Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thanksgiving came early

So after much talk of a SCD Dinner Party, we finally did it. Fellow triathletes Doug, Regina, Krista, and Terry are also interested in or totally committed to the SCD diet. So Regina hosted the first gathering, a potluck style dinner with all SCD approved food. Well, it ended up being a feast!! There were a few appetizers- brie with date chutney, almond flour crackers, salmon dip. There were tons of entrees and side dishes- spaghetti squash and sauce, sausage, eggplant parmesean, squash kugel, stuffed squash, crustless quiche, beef and mushroom roulade, and an assortment of veggies. There were also plenty of desserts- lemon squares, PB banana bread, amazing homemade strawberry ice cream, apple "crisp", and margaritas made with freshly squeezed citrus fruits.

It was amazing. I brought the beef and mushroom crockpot "roulade" which just ended up being shredded beef, spaghetti squash kugel, and apple "crisp" which was not so crispy but still tasty. I'll post recipes with another blog.

While everything was delicious, I think my favorites were the eggplant parm (WOW) and the lemon squares, both thanks to Doug! The strawberry ice cream was amazing too. Great job by everyone, thanks Regina for hosting. Looking forward to the next one!

The Beef "Roulade" that fell apart into shreds:

Spagetti Squash Kugel:

Krista's yummy homemade date chutney with brie and almond flour cookies:

Regina's Stuffed Squash:

My plate:

It looked like Thanksgiving, note the delicious Eggplant Parm:

"Betcha Can't Eat Just One" Lemon Squares:

Apple (un) Crisp and Strawberry ice cream

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hearty Tomato Meat Sauce

One thing we get a whole lot of from our meat share, but don't always use, is sausage. We had accumulated 5 packs over the last few months- 3 pork and 2 lamb. So we cooked them all up! The lamb, removed from the casing, went into a bobotie dish (minus the bread this time around, still just as yummy!). The pork, also removed from it's casing, went into a Tomato-Meat sauce that can be used for anything, we just had it plain like soup but it would be great on pasta, lasagna, whatever. Actually, the recipe for the sauce came from a lasagna recipe.

That's a lot of sausage

Garlic and onions

It took (Dan) a long time to remove all those sausages from their casings

Getting there!

Added in the tomatoes

We ate it plain, but I also tried it over spaghetti squash, not bad.
Next time, I think we'll go half sausage meat and half regular beef. This sauce was a little too far on the fatty side for us.

Tomato-Meat Sauce From Cooks Illustrated
1tablespoon olive oil
1medium onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
6medium cloves garlic , pressed through garlic press or minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1pound meatloaf mix or 1/3 pound each ground beef chuck, ground veal, and ground pork (see note)
1/2teaspoon table salt
1/2teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4cup heavy cream
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes , drained

Friday, September 11, 2009

I have a knife

And I'm not afraid to use it. At least, I'm working on it. Last night I took a Knife Skills course at Helen's Kitchen. I found her website while searching for local cooking classes. She is very conveniently located down the street from my office, so I figured I would give it a try! It was hard getting into a class, she limits each class to 8 people (which is very good, trust me), and they sell out immediately. I got on her mailing list and only was able to get into a class thanks to her email alerts when new classes were added. Helen was a great instructor, very friendly and knowledgeable. I really enjoyed the home feeling of the class, it was taught right in her own kitchen!!

Anyway, she taught us first about proper knife care, sharpening, etc. Um, whoops. Did you know that you should be sharpening just about every time you use a knife? I didn't. Since I've only ever sharpened my knives once or twice, I'll need to take my set to a professional to get them sharpened. After that I can get on top of regular maintenance myself.

