Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WOW! That was a long trip.....

We finally got back from our trip 'back home'. After being gone for a full month, it's nice to be back in a routine but MY do I have a lot to do!!

That being said, it may take a few days to start getting regular updates. We should have a STOVE this weekend though!! YAY!

I am so glad to be back in business!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Homeschool Info Moving! Come Join Us!

New blog is now live for all of my homeschooling info! I have a lot that hasn't been published, thinking I should totally have a separate place so here it is! Come see me at Homeschooling on the Side!

Gluten Free: To 'diet' or not to 'diet'

I have heard a lot of opinions about whether or not the gluten free 'diet' should be called that.

Many people feel it should not be referred to as a 'diet' since (trust me) you can just as easily gain weight eating nothing but GF brownies and ice cream as you can with wheat filled ones. Chocolate is chocolate after all.

Many others feel it is an appropriate moniker since you tend to eat less processed junk food when you don't eat gluten in it's many forms.

My sister in law is on a gluten free 'diet'. She is not intolerant, she does not have Celiac. She heard that gluten free is a good diet to lose weight and maybe help her allergies.

On the one hand it tends to be frustrating. She does not have a NEED for gf foods so she doesn't pay as close attention. She can cheat, no problem. So when we are at her house she doesn't quite get the severity of our need for it. More than once I have checked ingredients just to be safe and found something that we cannot eat. Her response is generally some form of "oh! I knew it didn't have wheat so I thought it was okay".

Honestly, though, I don't care what they call it. My sister in law did not for the life of her understand our plight when we first started this journey. Actually, her first response was "if you want to be healthier, start running". It took over a year. When she got it, it was because she had heard of the 'diet' helping people with allergies. I don't care how she got there. She pays attention now. She calls me and tells me about restaurants that have gluten free options. Why do they have those options? Because the 'diet' industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise.

Recent studies put obesity at 50% in Colorado ALONE. Most of those people are looking for a way to get thinner and healthier. If a gluten free lifestyle is put in that category, it gives our plight more visibility. Go ahead and call it a 'diet' if that's what it takes for my kids to feel less alone. Please, though, define it, tighten the labeling laws and stay vigilant. But that's another rant.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Experimentation = Lessons Learned (and how to poach an egg in the microwave)

In my newly found oven/stove free state I have been learning many a new lesson and experimenting profusely.

Pom likes eggs. We fry them on my electric griddle but she likes them poached and boiled as well so this morning she said, "Mommy, do you think we could boil an egg in the microwave?" I, having never actually used a microwave for much more than popcorn and coffee, said "I have no idea, let's try it!"

DO NOT ever try to boil an egg, in shell, in the microwave. They explode. They make a big mess. They make an icky smell. Well, I thought so. Pom and Diva swear it wasn't as bad as I think it was.

So we cleaned up the mess and tried for poaching instead.

You CAN poach eggs successfully in the microwave. Just crack two eggs into a microwave safe bowl with 1/3 (ish) cup of water and microwave for a minute or so. Check it after one minute, if it isn't done enough put it back for another minute and so on. Poms were perfect after 2 minutes.

I have also been experimenting, for dinner, in the crock pot. I thought "Lasagna noodles cook fabulously in the sauce in the oven, why can't I cook spaghetti noodles in the sauce in the crock pot?"

Ew. It does NOT work the same way. The noodles were a very odd (read: ew) texture. Pom, Diva and the Mechanic swear to me that the taste outweighed the texture and they were tolerable. I disagree. I could not stomach it. The taste was good, don't get me wrong. But the texture. OH the texture. * shudder *

At least some of my experiments are turning out all right! Really good in fact!
TOMORROW: Lesson four and it's recipe....YUM.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Best Burgers EVER!!

Today's yumminess comes from both my pregnant brain (and stomach) and my dear friend. It started with her take on burgers and advanced from there.

Lately all I think about is food and with the lack of stove/oven, I have had to get a little creative. I will update you on some of my musings as I try them.

