AKA Let the Good Times Casserole
When you write about food for a living, people assume you make glamorous roast duck with fancy vegetables every night for dinner. While I can’t speak for every food writer, I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t cook fancy food that often, and I eat a lot of casseroles. Sunday nights, you’ll find me in the kitchen putting together some sort of casserole for dinner that night, or for lunch and dinner for the next few days. Casseroles are easy. They’re awesome. They freeze well, they reheat easily and they offer comfort after a hectic day. Casseroles are melty and delicious and hearty.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Cheesy Kale, Sausage and Rice Casserole
AKA Touch the Pie (Gotta Testify, Lookin’ Extra Fly)
I don’t know about you, but I can’t listen to music while I work. It’s too distracting. I can’t pay attention to the work and I can’t pay attention to the song. So iTunes stays on lockdown during the workday. But when I’m home cooking? It’s a different story. There’s music in the kitchen and I might check out my reflection in the window during the occasional booty pop, I’m not gonna lie. When I bake, it’s all hip-hop and old ’70s soul and funk.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie
AKA Get Stuffed
Six years ago I was diagnosed with celiac disease just days before Thanksgiving — the most glorious, gluten-filled holiday on the calendar. While I was relived to know what had been making me so sick for so long, the timing couldn’t have been worse. In my family, Thanksgiving has always been all about the stuffing. Sure, we love turkey, mashed potatoes and the other obligatory vegetables, but stuffing is the centerpiece of our meal. It isn’t anything fancy or special, just simple Pennsylvania Dutch-style bread cubes, onions, celery, stock and herbs. Crisp on top, a little mushy inside. People like to offer advice on what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers, but that was one item on our dinner table that was never left over. We’d devour it and fight over the last bits of the crunchy edges.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Stuffing for Thanksgiving
AKA Let Me Eat Cake
A few years ago, a fashion designer made a canvas handbag emblazoned with the words “Eat Cake for Breakfast.” Really? It seemed so targeted toward those ladies who only saw Sex and the City for the first time in syndication on basic cable and thought they were so cool drinking cosmos at girls’ night in some strip-mall chain restaurant, deciding who was the Carrie and who was the Samantha. I used to roll my eyes at women who carried that bag … until I ate the first piece of my new and improved gluten-free carrot cake. Now I get it, people. I won’t carry that bag, but I will unapologetically eat this cake for breakfast. You should too.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
AKA Nothing Com-pears to You
Pears are the unsung heroes of fall. Everyone at the farmers market last weekend was all, “Oooohhh, apples this and apples that.” Fine. Let ‘em try and outdo each other with “Honeycrisp is better than Jonagold, but for baking it’s all about Mutsu.” That keeps them away from the best fruit of the season: pears. You know I’m right. And I want them all for myself.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Pear Tart
AKA THE APPLE OF MY PIE
My great-uncle Richard used to own acres and acres of orchards in Pennsylvania, and I fondly remember picking apples for him after school. I’d climb up the rickety, old ladder, an apple basket in hand, and shimmy out onto a branch to pull ripe fruit from the tree limbs. Uncle Rich taught me at an early age the differences among all the varieties — which ones were used for baking or for cider, and which could be eaten right off the tree, crisp and sweet. Oddly enough, despite having an unlimited supply of fruit, we didn’t eat a lot of apple pie growing up. It wasn’t until I was graduating college and moving in with my boyfriend that I figured I should learn to make pie. I failed at it many times back then — forgetting the sugar, using the wrong apples, forgetting to add the top crust — it’s a wonder I didn’t set our apartment on fire. That boyfriend became an ex-husband, and as I got better at relationships, I also got better at baking pies.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Apple Pie
AKA My Baby Takes the Mornin’ Train
When you have celiac, it can be difficult to find food on the go that’s safe to eat for any meal during the day. In the morning I am a major bigtime crankypants, and I want something delicious to snack on (and also to absorb the insane amount of coffee I drink, if I’m being totally honest). So I need something delicious and substantive and, most important, easy and quick.
Dumping a bag of granola into my mouth while driving was not exactly working out (too many raisins found their way into my bra). So I decided muffins were the way to go and created a gluten-free granola muffin recipe that is pretty easy to tinker with, depending on what you like in your granola.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Granola Muffins
AKA Pizza to Make Your Doorbell Ring
I’m a big Gilmore Girls fan, but nothing bums me out more on that show than when Lorelai and Rory order pizza. Diagnosed with celiac just as the show went into syndication (and the weekend marathon watching commenced), I still get super-sad when the gals of Stars Hollow try to save a bad day by ordering pizza — something I’ll never be able to do again.
Pizza’s a tricky thing for people who can’t eat gluten. Lots of places make gluten-free pizza, but they don’t use separate prep and cooking areas, and cross-contamination is a risk not worth taking.
Still, there’s no such thing as “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to the awesomeness that is pizza, whether it’s with icy soda or cold beer.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Pizza Recipe
AKA A Big Old Bowl of Love
Corn may seem meant for summer barbecues, but in my house, my mom would blanch and freeze all the sweet, juicy kernels to have throughout the fall and winter as succotash, casseroles and soups. Of the many options, I most looked forward to corn chowder: thick and creamy, with smoky bacon, sweet and crunchy corn and hearty potatoes. It was perfect on those September and October nights when you needed a warm dinner to offset the unwelcome chill in the evening air or the crappy day at school or the fight you’d just had with your little brother.
Continue Reading Beat the Wheat: Gluten-Free Corn Chowder