Monday, November 11, 2013

Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon

I won't even attempt to repeat the amazing directions and photos to get you through the recipe over at, but just wanted to make you all aware of the amazing deliciousness that is Julia Child's beef bourguinon.  Julie and Julia is such a cute movie.  This is the recipe she tries in the movie.  Simply use gluten free flour for the regular flour and the recipe becomes gluten free.  This was an all-day event, but I can imagine coming up with a simplified version in the future.  I served mine with white potatoes and, of course, red wine.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Gluten Free Crock Pot Stuffing Recipe

Thanksgiving day can be a huge challenge for the cook.  Trying to balance what goes in the oven when, and how to keep things hot so everything can be served at dinner time is a huge part of the challenge.  Whether you are gluten free, have a gluten free guest, or want to use gluten-filled croutons to make this recipe, the convenience of making stuffing in the crock pot can't be beat.  I like to make my croutons up to 2 weeks ahead of time, but for the gluten-filled version, I would just buy croutons.  The day before Thanksgiving I will saute the veggies and pork and set it aside in the fridge so I'm not in the way in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day.  When I wake up on Thanksgiving morning, I'll throw all of the pieces into the crock pot and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4-8, depending on when you'd like to serve dinner.  Then, whether you're in your own kitchen or bringing stuffing to your family's Thanksgiving feast, your stuffing is easily portable and will stay warm while the turkey, mashed potatoes, and pies hog the oven.

Gluten free crock pot stuffing with raisins
As a gluten free girl, I like to bring the stuffing and gravy to Thanksgiving gatherings because many of the other things on the list are naturally gluten free.  Mashed potatoes, turkey, sweet potatoes, all of these things are naturally gluten free if not tainted by gluten-filled gravy.  The only other thing to worry about being gluten free is green bean casserole and the pie!  (More on that in another post.)

This year I will be in New Jersey for Thanksgiving like we did last year.  If Dave can't find any gluten free bread near his place in NYC, I might just bring pre-made croutons in my suitcase!

1 loaf gluten free bread (I like Udis whole grain, frozen or fresh) or you can buy gluten free croutons at places like Whole Foods.  My best stuffing yet had a package of whole foods croutons and gluten free corn bread croutons combined.
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp+ sage
(If doing gluten-filled version, skip these three and just buy onion and sage croutons)

1 large onion or 2 medium
1 stalk celery (~2 cups when chopped)
1/4 cup parsley
1 package mushrooms
1/2 cup butter (1 stick, sub olive oil for a healthier version)

1 lb ground pork

4 tsp chicken bullion (I like the gluten free "Better Than Bullion" pictured below
4 cups water
2 eggs
1 tsp sage
1 cup raisins (optional)

Ingredients.  Not pictured, 2 sticks butter
Making croutons up to a week ahead of Thanksgiving
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.   Cube your gluten free bread into small cubes and lay out on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with onion powder and sage, then toast in the oven for 15 minutes before stirring them up and toasting for another 15 minutes.  Store the croutons in a gallon zip lock until Thanksgiving morning.

Preparing your veggies and pork the day before Thanksgiving
My aunt Darcy and mom always just food processes their celery and onion, which is super easy.  This time around, I decided to make use of my new knives and do some of the work myself.  Start melting 1 stick of butter in a saute pan.  Cut up enough celery for ~2 cups and add to butter.  Cut up your onion(s) and throw in the pan.  Cut up the mushrooms and add to the veggies.  Finally, cut up enough fresh parsley for 1/4 cup and add to the saute pan.  I usually use a little more than this.  Stir the veggies a few times while they saute in the butter.  The goal is for soft celery and clear onions.  Set the saute mix aside in a storage container when it is done.

Brown your pork in the saute pan, remove any excess fat, and add to the veggie mix in your storage container.  Throw this all in the fridge until Thanksgiving morning!

Thanksgiving Day
Warm up 4 cups of water and add 4 tsp chicken bullion to the water.  Whisk 2 eggs in a bowl.  Spray your crock pot with cooking spray to keep the stuffing from sticking.  Dump your croutons, veggies, raisins (optional), sage, and pork mix into your crock pot.  Mix them up a bit so the flavors can meld while they cook.  Pour the 4 cups chicken broth over the top and the 2 eggs.  Cover.

