April 10, 2013

Southwest American Chop Suey

Filed under: dinner, freezer friendly, gluten-free, lunch — Tags: , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 12:38

Southwest style American Chop Suey

Improvisation can be a good thing

Sometimes, no matter how organized you think you are, not everything gets on the shopping list.

Case in point, the plan was to make American Chop Suey for Mr. GF’s lunches and a double batch of spaghetti so that I could freeze half for later, but somehow I only bought enough tomatoes for the spaghetti.

I really didn’t want to go back to the store for one can of tomatoes so I looked in the cupboard for something I could substitute, but the only thing I saw was one lone jar of emergency salsa.  Why not?

Southwest American Chop Suey


Makes about 5 2-cup servings

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, hand crushed
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 24-ounce jar Southwest Style Salsa
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons brown sugar*
  • 3 cups uncooked brown rice penne pasta (about 6 servings)
  • chile powder
  • ground cumin
  • oregano
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder

*I usually add a bit of brown sugar to help cut the acidity when I make a dish with a lot of tomatoes.


  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Brown ground turkey in a large pan, add onions, garlic and green peppers cooking until onions are translucent.

    Note: I used 94% lean ground turkey because it was on sale.  If you are using beef or meat with a higher fat content you may need to drain excess grease from the pan.

  3. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, brown sugar and spices.
  4. Cook over medium heat until most of the liquid is evaporated.  (Between the canned tomatoes, salsa and tomato sauce there is a lot of liquid, it took me about 45 minutes to cook it down to the point where it was still moist but not completely soupy.)
  5. Add cooked pasta and stir until well blended.

This turned out really well.  Very spicy (I added a lot of chile powder) with a depth of flavor.   I think the salsa with the corn and black beans took this cafeteria staple to a new level and I will definitely make it again.

If you leave out the pasta, this would be a nice freezer friendly meal.


April 9, 2013

This Week’s Menu – Spring Clean Up

Filed under: menu planning, Uncategorized — Tags: , , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 11:32

tulip bulb peeking up through the ground

A quick peek out the window is all I need to know that it’s time to start cleaning up the yard for spring.  This week’s menu reflects easy prep so that I can spend some extra time outside.

Menu 4/7/13 – 4/13/13

Sunday: Spaghetti with Sausage and homemade marinara

Monday: leftovers

Tuesday: Chicken and Avocado Sandwiches (Bake the chicken the day before, it’s much easier to handle and slice when it’s had ample time to cool)

Wednesday: leftovers

Thursday: Pork Chops with Baby Sweet Potatoes (Rub the chops with mustard and spices and pop in the oven)

Friday: Turkey Burgers with Oven Fries (Make the patties the night before and you can just toss them on the grill or in the broiler.  Same for the fries.  Prep and half bake the night before.  If you’re feeling ambitious you can even half-bake and freeze a few batches for later.)

Saturday: leftovers

Misc.: GF Blueberry Muffins for coffee/tea

April 8, 2013

Extreme Pita – not quite a review

Filed under: gluten-free faker, restaurant, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — glutenfreebymarriage @ 15:13

Happy Monday Everybody!

Today’s post is a rant about a new franchise restaurant called Extreme Pita that lures people in with the promise of a gluten-free pita, but doesn’t deliver.

Mr. GF and I made a rare trip to the mall a few weeks ago and noticed a new restaurant in the food court called Extreme Pita.

I wouldn’t normally consider a restaurant with “pita” in the name as a reasonable option for a gluten-free meal, but they had a big free standing sign in front of the counter stating that they value their customers and offer a gluten free menu.

Who am I to question it.   You can buy or make gluten-free breads, buns, wraps, bagels, waffles and pretty much any other bread-like item so why not a pita?

There was a line and we weren’t hungry so we didn’t stop to investigate, but we did grab a menu and made a point of looking at their website when we got home.

It was definitely the right call.  Not only did they not have gluten-free pitas, but their gluten-free menu was limited to a choice of a basic salad or three sandwiches, Philly Steak, Veggie or Tuna, without the bread.

3 Sandwich options: Philly Steak, Veggie and Tuna without the bread???

I know, beggars can’t be choosers and at least they made an effort to single out the few items on their menu that wouldn’t actually make someone with Celiac or gluten sensitivity sick, but really, it just wasn’t good enough.

To be fair, Extreme Pita does seem to be genuinely interested in making a safe dining experience for patrons with food allergies and did a nice job highlighting which menu items contain known allergens, but they outright lied when they said they had a gluten-free menu.

Extreme Pita GF menu-details

A Philly Steak Pita with the bread removed can’t really be called a pita, can it?  I mean how do they serve it?  Do they just wrap the meat and cheese in the same paper wrapper they use for the pitas?   Wouldn’t a Veggie or Tuna Pita without the bread just be a salad?  And what exactly do they do to the grilled chicken that it doesn’t show up as a pita or a salad option on the gluten-free menu?

Shame, shame, shame on you Extreme Pita!

I’m tired of restaurants trying to capitalize on the gluten-free craze by claiming gluten-free menus that don’t exist.

If you are a specialty restaurant known for one specific type of food, like a pita, then you need to actually have a gluten-free pita on the menu before you can reasonably claim to cater to customers with gluten sensitivities.  Until then you are just another restaurant rationalizing that because some food items are naturally gluten-free you can claim to offer a GF menu.

pdf of Extreme Pita Gluten-Free Menu

For more information or find an Extreme Pita in your area:

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