Quickly Gluten Free

A blog about convenience foods that are gluten free

Month: July 2015

July crafting

This is totally not a normal post, but you know, it’s a blog, and I feel the need to share my pinterest-crafty stuff on here on occasion. I’ll try to confine it to one big post each month.

Watercolors with marker

Project technique from Alisa: http://alisaburke.blogspot.com/2015/06/kids-markers-tips-and-tricks-for-adults.html

Watercolor invitations

I never thought about doing watercolors before because I prefer vibrant colors. However, I only had five invitations to color, so it seemed financially poor judgement to get them professionally done when I had card stock, markers, scissors, and 5″x7″ envelopes sitting around.

I did find the design of the invitation in a google image search, and tracked it back to an Etsy shop located here. It is called “Hanging Jars Gender Reveal Invitation.” I freehanded the black and white sketch on my laptop using Microsoft Paint.

Sign/Easel from Baby crib ends

Project technique from Larissa: http://www.prodigalpieces.com/2013/06/repurpose-an-old-baby-crib

yard sale sign

I picked the crib ends and rails up at a yard sale about a year ago. The seller told me they had been in a barn for awhile, probably about ten years. I stuck them in my garage and waited for time to do the projects I wanted. I already had a drying rack from the rails of another crib my Mom made for me three years ago (we use it to dry cloth diapers), and I intended to make another drying rack.

Once I knew we were doing a yard sale, I bought white spray paint with primer and two hinges at our favorite home improvement store, but I ran out of time to do the extra work as we got closer to the sale day. Turns out, these dusty things are actually quite pretty in their naturally stained splendor. I used Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean them up, and they are really in good condition. I used two bungee cords from the dollar store (pack of four) to secure the tops of the drop-down rods to each other. It wouldn’t really be safe to put out unsupervised in this state–they are just propped against each other. So, I took it to my porch each night and set it out when the dew burned off each morning.

The pink is just posterboard from the dollar store. I used black acryllic to paint the words because I didn’t have enough Sharpies to do the lettering as thick as I wanted.

Tomato Bisque (Soup)

Soup

Name: Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Bisque

Package Description: “Fire Roasted Perfection: Simple, savory, and comforting…”

Brand: Pacific Natural Foods

Grocer: Target

Price point: $2.99 regular price, $2.54 on clearance.

Why I picked it up: Looking for something new to try.

Summary of Preparation: Open box, heat on stove, serve.

soup in potsoup in bowl

Initial impression: Kinda sour.

Lasting impression: The texture is nice. And once you get used to it, the flavor is pleasant. Meh, it’s soup in a box that happens to be gluten-free.

Recommended Accompaniments: I ate it with a cheese quesadilla.

Kid friendly: No idea, they don’t like tomato soup, so I didn’t offer it.

Repurchase point: Yes, because it’s heartier than Campbell’s regular Tomato soup and has a mild taste. Perfect with a cheese sandwich or something similar.

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Cornbread Mix

Cornbread

Name: Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

Package Description: Sweet, moist and delicious; Melts in your mouth

Brand: Live G Free

Grocer: Aldi

Price point: $1.89-ish

Why I picked it up: Haven’t had cornbread in awhile. I don’t particularly like cornmeal-only cornbread, I prefer to use flour. So, I thought we could try it.

Summary of Preparation: You mix the ingredients into a batter, but let it sit for a few minutes before you pour it in the pan and bake it. And yes, we greased the pan (butter…. mmmmm), but I guess it needed more.

Cornbread in the panCornbread 2

Initial impression: Cupcake.

Lasting impression: It’s sugar. Lots and lots of sugar. So, if you enjoy Yankee cornbread… you will like it. The texture is fluffy like a yellow cake.

with soup

Recommended Accompaniments: I initially served this with black bean soup, but I served the leftover portions with sugared strawberries for a quick shortcake dessert.

Kid friendly: They gobbled it up, of course. It was mostly sugar!

Repurchase point: If I want to have strawberry shortcake, sure. But as a savory bread item, can’t do it.

 

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Chicken Nuggets

GF Chicken Nuggets

Name: Fully Cooked Chicken Nuggets

Package Description: Breaded Nugget Shaped Chicken Breast Patties with Rib Meat

Brand: Live G Free

Grocer: Aldi

Price point: $4.99

Why I picked it up: It was the first time I saw GF chicken nuggets on the shelf for less than $6.00 a package.

Summary of Preparation: Cook in microwave for 50-60 seconds, more time as needed.

Initial impression: They are tiny.

Lasting impression: They are tiny. Seriously, a little bigger than a quarter, about a half-inch thick. Calling it a “patty” is being very generous. Maybe they are cut from chicken patties, but these are like chicken “bites.” The breading is decently seasoned (they claim paprika and tumeric specifically), and the chicken inside tastes like minced chicken from your typical fast food place.

