Gluten Free Review: Cook Simple Ancient Grain Salad

Hello everyone! Another gluten free review today – hopefully no one’s getting bored with these! I was pretty excited when I found this at my local Lucky in the pasta salad mix aisle. Is that the proper term for that isle? Maybe it’s just the pasta aisle? Hmm, not really sure on that one. At any rate it’s the aisle with tons and tons of boxed pastas!

So yeah I bought this and a zesty ranch pasta salad mix (by the same company) because it seemed like a potentially awesome side dish!

Cook Simple Gluten Free Ancient Grain Salad

Ancient Grains Salad Plated


Ingredients:

Dressing Packet from Box
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
2 1/2 Cups Water
Grain & Bean Packet from Box

Ancient Grains Box & Ingredient Spread

Ancient Grains Directions


Directions:

1.Add the dressing packet, mayonnaise, and yogurt to a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Once the dressing is a nice smooth consistency set it aside.

Ancient Grain Dressing Unmixed Ancient Grain Dressing

2. Bring your water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan and break open your grain packet.

Ancient Grains Grain & Bean Packet

3. Once the water has come to a boil add in the grain and bean packet. Turn the heat to medium and allow the mix to simmer for around 40 minutes or until all the moisture has been absorbed. The time will vary depending on your stove top, mine finished around 36 minutes.

Boiling Water With Grains Cooked Grains

4. Now all you need to do is take your grains off the heat and spoon them into the mixing bowl with your dressing. Fold together the grains and dressing until well combined and pop this into the refrigerator until it’s well chilled throughout.

Ancient Grains Unmixed Ancient Grains Salad
Okay so my thoughts on Cook Simple’s Ancient Grain Salad are rather mixed – in the end I’ve got positive feelings, but I’m definitely going to be doing some recipe adjusting the next time I cook this.

First things first, the quinoa smells incredible whilst cooking. Seriously, this stuff just smells mouth wateringly good. So even though I really really really wanted to dig in before finishing the recipe I held myself back. The struggle haha. Anyway this brings me to my next point which is… I didn’t really like the dressing very much. At all actually. The flavor was very heavy on dill and garlic. However, I’m nearly positive the main reason I didn’t like it was because of some weird texture thing I have going on with this particular type of food.

Let me explain.

I’m really not keen on deli salads. So this isn’t really a leafy salad issue, but much more a pasta or chicken or potato or tuna salad type problem. I just do not go for those types of salads when they are overly saturated in dressing. Now, knowing that there was mayonnaise in the recipe for this you would think I would have made some sort of compensation effort. Usually yes, but this time I was trying to follow the recipe exactly so I could give an honest review and honestly I will be changing the way I make that dressing the next time around. I think I might substitute the mayonnaise (not my favorite ingredient to be honest) with a bit of olive oil and make a small addition of lemon juice. I think olive oil might do the trick in lightening up the dressing and I wanted to add the lemon to help brighten up the flavor of garlic.

I think if I were to give this a rating it’d have to be three out of five. It’s definitely got promise, but the dressing really needs some tweaking to make it a staple product in my pantry. If you get a chance to try this for yourself leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

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Gluten Free Review: Immaculate Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Hello everyone! This post is going to be a bit short because I didn’t actually have to do any sort of prep work for this recipe. I mean I suppose I did have to physically place the dough rounds onto my baking sheet, but that doesn’t really count does it?

Alright so a bit of story behind these because I was so so excited when I found them. My Safeway has their dairy and deli meats sections combined. So whilst I was wandering around looking at all the cheeses and bacons for breakfast I ended up wandering over to the premade dough section – which is not really an area I find myself in often because rarely can you find premade gluten free recipes. Yet I somehow ended up over there, whether to lament the crescent rolls or stare longingly at the cinnamon buns no one knows, but what matters is I was there and they were there and the rest is history! I’ve never heard of this brand and I hadn’t had peanut cookies in ages so I decided to try them out (there were also chocolate chip cookies which I’m going to give a try later.)

So yeah, very exciting and super simple to make so let’s get started!

Immaculate Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Immaculate Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies Baked


Ingredients:

Immaculate pre-made gluten free peanut butter cookie dough (12 rounds)Immaculate Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies


Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Immaculate Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie Instructions

2. Place the cookie dough rounds on an ungreased baking sheet, about two inches apart. I used a ruler to be precise – this is probably not necessary.

Immaculate Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie Rounds

3. Bake 16 – 18 minutes (I went with 17) so the cookies are a gold brown color on top. These are very soft (similar to my Let’s Cook: Pumpkin Sugar Cookies) straight out of the oven so make sure you wait long enough that they won’t deform when you touch them before moving your cookies onto a cooling rack. I waited about 5 minutes.
Immaculate Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookies Baked Top

My immediate thought on these cookies is that they’re quite tasty! The cookies aren’t overly sweet and although you can taste the peanut flavor it’s not overwhelming. I actually really love the way these taste because I hate when I bite into a peanut flavored desert and it feels as if I’ve taken a glob of peanut butter into my mouth. Not appetizing. So yes, the subtle flavor is nice and the chunks of peanuts throughout add a nice dimension to the cookie.

