Detour

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So far, this has turned out to be an okay deployment :-) We were on our way to the desert yesterday, when one of the plane engines went out and we had to land at an Air Force base in New Hampshire.  They promised we’d stop in England, they just didn’t say New England :-) {Just a little history about me: I’ve been in the Air National Guard for almost 9 years and yesterday we were on our way overseas for a month long deployment.} We were told we’d be here through out the weekend and I’m on a mission to get some of these guys I’m with to go to Boston with me for the day.  It’s about an hour outside of Portsmouth, NH.

Last night we ate at the Portsmouth Brewery.  It was very good!  I had the Brewery seasonal salad which came with mixed greens tossed with a lemon-tarragon vinaigrette with red onion, balsamic-grilled pears and pumpkin seeds.  I added grilled chicken to it and filled me up.  The guys (I’m the only girl on this deployment) all had their seasonal beers while I sipped on a local cider.  It was good but not like any other hard cider I’ve tasted.  It tasted like a very dry white wine, so it paired well with the salad.


This morning, a co-worker and I ventured all around the downtown area of Portsmouth.  It’s a very cute town and I am in love with the New England architecture.  While we were out and about, we stumbled upon this restaurant called The Friendly Toast.  Thankfully, they had the menu outside so I could look to see if it was a place that was somewhat “gluten friendly”.  As soon as I saw “All pancakes can be made gluten free” I was sold.  This place was very random.  It was a diner/bar and they had a pretty big menu.  I thought I had wanted gluten free pancakes until I saw their omelet selections so I rolled with New Hampshire’s Finest (local goast cheese, asparagus, scallions, & bacon).  I was all set to take a picture, but I devoured it once it got to the table.  It was that good.  I would definitely go back there to try their gluten free pancakes! 

Old board games on the wall (Clue, Candy Land, etc.)
complete randomness all over the walls
The women’s toilet seat contained candy.  M&Ms, gummy worms, lifesavers.  The most bizarre toilet seat I’ve ever seen.

Tonight, we’re on a mission for a lobster tail and hopefully Boston on Saturday.  There’s only so much of downtown Portsmouth to explore.

My First visit to Swirlz

Yesterday, Larry and I ventured over to the heart of Lincoln Park to attend Swirlz customer appreciation party.  They had music playing, free cupcakes, raffles, a balloon artist and free beer tasting from Goose Island.  They were also passing around frosting shots that had vanilla frosting & Demolition beer in them.  I made Larry try one because I couldn’t and he said they were surprisingly very good.

I enjoyed a free GF/vegan vanilla cupcake.  Amazing!  When I heard that they would be giving away free cupcakes, I expected the mini ones.  There was nothing mini about this cupcake.  I was also pleased with the amount of gluten free and vegan treats they had to choose from.  I love Sprinkles, but the only problem with them is, is that they only offer one type of gluten free cupcake and as much as I love red velvet, it’s nice to have some other options.  So of course I had to purchase 3 more gluten free cupcakes :-) I bought a vanilla cupcake with pumpkin flavored frosting, a banana cupcake with nutella frosting and a banana cupcake with chocolate frosting.  So far I’ve eaten the vanilla with pumpkin and the banana with nutella frosting.  Oh. So. Good.  I was a little hesitant with the pumpkin frosting, but it tasted like a creamy pumpkin pie.  The Banana nutella cupcake was also very good.

After I ate my free cupcake, and Larry was done tasting his beer, we went outside where they were holding the raffles.  They called out a few names and the people weren’t there.  And then they called Larry’s name!  We NEVER win anything!  He won a free t-shirt which he gave to me & a pin that says “Cupcakes make people happy”.  Swirlz, has now become my go to place for  cupcakes in the city.

Friday Night Pizza Night

In our house, Friday nights are usually designated pizza & a movie night.  After the long work week, it’s just nice to relax & unwind at home.  Before I went gluten free, our choices were usually Lou Malnatti’s & Homemade Pizza Co.  But last night, we had to switch things up a bit.

I used a GF pizza crust from Against the Grain that I purchased at Whole Foods.  Before it went into the oven, it didn’t look like like a typical pizza crust, it reminded me more of a pastry shell.  I topped it with pizza sauce, mushrooms, onions, spinach, chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s and mozzarella cheese.

The pizza turned out very good.  The edges were crispy and the texture was just as a pizza crust should be.  My husband said that he couldn’t even tell it was gluten free, and as a Chicago boy, he is very picky about his pizza.  I would definitely use this crust again. 

Fall is in the Air

 
Fall is making its way to Chicago, and I’m loving every minute of it!  Unfortunately, I won’t be here to enjoy the month of October (military duty calls!) so I have to make the most of this crisp weather while I can.  One my favorite things about Fall is the hearty and comforting foods that come along with it.  Tonight, I decided to try a new recipe of a classic dish.  This chili turned out VERY good and will definitely be making an appearance again.  One thing that I didn’t do was add the ground chipotle chile because I didn’t have it.  I just added a little bit more chili powder to give it a little kick.  

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
(adapted from EatingWell)
Servings:  4;  about 2 cups each
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 4 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, chipotle and salt and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the sweet potato is tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Add beans, tomatoes and lime juice; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

I ate this with a side of Udi’s gluten free bread toasted and a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella, because what’s chili without a little bit of cheese? Enjoy!

Gluten Free-Week One

The day after I found out I was gluten intolerant, I was set to spend the week in Wisconsin with my mom because I had to do some work up there.  The timing of this unfortunate news couldn’t have been better.  My mom has been gluten free for over a year now because of her own health issues, so she was able to offer me some advice and guidance.  I was doing so well until I got to my friend’s bridal shower on Sunday.  I made sure to eat a good breakfast at my parents house before I went, because I didn’t know what I’d be able to eat there.  Navigating my first social event where none of my girlfriends knew about my condition was a bit overwhelming.

  I stuck mostly with fruit, taco dip & corn tortilla chips.  And then there were cupcakes.  Pink Chamapgne cupcakes to be exact.  My weakness in life is sweets.  And these I couldn’t resist.  I only had a few bites.  Needless to say, I was not feeling so great by the end of the night.  They were good, but definitely not worth feeling sick over.  
It’s only been a week with my gluten free diet (with the exception of my slip up last Sunday), but I am already noticing some changes in body.  The two major things: No stomach aches after eating & a HUGE surge of energy.  Last night I went home, gave the pup and bath, cleaned the bathroom, did laundry and made dinner. Normally, I wouldn’ve maybe done one or two of those things.  I love being productive after work!  And this morning I made it to a 6am Bar Method class.
The one thing I’m going to miss with my modified diet is SugarBliss cupcakes.  They’re the best I’ve ever had in Chicago.  Unfortunately, they don’t offer any GF items. So yesterday, I set out to Sprinkles for a GF Red Velvet cupcake.     
Verdict?

It was amazeballs.
Cream cheese frosting? Yes and it was awesome.  The cupcake itself was not all dry and it tasted just like a red velvet cupcake should. The best part? I felt fine after eating it.  Thank you Sprinkles for providing me with a GF cupcake I can get on board with. 
Here’s where you can get your GF red velvet cupcake:

Located off Chicago’s historic Magnificent Mile between Michigan Avenue and Rush Street, this bakery’s breathtaking 40-foot modern dot façade towers over the historic Gold Coast’s shopping district near Water Tower Place and John Hancock Center.
50 east walton street
chicago, illinois 60611

between michigan & rush
1 block south of oak street
phone 312. 573 1600 (312) 573-1600