Gluten Free Vacation! Royal Caribbean-Anthem of the Seas

Hello friends! I realize that it has been a LONG time since I last posted, however, I am coming out of the shadows to share something special with you. My husband and I recently took a cruise to Bermuda to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We researched several travel options, and settled on Royal Caribbean, “Anthem of the Seas.” The reason we chose Royal Caribbean, is because we had read they had GF options. We didn’t know what all that meant, but we took a chance. Thankfully, we had an AMAZING trip, the food was great, and I didn’t get sick once! That, friends, is worth writing about. 🙂
I have taken the time to document the food and menus for you, so you don’t have to wonder about your options like I did.

Here are the restaurants I visited, the menus, and the food I ordered….

  1. Cafe270 – Just a small cafe with sandwiches, soup and beverages. This was the only restaurant opened when we boarded the ship, but they made it easy for me by having GF sandwiches already prepared (on their own, ship-made GF bread). This restaurant was free. the cafe 270 sandwhiches
  2. Windjammer Marketplace – Every blog post I read basically said “steer clear of the buffet” however, my experience was great. I met with the head Chef who walked me through the entire buffet telling me what was/was not GF. We ate at this buffet everyday for breakfast. The back of the ship was where the GF area was. There was a dedicated toaster, fresh baked bread (and raisin bread) Udi’s bagels, made to order omelets and bacon. I didn’t even bother looking elsewhere. This restaurant was free. BREAKFAST

     

    DINNER – We didn’t eat “dinner” here, but second dinner and snacks 🙂 They have a lot of fruits and assorted cheeses, a pasta area where they can prepare GF pasta. The entire staff in this area was East Indian, and they made some amazing GF curry and butter chicken. They also have a GF area with deserts and more bread. It’s easy to snack here and they have plenty.

    3. Sorrento’s Pizza – There is a little pizza joint on the ship that has amazing pizza! They have GF crusts on a foil pan, and make them to order. I had a few of these pizzas, and even took them back to my room. Honestly, one of the better GF pizzas I’ve had! This restaurant was free. 1. sorrentos pizza

4. The Grande- This is one of the formal evening dining restaurants. Honestly, not my favorite. The food was okay, but not great. As you might be able to tell, the GF options are marked on the menu. I ate there twice. First night I had duck a lorange, tomato watermelon feta salad, creme brulee and olive oil cremeux. The second time was pan-seared snapper and chilled shrimp. This restaurant was free.

5. Chic– the other formal evening restaurant. Again, not our favorite. The food was okay but not great. These GF options on this menu were also marked. I had the broiled atlantic salmon (not pictured) the lentil soup, and the salmon gravlax.

6. Jamie’s Italian– this restaurant cost us an additional $30 for lunch, but was well worth it. Our second favorite restaurant. They can substitute any of their regular pasta dishes with GF pasta (a very good one) Everything we ate here was SO delicious! They even went to the trouble to fry the posh chips in their own pan so it wouldn’t be fried in their regular fryer.

7. Chops Grille– This was another restaurant we had to pay additionally for. I believe it was $40 per person. The steak was amazing, however the sides weren’t anything special. I had the crispy goat cheese salad (not pictured), the pan roasted scallops (not pictured), and the filet mignon. The menu did not show GF options, but the chef was happy to come explain my options to me.

8. Wonderland– a beautiful blend of whimsy and molecular gastronomy! Surprisingly, this was our FAVORITE restaurant! This restaurant was the most expensive, costing us $50 each, but well worth it! The GF menu options weren’t marked, so we had to rely on our server to bring us GF food. He took the lead and brought us an amazing feast! I had several GF versions of the same thing my husband was brought. Liquid olive, liquid lobster, crispy crab cone, baby vegetables in the garden, buffalo chicken egg, oceanic citrus spicy tuna, a HUGE beef short rib, roasted chicken, halibut, baked Alaska, key lime lollipops, and molten chocolate cake…. oh my. I am salivating just remembering what an amazing experience it was!

