Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- Aug 29th

It's Wednesday yes, I know. But even a few days late is better than nothing, right?? Our weeks have been crazy. As I posted earlier today we closed on our house. Which means we have been trying to get things organized, work done, etc etc. Add to that a non schedule here at home and the boys and I are going alittle crazy. We will be ready for preschool to start next week. I'm so ready for the rhythms school will bring to our days and weeks. Anyhoo, here is our menu for this week.

Monday: Rice pasta with tomato sauce, green beans
Tuesday:Black bean, zucchini and tomato quesadilla on corn tortillas
Wednesday: Spicy Ginger Noodles, green beans, salad?
Thursday:  Zucchini Quiche
Friday - Sunday my mother-in-law is cooking :)

Like me and scrounging for supper ideas? Visit Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday for menus, recipes and other dinner ideas :)

A House of Our Own

After years of dreaming, months of searching and what felt like weeks upon weeks of waiting, we are the proud owners of our very own house! (and a mountain of debt on top of the already large sum of student loans) To say we are excited is an understatement. We are ecstatic! While it will most likely be alittle longer till we move in, we are busy working and dreaming on how to make it the home we both envision. We closed last Thursday (Aug 25) and at 5pm we drove over and walked around just cause we could and it was ours. We even took the boys out for Chief ice cream after dinner to celebrate.

The yard and garden are overgrown and need lots of TLC. We have grapes, raspberry bushes and sunflowers growing!
The deck needs some need boards and the side gate is drooping so much you have to lift it to get it to open and shut
But we are excited for all the possibilities, even while being alittle overwhelmed. The plan is to paint the boys' room along with the kitchen walls and cabinets before moving in
. We're hoping to get alot done this weekend as it is a long weekend with Labor Day. Mark and I are both ready to move in.
 We own a House!!!!

For more pictures visit our Picasa Photo site.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gluten Free Reviews #1

Now I'm very aware that for families that have been gluten free for awhile these things may be a "no duh." But having now tired a few packaged/store bought gluten free (GF) products, I thought I would share our reviews. There are surprisingly many more options out there. And I'm sure I'll attempt to try some of the others available to us here in Goshen. But for today here are four product reviews. Extra bonus reviews on few online recipes :)

Homemade Bread-
There are several recipes I've found for bread online. And while I have not tried them all, or any but one. I was pleased with the result of the one I tried. No Gluten, No Problem has both a recipe for a GF flour blend, as well as a bread recipe using their flour blend. I had attempted the use the recipe but substitute their flour blend with a GF flour blend I found at our local food Coop Maple City Market. While the bread baked beautifully, neither Mark nor I enjoyed the flavor. I think it's due to the garbanzo bean flour, it over took the flavor of the flour blend thus making my bread taste like garbanzo beans (which I like, just not in my bread). When I then made a batch of the Artisan GF Flour Blend, the sandwich bread recipe was much more enjoyable. In fact we all really liked it. On top of a good flavor, it has a good constancy and texture. Plus it was pretty simple to make. I plan on experimenting with other recipes, but it's nice to have a good backup. :)

Having used the Artisan GF Flour Blend in Alton Brown's GF chocolate chip recipe (and them turning our great), I thought I would try to substitute this flour in my normal pancake recipe. It did not turn out great. Cai ate them up no problem. Me, the grainy texture was alittle much. I ate them. They were OK. But not great.
This pancake fail happened in Kansas, as I had taken many of the flours/blends with me for just these types of things. I then forgot to grab them and let everything at my mother's. So while I have brown rice flour and potato starch, I do not have xanthan gum or any other binder. Thus until I get to the store am limited in want I can make that requires flour. Last Saturday our church had a pancake feed. I wanted to make pancakes for Cai so that we could attend. However I did not have the energy to shop for ingredients, search for a recipe. Thus I broke down and bought a box of pancake mix.
We were very pleased with the purchase. Gluten Free Pantry's pancake and waffle mix turned out to be really good. The pancakes were fluffy, yummy and the texture was not too grainy. So while I still want to find a good recipe, in a bind or when life is too crazy these are a great, convenient alternative.

