Archive for November, 2011

WIN-It-Wednesday: Kinnikinnick Kinni-Toos Cream Filled Cookies

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Cookies and Milk. A childhood all-time favorite. An after school snack. A comfort food with fond memories. The ultimate in food dunking.

And the best cookie to dunk, at least according to those in my gluten-free world, are the Kinnikinnick Kinni-TOOS Sandwich Creme Cookies.

These cookies are not just for dunking either. I use them in many recipes, including as a substitute gluten-free cookie for an “Oreo” Pie Crust, or crumbled-up and mixed-in to Sweet Cream Ice Cream… My gluten-free Stone Cold Creamery Style treat I make for myself right in my own kitchen.

I also love the variety of these cookies: The original Chocolate Sandwich Creme (my favorite), the very vanilla-ry Vanilla Sandwich Creme, and the NEWEST addition, the chocolate lovers Fudge Sandwich Creme.

Another bonus is that these cookies are not only gluten-free, but also nut-free and dairy-free.

Any way you dunk it, crumble it or mix it… these cookies are keepers.

That’s why I was so excited when I discovered that Kinninkinnick Kinni-TOOS Sandwich Creme Cookies were sponsoring the next two week’s WIN-It-Wednesday on

Two lucky winners will win three packages of these delicious cookies!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and tell us your favorite cookie memory (it can be about baking, a certain kind of cookie, fun cookie stories… anything!) Me? One of my fondest memories as a little girl was sitting with my Mom having a cup of tea … but now that I look back, I really think it was just warm water with lemon in it  =) and dunking cookies. Funny it’s the simple things that give you the warmest memories.

One (1) winner will be randomly selected from the entries received before Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST, and one (1) more winner will be randomly selected to win from the entries received between Wednesday, December 7 and Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 11:59PM. SO – make sure you enter to win two times!

Good luck, Keep those cookies dunking… and as always.
Be Free!

Note: Want to buy some Kinnikinnick Crème Sandwich Cookies for yourself? Check out these links on, have it delivered right to your door, AND get FREE SUPER SAVER SHIPPING!

KinniToos Chocolate Sandwich Creme, 8-Ounce Packages (Pack of 6)

KinnitToos Vanilla Sandwich Creme, 8-Ounce Packages (Pack of 6)

Kinnitoos Cookie – Fudge Cream Sandwich Gluten Free, 8-Ounce (Pack of 3)

The Best Date I Ever Had: Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Cherrywood Smoked Bacon

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

The love affair with these dates started on a beautiful seasonably warm day while overlooking the Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

On a whim, I decided to check out a tappas bar, La Tasca. Their menu was extensive, the staff knowledgeable on some of their gluten-free options, and the views perfect… so it was a clear-cut choice of where to dine. (Oh, did I forget to mention that the sangria selection is to die for too? Loved their Sangria Blanca, a crisp white wine served with sliced peaches, whole cinnamon sticks and peach schnapps… delicious!)

But the best part of this tappas visit was the date. No not the date I was with, but the Datiles con Tocino, a skewered and grilled bacon-wrapped date that is stuffed with blue cheese. A date to die for.

Eating each bite, I was planning to recreate this dish in my own kitchen.

And just this week, I created this dish perfectly. I nailed it. Right down to the slightly caramelized fig, applewood smoked bacon and the tart blue cheese – that quietly takes on a mild entrance after being melted and mated with the sugary figs and salty bacon.

The best part about this quick and easy appetizer recipe is that it only consists of three ingredients and is super simple to make. Look for the figs in the produce department of your supermarkets. Also, the Point Reyes Blue Cheese is gluten-free; along with the Jones Cherrywood Smoked Bacon (which I could write a whole blog post alone just on this bacon because I LOVE it so much).

Following is the recipe, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I and all of my family and friends do too.


Blue Cheese Stuffed Dates Wrapped in Cherrywood Smoked Bacon

12-16 fresh dates (I used Madjool dates, but any type of large sweet date will work well)
3-6 ounces blue cheese (I use Point Reyes brand)
6-8 slices of Jone’s Cherrywood Smoked Bacon


Slice each dates in half lengthwise and remove the pit. Wing open each date, and stuff with a good sized piece of the blue cheese. After stuffing “close” each date.

Cut the bacon slices in half. Wrap a  ½ slice of  bacon around each of the stuffed dates. Secure with a toothpick.

On a gas grill over medium heat, or under a broiler, cook the wrapped and stuffed dates until the bacon is crispy, but not overdone, and the blue cheese is starting to melt.

