My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

Saturday, December 31, 2011

New York, Feast of the Seven Fishes, Christmas and Year in review.....

Buckle your seatbelts folks, there is much to catch up on before the evening and year come to a close so it's going to be a long one;) I couldn't leave things in 2011 undone as I start 2012.  One of my many New Years resolutions is to be more consistant at blogging and helping you so you will see me once a week or more throughout this new year and I might even be recruiting some of you for a special project I am working on.

Ok, so lets start in order: NYC!  We spent a glorious week in my favorite city with ALL 4 KIDS.  Yes, you read that correctly, we had both toddlers and both teens and it went surprisingly well.  Being Gluten Free in NYC doesn't mean you will starve, there are surprisingly more options than most large cities AND if they are not on the "Gluten free registry"it  doesn't mean they won't make you a GF meal.  There were several accidental finds that were FABULOUS and Miss Princess didn't get sick ONCE the whole trip!  There were even allergy posters up in certain restaurants, I thought that was so interesting.  We did visit a few famous gfree places to give them a try: #1 was Babycakes which offers doughnuts and cupcakes and other sweet treats.  Although Isabelle, Noah and I approved, the teens noticed a major difference and weren't big fans, BUT Isabelle had breakfast for a week and enjoyed every bite; their staff was very knowledgeable and helpful and their shop was wistful yet small and in an out of the way area.  #2 was Pala and most notable for pizzas and Italian cuisine on the lower east side of Manhattan.  The atmosphere was sweet and I plan to visit again when I'm there in the summer and eat outside but absolutely everyone LOVED the pizza, spaghetti and experience.  It was amazing food, and the sweetest staff EVER.  But as wonderful as that was, there were two other experiences we had that topped that if you can believe it.  The night my sister and her family arrived we decided we would venture out for dinner and decided on a Mexican restaurant close to our hotel but upon arrival there was an hour wait and it was a super trendy bar type restaurant with no moving around way was that gonna work.  I remembered seeing another mexican restaurant up the road when we were headed to a local grocery store to grab some gfree snacks.  We walked the couple of blocks to find it was closed and we were thinking - "really?" The next door neighbor to this restaurant was a Chinese restaurant.  I was way can Izzy eat dinner there but at this point it was raining and we had a bunch of hungry kids....  Jason walked in the front door and asked the owner if he could accomodate gluten free and much to my surprise they could and there were great options as well.  It turned out that they were so careful Izzy truly did not get any cross contamination whatsoever and ate like a HORSE!  It was one of the BEST Chinese restaurants that we have ever eaten at EVER.  It was SOOOOO good!!!!!! ChinChin will defintely be on our list again.  I cannot talk about how amazing the food was!  The other exciting experience was my sweet niece, Charlotte, turned 4 while we were there and we took all the girls to the American Girl Doll Store.  Last year when we were in NYC in Oct I bought Izzy and Charlotte their first AG dolls and boy am I glad I did.  It made this whole trip so amazing!  So for Charlotte's birthday we took a trip first thing in the morning to the most amazing store on the list.  We spent so much time there we decided to see if their restaurant could accomodate the 6 of us girls while the guys were off seeing the Intrepid.  THEY COULD.  As most mom's of celiacs, it was exciting and scary and I wondered if there was anything Izzy would be able to eat at all.  Well, guess what....they deal with this all the time and had an entire meal plan just for her.  Seriously it was AWESOME!  They have a prefix lunch/brunch menu and they did everything for Isabelle and had a special desert for her and for the birthday girl and it was really such an amazing trip for everyone.  I cannot say enough about asking about allergies first thing because the two best places weren't listed as gfree restaurants or having gfree options but we got two amazing meals in a big city with zero cross contamination.  AMAZING! In the interim we ate in other locations, shopped, ice skated, shopped, ate, shopped and had an absolutely amazing trip with so much more of NYC to discover with the kids....
SO, we got back on the evening on the 23rd and then there was Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.....why did we do this to ourselves?  UMMMMMMM because that's what I do under pressure:).  We got back, babies and I started with allergies and all sorts of congestion right before we left the city and the flight home was miserable for me as I couldn't clear my ears at all on the flight.  It was terrible and coming home, all I wanted to do was get home, get some soup and get to bed.  Wasn't exactly that great but I woke up on the 24th ready to go.  We had grocery shopping to do and wrapping of a few things and ALOT of cooking.  Feast of the 7 fishes is typically a Catholic/Italian Christmas Eve dinner where you have 7 different fishes or 7 different fish dishes as the focus the meal,  We had an great time figuring out our 7 dishes and all was so good.  I made crab legs, ceasar salad with anchovies in the dressing, shrimp scampi over creamy polenta with gorgonzola, tilapia en Papillote, Cod "gfree fish sticks", seared ahi tuna, and mussels in white wine and butter garlic sauce.  I made some CHEBE GF cheddar garlic biscuits that everyone loved and we were done.  YAY!  Christmas was a great conglomerate and we had brunch that was fantastic.  Sausage, turkey bacon, gf chocolate chip pancakes, cheese grits, scrambled eggs, gf biscuits, and gf french toast.  Normally we have Pannetone that we make french toast out of but I didn't get to make it with such short timing.  So next year plan that into the menu!!!! It was good with our coffee, mimosas and real drinking chocolate. 
Christmas afternoon we had a fried turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato casserole, steamed green beans and glazed carrots, cheesecake, pumpkin pie.  It was so nice to just relax as I had alot of this frozen already before we left for our NYC trip and it was thawing out and warming up.  Smartest thing I ever did!
So, for my year in review or HOLY CRAP I cannot believe we made it through 2011! 
As I sit and write this I remember that last NYE there was this looming essance over our family.  We had been told at Thanksgiving last year that Lana wasn't doing well and that eventually she would be at a point that she would need to be admitted and moved up the transplant list.  Her heart was way sicker than she was on the outside.  I spent the next few weeks in a pitty party, depression, nostalgic and every other emotion you could imagine with your child being in iminant danger.  I still am not sure how I survived those weeks and the months to come but here I sit and able to write you this NYE. Lana told me on Christmas break she did not think she'd be able to go back to school after the NY because she was truly too tired to do anything.  I knew then it was time.  I called my ex husband and told him what was going on, we decided to call the hospital after the new year and see what they say yet knowing that would mean we were headed for admition to Little Rock for an indefinate amount of time and an indefinate future.  But it wasn't until we called on the 3rd that that became our reality.  My mother and I loaded up 3 of my 4 kids, and all the luggage, clothes, and necessities we would need for at least a month so that we had everything with us that we would need and we drove to Little Rock and Arkansas Children's Hospital which would be our home for the next several months.  21 days into 2011 my daughter was admitted into the hospital, they then put her under quarantine due to a flu epidemic, I lived in a hotel for 2 weeks until we found an apartment, I could only see my oldest child for brief moments at a time, one of my closest friends from jr. high succomed to breast cancer, my family was split over 3 states trying to figure out what to do and then as we were figuring it all out....I got a phone call while pumping gas to exchange kids and spend the night in the hospital that they had a heart.  They had a heart for my amazing child.  That meant someone lost their child, to make a heart available to mine, yet all I could think about was that my child was going to go through the most traumatic, scary thing I've ever even imagined and hopefully both lives were not in vain but our donor heart would save the life of my child.  To me, thinking back on those first 21 days in January of 2011, are a blur. Actually alot of 2011 was such a stressed, emotional mess it is something that amazes me that we are alive and we made it through what felt like a pergatory to me for a brief moment or blink of an eye.  It felt like an eternity at the time but as I write this, it is over now.  It's such a surreal experience.  The 25th of January, 2011 started at 4 am when I awoke in Lana's hospital room with all three of my daughters exactly where we were the last evening, all holding hands and fell asleep watching a movie in a conglomerate of beds strewn across her room.  The dad's and our priest found other accomodations for the night and various parts of my family were up making arrangments to get to us.  They came into the room and readied us for what was to come a very long day.  They took Lana early back to surgery and we spent the day laughing, crying, ready to vomit at any minute with bad news and just stress all together holding hands, holding phones, updating everyone and keeping busy for some period of time and praying our end was good.  The end of the night we needed to sleep some and hope she was ok throughout the night, although she was bleeding heavily and losing blood pressure.  We made it through, she is alive, she has many years left to prove the world wrong and that she can conquer all but those first 21 days almost killed me....Today as I close this year I could not be more grateful for anything in my life than the donor and the family of the donor who saved my amazingly gorgeous and beautiful child's life.  There were many great things that happened throughout the year but Lana's heart transplant takes the cake.  I close this year with the health of my 4 children who endured more in 2011 than any family deserves, and so much promise and hope for the new year.  I will breathe much more freely on January 20th when she has her 1 year biopsy but I know that 2012 will ring in alot calmer than 2011.  Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers this year for Lana and all of us.  You all have helped this family in more ways that you can imagine.  I am excited about the prospects of 2012! Much love, happiness, success and life in the new year to all of you.  Let all your dreams come true.  There is much planned in 2012 in my life as well as my family's so stay tuned!!!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Well, I can't seem to finish one post on here recently.  It's like I have ADD.  I literally have 3 posts sitting in my drafts section and cannot seem to finish one with everything going on.  But really, nothing that much is going on...except in my head.  HAHA, there, I said it.  My brain works in overtime mode all the time and sometimes I just have to listen to "The Voices" :).  I just spent the last 5 days with my mom here and now am frantically packing 6 of us for NYC for 6 days.  Nah, I don't have anything going on.  Since Thanksgiving I have been working on a project and potential new venture and it has my mind tied up in creative overload.  I can't seem to get a damn thing accomplished from beginning to end which, those of you who know me, knows this makes me INSANE!  Add Mother Nature off her Zoloft, a couple full moons and my normal "OMG it's almost Christmas and we are going to be traveling until the 23rd" moments plus the regular day to day with 4 kids and I am officially ready for my beautiful NYC city.  Those of you who have never been...get up and go!  It's my favorite place in the US to go and somehow in the crazy hustle and bustle of the big city, there is silence and peace.  I immediately feel better when I step off the plane.  I can honestly say, I cannot wait for the sweet silence of my brain when I get to NYC.  It makes me utterly happy and nothing else matters for the 6 days I'll be there.  I will try my best to finish up all the loose shoe strings before I leave and we will see where that leads...;)  Will update all the dish on NYC and all that is gluten free when I can while away but a whole set when I am home...Much love to all of you.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving and Arsenic and all that stuff....

