Friday, March 20, 2015

Schar gluten free pizza crusts

In the gluten free world, Schar has been around for quite a long time. In truth, Dr. Schar "has been making products to support a healthy diet" since 1922. In collaboration with doctors and Celiac support groups, they launched their first gluten free line in 1981, over 30 years ago. Although their headquarters are in Italy, they have production facilities in Germany, Spain, United Kingdom and in the United States.

Recently they reached out through social media looking for bloggers  to write about their products. As they have been a gracious supporter of our support group and a leader in educating Celiac patients and doctors, I was definitely willing to give them a little press. 

So they recently sent me a really large box with three individual boxes of pizza crusts as well as three packages of their new marble pound cake. Each individual box contains two shelf stable pizza crusts which are gluten free and lactose free, as well as cholesterol free and trans fat free.

The very first pizza we made was a sloppy joe pizza. I know it sounds bizarre, but  it was a lot of fun.  

As some of you may or may not know, I am also the chairperson of our local Celiac Support Group, CSA Chapter #59. Our upcoming meeting was focusing on foods that incorporate fruits and vegetables. I decided it would be a great opportunity to make some veggie pizzas and share this product with our members. They were quick to throw together with some store bought Prego sauce, a blend of frozen peppers and onions, and some cheese. Less than 20 minutes from box to finished product.

I made one with daiya cheddar cheese slices for those group members who are dairy intolerant. In some ways I liked this pizza better than the dairy one. In fact, I think they were both better reheated the next day.

 While I will admit that the crust is not as good as my homemade crust, it's incredibly convenient. Sometimes my extended family likes to order pizza for a simple family gathering, and these would be handy to have on hand to make a personal pizza. For this reason I think it would be great for non-gf grandparents to have on hand when their gluten free grandkids come to visit. My non-gf husband thought they were tasty!

I also like that the crust has a deep well in the center. This prevents the sauce from sliding over the edge and guarantees a good "crust handle" for eating your pizza.

Last night I made a meat lover's pizza. After having to pass on one last weekend at a friend's house, it was making me want one of my own! As my husband has a pork allergy, I topped the pizza with sauteed onions and bacon, turkey pepperoni and beef polish sausage. I found that it tasted best baked on a pizza stone.

So have you tried Schar pizza crusts? Not only do they make the plain crusts, they also make frozen cheese and veggie pizzas. They also make bread, ravioli, crackers, and just about anything else you can imagine.

Schar is also often present at many events around the country. Check out their events calendar to see where they will be next. Hopefully you can get a chance to meet their dietitian Anne Lee in person. She's a wealth of information as well as incredibly friendly!

Taste Guru Monthly Subscription Box

Recently Taste Guru reached out to our support group to tell us more about their product. They were nice enough to let me raffle off a box to our members and share a box with me as well.  I was excited when I opened the box because there were a few products that I've been really wanting to try!

In case you haven't heard about Taste Guru, they are one of the multiple monthly subscription box companies that offer gluten free items. They have been around for a few years and have upgraded their packaging and their boxes, which I think is an improvement. (Follow this link from when I wrote about them in 2013.)

Like other companies, they offer different lengths of subscriptions, from one month all the way to a year. These are great for a gifts, as care packages for those away from home, or for those looking to try new things every month. It's especially great if you live in a city with few gluten free options.

As a one month subscription costs $19 plus shipping, I wanted to do a cost breakdown of what came in this month's box. There were some that I couldn't find prices for, so I took a best guess to total up the items.

Estimated Total- $19.55

Taste Guru was nice enough to offer our support group an added tote bag, a $10 value, for those that sign up, and they stated that I can share the same deal with my readers. Just follow this link or click on the image below to order yours! If you subscribe for 6 months or 12 months, you will receive bonus products as well! 


Thursday, March 12, 2015

Culver's has gluten free buns

A little birdie told me that Culver's now had gluten free buns. So I called my local Culver's to inquire if this was true and to ask them a few questions.

When I called, they told me how they serve the Udi's bun separate from the meat and condiments, in its own sealed packaging. This is to prevent the risk of cross-contact. They stated that all of their staff have been trained by their corporate office. They did not mention whether this training was in conjunction with GIG, NFCA, or another trusted gluten free organization. 

While they don't have a specific gluten free "menu" they do have a two page listing at the back of their nutrition and allergen guide that lists items that are gluten free. This is in addition to the individual listing of all of their ingredients and their individual allergens, calories, and other nutrient contents. This was super helpful to have. 