From there, onto using those knives! We diced, julienned, chopped, and minced. We took on celery, carrots, peppers, zucchini, garlic, ginger, onions, apples, and oranges. She taught us basic technique and some handy tricks- especially when dealing with onions and garlic. I am going to need a LOT more practice before I can get comfortable, but it was easier than the cutting I've done at home before. The topmost knuckles of your free hand should be making contact with the side of the knife. This is supposed to prevent you from hurting yourself, but I had a hard time with it. Hopefully with more practice I'll get a little better and be able to move more quickly. I think I was the slowest in the class :)

Genius way to chop an onion...

Onions caramelizing in the background

My take-home of chopped celery, onions, and carrots

After we were done wielding our knives, we collected all of the chopped fruits and veggies and watched (and tried to help) as Helen threw everything together into a delicious dinner. Of course, this is where things get tricky for me, but I was fascinated to watch. The main dish for everyone was grilled sandwiches with caramelized onions, apples, walnuts, and cheddar cheese. Wow, they looked good. She also made two salad type dishes. With our chopped celery, julienned apples, and minced cilantro she mixed in some lime juice, mustard seeds, salt and pepper. I forget what was in the other salad, peppers/celery leaves/zucchini/carrots/quinoa/nuts... not quite sure. But everyone seemed to really enjoy it all. I think it would have been okay for me to eat the salads, but I was watching hands touching the bread and then moving onto various other ingredients so I passed.

Garlic and ginger, need to smell to know which is which!

Apple/Celery salad

The other salad
But, Helen knew I was coming, and had set aside a special dinner for me. Wow!! More than I would have asked for. She had some portobello mushrooms which she had me top with caramelized onions and a cheesy sauce and throw under the broiler. I must admit, I was a little worried- I had never eaten a mushroom before. Mushroom sauces, yes. Actual mushrooms, no. I always pushed them to the side of my plate. So the sight of this enormous mushroom made me slightly panicky inside. I didn't want to be rude and not eat it. So, I ate it. And you know what, it wasn't bad. I had a hard time getting over the texture, but the combination of flavors was very good. Thanks, Helen, for expanding my horizons!!

Thanks Lauren!!

For tagging me with this Kreativ Blogger thing. Very cool!! Part of this, 7 things about myself:

1) Despite repeated promises to myself that I will "never do another one", I signed up for another Ironman. And I'm actually excited about it.
2) The only pet I've ever owned was a rat.
3) I still remember the first time I was allowed to bake on my own, it was chocolate chip cookies and they didn't turn out well. Hey, I was in middle school.
4) My favorite movie is Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang.
5) Sometimes, when our neighbors are being loud or I am fed up with city traffic and crowds, I want to give up and move away. Far far away.
6) But I like my friends and family here too much to do that right now
7) I am very lucky to have married Dan

And, as for 7 people to pass this on to, I will pass on that. Still new to the blog world and I don't think I even have 7 blogger friends who would read this and post themselves. If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kickass Cupcakes

...Are kickass indeed. Well, actually... the GF cake wasn't perfect. I think I could do better at home. But the icing, wow. Unbelievable. Especially the vanilla frosting. Makes me want to drive over there right now for another one :)

They have a fun selection of flavors, check out their website. They also deep fry cupcakes, turn cupcakes into parfaits, and make cupcake sundaes. Oh, and they use all natural ingredients. They even have a dairy bar next door that sells local milk and ice cream. Rock on!!

The cupcakes are pretty small, so Dan and I each got two. Dan ordered regular cupcakes, one vanilla and one red velvet. He seemed to like them both equally, although seemed into the cream cheese frosting on the red velvet.

I tried a GF chocolate cupcake with vanilla icing, and a vanilla cupcake with chocolate frosting. The best part was the vanilla icing, maybe next time I'll try vanilla on vanilla, if it's an option.

Cupcake box.... ohhh like a kid at Christmas

At first it may appear that you're getting gyped on frosting

But no, there is plenty :)

Best icing ever!!

Molasses Spice Cookies and some reviews

Well, this past weekend certainly made up for the last one!! We had a great weekend, on top of AWESOME weather it was filled with delicious food!! Friday night Dan's parents were in town and took us to Davio's in downtown Boston, where they have a huge GF menu. I had roasted chicken with some spinach, yum!!