I know you are thinking I poisoned someone at Thankgiving dinner by the title of this post.:) But everyone escaped with their lives.  Sorry it's been so long since I last posted, Thanksgiving literally took it out of me and left me exhausted.  Our menu was great, our friends were amazing and probably better behaved than family would have been (LOL:)) and my sweet babies had an amazing and fun time playing with a ton of friends.  I actually got to eat a HOT meal, with everyone else, and was able to sit around the table and gab with friends, watch football and relax!  I think that equals a perfect holiday:).  Everyone enjoyed the food, the fried turkey was amazing and there were 3 refrigerators FULL of leftovers even with people taking some home!  Ok, so I don't know how to not cook for an army.  I could have fed a 3rd world country on our seconds.  Perhaps that is what I'll do once the kids are all off:).  I had two recipes that I turned into round two recipes.  One was Shepard's Pie made with leftover turkey, gfree gravy and leftover veggies and I made a version of white chicken chili with some more turkey instead of chicken.
Recipes will be at the end.

Onto the arsenic part of this.  On the TODAY show this morning the consumer reports study has come out on the juice we give to our children and it is VERY disturbing.  Dr. Oz did a lot of reporting on this earlier this year and got shot down on many things during his testing but surprise, surprise...he was guest star on the TODAY show this morning with exactly what he thought and what he said previously.  Not that I am totally surprised but why is arsenic in any amount allowed in our food supply?  It puts us at a much greater rish of cancer and other major chronic illnesses even at the smaller level.  It absolutely amazes me that there are not more people concerned about this.  The old adage of well we've been doing it for years and everyone is fine is not ok anymore.  We are not fine.  There is more cancer in the human population than ever reported and growing in numbers that you cannot even comprehend.  And it's due to plain greed.  If the companies would core the apples they are using, the seeds have high levels of arsenic naturally, alot of the problem would be solved.  But they don't want to hire another person to core the apples or have a machine to do it.  It's not just apple juice though, it's grape juice and several others and if you did not already know this, there is an acceptable level in our drinking water as well.  This is just not acceptable.  Obviously filtered or bottled water eliminates some of the exposure and Organic juices as well as when you can verify that the apple juice concentrate is from USA (this is a difficult task as some have the concentrate imported then the juice is made here) you are a little safer.  This is a larger issue though.  The almighty dollar is making all sorts of companies make decisions that are not in our best interest.  Chicken plants breed chickens without beaks or feet and sometimes without feathers so that they don't have to hire someone to pluck, debeak or break apart the chicken.  Seriously?  How can that be good for us? That doesn't even begin to talk about the hormones or antibiotics that are injected.  Buy organic as much as you can, be a pureist when you can ( buy a juicer, soda maker, food processor, bread maker when you can and make your own), use local farmers for meats and produce when you can or be very selective where you buy.  Even in a crazy, out in the middle of nowhere place, like I live in there are options.  Stop supporting McDonald's and support your kids health. 

PS, another note on additives in our foods for those that are not gluten free: King Aurther is the only flour on the market that is non-bromated flour and if you are not sure what that means: it's an additive to flours I could go on and on with things in our foods...
King Arthur also makes a lot of G Free producst and flour blends!

OK, enough of that tangent.  I'll include some article links at the end of this as well.

SO, Christmas is upon us.  I've done most of my shopping , addressed almost all the Christmas cards and partially written our family letter.  I've wrapped the things that have come in, decorated most everything except the outside.  Things are moving along quite nicely.  I can say, it feels a little weird this year.  I let the kids decorate the tree while I supervised from the kitchen and made dinner.  I broke down when I pulled the stuff I had shoved in the attic willy nilly on a quick trip home from the hospital at almost Valentine's Day and couldn't find everything and thought of where we were this time last year.  I think I was so stressed last year and went through so many things this year I had to suck up and not react to emotionally that it's all built to a head that is waiting for New Years Eve to arrive so I can finally take a deep breath and start the new year in a new way.  But my sweet angels are so excited and enjoying every second of Christmas and it's contagious! It's so sweet to see how excited they all are.  We told the big girls that their main present is a destination present.  This year we are leaving this lovely Arkansas town for one of my favorite places on earth...NYC.  We will spend a week in this amazing city and embrace everything that it holds.  That will get me back in the mood for sure.  Ice skating in Central Park, shopping, eating, seeing my cousin and her family and seeing my sister and her family who are driving in from MD. It is a trip that is very needed this year to celebrate how far we have come in such a short period of time. 

Dr. Oz and TODAY show links: you can go to his home page for the main parts of the article remember it's not just apple juice either!

Leftover Shepard's Pie- traditional Shepard's pie was made with lamb but I typically make it with either lamb, ground turkey, beef and NOW leftover fried turkey:)

  • 1 1/2 lbs leftover turkey, either runn through the food processor or hand shredded

  • 1 onion chopped

  • 1 TBSP olive oil

  • 1-2 cups vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas

  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)

  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick)

  • 1/2 cup leftover gravy (usually I use either gfree beef broth, mushroom soup, or gravy of some sort)

  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (GF)

  • Salt, pepper

  • 1 Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).
    2 While the potatoes are cooking, heat olive oil in saute pan.
    3 Sauté onions until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.
    4 Add meat and sauté until no longer pink or if using leftovers until warm. Add salt and pepper. Add worcesterchire sauce. Add half a cup of gravy and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more gravy or broth as necessary to keep moist.
    5 Mash potatoes in bowl with butter, season to taste, add coconut milk as needed to moiten.
    6 Place meat, veggies and onion mixture in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.
    7 Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown. If you want to add cheese at the end, the last 5 minutes is perfect.

    White "chicken" Chili- or replaced with leftover turkey:)

    1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapeno peppers (optional and I don't include when the kids are eating)

  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth (GF)

  • 3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast or leftover turkey

  • 3 (15 ounce) cans white beans

  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional)

  •  1/2 bunch cilantro chopped (1/4 C)

  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Slowly cook and stir the onion until tender. Mix in the garlic, jalapeno (if using), green chile peppers, cumin, oregano and cayenne. Continue to cook and stir the mixture until tender, about 3 minutes. Mix in the chicken broth, chicken or turkey and white beans. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the mixture from heat. Top with the cheese and cilantro. Serve warm.               

