Awesome Fall Meal

I frequently browse other gluten-free blogs looking for dinner ideas for my family. My family is difficult to cook for b/c not only are they picky, but Jon and I can’t have gluten. I can’t eat onions, but those are easily omitted from recipes or subbed with garlic. They typically won’t eat casseroles; there are a select few. Actually, I believe that lasagna is the extent of the casserole love in this house. Me, I love casseroles. My Grandma (Dad’s Mom) used to make an awesome casserole that she called “Dorito Casserole” b/c you actually use a bag of Doritos in it. I believe the correct terminology is actually “Chicken Sopa”. It is good. Aaron and the kids hate it. :( I may sneak it in again sometime soon b/c I am craving it!

The other day I came across an amazing looking recipe on Gluten-Free Mommy’s Blog for Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole. I decided to make this tonight and cross my fingers that the fam liked it. I made a few changes to the recipe. I added some Frank’s Red Hot to the white cheese sauce; I used more than 1 cup of brown rice, more like 1.5 – 2 cups; I used crumbled toasted pumpkin muffins as my bread crumbs and topped with fresh shredded parmesan cheese. It was amazing! The fam (except Hannah) loved it. Jon asked that I leave the broccoli out next time, not going to happen. Aaron went back for seconds! WOW!! Hannah ate the chicken out of it and had some raw carrots. She refused to eat anything else; weird since she likes cheese, rice & broccoli. Over half of the casserole is gone! YAY!!! A success!! I made some sugar snap peas sauteed in sesame oil to have on the side. Here are some pics:

Jon and I had pumpkin ice cream for dessert. He had his topped with chocolate chips. I topped mine with nothing tonight, but the other night I put my pumpkin ice cream on top of some pears and topped with some Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. YUM!!

Pumpkin Spice Latte

This drink is right up my alley. I love all things pumpkin, so when my sister mentioned the pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, I was all over it. The benefit to Starbucks is that all of the syrups are GF. The only thing (other than the food) that are worrisome for those who have to be GF are the Frappacinos and chips. I stick to lattes or mochas (iced or hot) and black coffee. The pumpkin spice was pure heaven. If you haven’t had a chance to get there yet to try it, make it #1 on your list. BTW, I got it non-fat with no whip and it was still amazing!!!

Head Buried in the Sand

Where have I been the last whoknowshowmanyyears that spaghetti squash has been around? Why has this veggie never been introduced to me? I bought my first spaghetti squash about a month ago and followed the directions on the sticker on it for baking. When it was done, I thought I had done something wrong b/c there were seeds everywhere. Apparently I was a little confused about what from the inside needs to be scooped out and tossed and what stays. I ended up tossing the squash and Aaron told me that I was never buying it again. Ok, fine. Well, I happened to see a Rachael Ray show the other day where she showed how to cook a spaghetti squash and discovered that I had not scooped out all the needed to be scooped and I decided I really needed to try again. I am a veggie lover and can’t see how I couldn’t like spaghetti squash. So, I took the plunge and when I made the kids and Aaron spaghetti tonight, I made my self another spaghetti squash. I scooped all the correct parts out (seeds and stingy pulp). I placed the squash, sliced side up in a baking dish with 1/4 cup of water in it. I covered with saran wrap (don’t get me started on that product) and microwaved for 12 minutes. I let it sit for 5 more minutes and low and behold, when stroked with a fork, the “meat” turned into spaghetti!! OH.MY.GOD. I did it right!! I did a little happy dance (it may have been a big happy dance if I had had my wine before dinner ;) ) and made my big plate up of spaghetti squash topped with yummy meat sauce topped with fresh grated parmesan cheese. I sat down and was a little hesitant to try it, but WOW…..it was really, really good. Talk about a comfort food. This could possibly be one of my new favorites. Who needs gluten-free spaghetti when you have spaghetti squash? Now, I didn’t say that I didn’t need my mac & cheese or lasagna, just spaghetti. I could see topping this stuff with pesto, alfredo, veggies with a touch of butter and parmesan…..the list could go on & on. I really feel as if my head has been buried in the sand for a long time. I could kick myself for not trying this sooner.

