Friends gathered for Friendsgiving

Friendsgiving without the Turkey

Last weekend I hosted my first Friendsgiving. According to Urban Dictionary, Friendsgiving is “the celebration of Thanksgiving dinner with your friends. This usually occurs on the Wednesday before or the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, since Thanksgiving is usually reserved for family gatherings.”

I’m sorry but who wants to eat turkey and stuffing before Thanksgiving?  And personally, I don’t want to serve my leftovers to my friends.  Maybe when I was in my twenties, but not now.

Thanks to an idea from Udi’s Gluten Free Foods, I hosted a Friendsgiving with untraditional Thanksgiving dishes.  In part, this was because I used the wonderful Udi’s foods  mailed to me in a meal for a bedridden woman with celiac disease.

Friendsgiving

Thank you Udi’s for helping a woman with celiac disease this Thanksgiving!

Of course, being an allergic foodie, everything I served was free of gluten, soy, dairy, and corn–and if I do say so myself, it was all delicious!

Friendsgiving

I had as much fun researching the recipes as I did following them!  Thank you to Oprah and Rachael Ray for the Pomegranate Martini Recipe, Garnish with Lemon for the Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese recipe, Simply Blissful Life for the slow-cooked carrots recipe, Udi’s Thanksgiving Recipes for inspiring the Cranberry Granola Crisp, and for my husband for picking out the wine.  I’ll be posting my slow-cooked short ribs recipe next week as it’s one of my family’s favorites.

I think Friendsgiving will become a new tradition in our house (thank you, Udi’s!).

Friendsgiving without the Turkey first appeared at Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Black-eyed Peas

A Yankee-Coloradoan Dishes Out Some Lowcountry Cuisine

Hi y’all!

I’m in South Carolina perfecting my Paula Deen accent along with my Southern cooking skills.  I know, I know.  You’re asking yourself how can an allergic foodie with celiac disease even get near Southern food?  Let’s see, there’s wheat in them there fried green tomatoes, flour in both ‘em biscuits and gravy, dairy and corn in that heapin’ pile of grits, and the pecan pie has a smorgasbord of allergens that’ll send a Yankee gal like me skedaddle ling to the powder room.

Is it me, or does my Southern accent sound less like Paula Deen and more like Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies?

My accent may stink, but my Southern cooking has improved—thanks in part to good friends and fellow Coloradoans, Judy and Ky, who paid George and me a Hilton Head visit last week. Judy and Ky are the kind of friends an allergic foodie really appreciates; they totally get my dining-out limitations and are more than willing to put on an apron and pick up a wheat-free spatula.

KyJudy

And they’re not afraid to try new foods!  Like Wahoo.  No, I’m not talking about a chocolate beverage. Wahoo is a firm and mild saltwater fish from the South Carolina waters.  You may have tasted it at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos. It looks like this:

Wahoo, a SC saltwater fish (from Wikipedia)

Wahoo, a SC saltwater fish (from Wikipedia)

And boy is it tasty!  Especially after marinating in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and oregano for about twenty minutes, then grilling over hot coals. Add some baby grilled romaine, chopped local tomatoes from Low Country Produce, and a bottle of St. Francis Merlot, and you’ll think your dining at one of them fancy restaurants down at Harbour Town.

View from the Harbour Town 18th hole (photo by Judy M.)

View from the Harbour Town 18th hole (photo by Judy M.)

Now, George and I have been coming to Hilton Head since he had hair and I had a waistline, but we’d never really appreciated the local fish until Judy and Ky’s visit. Years past, I’d saunter up to the seafood counter at Harris Teeter or Fresh Market and stand there perplexed, not knowing what was local and what was flown into the island from another island. Of course, coming from Colorado, one appreciates all good seafood, but it’s nice to support the local fishermen and to eat sea-to-table fish.

Hands down, George and Ky did the best “fishing.”  While Judy and I trailed the local shops for designer shoes and Spartina handbags, the guys met one of the friendly locals–there are three of them on the island–who, when asked for the best seafood market, pointed in the direction of Coligny Plaza and the Piggly Wiggly’s Fish and Tails Seafood Market.  Based on the Wahoo and the South Carolina Shrimp those two came back with, the local was tail on . . .er,  I mean spot on.