    For a little more depth I will occasionally add a can of Rotelle tomatoes/onions/chilis as well, it does spice it a little more but I like it!

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Funny things happen, sometimes they end up good! Dessert's

    So, I've been baking away and something hilarious and comical happened tonight that I had to share with you all.  I have a Martha Stewart recipe for a sweet potato pit with a gingersnap pie shell.  Well, obviously you have to have gluten free gingersnaps but I sorta figured Izzy probably wouldn't be eating it so I wasn't going to concentrate so much on being dairy free.  In the end I ended up with an amazing sweet potato pie that is accidentally gluten AND dairy free and I want to share this tip for those who are daity free!  I was half way through making the pie and realized that the recipe called for sweetened condensed milk and I had bought evaporated milk.  Uh OH!  Well, I thought, they had to make condensed milk in some way shape or form to create the cans, maybe there's a recipe.  I googled how to make condensed my surprise there is not only a recipe but it was SUPER EASY!  Here comes the funny part.....the first ingredient in the recipe was powdered milk.  I knew I didn't have that on hand so I'm searching through the pantry and found that I had a box of powdered coconut milk.  The EXACT amount I needed for the recipe.  So, I decided, what the heck let's give it a try!  SURE enough, it came out perfectly!  Here's the recipe for homemade condensed milk, just substitute your powdered milk of choice, for us it was coconut which I think is more readily available:

    The sweet potato pie recipe is:

    I used Mi-Del all natural ginger snaps that are gluten and dairy free, butter substitute (Earth Balance baking sticks), C4C gluten free flour blend (but any Gfree flour blend should work since it's only 2 1/2 TBSP) and the coconut milk condensed milk.  I will serve with the rice or soy whip for whipped cream but I wanted to tell you about another product I found today while at our natural food store.  For those who need dairy free heavy whipping cream and are not tree nut allergic there is a almond and cashew whipping cream called Healthy Top by Mimiccreme, dairy/soy and gluten free!  If anyone out there has tried this please post a comment so I know how it is!

    Next up is Pumpkin pie:
    I make the traditional Libby's pumpkin pie: I am lazy when it comes to pie crusts because they have to have alot of love and patience and usually since dessert is the last part of the meal, I run out of patience.  You can ask anyone....I would rather have a glass of wine or prosecco than a slice of pie.  BUT Whole Foods bakehouse makes one heck of an already done frozen pie shell, you can get it just like the regular frozen pie shells and you thaw and bake just like any other pie.  It HAS to be one of the best things ever invented for a gfree chef.  So, last time I was in Little Rock, I picked up two packs and have been hording them for just this moment...the star of Thanksgiving cannot have an icky or soso crust!  Prepare the pie according to directions on the back of Libby's canned pumpkin.  For a dairy free option evaporated milk can be substituted several ways, boiling your milk sub by 50% or 1 C soy, rice or coconut powedered milk with 1 C boiling water and combine in a blender.

    I also made Paula Deen's (I rarely use one of her recipes due to the amount of butter, lard or other fat added but this one is a great one) Fresh apple cake with honey glaze

    I subbed the milk for coconut milk, vegetable oil for olive oil and I made this cake with two flours to see what worked best, they both ended up very nice...I used Pamela's baking mix first and then the C4C flour blend second.   It's a really nice cake that can sub as a breakfast type cake as well. 

    and the final dessert at this year's big even will be a  chocolate ganache cake:
    Barefoot Contessa and Ina make me happy, I love to entertain and man does that lady know how to do it right.  This is her recipe and I sub for my gfree flour blend:
    Full fat coconut milk can be substituted for heavy cream. A coconut milk substitute will impart a coconut flavor to a recipe, so it will work for some recipes, but not all.  Here is another recipe for subbing heavy cream:

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Thanksgiving part 2

    Here are some more recipes that will be appearing at this year's table!!! If any of you have any specific recipes you want that I don't address, post a comment and I will be happy to share recipes with you!!!

    Honey glazed carrots:
    Naturally gluten free and so yummy!

    Corn casserole:
    I replace the jiffy cornbread mix with Bob's gluten free cornbread mix and for DF you use butter substitute like earth balance baking sticks; diya cheddar; tofutti better than sour cream. This recipe doubles really easily and well

    Grown up Mac and Cheese:
    This I have made gluten free but not dairy free:
    1 lb quinoa elbows or fusilli pasta
    6 c mixed cheeses grated (our preference is gruyere, fontina, asiago and white or sharp cheddar cheeses)
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    Extra virgin olive oil
    1/2 c pancetta diced
    1 can diced tomatoes ( optional)
    1 tbsp fresh chopped Italian parsley

    Prepare pasta a cording to box instructions and set aside. Preheat oven to 350. Grate cheeses one at a time and in between the types of cheese clean the grater by grating some whole nutmeg, then start with the next until all 6 c are grated. Put approx 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauté pan on medium heat, and add pancetta and brown for about 4-5 minutes, then add garlic and sauté just until fragrant. If you are using tomatoes, add them just to warm them with their juice. Put pasta in a big bowl and add cheese and pancetta, garlic mixture and stir well. If it seems a little dry, add 1/4 c co nut milk and then transfer to a casserole dish and bake o about 30 minutes until golden bubbly!

    More tomorrow, starting with desserts!!!!

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Thanksgiving Extraveganza Part 1

    Ok, this week has been a whirlwind of weather, 70's, 60's, 50's, 30's and even some 20's.....last Thanksgiving we had a white Thanksgiving, my second one ever in my life.  Me and Thanksgiving have an interesting past.  Thankgiving was one of the times of years that I split as a child between two grandparents' house and I have two distinctinve memories of each house.  One grandmother usually made reservations somewhere nice by the time I was old enough to remember Thanksgiving with her (which is totally fine and sometimes super fun) and the other had my enormous clan over and very specific traditions that I didn't know much about until I was older.  There were a few Thanksgivings as an adult that I spent with in-laws and several I spent as a single mom with my best friend and her family which I'm so close to it's like my own. Then there were the years that finally my little girls were old enough to not need me being in the same town and I was able to travel during the week of Thanksgiving when they were with their dad's family and it was just me, obviously not cooking a feast for 1.  I have been to Mexico, Hawaii and Vegas during Thanksgiving and had great and unique Thanksgivings all along.  But my most favorite have been in the last 5 years.  Where I went back to tradition and provided the smaller little sweeties in my life a sense of what Thanksgiving truly is.  Most of you that know me, know I come from a very large family......blended together I have 7 siblings, 5 aunts and uncles, 30 cousins or more and so many numerous other family members I couldn't even name them all.  Most of us were at some point always with each other during Thanksgiving at one point or the other and sometimes all at once!  It was so weird to think, when our super close friends and then my mom couldn't be here for Thanksgiving this year that there would be two adults and two babies.  I thought to myself, that isn't Thanksgiving.  One of the things that is my fondest memories is that I always had my cousins, some of which are as close as my siblings, to be with.  There are many of my friends that did the amazing Facebook challenge to say what you were thankful for each day of November until Thanksgiving.  I didn't do that, not out of selfishness or unthankfulness but because I am hoping to save what I am most thankful for, for the week of Thanksgiving.  5 years ago I would tell you I was most thankful for my TWO children's health and how Lana, who had a heart transplant this year, was doing so well in every area and Shelby was succeeding in gymnastics and school.  I would tell you that I was thankful for the most amazing grandmother ever to live and the best sisters, brothers and cousins a girl could ask for, and for the gift of attempting to adopt and my close friends who were our new "family" who went through everything with us.  4 years ago I was thankful for "Team Turkey" which only a few people know about.  My Aunt Sheila, my cousin Traci and I were allowed into the inner circle of my Nana's kitchen for the coveted "Thanksgiving tradition".  Nana was getting older and couldn't do all of the prep work and cooking herself and needed help.  She recruited a few of us that lived in town and she "trusted" - HAHA - with the treasured Thanksgiving meal.  We spent the entire week of Thanksgiving cooking off and on and then the night before, I spent the night at my sweet Nana's house helping with the final preperations.  We put the turkey in at 8 and it would take, on low heat, til 12 am to cook and we spent the night watching Hallmark movies and dishing about the latest crazy styles and commericals and all the news gossip on her favorite weather people in Jax and life in general.  Then,  I went upstairs to bed and she called me when the alarm went off and it was time to take the turkey out of the oven.  Traci and I joked the whole week about getting t-shirts that said "TEAM TURKEY" because we were allowed into the inner sanctum as the grandchildren and it was probably one of the most speical Thanksgivings of my life.  The next year, we added two more kiddos to the mix.  OMG!  Yep, Noah in March and Izzy in Sept and we had other great grandchildren that were added that year to make it even more speical.  The following year we moved to Arkansas.  We spent Thanksgiving in a smaller way but still good and then last year we had friends and family with us preparing for what we did not know then, would be a truly tough year ahead.  Where family would mean more than it ever had.  My Nana passed away, Traci got married to an amazing man, the babies grew bigger and we were headed down a road where my first baby needed a new heart and a new angel watching over her and us.  Thanksgiving will always from this point forward be my Nana's holiday, and I will never celebrate one that I do not think of Traci and Aunt Sheila.  Hopefully by next year we will make it back home to spend it together.  This year though, we will spend it with friends that are like family to us, here in AR.  In the end we will have almost 20 "new family" members to celebrate with us who were celebrating on their own that we brought together.  That is truly what Thanksgiving is all about.  The coming together. Making new traditions or keeping with the old, it is truly an amazing holiday that is usually swept under the rug on the curtails of Christmas but happens to be one of my favorites, with or without food....

