Monday, January 23, 2012

Leaving Grains Behind

Hi there!
I am sorry for my lack of posting lately. I was on break  from school and had many plans of GF gingerbread houses, christmas, cookies, and holiday meals to relay to you, however life took hold and I decided to go visit family for the holidays and do some exploring. I will introduce you to the gluten free treasures I found along the way in a post to follow.
While away I have decided to go truly gluten free and cut out all grain types.
This is going to be difficult for me. I have just started becoming proficient after 3 years in the no wheat, barley, rye, and oat type of gluten free diet.
I am doing this for the sake of my kidney health. There is research out there that  shows that by cutting out all grains including the much beloved rice (except wild), corn, and quinoa, etc. that my disease (IgA nephropathy) can be reversed.
It is worth giving up a lot of things to be healthy. So I invite you to come with me while I explore this new territory.  I will continue to report on all aspects of gluten free living and bring you information on all things delightful in our gluten free community.
Talk to you soon!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Las Cruces' Celiac's Answer to Fine Dining: De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery


               A Las Cruces' Celiac's Answer to Fine Dining: 
                    De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery

The Springer Family didn't have any plans to ever go into the restaurant biz, but when the restaurant renting the space from Tom and Jeanine Springer moved on, they decided to give it a try. The outcome of their novice effort has been nothing short of remarkable. A million dollar renovation that created an upscale dining environment and the building of a strong team has made this eatery blossom into something extraordinary.

Tom and Jeanine brought back their daughter Ashley from her life as a journalist to run the restaurant operations and marketing. Thanks to Ashley the restaurant has become highly aware of the need to  provide fine dining fare to gluten free and vegetarian diners. Ashley has worked with Executive Chef and Catering Manager Bob Brainard to develop a menu that rivals some of the best, with more gluten free options than any place I have yet to dine.

Chef Bob, staying true to the agriculture of the area, builds his menu around fresh, seasonal ingredients. He has dedicated twenty years to the restaurant business and the proof is in every delectable bite.  The team has been made even stronger with the addition of the new pastry chef, Scott. Scott is making gluten free desserts that no one could recognize as gluten free. The Gluten Free desserts at De La Vega's are truly divine.

I have sampled and will recommend all of the following gluten free dishes (though I have yet to try something that I did not fall in love with, so don't be afraid to branch out and forge your own way through the menu!) :

Hatch Chicken Pasta: Pecan wood-grilled chicken over GF linguine with green chile alfredo, bacon and fresh parmesan.

Smoked Beef Brisket: 8 oz. of thinly sliced brisket smothered in house made chipotle BBQ sauce.

Stuffed Squash:  Squash (seasonal) stuffed with seasonal vegetables white and mozzarella cheeses topped with fresh basil. 

Portabella: Filled with Feta and white Cheddar cheeses, artichoke hearts and red bell peppers.

 Green Chili Turkey Melt: Roasted turkey, whole Hatch green chile and Swiss cheese, on gluten free bread.

 Green Chili Stew: Spices, green chile, and pecan wood-smoked pork, topped with white cheddar cheese.

 Summer Strawberry: Roasted chicken breast, sweet strawberries, blackberries, apples, goat cheese and candied pecans in house-made strawberry vinaigrette. (yum!)

That, my friends, is just a sample of what De La Vega's Pecan Grill and Brewery has to offer. Gluten free, Vegetarians, and carnivores alike will all find many options to thoroughly enjoy, I promise.

They also cater. They have an on-site bakery and will even make birthday and wedding cakes!

One last recommendation, dare to be bold and try the blackberry jalapeño margarita you will not regret it!

Peace and happy gluten free exploration,


Sunday, October 23, 2011

**GF Savory Cherry Tomato Corn Cakes & Sage Brown Butter With Baked Saffron Eggs**

      GF Savory Cherry Tomato Corn Cakes & Sage Brown Butter with Baked Saffron Eggs

Good Morning GF Explorers! 

Today we had such a tasty treat! My guys and I made this super simple meal together and it was magical!
For the corn pancakes we used:

1 1/2C     corn flour
1/4 C       corn starch
1 Tbsp     baking powder
1 tsp         salt
1 pinch    saffron
2 tsp        smoked paprika
2 tsp        cracked black pepper
1 tsp        roasted ground cumin
4 leaves   chopped fresh sage

Then we added:

1               egg (beaten like it was bad!)
3/4C         almond milk (extra as needed batter should be scoop-able not runny)
1/4C         olive oil

I mixed this loveliness together and added some sautéed corn and diced onion once these darlings were on the griddle and nestled the cherry tomatoes cut in half right in just before I flipped the cakes over.                           
Sage Brown Butter
Just heated some chopped sage and butter (1/2 stick) until the butter melted and the solids browned for a warm nutty topping.

The Saffron Baked Eggs:
I lubed up 2 ramekins with oil and a silicone brush and preheated the oven to 325 degrees
In a bowl briskly whisked together:
2            eggs
1 tsp      smoked paprika
1 tsp      garlic powder                            
1 tsp      salt
1 tsp      cracked pepper
1 tsp      roasted cumin
poured into ramekins and topped with a cracked egg. Bake for 15 minutes or until risen and egg on top is cooked as well as you like.
There you have it. You'll fall in love.
Peace and happy exploration!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

**** GF Braised Lamb Shank Enchilada****

 I had these lamb shanks hanging around my fridge waiting for me to braise them but I had a pretty heavy work load this week from school and there was just no way that braising them and having them for dinner the same night was going to happen.