For anyone who is interested in learning how to make spaghetti squash, there is a nice written explanation here. There is also a yummy looking recipe for Southwest Spaghetti Squash that looks very good too.

Best Gluten-Free Pizza Crust…EVER!

OH.MY.GOD! I really could say that 100 times. I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but, I can’t. I checked out a bunch of books from the library a few weeks back and one of them was Cooking Free by Carol Fenster, PH.D. I have been meaning to make this for a week or 2, but on top of being intimidated by making something like this from scratch, I just plain ran out of time. Today, I commited, and boy, am I glad that I finally did. It was super easy. Much easier than I pictured it being. It also reminded me of the crust from a gluten-filled pizza crust. It was chewy and thin. It was flavorful. It was…..P.I.Z.Z.A!!!!!! So, Carol Fenster, whereever you are, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart (and my son Jon’s too….he couldn’t stop drooling over the pizza).   You can find the recipe here.

**I topped mine with Prego 3 Cheese marinara, mozzerella, mini portabella mushrooms, baby spinach & tomatoes. I shredded fresh grated parmesan on top. I am sorry that I don’t have pictures. I was way too involved in eating. LOL!!

Jon said that he likes this much better than Pamela’s Wheat Free Bread Mix as pizza crust. He said he loves that mix for bread & bagels, but to PLEASE use this recipe for pizza from now on. FYI, this needs to be doubled, in my opinion. It technically serves 6, but Jon and I split it. I do have 1 piece left, but that is it. You can freeze the crust after the initial 10 minute baking period for a later date. I will definitely be doubling this recipe from now on. Hannah had a frozen, non-GF pizza for dinner. She wanted ours, but no luck. I told her next time she could have as much as she wanted.

Menu Plan Monday ~ Week of October 5, 2008 – October 11, 2008.

This week things really pick up for us. Hockey season has started and even though they don’t have the teams picked yet, they are heavy into evaluations. Right now Jon has at least 2 evaluations this week (Monday & Tuesday nights) and Hannah has ice skating on Wednesday night. Looks like I better break out the gloves, scarf and parka, huh? I hate being cold. Don’t get me started on the temperature in the ice rink. Yes, I know they are trying to keep a large piece of ice from melting, but what about us poor Moms (and Dads and siblings) that spend countless hours watching our precious offspring slam into each other there? At least the location where most of Jon’s (and all of Hannah’s) practices & games take place, has a mezzanine that is enclosed & somewhat heated.

Anyway, dinners this week must be quick, easy and/or be able to be made in advance. Not a lot of time for baking either. Cheryl at Gluten-Free Goodness is hosting Menu Plan Monday and has selected Pears as the featured ingredient. Thanks Cheryl! We received a gift basket from Harry & David’s last week that had 5 pears in it, so this will be part of dessert or snacks for us this week. :)

Sunday ~ Homemade Pizza (I am going to make the dough as soon as I post this); mine will probably be pesto, kids marinara, steamed veggies & spinach salad.

Monday ~ Spaghetti with meat sauce (I will have spaghetti squash), steamed green beans, spinach salad. Dessert will be vanilla ice cream with pear slices & caramel sauce.

Tuesday ~ Sweet & Sour Chicken (recipe from Carrie ~ Ginger Lemon Girl’s blog), brown rice and broccoli

Wednesday ~ Cheeseburger in Paradise (Hope to have the turkey burger if I can verify it is GF; the GF menu does not specify the alternative burgers (veggie & turkey)).

Thursday ~ Hamburgers on GF Buns, sweet potato fries, veggies and salad.

Friday ~ Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole, salad & foccacia bread.

Saturday ~ Breakfast for dinner (omlettes & pancakes, bacon, toast and fruit salad with pears, bananas, mandarin oranges & grapes)

Baked Goods ~ Jon has been begging for a coffee cake, so I really need to make one. I think Snickerdoodle Cookies are a must for this week too.

