Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gluten-Free Crock-Pot Lasagna

I saw this Real Simple recipe for cooking lasagna in the crock-pot. I was very intrigued because I have always faced the ole' lasagna dilemma. Do you cook the noodles before you put them in the dish? How long do you cook them for? How do you prevent the lasagna noodles from sticking together while cooking them? I found that the gluten-free lasagna noodles (this might be true for regular noodles too, I haven't ever cooked those) would stick together in the pot while they were cooking and it would be a chore to try to pull them apart while keeping them in one piece. Well cooking lasagna in the crock-pot solves all of those problems!

Tinkyada Lasagna
One of our favorite gluten-free pasta brands is Tinkyada. They make a delicious lasagna noodle. I didn't follow the exact recipe from Real Simple. The ingredients and directions for my version are below:

  • Jar (26 oz) of Tomato Pasta Sauce (I used HEB brand Tomato Basil.)
  • Box of Tinkyada lasagna noodles
  • 12 oz Ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz grated mozzarella cheese/Italian blend
  • a handful of fresh basil (optional)
  • a package of ground Italian sausage (sometimes if they are out of fresh ground I get Italian sausages and cut off the casing. 
Cook the Italian sausage on the stove top in a pan. Pour a little bit of the pasta sauce into the crock-pot to create a thin, even layer at the bottom.  Lay down the noodles creating a layer at the bottom of the crock-pot, breaking noodles as little as possible to make them fit.  Spread a layer using about half of the ricotta cheese, then half the sausage, some chopped basil and another layer of sauce. Then repeat starting with another layer of noodles. After you put down your final layer of noodles pour out the rest of the sauce and dump all the grated cheese on top. Finish by setting the crock-pot on low for 3 hours (Real Simple says 2 hours, but the noodles weren't soft yet at this time, so we let it go for another hour). And voila! You get what is shown below!

Note that the boyfriend stole a serving before I took the picture! (Typical!) Another great thing about this recipe is the small amount of ingredients that you are required to purchase! We then put all of this yummy lasagna in tupperwares to take to lunch for the week. It is such a cost saver to eat these for lunches since gluten-free TV dinners cost an arm and a leg!! If you give it a try let me know how it turns out!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gluten-Free in Austin, TX-- Matt's El Rancho

My dad was in town from Colorado this weekend, so we checked out Find Me Gluten Free to help us decide on a good place to take him to. We came across Matt's El Rancho and thought it would be perfect. The boyfriend and I had both known it was an Austin hot-spot, but neither of us had been before. Find Me Gluten Free informed us that they do not have a gluten-free menu, but are accommodating, so we thought we would give it a shot. When the waiter first approached us to take our drink orders we informed him that one of us was eating gluten-free and asked what his options were. He said he would need to go get the manager to speak with us. The manager came out soon after and was very helpful. He commented that his wife was gluten-free diet and was very knowledgeable about the ingredients in all the food. He asked what we were interested in. First things first we asked if the queso (or what they call The Bob - queso with beef and guacamole in it), salsa and chips were gluten free. We learned they all are which was so exciting. A Mexican meal isn't complete if you don't get to start with queso! The chips are fried in a separate fryer in canola oil. 

 The boyfriend then suggested that he would like to have fajitas for dinner. The manager said that was doable. He instructed the waiter on how to correctly send the order to the kitchen to make the fajitas gluten-free. I couldn't hear all he was saying, but it sounded like they omitted a sauce and spice. 

Chicken Fajitas

Assembled Fajita :)
I have to apologize that all of the pictures are of half eaten meals. We need to work on some self control! :)  The food was all very delicious. It was easy to tell why the Bob is a Matt's El Rancho staple. It was practically licked clean at our table. As for the gluten-free fajitas, they were very good. (I ordered the regular steak fajitas and they too were very yummy!) All in all the boyfriend does not believe he was glutened. The restaurant also has a great austiny atmosphere. I would also recommend it for entertaining out of town guests! 

