Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free was started in 2008 by Naomi Devlin at Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried. There have been a bunch of amazing recipes submitted by incredible bloggers. Check out all the previous editions at Naomi's blog (scroll down and look to the right) for great ideas! If you missed last month, the theme was "Make Me a Happy Camper" hosted by Shirley at Gluten Free Easily. Being fairly new to this particular round up, I decided to take my cues from the creative Shirley and create a story around all the recipes. I hope you are as entertained as I was writing it!
So, today is the big day! All the contributors to this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free recipe round up came by to spend the day at the beach! I was so excited…I cleaned all morning – well, as much as you can clean a total construction zone. They all promised that they would use their imaginations as they look around the 100 year old home we bought less than 2 years ago. It’s been neglected, so we’ve been putting our blood, sweat, and tears into it, and we have a TON more to do. The best part is – we are about 1.5 miles from the beach!
You didn’t know that New Hampshire has a coastline? Most people don’t because it’s small. We’ve got about 18 miles of beautiful beaches. On the south end, there’s the famed Hampton Beach with its old Shell Stage, the Casino of shops, fried dough stands, ice cream, arcades, and more. It's gotten a bit run down over the years, but there are big plans to give it a much-needed facelift! Keep heading north on route 1A and there are huge mansions home to former governors, foreign dignitaries, and possibly Farrah Fawcett during the 70’s – that’s the rumor anyway.
For our soiree today, we will land somewhere in the middle. It’s going to be low tide by the time we head down, so North Beach will be the perfect setting for some summer fun. It’s going to be fairly warm and muggy today, so our “Chill Out” theme will be just perfect! The guys and gals all know that we’ve got a strict no oven rule when the temp reaches over 80 and the humidity is just as high...
The only bummer is that August is a popular vacation time – lots of folks that wanted to join in on the fun [including the GAH creator, Naomi Devlin] were headed out of town for some much deserved R&R. They will be with us in spirit, though!
Just after I got my bathing suit on, I heard a knock at the door! The first to arrive was Shirley from Gluten Free Easily. I could hardly believe my eyes! She was carrying a beautiful fruit arrangement she calls “Glorious Fruit Easily.” It’s incredibly creative! She got the idea when she saw that the secret ingredient is cantaloupe at Diane’s Friday Foodie Fix over at her blog, The Whole Gang, coupled with wanting to find a fun way to help her parents celebrate their anniversary. It is reminiscent of the wonderful creations that Edible Arrangements are famous for…all the brightly colored fruits that could pass for flowers…some dipped in luscious chocolate. Oh man! We decided to put it out on the counter so we could all nibble at it before heading to the ocean.
As I was stuffing my face with strawberries and grapes from Shirley’s bouquet, in walked Linda from Kitchen Therapy. She was all ready for the beach – sun screen, towel, chair, hat! She saw Shirley’s creation and politely asked if she could try some. “No need to be polite here!” we replied, “Dive in!” Linda said she had something fun for us to try – Monkey Tails! Shirley and I exchanged sideways glances, then Linda explained that they are frozen bananas and peanut butter dipped in chocolate. Her clients’ kids gave them the fun name, and we could see why! She graciously made some with alternative butters (almond, sunflower, cashew…) in case any beach partiers could not do peanuts. (Picture courtesy of chimothy72 at Flickr).
As more folks began to arrive, I started scooping out my Curry Crab and Mango Salad. I love to serve it up in martini glasses lined with lettuce from our garden – it just looks so elegant! …and we don’t get a lot of use out of our pretty martini glasses. I told everyone that this is an appetizer we had on our mini-honeymoon to Bar Harbor last June. We loved it and had to make our own version as soon as we returned.
Nicely full and ready for some fun, we jumped in a few cars and headed down to the beach at the end of our street. It was quite busy as always, but we found parking (and we didn’t even have to pay the ridiculous $1.75/hour at the meters!). We set up our towels and chairs, while Linda and Stephanie tackled the umbrellas. The smell of the ocean was intoxicating! Amy and Ginger decided to take a walk over to the rocks to see if they could find crabs and interesting shells, while the rest of us people-watched. Thankfully, there was a little breeze, so it was a bit cooler than inland had been. What a relief!
After a rousing game of beach paddle ball (Ali and Christine have quite an arm!), we had worked up an appetite! Stephanie from Gluten Free By Nature said she had the perfect snack – Raw Zucchini Salad with Creamy Lemon Chive Dressing. This is a great idea for those of us whose gardens are full of zucchini…when it’s that fresh, all it needs is a simple preparation. This was a perfect way to cool down!
Katrina, the Gluten Free Gidget, served up her favorite raw meal, Spicy Kale Salad. This was heaven on such a warm, sticky day! The kick of the cayenne mixed with the acidity of the lemon juice was perfectly mellowed by the agave nectar. We all enjoyed the flavorful crunch of her creation.
Next, we took a dip in the ocean. I’m not usually one to swim, but it was so darn hot out – I just had to! The tide was coming in, so we had some waves to ride. Cheryl and Christina both had fun on the boogie boards. We enjoyed floating in the refreshingly cool water, letting the waves take us as they wished.