They also notated my order with an exclamation point which highlighted !FoodAllergy!. I was also blessed that the friendly gentleman taking our order has a sister with Celiac Disease, so he took extra care taking our order! I had previously checked to make sure that the meat was not grilled in the same place as their buns, as their website said that was possible.

Because my burger was made up myself and everything was made fresh and separate, my burger was totally delicious. I ordered a side of mashed potatoes and my husband ordered a side of green beans. The green beans were AMAZING! Don't waste your time on the mashed potatoes- trust me. 

Upon leaving, I kindly asked the staff if they had any literature about the new bun that I could share with my support group. They smiled and immediately made a copy of their FAQ's about the gluten-free bun program, after checking with management first of course.
Here's a copy of what they gave me.

Q: What are the ingredients for your gluten free buns?

Q: Do you grill your ButterBurgers on the same surface that you toast your buns?
A: The gluten-free bun is served in a sealed package for you to assemble on your own. Certain breads are placed on the same grill as our meats.
(**At my location they don't do this, as they have a separate toaster for their regular buns. Make sure to check with your location on this. She did mention that the grilled cheese is also cooked on the grill, but they have a dedicated section of the grill where they don't grill anything else. If concerned after asking about this, I would ask if they can cook your meat patty on aluminum foil.) 
While we do our best to minimize cross-contact, Culver's restaurants are not gluten-free environments and cross-contact with other food items that contain gluten is possible.
 (**Their roast beef is not cooked on a grill and therefore eliminates cross contact.) 

Q: I see people posting about gluten-free buns at their local Culver's. When will my Culver's get a gluten free bun?
A: We hope to have a gluten-free bun option in all restaurants by the end of March.

Q: Is there a chance you will get a gluten-free (menu item) in the future?
A: We continue to work on making it safe to offer gluten-free menu options in a kitchen environment that is gluten tolerant. Please share your suggestions here so we can pass it along. Additional ingredient information can be found at Thank you!

Q: Is your kitchen gluten tolerant?
A: Our team members receive training on how to prepare a gluten-free product with proper safe food handling precautions in an environment where common sources of gluten can be found.

Q: Is there an additional charge for the gluten-free bun?
A: Each of our restaurants is independently owned and operated and will make their own decision on this.
(**My location charges $1.00 extra, and alerted me of that prior to ordering.)

All in all, my husband and I agreed that we had a great experience, and anticipate that we would be interested in going again. At the bottom of the receipt it had directions for taking an online survey. As I have a smartphone, I was able to do it on premises and received a free cup of custard. Free ice cream is always a plus in my book!

I paid for my own meal and was in no way persuaded or reimbursed for my opinions. 
I provide this post simply to educate my readers about the experience I had and
to suggest they make an informed decision about their dining experiences.

February 2015 Send Me Gluten Free Box

February 2015 Send Me Gluten Free Box

The folks at Send Me Gluten Free were generous enough to send me an extra box in February. I wanted to share with you what was in the box. 

These wraps come in multiple flavors:
Garden Vegetable
Savory Tomato
nogii Whey & Quinoa Protein - Cocoa Chocolate (contains stevia)
Sunny's Gourmet Products Kimchee Seasoning
Toosum Acai and Cranberry bar (contains gluten free rolled oats) 

I'm super excited about the Kimchee Seasoning. I've been reading up on probiotics and prebiotics. To include probiotics in my diet, I've started drinking kefir and continue to eat greek yogurt. While I already eat beans which are a good source of prebiotics, I've been wanting to try Kimchee, which is another food that helps to stimulate good bacteria in the gut.

Free Toufayan Product - The exciting part of this coupon is that Toufayan just debuted gluten free PITA chips at Expo West. Awesomesauce! 
They have the following flavors:
Chili Lime
Salted Caramel
Sea Salt

Jovial $.50 off one product

Black bean wrap made with Toufayan.

Remember. you can get a 20% discount on your own Send Me Gluten Free Subscription, if you enter BLOG20 at checkout.

If you ordered the 12 month subscription (normally $240) and enter the code at checkout, that would bring your total price down to $192, which averages $16 a month. That's almost 50% off their single month price!

February 2015 Love It Like It Leave It

Love It
Immaculate Baking Company Double Chocolate Cookie Mix

Fellow bloggers have been raving about these mixes and cookie doughs for some time. I recently found them for $2 a box at Big Lots. This may be the best gluten free cookie mix I have EVER tasted. I also bought the chocolate chip cookie mix, but haven't tried it yet.
I made these for our spaghetti fundraiser at church, for those that needed a gluten free option. Others who don't need to eat GF tried them as well and thought they were delicious!

