Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I Love It When the Universe Cooperates...Bulk GF Crackers at WalMart!!!


I am a WalMart grocery shopper. I will admit it. I shop at other stores, too, and I'm not above walking into a store to simply buy a brand of soup and nothing else (Ahem, Progresso...). But usually I'm excited when I see gluten free options at my WalMart because that can almost always mean they are available to a national audience. I know it's not always the case, but I trick myself into believing it just to be happy for everyone else. I have bought smaller boxes of these crackers before at the SuperDuper WalMart, and then (chorus of angels....bright light from above) as I walked down the aisle I spotted these huge boxes of Crunchmaster gluten free crackers. Me being me (which in translation means I'm somewhat of a gluten free food hoarder), I bought two of the giant boxes and couldn't wait to photograph them.I know there's about a million things I could do with these crackers, and I'm planning on coming up with some great combinations to post soon. The first one I was dying to try was softened cream cheese spread on a cracker with apricot jam spread over that. Delish! This was a great salt/sweet combo, and it looks so pretty you could set them out at a dinner party or ladies' luncheon if you ever needed a quick snack. I'm thinking of those Laughing Cow cheeses, hummus, peanut butter, vegetabes, flavored cream cheeses, and nutella to start. Not all together, of course. Anyone have an unusually delicious cracker combination to share?

If you click here, you can get a coupon for $1 off a box of these crackers. Enjoy!

Happy eating!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Easy Gluten Free Italian Cream Cheese Chicken


I am recovering from a fairly horrible jury duty stint last week, and I noticed that the one night I wasn't completely in Momzilla mode was the night that I had this chicken dish all ready to go. It's super easy and I think everyone in my family actually ate it...which is reward enough for me. Plus, since everyone's gone back to school I'm relying more heavily on my meal plans, which I think have made life so much easier for me with all the craziness that goes on after school. This recipe takes about 5 minutes to throw together and put in the oven, so it's definitely on the list. I love the flavor in this recipe...it's creamy and flavorful and the chicken stays moist and tender. Put some cream cheese on the grocery list and try this recipe to see if your family likes it, too.

Gluten Free Italian Cream Cheese Chicken

1 brick of cream cheese (can be low fat or regular)
1 packet of Good Seasons Italian seasoning
1 can Progresso Creamy Mushroom gluten free soup
1 can DeLallo artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (I like to buy the uncut ones and cut them myself, then I can pull out any tough pieces.)
4-5 chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the pan. Pour soup over chicken, top with seasoning packet, artichokes, and cube or break up with your hands the brick of cream cheese and scatter over the top. Bake for 1 hour. Serve over rice. Can also be made in the crock pot by placing chicken in crock pot, dumping all other ingredients over the top, and cooking on low 5-6 hours.

Happy eating!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Eagle Has Landed...

It's about dang time. I can't wait to make rice krispie treats with these. They also really do Snap, Crackle, and Pop just like the original! I think I bought these at my WalMart Neighborhood Grocery store or Harmon's. Enjoy!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy New Year! Better Known As: Back to School!

For those of us with school aged children, right now we're either feeling elation or depression that school is about to start. Or maybe a mixture of both. I always struggle with both feelings, since we have a great time all together in the summer and it's hard to be alone when they leave. However, I can't say it's not going to be nice to have a few hours a day where I don't have to listen to the Angry Birds theme song. School starts for us Monday, and here's a quick recap: we've been making rock collections, going to the zoo, going to see the "Up" house in Herriman, chasing a puppy, and generally laying around.

When it gets time to send my children back to school, I find myself in the midst of preparations of Herculean proportions to bring order back into the chaos that summer inevitably falls into. I make detailed checklists of morning, after school, and bedtime routines so people know what to do when (I have yet to have a year where my checklists actually improve the morning rush), clean off the backpack/coat hangers, haul in boxes and boxes of food from Costco as though "The Big One" is coming over the horizon, and take stock of large and small things in a feeble attempt to make the morning rush and afternoon free-for-all easier. Ha. At least I'll get an "A" for effort.

This morning I made crepes for my daughter who was going to her first day of middle school, and I thought I would just make a few for her and do the rest of the batter later, because I was for sure going back to bed after she left. But the gluten free flour tends to thicken the batter as it sits, so I ended up making up the rest of them, and then another batch on top of that, and put them in the freezer for a quick on-the-go breakfast option for me or the kids. (Tip: I put paper towels in between each crepe so I can just pull out as many as I need without defrosting the whole batch. 20-30 seconds in the microwave should defrost them.) I thought this was a clever time saver, if I do say so myself. I've also learned that the best way for me to utilize big meat purchases from Costco is to break them up into dinner-sized portions, wrap them in foil, and label with the ever-present Sharpie.
Usually I make up a weekly meal plan right before I go to the grocery store, taking stock as I make the list. This year I decided to try something new. I divided the days into meal types, and then listed five or six meals for each day that could fit with my schedule and my plan. For example, Monday I always do a dinner with rice as the side dish. Tuesday is Mexican-ish, Thursday is Breakfast for Dinner, Friday we usually go out so the kids make their own dinners. I wrote down what the evening activities are on each day, so I can keep in mind if I need something everyone can eat at different times, or if we have time to sit and relax. In my Excel sheet I used cute colors and fonts, and since I just barely figured out how to use Scribd, hopefully you'll be able to get an idea of what I'm talking about.
Weekly Meal Plan

Basically, my idea was that as long as I knew what options I had for each night, I have a little more flexibility and can still roll with the punches. Then when I do my grocery shopping, I have a little more of the big picture so I can shop for sales on things I use all the time, plus staples for the week. Maybe this will help some of you out this fall if you're struggling getting back into the groove of making dinner. Conversely, some of you may be suffering from convulsions looking at my detailed spreadsheet. That's ok, too. How do you get ready for the fall rush? Do you have any special gluten free traditions or shortcuts that make your heart rate slow down? Please share in the comments box if you do!

