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Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010, Hello New Year!

Wow. 2010 went crazy fast. So many things crammed into one little year. My mom's battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. My dad's bladder cancer. My baby's first year of school. An awesome summer packed with lots of swimming for the boys. Cub Scouts. Swim team practice. A dizzying pace at work, along with a schedule change. Adapting to a new way of eating after finding out I have a gluten intolerance.

My family is very blessed that we have made it through the challenges and struggles this year, and have had lots of wonderful memories as well!

Here's to seeing what 2011 brings us!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Gluten Free Green Bean Casserole

I am discovering every day that eating gluten free doesn't have to be boring, and you don't have to sacrifice your favorite foods. A little thought and creativity can go a long way to help you enjoy the foods you love. In the case of this green bean casserole, the recipe I put together resulted in the best green bean casserole I've ever eaten. Seriously.

I was pretty bummed at first about Thanksgiving, and the thought that I wouldn't be able to eat many of my favorite foods. I decided to let stuffing go this year, although next year I'm going to make gluten free cornbread, and use that for my stuffing recipe. I was determined, though, that green bean casserole stay in the menu plan, and that it be something I could eat.

I started pondering the ingredients in the traditional green bean casserole that are now off limits for me. Canned cream o mushroom soup and the bagged french fried onions. There are gluten free canned soups out there, but I haven't seen them in my stores, and I've tried to avoid things like that anyway because of the sodium.

I like to use a little sour cream along with the soup, so I figured I could keep that, and maybe use some half n half to create a cream sauce with fresh mushrooms. Okay, done. Now, what about those onions? Why couldn't I just bread my own? It was time to play in the kitchen.

1 large sweet vidalia onion
1 cup of skim milk
2 cups of your favorite gluten free flour
1t kosher salt
1t paprika
1t garlic powder
1/2t pepper
1 cup oil (I used extra light olive oil, but canola or sunflower would both work nicely)
2T butter
8oz button mushrooms, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2T fresh chopped parsley or 1t dried
1t gluten free flour
1/2 cup vegetable broth (or if you have an open bottle of white wine, use it. I used a 1/4 cup of each)
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup sour cream
additional salt and pepper to season during sauteeing, if desired
1lb of your preferred green beans- fresh, frozen or canned (if fresh or frozen, you will want to steam them before combining with the sauce. I am ashamed to say that I just love low sodium canned green beans, and prefer that texture in my g.b. casserole. I know some foodies consider that to be a major sin, and to them, I apologize, but I can't help it :) I used 2 cans of drained green beans in this recipe)

The first thing I needed to do was make the fried onions. I cut the onion in half and cut into slices, separating the pieces out as I went. I put the milk in a bowl, and dropped the onions in the milk for about 10 minutes. Then I grabbed a large bag and placed my flour, salt, paprika, garlic and pepper in the flour, shaking to mix.

I heated the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Working in small batches, I dropped the milk soaked onions into the flour, and shook to coat.
After shaking the excess flour off the onions, I dropped into the oil and cooked until nice and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, using my tongs to turn them so they would could evenly
When they were done, I placed them on paper towels to drain. Of course, we needed to taste test them to see if they were edible.
I am actually amazed there were any left to make the casserole. Amazing restraint was required to not munch on them as I went.
After I finished the onions, I disposed of the oil, washed and dried the skillet and put it back on the stove over medium heat. I melted the butter, then added the mushrooms and garlic, along with the parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper, and sauteed, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, until the mushrooms were tender. I sprinkled the flour across the mushrooms, and let the mixture cook for another 2 minutes before stirring again. I stirred, then started adding my liquids- broth, wine and half and half.
After bringing the mixture to a nice simmer, I removed from the heat, and stirred in the sour cream. Now I was ready to combine with the green beans in my baking dish.
I then took half the onions, stirred them into the green beans, and topped the casserole with the other half of the onions. I baked in a 350 oven for 30 minutes.
The whole family gobbled these up. Truly divine. I missed nothing, and in fact, found a better recipe to use from now on. I can hardly wait to prepare these for unsuspecting friends and family :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Heavenly Buttercream Frosting

If you intend to bake anything requiring frosting this holiday season, might I suggest you try this recipe? I have used this basic recipe for years, as it is easy, quick, and I've never goofed it up. :) Wonderful treats like this have become even more special to me now on the GF diet. I'm having to learn how to modify so many recipes. This one needs no adjustments.

