Recently, I tried to surprise my fiancé by making gluten free eggplant parmesan for dinner after he returned from a business trip. For my first time making it, it turned out great.
Unfortunately, he really doesn’t care for eggplant (which I did not know). He was grateful for the dinner and was a good sport about the whole thing.
But…. I really didn’t want his dislike of eggplant to eliminate it completely from our food repertoire. I had purchased one-too-many eggplants when making the parmesan and needed to use the extra. If I could find an awesome recipe, eggplant wouldn’t become a forbidden veggie (well, technically “fruit”).
I was at my parents’ house and browsing through their spice cabinet trying to get inspired. As soon as I saw the spice, the idea hit me like a beautiful, spicy wave: Crispy Curry Eggplant Fries!
Spices have scared me in the past. But I am so donewith bland food. Gluten free food can be tough, but you should never sacrifice good, rich flavor. Spice is a perfect way to bring pizzazz and life into your food.
I used my parents as my taste testers. They agree that the crispier fries (the smaller pieces were crispier) were their favorite, they are FULL of flavor, and there’s a nice slightly spicy “kick” in the aftertaste. It makes a great healthy alternative to fries as a side or an appetizer.
Enjoy this “spicy” (the spices, not the heat) but healthy treat!
Note: I have this recipe listed as gluten free. As always, if you have a severe allergy to gluten or wheat, please check the labels of spices to ensure they contain no (or little) gluten according to your sensitivity. Spices are notorious for containing hidden gluten as they are often processed on equipment that also handles wheat. Read the labels and use caution.
It’s official! We hosted our first party, a Super Bowl viewing party, in the new house.
It was a huge success*! Our guests enjoyed themselves, were well fed, and had enough beverages to go around. We invited a few different friend groups, family, and coworkers, so it was great to see all those worlds blend together.
In addition to the food (see info below), we did the classic Super Bowl squares for $1 a square. It was a fantastic way to keep everyone engaged, even those who aren’t big football fans and are just there for the commercials. I loved seeing the nearest person to the poster run and look up the name in the square each time the score changed. 🙂 A few people walked away with some cash in their pocket, which adds extra fun.
I’m sharing my food and recipes from our Super Bowl party with you all! There was a good balance of food that I prepared from scratch, recipes from online, recipes from friends, and a few pre-prepared items.
The food below was perfect for a 12 person get together (note: medium appetites. I think everyone had dinner first).
7 Easy Super Bowl Party Recipes and Ideas
Chips, salsa, & guac – This is a classic and never fails. The salsa had a little twist by being of the mango variety. We purchased both the guac and mango salsa from Jewel Osco. The Jewel Oscos in the Chicagoland area have excellent guacamole. I highly recommend it if you’re trying to put together an appetizer on the fly. Lesson learned: Buy a second guac. It goes fast.
Veggies and dip – easy and a safety for guests who are on New Year’s Resolution health kicks. I did celery, broccoli, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and baby carrots. It was both colorful and healthy! For dip, I made life simple and used ranch dressing and red-pepper hummus. (Can we take note of the cute football shaped servers I found at Aldi?)
Crispy Baked Potato Skins– This was the hands-down favorite and the first item gone! The recipe is from my friend Marissa Allen at First & Full. Check out the recipe here. I could gush forever about what a talented and amazing Super Woman Mom she is, so definitely check out her site for delicious eats. What I learned: There was a lot of extra potato when you scoop out the centers. Next time I do this, I’ll come up with something to do with all the extras (mashed potatoes maybe?)… That, and the resounding obvious request from everyone at the party, “Can you make more next time?”
Wingsssss– Another football and tailgate classic. A friend of ours made chicken wings from scratch and brought them to the party. No, really. He made the barbecue sauce from scratch. The wings were awesome, and I’ll have to get the recipe from him to share with you.
Jalapeño poppers– Okay, I got lazy on this one. I’ve made bacon-wrapped, cheddar and cream cheese stuffed jalapeños from scratch before and ended up scarred for life. I made the mistake of accidentally touching my face near my eye after handling the peppers. It burned so badly. I couldn’t believe that relatively mild jalepeños could do that. Needless to say, when I saw a package of 8 pre-made poppers at Aldi for $6.88, it was worth. every. penny.
Maggie’s Award Winning Chili – Full recipe coming soon! This was also a hit with our guests. I served the chili with toppings on the side — shredded cheddar cheese, fresh chopped bacon, sour cream, and green onion. I recommend keeping the chili in a slow cooker to keep it warm for your whole party. Lesson learned: The chili is very dense so it took a long time to heat up. It wasn’t warm enough in time for party. Heat it on stove first or allow enough time (2+ hours) to heat up slowly.
Cornbread muffins – I used 2 boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix, which made 13 muffins. Tip: listen to instructions on the box that say to let the batter sit for 3-4 minutes before placing it into the muffin tin. It makes the tops taste way yummier.
All of the recipes were gluten free except the cornbread muffins.
*I promised you all on this blog that I would be honest and let you know my successes and failures. How you define “huge success” is clearly subjective. I define it as my guests enjoying themselves, leaving with full bellies, and making it home safely. If I get to enjoy the party while hosting it’s a bonus. All of that was accomplished.
