Menu Plan ~ December 1, 2008

Here we are in December already. Where did the year go? Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the Holiday season and most of the stuff that comes with it, but geez, it seems like it was just New Year’s Day and I was trying to figure out how to get rid of my gluten-free beer hangover! LOL! We had a wonderful time with our family over the past few days and Jon had a successful trip to Pittsburgh with his hockey team, eating gluten-free even! I was all worried about him getting glutened and guess who got glutened, and not just once, but twice, 2 days in a row! The second time I really should have known better, it was the same restaurant I was glutened at the day before, but I was giving them the benefit of the doubt b/c I had eaten out numerous times that first day and it really could have come from anywhere. Anywhere, that is, until I was glutened the 2nd day at the same restaurant. GRR! I can say that I won’t be going back. Our server on day 2 is someone I know and who works at another place that I frequent and I know he tried his best to keep me safe. I realize that eating out is risky and in order to lower those risks, I have to avoid that place from here on out.

Now, on with the first week of December. Another busy week here. Getting back into the swing of things is always tough. I am the kind of person who craves normalcy and routine, but yet find myself kind of enjoying not having to adhere to a schedule for a day or 2. We have at least 1, if not 2 hockey practices this week, ice skating practice, at least 1 hockey game, a surprise party on Saturday night (I can’t say who, b/c if they are reading, it will spoil the fun!), and dinner with my Dad on Friday night. Phew. I am worn out and Monday isn’t even here yet. I am proud to say that here I am, Sunday night, and I have very few leftovers from Turkey day. I feel that I planned much better this year than I have in years past. I don’t even think I have enough turkey, after having some for dinner tonight, to make another meal! YAY! Our potatoes & stuffing are down to 1 or 2 servings too, and that would make a nice breakfast.

Wow…this is much longer than I intended it to be. Onto the plan:

Sunday ~ Leftovers. I made turkey fettucine alfredo with peas, grape tomatoes & fresh grated parmesan & a spinach salad

Monday ~ Burgers, sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli & salad

Tuesday ~ Baked or Grilled Salmon, brown rice, okra medley & salad

Wednesday ~ Cheeseburger in Paradise

Thursday ~ Turkey Tacos, refried beans & salad

Friday ~ Dinner at Dad’s…I believe we are doing pizza. He is ordering from a local place, Donato’s and they do “No Dough” pizzas that are GF. I don’t eat them b/c they are on soy crusts and still make me feel weird. I will take my frozen Glutino Spinach & Feta pizza to bake over there.

Saturday ~Surprise Par-tay

Baked Goods

Banana bread
Chocolate Crinkles
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cranberry Cornbread (to freeze and have at Christmas)

I am also going to start making my Christmas cookies & freezing them so I am not crazy busy in a few weeks. I don’t know who I think I am kidding, I am always busy! LOL!

Thanks to Sarah at Heart of Cooking for hosting the Gluten-Free menu swap this week. Also, make sure to check out OrgJunkie for lots more planning ideas.

Banana Nut Bread Heaven

I know that I say a lot of recipes I try are like heaven or amazing, but seriously, I am a foodaholic! I happen to love quick breads, desserts and pumpkin, to name a few. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but, OH.MY.GOD. This banana bread that I made today was amazing! I used an old recipe that my Mom used to use, from the very, very old Betty Crocker cookbook and modified it a bit. Obviously, I made it GF. Then, I subbed buttermilk for the milk b/c I had some that I had to use up and I love it in quick breads. The result was the moistest, most flavorful banana bread I have had since going GF.

Banana Nut Bread ~ Gluten-Free
**Original recipe from Betty Crocker Cookbook, modified slightly by me

2 1/2 cups flour (I used Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix; if you use a flour mix without xanthan gum or guar gum, make sure to add at least 2 tsps. to this recipe)
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 tsps. Baking Powder
1 tsp. salt
3 TBSP. canola oil
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
2-3 medium very ripe bananas (about 1 cup)

Heat over to 350*. Spray your bread pan (1 pan that is 9 x 5 x 3 inches or 2 that are 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5) with PAM. Measure all ingredients into large mixer bowl; beat on medium speed for 1/2 minutes, scraping sides constantly.

Pour into pan(s). Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. **I only needed to bake for 55 minutes. Remove from pan immediately; cool thoroughly before slicing.

Perfect for breakfast, snack, dessert or with a cup of coffee. You could spread cream cheese or butter on your slice or for a nice dessert, mix up a glaze of powdered sugar & milk and pour thinly over the top.

