I was invited to be part of a Fayetteville, NC blogger and influencer meetup hosted by the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitor Bureau. This is not a sponsored post. All views and opinions are my own.
Once upon a time, only a few years ago, I ate and drank whatever I wanted without worry. Then one-day celiac came along and my gluten loving days were over. While gluten is no longer part of my diet, I don’t keep those close to me from enjoying it. My husband loves a good beer and in Fayetteville, he has several great breweries he could visit but what am I going to do at a brewery? I can’t drink beer, what could there be for a non-beer drinker at a brewery? After visiting 5 breweries in Fayetteville for NC Beer Month, I have 5 reasons to visit a brewery when you are gluten-free.
In the days before I was gluten free if I were to go out to eat my thoughts went to Mexican food or Chinese. Thankfully I still can eat Mexican food, just not everything but my days of stopping at Panda Express for a quick lunch are over. Most Chinese food has some form of gluten in it from a source most people would not expect, soy sauce. Thankfully though they make gluten free soy sauce so I can still have Chinese food, I just have to make it myself. For that reason, I am also thankful for the many recipes out there that let me have my favorites like, Kung Pao Chicken.
The other day my daughter was begging me to make coffee cake. In her sweetest voice she said please and told me I could even take pictures and put it on my blog. How can I say no to her when she asks so nicely and gives me a blogging idea, so of course I made her a coffee cake. Not just any coffee cake, my mom’s coffee cake, what my siblings and I called, crater cake.
It’s been a busy few weeks around these parts but I can now say school is out for summer! The craziness that abounds in my house has already started. Who am I kidding, it is crazy around here all the time. This time all I said was that I was going to make a Gluten Free Blueberry Muffin Peach Cobbler.
Since I became Gluten Free 2 years ago I have missed eating classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Rice cakes just don’t cut it and gluten free bread while excellent for grilled cheese are not the best bread for peanut butter and jelly. There is something about the childhood classic. This Christmas I decided to do something about that, I made peanut butter and jelly thumbprint cookies.
While they are not sandwiches they have the flavor I am wanting from a classic PB&J. I thought they would be perfect for Christmas! My family gobbled them up! I went out to pick up some things for Christmas and they were all gone when I got home! I guess than means I need to make more cookies!
In a mixing bowl, beat butter, peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla together in a bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg to butter mixture and beat on medium speed until blended. Stir in and combine dry ingredients.
Cover and chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop dough into 2 tablespoon-sized balls and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
Place raspberry jam in a bowl and stir until syrup consistency.
With a spoon make an indentation in the center of each cookie. Fill each indentation with about 1 teaspoon jam.
On my 5th day of Homemade Christmas I have one of my second son’s favorite cookies, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Flax.
I have been making Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies for years. I love oatmeal chip cookies. They are so much better than those ones with raisins. These cookies are the only ones I make that Mr Great requests on a regular basis and this year he told me that I need to make them for Christmas and Santa.
These cookies are his special cookies. When we lived in El Paso he participated in his school district’s special olympics every year. One of things was parents and the school would supply food and snacks for the kids. I wanted to bring something that was a bit healthier. So I made cookies! I know cookies don’t scream healthy but these are filled with wholesome oatmeal and flax. So they are a bit better than your traditional chocolate chip.
Well, my son ate probably too many cookies that day in addition to pizza and who knows what else but he still had to run. His run was one of the last ones of the day. I was fully expecting him to puke, start walking or worse have a meltdown. None of that happened though, he won his race! He was so happy and I was very proud of him. If you asked him about the race he would tell you it was all because of the cookies, his special oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Mr Great went on the following years to win again and again at the special olympics. He always had his special cookies too. The recipe has been tweaked a bit since those days to turn it into a gluten free oatmeal cookie but it is still delicious and we love it! Hopefully Santa will like them too! I have a sneaking suspicion that he will.
My marathon training has definitely been an adventure. If it is not one thing it seems to be another thing going on and my plans just have disappeared. I’m trying my best but it seems as though time is just slipping away. Then again maybe it is just because i’m a grown up now and time moves fast the older you get. There is one thing that is not getting past me while i’m training, it is my nutrition. I am doing my best to eat as healthy as I can. It’s easy to say, well I just burned XXX calories I can eat whatever I want but in the end it catches up to you. I don’t know about you but when I eat like crap I can tell in my run. I will never be the girl that can eat whatever without it affecting me in some way or form. Thankfully I have an arsenal recipes that I can turn to like Simple Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad.
This recipe is very simple to make and the flavors all go very well together. It is a favorite of mine to have during the week to have for lunch. Even my homeschooling 13 year old likes it. The recipe is also vegan and gluten free making it a healthy option that many can enjoy. You simply roast some diced sweet potatoes and then when they are done throw in a bowl with onion, black beans, cilantro and toss with some lime juice and olive oil and some salt and pepper. Can it get any easier? This recipe takes about 45 minutes to make and the majority of that time is waiting on the sweet potato to roast.
So there you go one of the many ways I try to eat healthy while training for my first marathon, Simple Black Bean and Sweet Potato Salad. It is simple easy and best of all tasty. Plus you are getting a healthy dose of carbs to fuel your run and protein and antioxidants that help with muscle recovery.
