Saturday, August 27, 2011

Product Review: Giving Rudi's Gluten-Free Breads Another Chance

In the recent past I had a backyard BBQ and decided to try Rudi's Multigrain Hot Dog Rolls.  I had a less than positive experience and did a review here on the blog, which you can read here. Rudi's Review.

A representative of Rudi's read my review.  She wrote me a letter explaining that I must have gotten a "bad batch" and that She thought their product was a great product.  She asked me to give them a second chance and try them again.  Along with this request She sent some coupons to try the products for free and a list of the local stores where I could buy them.

I agreed to try them again with an open mind, I mean, it is believable that there could have been a "bad batch", or problems in the shipping where the product had not remained frozen, or something that led to them crumbling in my hands.  So, I went to the store and bought 2 packages of  the Multigrain Hot Dog Rolls and 3 loaves of Sandwich Bread Original.

You may remember this picture from my original post of the crumbled hot dog roll.
Well, this is exactly what happened again with the first bag we tried this time.  Dry, crumbly, inedible.

I had kept them frozen until the day we were going to try them, then thawed them on the counter in the bag.  They were dry and crumbly, like old stale air dried bread.  Not at all delicious or edible.

Now at this point I still really really wanted to give a favorable review so I remembered that last time microwaving helped restore them to a softer, slightly less brittle, and more edible state.  We experimented with a few rolls at different settings, times, and thawing.

Here is what worked.

  • Keep the hot dog rolls in the freezer until you are ready to eat them.  
  • Place the frozen buns, no more than 2 at a time on a paper towel covered plate in the microwave.
  • Microwave on high for about 40 seconds but no more than 1 minute then place in a plastic bag on the counter to steam.  

This resulted in a gluten-free multigrain hot dog roll that was closer in texture to a real steamed hot dog bun.  It held together through the entire meal and not only didn't crumble, it had a more spongy texture than the previous tests.  I had my dogs with slaw and they were delicious.

Now for the Bread.

I had not previously tried any of Rudi's sandwich breads and wasn't really expecting much given my first experience with the hot dog rolls.

We took a scientific approach again, trying many different ways of thawing and tasting.  With the first loaf we thawed it on the counter and tried it.  When I first went to open the loaf, I gave it a gentle squeeze to test it, just like you would do to any loaf of bread you buy.  The gentlest little squeeze in the middle of the loaf to test freshness.

The entire center of the loaf crumbled and those slices became unusable.

I took out a a few intact slices to try and this is what they looked like.

The counter thawed bread was dry and crumbly and needless to say, I couldn't make a sandwich out of the bread this way.  I decided to toast them.


I toasted a couple of the slices in the toaster oven and then buttered them.  They looked good.
They had the texture you would expect out of a slice of toast.  Dry and brittle at the edges and softer where the butter has melted in.  They tasted like toast.  I was pleased.

The Original Sandwich Bread  from Rudi's made pretty good toast.

What I really wanted was a sandwich.  By now we were starting on the second loaf.  I took only two slices out and microwaved them similar to the hot dog buns, expecting similar results.  This is a peanut butter sandwich I made with them.

Notice that the bread was cracked, this was how they came out of the bag, so it happened during transport or when handled in the store by stocking personnel.  It was a bit softer but just wasn't quite good enough to make a decent sandwich.

Back to the tests.

We decided to use the microwave on defrost setting.  We select weight as .1 per slice.  The results were much better.  I made a simple buttered slice of bread first.

It was able to take the spreading of the butter without crumbling or breaking.  It had a nice texture and flexibility.
This was a bread texture that was more suitable to a sandwich.  Finally!  After many tries I finally had something nice to say in my review about Rudi's bread.  This was the best way we found to get the bread to a texture that wold make an okay sandwich.  Nothing spectacular, but in the world of store bought gluten-free bread, this wasn't too bad.

I next decided to try some french toast.  I microwave defrosted 2 slices, whipped up some egg and milk, and fried some french toast.

This was by far the best way we found to consume Rudi's Original Sandwich Bread.  It had an awesome texture prepared this way.  A great flavor.  I gobbled it down.  It tasted and felt like what I remember french toast tasting like as a child when my mother made it for us.  I am so glad that I can say this.  I would feel just awful if I had reached the end of this review with nothing positive to say.

So, as we end this review I suppose I should sum things up.  Shawn and I probably won't be buying anymore Rudi's products.  Yes, We did like the toast, the microwave defrosted slices weren't horrible, and the french toast was absolutely delicious, but...  It is decidedly cheaper to bake my own, which has a much better texture without all the defrosting, microwaving, and toasting just to make it edible.

My advice to Rudi's (otherwise known as my wish list)...

Please include thawing instructions or suggestions on your frozen bread products to avoid people having the same issues we did at first and then just assuming that is just how your product is and never buying it again.  Please find a way, if you could, to sell fresh gluten-free bread, not frozen.  I have seen at health food stores, your organic gluten containing breads chilled not frozen for purchase.  Can you not sell gluten-free breads that way?

If your gluten-free bread is to continue to be sold frozen, I suggest selling it unsliced and only half baked to 3/4 baked so the consumer can purchase the loaf, pop it in the oven for an amount of time to be determined, and have themselves a loaf of what would be more textured like a home baked loaf of bread.  Everyone loves bread that is fresh from the oven. You might just have a best seller on your hands if you did this. To have to toast or microwave bread to get it to an edible state isn't what we yearn for as gluten-free consumers.  If you do decide to give this take and bake, brown and serve type of loaf idea a try.  I'd appreciate a shout out for the idea.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Gluten Free Chewy Granola Bars

So this weekend I set out to make some chewy granola bars to snack on around the house.  I never expected them to turn out so good!  =]

This is a versatile recipe that allows for quite a bit of customization to your own tastes.  For instance, Shawn doesn't like any type of dried fruits like raisins, craisins, blueberries, cherries, etc.  All of which would be delicious in this recipe but instead I chose to use chocolate chips, which pleased Shawn's taste buds.

As a person with Celiac Disease, you will need to be able to tolerate certified gluten-free oats to enjoy this recipe.  Shawn is super sensitive to gluten but for some reason he can tolerate certified and tested gluten-free oats.

Here is the recipe I used.


1 cup of gluten-free rolled oats processed in a food processor to a fine meal (measured after processing)
1 cup of gluten-free rolled oats (whole)
1/4 cup cornstarch (or arrowroot)
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons flax seed meal
6 tablespoons hot water
1/2 cup salted sweet cream butter (1 stick)
3/4 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups of crushed walnuts
1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
1 cup sunflower seeds (roasted and salted is what I used)
1 bag of your favorite gluten-free or vegan chocolate chips (6 ounces)

I began by mixing 2 tablespoons of the flax seed meal with the 6 tablespoons of hot water.  Set this aside to get "goopy".

Next I processed and measured out the gluten-free rolled oats.

Next I measured out the pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chocolate chips.

Next crush up the nuts.

In a separate bowl mix all the flours, starches, oats, 2 tablespoons of the flax seed meal (dry), xanthan gum, and the cinnamon together.

In your stand mixer bowl, cream together the brown sugar and the butter.

Add to this the flax seed meal/water mixture, the pure vanilla extract, and the honey.

Once that is thoroughly creamed together, add in the flour/oats mixture and blend together.  Then add the nuts.  Then the seeds and chocolate chips.  (or whatever substitutions you've made here such as dried fruits, etc.)

Now to prepare.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet that has sides to it with parchment paper that is a little bigger than the baking sheet.

Turn the mixture out onto the paper in the center of the baking sheet.

Using a spatula, press and smooth the mixture into the pan evenly.  Take your time here, the mixture was a bit sticky, but not so much as to make it difficult.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove from oven and turn upside down (in one very quick motion) onto another sheet of parchment paper to cut and cool.

I used a sharp butcher knife to press down from the top with a little force to cut the bars evenly.  Do not saw, as it will crumble the granola.  This made 20 bars.
Once cut, I allowed them to cool where they sat.  When completely cooled down, I stacked them on end in my Anchor hocking Heritage Hill Jar.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gluten Free Key Lime Pie Cheesecake Porridge

This was my recent entry into Bob's Red Mill's Spar for the Spurtle competition.  It is an original recipe for porridge that is great warm or cold, for breakfast or dessert.  In fact you can make it several different ways.  A friend made it with peaches instead of key limes, and also with pineapple instead of key limes.  Thanks Anthony for your inspiration and creativity. =]

I made it once soaking the oats overnight in coconut milk, then used pineapple juice and pineapple chunks instead of key limes for a delicious Pina Colada cheesecake porridge.  The possibilities are almost endless for this cheesecake porridge recipe.

Here is the recipe for the Key Lime version.


1 cup of gluten free steel cut oats
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package of cream cheese (8 ounce)
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup key lime juice
splash of milk if oats are too thick (not always necessary)
whipped topping

Begin by bringing the salt and the water to a boil.

Next add the oats, stir, cover, and reduce heat.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Next, when the oats are thickening, add in the sugar, the cream cheese, and the key lime juice.  Stir together well until thoroughly incorporated.  Spoon into a serving dish it will thicken as it cools.  Top with whipped topping and enjoy.

Here is a video I made detailing how to make this.  It was my entry in the contest.

Remember just make it the same way as above, switch the key lime juice out with your favorite.  For example use peach juice, then top with a few slices of peach.  Yummy!


Friday, August 5, 2011

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Product Review : Jones Dairy Farm Turkey Sausage, Ham, and Canadian Bacon

{ Full disclosure : This is an uncompensated review of these products.  I was contacted by Jones Dairy Farm and asked if I would try their products and review them for my blog.  When I said yes, they provided me with coupons to sample their products free of charge.  No payment or compensation was given for this review. All comments and recommendations in this review are actually what Shawn and I,  and our friends, thought of the products when trying them in certain recipes or by themselves. }

All of the products I tried were certified gluten-free by Gluten Free Certification Organization.  Jones Dairy Farm have almost 50 products certified gluten-free.  They also have a 100% satisfaction guaranteed policy.  They proudly display the Celiac Sprue Association, GIG, and Celiac Disease Foundation logo's on their products.  I really think it is awesome that a company would go to such great lengths to insure they produce and distribute a quality gluten-free product.

I can, with confidence, recommend them.

Product 1: Turkey Sausage

The first product we tried was the Turkey Sausage, found in your grocers freezer section.
I cooked them according to the package directions, only I cooked them a bit longer than they called for, but this is just a preference in how Shawn likes his sausage.  I used a medium nonstick saucepan, added the frozen links, a little water covered and cooked.  Here is a picture of the sausages right out of the box.  My first thought was, they seem a bit small, but most brown and serve type sausages are about the same size.  The package said 10 links, but as you can see there were 11.  Bonus!
Once cooked, I plated them and cut one open for this next picture.  The texture was great and the flavor was better than expected.  I had mine with a smear of clover honey and Shawn ate his with maple syrup.  Both of us were very impressed and will definitely buy this product again.  Absolutely Delicious!

Product 2: Ham Slices

The next product I tried was Jones Dairy Farm Ham Slices with Natural Juices, naturally hickory smoked.

I shouldn't really be eating ham with my history of  heart related problems so I made these into "Hot-Pocket" type hot ham and cheese sandwiches using my Gluten-Free and Yeast-Free Pizza Dough.  I served them to Shawn and our friends Mimi and Tim.  I tasted Shawn's of course, I just couldn't resist.  I thought they were absolutely delicious.  Shawn ate all of his even though ham isn't one of his favorite meats.  Tim and Mimi both liked it.  We all agreed that it was good, but we also all liked the Canadian bacon better (see next product).

Here is a picture of the Ham Slices cooked into a hot ham and cheese pocket.  I would probably buy this again if I were to need ham slices for something, but most likely if I make these sandwich pockets again I would use the Jones Dairy Farm Canadian Bacon, which brings us to the final product I tried.

Product 3: Canadian Bacon

The next product I tried was Jones Dairy Farm Naturally Hickory Smoked Canadian Bacon Slices, center cut from pork loin.

These were delicious!  I tried one slice fresh out of the bag, I know I shouldn't have given the whole "heart" thing, but they smelled so good, again I couldn't resist.  With these I chose to make a Hawaiian Pizza on my Gluten-Free and Yeast-Free Pizza Dough.  This was a big hit with everyone.  Shawn and I both ate too much.  We both highly recommend the Jones Dairy Farm Canadian Bacon.  It was delicious with a great texture and reasonably priced.  This is another product that we will definitely buy again.

Here is a picture of the pizza.

This concludes my review of Jones Dairy Farm products.  All in all, I like the company, I like the products, I like their commitment to a high quality gluten-free product line.  I probably would have never tried their products and I'm glad they contacted me and asked me to review them.  I now know they exist and will use them frequently when my recipes call for it.  The turkey sausage is by far my favorite so I will most likely be buying it regularly for breakfast.  I hope you give them a try and feel safe eating them on a gluten-free diet.  Shawn, being super sensitive, did not get sick or have any issues eating the products we tried.