New Year’s Eve ~ 2008

We have never really been big New Year’s Eve celebrators, in fact, I think I have only made it to midnight once in the past 6 years! LOL!  Last year we spent the evening at our neighbor’s house and made it past midnight!  Probably had something to do with the multiple Red Bridge beers that I had that evening.  Oh, that and another neighbor suckered me into playing Singstar with her.  I say “suckered” because not only do I not sing, I certainly don’t sing in public.  Well, I did that night.  Boy, I feel sorry for those who had to listen.  LOL!

There are many gluten-free drinks that those of us who have to follow the GF diet can enjoy.  There are several GF Beers out there, including Red Bridge, Bard’s Tale and New Grist.  There is hard cider, such as Woodchuck, which comes in all kinds of flavors, all of which are GF.  Wine is gluten-free and a personal fave.  I like reds the best, such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.  There are also numerous liquors that are GF that can be enjoyed.  Absolut  (I am not sure about the flavored vodkas, so please verify before drinking those) & Stoli are both GF and wonderful with cranberry juice (Ocean Spray is GF, as is Northland) or 7-Up.  Champagne is also gluten-free and a must at midnight on New Year’s Eve.  Here is a nice list of gluten-free alcoholic beverages from www.celiac.com

I don’t see a lot of celebrating going on tonight.  My sweet daughter is recovering from the stomach flu, as am I, though I had a very mild version of it.   I think the only reason I may make it until midnight is because I took 2 naps today!  Yes, I said 2!  I went back to sleep this AM after Hannah fell asleep on the couch.  Then, I fell asleep this afternoon on the couch while watching my all-time favorite Christmas movie, Elf.  It appears that USA is running Elf all day, or having an “Elf-a-thon”! 

If we were feeling up to it, we would be having an appetizer night, as we do most New Year’s Eves.  We do shrimp cocktail (naturally GF, as long as your cocktail sauce is GF , McCormick’s is), veggies & dip (T. Marzetti makes a GF dill dip), cocktail wienies (Lit’l Smokies are GF and we cook them with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce), nachos (made with Hormel chili w/beans & cheese), queso (Rotel Tomatoes & Velveeta) and the party nectar of the Gods, Buffalo Chicken Dip.  For desserts & sweets, we usually gobble up leftovers from Christmas such as fudge (peanut butter & chocolate), gingersnaps & peanut butter blossoms

Well, time to go check on the little girl.  I hope you all have a fun & safe New Year’s Eve & day.  Tomorrow I will be making  my pork & sauerkraut, a tradition for good luck on the new year.  I will make sure to share how I make it here in the next day or two.

Happy New Year ~ 2009!!!

What Have I Done?

Saw this post on another blog and I had to play. I am a sucker for these things! Copy this list, post on your blog and bold the items that you have done.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyworld
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch (does crochet count?)
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked (are you kidding…my Mom would KILL ME!)
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (would love to one day)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelos David
41. Sung karaoke (sorry to all that had to listen ;) )
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies (Does candy for the Camp Fire Girls count?)
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving (hell to the NO!)
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bibe
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous (define famous….)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day

What have you done?

How Excited Am I?!

This year for Christmas I got the most exciting gift! Well, I actually got quite a few, I had a very nice Christmas. But, there is one in particular that will allow me to be very creative. It is Carol Fenster’s 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes cookbook! WOOHOOO!! This cookbook is absolutely amazing! Not only are there tons of baked goods (we all know I have a sweet tooth), but the meals look wonderful! My Mom, who doesn’t have to eat GF, is going to buy this so because she wanted to try out so many of the recipes. Plus, she will have ideas for Jon and I as well.

Here is a picture of me with my new “toy”:

Thanks so much, Kelly, Greg & Noah!

Thumbprint Cookies

These cookies have to rank right up there with my favorite cookies from my childhood. I love that you can add any kind of jelly topping that you like to them. I was afraid that when I had to go gluten-free that I would miss out on my favorites like these, but, I was wrong. My wonderful Mother has made these every year for me, even gluten-free. She uses Gluten-Free Pantry’s Beth’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour as the flour in the recipe.

Thumbprint Cookies

1/2 cup softened butter or margarine
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour (gluten-free flour mix)
1 or 2 tsps xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped nuts
Your favorite jellies / jams

Heat oven to 350. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla. Work in flour, xanthan gum, and salt until dough holds together. Shape dough by teaspoonfuls into 1 inch balls.

Beat egg whites slightly. Dip each ball into egg white, then roll in chopped nuts. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Press thumb deeply into center of each. Bake about 10 minutes or until light brown. Immediately remove from baking sheet; cool. Fill thumbprints with jelly / jam before serving.

Thanks again for making these, Mom!! I placed half of these in the freezer so I can enjoy them for the next few weeks, too! BTW, don’t freeze with the jelly in them, leave them as is and add the jelly once they are defrosted. ;)

Now, in the picture above I have my new favorite cookies, Peanut Butter Blossoms. They are awesome too!

