Category Archives: Just Plain Good

What can I say… this food is “just plain good!”

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

Garden Pagoda, Chickpea, and Broccoli Rabe

Hi, long time no see!

This past two weeks have been super busy!  Work,  job searching/ interviewing, wedding planning, and apartment hunting have pretty much consumed my life in the past few days.  On a more exciting note, we are [possibly] adopting a sister for Jasper.  Key word here is possibly. We weren’t planning on getting a new cat, but I fell in love with this tiny 2 year old gray cat while were were picking up Jasper’s food from Pet Smart.

Hopefully Jasper's new sister "Luna"! (crossing fingers!!!)

What I love about this sweet little girl is that she is just so tiny!  She is two years old and only 6 pounds.  She came from a hoarders home of over 50 cats, probably the reason why she is so small.  She needs a good home (with a big brother to take care of her!).  She even has Jasper’s adorable face!

Tiny "Luna"

Luke and I are still trying to make the decision to adopt her (as you see my mind is made up!).  Our hope is that Jasper would love to have a friend to play with.  However, we are concerned he won’t take to have a little sister in his home.  If anyone has had experience in introducing cats, any advice would be helpful…  I still have some convincing Luke to do! 😉

Now on to the recipe…

Although things have been busy, I still had time to try out a  new chickpea and pasta recipe this week!  Chickpeas are an excellent way to beef up your gluten free pasta dishes. They add a tasy nutty flavor, protein, and loads fiber to your pasta!  Pair this up with a Greek salad and your good to go!  Quick, healthy, and delicious! 🙂

Garden Pagoda, Chickpea, and Broccoli Rabe

Garden Pagoda, Chickpea, and Broccoli Rabe

Ingredients

2 cups of Gluten Free Ancient Harvest Garden Pagodas

1/2 bunch of broccoli rabe (see note)

3/4 cup of low sodium vegetable broth (non-vegetarian option you can replace with low sodium chicken broth for added flavor)

2 teaspoons of chickpea flour (Bobs Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour)

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 can of chickpeas (8oz)

2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1) Prepare broccoli rabe by trimming the ends into 2 inch pieces. Hold aside.

2) In a large pot cook pasta for 6-7 minutes, add broccoli rabe and continue to cook for 3 minutes.  Drain and hold aside.

3) In a small bowl mix together vegetable broth and chickpea flour.

4) Heat olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.  Add garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 minute. Mix in broth and chickpea mixture.  Let simmer mixing constantly.  Add chickpeas, pasta, and broccoli rabe.  Cook for 2 minutes making sure pasta in coated completely stir carefully because pasta tends to break apart).  Salt and pepper to taste.

**If desired add Parmesan cheese at the end!

Note-  Broccoli rabe looks similar to broccoli, but has long stems and leaves surrounding it’s buds.  If you do not have broccoli rabe available, regular broccoli can also be used!

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Filed under It's All About ME!, Just Plain Good

Grab your sombrero, it’s Cinco de Mayo!

Jasper's ready for a fiesta!

Cinco de Mayo is a day to celebrate Mexican pride and heritage, a day to celebrate Latin American culture and commemorate the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th in 1962.

Mexican food is one of my favorites!  Tacos, fajitas, corn burritos, quesadillas, rice, beans, corn chips, guacamole, salsa… the gluten free possibilities are endless! What better way to celebrate Mexican tradition this Cinco de Mayo than with chipotle chicken fajitas, tortilla chips, and homemade mango salsa!

Chipotle Chicken Fajitas

Chipotle Chicken Fajitas

Ingredients

1 fresh squeezed lime

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon brown sugar

2 teaspoons chipotle pepper sauce

2 teaspoons minced garlic (I used jarred minced garlic in olive oil)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound chicken strips (cut into cubes)

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 cup shallots (sliced thin)

4 large corn tortillas

Directions

1) In a large bowl combine lime juice, oregano, brown sugar, chipotle pepper sauce, minced garlic and salt. Add chicken, toss in mixture until coated evenly. Hold aside.

Chipotle Chicken Mixture (before cooked)

2) Heat olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add shallots and saute until tender. Remove shallots from pan and place in a bowl.

Shallots

3) Add chicken to pan and saute until cooked all the way through. Combine chicken and shallots in bowl.

Chipotle Chicken

4) Warm corn tortillas on a pan. Fill with chicken and shallot mixture. Serve with rice.

Large Corn Tortillas

*Alternative* Chipotle Pork Fajita

*Note* You can also try the same recipe using pork! In the past Luke has made this using pork tenderloin and soft white corn tortillas! (shown above)

Mango Salsa

Chips and Salsa... my favorite snack!

Ingredients

2 mangos

1 tomato

1 red bell pepper

1 cup red onion

2 limes, fresh squeezed

1/4 cup minced cilantro

1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp.salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

Directions

1) Combine mango, tomato, red bell pepper, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a large dish. Chill.

2) Serve with your favorite corn chips!

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Filed under Celebrate!, Just Plain Good

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

Stepping into Spring with Gluten Free Pasta

Delicious pasta recipes can easily be turned into yummy gluten free dishes. This past Monday night was Luke’s turn to make dinner.  Worried that we needed to use up the spring onions and mushrooms in the fridge,  I tossed Luke one of my cooking magazines, hoping he would look at some of the pasta recipes and come up with something good.

At first I was worried, watching him look at the spring onion’s large bulbs and hollow green leaves with a puzzled look on his face. “Jame, what part do we eat?” he asked.  Amused, and not quite sure myself I told him to just guess.  I use green onions all the time in my recipes, but this was the first time I ever purchased the similar but extra-large spring onion. Plus I really wanted him to do this on his own!

After Luke got started our kitchen smelled amazing.  Nothing is better than the smell of onions and garlic!  After about 40 minutes , Luke put a plate of my gluten free fusilli pasta in front of me.  It was mixed with caramelized spring onions (yes, he figured them out!), sautéed mushrooms, garlic, vegetable broth, and white wine.  The best part was that it was topped  with gluten free breadcrumbs that had been browned in the oven with garlic.

Let’s just say I am still craving more of this yummy pasta!  This dish was so good and full of flavor, you could not even tell he used gluten free pasta!  I am actually thinking about making this again on Sunday to take to my family as a side dish for Easter!

GF Fusilli with Carmelized Spring Onions and Mushrooms

Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Ingredients

1/2 cup of gluten free breadcrumbs

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups of spring onion, sliced thin

4 white mushrooms

1/2 cup dry vermouth

1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth (Pacific Natural Food’s Low Sodium Organic Vegetable Broth once again is my fav!)

8 oz package of gluten free pasta (I used Bionaturae Gluten Free Fusilli)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

salt (if desired)

Directions

1) Preheat over to 375 °

2) In a small bowl combine the gluten free breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of minced garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  When mixed spread on a cookie sheet and bake until browned (between 5-7 minutes).  Hold aside.

3) Heat remaining olive oil (2 tbs.) in a pan on medium-low heat.  Add onions and let cook for 25 minutes. When there is only 10 minutes left add mushrooms.

4) Meanwhile, cook gluten free pasta according to package directions.

5) After onion and mushroom mixture has cooked for 25 minutes increase heat to medium-high.  Add remaining garlic (1 tbs.) and dry vermouth and cook for 1 minute. Next add vegetable broth and cook for 4-5 minutes.

6) Combine cooked pasta with the onion and mushroom mixture. Season with salt and pepper and top with breadcrumbs.

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Filed under Jamie's Favorites, Just Plain Good, Luke Cooks G-Free!, Sensational Sides