I generally use half of this recipe if I'm just frosting a cake in a pan, or a batch of cupcakes, but if you are doing a full layer cake, or you have children that might sneak off with the bowl, make the full recipe.

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
3 cups of powdered sugar (you could need more if you need the frosting stiffer, so keep it at the ready)
1T vanilla extract
pinch of salt (yes...trust me on this one)
2-3T cream

Using stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes. Add vanilla, salt and cream, and continue to mix for another 3-4 minutes. Add more sugar if you need the frosting to be stiffer, 2-3T at a time. If you need the frosting to be thinner, add 1T cream at a time.

The food purchase I'm most excited about this week...

I really do get excited by the little things in life. We finally got Trader Joe's here week before last. Hurrah! I have always visited TJ's in St. Louis whenever we go home so I could grab pantry staples we use and some of the snacks the boys like. I was always so sad to pass by all of the wonderful frozen food items, though. So exciting to be able to finally stock up on those! The first thing I bought when they opened was a few bags of the frozen artichoke hearts. Those just rock. I find their organic frozen veggies to be cheaper than at other stores in the area. In fact, many of the pantry items I like to stock up on are cheaper. And they have a GF French Vanilla creamer. Like I said. The little things that bring me the most joy. :)

I stopped dead in my tracks when I saw this. I love citrus based vinaigrettes, but don't often keep orange juice in the house. Having a fresh orange can also be sporadic, depending on what was on sale that week.

I am now dreaming of a romaine salad with avocado slices, mandarin oranges and red onion slices, tossed in a dressing made with this. Maybe a few sliced almonds if I'm feeling wacky? :)

Menu Plan Monday Week of 11/22

Well here we go...it's the first big family holiday meal that I have to spin gluten free. Since it's just the 4 of us, I'm actually scaling back and simplifying a little bit this year. I've (gasp) purchased pumpkin pie for Jonathan and the boys, and a flourless chocolate cake from Trader Joe's so that I can have a little dessert action as well. The rest of the week I'm keeping relatively simple as well so I can put my energies toward Thursday. I'm really looking forward to a 4 day weekend!!

We feed 2 adults and 2 elementary aged boys, price breakdowns are included- this is the price I've paid with coupons, etc. Your price may vary. My 7 dinners, including Thankgiving, comes in under $45.

smoked pulled pork with Vaunted vinegar sauce on the side- $3.50
super sweet white corn- .75
roasted potatoes w/ rosemary- .75
salad w/ homemade French dressing .75

totchos (nachos on tater tots...requested by Ry for weeks)

pulled pork sammies- $2.00
(no bread for me)
french fries- .75
spinach salad $1.50

Thursday- Happy Thanksgiving!

Breakfast- gluten free pancakes, bacon and fruit smoothies
snacks- potato chips with french onion dip, fresh fruit and veggies, spinach dip with king's hawaiian bread for hubby and boys.
turkey ($4.00 for the whole thing, plus about $1 for stuff to prep it)
mashed potatoes and gravy $1.75
sweet potato casserole- $1.50
GF green bean casserole- ( I am totally playing with this and will post the recipe after Turkey day with photos) $2.00
cranberry blueberry sauce-$3.00
pumpkin pie with cool whip- $3.00
flour-less chocolate cake-$5.00
olives, pickles- $1.00


pork chops $3.00
roasted brussels sprouts $2.00
potato pancakes $.75 (using leftovers)

spaghetti over rice pasta $4.00
salad .75

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan Week of 11/8

Wow. Thanksgiving is just over 2 weeks away. I truly cannot believe how quickly the weeks have been flying by recently. That means just over 2 weeks until I have to figure out what to do with all the turkey leftovers. :)

I wasn't really inspired to follow the menu plan all week. I moved a few things and changed a couple meals based on grocery sales, and just because I ended up with a taste for something else, I guess. I have moved some of those meals to this week, so pardon the repeats. :)

I did have some fun this week in the kitchen, though! I prepped and froze a whole lot of fresh asparagus and fresh broccoli I'd gotten for bargain prices this week. I also got creative. Check out this beautiful tray of lasagna I prepped. And no noodles. I used zucchini and summer squash slices as the "noodles". The whole family enjoyed it! Check back later this week for the recipe. It was really easy!

