Sunday, May 16, 2010

And so, we consolidate the blogs

This is the last post I'll make on Ging Recommends! since I now have the freedom again to post anything on the mother ship blog.

I love all the products and people mentioned on this blog, though, so I want them to live on.

Until I can figure out a way to make both these blogs one entity (and roll all these reviews into one site) THIS site will stay live, and it will host the reviews.  I'll refer back often, I promise.

Much love,

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Marilyn Santulli!

I've met a lot of great people in the gluten-free world since I became gluten-free (and a blogger) three years ago.

One of my favorites, Marilyn Santulli, the genius behind America Gra-Frutti, is having a birthday today, so I wanted to use this space today to celebrate her, and celebrate her commitment to the gluten-free world.

I've written about American Gra-Frutti products a lot here on my blog, and I do it because the product is so thoughtfully prepared. First, Marilyn's Cobb County kitchen is a dedicated gluten-free facility.  She has a completely safe environment for gluten-free people like me.

A few months back, Marilyn gave me a tour of the kitchen.  There she bakes cakes, cupcakes, and now cheesecakes and ginger snaps! She's recently created a wonderful Caramel Crunch, which is addictive.  There are also angels and coconut drops and oh yeah, a rocking Peachtree Pimento pimento cheese. 

And as of today (Wednesday, April 7) her "They'll Never Know" and "You Know you Love Chocolate Chip"5 oz. cupcakes are available at Turner Field. Woo-hoo! 

I've pretty much tasted everything Marilyn makes, and I'm always impressed. Oh, I have my favorites -- I love the Peachtree Pimento (spicy, please) and the Peppermint Cremes and Angels. And the cakes. And the cheesecakes. And...

Here's Marilyn and America Gra-Frutti's mission statement:  American GraFrutti, LLC is passionately devoted and focused on gluten and dairy intolerances by creating decadent, nutritious and healthy desserts, as well as deli products for the consumer’s well being.

I'm happy to recommend Marilyn's products to consumers and to food establishments. Her cheesecakes are on the featured menu at Figo Pasta along with their gluten-free pasta menu. Her almond and coconut drops are sold in Tampa at Abby's -- she's from Tampa, so that is a coup. And Mom's Organic Market in the Rockville and Bowie, Maryland area can't keep her products in stock.

And in Atlanta? Return to Eden and Whole Foods!

Yep, Marilyn Santulli is a pretty special woman to the gluten-free world, and I'm proud to call her my friend. She makes every occasion complete!

You can follow American Gra-Frutti (and Marilyn) on Facebook and  Twitter

Much love, and happy birthday, Marilyn!

P.S. Marilyn has a beautiful and talented artist daughter named Meredith Dahle. I wanted to give her a shoutout here because she's about to graduate from college, and then head to Alaska! Meredith, as well as Marilyn's sweet husband Paul, are all part of the American Gra-frutti team. You might see Meredith out at a sampling some day soon.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

South City Kitchen: A Gluten-Free Success

A few weeks ago, my friend Heather and I answered an invitation to dine at one of the Fifth Group restaurants, to sample their gluten-free menu.

I chose South City Kitchen in Midtown for two reasons: the gluten-free menu looked delicious, and the location was convenient for both Heather and me (I was heading to my Dad's).

I give it Two Yums UP!

We made a great choice, and I would heartily recommend the gluten-free menu at either South City Kitchen location.  For one, it has "regular" food that can be presented and prepared gluten free.  And second, it's a delightful place to have dinner! This is the kind of place I'd like to take a bunch of gluten-free friends for a celebration, or a Gurlz night on the town! 

After one of the best martinis I've ever tasted (seriously) we started with appetizers -- I had luscious mussels, and Heather had barbequed shrimp. The mussels had a smokey bacon flavor, with lots of lemons. They were perfectly cooked. And Heather's shrimp were the BBQ Shrimp I remember from Louisiana -- piquant, spicy. So you see the mussels below, before they disappeared....

I wish I had a picture of our beautiful salads -- I ate mine so fast I didn't get to take a photo.  I had Cane Syrup Roasted Beet Salad with shaved beets, fennel-pear slaw, Valbreso feta cheese, cider-cane syrup, and truffle oil and Heather had a Caesar Salad.  

Ah, but the entrees...Heather chose the Filet Mignon with smashed sweet potatoes, wilted swiss chard with Benton’s bacon, and green peppercorn steak sauce.  I ADORE Benton's Bacon, and that chard was amazing...Look how happy Heather looks! I took a picture of the plate too, but her happiness was so nice to see!

I had Sautéed Shrimp & Scallops creamy stone-ground grits, with roasted pepper coulis. It was lick the plate delicious! I had a side of Brussels spouts (never do I pass up beets or Brussels sprouts)...

I do, of course, have suggestions for Fifth Group.  These all are filed under "give me a gluten-free menu, and I'll ask for more" suggestions, but they're important, I think.  First, I think several of the delicious dishes I had BEGGED for a toasty bread.  And thanks to some frozen, artisan breads out there, you could easily add them to your freezer and make them quickly, on demand. Small space. (Email me for suggestions.)