    Here are some recipes and ideas for our allergy safe Thankgiving that doesn't skimp on ANYTHING but the gluten and dairy!!!

    Fried Turkey:
    we ususally brine the turkey the night before so it's full of salt and juice and love.  We typically filll large coolers (depending on how many you have coming) with water, apple cider, salt, peppercorns and perhaps a few herbs.  We brine them overnight in the liquid and then inject them with butter, garlic and herbs before frying.  The best and most amazing thing we've EVER done with the actual frying of the turkey was you take

  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme

  • 3 big sprigs fresh rosemary

  • 1/4 bunch fresh sage

  • 1/2 head garlic, smashed, husk still attached

  • You add that to your cold peanut oil before reaching the proper temp for frying and it infuses the peanut oil with so many wonderful flavors.  It's truly the best part of it all...

    Mashed potatoes:
    Take a head of cauliflower, peel and cut it and steam it. Peel if chosen and cut and boil 7 Yukon gold potatoes  and drain.  Put both into one large pot and mash with a potato masher, add 1/4 cup coconut milk or more if needed for desired consistancy and butter alternative (approx 2-4 TBSP), 2 tsp salt and pepper and 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.  Blend well and serve piping hot.  (you can also saute some minced garlic in a saute pan with some olive oil and add at the last minute as well).  Garnish with 2 TBSP fresh cut chives.

    Roasted Veggie Smash:
    Peel and chop into 1/2 inch peices 4 sweet potatoes and 2 butternut squashes, 3 carrots, 1 onion.  Preheat oven to 350.  Toss with a 3-5 TBSP olive oil and salt and pepper and thyme. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes and pull out to cool.  Toss all in a heavy stock pot and add 1 C vegetable broth, purree and put in baking dish.  Stick in the oven for 20 more minutes until bubbly (can add Gfree granola and brown sugar mixture...1/2 and 1/2 of each in the last 10 minutes for crunch)

    Roasted Brussel Sprouts:
    I used to hate these...quite honestly I couldn't think of a good use for them at all.  Then I saw Ina Garten's recipe, thought it sounded good, tweeked it, tried it and YUM!  No one I knew liked them until now!!! 
    1 lb trimmed brussel sprouts, fresh
    2 TSBP bacon drippings
    2 TBSP Olive oil
    2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper

    put all ingredients in a bowl and toss, spread of cookie sheet, roast in preheated oven at 350 until crispy (about 15 min) and serve hot or room temp

    Green Bean casserole: (this has some dairy in it)
    1 lb hericot verts
    1 box Gfree Pacific cream of mushroom soup (for DF option you can saute 1 lb baby bella mushrooms with 1 clove garlic, 1 TBSP olive oil and salt and pepper, then add 1/4 c white wine and reduce. Add 1 tsp to 1 TBSP constarch and equal coconut milk til desired thickness.)
    4 shallots or 3 small onions, peeled-sliced
    Steam hericot verts in steamer; mix with either version of cream of mushroom soup, salt and pepper to taste in bowl and transfer to 9X13 baking dish.  Take onions or shallots, dredge them through cornstarch or potato starch and add to hot olive or grapeseed oil in saute pan until crispy...put green bean mixture in 350 preheated oven for about 30 minutes.  10 minutes before your time is up, add onion topping.

    Cranberry sauce:
    This is typically the recipe I use except I usually sub some of the water for OJ...maybe half OJ and half  water and for those without nut allergies, toasted walnuts that are then chopped are nice as well.

    Parker Station rolls:
    These are the rolls that we made in an earlier blog but we bushed with honey butter on the top and we did up the sugar to 1/2 C to make it more like it:

    There will be stuffing and more recipes coming tomorrow...just a little taste preview since I'm already craving the good stuff!

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Traveling and party tips to stay G-Free

    Traveling during the holidays can be anxious and nail biting when you have food allergies or when you have to go a good distance and are unsure of where you are going to end up.  Schar and one of my favorite people "The Celiac Diva" have some amazing tips on traveling during the this video:

    #1 Tip to parties, holiday or not...try to eat before you go.  Filling up on gluten free things that are healthy will make you less likely to cheat and be sick at a party

    #2 Pack a snack, most hosts would not be offended at all knowing you have a  food allergy or special diet restriction and bring your own snack so you aren't sick or starving

    #3 Call ahead to the restaurant or paryt host and discuss that you have a food allergy
    , see if you can get a special meal or snacks.  Many vegetarians deal with this issue alot and you'd be surprised how accomodating restaurants will be - there is ususally not any issue asking what's being served

    #4 Offer to bring a dish - this is your chance to inform people and help teach them about what a gluten free lifestyle is and means to you (or other food allergen) is not all cardboard and non flavored

    #5 Dont be upset if the host forgets but be cautious about the choices you make- before I had any of my children dealing with food allergies, one of my daughters best friends developed a nut allergy  and I was careful in the everyday types of foods when she came over.  Then at a party I almost served her a peice of cake that had hazlenut cream filling.  Mortified I was that I could have forgotten that, mortified was she and I'm not sure she ever ate anything in my house again.  When food allergies are not common to the host, or they are new at it and trying to accomodate the allergen as well as the allergy free.....slips ups can happen by accident.  Just be wise and double check things before you eat.  Now all of my parties I serve amazing food that is gluten free, usually dairy free and nut free but I deal with it on an everyday basis.  I'm used to it.  When we go to a party that my 3 year old is invited to, I bring her food as I don't expect the host to have to deal with it. 

    Just remember cheating usually sets you back and makes you feel bad and miserable.  It's not worth being sick over.  You can have a safe and healthy holiday even at someone else's party. Don't let this keep you from going or set you back and make  you sick.  Holidays are about love, family and friends.....keep it like that!

    Roasted tomato soup, mozerella paninis and kale chips

    Ok so after all my reflecting and mushiness from yesterday I am ready to get back to business.:)  The weather here has been going back and forth all fall and now the trees have turned and most of them are completely bare.  Last night our low was 25 and our high today didn't break 50 and we'll be down low again tonight.  Sometimes during this time of year, especially the week before Thanksgiving, I find myself uninspired and not sure what to make for dinner. 

    Tonight I decided what's better on a cold winter's night that soup and a sandwich!

    Roasted tomato soup:
    2 1/2 lbs tomatoes, mixture of your favorites and what's in season (I used campari, cherry on the vine and small grape tomatoes)
    2 medium onions, peeled and sliced
    6 cloves garlic, peeled
    1/2 c olive oil
    salt and pepper
    1 qt vegetable or chicken broth, ensure it is gfree ( I use Pacific Natural Foods)
    2 bay leaves
    4 TBsp of butter or butter alternative (we use the Earth balance sticks)
    1/2 C chopped fresh basil
    * 3/4Heavy cream is optional in this recipe but for a unique dairy free alternative you can use part coconut yogurt (plain) and coconut milk mixed well together and added

    Preheat over to 450.
    Wash and core the tomatoes and cut in 4ths or half depending on the size.  Place tomatoes, onions and garlic on a sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil and generously salt and pepper. Roast until carmelized - 20-30 minutes and remove.
    put tomatoes, onions and garlic in a heavy stock pot with broth, bay leaves and butter and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes or until reduced by a third.  Use an immeersion blender to puree the soup.  Stir in basil and cream or alternative if using. Check seasonings and serve HOT!

