Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gluten free Reviews #2

So we started our adventures in eating gluten free back in August. Now in December I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of cooking and eating gluten free. And since it's been almost four months since my original review post  I figure it's time for another. As one might expect, after four months I have come to rely on a few staples in my kitchen. So I figure I'll start there.

Gluten Free All-purpose Flour Blend
In my freezer (because that is were I store the majority of my flours) I try to keep a gallon plastic bag of GF flour blend. My recipe is loosely based on Mary Frances' flour blend. Go check out her blog/website at She can be very helpful. Anyway, some friend of mine in Kansas fostered a child with Celiac Disease and so I turned to them early on for resources and suggestion for cooking and living gluten free. They happily gave me all sorts of information including several recipes that they loved. In there was an adaptation of one of Mary Frances' flour blends. (Their child could not have corn or dairy in addition to no gluten)
 Here is C and M's (my KS friends) recipe.
3 parts Brown rice flour
3 parts Sorghum flour
2 parts potato starch  (or tapioca starch)
1 part Millet flour
I have had a hard time finding Millet flour. In fact I haven't found any in the Goshen grocery stores. In the beginning I substituted buckwheat flour. And we liked that. More recently I have been using teff flour instead of millet. We really like the flavor this flour mix has.
And I tend to use it in everything. Such as
Pancakes- the recipe I have from C and M was adapted from Mary France's pancakes
Sandwich bread -again an adaptation of Mary France's sandwich bread. I should note here that I use a package of Active Yeast which is about 2 1/4 tsps I think. It seems to work well for me assuming I let it rise for a full hour in a warm spot.
Biscuits- this is one of the places I use a gluten free flour mix in place of wheat flour in a recipe. I have a great biscuit recipe  that I love And i have found that just substituting the flour with this flour blend works really well.

We like cereal not only for breakfast but as part of snack with raisins and other dried fruit. Chex is gluten free and I tend to keep both rice chex and corn chex around. I even made gluten free chex mix using corn and rice chex, almonds, cashews, gluten free pretzels, and black bean chips. It was very yummy.

Rice Krispies has a gluten free version that my mother used to make rice krispie treats. They tastes good. And weren't too hard the next day. Of course we made sure to cover them with plastic wrap. I don't tend to keep these handy but it's nice to know they are available

ErviroKidz Organic Gorilla Munch Cereal seemed to be a big hit with Cai.  I send snacks with him to Preschool and this is what is currently there. He teachers say he loves them and is even disappointment when he doesn't get it due to the fact that snack that day is already gluten free.

Post Pebbles Cereals (both Coco and Fruity) are gluten free. Over thanksgiving my step-mother used Coco Pebbles to make rice crispy bars. Agian these are not something I keep on hand, but knowing it's out there and that it tastes good is nice. :)

Snack food
With little kids running around I have to have regular snacks available. Some things are easy, such as fruit or veggies with dip. Other things have been more tricky. Here are some of the staple snack foods I try to keep around.

Pretzels -Glutino brand twist and stick pretzels are enjoyed in our house. Everyone seems to like them. Although sometimes I'll hear Ian say he want the "gluten ones" again.

Crackers- Glutino has a round cracker that reminds me of Ritz. They taste pretty good. And we like them with soups or spreads.
                Crunchmaster as gluten free crackers. Although these did not go over as well with little boys. Don't know why, cause I like them.
                S'Moreables Graham Style Crackers are enjoyed by the younger too boys. Ian will only eat them after being told we have not other kinds in the house.
               Mary's gone Crackers are also enjoyed by all of us. I just got some to try in chex mix. We'll see how they taste that way.

Chips- Food Should Taste good has excellent chips. We really enjoy the multigrain and the sweet potato.

Snack bars- EnviroKidz Organic crispy rice bars are loved around here. Especially the chocolate.
                    Simply Sugar and Gluten Free by Amy Green has a great chewy granola bar recipe. I love it.It is one of the many wonderful recipes in Ms Green's cookbook.

Finally I want to share a book with you. The Essential Gluten-Free Grocery Guide put out by Triumph Dining has been very helpful. I have come to keep it in my bag so I always have it whether at the store or a friends house. It lists food companies and products that are gluten free along with alittle (not much mind you) information on the risk of cross-contamination. It has been a good purchase and makes finding things alot easier.

I'm sure there is alot more I could share. But I'll leave it here for now. :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- Dec 12th

Yes, yes it's Tuesday. But hey I got alot done yesterday so I'm not feeling to terrible about being a day late on posting this. Don't have alot to say this morning. Mark is taking the day off. So I'm at our local coffee shop The Electric Brew all by myself. Enjoying an Egg Nog Latte, a frosted pumpkin bar, and time to myself. Mark has been working late many evenings including Sunday afternoon-evening. So the time without boys is very much appreciated. Anyway on to the menu.

Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: ham and kale quiche
Wednesday: Spaghetti with side veggie
Thursday: Potatoes and Peas with Ham (from More with Less)
Friday: Sweet Potato and Black bean Burritos (from Simply in Season)
Saturday: leftovers or other simple meal
Sunday: finger food dinner at Mark's parents- we are decorating gingerbread boys and playing games in the late afternoon/early evening. :)

Okay so that's the week. Hopefully it will go smoothly and Mark won't have to work too many late hours. Keep you fingers crossed to me. Oh and check out Organizing Junkie for more menus.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- Dec 5th

My apologies for the lack of update and menu last week. We got home from our Kansas trip late Sunday evening. Unloaded the van, put kids to bed and then just relaxed till we crawled in bed ourselves. Last week was spend unpacking, catching up on laundry, and decorating the house for Christmas. Anyone else having a hard time with the fact that yesterday was the second Sunday of Advent?  Of course we missed church the first Sunday due to traveling, so that makes it jarring for me as well. I"m happy to say though that I did get all the decorations up. I have a box of fresh pine branches that still need hung, but I just got those on Saturday. A friend of Mark's family had a large branch fall in her yard, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law went and picked  up several of the cut pieces for holiday decorations. They were nice enough to pick some up for me as well. In other fun news, Mark finished the bookcase at the top of the stairs this weekend. It still needs the middle shelves, but the structure is there. :) I'll have to take pictures and post them so you can see what I mean. Ok on to our menu. This week will be crazy busy on a few days. Bless my mother-in-law for allowing us to come have dinner at her house. Makes my life so much easier.

This weeks menu is a s follows:
Monday: Dinner with Mark's folks - I'm bring GF bread (Mark has to lead a training for work)
Tuesday: Tacos with leftover Thanksgiving turkey (My mom send home leftover meat. I put it in the freezer and have been taking it out a little at a time)
Wednesday: Dinner with Mark's folks (Mark and I both have church obligations that overlap. So Grandma and Grandpa have agreed to help with the kids)
Thursday: Ethiopian Lentil Bowl (From Simply in Season)
Friday: Homemade GF Pizza
Saturday: Broccoli Cheese Soup
Sunday: Pancakes and bacon

Don't forget to check out Organized Junkie for more menus.  Happy Monday Everyone!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- Nov 14th

Well Happy Tuesday! Its foggy and gloomy here. In fact schools have been delayed due to fog, giving me an extra hour this morning to get things done. How am I spending the time? Blogging and coming up with my menu that I neglected yesterday. :) Last's week potato crust for our quiche worked great. I had never used a potato crust before, even though there was a recipe in my Simply in Season cookbook. It was so easy, I used my food processor to shredded the potatoes and then pressed them into my pie plate with some oil. Prebake for about 10-15mins and ta da I have a crust. :) For our birthday party on Sunday I was in charge of cake. I used Gluten-Free Goddesses recipe for GF chocolate cupcakes. I didn't make the icing, although I want to try it in the future. The cupcakes were really good. Everyone enjoyed them. Point for me. This weeks I'm going to keep things as simple as possible. We leave for Kansas on Friday afternoon. I want to try and not have too many leftovers that will have to be thrown out. In case I'm silent again for awhile, its probably due to our Kansas trip. We'll be spending a week at my mom's visiting with family for Thanksgiving. :) Ok here is the menu for the week.

Monday: Cheese corn chowder with GF biscuits
Tuesday: Coconut milk curry over rice
Wednesday: Midweek meal at church
Thursday: leftovers or other simple meal
Friday and Saturday eating out while traveling
Sunday: At my Mom's! Hopefully she will feed us ;)

For more menus visit Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Additions

After years of wishing and wanting, my wonderful husband gave me cats for my birthday. Three weeks after my birthday, after taking family pictures in the morning, we all piled in the car and drove to the Humane Society (although I didn't know where we were going at the time). I could hardly believe it when Mark said I got to pick out which cat to adopt. I could even get two if I wanted. At the counter was a beautiful female kitten who was just so cuddly when they let me hold her.

But I wanted to look at all the others first before deciding. After looking at all the beautiful cats ranging from kitten on up and after the boys spooking two cats I had fancied we found Homer.

 He didn't jump at every little noise the boys made and even came up to them to stiff/ check them out. It was obvious that he was a keeper. So after introducing Homer to the kitten out in the lobby (who's name was Slippers) we filled out paper work and brought them home.