Second, though the house sorbet was delicious, I don't know why you couldn't make your house Pecan Pie in a small ramekin, crust free, but still gluten free.  There are some easy and decadent desserts available in Atlanta (American Gra-Frutti cupcakes come to mind,) and there are others I personally love --  Moondance Bakery Cheesecake and brownies, for instance.

And finally, it's easy to add gluten-free pasta to an Italian menu. If pasta is a staple on the restaurant menu (it's not at SCK, but it is at others) check out the availability of good gluten free pasta today. There is so much good dried and frozen GF pasta out there -- we'll marvel at the ability to have the sauces on a pasta we trust. Either that, or offer your wonderful sauces on polenta. But I know a lot of GF folks who don't consider an Italian menu GF unless it has pasta.

I'd like to thank Paul Hymel, the general manager of SCK Midtown, for a delightful evening. I am proud to recommend your restaurant to my friends and readers, and I am certain I'll return again very soon.  

Much love, and thanks for the dinner!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Udi's Gluten Free in Georgia!

From Carol Hinton, Branch Manager of the Middle Georgia GIG:
Udi's Bread has arrived in Middle Georgia!
For those of you who have tried Udi's bread elsewhere or have read about it online, you can now find it in Middle Georgia.  I visited Yvonne's on Vineville today to find both Udi's white bread and Udi's whole grain bread in the freezer section.  They also had Udi's muffins.
I also visited Mia's off Vineville and found Udi's muffins as well.  I would expect them to have the bread in the near future.
If you haven't tried Udi's you will be surprised at how good it is.  It does not need to be toasted and stays fresh on the counter for several days.
If you visit either store to purchase Udi's, let them know where you heard about it.
Middle Georgia GIG
Much love, Ging

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Giveaway from My Blog Spark and Yoplait Greek Yogurt!

I love Greek yogurt -- all kinds, any kind -- so I was delighted to see a new brand on the market -- Yoplait Greek Yogurt.
(Go to this spot to get a free coupon to try out this new Yoplait yogurt!)

In fact, just last week, I was instructing Randy on the wisdom of choosing a non-fat Greek yogurt instead of a watered-down nonfat house brand.  I love the richness, creaminess, and body of Greek yogurt. I often use it instead of sour cream.

Here's the scoop on Yoplait's new product:

With 12 grams of protein -- twice that found in leading yogurts-- new Yoplait Greek nourishes from the inside out. Available in four delicious flavors, Strawberry, Blueberry, Honey Vanilla and Plain, the brand’s newest offering has a unique thick and creamy texture with the unmatched taste expected of Yoplait.

My Blog Spark and Yoplait have offered me the opportunity to offer YOU a chance to enjoy some Yoplait Greek Yogurt and Nourish your inner Goddess. That's right -- we all need a little nourishment, don't we? They are providing the following fabulous gift for one lucky reader of my blogs. (This link is cross posted on my sister blog.

To celebrate its new Greek yogurt and to encourage women to nourish their inner goddess, Yoplait has teamed up with actress Izabella Miko, who plays Greek Goddess Athena in the epic adventure new Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ film “Clash of the Titans,” in theatres April 2 in 3D. 

Now, here's all you have to do to win this Spark!

Simply put your name and your email in a comment below, and tell me your favorite recipe using Yoplait Greek Yogurt. I will use the randomizer to pick one lucky winner on Tuesday, April 6 at 9 p.m. est. I will email you for your mailing information (so if you leave out that email, you won't get to win...). And Yoplait will send you TWO free coupons and a Goddess Pack!

Please remember that Yoplait is made by a company that labels gluten -- and it is a yogurt that many gluten-free people feel comfortable eating. Please read labels if you are gluten free!

Much love, and good luck!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

P.F. Chang's Launches Expanded Gluten-Free Menu

P.F. Chang's Launches Expanded Gluten-Free Menu: "PRESS RELEASE: SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--P.F. Chang's Chi..."
But in truth, Much ado about nothing.

I know several of my GF blogger buddies have been about excited about this, so Randy and I went to P.F. Chang's in Tampa at Westshore Plaza to try the beef entrees. I did this with trepedation, mind you. I've been glutened severely at P.F. Chang's and Pei Wei on my last three occasions (I know, why go back?) But I wanted Mongolian Beef. I miss it.

Randy had the Sichuan Spicy Beef. We weren't sure 1. that is was beef; 2. that it had been seasoned at all; and 3. that the cook had a clue. It was like chewing a paper towel roll.

Mongolian beef? Tough and stringy. Only three pieces were soft and crunchy. The sauce was over salted.

SO we complained to our sorry excuse for a server (another story) and finally flagged down the manager. No one cared. They took one entree off the check (as they should have).

