Monday, June 29, 2015

Recipe: Simple Papaya Salsa

With the overwhelming heat the ATL has experienced lately, I'm on a mission to cook as little as possible.  Thankfully, my husband is a wonderful "grill master" and doesn't mind the heat associated with grilling in the early evening sun.

One of the easiest things to make without cooking is homemade salsa.  You can make it any way you like with whatever ingredients you have on hand - it's a win-win situation! When looking for a papaya salsa recipe the other day, I realized I didn't have all the ingredients to make any of them exactly as written.  Therefore, I mixed it up and came up with my own recipe.

Papaya Salsa


  • 1 ripe papaya - diced
  • 1/2 cup jicama - peeled and diced**
  • 1/4 cup roasted (or fresh) red bell peppers 
  • 1/2 bunch green onions
  • 2 t. dried cilantro (fresh is better - use 1/4 cup)
  • 2 t. fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

**Jicama peel is not edible


  • Put diced papaya and jicama in mixing bowl and toss with lime juice (this prevents jicama from browning).
  • Put red peppers and green onion into small food processor - pulse to mince.
  • Add minced veggies and cilantro to papaya mixture and mix well.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper, if desired.  
  • Chill for at least 30 minutes so all the flavors meld well.      

We used this fabulous, summery salsa to top grilled Mahi-Mahi, but it also works well with grilled chicken.

Left over recipe ideas: add fresh (or canned) pineapple and some ginger to salsa.  Puree to make fruity gazpacho.  This twist on an old favorite is amazingly refreshing!

Fruit salsa also makes an excellent taco topping in the warmer months! 



Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: Chicken Salad Chick

From doing some research - both online and at the restaurant prior to eating there - I knew that all the chicken salad offered at this new eatery was gluten-free.  However, I was not aware of other gluten-free options like soup or sides.  Below is a script of what happened when I tried to order safely at this place.  While I didn't record the conversation, this is a very close representation of what was said by the counter girl (CG) at CSC and me.

Me: Are any of your soups or sides gluten-free? (I could tell by the look on the girl's face the question threw her so I suggested she ask someone in the kitchen).

CG: (After asking the kitchen) Yes - everything is gluten-free (huge smile on her face).

Me: Well, you don't have gluten-free bread or crackers so that's not actually correct...

CG: Oh, well, I mean everything else (still huge smile on her face)...

Me: (this time, I get to do the eye!) I'll take the Fancy something chicken salad with a side of fruit.  I'm allergic to gluten so I can't have bread or crackers or anything like that touch my plate.  Please make sure you either put that on my order in writing or tell a manager in person so that my meal is made correctly.

I pay, take my table tent (so food runner can find me) and go sit with the rest of my party.  My food comes out and there is a cookie - a gluten-filled cookie - on the plate.  I nicely explained my meal had to be remade (I didn't keep the plate, though I usually would) since I have a gluten allergy and told the order taker to make sure they knew that in the kitchen.  The food runner actually said "I know your ticket says gluten-free so I don't know why there is a cookie on the plate".  Duh...neither do I.
The plate was remade (at least it took forever to come back out) and I was fine. However, two doors down at Tom + Chee they really know what they're doing (or they have so far) when it comes to gluten-free meals.  And they have gluten-free bread to boot!

It's disappointing that the location of CSC near us has not trained all "front of the house" staff in terms of gluten-free menu items.  If someone who wasn't thinking things through could certainly order a sandwich with regular bread and a cookie and think it was all gluten-free.  As always, buyer beware - especially when it comes to all these so-called gluten-free menus popping up every other day!  As far as I'm concerned, if someone at a restaurant doesn't know that a customer who can't have gluten can't have a regular (gluten) cookie, I am simply not comfortable eating there.  

I'm addicted to the chicken salad at Zoe's Kitchen so I'm glad to have that safe option around the corner.  The portions are huge there which is another added bonus!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Smallcakes - my new favorite cupcake in the ATL!

I've been meaning to post about this place for over a month now...finally, I'm getting around to it!  Knowing that a good friend of mine, who lives in Cobb county, declared the gluten-free cupcakes at Smallcakes the best around - I knew I had to check them out.  However, the location she frequented closed before I could get there.

Fast forward to March 2015 when a location of Smallcakes opened up dangerously close to us.  I assumed, incorrectly, that they made gluten-free cupcakes daily as the location near my friend did.  Thankfully, I called ahead to confirm availability of their gluten-free goods before heading over.  They only offer gluten-free on Tuesday (ironically the day I take Zumba toning) and they only have one flavor per week.  They also only have two flavors of gluten-free - chocolate and vanilla.  This was very disappointing to hear since my friend raved about flavors like red velvet, key lime pie and other exciting sounding flavors.  But I want a cupcake I don't have to buy four of (and that were not previously frozen) and I don't want to drive to Norcross to get it.

After tasting the chocolate cupcake at Smallcakes, all I could say is "I can't believe it's gluten-free!!!!"  It would be another month (yesterday) before I finally got back on a gluten-free 'vanilla' Tuesday.  Again, the cupcake was beyond amazing!  While I don't think people that are severely affected by cross contamination would eat cupcakes made in a bakery that uses wheat, for those of us that aren't overly sensitive, this is an amazing option!

If you're able to eat cupcakes from a non-dedicated gluten-free bakery, the offerings at Smallcakes are worth checking out.  Who knows?  Maybe we can eventually try other flavors beyond the standard chocolate and vanilla.  I don't care much for the fudge frosting or the caramel frosting at this place, but the buttercream frosting is simply divine!    

Friday, June 12, 2015

Tin Roof Kitchen closes for good

Those of you that love the food at Tin Roof Kitchen have probably been waiting impatiently for the restaurant to reopen after their "non-working hood incident".  Sadly, they are not ever opening back up.  After a friend asked if they'd reopened yet, I went on the TRK website and then linked to their FB page.  Below is the last note posted by the owner, Robyn.

I know you all have been anxiously awaiting our re-opening date, however, at this point I have decided to close Tin Roof and offer it's assets for sale. This decision comes from my desire to spend more time with my family and to pursue other business opportunities. Thank you for a wonderful run and all of your support! If you are interested in purchasing the restaurant and obtaining the lease on the building, please send a message through the page here on FB. Thanks again!!!

Unfortunately, TRK never quite got their act together on the service side.  But this is an issue at many places in Alpharetta where the kids usually don't need (or choose) to work.  Anyway, I'm sad to see it go.  And I'm really glad my favorite pancakes are those found at Another Broken Egg Cafe which is not only open in Johns Creek, it's insanely busy and the service is fast and friendly ;)

Happy weekend to all!  

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