Baby Steps 2

Last week I posted about Jon going on a trip out of state, on his own with his hockey team. I had been concerned about how he was going to navigate his way through traveling and eating with his diet needs. I prepared him and the chaperones involved as best as I could (lists, information, shelf-stable food). Jon has been gone now since Friday AM and I am very proud to update that he is doing very well with his diet. He has navigated his way through 2 days of meals and has been very creative in how he is making sure his food is safe. Yesterday morning is the prime example. I was on my way back from the gym when I see that he is calling me and I had just spoken with him. He was at IHOP, a Celiac’s nightmare, and wanted to know what he could eat. I started to tell him and he stopped me. He wanted me to speak with the waitress. I then spoke with the waitress, verifying that they do indeed put pancake batter in the eggs & omelettes. She suggested using their fresh eggs, in shells. I asked her if they could scramble a couple in a clean frying pan and then maybe get him a glass of milk. She said yes. I was very impressed. Jon called me back later to tell me that he didn’t get sick! YAY! I am so glad that he took the initiative to have me to speak to the server on the cell phone! Last night they ate at BW3’s again and he did fine. I am so much more relaxed about this now. My baby is growing up!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce & More

I love Holidays. I love the food, the togetherness of family and the stress too. ;) Aaron is not happy when I try new recipes on company, whether it be family or friends. He likes me to have tried the recipe out first. Typically I agree, but I had faith in a few of the things I was trying and didn’t bother. One of those recipes was for Homemade Cranberry Sauce. I looked up some recipes on allrecipes.com and used parts of some that I found there with what was printed on my bag of fresh cranberries. The result was amazing. I can’t believe I have been eating the jellied, canned cranberry sauce my whole life! I have tried other cranberry sauces, but have never been fond of them. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is still a place in my heart for the canned cranberry with the ridges in the side from the can. :) In my opinion, the canned & the homemade aren’t even comparable. That is like comparing apples to oranges. Totally different food/side dish. In fact, I had both on my plate!

The only thing I would change, might be cooking it a little longer to get it a little thicker. But, I just had some for dinner, 3 days later and it has thickened up even more.

Cranberry Sauce (Naturally Gluten-Free)

1 bag cranberries (12 oz)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 cup OJ (I used Tropicana Kids with the added Calcium & vitamins)

1. Heat OJ and sugar in pan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
2. Add cranberries, stir and cook until the cranberries start to pop, about 10 minutes. Cook a little longer for thicker sauce.
3. Pour into bowl and cool. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

This is a new tradition that will be served with every Holiday meal from here on out.

In addition to homemade cranberry sauce, I also made Cranberry Glazed Carrots! I think the theme of the meal was cranberry, I just forgot to tell everyone! I had also wanted to make Cranberry Cornbread to serve on the side, but I ran out of time. We will do this for Christmas with our ham for sure. The Cranberry Glazed Carrots were a wonderful compliment to the turkey, stuffing and potatoes. I actually found this recipe in my email one morning! How is that for convenient?

Cranberry Glazed Carrots

2 lbs. fresh baby carrots (I used whole carrots, chopped into rounds)
½ cup jellied canned cranberry sauce (I used Ocean Spray)
¼ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt

Place about 1” of water in a large saucepan; add carrots. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Drain in a colander and set aside.
In the same pan mix the cranberry sauce, butter, brown sugar, lemon juice and salt. Cook on medium heat and stir until cranberry sauce is melted and mixture is smooth. Add carrots; stir to coat and continue to heat until carrots are hot. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings

Just for kicks, here is a picture of our turkey as it was being sliced by my brother-in-law:

It was very tender and juicy. I have to share how I have been making my turkey for the past 5 years or so.

Turkey
Orange Juice
Salt & Pepper
Butter
Poultry Seasoning
Turkey Size Oven Bag
1 TBSP Gluten-Free Flour or Flour Mix

1. Heat oven to 350. Read directions in the box for your size bird. Add 1 TBSP of GF flour to bag & shake well.
2. Get your bird ready; season rub with butter, stuff if you stuff your bird, season with salt, pepper & poultry seasoning.
3. Put bird in bag & pour about 1/4 cup of OJ over the bird.
4. Close bag & cut 6 slits in the bag to vent.
5. Place bird in oven and set timer for the amount of time for the weight of your bird. I use a digital thermometer to monitor the temp & cooking time throughout the whole roasting process.

Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf Just Might Be Heaven in a Pan

Once again, Tina, over at Carrots’N’Cake, has come up with an amazing recipe. I couldn’t resist converting this recipe to gluten-free and having it to serve over the long Thanksgiving weekend. I am even tempted to possibly serve this for breakfast, as it does have pumpkin in it, so that makes it healthy, right? ;) The aroma that drifted through my kitchen while this was baking is like something straight out of heaven. I don’t know if I can wait for this to cool to dig into it! This would be great served with Cool Whip, topped with powdered sugar or maybe even some ice cream (pumpkin comes to mind, are you surprised?).

Chocolate Pumpkin Loaf
*Recipe courtesy of Carrots’n’Cake, modified to be gluten-free by me

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour (I used Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix, but you could use any GF Flour Mix, just make sure to add xanthan gum if you mix doesn’t have it already)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup liquid egg whites
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 can (7.5 ounces) pumpkin
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325*F. Grease loaf pan (I used Pam).

2. Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl; blend well.