Triple B Onion Cheese Burger

  • 2 lbs quality ground sirloin
  • 1 packet ranch dressing mix
  • 3 TBSP minced, cooked bacon
  • 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TBSP garlic salt
  • 3 TBSP fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 TBSP dehydrated onions
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 TBS butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese
  • 8 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 16 slices cooked bacon
  • lettuce
  • Homemade Onion Rings
  • Bleu cheese dressing

  1. OKAY. Mix together the first 7 ingredients. Form into 8 patties.
  2. While the grill is heating up, melt the butter in a saute pan over med heat (I use the extra 'burner' on my grill). Add onions, saute for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, then add mushrooms and a little salt and pepper.
  3. Continue to cook the onions and mushrooms while grilling the burger patties. Only flip once! When the patties are almost done to your liking, put one piece of cheddar and one piece of mozzarella on each.
  4. Let the cheese melt then build the burger.
  5. Put lettuce on the bottom half of the GF bun. Then add blue cheese dressing, the patty, grilled onions and mushrooms, two slices bacon and a couple onion rings. Put some dressing on the top half of the bun and stick it on top.

Make sure you have PLENTY of napkins! BEST BURGERS EVER!!!
(PS the pictures are coming. I have to find the box that the camera cable is in)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


We are officially back online after the move. I am so excited but there is so much still to do! So as a little update:
  • We bought a new house
  • It has no appliances
  • School is on hold
  • We are having a baby
Wait. What? That's the response I usually get. This has been quite the adventure. I guess I shouldn't be surprised though. I have yet to give birth without moving a few months beforehand.

Posts will be all about cooking (gluten free of course) with no stove and only a itty bitty mini fridge for awhile it seems.

So far we have done alright. Modern conveniences such as a microwave, electric griddle and crock pot are lifesavers!!

I will be back to posting recipes and such very soon!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I will be back up and running soon I promise :) We close on our new house TOMORROW!! SO excited, nervous and NOT READY!

Much love!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

I know what you might be thinking: "She takes this long for a post and all we get is Peanut Butter Cookies?!"

For one, I know I have been gone awhile but please bear with the sporadic posts, life should calm down soon. We close on our new house next week so we should be moved and less hectic I hope!

Secondly, these are not just any old Peanut Butter Cookies. These are fabulously easy, cheap and FLOURLESS cookies that have perfect texture and are seriously so, so yummy. I will never make Peanut Butter Cookies with flour again. Never. Really.

After baking, mmmmm......

In other news, since we have been packing and cleaning to move, school has been a little, well ~ disorganized, but the one thing that has been consistent, weekly, is our new Geography supplement.

The History Channel has been running a new show called How the States Got Their Shapes. It is all about exactly that: what formed the United States of America? I call it geography because it is all about the geography of the states but really, it is also US history. I am working on a study guide for it in fact. I highly recommend the show!

Anyway, here's the simple cookie recipe!

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1/2 cup creamy GF peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chunky GF peanut butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Mix all ingredients very well. Drop by rounded tablespoon (or small Pampered Chef scoop) on a nonstick pan. Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes. LET THEM SIT for a couple minutes before removing them to a flat surface to cool. They will be very soft while warm but cool to a perfect texture. Resting, right out of the oven.....

Careful, they are addictive. I had 24 in this batch. Within a day they were gone.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A New Realization

I found that I have changed my thinking, without really knowing it. I was recently asked how I manage to do all of the "extras" that I teach, such as my Ancient Greece Unit (thank you and my new science curriculum, Junior Master Gardeners (thank you Homeschool Den) or my state history curriculum, Hiking Through Colorado History. The friend who asked is working on the same Literature curriculum as I, in fact, she introduced me to it. I thought about that and said "Honestly, because we are still on The Horse and His Boy."

You have to understand. The literature study is on the Chronicles of Narnia series and there are 7 books in this series. We are on book 3. It is May. She is on book 6. She is on track. I, on the other hand, am not. This series does include science, history, social studies, grammar, life skills and more in the curriculum. But I feel it's lacking in those. The vocabulary, critical thinking and more is AWESOME don't get me wrong. I would (and probably will) do it again for future children. But I think it just needs more. For us. For me. So we do the extras.

My change in thinking is that I suddenly realized that I don't HAVE to finish this curriculum in one year since I am doing so many other things. It is a Unit study designed for 4th through 8th grade. I can take my time with it and do many other things. THAT is the beauty of homeschooling. I want to make extra sure that they understand what we are doing.

