Friedman’s

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It has been wayyyyyy too long since I blogged anything!! I’ve missed blogging but school has been kicking my booty so I haven’t gotten around to putting up any new stuff.

It’s been about four weeks since I got back to school from my spring break and I am somehow still in deep denial that I have to be doing work (shiver). A regular workload for a week of a chem major is about three lab reports, a problem set, at least one homework assignment, and the occasional quiz/exam (so basically I never stop doing some kind of work). When I need the occasional distraction from all of this, I can think about this bomb meal that I ate at Friedman’s over break.

We went to a NY Rangers game in the city on one of my blissful, schoolwork-free days home, and we needed a place to grab some food before the game. We referred to the handy dandy Find Me Gluten Free app to see what was close to Madison Square Garden and we found Friedman’s, which had rave reviews. My dad and I had actually been to their Friedman’s Lunch location in Chelsea Market a little over a year ago when we visited the Whitney Museum of American Art, where I got a delicious grilled cheese with tomato soup and tried my dad’s amazing fish tacos, complete with cute little gluten free marker flag:

 

When we got to the Friedman’s restaurant only a couple blocks away from MSG, the first thing we asked about was their gluten free options. They told us everything (yes, I said EVERYTHING) except one item on the menu (the matzo ball soup) could be made gluten free. They told us the owner’s daughter has celiac so they are all very well trained in how to deal with a gluten allergy (which you can read about on their website). It was almost overwhelming to have a whole menus worth of options to choose from. Lucky for us it was happy hour meaning half off appetizers, so we got two! There was no way I was seeing vegetable potstickers on ANY menu without getting them, so that was app number one. Number two was the Korean chicken wings, because, well, chicken wings.

 

I think when I ate these I died and went to heaven. The potstickers were sooooo good—so  crunchy, so flavorful. There was a Sriracha aioli drizzled over top of the potstickers, and a ginger soy dipping sauce, and just the combination of everything together was amazing. The Korean wings were equally as heavenly. They were so crispy, as a chicken wing should be, and the SAUCE you guys. It was a sweet chili glaze, and I could have licked it out of the bowl. The theme of the appetizers for this meal: crunchy and delicious.

After the apps, I was almost too full to even eat my regular meal. But we power through for good food. I really wanted the chicken and waffles, just because I’ve never actually eaten chicken and waffles and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. Unfortunately, their waffle maker was broken 😦 BUT I still wanted some good ol fried chicken. So instead of a waffle, I got mac and cheese which is a pretty good tradeoff.

 

AND THE HEAVEN CONTINUED!!! The fried chicken was perfectly crispy, as expected after the perfection of the chicken wings. The pieces of chicken were huge, but I did my best to work my way through it. Sadly, the breading did not stick to the chicken too well so it started to fall off, but either way I was a happy girl. The mac and cheese straight up blew me away. The pasta was perfect, the creamy combination of cheeses was decadent, and the crispy breadcrumb topping provided a great crunch. I wish I had an endless bowl of this mac and cheese right now, I would never stop eating it.

I literally can’t believe how amazing Friedman’s was. I expected it to be pretty good based on its reviews, but I never would’ve expected it to be that good. I would go back here in a heartbeat, and I expect this to be a new regular spot for our visits to the city 🙂

Friedman’s breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner menus for their Herald Square location

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Europe Day 3 & 4: First Day of Cruise + Day at Sea

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On the morning of July 1st, we got ourselves out of bed, into a cab, and off to the Barcelona cruise port! We went through the whole process of checking in and getting our Sail & Sign cards (your room key, credit card, and boarding pass all in one!). I love the feeling of stepping onto a cruise ship on the first day. It’s so magical and exciting! We went straight to our cabins to check them out and put our stuff down. Our next stop obviously was the buffet. Well, my next stop was to Cucina del Capitano, a restaurant one deck above the buffet that has gluten free pasta! I had been to this place on another Carnival cruise a couple years ago and loved it, so I was very happy when I found out it was on the Carnival Vista too. They give you a little slip of paper with plenty of pasta, sauce, and topping options. I got gluten free spaghetti (the only gluten free pasta available) with bolognese and onions. It was really good! The meat seemed like it was a weird texture, but I only noticed it when I got a bite of a big piece. The nice thing about this place is that they don’t offer regular spaghetti, only gluten free, so I could be sure I was getting what I was supposed to. And then, after our meals, we of course needed to get some frozen yogurt (24 hour frozen yogurt and ice cream…can you say heaven??)

Now that our bellies were full, as they constantly should be on a cruise, we went to explore our home for the next 8 days. The ship was really fantastic. It had all the good stuff that all cruises should have: an amazing deck, cool lounges and theaters, and lots of places to just hang out and relax.