Serve immediately.

Chocolate Torte with a Shortbread Pecan Crust: Quick & easy… Made with gluten-free cookies!

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

The holidays are here and pie season has begun. But as many gluten-free folks know the pie crust can be one of the toughest feats to master.

But doughy flour-based crusts are not a pie must-have. Being on a gluten-free diet has made me resourceful and creative while in the kitchen. My mind is always reeling with inventive uses and ways to incorporate common ingredients and mainstream products into my recipes.

That is why I decided to roll up my sleeves and include Amy’s (melt-in-your-mouth!) Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies into a pie crust that will have all guest (gluten-free or not) begging for seconds.

Check out the recipe for yourself and discover how these gluten-free cookies crumble into a decadent and delicious dessert.

Want to buy these cookies to make this recipe? Find them on Amy’s Classic Shortbread Cookies Gluten Free, 5.4-Ounce (Pack of 3)

Chocolate Torte with a Gluten-Free Shortbread Pecan Crust

The crust, made with Amy’s Gluten-Free Shortbread Cookies is easy to prepare. This torte is extra rich & decadent… Enjoy!


1 box (5.4 ounces) of Amy’s Gluten-Free Classic Shortbread Cookies

1 ¼ cup of pecans (or walnuts)

2 tablespoons of sugar

¾ stick of butter, melted (plus more if needed)


16-ounces of semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

6 large eggs

1/3 cup of all-purpose gluten-free flour

¾ cup of sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

To make the crust:

Put the cookies into a large ziplock bag. With a rolling pin, slightly roll over the cookies until they are crumbs, place in a medium bowl. Next place the pecans in the same bag, and roll with the pin to coarsely chop. Place in the same bowl.

Next, add the sugar and the melted butter into the bowl. Mix with a spoon until the crust mixture sticks together. Use more melted butter if needed.  Press the crust mixture into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9” springform pan. Set aside.

To make the filling:

In a medium saucepan place the chocolate chips and the heavy cream. Over low heat, stir continuously until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the eggs with a hand blender. Next add the gluten-free flour and the sugar. Continue to blend for about 8-9 minutes or until the mixture thickens.

Fold ¼ of the egg mixture into the chocolate and mix. Then fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining egg mixture until blended completely.

Pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Bake for about 60-65 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean when inserted into the center. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve as is, or with a scoop of (gluten-free) Butter Pecan Ice Cream.


Serves 12.

Friday Favorite: Pamela’s (Single-Serve!) Gluten-Free Brownie Mix

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

When it comes to a sweet, fast and instantaneous dessert (how is a 1 minute cooking time for ya?) Pamela’s Single-Serve Gluten-Free Brownie Mix takes the cake.

These brownie mixes are perfect for a quick and easy, hot and gooey gluten-free dessert for the moment a mood strikes. No more planning and prepping and mixing and baking and waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

1 minute is all you need!

With these mixes you are able to prepare just one delicious gluten-free dessert. (Side note: Perfect for gals like me that don’t need a whole tray of brownie sitting on the counter and staring at me every time I walk into my kitchen).

The prep on these brownies is simple too. All you need to do is put the mix into a  large cup or bowl, mix in 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of water, mix up and microwave for 1 minute.

Single-serve goodness that is dished up as a perfect hot and gooey gluten-free brownie are the reasons this week’s Friday Favorite goes to Pamela’s products! P.S. No sharing required. =)

Note: Want to buy these single serve brownie packages yourself? Check out these links on Amazon:
Pamela’s Products Chocolate Brownie Mix, 3.5-Ounce Pouch(Pack of 12)
Pamela’s Products Chocolate Brownie Mix, 100-Gram Packages (Pack of 35)

Pamela’s also makes single serve Baking & Pancake Mixes too!
Pamela’s Products Baking & Pancake Mix, 3.5-Ounce Pouch (Pack of 12)
Pamela’s Products Baking & Pancake Mix, 100-Gram Packages (Pack of 35)

WIN-It-Wednesday: Ayala’s Herbal Water

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

“A man of wisdom delights in water.” ~ Confucius

This quote from Confucius is so absolutely perfect for Ayala’s Herbal Water, the sponsor of  this WIN-it-Wednesday on

Let’s face it. We ALL need to drink more water. Just when we think we’ve drank enough, we realize that a few more ounces will do us more good. But it’s just so darn hard to get excited about plain. old. boring. water.