Yes we are learning through the summer. We are going to take a few weeks off to move at the beginning of June (on the condition that our inspection goes well, we close on our new house May 27. YAY), and another few weeks in July/August to see family in the Northwest and go to Girl Scout Camp. We aren't taking off the entire 3 months though.

I am excited. My new realization opens up a WORLD of possibilities for geography projects, field trips and more literature. The world awaits the girls and I want them to savor every detail.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zuppa Toscana

We have been on an Italian kick when it comes to cooking lately. It's a good thing we figured out how to make it gluten free! I have a serious affinity for the Olive Garden but while they do have a gluten free menu, my favorite things aren't all on it of course. There isn't one within about an hour of here anyway so I have taken to the internet (and experimentation) to help.

My all time favorite dish there is Zuppa Toscana. Yes, it's just a soup but I frequently ordered just the soup, salad and breadsticks specifically for this soup! I found the recipe recently on Tuscan Recipes but, sadly, I am lazy so I altered it just slightly. SO SO SO good. I served it with a Mediterranean salad and homemade dressing.

Zuppa Toscana

  • 1 Tblsp olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian Sausage (GF)
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 10 cups water with 5 bullion cubes (GF) OR 10 cups Broth
  • 3-4 large potatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 - 1/2 bunch Kale, torn into bite size pieces

Saute the sausage, pepper flakes, onion, bacon and garlic over medium heat in a large soup pot until sausage is no longer pink and onions are softened. Add water and bullion or broth and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are softened. Add cream and kale, heat through and serve!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Post-Easter Split Pea Soup

Easter has come and gone. I hope everyone had a fabulous day however you celebrate, if you do at all. We had a huge Easter dinner, just the four of us and relaxed aaaall day. Since this NEVER happens I relished every moment. As part of dinner I made Ham with Rum Glaze.

I just realized that I have never posted that recipe. How sad! It's soooo good! Okay, I will post it in the next few days I promise.

Anyway, there are only four of us and that was a HUGE bone-in ham. "What am I going to do with all this HAM?" I asked myself. The cats were listening too and had their own ideas but I chose to feed the humans with it. Enter: Split Pea Soup.

This is NOT a unique recipe. This is a family one handed down through generations that I made a couple tweaks to but not many. This is probably identical to others but I wanted to share anyway.

Mama's Split Pea Soup

  • 1 bag dried split peas
  • 1 ham bone (preferably with a little ham still attached)
  • 3-4 Tblsp olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 2 carrots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 10 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Chopped ham (optional)

Saute the celery, onion, garlic and carrot in the olive oil for around 5 minutes over medium high heat until the onion and celery are softened. Add the peas, ham bone, broth, water and pepper. Cover and cook on medium for around an hour and a half, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

Remove the ham bone and add the chopped ham (if using). Turn off the heat and serve. I usually serve it with a Spring Mix and Spinach Salad.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Salad Dressings Galore!

Pom is my future Food Network Star. At not-quite-ten years old, she made us dinner last night with NO help from ANYONE. This wasn't a hot dogs and canned veggies kind of meal either. She made from-scratch gluten free Gnocchi with a Buttery Parmesan sauce. She made Spring Salad with Oranges and Olives served with a fresh, from-scratch Vinaigrette Dressing. The best part? IT WAS REALLY GOOD!!! I am the proudest mama EVER!!!

I was also really proud of her when she said, "Mom, thanks for teaching fractions. That would have been hard without that!" Sniff, sniff. I teared up a bit there.

I started thinking while devouring the salad. (Did I mention how really yummy the salad and dressing were?) Salad dressing is one of those really tough things for gluten free kids. Ranch, in my experience, is an all around FAVORITE, but only a handful of brands sell it gluten free. (My favorite there is Litehouse). Homemade dressings though. Those are easy. And cheap. And did I mention easy? Really. So here are a few of our favorites. And yes, Pom's first homemade dressing is included. :)

Pom's Fruity Vinaigrette

(these measurements are approximate...apparently she didn't measure and it was TOTALLY from her head...SO proud!!)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • Juice of 1 mandarin orange (juiced by hand)
  • Juice of 8 strawberries (again by hand)

Mix it all together. SERIOUSLY good.