Of course, no Southern meal is complete without black-eyed peas, which are actually not a pea but a legume. True confession: my mother always served them for New Year’s Eve because they are supposed to bring luck; I found them boring and flavorless and not at all lucky.  But after Judy and I spotted them at the Sea Pines Farmers’ Market, I figured I’d give them another try.  After all, I’m not allergic to them.

After soaking the peas in water the night before, I tossed them into a crockpot before we all left to bike on the beach.  When we came home, the kitchen smelled heavenly. They tasted even better.  Paula Deen would be proud.

Black-eyed Peas

Here’s my recipe for black-eyed peas fit for an allergic foodie.  Please let me know what y’all think.

Crockpot Black-eyed Peas

1 16-ounce package dried black-eyed peas

1 medium Vidalia onion, or other sweet onion (real Vidalia onions come from Vidalia, Georgia)

1 organic red bell pepper

1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)

3 ounces of organic Andouille sausage (I used Applegate)

3 ounces diced ham (I used Hormel)

2 cups gluten-free chicken stock (I used Pacific Natural Foods)

Salt and pepper to taste

After soaking peas for 8 hours, drain and place in 5-quart crockpot along with above ingredients. Cover and cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or HIGH for 5-6 hours. Be sure to check peas for doneness; you don’t want them slightly firm, not mushy.

 A Yankee-Coloradoan Dishes Out Some Lowcountry cuisine first appeared in Adventures of an Allergic Foodie.

Allergy-Friendly Football Chili

Football

Football (Photo credit: The Malones)

Football season is here, which for me means spending Sunday afternoons curled up with magazines and a big bowl of chili and chips while my husband screams at the TV. Now before allergies I was never a big fan of chili mostly because the ones I’d tasted–with names like Burn Your Tongue Beans and Great Bowls of Fire (chili cookoffs are popular in Colorado)–were waaaayyyy too spicy for me.

But then I started reading allergy-friendly cookbooks; chili recipes are a mainstay with these in-the-know authors (see links to some super cookbooks below). When I started making some of these recipes, I quickly realized chili does not have to make you sweat profusely. I now make all types of chili–ground meat, chicken, vegetarian–and not just during the cold months. In the summer I cook chili in the crockpot so it’ll be ready when we get home from the pool or a round of golf.  It’s one of the few allergy-friendly meals my husband and two teenage boys actually ask for–all year round.

For toppings, I use Daiya, avocado, black olives and/or salsa. Since I’m gluten- and corn-free, I can’t dig in with the tortilla chips the guys use, but I’ve recently discovered Plentils (lentil chips), and they are delicious!

The Light Sea Salt Plentils don’t overpower the chili the way some nut chips do, and they are great “scoops” for guacamole and salsa.

Okay, back to my chili.  Here’s what I made this week.

Easy Bison Chili

1 pound grassfed bison (I used Great Range Brand Bison)

1 large organic onion, chopped

1 large organic green pepper, chopped

2 tbsp. and 2 tsp. allergy-free chili powder (I used Penzys Spices Regular Chili Powder; use hotter chili powder, if you like)

2 14-ounce can organic tomatoes with jalapeno peppers (I use Eden Foods)

1 6-oz can V-8 juice

1 can organic chili beans, drained and rinsed (you can use small red beans, or kidney beans, or chili beans)

In a large stockpot, cook onion and green pepper in a little olive oil for about three minutes, then add the bison meat.  Keep stirring until mean is browned and crumbles. Discard any fat, but typically there won’t be much, if any, with bison. Add chili powder and all ingredients except beans. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add drained beans and heat through. Makes enough for six to eight servings.

A Few Food Allergy Cookbooks:

What’s to Eat? and What Else is to Eat?  by Linda Coss

The Whole Foods Cookbook by Cybele Pascal

The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook by Elizabeth Gordon

More about Bison from the USDA

More Chili Recipes:

Gluten Free Cooking at About.com

Go Dairy Free, Turkey and Vegetable Chili

Please share a link to your favorite chili recipe!