So now that we had seen just about every inch of the ship, we were ready to go back to our cabins and get ready for dinner! Our dining room was beautiful; I would show you but apparently I was too excited to take literally any pictures on the ship (the ones above were taken by cruise family member and fellow vacation photographer Lauren). We found our table and started to check out the menu. When our waiter came over, I asked about the gluten free options (we couldn’t make any special dietary requests for the first night), and I found out my choices were a little limited. For my appetizer, I got shrimp cocktail and strawberry bisque. The shrimp cocktail is a cruise dinner must, and it was delicious! I also almost always order the cold fruit soup, so the strawberry bisque was a no-brainer. It tastes like melted strawberry ice cream, or a strawberry milkshake. It was so yummy! For the entree, I got grilled chicken with a baked potato and vegetables. It was good, not great. I wouldn’t have chosen it if I could’ve picked anything on the menu, but it did the trick. And for dessert, two scoops of chocolate ice cream. For some reason, ice cream on cruise ships is so much better than at home. So now that the staff knew I have celiac, this night and every night for the rest of the cruise the waiter would bring me the menu for the next day and I ordered ahead of time so they could make the meal gluten free. It was cool to be able to be ahead of everyone and know what’s for dinner the next night! So once we were done, we went up to the pool deck and watched one of the dive-in movies. They were playing The Intern, which was adorable. We loved it so much we didn’t want to miss the end and skipped the Welcome Aboard show. Later we went to a comedy show, which was pretty funny. And by the time that was over, we were exhausted and ready for bed!

Fast forward to the next day: when I woke up, I headed up to the buffet to meet everyone for breakfast. Breakfast at the buffet is fairly easy; I just had some peaches, cantaloupe, and a peach yogurt. Then I was off to do whatever fun stuff I could find on the itinerary! One of my favorite things is the trivia, so I go to that whenever I can. The day was basically just full of wandering around looking for things to do, and eventually trying out the gym. I also had to throw some lunch in there at some point, which is when I headed back up to Cucina del Capitano for GF spaghetti with pomodoro sauce, grilled chicken, eggplant, peppers, and onions. This was seriously amazing. I loved it a lot. If I wanted, I could’ve also had the chef show me around the buffet and tell me what I could eat, but why would I choose that over pasta??? This was the first formal night of the cruise, so by 4:30 my wandering time was over and I was in the cabin getting ready for our 6:00 dinner—yes, I need an hour and a half to get ready, and really, I could’ve used two hours. I like to take my time ya know? Also, formal night always coincides with lobster night, one of our favorite nights of the cruise. We can appreciate even more now being served an already cooked, opened lobster tail after the serious debacle we had trying to have our own lobster night at home. Picture lobster juice everywhere, two girls not wanting to touch the things, and a lot of screaming. So when we got to dinner, I didn’t have to order since I had already done it the night before. For my appetizer, I got the fried oysters. I really didn’t think they were actually going to bread and fry them (I thought to make them GF they would just give me some plain ones), but I was pleasantly surprised when my waiter put a plate in front of me with nice crunchy oysters on it! They really were tasty. Now my trick to make sure what I was getting was gluten free was to make sure that the gluten-y version looked different, since at least one other person at the table usually ordered the same thing. And with this one, we were safe. Next up for my entree was, of course, the lobster tail. It came with garlic shrimp and orzo, but to make it gluten free they gave me mashed potatoes. The lobster tail was really good, but to be honest, I actually thought the shrimp were even better. Great flavor, really juicy, just awesome. And how can you go wrong with mashed potatoes? Okay, and now for dessert. The cruise staple. The chocolate melting cake. Yes, gluten free. Eating this was like being in heaven. So warm and gooey and decadently rich. I am in love. (P.s.- I didn’t take pictures of every single thing I ate at dinner, so you’ll only see pictures of the really good and/or really pretty things)

Since it was formal night, after dinner we went to take some pictures while we all looked nice and fancy. We didn’t do much for the rest of that night, except go to another comedy show later. We were very excited to get to our first port in the morning, Sicily! I will leave you this time with a nice picture of us children of the cruise family on formal night. 🙂

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Up next- Day 5 & 6: Sicily and Naples!

Panda Asian Fusion

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When I was first diagnosed with celiac, one of the first things I missed was good ol’ takeout Chinese food. My all-time favorite dish was lo mein, and although the lo mein at Panda Asian Fusion in Freehold, NJ isn’t exactly like the gluten-y version, it’s pretty darn close. They also have a full gluten free menu—seriously, this menu is huge—which is always a big plus. They even have a sign by the door that says gluten free!

panda asian fusion gluten free menu

It was almost overwhelming to look at all these options! This is one of the largest, if not the largest, gluten free menus I’ve ever seen. I think I forgot what it felt like to have a full menu of options. It was so exciting! When I ordered off the gluten free menu, instead of bringing those crispy noodles with duck sauce, they brought a little bowl of Chex with it! I mean how cute is that? I got the General Tso’s Chicken Combo Platter, which comes with chicken fried rice and a gluten free egg roll (yes, you heard that right, it’s a gluten free egg roll). And that egg roll (although very flaky and messy) was fantastic!

