Monday, June 30, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - June 30

It's the end of summer and the beginning of July this week! I can't believe that we are halfway done with this year (and that I am 30.5 years old now).

With the 4th of July at the end of this week, I'm planning on eating lots of hot dogs and hamburgers this week and next. And we have Canyon Bakehouse gluten-free hot dog and hamburger buns (plus a whole lot of other stuff) to eat them on! I won them during May's Celiac Disease Awareness Month celebration from Celiac and the Beast!

So here is this week's meal plan:

Sunday: penne with ricotta and spinach

Monday: hot dogs, corn on the cob, and fries

Tuesday: Six-Layer Burritos (inspired by Rachael Ray's Seven-Layer Burritos)

Wednesday: chicken fingers and fries

Thursday: whatever we have as leftovers

Friday: minor league baseball game!!

Saturday: bacon cheeseburger turkey meatballs

What are you guys eating this week?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Gluten-Free NJ: Alumni Grill in Wildwood

Maybe this should have been this week's Throwback Thursday! These food pictures were taken in August 2013 when my husband and I went down the shore for a free beachside concert. But I never shared them with you! The concert wasn't that great (washed-up '90s bands) but the food - OH THE FOOD!

We stopped in at Alumni Grill in Wildwood, NJ for lunch before the concert. This is a smallish place that offers a gluten-free menu with the use of a designated fryer for gluten-free fried foods. Love it!

My husband was excited because he was able to get hot dogs (you get two of them!) on gluten-free hot dog buns AND fries. I cannot tell you how many places have unsafe french fries because of cross-contamination. But not at this place!

I ordered one of Alumni Grill's many wraps from the regular menu. I'm pretty sure I ordered the Funky Chicken wrap (it's been so long I kind of don't remember): grilled chicken breast, bacon, crumbled bleu cheese, and honey jalapeno sauce. What I do remember about this was that it was DELICIOUS.

I feel like I might have also gotten a side of french fries for myself ... again, I don't really remember. But something else I do remember is that the wrap was so big and so filling! You probably don't need a side order of anything else. The wrap really hit the spot!

If you're traveling down the Jersey Shore this summer, need gluten-free food, and Wildwood or a nearby beach area is your destination, then definitely stop by Alumni Grill and get yourself some gluten-free grub!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

TBT - 2013

Okay, so we're not going THAT far back in time with this week's Throwback Thursday, but 2013 might as well be 2003 at this point. I'm still not done with my 2013 vacation pictures, but I wanted to scrap these pictures of a September 2013 trip to the Statue of Liberty so that I could use up some New York-themed stickers in my stash.

Here's the first page:

These also use some Simple Stories travel stuff that my mom gave me from her scrap stash, as well as some travel-themed October Afternoon embellishments from my stash.

It took me awhile to get these two pages laid out because I just wasn't getting inspired for a four-picture layout. But I think I like the way they both turned out. I just need to put something on the wall that says, "Keep It Simple!" so that I can always be reminded of that when scrapbooking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gluten Freedom - Book Review

image credit
When I stopped by the Turner Publishing booth at Book Expo America last month, I asked about Dr. Alessio Fasano's book Gluten Freedom. My curiosity about the book garnered me an email from the company's PR person who said she would send me a copy to review.

And so here is my review!

I haven't really read many other books about eating and living gluten-free, but apparently, there was just so much misinformation out there, so Dr. Fasano decided that he needed to write a book about it. And it certainly is THE book on gluten-related disorders and Celiac disease.

What gives Dr. Fasano the right to write this book? He's the founder and director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital (started in 1996), the first research and treatment center for Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity in the U.S. This guy has been studying gluten for a LONG time.

No matter where you are in your gluten-free journey (newly diagnosed, parent of a child with Celiac, been living gluten-free for years), Gluten Freedom is an amazing resource of information, tips, and recipes. The book takes you through what gluten is and how it affects the gut and other parts of your body. It offers tips for living a gluten-free life and living well, as well as how to be a pregnant Celiac, the parent of a Celiac, and even a septuagenarian with Celiac. And finally, the book presents many different treatment options in the works aside from a strict gluten-free diet for life. Perhaps a pill or a vaccine will be available for people who have trouble living gluten-free or who do not respond to a gluten-free diet at all.

