Monday, March 31, 2014

Winter Park Honey

Have you heard that eating local honey might help you fight seasonal allergies?  You can read more about it here.  I have been seeing Facebook & blog posts on the subject, then I kept hearing about Winter Park Honey, so I decided we had to go to the Winter Park Farmers' Market and check it out.  

Winter Park Honey is raw, organically produced honey.  I started buying raw organic honey at the beginning of the school year at Publix after reading about its health benefits.  You can read more about the health benefits of raw honey here

At the Winter Park Farmers' Market, you can sample all the different varieties of Winter Park Honey.  I loved them all, but the Blackberry Twist and the Orange Blossom were my favorites.  

Winter Park Honey also sells Tupelo, Palmetto, Galberry, Florida Wildflower, Avocado, Ultimate Wildflower, and Local Wildflower honey infused with pollen.  

I wanted to buy at least 4 or 5 jars of honey, but we came home with two to start.  

My husband eats a teaspoon of the local wildflower honey infused with pollen every day to help fight seasonal allergies.  For the last month, I have been using the blackberry twist in all of the recipes I make that contain honey.  It is by far the best honey I have ever tasted!

After I gave up artificial sweeteners, I started using honey to sweeten my smoothies.  You can check out all of my smoothie recipes here

Last night, I made honey butter to go with my gluten free cornbread.  We enjoy Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix, but the honey butter I made with softened salted butter and Winter Park blackberry twist honey took this side dish from good to amazing!  Honey butter is also great on scones.

You can check out Winter Park Honey's website here.  I was excited to recently learn that The Fresh Market stores in Orlando will now be selling several varieties of Winter Park Honey.  You can view the list of stores that carry their products, and the farmers' markets in Florida and Colorado that they attend here.

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake Mix & Homemade ChocolateFrosting

My daughters and I love chocolate!  When it comes to cake, cupcakes, or cookies, we usually choose something with chocolate in it.  

We have been buying Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake Mix from Publix since the product was released.  I have tried other brands, but this one is our favorite for making chocolate cupcakes.  

The ingredient list is pretty simple -- sugar, rice flour, potato starch, cocoa, tapioca starch, leavening, salt and guar gum.

The directions are pretty simple too -- In a mixer, beat the cake mix with 1 cup of water, 1 stick of softened butter and three eggs, then pour into a pan.  I use large eggs at room temperature, and unsalted butter.  You can make an an 8x8, 9x9, or an 8 or 9 inch round cake with this mix, or 18 cupcakes. 

My girls and I love cupcakes, so that's always the option I choose.  The directions say to bake cupcakes at 350 degrees for 18 to 23 minutes, but I only cook them for 17 minutes.  

I don't mind buying a box mix that has similar ingredients to what I would use at home, but I don't like to purchase store bought frosting.  The ingredients list is usually pretty scary, and it is so easy to make homemade frosting.  Plus, it really does taste so much better!  Here's my recipe:

Creamy Chocolate Frosting


2 C powdered sugar
1/4 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 C heavy whipping cream
1/2 C (1 stick) softened salted butter


Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa into the bowl of a mixer, then stir in the heavy cream.  Add the butter, and beat until smooth on medium speed.

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes enough frosting for 18 cupcakes.

I use Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa, purchased from amazon.  It's the brand of Dutch process cocoa recommended by Gluten Free on a Shoestring.

I store my leftover cupcakes in the refrigerator. 

Do you like to doctor up cake mixes?  The Cake Mix Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free has a lot of great ideas for making cakes, cookies, brownies, and bars with gluten free mixes.  

Betty Crocker also makes gluten free chocolate brownie mix, chocolate chip cookie mix, yellow cake mix, and sugar cookie mix.  

November 18, 2014

Today, I made brownies using Betty Crocker's Gluten Free Chocolate Brownie Mix.  I cooked them in my 9 inch pie plate for 27 minutes in a 325 degree oven.  Served with some vanilla ice cream, they were a huge hit with my whole family.  Nina, our international student, liked them so much, she wants to take a box back to China to make with her mom over Christmas break.  She told me they don't have brownies in China.  

The brownie mix contains sugar, semi-sweet chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla), cocoa processed with alkali, rice flour, potato starch, corn starch, xanthan gum, and salt.  Allergen warning: contains soy ingredients.  

The brownie mix is super simple to make.  I added 1/2 stick of melted unsalted butter and two room temp eggs to the mix, stirred, then added the batter to my greased pie pan.  I purchased the mix from Publix.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Barilla Gluten Free Pasta

In the last year, Barilla, Ronzoni and Mueller's have started making gluten free pasta.  I have been using Le Veneziane, BiAglut and DeLallo gluten free pastas for several years.  You can read more about these products in my blog post entitled Pasta - You Don't Have to Settle.   

