Category Archives: Eat-Drink-Review

My thoughts on products I have tried and places I have been.

So many choices at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant

My favorite restaurant in Manchester New Hampshire is the Puritan Backroom.  The Puritan is a place where Luke and I go to celebrate many happy occasions and accomplishments.  My college graduation, my engagement to Luke, special date nights, new jobs, and even my first 1000 hits on my blog (yes we look for ANY reason to celebrate) are all the happy moments I think of every time I go to the Puritan.  The reason I love the Puritan Backroom Restaurant so much is that they have by far the best and biggest gluten free menu out of all the places I have been.

Check out the menu, I guarantee there is something for everyone!

The Puritan Backroom Restaurant Gluten Free Menu

Two weeks ago Luke and I went to the Puritan Backroom Restaurant and it was delicious (as usual).  I ALWAYS start off the night with their amazing Greek salad (with oil and vinegar on the side).  This salad is my favorite!  I am sure it has to do with the giant hunks of feta cheese they give you.  Yum!!

If you like appetizers there are plenty of gluten free options to choose from. You can order fresh vegetables with Tzatziki (a Greek strained yogurt sauce), fruit cup with sherbert, Loukaniko (grilled Greek sausage with onions and peppers), scallops wrapped in bacon, jumbo shrimp cocktail, or fresh vegetables with hummus.  I typically don’t have enough room for an appetizer, but I could always go for fresh veggies and hummus.  This is a great healthy option to go with a lighter meal.

Choosing an entree is hard for me at this restaurant because there are so many choices!  When I’m in the mood for something on the lighter side I tend to go for the vegetable stir fry.  This meal is a giant plate of summer squash, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, pepper, and onion sauteed over rice. I love this dish because it is nice and healthy, really tasty, and big enough that I have plenty left over for lunch the next day.  Another dish I have tried in the past is the barbequed lamb.  Lamb is not something I usually order, but I tried it one day when feeling more adventurous and loved it.  It’s a smaller plate of barbequed lamb tips on a skewer with onions and peppers.

The only dish I have tried at the Puritan that I would not recommend are the broiled chicken fingers or the broiled chicken parmesan.  The Puritan is well known to have the best (regular) chicken fingers around.  I was hoping the gluten free ones would be similar, but I really just did not like them. The chicken was tough in texture and the gluten free sauce was too sweet for me.  Maybe it was just an “off day”, but there are so many items on the menu I do like, that I am not sure if it is worth trying it again.

I have been on a big fish kick lately, so this past time at the Puritan I ordered the swordfish.  You have the option to choose lemon pepper or Cajun spices.  I love food on the spicy side so I went with the Cajun!  It was delicious!  So far this is my favorite dish on the gluten free menu.  It’s much more expensive compared to other items on the menu ($19.95), but worth it!  I guess I am going to have to save this dish for those extra special occasions!

Some other great reasons to go to the Puritan:

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Filed under Celebrate!, Eat-Drink-Review, Jamie's Favorites, Just Plain Good

All I really need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt!

Another busy week has come to an end.  This one was full of exciting good news, a couple of celebrations, and plenty of chocolate! 

My Week in a Nutshell

On Monday Luke and I adopted a little sister for Jasper.  Her name is Luna (formally known ad Bebe) and she is incredibly sweet!  She’s two years old only weighs 5.8 pounds (Jasper weighs 14!).  Before going to the animal shelter she came from a one bedroom home with over 50 cats!  Looking like a baby herself, she had a litter of kittens this past March, all of which have been adopted.  So far Jasper seems to love her, following her around everywhere she goes.  She doesn’t seem to mind too much, but is still getting used to her new home and her new brother.

Miss Luna girl lounging on the couch

On Tuesday, we had a party at work for my work study student Mireille.  She is graduating from UNH and leaving us to go teach in Tennessee.   At 6 am I decided to make a batch of gluten free brownies before work.  I was in a hurry so I used Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Brownie Mix.   At first I didn’t even tell anyone they were gluten free because I wanted everyone to try them.  They were a hit!  They were really chocolaty and very moist.  No one even noticed the difference!

Congrats Mireille!

UNH President's Office saying goodbye to Mireille!

Wednesday my sister Kasey and her boyfriend Ryan came over and we made my Chipotle Chicken Fajitas!  YUM!!! 🙂  If you haven’t tried them yet, I suggest you give them a try!

Thursday was an awesome day for me.  I was offered a job at Timberland Boot Company.  I was really excited.  I had been trying to find a job there for the past year!  To celebrate Luke took me to my favorite restaurant, The Puritan Backroom in Manchester, NH.  They have an amazing gluten free menu… review to come!!

