Pancetta and Parmesan Cheese Kettle Chips….Yes…I went there!

I bought something this week that I never buy, never. Potato chips…shocking  breach of my personal rules but these were something special; pancetta and Parmesan cheese kettle c hips from Aldi’s.  Damn. they are good! So crispy and I can definitely taste the cheese and the pancetta. Not overly strong; perfect balance of porkiness, cheesy and greasy (I find all chips kinda greasy) – a total flavor explosion of crunch and munch.

The usual (more or less) amount of carbs, not too much sodium per serving and no trans fats. One gram of saturated fat per serving.

Just have to say, these chips are freaking addictive. I could eat the whole bag but I am rationing them as chips are totally not on my diet.

kettle chips

They are so good I almost didn’t want to tell you about them. Keep every darn bag for myself! Decided that wasn’t possible so I bit the bullet and am telling you. Guessing they are limed edition as many treats at Aldi’s are so run out immediately and get a bag or two. Or three.

They also have some with rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Gotta get a bag of that!

Fire Roasted Blueberry Pie…Yeap We Did That!

 

On our vacation this past week we enjoyed a bonfire one clear evening. Yes; a rain free day! Well, we were in the Finger Lakes not eastern PA, LOL!  It was glorious to relax in our chairs at the tiny private beach we were so lucky to have… by the crackling fire Joe and I built of driftwood and some aging firewood our host wanted burnt. It was a deep pleasure to sit there relaxing by the waxing moon and a bit of star light, watching the fire flicker against the background of lapping, dark lake water.

We don’t really do the toasted marshmallow thing as he dislikes such and I am not supposed to eat overly sweet treats.  So, no marshmallows by the fire. But, then I had a great idea. I cut a wide slice of the blueberry apricot pie I had baked and brought with us. pie missing a sliceI put it on a double folded piece of heavy strength aluminum foil and bending up the sides a bit to catch any runoff, should that occur. Then I put the pie on my foil raft and slid it onto a couple branches just off the main fire. We let it heat for ten minutes and checked; not quite as hot as wanted. Five more minutes to wait, patience grasshopper! Then, used my potholder to slide it out of the fire zone onto a china plate. We dug in. Perfection. The crust had regained its flakiness of two days earlier and the filling was nearly molten and so sweetly flavorful with a hint of smokiness. Sitting in the dark sharing a slice of hot toasty blueberrilishish pie. Priceless!

 

The next night was rainy so we had to cancel our planned fire. Instead, we relaxed in our tiny cabin while I grilled the pie on the gas flames of our grill. Pretty much just as yummy and super convenient if you don’t have a fire. Next time you go camping or have access to a grill and have any sort of pie; try grilling it for a sweet warm treat. Enjoy! pie 2

Darn Good GF Pizza You can Bake at Home

Sometimes you just need a pizza! And there is time to make a crust or grate cheese or any of that. Just a decent gluten free pizza, that’s all I’m asking…but, not that easy unless you are willing to pay about $13-16 for the same or even a smaller size that is half the price for regular wheat flour-based pizza!  Major bummer. But, fret not, Aldi’s to the rescue; they had some by Mama Cozzie in the refrigerator case. I got a pepperoni and mott pizza to test it; $6…not a bad price!  Baked it two days later; put the cold pie directly on hot oven shelf as requested.  In 11-13 minutes it is done; let it cool 2-3 minutes! Otherwise, it is a wicked way to burn your mouth.

aldi pizza box

I should admit I doctored it up with some dried basil and oregano, garlic powder and store grated parmesan cheese. It was so good; thin crust. Great flavor from the pepperoni and the add-ons I sprinkled over it deepen ed the flavor significantly. So I am definitely getting it next time I see – the package says you can freeze it; so maybe buy a few and freeze all but one.

aldi pizza slice

So that’s a big yes to this Mama Cozzie pizza; about 15 inches in diameter unbaked. It says 4 servings but unless they are small kids it is really more like 3. Great quick lunch or worry-free Friday night meal. Add a salad and you are eating healthyish!

Bratwursts From Aldi’s are the Best!