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Anandapur Ice Cream Truck (Thai Bus) -- Disney's Animal Kingdom

When we got to the Animal Kingdom today, my first stop was the Gardens Kiosk, which offers allergy-friendly snacks, and information on special dietary options throughout the park.  You can read more about the Gardens Kiosk here.  

While at the Gardens Kiosk, I asked about gluten free soft serve ice cream.  In their allergy binder, I was shown this page for the Thai Bus.  Both the chocolate and vanilla reduced fat ice cream are free of gluten.  They do contain dairy and corn.

The Anandapur Ice Cream Truck (Thai Bus) is pretty impressive!  It's located in Asia, near Expedition Everest, one of my favorite Disney attractions.  

I used to love soft serve in a waffle cone at Disney back in my gluten eating days, but I am happy I can still eat soft serve in a cup.  

The menu is pretty simple at the Thai Bus.  

I chose the soft serve twist in a cup.  Not all the soft serve at Disney is gluten free.  It's important to always ask at each location.

Other soft serve locations I have reviewed:

Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies at the Magic Kingdom

Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction at Hollywood Studios

Pineapple Dole Whip from Aloha Isle at the Magic Kingdom #glutenfree

Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom has gluten free vanilla, orange, and pineapple Dole Whip.

I love pineapple Dole Whip, and have enjoyed all the soft serve I have eaten at the Thai Bus, Auntie Gravity's, and Dinosaur Gertie's.

Restaurantosaurus - Disney's Animal Kingdom

Earlier today, we had lunch at Restaurantosaurus, a quick service restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Restaurantosaurus, which is open for lunch and dinner, is located in DinoLand U.S.A.  

Columbia Harbour House at the Magic Kingdom, and Restaurantosaurus are my favorite spots to eat Disney's gluten free chicken tenders and fries.  My friend Sarah from Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at WDW has a list of restaurants at Disney World that serve the allergy chicken tenders on her website, which you can view here

Gluten free dessert options include the amazing OMG...It's Gluten Free Fudge Brownie or an OMG...It's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie, which is also dairy free.   

Today, I discovered a super cool retro seating area in Restaurantosaurus that I had never seen before.  It has a lot more natural light than the rest of the restaurant.

February 11, 2016 Update

Yesterday, I stopped at Restaurantosaurus to check out their allergy-friendly menu, which lists options for people with gluten/wheat, milk, egg, soy, fish/shellfish, and peanut/tree nut allergies.

Gluten free options include an Angus bacon cheeseburger, Angus cheeseburger, grilled chicken sandwich, chicken tenders, hot dog, allergy friendly chocolate chip cookie, and an allergy friendly brownie.  Kids' Meals (served with apple slices and steamed broccoli) - hamburger, cheeseburger, hot dog, chicken tenders, and macaroni & cheese.

All Kids' Meals include a choice of small lowfat milk or small Dasani water, and french fries may be substituted upon request for gluten/wheat, egg, fish/shellfish, milk, and peanut/tree nut allergies.

You can read more about Restaurantosaurus, and view their menu and hours on Disney's website here.

What are your favorite gluten free options at Restaurantosaurus?  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Honey & Sage Roasted Pork

I am almost three months late posting this recipe.  My husband and I made honey & sage roasted pork on New Year's Day, continuing my family's tradition of making pork on New Year's.  This was a new recipe for us, and one I will definitely be making again next year.  

I bought this beautiful 7 rib pork loin rack from The Fresh Market.  

My husband and I kicked it up with a board dressing, a technique we learned from Adam Perry Lang's Charred & Scruffed, a grilling cookbook recommended to us by my parents.     

My husband got to use the bamboo cutting board I bought him for Christmas for cutting meat and making board dressings.  It has a convenient drip groove that catches juices.  

We served our pork with green beans, broccoli, and a special rice dressing that I make on New Year's Day. It's made with two varieties of rice, fresh herbs, dried fruit, sausage, apples, and white wine.  It's divine!  

Honey & Sage Roasted Pork


7 or 8 rib pork loin rack
kosher salt & coarse ground black pepper -- to taste
1/4 C honey
1 T fresh sage -- chopped

Board Dressing

3 T olive oil
3 T honey
1 T fresh sage -- chopped
1 T fresh rosemary-- chopped
kosher salt & coarse ground black pepper -- to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Season pork loin rack with salt and pepper.  Place in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.   Roast for 1 to 1 1/2 hours (about 20 minutes per pound) until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees F on a thermometer.  

Combine 1/4 C of honey with 1 T of fresh sage, and brush it on the pork after removing it from the oven.  
While the pork is resting for 10 minutes, make your board dressing.  Place all the ingredients in a pile on your cutting board, and combine them by cutting through them with a knife.  Slice the pork, then turn each piece in the board dressing to coat both sides.  

Recipe Notes

We roasted our pork on a baking sheet with the fatty side up.

I served my pork with my New Year's Rice Dressing (I will try to post the recipe soon), but it would also be great with Garlic Smashed Potatoes.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe for Honey & Sage-Roasted Rack of Pork from The Costco Connection.

July 10, 2014 Update

I made this recipe today using 2 pork tenderloins that were about 2.4 pounds total, and they cooked to temperature in about 30 minutes.  They didn't brown up as nicely as the pork loin, but they were tender, and tasted great.  I adjusted the amount of honey, oil, and herbs I used, because I made much less pork today than I did on New Year's Day.

Amazon Store

This post contains links to items in my Amazon Store.  I have purchased all of these products from amazon and use them regularly at home.  When you purchase one of my recommended products from my amazon store, I receive a small fee that I use to help support my blog, but you are charged no additional cost.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cuisine Cube Review & Giveaway

I was so excited to receive the March 2014 Cuisine Cube in the mail.  Who doesn't like to receive packages, especially when they are full of gluten free goodies?

So how does Cuisine Cube work?

You can order a monthly subscription for $29.99 a month.  Shipping is free and you can cancel at any time.  A Cuisine Cube will arrive at your door each month filled with gluten free breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, and dessert items.  You can order a subscription for yourself, or give the gift of hand-picked, foodie-tested gluten free groceries to a friend or family member.  

I love the handy one page sheet that came in the box.  On one side, it has information about the all the products contained in the Cuisine Cube.  

On the flip side, it shows pictures of each item.  

I am really excited to try the GalloLea Barbecue Pizza Mix, especially after reading a great review from Shauna Ahern on her blog  

The March Cuisine Cube also included Oven Baked Organics Pancake Mix, Saffron Road Lemongrass Basil Simmer Sauce, Euforia Triple Delight Cake, Zero Grano Crackers, and Sun Cups Dark Chocolate Sunflower Butter Cups.  

We sampled three of the items for lunch the day after we received our Cuisine Cube.  

The Zero Grano Crackers were a huge hit with my whole family and are the best gluten free crackers I have ever eaten.  In some ways, they remind me of a Saltine, but they were way better!  I especially loved the slight hint of rosemary they had.  I will definitely be buying this product in the future.  One great feature of Cuisine Cube is that you can visit the Stock Up page on their website to purchase more of the products you love.  

My family enjoyed the Sun Cups, but the Euforia Triple Delight Cake was the dessert we were all wishing we had more of.  The taste and texture of this cake were just amazing!  

Cuisine Cubes are a great way to try a variety of new and different gluten free products.  You can visit their website here.  

So would you like to win the May Cuisine Cube?

How it works:

Each person can be entered into this giveaway 5 times via Rafflecopter.  

One winner will be picked randomly, via Rafflecopter, based on valid entries.

The giveaway is only open to people living in the continental United States.

The winner will appear here when the giveaway ends and will be contacted by me.  If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.  Winner = Jacklyn Novak

I was given my Cuisine Cube to review, but the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.  

Discount Code -- If you would like to order a Cuisine Cube, you can use the discount code GFINORLANDO5 to receive $5 off.  The code is good until May 31, 2014.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Qarma Crepes

March 13, 2015 Update - Qarma Crepes has moved to a new location in the University Commons Plaza near UCF and is no longer serving gluten free crepes because of low demand.  

Yesterday, we headed down to Qarma Crepes for dinner, but ended up just getting dessert.  My daughters saw the Tijuana Flats next door and decided they wanted dinner there.  My girls can be resistant to trying new things!  

Qarma Crepes is located in the Thornton Park neighborhood of Orlando.  You can view their address, phone number, and hours here.  I found Qarma Crepes on the Find Me Gluten Free App, and was shocked to see a review that said that all of their food was gluten free.  Qarma Crepes does make their crepe batter with rice flour, but they do use gluten-filled graham cracker crumbles in the Happy Camper crepe.  

When I asked about cross contamination, the employees assured me that they only cook the Happy Camper on their third crepe maker, and I could have my crepe made on one of the others.  When I asked why they are making gluten free crepes, they told me that customers in Thornton Park were asking for gluten free options several times a day, so they experimented with rice flour and liked the crepes better. 

Because I had eaten so much at Raglan Road for lunch, I decided to skip a savory crepe and try a sweet crepe, since I knew I could only eat one.  I ordered the sweet crepe with nutella, bananas, and strawberries.  I watched as it was being made and was a little concerned with how much nutella was put on the inside, so I asked that it not be garnished with chocolate sauce.  My concern was definitely warranted because this crepe was so full of Nutella that I didn't really enjoy it, and I love Nutella.  The crepe batter definitely has serious potential for savory crepes and sweet crepes, and I would try Qarma Crepes again.  

