Eggplant Tower

They other day Jay really wanted me to make some good eggplant parm. But he requested it with little cheese, eggplant be thin and crispy but not fried. I decided to make up an easy gluten free and paleo version. It came out great and we ate the whole thing.

Ingredients:
2 Eggplant sliced into rounds (about 1/2 inch thick)
2/3 Cup Salt
1 TBS Italian Seasoning
2 Tsp Pepper
1/2 TBS Garlic Powder
3 Cups Pasta Sauce
1/2 Cups Coconut flour (or parm cheese)

Start by coating each piece of eggplant with salt. Place salted eggplant in a container and allow it to sit for 2-8 hours. When ready, rinse the eggplant under water to remove salt and allow to dry for a few minutes. Place the dry eggplant on a foiled and sprayed baking pan. Sprinkle the garlic powder, pepper and Italian season on the top of eggplant. Bake at 450 degrees. Then, carefully flip each piece and cook another 5 min. Next, remove the tray and add about 1 TBS of sauce to each piece, sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the coconut flour or parm cheese. Place back in oven for 5 more minutes or broil for 3 minutes. When your ready to eat, stack the eggplant into small stacks and cover with extra sauce. Sprinkle with remaining flour or cheese and serve.

 

 

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Crab cake

Spring is finally here and time for good seafood! Crab cakes are easy to make and fun to eat. Normally crab cakes are filled with filler that is not gluten free. My gluten free recipe is sure to be a winner! Plus its even paleo friendly.

Ingredients-

1 Can Fresh Crab Meat

1/2 Cup Almond Flour plus 2 TBS for Dusting

2 TBS Tapioca

1/4 Lemon

1/2 tsp Salt

1 tsp Pepper

2 tsp Old Bay

2 tsp Parsley

2 Tbs Mustard

1 Egg

1 Onion

1 TBS Honey

Start by putting crab and egg in bowl mixing together by hand. Add all remaining ingredients except for the extra  almond flour. Add more tapioca if mixture seems to wet. Then, form the meat into about five patties and place on a place. Dust each side with almond flour and place in fridge for twenty minutes. When your ready to eat, heat and oil pan and place each crab cake inside. Cook on medium high until each side is golden brown. About 4 min each side. Enjoy!

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Fruit Cannoli

I was home for the weekend and as always I was requested to make breakfast. My mom for some reason had a can of guava cups. Sounds crazy but they were kinda cool. Plus I figured it would be fun to recreate with other fruits like kiwi and such.

Ingredients-

Canned Gava Cups ( can be substituted for half a kiwi, avocado, large strawberries ect. )

1/3 Mascarpoone Cheese

3/4 Cup Greek Yogurt

2 Tbs Powder Sugar

1 Tbs Almond Flour

1 Tbs Honey

Pinch of Salt

Toppings: Pumpkin Seedes and Coconut Flakes

Start by preparing the fruit cups and pat dry. In a bowl mix cheese, yogurt, sugar, almond flour, honey and salt. Place in fridge for 15 minutes to help it get cold cold and firm. When your ready to serve fill each cup with mixture. You can get creative with topping but I liked using pumpkin seeds and coconut.

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Baba Ghanoush

This is a recipe that has been passed down in my family for a long time. My dad use to tell me story’s of my grandma making it for him as a child in Isreal. I have never been able to get it just right but at least it’s close.

Ingredients:

2 Eggplant

6 Garlic Cloves

2 Tbs Tahini Paste

1 tsp Salt

1 Tbs Oil or Spay

Start by cutting each garlic cloves into about 3 large slices. Then using a pairing knife make a bunch off deep gashes in each. Shove a chuck of garlic in each slit. Spread oil or spray the eggplant all over. Place the eggplant on a grill or under a broiler turning every few minutes until each side is blackened and soft. Once the eggplants are fully cooked and soft peel off the skin. Place the inside of the eggplant in a food processor and mix it up well. Add the tahini and salt and pure. Serve cold or warm.

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Carrot Cake

Carrot cake has been my cake of choice since I was a kid. Something about the unique taste and cream cheese frosting that is just perfect. Lucky enough my boyfriend feel exactly the same. I played with a way to make it gluten free and I think it came out great.

Ingredients:

2 Large Carrots Grated

2 Cups White Rice Flour

2 Cups Sugar

1/2 Cups Oil

4 Eggs

1 Tbs Cinnamon

1 tsbn Baking Soda

Whisk eggs and sugar together. Stir in remain ingredients and pour into a well greased spring pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 min. Allow to cool well and then remove from pan. Frost with any cream cheese frosting and enjoy.

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Guilt Free Gluten Free Cannoli

Living in the Italian Market its hard to resist the creamy, sweet and crunchy homemade ricotta cannoli. The ones in the bakery’s are clearly not gluten free and are not very fit friendly. I changed up this classic and cut the calories in half and took out all the gluten. Great for a crowd.

Ingredients:

5 Gluten Free Sugar Ice Cream Cones
1 Cup Ricotta Cheese (Fat free to lighten it up)
4 Tbs Sugar ( Feel free to adjust your sweetness or use splenda)
1 tsps Vanilla
1 Cup Cool Whip ( I like the light version best)
1/2 Cup crushed nuts or chocolate chips ( I think crushed pistachio’s work best)

Place the cheese, sugar, vanilla and 2 Tbs of topping in to food processor and blend well. Place in bowl and fold in Cool Whip. Place mixture in zip lock bag and seal. Allow it to firm in fridge for 4 hours. When your ready to serve just cut corner of bag and pipe filling into cones. Dips ends in nuts and serve.

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Tour Stop: Tampa

Tour Stop: Tampa,Florida

Second stop for the Guilt Free Foodie tour was Tampa, Florida. Due to the hurricane, my trip was cut a little short but I still got to visit three great places. At each stop I would hear about another “must try” gluten friendly location. The best part of touring around so far is hearing all the stories people have of the reasons about why their restaurant is making the effort to be gluten free and all the positive feedback they’ve had from the gf community.

The first stop on the trip was a place called “Taco-Bus”. They have a few locations around the area but I visited the St. Petersburg location. The Taco-Bus was recommended by a gluten free blogger in Tampa who said that “it’s the best place in town”. It has also been featured on different TV networks, on shows like Man vs. Food. I was greeted by both their wonderful PR rep and the store manager who took us through the menu and let us taste a lot of goodies before ordering our meal. Since it is Mexican food, it is for the most part gluten free with options of corn tortillas for tacos, chips and tostadas. In addition, the beans, all the meats, and even the tempeh is gluten free. The samples first started with some of the homemade beverages. My favorite was the half and half mix of pineapple and watermelon water. Then I tried samples of all the taco fillings from chicken to steak and even tofu, tempeh, mushroom corn mix, and my ultimate favorite – the butternut squash. I love my meat but this squash was different than any taco filling I have ever had, something I will have to replicate. It is spicy and sweet with almost a creamy texture. I tried the guacamole too which was outstanding and super fresh. By the time I ordered food, I was almost full but my squash tacos, rice and beans were really good! The best part about this place is that they are 24 hours four days a week and serve breakfast EVERYDAY. We enjoyed it so much that they we went back the next day for a late night snack. The Taco-Bus is a must try when you are in the Tampa area. Check out their website to find the other locations around Tampa Bay. Website: http://m.taco-bus.com/

The second stop was a gluten free pizza place called Gourmet Pizza. They serve gluten free pizza, bread sticks, dessert and beer. The gluten free pizza is on a thin ten inch crust and can be made into almost any option. I tried the specialties which include Crawfish Cajun, BBQ Chicken, Pineapple Bacon and Veggie. The crust was very crispy and firm enough to hold the toppings without needing a knife and fork which seems to always be an issue with gf crust. My favorite topping was the BBQ chicken for sure but they were all very good. Website: http://www.gourmetpizza-company.com/

The last stop, was like finding a hidden treasure for the GF world. It was Burger21 which is a fun, modern and hip burger and shake spot. Good gluten free options and substitutions are starting to appear more but Burger21 is taken safe gluten free eating to a whole different level. Burger21 has, by far, the safest gluten free procedures I have seen yet. All the staff was outstanding and they allowed me in the kitchen to watch my burger get made. The process they use to avoid cross contamination is amazing. When a gluten free order comes into the kitchen, the staff knows to wipe down the counters, clean hands again, get out the designated gluten free utensils and to only use the designated gluten free grills. Their burgers, buns, most sauces and fries are all gluten free. I had the cheeseburger with sweet potato fries with apple cider sauce and a chocolate frozen yogurt milk shake. The whole meal was very good and the gluten free bun tastes just like a regular one and just as fluffy. This burger was the best gf burger I have ever had and even Jeff (who is not gluten free) was amazed at the quality of the bun. The staff (PR people, managers, waiters, cooks and cooks in training) made the experience even more enjoyable. The best part is that Burger21 is starting to expand beyond their locations in Florida and is planning to open two in NJ in 2013. I can’t wait!!! Website: http://www.burger21.com/

The more that I travel and meet people, the more I realize that the gluten free community is making an impact. It is becoming rare to meet someone that does not know someone who is gluten free. Restaurants are learning that eating gluten free is not a diet fad but rather, an illness. Don’t be scared to travel and try new places. Do some research before you go and you may be surprised at what you find.

