Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gluten Freedom Atlanta's New Website

Please check out my new website where I'll continue posting my reviews, recipes, and thoughts on gluten free life: Gluten Freedom Atlanta

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Food For Thought...

An interesting article in the New York Times by Michael Pollan:

Big Food Vs. Big Insurance

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Upcoming Gluten Free Atlanta Events

Hope you'll check out some of these great events!

Shaun's Restaurant Celiac Menu Friday, September 11th- Sunday, September 13th. Once a month Shaun's puts together a 4-course gluten free menu. It looks yummy! You can also order off of their regular menu as well, which I'm sure they'd be willing to accommodate and it's probably a safe place.

The Celiac Menu:
appetizer warm mushroom salad, organic poached egg, brown butter hollandaise

carolina gold rice soup, grilled quail, peanuts, scallions
entrée braised all-natural range veal breast, spaghetti squash and chestnut honey
dessert local muscadine sorbet with lambrusco bianco

Shaun's Restaurant
1029 Edgewood Ave. NE
Atlanta, GA 30307

Harry's Farmers' Market in Roswell Celebrates National Celiac Day: Sunday, September 13th from 12-5

Many fun events including, gluten free demonstrations, a birthday party, and cooking instruction.

It's so great that there are many events in Atlanta supporting celiac and gluten free dining. Please keep me posted on any other events coming to the area.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Right now at The Local Farmstand, there are beautiful Brown Turkey and Celeste figs. I had been eyeing those figs for about a week, determined to purchase them and make something with them. Did I want to go savory or sweet? I asked my customers what they planned to do with their figs. Did I just want to keep it simple and stuff them with goat cheese and wrap them in prosciutto? Did I want to make a dessert? Decisions, decisions!

I started to think about when I’d enjoyed figs in the past and I quickly realized that only rarely had I eaten figs. I did remember that last summer I ate one of the most delicious meals ever at The Farmhouse Inn in the Russian River Valley, California. At this meal I had my first savory experience with figs, served with pork chops. While this might seem like an odd duo of foods, the combination of salty and sweet was delicious. So I decided to try to make my own version of a pork chop-fig dish with my newly purchased figs. While it was no Farmhouse Inn, (I couldn’t quite figure out how to make the Zinfandel-fig jam or cut my figs into perfect star shapes) I must say that I made a unique dish that brought out great flavors in both the pork and figs.

Here’s what I did (with some guidance from Fine Cooking):

2 thick bone-in pork chops
Kosher salt & black pepper
Olive oil
1 cup GF chicken broth
3 T. balsamic vinegar
Chopped fresh figs (I used about 1/2 cup but you could use less)
1 ½ T. honey
Chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
2 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
S & P
4 whole figs, cut in half

David and I always make pork chops in the skillet. A little olive oil, salt, pepper and the pork chop. Very simple. I did the same thing with this recipe. Dry the pork chop, then rub with olive oil, S & P. Preheat oven to 400 and heat the skillet. Cook pork chop in skillet on medium high heat for about 5 minutes on each side. (Warning, the kitchen might get a little smoky.) I used bone-in pork chops because I think these provide more tender and flavorful meat. If you go with boneless pork chops, it will be a shorter cooking time. Put the skillet and pork chop into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, depending on the size. (The internal temp should be about 145.) Remove from oven and skillet and cover pork chops with aluminum foil.

Now the figs come in!

With oven still preheated to 400, put the halved figs onto a pan and brush with butter and salt and pepper. Roast for 7-10 minutes while making the sauce.

Return the skillet to high heat. Add broth and balsamic vinegar, scraping any leftover bits of the pork. Stir until broth is reduced to ½ cup. Add honey and herbs and stir until reduced by another 1 to 2 T. Add butter and mix until it’s completely melted. Season with salt a pepper. Put sauce on pork chops and garnish with roasted halved figs.

For my side dishes for this meal, I made parmesan risotto and sautéed spinach with garlic and lemon. While I usually keep my meat simple, making this fig sauce definitely added to the complexity of the dish and made for a great use of the figs.

Let me know what dishes you've made with fresh figs!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day Picnic in Piedmont Park

As I mentioned last week, there was an ‘Eat In’ yesterday in Piedmont Park organized by Slow Food Atlanta. The purpose of the picnic, which happened at 306 locations nationwide in all 50 states, was to advocate for better, healthier food in schools.

What a way to spend a beautiful Labor Day! We packed our gluten-free picnic and brought some friends to share the meal and support a good cause.