 However while Homer seemed to fit his name, Slippers just wasn't sitting right with me. But I didn't know what to name her. Mark's brother Eric suggested Penny. Which worked great because we had already discussed Penelope. Penelope for those who don't know was Odysseus's wife in Homer's Odyssey. However while we like Penelope, we weren't sure it fit her. But Penny is perfect for our little kitten.

So now I have two cats. Homer who's just over a year. And Penny who while her paper work says she is four months her vet thinks she is younger. She is still so little. Although she is growing quickly. I keep noticing he is already bigger then when we brought her home. Homer is the laid back cat. He is lazy, tolerant of the boys picking him up, and very talkative.

 Penny is the ornery one. She playful, energetic, and always into sometime.

 She too puts up with the boys, but will often run and disappear the first moment she can when they are around.

 Even after almost a month I love them completely. Its truly great to have cats around. :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dinosaur Train

For Halloween this year, Ian and Cai wanted to be characters from PBS's Dinosaur Train.

 If you have never had the pleasure of watching this kids PBS show, you are missing out. ;) My boys love it. And why not. dinosaurs and trains together? What's  not to love? Actually in all seriousness, its not a bad show. The main characters consist of Buddy,  a T-Rex, who is adapted by a Ptreranodon family which includes Mom, Dad, Tiny, Shiny and Don, and Mr Conductor (the train conductor) who is a Troodon. Just about ever episode has them riding the Dinosaur Train to meet and learn about different dinosaurs in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous time periods. It's amazing what new things I've learned about dinosaurs from watching this with my boys. Anyway, Ian wanted to be Buddy

 and Cai wanted to be Tiny.

So I made it happen. With an XL orange sweatshirt, baseball cap, hot glue, foam balls and paint for Ian. Oh and lots of plastic bags as stuffing.

 For Cai I used a M green long sleeve men's shirt, a foam visor, foam balls and paint.

They turned out pretty good if I do say so myself. The boys loved them for sure. And there were even a few people who recognized who they were without prompting. :) Score for Momma!

For Aiden I had gotten a brown 2T sweatshirt and money ears that I had planned on pairing with his brown sweats and a red T-shirt. Instant Curious George. Sadly, Aiden did not like the ears. So then he was going to wear our Elmo costume that was giving to us by a friend in KS.

 But after wearing it around the house all afternoon he did not want to put it back on after I took it off to change his diaper before heading out. So I laid the Elmo, the Curious George, and Cai's Thing 1 costume from last year on the couch and had him choose. Thing 1 was picked.

Can't complain too much, I spent alot of time on that wig last year, it was nice to see it used again. :) We went trick-or-treating with Josiah in my sister-in-laws neighborhood.

 One up and down her street is just long enough for the kids. Two, I happen to know many of the people living there from church and other places. And three it's fun to trick-or-treat with your cousins. I felt alittle bad that we didn't go in our own neighborhood, but by the time we got home they boys were way past tired and done. Next year, there is always next year. Right?

 By the way isn't Josiah's zebra costume great? Rachel made it with black sweats, white duck tape and felt. She wanted to be able to use the sweats after she was done since they are actually Ian's and I'll want them back for the other boys later.  So impressive. It was a great Halloween. Fun was had by all.

Next year Ian tells me he wants to be a ghost. We'll see if he remembers that a year from now.
Taken by Ian while I was making dinner. I was a ballerina if you can't tell. 
Me I'm thinking Miss Piggy for myself. Any excuse to dress up I'll take.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- Nov 7th

Wow over a month has passed since my last post. I have not deserted this blog, just got steamrolled by life I guess. Quick update: We are moved into our new home! Still have stacks of boxes, but we are in and living to the best of our ability. My birthday gift came three weeks late in the form of two wonderful cats. We love them. Mark severely sprained his ankle. He was on crutches for a week; off now but still limping. It will be a long healing process. He was pretty lucky he didn't need surgery. Aiden turned 2 years old on the 5th. :) Hard to believe my baby is a two year old. How did he get so big? Really I think I'm still in denial. Anyway I'm hoping to do longer post in the near future to let you know what is happening here. But for now I"ll stick to menu planning. And on that note, it should be said that while I have failed to post my menus, I have not failed to make a menu these last several weeks. As always we don't always stick to my menus, but at least I have them as a reference.I've gotten a couple of new gluten free cookbooks too, which is fun. So here is this weeks menu.