    I baked our regular gfree sandwich bread : (PS if you are in a pinch like I was today, I was able to sub C4C gfree flour from Williams Sonoma by weight as an alternative to her flour blend and it worked beautifully)

    Brush outside of bread with a little olive oil and build on panini press or skillet as follows: inside the bread I brushed some basil pesto, placed a slice of tomato or 2 depending on size of tomatoes you are using and top with a slice of buffalo or fresh mozerella cheese and brush the inside of the second slice with more pesto and press away!

    Kale chips are super easy:
    preheat oven at 350

    In a large bowl put the leaves of 4 stalks of Kale, destemmed and cut into uniform bites.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper and put on a sheet tray and bake until crispy.  Those who aren't dairy free can add a little parmesan as well. 

    My kids loves these and you can make a dip using (tofutti better than sour cream for the DF) sour cream, a dollop of mayo, 1 TBSP of lemon juice plus zest from half the lemon and salte and pepper to taste. 

    Tomorrow's post will be about traveling and sticking to your GF diet as well as tips of heading to a holiday party and not being contaminated! 

    Everyone say a little prayer for sweet Isabelle tomorrow as well, we will be having her immunology bloodwork and echo cardiagram done at noon.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    A year older, am I any wiser????

    Friday was my 37th birthday.  I always loved having my birthday be 11/11 and this year with it being 11/11/11, I was super siked.  My mom loves to tell the story that I was 12 before I realized the whole world didn't take off just because of MY birthday:).  I was so excited I even got a lottery ticket at 11:11 am.  Much to my dismay, I did not win.  Oh well, what do you expect;).  I have many friends who are doing alot of reflecting lately for various reasons.  I thought this would be a good week to do a little reflecting myself.  In this last year, my family came from Florida for the holidays, I had a virtual New years toast with my two best friends hoping to welcome in an amazing 2011.  3 days later I was in Little Rock with my oldest daughter being admitted into the children's hospital for the most amazing and most difficult journey we've ever had.  January 25th she received the greatest gift that I could not give her and recovered as she has from everything she's ever undergone in her life, with lightening speed; grace; patience like I've never seen and continues to thrive each and every day.  Then, I learned how to adapt and become an expert on all things celiac and gluten free.  I started this blog and have kept everyone up to date on our lives and helped families with their new diagnosis.  I have written two articles for a local magazine about the one thing I am most passionate about, my children.  I have also lost an amazing friend to breast cancer that left us far too soon.  Have been privelaged enough to travel some throughout this year, back home and to New York. I have had friends and family help me in ways I could never express enough gratitude.  There are things that I endured that I never thought I'd have strength to face and then realized I was never alone in any of it.  I have the most amazing family (dysfunctional as they are) and friends (sometimes more dysfunctional than my fam;)) who have made this last year, when it could have been the worst of my life, the best.  I am so privelaged that each and every one of my children-chose me to be their mom.  Lana's check up last week was great.  She had one small med adjustment but otherwise is as perfect as she could be.  We don't have to go back until January when they will celebrate and do her one year post-transplant check up and biopsy.  Shelby has blossomed into such an amazing young woman, has her first boyfriend and is holding down an unquestionably difficult schedule of AP classes and gymnastics.  She starts her competition season this weekend in Memphis and has started looking at colleges.  Penn State is her top school for architectural engineering and gymnastics as it stands right now.  Noah has become quite the young man who is so comical in everything he says and is so smart.  He was in hip hop class and I think will start football, maybe martial arts and gymnastics next year.  And then there is my baby angel, Isabelle.  I cannot believe how big she has gotten in this last year.  She has had her dental surgery from all the celiac nutrition definciancy, handled starting preschool amazingly and will have her echo and imuune blood testing on Friday.  She is thriving and loves to ask people when they are handing her food, " Is that Gwuten fwee?"  I am now excited to see what this next year holds for my life.  I guess if you look back on all that has gone one, I would say I am definately one year wiser for all the experiences that have happened this year.  Thank you to my family, especially my mom and dad and two of my sisters, Justine and Sam, who were able to help this year so much.  Thank you to my whole family and all of my friends for praying, making this year so special and always being there.  Thank you most of all for all the wonderful birthday wishes. 

    I'll leave you with the funniest thing Noah said to me today.  We were taking Izzy to ballet and he was grumpy.  He said to me from the back seat," Mom, I'm going on vacation!" I said, " Well me too!"  Izzy pipes in with, " Me three" and Noah says, "No mom, you're 37"....Lord that sounds old:)

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Planning, Planning and more planning

    When I was growing up there was some part of me way deep down that had the planning tendancy.  If you ask my mother, she never saw it til I became a mom.:) But I am sure that somewhere between the two sides of my family, there was a semi-type A personlity waiting to emerge.  My mom loves to joke about the differences between us, for instance when I was 3 or 4 she took me bathing suit shopping and while she was over looking at the teeny tiny bikinis for me, I was picking up the navy blue racerback one piece.  I revel in these diffrences of personalities in my children today.  it makes them who they are and my family is always interesting.  In GF cooking and living planning is key.  The ingredients aren't always readily available at every grocery store, so some times it is more than one stop or even ordering online, just for day to day things plus baking and making from scratch in some instances as well.  SO, my friends that are all just about to embark on this journey or are newly diagnosed and trying to figure it out, if you can organize and come together one day a week or every two weeks to think about what you want to cook, menu plan, make a list and order ahead you will be better off in the long run.  Today was my day to do that, I had some down time and quiet time after the toddlers went to preschool and was able to peruse some recipes.  That's the main thing, my family goes back and forth, needing something new and exciting and then back to some comfort classics.  So I am constantly looking back through cookbooks I've used for years or magazines looking for ideas.  I've gotten pretty good at eyeballing a regular recipe and figuring out if it's something my family would like and if it's something I can convert to GF.  It takes time and practice and patience.  Don't give up, you can do it if I can!

    Here is my list for this week things I'm going to make.  It's shorter than most weeks because I am taking Lana and Izzy to Little Rock tomorrow afternoon and we'll be gone til Thursday afternoon and we have some exciting festivities this weekend that will create some time I don't have to cook-YAY ME!
    *Tonight I made my sister's meatless monday go to fav: black beans and rice but created a twist...
    Here's the original recipe:
    But I added a little cilantro and lime juice to the beans as well as a can of Rotel tomatoes and chilis and my rice was Basmati rice made with chicken broth and lime juice a dash of salt and a handful of fresh cilantro.  It was so yummy and had everyone asking for more!
    *Next I took the recipe for Deviled pork chops with apples and squash and converted it: original recipe is and the only adjustment was ensuring the dijon mustard was GF AND the subbing the panko bread crumbs for GF panko bread crumbs such as Kinnikinnick brand panko style bread crumbs. (You can get them at whole foods or on Amazon)
    *Third meal for the week is-Ground turkey sour cream supreme:
    1 pkg Quinoa Fusilli Pasta
    1 TBSP Olive oil
    1.5 pds ground turkey
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 c green onion, chopped
    2 8 oz cans tomato sauce ( I use 16 oz of homemade marinara that I made back in August but any 16 oz of tomato sauce you prefer, just make sure it's GF)
    1 tsp sugar or Agave
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp ground black pepper
    1 C Tofutti  Better than sour cream for the DF version or regular light sour cream for those that want to have dairy
    3 oz of Tofutti better than cream cheese or 3 oz of Philadelphia cream cheese
    1 c grated Monterey jack Diya cheese for DF or regular grated cheese
    1 c grated cheddar Diya cheese for DF or regular cheese

    Cook GF pasta according to directions on box and set aside.  Preheat oven to 350.  In saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add ground turkey and brown, 7-10 min.  Add garlic and green onions and cook and additional two minutes.  Add tomato sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Bring mixture to a boil and allow to simmer for 2 min.  In a large bowl, combine pasta and ground turkey together well.  Add sour cream and cream cheese and stir together well.  Transfer to a 9X13 baking dish and top with grated cheese.  Bake for 30 min until bubbly!

