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Friday, March 29, 2013

High Five for Friday!!

I'm linking up with Lauren for High Five for Friday!!

1). I helped out at our Kiwanis French Toast Feed last Sunday.  I helped make the scrambled eggs and the batter for the french toast!  I was able to stay gluten free the entire morning!
2). Later on Sunday, Corinne and I went thrifiting.  This was a total score - only $20
3).  I'm sure you noticed - but I got a blog design update!  I couldn't be more happier with the new look and it's all thanks to Lauren Albrecht!  Check out her blog :)  I love making new bloggie friends.
4). Wally and Kevin are finally friends....well as much as they can be.
5). Thursday evening, I had the opportunity to attend Theaster Gates' lecture - I believe in Places.  It was moving and got me all fired up about community activism.  Hesse McGraw and The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts helped bring Theaster to Omaha for the Carver Bank Project.

How was your week?!  Tell me all about it :)


Have a wonderful weekend :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gigi's Cupcakes

Somehow I came across this lovely little cupcake place on facebook. (you should like them)  I knew I had to go check them out and see about the gluten free cupcakes they had been showing!

Gigi's Cupcakes is on the south side of Village Pointe - close to Kobe.

The Friday I stopped in, they had lemon and vanilla cupcakes - I was really excited for the lemon.  It's become my new favorite flavor lately.

So these are the two cupcakes I came back to the office with :)  More frosting than cupcake!  Now, I'm not a huge frosting fan and I'm pretty particular about it.  Obviously I ate the lemon cupcake first.  WOW!!  The flavor was absolutely incredible.  REAL lemon flavor in the frosting - the tart acidic flavor helped tone down the sweet frosting.  The cupcake was perfectly flavored also - I really enjoyed the texture of the cake especially with the dense frosting.  Also there was a little surprise lemon curd in the middle!

By the time I got to the vanilla cupcake (of course I ate both of them!) I was still feeling my sugar high from the lemon.  So I decided not to eat all the frosting on this one.  I removed probably 3/4 of it - but don't worry - someone walked by my desk and promptly asked if they could eat it!!  The vanilla cupcake was beautifully flavored and the texture was everything you could ever want in a cupcake.

I will be going back for sure.  Not only were the cupcakes pretty damn amazing but the staff is soooooooooo wonderfully friendly!  They made me feel right at home - I just wanted to curl up and sit for the afternoon with my cupcakes.  

Also they allow you to make Gluten Free Cupcake of the Day requests on facebook - they usually only have two flavors on Fridays & Saturdays.  However, they are considering offering them everyday.  I was surprised how many different flavors they offer in general - which most can be converted to gluten free. 

Thank you facebook - this place was a total score!

You should stop and see them!



Gigi's Cupcakes of West Omaha on Urbanspoon

Ps.  I'm sorry for not posting a recipe today - I will have new recipes for next Thursday!!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rotella's new gluten free bread

So a couple weeks ago I started getting emails/tweeks/facebooks from my friends with the OWH's announcement that Rotella's - a local bread company was coming out with a gluten free version!

Not being from Omaha, I've honestly never had Rotella's bread.

I was in the grocery store the other day and realize it was out!  I snatched up a loaf to give it a test drive.

I sampled the bread plain - that's the test of gluten free bread - is it edible plain.  This was really pretty good.  It smelled like bread, tasted great, and had a legit consistency.  This is saying A LOT for gluten free bread.  I then tried it toasted - it was pretty damn delicious, especially considering I had NOTHING to put on it.  Can you believe it?!  I was out of peanut butter, butter, frosting... I didn't even have jelly!  So I ate it plain and thoroughly enjoyed it!

I know this has been released locally but I'm not sure how far Rotella's distributes.  You'll have to look for it in your area! 



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ragazzi's Pizza

I love finding out about new places that have Gluten Free pizza!  It's just something that you can't make at home very well.

Hannah and I went to Ragazzi's Pizza in Ralston the other night to try out their gluten free menu!

Immediately we were greeted by the most friendly staff - I mean awesome customer service.  The waiter taking our order was quick to explain our gluten free options.  He even offered suggestions for altering the chicken wings from fried to baked and let me look at the ingredient list on the sauce!

The atmosphere is very warm and inviting - come hangout and eat pizza while watching the game!