Cook on high for 2-4 hours or cook on low for 4-8 hours.

When ready to serve, stir and serve with gluten free turkey gravy.  I prefer Simple Organic's roasted turkey gravy.

Vegas swimming, gambling, and Love

Still blogging about Memorial Day weekend:  We had a nice, relaxing day hitting up the pool at the Bellagio before we met up with Brian and Kelly again at the Paris where they were staying. 

Dave playing roulette at The Paris with friends.
Two scientists who don't believe in luck, attempt to enjoy the game of roulette.  Dave kept winning!  I took a picture because even though we don't believe in luck, Dave and my birthdays appear on this list of the past numbers four times.  Scientists can have fun gambling too! 

Martini happy hour at the Paris with Brian and Kelly.

I wasn't too excited about the fruity martinis on the menu, but the bartender happily made me a chocolate one.  Yum!  After martinis, we headed to the Bellagio for Memorial Day Bellagio Buffet.  I was not wearing a good buffet-eating outfit, but I still got my money's worth.  I loved the beef bourguignon and the mousse desserts the best.  (No clue if this stuff was gluten free, just tried my best to avoid obvious gluten.)

After we were stuffed, we headed to the Mirage for the Cirque du Soleil Love show.  I got sweet seats for a sweet price from some slick-deal Vegas site the week before.  This show as so moving!  It was fabulous, I've never been so entertained, so impressed, and just so happy. 
Heading in to the show

After the show

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Gluten Free Pumpkin Waffles

This morning I was in a fall mood and thought I would add a little twist to my Saturday morning waffle.  Dave sent me a surprise case of Bisquick pancake and baking mix a while back when it was on sale.  I used to use Pamela's baking mix, but this is almost easier to work with.  I was going to add pumpkin puree and the typical pumpkin spices, but realized I had pumpkin pie mix on my shelf!  I followed the waffle recipe on the box with just slightly less water and oil and added 3/4 cup pumpkin pie mix from the can.  I cooked it a little longer in the waffle maker than usual, as the pumpkin added a bit more moisture.  Once they were crisp on the outside, I gave them a taste.  Perfect!  With maple syrup, there was just enough of a hint of fall pumpkin flavor to make me ever so happy! 

Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Waffles

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hoover Dam and The Bellagio

After our big Grand Canyon day and a nice Diner breakfast after our cold night camping, we drove back, through Vegas, and to the Hoover Dam.  We took the full tour that takes you underneath everything to see how the place works.  Pretty freaky.   Amazing that this was able to be built in the 30's.  I also loved seeing Lake Mead since I talk a lot about the Colorado River when I teach.  It was super windy while we were there. 
Lake Mead
Hoover Dam
Dave on the Dam
After our Dam visit, we headed back to Las Vegas and checked in to the Bellagio.  We had to clean out the rental car and get all of our camp gear back into the suitcases and up to the room.  This proved super annoying due to the fact that the first floor of the Bellagio is a super busy casino and I lugged a 50lb suitcase, my backpack, and purse across the entire parking ramp, through the casino to get to our room.  No convenience for guests here!   
I think Dave is doing a little jig to celebrate the purple and green room.  Or perhaps he is stretching.  We had a view of the pools instead of the fountains.
I did a little jig when I saw the size of this bathroom.  After several days of camping, I was soooo ready to hit up this shower.
A shower never looked so tempting!
We got settled and then returned the rental car.  We hit up a cheap steak dinner at Ellis Island, thanks to a suggestion from our cabbie. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Zion, Parissawampitts Point, and Grand Canyon

After a nice camp shower after the narrows and some sausages for dinner, complete with Jiffy Pop, we woke up in Zion after a bright sleep under the full moon and decided to hit up one more hike before we headed to Grand Canyon.
Zion camp site

We did Hidden Canyon Trail, a 2.5 mile trail that walks along a cliff face.  Thanks to Brian, Kelly, and Dave for chit chatting and distracting me while we walked along the scary parts!  Go me! 