Mom's Raspberry Balsamic

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup raspberry balsamic vinegar

Mix well. This is Diva's favorite.

GF Low(er) Fat Blue Cheese Dressing

  • 4 oz GF blue cheese, crumbled (mine comes pre-crumbled, I just use the whole package)
  • 1/2 cup Mayonnaise (NOT low fat)
  • 1/2 cup Sour cream (NOT low fat)
  • 1 cup fat free 1/2 and 1/2
  • 2 Tblsp Tarragon Vinegar **
  • 1/2 tsp (or so) garlic powder OR 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (I use a garlic press)
  • 2 -3 Tblsp chopped fresh dill
  • dash of freshly ground sea salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a mixer*** or processor. Note that it is lowER fat, not fat free or even necessarily very low fat.
**Make your own Tarragon (or any herb) Vinegar by boiling white vinegar and steeping tarragon in it for a couple of weeks in a cool, dry place. Strain into decorative jars and use or give as gifts.

Gorgonzola Dressing

  • 2/3 cup fat free 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3-4 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced (I use a press)
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients in a mixer***.
This was inspired by a Giada recipe and happens to be ultra yummy on a BLT salad.

Ranch Dressing

  • 1/2 cup Buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup fat free 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 Tblsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • dash paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 Tblsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh dill

Mix all together in a mixer***. This is DH's favorite.

***I swear by Pampered Chef. In many areas but particularly here. Every dressing ever made in my kitchen is made by one of these. Measure, mix, pour and there are even recipes ON the side of it!! I love, love, love this thing so much in fact that I own three. Two to ensure I can always have a variety of dressings on hand and one for my camping gear.

Now you can have salad at any time!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Moist and fluffy GF Strawberry Cupcakes...No REALLY!!!

Have you ever felt an overwhelming need to do something different? I feel that nearly every day when it comes to cooking. This is not always a good thing for my poor family but sometimes it is a wonderful thing!

We are on book 3 in the Narnia series, The Horse and His Boy. In it, the main character is fed sherbet, though it is pointed out that sherbet used to be more like juice. So we made floats with raspberry sherbet and juice but I had another idea for the sherbet.

I wanted strawberry shortcake but I haven't figured out how to make shortcake gluten free yet and I really didn't want to play with it last night. So instead I took plain old gluten free cake mix and doctored it up ... a lot. It was AWESOME. You have to try it.

MOIST, ultra good texture, a guest was actually concerned about Pom when she tried to get her own. It was very yummy too. And here is how it's done. It could probably be done with other flavors as well. We will have to try it!

I, um, have to apologize, still and again, about the photo quality. One of these days I will get that charger.

Gluten Free Strawberry Cupcakes

  • 1 box gluten free cake mix
  • 2/3 cup really soft sherbet
  • 1/2 cup sprite or 7-up
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 fresh strawberries, diced
before adding the cake mix

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put liners in a muffin tin (or grease the tin if you choose not to use liners)
Beat all ingredients at medium speed until combined and pour batter into liners.
Bake for about 20 minutes. (as directed on the box)

Just before devouring.


We served them sliced in half and topped with fresh whipped cream and sliced fresh strawberries. YUMMY.....

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Games, unplanned school and a Gluten Free Mediterranean Lasagna

With it being Spring Break, there hasn't been a lot going on at our house. We have been sorting things for an upcoming yard sale, reorganizing furniture (this is common) and generally relaxing. Turns out there has been a lot of school going on under my nose though!

Part of that was because I SCORED at a yard sale last week. I found rare and old books (collectors here, I have a LOT of bookcases). I found Amelia Bedelia (five different books!). But what intrigued me most were the games. A LOT of them. For a dollar a piece.

Awesome Learning Games!!

My camera still has no charger so the pictures are NOT fabulous but these games are awesome. The girls LOVE them and they learn a TON.