People today with Celiac disease and other gluten disorders are so lucky that there are people like Dr. Fasano out there working for them, to give them a better quality of life and advocate for their rights. In 1994, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases didn't even acknowledge Celiac disease. Twenty years ago, there weren't many gluten-free food options. And even today, knowledge of Celiac disease among doctors is still rather low. It's estimated that 2.5 to 3 million people in the U.S. have Celiac, but only 2% are diagnosed, leading Dr. Fasano to say that Celiac disease is "humankind's most prevalent genetically linked disease. It occurs much more frequently than type 1 diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or Crohn's disease."

There are personal stories from some of Dr. Fasano's patients within this book, all detailing how difficult it was to get diagnosed and how little knowledge their doctors (before Dr. Fasano) had of Celiac disease. Way back in the day (including the 1930s when one woman was diagnosed as a little girl), people thought that you could outgrow Celiac disease like an allergy!!

I'm lucky that it only took my husband six months to get his Celiac diagnosis. Perhaps it was helpful that we were on our honeymoon when his symptoms really flared up and ended up visiting three different doctors in such a short span of time, plus a regular physician when we got home and then a gastroenterologist. I even made a scrapbook layout of all the doctor's forms.

Two of the doctors on our vacation told my husband it was just GERD. The third doctor sent us for an ultrasound because he thought my husband had stomach cancer. (This was on our honeymoon!!!!) The primary care physician back home told my husband it was all in his head. But the gastroenterologist knew what was going on and ordered an endoscopy where he saw signs of acid reflux and Celiac disease. A blood test then confirmed the presence of antibodies for Celiac disease.

So as not to make this review any longer, I'll just quickly get back to the book and add that some parts are a little science-y and went over my head. Those parts sort of read like something from a medical journal. They probably won't be interesting to people who aren't affected by Celiac disease or gluten-related disorders, but if you are affected in any way, this is definitely a book to pick up. There's lots of new information to learn and new recipes to try - my favorite part!

Gluten Freedom is published by Turner Publishing and is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Factory Tour - St. Louis, MO

I've been on several factory tours in my lifetime. They're fun to do, and usually free, and sometimes you even get samples. So when I found out that the St. Louis-based Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Factory gave free tours of its chocolate factory, I knew I had to go check it out.

Now THIS was a real-life Willy Wonka experience!

The tour is free, but there is a special tasting room that you can also access for $5. We didn't partake in that portion of the tour, but it would have been kind of cool to get a golden ticket.

Because you're walking right into the factory, they don't just let you run loose. The tour is guided, and you've got to stay behind the yellow rope, but you get to see where they mix all the chocolate and the machines they use. 

You also get to taste some of the chocolate! That's probably the best part, I've got to admit. That day, the workers were making chocolate caramel. We also got to sample chocolate-covered graham crackers and nonpareils. 

There is plenty of fun stuff to do in St. Louis (the Arch, the zoo, the science center, a Cardinals game, Imo's Pizza), but if you've got room on your travel itinerary for this place, I would recommend it.

Oh, there's also a chocolate shop, of course, so after you sample all the chocolate on the tour, you can buy even more of it to take home! YES!

I'm a fan of the molasses puffs, myself. 

Just a note, this is not for people who have food allergies or Celiac Disease. I did not take my husband on this tour (or the whole trip to St. Louis), so without him, I participated in LOTS of gluten activities. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Meal Plan Monday - June 23

I bet you've missed my Meal Plan Mondays, huh? Well, it's baaaaaack! And if you didn't miss it, well, too bad. Here's the meal plan for this week anyway:

Sunday: Popeye Turkeyburgers

Monday: on our own

Tuesday: Fresh Corn and Ricotta Pasta (from the July/August 2014 Everyday with Rachael Ray)

Wednesday: gluten-free chicken tenders and fries

Thursday: leftover turkey burgers

Friday: penne with ricotta cheese and greens

Saturday: gluten-free Pea Pesto Pasta

Friday, June 20, 2014

Gluten-Free at Coca-Cola Park/Iron Pigs

My husband and I went to an Iron Pigs minor league baseball game in Pennsylvania over Memorial Day weekend. It was beautiful weather and a lot of fun! Plus, we were so surprised to see that they had a gluten-free food stand!

That's a good selection, right? They also had gluten-free hot dogs, which were on a separate sign on the stand.

We really hadn't expected them to provide gluten-free food, and so we didn't even bother to check before we went. We actually packed our own lunch and ate it in the car. And then we saw the stand! And then we saw this at the pizza stand:

They offer a personal gluten-free pizza, too! How cool is that? And the prices are pretty decent, too!

All the food aside, it was a nice stadium, and we enjoyed watching the Phillies' Triple A team play.

