My sweet celiac and youngest, Izzy

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