Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Eats, Drinks, Merriment, and Udi's Love!

As you've probably seen if you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook I've been participating in Udi's #EatDrinkBeMerry event this holiday season and I hope you have or will too! In exchange for spreading word of their colossally awesome giveaway, and sharing some of my own favorite Eats, Drinks, and Merriments, I was sent an equally wonderful set of their new and favorite products. Here's just a peak at the freezeable portion of their generosity:


The packaged were so brimming with product that my pantry and freezer couldn't even fit all the goodies, so needless to say there's been much consuming of this goodness. My favorite product so far? Their NEW Bean and Green Chili Burrito. It was the perfect balance of cheesy goodness and starchy fullness, with a great subtle spicy taste to boot. I am MOST excited about trying their French Baguettes. I haven't had a huge loaf like that since going gluten free almost 5 years ago. I used to absolutely love those huge garlic and mozzarella bread baguette loaves you could buy prepackaged at the store, so I see an Italian night with garlic bread in my future.

So, how could you win big from Udi's? It's simple: Just share your favorite Eats, Drinks, or Merriments with them via their contest entry form. You could also share your favorites with the hashtag #EatDrinkBeMerry via twitter or instagram. Here's some examples of how I've been using the hastag to share my favorites.

Favorite Eats: Chocolate Bark. It's so versatile, and easy to make! It also reminds me of my childhood, the second apartment I lived in with my husband, and my brother Tom who passed away suddenly last christmas Eve. I've been making huge patches this year of various barks.


Favorite Drinks: Apple Cider. I love it mulled, spiked, sparkling, hard, and regular. I even add ice cream to it AND bake with it. It's an all around wonderful drink.


Favorite Merriments: I didn't share this one on instagram but the thing that makes me happiest during the holiday seasons is long standing traditions with friends and family. For 12 years I've been meeting with my high school friends the day after Thanksgiving, so that's a big tradition that I adore.

How about you? What are your favorite ways to celebrate the holiday season with food, drink, or merriment? I'd love to hear, and Udi's will give you the chance to win over 600 prizes (including 100 packs of goodies similar to the one I received) if you share with them as well. So, #EatDrinkBeMerry and Happy Holidays! 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thanksgiving: On Giving Thanks to Those Passed

It's the week before Christmas, and I'm only just getting to my thanksgiving recap, but I figured it could possibly give you come Hanukkah or Christmas inspiration. It's been hard to write about the holiday season this year, every word and action reminds me of my brother Tom and his passing suddenly last Christmas eve. But I've been practicing mindfulness, trying to slow down, and trying to do little things that honor him.

Many of the ways I've been remembering him have been through cooking and food, and there were a few dishes I  made for Thanksgiving for that exact reason.  Let's recap my contributions to our meal:

Appetizer: Aside from myself, Tom was the only other food experimenter in my family. He loved sushi, and loved trying new and unique recipes. One of my favorite thanksgiving memories involves Jule's Butternut Squash soup. I made it several years ago and my brother raved about it for ages, so long as to even bring it up again last year. Unfortunately, Thanksgivings since that year haven't allowed for soup so I was never able to make it for him again. This year I made it, in his name so to speak, and even found another use for it: Make it think and it's a PERFECT gravy for potatoes and turkey!

Main Course: My brother spent a portion of his time living down south, meaning that he had a taste for anything cornbread related. Last year and this year I made Glutino's Gluten Free Cornbread Stuffing. I love the stuff in it's buttery delicious goodness. We all gobbled it down, and Tom would have been proud. 

Dessert: I made two desserts for Thanksgiving, the Snowman Buttons (Sugar Cookies with pink sugar sprinkles), and the Gooey Chocolate Merry Mint brownies. I found the dough of the Snowman buttons hard to work with, even with sprinkling lots of flour on the surface I was working on and my hand  it was incredibly sticky. However, they baked evenly and tasted great! 

The mint brownies were moist and very minty, they tasted like york peppermint patties to me. A great treat! I just wish they had been a bit thicker. The taste of mint is another reminder of my brother, one very bittersweet. 

**Please Note: The above Glutino Products were provided to me by Glutino as part of their Very Important Gluten-Free Blogging Community (VIGFB) Campaign. However, the review reflects my own thoughts and tastes and was in no way influenced by this partnership.**


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Giveaway: Win One of Two Celtic Celiac Holiday Bundles

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE! 