Because the team is called the Iron Pigs, there are lots of pig and bacon touches everywhere. I don't know if you can see, but there is a slice of bacon painted on the field behind home plate.

They also painted pig tails at the end of the parking space lines. I found it entertaining:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

DIY - Foyer/Entryway Table & Decor

I finally completed our foyer/entryway. I wanted to get a little table and some decorative items to go on the table/on the wall. I also wanted to put up privacy film on the windows next to our door so that creepy people and creepy cats (true story!) can't sneak a peek into our home and freak us out while we're sitting on the couch and watching TV.

Well, done and done. Here's the result:

The table came from Walmart (used a gift card to buy it!) and it took me about two hours to assemble. I still want to find something decorative to put on both sides of the mirror. I keep meaning to take a trip to HomeGoods and TJ Maxx (where I found some of the items you see in the picture above), but I just don't have the time!

And here is what the front door looks like with our privacy film on the windows. It was pretty easy to do. I was inspired by this post over at Young House Love. (That website will give you serious house envy. You've been warned.)

I guess you can't really tell from a picture. But just try to come over to our house and snoop in at us! HA! A good amount of light still comes through, but no little (cat) faces can see through. (Seriously, that freaked me out.)

I also bought and purchased a new bookcase for our "library" and now our mass of books is corralled. The bookshelf KIND of looks like it's going to fall over. I did go for the cheapo Target brand (and technically, got it for free thanks to Target gift cards and a $10 off coupon...), but I'm sure that my building abilities will keep the bookcase stable.

What have you been up to at your house?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I Become Shadow - YA Book Review

Last week, I posted a special guest post from author Joe Shine about who he would cast in the movie version of his book I Become Shadow. If you didn't read that, you can read it here. Joe only cast one of the characters, Gareth, from the book, but there are so many more characters in this action-packed young adult novel.

The main character is Ren. She's 14, kind of an outcast, definitely not part of the popular crowd, full of wisecracks. (And for some reason, even though she is not sexually active, she's having her first OB-GYN appointment at 14. 14!!!! It's not recommended that you have that until you turn 21 or become sexually active - whatever comes first. But that's okay, Joe. I'll let it slide.)

Ren's first day of high school doesn't go so hot, but she doesn't have to think about it for too long because that night, she is kidnapped by a mysterious organization called F.A.T.E. Once there, she goes through four years of training to prepare for her role as "shadow" (like a bodyguard) for a "future important person". Enter Gareth, a dorky but very smart college freshman who will one day invent something that could change the world.

And there are people who don't like that. Those are the people from whom Ren must protect Gareth. But just who are "those people"? Who can Ren trust?

This is only the first book in a series, and so there is much more to come from Ren and F.A.T.E. This book definitely piqued my interest, and I can't wait to find out what happens next. I like that the main character is female, and even though Ren does have a love interest, it doesn't take over her life, unlike in other female-driven YA books.

I also liked the author bio on the back cover of my advance review copy. Joe Shine basically wrote this book because his wife told him to write her a story. And so he did! And now he's got a book deal for it! Pretty cool!

I Become Shadow is published by Soho Teen and is available to purchase now. I received a free advance review copy for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books on My Summer To-Be Read List

I'm participating in another Top Ten Tuesday! This week it's all about the top 10 books on my summer to-read list!

I have way more than 10 books on my to-read list. You can see them all on my GoodReads page here. But if I had to pick just 10 that I really want to read this summer, here's what I'd go with:

1. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
Everyone I know who has read this book has LOVED it. The movie is already out, but I'm not going to see it until I read the book.

2. The Unfinished Presidency: Jimmy Carter's Journey to the Nobel Peace Prize - Douglas G. Brinkley
This book will be on my to-read list indefinitely. My library system doesn't have it, so I will just have to buy it eventually. Could be good to bring on vacation as long as it fits in my bookbag.

3. Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease--What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again - Jennifer Esposito
Definitely want to support fellow Celiac Disease advocates!

4. Gluten Freedom: The Nation's Leading Expert Offers the Essential Guide to a Healthy, Gluten-Free Lifestyle - Alessio Fasano, MD
I will definitely be reading this book this summer because I'm getting a review copy sent to me! Woo!

5. I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star - Judy Greer
You'd know Judy Greer if you saw her, even if you can't think of what you've seen her in. I remember her from way back in the day when she was Fern in Jawbreaker. What a movie!