That’s why I was thrilled to find Ayala’s Herbal Water.

With Ayala I am able to actually delight in water (and hey… according to Confucius that makes me one pretty smart chick!). I truly look forward to deciding what fantastic and exotic flavorful blend I will reach for, which usually depends on my mood.

The water comes in two varieties: still and sparkling. The still waters come in 16-ounce bottles and include six tantalizing flavors: Lemongrass, Mint & Vanilla (my favorite!); Lavender Mint; Lemon Verbena Geranium; Clove Cardamom & Cinnamon; Cinnamon Orange Peel or Ginger Lemon Peel. And then there’s the sparkling waters –  which come in a 25-ounce frosted glass bottles and include three dazzling flavors: Sparkling Ginger Lemon Peel; Sparkling Cinnamon Orange Peel; and Sparkling Lemongrass Mint Vanilla.

These waters are perfect for my afternoon pick-me-ups, when I am winding down at night, or after or before a yoga class or workout. They also pair well with many cuisines of food and make a wonderful zero-calorie cocktail mixer… Lemongrass, Mint and Vanilla Herbal Water with a splash of Vanilla Vodka, anyone? 😉

These waters are uniquely different than other “flavored waters” out there because they are made by actually infusing USDA Organic herbs into pure water. There is nothing artificial in these waters. They also contain no sugar, calories, preservatives and gluten.  Intrigued and digging a little deeper to find out more about these waters, I discovered that they were invented in the home kitchen of founder & creator Dr. Ayala Laufer-Cahana… a pediatrician, artist, lifelong vegetarian and mom of 3.

All these wonderful herbal water flavors and attributes are why I am so excited to have Ayala’s Herbal Waters as this week’s WIN-It-Wednesday sponsor on BeFreeForMe. Two lucky winners will win a gift pack of Ayala’s Herbal Waters. One winner will receive a 6-bottle gift pack of the still waters which contains a 16-ounce bottle of each of the six flavors mentioned above. This winner will be selected from all entries received before Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 12 midnight EST. The second winner, which will be chosen from all entries received between November 23, 2011 and November 29, 2011, 12:00 midnight EST, will win a gift pack containing a mixed 3-pack of the 25-ounce Sparkling Ayala’s Herbal Water which contains one each of the Sparkling varieties mentioned above.

How can you win?

Reply to this blog and tell me what flavor sounds the best to you (and if you want, when you’d enjoy it the most). Me? Lemon Verbena Geranium  for my afternoon pick-me-up when I need to get focused and calm – yet energized.

Make sure you enter twice to win!

Good Luck, do as Confucius say and “delight in water”… and, as always…
Be Free!

Psssst! Want a coupon for Ayala’s Waters? For a limited time, if you sign-up for the Alaya’s newsletter you get a coupon code for $5 OFF your next online purchase!

Want to know where to buy? Check out their retail store locator… and if you can’t find them at the store where you shop… ASK for them!

Friday Favorite: Goldbaum’s Wonder Meals – Beef Stuffed Cabbage

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

This week’s Friday Favorite on BeFreeForMe goes to a new product that has recently been developed by one of our favorite gluten-free companies – Goldbaum’s…the folks that offer the Gluten Free Ice Cream Cones (that are also Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free and Peanut-Free too!).

Their new item is a shelf-stable dinner (yes folks… NO refrigeration needed!) that is not only gluten-free, but also free of corn, nuts and soy. The product is also kosher and contains no preservatives.

At first we were a bit leery. A shelf-staple dinner that can be ready in minutes that also tastes good? Is this possible?

And 2 minutes later (the total amount of time it took to cook the Beef Stuffed Cabbage) we discover that not only is it possible – but it’s a reality!

The tomato sauce topping is sweet and flavorful, and the cabbage & filling is just seasoned enough. The portions were hearty and filling, yet there are only 200 calories per package / serving.

These meals are perfect for keeping in your desk or bag for a quick and easy gluten-free meal.

No refrigeration, good taste, convenience, and just 200 calories per meal are ALL the awesome reasons that Goldbaum’s Wonder Meal Beef Stuffed Cabbage is this week’s Friday Favorite on

Congratulations Goldbaums!

Want to purchase these meals? Check out this link at Goldbaum’s Wonder Meals: Beef Stuffed Cabbage – Case of 6

Ask Shelley Case: Fresh Veggie Ideas for the Gluten-Free Diet

Monday, November 7th, 2011


Now that autumn is here do you have any ideas and gluten-free recipes to help me incorporate more vegetables into my diet?


