Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lisa Shops Allergen Free at Rose's Bakery and Hamburgers with Roasted Potatoes

Still looking for a gluten-free soft bread or hamburger buns?

Well, I have a treat for you… In Evanston, Illinois you will find Rose’s Bakery – a dedicated gluten-free bakery that makes fresh breads, cookies, cakes, pizzas, pies and assorted pastries. Who said you can’t enjoy bakery goods with food allergies? Rose also has products that are dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free and are made with Agave nectar. Need a special cake customized for your allergies? Rose’s can do it for you (with 48 hour notice).

Not only does owner Rose O’Carrol suffer from celiac disease, her mother, her sister and three children are all either celiac or gluten intolerant. I sat down with Rose and got some more details about her products.

Q: What is the most common allergy of your customers?
We have several products that are dairy-free as we realize about 70% of the gluten sensitive population are also sensitive to casein.

Q: What is your favorite treat?
The almond bar, but as for cookies Rose’s favorite changes every week as the cookies offered change weekly.

Q: What do you do to ensure no cross-contamination in your store?
We are a gluten-free, peanut-free and corn syrup free facility. We are very aware of allergies and cross-contamination potentials. If you are allergic to soy, dairy, nuts or any other food group, please let us know your special needs when you place your order. Note: While we are peanut-free, we do have tree nuts in this facility. Those who are severely reactive to tree nuts or other potential airborne allergens should avoid our foods.

Q. How long do your products last once, we get them home?
These products last similar to bakery goods cooked with wheat flour. If you freeze your products, they can last up to a month.

Q. How many tries does it take to perfect your recipes?
Rose is continually testing recipes, the basic flour mix she uses in her baked good uses 5-10 different kinds of flour!

Q. Any new products on the horizon?
Beignets and soft-pretzels, YUM!

Q. Do you ship?
Now that the weather is getting cooler, Rose is planning on selling and shipping her bread cookies and brownies on-line starting in November. Visit for more information.

Rose’s Bakery also has a café, if you have time for lunch or dinner. Her menu emphasizes organic vegetables, hormone-free, anti-biotic-free organic meats. Rose’s Bakery was recently certified as a Gluten-Free Store.

It is so exciting to find a gem like Rose’s Bakery, you have to try the dairy-free French rolls, my personal favorite! Rose's Bakery is located at 2901 Central Street, Evanston, Illinois 60201. t-847.859.2723.
I just had to take home some French rolls from Roses for my hamburgers and roasted potatoes, Enjoy!

Serves 4

1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon green pepper, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ketchup

Mix all ingredients well with hands.
Form into patties and press concave divot in patty so it will stay flat when cooked (makes stacking condiments easier).
Cook patties in large sauté pan on medium high heat 5-7 minutes per side.
Herb Roasted Potatoes

½ cup canola oil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
12 new red potatoes, cubed
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon oregano
extra-virgin olive oil, if needed

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Blend garlic, black pepper, rosemary leaves, oregano and Kosher salt and put aside.
In a large skillet over medium high heat, add canola oil and brown potatoes.
Transfer potatoes to a baking sheet, sprinkle with herbs, olive oil (if needed) and lemon juice.
Bake for 25 minutes or until fork tender.

Next blog: Take advantage of fall vegetables while they are here!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Back to the Pleasures of Eating Out and Easy BBQ Ribs

When I was first diagnosed with food allergies, I rarely ate out, and when I did go to restaurants, I would just wait to come home to eat. This would be extremely difficult if I was gone all day.

It was easy to avoid foods that I shouldn't eat when I stayed home, but that wasn't practical, so I ventured into my first restaurant to eat "post allergies". Have you ever seen the movie, "When Harry Met Sally", the scene in the restaurant where Sally drives the waitress and Harry crazy with all her questions and requests? Ask questions about everything! It may seem uncomfortable at first, but it is your health and you are worth it.
  • What oil do you use to cook your foods?
  • Are your fries coated with anything?
  • Can you cook my eggs with canola oil instead of butter?
  • Can I substitute the cheese on my burger for some advocado?

Whatever applies to your allergies - you are paying for the food and are entitled to stay safe.