Here’s the kicker: we did have the smoke alarm go off twice (very strange because we didn’t see any smoke) and the toilet overflowed.
Yes, the toilet overflowed at our party. (Don’t worry, it was clean water… but still not entirely fun.)
So, how can I possibly define the party as a success with an overflowed toilet?
What makes the party a success despite those bumps is:
Our guests were cool about it and so were we. It was a judgement free zone.
We fixed the problems. The smoke alarm was off in a matter of seconds each time by me waving a kitchen towel under it to dispel the smoke it sensed (thanks a lot, bacon grease from jalapeno poppers). The toilet we managed to catch as it was happening. Minimal water got on the floor because Doug was standing there and turned off the water right away. We cleaned it and directed our friends to use our upstairs bathroom instead.Honestly, most of our friends didn’t notice it had happened until we shared the information. They were all busy enjoying themselves.
Mistakes don’t define your event. They also don’t detract from the sentiment of your hospitality. When your guests are people who know you and care about you, they’re grateful to be there and spend time with you.I hope that my honesty didn’t scare you off. It’s my goal that sharing this with you will let you know what happened beyond the pretty, staged pictures of the food. They’re called a still life for a reason, guys. Life moves. And that’s what makes it fun.
It’s my goal that sharing this with you will let you know what happened beyond the pretty, staged pictures of the food. They’re called a still life for a reason, guys. Life moves. And that’s what makes it fun.
What do you like to serve at parties or tailgates? Do you have any hosting disasters? (I know I can’t be alone on this!)
As background, I am a carbivore through and through. Pasta, cookies, brownies… I love it all. Give me all. of. the. gluten.
About 4 years ago, my fiancé learned that he had a severe gluten allergy and had to begin a strictly gluten free diet.
Although we didn’t live together, this change impacted both of us.
We had to think more carefully about what to eat and what not to eat… and where to eat. There were countless times where we walked in and out of 3+ restaurants during a date before settling on one that reassured us they had a good understanding of “gluten free.” Our travel planning was always coupled with questions like, “Will there be things for you to eat?” “How do you say ‘no wheat’ and ‘gluten’ in [language]?” We’ve learned to pack protein bars as meal replacements at weddings and sometimes still leave after the first dance to snag more food at a local convenience store.
It’s been an adjustment, but we’ve learned so, so much in the past 4 years. Even better, the food industry is much friendlier to marking items “GF.” It’s thankfully now uncommon for a restaurant to lack a gluten free menu.
I put it in perspective that, in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t that bad. It’s something that we can work with so he can be happy, healthy, and full.
I’ve actually enjoyed the challenge when it comes to cooking – “Can I make this gluten free?”
Of course I can make it gluten free! The question is if I can make it gluten free without that gluten free, unsatisfying taste.
You’re probably asking why I don’t go completely gluten free myself. It’s a valid point. It would probably be the healthier option.
I find that keeping gluten in my diet allows me to more honestly compare the gluten free options to gluten/standard foods. It turns out, my glutenous diet (yep, we’re making up words here) makes me the perfect critic of gluten free recipes.
If it’s not up to a glutenous standard, it doesn’t pass. So it had better be delicious. It’s that simple.
So here we are!
If you’re like me and enjoy eggnog at the holidays, that sweet, creamy, spicy drink makes you think of Christmas Eve. Since we’re past the holidays, I had just a few cups of eggnog left in my fridge and the expiration date rapidly approaching. I couldn’t quite bring myself to drink it.
But I was inspired at breakfast time the other day so it didn’t go to waste. Behold! The perfect recipe to use the last of your holiday eggnog.
The best part? This recipe 100% passes my gluten-snob test. Sooooo delicious!
It might seem like we didn’t make very much, but I can tell you that this recipe turned out very dense and filling because of the eggnog. 3 pieces filled my very hungry man, and 2 pieces was plenty for me. (Edit: I was kindly reminded that we also had a side of strawberries, just in case that makes a difference 😉 )
Gluten Free Eggnog French Toast
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
6 Gluten free bread slices (I used Essential Baking Deli Slice Multi-Grain)
3 large eggs
1 tsp gluten free vanilla extract (or more to taste. I prefer a much more vanilla-y flavor. I probably used closer to 1 ½ tsp. Beware: that amount of vanilla is quite strong.)
2/3 cup eggnog
½ tsp ground cinnamon + 1/4 tsp
¼ tsp ground nutmeg + 1/4 tsp
Optional toppings for serving: butter, syrup
Beat eggs and vanilla in a bowl. Stir in eggnog.
Add ½ tsp cinnamon and ¼ tsp nutmeg to mixture. Stir well.
Pour the mixture into a shallow dish. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg on the surface of the mixture. **This is my trick 🙂 In between each slice of bread, re-sprinkle the nutmeg and cinnamon on egg mixture surface.
Carefully lay a slice of bread in dish into egg mixture. Lightly press on bread with backside of fork or spatula to help it absorb mixture. Flip with spatula to coat other side.
Place coated bread slices on lightly greased nonstick skillet on medium heat.
Cook approximately 1 minute per side, or until lightly browned on both sides.
Top with more sprinkled cinnamon and butter or syrup to taste