This post is an addendum to my buckwheat crepe post of the other day. I neglected to tell you how delish the bratwurst were in my crepe wrap entree. I bought the package of 4 uncured Bavarian bratwurst at Aldi’s. They were kinda pale and unexciting looking in the shrink wrap but when I pan fried them in a bit of olive oil they browned up nicely. Each brat was still juicy and tender with a delicate flavor I was very impressed with. bratwurst

 

I have bought brats before at other grocery stores and found them rather dull and pedestrian. These are thinner, longer and far tastier.  bratwurst packageUncured means they have less junk added in the curing process of many sausages.  Definitely a yummy and healthyish choice for sausage in any recipe. They cook in about ten minutes.  And grilling them is on the package as an alternative to the frying pan. Next time I will try them on my grill. Maybe for camping…

They are imported from Germany so I am guessing they are very authentic compared to stuff made in the USA. I give these an A plus in every category. Enjoy!

Chicken Curry; Almost In a Hurry!

Curry is such a treat: smells incredible cooking, such a fun experience to make and full of marvelous flavor. Going gluten free has kept me from eating Indian food out, as much of restaurant cooking can contain wheat based flours.  So, making it myself is the best, cheapest option. I have been cooking Indian food for decades. First vegetarian and then I added meat/poultry or fish based curries to my repertoire. My favorites include this recipe that I am sharing today. It is relatively simple curry and despite all the spices, there isn’t that much fancy cooking involved. A week ago I made it for a friend who was visiting from out of state and she loved it, practically polished her plate! I served it with a simple salad of thinly sliced radishes and raw zucchini with a dressing made of EVOL and fresh Meyer lemon juice.  Just a touch of kosher salt and some fresh pepper and I whisked that dressing until it was really thick. It made a good counterpoint to the spicy highly-flavored curry. You could use slices of European cucumber which I often do.

This is made with chicken pieces, my favorite being thighs; bone in. You could make it with any cut you like but if you go boneless I strongly suggest lowering the cooking time somewhat. Skin on or removed; your choice. I generally leave it on as it adds flavor and moistens the thigh but if you are dieting, it can be removed.

You can’t make this with “curry powder” – it just must have the correct spices. I do have trouble getting inexpensive spices due to cross contamination and even just simply labels that say wheat added. It is incredibly annoying to buy coriander and get home and notice that it says wheat added to it. This happened to me last week; bought it at Giant grocery store in the Hispanic section; Badia label; be very careful if you buy that brand. I recommend McCormick single spices or Simply Organic (found at Wegmans); pricy but generally high quality and safe for celiac sufferers who love cooking spicy food!

My recipe is out of an old cookbook by Charmine Solomon; “Indian Cooking for Pleasure”, published in 1978.  I looked for a new copy on Amazon and it would cost a minimum of $82! I think I paid $10 or $15 for it new back then. Crazy price now; but it is considered the gold standard that all other Indian cookbooks are measured against so clean copies seem to be much sought after. Maybe it will be reissued… I could use a new copy; mine is a bit of a mess from 30 years of hard usage but then, I would lose all my handwritten notes so, nope on that! I did alter it slightly as I made it for 4 servings rather than six and I think my version is not quite as spicy as hers. If you want super spicy add a fourth more of each spice. This recipe is native to the province of Uttar Pradesh.

Notes: I used canned tomatoes for this recipe but, in the summer I always use fresh tomatoes when available. Plum tomatoes work well if ripe summer ones are not around and you want fresh.

chicken dopizia curry

Not the prettiest entree but I promise you it will be one of the most flavorful you ever eat!

Chicken Dopiaza (serves 4)

4 good sized chicken thighs

3 large onions

2 medium or one large medium spicy fresh pepper like a poblano; not a hot one though!

2 tsp. chopped fresh garlic

2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. ground coriander

1 ½ tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cardamom

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

¾ of a can of chopped tomatoes or 2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

½ cup water

1 ½ tsp. sea salt

Directions: Sauté half the onions in a large frying pan which you heated and added the olive oil to it. Keep stirring them. You want a mostly caramelized end result.  May take 15-18 minutes.  Remove from pan using a slotted spoon so you leave behind some of the oil and set aside for adding back near the end of this process.

While the onions are caramelizing…to your blender add the rest of the (raw) onions, the chopped hot pepper, the fresh garlic, fresh ginger and about ¼ cup water. Blend to a thick puree; if you need a bit more water to make that happen okay but don’t add a lot.  Pour that into the hot pan that you just removed the caramelized onions and add all the spices.  Stir as it cooks…let it darken and the oil will show a touch around the edges.  Add the tomatoes, stir and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat them with the puree. Add water and salt. Cover and cook about 35 minutes until chicken is tender. Add the onions back in the last 4-5 minutes.  Cook maybe 5 more minutes.  Serve with rice or Indian bread like parathas.  I haven’t made any gf parathas yet.  Soon!  This goes well with a cucumber salad or some steamed snap peas as I show in my photograph of my supper before I dived in! Enjoy!