I am NOT a huge chicken wing fan - but these were absolutely delicious.  We tried the thai sauce.  They smelled fairly spicy but they were wonderfully sweet with just a hint of hot pepper.  I was really surprised how great these were!  I couldn't get enough.

Hannah tried the Traditional which was loaded with toppings including sausage and pepperoni.  She went with the regular crust since she's not gluten free but said it was pretty great pizza.

The gluten free pizza only comes in one size - 12 inch.  Which was great for me because I love having leftovers for lunch the next day.  I ordered the Verde Orto minus the black olives and I added jalapeno and broccoli.  A perfect garden pizza!!  I was very impressed 1) with the quality of ingredients and 2) with their gluten free crust - which I know is hard to do.  It was a thin crust which was perfectly crisp and just about everything you could want in a pizza.  It was light on sauce and the cheese was perfectly proportioned.  Also this re-heated to delicious perfection the next day.  Not all gluten free pizzas do that!

I will definitely be going back to Ragazzi's.  Wonderful gluten free pizza and wonderful experience!

You should go too! 


Ragazzi's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 22, 2013

High Five for Friday!

I'm linking up with Lauren for High Five for Friday!

1).  Blondie and I signed up for a miniatures group - this was our second meeting and we made this tiny little shelf.  The picture doesn't do it justice - it's REALLY small.
2).  My mom and I went to see Lion King (again) and it was absolutely amazing!  I still have all the songs stuck in my head :)
3). Yesterday I got a special behind-the-scenes tour of the new aquarium facility at the Henry Doorly Zoo.  Ahhhh it totally made my week!  We got to see the huge shark tank, turtles, the brand new baby sting ray, and the special jelly fish tanks.  It was AWESOME.
4). Went to test out a new cupcake place in village pointe - GiGi's Cupcakes.  They only have gluten free cupcakes on Fridays & Saturdays so I'm going back today to do some taste testing.
5). This is the latest book I've started reading The Dinner- I'm about 100 pages in and I still have no idea what's going on or even what the story line is but I'm totally hooked!  Have you read it?

How was your week?!  I hope it was wonderful!

Have a great weekend :)


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Caramel Cake

For reference, I'm not the best food photographer.  These photos do nothing for this amazing cake.  Just believe me - you want to make this cake!!

Caramel Cake

*this may be one of the most complicated cakes I've ever made so bear with me while I explain it.

Total Ingredient list:
1/3 cup plus 1-1/4 cup granulated sugar (2 separate components)
1/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup butter - room temp
3 eggs - room temp
2-3/4 cups Domata flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
3-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

3 cups brown sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter - room temp
1 tablespoon vanilla

To make the Caramel syrup (goes in the batter later)

Melt 1/3 cups white granulated sugar in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium to medium high heat.  Stir the sugar continually until it become deep brown (but not burnt - there is a fine line here!).  Remove the pan containing the caramelized sugar from the heat.  Slowly stir in 1/4 cup boiling water.  If you end up with lumps in the mixture - don't worry about it.  Set syrup aside to cool.

Now on to the cake

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Then butter two 9-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper and butter again on top of the parchment.  You can flour the pan also (gluten free flour obviously) but it's not absolutely necessary.

In a large mixing bowl - cream together 3/4 cup of butter (must be at room temp and soft!) with 1 and 1/4 cups white sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add in 3 eggs, one at a time until fully incorporated.  At this point add in the caramel syrup you made earlier.  

In another bowl - sift together 2 and  3/4 cups Domata flour, 1/4 cup corn starch, 3 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt. 

Measure out 1 cup of milk into a glass measuring cup.  Add in 1 tablespoon vanilla.

Into the large mixing bowl containing the butter/sugar/eggs mixture - begin to add the dry ingredients slowly, alternating with the milk mixture. 

Because it's gluten free (just my personal opinion) the batter will be super thick.

Divide batter into your two pans.  Bake for 25 minutes or just until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Let cool at least 10 minutes before you remove from pans.  Cool completely on a wire rack. 

Now for the frosting (complicated right?!)

Just use the same pan from the caramel syrup.  Mix 3 cups brown sugar and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream in sauce pan.  Heat over low to medium heat until the mixture reaches "soft ball" stage - 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove pan from heat.  Stir in 1/2 stick (4 TB) of butter.  Let the frosting sit and cool for awhile.  Then add in 1 tablespoon vanilla.  If it's way to thick after cooling to spread - just add more cream.

