(Mostly) gluten free Thanksgiving treats: How I glutened myself

Cute mini gluten free pies. Except for the ones on the left. Those are cute, but deadly.

Cute mini gluten free pies. Except for the ones on the left. Those are cute, but deadly.

This year, I decided it had been far too long since I had pumpkin pie, so I set out to make that. A few days before I hit the kitchen to whip it up, I visited an apple orchard. Before I knew it my fridge was bursting with apples. Ok, looks like I’m making some apple pie, too, I thought.

Since I had never made pie crust before (and my only experience with it was — occasionally — watching my mom release a string of expletives because the dough wouldn’t hold together — sorry mom!), I did some heavy duty googling.  In my search for the easiest of pie crusts, I came across images of charming little pies baked in cupcake pans. Well, I certainly had a couple of those! Just like that my pie baking feat morphed into a mini pie baking feat. And, if I do say so myself, they came out pretty darn cute!

For the crust, I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free ‘easy as pie crust’ recipe. I doubled the recipe and added 1 tbsp of sugar, as the pie crusts I’ve always had had a hint of sweetness to them.

For the apple filling, I used Chef Michael Smith’s recipe (only I, of course, substituted the flour with all-purpose gluten free flour).

For the pumpkin filling, I used E.D. Smith’s pumpkin pie filling.

And this is how I glutened myself.

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A lovely gluten free wedding cake just for me, part deux

It's hard to believe it's been two years since we got engaged!

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since we got engaged!

Well, I can’t believe I’m writing this as it really doesn’t feel like it’s been 365 days, but this weekend my husband and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. In the morning he surprised me with a beautiful bouquet, and then we took to our car and journeyed three hours away to Algonquin Park, which was were he had proposed to me two years ago. There, on bended knee, he asked me to marry him. On a ‘lookout point’ cliff top. In front of dozens of tourists. The ‘oooohs’ and ‘ahhhhs’ coming from our sudden audience made me tongue-tied, to say the least. So much so that I left the poor guy suspended on bended knee for far longer than I had intended. When I heard one person not too far away whisper, ‘oh my God, is she going to say no?!’ I finally snapped out of my stage fright and said, ‘Yes!’

One year after that we were walking down the aisle, and now one year after that we are marveling at the fact that it’s been a year. It almost feels funny ringing in ‘one year,’ as we’ve been together for almost a decade, but it’s fun having another milestone to celebrate.

After a year of staring at wrapped up leftover wedding cake sitting in our freezer, we finally put it in the fridge yesterday to defrost. Will it taste good? Who knows; we’re about to find out. His might taste a better, as it looks like it was wrapped up with a bit more care. Yes, we do have a ‘his and hers’ wedding cake. As I told in one of my earlier posts, he had surprised me with a maple gluten free wedding cake just for me, as I had recently discovered my gluten intolerance. So whether the cake tastes fresh or stale, this is a fun wedding tradition we’ve both been looking forward to for the past year, and it’s the perfect way to end a spectacular weekend down memory lane 🙂

Blast from the past meets present day: A piece of cake from our wedding day, one year ago today, and a bouquet to celebrate our one year.

Blast from the past meets present day: A piece of cake from our wedding day, one year ago today, and a bouquet to celebrate our one year.

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Bye, Bitch! My gluten free farewell to ‘Breaking Bad’

The definitive 'Breaking Bad' menu for the Gluten Intolerant

The definitive ‘Breaking Bad’ menu for the Gluten Intolerant

Warning: While there aren’t any specific spoilers in this post, some juicy tidbits are alluded to.

Like almost all my favourite shows, I got into ‘Breaking Bad’ late. How late, you ask? I started watching a month ago. Yes, just one month was all it took for it to rank up there on my list of favourite shows. My brother had been trying to get me to watch from season one, but he never said anything about the show that made it appealing. Did he say the show explored the epic, torturous downward spiral of a teacher-turned-drug kingpin? Not really.

Did he say it had the perfect blend of comedy and drama? Nope.

What did he focus on exactly? All the stuff that would make this squeamish gal not at all interested in tuning in, that’s what. How many times had I heard about ‘this person melting’ and ‘that person’s face exploding off,’ I’ll never know. And to his credit, he did insist ‘Breaking Bad’ was so much more than that, but I was too chicken to give it a shot. (Los Pollos, anyone?)

