Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat!

Tonight was filled with good food, good friends, fun costumes and of course... CANDY!

The kids had a blast and so did the adults.

I read a few articles about how if you suffer from fibromyalgia its a bad idea to take naps.  Today I found out the hard way that the people who wrote these articles actually knew a little something about what they were saying.  Bad Day + Nap = Feel like you got hit by a truck.  Seriously.

Luckily I was able to pull it together and make it through dinner.  It seems every time we have a particular group of friends over we have tacos.  Never fails.  This time I decided to change up the usual Pico De Gallo recipe.  I am no longer able to eat tomatoes.  Its sad... I try not to think about it.  Last week we tried a recipe that replaced tomatoes with peaches and it was DELICIOUS.  So I decided to use the same trick with my Pico recipe.  Results:  Peach'O De Gallo  (all credit for the name goes to JM).

Peach'O De Gallo:
3 peaches
1 medium onion
1 bunch of cilantro
1 lime
kosher salt to taste

Dice the peaches, onion, and cilantro and mix them together.  Coat the mixture in the juice of 1 lime and then salt to taste.

I also had hot cocoa waiting on our gaggle of trick or treaters when they returned.  I doubled this recipe for our group.

Hot Cocoa:

12 oz. can evaporated milk
12 oz. water
1/2 cup sugar
1 heaping Tbs Hershey's cocoa

Mix water and evaporated milk and heat slowly to your liking (do not boil).

In a separate bowl, mix sugar and cocoa until well blended.  Add 2 Tbs of water and stir until it forms a soupy mix.  When the milk is hot enough, slowly stir cocoa mixture, cook over low heat until cocoa mixture is dissolved.  Serve warm.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Breadzilla!!... what in the world went wrong?

All in all this has been a good weekend.  Energy level could be higher but over all the pain has been tolerable. I'm counting myself lucky considering we got a couple inches of snow.  Snow.  Snow that will, with any luck, be gone in time for trick or treating tomorrow evening.

I have not taken my new prescription pain medication yet... looking at the bottle sort of terrifies me.  I suppose I do need to go ahead and get it on board so I know if it will work for me and not against my poor gastritic stomach.  I'm not sure you can turn gastritis into an adjective the same way you can arthritis... but I'm going to make it work for me.


No crazy baking experiments were undertaken this weekend.  I made the usual Sunday waffles, which were delicious, as usual.  We had some friends come over to play for a while.  Fun was had by all.  OH YEAH, and I made the craziest looking loaf of bread I have ever seen.  I used the Bob's Red Mill bread mix and followed the oven baking directions, and, well... well... it turned out like this...

I don't even understand how this happened.  It tastes fine, which is really all that matters.  Would love some insight on what I may have done to cause this.  I sort of feel like I need to go ahead and make lots of sandwiches before it gains super strength and takes over the world.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin carving and seed roasting.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

2 cups fresh pumpkin seeds
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Mix ingredients together and spread out on a baking sheet.  Bake for 45 minutes.


What is your favorite way to season 
pumpkin seeds?
I was going to attempt this - Dr. Who Pumpkin.  
Pumpkin didn't end up being large enough.  Maybe next year


Doctor finally called back with results.  Around 9pm... I suppose a late call back is better than no call back.

 I am not at all surprised at this diagnosis.  Jeff has already hit the internet hard searching for ways we learn to live with this.  I am a blessed person.  Fibromyalgia be damned.

And in wonky weather news, we woke up to SNOW!  Snow, in October, in Virginia.  Could be an interesting winter folks.  Jeff is out on a pumpkin hunt - I have been inspired to carve a Dr. Who pumpkin.  Check back for pictures later today.  Like most things it will either be brilliant or a colossal failure.  Either way, there will be pictures.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Blood tests and Halloween treats

Finally... after years of headaches, muscle, and joint pain... I went to the doctor.