My husband ordered the Apple Cinnamon, which he really enjoyed, and I ordered my daughters the same crepe I had, but with much less Nutella.  

My daughter Emma definitely enjoyed it!  In fact, she's sitting next to me right now and just told me she loved it.  

Qarma Crepes is about two blocks from Lake Eola, so we took advantage of the chance to take a walk around the lake and enjoy the downtown area, since we are down this way so seldom.  

Lake Eola is known for having an abundance of swans, and this fellow (or lady) was taking a walk himself.

You can view Qarma Crepe's menu here.  The crepe I ordered is not listed, and I can't remember the name of it.  Note to self -- write down the name of the food I order in the future!

June 28, 2014 Update -- I just saw a post on Qarma Crepes' Facebook page that they have upgraded their batter.  The post states that "We now have two options: the same gluten-free batter we had before, and an even tastier lower-calorie batter as well."  They also posted this comment -- "We take every precaution in preparing and cooking with the two different batters, sanitizing anew before and after anyone orders gluten-free!  No incidents of cross-contamination as all of our staff have been thoroughly trained in correct procedures."

Have you been to Qarma Crepes?  Please share your experience by commenting below.

Gigi's Cupcakes

January 30, 2015 Update - This is an old review of Gigi's Cupcakes in Orlando.  You can read my newer review here.

On Monday, my daughters and I finally visited the Gigi's Cupcakes on East Colonial Drive, near Fashion Square Mall.  I had heard that the chain makes gluten free cupcakes on Fridays, and some locations make them every day, which is the case with the store in Orlando.  

You can read more about the Orlando store, connect with them on Facebook, and view their address, phone number & hours here.  

When I asked about their baking practices, I was told that they bake their gluten free cupcakes first every morning in an effort to avoid cross contamination.  

Like almost all businesses today that serve gluten free food, Gigi's has a disclaimer that their products are made in a shared kitchen, allowing for the potential of cross contamination.  It was displayed prominently on a sign at their counter.  

Even my cupcake box had the same disclaimer on a sticker.  

I ordered both of the gluten free options of the day, the french toast (or maybe it was cinnamon roll - yikes, I had an insanely bad day on Monday and didn't write it down) and wedding cake cupcakes.  The gluten free options were not on display with the rest of the cupcakes, and I was told that I could choose my frosting.  I chose the recommended cream cheese frosting for my french toast cupcake, and chocolate frosting for my wedding cake cupcake. Gigi's makes a variety of gluten free cupcakes, with different flavors being offered throughout the week.  If you check out the Orlando store's Facebook page, you will get a better idea of all the gluten free cupcakes they offer.

I enjoyed both of the cupcakes I purchased, but the cakes were not as moist as I would have liked.  Sweet at Waterford Lakes Town Center makes a moister cupcake, but their frosting is too sweet for me.  I much preferred the frosting at Gigi's, and their cupcakes were beautifully decorated.  Other options for gluten free cupcakes in the Orlando area include BabyCakes at Disney World, and Raphsodic Bakery on N. Mills Avenue.

Williams-Sonoma Gluten Free Red Velvet Cupcake Mix -- best GF cupcake mix on the market.  They are amazing!!!

Hands down, I still prefer the cupcakes I make at home with Williams-Sonoma gluten free cupcake mixes, but as of right now, they are still discontinued.  Thankfully, I have several containers in my pantry.

Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake Mix -- I use it to make cupcakes

We also love the cupcakes I make with Betty Crocker Gluten Free Devil's Food Cake Mix, topped with my homemade chocolate frosting.  There are instructions on the box for making 18 cupcakes.  You can view my frosting recipe, and read my review of the mix here.

Kara's Cupcakes -- Gluten Free Chocolate Velvet.

The best gluten free cupcakes I have ever had in a bakery were from Kara's Cupcakes stores in San Francisco and Napa.  They make a wickedly delicious gluten free chocolate velvet cupcake that is perfectly moist, with amazing frosting. Not even the gluten free red velvet cupcakes I ate at the famed Sprinkles in Beverly Hills could top it.  Don't get me wrong, it was good, but not as good as Kara's.

Sprinkles Cupcakes-- We visited the original shop in Beverly Hills.  I had GF red velvet cupcakes.

The staff could not have been kinder or more helpful at Gigi's Cupcakes, and my husband really enjoyed the gluten-filled red velvet cupcake I purchased for him.

Have you been to the Gigi's Cupcakes in Orlando or one of their other locations?  What was your experience like?

What are your favorite store bought gluten free cupcakes and mixes?