I'm giving away some gluten free loot, and you could be one of two winners! Through out the year I pile up some great products and coupons from faithful gluten free companies, and this year was no exception. To celebrate the holidays I've put together two identical prize packs of my favorite gluten free items including all the below goodies:

  • The Ultimate Gluten Free Living Guide from Columbia University's Celiac Disease Center: Full of tips for living a great gluten free life, great for the newer or veteran Celiac.
  • One free Udi's product coupon: Get your #EatDrinkBeMerry on by winning a free product from Udi's. Might I suggest their Cinnamon rolls or Brownie bites? YUM!
  • One free Rudi's product coupon: Grab yourself a free product from Rudi's. Deli style bread anyone? 
  • A Triumph Dining Gluten Free dining card: Make ordering gluten free in a restaurant easier by using this card from Triumph Dining that does all the explaining for you, it's even laminated! 
  • A 'Love Yourself' sticker: Okay, this isn't gluten free related but it is a great reminder we all need, especially when sometimes out body tends to fight itself. 
  • A Steadfast pin: From a newer gluten free beer company by the same name, this pin is reminder to remain unwavering in your trek towards optimal health. 

What better way to start your new year than with some free noms, increased knowledge and support, and a reminder to love yourself and your journey? Entries will be accepted until December 31st 2014. Please be sure to include your email address, I'll be emailing the two winners by January 3rd!


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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Potluck Dinner Club: Spanish Night (With Bonus Chocolate Truffle Recipe)

November's Potluck Dinner Club theme was foods from Spain, not to be confused with Spanish foods from Latin America and other Spanish speaking regions. Although the distinction threw a few people off, the final product was a delicious array of foods that were ENTIRELY GLUTEN FREE. AND it was an informal three course meal.


The Starters: 
Manchego with grapes, a traditional Spanish dish. They even have a phrase that means "uvas con queso saben a beso", which translates to "Grapes with cheese taste like a kiss". I think manchego is beautiful, as it has a lovely pattern on the rind due to the way it is wrapped to age.


The Main Course:
Dishes included Papas bravadas (fried potato pieces with a spicy garlic and tomato dipping sauce, Gazpacho, Marinated manchego with rosemary and olive oil, Shrimp with garlic, Tuna with potatoes, onions, and peppers, and prawns wrapped in bacon.

All of this was also paired with several drinks including wine from spain, homemade sangria with pineapple, lemons and organices, and horchata (a Spanish rice drink). 

The Dessert:
The dessert was only one dish, but that was absolutely enough. These decadent truffles were a flavorful favorite for the crowd, and I've shared the recipe below. 


Spanish Chocolate Truffles
Recipe provided by my friend Carolyn 

Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
9 oz gluten free chocolate chips
flaky sea saltOlive oil
4. Ball the chocolate into about 16 balls, most easily done by using a melon baller.



Directions
1. Heat the cream to a simmer in a small pot.
2. Pour over the chocolate in a separate bowl and let it sit for a few minutes. 
3. Slowly stir until the chocolate melts, cover and let cool in the fridge for an hour.
5. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
6. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve, drizzle a little olive oil over each when ready to serve.

Simple and delicious!

The next potluck is going to be Hanukkah themed, and although I'm not going to be making it I am sure the food will be great! 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Food Blogger Secret Santa 2014!

Secret Santa Riddles Secret santa printable fromOne of my favorite food bloggers is Marlow over at Gluten Hates Me. She's a southern girl with an honest and wonderful written voice, and she holds one of the best holiday blogger events: The Food Blogger Secret Santa. She's done it for three years straight, but his year Marlow is pregnant and preparing for the new addition to her family. Holding the event just simply isn't possible for her this year BUT that doesn't mean the event has to end.


Instead, after speaking to her I've decided that I would host this years event (albeit a bit short notice). So how do you get involved?

Simply email me at CelticCeliac(at)gmail.com with your name, shipping information, blog name, and dietary restrictions by Sunday December 7th

I'll then randomly pair bloggers together and will email each of you with the contact details of your giftee on December 8th. 

Gifts should total around $25, and they don't necessarily have to be food related. Finally, gifts must be mailed by December 17th

Easy right? And totally fun! Last year was the first year I participated. Here was part of last year's gift:


These chocolates were amazing, and gluten free! I sent my giftee a tea kit including mug, infuser, and several allergy friendly loose teas from a local tea shop. The possibilities are endless! 

I love this idea because it really pulls us food bloggers closer together, and gives us a fun way to show our appreciate for everyone's work. So, if you are interested just email me by Sunday December 7th with your name, contact details, blog name, and dietary restrictions. From there I'll get you paired up and you can be on your way to shopping and sending your gift out by December 17th! 

I hope you'll join us!

***Open to United States Bloggers Only**

Monday, November 24, 2014

CC's Gluten Free Holiday Gift Guide 2014

It's that time of year again, the holidays are upon us (as is the incessant holiday music). So, it's time for some gift giving ideas for that gluten free or otherwise food restricted person in your life. Hell, even a foodie might love these ideas. REMEMBER: Speaking from experience I say try your best not to default to food items specifically, try to think outside the gluten free pasta box and think of ideas that will make their life more fun and easy! For more ideas check out my lists from 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 for some further ideas.


