Thursday, October 28, 2010

Product Reviews: OMG

I can't believe I didn't take a picture of this, but I wasn't even planning to write a review until I tasted it and then I quickly devoured it.

In a word:  Amazing. 

I received a sample of this new single serving microwave brownie mix from Pamela's free the other day and just finally got around to making it and I'm so glad I did!  I didn't have high hopes given my past efforts making Cake in a Cup.  To see what I'm talking about look at this.  It wasn't great. 

In contrast, the Pamela's mix was so easy and so delicious!  You just add two tablespoons of water and two tablespoons of oil (I also added a handful of walnuts) and microwave it for about a minute.  In the meantime I whipped up a little cream... more on that later.  It was so good!  I just can't stop saying that.  For now, I know you can order these online, but I've been told that they will soon be available for purchase at Whole Foods for about $2.00. 

I honestly can't tell if this is a good or a bad thing.

Day 12: I Believe...

I believe ...
in the golden rule.

a good hair day is a good day.

there's nothing good that's not just a little bit better with whipped cream.

if we put other people first, this would be a much better world.

a great bag makes the outfit.

knowledge is power.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Restaurant Reviews: Becks Prime

Holy cr@p, Becks Prime has a gluten free menu!  The menu is not available at the restaurant, but can be accessed on their website.  While there is nothing crazy amazing on it, (Gasp... their buns are actually made of rice flour!!  NO!)  I really appreciate the effort.  They have several bunless plate options that are Gluten Free, as well as salads, milk shakes, chips and salsa and more.

Lately, I've been bringing my own bun to Becks Prime and they've been more than happy to take the bun, and in a very safe manner, put my burger or chicken sandwich on it.  The fries are also out of this world, but use caution here if you're sensitive to fries done in oil with other products (I am not but I always ask for y'all!).

I'm a sucker for take-out and meals from a drive-thru... call me crazy.  Since I discovered that they would use my bun, the hubbs and I have been enjoying burgers weekly.  While its a little pricey, we agree that BP has the best burgers in town. 

P.S.  Stay tuned for next week when I'll be sharing a rundown of the various GF burger buns on the market and I'll reveal the one I am currently OBSESSED with.

Day 11: My Favorite TV Shows

I'm not gonna lie... I love TV.  I go through phases of watching more or less, and right now life is pretty busy so it's less.  There are a couple of shows that I have loyally watched for years:  The Simpsons (I've watched this show since I was the same age as Lisa and my brother was the same age as Bart - ya, I know... scary) and Law & Order (I've seen pretty much every episode ever).

Lately, though, I'm into Family Guy,The Office, and Glee!!!

Anything I should be watching??

Day 10: Something I'm Afraid Of

Yep, I'm afraid of stairs.   Not just stairs, but walking down stairs.  Every time I walk down a set of stairs I picture myself falling down.  I think to myself  "self, today is the day you're going to eat it on these stairs."  It's even worse now that I have to carry the Peanut down them.  It's okay, you can laugh at me... I'm kind of a freak, I know.

P.S. I'm afraid of balconies too.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 9: A Picture of My Friends

They're fabulous!

Day 8: A Place I've Traveled To

Ah vacation... I need one so badly. But between not having the money, the Peanut, and law school that probably won't be happening for a while. Anyway, the most recent place I traveled to was Cancun, Mexico for some much needed R&R after 1L year.

There are some many places I would love to visit, but to be honest, as long as there's a beach (or even a pool), some great food, and a spa, it's a great trip in my book.

The sad party about this trip was that it happened right after the swine flu scare and there was almost nobody there. We got some great deals, but I felt awful that the people were really struggling. Anyway, lets take a pictorial walk down memory lane:

Recipes: We're Baking Banana Bread!

Something about fall just makes me want to bake. I love for the house to be full of the delicious aromas of pies and cookies and especially quick breads! Since P just started eating solid food, I've been wanting him to try bananas. I bought a huge bunch at the grocery store and so I thought we'd kill two birds with one stone.

 He was not a fan of the bananas. But the banana bread was delicious!

Banana Nut Bread

Makes 2 loaves - but as you can see, I increased the recipe for three loaves ;)
Adapted from here.

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil (or softened butter, but it is moister and fluffier with the oil)
  • 2 cups GF flour (I used my standard blend, but brown instead of white rice flour)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xantham gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups ripe mashed bananas
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

    Preaheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the oil and sugar. Add the eggs,bananas, and vanilla extract and mix well. In a separate bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients with a whisk. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and mix until blended. Add the nuts and stir until they are incorporated. Divide mixture between two medium loaf pans and bake for 55-65 minutes or until a nice crust has formed and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans and slice and serve. Or slice almost immediately and begin to devour. Your choice :)

    Butter melting on banana bread... drool.