I also got a whim to try a gluten free cake. I'm not quite confident yet to do something of that scale from scratch, so I tried a mix.

Add my homemade buttercream frosting and again, a treat the entire family has been enjoying- including me! I will post my buttercream recipe this week as well. This was the first time I made the frosting in my Kitchenaid stand mixer, and I have to say it was the best batch ever because I was just able to let it go. My arm always got too tired before!

Okay, enough about last week...on to this week's menu plan! I feed 2 adults and 2 children.
mini meatloaves $3.00
steamed asparagus spears $1.00
baked sweet potatoes $1.00
boys will have sandwiches before Dad takes them to swim practice. I have an event to attend so I'll have to eat later in the evening. I will be making this tomato and roasted red pepper soup tonight to stash in the fridge for tomorrow. I will top with some blue cheese and serve with a salad. Yum!

spaghetti and meatballs $4.00
green beans .40
salad .75
chicken and rice casserole $4.00
baked acorn squash $5.00
tacos $3.00
corn .50
guacamole (got avocados for .29 each at aldi this week!) $1.00
Lemon Shrimp over Angel Hair- $5.00
salad- .75
broccoli- .75
italian beef sandwiches (lettuce wraps for me!) $4.00
coleslaw $1.00
hand cut baked steak fries- $1.00

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My trip for GF items today...

The grocery ads hit on Wednesdays here, so I stopped at Hy-Vee on the way in to work this morning to pick up some things. I was lucky enough to find some coupons in the aisles of the Health Food area that saved me even more. $19.50 for everything in this picture. Not too bad, especially the gluten free baking mixes. With coupons I got those for $2.25 each.
I like to have things like that on hand, but the key to eating my healthiest, and to keep the weekly grocery costs down, is by making those treats, not meal staples. In fact, the Larabars made me feel like a "wild child"...but they were 4/$5, are a good source of Potassium and fiber, have a full serving of fruit, and are nice to keep at work for those moments when I'm starving but don't have an apple or something on hand.
By the way...please note the "extravagance" of the boxed stock. I am the poster child for making my own, but with my schedule, there are times that I'm out of my freezer stash and need stock. These are organic, have no junk in them, and I was able to get them for under $2 each with coupons. I am finding homemade soup to be a staple of my GF diet, so these will be nice to have on hand.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

At least they found a way to use up the old Easter candy....

One last Halloween photo to share. This is what happens when Hubby and the boys decide to carve pumpkins while Mom is away from the house. The trick-or-treaters loved it, though hehehe.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ask and you shall receive....

Not a close up, but you get what you get, right? At least that's what I always tell the boys :)


...our family spends too much time on the Wii??? :) It was an entire family theme, as I was Princess Peach, complete with long blonde wig. Mom 2 took a picture of the 4 of us, but it's on hubby's camera, so I'll post it after I get it from him. The highlight of the evening was when we had a gaggle of teenage girls run up to us and ask if we would pose with them for a photo. LOL!

Please note that the boys are sporting inflatable bellies. Hubby's is au naturel ;P

Gluten-Free Banana Bread French Toast

My MIL was here over the weekend visiting so she could be here with the boys for Halloween. When I picked her up from the airport Saturday morning and brought her home, she told me a story she thought I'd find "quite amusing".

It seems "Mom 2" has discovered several food blogs that she loves and visits on a regular basis. She uses these blogs to follow links and explore other food blogs. One day, while hopping from blog to blog, she made a discovery. She was at MY blog! I had mentioned that I had my own blog, but I'd never given her a link to the blog. Imagine her surpise when she realized she knew the author. :)

She spent quite a bit of time here, reading about the garden, the family, and browsing the recipes. Which saved me from having to tell her about my gluten-free diet- she already knew! She was asking me about what I had made, how alternative flours tasted, etc. I have slowly but surely built up a small GF pantry, and am getting a little braver each day in trying out new things. When I realized I had some ripe bananas, I thought I would let her taste for herself what something might taste like with GF substitutions. I made 2 loaves of banana bread using this recipe, except I subsituted 2 cups of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Baking Mix for the flour, baking powder, etc., and I added 1/4 cup sour cream.