Here’s what we brought for our picnic:

Homemade Chicken Salad (see recipe below)

Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips (This brand is a recent discovery and all of their flavors are great. I personally love sweet potato and cinnamon.)

Cape Cod Potato Chips: David's addition to the picnic, but also GF

Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies: This was my first time making her GF cookies and while they are a little crumbly, they're very tasty and easy to make.

Freshly baked bread made with Pamela's Bread Mix: like any bread mix, this bread takes time to make but I find it tastes more like 'real' bread than any of the frozen breads I've purchased.

Fresh tomatoes to go on our sandwiches

Strawberries and apples

It was a feast!

Kim’s Chicken Salad Recipe

My mom borrowed this recipe from a friend who uses it for her UGA tailgates. I have since used this recipe and love it! Kim describes it as ‘a process, not really a recipe.’ She’s right but it’s so worth the process!

Preparing the chicken:

- bone in chicken breasts (this recipe is great because you can make as much chicken salad as you want. As I mentioned, this is a process so I like to make a lot. I prepared 9 chicken breasts and we’ll definitely be eating a lot of chicken salad for the next week.)
- olive oil
- celery salt
- lemon pepper
- S & P
- Reynolds large oven bags

Wash chicken breasts. I take the skin off some of the breasts before cooking, but not all. The chicken stays moister if you leave the skin on, but if you go ahead and take the skin off, then you get more of the spice flavors in your chicken salad. It’s your call.

Dry breast and rub with olive oil. Season both sides with S, P, lemon pepper and celery salt. Repeat for each piece.

Spray inside of oven bag with Pam. Put about 5 breasts in each bag. Place bag in a baking pan. (Spray pan with Pam as well.)

Cook chicken for one hour at least at 350. Turn oven off and let sit for another hour. Then put chicken in refrigerator to cool.

The chicken falls easily off the bone. Remove the skin if you have not done so yet. Cut chicken into desired size pieces.

Making chicken salad:

- Prepared chicken
- Celery, cut into desired size (I don’t like a lot of celery in my chicken salad so I use one rib or less per breast)
- Sweet pickle relish (Vlassic is GF)
- Hellman’s Mayonnaise
- S & P

In a large bowl, mix chicken and celery. Add relish and mayo, until you get your desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

Judge how much you want to use based on your own taste buds. I made the chicken salad a day in advance so I added a little more mayo and relish the morning of the picnic. I also like to eat this chicken salad on Mary’s Gone Crackers or on a bed of mixed baby greens.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Whole Foods Gluten Free Bakehouse Pie Crust, Two Ways

This weekend I created two meals using Whole Foods' Gluten Free Bakehouse pie crusts. I had not yet used this product and it did not disappoint. We’ll be eating the leftovers tonight!

Both of these recipes are two of my favorite meals from my pre-celiac days and they are naturally gluten free, except for the pie crust. The Whole Foods crust worked perfectly with both meals and my non-celiac friends couldn’t tell the difference.

Tomato Pie: This pie is perfect for Atlanta right now, since you can get gorgeous tomatoes at your local farmers’ market. You should not make this pie unless you have great tomatoes…grocery store tomatoes will make for a mediocre pie. This meal is a family favorite from growing up on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. As you’ll see, this is an incredibly simple, yet delicious recipe.


- Cook GF pie crust at 350 for 15 minutes and let cool
- Peel four large tomatoes and cut into thick slices (have extra tomatoes in case you need more)
- Put first layer in cooled pie crust (use small pieces of tomatoes to fill in gaps), and sprinkle with chives, basil, salt and pepper
- Repeat for second layer
- Mix one cup of Hellman’s mayo and one cup of shredded cheddar cheese and spread over top of tomatoes
- Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes (the mayo/cheese layer of the pie will start to brown)

Quiche: A great meal for Sunday brunch entertaining, I made the quiche in the morning and then reheated it for about ten minutes once our guests arrived. I served it with a simple mixed green salad and strawberries. Nothing too complicated, but looked pretty on the plate.


- Preheat oven to 350.
- Cook 4 oz. of Hormel bacon , cut into ½ inch pieces. Remove from heat and drain grease.
- Glaze pie crust with egg yolk.
- Stir together 4 lightly beaten eggs, 1 cup 2% milk, and 1 cup cheese. Add ½ t. salt and ¼ t. pepper.
- Add bacon to mixture and pour into pie crust.
- Cook for 35 minutes, or until the top starts to brown.

