Saturday, November 23, 2013

Gluten Free for Thanksigving

We will again be hosting Thanksgiving this year for my parents at our house (and I say "hosting" loosely, because my mom does as much of the cooking as I do) and again be bringing gluten free into the mix so that one of my favorite holidays, doesn't end up making me sick.

One would think Thanksgiving would be an easy gluten free holiday, since the main components are meat and potatoes, but it can be more challenging than that. Many turkeys are infused with flavorings that are not gluten free, and pre-stuffed ones are obviously out of the question.

Last year, I thought the only place to get a gluten free fresh turkey would be Whole Foods, and ended up spending $45 for a turkey. This year, things are looking better, as Wegmans has gluten free fresh turkeys (and when I called they said all their fresh and frozen turkey are gluten free) for $.59 a pound--awesome!

Also, I'm going to try and track down some gluten free stuffing this year. My friend Amy over at the Savvy Celiac just did a review and picked her favorite gluten free stuffing, Aleia, which is available at Giant stores in the DC area it appears.

My parents enjoy traditional dressing instead of stuffing, so they usually buy some from the grocery store deli and scoop it individually on their plates, as to not cross contaminate.

Making pies for Thanksgiving is a huge tradition in our family, and this year I'll be making an apple pie with the Williams Sonoma Gluten Free Pie Crust Mix. I can't wait to try it! The past two years I used my mom's pie crust recipe, substituting in Glutino Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Mix, and although I love that blend for most baking, it didn't cut it for pie crust, and was rather dry. Williams Sonoma has a great variety of gluten free baking mixes; I've tired the chocolate cake and brownies and loved them both, so I'm hoping the pie crust will be the same.

I'm also very excited to try the Trader Joes Cranberry Orange Relish I found there this week. I'm not going to lie, I heard it mentioned on one of their radio ads, and it inspired me to go there to get it. I'm a sucker for good marketing.

I made my own version of Cranberry Orange Relish last year, based on a friend's family recipe, and it was extremely delicious, especially on the leftover turkey sandwiches. I'm hoping Trader Joes doesn't disappoint. It has no gluten containing ingredients, but does say its made in a place where wheat is also present.

For gravy for the mashed potates, I have used a gluten free, pre-made variety that I've found at Whole Foods, and find it good. It's a bit thin, but has good flavor, and is the only gluten free pre-made gravy I've ever been able to find. However, this year, I've decided to try this gravy mix and see how it turns out. I'm hoping its thick with good flavoring.

I'm really looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner this year, and the great leftovers that always follow. I can't wait to watch Austin enjoy his first real Thanksgiving meal (last year he was three weeks old, and still on a milk only diet, poor guy just got to smell all the good food!). I think he will love the turkey, potatoes, stuffing and will think gravy on top of it all is delicious!

Also, the winner of the Old El Paso giveaway is Cori Westphal, who helped me pick, and said her favorite weeknight meal is spaghetti. Congratulations Cori! Thanks everyone for entering and check back for more giveaways in the future.  

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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Giveaway: Old El Paso Meals and Gift Set

Per usual it's been a crazy month. The last week in October, in particular, with Austin turning one, and then Halloween a few days later.

In true fashion, the little guy loved his birthday cake.

Turning one was definitely a bigger deal for mom than it was for Austin. I had a lot of tears putting him to bed one last time as a baby the night before his birthday.

Austin, just knew that he loved having a couple little friends over for his party and opening gifts that he now can't stop playing with.

He had two Halloween parties to attend, and trick or treating, and I think he was very done with his puppy costume by the time the week was over.

I, however, couldn't get enough of how cute he looked in it. He thought trick or treating was okay, but really loved the party at my work where he could crawl around between cubes, and pick out candy (he was really drawn to grabbing Butterfingers, must be something about the yellow).

On crazy weeks like this one, cooking is hard. I try to plan ahead, I have a weekly menu planned out on Sunday that I shop for, and sometimes chop things up, or cook up meat ahead of time. Sometimes though, even with the best intentions that doesn't happen.

So, when General Mills came to me to try their new Old El Paso frozen entree meals, I was sold.
Ben and I tried the Chicken Enchiladas this week. I was impressed to see no gluten ingredients on the list of ingredients (no claims of gluten free though, but for the record, I did not have a reaction). There are other options as well, including burritos and quesadillas.

These enchiladas definitely aren't "clean" food per say, I mean, they're a processed, frozen entree, what do you expect? But they are great for nights when you don't want to get take out, but can't pull off a homemade meal forgot to set out meat to thaw, etc. They were ready in under 30 minutes, and required little prep from me.

Ben said he liked them, but could they could have used more cheese (he complains about that with MY enchiladas too though, recipe found here). He also said that they could have used some sour cream on the side and I agreed (we were out, I like sour cream on all Mexican foods, chillies, etc.). The pan included six enchiladas and Ben and I were perfectly full splitting that with no additional sides.

Old El Paso and General Mills are now offering one of my readers the chance to try these new entrees, with the same prize pack they gave me, which includes:
  • A coupon for a free Old El Paso Frozen Entree
  • $10 Visa Gift Card for fixins with your entree
  • A cute Blue chips and dip serving dish
If you'd like to try and win, leave a comment telling me your favorite week night meal. If you would like an additional entry, tweet about this giveaway and use my twitter handle @AlexaTC and #MyBlogSpark and comment telling me you've tweeted. The giveaway closes on Tuesday, November 12 at 11:59 p.m. and I will e-mail the winner.

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