Welcome to Sizzling Mess! My name is Sam, and I’m pretty sure food is all I ever really think about.
As soon as I was out on my own and feeding myself, I began a love affair with food. I like to cook and eat at restaurants pretty much equally and I’ve been known to become obsessed with a certain type of food and eat it all the time. Like my long-running and never-wavering love for buffalo wings!
I’m a culinary/hospitality school drop out, which left me with a lot of random facts about sanitation and food science, as well as some useful kitchen skills. It also opened the door to my interest in food science. I think it’s important for people to understand the why behind the food that they eat and make – and I really like to explain it to other people (whether they want to hear it or not).
I think that having good information and well-tested recipes is the backbone of any good cook. That’s why I started this blog! I truly believe that being able to feed yourself is one of the most important skills out there, and I enjoy teaching people how to cook or helping to troubleshoot recipes. I hope that with this blog you will become a better cook, a more adventurous eater, and learn a thing or two along the way!
I live in Omaha, Nebraska with my husband, Joel. Together we have a miniature zoo made of 1
dog mighty wolf named Sully, and 2 cats fe-lions named Mr. Doo and Noodle.
In my spare time I mostly think about food or drag my husband into making an elaborate dinner at 9 pm on a Saturday. I also like to read and shop and watch TV. I have a giant collection of cookbooks and an ever-growing set of multi-colored Le Creuset. I love to whip out random facts about any topic that comes up. My head is full of mostly-useless information just waiting to bubble over when it gets the opportunity. I grew up riding horses, and have owned several through the years. I currently don’t have a horse, but I still ride regularly.
I design and manage online games for a living, and I specifically work with browser-based community-driven games. If you’re curious what, exactly, that means you can check out horsephenomena.com which is a living and breathing example of my work! Basically, I’m the person who writes the help guides, answers all of your emails and questions, and decides how things like the in-game economy are going to function, and how many times per week you can enter competitions, and how many points each thing should be worth.
Anyway, I’ll stop talking about myself and let you get to the recipes.
If you need to contact me, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions / Questions You Want To Ask
Is this a gluten free blog?
I would like to think this is a blog for everybody, whether you eat gluten or not. I can’t eat gluten, so all of my recipes are safe for gluten free eaters, but in the vast majority of recipes you’re not going to find ingredients that are specific to gluten free eaters. If we’re making Fettuccini Alfredo, the sauce is gluten free all on it’s own, and I’ll call for noodles prepared according to packaged directions (and then you can use any type of pasta your heart desires, gluten-free or gluten-full).
I can’t eat gluten, are all of your recipes safe for me to eat? I see you’ve called for “Pasta” or “Graham Crackers” and those aren’t gluten free ingredients!
I also can’t eat gluten, so all of the recipes on my blog are going to be safe for me to eat. I call for generic ingredients like “pasta” because it won’t change the recipe if you use regular pasta or gluten free pasta. I will put any important notes about ingredients that generally contain gluten and what brands/substitutions I like to use in the “Notes” section of each recipe. Personally, I need to avoid 100% of gluten and that is safe for me, but what is safe for you is something you will need to decide.
A recipe calls for gluten free flour, but I don’t need to eat gluten free. Can I substitute regular all purpose flour?
Maybe! But I can’t promise that it will turn out. I can’t eat any gluten, so I can’t test recipes that contain gluten. Some recipes will provide non-gluten free alternatives in the notes that I know work, because I made them with all purpose flour before I had a problem with eating gluten. But if I don’t know that it works, I’m not going to tell you to do it. That being said, if I’m just calling for generic “gluten free flour”, your results may look different with all purpose flour, but will likely work. However, if I call for something like “almond flour”, you can’t substitute it with all purpose flour.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye and derivatives of those products. Specifically, it’s the protein that makes those grains “sticky”. When you are baking, you might hear about “gluten production”. Things like muffins are minimally worked so that they have low gluten production and are tender, whereas things like pizza dough are kneaded to create better gluten production and give them that “chew” that makes it so great!
Aren’t those grains pretty easy to avoid? Just don’t eat bread and you’ll be fine, right?
You’d think! I thought that at one time. If you make a lot of your own foods, they actually are pretty easy to avoid.
The problem is everything you didn’t make in your own kitchen. Any products containing wheat are required to have an allergy warning on the label, but that’s not the case for barley and rye. What makes it even more difficult is that barley and rye are often used as part of proprietary recipes for flavor, and so the label might just say “Natural Ingredients”. There are LOTS of food companies that explicitly disclose all gluten containing grains on the label, but there are lots of them that don’t.
There is also concern about cross contamination. Just because a product doesn’t say it’s gluten free, doesn’t mean that it’s not. But if wheat products are made in the same facility there is some concern for contamination. You can often find more information on a company’s website about their production process and gluten containing ingredients than you can on a label.