Notes about the crust: The crust tasted great and very much like pie crust, but it did seem a little salty to me. I have not yet used this crust to make a sweet pie so I’m not sure what it will taste like with something sweet baked in it. Also, the edge of the crust did not ‘brown’ as much as I would like (even when basting it with egg yolk) so I might adjust the temperature a little bit in the future. Two pie crusts come in a package and the sell for around $5.99. I think this is a very reasonable price. The crusts keep in your freezer indefinitely, but you want the crust to get to room temperature before you start baking. The crust also reheats well when eating leftovers.

Thank you Whole Foods for making a pie crust to help us GF eaters make yummy, quick and savory meals!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Southern Stir Fry

I’ve started working at a great produce shop called The Local Farmstand. I love working here for many reason, but I’m particularly obsessed with the fact that I am constantly surrounded by fresh, local, and gorgeous vegetables. I feel fortunate that I get to spend the day talking to people about food, how to prepare it and thinking about what my next, delicious, gluten-free meal will be.

One of my favorite recent creations is Southern Stir Fry, a great way to use local produce and get lots of good flavor. Southern Stir Fry is basically a stir fry for summer veggies, so it’s great if you have a CSA and aren’t quite sure what to do with that one squash and few pieces of okra. Last week I made it twice, once with okra as my main component and the next time with baby squash. You could also use zucchini, eggplant, or sweet peppers.

Southern Stir Fry can be a side dish or an entrée depending on what else you plan on serving. (If I want it to be a main dish, I serve it with risotto. The flavors go well together.

- 3 T. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup red wine
- 3 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 lb. summer vegetables chopped (I used combinations of okra and summer squash)
- Thyme
- Bay leave
- salt pepper

Heat pan with olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.

Add red wine and continue to cook and stir. Let about half of the wine evaporate.

Add thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper, tomatoes and whatever other veggies you plan on using. (Don’t worry too much about amounts of veggies. It’s totally fine to use more or less.)

Turn temperature of stove to low and cover pan. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The tomatoes will start to melt but the other vegetables will maintain their shape and some firmness. Serve warm. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Atlanta Braves and ARAMARK Announce New Gluten-Free Concession Stand at Turner Field

Great news for gluten free baseball fans. One of the only gluten free concession stands in the country is at Turner Field. No longer do I have to watch everyone else enjoy a cold beer and a hot dog, while I'm eating a protein bar. Take me out to the ball game!

From Aramark: The Atlanta Braves and ARAMARK, the exclusive food and beverage provider at Turner Field, have announced the opening of a dedicated gluten-free concession stand for fans with Celiac Disease. The location opens Friday, Sept. 4, behind Section 106, and will feature all-beef franks, sirloin beef burgers, chicken sandwiches, chips, popcorn, brownies, cookies, soda, water and gluten-free RedBridge beer.

"In response to increasing requests for healthier and gluten-free options from fans, the Braves and ARARMARK are proud to unveil this new concessions option at Turner Field," said Ron Ranieri, ARAMARK General Manager at Turner Field. "The gluten-free stand is part of the Braves and ARAMARK's overall commitment to offer menu options that allow all fans, regardless of dietary restrictions, to enjoy the ultimate ballpark experience."

Check out the Atlanta Braves website for their game schedule.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Things I Love: Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Brownie Mix

Yesterday I ventured out to the Howell Mill Publix to in search of Betty Crocker’s new gluten free mixes. Having read about them from the Atlanta Gluten Free Examiner, I was eager to try them out. They were a little difficult to find because they were mixed in with the ‘gluten filled baking mixes,’ but the manager was very helpful. I thanked him profusely for carrying them in his store. So I walked out of the store arms full with boxes of chocolate chip cookie, brownie and devil’s food cake mix. The first product I tested were the brownies.

Why I love them:

Simple: There are a lot of reasons why I fell in love with Betty Crocker again yesterday. The mix was extremely simple. All it involved was combining the mix with 2 eggs and half a stick of butter. (And of course I added chocolate chips!) I didn’t even need to break out the Kitchen Aid!

Cheap(er): Betty’s mixes are cheap. They were only $3.99 at the Howell Mill Publix. Most GF baking mixes tend to be in the $5-$6 range.

Taste: The brownies were/are delicious. David and I dug into them last night. Chewy, chocolaty, dare I even say moist? And they don’t leave that weird after taste that some GF baked goods do.

Just Because: I love these mixes because it means that the GF diet is becoming more mainstream and getting more attention from major companies. Hopefully this means that GF prices will start to drop and other companies will follow Betty Crocker, Chex and others that acknowledge what a large consumer base we gluten free eaters (and our families) are!

