Eleven Easy Gluten-Free Go-Tos

My little sister, Ellen, has been on a path toward becoming gluten- and dairy-free, which has significantly improved her health issues. When she cooks for herself and strictly monitors for cross-contamination, the golden age of GF living reveals all its rewards. One smidgen of gluten though . . . and she’s a goner. When we were together at Christmas, I told her I’d work on a cheat sheet for quick grocery store purchases and safe items at the restaurants she has access to. Many of these are based on what’s close to my office as well–crappy fast-food where I am able to find gluten-friendly fare. I don’t condone a great deal of eating out, especially at fast-food restaurants, because home-cooking is really the only way to monitor quality of ingredients, but reality is that I will be too rushed to make my lunch two days out of the week. It’s good to be aware of my g-free options, even if they aren’t super healthy. (Links below are to the allergen pages for each restaurant/manufacturer so you can scope out the menu items that will work best for you.)

  1. Costco Rotisserie Chicken. $4.99 for a whole cooked chicken. Boom. Most of the time, you can’t even buy a raw chicken for that amount, never mind the hassle and expense of cooking it. A lonely girl like me can get a good four to five meals out of this lovely seasoned bird, and I freeze the carcasses to make my own GF chicken stock down the road. Check the label next time you’re in the store. It says gluten-free in red letters across the bottom. Holla!
  2. Wendy’s. Gluten-friendly items include the baked potato, chili, hamburger patties, and side salads (watch it with the dressings and no breaded chicken!). Sadly, Wendy’s fries are not listed as GF because they are cooked in the same oil as breaded items.
  3. Chick-fil-A. This is no help for my sister, but I want to marry Chick-fil-A sauce, so I’m putting it on the list: chargrilled chicken salad (amen), waffle fries (the choir crescendos!), Chick-fil-A sauce (a downright religious experience). Add a half-sweet half-unsweet tea, and I could die a happy woman.
  4. Qdoba or Chipotle. I don’t love Mexican. Therefore I don’t love these places. But a rice/bean/meat/veggie bowl works in a pinch, and these places make it easy to eat g-free.
  5. Gluten-Free Waffles (Van’s are my favorite). When I first cut out gluten, I ate these for dinner three nights a week. A little butter, almond butter, and a handful of raspberries, along with a couple poached eggs, made for a perfectly satisfying meal. I watch for BOGO sales and keep a couple boxes in my freezer at all times.
  6. Brown rice cakes. GF bread is spendy, and I really don’t like it unless it’s toasted. Brown rice cakes are a great vehicle for albacore with pesto and veggies, turkey and goat cheese, or whatever you might normally put in a sandwich.
  7. Kind Bars. I eat one of these nearly every morning. I only love two or three flavors (the rest are too sweet for me), and I buy those by the box through Amazon Subscribe-and-Save.
  8. Sonic. I don’t love Sonic, but in a pinch, it’s good to know you can get something that won’t derail your lifestyle. Hamburger patties, tots, and fries should be safe.
  9. Arby’s. Arby’s has a fairly comprehensive allergen sheet with some good options, including roast beef and roast turkey, side salad, and roast turkey chophouse salad. Steer clear of the fries!
  10. Quinoa. By the truckload. Almost daily. I have grown to love quinoa more than any kind of rice. I make a double batch with chicken stock on Sundays and use it throughout the week–as a heated side, cold on salads as a shot of filling protein, mooshed together and lightly fried alongside a veggie scramble, etc. Buy at Costco if possible–way cheaper!
  11. Canned soups and stock. Let’s be honest. I am not going to cook soup from scratch every week. Some nights I am going to drag my sorry rear home at 7:00 and reach for a can of soup. Thank the Lord in heaven there are options. (Are you paying attention to this one, Ellen?) Progresso has an assortment of g-free soups. Skip the creamy soups if you’re dairy-free as well. Add a piece of GF toast with tomato slices and crumbled goat cheese on top, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic, and this isn’t a half-bad meal. (Also worth noting is Campbell’s allergen document. If you don’t have access to a Whole Foods, which believe it or not, many people don’t, it’s good to know that your standard grocery store carries GF chicken stock, a staple in my kitchen.

Next time around, which will likely be in three months since that’s the frequency of posting I seem capable of, I’ll get together a list of my favorite gluten- and dairy-free bottled salad dressings–another of the challenges for someone new to this lifestyle change. (I promise I won’t wait that long, sis!)