Monday: Crockpot chili
Tuesday: Sweet potato and black bean burritos
Wednesday: Green spaghetti  (the bottom of this post has my recipe) with side veggie
Thursday: Quiche with a potato crust
Friday: Homemade pizza
Saturday: Cheese corn chowder
Sunday: Groundnut stew and Joint b-day party for Aiden, Mark and cousin Josiah

For more menus visit Organizing Junkie. Hope you all have a Happy Monday!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- Sept 26th

Fall is officially here and yet a part of me is not willing to embrace this fact, at least when it comes to food.  While I love Autumn, the cool weather, fresh apples, beautiful colors, I am not ready to dive into autumn food, as it means that the summer bounty that I've been enjoying will soon be completely gone. So I"m desperately trying to include all the summer veggies our market still has into my cooking. Sadly hot soup, along with warm pasta and fresh bread, are calling my name as the weather cools down, the clouds roll in and the rain pours down. Oh what to do? Fall is here. And with it all it's warm, comforting food. So here is what we are eating this week.

Monday: My father-in-law is cooking cause we have Music together at 5pm
Tuesday: Southwest Chicken with Peaches (from Cooking Free), side veggie, salad (this is a carry over from last week as we had MIdweek Meal at Church last Wednesday)
Wednesday: Summer Vegetable Chowder with GF muffins (maybe zucchini?)
Thursday: Spaghetti with tomato sauce, salad, side veggie
Friday: Chicken stir-fry over rice noodles
Saturday: leftovers or other simple meal
Sunday: Pizza (most likely takeout because we are going to be moving stuff from our storage unit into our house!!) Note: I have a GF frozen pizza for Cai so that he has pizza to enjoy too :)

As always check out Organizing Junkie for more menus. She doesn't have here menu post up yet. I'll try to remember to put the exact link in my comments later after she posts here menu.

Have a happy week. Hopefully the sun will shine for more than 5 seconds here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Happy Autumn!

In celebration of the Autumn Equinox we went out to the Calendar Garden. I had invited our play group to -join us, but sadly only Rachel (my sister-in-law) was able to join us. 
It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shinning, It wasn't too cold. And as always the garden was beautiful.
We found a frog lazing in the pond.

 A turtle sunbathing on a rock.

 Smelled the flowers.

Ran along the forests paths.

 And just enjoyed being outside. I love fall.
 Happy Autumn everyone!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


One of the many exciting things growing in our yard is a line of grape vines. The row takes up an entire length of our garden plot. And just as we closed on the house, they were becoming ripe.
 Sadly after our first picking, I didn't get out there again for a week and a half. Which meant we lost a ton. So after two pickings I think we are about done. :( But on the upside we did get to enjoy some of them.
And next year I'll be more on top of things. And hopefully have read up on how to care for them better. My reading list is getting longer by the second.
For our first picking we enjoyed Grape Pie out of Simply in Season.
It was pretty easy to make. I used a gluten free pie crust from my Gluten Free Baking cookbook.
 The boys enjoyed it.
I enjoyed it.
 I then made grape jello with the rest. That was not a hit. I think next time I might add just alittle sugar. The next bunch I picked I turned into 6 jars of gape jam. :) I'm looking forward to enjoying that. And I'm hoping that when I add these jars to the blueberry and strawberry jams I made earlier this summer we can last all winter and spring without buying store bought jam. We'll just have to wait and see though. And if we don't make it, at least it give me a better estimate for next year. I"m hoping that next year I can add grape juice to my canning list

Yeah for Grapes!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taming the yard

We are very excited about our yard. There is lots of space, an already large vegetable garden plot, compost bins, rain barrels, and a playhouse with climbing rope.
 But sadly it is very overgrown. The previous owners moved out early in the summer. Which meant not alot got done over that time. And the result is the landscaping is taking over. Add to the fact there are just some odd parts of the flower beds/gardens and it's a huge job taming it back down. Over Labor Day weekend we did alot of work outside.
We dug out a flower bed in preparation for moving a raised bed in the middle of the pavement.
Garage and side flower bed- before
fully dug out
raised bed that will eventually be removed completely
 I cleaned out the compost piles.

compost pile before
compost pile after

We trimmed bushes and trees.
Wisteria before
Wisteria after

And mowed down the vegetable garden that was over grown with wild, native grass.
garden plot after
 Mark fixed the side gate.
 gate with new top board and caster
 I pulled vines off our garage.
Garage before
garage after
And there is still so much to do. We filled up an entire back of a dump truck and could probably do it again. 
the dump truck we got from the city was full when we were done
Part of me thinks for all the work we did you can hardly tell. But again it was progress. And I'm already dreaming of all the things we can do. It's lovely. And will be even more beautiful for all our hard work. 
We keep spotting this beautiful bug around the yard. Although actually I think there are at least two as the other one is more copper in color. The boys love it when I find them and point them out. I don't think they are very happy with us as we keep trimming away at their hiding places.