It turned out wonderfully, and we all enjoyed nice warm banana bread on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning, I got out the 2nd loaf of banana bread, thinking the boys would enjoy having it for breakfast. My 8 year old looked at the banana bread, then looked at me and declared that he wanted Banana Bread French Toast. I had never even thought of such a thing before, but okay. I'm game.

GF Banana Bread French Toast

8 slices of your favorite GF banana bread, or use recipe above
3 eggs
3/4 cup of milk
1t GF vanilla
1t cinnamon

Heat a skillet over medium heat and grease lightly. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon, and let banana bread soak in the mixture for 2-3 minutes, turning once to coat.

Cook in skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, flip, and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, or until egg mixture is cooked through and french toast is nicely browned. Serve with maple syrup.

I was very pleased with how this turned out. The egg mixture and pan-frying gave the banana bread a wonderful "melt in your mouth" texture. It felt very decadent, which was exciting, considering I haven't had anything along these lines since I stopped eating gluten.

I'm looking forward to my son's next request---hopefully it will generate another delicious creation!

Menu Plan Week of 11/1

Here's what the week looks like...

Monday 11/1

Mini Meatloaves ( I will use corn flakes instead of bread to make these GF) $3.00

roasted red potatoes .50

sauteed kale with garlic and bacon $1.50


Tuesday 11/2

chicken and mushroom risotto (using homemade stock) $4.75

baked sweet potatoes $1.00

salad .75


Wednesday 11/3

I am taking the boys to see Trans Siberian Orchestra with a friend and her kids, and we'll go out to eat after. I will be making extra meatloaves tonight and hiding them in the downstairs fridge so they will actually make it to Wednesday and hubby can have them for dinner.

Thursday 11/4

spaghetti and meatballs (K has been begging me for meatballs. I will eat these sans pasta) $4.00

sauteed kale with garlic $1.00

bread and butter .50


Friday 11/5

turkey tacos $3.00

corn .50

tomato avocado salad $1.50


Saturday 11/6

slowcooker pot roast (using a smaller roast) $5.00

salad .75

bread and butter for boys .50


Sunday 11/7

grilled pork chops $2.50

acorn squash $1.00

broccoli .75


Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu Plan Week of 10/25

I have been doing really well with the GF diet, but have been sooo busy at work with budgets and such that I've been kinda flying by the seat of my pants, which I hate. Yesterday, I got all of my coupons organized in my book for the first time in forever, and today, a meal plan! Tonight hubby and I will be eating out with a gift card before going to see a show, and the boys will have chicken sandwiches and fries. Here's what the rest of the week looks like. All of these meals are either GF or are easy for me to eat parts of and supplement. I've been keeping the cost down on the GF meals pretty well, too! We're just over $30 for this week's meals.

italian turkey sausage and peppers in sauce- $5.00
angel hair pasta .50
salad .75

marinated grilled chicken $2.00
baked sweet potatoes $1.00
spinach salad $1.00

bbq lil smokies $2.75
garlic smashed potatoes $1.00
steamed asparagus $1.00

chicken tostadas $3.00
refried black beans $1.00
corn .75

cheese burgers $2.75
fries $1.00
fruit $1.00

chili $3.50
GF cornbread $2.50

bringing a dish to a pre-trick or treat party

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Looks like the Gluten Free Diet is going to stick around

I have been experimenting and finding some great successes with gluten free flours and ingredients. I made a pan of cornbread over the weekend that hubby gobbled and was all gone by the next day. A definite sign of approval.

I will also post photos and the recipe for this eggplant parmesan I made. I was very proud of the breading. Hubby doesn't even like eggplant and he liked this. Told me I was "allowed" to make it again. LOL.
I have been quite buoyed by these successes, because I saw my doctor Friday and they want me to stay on the diet. I need to accept that this is a long term change. Seeing my family able to enjoy the foods I'm making for my restrictions has been nice---I really don't want to make 2 dinners all the time.
Of course, when it rains, it pours, and I spent a good chunk of last week with a raging fever that has turned into a nice chest virus. That threw me off schedule again, so I have been flying by the seat of my pants for dinners this week, but am going to buckle down this weekend.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm really starting to feel like I can do this!