Off to get that pizza dough started.

Don’t forget to check out Orgjunkie for more fun weekly menu plans.

Backfired or Not?

My plan to sneak fruit into food has been detected by my oh-so-clever son, Jon. Last night after I was done cleaning up dinner from Hannah and I, Jon comes home and announces that he is hungry. I told him that I would make him some GF Pancakes; that way I could make and freeze extras for the rest of the week while I was at it. As I was getting ready to mix up the pancakes, I saw a banana that needed to be used and decided to add some applesauce to the mixture as well. To try to distract from the healthy things I added, I balanced it out with a few chocolate chips per pancake. I was hoping that since he wasn’t going to be having any veggies with dinner, the added fruit to the pancakes would make a somewhat healthy meal. I also made him a bowl of homemade applesauce to have on the side. I put his plate down in front of him and go back to making the other pancakes to freeze for the week. He calls me over to the table to show me that he doesn’t think that the pancakes are cooked all the way through. I told him that yes, it was cooked all the way through, what he was seeing was a small chunk of banana. He was not pleased with me at all. LOL! He asked me why I had to ruin his pancakes. I reminded him that he loves, not just likes, my banana bread that I make that not only has banana, but chocolate chips in it. There really isn’t much difference with the pancakes, and he can put syrup on these, what is better than that?!?! Aaron pointed out to him that I was right and he should just suck it up and eat the pancakes. He grumbled about them the whole time he was eating, but he finished them. Oh, he had them for breakfast today too. I think he may have forgotten all about that added fruit today. :) I win. Oh, and BTW, I tasted the pancakes and they were awesome!

Gluten-Free Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes

2 cup of Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix
2 eggs
1 TBSP Oil
1 TBSP Applesauce (I used sweetened, homemade)
1 mushed up banana
1 1/2 cups milk or water (I used water, but usually use milk)
Chocolate Chips to sprinkle on each pancake as they cook

1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Heat griddle or pan.
3. Pour batter into pan. Sprinkle a few chocolate chips onto each pancake as they cook, before you flip.

Makes approximately 12 4-inch pancakes. These freeze very well.

Spur of the Moment

So when I look back at my menu plan for this week, I see that last night was supposed to be homemade pizza (oops…I went out to Red Robin with a friend) and tonight was supposed to be Breakfast for Dinner. When this happens I typically just move what was supposed to be for dinner the night I missed to the next night. Well, Jon spent the night at a friend’s house last night and is still there, so there was no point in my making a large GF pizza for just Hannah and I (DH wasn’t interested). I opted to go ahead with breakfast for dinner (at least for myself). We had received a large gift basket from Harry & David the other day that had some smoked salmon in it. I knew that I was the only one who would eat it, so I incorporated it into my dinner tonight. I ended up making an omlette (2 eggs & 2 egg whites) that had smoked salmon and cream cheese inside and slice grape tomatoes outside. Oh. My. God. It was amazing! I seasoned with salt & pepper only. I intended to put some Frank’s Red Hot on it, but forgot b/c I was so lost in the taste. Along side I made some sauteed spinach with S & P and nutmeg and some pan-fried sweet potato hashbrowns (seasoned with S & P & cinnamon). I also had a half of a Kinnikinnick plain bagel left in my freezer, so I toasted that puppy up and topped with a little buttery spread. Finished off with a couple of glasses of Cabernet and I had the perfect meal. I hope that we get some more of that smoked salmon soon…I have never had smoked salmon before, only grilled or baked salmon here. It was perfect with the cream cheese in the omlette.

Oh, I almost forgot, I finished off my meal with some Edy’s Slow Churned Pumpkin Ice Cream topped with some Nestle Chocolate Chips. YUM!! Perfect end to a perfect fall day.

I just got a call that Jon is on his way home. What do you want to be that he hasn’t eaten dinner and now I need to make him something. I think that he will be having some Pamela’s Pancakes and I will make extras to freeze for later in the week.

