Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm Even More Famous Than I Was Yesterday! Thanks!

A while back, I had my 1000th page view. I was hesitant to declare my awesomeness again on the blog because 1/10th of those views were from myself before I figured out how to not track my own page views. But then I looked at my stats again and the number had increased and I had a few more international views. Clearly, it IS time that I discuss my awesomeness. But my awesomeness would not be possible without YOUR awesomeness. 

How awesome are you? Let me count the ways:
-I've received comments on my posts, which makes me feel like there may actually be a little community forming around my blog. 
-I've received support from you, which has helped me reflect and grow as a glutard and a person. 
-I've talked to people who have told me that my blog is helpful, which is pretty sweet. I like making things easier for others. I'm happy to answer questions. If you have something you want to ask or discuss, leave a comment on a post and I'll considering writing a post answering your question. 
-I've talked to people who have told me that I am entertaining them, which is pretty sweet, too. I don't think of myself as particularly funny, but I enjoy making people laugh. I'm not going to quit my day job to pursue a stand-up career, so don't hold back. Keep telling me how funny I am. 

So thank you, audience, for making this possible. You're the best! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall Comfort Food: Amaretto Roasted Pears

So you just ate a bunch of salty lasagna, and now you're craving something sweet... Amaretto Roasted Pears to the rescue! This recipe is really simple and is a boozy take on this recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Amaretto Roasted Pears
-Cut your slightly under-ripe pears in half and cut out the cores. Arrange in a glass baking dish cut-side up.

In a separate bowl, mix:
-1/8 cup sugar (use less for a less sweet version)
-2 T lemon juice
-1 t vanilla extract
-3 T amaretto liqueur 

-Preheat oven to 375.
-Divide your 2 T butter so that there's a little on each pear.
-Drizzle the sauce on the pears
-Roast 15-30 min on each side, depending on the ripeness of your pears. They'll be soft but not yet mooshy when they're done. Baste those little guys a couple of times while they're baking so that they get lots of opportunity to absorb the sauce. 

Serve warm and with some of the sauce from the pan. I drizzled a little extra amaretto on them before serving. They're great alone, and also pair well with vanilla ice cream. 

Kathleen from Perfect Recipe Project helped me perfect this recipe! I hope you enjoy it! It is a great warm dessert for fall, and is a light, sweet complement to heavy meals like lasagna. Plus, roasting pears sounds way more sophisticated than baking brownies :P

Fall Comfort Food: Gluten Free Lasagna

If you live somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere with seasons, you may have noticed the fall chill has crept into the air. One of my favorite cold weather foods is lasagna, so today I'll share my recipe for Lazy (Gluten Free) Lasagna, the perfect warm fall meal. 

Lazy (Gluten Free) Lasagna
-Sautee 1 medium onion and a clove or two of garlic with:
-Carnivore filling: brown 1 lb hamburger or Italian sausage 
-Herbivore filling: thaw, drain, then sautee 1 block frozen chopped spinach and 1 block frozen chopped broccoli (I think these packages are about 10oz each)
-Add approximately 26 oz of your favorite pasta sauce to your filling (you'll need to save a little sauce to put in the bottom of your baking dish) and let it simmer for a couple minutes so everything gets warm and toasty, like your innards will be after you eat some piping hot lasagna. I like Newman's Own Organic Tomato and Basil sauce. Last time I made this, I used nearly 2 jars of pasta sauce because I had one open and it was lonely. This works fine and makes for a saucier lasagna (duh). 
-Sometimes I like to add some red Tabasco sauce to my filling mixture to make a tangier lasagna, and sometimes I add red pepper flakes to give it some kick.

Mix together in a bowl
-12 oz of cottage cheese (I like to use low fat, and I also like to disregard my own recipe and add the entire 16 oz container)
-1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
-2 eggs, beaten
-2 T parsley
-pepper, to taste

-2-4 cups mozzarella, depending on how cheesy you like things. I always err on the side of 4 cups. I also like mozzarella parmesan blends. You could probably use reduced fat cheese in this recipe, since there's lots of moisture to mask the weird way that stuff 'melts.'