This is why I love homeschooling. Civics class was "taught", word problems were finally mastered, a unit on fractions was begun, spelling lists were made and studied, vocabulary was learned (the two new favorites are loquacious and discretion) and science has been a proficient part of every day. And this was our week OFF. No plan, no "lessons". I love my life.
I played around with food this week too. A couple of near misses and a disaster were made up for by this. A Mediterranean Lasagna that is easy, delicious and oh so flavorful. The little scholars were THRILLED with it and it took virtually NO prep work. I was really just throwing stuff in that sounded good to me and it worked. REALLY WELL!

Mediterranean Lasagna

  • 6 GF Lasagna Noodles
  • 1 large container Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper (freshly ground preferably) to taste
  • 1/2 handful fresh Oregano leaves, torn to little pieces
  • 1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, quartered
  • 12 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 3-4 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 jar gluten free marinara sauce (I prefer Organic and such)
  • 1 cup fat free 1/2 and 1/2
  • 1 cup shaved parmesan
  • 2 cups mozzarella, divided

*all cheese measurements are "about". I just add. I like cheese. Too much.

To make lasagna, preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, egg, salt and pepper, oregano, grated parmesan and 1 cup of mozzarella. In a deep 9 x 13 casserole dish, layer in this order:

  1. 1/3 cup spaghetti sauce
  2. 3 noodles
  3. 1/2 cheese mixture
  4. artichokes
  5. mushrooms
  6. spinach
  7. olives
  8. rest of cheese mixture
  9. 1/3 sauce
  10. 3 noodles
  11. remaining sauce
  12. half and half
  13. shaved parmesan
  14. remaining mozzarella

cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about one hour.

No precooking, no chopping (if you buy pre-chopped), easy quick prep. YUM!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Okay, I realize that St. Patrick's Day was yesterday but I tried something new yesterday and it apparently didn't work. I typed it on my phone and tried publishing it through a blogger app. I either did something wrong or the app didn't work.

I didn't want you to miss out on the recipe though since my family makes it way more than once a year! If I don't make Boxty on St. Patrick's Day, I get in trouble but I make it more often. I remember my grandmother making this for breakfast with fried eggs and bacon (WARNING: NOT a low calorie food) but even though she told me that I had to learn how to make it or I would "never find a man" she never taught me. So I scoured the internet. I chose the recipe that most closely resembled the way she did it. Then I changed it. I called my aunt to confirm a couple of things since she HAS the recipe. It's in a cookbook that my aunt keeps locked up. So far my aunt and I have traced the cookbook my grandmother used through the late 1800's, and she believes it originated with a particular ancestor in Ireland, which is why I don't have the book or the recipes. Yet. "Boxty on the griddle, boxty in the pan..."

ANYWAY, Boxty is a fried potato patty. I say butter or bacon grease but the best way to do it is to fry the bacon in the pan first, draining the excess fat into a jar as you go. Then make the Boxty, adding more drippings as needed, then fry the eggs. IF you don't use bacon grease or salted butter, add a little bit of salt to the batter.

  • 1 medium size potato, grated, raw
  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes (leftover)
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tblsp milk
  • Pepper to taste

Mix the flour with the grated potato to soak up the liquid then add the mashed potatoes. In a small, separate, bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. Add to the potatoes and mix well. Add pepper as desired. Drop by spoonfuls on a hot griddle or pan with melted butter or bacon grease. Cook until browned on both sides, flipping once.

That's it! Easy, huh?

Pom and Diva hard at "work"

In homeschooling news, we have been studying Ireland and her flag. We talked about the many wars and even made a cake decorated like the flag! The leprechaun was not caught of course but he did leave some cute trinkets. Probably cause the cake's so cute :)

How was your Holiday?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We're Back!!!

After an ultra long, and rather accidental, hiatus we're back on track for regular posts. It's been a crazy few months around here with surgeries, broken bones, cookie season and more.

This time of year is a little tricky for us. It's been about a year and a half since Pom's diagnosis so she still remembers Thin Mint milkshakes. She can't have them though, which can be a little rough with them taking over our house and schedule. She is a great little salesperson, as is Diva, and really enjoys selling cookies. Booth sales are one of her favorite parts of being in Girl Scouts!
She misses the eating part of it though, so I am on a mission to create an accurate GF Thin Mint. I have seen GF "Samoa" recipes but not Thin Mint types. I am also attempting to petition for a GF cookie. I can't and don't believe that it wouldn't be a godsend for many people.