Once I figured out how to stay safe in restaurants I haven’t looked back since, I love to go out to eat and rarely have issues. Look for my next blog - Lisa Shops Allergen Free at Rose's Bakery. Visit Chicagoland area restaurants, bakeries and grocery stores with me. Good news for non-Chicagoans, some of these places will ship!

Time to share one of our favorite recipes...

Who doesn't love ribs? These ribs fall off the bone and are so tender.

Barbequed Baby Back Ribs and Garlic Baked Potato

Serves 4

2 slabs baby back ribs
Kosher salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
3 tablespoons your favorite barbeque sauce

Pre-heat oven to 250°F.
Lightly rub Kosher salt, ground black pepper and garlic powder on ribs.
Very lightly baste with BBQ sauce.
Place ribs in roasting pan and add water until half full.
Tightly seal pan with aluminum foil.
Bake for 2 ½ hours or until desired tenderness.
Increase oven temperature to 275°F.
Remove foil and excess liquid from pan.
Baste with a thick coat of barbecue sauce.
Place back in 275°F oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Garlic Baked Potato

Serves 4

4 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).

If you are cooking these with the ribs, you can cook for 1½ hours at 250°F.
Pour extra-virgin olive oil into a plastic bag. Measure the garlic powder and ground black pepper onto a plate, and stir around a little. Coat each potato with extra-virgin olive oil by placing in the bag, and moving it around. Remove from the bag, and dip into the seasoning. Rub seasoning into the potato to coat. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack.
Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the potatoes feel soft when you squeeze them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Avoid Dinner Dread & Hearty Beef Stew

Once I had established a few meals I knew were safe, my husband and I ate a meal rotation of 3-4 meals and it got quite boring after a few weeks. Now is the time to be creative, and open to try things you might not have thought of before.

I never would have eaten salads with fruit in it before, but now it’s one of my favorite meals. You’ll find that your tastes change with this new way of eating, and it’s a good idea to give foods you might not have liked before another try. It is so important to play with different foods and see what you like now since we are limited in our choices. But there are so many interesting, delicious foods out there, it can be a great adventure.

Back to a family classic...
My great grandmother used to make the best beef stew with fresh biscuits and as the weather turns colder, I thought time to make it allergen-free. I am still working on the biscuit part, but cut up toasted allergen-free bread of your choice works nicely for now.

Beef Stew

½ cup seasoned flour (see below)
2 pounds chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 quart hot water
2 cups potatoes, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
½ cup parsnip, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 green pepper, diced
½ cup onion, diced
1½ teaspoons Kosher salt
2 beef bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Beef Base

Roll chuck in seasoned flour (see below).
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add extra-virgin olive oil and brown chuck thoroughly.
Cover with hot water.
Simmer 2 hours, adding water if necessary.
Add remaining ingredients and cook 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add Roux to stew to thicken (if necessary, a roux is equal parts fat and flour - I use ½ rice flour and ½ potato starch in my flour mix)

This dish is better the next day if you can wait!

Seasoned Flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup rice flour
¼ cup potato starch
½ teaspoon paprika

Mix together and store in air-tight container in cool dry place.

Lost in Translation and Crock Pot Maple Syrup Baked Beans

When I was first diagnosed with allergies, I wanted so desperately to find substitutions for the foods I loved; and with great effort and time I kept trying to recreate favorites like pizza, lasagna, cakes and cookies with just minimal success. There are products out there for pizza; however, the difference in taste from what I knew was so vast that I decided it was better to do without. Of course making food substitutions will be different for everyone; but the point is some things just don’t translate that don’t include the allergens we can’t eat. With that said, it is important to keep trying, maybe you won’t make the best gluten, wheat, and dairy-free pizza, but instead you might invent a new recipe you absolutely love that is something else altogether. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so enjoy the ride, but don’t get too frustrated if you can’t have everything you once did. Your well being depends on your new choices.

These baked beans are delicious and easy to make, I use my crock pot so there is little to do once you have it in the pot.