Soon, we got hungry for more cool treats. Ginger from Gluten Free in Georgia (and Florida) brought out her Fresh Pear Salad made from the pears that she grows right in her own yard! She said that it’s something she often whips up for dinner especially on those nights when she is just getting into the swing of being back to school. The flavor of the pears melded perfectly with the crunch of the almonds and creaminess of the cheese. A real summer winner! Unfortunately, we ate it all so quickly that there was no time to get a picture…very selfish of us. Sorry readers!
Penny from The Elysium Eatery had us cracking up as she passed around her Coronation Chicken! She was telling us how it got its name because it was created for the Queen on Coronation Day. Penny is not a fan of the royals – and she had a few funny tales as to why – but she loves this recipe…perfect for followers of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. I was a little worried about her with the heat – she said that in Scotland, 75 degrees with 50% cloud cover is considered a heat wave! We kept her well-hydrated and full of yummy cool stuff, so she was a-ok!
Christina brought out her Mostly Raw Veggie Wraps. She is known for her delicious gluten free and vegetarian creations. Some of us had not yet tried Food For Life Brown Rice Tortillas, and fell in love with them! The hummus worked really well with the crispy crunch of all the fresh veggies. Delicious, light, and healthy!
After laying around a bit more, we decided to join a beach volleyball game. Our team rocked! We all seemed to have our talents – some are good at serving, others at blocking and spiking. It was so much fun! After the game, we decided that we had had enough of the sun and sand, and headed back to the house.
We cleaned up – got all the sand and salt off of us - and gathered around the kitchen for what we knew was coming next – ICE CREAM! For what is a summer time beach gathering without ice cream I ask you????
Some of us were salivating (I’m not going to name names, but you know who you are!), so Friedl from Kitchen Fun started scooping up her White Chocolate Ice Cream…so creamy and tasty! We all loved the flavor of the white chocolate with a hint of almond. Mmmm – perfect after a day in the sun!
Next, we sampled Ali’s Strawberry Coconut Ice Cream from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. She didn’t reveal that it is free of dairy and refined sugar until after we raved about it – you couldn’t even tell! Most of us went back for seconds of both flavors, since they mixed so well in the same bowl. Hey! Don’t judge… ; )
Cheryl from My Realistic Life in Derby Kansas had a great idea – she said, “Let’s ditch our spoons and use my Oatmeal Banana Nut Cookies as scoopers instead!” So, we did! We shed our spoons (some people even threw them…ahem…) in favor of her hearty, healthy, flavorful cookies. She makes them dairy and refined sugar free for her daughter, which many of us appreciated!
We needed to walk off the first round of dessert (yep, I did say first round) and give Amy time to “sit out” her ice cream – she explained that it’s a ritual that she and her husband, Joe, have every night after dinner so that
the ice cream reaches the right softness. I decided to show everyone the garden we put in this year. It was a labor of love, seeing as how the land was overgrown with probably 50 years worth of brush. The roots we pulled out were like ropes! Totally worth it, though, as we now have tomatoes, zucchini, hot peppers, eggplant, lettuce, potatoes, and onions! Oh, and lots of pretty flowers. We sat in the patio furniture for a while (there’s no patio yet, but soon!).
Hints of evening were starting to show – the sun always sets noticeably earlier in August. Knowing that some folks had to get on the road, we decided to move on to the next dessert course. Amy from Simply Gluten & Sugar Free ran in to get her Lemon Meringue Frozen (Greek) Yogurt. We all loved her presentation – she scooped it out into little white nut and candy cups. So cute! She told us that her flavor inspiration was from her 95 year-old Grandma Ruth’s Lemon Meringue Pie. We also learned a lot about using Greek yogurt to make frozen treats. Amy is always full of great info!
Christine from Without Adornment whipped up her beautiful gluten and dairy free Fruity Parfaits. Using fresh berries, raw cashews, ice cream, and sorbet, she made us a fancy-looking cool treat! It’s a great way to dress up store bought ice cream or sorbet for a quick, no fuss dessert. We took our pretty parfaits out to the newly built porch and sat in rocking chairs, happily in bliss!
We could hear Shirley yelling from inside, “Save room!” Out she came with her Snickerdoodle Ice Cream for us all to try. It’s a dairy free version of Cathy's recipe at Noble Pig. The thought of those wonderful cinnamon cookies in a cool, creamy ice cream was almost too much for us to bear, so we practically pounced on Shirley to get a taste! Don’t worry – we didn’t hurt her. We did not miss the dairy at all! Coconut milk makes such a perfectly smooth base for ice cream.
Successfully cooled off from the heat of the day and with a very full tummy, I sadly bit farewell to my guests. I told them they could come back anytime – it was so fun to enjoy the sand and surf with them (and their delicious “chill out” contributions to our party)!
There is plenty of hot summer days left to try these wonderful recipes! Next month, we are all headed out to Katrina Morales’ place to celebrate Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free with the theme “Dinner with Disney.” Can’t wait, but for now, I am wiped out from all the fun, food, and sun! Nap time!