Monday, November 29, 2010

Gluten Free Holidays....starting with Green Bean Casserole

Well, it is DEFINITELY the holiday season. Christmas lights are up, travel plans have been made, extra dance practices are in and preparation for the busiest time of the year is in full swing. I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving! We had just the four of us here since Pom had croup and Diva ended up with strep throat. Poor little things.

It was still a good day though! We made some total experiments this year! Most of them worked but some need tweaking. Oddly enough, the best experiment came out of frustration at the small bits of leftovers that needed to be eaten immediately. That recipe will be coming up!

Every year I try something new but there are a few standby's. This year I finally made a gluten free Green Bean Casserole that turned out right and I tried something new with a Wild Rice Casserole. Both will be made again for Christmas dinner on request of the hubby and both girls.

Green Bean Casserole

  • 2 cans salt free cut green beans
  • 1 can gluten free mushroom soup (I use Progresso)
  • 1 Tblsp gluten free soy sauce
  • 1 onion, sliced and "fried" (recipe below)

Mix beans, soup, soy sauce and half the onions in a casserole. Sprinkle the other half of the onions over the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 - 45 minutes.

"Fried" Onions

  • 1/3 cup gluten free flour blend
  • a few dashes of gf season salt (McCormick is good)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour and seasonings. Toss onion slices in flour mix. Spray a baking sheet with Canola oil. Toast in oven for about 15 minutes.

This was the closest we've come to the green bean casserole we knew and loved. It's wonderful! I know this post is late for Thanksgiving but it's perfect for all those upcoming holiday dinners!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Oatmeal Fruit Cookies...Like Grandma used to bake, only better!!

Lately I have been craving Oatmeal cookies the way my grandma used to make them. One of the few things we cooked together when I was growing up was cookies. They were warm, chewy and comforting. The last time I tried to make them after going gluten free, they were NOTHING like that. I hadn't tried them since but tonight, the desire overcame the fear and a-baking I went.

Having learned a few tricks and lessons over time, I altered the recipe of my grandmothers and these were the result. Perfect. Chewy. Comforting. EXACTLY like grandma's. Only gluten free. Making them better. And here they are.

You may notice that these aren't Oatmeal RAISIN cookies. It began years ago simply because we were out of raisins but they were so good that we continued making them like this. They are fantabulous!!

Oatmeal Fruit Cookies

  • 2 cups gluten free quick cooking Oats **(see note)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a mix of cranberries, cherries and chopped apples)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Beat all ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium high speed until well mixed.
Drop onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper (or a well seasoned stoneware pan) about one inch apart. Bake about 10 minutes, cool on a wire rack.

WARNING: I ate five of these very quickly. They are seriously yummy.

**People ask me all the time about the label "gluten free" for oats. YES it is very important that you get GLUTEN FREE oats. Bob's Red Mill sells some. Since oats are grown alternately on the same land as wheat then processed in the same facility, they are contaminated from the very beginning. Gluten free oats are grown and processed in wheat free facilities.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kalamata Meat Sauce with Noodles

The holidays, they are upon us. It is not only "the most wonderful time of the year" but seriously the busiest!!! We have multiple birthdays coming up as well so between hand made gifts (pictures coming, I am ultra excited) and hand made invites to parties on top of the holiday preparations, I haven't been doing a WHOLE lot of cooking, just quick, easy stuff. The weekend is coming up as are multiple, more complicated recipes but in an effort to get some stuff done for our "Vision of Trees" girl scout tree and dance performances tonight's dinner is an old stand by.

My Kalamata Meat Sauce and noodles is an easier, and tastier, version of my Mama's sauce recipe. The olives lend it a TON of yummy flavor, while the ground beef makes it hearty. It's also pretty cheap, making it a very good choice for this time of year.

Kalamata Meat Sauce
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 Tblsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tblsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 Tblsp Italian Seasoning
  • 7 - 8 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 large can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 pkg gluten free noodles (your choice. I used macaroni for this one because it's what I had on hand)

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, brown meat in seasonings. Add olives and tomato sauce. Simmer until noodles are cooked.

That's it, enjoy! I added Parmesan cheese after the picture was taken and as you can see, we had peas along side. The kids take after their Mama. I never met a pea I didn't like. ;)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Four Cheese Hashbrown Casserole

I tend to get on a breakfast food kick on weekends, much to the delight of my family. This weekend was a huge score on that front! Years ago, when we were with some friends at the coast, I had a yummy hashbrown casserole that someone else had made. When I asked for the recipe he said he didn't use one and just listed off some ingredients. I have been trying to re-create that deliciousness ever since, to no avail.

I finally did it. After about four years of tweaking here and changing there I have perfected the casserole. It was so well received in fact that I made it two days in a row! I warn you, it is ridiculously good and hard to stop eating it.