Although summer is over and many of the plentiful vegetables of the season have dwindled in availability from your local farmer’s market and produce stands, fall is an opportunity to discover a whole new array of vegetables.

Three of the most popular vegetable categories of the autumn season include winter squashes, root vegetables and cruciferous vegetables. All three are excellent choices for making soups, stews, side dishes or even as the feature in vegetarian main dishes. Here is a quick primer on autumn vegetables and some gluten-free recipes. Enjoy!

Squash It! Winter squashes are the thick-skinned and bright colored cousins of the thin-skinned and lighter colored goose-necked squashes of summer past. Winter squashes are packed with nutrition, especially Vitamin A, potassium and dietary fiber. Besides the nutritional value of these squashes, winter squashes are a real “keeper” – meaning that they store well due to their thick, hearty skins and can keep fresh in a cool and dark storage location for several weeks.

Some popular varieties include butternut, pumpkin, acorn, and spaghetti squash.  Check out this link for more information about squash.

All these varieties are best prepared steamed or roasted, but they are also perfect additions to soups, stews and purees. A favorite of the holiday season, winter squash dishes are also fragrant while cooking since they pair well with nutmeg and cinnamon.  Some recipes using these squashes include:

Apple Cinnamon Stuffed Squash
Italian Herbed Sauce and Spaghetti Squash
Pureed Butternut Squash Soup

Take Root: Varieties of fall root vegetables include parsnips, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes turnips and rutabagas. These autumn root vegetables are often favored in soups and hearty stews.

Technically, root vegetables are the actual “root” of the vegetable plant that is enjoyed as the edible portion of the plant. Not all vegetables grown underground are root vegetables – many are tubers (potatoes or yams) or bulbs (garlic, onions and fennel).

Root vegetables are also sources of dietary fiber and other nutrients such as Vitamin A. Some recipes including root vegetables include these:

Sweet Buttered Parsnips
Sweet Balsamic Roasted Beets
Orange Sweet Potatoes

Cruciferous! Although the name sounds daunting, examples of some cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy and kale.  These nutritious vegetables contain disease-fighting phytochemicals (naturally occurring plant chemicals), dietary fiber, vitamins (especially vitamin C) and minerals. For more information about the nutritional composition check out this link.

Studies show consumption of cruciferous vegetables may lower your risk of various cancers.  So make sure to incorporate these healthy vegetables in soups, stews, salads or serve as a side dish. Check out these recipe ideas:

Brussels Sprouts Almondine
Roasted Cauliflower
Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ask Shelley Case is a feature of It is published the second Tuesday of each month. Shelley Case, RD is a Consulting Dietitian, Speaker and Author of Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. Visit Shelley and get more gluten-free tips & info at:

New England Autumn Chicken Cordon Bleu: A Blue Ribbon Winner!

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Isn’t it great when you make a dish that everyone raves about? The type of dish that you wish you made double of so you could have leftovers the following day?

Well, New England Autumn Chicken Cordon Bleu is one of those dishes.

This dish started out as a blank stare into my refrigerator. With “nothing to eat in the house” with the exception of defrosted chicken breasts and a bunch of baby arugula, my mind was telling me to make a simple tossed salad topped with grilled chicken breast… but my stomach was rumbling telling me no.

After all, grilled chicken on a bed of greens is sooo last season.

That’s when I decided that what I really craved was warm, homey, comfort food. A dish that bakes in the oven and fills the kitchen with warm spices; a dish that leaves everyone with their belly full… and a smile on their faces. A dish that is fitting for this season.

So, with a little rummaging through my cabinets and refrigerator I came up with one of my best recipes yet – New England Autumn Chicken Cordon Bleu served with a side of Maple Spiced Butternut. Both recipes follow:

New England Autumn Chicken Cordon Bleu

Delicious served with Maple Spiced Butternut as a seasonal and complimentary side.

4 thin sliced chicken breasts

3-4 ounces of spreadable goat cheese (or 3-4 cheese slices – such as Asiago)

4 Canadian bacon rounds (I use Jones brand)

About 2 cups of Arugula or baby spinach

3 thick cut slices of red onion

½ cup of Craisins

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped

4-5 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 teaspoons of cinnamon

¼ cup of maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board. Make sure that they are thin sliced. If more thinness is needed, pound with a kitchen mallet.