The cookies were especially good rewarmed with Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream sandwiched in between. If you miss Thin Mints, this ice cream sandwich cookie will hit the spot.

Like It
Pamela's Sugar Cookie Mix

Pamela's makes wonderful gluten free products and have been doing so for a really long time. They are definitely a company that can be trusted. This is the first time that I have tried any of their cookie mixes. (Her pancake and brownie mixes are wonderful!) They rolled out easily and baked well. They were a little bit firmer than I generally like for a cutout cookie, but they were good. A big benefit is that they don't crumble and fall apart like some other GF products.  

Leave It
Birch Benders Gluten Free Pancake Mix
Photo taken from Birch Benders website
If you've been following my blog for a while, you would know that I'm a pancake fanatic. We truly eat pancakes EVERY Saturday. I was really excited when I found this mix inside my Send Me Gluten Free box.
Unfortunately, I wasn't excited about the taste. I made sure to follow the directions exactly the first time we tried them. They were dry and not very flavorful. When my husband made them the second time, using milk instead of water, they were better, but not my favorite.
We also followed the direction on the bag for waffles. They came out hard and dry, and needed a lot of peanut butter and syrup to be palatable.
I think I'll stick with making my pancakes from scratch.

So what new products have you tried lately that you think everyone should know about? Leave a comment below!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Brad's Amazing Braised Chicken Thighs

My husband is the most amazing cook. Seriously, if I’ve learned anything about cooking, I’ve learned it from him. While I grew up always needing the security of a cookbook, he has always been the one to throw caution to the wind, add a dash of this, a touch of that, and create the most amazing things.
He did it again the other night. I came home from a long day at work to the most amazing meal of braised chicken thighs, wonderful homemade mashed potatoes and a cauliflower, broccoli and carrot blend of vegetables. I told him it may be the best dish he’s made in a long time.
He usually never writes down anything that he does, which is often frustrating because it usually can’t be recreated. But this time, he immediately wrote down what he did so that we can have it again and so that I can share it all with you! 

Brad's leftovers for the next day in his BentGo box

Brad’s Amazing Braised Chicken Thighs
1 ¾ to 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 can diced tomatoes
1 oz fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped (about 3 large) 
1 roasted red bell pepper (directions on how to do that can be found here)
1 red onion, cubed
1 Tbsp. brown mustard
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (We use Lea & Perrins)
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. cardamom

Place all ingredients in a Dutch oven/ 5 qt. sauce pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove the lid 10 minutes prior to serving to allow some of the liquid to cook off and for the sauce to thicken. 
***Side note- He made the mashed potatoes by baking them in the oven instead of boiling the potatoes. He then mashed them, add Greek yogurt to taste, and a sprinkle of parsley. AMAZING!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Homemade Gluten Free Deep Dish PIzza

I have a confession to make. This blog post is about the first time I've ever had deep dish pizza...ever. My whole life, I don't think I've ever , gf or not, had deep dish pizza.

But thank God, all of that has changed.

Last Christmas I used my large spring form pan to make an apple cake. My memory could be off, but I think it was the first time in our 11 years of married life that I had ever used it. (Or at the very least, not in a VERY long time.) I was super intrigued. What else could I make with it? Searches turned up cheesecake, chicken pot pie, lasagna, and DEEP DISH PIZZA. What?! Why had I never thought of that?

And then life goes on, you forget about such things until one day, miraculously your memory works for once and you say, Oh yeah, I've been meaning to do that.!

Enter Domata Pizza Crust mix. Domata was a vendor at the Lansing Gluten Free Fair in 2014 and they were generous enough to give me a few boxes of their products to try. One of which was pizza crust. Oh yeah.

So I searched the internet for how one makes an authentic deep dish pizza. And then I came across the world's most inspirational recipe. Individual deep dish pizzas made in MINI spring form pans. Which I actually own because I bought them to make hamburger buns. This was going to be EPIC!
(I did make one change- I did not do a top dough crust. There were plenty of recipes that didn't have one, so I figured I would be fine. Besides- extra crust would take away from the cheese!)

So I started with the Domata Pizza Crust mix, following the directions word for word. It was honestly a big gooey blob. I added quite a bit of my Krusteaz flour to make it so it was solid, rollable, and able to be worked with. As I knew I only had 6 pans, I separated my dough into 6 portions, rolling it into a circle probably a good 1-2 inches bigger than the circumference of the pan. This allowed for the dough to fit all the way up the side.

Following the recipe, I placed mozzarella cheese on the bottom. pepperoni, sauteed veggies, then sauce and more cheese. Because, cheese., right?

Loaded with cheese and in the oven!