Four Cheese Hashbrown Casserole

  • 4 cups frozen shredded hashbrowns
  • 1/4 large onion, minced
  • 3/4 cup half and half ( I use fat free )
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded or grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded white or mild cheddar
  • 1 Tblsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together in a square casserole and bake uncovered 35 - 40 minutes.

I cannot express how exciting it is to finally get it right after so long. I have a feeling we'll be making it a lot for awhile!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

White Chocolate and Pumpkin Pancakes

If necessity is the mother of invention, the best recipes follow a similar rule. My best recipes come from experimenting with what is in the house and severely altering an idea I found elsewhere. This recipe, for example, came from a recipe for (not gf) pumpkin spice pancakes that my friends mom used to make with Bisquick. I know they now make a GF Bisquick but to be honest, I have never liked pancakes made with it. It's a biscuit thing to me, savory not sweet. We aren't big pancake fans in this house, but I was in the mood for experimentation. I wish I had my camera so I could show you these now.....

Gluten Free flours, as I've said, work differently so they frequently need a little more liquid than a non gf recipe. When my batter was a little too thick I added what I had. White Chocolate creamer. It was one of the best things I have ever done. I think I will make pancakes more often now!

White Chocolate and Pumpkin Pancakes

Dry ingredients
  • 2 1/3 cups All purpose GF flour
  • 3 Tblsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger

Wet ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup White chocolate creamer
  • 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • butter for greasing the griddle

Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl
Whisk together wet ingredients in a small bowl ( I use a 4 cup measuring bowl for liquids..I can measure and stir in one bowl. Less dishes is always a plus. I hate dishes ).
Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients just until moistened. DO NOT overmix. Lumps are a good thing.
Cook on an electric griddle, greased and set to 325ish, flipping when bubbles appear on top.

Serve and enjoy! delectable. mmmmm.....

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Apple-Cranberry Upside Down Cake .... HEAVEN.

I have been experimenting with gluten free baking for nearly two years now. The results were originally disastrous! I don't mean a little bad. I mean horribly disastrous. The dog probably wouldn't have eaten it bad. I learned a few lessons though.

Number one: I really, really, REALLY dislike bean flours (aka Fava and Garbanzo).

Number two: While all-purpose wheat flours have a built in starchy ratio, gluten free flours work very differently! The best texture comes from a ration of different flours and starches.

Number three: Potato starch and potato flour are VERY different. Trust me on this one. It was a hard lesson to learn.

Baking has become a much better experience, but I am very hesitant about making cakes from scratch still. That may change soon since I am planning to attempt it again. For now, this uses a boxed mix. That does make it easier of course!

Lately, it being fall and all, I have been obsessed with apples. This Apple-Cranberry Upside Down Cake is heavenly! We (and by we I mean I) can't stop eating it~ which might make it a detriment to my attempt at losing more weight...but it is sooo worth it! Seriously.

Apple-Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • 5 cups (about) peeled, chopped apples
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • 2 TBLSP melted butter
  • 1 box gluten free yellow cake mix (plus ingredients to make cake)
  • a couple tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all filling ingredients in a 2 quart glass dish. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.
Cool, uncovered for 5 minutes.

Make the cake mix, following instructions. Sprinkle sugar on top. Pour over the fruit. Bake, uncovered 20-25 minutes until cake is browning on top and filling is bubbly.
Cool 10-15 minutes.

To serve, scoop out a piece and flip upside down, letting the juices soak into the cake.
Seriously yummy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Snack Time made Easy

When Pom went on the gluten free diet originally I was stumped. About everything really but mostly about snacks. We already made mostly gluten free dinners without thinking about it but snacks...that was tough.

Don't get me wrong, I would love to be the kind of parent that makes intricate snacks every day at the same time, but I'm not. Call it busy, call it lazy, call it whatever but my favorite snack foods are the prepackaged crap in little bags that can be thrown in a "snack drawer" so that the kids can get it themselves when that magic 3 o'clock hits. Try finding those kind that are gluten free and decently priced though. I also prefer that they aren't TOO full of crap. This was a problem....but with a little extra time, I found a solution. The snack drawer is back!

The diagnosis of Celiac's, as most people will tell you, was kind of a blessing in disguise. I realized just how much processed crap we ate! Not that we don't still eat some, but it's a much healthier diet now. We have two snack drawers now because one is in the fridge. Here's how we do it.