I had put off this particular visit for two reasons.  Reason #1:  I don't want to be told there is something else wrong with me.  Reason #2:  My symptoms had improved for a while after removing gluten from my diet.  Over the past few months though my symptoms have been worsening and it was obvious what my next step should be.  So to the doctor I went.  Blood was drawn.  Tests are being run.  For all I know part of me is spinning away in a centrifuge while I type this.  I will be contacted tomorrow with results and further instruction.  Hopefully this will not be in the form of a message apt to self destruct.  Possibilities being looked at currently: inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.

In my opinion every bad day requires something sweet.


Today I made delicious Rice Krispie treats for Piper to share with her preschool classmates.  I was very excited to try the newly discovered marshmallow recipe for these and it turned into a delicious learning experience.  I tried to follow the recipe on the box as closely as I could... after all it is tried and true.  About halfway through the beating process I added the melted butter the original recipe called for.  Next time I try this I'm going to leave the butter out.  The taste great and they set up well but the butter kept the marshmallow from fluffing up as much as I would have liked.  I also decided to use a little red and yellow food coloring to make the treats festive.  This little project led me to two discoveries.

Discovery #1:  Betty Crocker food coloring gels are Gluten Free

Discovery #2:  Pam cooking sprays are Gluten Free  !!EXCEPT!! - The one designed for baking.

Going to bed with hopes tomorrow will bring good news.  Sleeping soundly knowing that even if it doesn't I am surrounded by a world of sweetness.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oh dear me, how I love venison...

A cold day calls for warm comfort food.

Venison Roast

medium deer roast
1 medium yellow onion - chopped
4 carrots - chopped
1 8oz container of mushrooms
2 cups chicken stock
4 tbs olive oil - divided
salt to taste


Heat a dutch oven over medium.  Add 2Tbs olive oil.  Once oil is hot add onions and saute until they start to slightly brown.  Add carrots and saute for 2 minutes.  Add mushrooms and saute another minute.  Remove vegetables to a separate bowl.  Add 2Tbs of olive oil to the hot pan and sear the deer roast.  Once the meat is brown on all sides remove to a clean bowl or cutting board.  Return veggies to the pot and add chicken stock.  Be sure to get all of the yummy brown bits that have developed on the bottom of the pan.  Return roast to the pan and rest in on top of the vegetables.  Cover pot with lid and cook on low until roast is done through the center.  Time will vary slightly depending on the size of the roast you are using.

I also made biscuits using the Namaste Biscuits, Pie Crust & More! mix.  They were very easy to prepare and turned out beautifully.  Though I have to say I am very glad I decided to add rosemary.  I found the biscuits to have a bit of an odd aftertaste and I believe without the rosemary it would have been off putting.  Has anyone had a similar experience with this mix?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday lunch and sweet treats

Our girls spent the weekend with their grandparents in Lynchburg this weekend.  We're still in a bit of an awkward place moving everything out of the old house but we were able to make a lot of progress without short people "helping".  I always miss them terribly when they're gone.  I wonder what in the world Jeff and I must have done to occupy our time without them around to entertain.

Jeff parents stayed for lunch today and we tried a new twist on one of our favorite comfort foods.  We like to make a meatloaf stuffed with Swiss Cheese and Mushrooms but have had a hard time getting the girls to eat it.  As with most things lately I have found if I change the way something normally looks the girls become much more interested in giving it a try.  If you have other creative ways to get occasionally picky eaters to try something new, please feel free to leave them in the comment section, I would love to hear them.

Mini Stuffed Meatloaf

1 1/2lbs Lean Beef
1 Egg
1/2 cup GF Bread Crumbs - I save the heals off of loaves of bread to make bread crumbs.
1/4tsp Kosher Salt
Deli Sliced Swiss Cheese
Sliced Mushrooms

Mix ingredients together well and separate into 10 equally sized meat balls.  Flatten them into patties.  On 5 of the patties layer 1/2 slice swiss cheese, 2-3 slices of mushroom, 1/2 slice swiss cheese.  Place the other 5 patties on top of the cheese and make sure the patties are closed around the side.  The meatloaves will resemble very fat burger patties.  Bake at 350 degrees in a 9x13 glass baking dish for 45 minutes.

We served with Butternut Squash cooked with butter and maple syrup and green beans we canned from my grandparents garden.  Overall I think it was a success - the kids ate it so that has to count for something.