Lookie Lookie!!! Hot Cereal that I can actually eat!

And did! And liked it! Bob's Red Mill Mighty Tasty Cereal lives up to its name. Especially with a little agave nectar, milk, vanilla and strawberries. (oh and just a teensy bit of butter that I melted over the top)

Erin over at 5 Dollar Dinners is not only one of my favorite bloggers, but she is also someone I've really been looking to now that I am having to embark on this new way of eating. She's been preparing her family healthy meals that are gluten free and affordable for years. She gave me a a piece of advice that I'm finding to really be true. She said it's a tough switch, but once you can get the hang of planning your meals around brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, sweet potatoes and rice flours for sauces, etc., that it's much easier to cope.

I'm starting to figure that out. Last night we changed up the dinner plan because Fareway had these beautiful, HUGE bone-in round steaks for $1.99/lb., so I made one of my favorite comfort food faves, Swiss Steak on mashed potatoes. I will post the recipe later today. I tried to eat just a little of the meat as I'm still just trying to make sure my system doesn't get too much to try to digest at once, but the potatoes and gravy were heaven.

I'm also having to reprogram myself about fats. After losing 50lbs, I had really centered my eating around low fat. The reality right now though, is that I need some fat, along with lots of liquids. So I'm challenging myself to allow more fats, especially good fats, into my diet. Surprisingly, this is a tougher one for me mentally. Fortunately, I love olive oil and walnut oil for dressings, I looove avocado, and I've been sneaking things like flax oil into smoothies, dressings and other things, so I think I'll eventually get comfortable with this, too.

I was given a beautiful eggplant from a coworker's garden, so tonight I will be experimenting with making a gluten free eggplant parmesan. I will also be sitting down today and laying out my menu plan to post here. Funny. Last week I was terrified about trying to plan meals. I am actually kind of excited about it today.

Friday, September 24, 2010

I have to say I'm pretty surprised

I just polished off some toast w/ jelly made with Kinnikinnick Foods Candadi No Yeast Multigrain Bread. It tasted MUCH better than I expected any bread without wheat to taste. I'm a believer. Still not worth $6 a loaf, but now I feel good about making my own at home.

So far, so good....

Eating gluten free is tricky, but I really haven't felt deprived in any way, and for the most part have stayed on track.

The only foibles I've made are unintentional ones, and I think I've omitted all of them as I read more about how gluten can be hidden in foods under different names. That means no more flavored coffee creamer for me, which is incredibly sad, but some almond milk and agave nectar isn't too bad either.

I discovered yesterday that Bonefish Grill is pretty good for eating GF if you're going out. They visited the stations with food yesterday, and I was asking the manager if I could eat any of it. The amazing thing was how much of it I COULD eat. Including the most amazing brownie ever. I guess they have really tried to have some options on the menu. Kudos to them.

Today we're tailgating at the office and everyone is bringing food. Going to be interesting to see what I can actually eat.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner!!

The boys get giddy when we have breakfast for dinner, or when they get to eat breakfast for lunch at school. I ended up tweaking the meal a little bit last night, and didn't end up having a waffle myself. I was craving potatoes. Better than craving toast or something, I guess :)

Was encouraged after doing some research on flour/baking mix alternatives yesterday. Looks like Amazon has some competitive pricing on buying in bulk, and I'm sure there are other places I can do that through as well. No more $6 loaves of bread. ACK!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tomato Cream Cheese Soup

I was able to use up some of my tomatoes from the garden in this soup. It's gluten free, and pretty darn healthy. I got my full day's worth of Vitamin A and about half my Vitamin C in one steamy, delicious bowl. Okay, two.

I'm having this for lunch here at the office today. I'm really shocked it lasted this long.

2lbs. good tomatoes, chopped (you could peel and core, but since it gets blended at the end I say save yourself the trouble)

3 large carrots, washed, not peeled, and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 medium sweet onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups vegetable or chicken broth- I used veggie

1/2t kosher salt

1/2t freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1T agave nectar, honey or sugar

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (if you don't have fresh, you could use dry, about a teaspoonful or so I'm thinking, but I'd add it when you add the broth and other seasonings)

2oz. cream cheese (yes, you could add more, but this was delicious with just a kiss of cream cheese to add creaminess. I was trying to be kind to my rear end.)

