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!