Recommended Accompaniments: I eat mine with Chick-fil-a Honey Roasted BBQ sauce or Marie’s Blue Cheese salad dressing. It works as a small snack or you can prepare ten of them as a main dish with a salad/veggie/fruit combo.

Kid friendly: Not mine, but maybe yours? The kids like their regular Chicken McNuggets or CFA grilled nuggets but refuse to eat these Aldi ones in any quantity. If I slice it in half, they will try a bite, but I think that’s more of a courtesy than because they want any…

Repurchase point: Yes. I’ve bought three bags in the last month, but remember I’m also pregnant and need the protein.

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Macaroni and Cheese

mac and cheese

Name: Macaroni and Cheese

Package Description: Gluten free corn pasta in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce microwave meal.

Brand: Live G Free

Grocer: Aldi

Price point: $0.99

Why I picked it up: Had to see if this freezer meal lived up to its’ cousin in the stovetop preparation method.

Summary of Preparation: Microwave the tray for 3:30, stir, sit for 2 minutes.

pre-microwavestirred food

Initial impression: Seasoned well, but chalky texture in the sauce.

Lasting impression: Let’s talk prep first. I’ve not seen such a quickly microwaved entree since I had Michelina’s brands of similar foods. I think that the timing method is fine and gets the job done. My husband said the pasta was a little chewy, but I think he was expecting rice pasta instead of corn (corn is denser of the two in my experience). And I was very pleased to see that there was real shredded cheddar on the top of the meal, right out of the box.

The seasoning for the entree is very good. Not too much salt, and it is creamy to a certain degree. There is an underlying texture problem with the cheese sauce. It seemed a little chalky throughout the meal. I’m not sure if it is the cheese sauce alone, or the combination of the sauce and the shredded cheese that just doesn’t work for me.

Recommended Accompaniments: I ate this as a side with chili and tortilla chips.

Kid friendly: Nope. Both my 3.5 year old and my 2 year old turned their nose up at it on first glance and refused to even taste it. Which is weird–they LOVE mac and cheese.

Repurchase point: Nope. Texture is not what I was hoping for.

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Mozzarella Sticks

In this blog review, I learned how to properly spell “mozzarella,” hooray for learning new things!

Mozzarella Sticks

Name: Mozzarella Sticks

Package Description: Gluten Free, all natural, breaded strips of creamy mozzarella.

Brand: Health is Wealth

Grocer: Food City

Price point: $6.23, but $4.40 on close-out special.

Why I picked it up: It was finally marked down, I figured I could take a chance. Especially since it was being removed from inventory–I might not get another chance.

Summary of Preparation: Bake in oven for 8 minutes, turning once.

Pre-bakingbaked product

Initial impression: Wow, that has some taste! I’m impressed!

Lasting impression: Wow, these are very tasty! I haven’t had a mozzarella stick in about 4 months now, and I am so very glad I picked them up! The breading gets crunchy if you let it cool a little bit. I tried mine while it was still hot, and the breading was a little mushy for my first stick. The mozzarella is very tasty. And there is a short lingering aftertaste of oregano that is quite pleasant. I was very pleased with the quality of the product.

Let’s talk about serving size first. Yes, they are shorter than your typical mozzarella stick. They are also a little wider, so it evens out if you are comparing them to others. There were 15 in the box, though I was expecting only 12 due to the Nutritional Facts label. That is a good thing–more servings for later! Yay for extra food.

A point of contention: there is a photo of marinara dipping sauce on the front of the package, but it is NOT included in the box. Supply your own marinara if you desire it, but the sticks are so tasty, you might not want any.

Recommended Accompaniments: This is an appetizer, so stick them in while you are making the other aspects of your meal and you can nosh on them while making the main course. Yum!

Kid friendly: No idea. I didn’t want to share!

Repurchase point: Yes, if you can get them on sale. $6.50 for a package of 15 sticks works out to a per unit price of $0.44 each, which really hurts. It’s cheaper than a restaurant’s wheat-battered editions, yes, but still makes me cringe to spend that much on a frivolity.

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Rice Crusted Fish Sticks

Dr. Praeger's Rice Crusted Fish Sticks

Name: Rice Crusted Fish Sticks

Package Description: All Natural, Gluten Free, Wild Caught Alaskan Pollock Fillets

Brand: Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods

Grocer: Target

Price point: $2.64 on clearance, $5.29 regular price

Why I picked it up: GF fish sticks of this quality were worth taking a chance. I got all five boxes that were left on the shelf.

Summary of Preparation: Bake for 11 minutes, then flip and bake another 8.

Initial impression: Crunchy and so rich!

Lasting impression: These are absolutely incredible fish sticks. I don’t say that about many breaded items, but man, these are way more awesome than store-brand regular (wheat coated) ones that you prepare in similar fashion. And my kids love them. The taste of the fish is so flavorful and succulent, way more than I was expecting. I ate about 8 of them (which is half the package), but I was also in my first trimester of pregnancy, so take that with a grain of salt. The size of the stick is about the same as the typical store-brand fish sticks I used to buy for the kids.