Cold Snacks

First of all, we do have some easiness here. The cold snack drawer does house things like string cheese and organic yogurt tubes (occasionally it even houses Go-gurt when we can't get out of town). The options they choose regularly though are individual bags of grapes, bags of sliced apples, bags of carrots or already peeled oranges. I bought an apple slicer from Pampered Chef years ago so it gets a lot of use these days. Turns out they actually do sell individual bags of sliced apples...but oh my they are expensive! It is SO much cheaper to buy whole apples. I slice them, put them in little ziptop snack baggies with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent browning and throw the baggies in a drawer. One of the girls favorite things in when I slice some cheddar cheese into little squares, 4 per baggie. They combine that with crackers from the other snack drawer for crackers and cheese. :)

Regular Snacks

Again with a little bit of easiness, we occasionally buy Welch's fruit snacks. Mostly we buy things like gluten free pretzels, gluten free crackers and gluten free graham crackers. I then separate them into individual baggies based on the serving size and put them all in the drawer.

It takes a little extra time to do this but I do it as I am unloading groceries. Groceries used to take me about 20 minutes to unload. Now it takes about 30. Ten minutes once a week is soooo worth allowing the kids to make their own choices at snack time. They are able to visually see a serving size out of that big bag, which I think will help them make better nutritional choices for their entire life. One can hope.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sesame Noodles...for the days when cooking isn't ideal.

With tragedy still heavy on my heart, I haven't much felt like cooking big meals. It dawned on me today that I am certainly not the only person in the world who occasionally really doesn't feel like cooking yet still needs to feed the chitlins.

Enter a meal so easy that it is literally not much more than boiling noodles. If you can do that, you can make this. It's super yummy too! I originally got the inspiration from Aiming Low but I changed it a LOT to fit our needs and tastes. So here it is....

Easy Sesame Noodles

  • 1 package gluten free spaghetti noodles (Tinkyada brand is my fave)
  • 3-4 tblsp sesame oil
  • 3-4 tblsp soy sauce
  • 2 tblsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp granulated ginger

Boil the noodles. Drain and return to pot. Add all other ingredients. Stir. Done.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Tragedy.....

This post does not contain recipes. I may not be posting for a while. Heaven received a new little angel, out of the blue, this morning. She was only 17 months old and a sweet, loving, happy and (as far as we knew) healthy baby girl. She will be greatly missed and my heart breaks for her family.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Base for MANY Recipes....Super Simple, Super Cheap Vegetable Broth

As you've probably noticed, I put vegetable broth as an ingredient in a lot of dishes. This is because I make my own. It started because I couldn't bear to throw away things like the leaves and end of a celery stalk or the ends of onions. There's still so much FLAVOR there. I quickly (as in the first time I did it) realized that I was not only saving flavor and turning 'garbage' into something usable and delicious but have you looked at the price of broth these days???

So I now make it all the time. It's super simple and basically free. Just save the ends of carrots, celery, onions, green beans, asparagus, zucchini or any other vegetable (besides cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce) in a gallon sized plastic bag. I call this the "veggie bag". When the bag is full-ish, follow this method. I usually make it about once a week.

Vegetable Broth

In a large stock pot, combine the contents of your "veggie bag" with about 6-8 cups water, 2-6 peeled garlic cloves and a couple tablespoons of herbes de provence. I usually add a couple pinches of salt here too but if you want it low sodium, omit the salt. It's still yummy.

Set the pot on simmer for about 4 hours then add more water. Let it simmer for another 2-3 hours. Remove from heat and strain through a mesh drainer, or colander covered with cheesecloth, into containers. I use quart jars usually but if you aren't going to use it within a week, freezer containers are a better option. It freezes really well.

That's it. Super simple, practically free and priceless for so many uses. Enjoy!

Super easy, comforting Root Beef cooks itself!

With the munchkins being incredibly busy this year, I am finding it difficult to get much done. I am trying to get things posted I promise.

Tuesdays are our hardest day. With four classes (one that I lead), picking up and dropping off kids and much more, we try to do either leftovers or slow cookers for dinner. Tonight was beef stew with a kick. The kids love it, its comforting and warm, incredibly easy and cooks itself!

Over the next few months there will be a lot of experimenting with GF baking. It's taken me nearly two years of trial and error but I have recently made a number of things that are surprisingly decadent and perfectly textured! Look for some recipes coming soon!

Root Beef Stew

  • 1 pound lean stewing beef
  • 4 large baking potatoes OR 8 baby red potatoes
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1/1 inch chunks
  • 1 large onion, cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 radishes, quartered
  • 4 - 6 cups vegetable broth or beef broth (see note)
  • 4 tablespoons herbes de provence
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large slow cooker pot, combine all ingredients except peas. stir well and set to high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10 hours.

Add peas in the last half hour.

Serve and enjoy!

See? Easy! I usually serve it with just a salad. It is very filling.

NOTE: Pacific Foods broths are gluten free. They are the only brand I will use.

Side note about pictures. With all of the recent vacation chaos and a moving plan, I seem to have misplaced my camera's battery charger. Some recipes will have pics taken with my cell phone, many will not. I am looking for it I promise!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Gluten Free....BEER BATTER! (and it's versatile!)

