Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gluten Free Tiramisu

Tiramisu has always been one of my favorite desserts, and my daughter Emma loves it!  I was so excited to find gluten free ladyfingers a couple of years ago, because it meant that I could eat tiramisu again.  I never made it in my gluten eating days because it was available at so many Italian restaurants we ate at, but it is a really easy dessert to make. 

Locally, I have purchased Schar ladyfingers at Chamberlin's in Winter Park and the big Whole Foods on Turkey Lake Road in Orlando.  They can also be purchased from amazon.  

I purchase BelGioioso mascarpone from Publix. 

My assembly station --  mascarpone cream, ladyfingers, and a bowl of strong coffee.  

To start, I covered the bottom of my dish with a layer of ladyfingers soaked in coffee.  Break them if necessary in order to fit the bottom.  

I then spread half of my mascarpone cream on top of the ladyfingers before adding a light sprinkle of cocoa.

I repeated the ladyfingers, mascarpone cream, and cocoa to finish this easy and delicious dessert.  I like to prepare my tiramisu a day ahead to allow the ladyfingers time to soften in the mascarpone cream.

Gluten Free Tiramisu


2 packages of Schar Gluten Free Ladyfingers
1 1/2 C of brewed strong coffee or expresso -- cooled
8 ounces (1 C) heavy whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
12 ounces (1 1/2 C) mascarpone cheese
100 g (1/2 C) granulated sugar
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Rodelle Dutch process cocoa)
Optional -- coffee flavored liqueur


In the bowl of a mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip your cream and vanilla just until stiff peaks form.  In a separate bowl, combine the mascarpone and sugar, then add it to your bowl with the cream.  Mix until well blended with a silicone spatula.  Optional -- add a couple tablespoons of coffee flavored liqueur.

Soak the ladyfingers in coffee for about 20 to 30 seconds, until slightly soft, before layering them in an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.  Add half of the mascarpone cream mixture, spreading it out evenly, then sprinkle on half the cocoa, using a fine mesh strainer.   Add another layer of ladyfingers, the rest of the mascarpone cream mixture, and a final sprinkle of cocoa.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.  It is best refrigerated overnight.

Recipe Notes

Do not mix your cream and vanilla too long or you will end up with a lumpy, butter-like mixture.  I have read that it helps to chill your bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for about 10 minutes before making whipped cream.

You could add coffee flavored liqueur to your mascarpone cream mixture.  Next time, I might try adding a couple of tablespoons.  

January 1, 2014 Update 

Here's an inside shot of my tiramisu.  It was a big hit with our whole family tonight!  Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gluten Free Italian Knot Cookies

Both my husband and I had Italian grandmothers who make incredibly delicious Christmas cookies.  The Italian knot cookies made by Mitch's Mammaw were always a favorite of mine before my celiac diagnosis.  This week, I decided to make a gluten free version of Mammaw's knots.    

My father-in-law sent me a picture of Mammaw's recipe, and Mitch and I spoke to her on the phone to try and decipher it.  I then read a bunch of knots recipes online.  I even found a recipe for gluten free knots, which you can view here.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

California Pizza Kitchen

Update - You can read my most recent review of California Pizza Kitchen here.  

Tonight, we went to the California Pizza Kitchen at Waterford Lakes for dinner, because I had heard through several sources that they had great gluten free pizza.  Before tonight, I have only had decent gluten free pizza at one restaurant, Boardwalk Pizza in Winter Park.  In addition to pizza, Boardwalk Pizza has gluten free ravioli, penne, and the last time I was there, they had gluten free chocolate mousse.  I had so many great gluten free pizzas there, but then they messed up my order and put sauce on my pizza 3 times in a row, and then I got a strangely soggy pizza on another visit.  Because of inconsistent meals and the fact that I discovered I could make awesome gluten free pizza with Chebe at home, we stopped going to Boardwalk Pizza.  You can view my blog post about our pizza experiments with Chebe here.  

The hostess gave me a copy of their gluten free pizza menu.  You can view it online here.  The regular and small plates menus I was given had a wide variety of gluten free choices on them also.  