The most concerning thing for me is cross contamination in restaurants. Something that a lot of people don’t realize is that people who can’t have gluten can’t even eat fries that were fried in the same oil as something breaded! Or, you’d think it would be safe to order a burger with no bun, right? Well, if that restaurant also grills their buns and your burger was grilled in the same spot as a bun, that’s all it takes.
Do you have Celiac Disease or is this a fad diet?
I have chosen not to undergo the required testing to get the Official Celiac Stamp of Approval, but I most likely have Celiac Disease. “Woah woah woah,” you say, “don’t you need to have a diagnosis from, like, a real doctor? WebMD isn’t a source of information!” I assure you, I have seen a real doctor, with an authentic medical degree to discuss my options. Here’s the reality: Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder, not an allergy, with no current cure and no treatment beyond avoiding all gluten. If you have Celiac Disease, ingesting even the smallest amount of gluten can cause intestinal damage and a whole host of other symptoms. The signs and symptoms of Celiac Disease vary pretty wildly from person to person, so it is very hard to diagnose based on symptoms alone. In order to get a confirmed diagnosis you must be currently eating a significant amount of gluten on a regular basis, and then you can do a gluten antibody test (fancy way to say a blood test), which if positive, will suggest the presence of Celiac Disease – but to actually get that diagnosis you must have an endoscopic biopsy of the small intestine.
So, personally, getting that official diagnosis is not something I, or my doctor, currently feels is necessary. I have had symptoms of an autoimmune disorder for years. I’ve undergone testing for rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other various diseases – all of which came back negative. Autoimmune diseases in general can be extremely difficult to test for because their symptoms vary, antibody levels in your blood fluctuate, and flare-ups come and go. So after lots of doctors and tests and frustrations, I gave up and just decided that this is something I would need to live with and manage as well as I could. But then slowly my issues started getting worse, until one day they were bad enough that I finally started tracking my diet. Guess what I found? Yup, any time I ate things containing wheat, it got worse! Well, I’ll save you all the gory details of eliminating wheat and gluten and eventually discovering that it’s all gluten containing grains that cause problems, but the short story is that I get very, very sick when I eat gluten. So I stopped eating it, and those symptoms got better. Cut to a doctor’s appointment where I am faced with starting the process for a diagnosis or continuing on with a gluten free life and living with an unofficial Celiac diagnosis. I chose the latter. I don’t need a piece of paper confirming what I already know, and I certainly don’t want to have to consume gluten (and therefore be super sick) for at least 6 weeks before I can do testing in order to get that piece of paper. I get very sick when I consume any amount of gluten, and I feel better when I don’t. If there was another treatment available for Celiac Disease, I would likely have made a different decision concerning diagnosis, but since there’s not, I don’t feel the need to put myself through that.
If you think you might have Celiac Disease, you should see a doctor! Everyone’s body is different, and we all have different medical needs. What is right for me, may or may not be right for you.
What happens if you eat gluten now?
Death! Destruction! Blood and guts everywhere! No, I’m kidding. I get very sick and have intense digestive issues that I’m not going to gross you out with.
Does this mean you eat Paleo? I see some of your recipes are Paleo.
No, I don’t eat Paleo. I don’t have any issues with dairy or legumes, and while I recognize that it’s not the healthiest food on the planet, refined sugar makes a regular appearance in my diet. And honestly, honey and maple syrup are kind of gross. Sorry not sorry. But some of my recipes are technically Paleo so I will mark them as such so that people who DO eat Paleo can find them!
Do you miss gluten?
I don’t miss gluten itself. There are lots of gluten-free substitutions and the vast majority of foods naturally do not contain gluten. If you look at the supermarket there are TONS of gluten free alternatives to things that normally contain gluten, and several of the products everyone already loves and uses are gluten free as well. Plus it’s easy not to miss things that make you feel crappy!
What I do miss is not having to worry about it. I miss being able to eat at restaurants without a second thought. I miss being able to go to social events and not having to stand there and watch while everyone else eats. I miss not feeling like I need to bring my medical records to restaurants to ensure that the staff will take it seriously and serve me safe food. I miss not having to read the label on every. single. thing. I eat. And I miss the ease of just going to get fast food for lunch because I’m hungry and in a hurry.
Are you one of those people who thinks everyone should eat gluten free?
Absolutely not! If you don’t have a medical reason to not eat gluten, then by all means, you have my blessing to stuff your face with pizza crust, roll around in breadsticks, and sleep on a bed of doughnuts. But talk to your doctor, because I’m not a medical expert and I’m not sure that sleeping on a bed of doughnuts is good for your skin.