Wooooo  - Now for the assembly.

Cakes must be completely cool!  Using a long serrated knife.  Slice each cake into half - making a total of 4 layers.  (in the picture I only have 2 layers because I was in a hurry and my cakes weren't cooled off).  Put frosting between each layer and stack up the cakes.  Pour the rest of the frosting over the top of the cake.  I like how "rustic" this looks.  You can certainly frost it however you want. 

After all that work - you're definitely ready for a piece of cake!

I hope you enjoy it!


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

San-J Products

San-J makes really incredible gluten free products.  Their line covers most of the traditional Asian sauces which in their natural form are not gluten free but San-J has transformed them just for us.  So look for San-J when you're ready to try a new stir fry recipe or a little fried rice.

I don't particularly like soy sauce on it's own - like with rice or as a sushi dipping sauce.  But I do love to cook with it!  I used San-J products in my fried rice recipe and also use a little to make some really great Asian inspired salad dressings.  

I buy most of my San-J products at Whole Foods but my mom found hers at HyVee.  So next time you're out grocery shopping - grab a bottle of San-J!!  


Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Shuck's Seafood is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants!  My boss and I happened to go there for lunch a couple friday's ago since it was close by and Lent.  I was so impressed with the size of their gluten free menu and the care they put into developing it. 

I couldn't wait for my family to visit Omaha so we could go again!

Shuck's is a casual environment with high class cuisine.  They have the freshest seafood in Omaha thanks to their counterpart Absolutely Fresh Seafood.  I was just so incredibly happy to have fish & chips.  Oh and their grilled oysters were so freakin amazing - words cannot describe how delicious these were.  I could have eaten my weight in them!!

They are reasonably priced and a great spot for lunch! Shuck's also has a really great educated wait staff that is more than helpful when it comes to the gluten free menu.  

I can't wait to go back :)

You NEED to go - best seafood in Omaha!

Shucks Fish House and Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon


Monday, March 18, 2013

Fruit Fast

I've had some intense tummy troubles lately so I've decided to attempt a fruit fast to help cleanse my system.

This will be quite a challenge because I severely dislike fruit.

But I'm willing to try ANYTHING that makes my tummy feel better!

My lunch today.

*I am not a nutritionist nor am I a medical doctor so don't believe anything I say!  This is just a random idea I had to cleanse my system!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

To my Omaha Mom...

To my Omaha Mom (who now resides in Florida) -

Jean, I cannot thank you enough.  I know it’s taken me awhile to complete this letter, I’ve sat down and started it many times.  I am and always have been a huge fan of denial, so I never really thought you would leave and it’s taken until now for me to finally come to terms with it.  

Reflecting back on our “goodbye” conversation - there were so many things I wanted to tell you, but I was so overcome with denial/grief/sadness that you were actually going to pick up and move south to greener lawns and bluer waters.  I think up until that exact moment, I really didn’t think you would go - even after all the talks of finding your new home and selling your home here, it just didn’t sink it.  I thought if I could ignore it, maybe it wouldn’t happen.  But it did and I need to express all those things I should have shared during our goodbye.

In absolute honesty, you helped me fall in love with the city of Omaha.  We met by chance, at a Joslyn painting group that I randomly signed up for - never realizing the impact of that decision.  On January 20, 2011, I met the most wonderfully bubbly happy woman who thought she could teach me to paint!  Little did you know how greatly you affected my course in life through friendship, mentorship, and a little mothering.  That painting class led to another...and another... where I met some other incredible women (and Ted!) who would become a support and guidance system for me.  We realized that it was the same group taking your class and launched out on our own to create “Omaha Painting Group.”  This led to new friendships, First Fridays, gallery openings, and especially to my deepening appreciation for art.  I learned about using the color purple, color gradients, Helen Frankenthaler, Kent Bellows, crayon art, alcohol ink printing, how to build and stretch a canvas, how to hold a pencil out in front of yourself and use it as a reference guide (which still confuses me a bit), I found and learned about my favorite pieces in Joslyn’s permanent collection, and I can now successfully reference mother color theory correctly.  

Those are just some of the little technically ways you influenced my life.  On a deeper level, without knowing you I would have never fallen in love with Kent Bellow’s work - gone on to get involved with KBS and their fundraising committee, I would have never believed I could get a job in the arts without an academic background, I would have never become grounded in Omaha - you gave me a reason to stay here and be happy, and I would have never believed in my own creative ability - you helped me believe in my art enough to show and sell it.