6 servings of awesomeness!
In all honesty, my husband had fallen asleep on the couch when I was making these. When he woke from his slumber, he was amazed at the smell. Not a bad way to wake up, huh?

And even better, these came perfectly out of the pans. My most recent baking pan purchases have been Wilton products, and I have NOT been disappointed.

While my camera and my photo skills don't do this justice, believe me, they were wonderful. Not only were they great fresh out of the oven, my husband said it was great in his lunch the next day, and they were even still delicious frozen and reheated weeks later. The dough, even though it had originally hard to work with, was very tasty.

While I may not use the Domata flour again, I will DEFINITELY be making these deep dish pizzas again. Hopefully I have encouraged you to try it on your own. If you don't have a spring form pan, I did see some recipe that suggested making  large single deep dish pizza in a cast iron skillet.

***P.S. While Domata's Recipe Ready Flour made AMAZING gluten free chocolate chip cookies, the flour blend did not pass the pancake test, and in general I wasn't pleased with it. I used the seasoned flour according to their recipe. My first attempt wasn't my favorite, but I want to try it again. Their products are also pricey. Honestly, if I was doing a Love It, Like It, Leave It post, I think it would be a "Leave It." Bummer.

So, have you had successes with Domata Flour or with deep dish pizzas. I want to learn from you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Gluten Free No Boil Baked Ziti

I love gluten free pasta. But one thing that I don't love is that 
sometimes it tends to fall apart when you boil it. 

That's why I've been on a mission to make baked dishes 
in which you don't need to boil the pasta first. 
That's right, no boiling the pasta first. 
Just put it in raw. 
Trust me on this. 

I have some Schar Bonta D'Italia Penne sample packs leftover from the Lansing Gluten Free Fair. They had a case left over and were nice enough to give them to me- to pass out to support group members, to give to those newly diagnosed, to play with and to share with the local homeless shelter that I serve. 
I've been able to make good on all of those options!

We will again be serving at My Brother's Keeper Homeless Shelter this Thursday and I wanted to try out a no-boil baked ziti recipe, trying it at home before serving it to 
40 hungry men. 

 The original recipe didn't call for any vegetables, but I added sauteed onion, red pepper and spinach. When it first came out, it was a bit loose. Regardless. it was super delicious and it had set up beautifully once it had cooled a bit and we went back for seconds. The pasta was cooked perfectly and even amazing reheated the next day when we had it for leftovers. 

This recipe is definitely a go for this Thursday....
and will be made again in our home for sure!

We served the ziti with pan sauteed chicken and roasted potatoes.

**I adapted this recipe from the Ragu website.**

1 jar (1 lb. 8 oz.) spaghetti sauce (I used Prego)
    1 1/2 cups water
    1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese (I used cottage cheese)
    2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (about 8 oz.), separated
    1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    12 ounces uncooked ziti pasta (used 12 oz. instead of the original 8 oz.) 

Preheat oven to 400°.
Combine Sauce with water in large bowl. Stir in ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese 
and Parmesan cheese, then uncooked ziti.
Evenly spoon ziti mixture into 13 x 9-inch baking dish. 
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 55 minutes.
Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
 Bake uncovered an additional 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chebe Thanksgiving Pasties

I think it's safe to say that the signature dish of Thanksgiving is stuffing. Turkey is great, cranberries are tasty, but good stuffing is the highlight of the meal.

So what if you made a "stuffing" pie crust, filled it with traditional Thanksgiving staples and baked it in the oven? You'd have a Thanksgiving pasty that you could eat on the go!

When Chebe sent me a case of products to play with this past fall, they included their focaccia mix and a few recipe cards. I looked over their recipe for stuffing and thought about how I could combine that with the idea of a pie crust to stuff it with Thanksgiving favorites. As the focaccia mix is loaded with herbs, all that was missing was the sage and thyme. I added about a tsp. of each, used 4 tbsp. frozen, grated butter like I did in the regular pie crust recipe, and chilled my dough. It weighed approximately 18 ounces, so I separated the dough into three sections.

As far as proportions for the filling, I followed a pasty recipe on Cooking Channel TV website. For those of you unfamiliar with pasties, it is a Michigan staple. A crust filled with meat and tasty bits, baked in the oven, and edible anywhere. It's traditionally filled with ground beef, rutabaga and potatoes- but for my creative recipe I focused on deli turkey, butternut squash, potatoes, cranberry goat cheese, and onions. And a bit of brie cheese for good measure.

