Monday, April 30, 2012

Voila Gluten Free Bakeree

On Saturday, we decided to make the drive out to Oakville to check out a gluten free bakery that I've had my eye on for a while.  Voila Gluten Free Bakeree is a small storefront bakery located right off Lakeshore Blvd. in Oakville, just a bit west of Trafalgar. 



They have a fairly extensive menu of baked goods, and they also sell premade frozen meals that you can take home and heat up when you need them.  I was immediately impressed by two things upon walking in the door- the prices and the clearly marked potential allergens on all the products.  The cookies started at $1 each, and they were huge.  Nothing was outrageously priced, unlike many specialty stores selling gluten free goods. 

The owner of the store greeted us, and when we told him we were looking for a cupcake for my son, his first question was to find out what else he was sensitive to besides gluten.  When we said dairy, he directed us immediately to the options that were suitable for our son.  Etienn picked out a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing, that looked and tasted delicious.  My husband but an alfajore, which are a traditional Latin American cookie.  They are best described as a sandwich of two shortbread style cookies with a fruit paste in the middle.  They are one of my favourite cookies, and the GF version didn't disappoint.



The owner also gave us a taste of his eggless white bread, which he said was the most popular with kids.  He wasn't lying.  My son ate his sample, and then asked for more, completely ignoring his chocolate cupcake in the process.  We bought a loaf, and it's already half gone.  It's better than any frozen bread I've tried, and the loaf is a regular size, not puny little slices.  Finally, I picked up some pita bread, because I haven't seen gluten free pita bread anywhere.  I'm dying to try it in a fatooush salad, or baked as pita wedges with some dip. 




Finally, we bought a chocoalte and vanilla swirl cookie, which I'm still waiting to try, and a huge whoopie pie that my husband and I shared over the course of the day.  The dark chocolate contrasted with the whipped cream-like filling was not too sweet, but irresistible. 




In total, we paid $25 for:
1 cupcake, 1 swirl cookie, 1 alfajore, 1 whoopie pie, 1 loaf of bread and 1 package of 4 pitas. 

In the gluten filled world, that might sound like a lot, but in the world of gluten free baking, where I've paid much more for products of inferior quality, this was a good deal. 

The only downside is that we live in Vaughan, so it's a bit of a drive.  Unfortunately trips to this bakery will be a treat for us, rather than a weekly affair.  Next time I plan to stock up and freeze items.  If I lived closer, I would be there every week.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

Here's what we're having at my house this week!

Monday: Fish Tacos with Tilapia Fillets Marinated in a Lime Sauce & Topped with Fresh Salsa  (these can't really be made in advance


Tuesday: Lemon Parmesan Pasta with Bacon and Fresh Peas 









Wednesday: Butter Chicken over Rice with Creamed Spinach 







Thursday:  Beef Stroganoff-Style Soup  








Friday: Oven Baked Chicken Thighs in a Ginger BBQ Sauce, Steamed Broccoli & Quinoa Salad 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Gluten Free Focaccia-Style Bread

I had one pizza dough left over in the fridge ready to go, and I didn't feel like making another pizza.  Instead, I decided to try out a Rosemary and Olive Oil Focaccia instead.  It actually worked out much better than I expected! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I May Take This Back Later...

but I feel like this pregnancy is flying by.  Not that I'm complaining, it's just that my last pregnancy was a difficult one, so it felt like it lasted forever.  This one, so far, has been much more comfortable, so I'm always surprised when I realize just how far along I am.  Finishing up my 23rd week, I can't believe that I'm already half way there. 

I believe it when I look in the mirror, but that's a whole other story. 

I don't know if it's just because this is the second time doing this, or because I'm so busy with my first child that I don't have the same time to dwell on every aspect of pregnancy.  Regardless, more than 5 months have gone by and I still sometimes feel like I'm still in my first trimester. 

Except when my back hurts.  Then I feel the full force of being midway through second trimester.

The rocking chair for the baby's room is all set up, and this week the crib arrives.  Once the room is set up then I guess it will be time to start thinking about baby names. 

Any suggestions?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Glutino Bagel Chips...

I stopped by Nut'N Gluten the other day with my son, and discovered Glutino Bagel Chips.  I'm sure they've been around for a while, but I've never noticed them before.



These fill a void in my house.  My son likes his gluten free crackers, but sometimes I want something with a little more crunch. 

