Monday, October 24, 2011

Famous Dave's Barbecue

My husband and I went to Famous Dave's BBQ for lunch today to celebrate our anniversary.

We actually intended to go to Outback Steakhouse since I've heard wonderful things about their gluten free menu. Unfortunately, they don't open until 4 PM which is a most inconvenient time for lunch.

Famous Dave's just happened to be right down the street, I just happen to like barbecue, and so we went there instead.

As soon as we walked in I asked if they had a gluten free menu. The lovely lady who was seating us, Kristin, also happened to be the Manager on Duty. She was very nice and explained that they don't have a dedicated menu, but she did have a list of ingredients for their menu. She also explained that they do their best but can't ensure there won't be any cross contamination. I understand how a "regular" kitchen works and I always assume when I eat out that there may be some cross contamination. It's a risk I'm willing to take for special occasions. (Places where I have no reaction are likely to be visited again while places where I get reactions are avoided in the future, of course.)

Kristin gave us menus and brought me their ingredient lists. Unfortunately none of their incredible smelling barbecue sauces are gluten free, but there were at least two chicken dishes that had no gluten ingredients.

I chose the Barbecue Chicken Platter Lunch Special with no sauce. Normally the lunch special comes with a corn bread muffing, corn on the cob, and a choice of side. The tasty looking muffin was not gluten free (not really a surprise) so I asked our waitress, Ashley, if I could get a different side instead. She said it wasn't a problem at all, and even asked her manager if I could still get the corn on the cob! I guess normally the corn muffin and cob go together, so if you get a substitution for the muffin you forfeit the cob too. Since my problem was diet related and not just preference they went ahead and gave me the cob! For my sides I asked for double Famous Fries and Ashley didn't bat an eye!

This is what came:

There were more fries when I first got it, but they looked and smelled so good I ate some before I had the presence of mind to take a picture. Those fries are AMAZING! They're thick; crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside. I'm actually drooling a little just thinking about it.

The chicken was really great too. A lot of chicken can be dry without sauce, or if it does manage to retain juiciness it lacks flavor. This chicken had both! It was tender, juicy, and the flavor went all the way through. Kristin told me they do some kind of magic flavor injecting, whatever that is it's beautiful. It had just the right amount of flavor without being too spicy, I really liked it.

Don't let that last picture fool you. I ate quite a bit. I was stuffed. That's just what's left over. I'm looking very forward to finishing that off later.

I'm sure you noticed I'm quite the chatterbox. The manager came over to our table a couple of times to check on us, and I talked her ear off. I told her about our anniversary, and she was very warm and friendly right back. I'm sure I bugged our waitress just as much. I even made them pose for a picture, just so I could show you guys!

That's Ashley on the left and Kristin on the right.

Just as we were feeling like we couldn't eat another bite, Ashley came to our table and told us that her manager had informed her that our dessert was on the house. She wouldn't take no for an answer and brought back the ingredients list so we could pick a dessert.

I'll admit that we didn't fight her too much and we indulged in a Famous Sundae with praline sauce that should be declared illegal. That sauce is the stuff dreams are made of. You owe it to yourself to go out and try that sundae. Excuse me for a moment as I wipe the drool of my keyboard.

I didn't get a picture of the sundae, it was way too good to wait for a snapshot. Use your imagination!

My overall rating for our experience is a resounding A+! Great food, wonderful service, good atmosphere, and at a good price (Our bill came to less than $23 before tip.) Of course they get extra credit for the free sundae, I'm a sucker for free food. Just so you know, I didn't tell them about the blog until after we were ready to go. That's when I made them pose for the picture. So it's not like they were trying to butter me up. This is all my honest, unbiased opinion!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cupboard Soup

I posted this on my other blog and thought other people might like a nice gluten-free, vegetarian soup recipe.

From Random Heather:

I tossed a bunch of canned food yesterday that had expired and it killed me. Ugh. I hate waste, but throwing away food is the worst. Especially since if I'd been a little more organized I could have avoided the spoilage.

Today I decided to use up a bunch of canned foods that were precariously close to their expiration point. I want to be sure nothing else goes to waste just because I forgot.

I decided to make Cupboard Soup, an idea of my own creation. (See also: Mulligan Stew and Stone Soup.) Since I'm such a dear I wrote everything down so I could share the recipe with you, my three readers.

Cupboard Soup

1 14.5 ounce can Stewed Tomatoes with Onion, Celery, and Bell Peppers (I think somebody gave this to me, I seriously don't remember buying this and I can't think of any recipe I wanted to try that uses it.)
1 14.5 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
2 cups Broth (I used a Gluten-Free, Vegan Chicken Broth powder)
1 15.5 ounce can Black Beans
1 15.5 ounce can Red Beans
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt (Regular and Sea Salt would probably work just as well, Kosher was just the first one I saw in my cupboard.)
4 cups Cooked Rice (I used Jasmine Rice that was left over and sitting in my fridge. If I'd had more or less then that's what would have gone in the pot!)

Over medium high heat add the tomatoes to a good sized stock pot. Bring them up to a heavy simmer, stirring occasionally. Add the broth and the undrained beans. Turn down the heat to medium. Bring the mixture back up to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Mix the salt in well. Add the rice, breaking up any clumps. Bring the soup back up to a simmer and leave it until the rice has absorbed as much liquid as you'd like. For us it was about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle it with grated Parmesan if that's the kind of thing you like.

This makes a big pot of Cupboard Soup, enough for our family of 5 to have seconds and some left over for Eric's lunch tomorrow.

That's with Parmesan on the right and without on the left.

To give credit where it's due, I based my soup on a recipe I got from Real Simple Magazine. I've added all kinds of things to that Minestrone, and I think you could do the same thing to this soup. Whatever veggies you've got, fresh, frozen, or canned. (Just be sure to add them last if it's a kind that gets mushy.) Pasta, brown rice, chopped potatoes, whatever. I've also added leftover chicken to the minestrone, and if I'd had some I would have added it this time.

Usually Eric isn't a big fan of  the Minestrone I make, he said this is his favorite version. As a matter of fact, he said I have to make it like this from now on. I am allowed to add chicken if I want!

As it stands this is a vegetarian (possibly Vegan) recipe, it makes a great meal. It's incredibly filling.

If you actually make this recipe I would love to hear about it in the comments. Let me know what you added or left out and how you and your family like it!