What do you get when you let a nine year old make dinner? Meatballs (no pasta), salad and onion rings. She might be brilliant though. It was awesome!

I originally made the onion rings with regular flour and beer, back before "the diagnosis". It was a recipe from Giada DeLaurentis. I was ecstatic with the results, but have been concerned about altering the recipe so much now that we can't have either. Pom wanted onion rings though, so I sucked it up and made the changes.

WOW. I am still impressed. Light, YUMMY onion rings in a batter that can double as a tempura batter. For shrimp of course. This made my daughter's whole year! Diva doesn't like onion rings much so we dipped apples in the batter and fried those with a cinnamon sugar dusting. Mmmmmm.........those would be good with ice cream.

I have to apologize for the photo quality. The camera was dying, so I didn't even get a chance to see the pictures until they were downloaded.

Gluten Free Beer Batter

1 1/2 cups gluten free beer (we used Bard's sorghum beer but there are other brands)
1 cup gluten free flour (we use Gluten Free Pantry. See my note about this.)
1 egg white
2 pinches salt (plus more for dusting)

Mix all ingredients well. There will be a few little lumps. That's okay

Onion Rings

Slice an onion into rings (pop out the individual rings from the slices). Put the rings in the batter and drop them into a fryer. If you don't have a fryer, like I don't, pour half a bottle of oil (canola) into a pot on the stove. Set to medium high and let it heat for a good ten to twenty minutes before frying. Remove the rings when golden and place on a paper towel covered plate. Sprinkle with salt.

The onion rings turned out perfectly!

Apple Rings

If you have a corer, core the apple first. Otherwise just slice it and use a small circular cookie cutter to remove the middle from the slices. I used a pumpkin shaped one...because I could.

Pat the apples dry with a paper towel before dipping in the batter and frying. The batter doesn't stick so well without this step. Remove from oil when golden and place on a separate paper towel covered plate. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Apples frying in the pot .... yum. The pan below contains meatballs, that recipe to come!

Note: Gluten Free Pantry All Purpose flour uses rice flours. I don't like the flavor of bean flours or sorghum flour very well so I don't use them. I don't know how they would work. You can make your own flour as well. has the recipe for my go-to homemade all purpose flour. It's similar to GF Pantry's and works well. I go with the pre-made right now only because most things (brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, etc etc etc) are not available in this town and I happen to have a LOT of GF Pantry flour on hand thanks to my Mommy. :)

I am trying shrimp next. DH and Pom want to batter and fry bacon. I think they are odd. This is going to be used for fish and maybe even hot dogs too! Hm.....that gives me an idea. Stay tuned!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Brown Bag It! Easy, Cheap Crack...I mean Popcorn.

What do a simple (cheap) brown paper lunch bag, some popcorn kernels (again cheap), a couple tablespoons of melted butter and some parmesan cheese have in common? They make cheap, easy, nearly healthy crack.

My mom seriously ruined me growing up. She had one of those ancient air poppers so we had air popped popcorn drowning in butter with added salt ALL the time while I was growing up. As a result, I don't like the microwave bags. I also don't have an air popper. (Sigh...) So when a friend of mine suggested that you could make your own microwave corn, a couple years ago, I was instantly hooked.

I am going to preface this by saying that I can guarantee there are blogs all over the place that feature this. It is not a terribly unique thing. Seriously. I wanted to let my readers in on it though, just in case you don't read the other blogs. Or didn't believe them.

We had a long Sunday. I wanted crack. Not the drug, but the addictive popped, buttery, cheesy stuff that I shall share with you. Don't say I didn't warn you.

You will need....

One brown paper lunch bag ( dollar store)
A microwave (not so cheap but hopefully you already have one)
A few popcorn kernels (a little goes a LONG way)
A bowl
Some melted butter
Some Parmesan cheese
Whatever toppings you want actually

Put a some kernels (I don't measure. Eyeball it. I put in enough to cover the bottom of the bag in one layer) in the paper bag. Fold over the top. Put bag in microwave. Cook for (approximately) two minutes. Pour into bowl. Pour melted butter over top. Sprinkle on cheese (or dump on cheese).

Eat a lot. MMMMMMMM.........

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Opening Weekend Chili and Praise for RedZone

In our household things are a little different. DH has ZERO interest in football but the girls and I wait anxiously every year for the start of NFL season. Autumn is my ALL TIME favorite season and football is one reason for that.

Being from the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is our primary team. We live, however, in Colorado so we definitely root for Denver, so long as they aren't playing our Seahawks. Pom is also a big time Dallas fan and we root for Indy and New Orleans too. St. Louis is my best friends team, big rivalry there. We love watching the Rams games in order to root against them.

