Sunday, February 27, 2011

a bit of local love... The Llama

The Llama has become a Telluride nightlife hotspot this winter and is also a great apres scene. This winter they have two for one margs from 3-6pm and $2.50 soft corn tacos with a few filling options- all of which are GF. I'm not sure what they do to their corn tacos but they were warm and soft and didn't mush up and fall apart as I enjoyed them. We ended up there twice last weekend and enjoyed the taco scene while having some much needed and overdue time catching up with friends.

From Droid think outside

Saturday, February 26, 2011

a bit of local love.... Fat Alley BBQ

Fat Alley is the a great little BBQ joint on Oak Street in Telluride. Robbie serves up good food, sweet tea, and the famous Mitch Morgan shot or read about it on Wiki here... They also have cheap gluten filled beer that all of my friends are fond of but I stick to Sweet Tea with a kick of vodka if I'm feeling feisty.

It's counter service and not 4 star by any stretch but the food is good and the room is usually rowdy. We tend to celebrate there with birthdays, engagements and the typical ski town goodbye's.

As you may know I'm a creature of habit and don't venture out much on a menu. Once I find something I like I stick with it. Right now this is a 1/4 chicken and smoked potatoes at Fat Alley for me.

From Droid think outside

I haven't asked about GF options in a while here because of my habit but Robbie the owner is well informed and will steer you in the right direction.

Friday, February 25, 2011

buckets strawberries and bananas in goodbad treats

I've been craving buckets of fruit to counteract the chilly winter this year. Last week I defrosted some strawberries and pureed them into my pancake mix (of which I use the Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking's recipe)

 I usually add chocolate to my pancakes but had the strawberry idea after a tasty batch of strawberry whoopie pies.

 They were sooo pretty in our new blue pan.
 I'm not sure why but in my mind strawberry pancakes scream out for a bit of coconut- which may get added to the batter in the next batch. These were wonderful and provided a great start to my ski day that also featured 10" of fluffy light snow.

A few days later life as we know it has become bananas- it's been building for a long while but has hit hard this week. It's a challenging time and I'm not ready to go into details but let's just say that my need for chocolate, comfort foods and stressful snacking have hit in full force.

I've also come to realize that when things go bad I have a need to plan and I need action. I can't sit around and dwell as it drives me crazy and I easily get sucked into the land of immobilization.
At this point the only thing I can control is the kitchen and playtime with the pups. My bucket of "things I can't control" is pretty enormous so I'm trying to focus on the other buckets- like the fruity ones...

So I'm trying to make my snacks "good-bad" as my friend Carol would say. A good snack that is a bit bad as well and really hits the spot. I hit both extremes during stress- I forget to eat or I binge. At least these two treats provide some much needed good things in addition to fulfilling my bad cravings.  

Plus Chaos and Mayhem are happy that these treats aren't energy zappers so we can get our much needed walks in during this stressful phase- I've even managed to sneak in a bit more playtime as I need the time outside more then them these days. 
Chocolate covered bananas

Chocolate Covered Bananas
Slice desired amount of bananas into desired pieces. I did 3 whole, peeled bananas into 3 even sections.
Freeze and forget until chilled
Melt one cup Chocolate chips in a small dish- be sure that your sizing allows for good banana dipping. That's why I like small banana sections.
Quickly coat chilly bananas in chocolate, one at a time and shake off excess chocolate. Dress as needed with candy or coconut. The chilly bananas will set the chocolate very quickly
If desired melt 1 cup white chocolate chips and re-dip bananas
Let the bananas chill again then wrap, store in freezer. Enjoy as needed.

banana bread
Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips redone from my 2009 version- so much better

