Menu Plan ~ March 29, 2009

Wow….I missed doing this last week!  We were on Spring Break in Atlanta, Georgia.  I am now back in chilly Ohio, but keep wanting to say “y’all” instead of “you all”.  LOL!  I feel like maybe if I keep talking like I am in the South, it will feel like I am in the South too!  Okay, wishful thinking. 

Busy week ahead.  Jon gets spacers in for his braces.  Braces go on a week from tomorrow.  Hannah has a play this week that she is in.  Skating, normal busy stuff.  You know.  The fridge is full, though, and I am ready for the week. 


Sunday ~ Homemade macaroni & cheese, baked beans & veggies (I may do a spinach/turkey burger and sweet potato for myself)

Monday ~Burgers, sweet potato fries, broccoli & salad

Tuesday ~ Salmon, Brown Rice, veggies & salad

Wednesday ~Stuffed Shells (ricotta cheese & mozzarella) smothered in 3 cheese marinara sauce, green beans & salad

Thursday~ Mexican night…pizzas or corn soft tacos, refried beans, Mexican rice,  white corn & salad

Friday~ Homemade pizza or calzones, veggies & salad

Saturday~ Leftovers or breakfast for dinner


Baked Goods


Butterscotch Brownies/Blondies (I have a few recipes I am perusing…I’ll post the final)

Chocolate something….I am craving chocolate & coconut, so maybe some chocolate macaroons.  MMMMMMM!

Homemade Rice Pudding


Asparagus Thin is hosting this week’s GF menu swap.  Rice is the ingredient theme.  I have planned to use rice at least twice this week.  The brown rice with the salmon will be a short grain rice, which is my favorite.  I like that it is a little chewier than the long grain versions.  For my Mexican rice, I usually use a brown basmati (I get it at Trader Joe’s) or brown jasmine (same, Trader Joe’s).  I always use my rice leftovers for lunch either topping with black beans & cheese or sauteeing up some fresh veggies in sesame oil and tossing them together.  YUM!  I LOVE rice!  I would also like to try making my own rice pudding, so I think I am going to add that to my list of “Baked Goods” this week, even though it technically isn’t “baked”. 

Also, don’t forget to check out Orgjunkie for lots more menu plans.

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An Amazing Dining Experience ~ Gluten-Free

I have always, always been hesitant to try a new restaurant since I have been on the gluten-free diet.  I am afraid of getting sick.  At first, I didn’t seem to react all that badly, but now, it is horrible.  I won’t gross you out with the details, just know that it is not pretty or fun.  So I usually stick with chain restaurants (yes, they get boring, but when you have to follow a strict diet, what do you do?) and those who have gluten-free menus.  I have ventured out to other restaurants and do so much more often now that I have been gluten-free for over 3 years.  I feel more comfortable expressing my needs and reading the reactions of the employees (servers, managers & chefs/cooks) that I am trying to educate. 

Last year when I was in Atlanta over Spring Break, my sister took my Mother & I to a wonderful place called Aqua Terra Bistro in Buford, Georgia.  I was nervous, I didn’t see anything on the web site about a gluten-free menu.   I asked to speak with the manager upon sitting down and for some reason I started my questions/statements with “I have Celiac Disease and have to follow a gluten-free diet….”.  I never start out saying I have Celiac because most people look at me like they have no clue what I am talking about or like I have 2 heads.  Well, much to my surprise, she informed me that the chef’s wife also had Celiac disease!  WOW!  They would indeed be able to accommodate me.  We had a fabulous meal. 