With the busiest part of the year upon us I haven't been experimenting quite as much with meals. I am sticking with tried and trues. I haven't forgotten my Stumble challenge though! I found a recipe one day for "Trailer Trash Pot Roast". Definitely not gluten free. And I don't like chili sauce very well. So of course I changed it a bit. MMMMMMMMM.....and wow was this an easy roast!

Busy Night Roast

  • 3-4 lb (or more) butt roast
  • 1/2 bottle GF steak sauce (whatever your favorite is)
  • 1/2 cup dried onions
  • 1 can cola (I prefer Pepsi)
  • some baby carrots, potatoes and onions chopped into one inch (or so) cubes, OPTIONAL

Put roast and veggies in roasting pan.
Mix steak sauce, onions and cola in a mixing bowl.
Pour sauce over roast.
Put in a 400 degree oven for one hour, reduce heat to 325. Cook an hour or so longer.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Most Important Adventure....

I began officially homeschooling about 3 years ago out of necessity, but we were in a weird place then. It really wasn't a choice at the time and we made do with what we had but worksheets given by someone else strictly because she couldn't go to school did Pom no good. This was in the first grade.

Now she is in fourth and Diva is in second. Homeschooling is a choice now. One that I can't imagine not making the more I think about it. I have been asked about it a lot lately and so have thought a lot about it.

We have done SO many different things. We tried everything from traditional teaching methods to Montessori, worksheet based, unschooling, virtual academies and more. We finally found our groove and I am thrilled with the way things are going now. SO are the girls in fact! They love school this way and are learning SO much! They are both ahead of the grade level they should be in and, contrary to stereotypes, VERY well rounded and socially adept.

Socialization is a touchy subject all around and one I was REALLY worried about (thanks to outside pressure) when we began this adventure. Because of that I have done everything I could to ensure they were exposed to socialization. They are in two dance classes each, girl scouts, awanas, 4-H etc. The one thing we don't belong to is a homeschool group or co-op. I don't have time and honestly, I would rather they were exposed to a variety of different ideas and home cultures.

That being said, I am close to one person who homeschools her girls and am quickly realizing how beneficial those relationships are!

My point is, aside from the rambling, socialization should be a factor when making the decision to care for your own kids instead of letting a stranger do it, but it shouldn't be the only one. Why do we care so much that our kids are popular or have a hundred friends. Shouldn't we be more concerned that they are educated and happy? And....

When you begin homeschooling, it may take awhile to find your groove. Every child, every parent, every family and every teaching style is different. Plan, adjust and go with it. You won't get everything done. You'll get the important stuff.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Challenge, Flours and Yeast

A challenge. I like challenges. I am a person who gets bored very easily. On the one hand, that makes my life very chaotic. On the other hand, my kids are used to change and relish the idea. They are very persistent and adapt well. They especially enjoy being guinea pigs to my ever changing cooking whims.

Who among you, dear readers, gets sucked into StumbleUpon? I feel your pain if you are one of those. I am using the distraction to my advantage. From now on, I will make a minimum of one recipe that I found on Stumble every week. I will post the first of those tomorrow.

In the meantime, I want to say a few words about GF flours and a new lesson learned.

I personally like my flour blend for pretty much everything. It can be substituted straight across for regular flour in nearly everything. I tried a LOT of different blends before deciding on this one, and I like it the best for not only texture, but taste as well. Yesterday I tried a new pancake recipe. My flour thickens to much it turns out. At least in this recipe. I am going to play with it and see what I can do but I want to say, don't necessarily trust just me when it comes to this kind of thing. While I have a lot of experience playing with flours, everyone has different taste buds. If everyone in the world hated bean flours they way my family does, they wouldn't still be sold.

Today I went to the store in order to find an ingredient for dinner. I went to three stores in fact. I will have to special order said ingredient or wait until I go out of town next. While checking the ingredients list on a vast array of products and brands I found something.