Friday, April 15, 2011

Find Me Gluten Free iPhone App

Our iPhone app is finally available in the Apple App Store!  It's free, so if you have an iPhone or an iPad, download it and let us know what you think.  Below are some screen shots of the app in action.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Gluten-Free in Boulder, CO-- The Med

To round out our trip we stopped in Boulder. One of my favorite restaurants in Boulder is The Med. I confirmed on Find Me Gluten Free that they put a special icon by their items that are gluten-free on their regular menu. The Med has the best happy hour! It is everyday from 3-6:30 and includes discounted tapas/appetizers and drinks. Many of the tapas are noted to be gluten-free. There is nothing I love better than sitting on the patio with a table overloaded with an assortment of tapas while sipping on their sangria. We were excited to see that The Med also carries New Planet beer! Three of the gluten-free tapas we tried were the Prosciutto & Melon (Prosciutto wrapped melon & Parmigiano Reggiano), Huevos Rellenos (Harissa-scallion deviled eggs), and Gambas Al Ajillo (Shrimp, garlic chips, lime & extra virgin olive oil)
Gluten-Free Tapas at The Med
The Gambas Al Ajillo (shrimp dish) was voted the favorite, but all of them were very good. My boyfriend does not believe he was glutened either, which is great!! I might be a little bias when it comes to this place, but it make me so happy that myself and my gluten-free boyfriend can enjoy ourselves at this local favorite!

Gluten-Free in Breckenridge, CO -- Blue River Bistro Review

To conclude our eating out in Breckenridge we went to Blue River Bistro. From the description on Find Me Gluten Free we knew it was a more expensive restaurant where you just arrange your meal with the chef because they don't have an actual gluten-free menu. The restaurant was really cute, but we sat in line of the door and since it was freezing outside I didn't feel like it was warm enough to take off my coat. Our waitress was very nice, she informed us all the pasta dishes can be made with rice pasta and if we would like anything else she would have to check with the chef. She informed us that some of the meats are patted down with flour before cooking.  They did not have any gluten-free beer to choose from, so my boyfriend had a Harvest cooler cocktail. The boyfriend confirmed with the waitress that the seared tuna entrée was gluten-free, which is described on their menu as "peppercorn crusted tuna; rice stick noodles and stir fried vegetables tossed with a pineapple soy reduction" and ordered it. 
Seared Tuna
He wasn't thrilled about the meal. I ordered the special fillet, not sure it was gluten-free, and it was delicious, so we are thinking maybe he just ordered the wrong thing. All in all, my boyfriend does not think he was glutened and the staff seemed knowledgeable.  If we were to go back maybe we would try subbing the rice pasta into one of the pasta dishes.

Gluten-Free in Breckenridge, CO -- Mi Casa Review

We were in Breckenridge during the NCAA final four, so we were looking for a sports bar with a gluten-free menu on Find Me Gluten Free! We thought that Mi Casa sounded the most appetizing, so we called ahead to guarantee they had TVs. When we arrived it was packed. They have a happy hour menu with free chips and salsa and $1 tacos. After shuffling through the crowd we found a spot at the bar. We talked to the bartender and learned that their free salsa is gluten-free, but the chips set out were made in a fryer with other gluten products. Then he said not to worry he had some gluten-free ones behind the bar! We were also surprised to learn that the happy hour tacos can be made gluten-free AND  they have gluten-free beer! We thought we hit the jackpot and it just got better! The gluten-free beer was Daura.  Be careful if you are really sensitive though; after doing some research there is some debate on how gluten-free it really is.
Daura Gluten-free Beer
Happy Hour Taco
Gluten-free Chips & Salsa
We set up shop at Mi Casa for about four hours of basketball. Around the second game we decided it was entrée time! We were excited to see a very extensive gluten-free menu. 

Mi Casa's Gluten-free Menu
My boyfriend decided on the chicken enchiladas. They looked amazing; he couldn't even wait to take a bite for me to take a picture! 

Overall we had a great experience and my boyfriend does not believe he was glutened. The staff was knowledge, helpful, and the restaurant provided us with so many options. Thank you Mi Casa!! 

Gluten-Free in Breckenridge, CO

We went to Breckenridge, Colorado this past weekend to squeeze in a mini ski vacation before the season is over! We were fortunate enough to stay in a condo with a full size kitchen that was ski in ski out. It worked out great to be able to make our own breakfast and to come in and make our lunches, as to guarantee not getting glutened half way through a day of fresh powder! When we arrived we went grocery shopping at the local grocery, City Market (same grocery chain as King Soopers and Kroger). They did have Udi's gluten-free bread, their muffins, etc, which was nice to see. The liquor store right next to the grocery store, City Liquor, carries New Planet beer, which is one of the best gluten-free beers we have ever had! Whenever we go to Colorado my boyfriend looks forward to it!

New Planet- Gluten-Free beer
As we prepare for any trip we like to have an idea of what the gluten-free restaurant selection looks like, so we checked out what restaurants we had on Find Me Gluten Free in Breckenridge. We were excited to see 24 results! We decided we would eat out one night at a sports bar type place to watch the final four basketball games and one night we would splurge on a nice dinner, since we were on vacation! :) Read the next two posts, reviews on the restaurants we dined at:  Mi Casa and Blue River Bistro!