    Day Seven: My Favorite Movies

    This is a tough one! I love movies so much... the experience as much as the movies themselves. I love going to the theater, eating the popcorn, etc, but I love watching movies curled up on the couch at home just as much.

    My standard, stock, favorite movie answer is The Princess Bride, and it really is a great movie. It has everything: comedy, action, romance, you name it! But there are some other movies that I really love too. Below is a list of movies that if I turn on the TV and they're playing I have to watch:


    Steel Magnolias

    Risky Business


    I'm sure there are others, because like I said, I love movies!

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Day Six: A Picture That Makes Me Happy

    I know, I know. I need to get some new material. But, I just can't help it... that little guy makes me smile every time. He has since the moment he was born.

    The most amazing thing I think about looking at this picture is what 6 months of distance and hormones have done to my memory of that day.

    Even though, I've never been more sleep-deprived, and I was in more pain than I ever imagined a person could be in and remain conscious, I look at this picture and think "wow, what an amazing time... I can't wait to do that again!"

    Seriously?? Someone please slap me because that is not happening for a good long while!

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Day 4/5: My Parents and Siblings

    Since these two days seem to go hand in hand, I decided to put them together into one post. My family isn't simple to define, but they're great. My parents include my mom, dad, stepmom, and stepdad. It hasn't always been easy growing up with divorced parents, but I try to think of myself as being lucky enough to have more people who care about me. They've all been there for me in different ways and I'm eternally grateful for it.

    My siblings are simply the greatest. I can't thank my parents enough for giving me a great big brother and two wonderful little sisters. I can remember as kids, playing the most ridiculous games and always having the greatest time with them... no matter where we were. It's still like that today. My husband Brian can tell you that when my sister Amy and I get together, it's a surefire recipe for giggles and hilarity. Even though we don't see each other all the time (she's in Austin and I'm in Houston), she's my best friend.

    I love them all.

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    Day 3: My First Love

    Yikes!!! Ok, so far I stink at this "30 Day Challenge" thing, so I'm going to play catch-up over the next few days to get on track.

    I'm not sure what I think of today's assignment. This could be borderline embarrassing, but since I was only in the second grade, I'm just going to go for it...

    My first love was really more of a crush I'd say, since it was pretty one sided. I had a bad bad crush on a boy in my second grade class. It lasted a really long time considering my age. So, funny story: At the time, I was pretty sure I had a great singing voice. I decided that a sure way to get this boy's attention would be to go around the playground during recess singing songs from the Little Mermaid. He would be so enchanted by my singing voice, I imagined, that he would come over and kiss me or ask me to be his girlfriend or something, lol. At one point, I was actually executing this plan and I went up to him and said "bet you didn't know I could sing like that, did you?" Yup. True story. Awesome.

    And no, that cute picture above is not us. If it was, it would probably something more like this:

    Day 2: The Story Behind My Blog Name

    When hubbs and I moved back to Houston from Chicago, I was really disappointed to find a dearth of gluten free resources and restaurants here. So, I of course, got online and started to see what I could find out there. Seeing as there wasn't much, we just experimented (aka went out to eat a lot, hehe) always asking restaurants if they had gluten free menus or they could accommodate gluten free diners. As a result, I started to discover all kinds of restaurants and stores that had gluten free products and menu items. I reviewed them on the website Yelp and created a list "Gluten Free in the 713," of all my finds. After a while, I thought it would be fun to share the reviews in a broader forum and share my recipes and impressions of great gluten free products as well. Thus, was born!

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    30 Day Blog Challenge: Day 1

    Hey Y'all! So I'm a little late getting going with this, but I thought it would be a fun change of pace to take part in this 30 Day Blog Challenge I learned about here. I'm already a couple of days behind, but there's plenty of time in class to catch up, lol!

    Day One: Introduction, Recent Picture, Fifteen Interesting Facts

    This is a recent picture of me and my little peanut Phillip at a friend's first birthday party for her little boy.

    My name's Laura, I'm 27 years old and a native of Houston, Texas. With the exception of a two year stint in Chicago, I've lived here my whole life and I love it! I met my wonderful husband of four years, Brian, in college at the University of Houston. I remember he said that when he first saw me in class he thought, "I've never heard such a big voice come out of such a little person." Our first date was at IHOP (I know... so romantic!) where he accidentally poured coffee instead of syrup onto his pancakes. I maintain to this day that he was just so mesmerized by my beauty that he lost his head :) We got married right after college and have been living happily ever after since! We have a sweet puppy named Miss Pitty Pat (she's 13 years old) and just had our first baby Phillip this year (he's six months old). I'm currently a third year law student at the University of Houston.