Tour Stop: Iberostar Grand in Riviera Maya, Mexico

Mexican Hotel Review

The first stop on my tour was to Riviera Maya, Mexico. A treat to say the least. The hotel was something out a dream. I have stayed at many 4 and 5 star All Inclusive Resorts in Mexico but this resort blew my mind. The food, service, entertainment and all the outstanding amenities, every single detail of our trip was perfect. The resort complex is made up of 5 resorts all on different levels. The higher the level, the more access to the complex. We were upgraded to the highest level which is named the Iberostar Grand. It gave us access to all the restaurants, pools, spas, shows and activities.
The building and the grounds where outstanding. A quiet pool to relax and read, an indoor spa pool with hot tubs and pressured streams of water that line the walls and then the infinity pool. The infinity pool is salt water and was magnificent, with views of the ocean, swim up bar, hot tubs and plenty of areas to lounge. You could dream up any drink and the pool bartender would create it like magic. Just float around and sip on a frozen mojito, a dirty monkey or just about anything with every liquor you could ever want.
The building itself is very different then any other resort I have seen. It was elegant with a grand entrance that resembles a jungle with details that constantly made my head spin. From the lobby to the room and then restaurant it is all enclosed in with glass and marble with painted domed ceilings. This creates a unique level of comfort and elegance. Staff always available to assist from concierge to our own personal butler. The room was spectacular and included a jacuzzi, rainfall shower, king bed with a selection of pillows, lounge area, fully stocked mini bar included in the room and balcony with a private couch and with a hanging swing chair.
The activities offered gave us no reason to think of leaving the resort. The entertainment staff take pride in what they do and truly enjoy meeting new people. They organized great exercise classes like cycling, bike tours, volleyball and yoga that were really hard core. Fun pool and beach games like a crazy water balloon fight with guest throwing balloons at staff in the pool while they wore super hero outfits and floated on a trampoline. In the evening the staff would transform into excellent party hosts. They would greet us into the shows. The shows were much better then any of the other shows I have seen in Mexico. The theater was indoor’s and the set up was like a night club you find in the city with stadium seating, top notch bar and service. The shows are different every night including a magic show, Mexican dances, Broadway musicals and best of all a real Rock show. If shows are not your thing they have a sports lounge, cigar lounge, live music at the main bar or you can ask a bell boy to give you a ride to the two level all inclusive night club that is on the resort grounds and very safe.
The best part of the resort was the food! Being gluten free is often difficult to travel. Very few places understand that gluten is not just the bread but can also be in sauces and the preparation. I informed the general manager before I came, that I was gluten free but never expected anyone to make adjustments. It started with a notice that was on my bed at check in. The note was for me to take to the restaurant’s at night to notify them once I arrived, to advise the kitchen staff. Restaurant’s included Italian, Surf and Turf, Japanese and French. Each meal is a la-carte, gourmet and perfect on all levels. The wait staff is knowledgeable about both the food and wine and the little details they add make the dining experience something to remember. Each night I was given my own fresh baked gluten free bread and advised on any changes they would make to the menu if I selected specific options. At every single meal, I had lobster prepared in a different way. We visited the Surf and Turf twice because everything about the meal was fabulous. The gluten free crab soup and cold seafood appetizer that was a huge plate of lobster, mussels and crab. The main dishes included old fashion Surf and Turf with Lobster Tail and Filet Mignon, many seafood dishes or cuts of steaks I have only seen at expensive places in the city. Dessert included this gluten free chocolate bacon dish and a gluten free cheese cake. At the Japanese restaurant I was surprised by the staff knowledge of sauces and ingredients containing gluten. The sushi was fantastic and each item we tried was spot on. The Saki they offered was outrageous and I still wish I would have gotten the brand name to buy at home. Lunch, is served both a la-carte and buffet or both. The selections change every day but always included some seafood dishes being grilled outside, another indoor grill that you could choose any fish you could imagine, all different Mexican selections, different Ceviches and cold Seafood options, Salad bar, Ice cream and Dessert that were all top notch. Breakfast was similar with both a la-carte and buffet options. The breakfast included a Fruit bar with all types of Tropical fruit even Star fruit, Figs and Passion fruit. Bread station that had both gluten free and regular options and a huge assortment of accompaniments with home made jams, butters and large selection of cheese. The egg station was manned by a chef, homemade donut stations, crepe station and curered meat station where you can watch them gently carve slices of prosciutto. My favorite breakfast item is lox, which they not only had an endless supply but all marinated salmon and like ten other smoked fish options along with various Caviar and Pate to choose from. At the end of it, was a juice bar with freshly squeezed juices like papaya, Watermelon, Grapefruit, Spinach and Cactus, mixed veggie and more. If the juice selection was not grand enough you could head to the health bar and pick anything you wanted them to juice like my favorite combination of Carrot Apple Juice.
The resort knew I would be doing a review, and provided me with a full tour of the kitchen and a meeting with the executive chef. The kitchen is immaculate from floor to ceiling. Each room is temperature controlled depending on what is being made. Desserts and Seafood are prepared in cold rooms. The veggies are cleaned and sanitized daily and all examined by an doctor to insure they are safe. The Chef informed me that they continue to have about a 10% population of guests with gluten and wheat allergies. He explained to me that by September all sauces used in the resort will be reformulated to be gluten free. Being able to see how this massive kitchen was run during dinner service was an amazing sight to see. I have never seen any kitchen run that smoothly and efficiently. I was truly impressed.

