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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
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