Fast forward to this Spring Break.  Back in Atlanta, back to Aqua Terra.   I could not pass up going back and dining at this amazing restaurant.  This time I spoke with Robin, I believe she is the bartender or possibly the manager.  She also has Celiac and went over the menu with me, asking what I was thinking of having.  Robin has been gluten-free for a little over a year.  I selected the following items for my meal:


Mixed field greens, Gorgonzola cheese, bacon, apples, walnuts, and red onions with a warm apple cider vinaigrette (minus the onions b/c they make me sick too)


(see my picture below…polenta is not in the pic)
Served over orecchiette pasta with fresh spinach and an exotic mushroom and truffle cream sauce (I asked them to sub the smoked gouda polenta for the pasta and they did, willingly)




With fresh strawberries

I can’t even begin to express how amazing this meal was.  The salad is one of the best I have ever had and I eat a lot of salads.  Wonderful flavors that all compliment one another so nicely.  The polenta was to-die-for!  The smoked gouda flavor really made this dish.  I love polenta plain, but this flavor brought it to a whole new level.    The scallops were done perfectly and the spinach with exotic mushrooms & truffle cream sauce left me speechless.  I wanted to clean my plate, but had to save room for the dessert.  The creme brulee was amazing.  Creamy and decadent.  Perfect. 

I give this restaurant 5 stars and all my thumbs up.  Really, if you ever get the chance to eat there, GO!  You won’t be sorry! 

The crew…my sister:kelat

My Mom & I:




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I know it seems as if I have been “missing in action” this week.  Well, I have been, somewhat.  I am on Spring Break!  YAY!  We have been having a wonderful time in Atlanta, Georgia!  Warm & sunny, up until today.  Still, I’ll take rain & warmer temps. 

We had a successful road trip down.  We packed all of our food so that we didn’t have to eat on the road.  Then at lunch time, we pulled into a McD’s parking lot and had a picnic in the car (all the rest areas were closed along I-75 in the area for some reason). 

We have eaten out a couple of times since being here, but are preparing most meals at home.  We did our grocery shopping at Kroger & Wal-Mart.  Kroger had a pretty impressive selection of gluten-free items.  I even had the chance to speak with the manager of the store and thanked him.  He said that he would love to make the area even larger when they remodel the store b/c the demand is so high.  YAY!  The Wal-Mart here didn’t have close to the selection that mine does back home, but that is no biggie.  I came prepared with my rubbermaid tote box full of GF specialty foods & frozen Pamela’s bread made at home.  😉 

We ate at Chili’s Too on Tuesday.  I had never seen a Chili’s Too, I guess this is the scaled down mall version.  They did have a GF menu.  They seemed very helpful, however, I got glutened.  😦  Jon didn’t, so that was a plus, especially since he was just coming off having the stomach flu the day before (there was no doubt that he had the flu, as Hannah, I and the little girl I watch all had some version of it).  I was bummed that I was glutened.  I won’t eat at Chili’s Too again, but may still try Chili’s back h0me down the road.

Last night my sister, Mom and I ate at an amazing local place called Aqua Terra.  I have lots of fun details & pics from this dinner, so I will post in a separate blog posting. 

We are heading home on Saturday.  I will be sad to leave, but happy to be back to our routine.  I missed doing my menu planning this week and reading all the blogs.  I have lots to catch up on! 

See you all when I get back!

Another Contest!

Check THIS out! Sarah, from Sarah’s Sweet Lips is giving away a copy of Jillian’s 30-day Shred workout. 🙂 Free stuff is SO fun! Make sure to visit for a chance to win! Oopps….I typed “wine” instead of “win”! Glad I caught that. Maybe that no wine for Lent is catching up to me. 😉

Cream Hill Estates/Lara’s Oats

I really can’t say enough good stuff about this company.  First, I love that they make gluten-free oats for those of us who can’t enjoy traditional oats due to gluten issues.  Second, they were nice enough to send me some products to sample.  With those products I received some recipes and there was one that was just screaming my name.  That and the over-ripe bananas sitting on my counter. 😉  There are actually several recipes that I am aching to try, but this one for the Banana Crunch Cake came first.  It is a coffee cake.  YUM! 

Banana Crunch Cake


The cake must cool in the pan, hence the picture of it in the pan.  I have left it in there overnight.  Here is a picture of Jon’s first piece.  (Notice I said “first” piece?)



