The Great Chicago Gluten Free Challenge

There are a few facts I know about my dearest friend Jon Beebe when I’m cooking for him.

  1. No beef or pork.  Side note: Not a fan of cutting meat off the bone.
  2. Allergies to bananas, mushrooms, and shellfish.
  3. Dairy sensitivity

Late last year he had to add this to the list.

4. Gluten Free

Knowing very little about this diet I found myself roaming the Whole Foods Gluten Free aisle.  I gave him a bag worth of random products over the holidays with the message…

Merry Christmas my dear friend.

Now eat something.

Cooking for Jon has always been a healthy challenge, but Gluten Free? This felt out of my comfort zone. So when he visited me this month, I wanted to commit to making some meals at home.  I bought a cookbook called “Cooking For Isaiah” to help me through the weekend.

 

What a culinary savor.

Seriously.

I made some of the easiest recipes to play it as safe as possible.  Here is the quick overview:

Cinnamon-Toasted Belgian Waffles

“I wouldn’t haven known it was gluten free.” – Jon

 I doubled the recipe, and in my massive Kitchen Aid waffle maker, it only made 5. But it was enough. I like my waffles a tad bit crispy, so I would up the cooking by 45 seconds.

Puffy Peach Pancake Pie with Caramel Maple Syrup

“Peaches compliment this perfectly.” – Jon

I was worried that these would be too sugary, but they weren’t.

Penny’s Apple-Brown Sugar Coffee Cake

“I loved them all, but this this one is my favorite.” – Jon

I kept thinking that there wasn’t enough batter, but it turned out beautifully. It came together in a snap.

Asparagus Risotto Casserole

“MmmMmm!” – My hubby who’s not even Gluten Free

I marinated and grilled some chicken to compliment this recipe. It was filling and full of flavor. Next time I would cut the asparagus smaller or work different veggies in the mix.

We also went out to a few new places:

Ranalli’s:

Jon raved it’s the best gluten free pizza crust he’s had so far– even more than Buddy’s GF version. Which caught my husband’s attention: he likes Buddy’s GF crust as much as their regular crust.

Mity Nice:

Gluten Free Cheese Puffs? OMGeeeeeee! We loved these. Jon also happily consumed these with his club sandwich.

Tank Noodle:

Tank Noodle doesn’t have a Gluten Free menu like the others, but Jon was dreaming about dish number V154 from his last trip.

Rice noodle curry tofu with taro, onion, cilantro, coconut milk. Nom! Instead of the noodles he ordered it with rice. Just as magical for the taste buds as he hoped it would be.

Bistro 110:

Gluten Free Squash Soup? Yum. Gluten Free drinking options? Yes, you have our attention. Just when this feast was looking up, Jon bit into his trout dish and had to send it back. He ended up getting the ½ of chicken and he was pleased with that.  I also would like to note that our non-gluten free dishes were delicious.  I haven’t found a bolognese that matched my grandmothers so closely.

With that, it looks like Bistro 110 is undergoing some changes. Hope their new chapter continues to show love for the Gluten Free folks.

Mia Francecsa

Jon had the Linguine Aglio Olio… The Quinoa gluten-free linguine was much different in texture than he expected, but he did enjoy it.

Until Jon visits again, I’ll have to keep my eye out for the next must-eat places.

I know The Peninsula will be on our list. Look at that view!

Little Caesars, Big Wallet

I have a soft spot in my heart for Little Caesars. My Aunt and Uncle used to work in the Fox building downtown for Mr. Ilitch. And one year- when it was take your kid to work day- I was able to attend. I remember being in awe the entire day. I thought it was cool how we were able to make our own pizzas for lunch. I thought it was awesome that we could run the bases in the old Tiger stadium.  I remember even being impressed that they had their own day care in the building. It was a great memory for me.

So my tangent brings me here. Last Sunday. My dad scored tickets to the Detroit Tigers game (we won 6-4).  I ran Stony Creek with my dad earlier that morning (6 miles), so I felt I deserved a big cheesy pizza.

5 dollars Hot and Ready you say? Mmm what about $14.25 for a Little Ceaser’s cheese pizza. That wasn’t a typo. What in the world? How many millions of dollars does Ilitch spend on marketing and advertising assure us that it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, it’s always 5 dollars for a pizza. But I guess it matter is the location… And I guess in Detroit… right across the street from the headquarters, you can find this famous Detroit brand- for almost 3 times the price. I think it was a couple quarters more for pepperoni pizza. Jeeze. Okay Mr. I- I know you own Tigers and the Wings- but can you give me a price break down on why you have inflated your prices so much? You make vegetarian rethink a 3-dollar hotdog. (Just kidding… but still!)
I know the Detroit economy is bad… but you are in the black right?
My mom suggested that if you really sold the pizza for 5 bucks a pizza, you would sell a ton more pizzas, and you would put the hot dog stands out of business. Ha. I think though- it wouldn’t! It would just bring you even more money. Go ahead. Try it. Do a “Hot and Ready” Game Day- and just see the difference! Give your loyal pizza lovers a lil’ break.

I still paid that $14.25- and even on a 90 something degree day- it was delicious. And I still have respect for you, your family and what you have done to downtown Detroit. But my wallet doesn’t like your pricing as much.

Oh, side note! The advertisements used in the stadium with the Pizza, Pizza mascot (Does he have a name?)… The one where he uses his nose to point to the closest vendor- That my friend, is one of the best advertisements have going for you at this point. Your television commercials feel disconnected, 90’s ish… and I kinda feel you are selling board games instead of pizzas. I’m not saying that selling pizza needs to be sexy. I just don’t need be sold to as if I am 4 years old.

Okay… one last word. Can we have a Hot and Ready… but with actual veggies on it?

Isnt he cute?

Isn't he cute?