Here is the problem. We live in Colorado. The ONLY game we cared about that we could get today was Denver (which didn't turn out so well). After a few frustrated minutes of searching for a live stream on the computer, I called the cable company. "How much is RedZone? Good. ADD IT NOW." I haven't ever cared about that channel because I always got my games. Really? I should have added it a LOT sooner!! I missed NOTHING from ANY of my games! :) It was fantastic!! I HIGHLY recommend it.

The other good thing about Autumn and Football? Comfort Food. What better comfort food for opening weekend than Chili? Not just any Chili, but Chili made with stew meat and bourbon....decadent, easy and comforting all in one.

Opening Weekend Chili (or Whiskey Chili)

  • 3 Tbsp EVOO ( Thanks Rachel Ray, that's a MUCH easier way to write that )
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced (or crushed)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • 1 large (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 large (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cans beans...kidney, pinto, black...a mixture...your choice. I use black and kidney. (or approximately one pound of dry beans, fully softened and cooked)
  • Chili Powder, a bunch. I estimate I used about 4 Tbsp.
  • Cumin ... about 1 1/2 Tbsp (again I estimate)
  • 2 shots Bourbon or Whiskey
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Heat 2 Tbsp oil over med-high heat. Saute onion, garlic and green pepper. Season with a bit of salt, cook until onions are softened. Meanwhile, put tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add onion mixture. In saute pan, add remaining oil and stew meat. Season with salt and pepper. Saute about 5 minutes until browned but not cooked. Add to slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients.
Cook on low 8 -10 hours or high 4-6 hours. Adjust seasoning as desired.

Enjoy with GF cornbread and grated cheddar cheese!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Easy Cheesy Lasagna!

Labor Day was a beautifully cool, sunny day. I haven't used the oven very much lately, since it was so incredibly hot but Monday seemed like a great day! The children were happy about it because I made their favorite: LASAGNA.

The best part of my lasagna is the simplicity. There is no pre-baking of the noodles since they cook in the sauce in the oven. It is ultra yummy, ultra cheesy and of course gluten free!

Easy Cheesy Lasagna

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 6 GF Lasagna Noodles (I recommend Tinkyada)
about 2 cups (or more) Shredded Mozzarella.

For the Sauce:
Olive oil (a couple Tbsp)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 lg onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
about a cup or so mushrooms, sliced
1 large can organic tomato sauce
1 large can organic crushed tomatoes
3-4 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives (optional but SO yummy)

For the Filling:
1 lg container ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 egg
1 cup Spinach leaves
salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste

Okay, saute the onions, garlic, mushrooms and green pepper in olive oil about five minutes. Add seasoning then tomatoes and sauce. Add olives if using. Let simmer while preparing the filling.

Prepare the filling. :) Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

OKAY the fun part. Ladle sauce into a 9 by 13 casserole dish so that the bottom is covered. Lay 3 lasagna noodles over the sauce. Ladle in more sauce, to cover the noodles. Spread the filling over noodles and sauce. Ladle in more sauce. Lay 3 more noodles on top. Pour in the rest of the sauce. Cover with foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle top with cheese, bake for 15 minutes longer.

ENJOY! A full pan of it doesn't last long at my house. The kids love it. I generally serve it with salad or a yummy saute of veggies with garlic.

Tips on Back to School GF Lunches

It's that time of year again. Having a child that is gluten free is hard enough, for both of you. School adds a whole new list of worries. What are you going to pack them every morning? What happens if someone wants to share? Is there a risk of contamination at the lunch table? What about class treats, birthdays, pizza parties, popcorn parties and all the other food related issues? Last but not least...does your child eat glue? It has gluten in it too. While my kidlins are home schooled, my godson is in this exact predicament (and yes he does like to eat glue...among other NASTY things).

Here are a few tips that his wonderful mom and I have come up with.

1. Practice at home. It's easy for him since he has 5 siblings that do not have the gluten intolerance. He has had to live his life not setting anything he eats on the table for fear of a crumb and not eating ANYTHING that anyone else has. He knows how he feels and questions everything given to him. (This is a very proud aunt over here)

2. Make his or her lunches interesting. Rice Cake Tuna Melts are a good start at interesting but all the other kids are going to have snack cakes, fruit snacks and candy. Make sure you are putting something that is fun in there. One thing that he and Genius both adore is when we put Go-gurts (yay for major brands being GF) in the freezer overnight then pack them. They are still cold by lunchtime and it's something that all the other kids probably have too.

3. Talk to the teacher. I cannot emphasize this enough. She (or he) can tell you when there are special things coming up so you can send something. She can keep GF snacks that you have provided on hand. I sent microwave popcorn that was GF with Genius to Girl Scout camp for popcorn parties. The godson's mom has done the same thing with his teacher.

4. Understand, and help your child understand, that no matter how hard you try there may be times that he or she gets left out. It's okay.