You became my Omaha mom.  You were always available to chat, advise, and joke around.  You were supportive when I quit a job I hated and you were the first to know!  But you helped in every way you were able.  Without you, I would have never experienced my dream job... I would have never believed it possible.  

I haven’t painted, or even picked up a brush since our last painting group together when we said our first brief goodbye (I still didn’t believe it would happen) and gave you the Toms we created.  I snuck out of that evening as fast as I could because I knew if I left, it would be just like any other night and you would be there next week.  I remember having a lengthy discussion with Blondie in the parking lot regarding denial and people leaving.  We shared mutual feelings and I felt so much better knowing I had found a friend.

I stare at that painting I did in our first class - it hangs prominently in my bedroom - it will always be my favorite and it will always remind me of you.  I haven’t felt like I could be creative or artistic or even gesso a canvas since you left, but I realize now that I’m being ridiculous and should funnel my denial into my artwork.  Painting was always such a relief for me and allowed me to be expressive in a way I had never experienced before - I am now vowing excuse after excuse to head back to Painting Group.  

You helped me find Robin, Cyndy, Betsy, Lin, Melanie, Julie, and everyone else at painting group who I now consider very dear friends.  But most importantly you showed up with Blondie one fine summer day and for that I am especially thankful.  I think deep down you knew I needed Blondie and that we would be such a compliment to each other.  Our friendship has deepened immeasurably over the last few months and sometimes I just realize that you made it happen.  I think we were always meant to be friends, but if I hadn’t known you, I would have never known Blondie.  Thank you.

In other direct and indirect ways you helped me find the Nebraska Women’s Art Caucus through Cyndy, you made me love Hot Shops because you introduced me to it’s people and their art, you inspired me to get involved with the Empty Bowls project because I now believed in my creativity and ability to use it to benefit others, and again my continued belief that life is art and there is always a place for it.

Every now and then when my ear hurts, I remember you telling me (after I just had my ear pierced) that piercings in that particular place can cause you to go crazy!  I almost took them out that night, but I stuck with it.  Now I’ve just come to accept that a little crazy never hurt anyone!

Words cannot accurately describe the influence you have had on my life and I cannot express in words how grateful and thankful I am to you.  

I can honestly say, I am a better person for having known you, and I owe you my most sincere gratitude.

I miss you.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow.


PS: I’m convincing Blondie that we need to save up for a Florida trip so we can come visit and share your wonderful new world!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Oh, How Pinteresting!

Here are a couple of my favorite pins from Pinterest this week!

                                                                    Source: via Justine on Pinterest

I think these are absolutely beautiful and they're naturally dyed!

                                                                    Source: via Justine on Pinterest

I had a successful attempt at donut making a couple months ago but haven't used my donut pan since.  Seeing these made me want to run to the grocery store immediately to try making them!

                                                                 Source: via Justine on Pinterest

I am absolutely in LOVE with this stove.  Someday when I'm all grown up - I want this in my kitchen!

                                                                           Source: via Justine on Pinterest

These would look lovely in my apartment - now I just need a good excuse to buy them.

                                                                       Source: via Justine on Pinterest

So I totally nailed this look last week.  Saw this on pinterest and thought - I have that entire outfit!  Yay!  See picture below of my interpretation.

*Anyone who has mastered taking photos of themselves - I give you props.  I suck at it.  But you'll have to do with this :)

I hope you enjoy these!


Friday, March 15, 2013

High Five for Friday!

I'm linking up with Lauren again for High Five for Friday! 

Here are some highlights from my week - 

1). I tried a recipe for baked oatmeal off Pinterest, only I never actually looked at the recipe I just threw some stuff together.  It turned out pretty delicious - but not quite how I thought!
2). Dry skin sucks and I have it terribly all over my hands - I blame the cold dry weather.  So I made a scrub to see if I could help my hands a bit.  Just used salt (in the glass chicken), olive oil, and a little hand lotion.  It may not have helped much - but if definitely made a difference.
3). My other book club met last night - I was the ONLY one who loved "Casual Vacancy."  Have you read it?  What did you think?
4). My parents visited on Sunday and we had dinner at Shucks!!  Restaurant review coming soon - I could eat grilled oysters the rest of my life!
5).  I planted some garlic cloves a couple days ago (4) and look how much they've grown already!!  I'm excited to have an unlimited supply of garlic soon.