9. Drinks– we opted for the non-alcoholic package which ran us $19 each per day, I believe. It included bottled water, tea, coffee, Starbucks drinks, virgin cocktails, soda, and fresh made smoothes in the adults only Solarium. I checked out the drink mixers, and everything I checked was GF. So if you go with the alcohol package, you’ll have to made sure your drinks are made with GF liquor.

 

Overall, this was a GREAT experience! For 5 days were well fed, and I didn’t get sick once! Yay! For us, that is well worth it. The staff was very competent and trained in gluten allergies, as well as other allergies. My husband took a tour of the ship, which included the area where all the GF food is prepared. All the GF bread is baked in a special area and the bread is available at every meal. Everyone took time to make sure I had what I needed. So, if you are looking for a great GF travel experience, I would highly recommend the Royal Caribbean “Anthem of the Seas” cruise! Even though this blog was dedicated to the dining experience, the whole vacation rocked! Hope this information helps someone out there!
Happy Gluten-Free Travel! You deserve it!

Vietnamese Pho-Chicken Noodle Soup


Today, I reveal my most favorite food.

Vietnamese Pho!

I don’t know when I decided it was my favorite, but I can assure you it has earned the coveted title.
While there are many other foods I really love, I can’t think of any that contain the goodness, flavor and purity that pho does. I crave it when I feel sick, and I know it’s good for both body and soul.

Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is the most popular food in Vietnam, often eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is made from a special broth that simmers for several hours infused with exotic spices and served over rice noodles with fresh herbs. Its broth is unmistakable, and if you find a recipe that doesn’t call for special spices, then it’s not Pho….that’s pho sho…

It does take some effort to prepare…and if you have never eaten pho before, I recommend you go to a reputable Vietnamese restaurant and try it first before making it, so you know what flavors you are looking for.

The most popular pho soup is the beef, which I also love, but today we will make chicken because I was in the mood…and there is just something about chicken broth that makes me feel like a million bucks.

So without phother ado-

Vietnamese Chicken Pho Recipe

Makes 4 quarts of soup, or 4 large bowls

2 Tbsp fish sauce (check ingredients for GF)
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp rock sugar (or regular sugar)
2 Tbsp coriander seeds
½ tsp cloves
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 onions
1 knub ginger
1 4-5lb chicken
2 pounds chicken bones (optional)
Green Onion
Rice noodles-medium thickness

Garnishings
Lime
Cilantro
Thai Basil
Thai chilis or jalapeno
Bean Sprouts
Sriracha

The broth of the Pho is the most important part. The addition of the spices, ginger and onion are imperative for the authentic flavor.

Start by charring your onions and ginger. Cut onions and ginger in half and place under the broiler on the top rack for 15 minutes or until charred. You could also grill them if you have a grill. Once charred remove from heat and peel away charred parts.

Rinse your chicken and add to a large stock pot (12 quart). Add 5 quarts of water, the chicken bones (if you have them) the ginger and onions, and the fish sauce, sugar and salt.
Toast your cinnamon, star anise, coriander, and cloves over medium heat for about 30 seconds to a minutes. Add to pot. (You can collect the spices in a tea ball or infuser if you have one, although it’s not really necessary.)

Bring to boil. Once boiled, bring heat down to medium/medium low until it is simmering.
After 30-45 minutes remove your chicken and let cool. Continue to simmer broth.
Once cooled, de-bone your chicken and return carcass to pot. Tear chicken into bite size pieces and set aside.

Continue to simmer broth for an additional 1-2 hours. Taste the broth to adjust salt/sweetness to your preference. Once cooked, strain broth through a fine mesh sieve.

(Please note, you can eat your soup at this point, but if the broth is too fatty you may want to refrigerate the broth overnight and remove hardened fat. Reheat the broth and continue recipe.)

Add the chicken pieces back into the broth. Chop up a couple of green onions and add to soup.

Cook your rice noodles according to package.