We also had a fun time making marshmallows with the kids and the grandparents.  I love making sweet treats to share!

Mmm, Mmm, Marshmallows

I love marshmallows.  There.  I said it.  I love everything about their ooey, gooey, sticky wonderfulness.  I have read so many posts about being "glutened" by marshmallows and specifically stating to look for gluten free marshmallows that I have avoided the treat.

The further we have gotten into this gluten free journey the more comfortable we have become with getting into the kitchen and coming up with a way to be able to eat what we want.  This evening while we were watching Breaking Bad, Jeff looked over at me and said "I think I'm going to go make marshmallows".  There are no logical arguments against this.

Here is the wonderful Gluten Free & Egg Free recipe we used:

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 1/4 cups warm water, divided
2 cups white sugar

1.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, stir together gelatin and 1/2 cup plus 2Tbs water.  Set aside to set up.

2.  In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and remaining 1/2 cup plus 2Tbs water, over medium heat.  Stir until    sugar reaches soft-ball stage.

3.  Combine gelatin and sugar water, and beat with electric mixer on low until foamy.  Increase to high speed and beat for 12 minutes.

4.  Pour into a 9x13 glass dish that has been lightly dusted with powdered sugar.  Allow marshmallows to come to room temp and them move them to the refrigerator for about an hour.

5.  Cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar or cornstarch.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cookie Filled Day

I found this excellent Sugar Cookie recipe on  I followed the recipe to the letter...  sort of.  I couldn't find GF Oat Flour in our area.  I could have ordered it online but I promised I would provide cookies on Wednesday and didn't want to pay an arm an a leg for super fast shipping just to risk that the flour still wouldn't show up on time.  So I improvised... sort of.  I had a bag of Bob's Red Mill GF Quick Cooking Oats... and I have a food processor... so I made my own GF Oat Flour.

The dough looked beautiful!  I rolled it out between two pieces of parchment paper and was able to get one cookie out with a cookie cutter before... the butter realized it was really warm in my kitchen.  No need to panic! I decided to try rolling the dough in small balls and flattening them into circles.  This technique worked perfectly.  Also the original recipe said the cookies didn't spread out very much but mine ended up touching ever so slightly. I would play it safe and just not crowd the cookie sheet.

Another fun cookie related piece of fun from today - I won the Udi's Cookie Challenge 2!  I am so excited be able to try all of the new flavors!  Thank you Mr. Robo cookie.

Sugar Cookie Update:  After working with this recipe a little more I discovered if you roll out very small quantities of the dough and work very quickly you can use cookie cutters.  The cookies do spread though so more intricate shapes may not turn out as well.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meal planning just became a LOT easier!

Download Now!
I'm not a huge fan of adding apps to my phone.  If I have too many games I get distracted.  If I have too many news apps I get confused.  Every once in a while I'll go searching through the app store for something to make my life more organized and magical and tonight, I found such an app... Meal Planning by Food on the Table.  You can add your local grocery stores, look through the recipes and it will generate a shopping list highlighting items ON SALE!  Oh, and it gets better!  One of the recipe categories.... you ready?.... GLUTEN FREE!!

Looking forward to putting this app to the test over the next few weeks and seeing what it does for our grocery bill.

Pumpkin Patch

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bug Shot, or how I didn't make a casserole

Monday Jenni had a headache, and so it was time for the hubs to step-up to the plate and take on dinner. Here is the highlight reel (in text form anyway).

After logging off from work, I head to the fridge to see what I could come up with. Hmm. Okay. Looks like Pops is calling an audible.

In the fridge I find eggplant, some green onions, left over rice from the night before, a few mushrooms, and some shredded cheese. A plan is forming. Okay, head to the cabinets. Here I track down a couple of cans of beans and a can of Italian style tomatoes. Now we're cooking ... well not yet, but we are certainly getting close. I pull out an 8x11 glass pan, and commence to chopping.