6. Everybody's Got Something - Robin Roberts
I feel like summertime is the perfect time for something uplifting.

7. What We Talk About When We Talk About God - Rob Bell
I like Rob Bell. I'd read anything he writes.

8. The Change Your Life Challenge - Brook Noel
This sounds like something I need!

9. Hitler's Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields - Wendy Lower
Just thought this book sounded interesting. I enjoy reading books about unknown (to me, at least) parts of history.

10. Earthquake - Aprilynne Pike
I have an advance review copy of this on my desk, so look for the review! It's the sequel to Earthbound, which I liked, and you can read my review of THAT by clicking here.

What's on your to-read list right now? Share in the comments! You can see more to-read lists at The Broke and the Bookish.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Anthonino's On the Hill - St. Louis, MO

We have another random week this week, so there really isn't much of a meal plan to share. Instead, I will leave you with some pictures of food I ate over the weekend at the yummy Anthonino's Taverna On the Hill in St. Louis, Missouri. They have some VERY delicious toasted ravioli, a St. Louis specialty.

Even though I'm from St. Louis, I had never eaten at Anthonino's or been to The Hill area. I actually saw this place on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. So, I definitely wanted to check it out and eat some toasted ravioli! I love toasted ravioli, and it just doesn't exist out here in New Jersey.

The toasted ravioli from the show is actually an appetizer. It comes with six on a plate. That might not seem like a lot, but we discovered that the ravioli is HUGE and could definitely be eaten as an entree. You can also get pizza, pasta, burgers, and other sandwiches. (No gluten-free menu, FYI.)

If you find yourself in St. Louis and are looking for a good place to eat, then I'd recommend Anthonino's. They have outdoor seating, too, and on a nice day, it's really pleasant!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Father's Day Cookies

A couple years ago, I received a cookie cutter set with some rather unusual cookie cutters in it, i.e. a bowtie and tie. I wasn't really sure when I was ever going to make cookies in the shapes of bowties and ties, and then it hit me.

Father's Day cookies!

So that's what I decided to do this year for my dad. (Don't worry. By the time this posts, I'll have already given him the cookies. Surprise not ruined.)

He's so hard to shop for. He never seems to need or want anything. But cookies are something that I can make for him, and who doesn't ever want or need cookies?

I was also very excited about these cookies because it meant I got to break in my new KitchenAid stand mixer! I left the mixer running and ran out to the living room to inform my husband that I was mixing cookie batter without my hands! He was not as excited as I was.

I used the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip package, but instead of dropping balls of cookie dough onto a baking sheet, I followed these directions, also from Nestle, to cook one big sheet cookie. Once my sheet cookies (I made two) cooled, I used the cookie cutters to cut out the shapes.

Some notes:

1. I did not make these cookies gluten-free, but you could certainly use a gluten-free cookie recipe and do the same thing.

2. After cutting out the cookie shapes, I was left with a lot of random cookie odds and ends. I just threw them in a Tupperware container and plan on eating them. All of them.

3. Be careful because the cookies are very soft, and depending on your cookie cutter, the cookies may break. I had that issue with the tie-shaped cookie cutter. The bowtie cookies held up a little better.

4. You could decorate your cookies with frosting or icing, but I decided not to because I knew the frosting would just get smushed in my bag. These cookies had to be easily transportable.

What are you doing for Father's Day? Don't forget, it's this Sunday! Happy Father's Day!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I Become Shadow - Who Would You Cast? (Guest Post)

I'm participating in a blog tour today for the new YA novel I Become Shadow by Joe Shine. I've got a copy of the book on my desk all ready to read and review for you next week, but until then, how about I turn it over to Joe Shine himself so he can entice you to read the book?

If I Become Shadow was a movie, here is who Joe would cast as the main character of Gareth:

author Joe Shine
This is a fun one for me, and a bit tricky too because I have to choose someone who can fit both the Gareth of now (a shy, dorky college freshman) with the man I see him becoming in the future. I don’t want to give anything away here, but who Gareth is in this first book is not the man who comes out the other side of this story. I need the diamond in the rough, the, and I’m proudly dating myself here, Patrick Dempsey in Can’t Buy Me Love, the Rachael Leigh Cook in She’s All That. Whoever is cast as Gareth will need to be able to complete the same makeover over the course of the series. So with that in mind, the only person I know of who looks not only young enough to be Gareth, but is also capable of being nerded down from his normally attractive self is Logan Lerman.