Banana Crunch Cake

Oat Crunch Topping

3/4 cup Oats, rolled, old-fashioned (I used Lara’s Rolled Oats)

1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

2 TBSP Butter

2TBSP Nuts, chopped (optional…I did include these)


1/2 cup vegetable shortening

2/3 cup white sugar

1 cup bananas, ripe & mashed (about 3 small-medium)

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 cup Oat Flour (I used Lara’s Oat Flour)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 cup chopped nuts (I omitted this only b/c I was lazy….LOL)


Mix oats, brown sugar, nuts and softened butter in a bowl for topping & set aside.

Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Mix in mashed banana, eggs & vanilla. 

Add flour, salt, soda & nuts, stir until all ingredients are mixed together.  Don’t over mix.  Pour into a greased 8 x 8 inch pan.  Sprinkle Oat Crunch Topping on the cake batter.  Bake for 35 – 40 minutes at 350.  Cool in pan on wire rack. 

Cut into 16 pieces.  Each piece has 24 grams of oats (flour & oats totaled)


This cake ROCKED!!  It smelled amazing while it was baking.  I only had a small tasted b/c I have had a stomach bug, but Jon had 2 pieces and wanted more.  This was on top of his very large dinner.  Oh…..the cake is very moist.  It is a little crumbly when it is warm, hence the reason I am leaving it to cool overnight in the pan.  I plan on freezing half of this for our road trip to Atlanta.  Not only for nourishment on the way down, but to share with Kelly & her family, too! 🙂 

Thanks again to Cream Hill Estates and Beth Armour, their Co-President, for the wonderful products and for making being gluten-free a little easier and much tastier!!  🙂

A Gluten-Free Road Trip

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At the end of this upcoming week we will leave to head to Atlanta for Spring Break.  We are driving.  I DON’T fly.  In the past I have made sure to have menus of places that can safely feed Jon & I gluten-free.  This time, I am going to really depend on packing food for us, as I am trying to save money and we tend to eat much healthier when I pack our food.  We leave on Friday, after school and head to my Mom’s, about 1.5 hours away and will spend the night there.  We will then get up at the butt crack of dawn and head out for Atlanta Saturday AM.  So, here is what I am thinking for the cooler/car eats:

Raw Carrots

grape tomatoes





Deli Roll-ups

Salad (spinach w/grape tomatoes is my recent fav)

Sandwiches (toast bread before hand and then make sandwich)

Tuna Salad (to be eaten on toasted bread or on spinach salad)


KIND Bars (coconut/almond are my fav)

Envirokidz Bars

Rice Cakes w/PB

Carrot/Coconut/Raisin Muffins


So, I am thinking that we won’t be going hungry!  LOL!  I plan to stock up on bottled water at Wal-mart before we leave as well to avoid having to buy water on the road.  Too pricey.  I will also pack Capri-Sun for the kids. 

Once we are in Atlanta, we should be fine.  Kroger is close by to my sister and they have the basics and I will have the bread.  I am brining my cheap $10 toaster with us so that I don’t have to worry about CC with my sister’s stuff.  It is small and easy to bring along. 

I am hoping this helps to avoid the stops at McD’s/Wendy’s & the like on the way down & back.  We have depended on those places in the past, but it is much easier not too and you don’t have to wait to eat if you can’t find anything that you can eat….HUGE, when you are out in the middle of no where. 

Menu Plan Monday ~ March 15, 2009

Okay, so maybe it is “Menu Plan Sunday”, whatever.  This week is the last week before we leave for Spring Break!  YIPPEE!  Actually, it isn’t even really a full week.  We leave on Friday after the kids get out of school.  Aaron will be staying home, holding down the fort,making sure the house is okay. 😉  LOL!  The kids, my Mom & I will be visiting my sister, BIL and nephew in Atlanta!  I am so excited, as are the kids. 