I do have to grumble about the consistency of the dough a bit – although whether this is the cookies fault or my lack of baking skills is up for debate. The cookies had that unbound quality most gluten free pastries have (obviously because of their lack of gluten), but the top of the cookie was almost disintegrating. Despite the inside of the cookie not being well bound together it was very soft and fluffy, but I think because the top wasn’t able to hold moisture as easily during the baking process it dried out and became slightly sandy. However, I’ve found a bit of a hack to fix this! Once you’ve baked your cookies and allowed them to cool place them in a plastic bag for about 15 to 30 minutes. The trapped moisture in the bag will re-hydrate the top of the cookies, making them super soft and delicious.

These cookies are definitely worth a try if you want something easy to bake and are fond of peanut desserts. Well I suppose that’s that and have a lovely weekend!

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Gluten Free Review: Krusteaz Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Mix

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Hello everyone! So, as you may know from my last post I have quite the amount of craziness going on right now. In fact I entirely lost track of time yesterday applying for jobs, updating my CV, and writing my personal history/statement that I forgot to work on a recipe I’d been meaning to post today. Luckily, I’d written this idea down in my planner at the beginning of the month, but hadn’t known if anyone would be particularly interested in it other than myself. I thought it might be fun to write reviews on some of the gluten free products I find whilst out and about wandering the isles of my neighbor grocery stores. There’s a huge range of products I’m always interested in buying (box mixes, baked goods, pastas, frozen meals), but rarely do because I don’t know if I’ll like them and can never seem to find any reviews for them online. So I figure why not help myself (and hopefully others) by trying these products out and blogging how I feel about them. So what better time than when I’m in a pinch to give this idea a go!

Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Mix from Krusteaz


Ingredients:

1 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Egg
1 Package Krusteaz Honey Cornbread Mix

Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread Ingredients


Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

2. The package directions state to mix both your wet and cornbread mix until moistened. However, I’ve found most recipes specify to premix your wet ingredients before adding them to your dry ingredients. So I gave my milk, oil, and eggs a good whisk before adding in the cornbread mix and folding it all together.

Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread Wet Ingredients Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread Wet Ingredients Whisked Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread Wet & Dry Ingredients Mixed

3. Next you’ll need to spoon your mix into your baking pan – the box suggests an 8x8x2 inch metal pan, a 12 standard muffin pan, and a 24 mini muffin tin. I went with my standard muffin tin and filled the muffin cups until they were 2/3 of the way full. As you can see I had quite a bit of mix left over so I added about half a scoop to each muffin until I had used up the mix.

Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread Extra Muffin Batter Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread Batter in Muffin Tin

4. Next pop your muffins into the oven for the specified bake time, which was 16-18 minutes for my standard muffin pan.

Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbreas Muffins Baked

5. Once your muffins have finished baking take them out of the oven and place them on a metal rack to cool. Once cooled you can enjoy them as they are or add a bit of honey for some extra sweetness!

To be completely honest, I actually prefer these muffins without any toppings. They’ve got just the slightest hint of sweetness that combined with their fluffy texture makes them super light. I was actually surprised when I first tried one because usually boxed corn bread comes with an overpowering amount of corn flavor, but these were the complete opposite. Now that I think about it, that may actually be why they aren’t too sweet. However, if you really love sweet cornbread you could always add a bit of creamed corn in with the wet ingredients to amp up the flavor. After trying Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread mix out I think I can honestly recommend it to friends and family – so yes, 5 out of 5 stars on this gluten free product. Besides I’ll definitely be making these muffins again, probably at Thanksgiving when I know everyone will want some cornbread with their meal!

Krusteaz Gluten Free Cornbread Muffin with Honey

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Delicious Gluten Free Italian at Luca Cucina Italiana Feast

A good friend of mine recently quit his job in preparation for an extended vacation where he’ll be traveling across Asia (I’m quite jealous) and to celebrate his last day at work this Friday we decided to go out for a feast!I’d passed Luca Cucina Italiana several times whilst wandering around Berkeley and was intrigued by the cozy atmosphere that seemed to radiate from the place. As a bonus I’d seen the name come up several times while browsing my “Find Me GF” app. So off we went with growling tummies and visions of delicious pastas dancing in our heads.

The glimpses I’d seen from outside the restaurant were correct in leading me to expect a warm environment. The interior is softly lit with beautiful art lining the walls on one side and rustic bricks on the other. Even better than the atmosphere was the fantastic dinner service. The waitresses at Luca were very attentive and helpful! The woman in charge of our table immediately pointed out which menu items could be made gluten free for me and was also able to suggest a wine pairing for my meal. Oh man and what a meal it was!