Getting To Know You

I thought this might be fun to post here on my blog. I get these in my email every now and then. I have modified it slightly, so the numbers may be off. Still lots of fun!

Welcome to the 2008 edition of getting to know your Friends. The theory is that you will learn a lot of little things about your friends that you might not have known!

My answers for Saturday, October 4, 1008

1.What time did you get up this morning? 6:30 to eat and go to the gym by 8:00 AM

2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds!

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Mamma Mia with Hannah…LOVED IT!

4. What is your favorite TV show? Private Practice, CSI (all), Bones, Biggest Loser, Grey’s Anatomy, 24, Law & Order SVU, Lipstick Jungle, Desperate Housewives (watch much TV?)

5. What did you have for breakfast? Brown Rice Cakes with PB or Almond Butter & Fruit Spread, Egg Whites with tomatoes (usually grape tomatoes), Laughing Cow Cheese triangle (light swiss) & Fresh Basil

6. What is your middle name? Lynn

7. What food do you dislike? Can’t really think of one other than Beef Jerky

8. What is your favorite CD at moment? No cds, but a lot of great songs on my iPod

9. What kind of car do you drive? Honda Odyssey

10. Favorite sandwich? Hmm…turkey, spinach & swiss on my yummy GF bread!

11.What characteristic do you despise? Fakeness and disloyalty

12. Favorite item of clothing? PJs

13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? Anywhere with my family

14. Favorite brand of clothing? Gap and Old Navy & Ann Taylor Loft

15. Where would you retire to? Hoschton, GA

16.What was your most recent memorable birthday? The last b/c I had the stomach flu. Not a good reason to remember, huh?

17. Favorite sport to watch? Hockey

20. When is your birthday? 1/9

21. Are you a morning person or a night person? Definitely AM

22. What is your shoe size? 7.5

23. Pets? Do my kids count?

24. Any new and exciting news you’d like to share with us? No, not really

25. What did you want to be when you were little? A doctor

26. How are you today? Better than 2 days ago

27. What is your favorite candy? Oh, you had to go there. Heath Bar since being GF; Pre-GF, Whatchamacallit Bar.

28. What is your favorite flower? Stargazer Lily

29. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to? Christmas will be extra special this year

31. What are you listening to right now? Aaron channel surfing

32. What was the last thing you ate? Trade Joe’s Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies & Coffee from Caribou

33. Do you wish on stars? Depends

34. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Persimmon

35. How is the weather right now? Sunny & fally (crispy & cool fall day)

36. The first person you spoke to on the phone today? Kelly or Mom

37. Favorite soft drink? Coke in a bottle! Oooh….yes AND Diet Dr. Pepper

38. Favorite restaurant? Aqua Terra (in Buford) ~ The Chef’s Wife has Celiac and I had a fabulous meal there when we visited my sister over Spring Break.

39. Real hair color? Who really knows these days??? If you do, you are lying to yourself and everyone else too. ;)

40. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbies

41. Summer or winter? Fall

42. Hugs or kisses? Hugs

43. Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate

44. Coffee or tea? Love my coffee!

46. When was the last time you cried? The other day

47. What is under your bed? Don’t ask. I don’t.

48. What did you do last night? Went out to eat with my best friend, Amanda and her daughter, Emma. We went to Red Robin (had turkey burger w/cheese, protein wrap style, salad & steamed broccoli)…YUM!

49. What are you afraid of ? Illness in my family

50. Salty or sweet? Ooh….depends. I love food in general.

51. How many keys on your key ring? Too many

52. How many years at your current job? Since May of 2002.

53. Favorite day of the week? Monday. It is like a fresh start.

54. How many towns have you lived in? I don’t think I can count that high…let me try: Newport, RI; Parma, OH; Cambridge, OH; Stoney Lake, OH; Warrensville Heights, OH; Arlington, TX; Bridgewater, NJ; Dublin, OH; Centerville, OH, Westerville, OH, Dublin, OH, Lewis Center, OH.