Crock Pot Maple Syrup Baked Beans

Serves: 12

2 cups great white northern dried beans
4 slices bacon, diced
2 cups onions, finely diced
1 cup reserved bean liquid
1 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1½ cups real maple syrup
½ cup tomato puree
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Soak beans overnight in cold water.
Drain and cover with cold water in 5-quart stock pot.
Bring beans to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
Drain reserving liquid.
Mix other ingredients and add with beans in crock pot, cook on high for one hour.
Reduce heat to low and cook for 6-8 hours.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Shopping-Wise and Chicken Vesuvio Your Family Will Love

Another thing I had to change for my new lifestyle is where I shopped. I could still buy the products I needed at the main grocery store where I normally shopped. But now I’m buying a lot more fruits and vegetables, and I found it was helpful to look in other places for the best deals. Check out the following stores to see if they have products that your family likes:

· Fruit/Vegetable Stands or Farmer’s Markets
· Discount buying stores like Costco and Sam’s Club
· Organic/Health Food Stores
· Extreme Specialty Stores– These stores have great selections of allergen-free products, if you are looking for that great bread you can find some really great mixes in these stores.

And if you like a product that you can’t find in your local store, ask your grocer to stock it, often they will. If we all start asking for the foodstuffs we want, our choices, selections, and shopping will start to change for the better.

This recipe is one of my favorites, the pan juices make the chicken so tender and juicy. Sometimes if I don't have a whole chicken, I use thighs or whatever I have as long as it has the bone.

Chicken Vesuvio

1 whole chicken, cut in pieces
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
½ cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, sliced length-wise and lightly blanched
1 cup frozen peas

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Partially boil potatoes, cut in quarters and set aside.
Lightly season chicken with Kosher salt and ground black pepper.
To a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, garlic and chicken skin side down.
Brown first side (about 5-7 minutes and flip).
Add white wine, chicken stock, garlic powder, Kosher salt, oregano, ground black pepper and Italian flat leaf parsley.
Remove chicken from heat and add quartered potatoes.
Place chicken in oven for 15 minutes, baste and add frozen peas.
Cook another 45 minutes or until thigh is internal temperature of 180°F.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rethinking/Restocking My New Life and Yummy Chili

When I first was diagnosed with food allergies, I went home, I went to the kitchen, opened the door and critically surveyed our fridge. I quickly realized there was little there I could eat. Bread – gone; cheese – gone; milk – gone; sugar - gone.

I had no idea that my allergens are ingredients for many products that you wouldn’t think contained them. Canned tomato soup has gluten, rice mixes have dairy; I really needed to empty my pantry and start all over.

My first visit to the grocery store was equally shocking, I thought I could easily find and substitute other brands of products that I loved but realized that most of the center aisles of grocery stores had just become off-limits to me.

And so the journey began, reading each and every label to make sure there were no ingredients that contained allergens. The bad news, and to make matters worse, you couldn’t just do it once and know that food was safe, you had to do it EVERY TIME to make sure the manufacturer hadn’t changed the way the way the product was produced. The good news is once you have gone thru this process a few times you know how to navigate around the grocery store to find just what you need.

It is kind of fun to scan the shelves for new products because the market for these types of products is growing very rapidly, and the selection of products keeps increasing. Don’t fall into the trap of getting the same thing each time, I just found the best banana bread my husband and I could eat and hardly know the difference.

Now for the chili!

My great grandmother made this for us when the weather turned cool. The recipe calls for canned beans, I prefer to start with dried beans, but either way the recipe has got me nothing but raves, so enjoy!

Gram’s Famous Chili

Enough to feed an army! Party food you can share.

2½ pounds ground chuck
1 pound ground lean pork
4 cups tomatoes
4 cups pinto beans, canned
4 green peppers, diced
8 medium onions, chopped
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1½ teaspoons ground black pepper
1½ teaspoons ground cumin

Put tomatoes and pinto beans in large stock pot and put aside.
In sauté pan on medium-high heat, add extra-virgin olive oil and sauté green peppers, onions, garlic and Italian flat leaf parsley (this may require you to break up into several pans, adding too much to one pan will steam the vegetables instead of sautéing). Add to stock pot.
In another sauté pan on medium-high heat, sauté ground chuck and pork (you may have to use multiple pans).
Add chili powder, Kosher salt, ground black pepper and ground cumin to meat and stir thoroughly.
Add meat to stock pot, stir well and simmer 1½ hours.