To assemble your soup, add your cooked rice noodles to a large bowl, then ladle the chicken soup over the noodles. Add cilantro, thai basil, lime, chili pepper and bean sprouts. Add a little sriracha for added heat if you’d like.

Enjoy!

The best tostada you’ll ever eat!

Hello world.

Sorry for the recent hiatus, my family had a bad run in with a pretty vicious stomach bug the past few weeks.

Anyway, I am here now and I want to share a simple recipe with you that I make every week. Sometimes a couple of times a week. The great thing about this recipe is that is only takes a few minutes to make. Literally 3 minutes.

Also, it tastes really good. “The best tostada I’ve ever eaten!” is exactly what my dad said when I made him one.

Easy.

Lastly, I apologize for the quality of my pics…they were taken with my iphone because my husband has the camera somewhere else.

Okay….

Gluten-free tostada recipe

Ingredients:
Tostada’s (either cooked or raw) (2 per person)
full-fat refried beans-1 can
GF taco seasoning
jalapeno jack cheese or comparable
tomatoes-2
avocados-1-2
sriracha sauce

Firstly, season your tostada with a little GF taco spice. I bought the premade tostadas here, it’s much easier, however, it DOES taste better when you fry your own. I normally fry my own, but alas, a fly recently passed away in my oil, so until I take care of the matter, its premade for me.

So season your tostada. Warm about half a can of beans in the microwave for 1 minute. 1 can covers 4-5 tostadas, so heat accordingly.

Once you put your beans on, then add a little sriracha sauce. This is no joke, this sauce will make or break your tostada so don’t skimp. (it’s our little secret)

Now add your cheese.

Next your tomatoes and avocado. Finish with a little sprinkle of salt.

3 minutes. Delicious.

Enjoy!

 

Gluten-free General Tso’s Chicken!

Gluten-free General Tso’s Chicken!

One time a few years back I tried this thing….this “Master Cleanse”…You might have heard about it. It’s a liquid fast where you only drink water mixed with cayenne, lemon, and maple syrup. Well, anyway, I was supposed to be on it for a full week, but after three days I started to crave some Chinese food in a…well….lets say…violent manner.
It was the middle of winter and I remember leaving my apartment at nearly 10 at night and roaming the streets of Canada for an hour in search of the perfect Chinese food to satisfy my hunger.
The only thing that would make a woman walk the city streets, alone, in the middle of the night, during a cold winter for an hour is…an MSG addiction. I am sure of it.
I think at that moment my body had  started to detox some serious Chinese food and my body was in total rebellion.

Anyway, the point is that I love Chinese food. I have since started to curb my MSG intake, and now that I have celiac, I can no longer order chinese takeout.
So, the next best thing would be making it myself. (however, I will forever miss ordering Chinese take out… with their massive servings, low prices, and of course…fortune cookies…)
So here we will make General Tso’s Chicken. We will make it gluten-free. But most importantly, we will make it delicious.

I would tell you all about the origins of the recipe, but no one really knows where it originated. There are stories….probably New York. But none of that matters when you are having a violent MSG withdraw…so lets get cooking before you get lost in a winter storm.

 Gluten-free General Tso’s Chicken Recipe

Serves 2 small portions or 1 large portion

Cost per serving $2.50

1 large chicken breast-chopped (or two small)
1 egg
1/2 cup cornstarch plus 1/2 Tbsp
1/2 onion-sliced
3 cloves garlic-chopped
3-5 small red chilis some chopped, some whole
1 green pepper-chopped
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 Tbsp mirin (sweet rice cooking wine)
2 Tbsp Gluten Free soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp Gluten Free oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds
oil for frying
White rice for serving

(note: for extra sauceiness try doubling the liquid ingredients.)

Start by mixing your gluten-free soy sauce, gluten-free oyster sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil in a bowl and set aside.
Chop your garlic, onion and bell peppers.