55. Do you make friends easily? Yes – you have to when you move around like I have!

Now, either copy & paste to your own blog or answer here in the comments. FUN! :)

A Nutrition Victory!

Often when I make dinner I find myself making alternate side dishes because my kids (or husband ;) ) won’t eat one of the sides I have made. I love my veggies and eat a wide variety of them. The kids (and Aaron) do eat a nice variety (broccoli, green beans, corn, peas, carrots, salad and potoatoes), but not nearly as many different ones as I do. One of my fall favorites is sweet potatoes/yams. In the baked or mashed state, no one will touch these in my house aside from me. Don’t ask me why, they are all crazy. However, I know from buying the Alexia Frozen Sweet Potato Fries, they will eat them in the French Fry form. Hmmm. So, for dinner last night I took 3 sweet potatoes/yams (I am not really sure which they were, they taste the same to me) and sliced them into thin rounds and placed on a baking sheet to make “fries”. The kids loved them! I was shocked! I sprinkled them with some cinnammon after baking, so that may have helped. Our meal last night was filet mignon for Jon & I (strips/pieces of beef tenderloin in a pan for Hannah ~ she won’t eat it in steak form), sweet potato “fries” and steamed broccoli. Hannah even asked for seconds of the fries!

Sweet Potato “Fries”

3 or 4 medium size sweet potatoes or yams
Pam
sea salt
pepper
cinnamon

1. Scrub & peel sweet potatoes. Slice into thin rounds.
2. Spray baking sheet with Pam. Lay potatoes in a single layer on the pan. Spray the potatoes with Pam. Sprinkle with sea salt & pepper.
3. Place baking sheet into oven (375 or 400; I started at 375 and upped it to 400 half way through). Total baking time is about 30 minutes. I flipped & checked on them every 10 minutes.
4. Sprinkle with cinnamon when they come out.

Pre-baking:

After baking:

So now I have another side to add to my rotation. I hope they continue to enjoy these. It is really important to me to make sure they get a balanced diet that is full of fruits & veggies and low in fat and processed foods. I have also cut back on foods that contain HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). I would love to say that I have cut it out completely, but there are a few things (Heinz ketchup is the big one) that I can’t (won’t) part with and I believe that in moderation, it won’t hurt us. I have made sure that the bread that I am buying for Hannah & Aaron has no HFCS. Why is it necessary in bread? I mean, come on! The kids do have “treats” after their meals, but only when they put in a good effort and eat their fruits & veggies. Their “treats” and snacks are usually home-baked goodies, Slow-Churned Ice Cream (lower in fat & calories than the full fat versions), fruit, cheese (usually 2% milk varieties), crackers, peanut butter on fruit or veggies, nuts or popcorn. I also make sure to incoroporate whole grains into our meals. This is really important for Jon and I, as GF bread options are not usually rich in whole grains. We eat a lot of whole grain brown rice, whole grain brown rice pasta and I am working on introducing quinoa to the fam. Not sure how that will go over. I may just fib and tell them it is a different kind of brown rice. :) I also bought some flax seed meal to start adding to my home baked goods and foods. Sneaky, sneaky!

Sunshine Burgers

Wow. Sunshine Burgers ROCK! Have you tried these yet? They really make me feel “sunny”! They are veggie burgers that are soy & gluten-free. They are made from sunflower seeds, brown rice, carrots, herbs and sea salt. I bought the original and the Garden Herb yesterday at Whole Foods . They were $3.69/box. There are 3 in a box. I had one for lunch yesterday on a Trader Joe’s GF French Roll with some cheese, lettuce and Frank’s Red Hot. YUM! I was very impressed with the taste and size of the burger. I had it along with some veggies and a salad and it kept me full all afternoon. It is really nice to have a wonderful GF product also be soy free, as there are many people who also have to stay clear of soy. There are several yummy looking recipes on their website that I am going to have to try, including the Simply Southwest Black Bean Burger Pizza. So, if you get a chance to give these a try, go for it! :)

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