Chop tomatoes, sprinkle salt on them, and let sit for about 20 minutes. Then place on medium high heat and add your other veggies.

Add the broth, all of the spices except for the basil, and the sweetener of your choice.

Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30-4o minutes until veggies are tender. Add cream cheese, and stir to melt. Add half of the basil. Use an immersion blender (or a regular blender if that's what you have, just be CAREFUL! This is some hot soup!). Blend until smooth. Serve with remaining basil on top.

Enjoy. Be sure to look away if anyone licks the bowl. Of course I would never do that. :::Cough:::
This recipe is linked to the $5 Dinner Challenge. This was well under $5, and that includes using store bought organic vegetable broth. Homemade broth would make this even more affordable.

Menu Plan Week of 9/20

Well, I sat down to post this last night, and then hubby got chatty, so I stayed up too late. Better late than never, right?

I have decided that I am officially appalled by what they charge for GF breads, pizza dough, etc. I will DEFINITELY be learning how to make these things. If you know of any great recipes, please let me know!

Here's what the week looks like. Trying to keep the meals somewhat cohesive, meaning that I don't have to cook an entirely separate meal for myself, just maybe a side or something. Last night I did have something completely different, but I had a salad from lunch that I didn't eat, so I figured I'd let the kids eat something fun.

chicken patty sandwiches $2.00
macaroni and cheese $3.00
salad for me $3.00

Breakfast for dinner
scrambled eggs .75
sausage $1.50
waffles (gf waffles for me) $1.00
grapes $1.00

Pork Chops $1.75
baked potatoes $1.00
broccoli .75 (loaded baked potato for me)
tomato slices from garden .00

family potato soup (using homemade broth and skim milk) $3.50
salad $1.00
biscuits for hubby and boys .75

making these to take to work for our company lunch. I made them last week and they are AWESOME!!!

pork fried brown rice (veggie for me)- $1.75
potstickers $2.00
steamed green beans $1.00

chicken cacciatore- $3.50 ( I will post the recipe on Sunday)
mashed potatoes .75
salad $1.00

Pizza night- will attempt a GF crust. Wish me luck. Price TBA

Monday, September 20, 2010

It figures....

I will have a menu plan up today. I will have a menu plan up today. I will have a menu plan up today. I have to psyche myself up on this right now---the gluten free diet restrictions have freaked me out and I'm a little overwhelmed in planning for the whole family. Not sure why????

I am going to force myself to commit to a plan for the week before I hit the bed tonight. We'll see how I do!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Is the time flying or what???

I found this display when I went shopping the other day and it just made me stop in my tracks, because while rational brain knows that it's September and Fall is coming, I just wasn't prepared to deal with the reality of it.

This means Christmas is just around the corner. It seems like summer only started last week!

Moments like these are the reminders to me that yes, time flies. Yes, we're busy. But if we don't slow down and take moments to enjoy where we're at, we'll look back and say, what happened? Where did the time go?

So I went home and hugged my boys and we spent the time talking about what we're going to do together this fall.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I can't poop (have I gotten your attention? LOL)

There. I said it. And it pretty much sums up the hell I've been dealing with on a daily basis for the past several months. I know. Awkward, right? Try having to go about as if nothing's wrong because it's embarrassing to talk about, yet, it's completely affecting every aspect of your life.

I had mentioned a few times here that I was dealing with some health issues and that I had undergone a colonoscopy. That test showed for the most part that I have a healthy colon, albeit with a bunch of extra bends and curves.

The frustrating part is that I was then just told to take Miralax. Or Phillips Milk of Magnesia.

Great. Since then I've lived a balance of either in pain and stopped up, or in pain and running to the toilet every 20 minutes. Pretty crappy. (Pun intended)

Oh, and even though my clothes have been getting looser, the scale has been moving in the other direction. And I've been battling skin issues because of the toxins I'm holding onto, I guess.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because many of you have asked why I've been MIA. I just haven't had the energy to fit it all in. And I've missed this blog. And the energy. And the good ole days when I was regular as clockwork every single day. Who knew you could get nostalgic about poop?