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix Dry stuff in one bowl
2 cups GF Artisan flour blend this blend is enjoyed best by both me and my gluten-eating friends
1 tsp baking soda
.25 tsp salt
1 tsp xantham gum
In mixer (or by hand in second bowl)
1/2 Cup Butter or Earth's Balance (wait- don't throw wrapper away)
3/4 cup brown sugar
Blend together
2 Eggs
3 over ripe bananas- I like mine to blend into the mix versus large chunks
Blend well
Add dry stuff and stir enough to mix and moisten dry with wet in small batches
Use butter wrapper to grease 9x5 loaf pan 8x8 Pyrex dish 
(this works best for me at 9,000 feet above sea level)
bake for 60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean
Cool in pan and slice and serve as needed
You can also stir in chocolate chips for a bit of flair

I also realized during this late night post that dinner had been forgotten so I snacked on a chocolate covered banana to carry me through the night.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

gluten free cake balls- let the sugar shock begin....

I've read a few blogs about people making cake pops- both glutenous and gluten-free and was motivated to give it a whirl as I needed a sweet treat for a friend's baby shower that I knitted this hat for.

I followed the basics from this blog and set to work. My first cake was a FAIL as I attempted a chocolate cake from scratch via the 1,000 Gluten Free Recipes book. I made no adjustments for 9,000 feet of altitude and subbed one flour mix for another, just enough adversity to create an epic failure of a cake. Thankfully my Pamela's Yellow cake mix yielded better results.

The next day I shook off my failure and crumbled my pretty yellow cake and mixed it with frosting. It didn't take me long to figure out that my cookie dough scoop made pretty little balls without the messy cake covered hands. When I reached the last third of the mix, I added some coconut and small chocolate chips for variety. I let them chill out and planned my coatings. I first melted Nestle Milk Chocolate chips (about a cup) and dipped away. I worked in small batches of chilly balls and melted chocolate for better results. I added flair to the still warm chocolate before setting them back in the fridge to firm up. I also did a small batch of white chocolate with a dab of green food coloring added for some extra flair.

I tested my work to make sure they were worthy and almost went into sugar shock. These little balls of goodness went over well at the shower and also with a few other folks I made try them. They were almost like a small donut covered in chocolate. They aren't an everyday snack but they will be back for another special event, like a Saturday or something.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homemade Pasta

I'm not the least bit Italian although I felt it last week as I pulled out the brand new pasta roller attachments for the kitchen aid mixer last week. Brand new and will NEVER be touched by gluten- such a wonderful feeling. I cracked open my trusty copy of Artisanal Gluten Free Cooking and flipped to the Bronski's pasta dough recipe. It's similar to this that they posted on No Gluten, No Problem in 2008 and I did make one tweak- my dough was very dry so I added water a tablespoon at a time until it was pliable. I had to work it a bit by hand until I could feed it through the roller.
xanthum gum, eggs with bit of salt and artisanal flour blend

getting ready to mix together by hand....
and now the toys come out...

and the pasta cutter....

the finished pasta- I'm a bad direction reader and over boiled- but a good first attempt
I was a bit nervous but the simple ingredient list put me at ease and the Bronski's had some good tips for using a machine in the book. It was a meditative recipe to work with as I played with the dough then fed it through the machine. I bagged some of the uncooked pasta and put it in the fridge for Dave to try. He's a gluten eater and LOVED this, in fact he loved it more then I did. It was a fun project with a tasty finish and the four servings were huge. I think it took me about an hour for this first attempt- it's hard to keep track on Thursdays as I get a bit preoccupied by Grey's Anatomy.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

and of course we hit a PF Chang's...

 Our checked bag arrived on Thursday afternoon, a mere 4 days after us. It was an exciting moment to be able to have wardrobe options again plus a more pragmatic pair of shoes then the Danskos I wore traveling and the flip flops I had tucked in my carry on as area was getting pounded with snow and the snowbanks stood 5 feet high.  I had lots of time to work on my knitting and finished a few projects during our visit.