From the small plates menu, we ordered White Corn Guacamole + Chips, a delicious combination of diced avocado, sweet white corn, black beans, jicama, bell pepper, cilantro and serrano peppers.  Other gluten free small plate options include the Asparagus + Arugula Salad and the Petite Wedge.  

We ordered a small portion of the Morrocan-Spiced Chicken Salad with roasted butternut squash, dates, avocado, toasted almonds, beets, red peppers, chopped egg and cranberries, with a housemade Champagne vinaigrette.  So far, my husband and I were two for two on the dishes we ordered to split.  I loved everything about this salad!  Roasted Veggie, Carmelized Peach, Waldorf Chicken, California Cobb, and the Italian Chopped are other gluten free options from the salad menu, available in both small and large portions.    

The main reason we visited CPK was to try their new gluten free pizza.  CPK introduced gluten free pizza to their menu two years ago, but then removed it due to concerns about cross contamination.  This year, they reintroduced a certified gluten free pizza crust, and prepare it using strict procedures approved by The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG).  You can read more about the precautions CPK takes here.   

I love BBQ Chicken Pizza and it's a pizza I have not made at home, so it was a no-brainer what we would be ordering.  After I took a picture, I reached in for a slice.  Initially, I was disappointed because the pizza wasn't very hot and it bent right over in my hand when I picked it up.  Then I tasted it...wow!  It didn't taste like the typical icky rice based crusts that I've had in too many restaurants.  It had just the right amount of toppings and everything tasted great, including the crust.  After eating two pieces, I decided I liked it so much because the crust reminded me of naan I used to eat in a Thai restaurant in Pittsburgh.  

The other three pizzas that can be made using GIG's certified procedures are the Pepperoni, Mushroom Pepperoni Sausage, and the Margherita. 

I give everything we ate at CPK an A+ and we will definitely be going back!  

You can view California Pizza Kitchen's restaurant locator here.  

Sweet! By Good Golly Miss Holly is several doors down from CPK at Waterford Lakes.  I stopped in to check out their gluten free raspberry chocolate cupcake.  Like the chocolate and red velvet I have had in previous visits, it was incredibly moist, but I found the icing and the filling to be too sweet, and there was just too much of them, and too little cake.  

My daughters and I met Hollis Wilder, three time winner of Cupcake Wars and owner of Sweet, at a cupcake decorating class back in November.  She and her staff bent over backwards to accommodate the gluten issues of everyone in our group.  Sweet now offers vegan/gluten free options also.

January 3, 2014 Update

Today, my daughter Emma and I went to the CPK at The Mall at Millenia for lunch.  We decided to order the Petite Wedge, a gluten free choice on the Small Plates menu.  We subbed champagne vinaigrette for the blue cheese dressing.   

It was a really great salad!  My daughter and I loved the combination of Nueske's applewood smoked bacon, chopped egg, and tomato.  I let Emma eat almost all of it because I was afraid she wouldn't like the BBQ chicken pizza.  My child who doesn't usually like pizza actually ate two pieces and said it was good.  

February 6, 2014 Update -- Yesterday, I had lunch at CPK with one of my GFFs.  She loved the Roasted Veggie salad with chicken she ordered.  It looked great!  

February 16, 2014 Update - Tonight, we ordered the gluten free Margherita pizza.  It was very good, but I prefer the BBQ Chicken pizza.  

My mother-in-law ordered one of her favorites, the gluten free asparagus and arugula salad from the small plates menu.  It looked pretty incredible!

October 27, 2014 Update

Over the weekend, we ate at the California Pizza Kitchen at The Mall at Millenia, and I was very disappointed with the two gluten free pizzas we ordered.  The crust was dry, and didn't even seem to be very hot, so I sent them back.  My pizzas were cooked more, which made them taste a little better, but it left me wondering if CPK has changed the ingredients or cooking method of their gluten free pizza crust.  Last time we were at Waterford Lakes, the pizza crust seemed dry and a bit cold as well.  I'm not sure what is going on, but after having mediocre crust the last two or three visits, I don't think I will be ordering pizza at California Pizza Kitchen anymore, which makes me very sad, because it used to be so good.  I did ask our server if any changes were made to the ingredients or cooking method of the crust, or if it could be stale.  He assured me no changes had been made, and that they get new gluten free crusts every two days, and he told me the package mine came out of was opened that morning.