Anyway, I have finally decided I've had enough and that I can't be a slave to medications, laxatives or what have you. Clearly it's not working. I need to a) make some changes to my diet, and find ways to manage the situation, and b) further pursue an answer as to why I'm dealing with all this crap. (again, pun intended).

Last week I cut meat, gluten and most refined processed food out of my diet. I have brought more "health food", ie. wheat grass smoothies, etc., into my diet. And I've been pounding water like a fool. It's helping. I haven't had to take any laxatives and things seem to be moving more smoothly. And my face has cleared up!

I will eventually try adding a few things back to the diet, but right now, as much as I am missing several foods, I'll take it if it means I can start living a little more normally.

Of course, this has brought its own challenge....cooking 2 separate meals for me and the family, as there's no way hubby's gonna eat brown rice and veggies every night :). And trying to find recipes that help keep things interesting and different for me.

I will be posting the recipes I find that I like---and certainly would love to hear from you if you have any advice!

Here's to regularity! (in blogging and beyond!)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Week of 8/30

Last week was a little crazy around here. Big K's entrance into kindergarten also meant being introduced to new germs his immune system wasn't used to, and so that meant a 3 day tummy bug for the little guy. No one else in the family caught it, just him---made more serious because of his hypoglycemia. When he's not eating or drinking, or not able to keep anything down, it's REALLY hard to get that blood sugar up. Somehow we got it done, though---I think had he been sick one more day we would have had to get him in for IV. And of course he got sick Sunday night, so I just ended up flying by the seat of my pants for a meal plan. I was pretty impressed with how we did, considering.

This week's menu continues to take advantage of our garden. I will post the pictures and recipe for the spaghetti sauce this week. I used my food mill this weekend and it turned out wonderfully! 7 meals for a family of 4---and coming in at just over $31.




spaghetti w/ fresh homemade marinara- $1.00

meatballs- $1.50

salad- .75

sauteed zucchini- .75



chicken stroganoff- $3.50

green beans- .50

melon from the garden- .00



turkey tacos- $3.25

corn- .50



grilled pork chops- $1.75

brown rice- .75

grilled veggies $1.50



brisket sandwiches- $3.50

fries- $1.00

pasta salad- $1.00



Pizza Night (homemade)


Friday, August 27, 2010

Greek vinaigrette using fresh herbs

We eat a lot of salads here. Not just because they're good for you, but because we actually enjoy them! Especially in summer when so much of the salad comes from right in the back yard. Greek salad is one of those salads that features so much of what I grow.

I make our salad dressings from scratch, and usually for a vinaigrette I would use dry herbs. I decided this time, however, to take a stab at a vinaigrette with fresh herbs, and I was very pleased. The key, I think, is to chop them very, very finely. When you think you've chopped them enough, chop them some more. It helps spread the flavor throughout the vinaigrette so nicely.

2T fresh oregano (I used half oregano, half marjoram)
1t lemon rind
1/4t salt
1/4t pepper
3T red wine vinegar
1T water
1/4 cup olive oil
whisk ingredients together. Pour over salad and toss to coat.

Monday, August 16, 2010

School Starts Tomorrow

I took this of the boys yesterday before they took off for the pool. Besides the fact that I'm comforted by this photo as proof that we DEFINITELY try to do whatever we can to protect them from the sun, I wanted to have a picture of one of their last trips to the pool this summer. It closes now during the week and will only be open weekends through Labor Day, which isn't that far away. Yikes!

Where did summer go?!?!? The boys head to school tomorrow. My baby's first day in kindergarten. Where did the last 5 years go?!?!?!

Roasted Tomato Salsa

I am on a roasted tomato kick. I love them for pasta. It occurred to me that they might also be lovely in salsa. Boy, was I ever right! Roasting the vegetables before making the salsa adds an incredibly nice flavor.