These are the perfect alternative to crackers, for eating with cheese, or dip, or slathered with peanut butter.  I like them as an accompaniment to soup, or even with some salsa. 

The flavour is just like their gluten filled counterparts, and the crispness is addictive. 

Now I have go back and see what other flavours are available...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gluten Free Weekly Menu Plan

So this weekend got turned on its head thanks to forces out of my control.  My friend came over today instead of yesterday because I had to postpone, which means that we have some leftovers from lunch to use this week.    Instead of cooking for the whole week, I spent most of today socializing.  I did prepare a few things, and I do have a plan for feeding the family, so here goes!

Monday:  Leftover rotisserie chicken, edamame salad, potato salad and quinoa & feta salad

Tuesday:  Gluten Free marinara pizza and romaine salad

Wednesday:  Creamy mushroom soup with gluten free bagel bites

Thursday: Rice and Beans with Chorizo Sausage with a Corn and Tomato Salsa

Friday:  Sticky BBQ Chicken Thighs with a Creamy Broccoli, Bacon and Apple Salad

Sorry about the lack of photos.  I got started so late that I just cooked and put the food away.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Baking Brownies: Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix

A friend is coming by tomorrow with her kids, giving me the perfect opportunity to bake up some treats with my son.  I picked up a package of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Brownie Mix to bake with my son. 

I like this mix for a few reasons: It's dairy and nut free in addition to being gluten free, which is important to me since my son can't have dairy and my friend's daughter can't have nuts; it requires few additional ingredients and it's easy to prepare.  Some other mixes require freezing, or waiting long periods to let the batter "set," but not this one.  Once it's mixed, it's ready to bake.  Done. 

Ready to bake!


The biggest reason I go back to this mix though, is that these brownies are quite possibly some of the best brownies I've ever tasted.  The dark chocolate flavour is delicious, and the texture is moist but still springy on top.  Just a really good product overall, that taste as good as brownies made from scratch. 


The finished product

The mix makes about 16-20 brownies.  Yummy, yummy, yummy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Recipe: White Chicken Chowder

The ingredient list looks long, but it's mainly because of the different dried herbs.  Feel free to substitute any flavours you'd like.  It's mild because I serve it to my son, but some heat from chilis would be delicious too.

This recipe can be made dairy free by substituting a dairy substitute for the milk and yogurt.  I use goat's milk and yogurt because my son can't digest regular dairy.  

Serves 4

Ingredients

1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3 chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. each dried parsley, thyme and rosemary
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 can white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup goat's milk
1/4 cup gluten free all-purpose flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1/2- 1 cup plain yogurt (I use goat's yogurt)
Chopped parsley or coriander for garnish (optional)
Grated cheese for garnish (optional)



Directions

1- Heat olive oil in a soup pot and add chicken breast chunks.  Cook on medium heat until no longer pink in the middle.  Add gluten free flour and stir to coat chicken.

2- Add onions, garlic, celery and carrots.  Add dried herbs, paparika, cayenne pepper and salt & pepper.  Cook until vegetables begin to soften, approx. 5 minutes

3- Pour chicken broth into pot and bring to a boil.  Turn down heat to simmer.  Cover and let cook, approx. 15 minutes.

4- Add milk, beans, peas and corn and stir to combine.  Adjust seasonings and cook covered another 15 minutes.

5- Stir in yogurt before serving.  Garnish bowls with chopped fresh herbs and grated cheese, if desired.  Serve hot!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekly Gluten Free Menu Plan

Monday:  Steak Frites 



Tuesday: White Chicken Chowder









Wednesday: Pasta in a Traditional Meat Sauce & Meatballs 








Thursday: Squash and Pear Soup  





Friday: One Pot Italian Style Chicken Thighs & Rice 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Welcome to the Weekend!

Is it just me, or are short weeks at work often seem like the longest?  This week was CRAZY, even though we were only there for four days.  I got home from work tonight and crawled into bed for a few minutes to regain some energy before picking up my son from daycare.  These are the days that having the meals for the week prepared in advance really come in handy! 

We've been working on the baby's room over the past week.  We took out the bed and desk, and my husband painted it a nice, soft green.  The crib arrives in just over a week, so we need to pick out an area rug to cover a nice chunk of the floor before it arrives.  Some new curtains and a new light fixture, and the room will actually look like a baby-friendly space! 