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Ranch Pork Chops

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

I was skeptical of this recipe. I pulled it straight from Pinterest and was a little worried I may end up with a total pin fail (like something from Pintester or Pinterest You Are Drunk), but they were actually pretty good. Plus they were so easy, I’d be hard pressed not to put them into my rotation! I may experiment with adding some hearty root veggies into the pot with the pork chops this fall when they are in season–parsnips and carrots would be awfully good with these.

My one recommendation is not to let these cook too long. I put them into the crock pot frozen at about 7:30 and didn’t get home until 7 last night. My crock pot has a swap to warm feature after a time you set, but just being in the for 12 hours really dried these babies out! The first time I made them, they cooked for 6 hours and were perfectly juicy and tasty.

Ranch Pork Chops

  • Pork chops (I recommend nice thick chops)
  • Ranch packet
  • Cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can water

IN THE BAG: Combine all ingredients.

TO COOK: Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (depending on thickness of the chops) in slow cooker. Serve with a salad and stir-fried or roasted veggies. I had mine with oven roasted butternut squash and stir-fried broccoli and onion.

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Breakfast Casserole

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

Sometimes breakfast for dinner can be fun. Other times, you just want breakfast for breakfast, am I right? Well this recipe works either way. You can toss it in the slow cooker in the morning for dinner or at night and it will be ready when you wake up. And who doesn’t love waking up to a nice, hot breakfast? It’s great for long weekends or holidays. The recipe geniuses at Better Homes & Gardens really know how to get me! Try it–I promise you won’t regret it! I added a layer of frozen shredded hash browns and it was awesome–but it’s delicious without those too!

Breakfast Casserole

  • 8 uncooked eggs
  • 1/2 pound GF breakfast sausage
  • 1 small can green chilies
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 
1 green pepper, chopped
  • 
1 cup grated Pepper Jack cheese
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • frozen GF hash browns

 IN THE BAG: Store eggs (scrambled with whisk and seasoned with salt and pepper), veggies, cheese, and meat in separate quart bags.

TO COOK: Grease or spray the crockpot with the butter. Layer meat, veggies and cheese, repeating until you’ve used all the ingredients—your last layer should be cheese. Beat the eggs and pour over the mixture. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. Serve over hash browns.

 

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Teriyaki Chicken

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

This quick and easy recipe comes from Penny at Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. The sauce is a little sweet for me, so I cut down the sugar. You could also sub a GF pre-made Teriyaki sauce for the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, pepper.

This recipe is perfect paired with rice and stir-fried veggies for a quick Asian-inspired meal. I stir-fryed up some broccoli, cauliflower, and onions and served mine with rice! It was really good! (And yes, I was eating this in my living room in front of the TV–just keeping it classy!)

 

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

  • 12 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Hot cooked long grain rice

IN THE BAG: In a large bowl, combine the sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, ginger, garlic and pepper.  Pour over chicken.

TO COOK: Cook on low for 7-8 hours or until chicken is tender.  Remove chicken to a serving platter; keep warm.  Skim fat from cooking liquid.  Serve chicken and sauce over rice with stir-fried veggies.

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Italian Chicken and Veggies

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

I’ve seen variations of this recipe on the web and in a few cookbooks–probably because it’s kind of a no-brainer. Maybe I lived in NYC for too long, but nothing says comfort food to me like a cheesy Italian dish. Perfect for a chilly fall day.

This one was a big hit with my husband–I only ate one serving and he finished the rest off over the course of a couple of nights. He requested expressly that I make this one again!

Italian Crock-pot Chicken

  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 16 Ounce Bottle of GF Italian Dressing (I used Kraft Tuscan Italian, but I think I may swap for a less sweet Italian dressing next time–it was a little sweet for my taste, although my husband loved it)
  • 1/2 Cup of Parmesan or Mozzarella Cheese (I will often add a dollop of cream cheese to this)
  • GF Italian Seasoning
  • 6 Potatoes cut in  wedges
  • 2 cups of baby carrots
  • Fresh basil to taste, chopped

IN THE BAG: All Ingredients.

TO COOK: Place chicken in pot first. Top with carrots. Top with potatoes. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Serve over rice pasta or with a salad.

Restaurant Review: The Cottage Cafe

I was lucky enough to grab lunch recently with my friends LSS of Frugal Nashville and CBR in their Bellevue neighborhood. I say lucky because I NEVER have enough time to take an actual lunch break–can I get an Amen for eating like a grown-up with conversation and courses instead of shoving a GF sandwich in my face while typing with the other hand?!

photo by the wonderful and talented Kate Murphy: http://www.katemurphyphotography.com

We chose the Cottage Cafe, which I’d been wanting to try for a long time. It’s run by Crumb de la Crumb, the same company that made my amazing gluten-free key lime infused wedding cake. YUM. The cafe is in an adorable antique shop and has a definite “Southern Ladies Who Lunch” vibe to it with floral table clothes, fruit tea, and homemade lemonade. We were so busy catching up that I didn’t take any pictures–bad blogger, I know!–but the food was pretty darn tasty. There were tons of gluten-free options and I actually struggled with what to order because there were so many choices! Imagine me squealing in delight about that!