Here is the rundown of ingredients (please note some measurements are guesses, as I'm making it up on the fly):

1 Medium Eggplant
2 Cups of Rice (roughly)
2 Green Onions
3 White Mushrooms
1 Can of Black Beans
1 Can of Red Kidney Beans
1 Can of Tomatoes (with Basil, Oregano and Garlic)
Shredded Cheese
Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
Seasonings (I used Oregano, Basil, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Salt and Pepper)

Chopping board and knife ready, I peel and then cube the eggplant into small pieces (maybe 1/4"). From there I do my best to cut the mushrooms and green onions to match. Toss it all into the glass dish. Open the container for the rice, and dump it into the dish. Can opener in hand, I head for the beans and tomatoes. Black beans, kidney and tomatoes - all land square in the dish. I don't drain the cans or rinse. Deal with it.

There is now a pyramid of food in the middle of the dish, and the back of a spoon ends that dynasty. I'm getting close. The oven is set for 350 and preheating. I pull the seasonings from the cabinet and start to get a "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On." Step the next: mix it all up. The aforementioned spoon get's called back to active duty and I'm on the way. A couple of small handfuls of gluten free bread crumbs, a hefty sprinkle of shredded cheese, and into the oven it goes. Forty minutes later I up the temp to 450 to bubble and brown the cheese, and 5 minutes down the line I yank that sucker like a bad tooth.

Hi-ho, hi-ho it's off to the table we go.

So at this point, were I you, then I might be asking myself: "Self, why is this post called Bug Shot? There were no bugs, and he didn't shoot anything." You know what. You're right. We allowed our nearly 4 year old daughter to name the dish as a bribery to eat dinner. It worked. Sort of. She chose the name Bug Shot, and so it shall forever be know.

Jenni and I both enjoyed the dish greatly, and she even said it could make a nice replacement or alternative for chili. I was surprised by the amount of eggplant flavor the dish had. Which is nice; if you like eggplant.

If you try it, we would love to hear your comments on how it turned out,
any changes you made, etc -

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Butter

One of my favorite fall flavors is pumpkin pie.  I am having a blast coming up with fun ways to get as much pumpkin flavor in my life as possible.

Pumpkin Butter:

1 15oz can of Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/3 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Sugar
1Tbs Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ginger
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/8 tsp Cloves (ground)

I mixed everything together in a pot over medium high heat and let it come up to a boil, then turned it way down and let it cook together slowly, stirring often.  After about 30 minutes I took the pumpkin butter off of the heat and let cool so I could store it in the refrigerator to go with pancakes this week.

In an attempt to make mornings a little easier I decided to dedicate my Sunday to cooking ahead.  It's times like these I really miss affordable convenience food but I find comfort in the fact I know exactly what is going into my children's mouths.  For this weeks pancakes I chose Bob's Red Mill's pancake mix and followed the directions on the package plus I added 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  I'm storing them in the refrigerator and plan to try different methods of reheating - I will report back on which we found to be most successful.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Udi's Pizza Crust

After waiting... and waiting... and waiting... I finally gave up on our local Martin's ever getting in the Udi's Pizza crusts.  I went into our local specialty grocery store Cranberries and had them order us a case.  I was a little nervous ordering a whole case having never tried the product before but I decided to put my faith in the Udi's name and bite the bullet.

We went with our normal toppings with the dinner pizza.  Ricotta Cheese, Pepperoni, Kalamata Olives, Mushrooms, Bacon, and Shredded Cheese.  I wasn't disappointed by the crust but while eating I was already thinking of other ways I would prefer to enjoy it - flat bread sandwiches, cheese sticks, substitute for Naan?

We chose to make a dessert pizza with the second crust in the package.  I had seen a lot of different people posting about using Nutella and a base and putting apples on the top.  When we took the pie out of the oven we drizzled Mrs. Richardson's Butterscotch Caramel sauce on top.  Delicious.

Now we're all going to snuggle up on the couch and watch The Princess Bride.  I love seeing the girls faces the first time they see movies I loved growing up.

Life is good.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One of those days...