The photo below is what the room looked like when we first moved into the house a few years ago.  We left the girly light fixture up because the room was used as a spare room, and the wall colour remained similar.  I'll keep you updated as the room evolves into a nursery.



I kind of feel like this weekend is the weekend to tie up some loose ends- finish doing taxes, begin putting the winter boots and coats away, and get rid of the Easter decorations.  I've also been itching to try out a new gluten free place, maybe a bakery or a store were I can find a new product to add to the rotation.  Like any foods, it's easy to get stuck in a rut of buying the same products all the time.  A new season feels like a great time to try something new.

A couple of weeks ago my sister introduced me to V8 V-Fusion juice blends, and I discovered that they're gluten free!  People are always  asking me why I'm surprised that a particular juice is gluten and/or dairy free, and the answer is because now that I really labels ALL the time, I realize jut how many products that should be, aren't. 



 Have a great weekend, and don't forget to check back tomorrow and on Sunday for the weekly menu plan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

St. Jacob's, Continued...

This year we spent the majority of Easter Weekend in St. Jacob's, Ontario.  If you missed the first post, click HERE to get caught up.  On Saturday, we visited the Farmer's Market.  The Market is open Thursdays and Saturdays year round, and Tuesdays as well during the summer months.  The market is billed as Canada's largest farmer's market, and has an indoor portion with two stories of vendors. 

In addition to the indoor shopping, there is a huge outdoor market where one can find anything from produce, to sausage, baked goods, clothes, housewares, etc.  My husband couldn't resist picking up some summer sausage to bring home, and I bought my niece the cutest handmade sweater for Easter.



In even found a vendor inside that sold Gluten Free Bread, although they were all sold out by the time I got there. 

Outside, one of the highlights were the various performers, including, clowns, jugglers and musicians.



If Farmer's Markets aren't your thing, right across the street is the outlet mall, with many brand name stores.  We didn't check it out, but I heard the deals were pretty good.  St. Jacob's is also well known for antiques.  Checking out the antique shops is something I would love to do sometime, but not really all that practical with a three year old in tow! 

What my three year old WAS interested in was the train!  Waterloo Central Railway is a heritage railway that offers train service between Waterloo, the St. Jacob's Market, and St. Jacob's.  The train is old and it runs pretty slowly, but it's perfect for kids.  My son was literally bouncing in his seat when we started to move, and was thrilled every time the horn blew.  for the rest of the weekend he kept saying "My favourite part was riding the train."






We capped off the day with dinner at a local restaurant, the Cedar Barn.  It's a cute little place, with a simple menu and great service.  I wish he had found it Friday.



For the outrageous sum of $2.80 we got my son the kids' all day breakfast menu, which included a drink, one egg and bacon, a slice of toast and either ice cream or jello for dessert.  we explained his dietary concerns and didn't get the toast.  They were out of jello, so the waitress substituted apple sauce instead.  We realized later that she had also taken 80 cents off the bill because we didn't take the toast. 





I opted for the not so gluten free fish and chips, and my husband had the schnitzel, with a bowl of soup to start.  We shared a sclice of homemade coconut cream pie.  And we paid $20 less for the meal than we did at Kelsey's.  Lesson learned. 



Our weekend was lots of fun, although the little guy was sick for some of it.  I feel like there's still so much I would like to check out, that I would definitely go back again. 

And we still made it to my mom's for Easter Dinner.  Some piccs of the Easter Egg hunt will go up tomorrow.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Glute Free Weekly Menu Plan

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Easter!  There's a post to come on our celebrations, as well as more on our weekend in St. Jacob's, but since I spent today cooking, I wanted to get the menu plan up for the week.

But first, just to make me feel inadequate, here are a few of the chocolate Easter egg creations that were on display in a bakery window in Italy when I was there in March.





Now on to the menu plan!

Monday: Minestrone Soup


Tuesday: Meatloaf & Green Beans
Wednesday: Ceviche, Tortillas & Beans

  
                                                                                                     

Thursday: Tofu & Vegetable Stir Fry with Vietnamese Style Spring Rolls



Friday: Pork Chops Smothered in Apples with Roast Vegetable & Quinoa Salad            

                                                                                                 




Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Weekend in St. Jacob's

We decided to spent a couple of nights away this long weekend with our son, since we haven't really taken him anywhere since last summer, and because with the baby due to arrive in August, there won't be many more opportunities for just the three of us to spend some time away together.  We didn't want to spend a ton of money, but we wanted to go somewhere new. 