July 19, 2015 Update

Tonight, I decided to give CPK's gluten free pizza a try again.  I ordered a BBQ chicken pizza without onion and cilantro, and it was just as good as I remember it being the first couple of times I tried it.  It was a little brown around the edges, but it still tasted great.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at California Pizza Kitchen?  

Chocolate Pizzelle Cannoli with Raspberry Filling

Earlier this week, I posted a recipe for Mini Pizzelle Cannoli.  I had ricotta cheese left that had to be used, so I decided to make chocolate pizzelle cannoli with a raspberry filling.  This recipe was inspired by several recipes I saw on the Food Network's website.  I almost made Giada's Raspberry-Ricotta Mousse, but then I had the thought that a raspberry ricotta filling would be great in a chocolate pizzelle cannoli shell, and let me tell you, it was!   

I tweaked a Food Network recipe for Chocolate Peppermint Pizzelle to create gluten free chocolate pizzelle cannoli shells.  With the aid of my kitchen scale, I quickly measured out the wet and dry ingredients.   

Friday, December 27, 2013

Chebe Sausage & Spinach Pizza

Back in June, I wrote a blog post called Pizza Experiments about our adventures in making pizza with Chebe.  I am ridiculously fussy about gluten free pizza.  I have eaten it at restaurants all over this country and always wonder why I bother, because I almost always dislike the crust.  As far as frozen pizza goes, the only one I like is Against the Grain Pesto Pizza.  Some day, I hope to find a restaurant that makes consistently good gluten free pizza.  Thankfully, I have found a great pizza that we can make at home without worries of cross contamination.  It also happens to be amazingly good.  It is, by far, the best pizza I have had since my celiac diagnosis, 5 1/2 years ago.  

The key ingredients for all of our Chebe pizzas are Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix and Organic Valley Mild Cheddar Cheese.  We tried the Chebe Pizza Crust Mix, but weren't crazy about the seasonings in it, so we make our pizzas with the Cheese Bread Mix instead.  I purchase it from amazon or Chamberlin's in Winter Park. 

I have made spinach and sausage pizza with jalapeno pork sausage from the meat counter at Whole Foods, but they don't always make it.  A good option is Jimmy Dean Regular Premium Pork Sausage, which is marked gluten free, and sold locally at Publix.  I always have extra when I use this one pound package, but my kids usually scarf it down while the pizza is cooking.  

We love our cast iron pizza pan.  If you don't own one, it is worth the investment.  We tried making Chebe pizza on an aluminum pizza pan and the crust did not crisp up.  Lodge cast iron pizza pans are available from amazon for a very reasonable price.  You can view them here.  We clean our cast iron pizza pan with a rub of salt and water, then season it with a little bit of oil before putting it away.  I store all my cast iron pieces in the warming drawer of my oven, so I don't have to worry about getting oil in my cabinets.  

My new favorite mozzarella cheese to make pizza with is Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls, because I don't have to slice them, and it's easy to sprinkle them around the pizza.

I cook my sausage on medium heat in a frying pan, then put it on a plate with paper towels to remove some of the grease.  

When using fresh mozzarella on a pizza, it is important to remove some of the moisture before baking, by placing it between two paper towels for at least 15 minutes.  

On the back of the Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix box, it says you will need 2T oil, 1 C of shredded cheese, 2 large eggs, and 1/4 C water.  I pack my Organic Valley Mild Cheddar Cheese into my 1 C measuring cup.  When I let go, it looks like it is overflowing.  

I like to beat my eggs in a large bowl, then add the cheese and 2 T of extra virgin olive oil.  I then mix these ingredients well with a fork.  