The morning started a little rough. Got everyone up, dressed, fed, on our way to school... made it half way there and told the kids we were going home. It wasn't so much that I felt I couldn't handle dropping them off... it was the anxiety over where my stomach was headed and would I be able to pick them up at noon?  So home we came. Luckily Jeff rented Rango last night so they were able to enjoy that little treat while I got the kitchen prepared for all of the goodies I had planned.  I would love to hear from anyone out there reading this who has had their gallbladder removed and suffered from gastritis, esophagitis, and or bile reflux after the procedure.

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

3 Large Eggs
2 Cups Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Oil
15oz Canned Pumpkin (Not Pumpkin Pie Filling)
2tsp Gluten Free Vanilla
2 Cups Gluten Free Baking Flour (I chose to use Bob's Red Mill but I'm sure this will work fine with whatever baking flour mix you are comfortable with using)
1tsp Baking Soda
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Cinnamon
1tsp Nutmeg
1/2tsp Ground Cloves
1/2tsp Ginger
1/2tsp Cardamom
1/2tsp Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer beat 3 eggs until they are slightly frothy. Add 2 Cups Brown Sugar and mix until smooth. To the mixture add 1/2 Cup Oil, 15oz Canned Pumpkin, 2tsp Gluten Free Vanilla, and mix to combine.

In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Add to the pumpkin mixture very slowly. Mix until well combined. Fill lined cupcake tins 3/4 and bake for 20 minutes.

Yeilds: 20 cupcakes.

Maple Icing

8oz Package of Cream Cheese - softened
4 Tbs Unsalted Butter - softened
5 Tbs Maple Syrup
1 tsp Gluten Free Vanilla
3 Cups Gluten Free Powdered Sugar

Beat together Butter and Cream Cheese until they are smooth and well incorporated. While mixing slowly add Maple Syrup and Vanilla. Mix until well incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and then slowly add the Powdered sugar one cup at a time. Mix until fluffy and smooth.

We had a friend over for dinner and a viewing of Rocky Horror Picture Show.  I find it to be a crime that anyone can make it to their 30's having never seen this film!  We tried this Fish and Chips recipe from Gluten Free Spinner.  I also used the tartar sauce recipe that accompanied the fish and chips but ended up modifying slightly.  I did not add fresh dill, or onions, and thought the outcome was delicious.  We will definitely use this recipe again.  I did have a little bit of a problem with the breading sticking in the pan I used but I believe that had more to do with the oil temp than the batter.  Maybe next time we make this dish I'll be able to get a few nice pictures.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

New Spin On An Old Favorite

We spent most of the day without internet. This fact left me so distraught I had no other choice but to stress bake. I went to the cabinet and pulled out the bag of Pamela's Products baking and pancake mix. Luckily on the side is a very simple banana bread recipe which proved to be just enough to get me through my "moment" and make a perfect snack for the kiddos when they got up from their naps.

Everyone decided they wanted pizza for dinner so I decided to try something a little different. I used Bob's Red Mill pizza crust and lined muffin tins in order to make crust cups. The centers of the crust rose slightly but I was able to use the back of a tablespoon to push it back down to make room for "toppings". We chose to fill our cups with ricotta, pepperoni, mushrooms, broccoli, and kalamata olives. These pizza muffins are perfect for dipping into pizza sauce and would be wonderful along side a bowl of tomato soup.

Now off to rest ... many experiments planned for tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn Day

Today began with a rude awakening by the native short people banging on the foot board of our bed. In my deep sleep it seems I forgot the true use of a foot board is that of a tribal drum for the native short people... I have been spending the rest of the day trying my darndest to wake up. I miss the days where a cup of coffee would have proven a simple solution to my foggy headed woes... alas a wonky tummy prevents me from indulging in the beautiful richness of The Java. While getting the kiddos off to school I was very happy to take a minute to stop and take in the beauty of a tree. I also had the pleasure of talking to a very dear friend of mine on the phone. I always enjoying keeping up with my favorite Boulderites.

Had a fun time this evening hanging out with Sydney playing with our food. I made a trip to Cranberry's Grocery today to pick up a container of Udi's chocolate chip cookies in order to participate in the Cookie Challenge on Twitter  ~

Cookie Challenge 2: Upload a photo of Udi’s cookies dressed in costume for Halloween. Include the hash tag