That was the case, anyway, till last month’s dinner guests saw we had Netflix and ‘wanted to see what this ‘Breaking Bad’ was all about.’ Our friends eagerly sat and watched the first couple of episodes with wide eyes as I sat there, oftentimes with my eyes shielded behind my hands, waiting for bodies to melt and faces to explode.

Fans of the show won’t be surprised to read I didn’t have to wait too long to see someone melt. Ah, that famous bathtub scene happened in episode two, I believe. And as much as that graphic portrayal of body decomposition turned my stomach, I got hooked onto the show. Indeed, there is so much more to it.

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Gluten free Thanksgiving prep

Jon and I, a couple years back, after making our own Thanksgiving cornucopias.

Jon and I, a couple years back, after making our own Thanksgiving cornucopias.

My favourite time of year has always been ‘holiday season,’ and by that, I’m not being politically correct. ‘Holiday season’ is an exhilarating eight-month deal for me, as I consider September (the kick-start to fall and harvest and all that good stuff) to April (spring-time flowers and Easter) book-ending this. Do I show favouritism towards any specific holidays within this eight-month span? Of course. Christmas tops my top-3-favourite-times-of-year list, and Thanksgiving and Halloween follow.

So naturally, being September and all, I started thinking about the first event slated in the (Canadian) calendar: Thanksgiving, which this year falls in two weeks.

I’m especially excited for it this year, as I didn’t celebrate it last year. Why? I was busy getting married! While my husband I made sure to infuse fall-themed meals and flavours into our day, we missed out on the turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. So, naturally, this year I plan on going all-out with as many gluten free equivalents as I can muster up. ‘Maybe I can even make those cornucopias again,’ I thought. This is where my excitement started to really percolate.

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Gluten free mint chocolate avocado brownies (I can’t believe there’s no butter!)

Mint chocolate avocado brownies, sans butter and 'real' flour.

Mint chocolate avocado brownies, sans butter and ‘real’ flour.

About a year ago I turned my eye to avocados. Up until this point, I never cared for the slimy green fruit. Nachos have always ranked high on my list of favourite junk foods, and while I enjoyed them ‘loaded,’ guacamole was never something I’d want along with them. To be perfectly honest, I still don’t like guacamole!

What finally turned me onto avocados was a salad my cousin had made. Cherry tomatoes, avocado, lime juice, olive oil, black pepper – that’s it. And wow, was it ever delicious. Since then I’ve made it every other week or so, only I make it with the delicious addition of mini bocconcini, fennel seeds, and balsamic vinegar. This salad is incredibly satisfying and I encourage you all to try it.

But the star of this post is not salad; it’s brownies. So let’s get to it. I recently got my hands on a cookbook on all-things avocado, and it’s become my favourite free goodie as of late. From breakfast to dessert, the book, ‘Absolutely Avocados’ by Gaby Dalkin, is a colourful page-turner of tantalizing avocado-based recipes. I’ve had to adapt some to make them gluten free, as this is not a g-free cookbook, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the end results.

I’ve altered Dalkin’s avocado brownies in a number of different ways, so I’m not going to post her recipe as it appears in the book. However, the book’s been a real asset in my kitchen, so I thought I would encourage you to check it out.

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Savoury gluten free stuffed peppers

The first stuffed peppers I've ever made -- without a recipe or anything. *Patting self on back*

The first stuffed peppers I’ve ever made — without a recipe or anything. *Patting self on back*

My husband and I recently got a Costco membership. Until recently we didn’t even consider having one since it’s just us two (and a kitty, but she’s a tiny little thing). But after listening to our friends go on and on about the great deals they were scooping up, we decided to check it out. In the end, we saw awesome savings were to be had with that coveted little plastic card, so we signed up.

Why am I talking about Costco when I promised you a recipe for stuffed peppers? I’m getting there! You see, for quite a few long months now, our ‘snack’ for work has been carrots. Every day, carrots. As of late, however, the carrots have been coming back home after work, still in their little unopened containers. In an effort to remain healthy, we thought we would swap out our carrots for sliced pepper sticks. So we went to Costco and bought a big pack of peppers.

…And then we got home and saw we still had a big pack of carrots sitting in our fridge. Urgh. So, for another three or four days we begrudgingly munched on carrots. In an effort to not let the peppers go to waste, I decided to make stuffed peppers. (There we are; told you I was getting there!)

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Gluten free goodies at Tim Hortons? Finally!