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This was soooooo good. Like, incredible. I couldn’t even believe it was gluten free; I felt like I shouldn’t have been eating it! It was crispy and juicy and the sauce was amazing! I can’t even explain how much I love this. The fried rice was also very good, although I had to add a little extra soy sauce to it. But that’s just because I love soy sauce a lot. My mom got the Shrimp with Broccoli Combo Platter, which was also delicious. The shrimp were so juicy and tender, and the sauce was very tasty!

panda asian fusion gluten free shrimp with broccoli

Now, I couldn’t go to a Chinese restaurant that has gluten free lo mein and not get it. So my mom and I shared an order of the chicken lo mein. I am also just realizing I consumed a lot of chicken at this place (General Tso’s chickenchicken fried rice, chicken lo mein). Anyway, this lo mein was soo yummy! I’m calling it lo mein but it technically isn’t; they just call it Chicken Noodles on the menu. But it’s as close as I’ve ever gotten to gluten free lo mein so that’s what I’m callin’ it! The flavor was great, the noodles were cooked well, and it was just awesome.

panda asian fusion gluten free lo mein

Panda Asian Fusion is overall just wonderful. When I’m craving some good takeout Chinese food, this is definitely one of my go-tos. The staff seem like they’re knowledgable about gluten free, so you’re not worried about getting something that’s not actually GF. When you go to Panda Asian Fusion, you can expect delicious food and friendly service. It doesn’t get much better than this when it comes to gluten free Chinese!

I’m gonna do a little comparing here, too. So one of my first ever reviews was P.F. Chang’s. Don’t worry, my love for P.F. Chang’s still goes on, but I am torn between which I like better. It really depends what I’m in the mood for. Do I want beef? Do I want noodles? Do I want chicken? Do I want fried rice (I will say P.F. Chang’s does do this better)? It all depends, it’s so hard to compare them! I will say Panda Asian Fusion is more reminiscent of traditional takeout Chinese to me. No matter where you go, you will absolutely get amazing food!

Feel Good Foods Gluten Free Chicken Dumplings

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If you’re ever wondering what I eat for lunch everyday, probably three days out of the week it’s these dumplings (the other four is most often some form of pasta dish). These things are sooo good, and if you’ve ever tried to find a restaurant that offers gluten free dumplings, you know that it’s almost impossible. Since I’ve been gluten free, this is the only way I’ve been able to get my fill of delicious little dumplings, and I am not complaining. They are so easy to make, and I also added a little step to make them even better!

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There was actually quite a long time that I stopped eating these dumplings. A few months ago, they redesigned the dumplings. When I bought this new version of them and cooked them in the pan as usual, they all got stuck to the pan and fell apart into a pile of mush. From that point on I stopped buying them. However, about a month or two ago I decided to give them another chance. I took extra precautions to make sure they wouldn’t stick to the pan (which means I sprayed that whole pan with a nice thick layer of canola oil before adding the water), and they turned out perfect! Which ended up making me upset that I went so long depriving myself of perfectly good dumplings for one little mushy fiasco. So now I happily enjoy my yummy little pockets of chicken and joy all the time!

So let me get into how they’re made. I start by coating my pan in canola oil first, for reasons I have already mentioned, then add 1/2 cup of water (I usually do a tiny bit more because 1/2 cup doesn’t quite cover my whole pan) and a tablespoon of canola oil to a large nonstick pan and let it heat up. Then add your dumplings and put the lid on the pan. Each box has 9-11 dumplings (could they not settle on a single number??), but I have gotten boxes with 12 (I call them lucky boxes). I cook mine for 10 minutes, and that is technically when the box says you should be done, but I like to do a little more.

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So, the box claims that after sitting in this pan, the liquid will evaporate and the bottom of the dumplings will get brown. This has never happened. So after the 10 minutes, I take the dumplings out and empty the liquid out of the pan. Then I put the pan back on the stove and add some sesame oil to start heating up. Then I put the dumplings back in the pan, and fry them in the sesame oil until they are brown and beautiful. Trust me, this makes them so much better than they would be if you just ate them after the 10 minutes.

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So once your dumplings are browned to your liking, you can plate ’em up and enjoy! Oh, I almost forgot the dipping sauce! Inside the box is a little packet of sauce that you can leave out to thaw while the dumplings are cooking. Now, I love soy sauce, so I add a bunch of it to the sauce that comes in the packet, just because that’s my personal preference. So once you have your sauce and your dumplings all ready, then you can enjoy. And you don’t have to eat them for lunch like I do; you can have them as a side for dinner if you’re having an Asian dish, or as little appetizers at a party. No matter how you eat them, they will be delicious!

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