Warm your frying oil by pouring a few cups of oil into a saucepan and place over med-high heat. In a separate saucepan heat a couple of Tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add your onion, bell pepper and garlic and saute until browned.
Once your vegetables are browned, add your chicken broth and let simmer until vegetables are tender. (Cook for about 10-15 minutes while you are preparing the chicken. If you need more liquid in the pan, add more chicken broth)

Mix sauce, heat oil, chop veges, cook veges

Dice your chicken and set aside. In a separate bowl whisk an egg. Add a little salt and pepper. Add your cut chicken in the egg mixture. Remove chicken from the egg mixture and add to a container with a fitted lit. Add in your cornstarch, cover, and shake until coated well.
Once your oil is hot, carefully add in your chicken and fry until brown, around 5 minutes.
Once done, remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to dry.

Make your Chicken!

Once your chicken is done you can make your sauce. Make sure your onions and bell peppers are tender, then add in your soy sauce mixture to the same saucepan. Also add in your chilis. (leave whole or chop for more heat) Before you finish your sauce, taste. Make any adjustments at this time.  Should be slightly sweet and spicy.

Once mixture is heated through, add 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch to thicken sauce. (mix cornstarch with small amount of hot water first.) Once sauce starts to thicken, immediately remove from heat, and stir in your chicken.

Add cornstarch, let thicken and add chicken. Mix to coat!

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with rice.

Yummy!

General Tso’s…Gluten Free!

YUMMY!

Lastly, I recently met an awesome gluten-free blogger named Chandice who does a lot of GF giveaways…If you are gluten intolerant you can check out her site at www.glutenfreefrenzy.com.

Have a wonderful day!

Ain’t no party like a Queso Fundido party!

Queso. Cheese dip. Queso blanco. Queso fundido. Take your pick…

For some reason making this queso was difficult.
Well, not making this queso, but rather, the journey to find out how to make queso.
In case you didn’t know, there aren’t a lot of queso recipes out there.
Correction…there aren’t very many good queso recipes out there.

Of course you could always go with Velveeta and rotell…but I am a little opposed to
Velveeta…

Although I do have an aversion to American cheese, it works. Other cheeses don’t. Trust me I tried. I made the same recipe with Mexican melting cheese and it was rubbery and stringy. I saw recipes for Monterrey jack, but following the recipes were hundreds of disappointed commenters saying it was stringy.
Sorry folks…until you can prove me wrong…American cheese it is.

Good news is that it does taste good! I would liken it to Appleebees queso blanco.

I ate some of it when I made it…but I ate the rest the next morning. I hadn’t even refrigerated it! (Gross I know) I think it tasted better the next day.

So here you have it….QUESO FUNDIDO!!!
(This recipe is gluten free-but always check your ingredients yourself!)

Queso Fundido recipe with fresh chips and guacamole

Serves 2-4

Cost per serving $1.70 (including chips and guac)

3 Tbsp heavy cream
3 Tbsp canned diced jalapeño
3 Tbsp canned green chili
1 Anaheim pepper-chopped
½ Onion-chopped
½ tomato chopped
½ lb American cheese-shredded
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro-chopped
1 tsp GF taco seasoning
GF corn tortillas
Cilantro
Avocados
Oil for frying

First chop your tomato, onion and Anaheim chili.

Chop Chop!

Grate your American cheese and set aside.

Grate your cheese

Now sauté your onion and Anaheim pepper until brown.
Transfer to saucepan over medium heat. Add tomato, jalapeno, and green chili.
Add your cream and grated cheese and stir well.
Add in your cilantro and taco seasoning and lower heat.

Mix and melt

Cut your corn tortillas into fours and fry over medium high heat.
Once browned, remove from oil and let dry on paper towels.
Salt while hot. (You can also sprinkle on some GF taco seasoning if you’d like)

Homemade chips!

Mash your avocado and add salt and fresh lime juice.

Make your guacamole

YUMMY!

Devour!

Even baby Glory loved it!

Baby Glory likes it!

Here are some other takes on queso;

livelovepasta-queso fundido

sweetlifebake-queso fundido

 

ENJOY!