Old Fashioned Gingerbread ~ Gluten-Free

Another favorite dessert I enjoyed as a child was Gingerbread or Gingerbread Cake. I haven’t had this in years, so I decided that it was high time to make it gluten-free. I took a recipe from allrecipes.com and converted it to be gluten-free. It was a fairly simple recipe and not very time consuming at all. Not only did I sub GF flour, but I cut the butter in half and added in 1/4 cup applesauce, I also doubled the spices. I am only typing out the recipe as I made the cake below.


Gingerbread

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg
1 cup molasses
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (I used Bette’s 4 Flour Blend by Authentic Foods)
1 1/4 tsp Xanthan Gum
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup hot water

1. Preheat oven to 350. Pam or grease & flour a 9-inch square pan.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add in the applesauce. Beat in the egg and mix in the molasses.
3. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, spices, xanthan gum. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour into the prepared pan.
4. Bake 1 hour in the preheated oven. Check after 45 minutes or so, as I didn’t have to cook mine longer than 50 minutes. Allow to cool in pan before serving.

I flipped my cake onto a plate after it cooled and topped with powdered sugar. I served it with Cool Whip.

Weekly Menu Plan ~ December 28, 2008 ~ Last Week of 2008

What a whirlwind the last week has been! Phew! I am glad it is over. I will be even happier when we are back to our normal routine and some of this craziness is gone. Yes, it was wonderful to see our family and spend time with them, but everything seems so chaotic. It will be nice to return to the somewhat predictable schedules that we keep. During the last week we had so many fabulous meals & treats. It all seemed so smooth, too. The meals were all prepared gluten-free or mostly gluten-free to avoid cross contamination. Neither Jon or I got sick, so that is a plus. ;) We also enjoyed lunch out one day at Red Robin. We had a hard time with the service, mostly just being slow and not following through, but Jon and I felt great after eating there. It was really busy, so that may have been part of the issue.

So, this week is still not back to normal, but we don’t have any real big plans. I doubt that I will even make it until midnight on New Year’s Eve. ;) I am getting old, you know.

Sunday ~ Burgers with sauteed mushrooms & pepperjack cheese, sweet potato fries, steamed broccoli and salad

Monday ~ Homemade Cheese Pizza (I may add spinach to mine and pepperoni to the kids) and salad

Tuesday ~ Salmon with garlic dill seasoning, quinoa, roasted brussel sprouts & salad

Wednesday ~ Turkey Tacos or Turkey Taco Salads, mexican rice & refried beans

Thursday ~ Pork & sauerkraut, mashed poatoes & veggies

Friday ~ Leftover medley/Breakfast for dinner

Saturday ~ Spaghetti & meat sauce, steamed veggies, foccacia bread (Chebe Mix) & salad

Baked Goods for the Week
I think I am taking a break on the baked goods this week. We have tons of fudge, cookies & cake leftover and I am thinking that my husband will kill me if I make anything else. ;)

I will probably have to make bread, though.

Oooh….I almost forgot. My sister got me the most amazing cookbook for Christmas. She got me Carol Fenster’s new cookbook, 1000 Gluten-Free Recipes. WOW!! This cookbook is amazing! Not only are there tons of baked goods, but the meals…..I am in heaven!

Another wonderful cooking gift….hubby got me a huge griddle for cooking pancakes, bacon & such. This thing is so big that I can cook a pound of bacon on it at one time! OMG! It is amazing! So much easier than standing over a pan going through rounds of 6 or 7 strips at a time.

Don’t foget to pop over to Cooking & UNcooking, M-Elle is hosting this week’s GF menu swap. And, as always, Orgjunkie has tons of menu plans up.

Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday. :)

Remarkable Fudge ~ Gluten-Free

This recipe has got to be my all-time Holiday favorite. I remember eating piece after piece of this when I was a kid. My Grandmother (Dad’s Mom) made this (and a lot of it) each Holiday season. I finally asked for the recipe last winter and started to make it myself. I was a little intimidated by the fact that I needed to use a candy thermometer. I didn’t have one, so I used an instant read meat thermometer. That didn’t work so well. The pan of hot bubbly goodness was too hot to hold the thermometer over to see it reach the desired 236 degrees or “soft-ball stage”. As you can probably tell, a candy maker I am not. LOL! This year I used a different thermometer, still a meat thermometer, but it is one of those that you can place in and run the wire outside of the oven and it fit nicely in the pan, without my holding it there, and then I set the temperature alarm to go off when it hit 236. Much easier.

Remarkable Fudge (Grandma Turner)

4 cups sugar
1 cup butter (1/2 pound)
1 ½ cups evaporated milk

Cook above in buttered, heavy 3 qt saucepan to soft-ball stage (236 degrees) stirring frequently. Add:

1 12 oz bag milk chocolate morsels.
1 pt. Marshmallow crème (2 small containers, 7 oz each)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts or pecans (I omitted)

Beat until well blended. Pour into 13 x 9.5 inch glass baking dish. Score while warm, cut when firm. I freeze some of this and then keep the remainder in the fridge b/c I like it best cold.

Pair this with the Peanut Butter Fudge that I made last week and what more do you need?

Fudgilicous!