Pom and I keep getting mild reactions, though I am VIGILANT with ingredient checking. I had my suspicions that it was yeast. Now, from what I have read, and what my allergist and Pom's dietitian said, yeast is one of those thing that some people with Celiac's or Gluten issue have a problem with while others don't. NOT SO. The ingredients list on one product said: Autolyzed yeast extract (from barley). Um....barley equals a BIG no no but this is one thing that I have been avoiding thinking it was just one of those things that was in addition the gluten response. Not a part of it!

So here's my final word. AVOID autolyzed yeast extract.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Cheesy No Bake Pasta

I am always so confused with Diva. This graceful dancer is the most uncoordinated little thing when she isn't dancing. I mean walking into signs, walls, fences, people, displays in stores and falling over her feet, or anything else on the ground, like dirt. She constantly has some sort of bruise from falling, tripping or running into something. When she is on that stage though she becomes this totally different creature. Graceful, coordinated, balanced. A little star! Sadly for her, though, she doesn't get to dance for a week or so.

This has been a hard week for the little one. Her not so graceful self fell earlier in the week, fracturing her tailbone. Then she had surgery to remove her tonsils and adenoids. We chose to give her full control over the dinner menu the night before her surgery since she was having such a bad week. I was impressed by part of her decision.

I wanted to make a particular recipe out of a Giada DeLaurentis cookbook for years but never got around to it. That night, however, it made it out of the book and into the pot. Not without a few alterations though of course. So here is my altered version of a great recipe. Good enough, apparently, for a seven year old's "last meal".

Shells and Cheese with Arugula

  • 1 pkg gluten free shells (Tinkyada)
  • 2 cups finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan (I really like Parmesano Reggiano but it's spendy)
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 TBSP garlic powder
  • 1/2 TBSP onion powder
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 handful of arugula leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Boil noodles in lightly salted water. In the mean time, saute the mushrooms in EVOO. Place the cheeses, mushrooms and seasonings in a large serving bowl.

Drain the noodles and put them in the bowl. Add the arugula and half & half. Stir well to melt the cheeses. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!

I recommend serving this with a nice Mediterranean salad but my child stuck with peas and corn for accompaniments. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Easy Black Beans and Wild Rice, and a new outlook

The holidays are officially over and all the company has gone. This means that my vacation is officially over, but I have to say there are mixed feelings. I go crazy when our normal routine is shattered for too long. After a week or so I either need to go back to it or create a new one. In this case I did a mix of both.

We had family visiting for nearly three weeks. I love them dearly and am thrilled they could come for so long but it threw me off to the point that I am still recovering, weeks later. It did, however, give me a chance to re-evaluate my life and the important things in it. Normally I don't have time to blink, let alone think. The decision I made was that finances are fine without daycare. I will have to make some spending adjustments (the girls really don't NEED 25 pairs of pants, no matter how cute they are) but the added stress isn't worth it right now. I have been working on a book for years and realized recently that part of my unhappiness is the inability to focus on my writing. So as of March, I will only be running two businesses.

This gives me another beautiful chance to work on new cooking projects! I found a recipe a while ago for Black Beans and Rice. It called for dry beans, lots of water and a few spices with plain white rice. I happened to have the spices and canned beans on hand a couple nights ago so I glanced at the recipe but decided I didn't like it and just used the idea as a jump off point. WOW! The final result made the girls request I make it again. Just two days later.

So here ya go! You can try it too!

Easy Black Beans and Wild Rice

  • 2 cups Wild Rice Mix (I used Rice Select Royal Blend)
  • 3 1/2 cups GF chicken broth ( I like Pacific Foods)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 packet GF chicken flavor broth concentrate (I used Savory Choice)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 Tblsp onion powder, divided
  • 1 Tblsp garlic powder, divided
  • 1 Tblsp oregano
  • 1 Tblsp cumin
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro **

Bring broth, 1 Tblsp onion powder, 1/2 Tblsp garlic powder and some pepper to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat and cover. Simmer about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, combine the rest of the ingredients (except cilantro) in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the rice is done. Remove from heat and add cilantro. Serve bean mixture over rice :)

**The amount is up to you. Personally, I don't feel it needs it. DH on the other hand thinks EVERYTHING needs it and explained that this is fantastic but cilantro just adds that special something that makes it perfect. I am leaving that up to you.