Caution, though, the breading tends to come off of the fish if you are hasty with flipping them over. See the below photo where my dear and darling husband used a spatula to do “four at once, honey, it goes quicker—-oops!” We cooked two boxes at once for a family meal in these photos.

imageoopscomplete meal

The fish sticks are the plate on the right. Not all of the contents of two boxes fit on the plate, we were just serving family style for this meal to teach my kids how to serve themselves. The other items on this table are Ole Rida Tater Tots and Live G Free Deluxe Rice Shells and Cheese.

Recommended Accompaniments: Ketchup and tater tots. And a vegetable of your choice. You can’t go wrong with these, really. Salad if you really want one?

Kid friendly: Yes. I gave my kids the intact fish sticks because they are still finger-food eaters, but if you have older kids that use their fork, then they can, of course, eat even the broken up sticks. They gobbled them up with the ketchup.

Repurchase point: Yes. Because I’ve had them, I know they are worth every penny. At $5.29 regular price, you would be paying $0.35 a fish stick, so I got a steal at $0.18 a stick. I’m on the lookout for them every time I got to Target, though it’s unlikely that they will restock them. The “sell by” date was about a year from when I bought them, they were obviously clearance-ing out the item from inventory. The regular store-brand sticks are a $0.08 a stick, though (on BOGO sale), so just keep in mind that “you get what you pay for.”

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Deluxe Rice Shells and Cheese (and Rice Pasta and Cheese)

It’s a double post! Two for the price of one today, Happy Fourth of July!

Deluxe Rice Shells and CheeseMac and cheese

Name: Deluxe Rice Shells & Cheese / Deluxe Rice Pasta & Cheese

Package Description: Whole grain brown rice shells (White & brown rice pasta) with a creamy real cheddar cheese sauce

Brand: live G free

Grocer: Aldi (www.aldi.us)

Price point: $1.29 on sale, $1.99 regular price.

Why I picked it up: Looking for a stovetop Mac and Cheese option, I was astonished to see a GF option at this price point. I wanted to see if it lived up to a taste test.

Summary of Preparation: Similar to others–boil water, add mac, cook for 12 minutes (see below), then drain and add contents of cheese sauce packet.

Shells: Prepared dish

 

Pasta: rice pastaimageimage

Initial impression: Has a mild cheese taste.

Lasting impression: First, just a note about preparation. Be sure that you boil the shells (and the pasta noodle version) for the full 12 minutes. You could even turn off the eye and go to 13 or 14 minutes if you are busy at the sink or something. I tried doing the 10 minutes the first time, and they were chewy. I didn’t want to overook the noodles, but these things are a little thicker than other rice noodles you can get in bulk.

Second, you will love the taste of the sauce. On repeated bites, I found that it was sufficiently cheesy to satisfy my craving for store-brand cheesy mac that I used to get for $1.79/box. Sure, there are other brands (Annie’s comes to mind at $1.99/box at Target) that do a great job, but this selection will not break your grocery budget upon repeated purchase. So, if you have gluten-sensitive kids under the age of 8 or are pregnant… this selection at Aldi will help you stick to your budget. Especially if you get it on a flash sale.

Recommended Accompaniments: I most recently used this as a side dish with dinner of fish sticks and tater tots. We also served salad.

Kid friendly: Yes. If your kids already like shells and cheese from the regular box, then they will like this. Mine ask for seconds all the time.

Repurchase point: Budget-friendly and tasty. Absolutely yes with no reservations.

Shells: life G Free Deluxe Mac and Cheese (back)

Pasta: image

 

 

Rice Mac and Cheese

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Name: Rice Mac and Cheese

Package Description: Tender gluten free rice noodles in a rich and creamy cheddar cheese sauce

Brand: Full Circle

Grocer: Food City

Price point: $2.50 on sale, $3.99 regular price.

Why I picked it up: I have tried other GF options under this label, and I liked them well enough. I figured that this would be an acceptable staple to add to my repertoire of quick lunch meals.

Summary of Preparation: Microwave for 5 minutes, stir, then microwave another minute.

Rice Mac and Cheese

Initial impression: Wow, that is creamy and bland.

Lasting impression: It’s not so bad if you are looking for something that is simply going to fill you up. However, at 640mg of sodium per box serving, I have no idea how it tastes so bland. Where is the salt hiding? I don’t get it. The texture is nice, and the serving size is fine for one person to eat as a main dish for a meal.

Recommended Accompaniments: A vegetable and a fruit would go nicely with it to round out your meal.

Kid friendly: Nope. I shared a portion with my four-year-old for a quick snack. She apparently didn’t like it very much because she only ate about two bites then found another activity. She should have gobbled it down–she loves mac and cheese.

Repurchase point: Yes, for people that just need bland food every once in awhile. And only if it is on sale.

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