Menu Plan ~ December 21, 2008 ~ Christmas Week

As the Holiday season is quickly moving forward, things are getting busier, if that is possible. At least the kids are done with school until January 5th. Jon had 3 hockey games this past weekend and still has a practice before Christmas. Then, I believe he is done until the new year. I have my Honey Baked Ham defrosting in my fridge for Christmas Eve, my fudge is made, I still need to make 1 or 2 more kinds of cookies, including some gluten-filled chocolate chip cookies for my husband’s boss. I made an attempt at these last week and somehow screwed them up. Not quite sure what happened there. I am trying to take things easy and not stress to much. Meals this week will be very simple and uncomplicated so taht I can concentrate on family and finishing up the tasks at hand. I vow to not wrap gifts on Christmas Eve this year. I should have plenty of time to wrap, as my shopping is done.

Sunday ~ BBQ pulled pork leftovers, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli & salad
Monday ~ Spaghetti (we have been using Quinoa pasta…YUM) with meat sauce, veggies & salad
Tuesday ~ Salmon (either with Sweet Thai Chile Sauce or Garlic & Lime), quinoa, sauteed zuchinni & spinach salad
Wednesday ~ Christmas Eve ~ Honey Baked Ham, Catholic Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli, Salad, veggie tray, cocktail weinies, cheese & crackers and shrimp cocktail. Dessert is GF chocolate roll, assorted Christmas cookies & fudge
Thursday ~ Turkey Dinner at Dad’s house; I will bring cornbread & sausage stuffing & some kind of dessert, maybe just brownies & fudge
Friday ~ Leftovers
Saturday ~ Leftovers or homemade pizza if the leftovers are gone

Baked Goods
Cranberry Cornbread
Cornbread (for the stuffing)
Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-filled)
Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten-free)
Brownies or a simple dessert for Christmas Day
Russian Teacakes (if I have time)

Hope you all have a wonderful Holiday season! :)

This week Angela of Angela’s Kitchen is hosting the Gluten-Free Menu swap. Thanks for hosting, Angela! Also, don’t forget to head over to Orgjunkie for more great menus!

Eating Safe at Holiday Parties

With the Holiday season in full swing, there are bound to be situations where it may be tougher than usual to get a safe meal. I have always been scared to eat at gatherings, especially where you have multiple people bringing food to share. I was always embarassed to ask how something was made or what exactly went into a dish, but I am learning to get past that. Just last night I went to an ornament exchange party. I made Buffalo Chicken Dip so that I would have something safe to eat. At the very least I knew I could eat that with some celery and tortilla chips and not be starving. I also brought along some Peanut Butter Fudge so I knew that I would have a safe “treat” as well. I was very pleased to find out that there were some cookies that I could eat (flourless PB cookies with Hershey’s kisses in the middle). YAY!! Also, I don’t know where my courage came from, but I was quizzing people as they placed their dishes down to see if the food was something I could have or not. Surprisingly, there were only a few things that I couldn’t have! I was able to have the following:

Hashbrown potato casserole (made without cream of something soup….only had butter, sour cream and cheese in it) ~ amazing
Collard Greens with smoked turkey ~ OMG….this was out-of-this-world.
Salad with feta, raspberries, northern beans and a wishbone spray balsamic dressing
Sangria ~ wine, ginger ale and fruit

So, really, along with the chicken dip, celery & chips that I brought, I had a decent “meal” and left feeling very full and satisified. Everyone was very accommodating when it came to the ingredients and I didn’t feel strange asking about the food. I knew that if I wanted to partake and have a nice time, it was what I had to do to be safe. I have found that being upfront and planning are the best ways to handle situations like this. You won’t leave hungry if you make sure to snack upfront before going or bringing something along that is safe. I know for myself, hungry = cranky, very cranky, so I must make sure that I have food.

Enjoy your Holiday festivities!

Buffalo Chicken Dip ~ Party Nectar of the Gods

Not only is this dip amazing, but it is naturally GF!!! I love recipes that don’t have to be modified, though most times it is fairly easy to modify a recipe. I feel like bowing down to the dip and saying…..”Dip, oh sweet Buffalo Dip, thank you for not having any gluten-containing ingredients in your recipe!”

I am going to an ornament exchange Holiday party tonight and this dip will be my contribution (and probably most of my dinner, as I am not sure what else I will be able to consume safely aside from this and my GF Redbridge or a glass of wine). I am bringing along celery and tortilla chips to dip/scoop the dip with.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Yields: 20 servings

INGREDIENTS:
2 (10 ounce) cans chunk
chicken, drained (I used 3 cooked chicken breast and it came out wonderfully)
2 (8 ounce) packages cream
cheese, softened (I used Light Philadelphia)
1 cup Ranch dressing (I used Light Kraft Ranch)
3/4 cup pepper sauce, such as
Franks® Red Hot®
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
cheese (I used 2% milk cheddar cheese make by Kraft)

1 bunch celery, cleaned and
cut into 4 inch pieces
Tortilla Chips

DIRECTIONS:
1. Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and crackers.

This is always a big hit. I didn’t use to make this with light cheese & dressing, but honestly, you can’t tell the difference and most people at the party were shocked to hear that it was “low-fat” or as low in fat as the dip could be. ;)

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