Friday my friend Jodi and I were up all night making gluten free cupcakes for our best friend’s bridal shower.  Because my vanilla cupcakes were a hit on my birthday, (see my “birthday cupcakes” post) we decided to make a dozen vanilla and a dozen gluten free chocolate cupcakes. For the chocolate cupcakes we used a similar “revised” recipe using Betty Crocker’s chocolate cake mix.

Note: Use the recipe below, DO NOT follow the recipe on the box.

Update Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix

Ingredients

4 large eggs and 1 egg white

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (gluten free)

1 package of Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix

3.4 ounces of jello instant chocolate pudding (powder mix not pre-made)

1/3 cup sugar

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 325°

2) Mix eggs, oil, orange juice,and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

3) In a large bowl mix cake mix, pudding mix, and sugar. Slowly add wet ingredients into the large bowl and mix thoroughly until batter is smooth.

4) Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for approx. 25 minutes.

5) Let cool. Top with your favorite frosting.

I thought these cupcakes came out great!  Like the vanilla, the result was very moist and much better then the original recipe on the box.  Some people say they can taste the orange a little, and others couldn’t tell at all.  The people who could taste it still said they enjoyed the flavor.  We did a mixture of strawberry frosted (my fav!) and vanilla frosted, each sprinkled with edible glitter stars!

Wedding Shower Cupcakes!

And of course… Happy Wedding Shower Day to my beautiful and amazing best friend Ashley Wilson!!

The Bridal Party

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Filed under Celebrate!, Delectably Sweet, Eat-Drink-Review, It's All About ME!

Two Moms in the Raw Gluten Free Goji Berry Bars

 

Starbucks…slightly overpriced, but by far my favorite place to stop in the morning for my much needed non-fat half pump vanilla latte.  I can’t afford to go to Starbucks every morning, but I love that when I am in a hurry I can count on them for great coffee and a natural gluten free product to hold me over to my next meal.  Can’t get that at Dunks!

For the first time a few days ago I tried one of “Two Moms in the Raw” Gluten Free granola bars.  Just like my coffee, I probably over paid for this bar. I think it was around $4.00 (somehow it makes me feel a little better when I don’t pay attention to my total…bad habit!).   I had the choice between goji berry and blueberry.  Feeling adventurous I went with the goji berry.  I’ll be honest with you, my first thought when opening up the package was that this granola bar looked a lot like something you would feed to your pet bird.  Millet, the main ingredient in this product, is also one of the main seeds used in bird food.  Don’t let that scare you however… this bar was really good!

 “What begins as a journey of healing soon becomes an extraordinary adventure”—Two Moms in the Raw

“Two Moms in the Raw” was started by a Shari, a mom of three looking to take a natural approach to improve her health after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Looking for a delicious all natural snack, Shari did some experimenting of her own and came up with raw and organic granolas and sea crackers.  All of her products are 100% raw, 100% organic, and 100% vegan. This means all of the ingredients used in her recipes are in their natural state,  there are no additives, pesticides, or hormones, and no animal products are used.  Each product is handmade and does not contain added oils or refined sugars.

Right now “Two Moms in the Raw” has three flavors of sea crackers; Garden Herb, Pesto, and Tomato Basil, all of which are gluten free.  There are also five flavors of granola, however only the blueberry and goji berry are gluten free.

My goji berry bar…

Slightly tough to bite into, but much chewier and non-crumbly compared to other granola bars. Containing only raw ingredients this bar was made with millet, buckwheat, coconut, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pecans, almonds, pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds), apples, agave (plant nectar often used as a binder or sweetener), cinnamon, sea salt and of course goji berries.  The flavor was delicious, not overly sweet and infused with a yummy cinnamon flavor that really stood out.  If it weren’t for my budget, this is definitely a product I would buy more often!

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Filed under Big on Breakfast, Eat-Drink-Review, Healthy Snacks

Birthday Cupcakes (Improved!!!)

“Birthdays are nature’s way of telling us to eat more cake!”

This past weekend Luke and I both celebrated our 26th birthdays (yes, I am the older woman…but only by a day!).  As a special birthday treat I decided it was time to revisit the cupcake baking mix dilemma from my post back in February (“Whats up cupcake”).  Last time I tried Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix.  It’s not that my cupcakes came out bad, they actually tasted great, they were just much dryer compared to  the non-gluten free cupcakes I remember.