Books 

Flavor Bible- I LOVE this book. The book looks at every ingredient or cuisine imaginable and tells you what goes best with it, as recommended from chef's around the country. It also tells you the season, tasting notes, and other information. It's perfect for the home cook, especially someone who is beginning to rely more on home cooked meals and is looking to add some experimenting to their list. (~25$)

-Thug Kitchen- This book is a bit vulgar, but is certainly something to consider if you need a little crass humor. Learn to cook without any frills, and with a bit of curse words. From what I've seen so far most of the recipes can be modified to be gluten free. (~15$)

- The Lagasse Girls- Yes those Lagasse Girls, the daughters of famous chef Emeril. After learning they needed to elimate gluten Emeril's daughters created this book by taking some american favorites and made them perfectly gluten free for the home cook. (~20)

- Gluten Freedom- Written by one of the top Celiac Disease researchersAlessio Fasano, this was one of my favorite reads of the year, and I'm happy to put it on this list. This is a great find for someone on the 'newer' spectrum of the gluten free life style or anyone considering a gluten free diet. It is full of up to date research, facts, recipes, and tips for leaving the best gluten free life. (~20) 

2015 Gluten Free Buyers Guide - This guide rounds up the best gluten free products on the market based on the Gluten Free Awards from GFreek. The best of categories range from brews to bagels to munchies! (~10$)

Kitchen Gadgets


-Tim3 Machin3- First off let me say that this is a time sensitive purchase expiring in 15 days (December 10th)! This is basically a rice cooker on steroids capable of doing so much more than just cooking rice. There's a button for quinoa, homemade yogurt, oatmeal, steaming, and so much more. (Price varies depending on your pledge level)

- Popcorn Machine- Air popped popcorn is a healthy snack, and a flavorful one if you add your own seasonings. My air popped popcorn maker is one of my most used kitchen gadget, I use it at least once a week to make popcorn in flavors such as curry, garlic and Parmesan, and cajun. Pair it with some gluten free popcorn kernals and you've got a goodie bag. I use this popper. (price varies)

- Tardis Tea Infuser- Tea is another one of my go to gluten free comfort foods, if you can find a gluten free brand. This infuser both meets my need for tea AND my need for geeking out over Doctor Who. I'm sure you know a Doctor Who fan, but if you don't there are a variety of fun tea infusers out there! (~20$) 

Canning Set- Canning is a GREAT way to ensure your food is gluten free, since you know exactly what's going into it. It's also a fun things to do, and is a perfect way to save food that might otherwise go to waste. I've been loving it this year, so if you know someone who enjoys cooking and wants to dabble in some more extensive experimenting. (~ 130$)

Gluten Free Cosmetics and Accessories


- Red Apple Lipstick Products- Finding safe cosmetics is HARD! But, this line of cosmetics (lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, eyeshadow, lip gloss, exfoliates and other beauty items) is free of typical harmful toxins found in cosmetics as well as gluten, soy, corn, and dairy. (price varies)

- Celiac Disease Bracelet- Looking for a gift that gives back? Try one of these Bracelets from Eden Stones. They make nine handmade 'Celiac Sister Sets', each of which is made of semi precious stone beads and a silver wing pendant. A percentage of each purchase go towards the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. (~40-45$)

- Celiac and The Beast Swag- For some perfect gluten free themed t-shirts, sweat shirts, and other swag consider checking out Celiac and the Beast's line of goodies. She's fantastic, and so are her items with their skull and wheat design (oh an cupcakes!). Her book that came out last year is also worth checking out for it's honesty and humor! (price varies, ~15-50$)

Subscriptions

Cuisine Cube- For an interesting twist on the staple gluten free food gift consider purchasing a Cuisine Cube subscription for your gift receiver. Several safe products will be sent each month for either one month, three months, or six months. It's a great way to get to know some new gluten free products. (~30-35$)

- Living Without's Gluten Free & More Magazine- This is a great gift for anyone living a food restrictive life. It focuses on the strength and positive aspects of living an allergen free life and offers recipes, positive stories, helpful substitution tips, product reviews, and much more. There is also a recipe index that tells guides you through which recipes are free of what allergens. You can also purchase back orders and special editions. (~6-42$)

Gluten Free Works Health Recovery- This online guide is a one stop reference guide for gluten free research, lifestyle tips, professional recommendations for health and wellbeing (going indepth on gluten related disorders), and other life style tips. A subscription allows you full access to all the materials, including printable items. (~20$ per year)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pour The Core Year Two: A Review

Back in October, I attended this year's Pour the Core event at Peconic Bay Winery for the second year in a row. Last year's event added several new ciders to my repertoire, so I was thrilled to again attend this year's gluten free friendly event. As with last year each ticket holder who wasn't a DD received a tasting cup with a 2oz pour line, and was welcome to taste any of the ciders available from over 30 companies. Unlike last year, I got to be a server for several minutes while one of the vendors rushed to give something to someone! It was entertaining!