5. It doesn't need to be said but I will anyway. Teach them NOT to put glue, markers, paint and other school supplies in their mouth. It's good practice for any kid but make sure they know it will hurt them.

Have fun!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weekday Lunch and a Slight Rant

Working from home is fantastic. I run two businesses from home, daycare and freelance writing. The beauty of the writing is that I can do it from anywhere so when I took "vacation" I didn't have to lose the income.

There are definite downsides though. As any one who works from home can attest, the distractions alone are enough to drive you crazy. The one that irritates me the most though is having to explain to EVERYONE that yes, I do work and yes, I do have a 'real' job. No, I cannot just randomly go do whatever the hell you want me to. I am busy, I do have deadlines and no, I cannot just drop everything simply because I am home.

What I LOVE about being home is being able to homeschool my girls. They are doing AWESOME and are very happy, social, well rounded kids. The fact that they love to eat helps me with my cooking too. Here is their favorite lunch. Simple, easy and gluten free.

Rice Cake Tuna Melts

(makes about 4)
4 rice cakes
1 can tuna in water
2 TBSP mayo (or mayo substitute)
1 dill pickle (we use home canned ones), chopped finely
1 stalk celery, chopped finely
4 slices cheddar cheese (Tillamook is best)

Heat oven to 300 degrees

Mix together tuna, mayo, pickle and celery. Spread on rice cakes. Cover each with one slice cheese. Place on baking sheet, put in oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is melty.

Serve and devour.

I usually serve them with carrot sticks and apples on paper towels to make a (nearly) dish free lunch :) I really hate dishes.


Friday, September 3, 2010

A Month of Vacation and Gluten Free Potato Soup

It's been awhile. I know. After nearly a month of "vacation", we are back in our little town. I have only been back for a few days but I already miss home so very much. I have all my family and some wonderful friends there, but I do have good friends here as well. One of them recently had her tongue pierced (recently as in yesterday) so it is really swollen and painful. All she can really eat is soup, and only if it's cooled off. Poor thing. Yeah, she did it to herself but once the swelling is gone it'll be awesome. (I love that'll) So, since Potato Soup is her favorite that is today's recipe. It was lunch today and I don't have my camera so please be patient on pictures. All of the children aged 2 to 9 LOVED this soup as well. I have to make more next time!!

Herbed Potato Soup

3 TBSP butter
3 slices uncooked bacon, cut into pieces
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 large baking potatoes, sliced
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
2 cups water*
1 TBSP garlic powder
3 TBSP Herbes de Provence
1 1/2 cups half and half
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste.

Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Saute bacon and onions until bacon is cooked and onions are transparent. Add potatoes, herbs and broth plus water. * (You can use 6 cups of broth). Cook until potatoes are soft. Use an immersion blender to blend the potatoes until smooth. A couple of small chunks are okay. Add half and half, stir well. Simmer about 15 - 20 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!!

This amount fed 3 adults and 4 kids but all the kids and 2 of the adults wanted more. :)
Now that we are back in town I have LOTS of stories and recipes. I realized a few things and changed my entire outlook on everything. I look forward to sharing!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Revelations and a Great GF Hiking Bar

I have moved a lot in my life. Not because I was in a military family or anything, just because I chose to move a lot. I have lived in four states and a LOT of houses. The first move wasn't my choice. I was 11 when my Momma and I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah for her job.

This first move was a weird one. I hated moving to another state and I REALLY didn't fit in there in LDS nation. On the other hand, I spent most of my adolescent years there and made some very good friends of all religions. Now, as an adult, I realize that every where I put down roots, whether it is Utah, Washington, Oregon or Colorado, I leave a piece of myself there, and take a piece of there with me, when I leave.

The part of Utah, aside from fantastic people, that I love is the ability to truly connect with my love of outdoors. I spent a few days hanging out with old, dear friends a few weeks ago and we went camping. It was the best vacation that I have taken in a long time and really gave me a chance to reconsider my life and priorities. Obviously my girls are, and always will be, my number one priority but what is it that will give me that same sense of calm? What will make me as content as I am in nature? I'm not moving again any time soon but I think I pinpointed the calm. Nature. Of course, mellow wonderful friends didn't hurt either but it was nature.

So I have made a concerted effort since then to spend more time adventuring. The girls and I spent some more time in Salt Lake City on our road trip in August. We went hiking in the middle of the night in order to see the sunrise from 11,000 feet. It was GORGEOUS and the girls loved it!

This last weekend we went to Estes Park, Colorado. I love it there but it wasn't quite cold or fall-ish yet. We are heading up to Georgetown in a couple of weeks to hike. I am waiting impatiently. In the meantime, here's a recipe for a great Gluten Free breakfast bar. I got the original recipe from General Mills but have changed it quite a bit. We always take them hiking and camping!