In a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray:
-Add that little bit of pasta sauce you saved to the bottom of pan. This moisture is crucial for the gluten free noodles to cook.
-Put down a layer of gluten free lasagna noodles. I like DeBoles Gluten Free Rice Lasagna. No boil! 
-Use half of the filling mixture to make a layer
-Add half of the cheese mixture on top of that
-Add 2 cups mozzarella
-Add another layer of noodles
-Add the other half of the filling
-Add the other half of the cheese mixture
-Add another 2 cups mozzarella

-If you hate non-useful amounts of leftover ingredients like I do, you can add another layer of noodles to the top layer, since the box contains approx 9-10 noodles but we've only used 6ish so far. If you do this, you MUST add some more pasta sauce to the top, or else the noodles will stay hard. Add some more mozzarella on top, too, because guests like a nice golden cheese crust. Or you can break up the extra noodles and jam them in wherever there's space. Or you can save them for next time. Whatever suits your fancy. 

-Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Remove from oven to set and cool, or else you will burn your mouth. Enjoy!

Note: This recipe is resilient! I tend to throw whatever I have around into it, in whatever quantities I have, because of my aforementioned annoyance with leftover ingredients that I don't use often. 
Second note: This is my mom's recipe. She makes so many delicious dishes! Thanks, mom!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cross-contamination: The silent killer

Whoa. Apparently the lack of sleep has led me to take a sensationalist, 24-hour-news-station approach to this week's post title. Of course cross-contamination doesn't really kill many glutards (although some people can have an anaphylaxis-type reaction to wheat), it is a real issue. I've written a few times about how to navigate this at restaurants; today's post will be about minimizing cross-contamination in the home. This has become second nature for me, but after the sudden announcement from a roommate that he is moving, I decided it was time I think about what it means explicitly to minimize cross-contamination. I have roommates, but the same tips apply if you're living with a family or convicts or a pack of dogs or whoever. 

Depending on your level of sensitivity, you may not need to implement extreme versions of these tips. I like living XTREME, so I am vigilant about some of them (especially #2). 

1. Wipe food prep surfaces and wash dishes well. 
I like to wipe countertops before I begin cooking just in case a roommate accidentally left contaminants behind. If you're super sensitive, it might be a good idea to have separate rags, sponges, and towels for cleaning glutenous messes vs nonglutenous messes. I also like to visually check dishes before I use them to make sure there's no food remnants stuck to them. I had a roommate once who loved baking bread. She'd "wash" the dishes, but leave clumps of bread dough in the bowl. Disgusting, but also frustrating because I get sick from cross-contamination and there were gobs of dough our dishes. 

2. Store gluten-free food separate from glutenous food. 
I keep my flours, oatmeal, and treats in a location separate from the shared baking goods in my apartment. This helps ensure that my special stuff doesn't intermingle with wheat flour or regular oats or crumbly cookies and breads. This also dissuades roommates from helping themselves to my expensive gluten-free foods. I'm like sharing, but not when my food is easily 2-3 times the cost of their food. 

3. Separate tools for hard-to-clean surfaces.
I have my own cutting board that has never had bread sliced on it. Breadcrumbs get everywhere, and their favorite place to vacation is in the crevices that knives leave behind in cutting boards. Similarly, I don't bother using their bread knives for anything. I have a few other "special" dishes that I am sure have never marinated in soy sauce or had gluteny things in them. More than anything else, these other special dishes provide peace of mind if I do accidentally ingest gluten because I know that my special tools won't make me sicker than I already am. ...I like to feel in control :)

4. Communication.
Recurring theme, right? I know. Right. If people are slacking on the cleanliness front, remind them that your health is a cooperative effort. People have responded well when I have gently reminded them cleanliness isn't just an obsession for me (it is, though), but that it is vital to maintaining my health since I am very sensitive to gluten. People haven't responded well when I have accused them of trying to kill me with their gluten. I also find it is better to ask about ingredients used in foods left out to share than to assume that they're safe. The issue is not lack of trust, but rather the pervasiveness of gluten in the modern diet. 

Do you have other strategies for avoiding cross-contamination at home? If so, feel free to share them in the comments. But for now, I am off to bed. Gotta get me some ZZZ's, stat!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy Belated Labor Day!

In the spirit of Labor Day (and because I am particularly busy right now), there is no real post this week. Instead, I leave you with this thought:

I can't imagine doing anything else for work because work has beaten the imagination out of me.

Hope you got a chance to rest on Labor Day!