Okay, you can click on the link above to see a picture of Logan Lerman or you can just look below:

It's the kid from the Percy Jackson movies (the books are way better) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which I still have not seen, but I liked the book)!! I think being cast in a movie version of I Become Shadow would be a great career move for Logan! Nice choice, Joe!

Now, of course, I'll have Logan Lerman in my head as I read the book - which I'm not complaining about! Come back to the blog next week to see what I thought of the book! And if you're on GoodReads, visit Joe Shine's author page and see what books he's reading right now! (Hope you're liking Liv, Forever, Joe!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Merciless - YA Book Review

When you open up Danielle Vega's YA novel The Merciless, the first thing you notice is the warning: "For mature audiences only." I'm not really sure how that fits in with the book's 14+ age rating because I'm pretty sure that not all 14-year-olds (or 15-year-olds or 16-year-olds, etc.) are mature. And certainly not all teens (or adult readers, for that matter) will be able to handle this novel's graphic content. So, consider yourself warned.

The first thing I thought of when I started reading this book was that it was basically a horror story version of Mean Girls. Riley in this book is Regina George. Alexis is Gretchen. Grace is Karen (though only by default because their character looks and personalities are really not the same). Brooklyn is Janis Ian. And Sofia is Cady. (A movie version of The Merciless is actually in the works, according to The Hollywood Reporter. I imagine the movie will be rated R.) 

So what's the story? Well, Sofia is the new girl in school and she ends up becoming friends with the popular girls: Riley, Alexis, and Grace. The three girls are very religious, drinking lots of holy wine and baptizing Sofia in the school bathroom. The girls don't like school rebel Brooklyn, and Sofia doesn't understand why at first. Brooklyn, despite her tattoos and piercings, seems like a nice enough girl. But then Sofia witnesses Brooklyn making out with Riley's boyfriend, and when Sofia tells this to Riley, all hell breaks loose. Literally.

Riley wants to "save" Brooklyn, and so the girls end up kidnapping Brooklyn and forcing an exorcism on her, complete with knives, fire, and a whole lotta blood. 

I wasn't really sure just who the crazy person was in this novel. Is it Riley with her warped sense of Christianity? Is it Alexis with her nervous habit of pulling out her hair? Is it Brooklyn, who seems to cause Sofia to have weird visions? Or is it Sofia, who could just be imagining some of the crazy things she's seen? The ending will really surprise you. Well, it surprised me. You just never know who really has evil inside them.

The Merciless is published by Razorbill and will be available to purchase on June 12, 2014. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I've Read So Far This Year

So, there's this little book meme going on in the online book world started by the wonderful The Broke and the Bookish (I just love that blog name!) called Top Ten Tuesdays. I decided that I wanted to participate! Every Tuesday there is a different themed list, and this week the theme is Top Ten Book I've Read So Far This Year.
onderful book blogger

Thanks to good old GoodReads, figuring this out was very easy for me. According to my GoodReads stats, I have read 33 books so far this year, and I've only given three of them a five-star rating. Here are those top three books:

1. The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak
2. Returning to Shore by Corinne Demas
3. Clout  by Jenni Catron

And then here are seven more, in no particular order:
4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
5. The Sisters by Nancy Jensen
6. A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller
7. The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
8. Liv, Forever by Amy Talkington
9. The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are by Sheila Walsh
10. The Twelve-Fingered Boy by John Hornor Jacobs

What are your top 10 books so far this year? Share in the comments! You can also post this on your own blog and link your post up in the Linky widget back at The Broke and the Bookish.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Mini Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pies

We've got another "off" week this week, so there isn't much of a meal plan to share. Instead, I'm sharing yet another recent hit in the kitchen: mini gluten-free chicken pot pies.

It seems like all the magazines I subscribe to sent me a sample of the new magazine a couple months ago. It was a welcome addition, though, because I found some interesting new recipes I'd like to try, including this one for Chicken Pot Pie.

The magazine recommended turning the one pot pie into mini pot pies using five-inch mini ramekins, which I just so happen to own! And I thought little mini pies would be cuter and more fun to eat than one large pie.

However, the recipe in the magazine confused me. I thought that the recipe from the magazine was a conversion from one big pie to the small pies. But I had TONS of filling left over. When I re-read the instructions, it almost seemed like the people made one regular pot pie and four smaller ones. (Why would you even want to do that?, is my question. If you're going to make a regular pot pie, you're going to eat a regular pot pie. Why bother with a couple small ones? But I digress.)

