of college football this Saturday all will be right in the world.

That said, I am prepping and preparing for this closing event! Heat or not, I bet you will be firing up your grills with me, and I thought it would be nice to spark some menu ideas for you. If you think I am nice now, just hang on to your knickers because I have a surprise for you! You wouldn’t think that I would let you go into the Labor Day holiday weekend empty handed now did you?

I am giving away two Rudi’s Gluten-Free FREE Loaf Coupons and two Rudi’s sandwich boxes! Two lucky readers will receive one coupon and one sandwich box a piece!

“We know gluten-free school lunches can be a challenge. Our gluten-free breads R loaded with goodness; they R a tasty & easy solution to the lunchtime dilemma. And, unlike many gluten-free breads on the market today, Rudi’s GF breads contain no modified starches or gums, no artificial preservatives, and no artificial chemicals. Send your kids off to school and feel GOOD about what they R eating.” Maggie Garner from Rudi’s Bakery

Are you as excited as I am? I hope so! All you have to do is go onto my blog’s FB and “like” it and you will be considered for the contest. GF Indie ON FB Link Already a GF Indie facebook page follower? Leave a comment about your favorite Labor Day Weekend Tradition on the page and you will be in the running to win!

Below are some recipes from my blog that would be perfect to cook up for guests this weekend:

Lentil Walnut Burgers
Pepita Veggie Burger

Turkey Basil Burgers

Grilled Corn with Basil Butter

Baked Gluten Free Onion Rings

Cherry Lentil Salad

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gluten Free Brunch, It’s a Big Dilly at Dilly Deli

I adore going to brunch on the weekend. There is something so perfect about the mid morning time, the diverse menu options, and the boisterous banter from the locals all speaking of all the exciting plans or events they look forward to. It’s a “happy meal” without the drive thru.
Dilly Deli has a great breakfast/brunch menu, with options that are kind to the waistline (if you so choose) and kind to gluten free tummies. They have always been very careful and complimentary to my special orders. I usually try to find items which are naturally gluten free, and was delighted to see some specials last Saturday.

After a long and early morning of activity, we eased our way into Dilly Deli, all ready to fuel up for the day. Our table scooted up to one of the large windows overlooking downtown. Natural light poured in as we shimmied our way into the eclectic seating. Menus were passed, and a small sheet of the daily specials was laid upon the blue and white checkered table cloth. Immediately my eyes were drawn to the Stuffed Portobello Mushroom- A very plump Portobello topped with aged white cheddar, 2 sunny side up eggs, and a heaping side of hash browns (7.95). Personally, I am a savory “bruncher” although at Dilly Deli it is hard for me to resist their steel cut oatmeal, also known as the Sophie (3.95). I am happy I ventured out with this order though, as I was very pleased with the robust texture of the mushroom coupled with the fresh run of egg yolk. The shredded hash browns were warm and crisp on the top, and I gleefully dipped them in Tabasco and ketchup. Savory and Spice gets my Saturdays rolling! My husband ordered the Breakfast Sammy, a freshly made biscuit piled high with egg and sausage, and my son had his usually order of waffles and eggs over easy.

The perfect brunch ceremony closed with a couple rounds of bocce ball. My satisfied stomach could now stomach the rest of Saturday’s rush.

Other gluten free breakfast/brunch/lunch items I have tried:

Green Eggs & Ham……$7.50 (not just a favorite childhood read!)

The Heidi Omelet……$7.50 (ask to leave out side of bread)

The Leroy Salad……$9.95 (no croutons)

Vegetable Pesto Soup……$3.95 for bowl (ask to leave out side of bread)

I have also asked for many of their sandwiches served without the bread on greens! There are other gluten free options but these are the ones that I have tried. If you enjoy something else gluten free on their menu, please share!

Dilly Deli
402 East 2nd Street
Tulsa, OK 74120
(918) 938-6382

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meredith's Monster Cookies

Last Friday night brought a dinner party with close friends, pleasant patio weather, and delectable dishes. We enjoyed an easy menu of Greek salad, pizza, wine, and my contribution, dessert! I have been dying to try a cookie recipe that my cousin Meredith sent to me last week, and this was the perfect chance to whip up a batch. They sounded so naturally scrumptious, and I wouldn’t have to tweak the recipe to make it gluten free. Less work, more flavor? I am there!

The only thing I needed to change was the enormity of a recipe name: Sugar-Free, Egg-Free Peanut Butter & Banana Chocolate Chunk Cookies. That simply wouldn’t do. I think this dessert deserves a decent name, one that gives credit where credit is due too. Meredith’s Monster Cookies is a bit sweeter, and you won’t go blue in the face trying to say it with one breath!