    *Last but not least on the dinner menu is Grilled Chicken with Quinoa and Vegetables:
    2 c grilled GF chicken
    1 c quinoa rinsed
    1/2 onion
    1 c chopped vegetables ( I used a combo of carrots, cauliflower and broccoli)
    2 c chicken or vegetable broth
    3 TBSP olive oil
    salt and pepper to taste

    heat oil in frying pan, when hot add onion and cook 4-5 until soft and translucent.  Add remaining vegetables and cook 5-10 minutes, until tender. Remove from heat.  heat the liquid in a medium pot; add quinoa when boiling.  Cover tightly and cook 15 minutes.  Remove fromheat.  Combine vegetables and quinoa.  Add salt to taste.  Add chicken and serve hot or at room temperature.

    Playin it safe

    It can be so overwhelming all of the products Gluten can be in.  Shampoo/Conditioner; make up; lotions; sunscreens– it’s not just foods you need to watch out for!  A lot of people do not realize this but depending on how sensitive you are, it could be a big deal. You have to read labels on EVERYTHING!  Whether you are GF for behavioral and focus issues, have a GF intolerance or celiac disease, it’s important that you are aware of this and read labels on everything.  When you are trying to eliminate Gluten you can have absorption in other ways that can keep you from achieving your goal or getting better.  Because products constantly change and their  formulas change to suit the needs of the economy, consumer and the company it’s equally important to spot check once you do find a product you like.  For instance, Aveeno lotions did not use to have anything with Gluten in it and when they reformulated it, it popped up on a list and when I went to check the label, there it was.  It’s something you really have to check for, dairy and peanuts (which Isabelle is also allergic to) can be found in these types of products also so CHECK< CHECK< CHECK those labels!
    I decided to share two GF/DF/peanut free recipes for Playdough.  But there are a few premade items on the market:; and there is a product out now called Moon Dough which is silicone based and says it’s hypo-allergenic and wheat free.  This does not mean it’s gluten free but I did allow Isabelle to play with it for a little while and she had no reaction whereas when she plays with regular Play dough she looks as if someone has burned her. 

    Play Clay :
    1C potato or corn starch
    2C baking soda
    1 1/4 C cold water
    1 TBSP oil of choice
    2-3 drops of food coloring (optional)

    Mix together the starch and baking soda.  Mix together wet ingredients.  Pour dry ingredients into sauce pan follwed by the wet ingredients and heat until clay holds together into a ball (approx 3 min) and then turn heat off.  Spoon dogh onto parchment paper and let cool slightly, roll dough in parchment paper forming a cynlinder and cool completely then knead a little before using.

    Salt Dough:
    1 C table salt
    1 C white rice flour
    1/2 C water, more as needed
    2 drops food color, optional
    1 tsp vegetable oil, if needed
    Mix dry ingredients together in a saucepan.  Pour in water and food coloring if using. Cook over medium heat until dough forms into a ball.  If dough is too dry to hold, add more water 1 TBSP at a time.  Spoon dough onto parchment paper and let cool slightly.  Knead until smooth and shape into a ball.  If dough is too hard, knead in 1 tsp of oil until it's well distributed

    "Play" Doh

    3 cups flour (corn flour or rice flour, depending on your needs)
    1/3 cup salt
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 cup water
    A few drops of food colouring (I find that 3-6 work fine for this amount of doh).

    Mix the flour and salt together with the vegetable oil in a large bowl. Add food colouring to water in a separate cup, and mix together. Bit by bit, add the coloured water to the combined flour, salt and oil mixture. Mix the combined ingredients together with a spoon, turn the mixture out onto a flat surface sprinkled lightly with a little more flour, and knead the doh until smooth and evenly-coloured. You're done, and ready to play!

    Non-cook Play Dough recipe:

    1/2 cup rice flour
    1/2 cup corn flour
    1/2 cup salt
    2 teaspoons cream of tartar
    1 cup boiling water
    Add to the water: 1 teaspoon cooking oil, a few drops of food colouring

    Mix all dry ingredients together, add boiling water with added ingredients and stir until it blends into a ball. Put onto a bench sprinkled with rice flour and knead till no longer sticky. Add extra corn flour and rice flour till you get doughy yet not sticky dough (usually an extra 1/2 cup of rice flour and 1/2 cup of corn flour are required for this process).

    Make ure in all of these recipes you don't overdo or add too much food coloring (make sure your food coloring is also GF - McCormick and Wilton says they are) as it may stain the hands. All of these recipes you store in an airtight container when not in use.

    Hope you have fun and enjoy a fun play day with the kiddos!

    Tailgate Dip

    I had to share this dip that my husband brought home from a SkyMall magazine that I swear has crack in it, it’s so addicting.  I will warn you now that this is no low cal, dairy free dip and you HAVE to have it at a party or to take to a party or for tailgating because if you make the whole recipe and leave it at the house……..Let’s just say it isn’t going to be a pretty picture – HAHAJ. 

    2 8 oz pkg cream cheese (Philadelphia is GF)
    1 8 oz container of blue cheese dressing (look below for info about this ingredient) or you can sub for Ranch if you prefer
    1 12 oz bottle of hot sauce (or to taste, we don’t use the whole bottle and make sure you verify it is GF)
    2 Cups cooked chicken breast, shredded
    2 Cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

    Crunchmaster crackers or Frito Scoops
    Celery Sticks

    Preheat oven to 350

    In a bowl mix cream cheese, blue cheese dressing (or ranch), hot sauce and chicken breast.  Spread in a 9X9 pan and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Serve warm with crackers, Fritos and celery sticks!

    This dip is addicting and one to share!

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Love fall but dread some of what comes with it......

    So by now you all know how much I love this time of year.  Birthday season, football season, Halloween, Thanksgiving and then.......CHRISTMAS!  But with all of the love of this, there is one thing I cannot seem to escape no matter how hard I want to.....RAGWEED!!!!!!! I'm allergic to it, Isabelle is really allergic to it and we both end up being down for the count for a few days.  She has been snotting and sneezing and wheezing for a week now, I started with the last cold front on Thursday as my best friend arrived from Florida.  Poor baby, nothing worse than to see your child not feeling well or able to breathe.  We've been on inhalers, and meds for a week and now are starting nebulizer treatments to get her some relief.  Lots of TLC for her right now.  I'm on meds and may go the the doc for some antibiotics tomorrow just as a precaution due to Lana.  Speaking of the amazing gift from God, we have her check up in Little Rock on Thursday this week and I'll be posting an update afterwards.  All is expected to go well though.  I've had alot of friends reecently become more interested in the GF/DF lifestyle recently due to a number of reasons but I'll be posting some more helpful tips and info starting tomorrow but tonight in my crazy foggy head phase, I wanted to share a link to an article I wrote for a local magazine on our story of adoption....enjoy:

    The article is called Sitting at a Crossroads

    Frosted pumpkin cookies

    A sweet friend posted a recipe that was easy and sounded so good on Facebook. I was dying to try to make them GF and DF and see how they'd turn my surprise, first time worked and a certain little 3 year old I know couldn't stop eating them!!!! So I thought I'd share with all of you!!!
    1c sugar
    1 egg
    1c butter or shortening (my friend likes the butter taste better so I subbed butter for the earth balance buttery spread sticks but spectrum also makes an organic non hydrogenated certified GF and DF shortening)
    1tsp GF Vanilla
    2 cups GF flour blend, this time I used c4c blend from Williams Sonoma to see how it would work
    1 tsp each of baking soda, banking powder, salt and cinnamon
    1c pumpkin purée
    1/2c raisins (optional and I did not add but I think you could also use Craisins as well)
    1/2 walnuts (optional)

    coconut milk or milk substitute of choice and powdered sugar mixed to desired thickness

    Preheat oven to 350 and grease or line cookie sheets

    In bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment cream together sugar, egg, butter and vanilla

    Sift dry ingredients together and slowly add into creamed mixture

    Stir in pumpkin, raisins and walnuts (if using)

    Drop dough by teaspoonful onto prepared cookie sheet

    Bake 10-15 minutes

    Let cool a few minutes and then transfer to wire rack and cool completely

    Once cool, frost. Easiest way is slide some wax paper under the wire rack and drizzle frosti g over the top of each cookie

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

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    Gluten Free Halloween Birthday party

    This week is a busy one.  I am busy planning and executing all things "Operation Halloween Birthday Bash" which has morphed so many times, I'm not sure what will come next.  I know one thing is for sure, I'm ready for Saturday to be here ASAP;)  The weather here is frightful and cool misty kinda that made me super productive today in my party planning.