Place one slice of Asiago cheese on each breast. Top with a slice of Canadian bacon and about ½ cup of the arugula or baby spinach. Roll and secure with a toothpick. Season with the salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, coat the bottom with olive oil, and cook the chicken roll-ups for about 4 minutes each side until browned.

Remove from the skillet and place in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled. Cover the chicken roll-ups with the red onion slices, rosemary and the Craisins. Sprinkle with a bit more salt, pepper and the cinnamon. Drizzle with the maple syrup.

Cover with tin foil and cook for about 1 hour until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear when cut into the thickest part of the chicken roll-ups.

Serves 4.

Maple Spiced Butternut

1 large butternut squash

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter (or substitute for dairy-free)

¼ cup of maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Wash and pat dry the butternut squash. Peel the squash and cut into 1-2” cubes. Place in a shallow baking dish and cover the squash with about 1/2” of water. Cover and cook the squash for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until it is soft.

Remove the squash from the baking pan and drain very well. Place in a large bowl and add the butter (or alternative), spices and the maple syrup. Toss with a spoon.

Using a potato masher, mash until the squash is soft. Serve hot.

Serves 6.

Friday Favorite: Shelton’s Turkey Jerky

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

I rediscovered Shelton’s Turkey Jerk a few weeks back at a large Natural Food trade show.  Amongst all the sweets and treats that lurked at almost every booth, there was a hidden gem awaiting… a snack that is savory and a bit spicy, that is full of protein and tasty too.

Welcome Shelton’s Turkey Jerky!

This gluten-free jerky is made from turkeys raised without antibiotics. And not only are they gluten-free they are also casein-free too. Plus, all of the Shelton Turkeys are free-range. And besides the jerky, Shelton’s also makes other gluten-free items.

I also LOVE the fact that one .5 ounce serving has only 50 calories!

So this Holiday season, enjoy your turkey jerky style and check out Shelton’s for yourself! Congrats to Shelton’s on being selected as this week’s Friday Favorite on!

Want to buy Shelton’s Turkey Jerky? It’s available on with FREE Super-Saver Shipping! Check out the link here: Shelton’s Turkey Jerky

Win-It-Wednesday: HomeFree Cookies

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

This Win-It-Wednesday contest on BeFreeForMe is sponsored a delicious and healthy cookie that is perfect for everyone – including those with food allergies, sensitivities and celiac disease.

Not only do I love these cookies, but I also the story behind the cookies. HomeFree cookies are baked with love, and developed by a Mom, Jill Robbins, who understands how important it is for kids with food allergies and sensitivities to feel included during social occasions, where sweet treat are often part of the fun.

HomeFree cookies come in several varieties which are all free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and dairy. Most are also free of gluten and are certified by the GFCO.

The varieties that are gluten-free include: Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip (my favorite!), Oatmeal, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, and the Mini Vanilla Cookies, which are also 70% organic and can tout a few awesome awards including being a finalist in the Best New Food category at the Natural Products Expo East 2011 (the 2nd largest natural food show in U.S.) and being the winner of the 2011 Best Snack Award by Shape magazine.

The name of these cookies, HomeFree, is so very fitting for what these cookies are – and for what they stand for. HomeFree make cookies are safe, and without problems for those that are on a gluten-free diet, or are concerned with other food allergens or sensitivities.  These cookies are made in HomeFree’s own dedicated facility free of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs and dairy with allergen sourced and tested ingredients.

HomeFree cookies are also a certified good source of whole grain (trust me… the kids won’t even notice!)  Every cookie (or 6 minis) provides at least ½ serving of the 3 recommended daily servings… amazing for a delicious cookie! Also, all HomeFree products are all natural and non-GMO.

I also like that these cookies come in “mini” sizes… which are perfect for little hands and pack up so sweet in lunch pails.

All these reasons are why I am SO excited that HomeFree Treats is sponsoring the next two week’s WIN-It-Wednesdays on Four winners will win a box of HomeFree Gluten-Free Cookies.  Two (2) winner will be chosen from all entries received before Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST and another winner will be chosen from all entries received between Wednesday, November 9 and Tuesday November 15, 2011 at 11:59 PM EST. So make sure you enter to win two times!

How can you win?

Reply to this blog (make sure you are a BeFreeForMe member if you want to win) and let us know what variety of HomeFree Cookies sound the best to you (or for your kids!)

Good luck…strive to be on that home free stretch… and… as always…
Be Free!

P.S. Want to Buy? Check out the online store at the HomeFree website!

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