Ask your local grocery store manager to carry Betty Crocker gluten free mixes! Next week I’ll report on the chocolate chip cookies.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rosebud Atlanta

I recently went to Rosebud, a restaurant located in Morningside, just outside of Virginia Highlands. Rosebud describes its food as a ‘Creative fare of American cuisine with a bit of southern inspiration.” When a friend sent me a list of restaurants to choose from, I was particularly intrigued by Rosebud because of its mission to be an ambassador for local farmers and products. I’ve learned that when restaurants promote local fare, it means they’re creating fresh, flavorful food and Rosebud did just that! It also means that they’re aware of everything that goes into their meals, making it more likely that they’ll accommodate me, the gluten free diner.

I met up with my friend, Allison, at Rosebud and even though I had already looked at the menu, I still had trouble deciding what to order because there were so many delicious items on the menu that seemed like great flavor combinations. I informed the waiter that I had celiac and he confidently assured me that I should be able to have most things on the menu, but most likely not the sauces that come with the entrees. He told me the chef could just make me a special sauce. That sounded great to me! As you know, I love it when a restaurant tells me to pick what I want and they’ll make it work.

I chose the braised lamb shank for my meal and it was so delicious. The menu changes frequently, depending on what’s in season, so my meal was a little different from the lamb shank entrée currently listed on the online menu. Mine came with fingerling potatoes, sun dried tomatoes and olives. It was a great combination of strong flavors and the lamb was so tender it practically melted in my mouth. (No need for the fancy sauce!)

While I went with the lamb shank, there were definitely plenty of potential options for me at Rosebud. The crab and corn risotto and seared scallops also appealed to me. Allison ordered the shrimp and grits, which she said were delicious (and most likely GF but I didn’t ask).

I highly recommend Rosebud and I will be going back! When we ate at Rosebud it was a Wednesday, which is known as Big Salad Wednesday. They have a special entrée salad menu on Wednesday nights. I was more interested in lamb shank that night but am eager to try one their beautiful, fresh, local salads. I also want to try the homemade pimento cheese…I’ll let you know if it’s gluten free.

1397 North Highland Ave
Atlanta, GA 30306

Rosebud Website

Monday, August 31, 2009

Cooking with Pesto: Part II

Here are the other three dinners I created last week using the fresh pesto I made.

Night 2: (My personal favorite!) Roasted rack of lamb with pesto crust

Put rack of lamb in roasting pan, fat side up and rub with olive oil. Add salt and pepper. Cook at 450 for 10 minutes. Take the lamb out of the oven and rub the top of the lamb with pesto. Place back in the oven and roast at 450 for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minute under aluminum foil.

I served the lamb with parmesan risotto and sugar snap peas.

Night 3: Pesto Pizza

For this meal, I used the same chickpea pizza crust recipe I used last week. Once I made the crust, I just added a thin layer of pesto and a layer of parmesan cheese and put on high heat in the oven for a couple of minutes.

Since the chickpea recipe makes enough dough for two pizzas, I also made one tomato sauce, Hormel pepperoni and mozzarella cheese.

Night 4: Pork chops, Yukon gold roasted potatoes, and sautéed spinach (This was the last night of the pesto so we just dipped both pork chops and potatoes in the pesto…delicious!)

Yukon Gold Roasted Potatoes:
Preheat oven to 400. Cut 1 ½ pounds of Yukon gold potatoes (not peeled) lengthwise and into wedges. Place potatoes on baking sheet and mix with ¼ cup olive oil, 2 T. melted butter, 4 minced garlic cloves, 2 T. fresh chopped rosemary, S & P.

Spread out potatoes flat on sheet and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Season with S & P.

Pork Chops:
I cooked the bone-in pork chops, very simply in a skillet, rubbing them with olive oil and Bosari Seasoned Salt. (We love this seasoning salt and use it often when cooking.)

Put olive oil in skillet and heat on high heat. Preheat oven to 400. Add pork chops to skillet and cook on stove top, about 4 minutes on each side. (You want to get a nice crust.) Then place skillet and pork chops in the heated oven for about 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Note: Cooking with bone-in pork chops takes a lot longer than boneless chops. David and I have found that bone-in provides much more tender meat so we usually prefer going with bone-in. You can easily make boneless pork chops in the skillet, you’ll just cook for a shorter time. The meat needs to be about 145 degrees.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Labor Day Lunch Eat Ins: Slow Food Atlanta

If you're looking for something to do on Labor Day, pack yourself a gluten free picnic and support a great cause! Join in one of the Eat Ins in the Atlanta area advocating for better food in schools. I'll be at the Piedmont Park location, but they'll also be in Decatur, East Cobb County, Gwinnett and Buckhead. Click on the links below for more information.