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We started with two appetizers – the carpaccio antipasti and special antipasti. The carpaccio included thinly sliced filet mignon topped with arugula, parmigiano, capers, red onion, and lemon. The onions and lemon were to the side of the other ingredients so we were able to add those at our leisure. I opted to combine all pieces of the dish so I got an extremely fresh slightly salty, slightly acidic bite of filet every time. It was incredible. The special antipasti that day included fresh roasted red pepper, mozzarella drizzled with olive oil, and sautéed portobella mushrooms. The portobella mushrooms on that antipasti were one of my favorite parts of our entire meal. They were cooked to perfection so you got a burst of fantastic mushroom flavor with each bite. Not going to lie, I snuck a few onto my bites of carpaccio and it was heavenly.

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Onto our main courses! The guest of honor ordered the panna penne with meatballs, Eric went with the chicken piccata with fusilli, and I had the chicken marsala with gluten-free penne. Unfortunately I can’t comment on the taste of any order but mine (since mine was the only one ordered gluten-free), but I can say that everything smelled delicious. So, since 90% of taste is smell I’d say that’s a pretty glowing review for everything ordered. Anywho, let’s get into an in depth description of my incredibly delicious chicken marsala. My first compliment really has to go to the thinness of the chicken. The chicken breast were as close to paper thin as (I believe) you could humanly get them and were cooked to crispy perfection. These were topped with mushrooms in a smooth buttery and sweet marsala wine sauce. Finally there was the gluten free penne, cooked perfectly and tossed in a light tomato sauce. I was really impressed by the two sauces on my dish – both were packed with flavors, but neither o
verwhelmed the chicken or penne. Something I’ve found is quite difficult to achieve.

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If you’re in the Berkeley area you need to try this place out. Gluten free Italian is
a rarity and Luca is an absolutely wonderful time. I hope you enjoyed, now go have your own fantastic Italian adventure!

ⓛⓞⓥⓔTricia

Delicious Korean Food AKA Anniversary Feast!!

I first tried Korean food my freshman year of college and man is it just obscenely delicious. It’s right up there with my mom’s food (number one forever and always) and Indian on the list of foods I will completely stuff myself with to the point of sickness. Seriously, Korean’s know their way around flavors. So why am I going on about Korean food and how fantastic it is? This past Wednesday was Eric and my seventh year dating anniversary. So of course we had to celebrate with tons of delicious food and the only place we could think to provide that service was Downtown Oakland’s OHGANE Korean BBQ Restaurant.

OHGANE Mural

Incredible mural outside the OHGANE restaurant

I feel that a little bit of history is in order here, I didn’t find out about my gluten issues until my junior year of college and had not been to a Korean restaurant since then. I’m generally skeptical of any Asian food that relies heavily on soy sauce because that shit is snuck into everything and I’ve been bitten in the butt several times by it before. Because of this I asked my server to check that everything I ordered was gluten free and he assured us all of our food was safe. I am going to add the disclaimer though that ingredients can depend on food brands and food prep varies in every kitchen so if you have celiac please for the love of god proceed in eating any of the shown dishes with extreme caution.

We ordered mung bean jun and kimchi kimbop as appetizers. If I had to compare jun to anything it would probably be potato pancakes, but with a bit more of an earthy taste. Kimbop is similar to sushi in the way it’s presented, but the taste (I would argue) is completely different. Ours had this incredible spicy, pickled flavor from the kimchi. Not going to lie I ate the majority of the kimbop… but I had no choice they were too delicious to leave on the plate!

Mung Bean Jun    Kimbop

Oh, maybe I should also mention the ABSURD array of side dishes that came
with our food. I mean holy guacamole were there a ton, sixteen in all. There was an array of different kimchis, several vegetables prepared in various ways, and ones So Many Side Disheswe had absolutely no idea about. We tried them all and the only one we weren’t overly fond of was the dried fish, which by their size I would guess were anchovies.

We ordered two main courses, kimchi stew for Eric and beef short rib stew for me. These came out literally boiling hot in their bowls, which was just way too cool. Eric’s soup was super kimchi-y and spicy. In fact, it was such a mouth burning, hiccup inducing spicy we were only able to finish about one cup each. My soup on the other and was quite mild. It had this incredible garlic-y, onion-y, beef flavor. I’m not talking about an out of the box beef broth flavor. Oh no, no, no, no I’m talking about the flavor of my mom’s homemade ox tail soup that could only be gotten by braising meat still on the bone for hours on end. Oh man, nothing can compare.

Beef Short Rib Stew

BOILING HOT beef short rib stew

So to say the least dinner was delicious and we had an abundance of leftovers packed up for us. To top everything off at the end of our meal they unexpectedly brought us yogurt drinks (yakult I believe) which had a tangy, sweet taste to them. I loved them, Eric wasn’t thrilled so I drank both. Oops.

Well I hope you enjoyed this post, now go out and have your own Korean food adventure!

7th Year Anniversary Photo

ⓛⓞⓥⓔTricia