    Menu for the party is as follows:
    Meat and cheese tray (Boar's Head so it's all Gfree!)
    Veggie Tray
    Shrimp Cocktail
    Hummus and Salsa Tray with Gfree pita chips sprinkled with olive oil, salt, pepper and parmesan
    Oven roasted Chicken bites and homemade turkey sausage meatballs with Gfree BBQ sauce, Gfree Thai Peanut Sauce, Gfree Terryaki sauce and Gfree Polynesian dipping sauce
    Snickerdoodle Chex mix
    Gfree Cheese Balls
    Gfree red velvet cupcakes make to look like blood shot eyes and Pumpkin Spice Gfree cupcakes

    Fun and not too spooky with the exception of the head of cauliflower sitting in red dyed pickling liquid to look like a brain and other apothacary jars filled with different Haloween candies and a tombstone filled with Gfree scary lollipops...spooky spiderwebs and a spooky punch!

    Strawberry Fanta or other red colored soda
    1 Large can Pineapple juice
    and one hand mold filled with ice frozen gummy worms
    scoops of different favored sorbet with a melon baller

    Potato sack race
    3 legged race
    apple bobbing
    Who can wrap the mummy

    Kids will also have water, juice boxes and capri suns and apple cider
    Adults will have the option of (sorry guys, haven't found a gfree beer I like yet) beer, pumpkin ale, hard cider, red/white and Hallowine
    and perhaps an additive to the apple cider the kids will enjoy;)

    This will be ONE FUN PARTY for sure!!!

    Martha Stewart has nothing on me;)

    So after a day full of major accomplishment, I wanted to share a recipe I thought I had posted already and just now realized I had now...In last months issue of Martha Stewart Living she did a bunch of comfort food recipes and one of them was a yummy Irish Stew which as most of you know, has stout of some sort in it.  So, I invented a "mocked up" version of her Irish Stew Pot Pie Recipe that was TO DIE FOR!
    • 4 pounds boneless short ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1/3 cup Gluten Free flour blend of choice (I used Jeanne's blend from Art of Gluten free Baking
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
    • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • The original recipe calls for: 2 bottles (12 ounces) stout, preferably Guinness (3 cups) I substituted 1 1/2 bottles of WoodChuck's Hard Apple Cider, naturally Gluten free and the remaining of the 3 Cups with Gfree Beef stock
    • 2 rosemary sprigs
    • 1 pound cipollini onions, peeled
    • For the Topping

      • 6 medium russet potatoes (3 1/2 pounds)
      • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
      • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper


    1. Make the filling: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Dredge short ribs in flour, coating all sides. Transfer to a large plate. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Working in batches, brown short ribs, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a large plate using kitchen tongs.
    2. Reduce heat to medium. Add yellow onion to Dutch oven, and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Add garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Return meat to Dutch oven. Add stout and rosemary. Bring to a simmer. Cover, and transfer to oven. Bake for 2 1/2 hours.
    3. Remove Dutch oven from oven, and add cipollini onions. Braise until meat is tender and onions are cooked through, about 30 minutes. Shred meat using 2 forks. Season with salt and pepper. Divide filling among eight mini (1-cup) pie plates, or transfer to a 12-inch (8-cup) gratin dish.
    4. Make the topping: Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees. Peel potatoes, and very thinly slice each (preferably on a mandoline). Arrange potatoes over meat to form tight concentric circles, working around the edge and overlapping each potato by three-quarters. Brush with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until topping is golden and filling is bubbling, about 45 minutes for mini potpies (1 hour for large potpie).

    This is a time consuming recipe, no doubt, I won't lie.  BUT it is more than well worth it and for those of you working mommas, do this one on the weekend OR you could substitute the long cooking period in the Dutch oven, in the oven by prepping the night before and sticking it in the crock pot on low to cook.  I also made one big pit versus the smaller pies because we were all eating it together and nothing fancy but the mini individual pies are great for company!!!!

    Fun Gluten Free Treats!

    SO...Noah is star student of the week this week at preschool, which just means I'm in charge of snacks for the class on Tuesday and Thursday.  Isabelle was star student a few weeks ago and I'll tell you what, coming up with new, fun and creative treats for 3 and 4 years olds that is also gluten free has it's challenges. For her week I made fruit roll up sushi and snickerdoodle chex easy and FUN!

    Fruiti Sushi:
    1 1/4cups Rice Chex® or Corn Chex® cereal
    1cup white vanilla baking chips
    4rolls Betty Crocker® Fruit Roll-Ups® chewy fruit snack in favorite flavor (from 5-oz box), unwrapped
    12candy worms
    Preparation Directions
    1.Place cereal in resealable food-storage plastic bag; seal bag and crush with fingers to 3/4 cup.
    2.In medium microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips as directed on package until melted and stirred smooth. Add crushed cereal; stir until well coated.
    3.Unroll fruit snack rolls. For each sushi roll, spread 1/4 of cereal mixture on snack roll to within 1/2 inch of one short side. Arrange 3 candy worms, side by side, on cereal-covered short side.
    4.Starting with short side topped with candy worms, roll up each snack roll tightly, pressing unfilled short side of roll to seal.
    5.Let sushi rolls stand 5 to 10 minutes or until firm. Cut each roll into 4 slices. Store loosely covered.
    1/4cup sugar
    1teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2cups Cinnamon Chex® cereal
    2cups Chocolate Chex® cereal
    4cups popped popcorn
    1/4cup butter or margarine
    Preparation Directions
    1.In small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon; set aside. In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals and popcorn.
    2.In 1-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Pour over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly coated.
    3.Microwave uncovered on High 2 minutes, stirring after 1 minute. Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture evenly over cereal mixture; stir. Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture; stir. Microwave 1 minute longer. Spread on waxed paper or paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.
    For Noah's turn I decided to do Marshmellow Mummies and Sweet Pepper Race Cars
    Marshmellow mummies:
    18 large marshmallows
    6 thin Gluten Free pretzel sticks (2 3/4 inch) (Glutino makes gfree pretzel sticks and now Snyder's of Hanover also makes gfree pretzel sticks)
    1 box (4.5 oz) chewy fruit snacks in three-foot rolls (any flavor)
    Black decorating gel (from 0.68-oz tube)

    1. Thread 3 marshmallows onto each pretzel stick to make 6 “bodies.”
    2. Unwrap fruit snack rolls (do not unroll). With kitchen scissors or sharp knife, cut rolls in half horizontally to make 12 rolls of long strips. Unroll strips; remove paper.
    3. Wrap 2 long snack roll strips around each “body” to look like mummy, leaving small amount of 1 marshmallow uncovered for face. With decorating gel, add dots on “face” for eyes.

    Sweet Pepper Race cars:

    6 Bell Peppers or for toddlers 6 smaller sweet peppers
    12 toothpicks
    1 Cup Gfree Ranch dressing of choice
    12 baby carrots
    Assorted veggies similar to veggie tray(cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, celery)

    Cut the top 1/4 of the pepper of choice off and set aside, seed and core the pepper.
    Run two toothpicks where you would expect wheels to be and thread 4 slices of baby carrots on each end.
    Take some of the pepper tops and chop, carrots, and other assorted veggies into small bute sized pieces.
    Add a TBSP of ranch dressing in the bottom of the pepper to cover the toothpicks and top with chopped veggies!

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Sweet 16 and Beyond

    Well, Thursday was Lana's Sweet 16 birthday and I let it pass without a new post:).  I figure since I did an earlier blog about all their birthdays I'd be ok;).  It didn't go unnoticed though.  I was up at 5 am that morning getting things ready for her big day, made cinnamon raisen bread which then translated to cinnamon raisen french toast which was her birthday breakfast request.  After the gym it was off to the jewelers to approve a last minute adjustment to her big present and then running errands the rest of the day.  It was insane.....BUT overall, it was a good day.  I think she enjoyed her day.  After school there were chocolate butterscotch cupcakes, balloons and presents...:) She opened her big gift first and not much reaction right away but loved it overall.  I designed a ring for her, yes it was a heart shaped ring with one solid side and one open side, with the solid side encrusted in diamonds from my grandmother's ring and 1 tiny pink birthstone at the corner to offset in color.  It was beautiful.  It is a legacy that each one of my children will get on their 16th birthday, same symbolism and similar but distinct to each child.  The heart had obvious double meaning this year since she had her heart transplant but the second part meaning was that my children, if anyone knows me well already knows this, are my heart and the heart of my family.  I would not be the person I am without any of them! She also got her highlights touched up and a big steak dinner. 