Next, I slowly add the Original Cheese Break Mix to the bowl, and stir it with a soup spoon

Here is what my pizza dough looks like after I stir in 1/4 C of water.  

I knead it before placing it on my lightly oil pizza pan.  Even though our pan is always seasoned with olive oil before we put it away, I add a little more and gently wipe it with a paper towel before adding my pizza dough.  

With my hands, I evenly spread the dough out on my pizza pan.  

I par bake my crust on the bottom shelf of my preheated oven on 450 degrees for 12 minutes.  It usually comes out with several large bubbles, which I flatten with the back of a fork before adding my toppings.  We have tried pricking it with a fork before par baking it, but the bubbles still happen anyway.

I brush the par baked crust with a mix of 1 1/2 T of olive oil and one large clove of minced garlic (heaping 1/2 tsp) before adding a single layer of fresh baby spinach.  

I then sprinkle on a generous amount of sausage before adding the mozzarella balls, Parmesan, Romano, and Feta cheese.

I bake my pizza with toppings for 11 minutes on 450 degrees in the bottom 1/3 of my oven.  I then move it to the top shelf  to cook under the broiler for a minute or two until the cheese is perfectly browned.  We then slide it on to a large platter or our aluminum pizza pan to slice and serve.

Last week, we had two pieces left over from dinner.  My daughter Katie and I ate them for lunch the next day.  I love this pizza warm, right out of the oven, but I think I like it even better cold, right out of the fridge.  Katie loved it too!

Chebe Spinach & Sausage Pizza


1 box of Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix
2 T olive oil
1 C shredded cheese (sharp or hard works best) - firmly packed
2 large eggs
1/4 C water

3/4 to 1 pound of sausage (remove from casing if necessary)
1 1/2 T olive oil plus more for rubbing on your pizza pan
1 large clove of garlic (heaping 1/2 tsp) - minced
fresh baby spinach
8 ounce package of fresh mozzarella
Parmesan and/or Romano - grated
Feta crumbles
Optional - coarse ground black pepper


Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and lightly oil your pizza pan.

Cook your sausage in a frying pan on medium heat until it is no longer pink.  While the sausage is cooking, place your mozzarella between two paper towels to remove moisture.  When your sausage is done, place it on a plate covered with paper towels to soak up some of the grease.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs before adding the shredded cheese and 2 T of olive oil.  Mix well with a fork, then slowly add the Chebe Original Cheese Break mix.  Stir well with a spoon before adding 1/4 C of water.  Mix as well as you can with a spoon, then knead the dough until smooth with your hands.

Place the pizza dough on an oiled 14 inch cast iron pizza pan and spread it out evenly with your hands.

Par bake the crust on a shelf in the bottom third of your oven for 12 minutes.  Flatten out any bubbles with the back of a fork before adding toppings.

Mix the olive oil and garlic in a small bowl, and brush it on your pizza.  Add a single layer of spinach before sprinkling on a generous amount of sausage.  Finally, add the mozzarella, and an even sprinkle of Parmesan, Romano, and Feta cheese.  Optional -- add a light sprinkle of black pepper.

Bake for another 11 minutes on the bottom shelf before moving the pizza to the top third of your oven and turning it to broil.  Broil for a minute or two until the cheese is bubbly and perfectly browned.

Loosen your pizza from the pan with a large spatula before carefully sliding it onto a serving platter to slice and serve.

Recipe Notes

You can view other Chebe pizza ideas in my Pizza Experiments blog post here.

The package states that Chebe Original Cheese Bread Mix is free of gluten, soy, corn, rice, potato, yeast, peanut/tree nuts, egg, iodine, and sugar.  It is certified gluten free and non GMO.  It contains manioc (tapioca) flour, modified manioc starch, dry milk, and iodine-free sea salt, making it grain free as well.

We buy our Feta crumbles, Romano, and Parmesan in the cheese section of Whole Foods.  I purchase Bel Gioioso Fresh Mozzarella Pearls from Publix.