If I had to pick my favorite type of food without a question I would tell you Mexican food. I absolutely love Mexican food. I really don’t know why, I don’t but do I need an excuse to love really good food? Living in El Paso Texas I became spoiled by Mexican Food, there was plenty of it. There was good Mexican food and then there was bad Mexican Food like Chicos… it’s an El Paso thing. You either loved or hated Chico’s. I’m sorry Aaron Sanchez but it is not the best thing I ever ate (with my hands).
I’m sorry i’m just anti-Chicos. There are just too many unappetizing stories out there about them. There was a lot of good food to be found in El Paso though. Good food that I really miss and I have been recreating. I just can’t find really good Mexican food in North Carolina. I know the food in Mexico varies by region but I have yet to figure out what region the Mexican food around here is from.
One of our favorite things to do in El Paso when we didn’t want to go out to eat was head to a local grocery store where they made their own tortillas. Their tortillas were heavenly especially right off the machine when they were still warm. Vista Market’s tortillas were the perfect addition for making authentic Mexican meals at home.
Now that I have to rely on store bought tortillas I have been pondering how hard is it to make my own tortillas. I don’t have a press and didn’t want to buy a press not knowing how or if the tortillas were going to turn out. What’s a girl to do? I’ll tell you what, this girl got creative and guess what it worked. Homemade tortillas were very easy to make and definitely worth the little bit of extra work. Here is how I did it.
Step 1: Prepare your dough. This is some of the easiest dough I have ever made. You mix Masa flour,water and salt (if desired). If your dough is a little dry add more water, a little wet add more masa. Allow your dough to rest for at least 30 minutes.
Step 2: Roll your dough into about golf ball sized balls. Keep the ones that you are not preparing to roll covered so they don’t dry out.
Step 3. Take either a large sheet of parchment or 2 sheets of parchment to roll your dough ball out in between. You could use wax paper or saran wrap if desired but parchment was the easiest to work with. The dough doesn’t stick and the parchment can be reused multiple times without any fuss.
Don’t let not having a rolling pin keep you from trying this recipe. A wine bottle (or other round glass bottle) will work as a rolling pin in a pinch.
Step 4: Once you have rolled out something that is about the size of a corn tortilla take a plastic bowl and use it as a “cookie” cutter and cut out the tortilla. Yes, everyone a plastic cereal bowl that you can buy 4 for a $1 at Walmart or the Dollar Store makes for a perfect tortilla cutter.
Step 5: On medium- high heat cook each side of your tortilla for 30 seconds to one minute. I used an electric skillet but a good heavy skillet works just as well. Keep tortillas covered with a towel to stay warm and moist until ready to serve. To save for later store in a ziploc bag.
They were seriously some of the best tortillas we have ever eaten! My husband told me that i’m not allowed to buy store bought tortillas anymore even. Yes, they are that awesome! Try them for yourself and see. No need to buy a tortilla press unless you really want to. As long as you have masa, parchment paper, a rolling pin and a plastic bowl you have everything that you need. So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to make homemade corn tortillas and taste the difference?
Corn Tortillas are easy to make, taste better and are cheaper than store bought tortillas.
1¾ cups masa harina
1⅛ cups water
¼ teaspoon salt (if desired)
In a medium bowl, mix together masa harina and hot water until thoroughly combined. Turn dough onto a clean surface and knead until pliable and smooth. If dough is too sticky, add more masa harina; if it begins to dry out, sprinkle with water. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand for 30 minutes.
Preheat a cast iron skillet or griddle to medium-high.
Divide dough into 15 equal-size balls. Cover the dough balls to help retain moisture.
Take either a large sheet of parchment or 2 sheets of parchment to roll your dough ball out in between. Roll dough ball thinly until it is approximately 6-7 inches round.
Once you have rolled your dough take a plastic bowl and use it as a "cookie" cutter and cut out the tortilla
Immediately place tortilla in preheated pan and allow to cook for approximately 30 seconds, or until lightly browned and slightly puffy. Turn tortilla over to brown on second side for approximately 30 seconds more, then transfer to a plate. Repeat process with each ball of dough. Keep tortillas covered with a towel to stay warm and moist until ready to serve.
When I went gluten free over a year ago I had to redo how we did our meals and come up with some new dishes to include in our regular meals. One of those dishes was polenta. I had made polenta before and I liked it. I’m not quite sure why I never made it again. Maybe it was out of laziness and not wanting to go through all the steps of making it. Back then I made the polenta, then molded it and finally sliced and fried it up. That’s not how we eat it now though. Now I keep it simple, I serve it as is. No molding,slicing or frying.
The actual creating of the polenta is easy. Your biggest concern is keeping your polenta from getting lumpy. That is pretty simple to accomplish though. Polenta is one of those foods that take a few extra minutes can mean all the difference in the world. When you add your polenta or cornmeal to your liquid you have to take it slow. You slowly pour and stir in your polenta instead of dumping it in. That is all. Stir on a regular basis and voila, lump free polenta. All there is left to do when it is done cooking is add butter and parmesan cheese. It really is an easy dish to make if you take your time.
Polenta has become a staple in our diet because it is just that good. I probably make it twice a month. It is one of my daughter’s favorite things to eat that she begs me to make. She is 8. Now how many 8 year olds do you know that ask for polenta for dinner? Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!
In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring milk, chicken broth, and salt to a boil. Gradually whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook 20 minutes, until creamy, lifting the lid and stirring every 3 or 4 minutes to prevent sticking. Remove pot from stove, stir in pepper and butter. Gradually stir in cheese. Serve.