A view from the hike.  There were narrow trails along the sides of these cliffs that we followed to get to Hidden Canyon.

Kelly, Brian, and Dave
I have no idea how he got up there, or got down...
Dave and Brian in the arch
We left Zion and began driving to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Dave had found coordinates to a free camping place.  Remember, it was Memorial Day weekend, so there was no way we were staying somewhere official.  With the help of a hiking GPS and some sketchy directions from a little magazine cut out he brought, we drove on gravel roads for a very long time with huge potholes in rental cars that had like 4" of clearance underneath before we finally arrived at Parisawampits Point at the edge of a rim.  At first it was very anticlimactic, but after such a long drive in the car, I decided to jog around until I found out why this place was recommended.  Well, I figured it out!  I lead the cars to a camping spot just a few feet from a rim overlooking the valley where the Grand Canyon lay.  We set up camp but also watched sunset from a cool spot overlooking the canyon.  Brian and Dave both saw the elusive, black Kaibab squirrel, but I missed him.

View from Parissawampitts Point

View from Parissawampitts Point

View from Parissawampitts Point

View from Parissawampitts Point

Parissawampitts Point at sunset
We made some dinner and went to bed and set our alarms for sunrise.  As it turns out, Grand Canyon is pretty high elevation.  I had packed for summer in the desert, not cold sleeping conditions!  Luckily I had some jeans along and a well insulated hoodie.
View from Parissawampitts Point at sunrise (that's the moon!)
View from Parissawampitts Point at sunrise
View from Parissawampitts Point at sunrise

Sunrise was a little anticlimactic due to haze, but it was still fun to see.  We headed back to the main road and found a camping spot and dropped a car there, put up tents, then drove together to Grand Canyon.

Beefalo.  They exist. 
Dave and I at Grand Canyon National Park

We walked out to Bright Angel Point, but the drastic drop offs of the Grand Canyon really bothered me, so I spent some time sitting on a rock while the rest hung out on the edge.

Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Point

Grand Canyon from Bright Angel Point
Yay, a sign!  I wasn't able to take this picture, I was too freaked out and was hanging out on my rock.
I sat on this rock for a while and tried not to cry.  I hate heights!  The bridge behind me is what totally freaked me out!
In front of the lodge at North Rim Grand Canyon, Dave and I
We decided on a 10 mile hike called, Widforss Trail, which included a fun trail guide which we totally milked for entertainment, doing it backwards from memory on the way back.  The trail offered awesome views of the canyon as well as some nice forest.  Poor Dave only had the hiking shoes I brought from Colorado, which of course were the rejects that didn't make the trip to NYC.  I brought a huge suitcase on Southwest while he didn't check a bag, so I brought the bulky stuff.  Anyway, his shoes were practically garbage and his feet hurt so bad on our 10 mile hike!   What a trooper!

From Widforss Trail
Ponderosa Pina
Dave, Brian, and Kelly on Widforss Trail
Me tree hugging the Ponderosa Pine
Finally made it to the view at the end of From Widforss Trail, now 5 miles home!

Afterwards we headed back to the visitors center to make use of the facilities, fill up water, and RELAX!  There was a coffee shop/bar at the visitors center area and we got some spiked drinks and relaxed in the lodge with huge windows overlooking the canyon.

Dave and I after a 10 mile hike and a drink at the lodge.
Sweet views in the lodge at Grand Canyon!
Relaxing after a long hike. 
We made our way back to our other car and free campsite, and decided since it was our last night before we returned our rental cars and headed back to Vegas, we had to eat everything we owned.  Fortunately, that included potatoes and peppers and onion, which we sauteed on our sweet cat stove, which is a cheap way to cook if you are flying to your destination and don't feel like buying a full camp fuel for a few days of camping.  Unfortunately, we also had to eat up our gross creamy potato soup and Dave's cup o noodles.  These were not so gourmet.  After our food was finished, we cleaned up and had an extremely cold sleep.  We woke up early and went to breakfast before making our way to Hoover Dam. 
Potato fest.  Who needs chairs? 
Potato, onion, and pepper masterpiece on the cat stove!