For more information on Chebe and where it can be purchased, you can visit Chebe's website here

February 20, 2014 Update -- Tonight, I used a little less sausage and added some coarse ground black pepper.  My husband and I both thought it was the best spinach & sausage pizza I have ever made.  Sometimes less is more.  :-)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bonefish Grill

I was diagnosed with Celiac 5 1/2 years ago, right before our annual trip to Hilton Head.  I started researching restaurants with gluten free options on the island, and discovered that Bonefish Grill had a gluten free menu.  I was really excited, because Bonefish was a restaurant that we had been going to for years on Hilton Head, and in Greenville, SC, where my parents live.  Bonefish was the first restaurant that I ate at after my Celiac diagnosis, and I was so impressed with their extensive gluten free menu.  

Years ago, my family decided that making a huge Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner back to back was too much, so we started going out to dinner on Christmas Eve.  Because of our Italian family tradition of eating fish on Christmas Eve, we chose Bonefish, a restaurant that is reasonably priced, and has consistently good food.  Oddly enough, on Christmas Eve, while we ate at the Bonefish Grill near Orlando International Airport, my family was eating at a Bonefish in Greenville, and my husband's brother and his wife were eating at a Bonefish in Texas.  

The Bonefish House Salad is amazing, mainly because of their delicious citrus herb vinaigrette.  

Make sure to ask for the gluten free menu before you are seated.  We usually don't order starters, but I had a free coupon for Bang Bang Shrimp.  Because it is not gluten free, we asked if we could have Saucy Shrimp instead.

We really enjoyed this dish of shrimp sauteed in a lime tomato garlic sauce with Kalamata olives and Feta cheese.  

Bonefish Grill has 6 different grilled fish options that can be paired with 3 different sauces on their gluten free menu.  

I ordered a small portion of salmon with mango salsa, one of my favorite dishes.  It was cooked perfectly, and the mango salsa was delicious, as always.  

All entrees are served with a seasonal vegetable and your choice of one side item.  I chose herbed jasmine rice as my side, and had the seasonal side of spaghetti squash, which was so good.  Our server told us that all of their seasonal sides are now gluten free.

Another favorite entree of mine is the Florida Cobb Salad with grilled chicken, avocado, mango, tomatoes, and my favorite citrus herb vinaigrette.  I don't like blue cheese, so I ask that it be left off my salad.  

We didn't order dessert on Christmas Eve, because we had Chocolate Sugar Cookies waiting for us at home, but Bonefish has two great gluten free dessert options, Creme Brulee and the Macadamia Nut Brownie.  I almost always order the Macadamia Nut Brownie, because I love the combination of the warm brownie with cold vanilla ice cream, and it's got the salty and sweet combination going for it too, with the salty macadamia nuts and the sweetness of the brownie, ice cream, and raspberry sauce.  It's so delicious, and big enough for two or three people.

If you do not eat fish, Bonefish has several gluten free beef and chicken dishes on their gluten free menu.  All of their wines and martinis are also gluten free.

July 7, 2014 Update

Tonight, we dined at Bonefish with my parents, and my brother's family in Greenville, SC.  I ordered the wood-grilled tilapia with lemon butter sauce, which was recommended to me by my mother.  It was cooked perfectly, and I loved the lemon butter so much, I asked for more.  My parents used to call me the Butter Queen when I was a kid.  I do have quite a fondness for it!  :-)

January 21, 2015 Update

Over Christmas break, we had dinner at the Bonefish Grill near Orlando International Airport.  For an entree, I chose a small portion of the Atlantic salmon with lemon butter.  My fish and rice were great, but my husband and I both thought our seasonal side of spaghetti squash tasted really weird, so we did not eat it. 

For dessert, the four of us split two creme brulees, which everybody loved.

Bonefish has updated their gluten free menu.  There are gluten free brunch options available on Sundays from 11am-2pm.  You can view their gluten free menu here.

Bonefish Grill has locations throughout the United States.  You can view their restaurant locator here.

What are your favorite gluten free dishes at Bonefish?