No Bake Fruit Bars

4 cups honey nut, rice or corn Chex (I use a mix of all three)
1/2 cup dried apples
1/2 cup craisins or raisins
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup GF pretzels
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter (or almond butter)
1 Tblsp butter or margarine

In a large bowl mix dry ingredients together. In a small saucepan, combine nectar, sugar, peanut butter and butter. Melt over medium to medium high heat, stirring, until boiling. Pour over dry mix and mix well. Spread into a greased and foiled baking dish. Chill until firm then cut into bars.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Get ready, get set....stop. GF Fried Rice...mmmm....

Okay, sorry but no pictures today. I can't for the life of me find my battery charger for the camera. Welcome to the world of an ADD, OCD mom. FRUSTRATING. I bet the fairies hid it, either that or my husband's theory of time slips is possible. Fairies is oddly more understandable unless you've been drinking too much.....ANYWAY!

I better find the charger soon. I am leaving on Wednesday for a real, live adventure. Not just in my head either! But that means some prep work. The aforementioned male in the house (the only one poor thing) does. not. cook. PERIOD. He will also eat anything that comes out of the fridge if it "looks okay" no matter how long it's been in there. So today I decided to clean out the fridge, use the edibles and toss the rest so as to restock it with items that he can microwave but are still acceptable to me and safe for Pom to eat. Good thing for me it was all stuff that could easily be made into a yummy Chinese lunch. :) No dinner tonight, it's my birthday and I am not cooking!

Okay, here goes (use your imagination for the pictures... this is TRUE Chinese restaurant fare here....

2 cups leftover white rice
(this whole 'leftover' word is very important ...the rice won't fry right if it's warm)
2 Tblsp oil ( I used Canola but Peanut is good too )
2 eggs
2 Tblsp (or so) oyster sauce, divided (Gluten FREE)
Soy sauce (this is one of those use your own discretion times, and use GF soy sauce of course)
Any veggies you want. Mushrooms, onions and celery work well.

Heat the oil in a pan, preferably wok-shaped, over med high heat.
In a small dish whisk the eggs and half the oyster sauce, add to the pan. Cook, scrambling, for a minute or so then add the veggies. Stir for a minute or so, then add the rice. Stir to break up and add the soy sauce. Commence stir frying until heated through and cooked well. YUM.

Serve with a stir fry of some sort. I used leftover chicken, green beans, onions, mushrooms and celery in a little oil with garlic powder, onion powder, soy sauce, oyster sauce and a splash of rice wine vinegar. Again I say...YUM!!! Happy Birthday to me!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mushroom Garlic Chicken with Green Beans and Herbed Quinoa

When I began this blog, one of my intents was to help others who are going through the gluten free adventure. Whether it was a decision made from necessity or a desire to be healthier, it seems difficult to eat and cook gluten free with all of the processed food choices in the market, at least it did to me.

Turns out that with the exception of bread, gluten free cooking is pretty easy. Take, for example, this meal. It's one of our favorites, but it's super easy, healthy and pretty economical too.
A note about my recipes. I say organic for two reasons. 1) Who the hell decided that it would be good for humans to consume all of those chemicals?! 2) Things like tomato sauce should be naturally gluten free right? Naturally yes, but most canned tomato sauces are NOT all natural. And many are not gluten free. Organic foods are though. Well, organic wheat bread or organic barley obviously is NOT gluten free but organic processed foods, aka tomato sauce, chicken broth and the like, do not add all of the chemicals and preservatives like MSG.

I haven't mastered the whole uploading pictures thing yet...bare with me please.

Ingredients first!

Mushroom Garlic Chicken

3-4 chicken breast halves
2 shallots
3-4 garlic cloves
10 (or so) mushrooms, sliced
2 tblsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Mozzarella Cheese, shredded (as much or as little as you desire ... YUM)

Green Beans

1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 (or so) fresh, trimmed grean beans
salt and pepper to taste

Herbed Quinoa

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup quinoa
onion powder
garlic powder
herbes de provence
10 leaves fresh sage, torn roughly
1-2 Tblsp butter

OKAY now, first things first, when there aren't any amounts, it means that I didn't measure. Use a few shakes. I love garlic and herbes de provence so I use more of those. Use your own tastes. :)

To the process!

1. Melt 2 Tblsp butter over medium heat in a heavy frying pan. Mince the garlic and shallots, add them and the mushrooms to the butter in the pan. Saute about 7 minutes then add Chicken. Cook for 10 minutes on each side.

2. In the meantime, boil the water with the butter, onion and garlic powders and herbes de provence for the quinoa.When it's done boiling, add the quinoa, cover and simmer 12 minutes. Add sage, turn off stove, re-cover and let set 5 minutes.