    This was also Homecoming week so the girls dressed up most everyday in some sordid crazy outfit and were so cute doing it.  Friday night was the big game and hilariously, The Tigers beat their opponent SO badly that they had to call the game before time ran out.  Saturday we met up with some friends and went to the Cave Springs Pumpkin Patch, which is smaller than our normal Missouri patch we are hoping to go to next weekend, but it was SOOO fun still.  Poor Noah and Izzy are fighting the whole ragweed deal here so sweet Noah was NOT with it at all with his meds...Izzy is used to it now so she was full blown and ready to go:).  We left there, put everyone down for naps and then headed for pics in the square with the girls for homecoming.  ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS GORGEOUS!!!! They were all so beautiful!  Shelby's friends, Shelby and Tori, were there and Lana's friends, Janell and Kailyn and some others showed up and they were all absolutely equisite looking.  My girls have grown up and I realized how old I looked in the pics with them;).  We finished taking pics and Lana headed off to dinner with her friends and Shelby headed off to her BFF's house for dinner, Madison.  Where they had a yummy steak dinner with a not so fabulous desert thanks to yours truly (tried to make a brownie topped with chocolate chip cookie cake that did not work out so well....These girls never complained, just had a fabulous time and ended up having the best night.  So proud of all the girls and can't wait to see them all again next weekend for a fun weekend at the big pumpkin patch with cool weather and lots of stuff to do;)......

    Have I told you how MUCH I love fall????

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    It's October already?

    OK, first of all, let me start this post with the entire month of September, I was determined, was trying to kill me.  There was the Harvest Full Moon and the Autumn Equinox...and those of you non-believers that this truly matters or takes a part in the earth's sanity, go work in a hospital around the full moon and tell me you still don't believe.  Anyway, all of last week was just plain and utter insanity, if I touched it, it went caput; if I looked at it, it was weird and the kids moods were CRAZY and all I could think of was PLEASE let October start!  Friday, the last day of the month,  was just trying to stretch me to the limit...Thursday, however,  started with me trying to take the kids to school and the car wouldn't start, this mind you is after we had it's major service done AND replaced the fuel pump and the battery, all in September....see what I mean?  ANYWAY, you know your car not starting can't happen at a convenient, it was as I was in a mass rush to get all 4 kids to school, running late as usual in the mornings and needing to be in 2 places at once WITH a working car!  I yell, "Everyone grab a baby" and both teenagers jumped into action as I yanked the car seats from one car and trasferred them to the much smaller but worked for an emergency car and off we headed...speeding down the road to make up time and hopefully not get a ticket.  All went fine and everyone got to school in time and I came back to relax for a few minutes before heading to my hair appointment.  I so look forward to my hair appointment days with my guy BFF, Brian, doing his amazing job and working magic on my crazy frizzy and VERY grey hair and catching up with all that's gone on since we've talked, texted or seen each other.  SO, after a crazy start to my day, I was feeling good and ready to tackle the rest of the day uneverntfully.....that's when it happened.....I let the dog out of the kennel to let her go outside and hang with me til time to leave and as she rambled relentlessly down the back staircase, she caught me just was in slow motion and I knew it was happening before I could react....high heels, great jeans and me....started to tumble down the back steep staircase.  Over and over I tried to grab the hand rail to stop myself but to no avail.  Finally, right before I hit bottom, I caught myself.  It was one of those moments when you stop, stand up straight and check to see if anyone was looking then burst into laughter at the scene that just unfolded.  Crying wouldn't have helped so you might as well laugh!  OMG, I still cannot believe that happened.  The rest of the day, thankfully was uneventful but that was where I literally said..September is trying to take me out like the mob!  Friday started off somewhat similar to Thursday, still in the "emergency car" trying yet again to get the kids loaded to drop the teens at school, I was dressing to leave when I came out of my room and asked where Isabelle was.  Blank stare from Shelby insued and I heard a tiny little voice upstairs.....I yelled, "Izzy it's time to go, get downstairs" Shelby headed out the door while I tried to figure out where exactly Izzy was.  Next thing I know, Shelby has left the door open and Isabelle has let Brandy out of her kennel and now the dog is running loose out in the front of the house, Izzy is screaming bloody murder that the dog is running away, I'm yelling at shelby for leaving the door open, Lana is putting her things and Noah in the car......OMG, really?  AGAIN?  Thank you Jesus, Brandy came right back looking for a treat I was yelling to her that I had, got her locked back up and out the door we flew yet again.

    You guys thought this was going to be one of those great blogs with a recipe didn't you?  HAHAHA, well living with 4 kids and a husband that travels extensively....this one is NOT the happy go lucky blog I usually write;)...Thought you might like a glimpse into a day or two with me.  Back to the story - the rest of the day was ok, cleaning, laundry, the usual.  I already knew the afternoon would be insane so I was preparing myself for this.  I do carpool pick up in the afternoon so that Shelby can get a ride home from the gym when the babies are usually either headed to bed or sleeping.  So, first stop was picking up Kenzie from Jr. High, which I forgot about in my crazy afternoon schedule.  I run out the door in a panic that poor, sweet Kenzie is waiting on me and all in all, was not that late, grab her, get the other three teens and drop three girls at the gym while Lana and I head home to pack her for her first retreat since her transplant, actually her first night away from home since her transplant and it was going to be almost all weekend long.  I thought, when I hugged Isabelle in transition she felt warm to me.  We get Lana packed and ready to go, head to the store for the items she needs food wise to bring to the retreat and a birthday present for her BFF, some pedialyte pops and Tylenol just in case.  Get her to the church and head home to a very feverish little girl.  103 to be exact.  So, Motrin starts off the night, a little dinner and Jason and Shelby head to the movies, Isabelle and Noah head to bed.  About 11 I noticed Izzy was burning up with fever.  Searching my mom mental place cards, I stripped her and tried to get her cooler.  A phone call to my mother and then a few minutes later to my mother-in-law to make sure I wasn't overreacting, I called to say the movie was over...probably 15 minutes from the actual ending it was time to take miss thing to the ER.  Had her redressed and in the car by the time the car pulled in and adreneline rushing, ready to go.  By this point her fever was 105.2.  In a panic, Shelby decided she was going with me and we rushed to the ER.  There was no one there to my ultimate satisfaction and we were seen immediately.  Triage doubted her fever was truly 105 after their first initial reading until we got into the room and even stripped naked again, she started spiking a fever with rosy red cheeks that scared everyone.  Doc came in, checked ears, nose and throat and there was one pink ear, one pink tonsil and alot of uncertainty.  Doc looked at me and said you know if we do a strep test it would be negative but because of Lana we are going to treat with a broad spectrum antibiotic to make sure we get whatever this is.  I said - GO...not my usual response to antibiotics but we just didn't have a choice with Lana.  I couldn't afford for us to wait and it get bad with Izzy or possibly pass to the other kids and then passing to her when she got home.  Strep for Lana is a totally different ballgame.  With Izzy's allergies they made us wait 15 minutes post shot to check for reaction, then they come in to check her temp and it's gone up even more...another 30 minutes later and she was 2 degrees cooler.  By 2 am we were home, no fever and a hungry teen and baby...scrambled eggs and another 30 minutes and we were finally in bed.  THAT is how I welcomed in my favorite month of the day, lovely Oct had started and not a sign of fever, illness, craziness or any obstacle in my way.  Even spent Sunday's cool weather stuffing scarecrows!

    Thank you Jesus for bringing in October just when you did;)!!

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Give Away from Lemon Drop

    Another Gluten Free Blogger, Lemon Drop, is doing a giveaway for Halloween!  Believe it or not, there is someone else out there that likes this time of year as much as I do!;)  She has some amazing recipes too!!!  Follow her, you won't be disappointed!!