While many of the good old reliable brands were present (WoodChuck, Angry Orchard, Scrumpy, etc.) what thrilled me most of all about this year's vendors was the number of smaller cideries represented, especially those that were local. Apparently Long Island is becoming a bit of a cider making mecha, with many individual cideries popping up and wineries taking on the challenge of making cider. So for my review, rather than share everything that was there, I'm going to share the Long Island Local ciders as well as my top three new favorite ciders and three least favorite. I hope this helps you find a great new cider to add to your list for imbibing!

Long Island Local


Defining something as local has always been a tricky thing for me, since I live on an island (albeit a relatively connected island thanks to bridges). So, I usually go with the 'locovore' definition of local, that is anything made or grown within 100 miles. Here were some of the local cideries featured at this event:

Woodside Orchards- Located out east on the Island this company makes four styles of cider, as well as a limited edition fall cider that is pumpkin spiced flavored.

Standard Cider Company- This company is a genuine local company. They grow their apples in the Hudson Valley, and mill their ciders on Long Island. In 'mom and pop' style their were offering their tastings right out of their truck! No Website available. 

Leib Cellar's Rumor Mill- This local winery, like many others, is making a move into the cider business. So far they only make one cider, which comes in a larger bottle worth sharing.

Bad Seed Cider- This company is just out of the 100 mile range (111 miles) but is still worth mentioning.

I'll also add that while they weren't present at this event Wolffer Estates winery makes GREAT cider, their  being my favorite. I love everything about this one from the taste to the packaging! Hopefully they'll attend next year's event.

The Top Three New Favorites



New is the key word here, as I want to Highlight some of the new to me flavors, and not my favorite stand bys. I will say my favorites are still Ciderboys, Strongbow, Angry Orchard, and Wood Chuck Ciders but these newbies are certainly contending for the role:

Pure Cider- Produced by Possmann in Germany, this was hands down the favorite cider of my entire group. They offered a tasting of their traditional cider and mulled cider. There was no messing around here... at all... The ciders had no hint of excessive flavoring or sugar that other brands have, or awkward after tastes. The mulled cider was our favorite of the two. Spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves it tasted exactly like an apple pie even when chilled so I cannot imagine how great it tastes when warmed as suggested. It would be great for baking I am sure!   

Downeast Cider House- This company out of Massachusetts had three ciders available: Honey, original, and cranberry. These flavors were bold and bright, without leaving a lingering flavor on your tongue. Specifically, I loved the honey cider because it tasted exactly like mead (something I've missed since the local mead company closed). Overall they were clean tasting ciders with full bodies without the nagging after tastes.

Standard Cider Company-
A local company, this vendor offered 3 flavors straight out of the back of their SUV which included: True Beliver (Sparking), True Companion (Ginger), and True Thirst (Dry). The ciders came in larger share-worthy bottles and the servers were doing a bit of mix and matching at their station. The best pairing had to be their dry cider missed with spiced wine. It was a unique flavor that was very holiday friendly. The ginger was also good, having a bit of a kick to it of natural tasting ginger. It would be a prefect cider to pair with some Asian food. No website was available.

Three Least Favorite


The below ciders just didn't cut it for me, whether it was the entire selection those brands had to offer or a specific cider in their line.

Harpoon- This cider is made by the well know brewing company Harpoon Brewing, and they had a tasting of their plain cider available at this event. From the first sip to the after taste I was just turned off. The cider tasted like beer, a gluten filled beer. One would assume that this might bedue to cross contamination, but the company claims the product has been tested to be under the 20ppm threshold. This isn't on I would be buying again.

Ace Pineapple-
Ace's had a variety of their ciders available for sampling, including my least favorite of the entire event: Their Pineapple cider. Now, I am sure I didn't like this due to my own personal tastes. I do not enjoy fake pineapple flavoring, and usually not pineapple itself. To be a bit generic I found this cider too 'tropical'. It just didn't sit well with me as a cider.

Maeloc-
Maeloc is an organic cider from Spain which recently became available in the USA. Being organic and made with no added sugar I was looking forward to this, but was truly disappointed. Samples of their strawberry and sweet organic ciders were available, and I found both to fall flat. They were limited in taste and sweet, each having a unsatisfying and lingering after taste.


Overall, I loved the variety that was offered at this year's event! It grew from last year, and offered a diverse variety of products from local to foreign. It was also great to see the strong presence of local brewers, and of course have a variety of seasonal tastes that rock your socks.

Best of all though I am happy to see the creativity of these cider companies. The mixing and matching of different ciders as well as ciders with wine, Champagne, and other beverages really takes cider to the next level and shows it's versatility. I have several mixed drinks in mind for the holiday season thanks to this event, and I can't wait to attend next years! 



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