3. Remove (only) the chicken from the pan and place on a plate. Sprinkle mozzarella over the chicken. Cover so the mozzarella melts. While that's melting, add green beans and broth to the chicken pan. Let simmer 10 minutes or until green beans are as done as you want them. Last but not least, serve and ENJOY!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


My oldest daughter is a bit of an .... interesting child. She has been a challenge and a joy from conception. With her I was on bed rest. She was challenging to birth. She was mildly colicky from day one, and didn't sleep at all. She was diagnosed with a sleep disorder at 4 months, never potty trained, diagnosed with ODD at 4 years, a tethered spinal cord that she had surgery for at 6 years and Celiac disease at 8. At 9 years of age, she now self catheters , gets migraines at the very mention of gluten and is mouthy and obstinate to the point of ridiculous.

With all this though comes the joy. She is bubbly and outgoing. She knows who she is and has zero fear. She is helpful (when she wants to be) and focused. She was lifting her head off my shoulder at two days old and speaking in sentences by 10 months. If I need help with something, this is the child I go to. If I need to laugh though, it's Diva all the way. Pom is much more serious. She is a cheerleader and not at all afraid of the spotlight.

Where Diva was my shadow for much of her life, Pom has been pushing me away for much of hers. Don't get me wrong, she swears she can't sleep if I don't sing her our song. She wants to cuddle and loves attention. But she does her own thing. She wants to shave her legs and has been talking about moving out since she was four. FOUR!

I am proud of her for this, but I admire the man who will put up with her and not hold her back. AMBITIOUS is an understatement for her and she has already made it clear that she doesn't need a husband. "When I get married, Mommy, he'll live with me only because I want him to. I don't need a man for anything." Apparently I have unintentionally created the same monster that my Momma created. Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Adventures Indeed!!

I must begin with an apology to all my readers (all 2 or3 of you). I have not been keeping up my end of the bargain to type in this little box. Let me explain why.

The Diva Monster and her older sister (whom you have yet to meet but isn't nearly as diva-ish...a bit emotional perhaps, but no diva. We shall call her Pom) have been sick. Diva tested positive for strep throat with no symptoms but her sister still has a sore throat, 5 days into the antibiotics.

This all came 2 days after Diva's best friend (whose family is very close to ours) and her baby sister were both diagnosed. So now we have 4 sick little girls ages 2 - 9. Whine is their friend while wine helps me cope.

Pom has been the worst. This child is an intriguing creature. She borders on brilliant (and yes I am biased but really. She's nine and making clay models of molecules) but she screeches like a wild banshee whose head is getting removed by a dull spoon if you even MENTION the word "medicine". Which sucks. For all of us. OF COURSE she would be the one to run fevers of 104 degrees combined with a throat so swollen that she has trouble swallowing spit. Naturally. People wonder why I buy ibuprofen in bulk at Costco. This is why.

She insisted that we stick with our planned camping trip over the weekend. I discussed it with the doctor, who said (basically) "on antibiotics, not contagious...why not?" Let me tell you why not. The child screeched so loudly when it was time for her meds that I think she killed a few fish..and some of the algae that the place was apparently farming. I am certain she killed some of the bugs and maybe made a dog or two deaf. Otherwise she enjoyed herself and didn't make anyone exceptionally miserable. I was almost glad that we could only stay one night though.

1) never take Pom anywhere if she needs medicine.
2) I really do mean ANYWHERE
3) It is an unspoken rule...if she likes it, she never needs it. If she hates it, it's a staple of life.

I promise to introduce you to the screechy one and explain her nickname. I also promise to write in this box more. I thirdly promise to give you recipes (all gluten free) soon. As soon as I remember to take pictures of said recipes.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Diva Monster

Introducing....The Diva Monster.
As the (so far) youngest of my all girl brood, The Diva Monster is a unique creature full of drama, dimples and the much hated, insidious glitter goo.

Having never been much into the girly things like make-up, fashion, shoes or purses, I am constantly confused by the actions of this one. This is the one whose first camping trip was when she was 3 weeks old. She was practically raised in the wild. Dirt and skinned knees have been her constant companion. She was the much longed for boy that I still don't have.

Now, this new creature has emerged. She's....*gulp* girly. She wants to wear make up (on her face, not in her butt like when she was 3), walks like well, a diva and even went so far as to tell me that she's (and I quote) "too pretty to work"!! GASP!

While I mourn over the loss of my lost little companion, I am trying to figure out what the hell to do with this monster! So far, I've squashed (or attempted to) her dream of marrying rich and not having to lift a finger for the rest of pampered (she wishes) life. Spare me the "don't squash little dreams" speech, nobody needs another Paris Hilton in the world. I have encouraged the ballet thing, (at least it's better than the nine year old's cheer dream...which yes I do support...sigh) and I have even allowed pink in the house. The last one is the biggest. I hate, hate, hate pink.

Glitter, however, is re-banned from the house. That stuff is out to get me.