3. Once mixed, pour batter into loaf pan.

4. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until top is firm and a toothpick comes out clean. (I did 47 minutes)

5. Allow loaf to cool for 15 minutes; dust with powdered sugar (if desired).

This was absolutely amazing. What a unique blend of flavors. It is very moist & rich. A perfect end to a nice fall meal.

Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie ~ Gluten-Free

Surprise, another pumpkin recipe! YUM! This is the best pumpkin pie. Ever. It is different the the Libby’s recipe in that you separate the eggs and then fold the whites in last, making the pie filling lighter and fluffier. I never appreciated that growing up, until I started to eat other pumpkin pies and wondered why they didn’t taste like Grandma’s. Don’t get me wrong, they were all yummy, but not what I know & love. This recipe is very easily converted to be gluten-free. Obviously you need a GF pie crust, whether you choose to make one from scratch or buy a pre-made one is up to you. Personally, I like Whole Foods Bakehouse frozen crusts. They are easy and more importantly, I don’t have to roll out pie crust. ;)

Now for the goods:

Grandma’s Pumpkin Pie

4 eggs, separated
1 lg. can of pumpkin
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 tbsp. flour (I used Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 can evaporated milk
2 pie crusts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare pie crust or take frozen crust out of freezer.
2. Eggs: Separate eggs. Beat egg whites until firm – set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks to break up.
3. Pie Filling: Add all ingredients to egg yolks, except egg whites. Mix well. Fold in egg whites with spatula. Pour filling into crusts.
4. Bake: Bake pies in 350 degree oven. Check after 1 hour. Toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
5. Cool completely and serve with lots of Cool Whip!

Baby Steps

Jon has been gluten-free since July 12, 2006. I have worked very hard over the past year and a half to make sure he understands all aspects of the GF diet and why it is important that he follows it. He is pretty good about following it and our motto is “When in doubt, go without”. Jon is 12 and will be going with his hockey team to a tournament out of state this coming weekend. He will be going without us (DH and I). I am a little freaked out by this for several reasons. First of all, he is my baby (don’t tell him that, though, he might freak out). Second of all, he has never been that far away from me before. Third, he has never been away from us for that long before. And finally, he has to eat GF! I actually feel bad for his coaches/chaperones. I totatlly bombarded them with information regarding his diet the other day. I printed out a few menus (Wendy’s, McDonald’s & Panera) and copied my Triumph Dining Card for Jon to have one copy, the coach is carrying the wallet version. I wrote out things to watch for and things that would be simple for Jon to purchase from a gas station or convenience store. I emphasized how important it is to ask about cross contamination, as Jon is very sensitive. I called the hotel operations manager and discovered that they are very familiar with the GF diet and can easily accommodate Jon in one of the 3 hotel restaurants. He gave me directions for Jon to follow to ensure his saftey. Also, when checking in, they will put a mini-fridge in the room for Jon to keep any perishable items that he brings along. I mapped local restaurants that would be safe for him to eat at. Phew. That wore me out! LOL! I think the coaches might have been a little overwhelmed, but I assured them that Jon was pretty good at knowing what he can & can’t have, it is just a matter of him taking the initiative to do what he needs to do. In the past if something seems too difficult, Jon will just go without or drink a pop (cringe). I told him that this was no way to support your team and if he doesn’t eat properly, he will be useless to the team.

So last night Jon had a bit of a trial run. Jon had a scrimmage that his team manager picked him up and drove him to. I had parent/teacher conferences last night and couldn’t take him. He called after the scrimmage and said that the team was going to BW3 and could he go. He asked what he could eat (I told him “naked” bone-in wings, verify dedicated fryer and BBQ sauce on the side). He came home later and told me how things went. The Manager was less than friendly to him. GRR!! However, he did manage to get a safe meal. He got a grilled chicken breast (cooked in a clean pan…GO JON!) and BBQ sauce on the side. His plate came out with fries and he SENT IT BACK! I am so proud of him. He told them that they needed to get him an entire new piece of chicken and re-cook it. I am very, very impressed with how he handled that. Not bad for the first time dining away from Mom & Dad with a special diet. The only thing I told him he may want to watch for next time is making sure the chicken breast wasn’t marinated in something with gluten (some sauce with soy/wheat). He thought I told him to get chicken breast when I had said the wings. No biggie, he didn’t get sick and this was a great first experience for him. I have a little more confidence now in his traveling this coming weekend. Baby steps. :)

I did stop by our local health food store, Raisin Rack to grab some GF snacks/bars for him to take along. I had some Enjoy Life coupons AND all of their stuff was 40% off! I got some of the snickerdoodle cookies, sunbutter crunch bars, caramel apple bars and the new Boom Choco Booom bars. I also picked up some Think Thin bars for him. Yes, I know he isn’t dieting, but these are GF and high protein, which I figure can work for him while traveling if there is nothing else safe. He won’t go hungry, that is for sure. He may not eat ideally over those 3 days, but I can live with that. My goal is that he not get sick.

Breathe. Okay. I think I have calmed down a bit now. It will be what it is going to be. :)

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