Iberostar Grand is a resort that has something for everyone. They will clearly go above and beyond to make your trip perfect and truly something to remember. If you are living gluten free and have been scared that an all inclusive resort wouldn’t be enjoyable, think again. Simply stated, a perfect vacation.

Thanks again to all the staff and Chef’s at the Iberostar Grand for making my vacation something very special. Please visit the links below and to check out the resort and plan your trip.

I booked my trip here:

http://www.cheapcaribbean.com/deals/iberostar-grand-hotel-paraiso-deals.html

Or go to the resort directly:

http://www.iberostar.com/en

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Flan

The other night my boyfriend and I where sitting on the coach and he said he was home sick and all he wanted was his mommy’s flan. I was not allowed to look up a recipe or put my own spin on it, I had to get the exact recipe directly from her and no funny business. So, at 10 P.M. my mission started.

EDITED: 12/25/16

Ingredients:

2 Can of condensed milk
1 Can full of water
6 egg yolks
4 whole eggs
1 cup sugar
* vanilla or any extract optional

In a large bowl beat eggs very well and then slowly add milk and water and continue to beat and whisk very well. If you have a mixer or blender that might be more very helpful. Blend together the eggs, then separately blend together the milk and water. Slowly add the milk/water mixture to the egg mixture while mixing together.  In a small pan pour in sugar and melt into a syrup. This will take time, but be patient and continue to stir. Keep the pan at a medium heat and keep stirring and you see a caramel form in about five minutes. ( Note: If you over cook the sugar it will start to clump and form crystals. If the heat is to low the syrup will never form and sugar will turn dark and hard. ) Now take the hot syrup and pour it quickly in to a well sprayed baking dish that is the shape that you want the flan to form. Quickly move the sugar around to cover the bottom. This is hard because it will harden quickly, but its fine if its not perfect because it will melt in the oven. Now pour the egg mixture on top of the syrup in the baking dish.

Set up a water-bath. The picture below will show you how I did it. I filled a large baking pan half way up with water and put it on top of a bigger sheet tray to make it easier to hold. Place the baking dish with the flan in the water bath. BE CAREFULLY not to get any water in the dish.

Bake the whole thing at 350 degree for about 1 hour 15 minutes – 1 hour 30 mins. Keep and eye on it because any temp change will change the cooking time. To check the doneness use a tooth pick and see if it comes out clean.

Remove the whole thing from the oven carefully being careful not to get water in the flan. Allow the flan to cool out side a water bath.

To serve – flip flan onto a flat dish and cut into serving size pieces. Make sure it is completely cooled before flipping.

It came out great but it will never be as good as the one Jay’s mom makes. My next attempt will be with unsweetened fat free condensed milk to see if I can make a guilt free version.

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Johnny Cakes

I think I discovered this one by accident. I am always looking for new breakfast ideas and since I always have corn meal around I wanted to see what I could do. The best part about this recipe is that you can add anything you want. This time I used blueberries but you can add bananas, strawberries or chocolate. You can even make them savory as a fun dinner side by adding a little cheese or even sauté onions or peppers.

Ingredients:

(Note- this recipe makes one serving. Multiply all ingredients for more)

1/4 cups corn meal
1 egg
1/8 cup milk ( any kind)
* 1/4 blueberries ( feel free to change it up with different fruit, chocolate, cheese or even veggies )
1/2 Tbsp sugar optional*

Mix all ingredients together and allow it to stand for a few minutes. Place batter in spoonfuls on a hot well oiled or buttered pan. Cook on one side for about two minutes until brown and then flip and repeat on opposite side. Serve hot with syrup, jelly and or butter.

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