Gluten free in Chicago

Although I'm not celiac, for years I have found eating wheat leaves me with some, well, uncomfortable side effects.  I'll spare you the details but definitely side effects I don't want while on holiday.

Eating gluten free can be challenging while on holiday but it is possible, and I was pleasantly surprised by the options I found available while staying in Chicago. 

Chicago is famous for its pizza, particularly deep dish, so on our first night we headed to a Pizzeria just down the road from where we were staying - Lou Malnati's Pizzeria.  I ordered a gluten free (thin base - they didn't over a deep dish GF option) pepperoni pizza and it was pretty good! The base was almost pastry like and very crisp.

My dad looking over the menu at Lou Malnati's. 

My dad looking over the menu at Lou Malnati's. 

When one of our American friends saw we had eaten at Maln ati's, he was mildly horrified and told us "No, you have to go to Pizano' s for pizza in Chicago!" So during our short stay, we made sure to have another pizza fix. I have to admit Pizano's definitely was the better of the two. I preferred the decor and ambience and the pizza was amazing. Pizano also offered a more extensive gluten free menu - including pasta, a deep dish and a thin pizza crust.  I was really excited to try the gluten free deep dish but unfortunately it wasn't available that day.  However, the thin crust was possibly the best GF I have ever had.  Crisp and delicious, it was made from brown rice flour - I think I might have to experiment with replicating it when I get home!  Watch this space, will hopefully be able to post up a recipe soon 😉

My delicious Pizano  pizza and a Sangria cocktail (those who follow me on Snapchat will know I've pretty much being doing s cocktail tour of the USA haha)

My delicious Pizano  pizza and a Sangria cocktail (those who follow me on Snapchat will know I've pretty much being doing s cocktail tour of the USA haha)

Another gluten free friendly venue that deserves a mention is  Twin Anchors Restaurant and Tavern .  My dad is a Frank Sinatra fan and we grew up listening to his music, so we just had to visit Ol' Blue eyes' favourite rib joint and it doesn't disappoint. Although it didn't say on the menu what was gluten free, their website had an extensive list of what was. Luckily for me, the ribs were and they were incredible. Melt in your mouth, and juicy. If anyone's ever in Chicago, definitely worth heading along to Twin  Anchors.  

I ate my ribs too fast and forgot to take a photo whoops.  

I ate my ribs too fast and forgot to take a photo whoops.  

As much as I want to avoid gluten and wheat, I also want to enjoy myself. If there's something I really want and can't find a GF option, I'm still going to give it ago and deal with the consequences later. I couldn't leave Chicago without trying a famous Chicago Dog from Downtown Dogs and yes, the stomach pains were worth every bite.  Yolo haha. 

If you order a Chicago dog, don't even think of asking for ketchup! Apparently that's considered a travesty.

If you order a Chicago dog, don't even think of asking for ketchup! Apparently that's considered a travesty.

Caramilk Cookies

I love chocolate. All kinds. Dark, milk, white - I'm not fussy. But I think caramilk may have to be my favourite. I have vague memories of it in my childhood, the melt in your mouth, caramel deliciousness. I remember buying triple decker chocolate, just for that caramilk layer.  I would try to bite the milk and white layers first, leaving the caramel til last.  

Thank goodness Cadbury brought it back! Not going to lie, if you can't find any, it's probably because I've bought it all.  If you manage to find some and can save a block with out devouring it on your way home from the supermarket, definitely give these cookies a go. They are delicious! 

 Ceri's Caramilk Cookies 

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

225g butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 - 1 block of Caramilk chocolate

1/2 - 1 cup of white chocolate (depending on how much chocolate you like)

 Heat oven to 170 ºc.

Mix sugars, butter, vanilla and egg in a large bowl. Add flour, baking soda, salt and chocolates. Mix until combined.

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Roll into walnut sized balls and place on tray, pressing down slightly with a fork.

Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until light golden - don't overcook. Cookies are meant to have a soft centre :) 

I think they taste the best warm out of the oven. Enjoy! 

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Bacon & Egg Pie

There's something comforting about pie.  Whether you're hungover, heart broken, having a bad day or just feeling like something delicious, pie can definitely help make you feel warm and happy inside.

Last weekend, I felt like bacon and egg pie.  The wet weather had left me craving something hearty and warm (I also may have had a clean out of the freezer and found some pastry and bacon that needed using).

After a quick google for "best bacon and egg pie", I came across Chelsea Winter's Bacon and Egg Pie.  The comments were all raving about how good it was - one lady even claiming a marriage proposal after feeding her significant other this pie haha.   Recipe in hand, I put my apron on and prepared to spend the afternoon in the kitchen.

The recipe was super easy to follow (note: I did leave out the lemon zest - couldn't quite put lemon and bacon and egg together in my head).  And after an hour in the oven, I had a perfect looking bacon and egg pie.  I'm always a little nervous cutting into bacon and egg pies - in the past mine have been under cooked and runny egg has oozed everywhere.  Not ideal. However, success! This one was perfectly cooked. 

 

Although it didn't get me any marriage proposals (which lets be honest, would have been weird considering the only people to eat it were my sister and very recent boyfriend), it was sure one good pie! The boyfriend even said it was the best bacon and egg pie he'd ever eaten... although that could just be so I keep cooking for him. 

Ceri xx

The new café in my life...

I'm a creature of habit.  If I find something I like, I tend to stick to it.  That black dress that makes my chest look amazing? I'll wear it until people begin to question if I own other clothes.  Gold eye shadow and nude lippy is the only make up look I have mastered.   I also consistently rock gold and nude nails (to match my make up, obviously). 

The same goes for when I eat out.  Yes, I do like to try new things but I cling to my favourite places like a child clings to their security blanket.  For the past few years, Little Bird Unbakery has been my go to for brunch with girlfriends.  Raw, nutritious, organic goodness.  What more could a girl want? Imagine my horror when my friend Sam came to stay and suggested *gulp* we go somewhere else.

Sam was visiting from Napier, and being a type 1 diabetic and studying holistic nutrition, food plays a pretty big role in her life (check out her blog here).  She is definitely a foodie and if anyone was going to suggest somewhere good to eat, it would certainly be Sam.  After going through a few stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining etc.) I finally accepted we were off to somewhere new - Major Sprout. 

Little Bird, I still love you but there’s a new café in my life.  I honestly can’t believe I haven’t tried Major Sprout before.  From the moment I walked in, I loved the ambience - sleek modern décor, combined with luscious greenery.  And I literally wanted everything on the menu.  I kept sending the poor waitress away as I needed more time to decide, everything just sounded so good!  Eventually I settled on the healthy option of Herbed Broken Eggs & Broccolini with house cured slab bacon (buttermilk pancakes almost had me).  My meal was delicious! And came on the Midnight Baker’s Freedom loaf (wheat, gluten, dairy, nut, egg, refined sugar and yeast free), which I had wanted to try for a while.  It definitely did not disappoint.   As we finished our meals, Sam smugly turned to me “You’re going to be here all the time now, aren’t you?” And she wasn’t wrong.  The next day I was back trying the Peanut buttercup Smoothie. Shhhh.

Ceri xx

My yummy  Herbed Broken Eggs & Broccolini, with zucchini, pecorino, onion &oregano salsa, freedom loaf and house-cured slab bacon

My yummy  Herbed Broken Eggs & Broccolini, with zucchini, pecorino, onion &oregano salsa, freedom loaf and house-cured slab bacon