I made mine with vegan semi-sweet chocolate that I had on hand but you can use whatever your little chocoholic heart desires. The result? They turned out to have the perfect cookie texture, a crunchy outer shell and a burst of gooey smoothness in the center. I attribute it to the banana that I pureed instead of mashing. I didn’t want chunks of banana, but rather a banana flavor. I was tempted to throw a flax egg in the mix because the dough was pretty soft but they held together nicely. Loads of lip smacking goodness is packed into tasty treats!

Thanks Meredith for sharing this recipe with me. It will definitely be on my cookie recipe hotlist!

Meredith’s MONSTER Cookies

· 3 large, ripe bananas
· 1/2 cup peanut butter, preferably all-natural
· 1/3 cup canola oil
· 1 tsp vanilla extract
· 2 cups old-fashioned oats
· 1 tsp baking powder
· 1/4 tsp cinnamon
· 1/4 tsp salt
· 1/2 – 1 cup semi-sweet vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Puree the bananas and put into a large bowl. Add your peanut butter, oil and vanilla. In another bowl stir together the oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients along with the chocolate and stir until combined.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or coated with nonstick spray. I made the first batch a little bigger so I baked for almost 20 minutes. The second batch baked for about 16 minutes.You are looking for a rich golden brown color on the outside.

Remove and let cool. Sneak one or two to taste test…then serve!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Busch League

My father is from Chicago so naturally I have been a Cubs fan since the day I was born. My pops and I would sit around on Saturdays, taking in the heat from the afternoon sun that peaked through the blinds and cast a glare on the TV, and yell at the screen together. Very bonding. I would listen to him intensely, emulating baseball banter whenever I could. Hey Pops, “The ducks are on the pond!” right?

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to take our son to his very first Cubs game. Not at Wrigley unfortunately, that will come soon, but at Busch Stadium. Oh yes, we were playing the Cardinals. I do not write those words out of trepidation of the match up mind you (did you watch the last game of the series?) but rather what my son would think of his first Cubbies experience. Yes, he has seen our local minor league team play a million and one times and we have taken him down to Dallas to see the Rangers but this was a whole new ballgame. For me, and for Mitch.

A gluten free gal such as myself doesn’t get to enjoy a cold brew during a baseball game much anymore unless at home. BUT, last Saturday I could! The marvelous miracle about Busch stadium is that they serve gluten free beer! RedBridge, my personal favorite domestic beer right now, is made by Anheuser-Busch. Ah gluten free beer that was free flowing and fresh from the brewery in town. I can’t think of a better way to beat the humidity! We guzzled our beers and stood proud in our Cubbie blue amongst the broken bits of peanut shells littering the ground.

Busch Stadium also has a variety of gluten free food options as well as vegetarian. My husband, the dear that he is, found a blogger that provided a list of where all the gluten free options were as well as vegetarian. Try the Veggie burger with a splash of the hot sauce they have in the condiment section. WOO!

Here is a list below on where to find everything:

• Beef Brisket (no sauce or bun): section 509
• Bratwurst (no bun)
• Grilled Chicken (no bun): sections 139, 161, 446, 264, 266
• Hamburger/Cheeseburger (no bun)
• Hot Dog, Jumbo Dog (no bun)
• Peanuts
• Polish Sausage (no bun): sections 162, 169, 270, 437
• Popcorn
• Pudding - 4 oz. Vanilla and Chocolate: section 136
• Red Bridge Beer: sections B150, B272.
• Turkey legs: sections 152, 432, 509
• Veggie Burger (No Bun): section 132
• Gluten-Free Ham & Swiss Sandwich: section 136
• Yogurt - 6 oz. Strawberry and Peach: section 136

Oh and in case you were wondering, Mitch LOVED his first Cubs game! I think we may have converted his best friend Ben to the Cubs as well. They jumped around aimlessly in their Cubs hats with not a clue what was going on, but a loyalty for the team. The game was clutched for me at the bottom of 8th when I took Mitch to get more snacks. As we walked back to our seats, the sound of cheering in the background, Mitch grabbed my hand, looked up at me, and said, “Mommy? Let’s sing the song!” We sang “Go, Cubs, Go” swinging along our hands back to our seats. Now that is baseball bonding.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Meet Me In St. Louis

Last weekend, four parents packed two 7 year olds and skedaddled to ol’ St. Louis. Road trips to me usually mean junk food, cramped legs, and a bit of car sickness. I decided that I would do my best to revamp this road trip regime with some preplanning. I stocked the car with homemade vegan goodies, snacks from whole foods, and of course some treats to tame the two trouble makers in the backseat (also known as my son Mitch and his best friend Ben). The menu? Vegan almond chews, roasted chickpeas, WF wild rice sticks, WF low fat cherry granola, Chocolate and peanut butter almonds (husband), and cut fruit. For the kiddos I packed fruit, goldfish, pretzels, and cookies! I needed some bribing materials. The night before we left I made my homemade goodies to gobble as the miles past. One of the other parents is vegan/vegetarian as well so I knew he would appreciate the snacks too!