So I threw some fresh tomato juice I had in the fridge, left over from freezing a batch of tomatoes, into my dutch oven and filled it a little over half way. (you can use stock if you'd like or what ever liquid tickles your fancy)

I added some cumin, smoked paprika, smashed garlic, a pablano pepper seeded and chopped, one sliced onion, one sliced potato, some fresh oregano and basil, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper. I let all those guys hang out together and mingle while I heated a skillet on med heat. I turned on the oven to 450 degrees to preheat.

I mixed together a rub of smoked paprika, cumin, pepper, and garlic powder and I rolled the shanks one at a time until coated. I poured in a good splash of pure sunflower oil in to the hot skillet. After a minute or two I put the shanks in the pan and seared those babies on all sides until golden. This happens pretty fast. I think I have done about 20 minutes of work at this point.

I got those little shanks tucked into their nice brothy bed and poured more liquid in to cover. Then I threw them in the oven and forgot about them for 3 hours. They came out looking so good! 

Mmm-mmm. If it hadn't been 10:30 at night those little lambkins would have been history but it was too late and my Mr. had made the most divine sweet potato burgers on the planet for dinner so I was full.  
The shanks had to hang out for one more day. I pulled them out and put them in a bowl and covered them with plastic wrap. Then I stuck my immersion blender into the dutch oven and smoothed out the chunks of veggies rolling around in there. Threw that in to a container and checked them into the fridge for the night.

Went to school the next day and got my learning on. When I came home, I preheated the oven to 350. Then I diced up the shank meat, added some chopped onion, cumin seed, and a little bit of the sauce to a skillet and heated. I put the remaining sauce in a pot with some more smokey paprika, a bit of sumac, some cayenne, a splash of cider vinegar, and about 16 oz of diced tomato in puree. That heated on medium heat while I heated tortillas for the enchiladas and filled them with the lamb. 

I put about 5 ladlefuls of the sauce in the bottom of my baking dish. I placed in the enchiladas, covered with more sauce, and sealed them up in some foil. They baked for 20-25 minutes with the foil and then another 5 with out foil and with cheese on top until gold and bubbly.

It was worth the effort and wait! And because of my hectic week, you get two recipes in one. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011


                                  ****GF ASIAN CHICKEN LETTUCE WRAPS****

Greetings Explorers!

Love lettuce wraps but hate spending a lot to go out to dinner. They are quick, easy, and inexpensive and you should make some! Here is my recipe it serves 2 or 3:

1 head of lettuce (I like butter but you can use iceberg that is what I used this time)
2 chicken breasts (coarse chopped) or 1/2 lb ground chicken
1 can water chestnut (processed or chopped)
2 baby bokchoy (washed chopped or processed)
1/2 onion (chopped)
3 carrots (chopped)
1 red pepper (diced)
Chinese five spice
Red pepper flakes(optional)
Fresh grated ginger or 1 tsp ginger powder
2 TBSP Gluten Free Soy Sauce
1 Jar Hoisin Sauce
2 TBSP Rice Vinegar
some fresh basil or lime basil (rolled together then chopped)
a splash of lime juice
2 TBSP of cooking oil ( I use sunflower)
Cilantro to taste (optional for you cilantro haters!)
1/2 package of rice sticks and high temp cooking oil (about an inch in a heavy bottom sauce pan)

Core lettuce, peel off leaves, soak in a bowl of ice water to crisp.

Start sauce pan heating filled with approx. 1 in. of  high temp cooking oil on medium heat.

Season chopped or ground chicken with chinese five spice, salt, fresh cracked pepper, ginger, and red pepper flakes if you like some heat.

Heat a  large skillet on med heat for a few minutes and add oil.

Then add chicken and cook for 5 minutes add veggies and cook 5 more minutes.

Follow with 2 TBSP each of:
GF soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and rice vinegar.  Hit it with that basil! Cook for 3 or 4 minutes more.

Remove from heat and finish off with lime juice and cilantro.

Add rice sticks to oil in sauce pan, they will expand right away. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Wipe lettuce with towel and plate it with the chicken mixture and rice sticks. Add some hoisin sauce on the side.


The Gluten Free Explorer

****GF Candy:Be Safe This Halloween****


                                                ****GF Candy:Be Safe This Halloween****

Happy October GF Kiddies! 

I have found this list of purported gluten free candy just in time for halloween. I say purported because someone else other then me has posted this info, however I feel it is a reputable source looking out for GFers best interests. ( )

So here you go. I think you will be pleasantly surprised and your sweet tooth will be just tickled!

Enjoy your treats and beware of beasties and creepy crawlies!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

* Homemade Natural Gluten Free Hairspray*

                          Homemade Natural Gluten Free Hairspray

Hiya Fellow GF Explorers!

 I don't know about you guys but I am pretty addicted to hairspray and quite a few formulas have some kind of wheat derivative in them. I also don't want to be putting a lot of chemicals on top of my dome either! The only answer was to find a way to make some natural and inexpensive hairspray. Here you go!

You will need: 1 lemon,  1 orange, a sprig of fresh mint, 1 oz of  GF vodka, and 2 cups of purified water. This will make approximately 1 cup of hairspray. Put water, mint, and chopped lemon and orange into a double boiler. Reduce down by half. Strain solution through a cheesecloth. Pour solution into a  bottle with a pump sprayer and add vodka. Refrigerate.