Chocolate cake w/ raspberry creme frosting

With the IC diet restrictions, I am learning about those foods that are MUSTS to avoid, such as soy, and those that I can have once in awhile, like chocolate. A little bit every now and then doesn’t cause me any difficulties. Depending on where I am eating for a holiday, sometimes there aren’t any dessert choices I can have. For Thanksgiving, Eli offered to make a dessert that I could eat and suggested making a chocolate cake with raspberry puree. This is what evolved out of that idea.

We’ve found that for baking and deserts, King Arthur flours pretty much rock. We love their pancake mix and their muffin mix. Lately, Eli’s been using their All-Purpose Gluten Free Baking Mix and has had a lot of success making desserts.

For this cake, she used the chocolate cupcake recipe on the box to make the cake. She doubled it for the two layer cake she made.

chocolate cake

While the cake cooled, she made a raspberry puree for the middle of the cake. She used a 10 oz package of frozen raspberries, a bit of maple syrup to sweeten them, and lots of cornstarch (at least a quarter cup) to make it thick enough so it didn’t run over the sides or soak into the cake. She pureed the raspberries in a blender and used a strainer to get rid of the seeds.

rasp puree.JPG

One of the cake layers developed a sort of San Andreas Cake Fault in the cooling process. Unfortunately we don’t have a photo of how awesome the fault was, but suffice it to say the layer was nearly two halves. So, once the puree was cool enough, she spread it on top of the non-fault layer. Then she carefully placed the other layer on top.

For the frosting, we opted to make a raspberry vanilla buttercream frosting using 1/2 cup butter, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and about a cup of raspberries. After we frosted it, we added some raspberries on top.

rasp choc cake

The cake turned out to be really tasty. Since we didn’t use a lot of maple syrup in the puree, the raspberry was a nice contrast with the chocolate and the frosting. We’ll definitely be trying this one again.

Chronic health issues and mindfulness

Many years ago when I was visiting Vermont with my best friend and her family, her father made a comment that stuck with me (for a variety of reasons). I was eating something, I can’t recall what, when he said “I hope you never gain weight, because you love food too damn much to not be able to eat whatever you want”.  At the time, I didn’t realize how much I conveyed my love of eating while I was eating (apparently I make mmm mmm noises as I eat). While I’ve never really worried much about my weight (and really, why bother, there are so many other things in life to get worked up about), now I do have to worry about what I eat. And it sucks.

The diagnosis of IC has been a hard adjustment for me. I already had a restricted diet, since gluten and dairy were already triggers for my belly. I eliminated all the triggers recommended when I was first diagnosed with IC and have been slowly adding them back in. At this point in the process, I’m aware of a number of different foods that either cause an IC flare, or cause problems with my stomach. So far, I know I can’t have soy, citrus fruits, onions, root beer, vinegar, chocolate, blackberries, cheese, strawberries, apples, garlic and tomatoes. I avoid the foods labeled with “caution” on the IC Food List, and sometimes try the ones listed as “try it”. Yet, I still struggle and feel deprived at times.

In reality, I know that I am not all that deprived. I have plenty of food to sustain me on a daily basis and don’t have to worry about going hungry. Yet it is a pain to have to plan meals out in advance every single day. I can’t forget lunch and grab something quickly because that will result in painful consequences that will last a week or more. I can’t just go to a party or out to eat with friends–I have to plan ahead to figure out if there will be food I can eat. And if not, I have to eat before I go. I also have to communicate with friends, acquaintances, and co-workers to clarify what will be served and what I can and cannot eat. Sometimes these conversations are uncomfortable. When I practice mindfulness all of this is a bit easier to cope with. It helps me be more intentional about planning meals, and more aware of the reactions I am having to my food choices. If you are struggling with food allergies and aren’t practicing mindfulness, I highly encourage you to give it a try. Check out these sites for more information on mindfulness practice:

http://www.mindful.org/

http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness

Chicken Soup-Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg chicken breasts
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 and 1/2 cups veggies (peas, carrots, and/or whatever you like)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1/4 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 tbsp sage
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Dissolve/mix flour into chicken broth and milk
  2. Add all the other ingredients
  3. Put into crockpot
  4. Cook on high for about 3 hours.

Next time I think we’ll add celery. It came out more soupy than stew-like. Maybe more flour next time or maybe some cornstarch next time.

 

Date night in Cleveland

While in Cleveland visiting family and friends, we set aside a night to go out on a date. There are a lot more restaurant options for me in Cleveland than in Las Cruces, so we were pretty excited. After searching the internet for a bit, I came across some info on the Black Pig and decided that would be a great spot for dinner.

2015-07-10 20.01.52The Black Pig is located in Ohio City, a historic neighborhood on Cleveland’s west side and home to the amazing West Side Market. I moved from Cleveland in 1995 and have visited Ohio City maybe a handful of times, and the last time was at least 5 years ago or more. There are a lot more restaurants than I recall from my last visit.