Happy eating (and reading, and writing, and arithmeticing...)!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Brands Matter...Especially Gluten Free Ones


I have been making these Gluten Free Lemon Ricotta Cookies for a long time. They are one of my favorites, adapted from Giada deLaurentiis' recipe, and I almost always use Grandpa's Kitchen flour, and Micelli's whole milk ricotta cheese. I'm not sure why, but this time when I made them I chose King Arthur's Gluten Free Flour, and WalMart brand original ricotta cheese. Epic fail. Whatever! There's nothing I hate more than wasting ingredients, but I hate almost as much using the wrong ones! Don't think this is a negative review of King Arthur at all, I actually really like their gluten free products. But for this recipe, I don't know if the flour or the cheese caused the pancake-like cookies and dry flavor. I blame WalMart. They're an easy target. But it got me thinking: how many people out there have tried my recipes and think they are gross because they don't have the same brands that I do? How many people have quit reading because they're tired of hearing how great something is and their roomate told them it tasted like sticks? I hope not many. But I am feeling sensitive to brands lately. I think I'm going to try to make an effort to use the most widely available ingredients to everyone, and then I can sleep at night. So, I confess, I am a brand snob when it comes to my food. Are you a brand snob, too? What brands of gluten free food can you not live without? Leave me a comment, I'd love to know if they are the same as mine. And, as I was looking through the archives to link back to this recipe, I noticed I haven't ever published my version of them. So here it is:

Gluten Free Lemon Ricotta Cookies
adapted from Giada deLaurentiis' original recipe

2 1/2 cups gluten free flour (I like Grandpa's Kitchen...they are light and fluffy when you use it)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick soft butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 15 ounce container of whole milk ricotta (it has to be whole milk or they won't turn out)
zest of 1 lemon
3 tsp lemon juice (about the juice of 1 lemon)

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
zest of 1 lemon
3 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or a silpat baking mat. In a medium bowl mix together gluten free flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside. Combine butter and sugar in a stand mixer and beat until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each one. Add ricotta cheese and lemon zest and juice. A little at a time, add flour mixture. Spoon dough onto cookie sheets or use a small scoop. Batter will be thick but moist. Bake 15 minutes, let rest on cookie sheet for 12 minutes before removing. Cool on a wire rack. Spread glaze on top of cookies with back of a spoon and let harden, about 15 minutes.

Happy eating!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Eat Your Cruciferous Veggies! Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad

Summer never fails me. I always crave fresh fruit and veggies all season long, and they happen to always be available. Funny how that works! I also never want to eat anything hot for dinner, which is actually a problem because I only know how to make hot dinners. I'm not saying this salad could replace dinner, but it's a pretty good way to fill up your plate. Also: my favorite kind of recipe as well...naturally gluten free! I'm giving credit where credit is due for this recipe, which comes from Traci's mom, who recited the whole thing to me without blinking an eye. She has made it that many times. It's pretty easy, and it makes a lot, so if you need to take something to a pot luck or family reunion, this is a good one.

Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad

3 stalks of fresh broccoli, cut into small florets (bite sized)
1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets (bite sized)
1/2 to 1/4 red onion, minced
1 pound cooked, crumbled bacon
8 ounces shredded mozzarella

Dressing:
1 1/2 cup Best Foods light mayonnaise
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Mix dressing together until sugar dissolves. Assemble salad ingredients and pour dressing over the top. Mix well and cover. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours to give flavors a chance to meld.

Happy eating!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Subway. Summer. Sickness. Stupid.

Apparently it's summer around here, which means the days are filled with a whole lot of hanging out and not producing. I highly recommend it. To bring an end to the saga of my personal summer real estate disaster, my husband and I decided not to move after all. It makes sense for too many reasons to list to take the house off the market, so I've been slowly unpacking the boxes and boxes (and boxes) of stuff that I diligently packed weeks ago. Luckily they didn't travel anywhere, so I've had minimal breakage. And I have to admit, it's kind of fun to take out the things you love and find a new home for them. Kind of like shopping the house, which I always forget about when I get a hankering for re-decorating. I bossed my husband around a bit and made him promise to pay someone to remodel my kitchen for me when the kids go back to school, and like a good boy he said yes. This should make for interesting blog fodder, so stay tuned.

In other unhappy news, I have a story (sadly, no photo and no recipe, either, but meaningful nonetheless) that should serve as a reminder to all of us who eat gluten free to use "constant vigilance," to quote Mad-Eye Moody. One of my favorite summer activities is going on dates with my husband, because we seemingly forget time together is important during the school year. We went to see the last Harry Potter movie (goodbye, Harry!) and afterwards we were a little sick from all the popcorn and soda but still wanted a light meal. We settled on Subway and I was fine with that because I usually get a salad there, no big deal. Here is where I want you to pay attention: you know how you go into a restaurant when you have celiac disease and you always choose between one of two or three menu items you have in your head? There's a reason for that! When you think, Oh I haven't had that in a while, I think I'll try it again...stop! Check ingredients! Use your smartphone or a satellite or something to double check because it probably is on the "not safe" list and there's a reason you haven't eaten it in a while! What did I order at said Subway? A Seafood Salad made into a salad. Um....apparently wheat and/or gluten are present in the seafood salad. I was not a happy camper for a couple of days. So a gentle reminder to everyone...don't mess with your pre-determined menu thoughts. It may seem boring, but check before you go or after so you know for next time what your options are. And now if you are wondering what salad you can order at Subway and not be stupid like me, check out their allergen list here. Soapbox sermon over.

Happy (and safe) eating!
 
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