So we decided on St. Jacob's, Ontario.  Mennonite Country.  Where travel by horse and buggy is not uncommon.



The area is only about a two hour drive from where we live, and is literally 5 minutes outside of Waterloo.  I wanted to come to see the Farmer's Market and check out some local products.  We thought it would be a great destination for my son because there's the scenic train that runs between Waterloo, the Farmer's Market, and the Village of St. Jacob's. 

There are a number of cute little bed and breakfasts available in the Village itself, but we decided to stay at a hotel just outside of it for one reason: the indoor pool.  I personally would have preferred a bed and breakfast, but with a three year old in tow, an indoor pool trumps romantic charm any day of the week. 

The Destination Inn is located just a few minutes away from the Farmer's Market area, and also close to the Conestoga Mall and other stores.  The room we have is nice, with a little seating area and desk separate from the bedroom portion, so we don't feel cramped.  It doesn't have a restaurant, but there is a continental breakfast included.  There are a few items safe for those gluten free: fruit, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, coffee and tea.  For those not gluten averse, there are croissants, muffins, toast, bagels, and cereal in addition to the other items mentioned above.  A few more gluten free items would have been nice, but my son was able to eat a fairly good breakfast with what was available. 

Last night, we went out for dinner close to the hotel.  We tried East Side Mario's first, but the ONLY gluten free option on the menu was the rotisserie chicken, and the waitress informed us that they were out of chicken, so we had no choice but to look elsewhere.  We ended up at Kelsey's, since we weren't familiar with the area and we were all starving. 

Turns out there's not much on Kelsey's menu that suitable for someone who doesn't eat gluten.  Unlike East Side Mario's though, the waitress at Kelsey's was able to help us put together a meal suitable for our son.  A grilled chicken breast, steamed vegetables, corn tortilla chips and salsa, all the for the same price as a kid's meal.  Good enough for me.  And as it turns out, my son LOVES steamed brocolli.  Who knew?


He was happy, and I filled up on a wrap and a side salad with cranberries, feta cheese and pumpkin seeds.  YUM!




An hour or so of swimming followed by a hearty dinner, and our little guy was so tired he TOLD me he was ready to go to sleep.  That has never happened before! 

Good thing too, because today was another full day.  But that's a story for another post. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

I Need to Make Some Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns

Anyone have a recipe?  Hot cross buns are something I always ate around Easter as a kid, but now that my son is gluten free, the real things are off limits in this house.  I've looked for a gluten free product, and came across El Peto brand frozen buns. 

They were underwhelming.  The flavour wasn't too far from what I remember, but the large chunks of dried fruit overwhelmed the other flavours.  And they were tiny.  I realized just how small they are when someone brought some hot cross buns in to work today for staff and they looked mammoth to me in comparison. 

So I'm left unsatisfied with the gluten free ones I have in my freezer, and craving some REAL ones that I can introduce my son to.  Without trying to recreate an extremely complicated recipe.  Do I ask for too much? 

Does anyone have a reliable, delicious, gluten free Hot Cross Bun recipe I can try?  Anyone????

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

An Easter Tradition

Every year when I was a kid, I used to dye Easter eggs with my mom and sister.  Sometimes we would paint them or draw on them with crayons, the wax coming through the paint to reveal our designs.  It was nothing fancy, some food colouring in water and vinegar, some crayons, a little inexpensive paint.  But to a kid, it meant at least an hour of excitement and fun.  I was never the best artist in the world, but I could place an egg in a bowlful of coloured water and create something beautiful with barely any skill needed.

Last year I started the tradition with my son.  Instead of dying his eggs, he painted them using an egg holder from the dollar store.  This year we went the more traditional route and coloured a dozen eggs a variety of hues.  Rather than drain the eggs, I hard boiled them so they would be more sturdy for his little hands to work with.  My son had fun watching the food colouring tablets dissolve in the vinegar and was great at spooning the water and vinegar mixture over the eggs until he was satisfied with the colour. 





Perhaps as he gets older we'll try something more complicated, like tie-dying the eggs, or painting them using stencils.  For now, I'm satisfied with the little bit of Spring cheer brightening up my kitchen table thanks to some simple, child-friendly, coloured eggs.