For dinner, we sat outside, which was lovely since eating outside in the summer is just not possible in the desert. I opted for the roasted half chicken (without ricotta) and Eli had the steak. Both of our dinners were excellent and the service was warm and friendly.2015-07-10 21.32.20

After dinner we decided to walk around the neighborhood a bit, since it was such a lovely evening. It was a Thursday, so there weren’t a lot of people out, but certainly more than you see out most nights where we live! We decided to drop by the Market Avenue Wine Bar for a glass of wine. We loved our wine so much we decided to stay and have more. What a great place! The bartenders were knowledgeable and very friendly. I had the best viognier I’ve ever tasted and swore I made a note in Evernote about it, but can’t find it. Eli enjoyed a moscato. We decided that next time we head to Cleveland, we’ll certainly drop back for a glass of wine (or two).

Zucchini Sushi Rolls

Tracie and I are gearing up for our wedding in a month and a half, which means we’ve spent a lot of time looking at different food items that she, and some of our other reluctantly high maintenance foodie friends, can eat without triggering anything.  (I have a Pintrest board of recipes I’m going to try and modify in the near future.)

Since we found a caterer who is sensitive to food issues, it gives me space to try some of the things on that board.  Today, I went with the zucchini sushi rolls that I pinned from In Sonnet’s Kitchen. I followed the recipe I found there pretty much verbatim, except that since Tracie can’t do cashews and she can do rice, we used organic California sushi rice instead of the soaked, pureed cashews.

2015-07-25 18.20.11-2

Essentially, here’s what you do:

  1. Slice zucchini using either a vegetable peeler as was suggested, or a mandolin (which is what I used. Fancy, I know).
  2. Put rice, vegetables, avocado, cream cheese, cilantro… and/or whatever you like, at one end of the zucchini.
  3. Roll
  4. After the first go (below) I got toothpicks to stick in the rolls, as they kept coming unrolled.

They came out well, if I do say so myself.

2015-07-25 18.54.14

They came out so well that I made them again the next day for Sunday Dinner with our framily.

 

Adobo Grill-Indianaoplis

Eating out brings a lot of anxiety and uncertainty given my food sensitivities and allergies. I’ve found that some waitstaff are more knowledgable than others. Those who lack knowledge make me nervous. Those who are willing to ask folks in the kitchen more questions always make me feel a bit more relaxed.

We were in Indy visiting family and wanted to a date night out. We searched for different places that had gluten free menu options. After some deliberating, we chose a Mexican place, the Adobo Grill. Perhaps we were missing home after being in the Midwest for nearly two weeks.

2015-07-16 19.26.46When we entered the restaurant we were promptly greeted and I asked about a gluten free menu. Instead of a look of confusions, extended time searching for a menu, the host happily provided us one and seated us. Our waitress arrived at our table soon after. I explained some my food restrictions, and we ordered drinks and some guacamole (mixed table side, so I was able to choose what they put in). When the waitress came back to take our order, she told me she had checked with the the kitchen and identified the times on the menu that I could eat. She also reminded me not to eat any of my partner’s meal as it had ingredients that I could not have. All of this was conveyed with warmth and kindness, making me feel like I wasn’t a nuisance to be dealt with.

2015-07-16 19.27.00I had salmon, and it was really tasty. Eli had enchiladas, which she really enjoyed. The guacamole was really tasty and fresh. Overall, it was a really tasty meal.

The service was the most outstanding aspect of the evening, through. Being treated with such warmth and care went a long way toward me feeling relaxed and enjoying my meal. The folks at this restaurant are nice people who really care about their customers. I will certainly visit them again the next time I am in Indy.

Enchiladas and Happiness

Enchiladas might be might be my favorite food of all time. Especially when super hot and topped with an over-easy egg.

But chile, of any variety, is on the no-go list for Tracie. She’s also a little tired of your mundane chicken dish. I, mighty Chef eli, took to the internet to see if I could satisfy her desire for a more interesting chicken dish and my desire for some tasty enchis. What I came up with was a chicken enchilada with a red pepper sauce (and almond cheese, because, you know: lactose intolerant).

Red pepper chicken enchiladas. View original on Instagram at https://instagram.com/p/4RhfyaSNcW

Red pepper chicken enchiladas. View original on Instagram at https://instagram.com/p/4RhfyaSNcW

So recipe.

Red Pepper Sauce
*Note: Canned chicken for us = not an option, so I had the chicken breasts cooking in the toaster oven while I was working on the red pepper sauce.

6 large red peppers
~1/4 cup chicken stock
salt, pepper, and whatever other seasonings strike your fancy (or you can have with your diet)

1. Cut peppers into strips and boil until tender.
2. Combine a quarter of the cooked peppers with salt, pepper, seasonings and chicken stock in the blender. Blend.
3. Blend the rest of the peppers, a quarter at a time, into the sauce in the blender.
4. Season to taste.

One of the things Tracie is trying to get me to do is cook more at a time so we have leftovers and I’m not spending an hour and a half every day preparing dinner. Casserole style enchiladas it is.

Enchiladas

2 chicken breasts, cooked
corn tortillas, quartered (I used between 12 and 16)
shredded (almond) cheese
red pepper sauce

0.5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
1. Grease the bottom of a 8×8 casserole dish.
2. Pour enough sauce in the dish to coat the bottom.
3. Place tortilla quarters over sauce, slightly overlapping.
4. Chicken > Cheese > Sauce > tortilla. Repeat.
5. End with a layer of cheese.
6. Bake for 20-25 minutes

I was so very happy with the outcome; I’m already thinking about making it again. If you give it a go, let us know how it turned out for you.