Slow Food Atlanta - Eat-In

September 7, 2009
Piedmont Park - Atlanta, GA
Organizer: Judith Winfrey

Let's get REAL FOOD in schools. Let's join over 200 picnics nationwide to support vegetables for kids. Let's enjoy our city, a great meal, our favorite park, and a great group of folks. Let's get more money for school lunch programs. Let's support local farms. Let's eat!

Here's the deal. You bring a picnic to Piedmont. You eat it. By showing up, you support better lunches for kids in schools. Easy breezy, right?

Information for Atlanta Slow Food Picnic

Slow Food Atlanta Website

Friday, August 28, 2009

Cooking with Summer Squash

One of my favorite summer foods is squash. You can find squash easily and in great quantities during the summer in the southeast. Last summer I shared a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) with my sister-in-law, Alden, and we were blessed with all of the squash and zucchini we could imagine.

If you love fresh vegetables and fruit, a CSA is a great idea for the summer. You get a delivery each week from the same farm of whatever vegetables are growing on that farm at that moment. It forced me to cook and experiment with unfamiliar produce such as bok choy but I also learned to make my own pesto (due to the unlimited basil we received for a few weeks) and gluten free zucchini bread. I would recommend sharing a CSA with a good friend because then you don't feel as if you're wasting food when you're out of town on vacation and it's a fun excuse to cook together!

When joining a CSA or going to a local farmer's market, you're guaranteed to encounter plenty of squash. There are many ways to cook squash but today I wanted to share two delicious squash dishes that are family favorites. Both of these dishes are great for entertaining because they don't require much hands on attention once the cooking process begins.

Simple Roasted Summer Squash: This dish is very simple, easy and flavorful and you can make it in small or large quantities (sometimes a CSA will only give you one piece of squash which can be difficult to find a recipe and use for just one).

Summer squash, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
Onion, sliced
Olive oil
parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Slice squash into 1/2 inch round pieces. (If it's a larger squash/zucchini, I then cut the rounds in half.)
3. Slice up an onion.
4. Place onion and squash on cookie sheet and drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper on top. Mix up onions and squash in olive oil. Lay onions and squash flat on cookie sheet.
5. Cook for 15 minutes then using a spatula, flip onions and squash and cook for another 15 minutes.
6. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and bake for another 2 minutes.
(Note: I like the squash to be nice a browned before taking them out of the oven, but they also taste good when not browned.)

Dot's Squash Casserole: This recipe is my grandmother, Dot's, old recipe. My mom made it last week and I'm going to make it today using squash from my in-law's garden in Linden, VA that is overflowing with summer vegetables right now!

3 pounds summer squash, chunked
3 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup water
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
(the original recipe also calls for crumbled crackers on top but we just skip that step now to make it GF! I think it tastes better without it anyways)

1. Cook squash & onions with water, sugar, salt and pepper until mashable (about 45 minutes).
2. Beat two eggs lightly.
3. Add milk to eggs and mix well with squash. Add butter and mix.
4. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes.
This recipe freezes well also!

Enjoy the abundance of squash during the last month of summer! Feel free to add your own squash recipes.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Making Fresh Pesto

Last week I stumbled upon some beautifully fresh basil and decided to make pesto. David and I love pesto and fortunately, we don’t get sick of it because I’ve incorporated it into four dinners in the past week. I went with the classic, no frills pesto and it was absolutely delicious and super easy to make.

I followed this recipe from Simply Recipes

• 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
• 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
• 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• Special equipment needed: A food processor Method

1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

What I made:

Night 1: Chicken pesto pasta

1. Cook GF spaghetti ( Bionaturae Brand: follow instructions on container, but I would suggest not using as much salt as they recommend)

2. Cook chopped boneless chicken breasts on stove with olive oil for about 8 minutes on medium heat.

3. Once chicken is cooked, add cherry tomatoes to pan and cook on low temp to soften tomatoes…I used all different color tomatoes from the Decatur Farmers’ Market to add more color to the plate.

4. When pasta and chicken are ready, drain pasta and put in a serving bowl with chicken and toss in pesto.

I also roasted some fresh okra (400 degrees for 10 min, olive oil, S and P) for the meal as well. Enjoy!

*More details on Pesto Nights 2, 3, and 4 still to come!