Our sorry excuse for a server offered me a fortune cookie at the end with the words, "I don't know what gluten free means, so I don't know if you can eat this."

I hear more and more from GF diners who say their experiences at P.F. Chang's is very spotty -- sometimes GF, sometimes not, riddled with error when the crowd is large. I have a solution for that. The one I should have imposed last week.

I won't go back. Ever. Again.

Much love,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Norlander's Gluten-Free Sauces!

At a Twitter party a month or so ago, I won some Norlander's Original Gluten-Free Teriyaki and Mesquite sauces. These new gluten-free sauces are gaining a national reputation -- especially the Teriyaki Sauce, which is a huge step above the usually available gf teriyaki brand.

I had a wonderful discussion on the phone with Michael Norlander, who owns the company with his wife Tina. They're really a wonderful couple, and I think their product is pretty special in our gluten-free world. They've sent their regular products (the beef jerky) into outer space on the Space Shuttle to the International Space Station. They've got a regular line, too.

Here's their story, from their website:

Tina and Michael Norlander continue the family tradition of providing quality products that enhance just about any food. Michael’s father originally developed the family’s first Teriyaki marinade recipe in the 1960's. Friends and neighbors always enjoyed the food the Norlander’s prepared using their special marinade. By modifying and reducing it into a concentrate, Michael made the family's teriyaki recipe his own. Michael later developed the Norlander’s Original Mesquite Sauce & Marinade Concentrate. The Mesquite Sauce provides a western Mesquite smoke flavor and has been a winner from the start.

They have developed their regular and gluten-free Teriyaki and Mesquite gourmet sauces and marinades to bring a new taste and experience to their customers. Either flavor can be used as a sauce or marinade on beef, pork, poultry, fish, seafood, wild game, pastas, vegetables, beans and rice. Their sauces can also be poured straight from the bottle onto foods like hamburgers, ribs, and steak. They welcome you to try their products and hope you enjoy them as much as they do.

But this line is special. It is made just for us!

With grilling season coming in strong now as Spring is Springing, I wanted to share with you a couple of ways I used these sauces successfully.

One of my favorite recipes ever (and, might I say, perfect for the Easter/Palm Sunday dinner table) is

Freakin' Awesome Tropical Chicken
(Recipe from Jen, adapted by Ging)

Serves 12-16:

8 lbs. cut up chicken (or 4 pounds boneless, skinless breasts)
*Ging note: If I were doing this in the oven for a potluck again, I would use boneless, skinless thighs. They will hold better. I also think this would be FA with boneless pork chops!
1 Cup Norlander's GF Teriyaki Sauce
1/4 cup prepared mustard (I used French's and Dijon, mixed)
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple with juice
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger (I used ginger juice)
-these were my additions-
2 T. Chinese Chili Sauce (optional)
Six cloves fresh garlic, crushed

Combine all ingredients except chicken. Marinate chicken in mixture (ziplock bag/fridge) for at least 4-6 hours. (I did mine overnight with no ill effects).
Outside directions: Drain the marinated chicken into a bowl through a colander, reserving marinade, and grill on your favorite grill til done. A nice addition -- sliced fresh pineapple, grilled on the side.

Rainy-day Indoor Preparation: Preheat oven to 350. Place chicken and about half the marinade (try to keep the pineapple and garlic part) in roaster-type pan – the chicken should nearly be covered with the marinade, but not quite). Bake until done -- it took me about 75 minutes in a convection oven.)

For both: BOIL to a hard boil and slightly reduce the remaining sauce with garlic and pineapple. Use it as a sauce.

Wonderful with grilled or roasted fresh asparagus and fluffy white or brown rice.

Super Easy Mesquite Ribeye

Honestly, folks, I did this beautiful saucy steak in a toaster oven! Season one side with the spices and herbs of your choice -- I use salt, pepper, Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb, and some Tony Chachere's seasoning.

Put the steak under the broil and cook for 9 minutes. Brush Norlander's GF Mesquite Sauce on both sides and turn and cook the second side for about 5 minutes for medium.

Let sit for 10 minutes and then devour. It tastes like it was cooked out on a mesquite fired grill!


I really can't wait to try these recipes on the Norlander's site. I don't know anyone who makes a GF garlic chip, but I think Mary's Gone Crackers Onion Crackers are a great addition, broken up just a little bit,

And we're going to have the dip the weekend while watching the college basketball finals.

And then, when I get the Big Green Egg back in Georgia, well, this is sure to be a staple in our grilling sauce repetoire! (Don't know if we'll use the BGE this week on Spring Break, but it might come home with me. Who knows?)

There is one thing about Norlander's GF sauce that might be a drawback for you -- I think in the effort of full disclosure I should mention that both use a GF Soy Sauce that contains corn syrup. Michael and I talked about that, actually. And while I feel it's important we all know the ingredients, it clearly didn't stop me from using it in moderation.

And using it again soon, I shall. I wish Michael and Tina and the cool ship from Norlander's Original all the best.

Much love, and let's get grilling!