So, basically, cut this recipe in half unless you own 12 mini ramekins and want to make 12 mini pot pies instead of six. (I only own a set of six mini ramekins.)

And if you want to make them gluten-free, here is how:

Ingredients (note: I have already cut this recipe in half. You will end up with enough to make 6 mini pot pies.)
1 tub of Pillsbury pre-made refrigerated gluten-free pie & pastry dough
1/2 pound of skinless boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup sliced carrots
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup sliced celery
2 tbsp. and 2 tsp. of butter
2 tbsp. and 2 tsp. gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
3/4 cup and 2 tbsp. gluten-free chicken broth
1/3 cup milk (we used almond milk)
6 mini ramekins

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.
3. In the same saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter and stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly stir in the chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick, and then remove from heat and set aside.
4. Spray the mini ramekins with cooking spray.
5. Take the Pillsbury dough and divide it into two equal balls. Take one ball and knead it until the dough becomes soft and easy to handle. Then flatten it either with a rolling pin or your hands. (Doesn't have to be perfect. The dough was easier to handle with my hands.)
5. Divide the flattened dough into six equal sections, and lay those flat sections in the mini ramekins so that the bottom and sides are covered.
6. Fill the ramekins with the chicken mixture. Then pour the hot liquid mixture on top of the chicken mixture.
7. Take the second ball of Pillsbury dough and repeat step 5.
8. Divide the flattened dough into six equal sections, and lay those flat sections on top of the mini ramekins, sealing the edges. Cut three slits into the top of each pot pie.
9. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Cool before serving.

If you have any questions about this, please let me know! This was such a delicious dinner and a big hit with my husband, so I definitely want to answer your questions to help you make this awesome dinner at your house.

I really love that I was able to use the pre-made gluten-free pie dough. Who has time to make their own pie dough? I found the Pillsbury gluten-free dough at my local A&P. I believe they also sell it at my local ShopRite. Hopefully, you're able to find it at a store near you. If you can't, tell the manager of your grocery store to start carrying it!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Celebrities at BEA

Another aspect of Book Expo America that I like is the author signings! Here are a few pictures of some celebrities that I met and info on the books they have coming out:

Andy Cohen - The Andy Cohen Diaries (Henry Holt)
Not gonna lie - I almost passed up Andy Cohen for Lois Lowry. But the line for Ms. Lowry was CRAZY long, and I knew I was not going to get up to the front of the line within her hour-long signing time nor would the publisher have enough books for everyone waiting. So I skipped out on Lois and went over to see fellow St. Louisan, former head of development for Bravo, and host of Bravo's Watch What Happens Live Andy Cohen.

It was super duper nice of him to pose for photos with those of us waiting in line. (Something that is very rare at book signings!) I wanted to engage him in a little St. Louis/Cardinals banter, but with trying to sign the specially designed Andy-themed journals and take pictures and smile, etc., he seemed a mite distracted. No biggie!

His book comes out November 2014 and is a "dishy, detailed diary of one year in his life". Can't wait to see how much Real Housewives talk there is!

Dominique Ansel - Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes (Simon & Schuster)
If you're not from New York, I'm not sure if you're familiar with the cronut obsession. It's a croissant and a donut. People in the city pay other people to stand in line for them so they can get a cronut. I'm not joking. And this is the man behind the craze: Dominique Ansel.

He's got a new cookbook coming out in October 2014, so if you want to learn to cook like this French pastry chef, now is your chance! He autographed a recipe card for us, and I can't wait to make the Flourless Chocolate Pecan Cookies. Skill level: beginner. (And yes, as long as you make sure the pecans are gluten-free, this is a gluten-free cookie recipe.) I told Dominique that I was going to go home and make them, and he said to make them and bring some to him. Ha ha.

After getting his autograph, I got to sample these delicious chocolates with basil leaves. Yes, basil leaves. I was a little wary, but it really was good.

Ace Collins - Man's Best Hero: True Stories of Great American Dogs (Abingdon Press)
You are probably thinking, "Wow, Ace Collins looks a lot like Lassie." That's because the picture below is not of me and Ace Collins. It is of me and Lassie. Yes. Lassie.

Lassie made a special appearance at Ace's book signing because Ace is Lassie's official biographer! And in Ace's new book, he writes about 13 exceptional dogs who have performed rescues and acts of courage. If you love dogs, then I think this book will further solidify your love. Ace signed a copy of his book for me, and I'm going to read it and let you know more about it on the blog, so stay tuned. The book comes out this month, if you want to get yourself a copy.

Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller - Nightmares! (Delacorte Press)
Last year, I waited in two long lines for Paula Deen and Helen Fielding. But I don't think those two compared to the long line for actor Jason Segel. He co-authored a chapter book (the first in a trilogy) with Kirsten Miller about a boy named Charlie whose father marries a woman that Charlie thinks is a witch. Living in the witch's purple mansion, Charlie's sleep keeps getting disturbed by nightmares, and eventually they start to come true. The book also has black and white illustrations by Karl Kwasny. It comes out September 9, 2014.

Jason and Kirsten both signed sneak peek samplers that contained the book's first two chapters. If we can judge the book by Jason Segel's past movie-writing successes, then I think it's fair to say that this book has great potential.

Unfortunately, no posed photos were allowed. It was probably for the best. Jason was VERY tan, and me next to him would have only amplified my Casper the Friendly Ghost whiteness. Nobody wants that.

I hope you enjoyed my Book Expo America coverage. I had such a good time this year, and I can't wait until next year. To make sure you never miss out on my live BEA coverage or live coverage of any other events, make sure you're following me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Gluten-Free at BEA

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Every time I attend Book Expo America, I always look for new gluten-free books, and this year didn't disappoint. Here are just a few of the gluten-free books and cookbooks I saw at BEA 2014. Some of them are already available to purchase, while others won't be out until later this year:

1. Gluten Freedom by Dr. Alessio Fasano, MD (Turner Publishing)
This book came out at the end of April, and it's already a HUGE hit in the Celiac community. This is THE book you need if you have Celiac disease or other gluten-related disorder. Dr. Fasano, founder of Massachusetts General Hospital's Center for Celiac Research, uses this book to distinguish scientific fact from myth. The book has information on treatment, research, and even recipes.

I haven't gotten the chance to read this book yet, but you can read a knock-out review of it from Anti-Wheat Girl here.

2. Jennifer's Way: My Journey with Celiac Disease - What Doctors Don't Tell You and How You Can Learn to Live Again by Jennifer Esposito (Da Capo Press)
This is another book that came out in April (just in time for May's Celiac Awareness Month), and it was on display at BEA. Jennifer Esposito is an actress (you might know her from Crash and the recent TV series Blue Bloods) who was diagnosed with Celiac disease at age 35. In this memoir, she writes about the rise of her career and the rise of her health problems due to her unknown diagnosis. When her doctor told her she had Celiac, Jennifer had no idea what her doctor was talking about! But now she is a huge Celiac advocate and even opened up her own gluten-free bakery in New York City's East Village.

This is another book I haven't had the chance to read yet, but it's definitely going on my to-read list. I'm also planning a visit to her bakery sometime this summer, and, of course, I'll blog about it after I do!

3. Cooking Allergy-Free by Jenna Short (Taunton Press)
In front of the Taunton Press booth at BEA there was a board labeled with the eight major food allergies. There were colored stickers that people passing by were supposed to stick onto the board if they knew someone who had one or more of those allergies. A lot of people placed stickers under gluten (the fourth column on the board). (Just an FYI, Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, not an allergy.)

This board was tied to the upcoming Cooking Allergy-Free cookbook, which includes recipes that do not include any of the eight major food allergies. So no matter what it is you're NOT supposed to eat, the recipes in this cookbook can accommodate you. This cookbook comes out in November 2014.

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4. Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Gluten Free & Gluten-Free Baking by Kristine Kidd (Weldon Owen)
The one time I've been in a Williams-Sonoma store, I was really impressed at the high quantity of gluten-free products being sold. Who knew? And now there's the Williams-Sonoma Weeknight Gluten Free cookbook! It's filled with simple and quick gluten-free recipes that you can make even on a busy weeknight. This is exactly what we need!! I also like that this cookbook is written by a gourmet chef who also has Celiac Disease!

The Weeknight Gluten Free cookbook is already available, but there's a new gluten-free baking cookbook that's going to be coming out in December 2014. I got a sneak peek at a galley copy of the baking cookbook, and it looks yummy! Can't wait to see the finished product - and try out some of the recipes.

I've got more to report from my BEA trip, so stay tuned to the blog. And if you want to see pictures and other updates from BEA and other cool events, make sure you're following me on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!

Friday, June 6, 2014

More Recent Scrapbook Layouts

I'm taking a little break from BEA coverage because I promised you more scrapbook layouts this week, and I don't want to disappoint. 