    Fifteen Random Facts About Me:

    1. My favorite food is whipped cream, although I'm not sure if that even qualifies as a food.

    2. I secretly wish I was a neat freak, but I'm far from it.

    3. I love to shop and get dressed up, but 90% of the time I'm wearing running shorts or a juicy tracksuit.

    4. I grew up in a family with four kids, so I can't wait to have more so Phillip can have siblings.

    5. I heart Family Guy.

    6. I hate raisins. Nothing makes me angrier than biting into a delicious piece of carrot cake with raisins in it or eating an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie only to find out that those chocolate chips are actually... raisins.

    7. I did ballet at least 20 hours a week in highschool and as a result, I got to leave early everyday!!!

    8. I was president of my sorority in college.

    9. My favorite color is pink, but I'm always afraid of going overboard with it.

    10. I'm a sucker for anything monogrammed.

    11. Champagne is my alcoholic drink of choice (no, I'm not high maintenance at all).

    12. I have a slight addiction to buying baby clothes. My family likes to give me a hard time that every time they see my son, he's wearing something new.

    13. My favorite book of all time is A Little Princess.

    14. My favorite part of my day is getting Phillip out of bed and seeing that sweet little smile.

    15. I wish I could own my own bakery... but then I'd have to get up super early everday... which I hate.

    Tuesday, October 5, 2010

    On Being Gluten Free: Celiac Awareness Run

    I just wanted to let all of you Houstonians out there know about a great event that's going to be happening this weekend. This is the second year of the Celiac Awareness RunWalk. Last year's event was a lot of fun and there were tons of free products to take home and gluten free food to eat on the spot. The cost of the race is only $20 and includes a t-shirt and prizes for the division winners. My brother actually won last year so he and I will both be there. Hope you can make it!

    You can register and get more information here: Celiac Awareness RunWalk

    Recipes: For the Love of Pumpkin

    So its finally Fall and the season is off to a wonderful start! The weather here has been just gorgeous. Whenever this time of year comes around, I begin to get my customary craving for all things PUMPKIN!!! To say I'm obsessed might be an understatement. My friends and family can attest that I'll excitedly try almost anything simply because its pumpkin flavored.

    If you're gluten free, you may mistakenly believe that your favorite pumpkin treats are off limits, but I'm happy to tell you that you can get your pumpkin fix and stick to the gluten free diet.

    Some of my favorite ways to enjoy pumpkin here in Houston include:

    Pumpkin Spice Yogurt at Red Mango
    **Of course you'll need to skip the graham cracker topping

    Pumpkin, Pumpkin Pie, and Pumpkin Cheesecake Flavors at Tasti D Lite

    Pumpkin Spice Lattes or Chai's at Starbucks

    {image via Gluten Free Houston on FB}
    And last, but certainly not least, you can enjoy a wonderful GF pumpkin pie from Whole Foods or from Gluten Free Houston!

    And certainly, if you're feeling up to it, why not try your hand at some fall gluten free baking? I've got a simple recipe for delicious pumpkin spice cupcakes you can make with a gluten free cake mix. Top them off with maple cream cheese frosting and I promise they will be to die for!

    GF Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
    *makes about 20 cupcakes

    • 1 26 oz box gluten free vanilla or yellow cake mix (I used Namaste, some other brands have less cake mix so you may need to adjust)
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 cup canned pumpkin
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/4 cloves
    • 1/4 tsp allspice
    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put paper liners in two muffin tins (you probably won't fill all of the wells, so make sure the unused ones have a couple of tablespoons of water in them to prevent scorching your pan). Combine all the wet ingredients and mix. Add the cake mix and spices and blend until there are no lumps. Using an icecream scoop, fill the liners about 2/3 full. I always manage to make mine a bit too big, hence why I never get 24 cupcakes out of a recipe! Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until you lightly press the top of a cupcake and it bounces back. Cool in pan for a couple of minutes and then remove to finish cooling on wire racks. Top with frosting only once they are completely cool.

    Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
    *Makes enough frosting for all the cupcakes and a little extra!

    • 1 8 oz package of cream cheese (room temperature)
    • 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
    • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3 cups powdered sugar
    • pinch salt
    In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until light, fluffy, and well-blended. Beat in the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Slowly add the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time until you've reached a good spreadable consistency. If you add too much powdered sugar and the icing is too stiff, simply add a little more syrup or milk a tablespoon at a time until the frosting is smooth and creamy. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy!