Monthly Archives: September 2015

Be Our Guest


Be Our Guest Restaurant

beast sheild

Be. Our. Guest! It is not just a restaurant; it is an experience. The entire space is magical and filled with special details. We have had the wonderful opportunity to eat at this lovely place for both lunch and dinner. If you have the chance, the dining experience at dinner is fabulous and worth the extra money.

Lunch diners utilize a kiosk to order food, and then the meal is magically brought to the table of your choosing. Dinner guests are seated at a table and served by a terrific group of cast members.

There are three beautiful dining areas themed perfectly. The Grand Ballroom is stunning with a high ceiling and lovely chandeliers. Out the window, you can see snow gently falling on the ground. The West Wing holds the enchanted rose and is full of secrets. Finally, The Castle Gallery holds the romance of Belle’s library. When we visited for lunch, we sat in The Castle Gallery. We dined in The Grand Ballroom for dinner. On both occasions, we walked around the restaurant to see the other rooms and enjoy the ambiance. A great addition to the dinner was a visit with the Beast at the end of the meal.

The food is delicious and there are many gluten-free offerings at both lunch and dinner. The lunch favorite was the Carved Turkey Sandwich served on gluten-free bread. Our dinner favorites were the Grilled Strip Steak and Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops. Mary and I were especially thrilled that at dinner, we could order wine! Our server suggested a nice pinot grigio. It was a treat!

menu belle    belle napkin

belle 4  belle 2

belles 3  belle 1

To make our day even more special, Mary and I surprised Katie and Judy with a trip to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – Magic Kingdom before we had dinner. It is a sweet beauty salon in which girls get to have a special hairdo, makeup, and nails done by a Fairy Godmother-in-training. The girls were treated like real princesses and sprinkled with Pixie Dust! Katie and Judy were so thrilled to have their princess tiaras and sashes on while we ate at the Beast’s enchanted castle!

judy and kate princess couture   judy and kate castle

I highly suggest advanced dining reservations for Be Our Guest Restaurant. It is a very popular dining attraction for good reason! We loved our experience!

belle 5 jen and girls   judy and kate belles castle

Fabulous Funfetti!



I love Funfetti cakes and cupcakes.  I was really sad when I could not eat them anymore.  My mom bought gluten-free Funfetti mix at the store.  I was so happy.  She made the cupcakes last  Saturday and they tasted great!  She added the vanilla frosting and sprinkles on top.  Thank you Pillsbury for making Funfetti gluten-free!

funfetti cupcakes

Mini Pretzel Crisps

Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps


My mom found Snack Factory Gluten Free Minis Pretzel Crisps at the store.  They are tiny and great for snacking. They come in a variety of flavors including original, dark chocolate, vanilla yogurt, and salted caramel.  My favorite minis are the dark chocolate covered ones.  They are delicious.

pretzel crisps

My mom likes the original brand.  She found mini bags of the original flavor at Target.  It is nice to have on-the-go.

pretzel crisps packages

The Plaza Restaurant


The Plaza Restaurant

plaza resturant

Sometimes you just want a burger. A delicious juicy burger is a vacation treat on a hot day. It had become a distant memory for my family to enjoy a juicy, thick burger while on vacation, but those memories were changed to reality when Mary and I took the kids to The Plaza Restaurant in Magic Kingdom Park.

It is truly a hidden treasure. Located next door to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor at the end of Main Street, U.S.A., it is easy to miss. In fact, we have walked past the restaurant thousands of times, yet we have never stopped in for a bite. On our last trip to the Walt Disney World Resort, it was on our bucket list. I am so happy we tried it! The gluten-free offerings are simply outstanding.

It is a darling place to dine. The atmosphere is adorable. The window seating faces Cinderella Castle and the beautiful new gardens. The other walls are mirrored with painted touches.

The manager, Timmy, came to our table and kindly informed us that all – yes all – of the sandwiches on the menu could be made gluten free. We were also told that the fries are made in a dedicated fryer and free of contamination. I knew we were in for a gluten-free dining treat.

plaza menu

I highly recommend the Angus Chuck Cheeseburger. It was a hit among several at our table. Prepared to order with a delicious warm gluten-free bun and a side of fries. Absolutely dreamy!

Mary Genevieve chose the Chicken Strawberry Salad. She loved the fresh strawberries and the homemade white zinfandel vinaigrette dressing. It was a large portion and very filling!

plaza salad

Mary had the Cheese Steak Sandwich. It was yummy! Yes, I had to sample a bite myself! It had tasty red peppers that gave the sandwich just the right amount of kick.

plaza philly  plaza sandwich 2  plaza burger

Of course, our family meals would not be complete without dessert. We all loved the homemade ice cream topped with whipped cream. It was just perfect.

plaza ice cream

The Plaza Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. Reservations are most certainly recommended. We will definitely be dining at The Plaza Restaurant again! You just cannot beat the location, the atmosphere, and the gluten-free offerings!

Teppan Edo

Here is a guest review Jennie originally wrote for Alexis Salerno’s  amazing blog, Gluten Free in Orlando.
One of my family’s favorite places to dine is Teppan Edo, located in Japan in the World Showcase in Epcot. It is not just a place to eat; it is a dining experience. The meal is prepared at the table by the chef. It is a fun event for the entire family.

Our family always chooses Teppan Edo because of the incredible gluten-free offerings. At our latest visit in July, we were thrilled to walk up at noon and find a table open without advanced dining reservations. What a wonderful surprise! It is a terrific place to go with a large crowd, because the tables fit eight people. If you have a smaller party, you will be placed with another family. I was traveling with my two children, my sister, Mary, and her three children. Our party totaled seven.

Teppan Edo menu

We were greeted by the manager, Garin. We explained to Garin that five of our party members are gluten-free. My two daughters and my niece have Celiac Disease and my sister and I choose to eat gluten-free as well. My fourteen-year-old daughter is highly sensitive, so contamination is always a big concern. Garin was very kind and explained that everything can be prepared gluten-free, except the noodles. Our table was supplied with gluten-free soy sauce and the chef prepared a cream sauce gluten-free.

Our meal began with sushi. This was a true treat because not many restaurants offer gluten-free sushi and my daughters both love it. We enjoyed an appetizer of the sushi sampler, which included tuna, salmon, shrimp nigiri, and California rolls.

Our chef, Ayumi, was fabulous. She entertained our party with high flying utensils and smoking onions stacked to represent a volcano. As she cut the tails from the shrimp, she tossed them into the air and caught them on the top of her hat. The kids loved every minute. It was a real show!

teppan edo chef

Ayumi next prepared our main meals. She began by scouring the 500 degree cooking surface to clean it of all contamination. That was impressive. She then placed the shrimp, chicken, steak, and swordfish at various areas of the surface.

My sister, Mary, had shrimp and steak. She told me that is was fabulous and the steak was grilled to perfection. The meat was a perfect cut. My fourteen-year-old daughter had swordfish. She raved about her lunch. My ten year-old-daughter and my ten-year-old niece each ordered the shrimp and I had shrimp and chicken. We all could not be happier. My seven-year-old twin nephews, who do not have Celiac Disease, enjoyed chicken and shrimp.

All of our meals were prepared with a side dish of a vegetable combination of cabbage, onions, zucchini, and carrots. It was quite tasty! It is not something I would normally choose to eat, but I was happily surprised at the taste.

The entire atmosphere was festive and we enjoyed our afternoon. The gluten-free options are outstanding. It was a safe and fun place to dine for those who suffer from Celiac Disease. Thank you, Teppan Edo!

National Celiac Awareness Day

National Celiac Awareness Day


I remember it like yesterday.  My daughter was in kindergarten, my twin sons were only two years old, and my mom was in chemo treatment battling stage 4 breast cancer.  Balancing my teaching job, with a sick mom and three small children was quite a challenging time.  Just when I thought things were a little taxing, Judy started having stomach aches.  She would cry and not want to get out of bed.  Over time her stomach aches and pains would come and go and it was inconsistent.  The doctor said to keep an eye on it and maybe she had a tummy bug or just some kindergarten anxiety.  From Halloween to Thanksgiving she was on a down-ward spiral.  Not only did she have constant stomach aches, she was sad, she had extreme mood swings, her legs ached and she did not want to do gymnastics or dance class anymore.  She was skinny.  I mean so thin her ribs stuck out.  She was not short, but she did not have an ounce of fat on her body.  She was not my “happy Judy” anymore.  Her sparkly personality wasn’t always there anymore.  Her teacher would call me and say how her personality is changing.  She had a terrible rash on her head and back and she would scratch and scratch; I was told she had eczema. She started having extreme thirst so I brought her back to the doctor in December. I went to “Dr. Google” and researched these symptoms.  I was convinced she had diabetes but also learned that the symptoms for Celiac disease were similar being an autoimmune disorder.  Judy has a cousin with both diseases so I wanted her tested for both.  I knew in my heart there was something seriously wrong with my daughter, something causing the anxiety, depression, mood issues, leg pains, stomach aches, weight loss, and rashes.

The blood results came in and she was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  My heart sank.  My baby has an autoimmune disorder?  There is no cure?  It can trigger other autoimmune disorders?  WHAT…GLUTEN-FREE FOREVER?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??  She was referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist right away and he scheduled an endoscopy within a week.  I couldn’t believe my child had to have this procedure, my little peanut, but the endoscopy would confirm the Celiac diagnosis.  When we went over the results with her amazing gastroenterologist he promised me that ALL of those symptoms would go away with a gluten free diet.  Even her rash was not eczema; it was Dermatitis Herpetiformis, a skin condition caused by Celiac disease.  He looked at me and said Celiac disease is not allowing your daughter to receive any nutrition, not only keeping her super-skinny but there is no way to regulate emotions without nutrition.  He promised me with a gluten free diet my little girl would come back to us.