How was your week?  


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Aunt Donna's Tamale Pie

My family has been extremely supportive of my food disability.  They realized how sick I was "pre-diagnosis" and what a difference it made when I went gluten free - I think they were also a little sympathetic to thinking I was a complete hypochondriac for years. 

Recently we had a family dinner at my Aunt Donna's.  She called me ahead of time to check her ingredients and made sure I could eat everything she was making.  I can't express how much I appreciate her concern and willingness to cook for me.  

She made Tamale Pie - which was absolutely amazing - and naturally gluten free!

*Jello salad is a staple in our family, green beans, salad, cooked carrots, and tamale pie.

I honestly never ever liked cooked carrots until I had my Aunt's as a side dish a year or so ago - they are sooooo delicious!  She substituted cracker crumbs with rice chex for the topping!

We pretty much cleaned house on this dish.  I practically stuffed myself to the breaking point.  This is such a great dish for serving a crowd or taking somewhere.  It also keeps very well in the refrigerator.

 Here is the recipe for Aunt Donna's Tamale Pie!

Cornmeal Topping:
3 1/2 cups water
1 cup yellow cornmeal
salt to taste

Combine ingredients and cook over medium high heat until thick & bubbly.

Main Beef Mixture:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 clove garlic - minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt & pepper to taste
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup cornmeal (additional)
1/2 cup black olives 
1 cup shredded cheese

Brown beef, onions, peppers, and garlic.  Add diced tomatoes, corn, and chili powder + salf & pepper.  Once combined add water and extra cornmeal.  Cook mixture altogether for 10 minutes.  

Put beef mixture into a 9x13 baking pan/dish.  Add black olives over the top.  Cover mixture with cornmeal topping.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Take out of oven and add cheese to the top.  Bake an additional 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.  Let sit for a while before serving.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Glutino's Pop Tarts

I don't know if you've heard - but Glutino has new gluten free pop tarts!!  

They are in Omaha and available at Whole Foods! 

I honestly can't even remember the last time I had a pop tart.  When I was little it just wasn't something my mom would ever buy so I had to wait for a weekend at Grandma's where I could sneak in some naughty treats! 

This box did not last long!  They remind me more of toaster strudels - without the frosting.  These are actually pretty light and flaky - something you don't usually find with gluten free products.  A little pricy but worth trying out!  I really really liked them!  The strawberry inside was my favorite part - it was very true strawberry flavor and not overly sweet, but I think the flaky crust really sold me.  

I can't wait to see the Glutino booth at the gluten free expo - I wonder what new treats they will have available?!  

Go grab a box!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Billy's Restaurant - Lincoln, NE

For most special occasions and celebrations - my family usually chooses Billy's Restaurant in Lincoln.  It took awhile for me to warm up to this restaurant but once I found some favorite menu items and fell in love with the Chef, I have a hard time selecting better fine dining in Lincoln.  

Billy's has a wonderful signature menu with my favorite - rack of lamb.  Also Nadar - the brilliant chef - always stops by our table to share a couple laughs and a story or two! 

We feel at home when we're eating here and always leave deeply satisfied in company and in food.

Billy's is located in a historic renovation of the William Jennings Bryan house on 13th & H street.  The historic home, furnishings, and trimming give this restaurant a warm and inviting feeling.  It's like stopping over at a friend's house for dinner.

They recently updated their menus - the next time I'm definitely trying the orange duck!

Billy's is gluten free friendly - the staff is knowledgeable and more than willing you help you decide what will be best for you.

Since is was my Dad's birthday - he went all out with the Ribeye special that evening.  Yum!

Ray ordered the seafood pasta (not gluten free) and said it was delicious and such a generous portion!

My mom and I ordered the sea bass special with wild mushroom risotto and a lemon caper dressing.  I love sea bass and the risotto was absolutely perfect!

They couldn't scrounge up 59 candles, but this dessert (not gluten free) was a delicious end to the birthday celebration.  

Billy's does have a variety of gluten free dessert options - ice cream and of course creme brûlée.  I was just too full to even consider it!

If you haven't been to Billy's, make sure you stop the next time you need a fancy date night or have a reason to celebrate!  


Billy's on Urbanspoon