Six hours later the six of us arrived in St. Louis. A bit delirious and stir crazy we headed off to our daily destinations. Courtney, Ben’s mother, planned our children’s agenda and I planned the restaurants. But I bet you already guessed that I would be designated for that position though right?

Toasted Ravioli (not GF), House Chianti (GF!)
The first night I decided that we had to hit the Italian district aptly named “The Hill”. We couldn’t possibly visit St. Louis and not have our boys try the famous toasted ravioli! I was recommended Rigazzi’s Restaurant from my co-worker Nick, whose father actually lived in the upstairs part of the restaurant before they sold it to two Italian families. I had to find a restaurant that was a) kid friendly, b) casual (all day at city museum would make for a sweaty, and stinky bunch), and c) offered some vegetarian and gluten free options. Rigaizzi’s hit d) all of the above. Oh and their toasted ravioli apparently was pretty addicting as two orders disappeared quickly amoung the motley crew!

As far as gluten free dining is concerned, I would warn you to practice caution as I would any Italian restaurant. I must say they were very accommodating and helpful so I am sure you will have a pleasant and safe experience. If you want specific recommendations you can email me! Their red sauce is amazing and could probably make me eat a flip flop if it was covered in it. My favorite bite there? Ben’s father, Jonathan, ordered the Ziti Pasta Pomodoro and I couldn’t get enough of those garlic coated vegetables! When you head for the hills Hill, head to Rigazzi's!

Rigazzi's Restaurant
4945 Daggett Ave
St. Louis, MO 63110
Fax: 314.772.4902

Saturday morning was my dining jackpot. I wanted to find a local restaurant away from the hustle and bustle of normal tourist foot traffic. My son and I are breakfast monsters, so I had to get this pick right. I dissected all sorts of websites and suggestions and finally stumbled upon Local Harvest Café, a gem in the university district that still has me drooling as I write.

Local Harvest Cafe is a pro-sustainable farming and green restaurant that serves fresh, flavorful, vegan and non-vegan dishes. I knew if their food tasted half as good as it sounded from their online menu we would be in foodie heaven.

About 15 minutes after leaving Union Station hotel where our heads hit the pillow at night, we pulled up to the restaurant. Nestled in a quaint building planked by a sidewalk rooted with age old trees, the café looked peaceful and very inviting. We walked into heavy wafts of sweet maple sugar and baked bread. Ben looked me and said, “this place makes me hungry!”. Music to my ears.

Vegan Chorizo Pot Pie
We sat down at a table with chairs on one side and the other a church-like pew.It almost was hilarious given the glutinous acts we were about to partake in. The waitress brought us coffee with cream (soy milk for Jonathan and I) and we picked up our menus. Of course, I already knew what I would be ordering (you know me with menus). Vegan Chorizo Pot Pie. I couldn’t eat the little pie cup but I could dive into the vegan chorizo and juicy local blackberries and peaches. The chorizo had quite the bite and even made ME sweat a little! It was bursting with complex, layered flavors of spices, meaty textures, onions, and sweet potatoes.

Vegan Stuffed French Toast
Jonathan had another great menu pick with the Vegan Stuffed French Toast, stuffed with vegan cream cheese, local blackberries and peaches…need I elaborate more? They do say a picture says a thousand words and I have many! I’ll say this though, there wasn’t crumb left!

My husband and Ben’s mother Courtney were still stuffed to the brim with Friday’s toasted raviolis so they both ordered parfaits which looked absolutely parfait to me! The boys had huge helpings of eggs, bacon and toast.

The meal was amazing. But what is even more amazing is what they also do for our planet! While they fill our tummies full of wholesome greens, they also have a green mission. How do they make a difference with the food and atmosphere they provide?

They reduce their impact on the environment by:

•Buying locally from small farmers and ranchers and food artisans who practice sustainable farming and production methods. This also reduces the amount of fossil fuels required to bring the food to the table.
•Buying organic ingredients that are free of pesticides and chemicals. They are better for the body and it reduces the amount of chemical run-off into our country's streams and waterways.
•Supporting fair-trade practices and small-scale coffee and tea farmers.
•Using biodegradable plastics and packaging whenever possible. Most of our packaging will completely biodegrade within a few years. Styrofoam and petroleum-based plastics will be around for generations.
•Recycling plastic, aluminum, paper, cardboard, tin, and glass. We reduce our waste by 50% daily through our recycling efforts.
•Installing bamboo flooring, water aerators, efficient HVAC systems, and low-e glass.
•Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling. We preach it, we practice it!

What a wonderful establishment! If I lived in St. Louis I would most definitely be a regular. If you do live in St. Louis, why are you still sitting here reading about this restaurant??

Plug in your GPS and head to:

Local Harvest Cafe & Catering

3137 Morgan Ford Road (Map)
St Louis, MO 63116
fax. 314.480.7119
email. contact@localharvestcafe.com