These two layouts are not part of my summer vacation album. I'll get back into finishing that up later. (I hope.) The first layout, "Snow Deer", includes pictures I took in January from our front door. It was a snow day, and I happened to look out the window and see a bunch of deer walking around the rocky cliff in front of our house. I love deer (my husband hates them), so I snapped a couple shots.

"Goals" is going to go in my Book of Me. (Is anyone else still making these?) I had the picture of me taken at the MORE/Fitness Half Marathon Expo. I've gone to this expo for the past two years, but I've never done the actual half marathon. Next year, I'm going to do it! And my gimpy hip (that got gimpy from working out a few years ago, which was lovely) won't bother me (hopefully)!

I used up random papers and embellishments in my stash. It feels good to use up old stuff - to make room for new stuff, of course! No, not really. I have A LOT of old stuff that I need to get rid of before I purchase anymore scrapbook supplies. Well, unless I find some Thickers on sale at T.J. Maxx or Big Lots. How can you ever pass up Thickers????

Thursday, June 5, 2014

BEA Writing & World-Building with YA Authors

Yesterday, I shared with you pictures and information from a panel discussion I attended at Book Expo America. Another panel discussion I attended at BEA featured five YA authors talking about how they created the fantasy worlds in their upcoming YA fantasy/sci-fi novels.

The authors included Brandon Mull, author of the Five Kingdoms series; Scott Westerfeld, author of Afterworlds; Kiera Cass, author of The One; Heather Demetrios, author of Exquisite Captive; and Michael Grant, author Messenger of Fear.

While all the authors seemed to agree that even though you're creating a fantasy world, you still have to have rules, I found it interesting how the authors differed in their approaches to creating the worlds, characters, and rules.

Some of the authors started with the characters first, while some started with the world first. Others said they started with a cool idea and wrote in reverse to make everything else fit in with that idea.

I was only able to get an advance review copy of one book, Afterworlds, but after listening to these authors talk, I really want to read everybody's books! Look for my review of Afterworlds (and maybe the others) soon!

I've got more to report from my BEA trip, so stay tuned to the blog. And if you want to see pictures and other updates from BEA and other cool events, make sure you're following me on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

BEA 2014 YA Author Buzz

Last week I attended one day at Book Expo America. It was crazy busy, and I'm thinking next year I should go for two days so that I can see all the things I want to see!

This year was my second year attending the conference, and I did things a little differently. Aside from breaking in my new "trade show shoes" from Lifestrides (very comfy), I attended two panel discussions featuring YA authors.

The first panel discussion was "Meet BEA Young Adult Authors 2014". It was a quick half-hour introduction to five authors with buzzed-about books coming out later this year or next year:

Amy Ewing, author of The Jewel (HarperTeen)

Ewing said that she got the idea for her book after watching a scene in the Liam Neeson movie Taken. I just love that little bit of trivia! The book is about the importance of choice and ownership of one's body. I received an advance review copy of The Jewel and will definitely write up a review of it to let you know how it is!

Frank Portman, author of King Dork Approximately (Delacorte Press)

Portman used to be in a punk band, and used some of his "songs for socially awkward guys" to create the original King Dork and this new sequel.

Ryan Graudin, author of The Walled City (Little, Brown)

Graudin used a real historical event to create the fictional world in her novel. She said that the message she wants readers to take from this book is that no matter what you're going through, you are not alone.

Robin Talley, author of Lies We Tell Ourselves (Harlequin Teen)

Talley did three months of research (including looking through old yearbooks and realizing that everybody had the same haircut) before ever writing a word of this novel. Set in 1959 Virginia, the book deals with the Civil Rights movement and school integration with a little bit of a lesbian relationship to boot.

Cynthia Weil, author of I'm Glad I Did (Soho Teen)

Out of all of these books, I think I'm most excited about this book. If you don't know who Cynthia Weil is, then you must be living under a rock. Cynthia Weil is a pretty famous songwriter, along with her husband Barry Mann. They've written "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", "Somewhere Out There", "Sometimes When We Touch", "Looking Through the Eyes of Love", and more. Now, Weil is taking her writing prowess to the world of YA novels to create this murder mystery/coming-of-age/music industry story. She also wrote a new song for the book, "I'm Glad I Did". I haven't heard the song yet, but I'm sure it's good.

AND AND AND Cynthia Weil signed an advance review copy of the book for me! Pretty snazzy!

I've got more to report from my BEA trip, so stay tuned to the blog. And if you want to see pictures and other updates from BEA and other cool events, make sure you're following me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!