The appetizer was crackers with cheddar jelly–basically GF crackers with a dip of sweet jelly, bacon, green onions, and fresh cheddar cheese. It was the perfect salty/sweet combo and we cleaned both plates. Then we each opted for the Grilled Cheese. In true Southern style, it was made with Pimento Cheese, Benton’s Bacon, and fried to golden brown perfection in butter. LSS had her’s with salad and CBR opted for GF tomato basil soup. I added avocado to my grilled cheese and had some chips, but I was really saving room for dessert. And I’m so glad I did…

I got a slice of their GF pumpkin cheesecake, which was light, fluffy, and heavenly. And then I got a GF chocolate Nutella cupcake and a GF lemon meringue cupcake to go to share with the rest of the GF Gluttons back at the office. The chocolate was good, but the lemon was the clear winner. The texture was perfect and it was light, fluffy, and tart and sweet at the same time.

Here’s their menu if you want to check it out for yourself. I will definitely be going back!

Patsy’s Chicken and Rice Soup

“I really can’t stay, baby it’s cold outside….”

It’s not Christmas or snowing, but the temperature here in Nashville has plummeted over the last few days. And that means that any of our Northern readers are really feeling the chill. This recipe is perfect for chilly fall days. It’s not a slow cooker recipe, but I’m sure it could be adapted….and it comes to me from my husband’s grandmother Patsy. It’s everything chicken and rice soup should be–tasty, warm, and filling. Hope y’all enjoy it as much as we do. Stay warm!

Patsy’s Chicken and Rice Soup

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Saute onions and celery in olive oil until tender.
  2. Add shredded chicken, chicken broth, cream of chicken soup, rice, thyme, sea salt, and hot sauce.
  3. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. Add shredded carrots and simmer for another 15 minutes.
  5. If the soup seems too thick, you can add more broth or water during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  6. Serve warm!

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Mexican Chicken

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

I adapted a slow cooker version of this recipe and it rocks my socks off. Seriously, hands-down one of my favorite slow cooker recipes of all time. I was so hungry and it was so delish, that I forgot to take pictures. Hunger can make any of us do wacky things.

Mexican Chicken

  • 1 pound boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon Taco seasoning (I use a blend of cumin, cilantro leaves, salt, pepper, a dash of paprika, and chili powder)
  • Chopped green pepper and sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup Frontera enchilada sauce (you can use any enchilada sauce, but this one is SO good you won’t want to!)
  • 
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 3 green onions, chopped (optional)
  • Chopped avocados (optional)

IN THE BAG: Sprinkle the bite-sized cubes of chicken with taco seasoning. Add the enchilada sauce and toss to coat the chicken. Add veggies and cheese.

TO COOK: Put contents into slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours. Scatter green onions and avocado over the top and serve over corn chips, rice, or on salad.

Slow Your Roll Recipe: Pot Roast

If you read my adventures in slow cooking crazy, you’ll know I’m on a serious slow cooker roll. I thought I’d share my recipes so you can slow your roll too!

I adapted this recipe from domestic genius/superwoman Martha Stewart mixed with how I’d always done pot roast in the slow cooker. It’s not a revelation or anything, but it is a nice, pretty yummy pot roast recipe perfect for fall or winter evenings. I do think that next time I’ll add 1 C. of beef broth and a couple of tablespoons of onion powder just to kick the flavor up a notch.

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

  • 8 medium carrots, cut into thirds
  • 2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 beef chuck roast (3 pounds), trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

IN THE BAG: Add carrots and onions; season with salt and pepper, and toss. Sprinkle roast with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; place on top of vegetables, and drizzle with Worcestershire, horseradish, and rosemary.

TO COOK: Cook on low 10 hours (or on high for 6 hours). Transfer roast to a cutting board; thinly slice against the grain. Place vegetables in a serving dish. Serve roast with vegetables and pan juices.

Bacon Shortage?!?

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Whoa. This article was one of the first things I read this morning, and I was devastated. I love me some ham, bacon, and pork tenderloin! I will be stocking up once I eat my way through some of my freezer stockpile. Anyone else planning to stock up?

Also, you can buy this AWESOME bacon print here!