Eating GF Update September 2017

Eating gluten free can seem impossible when you first explore the possibility of giving up all sources of gluten. But then a few weeks or months you are able to make it work, you find gluten free flours, mixes, recipes for naturally gluten free meals and ones for gluten free breads, rolls, cakes, pies and cookies. After a while great food comes out of your kitchen that anyone is happy to enjoy.

composed shrimp and pasta salad

 composed shrimp salad with green goddess dressing

But, there are days that are difficult for someone with celiac.  Days where I crave a real wheat based New York bagel toasted and topped with cream cheese.  A slice of pizza from either of my favorite parlors of past years when I could eat pizza anywhere it was sold. Days where I would give anything to just walk into a hoagie shop and buy a big Italian sub with all the trimmings, not asking any questions, just forking over my money and diving into that big fatty treat with that crisp and tender roll made with wheat flour. Real puff pastry formed into crust for a dainty dessert.  Oh so many things I miss.

quiche slice

quiche with bacon and mushrooms

Still, I am so glad to be healthy. I don’t need any medicine to combat my celiac disease.  Just better food choices. And I find many things can be replicated out of gf flours and grains.  Folks are often surprised by how tasty my gf desserts are.  They are shocked by cookies that are even more delicate and flavorful made with my favorite gf flour blend. My pie crust is just wonderful, I honestly don’t miss the old one at all. And I make cobblers, crisps, waffles and pancakes.  So many tasty treats and entrees that I have swapped out all purpose flour for a gf flour choice. It can be done and it gets easier over time. I avoid eating too many processed gf foods; my preference is to cook from scratch and make the majority of my food in my own kitchen. Free of chemicals and weird things that are so unhealthy; like hydrogenated fats or excessive sugar or salt which is much better for all of my body.  So, I am doing great.

fig and greek yogurt cake

Fig and Greek yogurt cake

Please don’t feel sorry for me or anyone you know with celiac.  We are doing just fine and enjoying great food while being so much healthier.  I would much rather give up gluten than give up chocolate! Truth.

Be safe, eat well and be happy. Enjoy life.

GF Playdough, Yeap… That’s For Real!

If you have small kids, teach or have grandkids then you as a celiac have to deal with playdough.  Any parent with celiac or if you have a child with celiac should or does know that playdough contains wheat.  Not safe in the least.  What can you do if the kiddos want to do the playdough thing? I am totally loath to even touch the stuff much less actually shape it. I hate getting it stuck in the carpet. Even a bit on the tables/desks freaks me out!  I teach in elementary school and unfortunately I have to deal with playdough especially if I am in kindergarten.  Which is where I spent some of the past three days in, so I was really struggling with the playdough issue. Luckily I was only assisting and the regular teacher was so kind; she made allowances for my issues with gluten and I didn’t have to touch the stuff.  Still, I itched to show the kids how to form it; I have a serious hobby as a potter and I love to form things of clay. I found it tough to stand back from teaching how to mold and shape it.

So I did some research and found a few gluten free playdough recipes.  Here is the one I used in case you want to make some for your kids. I only made half the recipe as I was low on rice flour and really didn’t need a lot. I think a whole batch could be divided in half so you could have 2 colors. Don’t make a giant batch but you could quickly make several in a row to have a variety of colors. It is as easy as can be. Put all the dry ingredients in a sauce pan, mix it with a whisk and add the oil then water and cook briefly. Turn it out, cool a couple minutes; color with food dye and let cool before bagging it.  Here is the original recipe (celiacfamily.com) and I list the ingredients below for my half batch. Just double the recipe for enough for two balls of playdough.

playdough

GF Playdough

½ cup white rice flour

¼ cup cornstarch

¼ cup salt

1 ½ tsp. cream of tartar

1 tsp. canola oil

½ cup hot water (not boiling)

Food coloring; a few drops

Mix all the dry ingredients in the sauce pan, add oil then water, cook on low heat for 1-3 minutes stirring constantly; it looks watery at first and then quickly becomes solid and can easily be formed into a ball.

Turn the bump of rough dough out onto a sheet of parchment paper, cool for 4-5 minutes, sprinkle with a few drops of food dye, knead it until it is a solid color and smooth. Store your playdough in a Ziploc bag.  The recipe says it keeps fine for at least 2 years!

Have fun!