The boys' birthdays were earlier this month. We celebrated with my mom and stepdad while in Kansas. But didn't get to celebrate with Mark. So Sunday afternoon we had a mini-party at the park for Cai, Ian and Oliver (their cousin). I really wanted to make a cake. In Kansas it was just easier to have ice cream sundays. And really that worked great. But I wanted cake. So while purchasing the above pancake mix we bought a cake mix as well.
Sorry no picture of the finished cupcakes (they were easier to eat at the park). Cherrybrooks Kitchen Gluten Free Dreams Chocolate Cake Mix turned out wonderful. The cake was moist. The top was sweet, even without frosting. And everyone enjoyed them. Mark and I were very pleased. Two success with store bought produces makes us hopeful for our future eating. :) Although we are bracing ourselves for the many failures that are sure to happen as I try my hand at making things myself. 

We love pasta at our house. So I knew right off that we needed to find a good GF option. Thus far I have found one brand I like, and one I don't. 
Tinkyada Pasta Joy has worked well for us. We have enjoyed both the  brown rice spaghetti and the brown rice elbow pasta. It has good texture, good taste, and the claim to withstand over-cooking is very true. I'm mean come on, I have 3 little ones 5 yrs and under. Our pasta sometimes gets neglected. But this brand has yet to disappoint us. 
DeBoles Rice pasta did not turn out so well. It was chewy, grainy, and just left a bad aftertaste in my mouth. In fact after draining and tasting this pasta last night, I tossed it and made the Elbow from Tinkyada Pasta Joy. I have one more box of DeBoles (Rice Spirals). I'll give it one more try. But to tell the truth I'm not holding my breath. I don't think we'll be buying this brand again. 

Well there it is. Several review for you. I'm sure more will come. In fact I plan on sharing alot about our journey in Gluten Free eating. If you have suggestions, recipes, links and such you want to share, we would be very grateful. Cause really, while there is a plethora of information out there, it can be overwhelming to sift through.  Help is always welcome. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Menu Plan Monday- Aug 22nd

Dearest Family, Friends and other friendly visitors. Sorry I've been so silent of late. Our lives never slow down. But other than not posting here, I feel like I'm keeping up most days. Which I suppose is a pretty good sign of how things are going. :) The boys and I got back last Tuesday from our 12 day trip to Kansas. We had a grand time. Went to two weddings. Visited with family and friends. It was wonderful. But very very exhausting. Especially with Mark/Dad not with us. It's so good to be home. And I must confess I'm sorta excited to get back not only into a routine but into the kitchen., While it can be nice to have others cook for me, I really do like cooking. I seem to say this often, but truthfully, sometime days cooking a meal is the only thing I can SEE getting accomplished in a day. Except maybe making the bed.
On another thought completely, it should be noted that we have started Cai on a gluten free diet about a month ago. I'm seeing much improvement in his behavior and digestion. While it can be a pain to be gluten free, it is worth it for him to be healthy. I've been surprise with how easy it is to find gluten free products, and for the most part how good they taste. While I've already had a few fails in either foods I've bought or tried to make, the many many successes are encouraging. And really the amount of rice dishes we eat make the transition pretty painless.
So here is what's for dinner this week. Good stuff I'm sure :)

Monday: Spaghetti Maria Grazia (with rice spaghetti noodles)
Tuesday: Everyday Lentils and Rice (Extending the Table), green beans, maybe corn on the cob?
Wednesday:  Enchilada Casserole (Extending the Table)- I add  black beans and chili powder
Thursday: Black Bean Burgers (Double Delicious!)  with Hominy Cheese Patties (Extending the Table)- use this instead of buns, green beans
Friday-Sunday- my mother-in-law cooks.

If you're in need of ideas for your own meals, check out Organizing Junkie. As always lots of links and recipes.

Finally comment: Cross your figures for me. We have a closing date tentatively set for Thursday!