24 romas, sliced in half lengthwise, seeded and cored
3 jalapenos, sliced in half lengthwise, seeded
1 anaheim pepper, sliced in half lengthwise, seeded
2T olive oil
1 large white onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 limes
1/2 cup diced fresh cilantro
1/2t cumin
additional salt, if desired

Preheat oven to 425. place tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic on cookie sheets. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, until vegetables are done, and skin has crisped in some spots. Remove from oven, and allow to cool. Dice vegetables finely, place in medium sized bowl, and add juice of 2 limes. Add remaining ingredients, and toss to combine. Allow to chill in refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Menu Plan Monday Week of 8/16

The garden continues to influence our meal choices and sides this week. The roma tomatoes are all coming ripe quickly, and we should start seeing our first Better Boys in the next week or so, I think. This week's meal plan provides 7 dinners for 2 adults and 2 kids, and comes in at around $34. I threw an estimate figure on the pizza night as I haven't decided my toppings yet. I do know that I will be doing a roasted tomato sauce for them, though!

steak tostadas w/ roasted tomato salsa $3.00
corn .50
avocado slices .75
melon .00

lemon oregano chicken drumsticks $2.50
baked potatoes .75
spinach salad .75

cheeseburgers $3.50
fries $1.25
melon .00

pork chops $2.50
tomatoes au gratin .75
lemon scented broccoli $1.00

tacos $3.75
refried black beans .75

italian beef sandwiches $5.00
hand sliced fries .75

pizza night

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Preserving the garden's bounty

Hubby and the boys have spent the day at the pool today. Has been just lovely for me, because I've finally been able to tackle some projects I had been putting off this week. First up, doing something with the oodles and oodles of jalapenos I had. I canned a batch of sliced jalapenos for nachos, etc. These tend to go pretty quickly around here, between hubby and our neighbor across the street. I also tried my hand at a batch of jalapeno jelly. You can use this to glaze meats when grilling, or serve over cream cheese with crackers. Really excited to sample how this turned out!
I'm also starting the project of drying the herbs from the garden. Rosemary, thyme, marjoram and oregano will all be dried and jarred. I hope to create some herb blends to give as Christmas gifts.

This week should bring another batch of pickles, and perhaps a batch of tomato sauce.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan Week of 8/9

What the? You mean she's actually posting one? YES! Now, I will say that some of these might move around, but overall this will be the meals we're having for the week. I'm still wavering on whether I want mexican or italian tonight. 7 dinners for this family of 4 clock in at just over $31, and feature lots of fresh produce from the garden.


tacodillas $4.50

corn .50

melon from the garden .00



bacon wrapped smoked pork tenderloin $4.00

capresi salad w/ tomatoes and basil from the garden $1.25

green beans from the garden .00



angel hair pasta with grilled veggies $2.50

salad .75

melon from the garden (I think there will be a lot of melon on the menu!) .00



beef brisket sandwiches $3.00

fries $1.00

tomato and cucumber salad .50



grilled pork chops $1.50

rosemary potatoes .50

salad .75



grilled pizza $3.00

greek salad $1.50



chicken fajitas $3.50

black bean salad $1.00

guacamole $1.50


Stuffed jalapenos in the smoker!

We've made stuffed jalapenos in the oven for years, but now, hubby has gone smoker crazy with them, and they are AWESOME! We used 12 peppers, cut in half and seeded. I boiled them for 2 minutes and shocked them in ice water, as my peppers are really hot, and the boiling takes a little bit of the heat out of them. In a bowl I combined 1 block of cream cheese, 1 bag of shredded mozzarella, 1/2 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp garlic. Stuffed each pepper with about 1 heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture, wrapped with a half slice of bacon, and secured with a toothpick.
Hubby smoked these at 235 degrees for about 2.5 hours, with pecan smoke for about an hour. Yum!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The garden is in full produce mode!

This is my favorite time of the year! Of course, it keeps me really busy, but I love it! The cucumbers had been coming in for a while, and I'd been getting herbs and some green beans, but we now have lots of tomatoes!
I've now made two batches of pickles- one dill and one sweet....relish is next.

Today I used some of my peppers in the smoker stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon. We'll have those with dinner. I also made a batch of roasted tomato salsa, and I will post the recipe this week.

This year is a first for the melons. I have 2 heirloom varieties I'm growing, and the first few are just starting to ripen. We are going to have a bunch!

I tried to take a picture from upstairs of the garden for you to see, but it didn't turn out well, and it's HOT out today, so I'm pulling the a/c card today :) I will take a picture for you this week, along with pictures of the canning I'll be doing to preserve all of this!