Saturday we hit Wagamama in Harvard Square, we've been here a few times and they always send the manager over to explain everything I can eat and take my order specially. Very tasty! After Wagamama we headed to Davis Sq in Somerville to try out KickAss Cupcakes, where they serve GF cupcakes!! Review coming soon in a separate post...

The biggest surprise was an awesome brunch spot in Boston, on Newbury Street. The Other Side Cafe, located west of Mass Ave on Newbury, was a gem. We were meeting up with Derek who was in town from California for a few days. Our other friend Jen T choose The Other Side to meet, citing great experiences and food there. I am very wary of brunch places, so I packed my purse with some fruit and bars just in case. But lo and behold.... they had a little line on their big menu stating "Ask about our Gluten/Wheat Free and Vegan Menus". Whoopiiieeee!! Had myself a nice little brunch there :). Although the music was a little loud for brunch, it was a fun place to eat. And the nicest part was that they didn't force a check on us as soon as we put our forks down. They let us sit and hang out as long as we wanted, and only brought the check when we asked for it. Love it! Will definitely be going back.

On Sunday, Dan and I did some serious cooking! We had a little bit of a Meat Share backup. So we cooked up 5lbs of sausage (!!!), 1lb of ground lamb, and 2lbs of pork shoulder!! That should cover our lunches and dinners all week, and then some :)

Soon I'll post recipes for some of that. But for now, I will just leave you with these perfect-for-fall Molasses Spice Cookies. Mmmmmmm...

Dan's preferred method of consumption:

Molasses Spice Cookies, from Cooks Illustrated

1/3 cup granulated sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces), plus 1/2 cup for dipping
2 1/4 cups flour or GF flour substitute (I use Better Batter, you can order online)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup molasses, light or dark


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place 1/2 cup sugar for dipping in 8- or 9-inch cake pan.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, spices, and salt in medium bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.

3. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and add yolk and vanilla; increase speed to medium and beat until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Reduce speed to medium-low and add molasses; beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to lowest setting; add flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl down once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Dough will be soft.

4. Using tablespoon measure, scoop heaping tablespoon of dough and roll between palms into 1 1/2-inch ball; drop ball into cake pan with sugar and repeat to form about 4 balls. Toss balls in sugar to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Repeat with remaining dough. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are browned, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 11 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.

5. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature and serve. (Can be stored at room temperature in airtight container or zipper-lock plastic bag up to 5 days.)

Friday, September 4, 2009


As promised, a real recipe!

I bought a few pounds of Better Batter Gluten-Free Flour a few months ago and finally gave it a whirl. I find the whole GF flour thing overwhelming with all the ingredients needed to make up a substitute, so I cheated and bought a well-reviewed mix. I made a bunch of cookies and brought them with me up to Timberman for a post-race treat. They were a little crumbly, as expected. But still delicious. Even more delicious with ice cream (yes, I did bring the cookies into a restaurant and made myself a sundae). I used my favorite peanut butter kiss cookie recipe and substituted the flour with Better Batter, cup for cup.

2 2/3 cups flour (I used Better Batter GF Flour!!)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup
2/3 cup creamy
peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Additional sugar
5 dozen kisses, unwrapped
(I didn't have chocolate kisses handy, so I skipped that part and threw a cup or so of chocolate chips in the batter instead)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and baking soda. Add butter and peanut butter and mix until smooth. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. I added in chocolate chips at this point.

Make balls out of level tablespoons of dough - add flour if needed. Roll in sugar. Didn't roll in sugar this time, not needed for the type of cookie I was making.

Bake 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet for 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and add 1 kiss to the center of each cookie. Return to the oven and bake for 2 more minutes. Skipped this step this time, just left in the oven for the extra 2 minutes.