Tim Hortons' answer to gluten free treats: the chocolate drizzled coconut macaroon

Tim Hortons’ answer to gluten free treats: the chocolate drizzled coconut macaroon

I keep a memo in my phone at all times so I can jot down blog ideas including, but not limited to, recipes, triumphs, and (of course) rants. And it wasn’t too long ago that I wrote, ‘Tim Hortons, make a G-free doughnut, dammit!!!’

I don’t remember when I wrote it, but it was probably after a coffee date with friends, where they happily nibbled on the sugary treat and left me to…drink my coffee. Oh woes me, right? Well hey. It was not every day that I used to have a doughnut, so it’s not like I’m really missing them, but I guarantee you it’s not fun to be the only one in a group not having one. Especially when your friends do the side-head-tilt and sadly ask, ‘if you have one just this one time, will it really hurt your stomach?’

Yes. Yes it will.

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G-free party food: My go-to dishes

It’s already August and looking back I can say with confidence that this was a summer of parties. From the exciting events leading to a couple of best friends’ wedding to toasting a new home, I had an unofficial part-time job as hostess this season.

The truth is, playing hostess is a fun pastime I don’t think I will ever tire from. But wow, can it get expensive. Especially if you’re planning a unique g-free menu.  I’ll admit for a couple gatherings I took the easy way out and opted to prepare solely ‘normal dishes’ (aka, gluten-filled) just for convenience sake, but munching on veggies while my guests indulged in mouthwatering appetizers always ended up being a regret.

I think I’ve found my footing now, and it’s fun discovering new ways to satisfy my guests’ taste buds, and mine. So what were some items I served?

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Scrumptious Salads: The there’s-no-way-I’m-turning-on-the-damn-oven edition

Hi everyone! It’s been a while (busy summer and all), so I thought I would treat you to not one, but two, gluten free salad creations I find particularly scrumptious. I’ve been eating these all week because, people, it’s hot. Oppressively hot. It’s been hovering around the ‘it’s-going-to-feel-like-45 degrees-kind of hot’ all week. ALL. WEEK.

The sun. The hot, hot sun. (Flickr / jmf1007)

The sun. The hot, hot sun. (Flickr / jmf1007)

It’s the kind of heat that makes me truly uncomfortable. And drained. And irritable. I get especially irritable when I hear people gushing about how ‘beautiful’ this weather is. There is nothing beautiful about instant sweat, matted down hair, and runny makeup. This weather is only appropriate if you’re on vacation or near some kind of lake you can hop into. But for day-to-day living? No. Just no.

When my stifling heat-loving friends hear me complain they immediately make some cliche comment about winter. ‘Oh, well I’ll take this over -20 and snow,’ they always say with a chuckle.

Here’s the thing my friends don’t seem to grasp. If it is -20 and snowing, you can always add a layer of clothing to warm up. Always.

I stumbled across a YouTube video that’s making its rounds and I included it at the bottom of this post. If you’re frustrated with the heat in your area or you just want a laugh, check it out!

So, back to the reason for this long-awaited post: the salads. Here are two no-cooking-required dishes I whipped up repeatedly throughout the week to stay nourished…and cool.

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A gluten free shmorgishborg of delectable treats

The end result of my 5-hour shopping trip: A combination of free samples and items I purchased at Canada's Gluten Free Market.

The end result of my 5-hour shopping trip: A combination of free samples and items I purchased at Canada’s Gluten Free Market.

A little over a week ago I had the pleasure of attending Canada’s Gluten Free Market in Mississauga, Ont. I was accompanied by my mother and cousin, two family members who decided to give g-free living a go. It was perfect timing. What better time to try a new diet than at an event with a wide assortment of free goodies? The event was the perfect place for gluten free newbies and veterans alike: along with food, there was an abundance of information. The event ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we arrived bright and early and left around mid-afternoon. I was wondering how big a crowd the show would draw. Of course, gluten free living has become rampant in recent years, but this type of event caters to a niche audience — or so I thought.  The venue was rammed! A massive line of people gathered before the doors even opened and the aisles and booths were packed with eager and hungry gluten free enthusiasts the entire time we were there. In fact, one vender was rushing out just as we were, promising she’d ‘be back with more products,’ as her booth was completely emptied of treats.

Gluten free enthusiasts lining up for the big event roughly 15 minutes before it even opened.

Gluten free enthusiasts lining up for the big event roughly 15 minutes before it even opened.

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