I mixed all the ingredients in a bowl and stuffed each piece of dough with approximately 3/4 cup of ingredients. I didn't measure how many I had of each ingredient- sorry. I know I used 4 oz. of squash and cubed one small potato. I used about 2-3 oz of goat cheese. As far as red onion, I just used what I had left in the fridge. Probably a 1/2 of a red onion. 

And this is how it turned out. The smell from the oven was amazing. And since I made three, the hubby got to take one to school.  

It was a bit dry, which I think is because I used already cooked deli meat. (Plus I faield to brush the outside with beaten egg.) I definitely want to play around with this again, using raw dark turkey meat and more goat cheese. My husband's suggestion is to leave the potato out entirely and solely focus on the butternut squash. We did serve it with homemade applesauce, which was a great addition, like a fruit flavored gravy!

So what creative things have you made with Chebe products? Do you have something you'd like to see me create? Leave me a comment below and let me know how Chebe has impacted your baking.

Also, I'll be helping out at the Chebe table at the Gluten Free Food Allergy Fest in Columbus and the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo in Chicago. Stop by, say hi, and take advantage of some great Chebe deals!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Send Me Gluten Free Subscription box review and giveaway

   As a person with Celiac Disease, as well as a gluten free blogger and support group chairperson, I love to try new gluten free products. Even better, I love to be able to get the word out about companies that are working hard to service those who follow a gluten free diet. With an ever expanding gluten free market, it can be hard to know what to try.

   That's where Send Me Gluten Free subscription boxes come in handy. Once a month, they will deliver a box of assorted gluten free products right to your door. It's like going to a gluten free expo once a month without leaving the comfort of your own home!

   While Send Me Gluten Free has only been around since August of 2014, the people behind this company have been working to "make gluten free life easier" for almost a decade. What started in 2008 with a Chicago expo run by Jen Cafferty, has now become a major marketing group with dedicated gluten free expos around the country, the Find Me Gluten Free restaurant app and now the Send Me Gluten Free subscription box. Through these platforms, they have helped over 2 million consumers and worked with over 500 brands.

   I previously purchased a three month subscription and was pleased with every box. I think September's box was probably my favorite. But don't' just take m y word for it. Check out these reviews of the AugustSeptember and October boxes  from other bloggers. I think the September box was my favorite by far. With products from GoPicnic, Pamela's Products, Virtuous Living, Lovely Candy Company and Schar, what's not to like!

   They recently contacted me about reviewing one of their boxes on my blog, and I was very excited. I've been to their Chicago Expo and use their Find Me Gluten Free App all the time to ensure that I can dine safely. Here's a look over what they sent me! (And I'll be representing the Chebe Bread table at their Chicago GFAF Expo this year, so be sure to follow my blog, Instagram and Twitter for reviews about new products there!) 

(Disclaimer- I was provided a box for free but all of my opinions are my own.) 

   While I haven't tried everything in the box yet, I'm SUPER excited about the Birch Benders Pancake Mix. We have pancakes in our house EVERY Saturday. I plan to make those this weekend.
The Brownie Thins are tasty, because they're chocolate! (And made with Cassava Flour and FIVE ancient grains!) I quickly devoured the Luna bar (LOVE their protein line of products) and the Ocho candy bar. (Their website says they have a Dark Coffee bar that I'd LOVE to try!) I'm really excited about the coupon for the free TransOcean seafood products. It says on their website that as of Fall 2014, their ENTIRE facility is 100% gluten free. I place high value on companies that take steps to make the changes necessary to ensure my safety!

The Send Me Gluten Free box is a great way to try new products. It's ideal for:
  • A college student carepackage, or gift for someone gluten free
  • Newly diagnosed Celiacs or individuals new to gluten free living
  • People who want to experience new products and brands
  • Individuals who are unable to attend the Gluten & Allergen Free Expos
Honestly, it's great for just about anyone following a gluten free diet. 

Send Me Gluten Free offers month to month, three month, six month and one year subscriptions. Prices range from $20-$30 per month depending on the subscription length with free shipping for all customers.

And here's an added bonus! If you enter BLOG20 at checkout, you will get 20% off

If you ordered the 12 month subscription (normally $240) and enter the code at checkout, that would bring your total price down to $192, which averages $16 a month. Considering the pouch of Birch Benders Pancake mix sells for $9 alone on their website, $16 a month seems like a pretty good deal! That's almost 50% off their single month price! 

But wait! There's more! 

Send Me Gluten Free is allowing me to give one box to one lucky reader! To enter, comment below by February 24th, noting what type of item you would wish would be in the box. One lucky winner will have a box shipped to them by March 2nd! 

***Thank you for your comments! Amy Tickle was our proud winner.***

So leave me a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you!

Margaret Clegg