Within two months of gluten-free diet Judy’s effervescent and sparkly personality was back.  She began gaining weight.  Her stomach pains became a thing of the past.  Her rash and leg cramps were gone.  It was amazing.  🙂

Don’t get me wrong, it is never smooth-sailing when you have Celiac disease.  Judy will always have blood work, she will always be monitored by a gastroenterologist, she tends to get sicker quicker and it takes longer to get better than her peers because her immune system is compromised, and she will never be able to walk into any restaurant or bakery and order anything she wants.  She will always have to monitor her diet.  She will always have to be aware of cross-contamination.  It will always be a daily challenge.

Celiac disease does not define my daughter.  She is a ten-year-old child that loves gymnastics and golf.  She loves to be with her family and friends.  She loves fashion.  She glitters inside and out.  I am truly blessed to call Judy my daughter.

Today, on National Celiac Awareness Day, I am grateful to modern technology, wonderful doctors and nurses, and researchers who devote their time and energy to find a cure for this terrible disease.  I pray every day they will be able to find a cure.  Thank you to the companies for the gluten-free products that keep coming onto the market and to our stores.  I am eternally grateful.

Judy’s Saturday Lunch Favorite


Noodles and Company sign

Every Saturday my mom and I run errands and go shopping. We like to stop to get some lunch so it’s usually Noodles and Company. I don’t really like different types of pasta sauces; I really just prefer butter.  I am so happy they can accommodate my needs and tastes. When we are there I always get gluten-free fusilli noodles with shrimp, butter, Parmesan cheese, and seasoning. It’s so delicious!

noodles and company gf fusilli buttered noodles


Delicious Da Luciano


We had a wonderful birthday celebration for Jennie at one of the best restaurants that cater to the gluten-free world. Da Luciano, an Italian restaurant located in River Grove, Illinois, has an extensive gluten-free menu. It has a lovely atmosphere and the food is delicious. It is very rare that we can find decent-tasting Italian food, but Da Luciano has mastered the art of cooking Italian specialties gluten-free.

We ordered a variety of appetizers: fried calamari, pizza bread, and fried mozzarella wedges. I personally do not like calamari and therefore did not try it, however all the calamari-eaters at the table loved it. Judy and I enjoyed the pizza bread and the fried mozzarella wedges. You would never have known you were eating gluten-free appetizers; they were cooked to perfection and tasted amazing.

dalucianos3  dalucianos2

There were nine of us at the table and five of us ordered  off of the gluten-free menu for our main entrees. We first ate salads. I enjoyed the gluten-free creamy garlic dressing, it was quite tasty. My sister and Mary G. ordered eggplant parmigiana, Judy ordered pepperoni pizza, Katie ordered spaghetti with meat sauce and I ordered veal parmigiana. I tasted some of Jennie’s eggplant parmigiana and I have to say that both the eggplant and the veal were incredible. They were served with gluten-free rotini noodles on the side with marinara sauce. The server brought the girls gluten-free garlic bread to eat with their meals and they were so happy. The dinner was outstanding.
dalucianos en 4  dalucianos en 5

dalucianos en 2  dalucianos en 3

For dessert, I tried the Italian spumoni, Jennie had a birthday homemade cannoli, Judy and Katie both ordered cream puffs, and Mary G. sampled the tiramisu. It was a quiet dessert time as everyone thoroughly enjoyed these delicious desserts. The smiles on the faces of Mary G., Judy, and Katie were truly priceless as soon as the server brought them their gluten-free desserts. They were in “gluten-free heaven”.
dalucuciano des 4    daluciano des2

daluciano des 3    daluciano des1

I highly suggest dining at Da Luciano. You will not be disappointed; you will leave wondering when the next time you will return. Thank you Da Luciano…thank you for the amazing gluten-free birthday celebration that all could enjoy.

Happy birthday Jennie! 🙂

Birthday Memories

Mom and Dad


Today is my birthday. I have never been one to hide my age or worry about getting older. My parents both died way too young, so my family celebrates every year!

Birthdays are a time of reflection.  I remember the wonderful birthdays I had as a kid.  Mom always made our favorite meal for dinner.  My favorite – both then and now – is pizza. Mary and I were born in rural Georgia, and at the time it was not easy to find good pizza.  My parents took my request on as a challenge.  Over the years, they perfected homemade pizza.  They made the dough and let it rise perfectly and cooked delicious sauce all day (pork sausage in the sauce is the key!).  Dad topped the pizzas with vegetables he grew all summer in his garden.

I appreciate the pizza they made me more now as a parent myself than I ever did as a kid. To think they simmered, stirred, kneaded, and baked all day in the hot early September kitchen amazes me.  It was an act of pure love.

Since my parents are sadly gone, I have tried to follow their recipe.  I laugh every time I get to the part my Mom wrote down that says, “This is a big mess, but well worth the trouble.”  I have to admit, it is tough.  They were pros.  Now that my children have Celiac Disease, making the dough gluten-free is challenging, but one of these days I will get it! Until then, my children enjoy their grandparent’s delicious sauce made from scratch and store bought gluten-free dough.

Each and every time I make homemade pizzas I fondly remember my childhood birthdays.

What are your birthday traditions?