As promised I looked up some ways to moisten up this mix.  Using the same gluten free yellow cake mix by Betty Crocker, I read that adding instant vanilla pudding and orange juice would do the trick!  (Note-other measurements change from the package directions)  I was skeptical about putting orange juice in my vanilla cake mix, but surprisingly the result turned out to be great!  The cupcakes were moist, and were not crumbly the next day like the original recipe.  I got a hint of orange in the flavoring, but this was very slight.  In my opinion the orange may have even improved the flavor!  I made these cupcakes Saturday before Luke and I had some friends over. Knowing that many of my friends had not ever tried gluten free products I asked them to test them out.  They loved them!  A couple of them even asked me if they could wrap one up for the next day!  🙂

If your looking to make some quick and easy gluten free cupcakes I suggest you try Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix using the directions below!~

Update Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

Ingredients

4 large eggs and 1 egg white

1/2cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (gluten free)

1 package of Betty Crocker’s Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

3.4 ounces of jello instant vanilla pudding (powder mix not pre-made)

1/3 cup sugar

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 325°

2) Mix eggs, oil, orange juice,and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

3) In a large bowl mix cake mix, pudding mix, and sugar. Slowly add wet ingredients into the large bowl and mix thouroughly until batter is smooth.

4) Fill muffin tins 2/3 full and bake for approx. 25 minutes.

Delicious colorful spring cupcakes!


Some birthday fun…

Happy Birthday Luke!

Birthday love from my little guy!

Great times with my amazing friends!


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Filed under Delectably Sweet, Eat-Drink-Review, It's All About ME!, Just Plain Good

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies w/Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Coconut

Whether or not you celebrated Easter this past Sunday, I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful weekend with friends and family!

This weekend was great! I spent a lot of quality time with my family, ate lots of good food (and way too many jelly beans!), colored Easter eggs, and made all sorts of delicious gluten free cookies!

My Easter Cookie Platter- IMMACULATE Chocolate Chunk, Almond Butter and White Chocolate Chip, & Almond Butter w/ Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Coconut Cookies... YUM! 🙂

I started off with gluten free chocolate chip cookies.  IMMACULATE BAKING CO. makes my absolute favorite gluten free cookie dough.  Their Jumbo Chocolate Chunk cookies are super easy and come ready-to-bake.  Just take them out of the fridge, break apart, and stick on a pan!  One package will make a dozen cookies in less than 20 minutes.  These cookies are incredibly soft and chewy, and they taste just like a chocolate chip cookie should!  They do not flatten out like cookies traditionally do after when in the oven, but form a round plump cookie instead. Personally I liked them like that, but if you prefer something thinner just flatten out the dough a little before baking.

Chocolate Chip w/ IMMACULATE BAKING CO. Gluten Free Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough

IMMACULATE BAKING CO. Gluten Free Chocolate Chunk Cookie Dough can be found in the refrigerated section in most natural food markets.  I did not have any luck finding this product at my local Shaw’s, Hannaford, or Stop and Shop supermarkets, however, I have noticed it appearing on shelves at several Market Baskets in my area.

The second batch of cookies I made were sort of an experiment.  Using an old recipe given to me for flourless peanut butter cookies I decided to try to make my own flourless almond butter cookies with white chocolate chips (see recipe below- add 1 cup of white chocolate chips/ without chocolate ganache and coconut).  The first tray of cookies I made were not the best, but then I realized I forgot the baking powder… Oops!  The second tray came out pretty good, but I still wasn’t satisfied.  I knew I could do much better…

For the final batch of cookies I decided the white chocolate needed to go.  Instead I made an all almond butter cookie.  Then to add some PIZAZZ, I stirred up a chocolate ganache and toasted shredded coconut in my toaster oven.  When my almond butter cookies were baked and completely cooled I drizzled the chocolate ganache over half of each almond butter cookie and topped each one with the toasted coconut.  Finally a creation I could be proud of! 🙂   Check out my recipe (below) and let me know what you think!

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies w/Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Coconut

Gluten Free

Flourless Almond Butter Cookies w/Chocolate Ganache and Toasted Coconut


Ingredients

(Cookies)

2 cups of creamy Almond Butter

2 cups light brown sugar packed

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons of baking soda

(Chocolate Ganache)

½ cup heavy cream

1 cup of chocolate chips

¾ cup shredded coconut, toasted

Directions

(Cookies)

1) Preheat oven to 350°F

2) Mix together almond butter, light brown sugar, eggs and baking soda in a large bowl until smooth.

3) Drop oversized tablespoons onto an ungreased baking sheet for 10-13 minutes or until lightly browned (depending on how large you make them).

4) Place cookies on wire racks and allow to cool completely.

5) Meanwhile, toast coconut in warmed oven or toaster oven until browned.

(Ganache)

1) In a medium sized glass bowl microwave cream on high for 1 minute.

2) Add chocolate chips and let sit for 2 minutes. Then stir chocolate until mixture is smooth.

3) When cookies have been cooled, spread half the melted chocolate over half of each cookie. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

4) Let set at room temperature.

And just for fun I thought I would add some photos of us coloring our Easter eggs. 🙂  Jasper decided he was going to help too!

Our bright and colorful eggs (too bad we broke one)!

Trying to get creative with the pink!

Very interested in Luke's blue egg!

My handsome guy 🙂

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Filed under Delectably Sweet, Eat-Drink-Review, Fast from the Freezer, Jamie's Favorites