From Droid think outside

On Saturday we packed up and jumped on a bus down to Boston- the roads were getting slick and our early flight on Sunday didn't leave much of a margin for error. We packed our bags with my gluten free snack festival and headed into a hotel near the airport. We checked in and asked about area dining and if the in house restaurant had a gluten free menu- the uncertain look had Dave convinced that my idea of heading to PF Chang's wasn't so crazy after all.

From Droid think outside

 I had used my droid navigation while on the bus to figure out that we could easily take the hotel shuttle to a T stop on the blue line and swap to the green line and end up a block away from PF Chang's. It was a Saturday night and the place had a 50 minute wait so we opted to eat at the bar so we could make it to bed at a decent hour. We even walked through the city a bit after dinner, grabbed Dave breakfast donuts at Dunkin's and made it back to to hotel within 3 hours. There wasn't much time for sleep as we were up at 3:30am and on a shuttle soon after.

From Droid think outside
The best part about our 6am flight on Sunday from BOS to ATL to MTJ was that all worked out we arrived by noon in the mountain time zone, hit a quick food shop were reunited with our monster puppies back in Telluride before the lifts closed at 4pm.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Legal seafood

I'm not a seafood fan but I'm a huge fan of the commitment to the gluten free menu, such a nice change after the ATL airport.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

snacks... don't leave home without them

This week we booked tickets on Sunday and Monday were traveling east. That's not a lot of time to pack, find dog sitters for our two monsters and leave with a clean house so one of the dog sitters could stay there plus formulate a quick plan to be absent/work remotely this week and research GF options for our Atlanta Airport layover on our trip to Boston.
Thankfully we left early enough on Monday to stop at Natural Grocer's for some gluten free travel food for our carry on. I pounded an Odwalla since TSA isn't fond of their liquid nature and grabbed a box of Glutino Blueberry Breakfast bars, Glutino Chocolate Covered pretzels and Enjoy Life Chocolate bars.  (see-I really needed that Odwalla to add a bit of balance to my day)
I had done a quick search on ATL to see what options I had and found this... at Wolfgang Pucks I had hoped to find a sit down location but it was a grab and go. When I asked the attendant if she had a list of ingredients she looked at me funny. When I asked if things had gluten she picked up a sandwich to read the ingredients to see if gluten was listed. I thanked her and ran walked away.
At Chick-Fil-A I asked about the fryer for the waffle fries since their website lists it as being just for the fries and gluten free friendly. Again- a funny look but she called her manager over who told me that nothing else used that fryer but "we do use peanut oil". I explained that I wasn't allergic to peanuts- I'm just not able to eat gluten. I ordered the fries and the lady asked me, "What is the gluten?" as she rang me up. I gave the quick explanation that it was a protein found in wheat, barley and rye and that my body wasn't able to process it.
At Chili's Too they had the Chili's Gluten Free menu so I ordered a bun less burger with a side of plain mashed potatoes. They didn't have potatoes so I had oranges instead (funny combo but desperate times....) my food arrived- with a bun. I explained very politely that it was not gluten free and that I wasn't able to eat a burger that had even touched the bun due to my "allergy". She brought me a fresh burger with my strange side choice and I was sure to inspect it after she walked away. She was very kind and sincere about wanting to get it right so I felt safe but I wasn't very trusting at this point!  I haven't had a burger from a chain in a while and it was greasy, not exactly a great feeling. I think next time I'll find an overpriced airport Odwalla drink and just be happy for safe options.
I had stashed some Ancient Harvest Pasta in our checked bag but as of Wednesday night it hasn't show up yet due to some massive snowfall that's halted air travel to Boston. Thankfully we headed to Stop and Shop and found some of my staples like Chex Cereal, Thai Kitchen soups and Udi's Bagels along with naturally gluten free foods. It was a decent selection but not as good as my Natural Grocer in Colorado. We fly home early Sunday morning and you can be certain that I will have a stocked pile of snacks in my carry on as I can't face the ATL airport options again.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Baking at sea level

Betty crocker mix at sea level, oh my this rocks.