Getting ready and packing this week is going to take precedence over cooking and baking.  I will be baking 2 loaves of bread to take with us (for Jon & I), brownies and maybe some carob fudge, too.  I have the coconut pumpkin muffins in the freezer from last week to snack on as well and some thumbprint cookies from Christmas frozen to take as well.  There will be no shortage of treats.  Watch for my post on traveling & adhering to the gluten-free diet. 

Sunday ~Bourbon Chicken, brown rice, broccoli & salad

Monday~Salmon (sweet Thai chile for me, garlic/dill for Aaron & Jon, Hannah will have fish sticks), baked potatoes or Crash hot potatoes, green beans & salad

Tuesday~Mexican Pizzas (I will use ground turkey most likely, with taco seasoning & refried beans on tostada shells), Mexican rice & corn

Wednesday~Breakfast for dinner (omelets/eggs, bacon or sausage, sweet potato hash browns, toast & OJ ~ that needs to be gone before we leave)

Thursday~Lasagna, steamed veggies & salad (I am meeting 2 girlfriends out, this is for Aaron & the kids)

Friday~leaving for AtlantaSaturday~Spring Break

 Baked Goods2 loaves of Pamela’s BreadTrader Joe’s BrowniesCarob Fudge (I decided to postpone this so I can bring to my sister & fam to sample 😉 ~ I am nice like that)

Five Dollar Dinners is hosting this week’s menu swap!  Book of Yum is hosting this week’s GF Menu Swap. 

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Exciting Give Away!!

What fun!  Heather Eats Almond Butter is running a super exciting give away!  Check it out!  Turtle Mountain has gluten-free Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream!  YAY!

Carrot, Coconut, Raisin & Nut Muffins

I got this recipe from a friend and converted it to be gluten-free.  I really didn’t make any other changes, it doesn’t need any.  YUM!  What a great combo of flavors!  The carrot & coconut keep these nice & moist, as does the sour cream. 



1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1-1/2 cup all-purpose flour*** (GF flour mix and your xanthan gum)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs & sour cream; beat well.
Stir in the carrots, coconut, and raisins. Combine flour, baking soda,
and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture until just moistened. Fold
in nuts.

Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake at 375 for
15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes
in pan before removing to a wire rack.

Makes 1 dozen muffins (I actually got 12 normal size and 10 mini)

***I used Authentic Foods Baking & Pancake Mix for this recipe and about an extra 1/8 tsp of xanthan gum (it already had some in the mix). 


A Gluten-Free Bakery, For Real!

I was driving down the street today to return a book to the library that was overdue.  That is nothing new for me.  I can’t seem to return these things on time.  I just can’t do it.  No matter how hard I try.  Anyway, I was in my own little world when I looked over the to left and see  a sign on the side of the street that said “Bakery Open ~ Gluten-Free Available”!  WHAT?  Am I seeing things?  I couldn’t stop then because I was going the opposite way, but I was definitely hitting that place on my way back. 

Holiday Baking Company in Worthington, Ohio.  That is the name of my new found love.  Yes, I bake my own GF stuff and enjoy doing so, but just the idea of knowing that there is someplace out there that could do it for me, if needed, is so comforting!  Over 3 years gluten-free, and I have yet to find a local bakery that does gluten-free baking.  I went in and spoke with the Proprietor, Lisa.  Lisa explained how they do the gluten-free baking on alternate days from the regular baking so they can avoid cross-contamination.  Then, as soon as the baked items are cooled, they are wrapped up and placed on the top shelf in the display case to avoid potential cross-contamination from the gluten-filled baked goods.  I was impressed with the selection.  I purchased a lemon bar and a cappuccino chocolate chip muffin.  I had to hold myself back to save these for when Jon got home from school.

The taste test.  YUM!  I had a small bite of the muffin and it was excellent.  The lemon bar was all I expected it to be and more.  Jon ooohed and aaahhed over the treats.  It is definitely someplace I will be frequenting again and possibly getting larger cakes for functions when I don’t have time to make my own. 

Thank you, Lisa, for making a safe product for those of us who have to follow such a strict diet.  We appreciate it.  🙂

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